weekend open thread – Jan. 21-22, 2023

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: Mouth to Mouth, by Antoine Wilson. After a man saves a famous art dealer from drowning, their paths twist together in surprising ways. Beautifully written and compelling.

* I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 993 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    A reminder that the weekend posts are for relatively light discussion — think dinner party or office break room — and comments should ask questions and/or seek to discuss ideas. Recommendations or one to two updates on things you received advice about in the past are fine, but “here’s an update on my life” personal-blog-style posts are not. The full rules are here.

  2. Falling Diphthong*

    Anyone read anything good lately?

    I am enjoying An Immense World by Ed Yong, about how animals perceive the world. For example, it offered the following distinction between taste and flavor: Flavor is innate (e.g. we like sweet and dislike bitter as newborns) while smells we learn by association.

    This is the sort of book where I read several pages and then ruminate over how butterflies have light receptors on their reproductive organs–it’s the opposite of a hard-driving plot that pulls you along, which I’m rather craving. I’ve been rereading the Scholomance for that.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I just finished First Man, the first (only?) authorized biography of Neil Armstrong, and it was a really interesting look at not only his life, but also inside the Gemini and Apollo programs, or at least specific sections of them, especially the Apollo 11 mission and his (relationship isn’t the right word… interactions?) with Buzz Aldrin.

      1. Stitch*

        Gemini 8 is one that isn’t in the popular mindset as much but was a near disaster averted any Armstrong under very difficult circumstances (the spin could have caused him to pass out).

      2. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

        If you’re into astronaut bios, I would definitely recommend Carrying the Fire by Michael Collins. It’s widely considered the best of them all.

    2. Bookish*

      I just finished “Our Missing Hearts” and really enjoyed it!

      I’m currently reading “A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor” for my book club and I’m liking it much more than I thought I would. We read the prequel in November and the ending was meh but the sequel is much better in my opinion.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        I agree the sequel is better. Some of the characters were so irritating and self-absorbed in the first one. I know that’s part of the point but they sometimes were exhausting to read about. So much better in the second one! I even hated the annoying characters less, lol. That almost never happens for me.

    3. Bluebell*

      I am quite enjoying The Hero of this Book by Elizabeth McCracken. It’s fiction, not a memoir, but a tribute to her mother, who passed away in 2018. So many lovely turns of phrases, and recollections. Not much plot though.

    4. LNLN*

      I just finished Exit by Belinda Bauer. It’s a mystery that is unusual and surprising and kind of humorous. I definitely recommend it!!!

    5. Rose is a roseis a rose*

      I just listened to An Immense World and also found it absolutely fascinating but I am looking forward to actually reading it so I can reread and dwell more deeply on it. He has another book, I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life, which I thoroughly enjoyed!

    6. Lore*

      This was probably my favorite book I worked on last year and I could not happier to see it take off again in 2023. There’s so much fascinating stuff in it and the pictures are gorgeous and the author’s dog, Typo the corgi, appears in the photo insert. And the author is so smart and so nice to work with!

      For my own reading, I have finally gotten on the Perceval Everett bandwagon about 10 years later than I should have. The Trees was unsettling and disconcerting and maddening in all the right ways and I’m thrilled to have a long backlist to devour.

      1. PhyllisB*

        If you like corgis and light mysteries, check out the Mrs. Murphy series by Rita Mae Brown. They’re full of illustrations of the corgi Tucker, and Mrs Murphy the cat. Almost worth reading for pictures alone.

        1. Lore*

          Thanks! I find that I can only go a few books into most cozy series before it starts to bug me that so many people are dying in a small town without anyone bringing it up from book to book. I actually worked on Mrs Murphy books for a few years and that was enough for me! The brilliant exception is Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce books, where over the course of the series he slowly builds an elaborate back story to explain why Bishop’s Lacey is a criminal hotspot. And two new Flavias were just announced!

          1. PhyllisB*

            Yes, I understand about how it’s a puzzle that small towns can be such a hotbed of murder!! I love series books, but usually I have to pause and read something else for a while. It’s like the Stephanie Plum mysteries. They’re fun at first, but after a while they feel so repetitious. I read one last week for the first time in several years, and I enjoyed it, but will be a while before I pick up another one.

            1. PhyllisB*

              And thanks for the mention of Bradley Flavia. This is a new name for me, will definitely check it out.

              1. Lore*

                Oh, you are in for a treat! There are 10 books in the series, starting with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. Flavia is a precocious 11-year-old aspiring chemist with an interest in poisons, who gets into all sort of crime adjacent trouble in a small British village just after WWII.

    7. Rosyglasses*

      I read Bewilderment this week, by Richard Powers. Relatively short novel about a father who has a son who could be considered on the autism spectrum (although the protagonist has some very specific and eloquent thoughts against labels). Mother has recently died, and father is biophysicist who is exploring space for new planets. The story is gorgeous, poignant and brilliant.

    8. TechWorker*

      I read ‘Ceremony of Innocence’ by Madeleine Bunting and it was great. It’s set across Iran, Bahrain and England, and whilst definitely fiction, I found the historical elements interesting and the characters believable.

    9. Gremlin*

      Just finished listening to all the Chronicles of Narnia books. I’ve read them many times but never listened to the audio versions before. They were great — each book is read by a different person, such as Michael York, Vanessa Redgrave, Jeremy Northam, and Patrick Stewart. Lovely.

    10. English Rose*

      I’m finally reading Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots – about three quarters through and absolutely loving it!

    11. germank106*

      “Smile and look pretty” by Amanda Pellegrino. I finished “The social climber” by the same author last week and immediately ordered this one. It’s about a group of four assistants in the entertainment industry that decide to start an online blog where they (anonymously) write about their toxic work environments. Think “The worst boss….” multiplied by 1000.
      The book is sad, funny and entirely relatable if you’ve ever worked in an assistant’s position.

    12. word nerd*

      I loved An Immense World!

      I’m currently addicted to the Muderbot diaries… I blame the post from last week asking for book recs for characters to emulate, someone(s) mentioning Muderbot, which reminded me that I had only read Network Effect (which I really enjoyed) and that I should really check out the novellas as well. Now I’m racing through all the novellas and sad that I forgot my rule about not starting series that haven’t been finished yet, oops.

        1. word nerd*

          Yes, I am going through the audiobooks version! I agree, I have definitely thought, “I heart you so much, narrator” when he delivers those snarky lines. He has to be the one to do all the rest of the series, right?? I finished all the novellas in about 24 hours since each novella only takes an hour or two at 2.5x listening speed…

    13. PhyllisB*

      I just finished the latest Stephanie Plum mystery Going Rouge. Haven’t read anything in that series for quite a while, so was fun to read all the shenanigans she and Lula got in to.

    14. Reading recs*

      A work acquaintance recommended Wintering to me (by Katherine May), about how we weather the seasons of winter in our own lives. I love it –– she has a very lyrical style, and as part of her exploration of wintering, takes readers along on wintery experiences, such as ice swimming and marking the solstice. You feel really drawn in.

      I’m on to her memoir the Electricity of Every Living Thing, now, about realizing in midlife that she was autistic.

    15. GoryDetails*

      (I’ve posted to the more general what-are-we-reading thread as well, but as I do have some exceptionally good reads on hand I wanted to include them here.)

      SWEAT by Bill Hayes, a history of exercise – it’s another of his marvelous biographies-of-things. In this case, exercise (with a section on the composition and function of literal sweat). So far it includes some truly delightful bits about his visits with rare-books librarians and archivists in New York, France, and Italy – in the latter, a by-appointment-only jaunt to a palazzo on Isola Bella to see the original drawings that illustrated a 16th-century book about exercise. Hayes’ books blend deep-dive explorations of the subjects – from insomnia to blood to anatomy – with tidbits of personal memoir, and are a delight to read.

      Carrying-around book: SPARROW HILL ROAD by Seanan McGuire, a collection of loosely-linked stories featuring Rose, the urban-legend “ghost-girl hitchhiker,” as she conducts her afterlife in attempts to help save others from death or, if that’s not possible, to ease their way to their own afterlives.

      1. Suze*

        If you like Seanan McGuire try the series of novellas The Wayward Children. I just finished the eighth book. They are portal fantasy and very good.

        1. GoryDetails*

          Oh, yes, I adore the “Wayward Children” books. I’ve read other of McGuire’s works – and her “Newsflesh” zombie-series under her “Mira Grant” name as well.

        2. Suze*

          If you like Urban Fantasy you could start with the October Daye series or the Incryptid series. She also writes under the pseudonym Mira Grant. Those books are more violent.

      2. Jackalope*

        Question: if I were going to start reading Seanan McGuire, what’s a good starting point? She sounds like she might be someone I’d enjoy, but she’s got so many books that it’s a bit daunting.

        1. GoryDetails*

          Re a starter book for McGuire – I’d say it depends on what kinds of things you like. The Wayward Children series starts with Every Heart a Doorway, a fairly short book that should tell you whether you’ll like the series or not. If you like post-zombie-apocalypse tales, her “Newsflesh” books (under the name Mira Grant) are good – “Feed” is the first novel. If you like short stories, “Rise” is a collection set in the same ‘verse.

          For medical-drama/SF, there’s Parasitology and sequels (also under the “Grant” name).

          Oh, and if you’d like a standalone book, McGuire’s “Dust or Dark or Dawn or Day” might be of interest – it involves a world in which ghosts can interact with the living under certain conditions, and where the (dead) protagonist has to try and stop a force that’s changing the way the supernatural world functions.

    16. Junior Dev*

      I just finished the second book in the Machineries of Empire trilogy by Yoon Ha Lee and ordered the third. I really love his writing. It’s the sort of sci-fi/fantasy that is as concerned with symbolic resonance as it is with “realism” and that really appeals to me.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I enjoyed the series. It feels like science fiction because the fantasy/magical element is treated like science with understood and researched rules. It’s complicated and complex.

        And I’m a sci fi fan, but generally don’t care for fantasy.

    17. E. Chauvelin*

      I’m just starting Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree, about an orc who retires from adventuring to open a coffee shop. It seems like it’s going to be pretty light but lots of fun. I’ve heard good things from several people.

    18. OtterB*

      I am dipping into An Immense World and liking it.

      I’m having a bit of a reading slump so far this year; I’ve been doing a lot of rereading jumping around to favorite scenes or sequences but not reading anything straight through. The first new thing I’m reading that’s hooked me enough that I expect to finish it is The Keeper’s Six by Kate Elliott. It is in some ways a classic fantasy adventure but in others really not. I am enjoying the characters and their relationships, and the worldbuilding. A group of six, a “hex” is required to operate in the Beyond to move between worlds. Each person has a specific role and talents. The main character, Esther, is pulled into the adventure and pulls in the others to help because her adult son, who is also a member of the hex, has been kidnapped.

      I have also been reading Jo Walton’s What Makes This Book So Great. The ebook is on sale. It’s a compilation of some of her essays from the late 2000s in a series at tor.com on reareading classics of science fiction and fantasy. Each essay is short. I enjoyed the original posts and I am enjoying coming back to them, whether I’ve read the book/series she’s discussing or not.

    19. Overeducated*

      That sounds like an interesting book to talk about with others, and Ed Yong is a great writer. Thanks!

      I’m reading Nona the Ninth. Third in a series.

    20. Brrrr*

      I am halfway through The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce, and I am loving it. Beautifully written.

      1. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

        I think about this book SO OFTEN. I wouldn’t have guessed at the time how much it would stay with me!

    21. Giles*

      Recently read Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt with my book club and I keep recommending it to everyone. It was the rare book that everyone in my book club enjoyed.

    22. noncommittal pseudonym*

      Late to the party, but I’ve been rereading golden-age mystery novels. I have most of them in print form, so I’m gradually buying Kindle copies. I’m currently on #26 of 33 of the Ngaio Marsh Roderick Alleyn books. They’re in chronological order, so started in 20’s era Britain. In the one I’m reading now, they mention that hot musical show, Hair. Marsh was a New Zealander writing about British detectives, and was particularly interested in what would then be called race relations. It’s been interesting to watch her treatment of the subject evolve over time. She also likes to bring back minor characters from previous books into later ones, which is fun.

      I think I’ll tackle rereading and buying Christie novels next. That will be a big project!

    23. Pyanfar*

      Both TJ Klune books, Under the Whispering Door, and House in the Cerulean Sea. (The books aren’t related, but both have super interesting premises and good vibes!

    24. TuckerMom*

      I’ve just finished listening to The Ninth House and Hell Bent. So exciting and creative! I really enjoyed the Scholomance books and thought these were even better.

    25. bleh*

      Getting through We Don’t Know Ourselves by Fintan O’Toole. It’s gorgeously written and so helpful to contextualize late 20th Century Ireland.

    26. PurplePeopleEater*

      Just finished The Atrocity Archives by Charlie Stross and it was great: spy thriller with Eldritch horror. I can’t remember who mentioned it in a previous weekend thread here, but I’m so glad they did!

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Sunday is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day! (Saturday is International Sweat Pants Day, which I plan to observe by wearing sweat pants.)

      Destructobot wants to know why there are no snakes in winter. (I think what happens is that snakes are able to wiggle into our basement garage when the weather gets cold, and then the cats find them and bring them upstairs to play with. But it means I’m now very paranoid about greenish cylinders on the kitchen floor, becoming alarmed about what turns out to be asparagus.)

    2. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      If I remember correctly, I think Wallace is the one who was always so welcoming and reassuring to new cats as they came along to join the family!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes! He is so excited to meet new cats and wants to demonstrate what fun they will have jumping out of tunnels at each other, etc., while also being very polite and respectful.

    3. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Sit up straight. Shoulders back. Three quarter turn face to camera… and smile… *FLASH*

      Wallace Green portrait, class of ‘23

  3. Jackalope*

    I think this is a slightly different question than the one above (which asked about good books lately). What has everyone been reading this week? Any sort of reading is welcome.

    Also, looking for a rec. Has anyone read any good middle grade or YA books that have come out recently about cats or shapeshifters that change into cats? Let me know if you have thoughts.

    I’m currently reading Dirty Secret by Jessie Sholl. It’s a memoir by a woman whose mother is a hoarder, and I’m finding it very interesting. I also tried to read Hester by Laurie Albanese and could not manage it at all. The main character’s life was so stressful in the beginning that I noped out after about 30 pages.

    1. Bluebell*

      I had high hopes for Such Sharp Teeth, by the author who wrote Crackle, which I loved. It was good, but not great. Finished The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches and enjoyed it. And I laughed more than I expected at Yearbook by Seth Rogen.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      These aren’t recent books, but two good series about cats are the Warriors series by Erin Hunter (about groups of feral cats that live in the woods) and the Lionboy trilogy by Zizou Corder (about a boy who can speak to all felines).

      1. Clisby*

        Man, my daughter loved the Warriors books. I was gobsmacked at the sheer number of books Erin Hunter wrote until I found out Erin Hunter is a pseudonym for 4 people.

      2. allathian*

        My son loves them, he’s read about 4 of the series so far. They’ve really improved his reading speed and active vocabulary.

        1. the cat's pajamas*

          I started listening to the audiobooks when they showed up on my digital book app from the library. I’m enjoying them so far!

    3. Foreign Octopus*

      I listened to How to Kill Your Family, by Bella Mackie. I really enjoyed 90% of it but the ending let me down as I felt it came out of nowhere and didn’t hit right. However, I do think people should give it a read.

      I also read Spare, by Prince Harry. As a British person it didn’t give me much of a new insight into the royal family as most of us know they’re a bit of an emotionally stunted mess, but it did bring me a new perspective on Harry. In a lot of ways, he’s still that little boy he was when his mum died and it’s very sad.

      I’m now listening to Permanent Record, by Edward Snowde.

    4. UKDancer*

      Have you tried Diane Duane? She wrote a couple of YAish books about 2 cats who are wizards (or wizards who are cats depending on your perspective). The first one is called “The Book of Night with Moon” followed by 2 more. They’re a spin off of her series of “Young Wizards” books about 2 human wizards and it might help to read the Young Wizard books first for the context.

      I’m not hugely a cat person so I preferred the ones about the human wizards but I did like the fact she’d thought a lot about cats and how they think and interact.

    5. The OG Sleepless*

      I just finished Horse by Geraldine Brooks, on the strong recommendation of my bibliophile mom, and loved it.

      1. Cookie*

        I was looking at that one today since I have an Audible credit. Will put it in the queue next time!

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      This is the opposite of recent, but I have fond memories of Star Ka’at by Andre Norton. Space-faring psychic cats and the young humans they rescue.

    7. Rage*

      My good friend Avery Ames has the 2nd book in her YA series (The Faerie Concerto) coming out 1/31: Serenade. The first book is Cambiare. Yeah, she’s my friend, but I *loved* Cambiare and can’t wait for Serenade. She’s a really excellent writer, and I believe there may be a cat-person in the series. (And bi-representation in the book, which is awesome.)

      Cambiare: Everyone knows the fae are dangerous. Beautiful, capricious creatures, they are as enticing as they are forbidden.

