weekend open thread – November 5-6, 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: These Precious Days: Essays, by Ann Patchett. She is a beautiful writer and the title essay will make you cry, or at least it did me.

I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 928 comments… read them below }

  1. Elf*

    Has anyone had success trying to get enrichment or higher level work included on an IEP or 504? My son is completing almost none of his work in school and is starting to show negative-attention-seeking behaviors, and I think a good chunk of that is that the class is working on addition within 20 and he is ready for fractions. He has gotten *much* better at completing work at home, but I’ve been making sure that the work he does at home has a little challenge to it.

      1. Educator*

        Back in my classroom teacher days, I very rarely saw accommodations like this. When they existed, they were usually framed as modifications to how a student was taught (i.e. at a different pace, in a different way, etc.) and not curricular guidance (i.e. he is ready for fractions). I would caution that accommodations like this can be really tricky to implement. If you are on a 504, the classroom teacher is the one doing the legwork, and she will likely struggle to go so far beyond the standard differentiation expected in a lesson. An IEP can pull in more staff, but they may have areas of expertise that are different from developing separate math lessons. In practice, a lot of kids working at their own pace are asked to work independently on a computer program or similar, and that might not be the best way for your child to learn math, depending on his other needs. So make sure you dig in on the details of any proposed adjustments.

        One strategy might be to explore what enrichment programs already exist at the school, and try to learn more about whether they might be a good fit for your child, separate from the 504.

        But the not completing work and negative attention seeking should probably be addressed holistically by the 504 team so that you can hear more about what the teacher is observing, compare it to your experience at home, and work with the whole team to develop a collection of strategies.

        Good luck–your child is lucky to have your support.

      2. Dumpster Fire*

        If your son was competing his work at school and then misbehaving, his teacher would be much more likely to make an effort to give him something more challenging; but that would be out of the goodness of her heart, not as part of his plan. A 504 or IEP is intended to help the student reach an appropriate (i.e. grade level) level of learning. Not doing the schoolwork means that his teacher has little or no evidence of his understanding of the material; and so she has no reason to create more challenging tasks for him.

        1. Educator*

          I want to push back on the idea that 504s and IEPs are just to get students to grade level. They are to give students access to a free and appropriate public education, and in this context, appropriate means appropriate for the child’s needs. That’s why IEPs have individual goals, not just the grade level standards. I had students with 504s and IEPs who could have gotten Cs without them, but that grade would have been unfair because did not capture what they were capable of with fair accommodations.

          1. Irish Teacher*

            Yeah, I’m from a different country and one where IEPs still aren’t even required but I would definitely say that “helping the child to meet an appropriate level” should not necessarily mean “grade level.” If the child is gifted, then an appropriate level for them should be well above grade level.

            Giftedness IS a special need. Even without the ADHD, a child who is performing significantly above grade level (and doing fractions when other children are doing adding up to 20 sounds like it might fit that category) should be getting some level of extra support, whether it be differentiation within the classroom or extra classes outside.

            I realise that schools generally have limited resource hours and will, for good reason, prioritise the child who needs to come out for Maths to learn his numbers while the others are doing addition over the child who needs to come out to do fractions, but there are ways to differentiate within the class.

            I would say it SHOULD be part of his IEP. An IEP is an individual learning plan and if he needs to learn topics that are usually not learnt for a number of years, then those should be his learning goals.

            I am teaching at secondary level but I know our DEIS plan (not even going to TRY explaining what DEIS means as it’s basically an attempt to use both English and Irish simultaneously and ends up making little sense in either language, but it’s basically about additional funding to schools with a high number of students who are from very low income backgrounds or who are refugees and so on and the plan is about justifying that funding) has included not only how we are going to help those who are performing below national norms to improve but also how we are going to ensure that those performing above national norms remain at that level.

            If your child is ready for fractions when the rest of his class is learning to add, the school should have a plan for ensuring he will remain that many years above his grade level. It doesn’t HAVE to be an individual plan, but they should be aiming that any students at that level will remain at that level and have a general plan for ensuring they do, which could be enrichment work or differentiation, for example different worksheets.

            1. Maple*

              This is lovely and I agree with it, but to my knowledge Special Education law in the United States doesn’t require a school district to provide this.

              1. BookMom*

                This varies by US state. Gifted is considered special education and has the full IEP for each student, legally required state funding, etc, in my state.

          2. Generic Name*

            In my district “appropriate” doesn’t equal grade-level/same age peers. It means something more like “to the child’s potential”. My son was identified as gifted and was in a self contained gifted classroom for many years, and he also had an IEP and then a 504 plan. The teacher who wrote his IEP said it was one of the most complicated evaluations she’d done because he is both gifted and has social/emotional disability (he’s autistic) and she had to first show his ability and then that his performance didn’t reach his ability because of his special needs.

          3. Ellis Bell*

            Another foreigner here and in my country (the UK) any provision which helps the child behave is seen as paramount. Without an environment which allows good behaviour and focus, they won’t achieve even the basics. Also they have to make *progress*, so if he’s already achieving expected levels then yes of course he needs more challenge to make even a small amount of progress.

        2. OyHiOh*

          No.

          IEP’s are implemented for both children significantly above and below the averages. OP’s child need an IEP in addition to 504 – 504 addresses behavior/safety, IEP addresses learning needs.

          1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

            Not quite. A 504 is for children who can access the regular curriculum with accommodations, as specified in the 504. An IEP is for children who need a modified curriculum, as described in the IEP.

      3. Maple*

        Are there any test results that show his current ability level? You are going to need evidence, ideally from school-based testing, to get accommodations. Walking up to another grade for math is the likeliest outcome. Good luck!

      4. Evergreen*

        In the district I work in, I know that curriculum adjustments aren’t made in IEPs or 504s. Those documents are used to create modifications to access the existing curriculum. Extension and accelerated work is up to the individual teachers and many students see that as being punished for completing their work by being given more work.

        I know I was lucky enough to grow up in a district that had pull out math and reading for both students who needed more support and students who needed to be challenged, but districts try to keep students in the classroom as much as possible so I don’t know if that is something available in your district.

    1. Anita, Darling*

      Is it possible to do the challenging stuff at home and have the accommodation be e.g. work you send from home or him reading quietly during the times when they’re doing work below his level? I’m not a teacher, and so I can’t testify to whether this is standard or acceptable, but perhaps it could be done?

      (With that freedom/loss of it as incentive for bad behavior)?

      1. Ellis Bell*

        Based on my experience with lively ADHD kids, the teacher probably needs him quiet during active teaching times (teacher talking or modelling) as opposed to quiet, independent working. Even during quiet times, the work needs to be linked to the instruction they’ve just had (or else why is he there?) or he will be unprepared for the assessment stage. Any teacher worth their salt would have extension tasks or extra challenges for kids who finish quickly, and I think it’s unreasonable for mum to be expected to provide that (Again why is he there? Progress and challenges are the only payment kids get for their work). Also, with inattentive ADHD, it’s very unlikely that it’s possible that he can choose to focus and behave in a way that’s patently unreasonable for anyone. He cannot choose to behave like a focused child in an unchallenging environment where his focus simply isn’t needed. Who could? Attention seeking behaviours are a kid’s way of saying: “Interact with me before my brain dies”. It’s unreasonable to expect even neurotypical kids to focus on still, anonymous, passive behaviours, and accept being bored during explanation of low level work in return for no reward and to be penalised if they can’t do the impossible. Good behaviour for learning is active, interested, and challenge-seeking. A child who will endure being bored all day is a child who isn’t learning anyway. I’d be interested to know what these attention seeking behaviours are, actually.

    2. Hope it helps*

      I suggest you and teachers create a reward system for completing work at school It could include working on an independent research project when class work is complete. ADHD kids (and most kids really) respond better to reward systems. Sometimes a simple check off list can really help stay on track. Also this website is create for understanding and taking action to support people with ADHD. https://www.additudemag.com/

    3. anxiousGrad*

      When I was in school I was on a GIEP, which gave me access to gifted support/challenge/enrichment. I think at most schools you have to take an IQ test and score above a certain level.

      1. Lucky the Cat*

        I’m a special education director in Washington State. Some of this will vary by state, but here is some of my take:
        – Contrary to an earlier comment on this thread, gifted education is not special education. Special education is very narrowly defined by IDEA, and is specialty designed instruction for students who have disabilities that interfere with their progress and performance.
        – a 504 plan is for students with disabilities who require accommodations to access the curriculum. An IEP is a plan that includes annual goals, specially designed instruction, accommodations, modifications and other elements. A 504, however, is only accommodations.
        – for students with anxiety or ADHD, some common 504 accommodations include things like frequent breaks, extra time to complete assignments, preferred seating, etc. An accommodation doesn’t *change* or modify the learning goal or target; rather it’s something put in place to help the student achieve the learning goal or target.
        – for twice exceptional learners who have both a disability that impacts learning, and exceptional cognitive abilities, it’s really hard to get needs met. Gifted programs often move at a pace or pressure too high, or require executive function levels to be the same as cognitive ability, and 2e learners struggle. On the other hand, programs designed for students with disabilities are often working on a deficit model, and goals are usually (but not always) around closing a grade level gap.
        – Changing learning outcomes and targets to be more rigorous is a modification, not an accommodation, so I would not expect that to be on a 504 plan. in other words, I don’t think the solution to your problem lies in having additional learning targets added via the 504. However, the 504 could add accommodations that address boredom, such as opportunity to show learning through self-directed extension activities, etc.
        For most 2e learners the best bet is a very disability -friendly gifted program (which is very difficult to pull off). One that values depth over pacing, and had lots of scaffolding and accommodations. If you Google 2e or twice exceptional, you will find a wealth of resources and ideas that you could research to align with your individual situation.

        1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

          Co-sign this (as well as the caveat that it can vary by state within the IDEA framework).

    4. Generic Name*

      In my district, in order for this to happen, the child would have to be identified as gifted/talented (GT). Then they get put on an advanced learning plan. It’s apparently pretty common for gifted kids to also have special needs. It’s known as “twice exceptional”. My son has both a 504 plan and an ALP. The ALP isn’t as strict, meaning it’s not based on federal law, and parents don’t really have input. My son comes up with his goals with the GT counselor.

      1. Little Mouse with Clogs On*

        Seconding this – your son definitely sounds like he’s twice exceptional (2e). Check out nacg.org – it’s the website for the National Association for Gifted Children, and they have a lot of resources for 2e kids and their families.

      2. Natalie*

        Yes, this is what I’m thinking as well.
        Where I am, we call it being ‘duel identified,’ but it’s exactly as Generic Name describes it. Can you ask your son’s school to have him tested for being Gifted? The process varies widely between school districts, but most will honor a parent’s request.
        There’s actually quite a large overlap between students identified as SPED and students identified as gifted.

    5. J.B.*

      Our district does single subject acceleration. You might be able to request testing to see if he qualifies for math. But IEP world normally doesn’t do much for twice exceptionality.

    6. Don'tbeadork*

      Get him tested in math to see if he is GT in that area. If so, you may be able to have him pulled out to do math in another class. From what you say, he’s in elementary school, so it shouldn’t be that hard to have him walk down the hall to another classroom during mathematics (but obviously I don’t know how your school district operates; it may not be that easy).

      I teach at the high school level, but none of the 504 IEPs I’ve seen addressed kids being above level, because they could simply schedule advanced kids into the appropriate level classes as they set them up for the school year, possibly making necessary adjustments at the end of the first or second marking period.

  2. Cat and dog fosterer*

    Does anyone have any happy news or stories about pets? It has been an awful month for me, with sick kittens and a dog with behavior problems. They have finally gone to other fosters so that I can get a break, and I really need one. If you want to share something fun then I would appreciate it!

    As an added note:
    Thank you to everyone who works to spay and neuter cats. This month was a reminder of why I work to TNR colonies, because it limits the number of sick and dead kittens. The most important thing you can do with a cat is get it fixed. Thank you to everyone who adopts a cat and ensures it gets fixed!

    1. Jackalope*

      We adopted kittens last year and they are still a ton of fun. They’re calmer and more sedate than they were but still super playful, more so than the older cats. Just got up from a bit of a nap where I had one cat sprawled partly over one leg and a kitten (soon I’ll have to stop calling them that!) over my calves. Very snuggly.

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        Thank you for adopting a pair! Many local rescues are requiring that young kittens have a buddy, either a sibling or a furry friend already in the home. Some people really fight that rule, yet the fosters and rescues know it is for the best. For those who only want a young singleton then they can go to the SPCA. Thank you for sharing! And I think my pup will be a puppy until I adopt another puppy many years from now. I guess it’s like the baby of a family always being the baby! They are your kittens :)

        1. Generic Name*

          I keep hearing this, and I’m confused as to why the place I adopted from wouldn’t let me adopt a pair of kittens like I wanted. I’ve always had 2 cats, and I wanted to get 2 kittens so they could have a friend. I adopted one kitten one week and came by a week later and got another.

          1. Cat and dog fosterer*

            Very strange. Many rescues won’t allow puppies to be adopted as a sibling pair (they are more likely to have trouble with training and become aggressive with each other, plus there is a much higher demand for puppies) whereas kittens really thrive with a sibling. I’m sorry you had to go twice, but thank you for doing it!

    2. Love those darn cats*

      We adopted a bonded pair of semi-feral barn cats on our rural property. They are completely useless as mousers. They’re weird. But 12 years later we love them so much & my hubby built them special geriatric steps to their heated pillows, so they can purr & drool.

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        Know that I’m grateful. There are many feral cats who can’t be returned because their colony location is too dangerous, and barns are their only option. I love that they have special geriatric steps to their heated pillows, they are so lucky to have you.

    3. Hotdog not dog*

      Best Good Dog is enjoying life to the fullest, currently sleeping in my bed, having worn himself out with a nice long walk, dinner (with dessert! Dog ice cream), and play time.
      He had a rough start. We adopted him after he was rescued from a backyard breeder who kept him outdoors in a small cage. He weighed about half of what he should have, had trouble walking due to muscle atrophy, and at around age 7 had never been indoors. When he was 12, he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. We chose to focus on quality over quantity, and ramped up the spoiling. We hoped, but didn’t expect to have him with us much longer.
      At his last checkup the vet found NO regrowth of the tumor and proclaimed him in good health for his age. He will be 14 soon and brings us joy every day. He loves his walks, his toys, getting treats, and meeting new dogs and people on his daily rounds. By all signs, he’s a happy guy.

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        I’m sorry for his diagnosis, yet so thankful that it hasn’t grown! He’s lucky that he had you when he needed it most, to help him put on weight and muscle. Backyard breeders are as awful as puppymills, and those who work to rehabilitate the adults are the best. Thank you and best wishes for more healthy years!

    4. Macaroni Penguin*

      Thank you! I’m a social type worker who paid to get a client’s cat neutered.* Said client had no realistic way to get the procedure done. So I said, Nope! I shall not tolerate this. The cycle of extra kittens stops here. I’m going to throw my money at said problem and Do Something. And now Mr. Nibblecat is neutered. Score one point for The Greater Good.
      *Done through appropriate systems and the client doesn’t know that I’m responsible for Magic happening.

      1. a chill cat*

        I recently was laid flat out by … you know … and in the course of my recuperation realized that my 20 yer old couch had Served Its Purpose and needed to be replaced. My primary requirement for the new couch was that my cats look good on it — they’re tuxedos (both rescues) and a gray couch wouldn’t really flatter them. I found a fantastic vintage (but new condition) salmon pink couch and had it delivered this past Monday, and my darling beasties look fantastic on it. Between that and the four heated cat beds (LA gets “cold”! really!) they’re ready for cozy season.

        1. fposte*

          I thought you were going to say something about cat hair when you were choosing the sofa–I love that you went for best cat framing color!

        2. Cat and dog fosterer*

          Tuxes are always so dignified. They would probably look fantastic on any furniture but your choice sounds like a fun one!

        3. Tea and Sympathy*

          I love this. When a friend was looking for a new apartment, she bemused the realtor because all her preferences were based on what her two cats would like (like able to see birds out the window). The apartment she chose is laid out in such a way that the cats can run in a straight line from one end to the other. I helped her look at a few, and it was fun to look from a cat’s point of view.

        4. Blinx*

          Last time I bought a couch it was also with my (then) cats in mind. The back was made of 3 cushions which were constantly squashed by a cat. The pillows developed permanent divots. My new couch has a very solid (but comfy) 1-piece back.

      2. Cat and dog fosterer*

        You are the best!! This fills my heart with happiness, thank you.
        Our rescue helps out people with these situations, to find them cheaper options because regular vet care is so expensive. There are vet clinics out of town that do cheaper surgeries, so we arrange for someone to drive a bunch of them. I wish that there were easier ways to help, but every cat fixed is a step in the right direction.

        It is particularly important to get owned male cats fixed because they eventually *stink* and when that happens the owners put them outdoors, and that doesn’t help the cat or the owner. In your case you have not only saved kittens from being born, but you have also really saved Mr. Nibblecat from a hard future. Welcome to the world of cat rescue where we spend our own money… yet that money changed two lives forever and it’s hard to think of a better way to spend it!

        1. Macaroni Penguin*

          You’re the best too! The situation is difficult, but there are other humans out there trying to make a difference.

      1. Cat’s Cradle*

        Congrats! My little street cat (rescued when she was 5-weeks old so she’s faking her street cred) has come around to sitting near me and demanding scritches but cuddles are still off limits. It takes a lot of love and trust for these former ferals to come around but it’s so worth it.

        1. Cat and dog fosterer*

          It does take a lot of love and time, but when they start to trust then it really shifts something in them and changes their life. Thank you for being someone that she can trust.

      2. Cat and dog fosterer*

        I love it when skittish cats decide that they love cuddles. Thank you for working with your rescue cat and taking that chance!

    5. blue giraffe*

      we got our cat when she was 10. She was the old cat at the shelter with a heart murmur. We knew she was our cat because she was sitting on a cat tree in a open room. All 4 of us started petting her at once. After around 10 or 15 seconds she stood up, and I thought “oh no! too much attention”, but she only rotated to get the nails in a better position. She’s now 18, still has heart trouble, still soaks up all the attention she can get.

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        What a lovely match for you. Thank you so much for taking a chance on a cat with a heart murmur, and I love that you have had so many years with her.

    6. Cat’s Cradle*

      Thank you for doing what you do!

      We have 6 cats and five came off the streets to us as kittens. It’s a bit crazy around here and there’s a lot of fur but everyone’s happy. One of the younger cars is my little Velcro cat and cries if I need to run to the store so I was worried how she’d do when I ent back to work full-time. My husband works from home and he reported that she spent the first day hiding, only coming out to cry at the bathroom door (I guess she thought the toilet ate me). By today she was spending most of her time out in the main parts of the house with her siblings and even cuddled with my husband a bit.

      I miss her mid-day snuggles but I’m glad she’s adjusting and storing up her cuddles for the evening.

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        Returning to work is hard on everyone, but good to hear that she’s adjusting well and the extra evening cuddles are ideal!

    7. AlabamaAnonymous*

      My couch is currently taken up by my 60 pound great dane/greyhound rescue pup! I got her from the local animal rescue two years ago where she was because she had been removed from her previous owner for neglect. She was scared of everything and her legs were covered in tiny scratches. She is now friendly with everyone–human, canine, feline (except squirrels!)–happy, healthy, has her own easy chair in the living room, and goes to doggie day-care every day. She loves a good run with her friends at the dog park followed by a pup cup!

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        She’s lucky to have you, and to now have so many furry and human friends and a best life. Thank you for loving her!

    8. Mars and Meatball*

      I’m the foster hooman for Mars, who’s been with me for almost a year now. He likes to patrol the hallways of my apartment building, and he’s low key obsessed with the neighbour’s cat who I just found out is called Meatball.

      Mars stalks silently across the hall and sits, transfixed on the neighbour’s door clearly hearing and smelling things I do not. Meatball also likes to patrol the halls; however, no silent stares for this good girl. She stalks, then scratches at our door and meows out to Mars as if HE is encroaching on HER territory.

      Yesterday, they caught sight of each other for the first time. They locked eyes, stared for one tense moment, then fled in unison to their respective safe places.

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        I love that Mars and Meatball have such great humans who give them mental and physical stimulation in the building hallways. Thank you for caring for Mars and giving him such a great life.

    9. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      The Fruitcakes (two hounds) caught a scent on the wind and took me for a walk yesterday. A random guy out cleaning up leaves with his bagger/mower got a good laugh out if it.

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        *sigh* Been there, done that. At least the hounds had fun and someone got a good laugh! Plus you got some good cardio, right?! Even if you didn’t need it…

    10. Not Australian*

      We adopted a two year old special needs boy cat back in the summer. He came with a number of health problems related to his difficult start in life – rescued from a hoarding/inbreeding situation, four homes in two years etc. – and is always going to be undersized and blind in one eye. However we’ve got some condition back into him and he’s acclimatised to sharing space with two fairly senior girl cats, and our vet is now willing to neuter him at long last. It was a problem for a while because his general condition was so poor, and also because the poor thing has cryptorchidism … i.e. one inside, one outside … which means he needs more serious surgery than a ‘normal’ cat. This is massive for all of us, because he’s a tiny bit aggressive/over enthusiastic with the other two, and we think the (presumably) smell of male hormones upsets them. They *have* lived with boy cats before, but it’s five years since the previous one died and they’ve got out of the habit. Anyway, two weeks from now we’ll be able to book the surgery and hopefully get it well out of the way before the end of the year … hooray!

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        You are so good for taking him on despite all the extra care that he needs! Everyone will be so much happier when he gets his trouble nuggets lobbed off. Best wishes for an easy surgery and quick recovery!

    11. Ali G*

      Thank you for the work you do! I want to foster but my husband isn’t on board yet. I am currently volunteering at adoption events one day a month.

      We lost our Old Man Dog back in July and we both miss him so much. I am so excited that when my SIL visits for Thanksgiving she’s bringing their dog with them. He’s a giant, sweet dog, and it will be nice to have a 4-legged friend around again, even just for a few days. I am going to have to make sure I am appropriately happy so see the humans as well as the dog :)

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        I need a long break from fostering dogs because they can be a lot of work. I know some folks don’t want anyone to admit that rescue dogs can come with problems, and I also know that many rescue dogs are wonderful and easy, but my experience tells me that everyone in the home needs to be ready to foster dogs because it can be exhausting if they aren’t adjusting well. Some of them will mask behavior problems in the shelter and bring all sorts of surprises when they get to a foster home. Cats aren’t perfect either, but they don’t tend to hide aggression and they don’t need to be walked so are much easier. It will all work out when you’re both ready. Volunteering at adoption events is such a great way to help!

        I think it’s okay to prefer the dog to the humans, but I’m biased!

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        I’ve seen it before, it’s such a cute video! They were lucky that they were okay, poor little things.

        1. Writer Claire*

          Apparently he made a few follow-up videos, showing the kittens in his truck and later at his house. Y’all doing the good work.

    12. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      I took my cat to the vet Monday, 100% sure he was going to tell me all they could do was put him to sleep. After the better part of a week in the hospital he’s home–purring, playing, eating and drinking like a champ, a little wobbly and currently giving me the stink-eye because I had the NERVE to make him take his meds but otherwise back to the cuddly blob I love.

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        I’m so happy for you! It’s so hard when they get sick because we don’t want them to be in pain and they can’t talk to us, and yet it’s such a relief when they get better and we know that we’ve made the right decision. Give him a cuddle for me!

    13. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My puppy got spayed-plus a couple weeks ago and has been recovering (quite well!). This week, at exactly 11:30 every day (which is the midpoint between her morning and afternoon medications, I have no idea if that’s coincidental or not) she has gotten up and started sort of lumbering around my office, randomly bumping into and leaning on me, and occasionally very carefully taking my hand in her mouth and just holding it gently until I take it back (which is right away, of course). She’s a grey Dane baby, just shy of 85 pounds, so I have been calling this my daily hippopotamus attack. It lasts about 20 minutes, then she lays back down and goes back to sleep. Cracks me up. She’s done with all her meds as of today, so we’ll see if it continues :)

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        I love the idea of a hippo attack. Best wishes on a continued healthy recovery, and thank you for that fun image!

    14. Laura Petrie*

      I have a houseful of rodents- 11 rats and 3 guinea pigs. 9 of the rats are rescues, mostly from someone I used to work with, who has a small animal charity. Our most recent additions are a pair of young girls. One had to have an eye removed and the other a partial tail amputation after they first arrived in rescue. They’re both lovely girls despite their ordeal and have settled in so well.

      I’m also hobbling around on crutches at the moment due to a broken foot and ankle. The rats know something is wrong and have been extra snuggly, showering me with affection.

      The guinea pigs are all rescues, a neutered boar and two sows. The lad is scared of his own shadow but is really comical. The girls sing me a duet when they think they’re hungry and have the most ridiculous hair. Rodents are ace!

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        I love rodents! I’m a fan of hamsters in particular, but I’ve had a rabbit, rats, and cared for gps over the years. I love their little grunts and squeals! They are the best :)

      2. Seashell*

        My household recently adopted a guinea pig. I had one as a kid, but he always ran away from me. Our adopted one likes to sit on people and get petted, which is refreshing. The adoption was pushed for by the kid, but us adults are enjoying the guinea pig more than expected.

    15. the cat's ass*

      Thank you for what YOU do, and I’m glad you’re getting a little break.

      Our 1 and 2 year old teenage cats are getting along really well, and frequently hang out on the cat tree together. Our Old Guy kitty got some new chicken flavored liquid medicine for his blood pressure and it’s really perked him up!

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        The best thing that ever happened to pet medication is the development of compounded chicken-flavored meds. I’m glad to hear that he’s feeling better and I hope it continues for many years!

    16. Random Bystander*

      Well, I have a number of cats in my house–four of them were intentional adoptions from a rescue about 8 years ago. These are Circe (now 14.5 years old) who is a long-haired dilute calico; Autumn (probably 11 years old) who is a short-haired calico who was trapped together with the next two and is believed to be mother to them; Domino (10.5 years old) who is a black-and-white cow pattern short hair and TV (also about 10.5 years old now) who is a black-and-white tuxie girl. Domino is the only male of that group.

      Then, in 2016, my middle son came home from work after 10pm and said that there was a cat crying outside and it was so cold (in February) that he thought it was illegal for a cat to be outside. Since I had the other four, I couldn’t just bring this cat into the house, so I got her into my garage. Set up food and water which vanished into the emaciated little cat while I was making a litterbox. She produced diarrhea that smelled so foul that I’m quite sure it could have been used as a weapon. So, morning came and I called my vet–got her healthy and she became my Cosette (Cosy), a tortie cat with full levels of tortitude.

      Then, between my house and my next door neighbor’s, a bit of a colony started to develop. At one point, we had three mostly gray females, a brown tabby tom, and a gray and white tom, and a black tom. My budget was limited. The summer that got me started on what I called my “Tiny TNR Project”, the three females all had litters–the gray tabby with white feet and chest (Socks–not that any of these cats answer to their names) had three kittens–a gray-and-white and two brown tabbies. The mostly gray dilute calico (Callie) had two kittens–a calico and an orange tabby. The all gray tabby (Lady Jane) had four kittens. Out of those, only one brown tabby and the orange tabby survived. I managed to get the two kittens trapped (they were about 6 months old by the time I got them), Callie disappeared, but I was able to get Socks and Lady Jane spayed (and then returned them to outside–they are feral and really only tolerate my presence if I am bringing food–they run if they think I am too close). The two boys–(brown tabby is now Jemmy-any-dots and orange tabby is Leo)–were neutered. I thought I was going to just socialize them and adopt them out, but they ended up staying with me. Jemmy is very shy, and I’m the only person who can reliably get to pet him even though it’s nearly two years since I brought them indoors. When I pet him, he really gets into it and rolls over for tummy lovings. Leo is still best buds with Jemmy (something I know would not remain true if I had not intervened).

      Now, the cute story: TV is a cat who requires a great deal of affection. She has a habit–if you were petting her and stop before she’s ready for you to stop, she will reach out and grab your hand with one paw. She has now taught that trick to all the other cats.

      Leo, the orange tabby, also wears a blue collar that includes a bow tie. It is truly striking against his orange fur.

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        You are amazing! Thank you for changing so many lives. Colonies start so quickly… one female cat has a litter, and then her kittens have a litter, and suddenly there are 20 cats having kittens. You saved dozens of kittens from being born and dying, and I’m so grateful!

        Give Jemmy a bellyrub for me, and scritches to TV, and I love that Leo has a blue bow tie.

    17. Liz*

      My family are magnets for strays and rescues, but here’s my favourite story:

      My dad’s current pair came from a local rescue. One managed to escape the rescue’s outdoor enclosure and wound up in my dad’s garden. After 2 weeks of very carefully gaining her trust she let us scoop her up. She was chipped and we traced her back to the rescue where she was registered, and wound up adopting her and her brother also who was still in need of a home. Both were extremely timid and proving impossible to rehome. The foster carer was astonished at the progress we made with her in just 2 weeks and couldn’t believe she was the same cat!

      For a recent success story, this timid pair had to go to the vet recently, and she had a bit of a setback. For a month, she slunk around the house like she was expecting to be abducted any second! So second time we’ve put in some very careful measures to make sure she could be crated as quickly and stressfree as possible. Whatever we did paid off – due is back to her usual loving (if occasionally skittish) self.

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        Oh my goodness that’s such a great story! To think that she escaped and decided to trust your father who then adopted her… love this! You have some really good family, thank you for being so good to those who need it most.

    18. Rara Avis*

      Our super shy wild woman has started jumping up on the couch to say hi. She still runs away from any attention she doesn’t initiate, but my kid is winning her affection with treats. (She LOVES the Churru-style pouches.). She is also a talker with a cute little squeaky meow. She’s currently head-butting my arm to tell me to stop typing.

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        Churru and meat tubes are the best friend to anyone trying to gain the trust of a skittish cat. Your kid is an awesome human for caring so much about her. This is so nice to hear, thank you so much for taking her in! We need more families like yours :)

    19. MissCoco*

      We got a new guinea pig buddy for our young male pig this spring. I’ve never met a more nervous guy, and then he got a nasty eye infection which set us back a lot as far as him associating us with being picked up and having his eye messed with multiple times per day, but in the last couple weeks we’ve turned a corner. He now carefully watches us while cleaning the cage instead of running away, he’ll accept us setting food in front of him, and he has even spoken up and we’ve heard his wheeks demanding food at dinner time!

      Every guinea pig has a slightly different voice, and it’s so fun to learn what his sounds like.

      1. Laura Petrie*

        My shy guy is much better than he was. When we first brought him home he hated the doorbell and was terrified if anyone jingled keys.

        He won’t let us pick him up, and runs a mile if we go anywhere near the pigs’ enclosure. However, he almost comes out of his house to eat his breakfast now and he’s brave if his girls are shouting for food. Not sure I’ve heard him wheel but he loves to popcorn when we change the hay over.

      2. Might Be Spam*

        They each have their own personality. Our guinea pig (Kristy Yamapiggy) was great with kids. During mammal week at school, we would bring her and all the kids would sit in a big circle. She would walk around the circle and let them pet her, while we talked about mammals and guinea pigs in particular.

      3. Cat and dog fosterer*

        I looooove gp wheeks! I often have to give meds to new arrivals, and the only good thing is that they then go to another foster who can be the Good Guy. Funny that they often are really nice to the new foster because they seem grateful about the lack of yucky medicine. I don’t take it personally, because in the end it’s all about getting them physically healthy and also social, even if I have to be the Bad Guy. It’s great that he’s finally learning to trust you! I wish you many more wheeks :)

    20. RLC*

      In April 2021 we adopted our cat Mari who was left without a family when her humans died in December 2020. Her foster carers got her physically healthy but she was a scared, emotionally traumatized little girl when we brought her home.
      A year and a half later she’s our purring teddy bear who loves belly rubs (unlike any cat we’ve had), coos like a dove when she’s happy, LOVES her creamy treats and spring toys, and snuggles all day with her adopted big sister cat.

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        There is nothing better than a cat who is truly grateful for their loving home and knows how to show it. Adorable spoiled kittens are wonderful too, but the satisfaction when you know that they trust and love you… there is nothing better. Thank you for your patience while she recovered.

    21. Green Mug*

      We have a cat that is bonded to our child who left for college this year. After the child left, the cat spent weeks hiding under a chair. I would crouch down and wriggle around her favorite toy. She purred but didn’t play. I felt like she was saying that she appreciated the effort but no thank you. Then one glorious afternoon, she came out and snuggled with me. I did nothing that day except love that cat. Since that day, I often see her sleeping on top of the chair. She snuggles with our other cat. Happily, she will sometimes snuggle with me too. A few nights ago she even crawled right under the covers and curled up next to me to sleep. I really love this cat. She is adorable and has the cutest little kitty meows you have ever heard. I’m feeling optimistic that she is adjusting to the new quieter house.

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        That’s such a lovely update! It takes time for them to adjust, but she clearly feels more comfortable with you now. Thank you for having the patience that she needed. She’s lucky to have you!

      2. Clisby*

        Awww, that sounds like our 16-year-old cat, who *really* missed our son when he went to college two years ago. They used to sleep together every night. Neither of us is up for sleeping with a pet, but we’re giving lots of extra lap time.

    22. Pyjamas*

      The community cat who came in from the cold four years ago is still thriving thanks to Elavil. Unmedicated he’s an aggressive biter—send to ER for antibiotics—that I’m pretty sure got him kicked outside in the first place. With meds he’s a love bug. That’s one cat off the streets (also we neutered him)

      1. Dog and cat fosterer*

        You are such a wonderful person for finding a way to live with a biter. The neutering is just a little bonus in comparison to what you took on, because it is not easy. Thank you, thank you!

    23. Don'tbeadork*

      We had a foster fail (it was deliberate) just last week. Our girl was finally cleared to adopt and they let us do it over the phone.

      1. Dog and cat fosterer*

        Yay! I wish you many healthy and happy years together. The best fail is a foster fail :)

    24. Blinx*

      My dog of many years died this spring. While he was wonderful, he did not like cats. The cats had died years ago, and I really missed having them. But I also missed having a dog “buddy”. I wanted to have 1 dog and 1 cat. I ended up adopted an 8 year old Corgi mix who is SO laid back! Months later I adopted a 3 month old kitten. From the first night they were both sleeping on my bed! They don’t snuggle with each other (yet), but have a lot of fun playing together. The dog is crazy about fetch, and now the kitten is too! He fetches pieces of crumpled paper. I’m completely happy.

      1. Dog and cat fosterer*

        Such fun! My neighbor has a corgi who is too old for fetch yet I love her gentle and calm attitude. I’m biased, I love when cats and dogs are besties. I would be happy too!!

    25. Generic Name*

      Here’s my happy pet story (I promise it has a happy ending): I grew up in a cat household. Pretty much have always had cats except when I was in college. When I was married to my ex husband, we had a pair of cats. One died around the age of 14 and the other one lived even longer. My ex had been saying he was tired of dealing with cat litter and destroyed furniture, so he didn’t think we should get any more cats. I disagreed, but the nature of my relationship made it very difficult to disagree with my ex, so I put my faith in the Universe that the Universe would send me more cats. Well, lo and behold, my ex and I decided to divorce. The weekend after we had The Conversation, I went out and adopted a kitten. Ex hadn’t even moved out yet. A week after that, we got a second kitten. Reader, these two cats are at the top in terms of the best cats I ever had. One cat is very outgoing and affectionate. He’s very doglike, and he is very friendly when visitors come to the house. We’ve taught him to sit and shake with treats, just like a dog! I love watching their antics, and when my son was at his dad’s I was never lonely because my cats kept me company.

      Eventually I met the love of my life, and he came with a dog. We eventually decided to adopt a puppy together, as his dog was getting older. The puppy we got is simply amazing. She’s sweet and affectionate and very well behaved, and watching her with the cats is a hoot. I normally have at least 2 pets in the room with me at all times. I haven’t laughed this much in years. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs with me the past several years, and my pets have been a constant source of joy for me.

      1. Dog and cat fosterer*

        Love this! Animals constantly remind me that they are better company than most people. It’s why I foster rather than doing fundraising! Even on the sad days at least I know that I tried, and there is always happiness somewhere (one of the kittens had to be forcefed but he didn’t make it and I think he knew that he was too sick but I couldn’t not try to help, and while sad at least he was safe and warm and his sisters are full of energy and make me feel pretty good!)
        Thank you for sharing and give them a cuddle!

    26. Morning reader*

      I have kittens! Brought home a sibling pair from the shelter an hour ago. So far Big Old Grumpy Cat has only hissed at them lightly, through the baby gate. I am calling the calico Chessie after the railroad kitten, but haven’t decided on her brother’s name.

    27. Mrs. D*

      I’m coming late to the conversation, but every single one of my cats is a rescue cat. Out of the 6(!) we currently have, 5 have been from the feral colony in our backyard. We love them all dearly, and every time we adopt another we say “no more cats! We have enough!” Then another inevitably wends their way into our heart and we just can’t say no. The youngest are still discovering new benefits to being indoors, and they all love snuggling on the multiple cat beds and cozy blankets scattered around the house. All of them except the oldest (she’s 21! I adopted her when she was 1 during my second year of college) enjoy outdoor privileges during the day. We have two tabbies, two tuxies, and two all-black cats, and two of them are from the same litter (we couldn’t bear to separate them). We can’t imagine life without any of them!

  3. Jackalope*

    Reading thread! Please share what you’re reading; any sort of reading works!

    I finished Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco this week. I enjoyed it a lot but was deeply dismayed to learn that a) it’s a trilogy rather than a duology, and b) the third book isn’t published yet.

    1. DannyG*

      Shuttle, Houston: My Life in the Center Seat of Mission Control… Paul Dye.. for space nuts. Mission Control from shuttle through the space station.

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        Thanks for that, I’ll check it out!
        I greatly enjoyed Gene Kranz’ Failure is not an option.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I read Three Miles Down by Harry Turtledove, about a hapless graduate student studying whale songs who gets dragged along as cover on a mission to secretly recover a sunken Russian sub, which is cover for a mission to secretly recover a spaceship 3 miles below the surface of the Pacific. Set in 1973 with Watergate in the background.

      One of those where I liked the set-up but my interest petered out midway, as it was going less after “Where did the aliens come from and what do they want?” and more “How important is international cooperation to the pursuit of science?” (Very important! But, you know, the topic isn’t exactly a space battle.)

      I am now rereading The Thursday Murder Club, following on reading the third in the series. All three books hold up and are a delight.

      1. dear liza dear liza*

        I have tried a few of his books because the premises are so interesting, but he always seems to follow a tangent that bores me. One time – I think it was a “if Nazis won WW2”- the plot focused on the card game bridge, and the dialog was all about bridge hands.

    3. Mia*

      I just finished People We Meet on Vacation from Emily Henry, and it was ok but not great. Other October reads were Malibu Rising and Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo from Taylor Jenkins Reid (I’m super late to the party on her and Emily Henry), The Echo Wife which is sci-fi and very different, from Sarah Gailey, and The Stroke of Winter from Wendy Webb which was disappointing. The Dictionary of Lost Words from Pip Williams was one I read earlier this year and it was fantastic!

      1. Bluebell*

        I’m such a big fan of Sarah Gailey – love the way she jumps around genres. My first read of hers was River of Teeth, and a few months ago I read Just Like Home.

          1. Bluebell*

            Whoops – in the back of my brain I knew that. Sorry! I’m looking forward to their next book, whatever genre they choose.

      2. Hotdog not dog*

        The Dictionary of Lost Words is next in my TBR pile. I’m planning to start it this weekend!

      3. Lilo*

        I felt like there was very little plot to People We Meet on Vacation. I also found the characters a but bland.

      4. Rosyglasses*

        I was pretty disappointed in People we meet in vacation as well – I love a chill easy read but it was, as another commenter mentioned, bland.

      1. Pippa K*

        I’ve just started rereading this one for the nth time – the Watch novels might be my Discworld favorites!

    4. Bluebell*

      I read two memoirs this week: Left on Tenth by Delia Ephron, and Dirtbag, Massachusetts by Isaac Fitzgerald. Both had their intense moments—Ephron’s dealt with her stem cell transplant for leukemia, as well as a late in life romance. Fitzgerald’s dealt with his difficult childhood, and young adult years in San Francisco. Also read Adult assembly Required by Abby Waxman, sort of a sequel to her Nina Hill book.

    5. Roland*

      Just finished Birthday of the World by Ursula K Le Guin. A little bittersweet since it means that I’ve now read every novel and story in the Hainish setting as far as I can tell. Of course she has many other writings I still haven’t read, but it was a good ride and it’s too bad it’s ending.

      1. Jessica*

        Wow, thank you for mentioning this! I thought I had read the entire Hainish cycle, but I did not know about the existence of this book.

    6. Cat’s Cradle*

      I’m listening to Two Necromancers, a Dwarf Kingdom, and a Sky City by L. G. Estrella on audible and it’s delightful. Definitely on the light and fluffy side with vibrant characters, absurd situations, and some serious heart. The reader is excellent and elevates an already fun story.

      The first in the series (Unconventional Heroes) should be free on audible and I highly recommend it for a fun, non-serious read. It reminds me of some of my favorite DnD sessions where absurdly overpowered magic is getting thrown around and everyone’s talking and the barbarian’s running into the middle of the wizard’s fireballs and it’s all chaotic fun.

      1. Lemonwhirl*

        I am halfway through and am absolutely loving it. |

        If you enjoy it, I think you’d also enjoy “The Last One” by Alexandra Oliva.

    7. Sue*

      Eclectic list but recently finished:
      Circe
      The Bullet That Missed
      Lucy By The Sea
      several Ann Cleeves Vera series
      Hello, Molly! (Molly Shannon’s autobiography)
      She narrates the audiobook and has an entertaining and compelling story.
      About to start:
      The Magician
      Jesus and John Wayne

      1. Seashell*

        I read Hello, Molly! and enjoyed it. Memoirs that are funny and serious are probably my favorite book genre. I am currently reading Lucy By The Sea.

    8. Not A Manager*

      I am embarrassed to say that I just finished a book called House of Hunger, which is a ostensibly a mildly erotic horror novel. It was strongly reviewed in The New York Times, and also garnered some awards I think, and all I can say is, if this is the best of the genre I don’t think much of it. On the other hand, I did not toss the book in the trash but instead stayed up until 2 am finishing it. Another 2 am that I will never get back.

    9. Not A Manager*

      I am embarrassed to say that I just finished a booked called House of Hunger, which is ostensibly a mildly erotic horror novel. It was strongly reviewed in The New York Times, and also garnered some awards I think, and all I can say is, if this is the best of the genre I don’t think much of it. On the other hand, I did not toss the book in the trash but instead stayed up until 2 am finishing it. Another 2 am that I will never get back.

    10. Not my usual name*

      I’ve reading Richard Osman, The Bullet That Missed. It’s warm, funny and undemanding, but I wondering if a shark has been jumped as its all getting a bit too fantastical.

      Prior to this, I read Lucy Worsley’s biography of Agatha Christie, which was excellent – sympathetic but clear sighted, and – like the author’s biography of Jane Austen – was also a bit of social history

      1. English Rose*

        Oh I read the Richard Osman recently, loved it!
        I’ve just put the Lucy Worsley on my list – I find Agatha Christie such an interesting person.

      2. Irish Teacher*

        I just finished Richard Osman’s “The Bullet that Missed” last night and I agree with you. The two stories seem to be completely unrelated, the thriller typed one was…pretty unrealistic and was solved way too easily and it all got rather too convoluted.

    11. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      Still on my Somerset Maugham trip,now reading The Narrow Corner. The colonial mindset is yikes, but it’s darkly thrilling and gives me wanderlust.

    12. JustForThis*

      I’ve read Naomi Novik’s Scholomance trilogy in the last week, after I randomly came across a comment on another writer’s blog raving about the tightly plotted twists in the last volume, making me really curious. The protagonist, El, discovers a lot of new information in the last volume, which puts many things in a new perspective, and I liked that. Overall, I felt that the series was a bit uneven: There were pacing issues, the series could not decide whether it wanted to focus on developing character relationships in great detail or just wave at it with vague gestures, the languages characters speak and do not speak are Very Important until it creates problems for a scene etc. But many of the ideas are interesting, and I’m glad I read it.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        I read Scholomance #3 a couple weeks ago and was also disappointed. My main complaint is that all the problems were solved in this one by El doing vast quantities of magic with no more than token effort. In the first one she was limited by her lack of spells, lack of mana, lack of allies, her own ethics and the need for secrecy. It made for a very interesting story.

        There wasn’t really any character or relationship building either.

        And not much El snark. That was the best part!

    13. English Rose*

      Just finished Guardian Cats and the Lost Books of Alexandria by Rahma Krambo and enjoyed it very much although I felt it lost momentum at a few points.
      Marco is a young cat who learns to read. Ge us forced to leave his comfortable home and meets an elderly cat called Cicero in a local library. Cicero is a Guardian Cat, who watches over a mystical book saved from the burning of the ancient Library of Alexandria. Cicero is looking for a new guardian to take over his sacred duties. Could Marco be that guardian? Can Marco find his place as leader of the Dead Cats Society? Can Marco save the book from an evil magician? Seek within for the answers to these and other questions!

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        I just listened to the audiobook for A Warrior’s Spirit by Erin Hunter. I came across it in my library app. More cat adventures, it was interesting.

    14. Atheist Nun*

      I am hoping to go to Paris for the first time in January, so in “preparation” I am catching up on Fred Vargas’s books. I love the humor in her mystery novels. I also like how the supernatural elements in her book wind up having a logical explanation, while the brilliance of Inspector Adamsberg’s thinking is that it is kind of magical. My apartment building has a “lending library” where tenants can leave books for others, and there is a patchy selection from the series there. I finished This Night’s Foul Work and have just started The Ghost Riders of Ordebec.

    15. Ildrummer*

      I took the advice of a commenter in a previous weekend or Friday thread and have read The Phoenix Project and I’m almost done with its follow-on book, the Unicorn Project. They are both very good novelizations of project management and DevOps textbooks, essentially. A lot more fun to read then either a textbook or a dry case study.

    16. Teapot Translator*

      I read two books I liked!
      First, On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden (graphic novel). I would recommend it for anyone who likes Becky Chambers novels.
      Second, This is How You Love the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. I wish more SF (and F) novels were short like this one. (why must they all be over 300-400 pages long???)

      1. NeonFireworks*

        I enjoyed both of these! If you liked On a Sunbeam, I recommend Across a Field of Starlight by Blue Delliquanti (they/them).

      2. JustForThis*

        Thank you for recommending _On a Sunbeam_! As I really enjoy Becky Chambers, I went looking on a whim, found it and read it straight through, and its beautiful! For anyone else interested, it’s here: https://www.onasunbeam.com/

    17. PhyllisB*

      Since I can’t hit my local library yet, I’m reading books that I already own right now. No real sacrifice if you could see how many books I have!! Yesterday I finished Three Wishes by Barbara Delinsky. Very good!! Just have some tissues handy. I don’t cry over books, but even I got misty with this one. Thinking about a Victoria Holt next.

    18. Anon5775*

      America for beginners by Leah Franqui is lovely. An Indian widow travels to America in search of her son.

    19. Writer Claire*

      I’m halfway through Harry Connolly’s The Flood Circle, the latest in his Twenty Palaces series. On the one hand, I like how the main character has evolved over the series, and I especially like the relationship he has with his boss, the terrifying Annalise. My only quibble is that the book needed a bit of trimming (imo). However, since I read over half the book in three days, it obviously keeps my attention.

      My other book, which I’m dipping into now and then, is Cheating in a Nutshell. No, it’s not a how-to manual. It’s about “the reaction to being cheated on.” I don’t agree with a number of their points, but I’m getting some useful info for my own situation.

    20. fposte*

      Reading question: has anybody read the Elderly Lady mystery stories by Helene Tursten? I’m eyeing them both for myself and as a gift for a relative.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Re the “Elderly Lady” books: I really enjoyed them! Protagonist Maud, in her 80s, has hidden (and often homicidal) depths, yet also has her sympathetic side, and in some cases her victims really do seem to have asked for it. (Note that I’m also rather fond of Highsmith’s Tom Ripley, another protagonist of questionable morality.) The stories range from her present-day exploits to episodes from her past, and are darkly hilarious.

        I did like the first book best, An Elderly Lady Is Up To No Good; the second one, An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed, was enjoyable but not quite as much fun – though still a good read.

        1. fposte*

          Thank you! That sounds up my alley, and I’ll judge from my read whether to send them to my relative as well.

    21. Elle*

      More then you’ll ever Know by Katie Gutierrez. I don’t really like true crime but am reading it for book club and it’s great so far.

      1. Bluebell*

        I made it about 50 pages into More Than You’ll Ever Know and it just wasn’t pulling me in. Maybe another time.

    22. Rage*

      My friend, Avery Ames, just revealed the cover art for her next book, Serenade. It’s a sequel to the first book, Cambiare, which I absolutely loved (and not just because she’s my friend). You should check them out because they are really well-written (assuming you like fantasy).

      Serenade drops in January, and then she has another book coming out in May: The Longest Autumn. (Different series.) Definitely looking forward to that one as well.

    23. Girasol*

      Washington Post recommended some old school sci fi, so I’m slogging through Phillip K Dick’s Ubik. The plot is okay but I can’t recommend it. The sort of hubba-hubba description of the female characters that was normal in sci fi a few decades ago seems so weird and creepy now.

    24. J.B.*

      The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi. An alternate 19th century Paris with fantasy and many layers of story. It was great and the first book of a trilogy.

      1. Scarlet Magnolias*

        Reading “The Shrines of Gaiety” by Kate Atkinson and have not been able to get into it

    25. GoryDetails*

      Lots in progress as usual, with some notable ones:

      THE ALIENS AMONG US by James White, vintage-at-this-point SF but with White’s typically optimistic view of how spacefaring alien encounters might turn out. There are a couple of stories set in his marvelous “Sector General” ‘verse, and others that probably aren’t, with lots of fun twists. (One tale is from the viewpoint of a newly-sentient-and-telepathic cat on board a spaceship, attempting to help the smaller lab animals stage an escape; things get harrowing in places but everything turns out surprisingly well, given the setup!

      SORRY I’M LATE, I DIDN’T WANT TO COME by Jessica Pan, subtitled “One Introvert’s Year of Saying Yes”. While I’m very content with my own level of introversion/hermit-behavior, I enjoyed Pan’s accounts of her own efforts to push her personal boundaries. Lots of times this worked out quite well, and even when it didn’t, she realized that a not-great outcome wasn’t as bad as she’d feared.

      WHAT WE HARVEST by Ann Fraistat, a YA horror novel in which a handful of families in a remote farming community have had marvelous, near-miraculous and quite exotic crops/livestock for generations – but now must face a spreading blight that could doom them all. (Very creepy, though things don’t end nearly as badly as I’d expected!)

      And while I’m on YA books I’ll put in another plug for ANGEL FALLS by Julia Rust and David Surface; yes, they’re family and I’m prejudiced, but if I didn’t like it I wouldn’t mention it {wry grin}. They scored an appearance in John Scalzi’s “Whatever” blog’s “Big Ideas” just a few days ago!

    26. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I’m almost done with The Appeal by Janice Hallett, and boy does that plot drag on. The idea of a mystery unraveled in email format might sound interesting, but it’s executed very poorly – more of a gimmick than the creative narrative structure marketing makes it out to be. At least it’s a quick read that didn’t take too much of my time.

    27. Extranonymous*

      Billie Starr’s Book of Sorries by Deborah Kennedy – It starts out a little difficult/depressing to set up the backstory but then gets really good.

    28. GoryDetails*

      Took advantage of the “extra” hour last night to get into STATION ETERNITY by Mur Lafferty, which opens with the hilarious (to me) concept that there’s a person who suffers from “Jessica Fletcher” syndrome (my term): she discovers that she seems to attract murders, which occur wherever she goes, and which she has an odd ability to solve. People either think she’s nuts or homicidal or both, and even when they begin to believe that she isn’t actually committing the crimes, they’re understandably antsy about being around her. So her life on Earth got so harsh that she took an opportunity to go live on an alien space station, which is sentient and where there are only two other humans. She hopes her curse won’t affect the various aliens that live there and, so far so good – until she learns that a shuttle full of humans is due to arrive. Quite entertaining so far, even though it’s clear that being some kind of karmic murder-magnet wouldn’t be much fun at all…

      1. Caroline P.*

        I bought it but have not read it yet. I like your description of Jessica Fletcher syndrome.
        I hope it’s good, I plan to read it in my next vacation in a couple weeks. Do you like it?

    29. DataGirl*

      N.K. Jemisin’s new book, ‘The World We Make’ just came out so I’m re-reading the first book in the duology- ‘The City We Became’ as a refresher before reading the new book. Absolutely everything she writes is excellent. This series is about New York becoming alive, and the people (avatars of the five boroughs) who are trying to protect it from an outside, evil being. Really great exploration of topics of class, race, gender.

    30. OtterB*

      I’m reading The Life and Loves of E. Nesbit, biography by Eleanor Fitzsimons. I thoroughly enjoy Nesbit’s children’s books, even when rereading as an adult. The biography is a bit more of a slog but still interesting, especially when the author points out how characters and events from real life showed up in the books.

      I’m also reading Water Horse by Melissa Scott. High fantasy. I love Scott’s other books, but had started this one months ago and stalled out. Not sure why. Perhaps too many changes of viewpoint character, although they are all interesting, distinct, and well-written. This time it’s grabbing me much more. Vivid mix of characters and cultures.

      1. JustForThis*

        Edith Nesbit’s novels are truly wonderful! I loved the House of Arden series and _The Magic City_. Thank you for reminding me, time for a re-read.

    31. Don'tbeadork*

      Finishing up Robert van Gulik’s Judge Dee mysteries (for about the 47th time). I’ve been on a “read old friends” kick of late, so I’m rereading old favorite authors.

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

      Finished *Death Comes for the Archbishop*, which I had not realized was sort of a fictionalization of the lives to two real-life 19th-century bishops in the American Southwest/West, sprinkled with some episodic morality tales. I liked it, though like a lot of Willa Cather’s novels, it’s a slow build to a satisfying ending.

      Started Cather’s *Song of the Lark* about a young woman and her musical career. So far, so good, though there is perhaps a slightly creepy feel to her friendship with the local doctor.

      Also, casually dipping into 1999’s Mary Wings Emma Victor lesbian mystery *She Came in Drag*. It’s interesting to time travel back to that era to see what has changed .

    33. UKDancer*

      Just finished reading “The Maid” by Nita Prose. It’s about a woman called Molly who works in a hotel as a cleaner. Molly probably has autism (although this is never confirmed expressly) and sees the world slightly differently from a lot of people. She finds herself caught up in a murder when she’s cleaning one of her rooms.

      I really enjoyed reading it and thought it was well written.

    34. Caroline P.*

      Jennifer Estep – Only Bad Options : First book of A Galactic Bonds series. It’s a science-fiction /fantasy adventure with a dash of historical romance. It’s a great start for a series. I like the uniqueness of a scifi and fantasy mixing.

      Meghan Ciana Doidge – Instincts and Impostors: Book 5 of the Amplifier series. It’s a great fantasy with romance. She a great canadian author. If you don’t know her, I suggest going on her site for the suggesting reading order because a lot of her series are in the same universe

  4. Jackalope*

    Gaming thread! Please share whatever you’re playing this week; as always, all types of games are welcome, not just video games.

    I’m still working away on Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes. I’m at the point where I could win easily, but I’m trying to get people leveled up so I can use their higher skills in NG+ games.

    1. Melanie Cavill*

      I was deeply disappointed by 3H and it’s bland protagonist, would you recommend Three Hopes?

      I was reunited with my PS5 the other day and threw myself into Mass Effect: Legendary Edition while I eagerly await N7 day. I swear, I’m not usually this embarrassing about my favourite franchises. I’ve also been replaying FFVIII. I still vastly prefer it to FFVII. Come fight me, fanboys.

      1. Jackalope*

        Hmm, good question. Have you played any of the Warriors games? The protagonist in Three Hopes has more personality than Byleth, but Three Hopes is largely fan service for people who liked Three Houses and/or who like the Warrior game style. It has mostly the same characters and the same voice actors, etc. They tried to fix some of the issues with Three Houses but of course that brought about new problems. That being said, I’ve enjoyed it a lot but maybe see if you can try it out first if you didn’t like the last one? I think they have a demo you can download and try out if you don’t want to commit to the full game. (If I remember correctly it’s something like the first 4 chapters and then if you like it enough to buy it then you can keep your safe from the demo.)

      2. Vistaloopy*

        I’ve always loved FFVIII! Much better than the original FFVII. Although, I did love the FFVII remake and I’m eagerly awaiting part 2.

    2. Roland*

      I’ve been sick and just playing a ton of Diablo 3. It can be pretty mindless which makes it a good way to pass the time when I’m to sleep-deprived and blah to give books the full attention they deserve.

    3. professional nerd*

      I just picked up modern warfare 2 and played it for 8 hours. i really enjoyed the new gunsmith mechanics and im looking forward to seeing what else I can do with it. also playing animal crossing new horizons and working on leveling up my island.
      non video games i am in a DnD group and i am a high elf cleric that heals and talks crap while doing it. funny thing is he is also the tank of my party.

    4. English Rose*

      The only game I play these days is SIMS4, but I’ve recently been developing a super-Sim, who I’ve given every possible learning upgrade from toddler-hood onwards, and as a young adult learns so fast they are already at maximum skill level on (so far) 15 separate skills.

    5. Vistaloopy*

      My 5-year-old daughter wanted to learn chess after watching an episode of Bluey involving the game. I’ve been teaching her how to play and it’s adorable. Also a nice break from Candyland, though that’s pretty dope too, especially when you get the ice cream card right off the bat.

    6. TheMonkey*

      I’ve actually picked up Death Stranding, which is not my typical kind of game. But once you get past the weirdness of Norman Reedus standing naked on a beach holding a baby, there’s something of an interesting story there. And a bit of zen, tinged with just a hint of danger, of carrying everyone’s deliveries through this post-apocalyptic land. Definitely surprised that I am enjoying it this much.

    7. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      I just finished Yakuza 5 and I need to go lie down, try not to cry, and cry a lot. 6 is downloading now so I guess I’ll start it tomorrow. Meanwhile, I’m going to ignore Skyrim’s main plot for a while.

    8. Nessun*

      Currently enjoying playing the new Extra Life quest for Guild Wars 2, designed with the little girl from one of the supported hospitals. It’s super cute as a quest and enough of an achievement to feel significant. Plus I love the little extras and I’m an achievement hunter in general. Looking forward to the final Living World ep1 part to drop on Tuesday so the personal story is now mostly complete; filling in the gaps about Scarlet has been fun!

  5. Anonymous scary!*

    I’ve been enjoying reading the spooky stories this week (thanks, Alison!) and rereading previous years’ stories (and will never work late by myself again!).

    And they reminded me of something: Did anyone here used to read the old discussion forum for etiquettehell.com before it closed? There were some long-running chains of spooky stories that were really creepy!

    But one of the postings was an explanation for why people sometimes feel “something scary” even if there’s nothing there. The poster said there is a kind of sound wave that humans can’t hear but can feel and the body interprets it as danger. This was supposed to be one of the reasons why renovations sometimes make “bad spots” disappear–the waves aren’t bouncing around that building anymore.

    But I can’t remember what this was called! Does anyone remember this story and the name, or recognize what I’m trying to describe?

    1. Decidedly Me*

      Infrasound – sometimes called the “fear fequency” in articles, but searching for that term will bring up a movie by that name too. Try “infrasound and haunted houses”

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

      The wiki on infrasound is interesting, especially the 2003 experiment in the UK. Thanks for the rabbit hole!

      I think the original Ghost Hunters show also explained some “paranormal” feelings caused by electrical fields or faulty wiring…something like that.

      1. Catherine*

        I used to do exorcisms and when a house was “haunted” I always started by checking the air flow. A lot of haunting is solved with a CO2 monitor or a different air conditioner.

        1. JustForThis*

          I can’t be the only one intrigued by you mentioning “doing exorcisms” while also mentioning CO2 monitors. Do you mind elaborating a bit? Did you offer to get rid of paranormal activities, did so by using methods of known science, and whoever called your services might still have believed that you sent a ghost to its eternal rest?

          1. Catherine*

            Context is that I belong to my culture’s native/traditional polytheist religion, and started experimenting with western occultism and tarot at a young age. I am participant in my traditional religion as a minor religious functionary. This made me the go-to “woo” advisor in my friend groups, so that when someone felt things were wrong/bad in their house they’d ask me to check it out. By the time I was in my early twenties this had somehow turned into a word of mouth thing where my friends’ neighbors also wanted my help, at which point I started charging for it. At no point have I ever offered help to people I wasn’t already friends with, and I never advertise, because this wasn’t actually a thing I wanted to do as a job job. I never promise anything beyond ”

            Some houses are haunted and I have to do full prayer routines, some are haunted but it’s none of our business and you gotta live around it, some houses just have wonky air vents and the homeowner needs to call a contractor. It is my practice to try to rule out all mundane/structural faults before moving on to actually doing banishing work just because I want to be accurate about what I’m dealing with and how. There have also been cases where there was no physical problem with the house and no spiritual problem I could pick up on, but I wound up doing an exorcism for the placebo effect on the residents’ peace of mind.

            1. Jackalope*

              This may be something that you can’t share for personal/religious reasons, but I’m curious how you know/knew which houses that are haunted needed the full prayer routine and which ones you just needed to live around it. I would have thought that all of them should be the full prayer routine for the sake of everyone (including the haunters), but obviously I could be wrong.

              1. Catherine*

                It’s a judgment call based on whether I have “standing” to intervene in a situation. Not to get into too many details and doxx myself, but I mainly did this work in America, and one of the reasons (white) people would hire me was because I was foreign/ethnic enough to seem spiritually legitimate to them, while not being of the ethnicity transgressed against in that space (meaning that they didn’t have to apologize). There were times when the blood in the soil was 1) old enough and 2) from communities historically oppressed in America that I am not part of. I do not have the right to tell those ghosts to leave when they have better reason to be there than the homeowner does.

            2. JustForThis*

              This is fascinating. Thank you very much for taking the time to write such a detailed answer.

        2. Chilly Delta Blues*

          Please elaborate on how you did exorcisms for homes! That sounds fascinating.

          Also just had the thought that a cozy mystery series about someone that does home exorcism (but is really just a home inspector that’s brilliant at marketing) would be a fun read.

            1. PhyllisB*

              I was just going to mention Tamara Berry!! I just finished her first two books in this series, but not sure if I’ll read anymore.

    3. fposte*

      I first ran into this concept in an old Three Investigators kids’ novel, and I bet I’m not the only one.

      1. Chicago Anon*

        That was a fun series!
        Also, sometimes rooms feel creepy because the proportions are “off” somehow. Placement/size of windows and doors, for example, can make a room feel weird or welcoming.

        1. BubbleTea*

          What is now my son’s bedroom/my office felt extremely creepy before it was redecorated because it’s small, with a single-width window, and wonkily shaped, and it was inexplicably painted a very dark blue and full of wardrobes. It was like a cave. Cream walls and a light carpet, plus removal of excess furniture, has significantly improved it! No ghosts in here.

    4. GoryDetails*

      Mary Roach’s book SPOOK includes some discussion of infrasound – among lots of other fascinating chapters about various afterlife theories/experiments/practices. [The infrasound segment included a reference to the roar of a tiger, which includes that kind of low-frequency sound.]

  6. NeonDreams*

    Next weekend I’m driving 300 miles for a concert to a small city I’ve never been to. I really nervous because I haven’t attempted a solo driving trip for that long since my back surgery 7 years ago. I still have chronic pain from the surgery. My plan to is to take breaks every so often and turn on music through my phone to keep me alert. Any other good ideas to make the drive over easier?

    1. Cookie*

      If time isn’t a consideration, build in a couple of longer breaks for a walk, whether that’s a county or state park close to the highway or maybe a stroll around downtown of a small town en route. I do this whenever I can manage it – my family is an 8-hour drive from me. If I’m really flexible I might even visit a little museum.

      I’ve also been known to do yoga right next to the car, if my break time has to be short.

      I also listen to podcasts while driving. I can’t focus on an audiobook, but podcasts are just about the right level of engagement for me.

      Hope you have a good time!

    2. anonymoose*

      i find audiobooks keep me alert and pass the time better than music. my husband says the same thing and he used to get drowsy very fast while driving. we regularly make a similar length trip (about 4.5 hours) back home to visit family. if you have any tips for managing the back pain part I’d love to hear it because we’re planning the trip again next weekend and I’ve had sudden low back/butt pain for the last 2 weeks that makes sitting quite painful.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        I’m the same way. I listen to music at the beginning/end of a long drive when I’m not on the highway and need to be more alert to street signs, traffic lights, pedestrians, etc. but when I’m driving on the highway podcasts or audiobooks are much better for me.

      2. RC Rascal*

        Look into the Serola Belt. It’s worn on the hips and helps keep the sacrum aligned. I wear mine on long car trips & it helps with back pain.

    3. Esmeralda*

      If you have the time and money for it, break the trip into two days. That way you have shorter driving days and a night’s sleep in between.

      Depending on your back issues, a good cushion can really help. Here is the one I use: LOVEHOME lumbar support pillow. Recommended to me by a physical therapist.

      Ice packs or ice pads are also helpful.

      Stop often and walk around, do your stretches.

    4. Warrior Princess Xena*

      My mom broke her tailbone a good while ago and for the year following the break found that a good donut pillow made all the difference for her when driving. Not sure if the same style pillow would work for you but experimenting with different butt and back support items for the car might be a good idea!

      Food and drink: I find mint gum and/or mint candy nice on long drives – my mouth gets very dried out and nasty and the mint is a good way to keep alert and fresh feeling. Alcohol wipes, plenty of water, and some veggie snacks have also been great for me (I swear by carrot sticks for keeping my ears from being stuffed up when I’m driving over any kind of hill).

      1. Granny Weatherwax*

        If you don’t like/want mint, I’d recommend any sort of chewy candy. It gives you sugar and something to do.

    5. Lilo*

      I’ve struggled with bouts of sciatica (i first developed it during pregnancy) that can be exacerbated by car rides.

      Definitely consider some kind of pillow. A lumbar support helps a lot.

      Definitely stop and walk around. I’d also preemptively take ibuprofen myself as it can prevent inflammatory.

      Does your car have heated seats? For me the heat, even when it’s not cold, can help.

    6. fposte*

      Are you helped by heat or cold at all? You can get chemical packs that provide those (and there might even be a heating pad that plugs into a 12v outlet) without needing a heating or cooling source. A TENS unit is also worth exploring, and you can get those quite cheaply these days. It’s good to be able to vary your position; that’s easier if you have cruise control. I also have a footrest for my left foot, of sufficient size that it can’t wedge under a pedal and sufficient lightness that it won’t affect them if it rolls over to them, and I use that as a posture break.

    7. Girasol*

      I used to have a mesh lumbar support that really helped with back trouble. Amazon still has those. Also, if you have the choice, cruise control. My back is more problematic when my right leg is immobile for a long time. I’d second (or third or fourth) the audiobooks. I used to load a handful on the phone for 600 mile trips to parents’ place and play them out the car speakers. Be sure to pick one with lots of tonal variation; soft monotones are better for bedtime.

    8. mreasy*

      Fresh air and a cooler than is comfortable temperature in the car. I also recommend staying both caffeinated and hydrated. Bring snacks you like! I drive long distances a lot, and these are my key strategies. Given your back, the folks below recommending walk breaks are spot on!

    9. tessa*

      Something I do to stay alert on long drives is to change lanes periodically according to the logic of the road.

      So, I stay in the right lane until it’s time to pass the car (or usually, semi-truck) in front of me, and stay in the middle lane until right-lane driving makes sense again. I’ll also get into the far left passing lane when that makes sense/when it’s safe to do so. Being pro-active about not cruising in passing lanes (“Slower drivers keep right”) helps me stay alert, in addition to what other commenters have mentioned.

    10. JSPA*

      Look up and practice stretches for the other Muscles that contain when you’re holding your back at a constrained angle. Everyone’s are different (mine are piriformis, IT band and wall angels for thoracic outlet). It won’t fix the root problem, but it can stop the snowball effect when A cramps, then B cramps, so you shift, and it’s All Bad from then on.

    11. just another queer reader*

      Third-ing snacks! Fizzy water, popcorn, gum, string cheese, or whatever you like to eat and drink. For me, the sensory input helps keep me alert.