      When Princess Cirelle’s brother falls deathly ill, there’s only one sure way to save him: a secret bargain with one of the fae folk. The cost? A year of servitude in the mystical faerie realm. But her new fae master, Ellian, conceals secrets even deadlier than his charming smile.

      Serenade: Cirelle has survived her first encounter with the cruelty of the fae, including the machinations of her charming sidhe host Ellian. Unable to forgive him for his past lies, the flames that once flickered between Cirelle and Ellian have gone cold. However, the ruthless fae prince Adaleth still seeks to close the gates between their worlds, and Cirelle must work alongside Ellian to stop him.

      Worse, Cirelle accidentally claimed a pair of cursed knives that now speak to her in dreams, in whispers of violence and blood. They tell her secrets, things only the shadows see. But she’s not the only one who wants the blades, and some are willing to go to any length–even murder–to take them.

    8. Person from the Resume*

      I just started audiobook of The Girls Are All So Nice Here. Some sort of thriller where a college student and her roommate did some bad in college and she’s invited to her reunion.

      Not my normal thing, but I was listening some rather dreary translated sci fi stories and it just required a lot of attention to catch the setting of each short story. I usually need a particular type of audiobook that can be understood without full attention and going back because I listen while going about my day to day activity in the house.

    9. GoryDetails*

      So I’ll split my reading between this thread and the “good books” one – not that these aren’t good, just not AS good as others I’ve read/am reading.

      DOOMSDAY WITH MY DOG, a comedy manga about a girl and her dog in post-apocalyptic Japan. (Yes, really. It’s mostly 4-panel strips of the girl and the dog snarking at each other – though with the occasional very touching sequence here and there.)

      Am just starting THE FALCON ALWAYS WINGS TWICE, one of Donna Andrews’ punny-titled cozy mysteries; this one features a Renaissance Faire.

      And for something chilling, THE TOWN THAT FORGOT HOW TO BREATHE by Kenneth J. Harvey, set in Newfoundland and blending a bizarre illness with increasingly strange events – visions of unusual sea creatures, the bodies of decades-dead residents drifting ashore and looking as if they’d just died, and more. I’m enjoying it, though there are times when it doesn’t seem to be internally consistent – and the “rage” symptoms of that illness are causing otherwise sympathetic characters to contemplate horrible deeds…

    10. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I’m reading Harry Potter for the first time at the belated age of 31 and enjoying it more than I thought I would. Besides the story, it’s kind of fun comparing the knowledge I’d picked up through osmosis to the actual story. I had thought Professor McGonegall was the headmistress and Dumbledore was an ordinary teacher.

      Well, technically I’m listening to Harry Potter e a Pedra Filosofal, and then reading it in English, then listening to it again. I recommend it as a language learning technique. When I started I was like, “Petunia? I think that’s a name?” but now I can roughly understand 1/2 to 1/3 of what is going on, and I’m only on chapter 13.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Not recent, but delightful feline aliens: “Uhura’s Song” by Janet Kagan. Described to me before I read it as “the only Star Trek novel worth reading”–and still the only one I actually bought. Themes include environmental consequences of technology, interaction of folk traditions and archaeology, intellectual property, what makes someone an adult, and limitations of the universal translator.
      (2020+warning–there’s an interstellar pandemic.)

      1. the bean moves on*

        i wonder if i still have. copy of that one. is that the one that gave her a first name?

    12. Rage*

      Oh, I don’t know if it’s YA necessarily, and it’s not recent, but “Tailchaser’s Song” by Tad Williams is always a delightful read. (Now I need to unearth my copy and play hookey from work and school to re-read it.)

  4. Jackalope*

    Gaming thread! Share any games you’ve been playing this week. As always, all games are great, not just video games.

    I just got the new Fire Emblem game (Engage, I think it is). I haven’t started it yet but will after dinner tonight. Super excited!

    1. Bookgarden*

      Playing Midnight Suns and really enjoying it. Also playing Spiritfarer and oh gosh is that one a delight.

    2. SparklingBlue*

      Grinding in Pokemon Scarlet, and wanting to get my hands on Dragon Quest Treasures or the upcoming Tales of Symphonia remaster.

    3. Rosyglasses*

      Our family of three is attempting to master Root (a very complex board game) again. I think a couple more plays will get there – and then we will all switch factions and have to learn again!

      1. Junior Dev*

        Dorfromantik (I think that’s the spelling?) is a super relaxing game about building towns and farmlands

        Wytchwood is a crafting/trade sequence game with a fun story

        Carto is a puzzle game about maps that is very cute

      2. Era*

        I played Last Campfire earlier this week — it’s very cozy and good!

        Now I’m diving into Ori and the Blind Forest, and enjoying it lots as well.

    4. Tired*

      I managed to fit in a short dungeons & dragons game over Skype with my nibling and their friends, all stressed out exam year sixthformers – some much needed silliness was enjoyed by all as they chased a gremlin around a kitchen… (right triumphed and all got cake at the end even the gremlin).

    5. Anonymath*

      I’ve been playing my usual games (Pokémon go, Disney Magic Kingdoms) but also hanging out in Stardew Valley again. I find Stardew soothing when I have a cold and need something low pressure and relaxing that I don’t need to think about too much. Perfect for a stuffy head. I just finished replaying through the Kingdom Rush series of games. I enjoy the strategy of a tower challenge and it’s awfully cute. It also has great and funny Easter eggs.

      Now that I’m done with Kingdom Rush again, I’m back to hidden picture games. Played through Hidden Folks again and am working on Hidden Through Time, which is similar enough. I’ve recently purchased Wind Peaks on a recommendation that it was similar to Hidden Folks and so far it’s just ok. I probably wouldn’t recommend paying full price for it though.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Someone yesterday suggested Blendoku, a solitaire phone game, and it’s exactly the sort of quick, brief, no timer puzzles that I like if I am out and unexpectedly have to sit and kill time. (I don’t like reading websites or watching video on my phone–I use my laptop for that, and bring a book when I know waiting is involved.) You put colors in order as they get less green and more yellow, or whatnot.

      My other phone game (which I really like, but I’ve played it a lot) is Singularity, in which you flip over tiles according to various rules, aiming to get them all the same color.

    7. Junior Dev*

      Been playing the Switch port of Skyward Sword and really liking it. I couldn’t get into it when I first got it a year or two ago but it’s growing on me. I played the Oracle games on Gameboy when I was a preteen and so that’s always sort of my point of reference for Zelda games. Of course it won’t feel the same because I’m not 12 anymore, but it’s giving me the same feeling of magic and imaginative whimsy I remember from those games. Breath of the Wild is very good but I guess I didn’t get as immersed in it—I think there are limits to how absorbing the storytelling can be in an open world game.

    8. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      Yakuza 7/ Like a Dragon continues to be an utter delight. Ichi has followed in Kiryu’s footsteps by donning a certain costume and beating the absolute snot out of bad guys in it. I filled a plot- mandated party vacancy with a mild- mannered secretary and immediately watched her reduce a bad guy to a fine red paste with a steel ruler (seriously, the Clerk is delightfully OP and her Thumbtack Scatter skill is a bona fide weapon of mass destruction). There are trash mimics. Someone ordered a Nishitani from Y0 off Aliexpress and he showed up with a wrecking ball. Good times.

    9. Jackalope*

      For any other Fire Emblem fans, I started the game. The game play is similar to Three Houses, and a lot of the animation as well. I’m not sure about the story line yet – it seems a bit cheesy, and not as strong as 3H – but I’m hoping it will get better as time goes on. Haven’t made it past the “tutorial” phase yet; I think I just finished chapter 3? But the chapters don’t take very long, or at least they haven’t up to this point.

    10. Lemonwhirl*

      We’ve been enjoying the boardgame Formula D. I got it for my son for Christmas because he’s mad into Formula 1. I wouldn’t have gone for it ordinarily, because it’s a dice game, and a lot of times, dice games weight luck too heavily. But Formula D really uses the mechanism of dice and the board to simulate some of the challenges of Formula 1 racing. The other side of the board has the “Formula D” street racing circuit, but we’re not ready for it yet.

    11. Vistaloopy*

      Crisis Core Reunion! It’s fun to play and I absolutely love the main character, as well as the larger story of FFVII. Cannot wait for FFVII Rebirth to come out. I’ll have to get a PS5 for that though.

    12. DarthVelma*

      Been immersed in Sea of Thieves again this weekend. We ran into our first hacker on Friday night. Reported him. He hacked onto our ship, took all of our supplies, and had the nerve to call me toxic for shooting at him. Anyway, he flipped our ship over but we managed to get everything right-side up and back on track.

      Over the course of the weekend I fought and defeated my first Kraken, got to level 100 for the season, killed a couple Megalodons (one in the middle of a terrible storm), and somehow survived a volcano exploding basically on top of our ship. I levelled several times in “bailing”. :-)

    13. The Dude Abides*

      Haven’t played much, but did get another package with artist-signed Magic foils.

      Any gamers on here in the Pittsburgh area? I will be there 2/3-2/5 for a conference at the Hyatt House, and want to hit up a LGS to play at FNM while I am there.

    14. Porch Screens*

      Still plugging away at Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous but I think I’ve finally made it to the final chapter so the end is coming into view! Also took a detour to play through Return of the Obra Dinn, which was fantastic, and am now currently playing Spiritfarer which is *such* a cozy game and perfect for when I’ve got downtime at work.

  5. Old Plant Woman*

    I would love to hear your experiences of caring for community cats, specifically how you avoided becoming too emotionally involved, My little sweetie has been spayed and ear clipped. She’s short legged, long haired and round as a melon. She spends her days in and out of my shop (cat door) hiding and eating a good bit. Nights, she’s at neighbor’s shed with food and a warm bed.
    She tolerates being talked to, but not looked at. I want to feed her, but not feel sorry for her because she will never want cuddles or a warm bed by the fireplace. Ideas?

    1. Rhiannon*

      My aunt and a few of her neighbors care for a few community cats similarly to how you describe, i.e. providing shelter and food. The cats roam as they please, and remain outdoors. My aunt talks softly to them, which seems to be the extent of her emotional engagement with the kitties. She loves it when they curl up in the basket on her patio.

    2. Golden*

      I follow Kitten Lady on YouTube and Facebook, and she’s made at least a couple videos/posts on how ferals are strong and beautiful, and not to be pitied. Unfortunately I think these were necessitated by people being rude to her for devoting her resources towards neonatal kittens instead of taming the feral moms, but her information and attitude towards ferals felt really fresh and healthy to me!

    3. Rage*

      I don’t do community cats (for a number of reasons) but I’ve done rescue and currently do wildlife rehab, and keeping yourself from getting TOO emotionally enmeshed is critical. My very first foster litter (stray kittens) did that to me – I fell in love with one of them and he died in my hands at 8 weeks. I bawled for days but it taught me where my “walls” needed to be and that has been an immense help over the past 20 years or so.

      I think the thing to remember is: you CANNOT save them all, so don’t even try. Focus on the ones you can. Your shop-melon has just what she wants: food, security, a warm place to sleep. If she doesn’t want cuddles or a bed by the fire, then that’s HER choice, and forcing her to accept something she doesn’t want will end badly for both of you.

      1. Siobahn*

        Great post. I plan to foster cats and dogs when I retire, and, having had pets my whole life, I am prepping for fostering partly by getting used to framing things as “You’re loving them as much as you can while they’re with you.”

        If only we could save them all. I’m sorry your kitten passed away, Rage. I’d have sobbed for days, too.

        1. Cat and dog fosterer*

          I tell myself that the ones that die were always too sick to be saved even before they came to me. At least I was able to give them a safe, warm end with a full belly. And there are a lot that I saved who would have otherwise died. I never know which is which from the start, so it is sad when they die, but I am much better after a good sleep and telling myself that I did my best.

    4. Cat and dog fosterer*

      I have started to do a lot of TNR, because while I can’t save them all the spay surgeries reduce suffering the most. If a female is spayed then she has 10 fewer kittens the next year. Even if you would have rescued those specific kittens, the spaying still means that there are 10 fewer feral kittens living a harsh outdoor life. Very rarely am I working with friendly cats, because those that are friendly get helped by other rescues. Mine is purely about numbers, not cuddles, and knowing that there will be less suffering. It is very hard to find people who focus on this, in part because the cats can be sick and the boys are often stinky, and those volunteers that do are amazing (I no longer have cats of my own and won’t adopt more because I want to do a lot of TNRs, and I don’t want to risk any cat of mine. A lot of people who do TNR have cats, so I’m very unusual, but I like that I own dogs and can take in the sicker cats without worry).

      You can feel sorry for yours, but it won’t change anything about her. Know that she is so much happier outdoors, and it is hard for me to send some of them back outside knowing that they could be killed the next week by a coyote, and yet they would be completely miserable in a home. In my case there is no way that all could be indoors because there aren’t hundreds of homes willing to house feral cats.

      There is a rescue expression that we can’t change the world, but we can change their world. We can’t fix every feral cat (yet) but each one we spay changes their life. We have colonies that went from very sick with a lot of kitten deaths to healthy and happy within a year or two of a TNR program. It works.

      I don’t know if these comments are at all useful to you. Your request was a bit vague so if you want to know more about a specific part then please ask! I’m a huge advocate for anyone who wants to help the ferals.

      1. Old Plant Woman*

        Thanks everybody! You’re a big help. I’m gonna try to settle myself with knowing she eats well, and stop wishing she’d wink at and say “Let’s go party. You bring the catnip and I’ll bring the mice.”

    5. PleaseNo*

      Becoming emotionally invested is not a bad thing. I love all 26 of my community cats and don’t regret it no matter the downs.
      I think you are looking for how to love them on their terms versus your terms. Love them how they want to be loved- provide food, shelter, water, vet care, and a place to be themselves. If they change their mind later about wanting more from you they will let you know. But respect them and dignify them as the individuals they are just like you do with people. They are lucky to have you!

      1. Rage*

        Well, no, it’s not a bad thing inherently, you’re going to get attached, you’re going to have feelings. That’s normal. But it’s when you get TOO attached that it can be problematic.

        I know people in the rescue world who end up in hoarding situations because they “can’t turn down an animal in need!” Hell, we’ve got a few rescues here in my city that are like that, begging and pleading for people to step in and pull more and more dogs/cats out of the shelter (and if nobody does they pull them anyway and fob them off on those who they know won’t refuse). But the thing is: there are limited homes, and a seemingly unlimited supply of animals. If I take in a dog or cat that is not a good candidate for adoption (could be for a variety of reasons: aggression, behavioral, medical, feral/fear of humans), that means that space is being taken up when it could be used for one that is an excellent candidate for adoption. People who are TOO emotionally invested will tear themselves apart trying to help the un-help-able.

        It comes down to a numbers game: when the supply of animals is massively greater than the homes available, then euthanasia is inevitable. Period. Harsh, but true. And trying to prevent that by simply “pulling more dogs from shelters” is a teeny tiny bandage on a gaping wound.

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          +1000 Rage. I did pitbull rescue for a long time (way before Rachel Ray came in and made them at least a bit more socially acceptable). I remember being at a huge state rescue (that goes by initials) and they had an aggressive pit who had been returned twice. I asked why they hadn’t put him down. A gal who worked there was in love (blinded by it) with him and thought he would eventually find the right home. I told her either you take him home yourself or put him down, because all you’ve done is cemented in two families’ minds that pits are no good and they actually would never trust any rescue dog now. And that dog was unadoptable by anyone except maybe Cesar Milan

  6. L. Ron Jeremy*

    Anyone get a chance to watch ‘The Traitors’ on Netflix? I really enjoyed the series and I like the fact that you knew who the traitors were up front, unlike ‘The Mole’.

    I think a second season will be coming. I also liked Allen Cummings and his various outfits that he wore as the host.

    What do you guys think?

    1. TechWorker*

      I watched the U.K. version which I loved (and everyone I knew seemed to be watching it, which made great water cooler conversation). I think Netflix is probably the US one..? Which I haven’t seen but the bbc bought the rights to, so I could watch it.

    2. Glazed Donut*

      I’m midway through it! I like that I know some of the people (braboholic here) but had a few stumbles keeping up with the Big Brother and Survivor people I don’t know.
      It’s definitely a bit more mind-y than plenty of other shows. I’m fascinated by Kate. Is it strategy? Is she just being herself?

      1. Malarkey01*

        Just another recommendation since you’re a braboholic, but if you haven’t heard of it you might enjoy the podcast Watch What Crappens. Two guys recap bravo shows and they are HILARIOUS. (I listen to below deck recaps).

    3. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

      Shameless plug here, but related (becasue of game show). If this is out of line, Allison, please feel free to nuke it.

      Yours truly will be on Master Minds this coming week (I think Monday, but they never gave me a firm date).

  7. HBJ*

    Makeup Q.

    A couple weeks ago, I asked about BB/CC creams because I was looking for something lighter than foundation. When I looked at the store, I was surprised to see some of them, Elf’s for one, labeled as “full coverage” and lots of different shades just like foundation. I’m not looking for something full coverage, just something to hopefully even out my skin tone a little. I ditched foundation in 2019 and have no desire to go back to it. I also don’t really want to have to seriously match a product to my skin. That was part of the reason I ditched foundation – I felt like I could never get a good match. And even if I did in the bathroom, it looked bad in daylight or I could never blend it enough to not leave a line on my jaw.

    Is a tinted moisturizer more what I should be looking for? How heavy are BB/CC creams compared to foundation?

    I’m looking for not too expensive and preferably what I can get at Target/Walmart/Walgreens, etc.

    1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I have (checks makeup bag real quick) the Maybelline “dream BB fresh” and I think it’s about what you are looking for. It’s the first BB cream I’ve tried so I can’t recommend it over another brand, but it did SERIOUSLY convert me to BB cream. It doesn’t have to be a perfect match for color (I got a shade too dark the first time and it still looked good), it blends in beautifully, and it makes my skin look really good.

      I never could make foundation look good. It was impossible to get the right color, and if I did manage to get something close my tan would darken or fade and the color would be utterly wrong again. Plus it made my face look flat since I don’t contour. I didn’t officially ditch it, but I just never wore it because I didn’t have one I liked.

      I do feel the need for a bit of blush with BB cream, but it looks really natural otherwise. Seriously, the stuff somehow covers up the redness near my nose and evens out my skin tone, while still looking basically sheer.

      TLDR: I think BB cream is what you are looking for and I highly recommend it. I lightly recommend Maybelline’s stuff.

      1. Want to simplify my beauty routine*

        I’m excited to be reading about BB and CC cream products. I’ve never heard of them until now, but they sound like what I’m looking for. After not wearing foundation for 20 years, I started wearing it again a few months ago to cover up the redness in my skin and even things out. I also use a primer. My morning routine consists of cleansing, treatment essence, eye repair cream, moisturizer, primer, color corrector, foundation, and makeup. I want to simplify my routine again! I am in my 50s with an oily t zone and some redness. Should I be using a BB cream or a CC cream? I’ve also just read about DD cream, which seems to be both creams in one and more like full coverage. Has anyone tried it? Does it feel more like a foundation? I’m looking for a simple and natural look. Thanks!

        1. Ellis Bell*

          Nobody knows the difference between BB creams, CC creams and tinted moisturisers! I use a rather expensive tinted moisturizer because I love the rosewater in it (Chantecaille) and like Elspeth, I sometimes get a different shade in it and it still looks fine. I went in to the non-foundation experiment wanting the most super light shade there is, because I’m ultra pale, foundation always looks wrong, and I used to have to mix it with colour perfector and moisturizer. However the makeup artist in store said to actually go a shade darker in tinted moisturizer to wake up the skin, and she’s actually kind of right. Really though, it’s just very blendable and light. If I wasn’t a sucker for rosewater, I would buy Olay CC cream. It’s lovely and cheap as chips.

      2. Damn it, Hardison!*

        I love Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue. It’s light and has SPF. I get it at either Sephora or Ulta; if you have an Ulta in your Target it might be available there. I think Sephora carries mini tubes so you can try it out. They (or someone at Ulta) can help you find your right shade. I really recommend getting help matching the right shade; or maybe it’s just me being really, really bad at it.

    2. Rose*

      In my experience, BB creams are light, CC creams are usually light but seem to have no real definition and can be heavier. I don’t think there’s truly much or any difference between a BB cream vs tinted moisturizer. I think it’s a marketing gimmick.

      I personally hate the feeling of anything heavy on my skin and having to do too much work blending/matching. My favorite is Tarte but for drugstore options L’Oréal skin paradise water infused tinkers moisturizer and Maybelline dream fresh BB cream both feel really light, and even out skin tone/blend imperfections while still being very sheer (so a perfect match is not an issue).

    3. Catherine*

      This will sound bonkers but I stopped using foundation entirely about two weeks after I started using L’Occitane’s Divine Youth Oil because of how quickly it evened out my skin tone. I am very glad of it, since I too was fed up with the color matching game. Unfortunately, it’s pretty spendy, although the bottle lasts a very long time since you only need 2-3 drops for your whole face/neck/decollete.

    4. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Have you tried mixing a light foundation or a BB cream with a light, non-oily moisturiser, like Neutrogena or Nivea original, or whatever you use on your face in the daytime?

      1. English Rose*

        Yes that’s what I was going to say. You can mix to the consistency you want.
        Also, don’t feel you have to use either BB cream or foundation all over your face. I use moisturiser all overmy face (one with UV protection), let it settle, then mix a bit more with a light foundation and use that where I’m a bit blotchy, in my case around the nose. I pop it on with a big fat foundation brush.

      2. The New Wanderer*

        This is what I do. I cleaned out one of the nice glass containers from a night cream and mix together Maybelline BB cream, Nivea original cream, and Neutragena face sunscreen for the extra SPF. It ends up really sheer so probably wouldn’t even out skin too much, but has just enough pigment for my taste. I sometimes dust on BareMinerals finishing veil powder if I want to look more polished.

      3. HBJ*

        I think this is a little more work than I want to do. Also, another part of the reason I quit wearing foundation is I didn’t end up loving the way it looked on my face after awhile. The texture and the way it sad on my face. So I’d have to find a foundation I liked. Plus, the most recent foundation I used was a stick foundation.

        1. juneybug*

          You probably meant sat, not sad on your face. But honestly I think sad works better than sat (thinking of a poor sad face on top of your foundation).

    5. londonedit*

      I love Erborian CC cream. It’s white when it comes out of the tube, but it blends into your skin tone and just makes everything look better! I have pale skin and use the ‘Clair’ shade.

      1. Emma*

        I’ve heard good things about this one, as well as a redness corrector, and want to try the travel versions soon!

    6. ecnaseener*

      I haven’t tried BB cream yet, but tinted moisturizer is definitely a very light coverage color-wise. Not so light that it doesn’t get clumpy on dry skin – the internet tells me I should use a base layer under it, but…it’s moisturizer? I guess you can use it as moisturizer if no one’s going to see it, or as makeup, but not both until your skin is less dry.

    7. Kiki*

      JVN talked about using a light concealer all over (maybe on Queer Eye, maybe on an IG post? I can’t remember), and I tried that out and have liked the results! I also will sometimes do a few areas with concealer and then a tinted moisturizer and it helps to make things look smooth while still feeling really light (& it’s easy to apply).

      1. HBJ*

        Oh wow, I can’t imagine doing that! That seems like it would not look good, plus I think I’d run into the same problems as foundation with trying to get the right color match.

        I ditched foundation, but I still use concealer. I use it on blemishes and on my chin and some areas around my nose and mouth for redness.

    8. WellRed*

      I’ve used several different bb creams, they are all very light and rub right in. I’m currently using neutrogena healthy skin anti aging perfector.

    9. Data/Lore*

      I have a tinted oil from Maybelline that surprised me with how well it works- I have fairly even skin tone, and don’t want a super huge amount of coverage, and as I am “ancestors might have been assumed to be vampires” pale, a lot of more affordable foundations and tinted moisturizers are hard to match to my skin. The tinted oil blends to my skin really well, and I can build it in spots if I want without it looking or feeling heavy, and bonus: I can leave it on all day without it becoming irritating.

    10. Whiskey on the rocks*

      I love bb creams and tinted moisturizers for those same reasons, easy to blend, light feeling, not too makeup-y. Tarte is my favorite. I was using their Amazonian clay tinted Moisturizer which I liked a lot, but most recently I bought their SEA serum foundation (don’t ask me, I don’t know what that means), which I love even more. I use a damp beauty blender to pat it on. You can also do a subscription (which can be delayed or cancelled anytime) and get a little discount on it. Not that you asked but their Shape Tape concealer is also the best thing I’ve found for under my eyes and around my nose without creasing.

      1. HamlindigoBlue*

        Agreeing with Tarte. My go-to is the Amazonian clay, but I also really like the Maracuja tinted moisturizer. I just got the Hydroflex serum foundation to try, but that one is considered a medium coverage foundation and not a tinted moisturizer. I just really like Tarte in general. I keep trying other concealers and moisturizers, but I always go back to Tarte. I know it’s not something that can be found at a drugstore, but it’s available at Sephora and Ulta where you can try it before buying.

  8. SJW*

    Allison I made (and kept) a goal to read 50 books last year. I got many of my ideas from your lists, as I often find that your favorites are also some of mine! Loved Lucy By The Sea – so sparse yet so rich. I really enjoyed my year of reading thanks in part to some of your suggestions!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m so glad! My mom and I read Lucy By the Sea together and both really loved it. I did soooo much reading when I was off in December and have so many stored up recommendations from that coming…

      1. Outside Earthling*

        Alison, do you read in long stretches of several hours, or in between doing other things? And do your cats ‘let’ you have all the reading time you want? I find that since I got my dog, whenever I sit down in one of my comfy seats with my Kindle, he just sees it as a signal to play. I end up watching TV so that I can be on the other end of a tug toy or throw his ball. He is a sweetheart and I don’t mind but I miss those long uninterrupted stretches of time to get properly immersed in a book.

        1. English Rose*

          Not Alison here, but I set aside a ten-minute reading stretch in the morning and a half-hour in the evening when I do nothing else but read. I actually set a timer. It’s surprising how quickly you can get through doing that. But currently no cats to interrupt me, very sad to say :(

        2. PhyllisB*

          The dog I have now lays in the recliner with me plastered against my leg so no problem reading. My last two dogs though…one was a chihuahua and would lay in my lap. The other one was a toy malti-poo and would lay on my chest RIGHT UNDER my chin. I(I never knew a 3 pound dog could take up so much room!!) I learned to spit out hair and read through fur. :-)

        3. Ask a Manager* Post author

          My reading time is mostly in bed before I fall asleep (which means if the book is good, it will be hours at a time and I am up way too late). My cats like it — they would prefer I be constantly reclining in bed so they can lay on or against me.

          1. slowingaging*

            I freely admit, either I read the whole book (and yes to the early morning hours) or if I don’t like it I will skip to the final chapter and close the book.

          2. allathian*

            This happens to me too. It’s one reason why I mostly read new to me books on Fridays and Saturdays and when I’m on vacation. There’s less risk of me staying up too long reading with books I’ve read and enjoyed before. I’m in my 50s now and I definitely can’t pull all-nighters anymore the way I did when I was younger.

      2. Chauncy Gardener*

        I was actually going to post today to ask if you had any surprise favorites from that month!

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yes! I have really been wanting light and fluffy and I discovered Jasmine Guillory and to my enormous surprise (since I’ve never been a romance reader) really enjoyed By the Book.

          1. Chauncy Gardener*

            I will have to check it out. I just had surgery (all good) and am need of light and fluffy!

          2. PhyllisB*

            Alison, I’ve been meaning to ask you if you ever read Whisper Network by Chandler Baker, and if you did, did you like it? (I emailed you a couple of years ago offering you an extra copy I had but you told me you already had it.) I was wondering because I started reading it and it didn’t really grab me so quit. If you enjoyed it I might give it another chance.

  9. Bluebell*

    Creative beverage suggestions? My health provider is recommending I increase my fluid intake but it can’t be plain water or seltzer. I’ve been adding an ounce of fruit juice to seltzer, and also drinking herbal teas, but would love more variety, but not too much sugar!

    1. Rhiannon*

      I really like Gatorade Zero [calories], especially the orange, grape, and fruit punch flavors. Great thirst quencher, too.

      1. Damn it, Hardison!*

        I may be responsible for the shortage of fruit punch at my local Target. I drink so much of it!

    2. crispy crispy*

      I’ve taken to drinking an herbal tea called “sweet orange”. I brew half a cup for about 15 minutes, then add ice. There’s also kombucha, I like the synergy brand.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Some brands of tea sell “samplers” of tea bags. I have the Celestial Seasonings fruit tea sampler right now, which has about 20 tea bags of 5 different flavors. If you can find a sampler package, you can try many different types of tea without being stuck with 20 bags of a flavor you don’t like.

      2. Anonymath*

        If that’s what I’m remembering, I love that stuff. It’s naturally sweet from the cinnamon bark. The stronger you brew it, the sweeter it gets. It’s very similar to Good Earth’s Sweet and Spicy tea and you can get it with caffeine or decaf.

        I’ve also enjoyed the True juice powder packets. I have them in lime and grapefruit. They come in single serving packets, like sugar packets, so they’re nice and portable for your purse, backpack, or briefcase. Just powdered dehydrated fruit juice, so no additives or extra sweetener. You can add as much or as little to a drink (I just put it in water) as you like, and sweeten (or not) to taste. I find I have problems drinking enough sometimes, and adding a little flavor can really help. I also enjoy making “spa water” which is just a regular pitcher of water with some sliced fruit/veg/herbs in. I like some sliced lemons and basil, or cucumber and mint. Just rinse, slice, and chuck in the pitcher. Less easy than the powder packets but I find it works just as well.

      1. Bluebell*

        My mother is a big Mio fan, but I didn’t love it when I tried it. Ideally trying to avoid too much artificial sweetener, since I’m supposed to aim for 64 (yikes) ounces. I’ve cheated a little and had 6-8 oz of seltzer some days.

        1. Alex*

          There is a brand called Stur that is naturally flavored with stevia. Comes in all kinds of flavors. You can find it at Wegmans, or buy online (not all grocery stores have it).

    3. Spiced up water*

      Cut up some ginger root for your water or seltzer. You can even put sliced ginger in a tea infusion ball in the water. I add one sweetener packet.

    4. SemiAnon*

      I like a dash or two of cocktail bitters to sparkling water for variety.

      On the cold tea front, there’s Japanese barley tea (toasted barley steeped in water, drunk hot or cold), which is calorie free and has a light, slightly nutty flavour. I’m also fond of a mix of jasmine and mint for iced tea.

    5. Neurodivergent in Germany*

      Do you like warm drinks?
      Juice of half a lemon plus a little honey in hot water is nice for winter.

      Aryan/Lassi, i.e. a mix of yogurt and water, either with just salt or with spices like cardamom.

      Maybe vegetable juices? They’re lower in sugar than fruit.

    6. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

      I don’t know what seltzer is, but I enjoy 1/2 glass sparkling mineral water with 1/2 glass still water and fresh lemon juice. I feel like I’m drinking fancy sugar free lemonade.

    7. MassChick*

      I like ginger tea, esp in cooler weather. I take chunks of ginger (maybe the size equivalent of 2 fingers), clean thoroughly and smash it up in a mortar/pestle. Add a teaspoon or 2 of cinnamon powder and then pour hot water over it and let it steep (at least half an hour, more is fine). I use this decoction and add it to hot water to sip as a tea. I don’t need it sweetened, but honey could be also be used.

      I move it to the fridge in a couple of hours and it keeps for a few days. Ginger is warming and also helps with inflammation. In warm weather I don’t enjoy it as much, but will have it in cold water/seltzer with lemon and/or crushed mint.

    8. MJ*

      If it can’t be plain water because you don’t like it… I’ve had good results getting myself to drink more water by adding natural flavours to it. I chop a watermelon or cucumber into half inch cubes and freeze them, then add half a dozen to a large glass. I can keep topping up the glass with the same cubes. I’ve also used lime wedges and recently had someone suggest orange segments.

      1. Siobahn*

        Lime and orange wedges are so good in plain or sparkling water! Sometimes I add the rinds, which add intensity.

      2. Bluebell*

        I actually really enjoy plain seltzer but the health provider said it has to be something else. I have to ask if fruit water would count. This thread has lots of good ideas.

    9. Well...*

      I’ve been mixing a little cranberry juice in my water for years. I usually go for a 9:1 ratio about, but sometimes if I want something sweet I’ll go up to 3:1. Keeps me hydrated and maybe helps reduce UTIs, depending on how seriously you take those studies.

    10. mreasy*

      Iced herbal tea can be great, too – I like rooibos, mint, and ginger. (Of course a classic green or black tea iced is wonderful, but I imagine you want some no caffeine options.) Fruit &/or cucumber slices with some fresh mint in a pitcher of water in the fridge is also a good go-to, fancy hotel lobby style.

    11. ecnaseener*

      I’ve gotten really into this sparkling flavored “maple water” – sweeter than, say, Spindrift but not sweet enough to bother me when I’m not in the mood for sugar. Supposedly the maple sugar has health benefits, but in such small amounts idk if I believe it. It just tastes great.

        1. Maple seltzer!*

          It’s so good! Couple tablespoons of darker maple syrup in 16oz of seltzer/sparking water makes a light & remarkably refreshing beverage.

    12. Btdt*

      Ginger tea and mint tea with a little bit of sugar or monkfruit extract. My sil drinks celestial seasonings Bengal spice (chai-esque) that has chicory root in it as a natural sweetener.

      Honestly I’ve had the best luck eating my liquids. In the summer I eat melon, esp watermelon almost every day. Cucumber salads too. Right now I’m on a soup kick, even a thick hearty soup has a tonne of water in it. Oatmeal/overnight oats with extra water/milk in it too- you just need to increase the salt to maintain the salt/water ratio. That’s what keeps it from tasting watery.