    12. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      For the back pain, are there streches/actions you do to lessen it when it hurts? My dad had broken his back, so he would stop every hour or so to do some brisk walking for a couple minutes, which usually resolved his pain for the next hour. My pain is related to ligaments, so I manage with 3 minutes of stretching (especially hip flexors, quads, hamstrings, and my obliques/sides), as needed. People look at you strangely, but it’s better than excruciating pain.

      On long drives I also find changing my seat position is helpful – even one notch closer or farther from the wheel, or changing the tilt, or raising the height a little – so having my shoulders in a slightly different position will help relieve pressure on my spine.

      As others have said, lumbar pillow (or, if you don’t have time to find the right one, I often use my down vest, folded into 4 or 6) might help you keep a more natural spine, and might help.

      I’ve had pain since I was a preteen, so one last tool I use that might help is mindfulness – I’ll often speak to myself (aloud, if alone) to remind myself that my pain is okay, that it’s my body telling me that I need to adjust, that I am safe, that I will be able to stop what I’m doing soon to resolve the pain. There’s evidence that this can reduce your brain’s perception of the amount of pain, which might help get you through to your next stop.

      This all depends on your specific back, but hopefully some of it helps!

      1. 653-CXK*

        Gah…”This would probably be better answered in the work open thread, rather than the weekend non-work thread.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      A few people requested an update to this on the “call for updates” thread, so fingers crossed!

    2. Irish Teacher*

      While I doubt it’d happen, I’d love an update to the one about the coworker who stole an intern’s jacket but denied the credit card fraud committed with the intern’s cards.

  7. Dark Macadamia*

    Is there cozy mid-century modern furniture? My house is that style and I really want the living room furniture to suit the room, but I just can’t imagine getting all comfy in a spindly little accent chair no matter how great they look. I’ve found curtains, bedding, and a desk and chair I really love but I’m getting stuck trying to find something that feels like a big squashy reading chair but still has that look. Helpppp

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

      Unless you want authentic MCM furniture, you could look at Joybird…they have that style furniture that looks comfortable. And if you have money to burn, the iconic Egg chair by Arne Jacobsen (or perhaps a knock-off :-) ) might give you that cozy feeling.

    2. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      The bibendum chair (Michelin Man chair) was designed in the 1920s, but has a modern look. They do tend to be pricey.

    3. English Rose*

      You can sometimes find 1950s club chairs which are fully upholstered but still have that angular quality.

    4. Imtheone*

      We have a Danish modern reading chair from my mother-in-law that is very comfortable. Bent wood frame, leather upholstered back and seat. It has the spare look.

      1. Chaordic One*

        There are a fair number of Eames knock-offs out there that are less spendy, but their quality and comfort varies, so buyer beware.

    5. mreasy*

      Technically craft but it’s MC – we have a couple of Adrian Pearsall chairs (bought for a song!) that are surprisingly comfy. Also when you add an ottoman a lot of fashion chairs become cozy.

    6. JSPA*

      Knock-off Charles & Ray Eames recliner and ottoman. (Make sure it reclines, some don’t). Or the real thing, if you have the wherewithal to splash out.

    7. Dark Macadamia*

      Well this thread is great purely for getting to look at cool chairs! Haha thank you all :)

    8. Juneybug*

      Low end – Target has some mid-century or at least, similar style comfy chairs.
      High end – Homary furniture has some beautiful mid-century accent chairs that also look cozy.

    9. LNLN*

      My one big splurge in the living room was a pair of Womb chairs from Knoll (designed in 1957 by Eero Saarinen). They are kind of oversized, but guests of all sizes have commented how comfy they are. And I love the look!

    10. Dancing Otter*

      My parents, who redecorated in about 1960, had a pair of barrel-shaped chairs. The seats were U-shaped, a fairly wide U, and the back/sides were woven cane or cane-like wood. The legs *looked* kind of spindly, I guess, but held up for decades of use, not just show.
      I was too little to fit them initially, but for grown-ups the chairs were comfortable enough that Mom had to replace the seat cushions multiple times.
      I’ve seen versions with lower and/or upholstered backs.

  8. Cat’s Cradle*

    A couple months ago I asked for advice on how to move a bunch of cats. You all helped so much and now the day’s almost here. Next week my husband and two friends will drive a rented RV filled with 6 cats almost 2000 miles.

    And I’m going to miss it because I’m stuck here doing training I need so I can transition to remote work.

    We have 3 roomy carriers for the cats (more room than the cats up for adoption at Petco get) along with the smaller carriers in case any of them need solo time, harnesses for those that allow that so they can get lap time without getting underfoot, and just so many treats. It’s still going to be ridiculous but hopefully everyone will survive.

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      OMG!!
      Seriously, this isn’t ridiculous at all. You, DH, and friends are going to all kinds of trouble to move the cats as safely and calmly as possible. I’m sorry you have to miss the trip.
      Safe and sane travels for all concerned!

    2. anon24*

      Good luck to everyone! Over the summer we did an 700 mile move with our 2 cats. We bought a large carrier that spanned the length of the back seat of my Honda Civic. My husband, 2 of his friends, and me did the entire drive overnight, swapping back and forth between who was driving the civic and the u-haul with all our belongings and our other car on a trailer. Our one cat decided to cry nonstop for the first 500ish miles while sitting on top of our other cat (who just wanted to sleep), but everyone survived without any mishaps. Sending all of you the same luck we had.

    3. Not Australian*

      We did something similar when we moved here, although only a tenth of the distance. Bought a ‘large dog crate’ which we assembled in the back of our campervan, put in bedding and a water bowl and a litter tray, and they all settled down and behaved beautifully. It did help, though, that we had moved nearly all the furniture on the previous day and they clearly understood that *everything* was going – humans, stuff, and them too!

      1. Cat’s Cradle*

        Cruise America asked if we were bringing any furry friends, we said “yes,” and they didn’t ask any further questions. So I’m not sure they realize the number of animals nor the species but apparently they’re ok with the concept of pets.

        1. KatEnigma*

          Interesting. We’ve looked into renting from Cruise America (not cheap) ever since we sold our RV, but previously they didn’t allow pets at all. It may depend on the local rental place. We’ve seen like the airbnb equivalent of RV rentals, and that is owner dependent, but more often no than yes. I will have to look at our local Cruise America.

    4. Anono-me*

      You might get a kick out of “Dogtripping” by David Rosefelt. (But maybe wait until after the trip to share it with your spouse and the friends going on the trip.)

    5. JSPA*

      Covered litter boxes will fit into some of the folding fabric and mesh cat playpens (hexagon, octagon styles have more structural integrity than the cubes)

    6. Generic Name*

      Please tell your husband he needs to take lots of pictures and videos. This sounds like a simultaneously awesome and awful idea. Ha ha! So much fun!

  9. seekinghappy*

    In the spirit of the request for happy animal stories above, does anyone have any happy met-the-love-of-your-life-after-40 stories? Your story or someone else’s, even if they are apocryphal :)

    I am just feeling a bit disheartened and would love some “it can happen” energy.

    1. Jackalope*

      I had a friendly acquaintance who met his wife when they were… late 40s or early 50s, no longer remember which. My understanding was that neither of them had been married before (I know he hadn’t and am pretty sure about her). It’s been several years since I last saw them – we shared a hobby and then I drifted away from it – but they seemed happy together. Working to learn how to live together after so many years of solo life, but enjoying each other.

    2. RagingADHD*

      My dad met his wife when he was 80 and she was 81. I don’t know if they would define it as “the love of their lives” because they were both married before. But they are extremely happy together, have a great deal of fun, and look after each other so sweetly it makes me choke up a little.

      1. allathian*

        My MIL and her husband met when she was in her early 60s and he was a few years older. Both had been divorced for 15 to 20 years by that point. They got married on her 65th birthday 12 years ago, and seem very happy together, even if they keep mostly separate households and live in separate apartments. Both have lived alone for so long that they’re quite set in their ways, and happy to be, and they also want to make getting probate easier for their children when they eventually die.

    3. TeaFiend*

      My cousin met her husband in her early 40s and they married last year. My cousin was single for a long time and was really down about not having a partner and children. But she met this guy and are perfect for each other. Expecting their first child in Feb!

    4. Not Australian*

      My aunt did. We had no idea she was even dating, until she rang up one day in her mid-forties to say she was getting married. From that point on she became the person she’d always wanted to be – they moved to the seaside, got a dog, and she was happier than I’d ever known her. It was his second marriage, her first and only. She would have liked children, I think, but dogs were her real passion. This was a long time ago and they’ve both passed away now, but she was a wonderful example of ‘it’s never too late’.

    5. Not my usual name*

      I was 42 and in the middle of an awkward split from my ex. We were still sharing our flat, but he had one room, I the other.

      I was scrolling through Facebook and had just made a comment on an acquaintance’s post when someone else did. This person N was someone I’d been close to years previously when I was in my mid/late 20s but a romantic relationship had never really developed for a number of reasons, mostly situational.

      We’d lost touch for about ten years and so N sent a cautious but warm message. They’d also separated from their partner. Most of those early messages were of mutual support and encouragement but after a few weeks we realised that there was something worth exploring further.

      Long story short: 3.5 years of a long distance relationship, but seeing each other almost every weekend; 7.5 years together. We’ve bought a house, adopted two furballs and because we have a happy and settled home life, we’re both flourishing in our professional lives too.

    6. MT*

      My dad fell ahead over heels for a neighbor – both were widowers in their 50/early 60. Not my favourite person, to be honest (I have tried), but they seem happy. Love at every age indeed.

    7. Cormorannt*

      My husband’s dad and stepmom. It’s his third marriage and her first. They were mid/late 40s when they met, both well-established in their careers and lives. They met by chance but it did turn out they had friends in common once they got chatting. My husband, who was a young teenager at the time, jokes about how “gross” and lovey-dovey they were. They’ve been married for nearly 30 years and they are still affectionate in a way I can imagine a teenager would call “gross” :)

    8. English Rose*

      My brother is in his 80s and after being widowed he met a gorgeous woman in her mid-70s and they have been very happy together for a couple of years now.
      (Also if you’re looking for a fictional version of late-blooming love, I recently watched Queen Bees with Ellen Burstyn and James Caan and a brilliant supporting cast, which was a lot of fun. Netflix or Amazon, can’t remember which.)

    9. Irish Teacher*

      Dunno if they were over 40 when they met but would have been close. One of my colleages recently married in her late 40s to a guy in his early 50s. They were dating for quite a few years so she may have been late 30s when they met. They both have adult children. He was married before, she wasn’t. Obviously, you can’t know what is going on behind closed doors, but they certainly seem to be pretty happy. She regularly makes comments along the lines of “he made my lunch for me for work” or “he’s getting me such a thing for Christmas/my birthday because I damaged my previous one.”

      And my dad was in his forties when he and my mum married and mid-40s when my brother and I were born and about 50 when my sister was. As far as I know, he didn’t have any serious relationships before my mum. This wasn’t even that odd in rural Ireland in the later 19th century to the mid/late 20th century. There’s a line in the play “Big Maggie” where the mother says something to her son along the lines of, “Don’t know why you want to get married. You’re only 25. Your father was 35 when he and I married and there was them as thought him young.”

      I will add that my father ADORED my mother. He couldn’t stand for her to be away for a day. Once she broke her arm and was in hospital for maybe 48 hours. He spent half the time standing looking out the window as if he expected her to reappear and told me he missed her so much. This was maybe 6 hours after she’d broken her arm.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        I will add that somebody asked my colleague did she ever think she’d get married and she said she never wanted to be married and used to tell him not to ask because she wasn’t going to say yes. So they MUST be pretty happy for her to have changed her mind on that one.

    10. Ranon*

      It turns out that high school reunions are worth it, at least if you are single. My dad went to his 25th reunion after his divorce from my mom and wore an outfit that matched the invite. What did he see upon arrival but an incredibly intriguing woman who had also had the same idea, the only other person at the entire event who had decided that the invite pattern equalled a dress code.

      She wasn’t even from that year but had been dragged along as moral support by a friend. They bonded over their shared outfits and shared interests, started long distance dating, got married, and have now been together more than 20 years and are still wild about each other. The wildest part was their high school was tiny- like 40 kids per year, maybe- and they never met each other until that high school reunion.

      I’ve had friends share they also know folks in that age range and older that found new partners at high school reunions- they get a bad rap but there’s something about them for some folks!

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        I know a couple who connected at their 50th HS reunion, so they were in the their late 60s at the time. They knew each other in HS but had not dated. She had never married; he was widowed. She walked over, pointed to his full head of gorgeous silver hair, and said “that used to be red!” Doesn’t sound like much of a pickup line to me but it clearly worked on him. They were married six months later and are now in their mid-80s and have happily resumed traveling the world.

    11. Anon5*

      I met my current boyfriend when I was 39 and we’ve been together 8 yrs. We worked together and knew each other for about 18 months before we started flirting and hanging out after work. I was convinced I would never find anyone, or only find someone via online dating and I also thought I’d never date someone from work, so I was pleasantly surprised to have a nice “how we met” story and am glad I made the leap.

    12. OyHiOh*

      I was married. It was an ok marriage, our children are the best and most beautiful things that grew out of the relationship, but it wasn’t heart stopping love of my life stuff. I had essentially decided I would love him, and proceeded to spend more than a decade figuring out how to love a decent but difficult human. Then he died, in a shockingly swift way – 3.5 weeks from the day he blew up with fever to the day his heart gave up.

      A man who I’d known a little – Jane Austin would have called him a nodding aquaintance – somehow because one of the rocks in my social circle during those weeks. We served on a non profit board for a few years before all this happened with my husband. He was and is a genuine nice guy who just understood what I was going through and offered a friendly shoulder and lunch occasionally. That we would fall head over heels in love came as a shock to both of us, but we did. I always thought that the tropes in romance novels and chick flicks were flourishes all the writers use because it’s expected but I feel every one of them regarding this man. He’s my one and only, fairy tale love, despite prior marriage and previous relationships.

    13. Victoria, Please*

      My aunt met the love of her life in her late sixties or perhaps early seventies. She is gaga over him in her own stylishly cool way.

    14. Person from the Resume*

      I have a friend who married a few years ago around 45. She straight married in college and had 3 kids fairly young. Divorced, came out as a lesbian, and spend many years raising her kids alone (coparenting). Had relationships that didn’t work out. She expressed disappointment a few years ago that she realized she would not find someone before she finished raising her kids.

      In January 2020 she tries online dating again. Meets someone quickly, COVID happens, moves in together, gets married in June 2020 which is quick but they’re still happily together and supporting each other through difficult times including the adult kids’ mental health struggles which totally sucks but she’s got total support and assistance from her wife (as a coparent) while dealing with everything.

      I do think a significant thing they had in common was they both wanted to be married.

    15. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      When I was a preteen, my gran hired a local fellow and his team to build her a patio. They showed up, gran invited the fellow (who was of her age bracket and had basically taken up contracting along with his hobby beef cattle farm to keep himself busy in retirement) in to join her for coffee while his team worked, and he pretty much never left. They got married later that year, and had what my gran called her twelve-year honeymoon before he passed. (My gran never did well single, so she had three more beaux after Bill passed, but she chose not to marry any of the others.)

    16. fposte*

      A dear friend of mine is engaged in a blissful romance now that her daughter has gone off to college and she’s finally feeling herself about five years after widowhood and a prior decade of dementia caretaking.

    17. Texan In Exile*

      Yes. I met my Used Husband at our 20-year college reunion. We are happy.

      One of my college roommates got divorced after 20 years and two years ago, married her new love. He seems wonderful.

      Another roommate divorced after 30 years of marriage to a man she met in 9th grade. He was very cute but turned out not to be such a great husband in the long run. At our reunion last year, she bumped into a guy from our class who she had gone out with once our freshman year. He was getting divorced. They have just moved in together and she is blissfully happy. (“I’m finally with a man as smart as I am!” she says. “And who earns his own money!”)

      It definitely can happen!

    18. Bluebell*

      I have a lovely friend who is in her early 70s. She’s divorced, and met her boyfriend about 4-5 years ago. He moved in with her after about a year, and this summer they sold her farm and house, and they bought a new farm which is four hours away. They are very happy. Another friend of mine met someone in her late 40s, after she was divorced. They married about 5 years ago, when she was early 50s. Her wedding dress was beautiful blue-green silk, and the ceremony was in their backyard.

    19. Waiting is hard, but can be worth it*

      A relative who had not had a serious relationship in decades (or possibly ever) met and married his wife at 62 years old. I also have a friend who met and married her husband at 60 years old. It happens! Hang in there!!!!! (I met my spouse at 35, so not quite 40, but I was so sure at that point it was never going to happen, especially after being majorly burned previously and having lost all trust. We are now in our 27th very happy year of marriage.)

    20. mreasy*

      My husband was nearly 40 when we met and I assume I’m the love of his life unless he’s lying. Both of us had been in multiple LTRs and “kissed a lot of frogs” before we met. We married when he was in his early 40s and I was almost 40. If you don’t have pressure for life milestones like kids, you’re more likely to find someone you are really compatible with… my BIL and new SIL just got married, both were over 40. She has a kid and a terrible ex, and they’ve both said they’re so glad to have let their romance take its time. Someone is out there for ya!

    21. Advenella*

      It happened for me, so far, in my early 40s. A coworker and I (I KNOW, I know) ended up together when we were both ending our relationships with that particular workplace. 3+ years later, we are still together. It’s pretty solid… but I will completely confess to moments of impostor syndrome and terror that I will get traded in for a younger model (he’s younger than me, and yes, I recognize that therapy should be an option here and I’m looking into it), but so far, so good.

    22. Pippa K*

      You’ve sparked a lovely outpouring of happy stories here! No real reason to add mine to the list except that I just feel so lucky and happy that I want to assure you it’s possible for all of this to happen after 40 (or any other seemingly “too late” age). My spouse and I met in our 40s. We’d both been married before. I wasn’t really looking for a new relationship and never expected to marry again; he had decided it would be nice to have a partner of some kind to share things with but had mostly given up on dating. And we met and it turns out we’re ridiculously compatible and now we’re very happily married for several years. I feel really, really lucky, but that kind of luck does strike!

    23. Other Duties as Assigned*

      Happy to add to the good stories.

      My now-wife and I met when we were both 49. I had just moved to start a new (and much better) job. Since that part of my life was now working, it gave me the push to try online dating. I saw her profile and contacted her just in time; her subscription to the site was about to expire. We e-mailed through the site for a while, then spoke by phone, then met for lunch. It sounds corny, but it was actually like we’d known each other all our lives. We have lots in common, and even attended the same university at the same time (we lived about eight blocks apart). We met in February, made the engagement announcement in December and were married the following June. It was the first marriage for both of us. Even though we’d been living solo for decades, adjusting to living together was a breeze. We get along great and have never had an argument (really).

      We’re both retired now and have been married for a dozen years. Nobody is more surprised than us that it worked–we were both convinced we’d have to make our peace with being alone forever.

    24. Seashell*

      My mom’s aunt had a husband who was kind of a jerk. He died when they were in their late 60’s or so. Some time after that, Aunt went to a church service in her hometown and ran into a guy she dated in high school. They got back together, married, and stayed together through the remainder of their lives. Per my mom, Aunt’s 2nd husband was much nicer.

    25. Generic Name*

      I was 38 when I met my now husband. We got married when we were 40, so I think that counts. We met online. I had been married before (to a guy who was NOT the love of my life), he had never been married. We’ve been married a couple of years now, and I’m still giddy over him. I’m so excited to see him at the end of the work day, and I love just spending time with him.

    26. Westsidestory*

      Married for the first time at age 59. All those years dating people in my field (media) and I agree to one date with a salesman. I’m still sold; he is adorable in all ways.

      1. Generic Name*

        I second the idea to go outside your typical circle to date if you can. I’m a scientist and was married for a long time to an engineer. After I divorced, I decided that a man’s profession or how much money he makes doesn’t matter to me. What mattered was an emotional and intellectual connection. My husband works in the trades, but he is absolutely my intellectual equal.

    27. Ann Ominous*

      It can totally happen! My husband was 49 when we married.

      We had met decades ago and briefly worked together but I was married to my ex at the time. 15 years later we ran into each other and he noticed I wasn’t wearing a wedding ring. He asked me out for coffee ‘sometime’ and ‘sometime’ turned into ‘this coming Sunday morning’. Which turned in to ‘I’m too excited to wait for Sunday, how about getting ice cream tonight’ and by Sunday morning we were…ahem…very well acquainted.

      From our very first date I felt like I was home. Felt zero sense of urgency to take any next ‘milestone’ steps like exchanging I Love Yous or engagement or marriage because that felt like it was so secondary to the fact that I had found My Person. He felt the same way! Married 5 years and going strong.

      Marrying later in life meant for us there were no games, we both knew what we wanted, and both mature enough to communicate it well.

    28. Cacofonix*

      I did. I’d given up on finding someone for whom I’d have to do all of the emotional labour. I’m a strong person and a bit quirky, but could never find someone who wasn’t afraid of that. My now husband kept coming back after I did all the things you don’t do on the first few dates. I wouldn’t have behaved that way, but having given up, I thought I’d show all my colours early and often almost to prove that I’m better off single. I still cringe about it but we laugh and I keep doing it 15 years later. To my great shock (and my mother’s), he hasn’t gotten tired of it. Yet.

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

      Not me, but someone I know gave up on love around age 40 and dedicated herself to a life of service . . . and promptly met the love of her life while doing so! They are now still very happily married and the proud parents of two young adults.

  10. InTheCity*

    Can childless folks in their 30’s or older (bonus points if you’re single bc I am too) share some info/dynamics of their friendships? Primary questions I have are 1. How often do you see your friends? 2. How large is your circle? 3. Do you feel like you have a ‘standard’ group or set of friends you regularly reach out to for weekend plans vs schedule specific, one-off hang outs with? 4. Are most of your friends also friends with each other? Feel free to drop other relevant details if you wish!

    For background, I’m not feeling great about the limited friends I’ve made in the years since moving to the large city I’m in and I’m wondering if I need to adjust expectations esp as I move into my mid-30s and plan to be CF forever. Please no advice on how to make/meet/keep friends :)

    1. NeonDreams*

      I’m in the same boat as you: 34, single, no children, and refuse to have any. Until a few months ago, I only saw the friends I have a couple times a year (all except 1 live out of town). But by some crazy twist of fate, I found a group of women who had left religion in my conservative, right leaning town.

      1) How large of is my circle? My longest term friends I’ve known since HS/college is 5 people. Some of them know of each other to varying extents. Then like I said, I met this non religious group of women my age in my town. There’s 13/14 of us total that I’ve met at various times recently.

      2) How often do I see them? The group in town meets weekly so I see them on that day. My out of town friends I see once or twice a year depending on schedules.

      3) Do I have a solid group to reach out for hang outs? Yeah but I don’t feel comfortable yet. My local group meets weekly so I’m cool with that for right now. I think any one of them would say yes if I asked for an individual hang out, but Not yet. My friends out of town is different because it takes a lot more planning to get together. And there’s one I haven’t seen in person for 10 years because she’s on the other side of the country.

      4) These groups are separate because my long time friends are still religious and I am not. Finding this local group has been a healing experience for me because I felt like I had to hide a huge part of myself from my long time friends. Leaving a church and and changing a life long belief system is something only someone who’s been there can understand. Some of these women have children but they don’t judge me because I don’t want them.

      Not sure if any of this is helpful, but it’s been my experience the past few months. I will say it is so hard to make friends as an adult, and if it weren’t for a chance Facebook encounter, I’d still have only my long term friends and a huge part of myself hidden. I’m grateful to have this new set of people available to me and everyone should have a group like them.

    2. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      1. It really depends but not more than monthly
      2. I don’t have much of a circle, more one-offs, but a lot of them (been in this city 13 years) so let’s say 25ish
      3. I have 2 “standards” but the rest I see more ad hoc
      4. No

      I hope this helps? I definitely accrued more friends after 4ish years here, the number grew with time. I’d also say that I find people in the similar demographic to you and I (CF, 35+) are more keen to be friends, as we understand the importance of friendship, but we see each other far less.

    3. matcha123*

      I am a childfree people in my late-30s (female).

      My case is that I’ve been living overseas for over 15 years. I actually moved cities a few years ago for a job and because almost all of my local and foreign friends in my old city were coupled up with kids. And living in East Asia means that the western scene is heavily dominated by men. It’s not fun having your coworker’s wife side-eye you because you hung out for after work drinks.

      1. How often do you see your friends?
      At busy times it can be a rotation of different people once or twice a week. I also meet up with my ex a few times a month.

      2. How large is your circle?
      This is difficult. I think I have a good number of people I’m friendly with, but a smaller number of people who I feel understand me (or try to understand me). I keep in touch with friends who are scattered around the world, but it would be nice to have some close, core friends.

      3. Do you feel like you have a ‘standard’ group or set of friends you regularly reach out to for weekend plans, etc.?
      Kind of, but at the same time, many of them are also American and other western women working here. Not everyone is committed to staying long-term, not even myself.

      4. Are most of your friends also friends with each other?
      No. A few are, but I wish I had more blending of the groups.

      In my case, I never really had a core group of friends growing up. I’d befriend one other girl in class, we’d get super close, and then her parents would move. Or we have a different schedule and she hangs out with her new friends more.
      This was compounded by my family being poor and me working a lot outside of school. So while I was friendly with a large number of people, I never really felt like I was apart of anyone’s inner circle.

      And that’s continued throughout my life. I feel like I can be friendly with anyone. But, others find it difficult to understand me. I can’t go out a lot because I don’t have the money. I didn’t engage in the fun stuff as a teen or 20-something.
      I’m also childfree and marriage has never been a goal, so it’s hard to get along with the women who make that their personality. Although I do have a ton of experience with small children and have given a lot of advice and lent a sympathetic ear to many a stressed mom.

      The friends I do have here, are great in many ways. But there are times when I’ve felt blown off when inviting them out. “I saw this interesting restaurant” “Oh, well, let me know if it’s good” “Would you like to check it out with me?” “It’s a bit far…”

      I don’t want to be going to random restaurants by myself just so I can curate a list of tasty places to take people to.
      So, yeah, I can do a lot by myself and I do do a lot by myself. It’s less that there are no people and more that I don’t feel really connected with the people around me because I don’t feel like they are truly able to understand some of the limitations I have.

      But I know that as I get older, I’ll need to have a way to continue to make new friends and not be some creepy older person in the corner of a room smiling at the 20-somethings.

    4. Strong Aroace Vibes*

      The concept of “friends” is, obviously, broad, and so I’m not sure quite how to answer. I have many, many “friends” who I see a subset of at events or in my community weekly or every couple weeks without any special communication or planning, many of whom know each other to varying degrees; but few “friends” who intentionally and reciprocally reach out to me and vice versa. I have always been more interested in closer/deeper relationships with individual people, rather than groups, and have been putting a significant amount of work into developing those relationships recently (or transforming passing friends into personal friends). So I’d say I have a few close personal friends who I talk/write/visit weekly or maybe monthly (non-local), and several potential local personal friends who I talk to or invite over every couple weeks or monthly. And some long-time friends who we know each other well, but aren’t actively spending time together at any particular frequency.

      In aggregate, I have been doing something with “friend(s)” more days of the week than not, but I’ve really been putting in a serious amount of effort to try to make that the “new normal.” Coming into a stronger queer identity has helped facilitate this (gender has a huge effect on the potential growth of a relationship and deserves mentioning), as has breaking up with a long-time partner (now having loads of free time and having escaped the “couples” friend dynamic), as has, sadly, the recent death of two peers, which influenced my recent “damn the torpedos” approach of just asking people to hang out and seeing what comes of it! That’s all to say I don’t think mine is a very representative situation, or one that’s settled out yet into a stable friend ecosystem.

    5. Irish Teacher*

      No, I don’t have a standard group or set of friends. I think that is often more of a teenage/young adult thing, when everybody is at school or college together and most people haven’t a history of friendships they made in the past. (And in today’s world, I wonder if it’s even that common among young people.)

      I have friends from college, who I have known 20+ years who I see in person maybe once every couple of months? And keep up with by text or facebook in between times. One of them has recently had a little girl, so I’ve seen a little less of her, between that and covid, over the past couple of years, but we’ve had quite a few outings the past couple of months. And I would hope this is going to add an additional aspect to our friendship and that I can take a sort of “honorary auntie” role to her child.

      Then I have my colleagues with whom I have “work friendships”. I don’t really meet up with them outside work, except for work nights out or times when a group of us go out for lunch or something after work, but some of us confide in each other quite a bit at work, we have regular meet-ups after work and again, we keep in touch by facebook and so on.

      I also have some friends I met online who mostly live in other countries, so a lot of my interaction with them is online, but I have also had meet ups in real life.

      I don’t really judge friendships (for me) by how often I see people, but by how comfortable I am with them. If I can confide in them/they can confide in me about issues you wouldn’t tell everybody and trust each other to be a support, that means more to me than somebody I meet up with twice a week. I’m an introvert anyway, so hang outs at weekends, after a week’s work…aren’t necessarily something I want on a regular basis.

      1. tessa*

        Oh, this (except for meeting people online, which I have never done – just not my thing). But yeah, loner and happy as a clam. My friends are from my past, and we do stay in touch; and I have work friends who I socialize with occasionally, as well as close relatives, but I treasure evenings and weekends as my own time.

        I love this from IrishTeacher: “If I can confide in them/they can confide in me about issues you wouldn’t tell everybody and trust each other to be a support, that means more to me than somebody I meet up with twice a week.” Precisely.

    6. CFandCF*

      Single and childless!
      1. Frequency depends — I have one friend who lives in walking distance and I would say we see each other 2-4 times a month, while another child free/single friend was maybe 2x a month till her job got busy. Another friend (who I text with daily but lives farther away and has a kid) about once a month, but we’d see each other more if we could (and did when we lived closer). I’m very behind on seeing another friend with kids, and I have a few other folks that I don’t see as much as I’d like, maybe once a month or every other.
      2. I’m lucky in my circle — I moved back to the area I grew up in a year or so ago and had six close friends here plus their assorted siblings and partners.
      3. This is the first time I’ve had a group to reach out to — my neighborhood friends from growing up, including siblings and partners, are on a group text (about a dozen of us) and while I don’t get together with everyone that often, it’s great for a “does anyone want to…”. We have a mix of people with kids and people without, which helps.
      4. The three friends who aren’t part of that big group know some the friends in the big group and each other — we all went to school together — and so if I wanted to I could bring people together but haven’t done too much of it so far. I’ve always been a 1:1 friendship person so I work on maintaining that as best I can.

      Added issue for me: I’m still being extremely cautious with COVID so all of my visits are outside so I can see my immediate (vulnerable) family inside without worry. While my friends are all vaccinated and care about COVID, there’s a lot of variety in folks’ risk tolerance and I’m not willing to risk it yet (I really don’t want long COVID, either). I’m starting to do a few more things masked indoors but I’m glad I have friends who are willing to hang out outside (even in winter!).

      Also — I know you said you aren’t looking for advice, so take this as the anecdote it is. ;) Something I saw on a social platform made me decide to reach out to someone I knew only a little when we went to school together because it was clear we had interests in common. We met up for a coffee and then recently they invited me to an event (indoors so I wore my N95) that I really enjoyed. They have kids so I don’t imagine we will become friends who see each other all the time, but I’m glad to have added someone else to my list of people to connect with.

      I also for what it’s worth have a few standing calls with long-distance friends: every other week with one of my bff, every other week with a group to talk about social justice issues (and life), once a month (often canceled or becomes 1:1) with grad school friends. These mostly started early in the pandemic and as someone who lives alone/works remotely with few meetings and can go days without seeing someone in person and occasionally weeks with only seeing my family, these connections help a lot.

    7. Liz*

      I’m 38, child free, and live in a house bought with my best friend. We consider one another queerplatonic life partners.

      1. How often do you see your friends? Other than the one I live with? We are very close friends with a couple who live fine minutes away who we see at least once a week. We bought our home here to be near them and babysit their son once a week. There’s also a couple who live near my dad who I met through community theatre. Other friends are scattered further afield – I have a former work colleague who I am very close to and we meet every month or two, and QLP has friends from uni who we visit maybe 2 or 3 times a year. Whatsapp is a lifesaver!

      2. How large is your circle? I wouldn’t really call it a circle so much as pockets of people. There are 5 of us in our closest group including us, plus our friends’ 2 kids. My ex colleague and I hang with one other coworker, so we are 3, plus colleague’s wife who sometimes joins. The uni group is much larger – I count 25 on the group chat overall but only about half of whom I really know, and maybe 10 I consider friends rather than acquaintance.

      3. Do you feel like you have a ‘standard’ group or set of friends you regularly reach out to for weekend plans vs schedule specific, one-off hang outs with?
      Yes, the ones who live up the road! Everyone else is too far away, too busy, or they have mental health needs that mean a meetup requires some preparation.

      4. Are most of your friends also friends with each other? No, we have running jokes about “what other friends?” and “crossing the streams”. One of the lives-nearby friends did meet 3 of the uni friends for a DND night recently, and the lives-nearby friends have also met my friends who live near my dad when they come up for the bonfire night party that my dad’s street hosts each year.

    8. dear liza dear liza*

      I moved around a bit in my 20s/30s. Sadly, I found my closest friends completely disappeared after they had kids. I reached out many times but apparently they only wanted to be around other moms. I learned to make friends with other childless women, or women in their late 40s. Once the kids left the nest for college, they suddenly had time for non-kid things again.

    9. Ali G*

      Hi
      I have 2 sets of friend groups. One is small (3 of us) and none of us have kids. The other 2 are closer with each other than me, but I don’t mind that. They were friends long before I came along. We see each other a few times a year.
      My other group is much larger. There are about 10 of us. 3 of us do not have kids. 2 of the CF (me included) are married, one is single.
      My closest friend in the group, E is a sister and a cousin to two of the other women, and one of the other women is married to E’s brother, so she’s obviously closer with some of the others than the rest of us. The mom’s all see each other more and keep in closer touch than the non-moms. Some of the kids even go to the same schools. We try to get together as a group (usually with kids involved in some way) about once a month. Sometimes we do things without kids, especially as they get older, but that’s more difficult and needs a lot of lead time. We hosted an adults-only BBQ back in June and we gave everyone 2 months notice to get babysitters.
      E used to live very close to me and my husband so we used to get together a lot, but since they moved, we see them less, which I am sad about. Now, unless we make plans in advance, we only get to see each other one-on-one rarely. It is sometimes hard when we get together as a group to hear all the moms talking about things I have no knowledge of (or interest in), and to realize how much they are in contact with each other on a regular basis. I could probably try harder with the 2 non-moms in the group to get together, but neither live close by, and they have their own things going on too.
      We are all in our early-mid forties, but people started getting married and having kids in our late twenties and thirties.