    13. Ranon*

      Arbor teas has some awesome herbal teas, broader range of flavors than a lot of places and not so dependent on hibiscus.

      NA beers are growing in popularity for a reason- Athletic and Untitled Art makes our favorites, it’s a way to get something full flavored that’s still low sugar.

      1. Bluebell*

        I haven’t heard of that brand. Will look for it, thanks! My favorite is Pukka, but I also have some Stash and celestial Seasonings in my tea drawer.

    14. GlowCloud*

      I like to treat myself to some of the interesting soft drinks at my local Asian supermarket whenever I’m in that part of town. Some of my favourites have been Aloe Vera King, sweetened jasmine tea, honey basil seed drink, and coconut water (with bits). They tend to be a little more savoury and also more texturally complex (they have stuff floating in them) than what you usually find amongst a western supermarket’s juice and soda aisle. Not a super cheap way to boost your daily fluid intake, though.

    15. CTT*

      I’m doing Dry January and my current “I deserve to drink something fun after work!” choice has been equal parts Starbucks passion iced tea (no sweetener added) and either mineral water or a lime sparkling water, with a splash of lime juice.

    16. Ali G*

      Cinnamon tea! Pout 8 cups of water in a slow cooker and add 2 cinnamon sticks. Cook on low 4-6 hours. Drink. No sugar needed.

    17. Person from the Resume*

      I recommend southern breeze pre-sweetened cold brew iced tea. Zero calorie.

      Individually packaged pre sweetened iced tea bag in many many flavors. Just drop in a glass of water, wait 5 minutes and you have ice tea. My favorite flavor is mint.

      When I work out intensely I drink both water and Gatorade zero and recommend Gatorade zero highly. I just found a package of 10 Gatorade zero powder mixes so you can mix that into water.

      Also like Kook-Aid tropical punch liquid drink mix, 0 calorie which is found right next to the Mio in the store. I like kool-aid tropical punch best and the Mio sweet tea flavor is fine, but I prefer southern breeze for ice tea now-a-days.

      I’m drinking 100 oz of water a day, and half of it is just plain water. I fill a container in the morning with the amount I need to drink and top off my cup with it throughout the day so I can see how close I’m getting my goal.

    18. Fellow Traveller*

      I’ve been adding flavoured balsamic vinegars to my sparking water, and it gives it a little sweet/sour kick.
      I’ve done fig balsamic, peach white balsamic, and blackberry ginger balsamic.

      1. Bluebell*

        Ooh- that sounds interesting. I’ve been using the Trader Joe’s vinegar drinks and adding about 1 oz the 8 oz water or seltzer as one of my options.

        1. SemiAnon*

          If you’ve got a good Asian grocery, see if they have drinking vinegars. They’re fruit base vinegars that are often drunk in small quantities as a digestive aid, but they’re also good mixed with water for a drink (the old name for this kind of drink is a shrub).

      2. I take tea*

        Interesting. I often put apple cider vinegar in my water, but I have never tried balsamic vinegar.

    19. GoryDetails*

      You could look up recipes for agua fresca – there have already been suggestions that would fall under that category, but you might find more variety. One book that I really liked: Aguas Frescas & Paletas, by Ericka Sanchez.

      Re beverages in general: I’ve enjoyed everything from simple slices-of-cucumber-in-water to full-blown mocktails; depends on the flavors you like and how much work you want to put in. In the not-that-sweet category, there’s switchel: usually features apple cider vinegar, some ginger and/or other seasoning for zing, a little honey or other sweetener adjusted to taste. You can mix up a batch and add some to a glass of water to the strength desired – very refreshing on a hot day.

    20. Sam I Am*

      I put a splash of lemonade into seltzer. It’s probably a mix of 6:1 seltzer: lemonade. I can really taste tge lemonade, so more than ” a whiff” but it’s sooooo much less sugar.

    21. The dr should have been more specific when they told her to drink more fluids*

      I love adding Aldi’s lemonade powder into my glass of water. Lemonade powder also helped get down that vile solution I had to drink for my colonoscopy last fall.

    22. laser99*

      Drink Hint! It helps a fruit-flavored water with no sugar or calories. Many delicious flavors like blackberry, cherry , etc

    23. Squawkberries*

      Coconut water. Full of electrolytes too. Its used in many parts of the world as a rehydration fluid (like natural pedialyte)

    24. M*

      I’ve always been told seltzer doesn’t count towards fluid intake—I’m seeing a lot of suggestions for flavored seltzer, so just wanted to ask why no plain water or seltzer. Ie, is it no plain seltzer or no seltzer that’s important?

      1. Bluebell*

        No plain seltzer or plain water. But apparently tea is ok. I have to ask whether 0 calorie flavored water or seltzer are ok, but so far I have put them in the category of “counts as water.” Apparently drinking fluids that aren’t water will have a different effect (I’m not going to go into medical details, and I do trust this health care practitioner).

    25. Francie Foxglove*

      Ice. Those tall, skinny plastic bottles of fruit-flavored water. Black cherry is ambrosial, but all the flavors are good.

    26. Kristina L*

      I don’t know if this will work for you, but I like putting some fruit juice and then mostly water together. The juice gives it some taste, but it’s lower calorie than just fruit juice.

    27. cat in cardboard box*

      I just discovered concentrated liquid monk fruit sweetener. I never got into a tea drinking habit, despite hoarding many many flavors of herbal tea bags, because I need to add tons of honey to make it enjoyable and I don’t process sugar well (and many substitutes don’t agree with me either). In the few weeks since I found the sweetener, I’ve actually started using up my herbal tea stash! Don’t forget you can make ice cubes and/or iced tea from herbal tea as well.

      A couple new year’s eves ago, a friend made a punch that involved cooked strawberry puree and sparkling water. There were more ingredients and sugar in that but the idea of fruit puree might be a starting point?

    28. I take tea*

      I like hibiscus tea. It’s good both warm and cold, and is supposed to be healthy as well. Rooibos tea is also good both warm and cold, a sweeter version of this is honeybush, which really tastes a bit like it’s sweetened with honey. If you like green tea at all, you could try Genmaicha, which is mixed with roasted rice and sometimes popped corn, it’s nice, a little sweeter than green tea in itself, which can be slightly bitter. (Never put boiling water on green tea, that definitely makes it bitter.)

      My father had problems with thin liquids at the end and really liked aloe vera drinks, which are a bit thicker. I think they are probably sweetened, though.

      Smoothies and soups is of course a relatively easy way of getting liquid in you. You can blend a lot of things in fun combinations.

    29. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Trader Joe’s sells a ginger powder that my husband loves adding to his water. You can add lemon too, if you feel like it.

      I also really like kombucha.

  10. Anon in IL*

    Can probate courts send you a copy of your relative’s will if you ask for it? It is from 40 years ago and in a different state. I am helping my mother claim some unclaimed property of her late mother’s (my grandmother) and they are asking for a copy of the Will which we no longer have.

    Interested to hear if anyone is familiar with the general process and how one would go about this.

    1. RagingADHD*

      They should do. A will usually becomes public record once it’s probated. Some can be accessed online. You may have to pay a fee.

      You need to know the county where the will was probated, and contact the court there (in some states it’s called orphan’s court or surrogate court).

      Just Google the county, state, and name of the court, and call them. They’ll tell you how to submit the request.

    2. Stitch*

      Did you grandmother’s will go through probate? It depends in state law if it had to.

      It doesn’t hurt to make an attempt but at 40 years pld you’re probably looking for a physical file and it might take a long time to respond to that request, if they can even find it. You can give it a try, but keep pursuing other avenues.

      1. Anon in IL*

        Thank you for the information. I will take the advice to call the court. I can see on the county probate court website that a case number was assigned and they show a copy of the will received in the docket. (If that is the correct term. I am not a lawyer.) But nowhere on the website, that I can find, do they say how to request a copy, or even if one can do so.

        1. Stitch*

          Yeah just call and see.

          I’ve personally been in the position of pulling old court files and even for my judge it took time and I ended up having to dig through a box that was full of dead silverfish and had documents missing. It absolutely doesn’t hurt to try, but also keep looking.

  11. Blythe*

    I am at a dog show with my poodle this weekend and— WOW— I DID NOT see that one coming in my life. It’s fun, he is happy, but… “person who owns a show poodle” was not something I ever would have predicted for myself.

    So now I am curious— what elements of your current life were/are Very Unexpected?

    1. Not A Manager*

      Can you please give us the back story of how you acquired the Accidental Show Dog? I feel that there is an interesting narrative there.

        1. Blythe*

          Ha! It is one of those situations where every step made perfect sense, but somehow all of those steps together led to the show-dog life.

          Basically, I was looking for a puppy to raise and train as a therapy dog to bring to work (middle school). I was connected with an amazing breeder and was interested in an upcoming litter. That litter turned out to be very small (only three puppies), and Abner and his sister Hailey were structurally lovely. Abner also had, as far as could be told at the time, the best temperament for therapy dog work (still true), so his breeder asked if she could show him/health test him/use him in her breeding program. I agreed, not AT ALL understanding what the show poodle life (specifically the show poodle COAT) would entail.

          I don’t regret it, but I hope he will be finished soon— I want to shave down his coat and give him a rainbow mohawk!

          It is also worth noting that I work with middle schoolers and teach social justice— we talk about appearances, beauty norms, etc ALL THE TIME. While conformation dog shows are more complex than just beauty pageants, they are wayyyyy closer to that than I EVER thought I would get!

    2. sewsandreads*

      As someone who grew up with dogs who were apparently bred to be show dogs but who didn’t get the memo, I love this!

      I always imagined myself living away from my small hometown. Life intervened and here I am — and enjoying the sleepy turn of pace far more than I expected I would. I spent uni and a few years after in various cities, but for right now, I unexpectedly love this little life I have.

    3. Rara Avis*

      Living in CA? I was a born-and-bred New Englander, but my first job took me to a girls’ Catholic boarding school on the other coast. People told me not to take the job “because you’ll never meet anyone.” “That’s okay,” I said. “I’ll work out there for a few years and then come back home.” Famous last words — at that job I met my husband, a native Californian, and here we are 30 years later, parenting a CA kid who has never seen snow. The ocean’s still on the wrong side and I still can’t get used to driving for 4 hours without crossing several state lines.

      1. Manders*

        LOL. CA native living in Kentucky. So not what I expected (but I’ve been here since 2006, so I guess I like it!).

      2. KR*

        I said the same thing when I lived in CA. Growing up in New England, CA just felt like this mythical place that didn’t actually exist. It was so far away and different than New England.

    4. Not A Manager*

      I did not expect to be separating from my spouse. I’ve always been Very Good at relationships. I know that this one isn’t ending because I’m Very Bad at them, but I never expected to be here.

      1. becky s.*

        I went through that 20+ years ago. Very difficult in the beginning, then over time, the best thing that could happen to me. Hang in there!!

      2. Daisy*

        Ah, I’m with you. I never expected to be divorced, or the one who initiated it. I gave it my best shot for well over 30 years and now live halfway across the country from my few remaining relatives. This is definitely healthier for myself and my ex – but it isn’t anywhere I planned on being when I was in my 20s.

    5. Pamela Adams*

      I spent several years as a dog show and obedience person.

      I returned to university some 16 years after flunking/dropping out. My planned career in computers became academic advising, and 23 years later, I’m still there.

    6. Professor Plum*

      I’ve been focusing on nutrition lately and hit a new milestone for body fat percentage this week into the acceptable range from overweight. Five years ago I never would have expected I’d have lost weight and joined a gym!

      1. Junior Dev*

        Congratulations!

        I was gonna comment something similar. I never thought of myself caring about weight loss because my mom was so obsessive about it growing up and I really had only experienced it as an unrealistic beauty standard. But I spent the whole second half of my 20s dealing with various health problems and eventually I realized it was more stressful to live at a high weight than to lose weight. I made a lot of changes to my routine and have learned to love cooking low-fat foods and eating more whole grains, and I’ve lost about 60 lbs in the last year and a half. I think I associated the idea of eating healthy with the sort of stress my family put me through as a kid and not with actually feeling better in my body.

        1. Professor Plum*

          Good for you! It really is astounding how much better I feel about myself by discovering that food is fuel, not comfort.

          I found the first part of the journey to be unlearning what I thought I knew about food and nutrition.

    7. Inkhorn*

      I always thought I’d end up a spinster surrounded by cats. As someone who was entirely happy being single, plus apparently invisible to men, it seemed the inevitable – and desirable – outcome.

      Then a certain coworker finally plucked up the courage to talk to me, and much to my surprise I’ve spent the past two years happily paired up with the aspiring future Mr Inkhorn.

      (The cats are still a possibility though, if I can work out how not to poison them with my indoor jungle.)

      1. Congratulations!*

        *raises a glass to the future Inkhorns* Great news! If you ever want a cat, just put out a can of tuna by the back door. You’ll have one by the end of the week. :)

    8. Cookies For Breakfast*

      “In the same very loving relationship for over a decade” is one I still hardly believe sometimes.

      I’m a commitment-phobe in just about all other areas of my life; not so mildly asexual; not interested in marriage and kids; “weird” in other little ways that made me a bit of a misfit in the environment I grew up in. Even before I had the words to explain some of these things, I could I was rarely the target of attraction or romantic interest, and was prepared for it to be the case all my life.

      I was thinking, just earlier this week, how right it feels to say that I’m in a relationship with the love of my life. No matter how difficult a lot of it continues to be, this is the one side that feels natural and straightforward every day, and I’m a lucky woman for that.

    9. The Prettiest Curse*

      I grew up with cats, so never expected to end up living with dogs – now onto my 4th dog that I’ve co-owned with my husband. (I miss having cats and want to get another one some day.)

      I definitely never expected to end up marrying an American and living in California for 17 years. I also didn’t expect to have around 3 years of my life totally consumed by the immigration and visa process (moving to the US, then back to the UK.)

      I never thought that I’d end up doing ballet again as an adult, but I needed to replace swimming during lockdown (not exercising makes me extremely cranky) and I just stuck with it. Last year, I did my first pirouette for more than 25 years – and much to my surprise, I didn’t fall over!

      1. UKDancer*

        Ballet is wonderful. I never did it as a child but took it up 3 years ago and I love it. It’s my little escape from humdrum reality and switching off.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          I really love that it’s a mental challenge as well as a physical one. There’s always so much to remember!

          1. Anne Kaffeekanne*

            Another person here who went back to ballet as an adult – I always say it’s the only 3 hours during the week where my brain just shuts up completely because I am so busy concentrating that I can’t worry about ANYTHING. It is glorious.

            (And congrats on the pirouette! 5 years on, mine still aren’t very reliable… so I celebrate the rare good one even harder)

            1. The Prettiest Curse*

              Looking back, I think that doing ballet was one of the things that got me through lockdown with my sanity intact, because I had a few hours a week where I just had to focus intensely on something other than the immediate situation. And my pirouettes are still very much a work in progress, but at least I haven’t fallen over yet!

              1. UKDancer*

                Me too. I was so grateful for my zoom ballet classes during lockdown when everything was closed and we were not really allowed out. It allowed me for a few hours not to think about what was happening in the wider world. I got to switch my mind off and escape because in ballet all you can think about is what you’re doing. It was wonderful.

                I am now really glad to be back in studio (although I still do one class per week and occasional workshops on zoom) where I can do proper centre work and attempt to do chaine turns without falling over.

    10. Well...*

      Living abroad, rehoming my cat (still painful), not failing out of at my highly competitive career at every milestone, marrying someone in my field (something I was adamantly against as it’s so common for women in my field, but alas I succumbed), turning down a faculty job without another lined up, not having kids by my current age…. basically my whole life is not at all what I expected.

    11. Vio*

      So much of my life is what I would never have expected. That I would be able to handle my many mental health issues to the point that I am now approaching my five year workiversary… yet alone that it’s a job that involves a lot of interacting with other people. That I would be spending so much time in the outdoors instead of at the computer… that I would even survive as long as I have.

    12. AY*

      I would never have guessed I’d take up golf as a minor hobby. I never saw the attraction, even after a few lessons, but it’s my husband’s greatest love outside of myself. (When we were dating, I asked him what he was thinking about, and he said that’s it always either golf or you!) I wouldn’t say it’s become my own hobby, but I play once or twice a month with him and other friends.

    13. Kiki*

      Poodle show-ing sounds like such a fun turn for life to take!

      My little joke about this topic is always that my 12 year old self would be more shocked how my hair turned out to be curly than about how I turned out to be gay!

    14. Anon for this!*

      I was a pretty conventional child; studious and well behaved. I thought I’d get a nice plain office-based job after university; maybe something in the civil service.
      I did join the civil service. But I’ve spent over twenty years as what may reasonably be termed as crime fighting super ninja and scourge of the evildoer.
      It still surprises me!