    10. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m married and childfree and 41. I also deliberately keep my social circle very very small because I don’t like most people in person and I’m a massive introvert :P On top of that, my dearest friends either live with me and I see them every day, or they don’t live in my state and I see them in person once every couple of years. (One lives in-state, but still an hour-plus away, so I still don’t see her in person more than a handful of times a year.) I don’t really do the weekend plans or hanging out much in person things. So I may not be useful here, haha.

      When I introduce my friends to each other, they generally all get along — a couple weeks ago I went on a trip with four of them and we had a blast. (When my friends introduce me to their friends, which I guess is a popular way to expand one’s social circle, I almost never end up liking them. It’s sort of a joke at this point.)

    11. fposte*

      Single and fiftysomething. I’m a lower-contact person–I see a couple of friends every week, I see several every month or two to a few times a year, I have several more distant ones that I FaceTime or see a few times a year when I’m in their city. I don’t really have a circle–most of them know of each other but not in a group hang kind of way save for sometimes if we’re doing an event together or somebody’s visiting town. I had a smaller circle for some years but the death of one and relocation of the other meant that that’s not an active network now. I have one very regular standing “date” but otherwise it’s ad hoc.

      One of things that was great about retirement is that it gave me more emotional “room” as well as time to strengthen some of the weaker ties, as a psychologist would term them–IOW, the people that I liked but never felt I had time to see I started to reach out to for social activities, so some people that were co-workers and/or friendly acquaintances are turning into friends. And that had genuinely never occurred to me as a possibility, and I’m really enjoying it.

    12. Person from the Resume*

      I have activities (sporting activities) that lead me to see casual friends/teammates/acquaintances several times a week.

      I have a couple of close friends I could call on whenever needed. One of my closest friends has kids so seeing them is dependent on if they have the kids that week; if yes likely no. If I need to talk she’s there by phone at least. I’m forming a closer friendship with a childless friend (who just got out of a relationship) and she has more availability and is someone who might ask to get dinner that night (not my normal MO, I’m a planner).

      I’d say I average seeing a good friend or two once a week. I make it happen by inviting people out … sometimes one-on-one, sometimes a group text to my circle asking if anyone wants to grab dinner or brunch.

      Every month or two I plan a bigger thing usually at my house where I invite 10ish folks to my house to hang out where we usually sit outside under the carport and just talk in a circle. That got started during COVID but it was lovely. Now we may add food or drink or potluck.

      I like talking to people. More than 6 people at a restaurant is hard to talk to everyone.

      I also plan larger parties. Or I text the group text thread about a band, comedy show, or event and invite anyone interested and available to meet there.

      I do 85% of the planning for the group. But I am a planner. I want to know what’s happening well in advance so do the planning by virtue of that habit. It’s a kind of emotional labor but I do it so I have hangouts with friends where we chat.

      I reach out one-on-one to about 5 or 6 people. I made two best friend kind of together so with them it’s often a invite for 3 instead of 2 but one is much busier and activity becomes one-on-one.

      I reach out to about 10 people as a group (the one-on-one folks) for a big hangout or activity. I’m actually hoping to expand that group, but it is hard to organize more than 10 people, have a text thread with more than 7 people, chat with more than 10 people at a time, have more than 10 people over before it feels like I’m hosting a party with extra expectations that entails. This is a group that mostly know each other through me. I introduced many to each other. I run a meet up and I pick up new friends through the meetup and bring them in. Others are welcome to invite new friends too and do. But one of my closest friends now joined the COVID outdoor hang outs through a friend and we’ve now formed a close one-on-one friendship that way do others do bring in new people too.

      I will note that we’re queer women. Only 2 have kids they’re still raising (one has adult kids in distant cities). Only 1 is married. Two others, folks not as close to me, have partners. Part of close friendship for me is seeing each other in person. I’m not a huge phone person, never have been, and if I’m not seeing someone in person I kind of forget about them / lose the feeling of closeness.

    13. ThatGirl*

      I am 41 and married, no kids.

      I see friends fairly regularly, though I do have to put in some effort to make plans – probably average 1-2x a month I see at least one friend.

      I do not have a set group to hang out with regularly. But I have my college friends, community friends and former/current work friends. Most of them are not friends with each other. Some of them have kids and others don’t.

    14. Girasol*

      I’m a good bit over 30 at 68. I see friends face to face about weekly but it would be more often if my spouse wasn’t at very high risk for covid. My face-to-face circle is small, like five or six close friends, but that’s largely because we moved around so much. We don’t much hang out unplanned but I blame covid for that; it’s so much fuss to meet safely. We game online with remote friends about every other night, and that group is a hodgepodge of friend’s friends and their kids and our cousins who all met online, folks from about 35-75. We get together to share vacations as a mixed group once in awhile and everyone gets along wonderfully. One thing I can tell you from the far end of over-30: it didn’t seem long at all before friends’ kids grew up and our friends with kids began to act more like they did before kids.

    15. Alex*

      I’m in my early 40s, single no kids. Right now I have two close local friends I see at least weekly usually, and a couple of people who are their friends who sometimes pop up in my social plans. It’s nice and just right for me. I also have quite a few non local friends I talk to, ranging from multiple FaceTime calls a week to a couple of texts a year to the occasional Facebook comment. Sometimes I see these friends in person but not too often.

      I will say that in my 30s I had a sort of transitional period where I had no local friends. That eventually evolved but I find this is a thing that ebbs and flows as friendships either run their course, people move away, or people get into different phases of life sometimes it sucks but the less personally you take it the easier it is to move on.

    16. Jessica*

      Single 50s here. 1. How often do you see your friends?
      I’d say I average doing something with one or more friends at least twice a week. Before pandemic it was more.
      2. How large is your circle?
      Conservatively, about 8 people that I consider pretty close friends.
      It seems to me that my friendships all originate from some particular sphere in which I met them (college, workplace, hobby group, etc.), and for some, that sphere is in the past, so it’s very clear which individual relationships have survived. But if the sphere is one I’m still active in, it’s more ambiguous to draw the line and say which of my scene friends should be classified as Friends. Crossing that line from “we know each other because we’re involved in X thing together” to independent and possibly enduring friendship is a process, and it can be hard to capture in a snapshot. I hope I am making sense!
      3. Do you feel like you have a ‘standard’ group or set of friends you regularly reach out to for weekend plans vs schedule specific, one-off hang outs with?
      I think my answer here is no. I don’t have some default social circle that I automatically hang with every weekend. (Nor does my social life take place only on the weekends.)
      I do have a lot of scheduled activities, and often see friends in that context. For instance, I see one friend weekly at Mutual Hobby Thing. I also have friends that I have a standing social date with, but just to hang out, not doing any particular activity on the regular. And then I plan one-off things with friends in addition to the regularly scheduled things.
      4. Are most of your friends also friends with each other?
      I don’t think I’d go that far, though some are.
      Some of my close friends are from college. Two of them are even closer to each other than to me, and we do things together as a trio. Other than that, the college friends knew each other slightly back then and remember each other’s existence, but weren’t really friends and haven’t remained in contact.
      Then I have friends who do know each other because we all met through Mutual Hobby, and they are varying degrees of friendly with each other.
      Possibly the most crossing of streams occurs in Second Hobby, because I got involved in Second Hobby with a friend I made at work, met other friends there, and have pulled into Second Hobby at least one college friend, at least one friend from First Hobby, plus a few relatives. This is in part due to the broad appeal of Second Hobby (okay, it’s a book club!).

    17. Sigrid says hey*

      61 and child free. At this point all but one of my friends are either empty nesters or single or child free.
      20 years ago I moved back to the area where I grew up and my friends are a mix of old and newer.
      My college roommate and I live within an hour’s drive of each other and we make a serious effort to see each other in person once a month, we also talk on the phone weekly and text every day or two. She is my person, and we have adopted one another’s parents and siblings and consider the whole crew to be our family. We are thankful that our husband’s enjoy each other’s company and are onboard with the insanity.
      I have 4 other very close friends who live physically close to me. They all know each other, but their connection to each other is me and we don’t get together as a group.
      Before the panini I was getting together with one or another of them about twice a week. During the time of isolation it was phone calls and FaceTime. Throughout the warmer months I was doing my best to see each of them monthly, so I’d get together with someone once per week. Right now we are back to face time and phone calls and we try to connect weekly.
      I am also part of a group that has met weekly for about 20 years, over time we have become close caring friends, but we don’t tend to get together outside of group.
      A year ago I joined a book club and that group is also becoming a source of caring support.
      I keep in touch with 6 friends from when I lived on the other side of the country by email and phone, and very occasional visits.

  11. Sunflower*

    Roku users- have you had to replace your Roku after years because it’s started to “go”? My Roku is acting wonky and I’m not sure if my internet/wifi is the problem or my Roku isn’t picking up the Wifi as well.

    My Roku in my bedroom is about 5-6 years old. We had some internet outages in my neighborhood last week and my Roku has been acting odd since. I have never had great Wifi connection in my bedroom but I’ve never had these things before. I usually just reset the Wifi and everything works perfectly. Examples include 1. Sometimes it won’t connect to internet no matter what I do (reset Roku, reset internet, reset connection). 2. It will say Connected to internet but channels won’t load/says no connection. Alternatively, it will say Not connected to internet and the channels will work. 3. Some apps load and others don’t. Primarily Prime just won’t connect and keeps reading an error message despite me removing and re-downloading the channel. Netflix loads 90% of the time, HBO Max 50%.

    I don’t want to commit to upgrading the Wifi or Roku without knowing which one is the problem (although it seems going with the Wifi first is a better option). The Roku does work fine in my living room TV (which is next to the Wifi) but that still doesn’t solve if it’s the Wifi or Roku ability to pick up Wifi.

    1. Melody Pond*

      Ohhhh something similar has totally been happening with our smart Roku TV (Magnavox). I have similar experiences with the apps you mentioned – sometimes Prime just won’t load no matter what. Netflix is usually pretty reliable.

      Our TV is maybe a year old, so I haven’t yet had the experience where it won’t connect to the Wi-Fi no matter what. But it does seem to be getting progressively worse. We turn it on and it takes several minutes to connect to the internet, or I have to tell it to “set up a new connection” or reboot it or both.

    2. Cormorannt*

      We have a couple of Rokus we replaced within the last two years. One straight up died and wouldn’t turn on – it was about 5 or 6 years old. The other was nearly 8, slow, and didn’t support all the latest features and channel. Its possible the Amazon app isn’t supported anymore on that Roku. The loading fails on apps that otherwise work are probably a combo of poor wifi connection and old, slow Roku. Our living room Roku is actually hardwired with an Ethernet cable, not connected over wifi, and we have a 1 GB fiber line, so it has the fastest connection possible. Even so, the apps keep adding bells and whistles and can be slow to load. HBO Max is especially bad – we joke that the thumbnail images are all in 8k definition.

      1. Russian in Texas*

        I can assure you with 100% that Amazon Prime app is still supported on Roku. I think they just get old eventually, like most electronics.
        My living room Roku is the Ultra 4K model, about 3 years old, and going fine for now.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          The app is still supported in general, but not necessarily on all Roku models. For example, if you’ve had a Roku stick long enough that it was called Amazon Instant Video when you originally got said device, that device may not support the current Prime app.

      2. Retired Accountant*

        I was notified by Amazon that my very old Riki would no longer be supported. Bought the cheapest of their suggested replacements and it has been fine.

    3. 653-CXK*

      My mother attempted to buy a new stick because she wanted to improve bringing in more channels, but it wouldn’t work in her older (4-5 year old) TV, so she had to send it back.

      1. Bob-White of the Glen*

        My TV turned 12 in August and takes a Roku perfectly. And it wasn’t a high end model (although it was more expensive for a 42″ then, than a 65″ now! :)

    4. Namehere*

      My Roku is 10+ years old and I still use it daily with almost no issues – HBOmax can be a pain but it’s clearly the app and not my device. I’ve seen the issues you mention on my parents smarttv (android) – particularly that Netflix will work and others less so- and I’ve had to clear cache on that device frequently to fix it. My parents have a worse internet connection than I do, so I personally would focus on the Wi-fi first.

    5. WellRed*

      The first part of your problem mirrors issues I recently had. Finally had to upgrade WiFi and modem. If those are more than three years old, they likely need replacement (per the tech).

    6. Person from the Resume*

      One anecdote. I rarely use my Roku (cause I just don’t stream much), but on Thursday while watching Thursday Night Football on Amazon, the Roku app on my phone would not find the roku stick (said it could not find the tv) that was on and playing. But the stream itself was fine.

      Usually my Roku app is the problem because it drains batteries even when rarely used. It’s so bad I take the batteries out unless I’m actively watching roku.

    7. curly sue*

      I had this problem recently on both our older Roku (living room) and a new one (basement). It turned out our ISP had pushed a modem update of some kind that didn’t play well with the Roku. I ended up assigning each Roku a static IP address in the modem settings rather than letting it assign dynamic ones, did a hard reboot on both rokus and the modem, and haven’t had a problem since. (knock on wood, because now I’m sure I’ve jinxed it.)

    8. Filosofickle*

      My Roku started dropping the connection / saying there was no network awhile back, super annoying. It would find the wifi if I restarted but then it started needing to be unplugged for 30 minutes to reconnect and it was dropping multiple times a day, so I gave up. I got a different streaming device and zero problems since then. (The connection isn’t great in that room but I figured it was probably the Roku since I could stream from my laptop in the same room without issues. And it was old.)

    9. Qwerty*

      I nearly replaced my Roku but it turned out to be the internet. My last apartment had community-wide wifi with a router in every unit and I think the Roku just really struggled with that. The remote wouldn’t always work, apps sometimes wouldn’t load or would come in grainy, apps would sometimes say there was no internet connection so I was restarting it a lot.

      Then I moved apartments and went back to providing my own internet with my personal wifi router and a different provider. Since then the Roku works great.

    10. Observer*

      What I would do before upgrading anything, probably in this order.

      1. Check your internet access,without wifi. If you have laptop, the easiest way to test is to plug you laptop with cable into the modem or router that came with your service.

      2. Check your wifi in the room where your internet comes in. Laptop, tablet, or cell phone are all fine for checking.

      3. Check your wifi in the room you have the Roku in.

    11. *daha**

      Worth trying: Unplug both your Roku and your wifi router from their electric source and leave unplugged for at least 60 seconds before plugging back in. If you have a separate modem, unplug that one too for 60 seconds. Sometimes there are glitches that won’t clear with a regular reset.

  12. Home stuck*

    I’m not expecting internet strangers to answer this but I need a bit if a rant: do I stay in here, the large metropolitan city where I have a “fancy” but exhausting job, great friends but no love life, and my health is okish but has all the typical modern maladies (anxiety, sleeplessness, sore joints), rent an expensive apartment which is cute but lonely… or move back to my home country, on the other side of the planet. My mother, who I adore, has limited mobility and her best friend just died. I have some friends there and could get work- not as fancy, but maybe more quality of life. I’d not be able to buy a home (housing crisis there too) but could live comfortably. It would be safer, as I age myself and have some chronic illness issues, to live there.

    But I’d feel like a failure, in a weird way (that I probably need to unpack in therapy). I am not drawn back by anything but my mother- but I love her to bits and want to do right by her.

    1. Mimi*

      Seems like the only pro for staying is your friends? Beware the exhausting job doesn’t burn you out.

      How about moving back while your mother is alive and when she dies you can rethink whether you want to stay, return or move to some new, different place? Your decision doesn’t have to be permanent. And it is not a failure to realise your priorities have changed. You had reason(s) to move abroad and now you have reason(s) to move back. No shame in that.

      Perhaps (if it’s possible) begin by taking a vacation home and get a feeling for your options there. How does it feel walking around and thinking “I could live here.”? Does it make you relieved? Miserable? Neutral?

      1. Mimi*

        And by the way, you mentioned your health with sore joints? Be really, really careful thinking about that job because I have just figured out that my job is stressing me out so much that my body is in physical pain. That started in the joints. Your health is worth rethinking how you live. Even if you decide moving back isn’t the right decision you need to take care of yourself. You are worth that.

      2. Hlao-roo*

        I second the advice to (if possible) take a vacation to visit your mother, both to spend time with her and to size up “could I move back here?”

        When I go on vacation, I always ask myself “could I live here?” The answer is usually “no,” which makes me more appreciative of where I do live (and also happy to indulge in all the pros and cons of the vacation spot because it’s temporary). Every once in a while the answer is “yes,” and that’s a cool feeling too because it means I have options if I ever decide to move. So I think it is very possible to be relatively certain if the move will work for you based on your observations/feelings from a visit.

    2. Sailor*

      Can you attend therapy, and talk about this very question?

      I work with international students, and I could see a lot of them having this particular dilemma/set of feelings. So much time, money, hard work invested in carving out a life in the US. I can see how it would be really difficult to leave that behind. But also to how supporting family can also feel really good, and valuable in its own right.

      And, not that it matters, but from my perspective, you’re not a failure. You’ve successfully navigated what is often a very unwelcoming, inhospitable culture for international people. You’ve triumphed against some really archaic visa restrictions!
      But it’s ok to decide you want something different. You did it – you made it here! Many people never achieve that, never get long term jobs. But you now have the power of being able to choose. And having a choice is so valuable.

      1. Sailor*

        Ha, just saw you mentioned therapy. Yes, do go to therapy! I’ve done it and found it really helpful, at various points in my life, particularly crossroads.
        Psychology Today has a great database of therapists. Maybe you can even find one with experience with international issues.

    3. Morning reader*

      How old is your mother and how old are you? Are you an only child, or, are there siblings nearer her location. I think my suggestions might be different if you two are 30/50 or 50/80. Would your mom be interested in moving to where you are? Or maybe coming to visit for an extended stay to try it out? Are there other barriers (language, customs, pets/livestock she can’t move?) And what does she like to do? If (example) her social life consists of weekly mahjong gatherings with her social group, and no one plays mahjong where you live, perhaps it wouldn’t be a good fit. And how does your “love life” factor in? Would you have better prospects at your mom’s location, or would your love life be inhibited there?
      From your description of the situation, I’d lean toward moving back, eventually. Maybe early retirement. But it’s mostly a question for your mother and you to address.

      1. WellRed*

        This is my first question! I’m 50 and mom is 76. We’re starting this phase of do I need to live closer. Even 10 years ago that wasn’t on the radar.

    4. Asenath*

      If you are so close to your mother, and the only things holding you in your current location is a job that’s stressing you out and a cute apartment, I (a random internet stranger) would suggest you move back, especially as you can get a job and nice apartment there too (even if they won’t be as fancy as the current ones, maybe the job will be less stressful). And as a bonus, you have friends in the same city as your mother, and think it would be a better place to age. Think of what holds you where you are and what attracts you to where you are thinking about going. I think I can understand the feeling of failure, but honestly, if the great job is already causing you physical problems due to stress, it might not last and then the cute apartment is gone too. Sometimes, it’s just time to move on even if it means leaving behind what symbolizes success to you now.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Can you put some other moves on the table? It seems like you want a change, but the only path you can envision is circling back to your starting point. Which some people do and it’s a great move! But to you that seems to feel like a retreat, and it’s worth unpacking that a bit.

      There’s a trope, in the work thread and elsewhere, of “If I just changed X, it would all be fixed” and then X changes and that just reveals the big pile of issues X was papering over.

    6. Strong Aroace Vibes*

      “Do I stay with my exhausting job, modern maladies, expensive lonely apartment…”

      Sounds like you don’t want to do that? (But what about your great friends?)

      “Or move home, to my mother who I adore, and maybe more quality of life. I could live comfortably, and more safely long-term.”

      Sounds like you want to do that? (But what about that “maybe” and also how much is the “safe option” just a justification to make moving make sense?)

      “I am not drawn back by anything but wanting to do right by my mother.”

      Wait, this feels like a plot twist! At first it sounded like your choice was about your own quality of life, but is it really about your mother’s?

      What do YOU want, if you felt no judgement from other people (or yourself) or obligation to other people? It doesn’t mean that’s what you have to DO, but I think it’s a good starting point for thinking through potential futures.

    7. Anon adventurer*

      Feeling like a failure:
      My family is from a small group of villages and my favorite family members are the ones who left. The family who never left or traveled at all, the ones who moved next to their parents and did the same job, I find them boring and don’t have much to talk about. The ones who traveled, who lived elsewhere and wanted to see more of life, I always felt like they were successful. I grew up in a big town and always thought that I needed to move away to be successful. I moved to a city nearer to my extended family, and thought that I was now successful yet I became miserable. The city is known for having problems with racism and anti-lgbtq+ (as does everywhere in the area including my family’s villages) and I really missed living somewhere that celebrated diversity. When I moved back to my hometown I had conflicting emotions because I was so happy, and it made me feel like I had failed at living elsewhere. I made peace with it by realizing that the family I loved the most had lived elsewhere yet they had returned, so it was all about being open-minded and trying something new rather than about living elsewhere forever. Also I was returning because I really appreciated my hometown’s acceptance of others and I had failed elsewhere because they didn’t accept me.

      I don’t know if your sense of failure comes from the same place, but know that ‘going home’ isn’t a failure if you are moving back because you love your hometown and not out of fear because you couldn’t cope in the new place.

    8. Rosyglasses*

      I would move personally- but because city life and a high stress job are having a profound and negative impact on my health. If I had the opportunity to transition to something quieter and simpler I think I would be much happier in general.

    9. Trixie*

      I’m currently two hours from my mom and planning to move closer before long. Not because it’s a specific need at the moment but precisely because it’s not. Barring the unforeseen, we have time to enjoy each other’s company now with dinners, movies, shopping, etc and then ideally ease into the next chapter. I want to enjoy all the time we have now and in the moment. I feel fortunate as I adore her, like her and think the world of her as a person.

    10. Person from the Resume*

      I agree that I think the best solution for you might be something in between. If the only thing drawing you home is doing right by your mother, that doesn’t sound ideal especially when your mother dies and you’re faced with being in your home country alone.

      I do wonder if you could return to the country you’re working in now later if you did move home for years or is that basically a permanent move because of residency/immigration laws.

      Is there a middle ground? Fancy jobs hold no draw for me and yours doesn’t sound worth it, but for me friends are / a community is worth it.

      Only you can decide but maybe there’s another option.

    11. JSPA*

      Take family leave; you’ll have a clearer view after a month or two. Could be “can’t go home again,” could be, “I’m glad I tried the wide world, but there’s no place like home.”

    12. I'm Done*

      I moved to Europe and back to the US twice in the last 25 years. If you moved back to your home country and found out that that’s not really where you want to spend the rest of your life, is there a possibility of coming back to the US? My mother moved back and forth three times. She finally stayed in her home country when she was 56 because of her mother. She never regretted it.

    13. MJ*

      I moved back to my home country just before the pandemic hit because my parents were in their late 70s (I am early 50s). My thinking was two-fold:
      1) I would get to spend time with them while they were still mentally sharp and physically able to do things – so I wasn’t waiting until they were ill to just be their caretaker;
      2) By moving while I still needed a job (instead of waiting until I retire), I would be getting out and meeting people, with the potential to make friends. Sadly the pandemic kind of threw a wrench into the second plan. :)

      I don’t view it as a failure to return home. We want different things at different stages in life and wanting to return to your roots is as valid as wanting to try new things.

    14. Bob-White of the Glen*

      Quitting a job to move back to someplace you liked is not failure. Taking care of a parent isn’t failure either. Getting out of a bad job and enjoying your life more is definitely success. I’d quit my (very successful) job in a heartbeat to be able to take care of my parents, but they’ve been gone a long time.

      Part of aging is being able to do what you want without worrying about what others think. I left a high paying profession to move back into a lower paying one that I was happier in. Nobody blinked an eye, nor would I have cared if they did. And now I do that other thing part time for a little extra money.

      But make sure you want to make this change because it’s what you want, not what is easy. You can find another job, hopefully one that will give you a better quality of life. But if the struggle is life in that city, and not just the job, and home sounds good – go home and live the life YOU want!

  13. Put the Blame on Edamame*

    Any true crime properties you’ve been watching lately?*

    Can’t believe I’m shilling for an Amazon product, but FreeVee has some good stuff among the dross. And I thought Killer Sally was really well done, title aside.

    *I don’t like saying “true crime fan” because I’m not a fan of crimes, but think the way our culture depicts them is fascinating and worth paying attention to.

    1. Asenath*

      I just got the new book by YouTube’s “They Got Away With Murder”. It’s called “Murder in Miami: Chubbie Miller and Bill Lancaster 1932”. I know I read about this case long ago, but have forgotten the details and I like the thorough way this author analyzes cases. I’ve barely started the book, so I’ve only got to the point at which serious doubts arise as to the “suicide” of Miller & Lancaster’s house mate.

    2. sagewhiz*

      My VBF just pointed me to Psychic Investigators on YouTube, where psychics (a la Allison DuBois) helped detectives solve real cases, converting many hard-boiled skeptics into believers. Am so looking forward to the binging!

    3. Double A*

      I don’t know if this counts, but I randomly started watching “Candy” on Hulu which is based on a real life crime. It’s sucked me in, and it’s only 5 episodes so not a huge commitment.

      I’m not into true crime for its own sake but this is a well done show.

      Also I haven’t started yet, but the second season of Only Murders in the Building is out and I’m looking forward to that.

    4. I take tea*

      I don’t usually care so much for true crime, but Landscapers on HBO was very interesting, focusing more on the people than wallowing in the crime. It uses some really different ways of telling and gave me a theatre feeling.

    5. Laura H.*

      Forensic Files is on Pluto TV. It’s old but it’s something I always go back to.

      My favorite/ what I think is the coolest episode is where the suspect snuck a pair of shears into the interview room and just destroyed this piece of evidence (a floppy disk). Scientists/ investigators managed to read part of the data by using post it adhesive to adhere parts of the broken disc to a new intact one!

      “Shear luck” is the title of that episode, but the whole series is fascinating.

  14. Ellis Bell*

    Would you say there are both reasonable and unreasonable ways to decorate your house for certain holidays and events? I’m not sure if I’m being a crank. My neighbour loves to decorate her house for any given occasion. None of it is my taste, but I don’t give a flip about that, as I think it’s her house so she can spray it in blood if she wants to. Where it’s starting to grate is that she’s choosing things which are fairly disposable and flimsy, attaching them to our shared fenced boundaries (both front and back) … and then they just get left there like fence litter. Actually, a lot of it ends up on my grounds as just actual litter! For example, she had a summer party and attached bunting to all the (high) back fences and left it up for weeks. It tore and mostly flopped over to my side but was still attached to the post on one side, so she could have cut it down and removed it. However she seemed to think out of sight was good enough and left anything hanging on her side when she finally collected the rest in. This week she covered the front of the house in cobwebs and the (low) fences of both neighbours too. She sprayed them from above so both sides of the fences were covered, but only cleaned off her own side of the fence yesterday. She also put up a ton of black and purple balloons on the fences, which have popped (high winds; it is not balloon weather!) and the popped balloon skins have scattered themselves around neighbouring front gardens. The balloons which have remained on the fence are all popped too, but she hasn’t cleared them away for some reason and I’m inclined to think she won’t. I feel like she thinks the decorations are autumn leaves or compostable confetti and the winds, or nature will take care of it! I’m not sure how to address someone with “your decorations are actually just mostly litter?” Or if I’m even being reasonable and that fishing the odd balloon skin out of the foliage is a low price to pay for neighbourly relations. I am also going to replace front fences so there’s that option, although I don’t know what with.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I would start with something to the effect of “I don’t mind if you put decorations up on the fence, but the bits and pieces keep ending up strewn about my yard – can you please make sure they get picked up in a timely manner so they don’t leave a mess everywhere and critters don’t get into them?”

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I agree. I think you will need to have an actual conversation, but it’s reasonable to say “when you cleaned the cobwebs off the fence you missed all the ones that you sprayed on my side. Can you please clean them up ASAP?” And keep repeating for things like bunting and trash.

      2. Observer*

        I think this is reasonable. The issue is not what she’s using to decorate but that she’s effectively “decorating” *your* side, and then leaving the cleanup to you.

    2. acmx*

      I think its reasonable to decorate how she wants but unreasonable to leave the decorations. Ask her to clean up her decorations.

    3. Asenath*

      She can decorate how she likes, but she needs to clean up after herself. Go over and tell her “I noticed you cleaned your side of the fence yesterday; but the stuff you sprayed on my side is still there. Would you please clean that up too?” I’d stay far away from any comment on the quality of her decorations, and stick to the mess that needs cleaning up.

    4. WellRed*

      This is no different than if animals got into her trash and bits of it ended up in your yard. It’s trash now, despite having been a festive decoration in its former life. If you’ve never said it bothers you, how is she to know? ( yes, a considerate person should know without being told).

    5. RagingADHD*

      There are reasonable and unreasonable ways to deal with annoyances from your neighbors. Asking them to collect their debris out of your yard is reasonable.

      Stewing about it until you start wanting to make general declarations about their life choices is not reasonable.

    6. Zephy*

      When cleaning her detritus out of your yard, helpfully drop it back over the fence and make it her problem again. It’s her property, after all, and seeing as she hadn’t thrown it away up to that point it’s clear she doesn’t want to, so it would be the very height of rudeness for you to dispose of something that doesn’t belong to you. Maybe even helpfully bag it all up for her to sort through in her own time, and leave it on her front step, with a note.

      1. Roland*

        A great idea if you want to for sure escalate tensions without even trying a simple little conversation first. Would you do this yourself or is it just easy to give nuclear advice when it’s someone else who had to deal with the fallout?

    7. JSPA*

      I suspect you’re being overly careful because you also dislike her taste. But even if she had the best taste, “your decorations have become litter in my yard, what time would you like to come over to retrieve them?” seems fine to me.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        Yes! I’m also being overly careful because it’s so occasional, and also so… obvious? I feel like saying “this bit on my side is undone” comes with a silent …”obviously” awkwardness and I don’t know that a few times a year is worth creating that moment, as I do like them! However no one else shares my caution so I’ll just say it cheerfully and forthrightly.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        Also, your script is exactly what I’d say if the decorations were permanent (fair enough if you don’t want to store things I suppose) but it seems a bit disingenuous to say “do you want these burst balloons?” I’ll just ask her if she needs to come over to my side to clear them in as an equivalent I suppose.

        1. JSPA*

          Retrieval applies equally to trash! It’s also awkward to ask to enter someone’s yard, or acknowledge the overspray; you’re both being avoidant, so might as well break the ice.

    8. Don'tbeadork*

      In the situation with the bunting and balloons, can you flip them back over to her side of the fence whenever they come onto your side? That way she sees them to clean them up when she’s doing hers.

      After that, though, you’re going to have to use your words.

  15. SaltedChocolateChip*

    Seconding Alison’s recommendation for These Precious Days — it was so good. The title essay is available online, I’ll post it in a follow-up. Among others I also really loved the piece on not having kids, and one about one of her best friends and how they met and how their friendship works.

  16. Admiral Thrawn Rocks the Blue*

    Help! I sublease a garage, leaseholder is out of town and not answering me. I turned off the main ac unit but inside the mechanical closet there is a motor running. No air is coming out (which it shouldn’t be) and the outside unit is off. The only noise is inside the closet; it’s a monotonous sound that hasn’t stopped for hours. I’m worried a motor is wearing out. My great fear is it might catch fire. I tried turning the unit off at the breaker box but it’s not working, so clearly that switch is elsewhere. Any ideas?

    1. Not A Manager*

      If you’ve done everything reasonable to solve the problem, and if you really can’t reach your landlord, and if you’re truly worried about a possible fire, all you can do is move your own car out until the issue is resolved. This doesn’t seem to rise to the level of “call the authorities and notify the neighbors,” but you can address your own anxiety by moving your car.

      1. Rosyglasses*

        It sounds like ( I may be wrong) that the garage is a living space, not just for a car – which then I could understand the increased anxiety. If it is just to store a car then I would agree with you.

    2. Kittee*

      You might call the (non-emergency) number for your local fire department and tell them the situation. They might have some ideas or even want to come out and take a look. Can’t hurt to contact them.

    3. 00ff00Claire*

      That does sound worrying. A few things that I would consider if I were in your shoes:
      1) Could it be something else and not the ac – ie, is that mechanical closet only for the hvac or is there something else that it could be?
      2) I would try each breaker individually to see if I could find the one that would stop the motor running.
      3) If I had the contact info for the landlord, I would probably wait x amount of time and see if the leaseholder returns my calls/messages. Then I would contact the landlord. I would probably let the leaseholder know I was planning to do that in one of the messages first, though.
      4) If I had no way of getting in touch with either of them, I might go ahead and contact a hvac company and be prepared to cover that expense myself.
      5) If none of the above are an option/work and I was still concerned about a fire, I’d probably try to find another place to stay the night until I could get it resolved.
      Good luck, I hope you figure something out so that you are able to feel safe!

  17. Washi*

    My husband and I recently moved to and bought a house in a relatively desirable area to visit. It’s a pretty big house and we’ve been letting family and friends know that they are welcome to come visit and use us as a home base for adventures. So far we’ve loved having lots of guests, especially since we have a young child and travel is a pain for us right now.

    However, I’ve been hesitant to issue such open invitations to friends with dogs because for the most part, I don’t want the dogs to come. I have one friend with an amazingly well behaved dog that I was comfortable with, but other than that what I’ve seen of most dogs behavior makes me hesitant to have them around my child.

    Is it better to just not make the same offer to host dog owning friends? Is there a way to say that someone is welcome to come visit but would need to leave the dog?

    1. Blue wall*

      I think you should feel perfectly comfortable saying: “we’d love to have you come visit! We aren’t able to host pets, but would love to see you/you and partner/ etc”

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        This — reasonable people will understand. I have to do something similar for small children — my dog wasn’t socialized very well to children, because I don’t have any, and she reacts especially poorly when adult people pick up small wiggly things like babies or toddlers, so I say something like “I’d love to see you, if you want to come over and play D&D or whatever, but Alannah was calibrated to play with six-foot-tall dudes, so for everyone’s safety, the munchkins gotta stay home until they’re a little bigger so that she doesn’t decide they look like fun toys.”

        1. mreasy*

          You hear a lot of horror stories, but most dog owners are understanding when they can’t bring their pet with them!

        2. KoiFeeder*

          Yeah, when Sir Fusspot was around he adored children and would defend them with his life but that manifested as herding them into one spot and not letting them leave. So, for obvious reasons, he had to be on leash and supervised around toddlers to not traumatize them.