      1. Pippa K*

        Ooh, I would love to be a scourge of evildoers! And so few jobs can really be described that way. You get ‘em, Anon!

    15. fposte*

      This is a great question! I never thought I would be a person with a personal trainer, but I guess that’s what I have now, and it’s great. He used to be my PT and was the best one I had, and now I pay him directly to create workouts for me and adapt to the annoying things my body comes up with while still being active. Plus he’s geeky about the science and I am too so we get into the details a lot.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Yup. I never thought I’d be a person with a personal trainer and a home gym. The home gym is a side effect of the pandemic because we switched to Zoom workouts and acquired a variety of hand weights, a balance ball, two medicine balls, a bunch of resistance bands, and now a kettlebell (a recent gift from the trainer). We already had a treadmill. It took me a full two years to start calling that room our home gym rather than the “treadmill room.” I also never thought I’d play pickleball, but here I am smack in the middle of a trend.

        Other things: never thought I’d retire at 61. Never thought I’d post my daily outfits on Instagram. Never thought I’d be in a 12-step program. Pretty much the only thing thing that I would have predicted is the career I chose.

        1. fposte*

          Heh. I’m developing a basement space that I’m calling the “ungym.” Hanging japanese lanterns, LED cherry blossom lights, art, etc. I got a new yoga mat with a Klimt garden pattern. I’m not sweating so much I’m worried about bouncing off of nearby articles, so I wanted to make it a room that I really enjoyed entering.

    16. GardenGnomic*

      Well, if anyone had told me aged 10 that my career would be doing a physical job in the outdoors, I’d have found that very improbable. But I absolutely love working in amenity Horticulture.

    17. Unexpected Outcomes*

      Well I told my friends back in the 80s, always in an overly dramatic tone, that if I ever got married I would wear black to symbolize the death of [my name]. We celebrate 34 years this year. And I wore white, which is a funeral color in his culture so I kept my promise to wear the color of death.

      I’m from the northeast spouse is a professor.
      I fully expected to live in a big old New England wood frame house with lots of porch, filled with kids and dogs and college students.

      Fertility problems so one kid who turned out to be allergic to dogs and we live in south Florida. So one kid, no dogs, concrete block homes, no porch, and spouse is still a professor but it’s not a university town so no college kids hanging out with us.

    18. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Working in and loving corporate America. My first plan was to be a professor but turns out I hate constant research and am not an original thinker. Then I was going to be an archivist at a university, which I was for a hot minute before I switched to records management (also in a university setting. I made the switch to corporate records management 10 years ago and never looked back.

    19. Person from the Resume*

      I do CrossFit regularly and am excited and happy to go.

      I thought crossfit was crazy people doing crazy things. But we’re not asked to do the craziest of the things (that the athletes on tv do) and the crazy things they do ask us to do can be “scaled” down to something reasonable I can do.

      I will not say I enjoy doing it because it’s usually not fun or enjoyable doing it. But I like the challenge and feeling of accomplishment. And I finally got a heart rate monitor and it me I burned nearly 500 calories during an hour long work out and that was an awesome feeling too. (I ride bikes too but not in a way that burns that many calories in even 2.5 hours; I live in a very flat area.)

      Through this gym, I also may become a person who has a personal trainer some time soon.

    20. Wannessa*

      I love this question! Very sweet answers for a lot of people.

      I never expected that I would be close with my mom. We had a terrible relationship when I was growing up, and I had to set strong boundaries with her when I was in college. It took some time but she stepped up, respected those boundaries, and we both put a lot of work into our relationship. I did a total 180 from never wanting to live in the same city as her and never wanting to talk to her — now I see her every other week and talk to her a few times a week, and I’m not willing to move very far unless we can find a house that she could move into if she wants or needs to. I’m incredibly fortunate, but it still surprises me some days when I remember how things were 15 years ago!

      1. New Mom*

        Oh this too. I hate to say this but I hated my mother when I was a senior in high school. Things were not going well for me and my mom and I had no common ground at the time. I barely spoke to my mom the year after high school, I was able to move out and I think having that space really helped our relationship. She’s one of my best friends now and is such an amazing grandma, I’m so grateful for her and glad we got passed that rough patch. High school me would be gobsmacked by how much I hangout with and talk to my mom.

        1. Eff Walsingham*

          I went through that too! When I was in high school my Mum and I fought like two cats in a sack! I moved in with my aunt and uncle when I was 17, and Mum and I got along famously for most of the rest of her life.

          It makes sense that we fought, because I am temperamentally much more like my father, which must have been incredibly annoying as their marriage was coming apart. But I’m so glad I came to enjoy her many good qualities, even though we remained almost opposites in many ways.

    21. anxiousGrad*

      I never expected that I would go to Norway, much less live there for 10 months. I always thought that it sounded so cold and dark that it wouldn’t be worth visiting, even to see the Northern Lights. But then I wanted to do research abroad in between college and grad school and Norway turned out to be the right place for me, so here I am! It’s such a beautiful country and all of their baked goods contain cardamom (what could be better). And I did get to see the Northern Lights standing right outside my apartment. Luckily I also got treated for hypothyroidism *before* going, so even the cold isn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

      1. allathian*

        I hope you’ll enjoy the summer and all the light! And if you possibly can, I recommend visiting north of the Arctic circle to see the midnight sun. An item on my bucket list is to go to Nordkapp and see the sun shine across the Arctic Sea due North at 1 am DST. I’ve seen the midnight sun in Finnish Lapland. It really felt weird to see the sun shining from a clear blue sky at 2 am when I had to go to the bathroom, when there was much more light out than at 7 am when all of us woke up, because a morning fog had rolled in.

    22. Who woulda thunk*

      I would not have predicted I’d be living in a small city, let alone in a cohousing community, since I’d never heard of cohousing and indeed it didn’t exist in the U.S. when I was young (lots of info at cohousing.org if you’re curious).

      I grew up in an apartment in VeryBigCity and thought of myself as a VeryBigCity person through and through. I assumed I would always live there. But instead, for job reasons, my spouse and I moved to smaller and smaller places, and where we are now, pop. 50K or so and not near any really big city, we discovered and moved into cohousing.

      I love living here! I don’t know how I would have gotten through the isolated staying-home part of Covid in the typical housing situation, where you drive into your driveway and go inside and rarely interact with your neighbors. That was my life for many years and it felt alienating and lonely. Back then my human interactions were primarily at work; now I can chat with people, casually or more deeply, where I live.

      Our social life here has resumed to just about pre-Covid levels, and I feel very fortunate that I can hang out with my cohousing neighbors several times a week (only as much as I feel like, it’s not the least bit coercive or “expected”), and it’s all on a pedestrian scale. Nothing is more than a 5-minute walk away and most things are like a 1-minute walk away. This was an unexpected gift from the universe.

    23. PhyllisB*

      I just started reading a series (The Melanie Travis mysteries) by Laurien Berenson. The main character has just got a Standard Poodle puppy and is starting to attend dog shows. If you like light mysteries you may enjoy it.

    24. Flowers*

      Driving to work after dropping off my daughter at daycare.

      Never thought I’d move out of NYC
      Never thought I’d get my drivers license – 3 massive failures in HS, lots of wasted lessons, and finally got my license at 30.
      Never thought I’d have a child after years of waiting/trying/losses
      Never thought I’d have a job where I’d be earning enough to afford daycare and a car.

    25. New Mom*

      I love that you have an accidental show dog and this is a great ice breaker question!

      My life is pretty boring (in a good way!) and I just would’ve never imagined that my life would’ve turned out this way. I was a “bad kid”, had a drinking problem and was extremely depressed when I was 18 and didn’t see that turning around. I almost flunked out of high school but now I have a masters degree and a career I care about.
      My 18 year old self would not believe that I would be patiently asking a toddler multiple times a day “you want to poopoo in the potty today? Poopoo in the potty?”

    26. Jean (just Jean)*

      After spousal caregiving and bereavement I am moving forward into a different life. And, after finding the courage and/or determination to do a few things I never thought I could accomplish, I’m challenging myself to tackle other tasks. It’s still scary, but way better than living frozen by my fear or immobilized by external circumstances.

      My spouse and I ended up having and raising one Only Child. My younger self, who I think believed that offspring only came in multiples, would never have expected this outcome. My older/current self thinks that for me this was the best possible choice.

    27. Polyhymnia*

      Cool question!
      I never thought I’d live so many hours from my parents and brother. We are very close, but I left my home state more than 2o years ago and somehow never got back. Been in the ATL metro area for 10 years now (Ann Arbor MI before that), love it, our daughter is thriving and we have wonderful friends – but I am always homesick.

    28. PleaseNo*

      I never thought i’d be dating again after I hated it the first time and on my wedding day said i’m so glad i’ll never have to do this again.
      Then I found out on the honeymoon he was cheating and lying and gaslighting me. I definitely pictured a different life than what I have now (i finally am rid of his STI “gift”!).

    29. DWIGHT SCHRUTE*

      Ha! The same situation with a different breed. I never expected myself to get into dog sports and yet here I am! My dogs dabble in a variety of sports including conformation, nose work, lure coursing, bikejoring, and trick training. It’s a ton of fun and has really deepened our bond. The dogs LOVE having a job especially lure coursing which they’re bred to do.

    30. WoodswomanWrites*

      Nearly all of my life it was important to me to have a life partner. I’ve had a few significant relationships and was engaged once. Then a few years ago I was on a solo road trip and pondering options for my retirement years and had a light bulb moment. I realized I was content being single and excited about creating a future life by myself. When I got home, I took down my online dating profiles and I’ve never looked back.

      I’m single by choice and blessed in having a loving community across the US and in other countries. I love having the freedom and fun anticipating the possibilities as I consider multiple locations to land when I stop working in a few years.

  12. sewsandreads*

    Crafting/making thread — what’s on everyone’s lists?

    I’m bowing out of contributing to this one as it’s been my first week back at work after Christmas (officially, anyway — with others in the office!) and I’ve let crafting go in favour of running the insanity of this time of year away! So I’ll draw inspiration from all of you.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m trying to get back into embroidery after making only two projects last year. I just finished my first one, a cute R2D2 pattern I found on Etsy and changed to use pride flag colors for a friend’s identity as a gift. Next up is a kit I got for my birthday – “Year of Birds” double hoop by Jessica Long. I’ve never done a double hoop before and thought a kit might be a better way to try than figuring it out on my own, and I think this pattern will be more fun than just a floral! I have a whole list of other things to make too, including one I started in late 2021 and stalled on a year ago.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I started my favorite spiral baby blanket, just because I wanted to knit something. Maybe one of the niblings will have a baby by the time I finish.

        1. RagingADHD*

          It starts a bit fiddly because you have to use multiple needles, but once it gets big enough you can use a cable needle. You create 10 sections, with a yarn-over in each one. Then every other row, you yarn-over one stitch later than the time before. So you get these radiating lines of yarn-over that spiral outward.

          Look up the Pinwheel Baby Blanket by Genia Planck for a pattern.

          I like to use Lion Brand Mandala because you get a pretty colorway of concentric circles.

    3. Panda Bandit*

      I bought some beautiful paper and learned how to make origami cranes. I haven’t done origami since I was a kid and this made me happy. :) Now I’m looking at the big packs of origami paper and wondering if I can justify buying them lol.

      1. Angstrom*

        With the help of friends and family we made 1000 cranes(traditional for good luck) for our wedding and strung them up at the reception.

        1. Panda Bandit*

          That sounds lovely! I’ve been thinking about folding 1000 cranes – I could use some luck.

      2. fposte*

        I am still carrying on with the origami a day calendar and really having fun with it. I hadn’t realized how much it depends on learning the symbolic language of instructions. I’m sure a crane is in there along the way!

          1. fposte*

            The best have been the tulips (blossom and stems on different days), the cat (head and body on different days), and various birds–dove, chickadee, sleeping duck. I presume by the end of the year I’ll be able to make a freestanding building.

            I love the a-day format and am wondering if I can find something else like that for next year.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        I bought beautiful marbled paper in Italy to make origami Christmas ornaments.

        Background: Our first Christmas together I made origami ornaments, and we continued to use them even while slowly adding traditional ones. Last Christmas moisture somehow got into one of the ornament boxes and everything paper suffered. So this is a way to have a nice memento of a trip while replacing something that had a lot of emotional value.

          1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

            A fun Christmasy (or not, depending on your paper) origami thing is the little stars. Once I spent quite a bit of time making a garland of them and it’s so cute. If you google “origami puffy stars” or lucky stars you’ll find the instructions. I think you need 8.5 x 11 paper though, not origami squares.

            1. Panda Bandit*

              The puffy stars were super popular some time ago and I’ve always been curious about them. The little jars full of rainbow-colored stars are really cute.

        1. Panda Bandit*

          I’m sorry your ornaments got ruined.

          That Italian paper sounds beautiful. I’m eyeing some marbled paper that I found online. There are a lot of really nice origami papers available.

      4. Trixie Belden was my hero*

        I learned how to make origami cranes 5 years ago as a way to center myself into a calm mood when I was stressed out at my job. I was trying to arrange a transfer to another office because there was a reorg going on, my skills weren’t a match for the new mission and I wasn’t interested in the new focus. It took months and then after all the approvals came in, my manager held me for 6 additional weeks to help in the ‘transition’ (technically allowed but a crap move)
        I kept a stack of origami paper in my desk and made a crane whenever I felt the need. I have 253 cranes and a stack of papers. I was just thinking that I should start again since going through some stress now…. Thanks for the nudge!

          1. Trixie Belden was my hero*

            Thank you, they did, the new office was good. It was 5 years ago and when I look back, it doesn’t seem as bad as when I was living it. Wish I knew about AAM then. I’m retired now and am taking care of my elderly parents, one is in the early stages of dementia. A whole different kind of stress. We’ll see if it works here.

            Hope the folding continues to work for you.

      5. Thunderbird*

        I made origami lotuses as reception favors for my wedding years ago. A good 20% of my guests were engineers and kept trying to deconstruct/ reverse engineer them

    4. Tortally HareBrained*

      Currently have two sweaters on crochet hooks. One a “scrappy” raglan that I’m loving and deliberately bought the squishiest yarn for last year. And then my first mosaic crochet project which has been delightful and needs just the right amount of concentration.

      Have nervously purchased yarn and needles for my first knit sweater and hope to start that soon as well.

    5. Professor Plum*

      Have not started it yet, but am planning a quilt for an upcoming family baby. Actually need to shift into making mode soon!

    6. Bobina*

      Finishing off sock #2 (crochet) as the pair I made last year (?) are definitely on their way out (all the holes). Still dont believe in following patterns or guides apparently, I very much enjoy just figuring it out as I go along lol

    7. HannahS*

      I am making a muslin of a trouser pattern out of some old cotton curtains. I’m hoping that next month I can make a wide-legged pair in this navy linen-blend that I’ve been hanging onto forever, and use some fun scraps for the facings/pockets.

    8. Elle Woods*

      I’m getting started on my 2023 One Little Word album. I chose the word committed this year and am doing Ali Edwards’ class. It’s already helped me stretch my brain about why I chose the word and how I hope to see it play out in my life this year.

      I’m also working on creating scrapbook pages of random pictures I’ve found here and there.

    9. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      I had a lot of greige wall and not enough cool stuff to hang there so I thought doing some acrylic pour paintings would be an easy remedy. I had no idea how deep a hole I was about to fall down.

    10. Madame Arcati*

      I’ve got two full size quilts on the go so obviously I’ve started cutting out a pinafore dress!

    11. OtterB*

      Getting started on crochet. I found instructions for a beginner afghan that I liked in a simple double crochet, but I also saw a pattern for dishcloths/washcloths that were also double crochet so I thought I would practice on those first. I got my requested yarn and crochet hook for Christmas, but discovered that the multicolored yarn I thought would make nice dishcloths was not the best choice for a beginner since it was hard to see the stitches. So I ordered solid color yarn which just came this week.

    12. HamlindigoBlue*

      I’m finishing up a knit sweater for a toddler (Crozon is the pattern) and still plugging away on a cardigan (test knit). The Crozon is nice because it’s just stripped stockinette in the round, which I really like.

    13. Searching*

      I finished a pair of convertible glove/mittens (search for “Podster Gloves” on Ravelry if you want to see the pattern). I’ve knit mittens before, but never fingered gloves so this was new territory. I’m happy with the result but I doubt I’ll ever knit glove fingers again – so fiddly! Good learning experience though. And I’m keeping this pair for me!

    14. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My teenager has asked me for an afghan and hoo boy it’s a new experience working something bigger than a baby blanket. No fun when I had to say oops and unravel several rows.

    15. Namenlos*

      Giving brioche knitting (flat) a try. Concept is fairly easy, but I haven’t figured out how to correct mistakes, dropped stitches. So far I just ignore the mistakes and continue.

    16. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      I’m working on relearning tablet weaving. I made a bookmark years ago and never tried again. The cards are probably packed away somewhere but I made more to make a simple band.

  13. Laura H.*

    Little Joys Thread

    What brought you joy this week?

    I took myself on a lunch date and enjoyed it. Was pleasant.

    Please share your joys big or small.

    1. Paralegal Part Deux*

      I got my new tv installed in my bedroom. It’s huge for the size of the bedroom but love it. I’m treating it like a mini-theater. I just need a sound bar, and I’ll be good to go! :) Now, I just need recommendations for sound bars.

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

        Deli ham sandwich! I get stressed when I have to take public transit to go to the doctor, but I treat myself to a ham sandwich when I get home as a reward.

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

          Whoops, nesting fail there. But congratulations on your new TV! : )

    2. Tired*

      I had new windows installed and the sills are about half an inch wider than before – apparently that’s exactly what was needed so that my cat can now lie on them and sleep in the sun, rather than just walking along. He’s very happy!

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I went on a behind the scenes tour that involved a rope bridge over a crocodile pit and did not have any screaming wiggins in the process – I even stopped halfway to take a picture of the crocs below! Very pleased with myself.

    4. Foreign Octopus*

      My dog being so good and brave in exploring this new place we’ve moved to. I was worried about how he would settle in and has exceeded my expectations. I’m so proud of him.

      Also, one of my students applied to Oxford this week and that makes me happy as well.

    5. Bobina*

      Took myself out for dinner and rugby yesterday evening. I was almost tempted not to go (its so cold) but it was a lovely time!

    6. Trixie Belden was my hero*

      My grocery store finally restocked my favorite salmon burgers after being out of them for over a month. I replenished my freezer supply and had one for dinner last night.

    7. fposte*

      Pelvic floor physical therapy is awesome. I am so glad I went back to it. I may interrupt strangers on the street to advocate for it.

    8. Hotdog not dog*

      We got to see our son perform (guitar) in a charity event and then went out to dinner in a nice restaurant. It’s a nice progression from the days of off-key school music recitals followed by pizza! We’re very proud of him, both for sticking with it, sharing his talents to benefit society, and for the wonderful young person he’s turned into.

    9. Damn it, Hardison!*

      This morning’s croissant with a tiny jar of jam from my Bonne Maman advent calendar and the latte I made on my espresso machine which I have finally got the hang of using.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Those tiny jars are a “small joy” all their own; I just love them, even though there is a limit to how many I can find a use for once the jam is gone!

    10. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Just recieved notice yesterday that one of my 401Ks went up over $8,000 this past year and I’m retired. Nice to see an increase after it had dropped so much.

    11. GoryDetails*

      The first decent snowfall of the season! Yeah, the shoveling is annoying, but it’s been such a weird rainy winter so far – very unusual for New Hampshire – that actual multiple-inches-of-snow made me happy.

    12. Voluptuousfire*

      Had two bad electric outlets in my kitchen replaced yesterday so I have piece of mind AND counter space back. Some of the outlets were by a counter that I couldn’t use. Now I can which makes me happy since my kitchen is small.

    13. Falling Diphthong*

      Had my first appointment with someone who does shiatsu and myofascial release. I went in with no idea what to expect (just “wellness center”), and was so impressed by how she really listened to my complicated backstory, and then was approaching everything in an integrated whole body way. (I am not the first person she’s seen with damage from cancer treatment.)

      I considered canceling this appointment because I didn’t know what she would do or if it would help, and am so glad that I decided to go ahead and try and see what happened. (Very “she presses a point on my foot and my upper back suddenly relaxes”.)

    14. Joys big and little*

      Reading to first graders the fantastic picture book “Let the Children March” and answering some very wise questions about Dr. King. The questions were wise, I mean. Hopefully the answers provided some clarity.

    15. Girasol*

      For the first day in weeks it was calm and sunny out and not awfully cold so I went down to the river to play with my hand sling, the David and Goliath sort. I was aiming small stones for a certain point and watching for the splash. My aim is improving though it doesn’t look like I’ll ever reach shepherd boy level. Still, it’s a fun way to enjoy some rare sunshine.

    16. E. Chauvelin*

      Earplugs. A couple of weeks back my boss unexpectedly sent an email to everybody about some earplugs that an employee in another department had said work well for them on days when it’s loud in the building. (It’s a big downtown library with an atrium that was apparently designed on the assumption that everybody would still whisper, even though the children’s and teen areas open directly onto it with no walls in between, and the auditorium with its sound system isn’t really soundproofed. When it’s busy it sounds like a mall.) I’d heard of the brand but it never occurred to me that I’d be allowed to wear them when working with the public. They came on Tuesday and I love them. I can still carry on conversations and hear the surrounding noise well enough to know what’s going on and if something disruptive is happening that I need to address, but it blunts the noise in a way that it’s easier not to care about the things I can’t change.

    17. PhyllisB*

      Earlier this week I went to our local Arby’s for one of their apple turnovers and an iced tea. Went through the drive through. When I started to hand the lady my debit card, she just said, “you’re all right!!” I gave her a surprised look, and she just smiled and said, “Have a nice day!!”

    18. The OG Sleepless*

      Driving through Florida, I saw a billboard for the Kanapeha Botanical Garden near Gainesville. It was lovely, fascinating, and a perfect break on a long and tedious road trip.

    19. carcinization*

      It was time for me to order new frames (i.e., prescription glasses) insurance-wise, and I picked out some nice tortoiseshell ones. My vision’s gotten a bit worse over the past couple of years due to having COVID and general middle-aged-ness, so I decided to get transitions this time so I can comfortably read outside. The insurance rep I called said they didn’t cover transitions so I was prepared to spring for that out of pocket, but the Target Optical employee showed me that actually my insurance paid for 2/3 of that feature! Hopefully the new glasses will arrive in the next couple of weeks (or less!).

    20. I take tea*

      I visited a friend and got to see her kids for the first time in a year or so. We live in the same area, but it’s just been so busy, that we’ve been chatting and taking the occational lunch together, but I haven’t seen the kids. They have grown a lot, as kids do, and it was fun to see them too. Before the pandemic I used to be over more often, and even babysat every now and then, but I fell out of the habit. I will make an effort to see them more often.

    21. Bagpuss*

      I had a very stressful working week, but then on Saturday I got to meet up with a couple of friends, and we went to the theatre and then got a fabulous meal (& some amazing cocktails) at my favourite restaurant.
      And I have tomorrow off work!

  14. Cendol*

    Does anyone have interior design blog recommendations? I have been following Apartment Therapy for years but am looking to branch out a bit.

    Trying to figure out how to furnish and decorate a 1950s home with coved ceilings and white textured stucco walls. We have a nice brown leather couch and some unusual black end tables, and I’m happy with our library set-up, but I’m at a loss as to how to coordinate our living room and our (teeny tiny) dining alcove. I’d love to do “southwestern mid-century” if such a thing exists.

    1. Aphrodite*

      I like retired decorator Laurel Bern’s blog. It’s weird looking–she adores a variety of fonts and colors in one column–but it is full of solid advice and good ideas regardless of your budget. Her archives are well worth perusing as well. Search for a topic that interests you and it will no doubt bring up a lot of writing about it.

      I also read Houzz’s Design Dilemma section but take things on there with a grain or two of salt. (Hint: Don’t think about buying through Houzz; they tend to have very high prices without the matching quality.)

      Others I visit include this odd one that is pictures, good for inspiration called DigsDigs and others that I am beginning to think are just so-so. You can always try Justina Blakeley as well. She’s well known and I like to read her on occasion as she has (or had) a kitchen with this absolutely breathtaking emerald green Moroccan tile I fell madly in love with (and finally found online).

      1. Cendol*

        Thank you so much! I saw your reply last night and stayed up waaaay too late browsing DigsDigs. So many good ideas.

    2. English Rose*

      Not a blog as such, but I just plugged “south-western mid-century” into the Pinterest search and there is indeed such a thing and it came up with loads of ideas.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I hope this isn’t derailing, but I’ve been trying to create floor plans for our house, do any of you use anything that lets you make accurate floor plans? I figure if you’re working on interior design you might use something like that to keep track of available space.

      1. Brunch Enthusiast*

        Sketchup (formerly Google Sketchup but then bought by another company). The free version runs in a browser window and is reasonably user-friendly.

    4. Tex*

      Remodelista. Elle Decor. Start liking interiors to your taste on Instagram and similar accounts will be suggested by the algorithm. Also follow real estate agents accounts in the markets for similar houses (e.g., in your case california).

    5. fposte*

      It’s not specifically a design blog, but Retro Renovation has great info about mid-mod sourcing and contemporary parallels and lots of design gets discussed along the way. Some people are clearly living more of a mid-mod life than I feel the need to, but it’s still great to know that some stuff I really enjoy can still be found.

      1. Cendol*

        Thanks for the rec! Sourcing would have probably been my next question. I also laughed at “Some people are clearly living more of a mid-mod life than I feel the need to”—indeed!

    6. Reba*

      It’s no longer active, but I highly recommend Design Sponge! Lots of interiors that will resonate with your eras/desires, and you can sort the posts by style.

    7. Ashley*

      You might like Vintage Revivals. She doesn’t really post anymore but I think her past stuff might fit what you are looking for.

    8. trilusion*

      Try Design*Sponge (first hit for “design sponge” on Google). The blog is no longer active, but the archives are still online and the house tours were all really, really good. You can filter them by style (mid-century, industrial, country, etc.).

  15. Roland*

    Does anyone have experience applying for Polish citizenship based on a parent/grandparent’s citizenship? Especially kids/grandkids of holocaust survivors. Less about the logistics since I’m happy to pay one of the agencies who fill out all the forms for you, moreso wondering what kind of feelings it brought up during the process? What made you do it and how do you feel about it in retrospect?

    It’s something I want to do for the flexibility of an EU passport more than feeling anything about Poland in particular. There’s definitely mixed opinions about it in my family.

    1. Still*

      Just a word of caution: Polish citizenship does come with a few weird obligations as well as rights.

      For example, if you’re a Polish citizen and receive inheritance from anyone, anywhere in the world, you are legally obligated to declare it and pay an inheritance tax in Poland (unless it’s from immediate family, in which case you still need to declare but get a tax break).

      I think it’s perfectly fine to get the citizenship if you can, and enjoy the freedom of movement that comes with it (being able to travel, live, work and study anywhere within the EU is incredible, when you think about the strict visa process in the rest of the world!), but it’s worth to be aware of what you’re signing up for.

      I hope that one of those agencies would be able to not only fill out the forms for you but also walk you through the legal implications.

    2. dual citizen*

      Two thoughts come immediately to mind. One, a pathway to citizenship of the country where one’s parents or grandparents were forcibly expelled seems like the least that the country can offer to the wronged descendants of its former citizens. In other words, I might frame it for myself as a type of compensation for past wrongs.

      Two, I’d think of it as a door-opening gift to my kid(s). While I don’t have the troubled background that you do with my own dual citizenship, I was very happy to be able to pass along dual citizenship to my kid. My kid could go to college in the second country without having to pay international student-level tuition, could get a job right away without having to get a work permit, etc., etc. If my kid decided never to take advantage of the opportunities, that would have been fine — but it was so nice to open up those doors and give him more choices.

      1. HannahS*

        You have to make sure its transferable, though; not all types of citizenship are. I am a dual citizen because one parent was born abroad, but since I inherited my citizenship (so-to-speak) I can’t pass it on to my kids.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        My spouse is not a dual citizen because when his parents researched it they discovered that they would be signing him up for compulsory military service in the second country.

      3. another dual citizen*

        Dual Citizen captured many of the reasons I took this pathway to dual citizenship, through a similar program in Germany. The other bittersweet reason is that I was becoming increasingly anxious about the political situation in the US. So I applied for this “escape hatch”… to the very country my family escaped from. I felt extremely ambivalent about it, and the whole process was kind of surreal. After it was over and done with, I felt relieved… and still ambivalent! But I’m okay with that ambiguity.

    3. fposte*

      In addition to what Still says, always check on military service obligations. That has been an unpleasant surprise for the occasional overseas adoptee returning to visit the country of his birth.

      I almost did this for Irish citizenship but the intervening docs would be too hard to source. Now you’re making me think that an agency might be able to do it for a fee.

      1. KatEnigma*

        My inlaws (aunts, uncles, cousins, MIL and SIL) went through this for Italy, and almost all of them ended up with an agency after trying and failing on their own. Then Covid hit and that was a huge stall.

        Interestingly enough, when they all got on this kick, my husband was about to start the process for a security clearance designation (and ended up needing/getting TS- active, but no longer works at that company or needs/uses the clearance, so I can disclose it) and decided he did not need that complication while actively seeking clearance.

    4. Grits McGee*

      I work for an agency that is involved with a lot of these genealogy-based dual citizenship applications, and I guess I just have two thoughts-

      1. We deal with a lot of frustration from from folks who have paid firms to do the research+paperwork for them, and the firm is failing to get results. I get the impression that in this field, you get what you pay for and may need to be a more active participant than just giving someone money and letting them take it from there.

      2. I don’t know if it was here on AAM or at work, but I recently read something about someone who was looking for documentation of their Polish ancestry for dual citizenship as well. They were running into dead ends because almost all of the documentation of their family (both government and religious) was wiped out due to the massive destruction Poland sustained during WWII. This person was looking at Christian church records, but I imagine it’s even worse looking for surviving records of Jewish people and communities. What would be the emotional fallout of discovering that your ancestors’ and their community had been completely obliterated from the official record in Poland?

      I hope this helps!

      1. Courageous cat*

        Can I ask for your thoughts, since I truly have no one else who might know at all?

        I’ve been thinking about doing something similar recently. My grandmother was born on a ship coming from Ireland. Her citizenship is American as she was adopted upon landing, but my understanding is that anyone born to an Irish parent (and possibly in Irish seas?) automatically becomes an Irish citizen.

        Do you think there’s any chance in hell I could pursue dual citizenship through that? It would be tough to prove a lot of this, but my brother and I think there is a birth certificate somewhere that says she was born to Irish parents. The only thing really stopping me up here is that the Irish immigration site says the grandparent has to be born on the *island* of Ireland. I am not sure if simply being an Irish citizen is enough in that case. And obviously being born on the sea is kind of a trickier exception.

        No problem if you’re not familiar with any of this but figured it was worth an ask just in case!

        1. Ismis*

          I don’t know the answer, but this is from the Constitution of Ireland:

          Article 2. It is the entitlement and birthright of every person born in the island of Ireland, which includes its islands and seas, to be part of the Irish Nation. That is also the entitlement of all persons otherwise qualified in accordance with law to be citizens of Ireland.

          If you can find an Irish birth certificate for your grandmother, you should be able to apply.

          If you can’t, you could try finding the ship that she arrived in and checking if her birth was recorded in the logs.

          My completely uninformed opinion is that if you can prove she was born in Irish seas, you’re in with a shot. Best of luck!

        2. Grits McGee*

          I’m not super familiar with Irish ancestry-based dual citizenship, but I think it’s going to depend on 1) what the Irish law says and 2) what the surviving documentation says. If all that remains is an American birth certificate that doesn’t give details of where in the ocean your grandmother was born, you might be out of luck. If there’s a way to contact the Irish government agency that handles dual citizenship applications, I would definitely reach out to them first to see what they say.
          As Ismis says, you may end up needing to research the records of the ship on which your grandmother was born. The US National Archives has ship passenger lists of people who came into major immigration hubs, but the ship’s logs could be gone if this was a privately owned+operated vessel, especially if the business that owned it no longer exists.

    5. Roseberries maybe*

      A youtuber called Hannah Witton recently made a video about her experience applying for German citizenship by ancestry. It goes a bit into the emotions it brought up for her as a British Jew as she applied for practical reasons but it ended up feeling more profound than she expected

      1. another dual citizen*

        The video was lovely, thank you for sharing! For others interested in watching, the channel is called “More Hannah” and the title is “Becoming a German Citizen as a British Jew”.

  16. Not all dogs - rabies shot update*

    I got my first shot on Monday and got a second vaccine shot and the immunoglobulian shots once I was home. I will complete the vaccine series as scheduled.

    Thank you to everyone for your concern, personal experiences, and advice.

    The idea from Barbara Eyiuche to save the package and take it to the appointment was brilliant.

    Red Reader was correct that I needed to go to the ER for the immunoglobulian shots and that it would be painfully expensive.

    Thus far the actual rabies vaccine shots have not been much different from most vaccines; the intramuscular immunoglobulian injections with the larger needles were a smidgen less pleasant, but I probably only noticed the difference due to being able to make an immediate comparison. The immunoglobulian wound site injections were significantly less pleasant.

    For those who were wondering, I got my tetanus jab renewed Fall.

    1. Turtle Dove*

      Thanks for the update. I didn’t chime in when you first posted, but I was interested because I had a rabies scare in the fall. The animal tested negative during the window for my shots, so I was very relieved to skip treatment. But it was nerve-wracking for a few days, especially because I’ve heard all my life that rabies shots are extremely painful. I’m glad that’s no longer accurate (but used to be, explained a friend whose grandfather got the shots in his abdomen decades ago).