      2. Person from the Resume*

        I agree. Invite them but make it clear the pets are not included in the invite. If anyone tries to argue that, I would take back the invite and tell them never mind. Don’t put up with inconsiderate people assume their pets are welcome everywhere.

      3. Clisby*

        Absolutely. The only person who can bring pets to our house is our daughter, with her 2 cats (we like cats, have one of our own, and hosted one of her cats for 3 months during a summer internship to New Mexico.) Nobody else. Not even overnight, unless they’re fine with consigning their pet to the basement or garage.

    2. Lilo*

      I have an easier out because I have a cat, but I have banned a friend’s dog from my house because he behaved aggressively toward my cat (and terrified my kid).

      I’m just explicit about it. I have a cat, please don’t bring dogs over.

      I have to say people who are in denial about their dogs’ behavior makes me a little nuts.

    3. Not A Manager*

      It’s up to you. You don’t have to extend the invitation to anyone you don’t want to, including if you don’t want to have an unpleasant conversation. If it were me, I’d invite people sans dog if they were reasonable people. If I thought someone would want reasons, push back against them, and probably not come anyway, then I would just avoid all of that by not inviting them.

    4. Bluebell*

      As a dog owner who loves her dog dearly, I think it’s totally reasonable to extend a non dog invitation. If you wanted to take an extra step, you could provide a list of reliable kennels in your area.

    5. Maggie*

      I have a dog and would never assume and invite to me and my husband included my dog, but if you want to make it clear just say we’d love for you to come but just wanted to let you know we can’t have dogs here. Anyone who gets mad about that is rude, and I am a crazy obsessed dog mom lol so I feel like almost everyone should understand.

    6. Gnome*

      I have a dog and would never dream of bringing him with us without clearing it ahead of time. I have done this with my parents and nobody else. My dog is VERY well behaved and well socialized. He still caused some difficulties in a strange environment.

      You are also allowed to lift the rule in special circumstances (dogs you know) or make any other rules. You are being generous… You don’t have to be more generous than you are comfortable with!

    7. Dogs must be invited*

      I would never assume my dog was invited without clarifying. It is totally fine to be upfront that you can’t host your friends’ dogs. Not unreasonable at all.

      But you do need to be prepared to be turned down if the invitee can’t get acceptable dog care! I have no issues with boarding my dog or finding a petsitter for dog-free trips but sometimes it isn’t possible! If the visit is over a holiday, a lot of good boarding places fill up months in advance. Where we used to live, if I were going somewhere over Christmas, I should have probably made my reservations before September (I haven’t needed to board since we moved, so I don’t know what its like here).

      So last minute invites might not work, and you should not take it personally if someone has to turn you down because their normal boarding place is all booked. You also don’t need to feel pressured to change your mind about the dog because of that, of course!

      1. Dogs must be invited*

        I just realized my user name is misleading. What I meant was — my dog must be invited or she’s not coming. I realized it sounds like I’m saying “you must invite my dog.” Which is not what I meant!

  18. Aviane DuMer*

    I know it’s early to be mentioning the December holiday season but I’m looking for ideas on spending it alone! I’ve spent the last few Christmases alone (orphan, no close family and all my close friends live abroad) and I don’t hate it but I don’t love it either. I turned 40 this year so my acquaintance group (work friends and such) tend to be either younger and living with their parents or older and raising kids so there are never any invitations to stop by over the holidays. Usually I just stay home for a few days and eat my own weight in candy/roast potatoes but I’d like to do something different this year. I don’t live in the US anymore and where I live doesn’t really ‘do’ Christmas volunteering so that’s a non-runner. How do you spend your solo Christmas?

    1. Asenath*

      Mine weren’t entirely solo until COVID, but were much more solo than most (that is, one dinner with a group of old friends and the children of those who had them plus attending a church service). I gradually developed a Christmas I like over years with few local friends and relatives to consider, and many of those eventually dying. Basically, I did things the way I want, tried things out, if they worked, fine, if not, think again. Don’t want the trouble of decorating? Try various degrees from none to full-on tree and window decorations, and keep what feels best. Kind of lonely and bored? Treat it as a holiday, i.e., time off work; this approach worked best, naturally, when I was working. What do I usually do when I get a long weekend? If I like it, do that. What I settled with for that day or two when everything is closed and/or everyone with close family is doing family things was usually making sure I had everything I needed for hobby or entertainment ready, and treating it as a combination of time off work and the cozy cabin feeling of being indoors when the weather is frightful. I’ve done volunteer work, which was good, but the volunteer things I do now are generally before and after the holiday. If I want a hot dinner, I’ll cook one, just for me. If that seems too much like work, I’ll put something in the microwave. It’s a very liberating approach; and if anyone asks about my plans, I just say “I’m having a nice quiet Christmas this year; just the way I like it.”

      1. Chilly Delta Blues*

        Is there a place you’ve wanted to visits? You mentioned wanting something different this year so maybe planning a bit of an “adventure” however that looks to you. I’ve often thought of booking a few nights at a fire lookout tower in a national forest just to read and enjoy the peace for a few days. Could you do something similar where you’re located?

    2. fposte*

      I like Christmas on my own, but I get the thing about avoiding eating your own weight. Agreed that one possibility is to go someplace else and have a tourist Christmas. I also like getting outside, even if I have to wrap up–head out to a few parks or forests of decent size and do an hour or two of a walk each day. Depending on your neighborhood, it might also be entertaining to be a secret Christmas elf–one of our neighbors dropped bags of sweets on all our doorsteps and then just rang our bells and departed on the first COVID Christmas, and that was delightful.

    3. Ali G*

      Would you be interested in hosting a little gathering not on Christmas? Since Christmas is on a Sunday, a friend of mine is having a little party on the Friday before, since we all do our own things on the actual Holiday. You could sub that for the “big day” and then just do whatever on actual Christmas.

    4. Person from the Resume*

      I would make fun plans at home. Eat the food I want (cooking or takeout, lots of cookies and cookie dough), decide on a movie/tv shows to watch, decide on book or two to read, make plans for workouts, hikes, bike, rides, trips to view holiday lights or decorations. That’s actually too much so be reasonable about what you plan so you can get lots of sleep too because that’s important to my idea of a relaxing vacation.

      * Generally I view planning a solo vacation as work. I think a holiday where I’m away from my house and stuff and have to eat out all the time would feel lonelier than being at my own home.

    5. Hello sunshine*

      I sometimes did the movie theater on Christmas. Usually with a friend and his daughter so not totally on my own. But be careful on the movie pick. One year the daughter picked warhorse. I think Marley and me was another year. Not feel good.

    6. the cat's ass*

      One of my best Christmases was unexpectedly getting Christmas day off from work-the census was low, so i got to go home. I went to a famous local Jewish deli instead and it was a PARTY! I sat at the big table with a lot of folks who were also solo and it was a blast. Then i got to go back to my sweet little apartment and beloved kitty full of yummy food and with takeout.

      Another year, the same thing happened, three of us got sent home and we went to our local Chinatown for dimsum. We weren’t really close friends but we became so with that meal as a start.

    7. JSPA*

      You could do the secular jewish thing: chinese food* and / or rollercoaster (or disney or other) theme park? (The idea is, they’re often open but far less crowded.)

      *If you happen to be in China, I guess that wouldn’t work.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Movies. I live where we have winter so the amusement parks all close. Jews go to the movies after (or before) Chinese food on Christmas.

        These days the Chinese restaurants are mob scenes – or at least were before COVID. Our synagogue usually plans a late lunch at one of the largest local places and when we went it was absolutely packed. If I wanted to go out and eat in a restaurant I’d make a reservation (like now) and if I wanted takeout I would call at least 90 minutes ahead.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Disney and similar large theme parks are gonna be jam-packed at the holidays, at least in the US.

    8. Kay*

      I typically travel to a place where I can do something I really enjoy, for me that means somewhere warm where I can get in a nice long hike, a resort with a spa, some water sports, etc. If the weather doesn’t comply – I catch up on reading or my to do list.

    9. Juneybug*

      My hubby and I go geocaching. We explore a new area, get outside, and walk the dog. Regardless of the weather (one year it was raining and windy, another year was so cold!), we go.
      Then we come home, nap, and eat a meal that is non-holiday (think tacos, steak, etc.).
      It helps to see the day as time off, not a holiday where we miss our adult children and grandkids.

    10. Chauncy Gardener*

      I make chicken korma because it’s #1 delicious and #2 super involved so I don’t usually have that much time to make it. And then I freeze the luscious leftovers for later! (love alliteration, don’t you?)

    11. MJ*

      The first Christmas after my ex and I split everyone was worried about me being alone. I wasn’t concerned – it sounded like heaven to me – but to make them feel better I booked into a spa hotel for 3 days. The spa was open for treatments, the hotel had special events (a storytelling in front of the massive fireplace one afternoon), and there were a number of single guests so others to hang out and chat with. I had a lovely time and got invited to join a family for dinner one night.

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

      Not actually Christian here, but am still subject to the existential angst of what to do on a holiday when there’s no one to celebrate with nearby.

      On the food front, if you don’t want to focus solely on candy/roast potatoes, is there some food you could special order from a catalogue or online that would still make you feel festive? Maybe order a spiral-sliced ham or individual slices of prime rib or something?

      It might be a little harder internationally, I guess, but maybe you could do the equivalent by seeing if there’s a local restaurant that will make you up some festive dishes that you can shove in the freezer and reheat for the holiday.

      I just ordered some boeuf bourguignon, juicy pork chops, scalloped potatoes, and mixed-berry tarts (all of which come in a couple of individual servings, I think) from Omaha Steaks, and I’m going to put them in the freezer and re-heat as needed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve.

      Alternately, is there some treat you like cooking/baking yourself that you don’t usually have time to make? Maybe Christmas is the time!

      I also get in the secular Christmas spirit by watching Christmas-themed episodes of old sitcoms on YouTube.

      Or, you could be like my family members who used to take advantage of holiday times to take a fabulous trip somewhere! Maybe you could be celebrating Christmas on a cruise in the Caribbean or at a romantic hotel in a place you’ve always wanted to visit.

    13. Nessun*

      I make cosy plans (I live somewhere the weather is probably gonna be bad), as I’m off for a week and I’m alone (no family within 4 hours by plane no kids, no SO, no pets). I figure out what I’d like to do for sure (make a list of movies or places to visit) and then figure out what days I have no plans for – and I figure pubwhat fun vosy things will make me destress and chill. So I figure oitt what foods I want to have, including ingredients for stuff to cook/bake, I make sure I have books and movies at home to enjoy, and I pull out blankets, hoodies, slippers, for sutting at the fireplace. It’s most about figuring out what will help me relax the most, since I know January will be busy and I want to enjoy the quiet while I can.

  19. Victoria, Please*

    What’s an invention that you wish someone would come up with? Not like clean energy or the Star Trek transporter, although those would be great, but something small?

    I was at a conference this week and wished that someone would invent a toaster that would make toast in 30 seconds instead of 5 to 8 minutes, as I stood in the breakfast line contemplating the life, death, and the universe while waiting for my bagel to toast.

    1. Chilly Delta Blues*

      A universal translator thing like in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Or at least an easier easier for me and my kid to learn Cantonese. Everything seems to be Mandarin based.

      1. JustForThis*

        I’m pretty confident that we will get a device approaching the functionality of the universal translator for a few dozen human languages within the next ten years or so.

      2. Dinwar*

        There’s a long-standing semi-serious question about that: How will they translate things like desert name? “Gobi” is a Mongolian word for “waterless place”, meaning “Gobi Desert” would translate at “Desert Desert”. Same with Sahara (derivation of an Arabic word for desert). The Bablefish gets around this by working with brainwaves, but universal translators have a harder row to hoe…

        1. CharlieBrown*

          You don’t translate word by word. You have to translate at a higher level than just individual words so that you can get the context.

    2. Texan In Exile*

      Fabric that repels cat hair so I could wear my fancy clothes (that is, anything I would wear to an event outside of the house) inside the house and not have to wait until the last minute to get dressed anytime we attend some external thing.

    3. Invisible fish*

      Instant finger print processor – just use it like a bar code scanner and BAM! The last person to use the markers was ____. Why do I want this? I’m a teacher. No more asking kids to clean up and hearing, “That’s not mine!” Just scan and say, “Allen, throw that empty water bottle away.” (As it is, I respond to their “It’s not mine!” statements with “I didn’t say it was yours- I asked you to help with clean up by throwing the away.”)

      1. Buni*

        If I had stupid amounts of money and space I would SO get myself one of those conveyor-belt toasters some hotels had. Mostly for the entertainment factor, but you do also get to see exactly how your toast is progressing.

    4. Anonymous Cat*

      I actually would like a transporter—but only for luggage! It would make packing and traveling so much easier!

    5. Girasol*

      IIRC I saw Julia Child do something like that with a blowtorch, which looked like fun, actually. I want a switch to turn on a temporary force field around the back yard so squealing kiddies and barking dogs could make noise to their hearts’ content but we wouldn’t hear it, and so I didn’t feel like I was on display whenever I’m out there because the HOA approved fence height is so short.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Ooh, if we have temporary force fields, maybe I could make puzzles again! As it is, the cats MUST jump on the table and play with the pieces, and if I shut myself into a separate room (or shut them into one) they scrabble at the doors and start singing the song of “must be on other side of barrier”. (Though they might scratch at the invisible barrier, so perhaps a force field with a teensy little zap capability?)

    6. CharlieBrown*

      A round refrigerator where the entire inside is a lazy susan so stuff never gets stuck at the back.

      1. JSPA*

        I have one of those. It’s from ~1950. Sunbeam. It also drops the toast automatically, as well as raising it when done. They were very expensive, some included asbestos in their insulation, and they run hot enough to start fires if you’re not careful. Love it.

        I want is a way to gently and softly clamp down a cat for fur-detangling, nail clipping, de-dingleberrying, etc.

        I want glasses that sense your gaze direction and automatically adjust focus. (Multifocals are useless if your close work can be in any quadrant, and your need to see at distance is downwards.)

        1. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

          I recently bought LMOPU Pet Grooming Hammock on Amazon that hangs the cat from a pole for claw clipping and grooming.

          It sounds crazy, but it worked. I think it freaked the cat out but she didn’t budge.

    7. tessa*

      An invisible carrier of my things that floated alongside me as I walked.

      Also: a piece of land large enough to hold all the world’s animals in need of rescue.

      1. Imtheone*

        The imaging center near me seems to have one of those mammography machines. No feeling like you are going to faint from the pain.

      2. A Becky*

        This exists! Ultrasound mammography is real, and *much* better than standard machines – no x-rays (which are better avoided) and mildly unpleasant goo instead of crushing.

        I got one at my ob/gyn when I said “I’m 80% sure this is a milk cyct but my mother’s breast cancer just recurred so can we check this out?” She just scanned me on the u/s table, agreed it was a milk cyst, handed me a paper towel.

    8. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

      A device that keeps you dry on rainy, windy days that’s not an umbrella. Umbrellas are a cumbersome, ineffective waste of space. I’ve found that even expensive ones leak, are fragile, and get inverted and are rendered totally useless by any winds above 5 mph.

    9. I'm Done*

      Permanent contact lenses. Pedicure machine where you can just stick a foot in and it comes back out perfectly smooth and toenails painted that are completely dry. A device that washes, dries and folds my laundry at the push of a button. That’s it for starters.

    10. Double A*

      I was just thinking about this last night: A car that didn’t require special seats for children. Like, if someone could design a car that had built-in safety for kids.

      I realized while watching a show set in the 80s where a bunch of kids just pile in the back of the car that it used to be so much easier to transport other people’s kids. And way less safe, of course. But it would be so nice if I could help friends by picking up their kids, or pick up a kid for a playdate, and I just can’t because of car seats (I mean at a certain point you can but it seems like kids are supposed to be in booster seats until they’re like 12). It’s another way that young families are isolated and only able to rely on themselves.

      This also relates to how cars aren’t really designed to be safe for many body types. When I was pregnant I was so nervous driving because it was clear to me that the car seats were not designed to protect my baby, considering the lap belt runs across your belly no matter how far you push it down.

      1. allathian*

        They aren’t for babies or toddlers, but from the time kids are old enough to travel facing forward, BMW at least has some models with built-in raised seats in the back.

      1. Mimmy*

        Oh gawd yes!! It’s amazing how I can clean my lenses only to have them get all dirty again within like 5 minutes.

    11. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Cordless dog leashes. My dog ends up doing the “dog maypole” with other dogs and/or their owners all the time out on walks, and I wish there was some way to have wireless dog leashes like we can have wireless headphones now so I wasn’t always untangling the leashes.

    12. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      A robot that cleans your entire home.
      I hate cleaning.

      A true AI that does the manual research and data entry for you. Example: “AI, lookup the top 20 robotics companies. Sort by revenue. Find me the contact info for the company CFOs, enter this into a spreadsheet.

    13. ESus4*

      I want a faucet with an automatic “drip steadily but minimally to prevent frozenpipes” setting.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        That would be so useful! This feels like it shouldn’t even be that hard to make, so why isn’t it a thing?

        1. allathian*

          That would still waste a lot of water. If you have 3 faucets in your home, and each of them drips one drop per minute, that would mean more than a liter (about 2 pts) of water wasted per day. Our hosepipes have an internal electric wire that heats them, but only enough to keep the water from freezing.

          1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            I live in a climate where there are maybe two weeks a year where we need to drip faucets to keep things from freezing. No one I know has any kind of heating system for their pipes, in much the same way that no one owns a snow blower and less than half own a proper snow shovel. Growing up, I was about the only kid from a family that didn’t ski that owned snow pants.

            If there were some way for an automatic “minimal drip” setting to be included on vulnerable faucets, people here would waste less water during those weeks since no one really knows how much to drip their faucets either, so I assume there is a lot of overkill. (Apartment complexes here will put out signs by the entrance letting people know that they should drip their faucets when it’s that time weather-wise, which is probably how a lot of people learn that they’re supposed to when they move here from parts south that don’t have temperatures that cold.)

            It’s also true that I live in a place that gets most of its rain during the fall and winter, so we’re not overly worried about conserving water at those times. Dripping pipes for a couple of weeks a year in the winter uses far less water than those same households use in the summer for irrigation, and during a time of year where reservoirs are likely to get re-topped-up before irrigation season, so it’s not a major impact on the water system like it might be somewhere else.

    14. Nerdgal*

      A slow cooker with a built in refrigerator. Keeps food cold and then cooks it so it’s not dry if you are gone for 10 hours.

    15. DataGirl*

      A remote or setting on your TV/phone/laptop etc that let you pick one volume level and automatically adjusts whatever is playing to be consistently that level. So you can put the volume high enough to hear people talking, but not get blasted with noise when there’s an explosion, fight scene, whatever. Essentially it would do the work of constantly turning the volume up and down for you.

      1. Angstrom*

        Check your TV’s settings. There may be something like “Automatic volume control” which will at least help keep the volume constant when you change sources.

        Reducing the range between the loudest and softest sounds from the same source would be audio compression. That definitely exists for audio recording but I don’t know what’s out there for consumer electronics.

    16. Dr. Doll*

      An office-acceptable warm garment (with sleeves, not a shawl) that’s designed to be put on from the front, for those times when you have to take it off, put it on, take it off, put it on, take it off… because your body temperature regulation is for crap.

  20. Chilly Delta Blues*

    Question for any librarians in the group. Do libraries ever look at what people search for in the online catalog, or do they even have the ability to do so?

    We live in a small town but I love the variety of books our library has compared to other places I’ve lived. After searching for a bunch of kids books lately by Native American authors (son’s preschool only tells the traditional thanksgiving story) I wondered if the staff used catalog searches for content suggestions. There’s a few federal facilities with a revolving workforce nearby and I know the library is used a lot by families with young kids. Thought that might bring with it a diversity of searches.

    1. fposte*

      I’m a bit away from practicing, but none of the libraries I know do that. It’s close enough to the way online merchants monetize searches that I bristle a bit at how invasive it feels, though I suppose it wouldn’t have to be and would certainly be covered by libraries’ traditional confidentiality anyway. But practically speaking, searches for a category wouldn’t tell a librarian how well a collection fulfilled the searched-for need–just because it suddenly got a bunch of searches for the Civil War doesn’t mean they don’t have enough Civil War books, it may just mean the fifth graders have had that part of the school year. A good library will, though, factor circulation in for a category and not just the individual title, so if their one book on the War of Jenkins’ Ear is in constant demand they may get more on the topic.

      1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

        Agree with all of that. It’s probably possible depending on the software being used, but it’s likely a convoluted process to get the search info and they don’t have time to look into that, even if they wanted to! Looking at circulation of items they already own is more common, either with a formal report from the system or just the librarians going “hmm, these are popular, maybe we need more like this”, and absolutely if you want them to have more kids books by Native Americans or whatever you are interested in, tell them that!

      2. Sunflower*

        A bit of an offshoot of this question- What is the process at the library if someone requests a book? What is the chain and process of having that approved? What is the usual timeline between request and book on the shelf?

        I am a big lover of the library but admit I have never requested books that are not part of catalog because I don’t want to inconvenience a library for a book I may not like…

        1. Autumn*

          Speaking for my system, we take requests all the time! If the evaluator (that’s me!) thinks the book would be of interest to more patrons than just the requester, we will purchase a copy if possible (by possible I mean in print and available through our vendor). If purchasing is not warranted or not possible, we will attempt to inter-library loan it, which means it will come from another system/state altogether. ILLs are very common, we do several a week (I’m at a medium-sized branch). The timeline is dependent on the specifics. It’s not an inconvenience, it’s a very normal part of our job. Thanks for supporting your local branch!

          1. PhyllisB*

            I agree with all this!! I have requested titles not in stocks and I have used interlibrary loan A LOT!!! It’s interesting to see where the books come from. Usually they’re from in-state, but years ago I got one that came from Hyde, New York. What amazes me is how many people aren’t aware this service even exists!! Use your library, folks. The more It’s used, the better chances they will get decent funding.

        2. RagingADHD*

          Libraries get funding by showing that they are being used. Requesting books or other services from the library does not inconvenience them. It helps them prove to TPTB that their existence is justified.

          If you want to keep having libraries, *use them.*

        3. Red Sky*

          I recommend/request books (both e and physical) at my library all the time (there’s a form on their website) and they usually purchase the more popular new releases and have them available on, or around, release day. The recommendation/request itself will also get you on the waitlist if it’s a very popular item with lots of requests, so that’s nice, too. For older books, I think it depends on how much interest there is from patrons or if its a book in a series with high checkout rates.

          Don’t look at it as inconveniencing the library, look at it as supporting the library. Their funding is dependant on patron checkouts and engagement with their programs and services.

        4. KathyG*

          Adding my voice to the chorus, go ahead & make the requests. I don’t know what the magic number of requests (for a given title) is in my library’s system is, but I DO know it is larger than one.

    2. Anon5*

      Some library software can probably do that but also, many libraries take suggestions from their patrons so you could investigate that if you aren’t finding what you need. Also, libraries are more likely to look at what patrons are asking to borrow from other libraries (interlibrary loan) and perhaps purchase from that list and not what people are searching for.

    3. EdgarAllanCat*

      Agree with fposte and imo libraries don’t track that. We do get lists of items requested that we don’t own or holds that are unfulfilled for x weeks. I’m sure it’s technically possible to get info about searches, but it isn’t standard practice (again imo).

    4. ClaraLune*

      Academic libraries can and do – at places I have worked it’s been a great way to see how students are searching for materials and to tweak the results algorithm to suit or to teach students how to search better. Ie copy and pasting an entire citation rarely brings up the result the student is looking for, so we can teach how to do better searches and use the facets in library skills class we can also see if people are just searching a random letter to get to the results page to click on something else, and see if we can move that button to the front page of the catalogue. I’m not sure if it prompted purchases per se – academic library purchasing being I believe a bit more complex than regular public. I think a good relationship with patrons prompts tailored purchasing decisions, instead of just accepting books as per a publisher/vendor profile.
      Disclaimer: I’m reporting from Australia, however the library software we used is the major system used by academic libraries in North America too.

      1. I take tea*

        Yes, I work in an academic library too, and we can look at how people search, for all these good reasons, but to look at the actual subjects would not be relevant.

        We rely a lot on suggestions, no way can we keep up with everything that is published, so please request away!

    5. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

      Adding to the chorus that public libraries don’t do that — it would be an invasion of patron privacy. We do, however, encourage feedback on what to order, and the library I work for at least generates reports of what books/authors have the longest waiting lists and we tailor our ordering accordingly.

  21. Florida Beach Destination?*

    We are planning a family road trip next year, most likely spring time. I have early schoolage/toddler children. Since we will be taking our time driving, we are only going to spend 3 days. I’m looking for a reasonably priced beach destination in Florida. I would like a good parking situation throughout the destination. Even though it will be spring time, preferably lower crowds if that is a thing. Obviously, family friendly. It would be lovely to have alternative activities for when we tire at the beach. Florida beach destination ideas? TIA

    1. Chilly Delta Blues*

      Haven’t been yet but I’ve heard good things about Navarre Beach and Amelia Island. Both in FL. We had a lovely fall beach trip recently (with an older toddler) to Gulfport but that’s in MS.

    2. Lilo*

      Any preference between the Gulf Coast and Atlantic? What kind of alternate activities are you considering (like near St Augustine or Cape Canaveral).

    3. RagingADHD*

      We had a lovely, family-friendly trip to Santa Rosa Beach a couple of years ago. I am not sure how it fared in the recent hurricanes.

    4. Zephy*

      Look into St. Augustine, that will probably be less overrun with Spring Breakers (everyone heads to Daytona or Miami). Parking can be a challenge, lots of one-way streets and metered street parking spots (used to be free on Sundays, possibly still is), but there is a parking garage at the visitor’s center and a trolley that can take you around town.

      1. Lilo*

        Daytona people also drive on the beach. It’s pretty gross (I used to live in Orlando).

        Miami is also pretty expensive.

    5. Bluebell*

      I’ve been to Amelia Island and Ponte Vedra on the Atlantic side in the North. Both were nice, with some touristy things, but not a scene like Daytona.

    6. Anon in FL*

      I’ve had Vero Beach and the Naples area (including Marco Island) recommended to me. Not sure how the Naples area is doing after Hurricane Ian, though. Clearwater Beach is one of the most popular family-friendly destinations but it has certainly gotten overrun with tourists.

    7. SofiaDeo*

      I loved TH Stone Memorial St Joseph Peninsula State Park near Port St. Joe. There is construction going on right now, they are renovating the cabins one can rent, inside the park. IDK how anything is since the storms the past few years. It it was pretty devoid of Spring Breakers, not a party place, when we went there.

    8. MM*

      Depends on what you mean by spring. If March, well that is spring training (baseball), so much of the peninsula is pretty much extremely busy, it also is college kids spring break. Parts of the panhandle isn’t as busy, but you run the risk of it still being cold. Also the Jacksonville area, NE part of the state can still be cold in March. Plus many of the snowbirds are still here in March.

      April and May tend to be lovely in most of Florida, most snowbirds have left, spring training is over, weather is perfect. You do get family spring break in April in certain parts of the state.

      As for non beach activities – most areas have them. Little museums, art centers, miniature golf and many other things are everywhere if that’s your thing. Almost every area has a website that’s lists non beach things to do.

      Concerning the storms – I’d avoid southwest Florida this spring. Ian destroyed most of it for tourists south of the Sarasota area.

      The panhandle is mostly rebuilt from Michael, we just drove through there last week.

      So a recommendation depends on which month you are planning. But some of my favorite parts are Apalachicola peninsula, Port St. Joe area, Crystal River area. Amelia Island is nice, but not a whole lot to do there other than beach, unless you drive down into Jacksonville area, plus I prefer the Gulf side. All of these are northern parts of the state so can still be cold in March. But northern parts of the state also don’t have spring training.

    9. sagewhiz*

      Tampanian here: Due to the ages of the children, if you are planning a lot of beach time I strongly recommend focusing on the more placid Gulf side. The Atlantic coast is much windier, has higher waves, and is notorious for its rip currents.

  22. EdgarAllanCat*

    Thank you for all the suggestions, tips & ideas for my hip replacement. I feel quite appreciate of the commentariat and my anxiety because I was completely prepared for the hospital stay and returning home.

    I hope the AAM commentator also had a successful operation a few weeks ago.

    xoxo, EdgarAllanCat

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      Yay! I’m so glad it went well. I was following that thread closely since I’m having my knee done in a bit. Everyone here had such helpful suggestions!!

      1. PhyllisB*

        Glad you’re doing well Edgar. My recovery is still going well. Started my outpatient therapy this week, and the therapist told me I’m doing so well that I may only need two weeks of therapy instead of four.

      2. EdgarAllanCat*

        I had the normal bad reaction to anesthesia (nausea/vomiting, hyperventilating, muscle spasms, decreased temp). So if it’s possible to avoid that, Chauncy Gardener, please do.

        Best of luck on your surgery & hope you have a smooth & speedy recovery!

  23. Prospect Gone Bad*

    Leaf blower season and people are driving me nuts with the noise blowing them for 1/2 an hour blowing them in this or that direction or into the street. I don’t think you need to be a genius or done that more than once to know what happens – they blow black into their original spot by the end of the day. There is a lady on my block who blows it all into the street? Why? It’s not London in the 1600s. It’s either going to rot there, or blow back. Seems like a 20%/80% split. Has she not grasped that the leaves on her lawn an hour later are the ones she just blew away?

    1. RagingADHD*

      You don’t have yard waste pickup? We have a truck that comes around to collect them. I don’t know the schedule because we compost our leaves, but I see them going around.

        1. RagingADHD*

          I mean, that’s why folks around here blow leaves out to the curb.

          Earplugs are cheaper than raising your blood pressure over how your neighbors choose to do yardwork during normal daytime hours.

    2. Bluebell*

      I’m empathizing right now. Weather is unseasonably warm here in New England but leaf blowers have been going constantly since 9am or so.

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

      Different regions are probably going to have different answers on this…in my area people blow stuff out onto the street on the mornings that the city street sweeper is out, and it picks up all the debris; otherwise, they blow the leaves into a pile and then either rake it into green recycling bins, or mow it up with a lawn mower. During leaf season, usually the trees are CONTINUALLY dropping leaves, so the leaves back on the lawn in the afternoon are not the same ones blown out. Leaf blowing is just part of staying on top of the yard care so it doesn’t get to be a stinking rotting mess that kills the living plants underneath. So it’s curious to me that your neighbors just blow the leaves …and then walk away?

      1. fposte*

        I wish there was more uniformity on this! I’m in a town where people are supposed to handle their own leaves, but some haven’t gotten the message and blow them into the gutter for a street sweeper that really doesn’t come around more than once or so a season.

    4. Generic Name*

      I’m suddenly glad I live in a windy part of the country. Nobody bothers with leaf blowers because the wind just blows all the leaves. They probably end up in Kansas somewhere. Lol

    5. Sloanicota*

      Solidarity, I have watched all my neighbors’ lawn services slowly and patiently blow all the grass clippings down the storm drain for six months and now I get to watch them blow the leaves into the middle of the road.

    6. Happily Retired*

      In our city, homeowners are responsible for keeping the street gutters clear of leaves, etc. we definitely don’t cram them down the storm sewers.

      People either bag, chop with a mower, or compost. I bag the street leaves because of all the oil etc from the street, which I don’t want in my soil.

  24. Prospect Gone Bad*

    Furniture shopping – so much is “assembly required” stuff I loath. I already have too many home projects going on and I want nice pieces that last decades. Where do you shop? Also, haven’t gotten furniture since Peir One. Are most places like when I used to go with my parents and you’d go pick it out and they’d deliver it? Or do you think I can walk out with small end tables etc?

    1. WellRed*

      I bought a desk at a local, longtime family owned furniture store because I also did not want to assemble anything (plus I suck at it). That had to be delivered but I’m sure you can absolutely walk out with an end table.

    2. Rosyglasses*

      In my experience, buying non assembly type furniture will take time. They have been hit with supply chain issues and staffing issues as well. We lucked out when we went to Lazyboy to get a new couch in that it was on clearance (messed up custom order for someone else) and so it only took two weeks to get it delivered. The ottoman that we bought will take six months. Those places also sell things like end tables and sometimes those are ones you can walk out with or get more quickly – but I would plan at least two weeks or more depending on where you go. Lazyboy, Ashley Home Furniture or places like that in your area are pretty standard on pricing; Pottery Barn, Crate or Barrel or West Elm will be higher end in terms of “big box stores” vs local shops. You might also search your city to see if there is a liquidator or consignment shops which then you could take stuff home more quickly and maybe luck out on finding older sturdier stuff.

    3. cat socks*

      We finally replaced our 20 year old couches last year. We went to Macy’s furniture showroom and sat on some couches and picked a set we liked. We also got a coffee table and end tables. They assembled the furniture when it was delivered.

    4. CharlieBrown*

      Have you considered a consignment antique shop? We have a rather large one in our area, with a constantly rotating inventory, and they do have some rather interesting pieces. You might have luck there, depending on what you are looking for.

      1. RC Rascal*

        Second this. Also look at antique malls & even EBay for specific pieces. Keep in mind that if it is sturdy and wood you can always paint it or stain it to improve the cosmetic appearance. I found the dresser in my guest room in the trash and painted it. It’s oak & probably 1960s era. Looks great!

      2. DataGirl*

        My problem with consignment/antique shops is they generally don’t do delivery, and I don’t have a truck. How do people get furniture home from those places? Rent a u-haul for a few hours? I’m genuinely curious as I want a nice, comfy arm chair for my craft room and I’d love to shop second-hand, but have no way to get anything that size home.

        1. just another queer reader*

          Yes! I once rented a U-Haul to transport a piece of furniture. Hardware stores also rent out pickup trucks by the hour. Or if you have a friend with a truck or trailer, ask to borrow it.

          If you need help with lifting, you could enlist friends or hire help (formally or informally).

    5. KatEnigma*

      You can sometimes walk out with end tables or things like an arm chair that’s on clearance, but otherwise no, you have to order it and wait for it to be made if you want something you don’t assemble yourself.

    6. Chaordic One*

      Since moving to the suburbs of a semi-urban city I’ve had very good luck buying used furniture in good condition that I’ve found advertised on Craigslist, Facebook Neighborhood, and there are a couple local marketplace websites that are similar. But I often need to hire someone with a pickup truck to help me get it home.

      When I lived in a small rural town, though, there wasn’t very much advertised that was very good. Partly because there weren’t as many people and partly because the people tended to be less well-off and didn’t have as nice of things to sell and get rid of.

    7. SarahKay*

      Most of my favourite pieces have come from second-hand shops or furniture restorer shops (so still second-hand, but nicely polished up etc). Just last month I got a really nice small bookshelf to sit in my hallway from a charity shop that specialises in furniture, and apparently they also sell on ebay. The shelves were a little too big to carry far (I have no car and the shop was a little too far from home) but they delivered for a fee, which I jumped at.

    8. Koala dreams*

      Second hand. You can get really nice furniture second hand, but depending on where you buy you might need to carefully check the item before you buy.

      If you prefer new furniture, look for furniture stores that offer assembly for an extra fee. Usually you pay extra for delivery and assembly.

      1. KatEnigma*

        I am a huge proponent of secondhand stores for furniture and we’ve gotten some terrific pieces from them.

        But I have this fear of bed bugs and other pests (fleas!) that can ride along in upholstered furniture, so we’ve always bought those new.

    9. Chauncy Gardener*

      I really like going to estate sales, secondhand stores and places like that. The quality is good and generally there aren’t 5,000 pieces exactly like it in your town. I’ve been using Melange mineral paints to update wood pieces that don’t have a great finish. (I don’t have the patience to refinish wood!)

  25. Elle*

    Why do high school clubs require so much parent participation and money? Marching band and debate involve competitions, car pools, and expensive out of state travel. It’s ridiculous. And the constant emails begging for weekend parent volunteers and donations for money and food. My kid wants to be in the clubs but it’s like the parents need to be as well!

    1. RagingADHD*

      My daughter did marching band, and they had scholarships for the students who couldn’t afford the fees and trips.

      I volunteered one day to help fit uniforms, and that was all I could manage between work and physical problems, so I ignored the rest.

      Constant emails from school about volunteering and fundraising have been ongoing since kindergarten. Nobody likes to talk about it, but the difference in school experience between high-income and low-income areas isn’t just the tax revenue. It’s also the availability of SAHPs to volunteer, the ability of families to donate, and the family/friend connections they can draw on to fundraise.

      Anything at school beyond the legally-required minimum services happens because someone is volunteering or donating. Fortunately there are usually folks in the community who can cover the kids who want to participate but can’t afford it.

    2. Chestnut Mare*

      Because schools are drastically underfunded and can’t pay staff. Teachers and school staff aren’t able to provide free labor anymore as most have second jobs. There’s no mystery here.

    3. CharlieBrown*

      It’s because of the appalling way that schools are funded (i.e., underfunded in the United States).

      I have never seen a case where the popular boys’ sports (football, basketball, and baseball around here) have to scramble for transportation or food or volunteers. It’s not unusual for those sports to have large, paid, coaching staff, while everything else is run by volunteers.

      1. Chestnut Mare*

        My husband is a high-school football coach and every penny of his coaching salary, plus a good deal more, goes right back into the program. The team also works their tails off to fundraise. So no, your experience or perception is not universal.

        1. Aimless and Abstract*

          Does he ALSO have parent volunteers helping with that fundraising and with planning team activities outside of practices? Dollars to donuts he also depends heavily on parent volunteers.
          And if you think his program funding is the same as girl’s volleyball or coed track and field, you’re almost certainly wrong.
          The big three boys sports are absolutely treated as a bigger deal – in terms of funding and support – than others. That’s 100% my experience all around, in several states and school districts.
          Just because your husband puts his salary back into the program doesn’t make what Charlie Brown says untrue.

          1. Chestnut Mare*

            He’s also the Athletic Director, so yes, I can assure you that each program receives the same amount per student participant. What each sport does to augment that is up to each coach and team.

      2. RagingADHD*

        Our large, well-funded, championship football team is constantly fundraising. They don’t have to “scramble” because they get large sponsorships from local businesses and they have a multigenerational booster club that lavishes donations on them. But it is not coming out of the school budget.

      3. Qwerty*

        All of the schools I’ve worked with had booster programs for football too. Not struggling for volunteers is partly because of the popularity of the sports and lots of players = lots of parents. It’s been a while since I’ve been to a high school football game, but a small admission price spread out over a very large crowd brings more funding then a hefty admission from a smaller crowd.

        For example, my high school football booster program ran the concession stand at football games. Parents are already at the game, they can run a shift easily. When they *did* start struggling on staffing, it became a joint venture project (usually marching band or cheerleading, since those parents were at the game too). Two booster programs would run it together and split the profits for the night.

    4. the cat's ass*

      Yeah, its A Thing, especially in the US where so much important stuff (education, health care, etc) is underfunded. I contribute time and money where i can and am fortunate that both my kids picked one main thing to be involved in so i could focus my energies on that. These afterschool things are run by volunteers, mostly women.
      I’m kind of old, and had my kids late but one really refreshing thing I’m noticing is the increase in dads in volunteer roles. We just picked up my kid’s GS fall products from a GS dad.

      1. Elle*

        I guess I’m not talking about the basics here. I’m talking about all the unnecessary out of state trips, weekly competitions, regular catered pot lucks, etc. I’d get it if it were for uniforms, staff and other basics. But this is for things that are above and beyond what I expected. Everything needs to be extra and over the top so the kids are the best.

        1. WellRed*

          I see parents post all the time about all the weekend away games out of state (middle school!) and related stuff and don’t understand how you all can stand it. Dude: be a hockey parent all you want, but he’s 11. Not Gretzky.

        2. California Dreamin’*

          One of my kids is on the high school speech and debate team, and yes, there are a lot of weekend competitions all year long and some travel competitions. But that’s kind of what debate is for. Without competitions, there is nothing else to it. On our team, they do ask every parent to volunteer to judge for one tournament because that’s where judges come from. In terms of school fundraising, as others have said, anything beyond the basics depends on parent and/or community donations. I’ve had three kids go through a variety of schools (public, parochial, charter, and independent private) and all depended on parent contributions, even above and beyond tuition for those that were private. One kid goes to an arts charter school, and while the academic day is covered by the public school budget, the arts program (eight hours a week after school) is funded completely by annual parent contributions.

    5. OyHiOh*

      And if parents aren’t paying fees, it’s because the district is doing a phenomenal job of sourcing sponsorship. One of my kids is in a robotics program and the number of heavy hitting industry sponsors is impressive.

    6. Generic Name*

      Because people habitually fail to vote for enough taxes to adequately fund public education.

  26. Family Ties*

    I’m looking for advice for staying with family who aren’t great at hosting guests.

    My mom and I visited a sibling and their family, and it was pretty unpleasant for a lot of reasons. The worst things were: The meals were either tiny portions or just fast food (the latter made my mom sick one night). The only sleeping option was sharing a bed/guestroom, which meant I didn’t sleep much since my mom snores and tosses and turns and gets up to pee once a night. The seat they wanted me to use in their SUV didn’t have a working seatbelt (which was scary when they were going 75 miles/hour on the highway). The adults disappear for most of the day, leaving us alone with their very young kids (whom we barely know since we haven’t seen them in four years). It felt like we spent a lot of money and suffered through a 6-hour plane ride just to babysit. We had the same experience the last time we visited for an entire week, which was partly why we only visited for a few days this time.

    My mom and I decided that the next time we visit we’re going to get hotel rooms, so I can sleep and we can have some downtime to recharge in the morning and at night–it’s really hard to suddenly have to be around hyper kids all day! And we’ll only stay a few days again. I think my sibling is going to be both hurt and annoyed about the hotel (they’ll have to drive us back and forth), and they’ll probably be upset at the short visit. (They kept saying we should have stayed longer, and insisted we come back for the kids’ Christmas break even though that’s a horrible time of year to travel and I told them I’m not allowed to take off from work in December. Plus, we plan to visit another sibling for a full week next spring, which will probably seem unfair.)

    But it’s reasonable for us to get a hotel and only stay a few days (even if we stay with another sibling longer), right? And is there anything else we can do to make the visit more pleasant? I’m going to tell them I can’t come unless they can pick us up from the airport in their other car (which will have a seatbelt for me). I’m not sure what to do about the food situation, or how to go about avoiding getting the kids just dumped on us.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Can you rent a car? But otherwise your plan sounds very reasonable – some people just don’t have good guest space.

      1. Family Ties*

        My mom and I both have bad anxiety about driving to places where we don’t know where we’re going, so renting a car to drive around in a city we don’t live in wouldn’t work well for us, unfortunately.

          1. Family Ties*

            My mom has said she’d never take a taxi/uber because she’d feel unsafe in a stranger’s car, so I’m not sure that would work either.

            Since transportation will be a problem, maybe we should just plan on visiting every other year instead of every year or something. (I need to visit my other sibling anyway, and it seems like prioritizing them might be the best option since they’re fine with taking us back and forth to a hotel, and we get to play board games and go for walks and watch movies and have long conversations with them, which is relaxing. I think I need to start using my PTO for relaxing. I’ve basically only been using it for medical appointments and sick days since Covid started, and I feel burned out.)

            1. Cacofonix*

              You might want to think about how your sibling experiences your visit from their POV. Your wilful dependence on them to drive you might exacerbate what to you looks like them taking advantage of your being there.

            2. ThatGirl*

              It sounds like your and your mom’s needs/wants conflict with your siblings, and I would focus on ways you can help bridge that gap while making visits easier on both of you.

            3. girl what*

              Okay so I read this and then read further down where you mentioned that you and your mom have anxiety about driving in unfamiliar areas, so a rental car is also out of the question. I have also struggled with anxiety around driving especially in unfamiliar areas and on vacations.
              But honestly, you’re shooting down every possible solution to the point that the only real solution is, “stay the heck home.” Because at this point, it’s pretty obvious that you’re really just looking for some magical solution where like, your sibling gets a second guest room/guest bed AND nanny services, and a private chef, and a new car, etc etc etc. Your sibling should definitely get the seatbelt fixed, duh. But otherwise: the situation is what it is. You can mitigate some of it (rental car, taking ride-shares or taxi cabs, hotel room) or you can stay home. And I think that staying home is the better option because you seem pretty committed to none of the other perfectly valid options.

              1. Family Ties*

                Yes, if staying at a nearby hotel and having them drive us back and forth isn’t reasonable, then we just can’t visit them. (The transportation issue also doesn’t allow us to go grocery shopping or go out to restaurants by ourselves.)

                I don’t expect them to get a new car (they already have two cars–one has the kids’ car seats in it, and they wanted to take the kids with them to and from the airport, and that car happened to be the one with the broken seatbelt).

                They changed the plan of letting me borrow one of their kids’ rooms on me. If I had known the new plan was to have me sleep with the kids, we would have told them we needed to stay at a hotel or that they should have the blowout mattress out of storage before we visited.

                1. Family Ties*

                  My mom says the hotel her and her friend stayed at were within walking distance of a nice restaurant, so we could eat breakfast and dinner there, but that would still require being driven to/from the hotel. But the general consensus here seems to be that is unreasonable.

                2. nnn*

                  Why are you going there without considering actually talking to your sibling about your needs first, as every person here keeps suggesting? You haven’t addressed any of those suggestions, which is getting a little frustrating, and it’s the obvious next step if you really want a solution.

            4. girl what*

              Unlike your sibling’s car, a taxi would have working seatbelts. As would Lyft and Uber cars (and if they didn’t, the deluge of low ratings and complaints to Uber/Lyft would get that driver bounced from the platform pretty fast). News reports about dangerous taxi/Lyft/Uber drivers make the news *because* they’re unusual. Taxi drivers especially are at higher risk of an unsafe event happening to them, compared to their passengers being in danger.
              Again, I have a lot of anxiety about a lot of things so I get it. But by your mom’s logic, riding in an ambulance would be a no-go too. So if your sibling’s car had gotten in an accident on the way to the airport, and anyone had been injured, was your mom gonna tell the EMTs “oh sorry but no—stranger danger, you see.”

              I also can’t figure out why a real bed in a real guest room wasn’t enough for you but old air mattress and old tents(!) would supposedly be fine for your sibling’s family after a long, expensive flight with kids (young or not).

              You don’t actually want to visit this sibling. Okay fine. That’s how life shakes out. Make peace with it.

              1. Family Ties*

                I had fun sleeping in the tents in the living room as a child, so I assumed it would be fun for other children to do (they have a similar kind of tent at their home that they play in).

                I would have loved to sleep on their air mattress. I couldn’t sleep when sharing the guest bed with my mom because she tosses and turns (which can be felt through the mattress). Which is why they made other plans for me (and then I didn’t find out the plan had changed until I got there).

                They have a second car. But the second car doesn’t have the child seats in it.

                If they don’t want to visit us, that’s fine.

    2. Janet Pinkerton*

      I think it’s totally fine to get a hotel and only stay a few days, but I’d strongly advise getting a rental car so you aren’t dependent upon them for transit.

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

      I’m sure they want you to visit, and stay longer, because of the free child care, so to them that’s a feature not a bug. Of course you’re allowed to have your visit on your terms, but just accept that they won’t like it and will try to manipulate you back into their way, and you need to take the initiative to provide for yourselves …get your own food, rent a car or pay a taxi/car service, leave when you’ve had enough, etc. Your dependence on them puts you at the disadvantage.

    4. Sunflower*

      I don’t know your family situation but if this is your sibling, I don’t think the same house guest rules apply and you can loosen a bit on the need to be so polite about the annoyances.

      1. Make it very clear you aren’t there to babysit. You really shouldn’t be left alone with the kids unless explicitly agreed upon beforehand. I would ask your sister what the plans are for the time while you’re there- and make sure to emphasize you’ll probably do your own thing for some of the time so she’s aware you aren’t a go-to babysitter and you have an out to get your own meals and get away for a bit when needed.
      2. As others suggested, rent a car so you have your own mode of transit.
      3. Get a a hotel room. It’s more than reasonable to want one but I wouldn’t consider your sister a bad host because she only has one guest room. Having a guest room period is a big sign of privilege and you can’t judge someone for not having ample space for hosting multiple guests.
      4. Let your sister be mad if that’s how she is. You are all adults and she will get over it if she wants you to visit at all.

      One thing you didn’t mention is if you actually enjoyed visiting with your sibling and family despite the logistical annoyances. If not then don’t let her guilt you into spending more time then you really want to.

      1. Observer*

        3. Get a a hotel room. It’s more than reasonable to want one but I wouldn’t consider your sister a bad host because she only has one guest room. Having a guest room period is a big sign of privilege and you can’t judge someone for not having ample space for hosting multiple guests.

        For the most part, I agree with you. And it’s true that not having a lot of space doesn’t make bad host. But if you are expecting someone to visit, at least you should have sufficient beds.

        And getting huffy if someone says “I understand that space is tight, so I’m getting a hotel room” *IS* bad hosting.

        1. Sunflower*

          Agreed it’s ridiculous for the sibling to get huffy about them getting a hotel room. But I disagree about the bed part. I assume it’s a double bed or larger- hotels consider those beds to sleep 2 so I don’t think it’s an etiquette failure to offer that to guests especially family esp since hotel rooms (esp around the holidays) can be pricey. It would be rude for the sister to have a guest room and not offer it up because there are 2 of them vs one? I don’t think the OP suggested a hotel room this time around – despite seemingly knowing this was the situation since she stayed there before – considering she is asking for validation on doing it the next time around.

          1. Family Ties*

            They told me that this time I would be borrowing one of their kids’ rooms/beds for the visit, and their kids would share a bed/bedroom. Which sounded like an okay plan. But when I got there, I found out the plan was that I would take turns sleeping in the kids’ rooms/beds with them. Which wasn’t do-able because then they’d keep me awake all night and wake me up as soon as they got up in the morning. And I’m not at all comfortable sleeping in the same bed as a person who is nearly a stranger anyway. The kids were very disappointed I wasn’t doing “sleepovers” with them.

            They have a blowup mattress, so I asked if I could at least use that in the guest room and play loud white noise to block out my mom’s snoring. They said “maybe tomorrow night” and then I didn’t bring it up again because so many other things were making me feel like I was a burden.

    5. Glomarization, Esq.*

      “We’re gonna stay at a hotel so you don’t have to put us up, and we’re gonna rent a car so you don’t have to drive us around.”

      With your own rental car, you can also make a grocery run as needed, say to take advantage of the prepared foods at a supermarket deli or something.

    6. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      Get a rental car, go grocery shopping and cook when you are there. The freedom of having your own car will be well worth it. Also, look and see if there are fun things to do with the kids, parks, museums, beaches, zoos, etc.

    7. Person from the Resume*

      They do sound like bad hosts and like they were taking advantage of you.

      Renting a car gives you flexibility with food and getting away for sure seeing or just a break.

      OTOH they only have a 1 guest bed and I don’t think you should expect to manifest another one. What were you expecting before the first trip? If this was the only problem (and it’s not), I’d suggest you try to work something out, buy an air mattress for their home, ask to sleep on a kids bed and the kid sleep on the couch, you sleep on the couch. You can ask for something more comfortable and it’s reasonable for two adults not in a relationship to not want to sleep together in a bed. But it’s not worth it with the other problems.

      1. Family Ties*

        I didn’t find out my mom snores and tosses and turns until the first trip. (She didn’t know she did this either.) For this trip, I was told I could borrow one of the children’s bedrooms, but then when I got there I found out I was supposed to take turns sleeping with the children. I asked if I could borrow their air mattress for the guestroom and just play white noise on my phone to drown out the snoring, but they didn’t want to get it out from wherever it’s stored because it was “late” (we arrived at their house around 8:00 pm). I didn’t keep asking about it since I felt like it would annoy them.

        Like, I couldn’t get one of the roller shades on their windows to stay down when the sunlight coming into the living room was too bright (I was drawing in notebooks with the older kid on the floor near the windows). I asked sibling, who was on their phone in the kitchen, how to get the roller shade to work right, and their response was “SIGH. Can’t you just move away from the sun?” So we had to move all the art supplies to another area. And when I needed to do a small a load of laundry and wasn’t sure where to put the fabric softener in their top load washing machine (I have a front loader at home), I asked sibling where to put it and their response was “SIGH. You couldn’t figure it out on your own?” before showing me. So I felt like asking for the blowup mattress again was going to be too big an inconvenience for them.

        1. Bob-White of the Glen*

          Why do you want to visit them at all? They don’t seem to have any concern about you, and this kind of rudeness while you’re providing free babysitting?

          But that said, can you create a couple of meals while there? With family it shouldn’t be all on them to cook for you.

    8. Random Bystander*

      Get the hotel room(s) and splurge on a rental car. Just say that it’s something that you’ve found works for you (ie announce it as an “of course, we’ll be doing this”). It would even be reasonable for you to pick some things that you and your mother would be interested in doing in the general vicinity of that sibling, and just do a drop-in visit with the sibling in the middle of the other activities.

      And don’t worry about fairness between one sibling and the other. I’d personally be hard pressed to not come right out and say “it feels like you’re less interested in spending time with us than you are in having us babysit for you”. Not that they’d admit it, but it would be putting them on notice that you were wise to the scheme.

    9. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Get the hotel room and a rental car. And maybe rethink being “guests” when your sibling thinks you’re “family,” with a big difference in expectations.

      1. Family Ties*

        What is the difference between “family” and “guests”?

        When my dad visited for much longer than us, he got home cooked meals and went out to restaurants. They took him and the kids to a park, a movie, playgrounds, and a museum. So is he a “guest” and me and my mom are “family”?

        (Me and my mom were expecting to stay “at home” and not really go anywhere, but we thought we’d be spending time with the whole family, not just looking after the kids while the adults were off doing their own thing.)

        1. Hmm!*

          I think that commenter was just suggesting that some people do have different standards for hosting close family versus other people. If I was hosting a very close friend or sibling, I might expect them to sleep on the couch and spend more time with me (slash adapt to my schedule), whereas someone I was less close to, I’d try to find a way to set them up with a more-private sleeping space and expect them to entertain themselves.

          I think your sibling is thinking “well, this is my mom and my sibling, so it’s fine if we’re all on top of one another and spend all day around the house!” whereas you’d prefer something a bit more formal.

        2. SofiaDeo*

          Oh this changes things. My Goodness. Why are you even going? It seems pretty obvious they are awful hosts to you, and really aren’t interested in you being there except as babysitters. Who refuses someone an air mattress they already own? Or *demands* someone sleep with their kids? Especially when Father gets treated way, way different.

    10. KatEnigma*

      Don’t make them drive you back and forth. If you can’t rent a car, then find public transportation of some kind of ride service. If you told me you were coming, allegedly to visit me, and that I had to transport you back and forth to a hotel, I’d suggest that you not come.

      And did it ever occur to you that they can’t afford to feed you for a week, and that’s why the portions are so small or it was fast food? Did you take them out to eat or cook, as a thank you for hosting you?

      And when you say they disappear, do you mean they go to work, since.. you were there for days? So maybe they left the kids out of daycare so you could get to know them?

      Maybe you need to have a conversation with your sibling about expectations ahead of time.

      1. looking for a new name*

        Affording to feed them doesn’t appear to be an issue as they wanted them to stay longer and are eager for them to come visit them again.

        1. Family Ties*

          My dad visited them for over a week a few months before us, and he said they had home cooked meals and went to restaurants a few times. While we were there, sibling’s partner actually talked to sibling about making plans to go out to restaurants two nights with friends later in the week.

          (When sibling visited us before, we bought extra groceries and prepared home cooked meals each night.)

      2. tessa*

        Looks like you missed the part about no seatbelt. Also, fast food is far less economical than home-cooked meals. Too, I go out of my way for my guests.

        I really don’t understand the defense of the thoughtless sibling but whatever.

      3. Family Ties*

        Sibling’s partner doesn’t work. Sibling took off from work on Friday and Monday morning. I had to take off from work on Thursday, Friday and Monday.

        When I say they “disappear,” I mean they go jogging, go to the gym, run errands, are outside doing yardwork, go upstairs upstairs for hours (I didn’t ask what they were doing), etc.

    11. RagingADHD*

      I mean, the only tip here is to speak up for yourself and communicate about what you want and need to do.

      1) Hotel rooms are a good compromise.

      2) Car rentals also exist.

      3) Plan some actual outings or activities with the children so they aren’t stuck at home with people they barely know and nothing to do. You aren’t going to get to know them if you never spend time with them. Or if you actually dislike them as much as it sounds like, don’t.

      4) Talk to your sibling about what you need and want to eat. Maybe treat them to a meal? Maybe pick up some groceries? Having a rental car would help with this.

      From the way you describe this, it sounds like it was no fun for anyone.

      1. Family Ties*

        It’s not that we dislike the kids, it’s just hard to talk and play with them for most of the day for a few days in a row. It’s exhausting for both me and my mom. If they lived near us, I’d be perfectly fine with visiting for a few hours at a time or a full morning/afternoon, but I’d never volunteer to babysit all day for a couple days in a row.

        1. Hmm!*

          Why not say so? It sounds like you were hoping for a restful vacation where you got some leisure time with your sibling and some structured time with the kiddos, but your sibling was assuming it’d be several days of unstructured family time.

          I might have misread/missed a detail elsewhere in the thread, but did you talk to your siblings about your plans/what you were hoping to do while in town? My siblings and I have struggled a little as we’ve entered adulthood, just making sure we’re on the same page. I love my brothers, but if they showed up with our parent, had no expressed desires to do anything in particular, and were wholly dependent on me to get around the city, I’d be a bit at a loss for what to do, too, and we’d probably end up just sitting around the house for a couple days, with me sneaking off periodically to “do chores” or “run errands” because hosting is TIRING even if you’re not ‘doing’ anything!

          Both of us have a lot more fun if one or both of us just says “I want to do X, Y, and Z, while we’re in town, do you want to make a day of it, or should I plan to be gone Thursday during the day and we’ll do family activities on Friday and Saturday?”

          1. Family Ties*

            I wasn’t expecting a restful vacation because I knew I’d be spending a lot of time with the kids (I guess I don’t have enough energy to be a good aunt–I absolutely never plan on having kids of my own). But I’m thinking it’d be better for me to prioritize using my PTO to rest at home or visit my other sibling rather than visit them now. I hate long plane trips, I don’t have the energy to spend so much time with kids, and coming back to a huge backlog of work is horrible. The only benefit is getting to see the kids, but I’m not sure that outweighs me having to be stressed out and exhausted while there, and then coming back home and feeling crappy and being overwhelmed at work for weeks.

            We don’t ask them to make plans while we’re there, I suppose because we don’t ask my other sibling to make plans either. (With my other sibling, it’s basically like a long hang-out. We watch movies, play board games, go on walks, just sit and talk, etc. We did go to a few cool stores near them during the most recent visit though, which was their idea.) I’m not sure why they plan a bunch of things to do with my dad and not us. (As I said in another post, we don’t expect to be taken anywhere, but non-stop kid-time isn’t working for us either. Like, I couldn’t even take a shower in peace because they were knocking on the bathroom door wanting to know when I was coming out to play.)

            1. Sunflower*

              It sounds like your other sibling doesn’t have kids or maybe they’re older or they have more childcare? For someone with young children, the experience you have with other sibling is just not realistic. My sister has young kids and we pretty much never get more than 10-15 mins of alone time with her or her husband when we visit- even when we stick the kids in a room to watch a movie, they rarely stay put- so I don’t think you can compare apples to apples here. Your siblings are not the same people, the same way you are not the same as them.

              It also sounds like you understandably have issue that your father got a different experience than you and you’re not sure why. Can you ask your sibling and express you would rather have an experience similar to that? Maybe that can help you figure out what time would be good to visit as maybe the differences in activities had something to do with schedules when you visited vs when he was there.

              1. Family Ties*

                You’re right, my other sibling doesn’t have kids. I guess I just didn’t realize that visiting someone with kids means being left alone with them for most of the day, which is turning out to be too much for us.

                I asked them what times of year were okay to visit, and they only want us to visit during school holidays, which is hard for me because of my work schedule. My dad is retired and can visit whenever, so it’s easier for him.

                I really didn’t think about my father getting a different experience until this thread. Don’t want to ask to get the same experience since that seems like an imposition. (They were aggravated just when I asked for help with the washing machine and the window shades!) We know for sure how our visits will go now, so I think we just need to do something different, like let them visit us when they’re ready to have the kids travel that far. (They go on a lot of long car rides to theme parks and tourist locations, so it doesn’t seem unreasonable to ask them to take a plane ride eventually.)

                1. SofiaDeo*

                  Visiting someone with kids does *not* automatically mean you are left alone with them most of the day. I have relatives with young kids, and when I would show up, they wouldn’t just take off! They might amend the schedule a bit, but not to dump “automatic babysitter” on someone, family or no. Even if they were going outside to do yardwork, it was more like “oh I have to do some stuff outside, would you like to come chat while I work?” To which, I would offer to help while chatting. This thing your sibling is doing, is very odd IMO.

    12. Bluebell*

      It’s a trade off – the more you spend, the more independent you can be. I’d definitely do a hotel, and rent a car or use ride shares. I think it could be helpful to discuss child care/kid time in advance, just so your expectations can line up a little more. And maybe try to arrange some grownup activity—maybe your mom could watch the kids when you hang out with sibling, and then you watch them when mom spends time with them. For food, I agree with some of the other commenters that you and mom could cook or offer to take everyone out one night. It may be that the adults are feeling overwhelmed by the kids, so your taking care of a few meals can let them breathe a bit more. I hope the next visit is better!

    13. the cat's ass*

      Dang. This sounds both unsafe AND no fun. Definitely agree on the hotel and rental car. Maybe offer to prepare a big family meal for all (and you bring the groceries for that)? You and your mom can do a few meals out by yourselves, too. Maybe take the kids out for one day or afternoon to the zoo/local kid thing/science museum, depending on their age/interests?

      Visiting family isn’t a vacation, it’s visiting family. I’m glad youre thinking of things to make it safer and more pleasant.

    14. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      Maybe it’s just me, but I’m seeing about as much poor guesting as poor hosting.

      1. Generic Name*

        Yeah, I’m kinda feeling the same. Or maybe a mismatch of expectations or lack of communication? I mean, they have a guest room with one bed, which is more than what most people are able to offer out of town guests. It’s totally valid to not want to share a bed with your mom, but that’s not exactly a failure to host on your sibling’s part. Frankly, even if your sibling is the most wonderful host on the planet, simply feeling more comfy in a hotel is reason enough to get a hotel.

      2. E*

        Agree! The only thing that sounded actually bad of the hosts was the missing seatbelt . These are parents of young children who presumably don’t have an abundance of time and possibly disposable income) The OP and mom can help cool/grocery shop. The kids are this writer’s nieces/nephews/niblings and the mom’s grandchildren, right? I found the complaining about not knowing the kids odd. aren’t these visits the opportunity to get to know them?

        1. Family Ties*

          We want to spend time with the kids and get to know them, but not knowing them well makes it harder to have to have to watch over them on our own. Like, the younger one suddenly got really grumpy and miserable, and we found out later it was because she was tired because she missed her naptime. Or how they kept fighting and getting unruly and the younger one would end up in tears when we tried to do things together (the four of us). We didn’t initially know it was better to keep them separated (my mom and me ended up taking turns doing things with each child).

          1. Calliope*

            If one is still napping it sounds like these are very young children. I wouldn’t expect the parents of very young children to host me by I also wouldn’t like to be expected to babysit with no notice. It sounds like maybe you need to have an honest conversation beforehand next time? Plan out meals jointly with them beforehand, say how long you’re willing to babysit, and definitely stay in a hotel.

            I actually think it’s fine to not have your own transport to a nearby hotel IF you discuss the plan ahead of time and figure out how to make it not an inconvenience on either side. But it sounds like neither of you is really communicating right now.

      3. Family Ties*

        I’m starting to think it would be better for me to just stop visiting. Keeping the kids entertained for a few days (or a whole week) in a row is exhausting and stressful, and becoming exhausted and stressed out is probably not the best way to spend my limited PTO time. (My sick and vacation time are in one bucket, and I need to spend a bunch of it on sick days and medical appointments since I have a chronic medical issue.) I’ve been feeling so crappy since I got back that it seems like the visits are bad for my health or something. If I’m being horrible to my sibling, and I’m just ending up miserable, it’s not really worth it.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          Honestly? I think this is the right instinct on your part. It’s not working for you, it doesn’t sound like it’s working for your sister. Set up a time to phone or video call if possible so that you can socialize without the trouble of being in-person.

        2. Sunflower*

          I will be frank here- almost every commenter has suggested communication with your sibling before the trip as a potential solution and you haven’t acknowledged it in any of your responses. It sounds like you’re looking for permission from internet strangers to not go vs what you asked for and received (solutions on making the trip work)- Which is fine! You are an adult and you aren’t required to do anything you don’t want to do. I would suggest for your own sake doing some thinking around this so you can feel better and more confident about making these choices. I know the feeling around guilt for not spending enough time with family members and it can really seep its way in other parts of your life. I hope you figure out a solution that works for everyone.

          1. Family Ties*

            Well, this thread make me realize I’m a huge inconvenience to them and that this all has too much of a negative impact on me. I think the trips to visit them are just a bad idea now. Maybe they can visit us some day when the kids are better behaved and can handle plane trips. (That’d be a lot easier because then I have to take off less time from work and could ask for them to come during the slow season, we can eat home cooked meals, they can use a blow up mattress in the extra room and the kids can sleep in some old tents in the living room, we can drive them places, I can clean up all my old toys for the kids to play with, etc.)

            1. Hmm!*

              At the risk of being too personal/nosy: are you in therapy?

              I ask because I am recognizing in your posts a lot of behaviors that I used to engage in before I started really working on my mental health. Visiting family with limited space, time, and resources is logistically challenging but not unworkable. Family is complicated and can make logistical issues into really thorny emotional ones, but it seems like you’re having a hard time engaging with both the logistical questions AND the emotional ones.

              Sorry if this is reading into things too much, but it seems like you’re feeling resentful that your sibling isn’t more attentive to your needs during your visit and feeling guilty for feeling resentful because you’re not “supposed to” feel that way. I used to spend a lot of time and energy beating myself up for feeling completely normal emotions like resentment and frustration and I’d engage in a lot of avoidant behaviors instead of just confronting the emotions I was having and deciding how to deal with them.

              Again, sorry if I’m reading too much into your situation! I’m still working on all of this in therapy, but my life got a lot simpler and a lot more joyful when I found a therapist who could work with me specifically on developing the skills to process and express my emotions and desires.

            2. goducks*

              Maybe, but a whole family flying to see you is a lot more expense and trouble, so maybe accept that it just might never happen. Before kids my parents visited us about half the time and we visited them about half. Now, its a lot harder with two adult work schedules plus two kids school and activities schedules plus 4 plane fares, so they come to us 95% of the time.

            3. Calliope*

              Seriously, though, why not talk to them about not being up for that much childcare? Visiting someone with kids doesn’t mean babysitting for them inherently. But if you don’t tell them you don’t want to babysit the entire time, you won’t know what they say. Like yes, I agree they should have known it was a possible imposition and asked explicitly ahead of time. But apparently they didn’t so why not open up the conversation yourself?

            4. Fulana del tal*

              That sounds like it would be miserable an experience for all. Is that your idea of a good vacation/experience or are you just being petty. Just accept that any visits with this sibling is going to involve hotels/car rentals. And if your mother can’t handle taking taxis and your sibling is annoyed by hotels then just stop with the visits and use your PTO to have a staycation and relax.

              1. Family Ties*

                When they visited us when they just had one kid, they seemed happy with the homecooked meals, using a blowup mattress, and using my old toys and going to the playground, zoo, etc. Why is doing that petty?

                1. Maggie*

                  Well they probably think you’re happy sleeping in the guest room and eating fast food since you didn’t say anything. Or that you’re happy babysitting. I think that commenter meant that if you are sleeping in a shared guest room as “bad hosting” it’s a little ironic that your plan for them is to give them a blow up mattress and old tents. It sounds like the visits aren’t working right now and that you need an actual relaxing break. However open up the communication lines with them so that you can both be closer to getting your needs met. Some of the stuff you posted reminds me of my own family actually, and i just wonder why we can’t do things in a way I feel would be much better haha. But I’ve learned I just have to bring myself there and plug in where I can.

                2. Fulana del tal*

                  Because you’re offering the same vacation experience you just said you didn’t enjoy; bad sleeping arrangements and being trapped in someone’s home.

                  Info: What age was the child when they visited? Because there’s a big difference between a baby and two young children. There’s a big difference between traveling with one child vs two.