    2. fposte*

      Ah, I didn’t have a visible wound site so didn’t have that component. I’m glad it wasn’t torture and also that you managed to negotiate the multiple country aspect–saving the package was indeed a brilliant idea.

    3. Stitch*

      Glad to hear you got the shots. I realize it’s expensive and sucks, but I think you absolutely made the right choice. Rabies is so scary.

    4. Manders*

      I’m so glad you did get it. I had a friend in college and he was bitten by a dog and neglected to mention it OR clean it out when it happened (and I was with him and had no idea!!!!). He ended up a few days later in the hospital with a bad staph infection (I mean, duh!). Since then I’m really cautious about that kind of thing. And with rabies you can never be too cautious, because it is 100% fatal if untreated.

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

      So glad you’re taking care of yourself in a difficult situation!

  17. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

    I’m probably going to have my house’s plumbing re-piped this year. (House is a single level home from about 1950, and it’s probably about time to replace the existing pipes with something less full of rust, but there isn’t anything so urgently wrong that I need to call a plumber Right This Minute.)

    I’m probably going to spring for some upgrades while everything is already a mess and I have no water anyway. Two questions:

    a) I’d like to get a medium-fancy toilet with a built-in bidet. However, this house doesn’t have a “master” bedroom with an en-suite bathroom, just three fairly small bedrooms that all share the main house bathroom that’s also the bathroom that would be used by guests hanging out in the living room or dining room. How weird would it be for company to discover the Fancy Toilet? Is this something I should just pass on because I don’t have a just-me bathroom that casual company is unlikely to see?

    b) Are there any other plumbing upgrades that you’ve particularly enjoyed about your own home that I should consider when figuring out the details this project? I am already planning on having another outdoor hose bibb added on the other side of a wall that has a sink on the inside (and thus already has water pipes in it), and adding a real, non-utility-sink-based drain for the washing machine.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      If you’re in a hard water area and don’t have a water conditioner (which is different to a water softener), I would recommend getting one, as any appliance that uses water will build up a lot less limescale.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I think our water is fairly soft here, but it is a different water provider (and source) than the neighborhood I grew up in (which definitely had soft water) so I suppose I should double-check that assumption. I have not even been thinking about hard water and possible build-up issues because my childhood home did not have that problem and this is the first place I’ve lived in a long time that wasn’t on the same water system as my childhood home. I wonder what hard water build-up looks like and if I would have noticed it by now since I’ve lived here 5 years…I suppose I should do some research on this.

    2. Squidhead*

      Your space might not allow for it but we really like having 2 separate sinks in the kitchen. We don’t have a dishwasher and don’t want one, but the 2nd sink is handy when one of us is washing up.

      We also have a “dirty sink” in the basement (deep plastic sink on legs) as well as a “clean” enamel sink where the laundry drains. We can soak laundry or the burners from the BBQ grill in the enamel sink and it’s not the same place where we wash out paintbrushes. I guess we like sinks!

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I’m lucky enough that my utility/laundry area is the room next to the kitchen, so the utility sink can be used for excess kitchen sink needs (or anything that is large enough to be annoying to wash in the kitchen sink). I’m a daily dishwasher user, though, and it’s rare that I wash dishes or even pans by hand. It’s the one fancy, high-end appliance I splurged on when I bought the place and replaced the older, lower-end model that was more of a “dish wetter” with one that I knew would actually get dishes clean. (I also currently have an ancient top-load washer that means I can soak laundry in the washer itself, but eventually that’s getting upgraded as well once it gives up the ghost.)

    3. Still*

      Get the fancy toilet! What kind of people do you invite into your home that would judge you for having a bidet? Would you judge someone for that? It’s just an extra nice thing that the guests get to use as well if they wish.

      Maybe it’s because I’ve lived in Turkey, where they have a bidet in every single toilet, including the public ones, but I don’t see the issue at all. Honestly, no idea why it’s not standard in Europe and the US as well.

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        Seconding, get the bidet! We refitted all our toilets with bidet seats and they’re the best. Guests who find it weird just won’t use it. But you’ll love it, and you’re the one who’ll mostly be using it, so who cares what guests think. It’s your home!

        And honestly, anyone who wants to judge you poorly for having a bidet is someone who literally thinks way too much about shit that’s none of their business when they should be dealing with the mountains of their own paperwork.

      2. just another queer reader*

        Thirding! Get your Fancy Toilet.

        If Fancy Toilet is complicated to operate, maybe write some instructions and leave them out when guests visit.

      3. Not So Little My*

        When I’m at someone’s house and they have a bidet, I think they made an excellent decision and I get envious that we haven’t been able to get one yet.

      4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I’m less worried about people judging me (they’ll have plenty of other opportunities to judge me based on my choice of decor before ever reaching the bathroom, after all, and probably already formed the opinion that Hobbits is a Weird One based on my entire personality and general appearance before they ever darkened my doorstep) and more concerned with non-fancy-toilet-aware people hitting buttons they shouldn’t and making a mess, or feeling too intimidated to use the toilet.

        Pre-pandemic, my goal was to start hosting house concerts once I was more settled in, and I regularly had 10-20 people I didn’t know well over for meetings related to an organization I volunteer with before everything shut down. I’m not sure I’ll ever be comfortable with that much indoor peopling in my airspace again, I’m particularly not at a place where “random strangers come sing folk music in your house” is nearly as appealing as it was in 2019, but I am concerned about having a bathroom non-standard enough that it’d mean I needed to give individual directions on “how to use the toilet” to guests going forward. (I think part of this anxiety comes from when my cousin visited with her young kids and they had never seen bar soap before, so she had to give them special instructions in how to wash their hands at Weird Cousin Hobbits’s House rather than in a “regular” bathroom, maybe?)

        1. Expiring Cat Memes*

          …and more concerned with non-fancy-toilet-aware people hitting buttons they shouldn’t and making a mess, or feeling too intimidated to use the toilet

          Modern bidets have sensors, ours won’t turn on unless it senses weight on the seat so it’s impossible to make a mess. And there’s really not that many buttons to begin with, so the worst anyone could do is accidentally change your seat or water temperature. Plus you still have toilet paper, so guests who are intimidated by it can just use it as a regular toilet.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I feel like bidets really took off with the toilet paper shortage at the start of the pandemic, and are now “oh, a bidet.” (My relatives who remodeled during the pandemic added one.)

      1. Loreli*

        So after using a bidet, do you just “drip dry”? Inquiring minds want to know.
        It seems like pulling up dry underwear over a wet bottom would result in soggy seat syndrome

        1. Expiring Cat Memes*

          Lol, no – it doesn’t replace toilet paper, it just means you need a lot less of it. Plus most bidet toilets have a dry function.

    5. Anonymath*

      I have enjoyed having an adjustable shower in our master bath. It wasn’t too difficult to install and you can find reasonably priced ones at the major home stores. On ours the shower head is on a wand and can be removed easily from the mounting bracket if you’re washing a pet or smaller child. The mounting bracket slides up and down the main vertical pipe, which is nice for my family as my partner is 6’+ and I’m a little over 5’.

      1. Damn it, Hardison!*

        This is my favorite addition. I bought an inexpensive one to replace just my old shower head and love it so much. Mostly I use it to rinse my shower and tub after I clean it, but it was worth it just for that. I am starting a full renovation of mine next month (hopefully) and am splurging on a nice full “system” since I have to replace all the shower hardware (and likely some of the pipes).

      2. KatEnigma*

        We’ve had the wand for a couple decades, but an AirBNB we stayed at had a MAGNETIC one, and that’s what we searched for when we moved in to our new house. Magnets don’t break.

        We got an extra long hose to go to it several moves ago, to help in bathing our large dog who tried going to the end of the bathtub/shower combo to avoid being rinsed.

        1. Pippa K*

          Seconding the magnetic shower head attachment. It’s convenient for all kinds of reasons and also improves accessibility (as I’ve learned in coping with an injury).

    6. Bibliovore*

      I am in the middle of a fairly small bathroom renovation with the aim of aging in the home.
      The house was built in 1950.
      The bathroom is in the lower level and had a prefab- plastic shower so small that you hit the walls if you turned around. The bathroom backs up to the laundry room that has a washer and dryer and utility sink.
      The contractors ripped out everything in the bathroom including the wall and widened it a foot and 1/2.
      I am putting in a no threshold shower (for future needs) a Japanese soaking tub, and the fanciest Toto toilet on the market.
      The tub is really the thing for me. I am going to put it in the link. Its the Omnitub made in England. It turned out the tub plus shipping was actually cost less than anything available in the states meeting my criteria.
      I am putting in a new hot water heater, and decided on tankless.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Oh, I have one of those tiny shower stalls in my primary bedroom. It’s unusable for me, a bigger person. Not sure how I’m going to make that bathroom bigger (I can steal the closet from bedroom 2, or the linen closet in the hall I think) but if I don’t it’s just useless. Why did I fight so hard to get a second (& en suite) bathroom of I’m just going to use the hall bath?!

        I think the bidet is fine, you should have what you want, but as a guest I’d be intimidated (I know this from personal experience) so when you make your decision consider how intuitive it is.

        1. bibliovore*

          yes, I stole space from the family room. got rid of the huge sectional couch and coffee table. Leaving this space empty except for a small recliner and a big bean bag chair to see how things feel.

    7. Today’s the day*

      The best purchase we made was an accessible height toilet. If you’re young it might seem silly but even for injuries, muscle strains, back problems it is easier in and off.

    8. Ranon*

      In non sexy upgrades our house has shutoff valves at literally every branch of our plumbing and it’s super handy, totally something I would put in if I were doing a full plumbing redo.

      I would upgrade all my fixtures to low flow and then make sure the pipes, particularly the hot water, were sized appropriately smaller- this decreases the amount of time it takes to get hot water to the fixture because there’s less cold water volume between the fixture and the water heater

      Water for an ice maker to your refrigerator is a modern standard if you don’t have one already

      In upgrades you could do whenever we put a motion detecting faucet in our kitchen and it’s awesome

      1. DataSci*

        Yes to shutoff valves! We used one literally last week when a toilet overflowed due to kiddo using too much tp. Shut off water to that bathroom, fix problem, water back on, no disruption to the rest of the house.

        No motion-detecting faucets for us. Our cats are usually good about staying off the counter, but they wouldn’t be able to resist the magic water.

      2. JSPA*

        Ice makers suck energy; in my experience can grow bacteria if you don’t use them much; are prone to failure; and are prone to piping leaks that go undetected until the floor has been compromised. I get that in some climates / for some people they make sense, but IMO they’re questionable as an “upgrade,” and silly as a default, outside of very hot / hot and arid climates.

        1. DataSci*

          Depends on how much ice you use. I drink several quarts of water a day, and even in winter I find it more pleasant if it’s cold, so we use a lot of ice. For us it’s a major convenience.

      3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Ooh, I can definitely see shutoff valves being important! That’s a good thing to make sure I budget for including.

        I’m having a problem where the original-to-the-house toilet was replaced with a low-flow one at some point, and now there’s not enough water going through the system to reliably flush out the sewer pipe and keep in-line clogs from happening if I don’t also run the shower regularly. I’m going to see if there’s any way to get a steeper grade on the sewer pipe or otherwise fix this while re-piping, but for right now I have to run the tub a couple of times a week and before having company over just to keep the pipes clear. (The house has a second bathroom off of the utility room and garage, which is more convenient to use than the main bathroom in the house during the summer when I want to go swimming in the backyard pool. Before I knew about this issue, which I learned about in a disgusting and expensive way, I did pretty much all of my summer showering out in that second bathroom since I might as well also go for a swim after my morning shower if there’s no place I need to be that day, and if I’m already taking pre- and post-swimming showers pretty much every day there’s no reason to take additional showers in the other bathroom.)

    9. RagingADHD*

      I am not sure why anyone would consider it weird to let company use a fancy toilet. I was brought up that fancy things are for company, anyway.

    10. Lady Alys*

      Thanks to 3M I live in an area where there is a good chance the water is contaminated with PFAS. We got a whole-house water treatment system (some sort of charcoal filtration and softening) that includes a fancy reverse-osmosis system that is piped to a separate little faucet at the kitchen sink and the fridge’s water dispenser. No more having to de-scale my electric kettle!

    11. Details matter*

      Bidet should be straightforward to use, BUT examine the models & get details. Friends were thrilled to put in a toilet with a bidet, but there’s a design flaw. Every woman who has tried the bidet function has gotten a uti.

      1. JSPA*

        Indeed! Either from violating the whole, “don’t cross-contaminate from back to front” concept by literally spraying shit around. Or the system itself can get contaminated internally, and they’re a pain to disinfect fully. (I’m amazed they have not been linked to legionnaire’s, e.g. after they sit unused during an extended vacation.)

        If you have the space, consider an actual, separate bidet. (The only way I can fit one in would be to somehow put it inside the bigger-than-needed shower, which isn’t going to work. Sigh.)

        If you’re someplace cold, heated towel racks (with hot water running through them when you run the bath or shower) is a nice touch.

    12. Chaordic One*

      Well, of course you should do it (install the bidet). And I’m really impressed by the suggestions of the other commenters. (Shout out to Ranon. Good one!) Although not plumbing-related, while remodeling you might want to consider installing radiant heated floors in the bathroom.

      That said, you might very well run into situations where your guests have never before actually seen a bidet, or even know what one is. (I’ve met people who, on first seeing one, thought it was a urinal.) I’m just sayin’. Be prepared to do some educating.

      1. Chaordic One*

        Well, they wouldn’t think that if the bidet was part of the toilet, of course, but they probably wouldn’t know how to use it.

      2. Bibliovore*

        seconding the heated floors. And new to me- heated shower floor. I didn’t even know that was possible.

      3. JSPA*

        What’s under discussion isn’t a real bidet, it’s just a Japanese-style toto-type toilet (or aftermarket tank and sprayer attachment).

    13. Observer*

      If you can figure out how to create a second bathroom (is your current one large?) even if the second one only has a shower not a full tub, that’s shockingly helpful.

      I don’t see any reason to not have a bidet just because a guest might see it. My only question is if a combined item might confuse people.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I have two bathrooms, but the second one is off of the garage/utility part of the house rather than in the main part of the house. It’s great for when people are over in the backyard, for showering before and after swimming in the backyard pool, and for dealing with those times when you, the dog, and/or a kid has gotten too messy to go in the house as-is. (It was also great during the early parts of covid since it let me offer a bathroom to whoever I had invited over to hang out in the backyard in a part of the house that was pretty separate from the rest of the house.) However, it’s down a few steps from the main entertaining part of the house, and the other end of the house from where the bedrooms are, so it’s more of the “outdoor-adjacent bathroom” rather than a viable replacement for the main bathroom for all guests. (It’s also tiny and laid out in such a way that there’s no practical way to add grab bars for the toilet, which is an issue for some of my guests.)

        The main bathroom is small enough that there’s no real way to split it into two bathrooms unless I wanted to remove the tub and have two half-baths, and having the only shower be out near the garage would probably be pretty weird. It’s just not that big of a house, so there’s no good way to steal the space for another bathroom if I want to keep all 3 bedrooms viable as bedrooms. (I dream about expanding the house’s footprint some day, but that’s not going to happen with the current round of improvements.)

    14. Morning reader*

      I guess I don’t understand the question. I have a bidet and it appears to be just an extra thick toilet seat. If you don’t use the bidet function it operates exactly like a regular toilet. I’m in a similar 50s built house with one bathroom.I’ve never had a guest have any issue (besides perhaps envy?) with using the toilet. I’m not aware that anyone else has tried using the bidet but then I don’t know what anyone’s up to in the bathroom.
      The thing with the kids not knowing how to use bar soap? That’s their weirdness not yours. Equivalent to children not knowing how to tune a radio or answer a landline phone.

    15. Ashloo*

      We have a 1 bath 1950 ranch and a cheap bidet attachment on the only toilet. Definitely get the toilet if you want it! No one has ever commented on our setup, and we make sure it all looks exceptionally clean (the clip on ones are a bit of a pain to clean properly, but I imagine a built in design would be as simple as a normal seat).

  18. Paralegal Part Deux*

    I bought a tv for my bedroom and have gotten it installed. Anyone have recommendations for sound bars? There are so many out there and have no idea where to start.

    1. Unexpected Outcomes*

      I don’t have recommendations but my go to for research like this is to google something like … best sound bars

      There are so many comparison articles. I look for some consensus and for articles that explain things in a way that helps me understand.

      Look for cnet, it’s a good source.

      Also, google tip: you can limit google searches to articles in the last month or year or custom dates. I’ve learned many people don’t know that.

    2. Elle Woods*

      We have a Sony TV and a Sony sound bar and love it. One recommendation we got was to get the same sound bar as your TV. I’m not sure that always needs to be the case but it’s worked well for us.

    3. ThatGirl*

      We have a Samsung tv and my husband researched and decided on a Samsung sound bar to match. He’s happy with it, and I don’t care as much but it sounds good.