            5. Maggie*

              It’s a little ironic that them offering you a shared bed is “bad hosting” but your offer to them is an air mattress and old tents. It sounds like you genuinely don’t enjoy being around their kids and have work/medical needs that require being at home, and that’s ok! Especially if it’s negatively affecting your health. You deserve to be comfy and have PTO days for sick time. I do think Sunflowers comment is really Valuable though. Talking and setting expectations with them could change things.

            6. Sunflower*

              This thread is simply suggesting that the cause of all of this is the same thing that causes 99% of most problems that exist- lack of communication. You are making a lot of assumptions and seem insistent on sticking to them as the source of truth instead of taking action to fix the problem. Unfortunately nothing is going to change if you’re unwilling to communicate. There is no way around that. If you don’t want to communicate, you don’t have to. But communicating is Key to Making Things in Life Work 101 and no one is going to tell that you’ve done all you can, your sibling is wrong and you’re free to throw your hands up and say ‘this trip is too much’ when you haven’t taken the most basic step (communication) to fix the situation. Your sibling may be thinking you had a great time and wouldn’t change anything going forward- how would they know anything if you didn’t say it?

              Additionally, you don’t seem to recognize you and your sibling have different priorities. What you suggest about your sibling + kids visiting you is…wildly presumptuous to think would be preferable for a family with several young kids. Your priority is having a good meal and space, theirs may be getting a meal on the table and just making sure everyone has a place to sleep. It all circles back to communication being the key. Since you seem unwilling to do that, I can understand why you are feeling at a standstill.

            7. nnn*

              Why are you ignoring all the suggestions here to actually talk to your sibling about how to make these visits work for you? Are you actually asking for advice in good faith or just venting?

            8. allathian*

              Sounds like niblings are at the age when they’re the hardest to deal with for people who don’t have kids around the same age. A few years from now things will be different. The kids will be more autonomous and they’ll demand less attention from you.

              Would it be possible for you to visit your sibling without your mom? Even if you stayed in the guest room, you’d have more energy to deal with active kids if you got a good night’s sleep.

    15. Overeducated*

      As someone who can’t always provide the best hosting experience in some similar ways, here are my thoughts:

      1) Only one guest room is kind of a fixed state. They can’t make another appear easily. Maybe they could let one of you sleep in their bed and sleep on the floor of the kid’s room or a couch, but I think in situations like these, a hotel is more comfortable for everyone if you can afford it.

      2) Don’t make them drive you back and forth with demands about what car to use. Get a taxi or rental car if you must. If they offer great, but you can’t assume they will always be available to get you when and where you want.

      3) Kid time – why were they leaving you alone? Did they have to go to work? Did they say “oh good I’ve been wanting to get out to do X, byeeee?” This is weird to me.

      4) Meals – maybe you should help plan, cook, or suggest a takeout place you’d like to try? If this is how they normally eat, you cant really expect them to recognize a “problem with the food.” Maybe their regular diet involves smaller portion sizes than yours and fast food, and they don’t realize they don’t meet your needs.

      Honestly, when I have been bad at planning meals for family visiting (recently), a lot of that was due to their having multiple and frequently changing dietary restrictions/preferences (but saying things like “anything is wonderful,” which is clearly untrue upon serving), and visiting based on what worked for their schedule, which meant coming in around when I got home from work on the Friday of a busy week and being booked with events through the weekend (both theirs and my kids’, which conflicted). I only managed to plan one good from-scratch dinner that everyone from both households would eat. So if you base the visit timing more on your convenience than theirs, which is perfectly reasonable, maybe give busy working parents a break if they want to pick up fast food one day.

      1. Family Ties*

        They seem to leave us alone to go do things they want/need to do. Like jogging, the gym, running errands, doing yardwork, etc. The two times I’ve visited after sibling had kids, they were all thrilled and said, “I got so much done while you were here!!!!”

        If they lived near me, I wouldn’t mind babysitting once in a while on weekends to give them time to do things, but it’s hard to have to spend entire days taking care of kids and not having time to recharge.

        My mom and I don’t have any specific food preferences, but eating a lot of greasy foods (like takeout food) can make us sick (we both have different forms of IBD).

        1. SofiaDeo*

          OMG, they are definitely seeing you as “free babysitter” and that’s the extent of their wanting to host you. I am so sorry, skip the visits except online ones right now! If your mom really wants to see her young grandchildren, that’s on her. It would be nice to get to know the kids, but that’s not what your sis is doing, especially when you get dumped for hours without even insteuctions as to their normal routine!

          1. Sunflower*

            The OP has not expressed that they dislike these things (which aren’t wildly uncommon IME) and isn’t giving the sibling a chance to fix things. Is the sibling acting perfect here? No- but the sibling didn’t write in. One of the first times I visited my sister, she saddled me with her kid in my lap. After an hour, I said ‘hey sis, i love you but i didn’t come here to do this’. Never happened again after that. It’s also not uncommon for grandparents to enjoy taking the kids on their own and giving parents time to do their own thing. Maybe the sibling assumed that would be the case here since no one spoke up and said they weren’t ok with this? Once again, I don’t think the sibling is blameless here but they are getting accused of a lot of malicious intent that could be very easily nipped in the bud if the OP would just talk to them.

            1. Family Ties*

              I wasn’t trying to accuse my sibling of malicious intent. But I’m being told it’s unreasonable to expect to be able to use their air mattress, or expecting them to use the car with the working seat belt, or staying at a hotel and asking them to drive us back and forth. If we’re that much of a hassle to accommodate, the best thing to do is just not go.

              1. nnn*

                You’re misrepresenting things. No one has said those first 2 things are unreasonable. Literally no one. People HAVE pointed out repeatedly that you’re not responding to the many suggestions that you talk to your sibling and you continue to ignore that.

                If you don’t want to visit your sibling, don’t. You don’t need anyone here to give you permission for that but you’re wasting a lot of people’s time by not seeking advice in good faith when they were trying to help you.

                1. Family Ties*

                  I already admitted that visiting them is not a good idea anymore. I don’t want to bother them with asking them to figure out how to accommodate us since they already seemed annoyed about those kinds of things (not wanting to get out the air mattress, being annoyed at the questions about the washing machine and window shade, not wanting to switch cars, etc.). My dad can always keep visiting, so it’s not like they won’t get any visits at all.

      2. Family Ties*

        We actually planned for their convenience. The older kid had off from school on Friday, so we planned the full days we were there to be Friday/Saturday/Sunday so they wouldn’t have to take off from school. November is less busy at work for my sibling, but November is super busy for me, so that was more convenient for them (I came back to a backlog of work, and now can’t catch up).

        1. Hmm!*

          Well there’s your problem, lol! If you plan a trip specifically around school schedules and you have, on two past visits, taken on a bunch of childcare, your sibling is making a reasonable assumption that you’re coming to town in order to see and spend time with the kids.

          Next visit, plan to stay elsewhere and come in with a soft itinerary “I’ll be in town Friday/Saturday/Sunday, I’d love to [take the kids to the mall to go to Build-A-Bear/go to the zoo Saturday morning], but I also want to [see friends in town/go antiquing/have an adults-only dinner with you and Mom]. What’s your schedule look like that weekend?”

          You might just have to bite the bullet and plan to rent a car/spend extra money on rideshares/spend extra time navigating the city via public transit.

          1. goducks*

            This is especially true if the other family that visits delights in spending time alone with the kids and shoos the sibling and partner out the door to do their things. If everyone else is happy to do this, and OP isn’t saying that she isn’t, they might have no idea!

    16. Observer*

      But it’s reasonable for us to get a hotel and only stay a few days (even if we stay with another sibling longer), right?

      I’d go further and say that it’s probably the most sane thing you could do.

      Also, if you drive, rent a car. Yes, it’s going to cost you but do you really want to be put in an unsafe situation again? Sorry, non-functioning seat belts with fast highway driving is ridiculous. If not, at least get an uber / lyft / whatever equivalent to and from the airport.

    17. Esmeralda*

      Lyft or Uber will get you to and from your sibs house, and you/your mom should pay for that.

      You should present staying at the hotel as making it easier for your sibling. Spend a good chunk of time there. Offer to do chores (fold laundry, make dinner, take the kids out to the park, or maybe just one kid at a tome).

      I guess I wonder what your expectations are for the visit. Sounds like your sibling is very busy taking care of small kids. That does not = can spend oodles of time focused solely on guests. Three days does not sound like much time for *you*, but when I had just my one small child, I couldn’t just walk off and spend time with a visitor. It was *work* to arrange time to focus solely on a guest. Your sibling has several.

      No excuse for the seatbelt, of course.

    18. SofiaDeo*

      Mom will still snore within a shared hotel room. Is it possible for Mom to stay with Sis? I am assuming she would like to see the grandkids/spend at least some time with them, and with you having a car and hotel room, you can still have freedom/flexibility. The adults can “disappear” to work but you and Mom can then “tourist” a bit sans kids. Are you visiting during school holidays, or are they too young to be in school? At any rate, don’t get dumped on to babysit; that is Not Cool unless agreed upon ahead of time. Plan on 1 day with the kids; if the adults don’t want to come along, too bad. Drive over to cook breakfast one morning; I know it’s a “vacation” for you, but you can spend time with Sis and the kids, she should be grateful for 1 AM of not having to cook for everyone, and families help each other out, right?

      Did you offer to buy groceries/at least some meals, or did the tiny meal sizes mean they really didn’t have the cash at the time to “host” as they originally planned? Was it fast food because of their time and cash constraints? Did you give them gas/parking money towards coming to get you at the airport?

      I have some family members who def would try to squeeze me for everything they could, plus others who love to have visitors, but them paying for everything like a traditional host is very hard if not impossible or they totally blow their budget. And anyway, a good guest takes their host out/cooks a meal at least once during a stay, and purchases items they want to snack on/eat when staying in another’s house. Chip in when you can, as you feel motivated to. You have to buy groceries/eat out even when at home, and if you were vacationing away from family, you wouldn’t even have kitchen access unless you spend extra $ for lodging upgrades. Who knows, you may find it pleasant to stay longer if you aren’t in each others pockets 24/7.

      And even if money is no object, you are allowed to want to sleep in a nice, quiet hotel that has a bed the size you want, with a TV/remote all your own, and no kids waking you up or affecting how you want to spend your late evenings. Get your own car, or get transported from the airport and Uber or whatever. It’s fine to spend time away from family doing different things, just ask them to at least one thing. If they don’t agree to any of this, don’t visit. Not sure how your Mom will feel, depending how much she wants to see the grandkids at least *some*, if not 24/7. Sounds like your Mom wants to spend some time, just not get dumped on as a live-in babysitter instead of a visitor.

      1. Family Ties*

        If we stay at a hotel, we could get one room with two beds and play loud white noise to drown out the snoring. (That’s what we did while visiting my other sibling.)

        My mom visited the city my sibling lives in with a friend once to go to a special concert, and sibling was hurt that she and her friend didn’t stay at their house (they got hotel rooms), which is why we think they’ll be hurt about us staying at a hotel instead of with them.

        The “live in babysitter” stuff was upsetting to my mom because she didn’t get to spend time with sibling and their partner at all, except at meals. (Which doesn’t feel like spending time with them, because the whole meals are sibling and partner telling the kids they have to eat and asking them to stop misbehaving, or the kids chatting with me and my mom.) My mom says we were there to visit FAMILY, and it doesn’t feel like visiting the whole family, it just feels like babysitting. I’m not sure what normal families with small children do. It would have been nice if we could all play a game together or watch a movie together at some point. (Or let the kids watch a movie while the adults get to talk?)

        1. SofiaDeo*

          Sib can be “hurt” all she wants. I wonder how much of her “hurt” was a missed night of free babysitting. When I visited family when their kids were young, they treated me more like Father was treated. Things got planned, I offered to watch kids/take them for short periods only, I was asked about wanting to do things, we alternated between cooking in and a few meals out, I paid for some. There was adults only time chatting, after kids were put to bed. And who in their right mind refuses to let you put an air mattress down and *insists* you sleep with their kids? What they are doing is not normal IME.

    19. Anono-me*

      It does sound like this may be a ‘guest’ vs ‘family’ type of visit issue.

      Either way, I think it is fine to get a hotel room and use a rideshare or rental car.

      But if you don’t do that, please consider giving your sibling a camp cot or an air mattress for Christmas.

      Either way please:

      Pack a box of granola bars or similar filling snacks.

      Push for the seatbelt to be fixed. Even if you never get in get that car again, someone else will.

      1. Anono-me*

        Based on the update/response, I am saying hotel or abnb and your own transportation.

        And if you do stay at their house again, bring your own air mattress and a pocket quilt same concept as the poofy jackets that fit in a tiny sack).

        But it does sound as if your sibling is both frazzled and cluelessly trying to build a better relationship between you and their kids rather than just a jerk. That doesn’t mean you don’t deserve sleep and food, but hopefully it makes it easier to interact kindly with your sibling about it.

        1. SofiaDeo*

          I disagree, with Sis saying “I got so much done while you were here!” afterwards. And Sis *has* an air mattress, they just wouldn’t get it out when asked about it,

    20. Jessica*

      Do Good Visit Sibling and Bad Visit Sibling also visit each other? Just wondering if so what GVS’s experience of visiting BVS has been.
      Having to burn all your PTO on sickness and obligations is awful. Everyone deserves to get some actual vacation, whatever that looks like for you, and that’s really also a (mental) health need. Don’t be ashamed to carve out some time in your life for yourself.
      How many/how old are these kids? Something I often hear from parents of littles is that their social MO is to have people come over in the evening and then the adults can socialize after the (early) kid bedtimes. Did or could that work at all here? Or was everyone exhausted by then from a day of kid-wrangling?
      Your sibling’s comment seems particularly telling, like maybe their frame on this is “mom and sibling are coming to help me out for a while and get some grandkid time” while yours is “we’re coming to spend time with sibling first and their kids second.” So I think frank talk about expectations is the way to go here. Their life is normal to them, so if you/your mom are overwhelmed by kid time and can’t handle that much of it, you might need to articulate that. Otherwise, I would try to focus on the positive—we want to spend quality time with YOU, sibling.
      How many/how old are these kids? Kids grow fast and they’ll be significantly older every time you visit, so this situation may naturally tend to get better on its own. And once they’re all school age maybe sibling and partner will (a) be generally less frazzled, and (b) have a natural chunk of kid-free time to spend with you.

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

      This is partly a boundaries problem and partly a how-to-be comfy-away-from-home problem. On the boundaries issue, do NOT feel guilty about anything AT ALL. You all are not actually required to visit these lousy hosts, and you’re certainly not required to stay at their house for a whole week and spend the whole time babysitting their kids. I know they’re entitled, but you don’t have to give in to their entitlement. And if they start calling you bad family members for setting your boundaries, maybe no more in-person visits. If they want to catch up, they can call or zoom with you.

      It is TOTALLY reasonable to get a hotel whenever your would-be hosts are lousy hosts or any other time that you want. Do NOT worry about your sibling’s being annoyed. If they keep harping on the car issue, absolutely rent a car while you’re there. Bonus of having your own car — you can leave their inhospitable house any time you’ve had enough. Own transportation = power.

      If you’re staying at a hotel and the hotel doesn’t serve breakfast, bring some of your favorite snacks and easy-to-make food items Many hotel rooms have a coffee maker with basic fixings (you can find out beforehand if you ask). Can you bring a sturdy mug, some really good coffee, filters, and your favorite sweetener so your day always starts out well on that front? Try to get a hotel room with a mini-fridge, so you can have some yummy breakfast food there — milk or cream or at a minimum creamer for your coffee, mini-croissants, butter or margarine, etc. You can also bring a break-resistant bowl and plate and plastic utensils. If there’s a microwave available in the room or in the hotel lobby you can then heat things up.

      If you rent a car from the airport, see if you can stop at a grocery store on the way to your hotel and get any foods that you weren’t able to bring on the plane. See if you can buy a bag of apples or small oranges and some nuts or something and bring some of that with you in your bag to your sibling’s house so that you always have a filling snack available. If they’d get hissy about it, keep the food hidden in your bag and then eat it in the bathroom or something.

      Best of luck to you!

      1. Fulana del tal*

        The problem with your solution is that the OP is uncomfortable driving in a unknown city and OP’s mother doesn’t want to use a taxi. They expect sibling/spouse to chauffeur them around.

        1. nnn*

          Yeah, can’t drive and won’t take taxis is…..not super reasonable. If that’s the stance, the options are limited.

          Except actually taking to the family member! Which would probably solve this.

    22. Nack*

      Having read through all the comments, I wonder if you are looking for permission to not go visit your sibling, at least for a while? It sounds like the visit wasn’t particularly pleasant (and I suspect your sibling felt the same way).

      It’s so frustrating to spend limited time off and money to go on a trip you don’t enjoy. It’s also not good for your relationship with your sibling.

      My husband and I just made the decision not to go on a family vacation with my parents, sister, BIL and nieces and nephews. We’ve done family vacations together in the past and my husband and I just don’t enjoy them. There’s too many things that we don’t mesh on. (Admittedly some of them petty!) Ultimately we decided we don’t want to spend our money and our limited time off quietly being annoyed about vacationing with people who want something different than what we want.

  27. Trip to D.C.!!*

    We are taking a trip to D.C. in a few weeks and looking for advice!
    1) We are driving from N.C. – Last time we drove to D.C. the first two hours of the drive were pretty pleasant but once we hit Richmond, VA we encountered lots of traffic and various accidents for the last 2.5 hours into D.C. I have a lot of anxiety while driving on the highway even as a passenger so we are contemplating driving to Richmond and then taking Amtrak into D.C. for the last bit. Looking at the Amtrak schedule, there are several trains from Richmond into DC, and they take about the same amount of time as driving (although I realize with parking, etc it will take longer). Has anyone done this? I’m a little worried about parking our car for several nights overnight. It looks like there’s at least an outdoor parking lot but don’t know if we need to worry about our car being unattended for several days and potentially broken into.
    2) One thing we are planning on doing is eating lots of good food! So would love any restaurant recommendations. We are pretty adventurous eaters, and eat almost anything.

    1. 00ff00Claire*

      I have taken the Amtrak from Cary NC (not to DC though, other direction) and left my car overnight for a few days. I’m not as familiar with Richmond and Cary is about as safe as you can get, but I was comfortable leaving my car there as the airport. Is there a particular reason why you want to drive to Richmond instead taking the Amtrak from a station in NC? If you’re two hours from Richmond, I guess Cary is out of your way, but Rocky Mount might be an option, although I’m not informed on the safety of Rocky Mount.

      I think if you took the Amtrak from anywhere, as long as you take the usual precautions of removing valuables from your car, it shouldn’t be much more risky than if your car were parked at any other public parking lot. I’ve had great experiences on the Amtrak, so maybe I’m a little biased, but for me personally the benefit of known stress reduction from riding the train would outweigh the potential risk of stress from my car being broken into.

      1. Trip to D.C.!!*

        Unfortunately there’s only 1-2 trains daily from the stations closest to us, and due to the departure times and length (almost 7 hours) it ends up eating up the whole day with travel. We have a shorter overall trip, and more flexibility driving partway and then taking a train. I suppose it doesn’t necessarily need to be Richmond though – that was a major city along our route that I knew had many trains scheduled between the cities.

    2. noncommittal pseudonym*

      For food, I really like all of Jose Andres Think Food Group restaurants – Jaleo (Spanish tapas), Oyamel (Mexican), Zaytinya (Mediterranean). If you want classic DC, Old Ebbit’s Grill is always good – get the crab cakes. You can find a ton of Congressional staffers in the bar – not sure if that’s a plus or minus. It’s close to the White House. You’ll need reservations. Bistrot du Coin is in the Dupont Circle area and is a wonderful pretty classical French bistro.

      I’m sure more will come to me.

      1. Lilo*

        There’s also China Chilcano which focuses on Peruvian fusion cuisine (Lomo saltado and ceviche but also dim sum).

      2. Anon6*

        Lived in DC for some years. Seconding Jaleo. Some of the best food of any type I’ve ever had. Also Rocklands BBQ — get the pulled pork sandwich. After we moved away, my husband would bring home sandwiches from them on the plane for us to feast on at home.

    3. Lilo*

      DC resident here.

      95 between Richmond and DC is just always awful. There’s always some kind of slowdown at Quantico. I’ve taken the train to Richmond/Charlottesville a few times and not minded it but it really depends on parking costs and whether you want your car in DC.

      I’d also question why drive that far. I think it might be cheaper to train from NC and you can read/watch movies.

      1. Lilo*

        Food: it really depends in what you like. The Cafe at the Museum of the American Indian is a bit famous.

        For the fancier side you could consider Little Pearl (same owner as the super super fancy Pineapple and Pearls). There’s Le Diplomat for French. The suburbs have a lot of Korean food (more NoVa) and Ethiopian (more Maryland side). Pupusas are also one of the classic DC foods.

        Good Stuff Eatery for burgers and shakes. Astro donuts.

        Honestly there are an insane number of choices.

    4. Ali G*

      Are you in eastern NC? Your car will be fine in Richmond. I haven’t taken the train, but I have co workers who used to live in Charlottesville and they used to drive to Richmond and take the train regularly.
      If you are in the western part of the state, using 81 to 66 is a much better drive. This is how we go to my brothers in Charlotte. It’s a little longer, but much better than 95.

      1. Lilo*

        I could eat a bucket of those Brussels sprouts with the garlicky yogurt. I don’t think you can go wrong picking a Jose Andres restaurant.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Eat Ethiopian at least once. We like Dukem on U Street but mainly for the nostalgia factor– Ethiopic on H Street is good, Zenebech in Adams Morgan is supposed to be excellent. You can get good Ethiopian in other cities but the Ethiopian in the DC area is exceptional.

      There are a ton of great restaurants here. A lot depends on where you’re staying and what you enjoy. There aren’t a lot of great cheap options but there’s something for everyone here. If you’re willing to spend, Fiola and Fiola Mare are very good. Rasika for upscale Indian. Le Diplomate is French and extremely popular and totally deserves its accolades. If you want waterfront dining, opt for Navy Yard over the Wharf– Salt Line for seafood, All Purpose for pizza, Bammy’s for Jamaican. Though the Wharf does have Oficina, which I really like.

      I drive between DC and NC a lot and yeah, it’s just always bad (I spring for the express lanes when they’re open, it makes such a difference) but if you don’t want a car in DC, the train is a great option. I will say that Union Station has suffered a lot in the last year or so, so don’t plan to spend any extra time there. It’s become a bit of a wasteland.

      1. Reba*

        Zenebech is now known as Elfegne. It’s my regular joint! We love it. It is located in a quirky nightlife area if that vibe is appealing.

        Moon Rabbit and Oyster oyster are highly recommended, for a splurge Maydan, and I always love Bindaas.

        1. Reba*

          Oh, I also love Lapis in Adams Morgan! It’s loud in the evenings but they have a patio and do brunch.

    6. OtterB*

      DC area resident. I can’t speak to the train but agree with Lilo that the Richmond to DC stretch of 95 is notoriously awful. Depends on where in NC you are coming from, but 81 is a much more pleasant drive and perhaps worth a little extra time. But also depends on where in DC you are staying- hotel parking can be really $.

      Restaurants: If you like Indian, I recommend Rasika. Del Mar at the Wharf is also good.

    7. Chauncy Gardener*

      I’ve done the train to DC from Boston and it was super!
      Why don’t you uber or taxi to the train station and back? That was very easy and I didn’t have to worry about my car or pay for parking

    8. Emma*

      Richmond is fine! I’ve parked overnight at the Staples Mill station and it’s been fine. I actually prefer Ashland. I could typically find street parking, and it’s generally quieter. Pretty close to Richmond. I found that the train would often be delayed (having to stop randomly to let cargo trains by) closer to Richmond, but the random delays were less when I got off in Ashland.

      1. Emma*

        Oh & parking in staples mill was paid- I think there’s a pay station kiosk right by the train station where I had to pay. The Ashland street parking was free.

    9. SofiaDeo*

      Consider driving east or west a bit on one of the circle feeder highways once you get to Richmond area, and take smaller roads into DC instead of the interstate. We like to plan this out when we drive. Stop at a state park for a hike, take a scenic route, research restaurants along that route to try. Then you don’t have to leave you car somewhere (assuming you have secure parking in DC once you get there).

    10. Trip to D.C.!!*

      Thanks everyone! This is amazing! I will definitely check out the restaurant recs. The last time we were in D.C. we had some amazing food, but hadn’t done much research beforehand so I am excited to be able to have some ideas to look into so we can be more prepared and can make some reservations ahead of time if necessary.

      I also appreciate the train and driving ideas. Sounds like I shouldn’t worry too much about parking in Richmond, but this also gives me the push to look into other trains or routes to see what may work best.

  28. LuckySophia*

    I think being forthright about what works for *you* (you + mom) is the key:

    • For hotel: “Sis, the 6-hour flight each way is exhausting and mom and I are lousy co-sleepers, we wake each other up repeatedly. Neither of us can go multiple days without sleep, so the hotel is non-negotiable.”

    • For food: “Sis, while mom and I are here we are each going to cook a nice dinner for everyone — our treat! We absolutely insist!” (Then pick 2 meals, even if easy like “spaghetti”, that you & mom enjoy and that you can cook in bulk so you get enough to eat at least two days out of the few days you are there. Bonus points if you pack energy bars, crackers, cookies or such in your luggage to cover you on the other days!)

    • For Sis’s arguments about shortness of stay: “Well Sis, the last two visits you + partner were gone for nearly all day, each day we were here. We are always happy to spend a bit of time with the kids but not at the excluion of spending time with you. It doesn’t make sense to spend a week at your house when you’re not even there during the days.”

    • I would also look into hotel shuttle/taxi/Uber/Lyft availability to get back and forth to/from hotel…and be very clear to Sis if she leaves the house/leaves you alone with the kids, that “We have an Uber picking us up at 4pm Tuesday so make sure you’re back here by 3:30, since we will be leaving.” (If she doesn’t honor your request, then it’s pretty clear she IS just using you + mo as free childcare.)

  29. the cat's ass*

    Happy weekend, commentariat! We are heading to the general Portland OR area soon and are looking for suggestions re hotels-it’s me, the DH and DD, 17. Something along the lines of a small suite would be nice so 17 has her own space because it’s gross to travel with your parents. We aren’t wedded to staying right in Portland, either-we have friends in Beaverton, West Linn and Tualatin and are renting a car. Thanks in advance!

    1. Juneybug*

      Any of the McMenamins hotels would be worth checking out. I have personally stayed in the Washington locations (all have been a blast with unique lodging, wonderful food, and amazing staff).

    2. SofiaDeo*

      If you can stand a communal bathroom for it, I would do a couple private rooms at the HI-Portland Northwest Hostel. The 17 year old may decide you aren’t so gross after all. And if you are flying i to the area, you probably don’t need one staying there, unless you need transportation to see the friends. Who knows, they may just want to join you there for visiting, it’s surrounded by awesome things.

    3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I disagree with McMenamins if you’re looking for a suite – those tend to be vintage hotels with tiny rooms, and some of them don’t even have ensuite bathrooms, let alone a separate living area.

      I mostly stay in Portland-area hotels for conventions, so I mostly know the chain hotels with lots of function space. There’s always getting two adjoining rooms with a door between them rather than a suite if that ends up working better for your situation. Since you’re renting a car, I suggest not staying downtown unless your heart is set on it just so parking will be easier. (If you do stay downtown, you may be able to get better deals on parking by picking a non-hotel parking garage nearby – that’s what I used to do when OryCon was at the Waterfront Marriott years ago.)

      Since two of your friends are in Washington County, you might want to look at the visitor guide from https://tualatinvalley.org/our-digital-guides/ . They have listings for a bunch of hotels out that direction, so might be a good starting place. If picking a chain hotel at random, I’ve had good luck with Best Westerns.

    4. Overbooked*

      The Lakeshore Inn in Lake Oswego has suites, nice views, and is within walking distance of restaurants, shops, and a movie theater. Convenient to West Linn and Tualatin. This is where I steer visiting family members, and they’ve all been pleased.

      1. Missb*

        I’m going to second this recommendation- there are some great restaurants within walking distance of the hotel, and even a Salt and Straw. The French bakery is great and there are two wine tasting places too. Short, 5 minute walks. Nice parks too.

        Just don’t expect to actually touch the lake (Lake O is weirdly private) but if you walk down Highway 43 for a few blocks you get to George Rogers park and you can walk right down to a nice sandy beach on the Willamette.

    5. 2QS*

      The Inn at Northrup Station is colorful and groovy and fun! Also comfortable with friendly staff and good kitchenettes.

    6. Rosyglasses*

      Marriott family of hotels generally have great experiences and are affordable – and have the types of rooms you’re looking for (e.g. Residence Inn tends to have kitchenette embedded suites because they’re for long term stays or business travelers.) Beaverton/Tualatin will have lots of these options as they are more suburban. Tigard/Tualatin is probably going to be more central to visiting West Linn and Beaverton since it’s somewhat in between the two, or Lake Oswego off Kruse Way is a bit more central between the two (West Linn is on one side of Lake O, and Beaverton/Tualatin is on the other side across 1-5.)

  30. GoryDetails*

    Little Joys thread!

    Mine involved a trip to King Arthur Baking in Norwich VT with a friend, who’d gifted me a macaron-making class. We spent several hours in the class, learning how to make both the macarons and a French buttercream filling, and it was really lovely! (My macarons didn’t turn out perfectly but were still tasty, and that buttercream was awesome…)

    1. the cat's ass*

      SO glad it’s the weekend!

      Just made reservations for our traditional Dim sum Christmas day meal!

      DD is headed to her very first Homecoming Dance and is v excited!

    2. DarthVelma*

      We’ve been upgrading the furniture in our bedroom and a lot of the old stuff had been sitting in our front room for a couple weeks. We had the junk removal people come today and take things away – old electronics and furniture to donate and a ton of gigantic cardboard boxes to recycle.

      I can see the floor in my front room again! Yay!

    3. Cookies For Breakfast*

      The macaron class sounds absolutely amazing!

      I’m about to have an especially rough next few days preparing for some medical stuff at the end of next week, and my nerves have already started to play up. But my partner and I finally booked a short break for the end of the month which I really look forward to. It will be our first trip to somewhere that isn’t our home country since pre-pandemic, and it will be to a place that’s meant to be warm – my favourite kind of weather. Can’t wait!

    4. Sitting Pretty*

      I’m getting together with two of my dearest old friends today. We all live in the DC metro area but in different corners of it, and we all have kids and busy lives, so we only get together once a year or so. Seeing them makes me so happy. I look forward to it for months! They were very accommodating of my new-ish mobility issues so we’re meeting at a place that I can easily drive and park close to (instead of metro + walking)

    5. Overeducated*

      I successfully pulled off a kid birthday party. The weather was incredible and most of the people we invited came (although man, as these parties get bigger, they also get more expensive!). Glad that my kid had a great time, and so glad we’re done for a year.

    6. WellRed*

      This is really little: I set up my coffee pot the night before (itself a joy the next day) and forgot I had added ground cinnamon until my first sip the next morning.

    7. OyHiOh*

      One of my kids (one who has struggled far more than average to get to baseline typical school experience) is competing in robotics for the first time today. Their team is an absolute joy and watching the kids cheer each other on is heartwarming

    8. Girasol*

      First snow of the winter yesterday, coating each branch and all the red and yellow leaves, was lovely. This morning was howling windy and spattering rain, so the news that the planned volunteer day out in the wet had been called off was delightful. I am joyfully toasting my wool socks by the fire.

    9. Sparkly Librarian*

      Fall is here! I took a short walk at lunch today and it was just the right temperature for me with a T-shirt and fleece, and there was a little drizzle in the air and enough breeze that everything felt fresh and clean. I mean, ideally I’d be hiking with my 3-year-old under trees, not headed back to work, but it felt great.

    10. AGD*

      Weather has been gorgeous, leaves have been pretty, two dinners this week were unusually delicious, I saw a friend, I got some good work news, and had a really fun day today.

    11. allathian*

      A lovely girl’s night out with my friends. All of us are 50 or a bit older, and we had a great meal with some lovely wine in a lovely restaurant that wasn’t too crowded, there was no background music so we could hear each other easily, and enough light for us to see what we were eating, too…

    12. PhyllisB*

      Today is our 46th wedding anniversary!! Some days I can’t believe it’s been that long. Hubby and I agreed this year we have tested the in sickness and in health part of the vows. :-) Luckily we have had our issues at separate times.

    13. Laura H.*

      Late to the party but it’s such a joy to see that this thread makes an impact on people.

      We had our parish’s Mass of Remembrance this past week and while it was bittersweet as we remembered our lost loved ones from the past year, I needed that to remember that even though we feel alone in our grief, there are so many walking alongside us in their own journey and in that we serve as shoulders, ears, and support for each other.

  31. time for cocoa*

    Pet owners, if you were renovating a bathroom that would hold litter boxes, what type of flooring would you choose? Assume occasional-but-not-constant misses, both liquid and solid.

    I really prefer tile, but the grout wicks up liquid like crazy, even when sealed. Vinyl seems the most logical option, but I really don’t like it.

    1. Glazed Donut*

      I may choose manufactured hardwood. I agree with the grout issue–and the only possible way to still have tile may be to pick a very large tile so there’s less grout. I have also seen sealed cement floors more frequently in homes, if that’s a consideration.

      1. KatEnigma*

        I did choose engineered hardwood.

        But there is a reason even with my precious litter robot, we installed a cat door into a closet. I hate hate HATE sharing a bathroom with a litter box. Wet feet and litter don’t mix.

        We put heavy plastic drop cloths under the litter box in a couple rentals, to protect the floor.

        Our favorite apartment had a quality waterproof laminate. Vinyl does not guarantee waterproof, btw. Our last house had cheap vinyl throughout the main floor that was peeling up from just a little snow occasionally being tracked in the door and quickly wiped up. Or a sippy cup that leaked and was quickly wiped up.

        And the poor dogs slipped like crazy on it. My SIL recently replaced her floors with vinyl and then remarked that she can’t let their dogs play inside because they were sliding into walls and hurting themselves/knocking things off shelves .. When we were VERY specific about why we chose the engineered hardwood with a little texture when we replaced the carpet upstairs and in the one lone forgotten closet downstairs in our new house- and it wasn’t because we wanted to spend more money for no reason!

        1. Courageous cat*

          Yeah, wet feet and litter are a big one for me. But even bigger is the fact that I feel super unclean overall in a small space with a litter box, especially one that creates a lot of steam. Just steaming your cat’s bathroom with it.

          I have exactly 1 closet in my entire apartment, and it is for the litterbox and everything that goes with it. I keep my clothes on a clothing rack and inside my dresser. Have always done it this way and pretty much always will.

    2. RC Rascal*

      Large scale tile with little grout or tile with small grout lines.

      Look into sheet linoleum. It’s a natural product & cleans like vinyl.

    3. Glomarization, Esq.*

      The kind of flooring that you prefer, litter boxes or not, and put something down in the areas where the misses tend to land — an old towel that you change out regularly, or newspapers, or a large tray or two, or whatever.

      1. crookedglasses*

        My old girl often overshot the box, but a high sided box plus a puppy pad in front of the entrance did the trick.

        Otherwise, I think the linoleum suggestion below is probably the best option for something non-porous. Good luck!

    4. Zephy*

      If your cats regularly miss the litterbox, something about your litterbox setup also needs to change, other than the flooring substrate.

      I’d do big tiles.

      1. time for cocoa*

        Nothing is wrong with the the setup. One of the cats has a medical issue that we’ve chosen to imperfectly treat with a minimally-invasive method, and tolerate the consequences.

        1. Random Bystander*

          How about some sort of large tray that the cat box sits on that would cover the territory of the misses, presuming that the misses are generally in the same spots. I’m thinking along the same general lines as the tray that goes under a dish rack when it’s on the counter (rather than in the sink), but large enough to go under the box/extend beyond.

          1. Happily Retired*

            For those with plenty of room, check out a washing machine pan, a large (~30×30”) but shallow plastic pan meant to catch leaks from a washer.

        2. Invisible fish*

          Hear hear! Our geriatric, diabetic cat isn’t as steady as he used to be, and our entire set up changed to accommodate him… and there are still misses. We clean it up and go on. That’s the small price you pay for endless love and support plus superb bug hunting prowess.

    5. Esmeralda*

      I put the litter box inside a large plastic tub. As my cats have gotten older, they miss more often. Wet goes into the tub, which I can hose out, my nice wooden floors stay dry.

  32. Seating Choices*

    Fainting/chaise couch or papasan chair for a home office? I like to curl up, but (to be realistic) I’m also older and stiffer than I used to be.

    1. Sitting Pretty*

      Recliner. That’s a write-in vote, I know. Recliners aren’t as cute as the other options but oh, they are delicious. I ended up with a hand-me-down one from a friend, would never have picked up something like this for myself.

      Oh my gracious, it’s a game changer. I can lean back at various degrees, curl up with it reclined, curl up with it sitting up, stretch out with my laptop and work. With rapidly increasing joint, back, and hip issues, my recliner is my happy place. And one of the only seating options that doesn’t hurt. I understand now why all of my grandparents had La-Z-Boys!

      1. Sitting Pretty*

        Adding that one grandmother also had a chaise lounge/fainting couch that she used quite often… to hold clothes :) I can’t recall anyone sitting on it in the 30+ years it was in her house. Just wasn’t that comfortable. But those matching recliners? They barely went a day without occupants.

        I would love to hear from others who have good experiences with your other suggestions. One of my friends has beanbag chairs in their living room and loves them!

      2. Chaordic One*

        I also vote for a recliner. Remember that a recliner does not have to be some giant rocking monstrosity. There are some very nice smaller recliners that look like regular upholstered chairs when they are not reclined and that don’t take up a whole lot of space. I prefer recliners that do NOT also rock, but that’s just me.

      3. Imtheone*

        I rented a smaller electric recliner for a month post knee surgery. It was great! Full size recliners don’t fit me well, as I am on the shor side. Make sure you can try out whatever you get.

        1. KatEnigma*

          My husband’s grandmother had a small recliner that ended up put on the moving truck to come to us with the couple things we ACTUALLY wanted when she had to move from assisted living into full time nursing care. Being tiny and WHITE (with 2 dogs and 2 cats at the time) we gave it to my mom. Who, for the first time in her entire life, has a chair that fits her 5 ft 2 frame.

        2. Anono-me*

          My papasan chair was very comfy and very spinny. If you are stiff and maybe a little unsteady I would not recommend one.

          I don’t know enough about chaise lounge or fainting couches to say anything.

          I also suggest a recliner. Especially if you intend to have the chair for a while. Since your health may be different in five years.

          But depending on how much older and stiffer you are; maybe consider a lift chair recliner. We had a nice electric recliner chair and then when a family member’s two day visit turned into a 2 month visit due to a broken leg we wound up getting a very nice lift chair recliner on CL. It was a lifesaver. And the price between comparable electric recliners and lift chair recliners is negligible.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      I’ve had both a chaise longue and a papasan chair. I bought the chaise because it was beautiful and I loved the fabric but it was unfortunately not very comfortable for actually lounging in, and that was when I was in my 20s. I eventually sold it.

      The papasan chair is more comfortable but more awkward to get in/out of. The kids and the cats enjoy it but I would definitely choose a recliner over it for myself. A big squashy armchair would be a good choice too, I think.

    3. SofiaDeo*

      If you have the room and the cash, a recliner with various massage functions built in gets my vote.

  33. Glazed Donut*

    I’m looking to go to DC in January for week long vacation. A year or so ago I tried to plan this trip but re-scheduled for a different city after I saw that a large political rally was in the planning stages.
    Is there any way to check now if political rallies will be happening in a few months? Or a hub to look for these scheduled events? I’m not on the websites where these are planned and communicated. I think last year it was some kind of a Proud Boys J6 anniversary event. Either way I was hoping January would be a less-busy time in the city.

    1. Sitting Pretty*

      DMV area local here. I will say that it is impossible to avoid some sort of political gathering when traveling to the DC area. For really big events like the women’s march, Pride, or the Marine Corps marathon, you want to be mindful of where in the city you aim to go, how to travel around the crowded areas, and what some other options for those few hours or day might be. But nothing so big happens here that the whole city gets shut down! You might avoid the Smithsonian for a few hours on one day if there is an event on the Mall. Or save your White House, Supreme Court, or Library of Congress visit if you discover a really big rally and the crowd worries you. But you can always go to a different part of the city than where the crowds are. Philips Collection, the Mansion on O Street, Dupont circle, Addams Morgan, the zoo, the Wharf, National Arboretum, Eastern Market, Georgetown, Kennedy Center, Embassy Row… Lots of cool neighborhoods to explore!

      Even if there’s not a big, nationally recognized political gathering, you’ll likely encounter some kind of rally or protest almost every day that you’re here. There are probably half a dozen going on right now. But protestors are used to tourists and usually ignore them.

      It’s possible that a clearinghouse of that info may exist but I am not familiar with it.

      1. Glazed Donut*

        Thank you for the perspective! I’m mostly looking at very tourist things (Smithsonian, LOC, White House) and I suppose protesters wouldn’t be IN those buildings anyway.

        1. Sitting Pretty*

          The Library of Congress is one of my favorite spots in the whole city! And it’s super close to the Botanical Gardens, which I encourage you to check out. It’s possible that if there is a really big protest at the supreme court or Capitol it could make getting into the LoC tough, but most protests/rallies just aren’t that big.

          Honestly, one thing I love about this city is that you can just be wandering to look at art or whatever, and suddenly there’s a motorcade (oh! It’s George HW Bush’s body going to sit in state at the Capitol!) Or you turn a corner and there is a cultural heritage festival thats taken over the streets. Or there’s someone with a bullhorn on a makeshift stage talking to a crowd with signs about some new bill being proposed. Or there’s a mutual aid society giving out food and blankets to folks.

          If there is time in your schedule, it can be cool to take a detour and learn something unexpected (or sometimes help out if it’s it makes sense!)

          Anyway. I hope you have a great trip!

  34. Amber Rose*

    Removed because I don’t allow solicitations here (even for good causes since otherwise we’d be overrun). – Alison

  35. home intercom system*

    Has anyone installed a home intercom system? We have a big house and don’t like yelling between floors, thought an intercom system might solve it. I remember a friend having one of these at home when I was a kid, haven’t seen one since. Is this is a thing and what kind of business would you go to to get one installed?

    1. Zephy*

      My husband is both handy and a giant nerd, so he installed a sound-powered telephone intercom system to connect our kitchen to his workshop downstairs. Hardware was secondhand (military surplus), and the system is fully self-contained, it’s not wired into the house’s electrical system – if he’d wanted a conventional intercom, we probably would have needed to get an electrician involved. He’s just a hobbyist, not an idiot. I imagine you could start with a local general contractor and they could either do it or direct you to someone who can.

      1. Sabine the Very Mean*

        Yep, I use Alexa. You can even drop into a room from your phone and use as an intercom. You either “drop in” and talk back and forth or simply use her to announce something in your voice. “Alexa, announce dinner is ready” and it announces to every Alexa you have.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Same – we have Alexas in a couple of places around the house, originally bought partly because of the intercom function, but we mostly just text each other instead anyway.

        1. Juneybug*

          I use Alexia to “drop in” on my husband while he’s out in his workshop (seperate building from the house) to ask him questions, tell him dinner is ready, etc. We have two Echo Shows.

      3. home intercom system*

        This definitely seems like the easiest way but I won’t use Alexa because of privacy concerns / don’t like the idea of my electronics listening in on me.

    2. Glazed Donut*

      Two suggestions here:
      1) My grandparents had a plug-in system where you press a button to talk and it can be heard on the other devices. I’m not sure who made it or what it looked like, but it was how my grandpa LOUDLY announced once at 4am that it was time for coffee :) Search for something like “plug in intercom” and you can find similar varieties.
      2) With smart home devices (I’m thinking specifically the Amazon Echo Dot), you can “drop in” to another room to speak. Example: You have a Dot in the kitchen and a Dot in the playroom, and you tell the Dot to “drop in to the playroom” where you tell children that dinner is ready. Not everyone is comfortable with these devices–but worth a think if you could use them for this purpose and other uses (I often ask mine for the weather every morning when staring at my closet instead of opening an app on my phone).

      Otherwise–you’ll need an electrician to install an in-wall intercom.

    3. Just a name*

      You might try an inexpensive hand radio set – we have some ancient GMRS radios that we have for trail rides (4WD) but we can use when one of us is out in the yard and the other is in the house. Our house is all one level so not much shouting required inside.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Yeah, at work we have a set of walkie-talkies that we leave turned on in their chargers in some of the rooms, all tuned to the same band, so we can grab one and use them as an intercom to the other rooms when needed.

        The plug-in intercoms we had when I was a kid were from Radio Shack, which is not a helpful answer at this point, but it looks like there are a bunch of intercoms on Amazon that would work similarly.

    4. Goose*

      I’m moving to a new city and determined to attend networking/new in the city events to make friends. However, so many of these revolve around alcohol and I am recently sober for health/medication reasons. How do I find events not focused around drinking? I feel uncomfortable with truly sober events as a non addict as I don’t want to infringe on safe spaces, but I also don’t want to deal with pricy events that give out drink tickets that I can’t use

    5. time for cocoa*

      Our landline phone with cordless handsets has this option. It’s really convenient, you can call a specific handset by number or all of them at once.

      Even if you don’t use a landline, it might be easier/cheaper to buy something similar than to get something installed into the house’s walls. You can set the cradles on any flat surface near an outlet.

      1. Imtheone*

        Ditto this! Our cordless home phone system has an intercom function. You cam also program it so cell phone calls get transmitted through it. (An option, not required.) Just plug in. No installation needed.

      2. just another queer reader*

        I was going to suggest the old school landline method of calling your own number, quickly hanging up, waiting for the phone to ring in the other part of the house, waiting for your family member to pick up, and then hopping on yourself to talk with them.

        It sounds like landline technology has come a long way since I was a kid!

    6. Texan In Exile*

      We had one in our house my senior year of high school. It was connected to the radio and when my dad got up at dark o’clock to get ready for work, he would turn on the news and I would be awakened by the ag report on the local a.m. station because he always turned the wrong volume control, using the one for the entire house instead of the one for just the kit—

      HEYYY!!! I am just now realizing this might not have been an accident! DAD!!! :)

      Anyhow. That year, I knew the price of pork bellies almost every day.

    7. Observer*

      We have one, and I have mixed feelings about it. It’s connected to our front door bell, and the chime on one of the units has stopped working. Getting the one station replaced is going to be expensive enough that it’s less expensive for us to replace the doorbell with a Nest unit and add one Nest Mini (we already have wifi and one nest mini in the house.)

      Aiphone is the brand name, and it seems to be the most common brand. People who do low voltage wiring, doorbells and security systems all often do these systems.

      Smart speaker systems can actually be configured to act like an intercom system, so if you have any of the major systems in your house, that might be the least expensive way to go.

  36. Environmental Compliance*

    Any weavers in here?

    I have an old Glimakra Anne loom – counterbalance – and the lamms seem really excessively high up, so close that they’re maybe 1″ below the harnesses. If I try to line everything up, the warp will be angled and not horizontal through the loom. Do I have to use the lamms? I used the size heddles/tie ups listed, and the harnesses cannot drop without hitting the lamms.

    1. Emma2*

      You may already know this, but Ravelry has weaving groups and you might be more likely to find someone knowledgeable there. They don’t have weaving on the main boards, but if you go to the community tab and select “groups” from the drop down menu, you can search for weaver groups. I am not a weaver, but it does look like they have some active weaver groups.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        I’m trying to avoid Ravelry due to their ongoing other issues, but thank you for the suggestion!

  37. Red Sunglasses*

    Is Affiliate Marketing the new MLM?

    I’m noticing on social media that ppl are pushing Affiliate Marketing the way they push MLM’s – reels and posts geared towards SAHM or side hustle seekers with need for flex schedules, limited info except ‘i make so much money, DM for more details’. I am obviously very skeptical and would never get involved but can’t find any direct info on how people scam you/make money off signing you up. Has anyone dug deeper into this or seen it IRL?

    1. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Could it be a bait and switch? As in, people who show interest are then told the way to make money is to sell MLM products? I know someone who got roped into Kangen water, and the way she tried to recruit at first was posting about building her own marketing business and wanting to help others do the same.

      Also, I have a similar question about coaching. A former colleague left her full-time job to go into “life coaching”, promoting her service as “helping woman entrepreneurs land their dream clients”. Now she uses the same language to market herself as a sales trainer / copywriter. And I keep wondering, what MLM could possibly be behind that?

    2. Aimless and Abstract*

      Affiliate Marketing is the new euphemism for MLM. I’ve seen SO many people saying “(Insert MLM like doTerra, Rodan & Fields, etc.) isn’t MLM, it’s Affiliate Marketing!” (Eye roll)

      Nice try, folks. Still an MLM, still scummy business practices that prey on the vulnerable. No matter what you call it.

    3. RagingADHD*

      I haven’t seen this, so I’m not sure what you’re referring to.
      Actual affiliate marketing is the same as it has always been. You post links to products in your content, and those links have trackers so you get a commission if people buy through them. It’s not a scam.

      But what you’re talking about sounds different. Most well established affiliate programs forbid social media or email marketing. It has to be a static link.

      There’s also no upline or downline with normal affiliate marketing, so I’m not sure how anyone except the seller and the affiliate could get a separate cut of the money. Are people shilling classes about it, or something? That’s a bit predatory, since there isn’t a whole lot to know.

      1. Aimless and Abstract*

        Seems the MLMs have coopted the term for themselves. They’re recruiting “affiliates” to shill their products and calling it “affiliate marketing”

    4. I need a new name...*

      Affiliate Marketing and Social Selling are the two new ones I’ve been seeing for MLMs

  38. Sandra Dee*

    Looking for ideas for a solo vacation. Can be domestic or international. All inclusive resorts are fine. Prefer someplace warm. Timeline- sometime during the winter. I need to escape ge snow

    1. Sunflower*

      I went to Puerto Rico solo and really liked it. I did a few days in San Juan then rented a car and went to Rincon for a few days (I think it was a 2-3 hour drive). Rincon has nicer beaches but it’s much quieter and you must have a car whereas San Juan is walkable and easy to get around with Uber or taxi.

      1. Bluebell*

        I did a solo trip to San Juan and really enjoyed it , even though it was August. Beautiful beaches, even close to the city.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I loved Costa Rica. Beautiful scenery, lovely people, relaxed vibe. Beaches on the Atlantic and Pacific, mountains with rain forest in the middle. We did the Pacific beaches and a spot with hot springs in the mountains.

    3. Hola Playa*

      Thirding Puerto Rico any time of year. Luquillo, Vega Baja, or Guanica of you want to get out of San Juan for a bit. In San Juan, stay in Ocean Park for quiet ease still close to everything.

    4. StellaBella*

      Some favourite places I have been that are warm – all solo (and I am a woman)
      San Diego, Ca, and Orlando, Florida,
      Antigua and Barbuda
      Hawaii, Kauai
      Maldives
      Morocco
      Nice, France
      Greece
      Italy, esp Sicily

      1. Bluebell*

        SB – did you go independently to Morocco or as part of a tour? It intrigues me, but seems like a solo tour could be a lot, esp for someone who doesn’t speak French or Arabic

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

      I had a very nice cruise in the islands around Tahiti on the MS Paul Gaugin a few years ago. If you look at the reviews, one complaint is that there isn’t as much stuff available to do on this ship as maybe on a bigger cruise ship, but I really liked it: the food was exquisite, the rooms were beautiful, and the staff was just lovely! As someone suggested in the reviews, if you’re looking for a quiet cruise experience, this is a great ship — just bring a book or something to entertain you, sit back, and relax.

      1. Bob-White of the Glen*

        Second the idea of a (Caribbean) cruise. Lots now have special areas for solo travelers and the price for value cannot be beat. Not something I would have been interested in during my 20’s.

        In my 20’s, when much more adventuresome, I traveled to the South Pacific (Hawaii, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia) solo and had a blast. But it was over 4 months. Not sure of your budget, but a condo and rental car in Hawaii is more economical than most hotels. Plus you can go to Costco and get local food as well as all the usual stuff. Costa Rica was a good solo trip. (Most of my solo traveling was in youth hostels, which was great, but I am too old to comfortably share a room with 20 strangers any more. I need privacy now!) Florida will probably be ready for tourist dollars.

        If on a budget, you can also do really cheap by booking flight/hotel/car on Expedia last minute (not sure about Hawaii, but I got good prices a ew weeks in advance), especially if you don’t need to go somewhere specific. Same with last minutes cruises.

        I would just start putting in your dates into any of the travel sales areas, and see what comes up. Hotels.com and AirBNB (I think) will showcase certain places. But I think you’ll have a blast and I hope you let us know how it goes.

  39. Sitting Pretty*

    The Next World tarot deck I ordered just arrived and I absolutely love it! Cristy C. Road designed it and it’s full of queer images, “body outlaws”, anti-colonial messages, and more. It’s so very cool to draw a tarot card that both reflects the world that is so rarely represented and the world as it could be.

    Does anyone else have a favorite tarot or oracle deck that you use? I’ve been dabbling in a very light way for a couple years and have four decks right now. It takes a lot of time to find decks (still in print) that are feminist, hopeful, revolutionary, and/or designed by folks with different lived experiences.

    1. YNWA*

      I use the Smith Waite deck most of the time, but I do really like the Deviant Moon deck as well.

      The Mythic Tarot is nice and the old school Alice in Wonderland deck very much has its own energy.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      I have an old Smith Waite deck somewhere that I like. I used to do casual readings in college for friends but I never got to the point where I didn’t need to refer to the booklet. My daughter just got a set based on fairy tales and myths from around the world and it’s beautiful. I showed her how to do a reading but I think mainly she just enjoys the imagery.

    3. Catherine*

      I began using the Alleyman’s Tarot earlier this year and it’s rapidly become my ride-or-die. It’s made by sourcing cards from lots of different decks and users are encouraged to give cards away during readings, remove cards they don’t vibe with, add cards from other decks, etc.–there’s a really fun customization angle not available with most decks!

      1. YNWA*

        I have the Alleyman plus the four booster packs. It’s just so large to work with as in I can’t fit them in my hands comfortably

        1. Catherine*

          I split mine into three piles to shuffle, and then mix those piles together by shuffling a half of each together before stacking them all back up. It is rather unwieldy, but I’ve been practicing different ways to make splitting and mixing more visually entertaining when I read for others. And I will admit that it gives the most consistently useful readings of any deck I own!

    4. the cat's ass*

      I had the Po Mo Tarot (later 80’s early 90’s) but alas it went up in my house fire of 2018. Sounds like it might have been the precursor of the NW tarot, and I’ll be ordering that-thank you!

    5. JustForThis*

      I’m not at all a Tarot Person, but stumbled across Liminal 11 yesterday (because of Tillie Walden’s graphic novel On a Sunbeam, see above) and some of the imagery stuck with me. Link in next comment.

    6. Nessun*

      The decks I love most have been Kickstarters. I highly recommend checking there for new projects, there are always artists creating decks that are about representation and inclusion alongside deep understanding and perception of the decks purposes. I’ve got some really lovely ones in the past, including Meraki, Lubanko, and Botan. I also love my standard RWS deck, which is a staple that is really straightforward, but that’s much due to it being an early learning deck for me.

  40. Cj*

    My husband and I have had 17 dogs during our 30-year marriage, because we usually have between 3 and 5 at a time. We’ve had several that came from bad situations, and it always turned out wonderfully, but now we have a couple of new ones and we are stunped.

    We adopted two German Shepherd litter mates about a month ago. We knew they were skittish at the time, but it doesn’t seem to be getting much better. We don’t have a good history on them because they were surrendered to a Humane Society by a Spanish speaking family, and no one at the Humane Society spoke Spanish. So I would imagine the dogs no doubt understand Spanish but not English, which I’m sure is contributing to our problems.

    The male in particular seems fearful of us. The female is more receptive to attention, and comes up to us to get treats. But the male slinks passed us going in and out of the house to the kennel, and cowers in the corner of our utility room, where they have chosen to stay most of the time while they are in the house.

    We are going to set up an appointment with our long-term vet, but she is semi-retired and only works part-time, so it will probably take a while to get them in. I’m thinking they might need to be on some medication in order to allow them to relax enough to trust us.

    Has anyone else ever been through this, and what was the solution?

    1. time for cocoa*

      Learn the common commands in Spanish. You’d need a handful of verbs and nouns, nothing hard like conjugations. G8ogle Translate would suffice.

      1. Cj*

        I thought of that, but I think they are totally untrained in any language. Most dogs that have been taught to heel, or at least walk well on a leash, will do so even if you don’t give them a command. Are they will sit if you hold a treat in the correct position and give them the hand signal for sit. These guys don’t seem to have a clue. But I think not understanding what we are saying is confusing to them in general.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          You can try playing Spanish-language talk radio (or podcasts, if you don’t have a Spanish-language station in your area) and see if they seem to appreciate it as familiar noise to make your space seem more like home.

          I suspect my mystery-background rescue dog came from a Spanish-speaking home, because he seems to perk up at people speaking Spanish. (I’m an English-speaker living in a bilingual neighborhood.) He didn’t have the same adjustment issues that your dogs are having, so I haven’t done much with this theory, it’s just a habit of his I’ve noticed in terms of who his first choice is to try and greet when we’re out and about. He has terrible recall off-leash, so I’ve been considering trying those commands in Spanish to see if helps, but I suspect the problem is that he is a hound dog who sees no reason to come back until he is ready, which is why off-leash time only happens in fenced dog parks on days when I’m not in a hurry.

          1. Dog and cat fosterer*

            Yeah, the recall problem is definitely not going to be fixed by language and is all about the hound! I don’t know of many hounds who can go off-leash except when hunting, and even then many get temporarily lost.

            1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

              Yeah, the vibe I get is that he knows exactly where he is and where he wants to go and simply is not interested in getting my input on his choices at this time. Classic hound dog, hence the leash since I’m not going to train him to hunt. (He’s a basset, and I have no reason to hunt rabbits. He’s shown minimal interest in the rabbits we’ve come across anyway, preferring to seek out social opportunities among people and dogs rather than look for prey among the small wildlife ever since I got his weight up from his extremely underweight starting point. Once he hit about 60lbs, he stopped chasing squirrels but kept playing chase with dogs. Since I live in a city, this is very convenient.)

              Poor guy misses out on a lot of socialization since the immediate neighborhood has no official dog park and everyone runs their social dogs at a partially-fenced field. (I send him to dog daycare several days a week, so he gets socialization that way between trips to the real dog park.)

    2. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      I don’t think Spanish is the problem. The male either has anxiety or was abused or both. I would look into a trainer / dog behaviorist. He should improve with time and gentleness

      1. Cj*

        I thought about a dog trainer boot camp, but they are way too terrified of us even after a month that they would never be able to learn anything from a traditional dog trainer class until they learn to trust people.

        I’m going to check into if there are dog behaviorist in our area, which I kind of doubt because we are in a rural area of Minnesota. We’d be willing to drive them a couple hours to the Minneapolis area if necessary and we knew it would help. Hopefully our vet can give us some guidance on this.

        1. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

          Yes, you don’t want a regular training bootcamp for a fearful dog. Look for a trainer that will work 1 on1 with you. If you can’t find anyone close, try to read up on or google gentle training methods for anxious or fearful dogs. Time for him to readjust will be key. The training can wait until he feels more comfortable

        2. Dog and cat fosterer*

          You might ask about board and train options where the dogs stay for a week or month as needed.

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

      My parents have a GSD they also got from a shelter at the age of 9 months and it might just be a bit of the breed temperament, and lots of time. They seem to be an anxious, dramatic breed. Parent’s dog, Ranger, took months to really acclimate and relax. He’s still a bit of anxious dog, but now he is a velcro lap dog and he’s very vocal about his complaints. Do they get a lot of exercise? That seems to help with the anxiousness.

      1. Cj*

        We’ve had three German Shepherds before, and I know they bond extremely closely with their people and it is hard to for them to adjust to new situations. One of our previous three German Shepherds had been taken away from his prior owner for abuse and neglect, and even he wasn’t scared of us.

        They have a 10×25 fenced-in area where they do play together a lot. We actually have a larger fenced in area, but it is chain link and they went through the chain link fence extremely quickly by pushing it out. Fortunately, we had them on cables inside the fence because they wouldnt come up to us and we were afraid we won’t be able to get them in the house, so they were still on the cables inside the fence. Now they have this smaller area that is welded fence, but they still have a pretty good area to play in, which they do. They do seem relaxed when they are outside playing together.

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

          It’s possible that the Spanish-speaking folks weren’t even their previous owners. It could be that they were neglected/abandoned and aren’t really used to people, or being indoors at all — chained up outside their whole lives or dumped and then found by the family. The vet should have better advice than I, but I think 1 month is a very short time for a shelter dog to acclimate. I would just give them a calm, stable, predictable schedule and more time.

          1. Cj*

            I think they did get that much information out of them, that they had been theirs. As well as a fact that they never had them fixed and she had puppies in July. The Humane society, like we are, are extremely worried about the puppies because they are no doubt inbred by these two that are littermates, but they couldn’t convince them to surrender their puppies. The Humane Society didn’t want to push it because then they were afraid that they went surrender these two either.

      2. KatEnigma*

        Soooo vocal and such drama queens. And high strung. My GSD is just 2 and we’ve decided she will be our last GSD.

        Playing in the yard is not enough exercise for a GSD. They need to be walked for both the exercise and stimulation. A month isn’t really that long, either. I would take them separately on walks and just start building trust. With plenty of treats.

        1. Cj*

          OMG, they get so many treats. But I know a month isn’t that long and we need to be patient. Counting these two new ones, we’ve had five German Shepherds and one German Shepherd mix since we’ve been married, and my husband had two when he still lived with his parents. We absolutely adore the breed, and have not found them to be high strung before. That’s why these two are confusing us.

    4. Animal worker*

      I’m not a dog behavior expert but I have worked with animals and animal behavior for over 30 years, and have done a lot with shy and fearful animal situations. One big thing that can help, that I learned by doing it wrong with a very fearful and anxious animal, is to move at the animal’s pace versus your own. What you want to do is set yourself up as the giver of good things with absolutely no required behavior from the dog. The most successful way I’ve found to do this is to become a human pez dispenser to the animal, basically a treat-giving machine.

      For example, the dog is in the utility room, walk by with a favorite food item, say ‘treat’, gently toss the treat in and walk away – you are giving him something with no expectation of any specific response. This last part is the key – if you stay nearby talking to the dog, trying to soothe him, waiting to see if he’ll eat the treat or approach you – even though all are with good intent – you are way ahead of where he is behaviorally. I learned this with a golden lion tamarin – I would stand near his nest box trying to get him to come take a grape for the longest time, and he’d very nervously and hesitantly start approaching, only to run back if anything startled him. What I later realized is that I was pairing something he wanted (grape) with something that he was scared of (approaching me). So my intent was to build a positive relationship, but instead I set up a situation where to get something he wanted he had to do something he found frightening – which was not a good way to build that relationship. He didn’t get the benefit of it, but that experience taught me so much about how to work with nervous animals ever since.

      When your dog starts getting more comfortable you’re likely to see his body language change when you walk by, maybe more relaxed or even anticipatory of the treat, versus cowering and nervous of your presence – once he shows you signs of being more comfortable, you might be able to linger at the doorway and see if he eats the treat with you closer, if so reward him with another and again walk away. The trick is that he initiates each step forward. It takes time but it pays big dividends. Good luck!

    5. Cat and dog fosterer*

      It’s hard to tell without seeing the dogs and how they behave, but this is a situation where I would separate them for parts of the day and work with them individually. They have no incentive to trust you when they have someone they trust. Agreed with the suggestion to give them a lot of treats when they are near you. Don’t look directly at them, and when you walk toward them or are in the room then don’t face them directly rather twist yourself slightly because going directly at a dog especially if you are looking directly at them is often viewed as aggressive or dominant to a frightened dog. There are other little things like petting the chin and not the top of the head, that one has worked really well for me.

      How old are they? If younger than 6 months then you will want to push them a bit more because they are more adaptable, but it sounds like the female has had pups so they are probably at least a year in which case there’s no rush. But they clearly don’t trust people and need a behaviorist or special trainer. You can try to find someone online at first, to do a video consult, if you are remote and unable to find someone nearby. This wouldn’t have been an option a few years ago but trainers adjusted and did more online so this may help you.

      1. Cj*

        I agree with working with them individually. We weren’t sure went to try to start doing this but maybe we should try to start right away. When they first came here, it was literally impossible to separate them. She would cling to him, but now she seems more comfortable and he seems to follow her lead. If we can get her outside with one of us while leaving him inside with the other, and pay individual attention to each of them, that might help. Thanks.

        1. Bob-White of the Glen*

          Absolutely separate them. Litter mates enforce bad behavior and fearfulness on each other. They tend to go off in their own little world. Work on them individually and see how they do.

    6. Newbie*

      As long as they’re not reactive, destructive or trying to escape out of sheer terror, just give them time. Be consistent with both their routines and your actions and give them time. Read some Patricia McConnell. She’s one of the best when it comes to dog-human dynamics.

      1. Cj*

        I would say he is reactive to our approach, but not aggressive. We’ve been so fortunate with all our other dogs, who have all been strays we took in or adopted from a Humane Society, that I haven’t had to look into behaviorist before, so I have never heard of her. I will check into her. Thanks for the recommendation.

      2. Bob-White of the Glen*

        I totally read that as “read to them some Patricia Cornwell”, and all I could think is how terrifying that would be for them! :D

    7. Nerdgal*

      Our current dog was terrified when we got her. I got down on the floor and hand fed her, one piece of kibble at a time. Msy not work for you but it did the trick for us. Took 2 or 3 days if I recall.

    8. just another queer reader*

      There are animal behaviorists out there who will do video-call consults. Sometimes a video call is even better than bringing your animal to them because they can see your dog in your home. Pricey though.

      As a side note, I wish that public facing organizations like the humane society you went to prioritized making language support available!

      Best of luck to you and your dogs.

    9. Chauncy Gardener*

      We’ve had dogs forever as well, and got stumped with our current rescue when we adopted him two years ago. The rescue league gave us a great recommendation for a trainer who was WONDERFUL and taught us a whole bunch of evolved training methods. She came to the house (we were all masked) and our dog is basically unrecognizable now. He’s so happy and calm and wiggly, all of which he decidedly was NOT when we got him. (he was terribly abused etc)
      In short, get a trainer who is experienced with rescues with uncertain histories.
      Good luck!!

    10. The OG Sleepless*

      I don’t post to the pet threads very much, but skittishness and poor response to commands is pretty common in young German Shepherds, unless they come from very good bloodlines AND their early experience is with informed owners. It’s remotely possible that they were abused, but not likely. (I have experience with abused animals, by the way, and not in the “the rescue said they might have been” sense, I mean with criminal charges pending and an Animal Control officer in tow. They aren’t any more or less likely to be aggressive or poorly behaved than other dogs.) Please find a trainer who uses reward-based methods, and if needed, a consult with a veterinary behaviorist, who will have DVM, DACVB after their name.

    11. MissCoco*

      I have pet rodents, so essentially completely different and feel free to thoroughly disregard the following, but I’ve had incredible luck with a strategy called “Constructional Aggression Training” especially with my high-fear/reactive guys.

      You should look it up because my understanding is quite rudimentary, but the basic idea is that you approach to their threshold of discomfort, then as soon as they pay attention to you (an ear flick, a glance, extending their nose for a sniff) you back away. By repeating this pattern, they learn that them approaching you *reduces pressure* and IMO it gives them the feeling of control over their environment.

      Rodents by definition mean that timing is very hard and I probably do a bad job interpreting their attention, but it still works! I feel it’s biggest strength is when I have pets who are so fearful that I cannot give them positive reinforcement, CAT offers a way for me to work with them and get to a point where they want treats and we can do more classic positive reinforcement/positive association building.

      1. Dog and cat fosterer*

        The usual thing about rewarding animals is treats and toys, but someone years ago taught me that sometimes the lack of pressure is also a reward. Or going on a walk, or whatever place or behavior the animal really wants. I had a dog who was difficult to walk, and when she behaved badly I stopped until she calmed, and she learned that calm walking meant that she was able to walk without interruption. Trainers will say that dogs who pull should be walked the other way and only calm walking toward their destination should be rewarded. I also work with feral cats, and when they do a behavior where they start to show trust in me (relaxing, eating near me) then I *reward* them by leaving them to eat on their own. It feels like I should want to spend more time with them when they relax near me, but I ‘mark’ their good behavior by making them happy by disappearing. It’s hard to figure out with a difficult pet, but the concept of rewarding them by going away is a good one.