  19. Derp*

    I have a friend who is occasionally annoying not because she’s being rude but because of her personality. Imagine dating someone who is perfectly lovely but a little too intense. Not in a creepy way but overly expressive with how much they like you. I experience a platonic version of this.

    She has specific ideas on what a good friend *should* do and sometimes I find it suffocating. She gets hurt if people don’t reciprocate the same way and doesn’t understand when I explain why others might not treat friendships as intensely as she does.

    Curious if others have experienced?

    1. Ellis Bell*

      I don’t think intensity is as much a problem as the inflexibility. When you explain that friendship looks like x to you, she isn’t listening because to her way of thinking friendship only looks like y. If she were more flexible and open to other viewpoints, you could have a good faith discussion about friendship style compromise and your mutual tolerance limits. Is a good faith discussion possible with this person? So, being respectful of her viewpoint, it may be that she just doesn’t have any tolerance limits at all. She needs someone to be either all in or all out. That doesn’t make her a bad person, but she may be incompatible. I’ve definitely had friendships end because I didn’t treat them like a romantic partner who was involved in every decision and thought process; I just don’t have the spoons for that and I never will. Tell her the most you can realistically and cheerfully offer, and go from there.

    2. Scientist*

      Yes I have definitely experienced!!! As I was reading your comment I was like, holy cow this is a perfect description of R——- . We’re just casual friends through life circumstances/shared activities but she’s *always* saying things in text or in person like “I love you so much! You are such a wonderful, magical person!” It feels unnatural to reciprocate and overall uncomfortable.

    3. fposte*

      I think I unconsciously screen for this, because one of my least favorite things is to feel grabbed at and my friends and I are all very slow intimacy developers and lackadaisical texters. I remember reading somebody online struggling from the other side and saying “I want my friends to greet getting a text from me with delight!” And I thought, that’s asking for a lot of emotion about a text, and I don’t greet a text from anybody with delight.

      At this point you’ve explained; it’s not your obligation to ensure she understands. The simple fact is that you don’t have to tell somebody you love them just to mitigate their need or anxiety. There’s the Miss Manners classic of answering a platonic “I love you!” with “Aren’t you a dear to say so.” If she presses on this–which would be weird but hey, people do weirder–you say compactly that you and she have talked about this, and you’re not the person to seek this from, but you enjoy gaming or whatever with her, and how about that Animal Crossing island?

    4. Siobahn*

      I have a friend who is as you describe, and, over time, I’ve learned to accept it. Not saying you should do the same; just sharing that my friend has so many other un-annoying qualities that there is room to overlook this one. Also, it works for her. She’s very creative in her style of hair and clothing, so, while annoying, her intensity and lack of understanding about why everyone isn’t like she is motivates me to just put on my metaphorical seatbelt and enjoy the ride.

      I hope things work out for the best for y’all.

    5. allathian*

      I had a not one but two friends like this in college. I could’ve dealt with the declarations of undying friendship if she had been able to deal with the lack of reciprocation. The worst thing was that both of them wanted to monopolize my company for whatever reason. I solved it by asking both of them for a cup of coffee, but without mentioning the other was coming, and ten minutes after they met, they were pretty much declaring undying friendship to each other. I didn’t ghost them or African violet them, but they were very happy to be besties with each other, and I was happy that they’d found each other and were able to have more casual friendships with other people.

      1. nm*

        Oh I think it’s so sweet and a little funny to set them up with each other! Maybe all of us who have just 1 person with this personality should find someone else in the same predicament, and set our “friends” up with each other.

    6. Not A Manager*

      I have experienced the same. For a long time, situations like this would put my shoulders up around my ears, and I’d let the friendship fade. The “love languages” thing is a bit over-blown, but over time I’ve learned that people do express emotions in ways that I sometimes need to “translate” into my own language. I have a friend who used to feel kind of bossy and overbearing, but after a while I learned to translate her officiousness into an expression of love and concern. I don’t have to do what she says, but I can accept her suggestions in the spirit that she offers them.

      Similarly, I’ve learned that sometimes I need to “speak” someone else’s language in order for them to understand my actual emotions. If someone I’m fond of tends to express their affection in strong terms, probably it’s not because they actually like me a lot more than I like them. Probably we feel about the same, but they use stronger language to name that same emotion. So I will raise my level of heat too. Maybe not to the same level, but it costs me nothing to pop a few exclamation points into my texts, or add some emojis, or say something like, “you are the best!” Those might feel like A Lot to me, but they probably read as Normal Affection to my friend.

      In your case, if you actually like this friend and she’s not really crowding you, but you feel that you are disappointing/hurting her by not mirroring her intensity, you could try upping your intensity in areas that are low-cost to you. You don’t have to hang out more, or drop everything whenever she calls, but you could mirror some of her affectionate language, or remember to bring her a small treat when you see her, or be sure to call on her birthday if that’s important to her.

      I will say that since I’ve consciously started doing stuff like this with different friends (mirroring what feels loving to them), I’m really pleased with myself. In one way, I’m stretching what feels real or authentic to me, but I also know that I genuinely like these people, and making these small changes allows them to *feel* that I genuinely like them. It’s a little bit like cooking a meal for a friend that isn’t your favorite food, but you know that it’s their favorite food.

    7. Sabine the Very Mean*

      Yes. I ended a 15+ year friendship (a best friendship from her side) and resent myself for allowing her to remain in my life for so long. She trampled boundaries because she herself held none. She would call me and if I didn’t answer, she would come to my house. If I didn’t answer the door, she’d try and turn the door handle to just walk in. On rare occasions that I would go to her home, she would rib me for knocking and not just walking in. She would often tell me that she would drop anything to “be there” for me and I would never tell her she’d be the last person I’d call. She expected me to also be there for her at the drop of a dime. Her brother was in the ICU after a DUI and she couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t take vacation (I was a teacher) and fly out to sit in the waiting room with her. When she was preparing to give birth, she announced that I could come a week early so that I could make sure I’d be there when it happened (why?).

      I myself do not emotionally invest in friends or friendships. I know that sounds odd but it’s just the way I am. I do not crave these types of relationships and find them generally burdensome. I have no idea why the two of us wound up together. I simply called her one day and said I no longer cared to be friends.

    8. Anon for this one*

      Yes, and I came to the conclusion that there was a fundamental mismatch in expectations. I’m still very sad about how the friendship ended but not sure what I could have done to preserve it, as that would have required both of us to be different people.

      You could bring it up again gently to point out the pattern you’ve noticed. On the other hand, there are probably people out there for your friend who *will* reciprocate just as intensely as she needs—I hope she finds them!

    9. Ampersand*

      I was friends with someone like this for about 10 years. She was well meaning but just a lot—to her credit, she knew that about herself but couldn’t/wouldn’t/didn’t tone it down. I finally had to take a break from the friendship when she did something that I could have gotten past if she’d taken any responsibility for her actions; instead, she doubled down on defending her behavior, and that was it for me. I thought we wouldn’t talk to or see each other for a few months. We haven’t spoken in four years, and honestly I haven’t missed her. She was exhausting, I realize now.

      But I think about her a lot, partly because so many of the problematic employees/situations that LWs write in about here remind me of my former friend! It’s so interesting. I’ve learned that there’s a certain type of personality that I don’t mesh well with, so that’s been useful information to have. I started to get to know a new coworker recently who I thought could be a friend—but she reminded me of former friend so much that all the alarm bells were going off. I paid attention this time and eased off on being friends outside of work. This personality type makes me want to run for the hills these days!

      My only advice is to do what you need to do. Sounds like she’s not changing, so you’ll have to institute boundaries that work for you if that’s what’s needed.

      1. 1LFTW*

        she knew that about herself but couldn’t/wouldn’t/didn’t tone it down

        I’ve been there. My former friend was prone to dramatic overreactions. She knew she was overreacting, and admitted that she did it partly to get attention, but refused to change… because she was convinced that it was part of her charm (narrator: it was actually not charming in the least.) She dramatically overreacted one too many times to me setting boundaries and, after fourteen years, I took some space thinking I’d get back in touch in a few months… then I realized that just the thought of reaching out gave me overwhelming anxiety.

        I wish you the best, OP.

    10. New Mom*

      My sister is kind of like this. She has very high expectations that relationships and friendships will revolve around her and her issues/problems and it’s hard to get a word in edgewise or create boundaries without hurting her feelings (making her erupt). Unfortunately I’ve noticed that her more assertive friends have disappeared over the years and she only still has a handful of friends who are all pretty quiet/submissive/afraid of confrontation.
      If you’re friendship with your friend is exhausting and you can’t talk to her about it, it’ll be hard to maintain. But I still think it’s worth it to try to set boundaries and don’t be focused on how she’ll react because that’s outside of your control. Only your own feelings and reactions do you have control over.

  20. Ellis Bell*

    Can anyone recommend a good brow product for light skin and sparse brows, that’s super easy to apply? I’m a redhead with pale skin, and I have somewhat babyish eyebrows which wisp at both the inner and outer corners. I’ve had some success with the taupe colour pencils aimed at blondes, but it takes a lot of concentration to apply it in a way that looks natural. So, I only use it for special occasions and I’d like to use it in the morning. Ideally I’d like to just swipe something on like a brow gel or something.

    1. English Rose*

      Following this thread for ideas really. I have light skin, silver hair and sparse pepper and salt eyebrows. I struggle in the same way you do!

    2. mreasy*

      Glossier boy brow is a light brow gel that’s made to be buildable, so it isn’t super heavy. They have a range of colors.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        Oooh the lash stuff looks super good too; I’m so sick of all mascaras looking like falsies, being jet black and stiffly spider like. It even comes in auburn and ships to the UK hurrah!

        1. Pippa K*

          Glossier’s mascara is the best I have ever used. I’m completely surprised to find myself having a firm opinion about mascara, but there it is.

    3. Expiring Cat Memes*

      I use a home brow tint kit, which only needs redoing every 3-4 weeks. It helps to get a professional brow shape and tint to start with, and then just maintain with the home kit from there.

      Not sure if the brand is available where you are, but the one I use is called 1000 hour. Trick I learned from the pros is to mix up a generous amount, then put it on, take it off after a minute. Fill in the gaps, off after a minute. Not dark enough? Put on more and then wipe off after a minute. The product still seems to darken for a bit after you remove it, so slowly building it up helps you see how dark you’re going.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I really like tinting! The only problem with it is sometimes I genuinely like to be entirely makeup free. It can be super useful when you have a few dress up events back to back though, so thanks for the reccy. I think I’d rather tint my own actually, for some reason beauticians are convinced I want very dark brown brows, and black lashes and if I’m emphatic that no, I really don’t; I get a lot of sighing.

        1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

          A friend of mine who had natural light hair used one of the darker self-tanners applied with a brush (or carefully with a Q-tip) to enhance her brows without daily maintenance. She’d touch them up about one a week as needed.

        2. PhyllisB*

          You can find auburn eyebrow tint online. I used to tint mine when I colored my hair red, but now my brows have started to turn grey and wiry and won’t accept tint, so I just use stuff that comes in a tube like mascara in a medium brown and that works about as well as anything else.

        3. Courageous cat*

          I’m a pale redhead and I use Just for Men to dye my brows a couple times a month. Takes 3 minutes and is dead simple.

    4. TPS reporter*

      I have similar coloring and using Blinc eyebrow mousse in Auburn. I think it matches pretty well to my hair and stays without smudging. I also use Maybelline mascara in brown

    5. Btdt*

      I’m a brunette with dark eyebrows so YMMV, but I just use powder eyeshadow a couple shades lighter than my brows and put a very light sweep on. It suggests fullness rather than imitating it, if that makes sense. The lack of hard edges like a pencil mark makes it super easy and fast to make natural-looking fills.

    6. MissCoco*

      I love Anastasia Beverly Hills dipbrow gel. It’s SO easy to apply, I really have to overdo it for it to look weird or artificial.

      I have dark brown hair but light and very fine brows, so I use one of the darker shades, but they do have some variety in the shades.

    7. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I love tinting mine (also a redhead) but if you want to go the pencil route, I really like the Benefit Goof-Proof Eye Pencil (which somehow really is goof-proof). Also, my mom has completely lost her eyebrows from chemo and after lots of experimentation discovered this product, which looks super natural, even up close.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I have been looking for a decent excuse to buy something from Benefit! I’m completely fascinated by those brow tattoos; I don’t think I’d be interested if they were more permanent, but a couple of days seems like a very easy experiment.

    8. misspiggy*

      Brunette with sparse eyebrows here. I tend to use clear brow gel and then lightly drag a soft kohl-type eyeliner over the hairs in the direction of their growth, while still wet from the gel.

    9. Worked in IT forever*

      I like Maybelline’s Brow FastSculpt. It’s a mascara-like gel that comes in different colours. It’s wet enough to go on easily and doesn’t clump. It gives definition and covers my few grey hairs well.

      I used to use MAC’s brow gel, but I stopped using it because they discontinued my shade. It’s more thickening than the Maybelline product (IIRC , it has fibres in it), but a lot more expensive.

    10. Imtheone*

      I use this product. Because it has three strands, it is easy to brush on. I use the blonde tint, which may be too dark for you, but could be worth trying:

      Maybelline New York TattooStudio Brow Tint Pen Makeup, 1 Count

  21. ArtNeeded*

    Looking for recommendations for wall art. I have a big white wall behind me in my home office and its driving me crazy! A few things I know:

    1) I’d like a big piece vs. multiple smaller ones
    2) I don’t want a tapestry but open to other non traditional ideas at this point
    3) my vibe is cozy and I am obsessed with nature
    4) I don’t like abstract or minimalist styles
    5) budget is fairly small, thinking $100 and under and but I’ll definitely budge for a really really cool thing!

    I’ve looked around but I don’t have a good eye for interior design or art apparently. Just hoping some people having cool stuff they want to share! Please feel free to link to specific things or examples. I will say I don’t do well imagining unless I can see a thing so images are welcome. Have fun, I’m very open to seeing some cool art!

    1. Dumpster Fire*

      I have a large map of the world in a space like that. Mostly browns and golds, not the usual blue oceans with different colors for each country; so it fits into that “cozy” vibe. It doesn’t demand attention the way a large painting might.

      1. Generic Name*

        I was going to suggest a map. I have a large antique reproduction map of my state in the same location in my home office. I’ve gotten positive comments from coworkers and colleagues on it.

      2. Wannessa*

        I was also going to suggest a map! I have a big map of all the hiking trails in California as the centerpiece of my dining room wall. It’s also more of a brown/parchment color so it’s not flashy or distracting. I’m slowly framing it with more colorful things (metal prints of my own photos from roadtrips, roughly lined up with where on the map each photo was taken) but it looked great before that, too. I get compliments on it very often; people love to get close and study all the little details.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      A quilt, but it would help to be a crafter and the materials for a large quilt are usually more than $100. I mention the idea in case that sparks “My aunt has some beautiful quilts and half of them are just on shelves for space reasons.” In general, I would guess if you hang around the right flea market long enough you could find something that was large, under $100, and appealed to you; heavily dependent on whether that sort of frequent browsing is fun or stressful to you.

      This week I was at a medical appointment and there was a big framed photo of a forest landscape on the wall. It was incredibly soothing to look at. For your budget I would consider checking out cheap frames (frames take it from dorm room poster to displaying photography I like; professional framing is very expensive) and buying one or two posters of nature that really resonate with you.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Example of art quilt: https://www.quiltingdaily.com/celebrating-cinco-de-mayo-quilt-style/

        Example of landscape photography: https://www.capturelandscapes.com/introductions-to-fundamentals-in-landscape-photography/

        A bit more expensive, but something my spouse and kids really are into, and I find interesting: Fromes, paintings of lines that capture the dominant color of the frames of a film. Daughter found them, gave her dad Totoro, and my son now has a set of three that do The Last Airbender and really look good next to each other. https://www.frome.co

      2. ArtNeeded*

        I like the forest idea, but photography prints have always seems too poster-y. Maybe the frame is what I needed to consider it!

      3. Blue wall*

        Was going to say a quilt! Do you live near Amish country? If so you can bid on one at a mud sale and often pay a much lower price than in-store.

        1. Ranon*

          If you buy new- but if OP is open to second hand there are a lot of quilts out there going for far less than they’re worth, a quick skim of Poshmark and an eye out at yard sales and the like could yield something cool.

      4. Falling Diphthong*

        Something I put in my linked samples but the post hasn’t been approved yet: Fromes, prints with a series of lines capturing the dominant color in each scene in a film. I just checked the website and they are on sale for $100. Probably you want something a bit bigger (they’re about 1′ by 2′), but this was something one kid found and people are quite intrigued by them.

    3. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I’ve outfitted my work office with art from thrift stores. (Also diplomas because it’s de rigeur for lawyers.) As for larger-scale items, I’ve had better luck finding abstract stuff rather than figurative pieces, because larger figurative art in thrift stores tends to be the less skillfully done pieces that people don’t care to keep. It’s like with everything at second-hand shops, though — just gotta go back over and over again.

    4. Bobina*

      Definitely some kind of nature print? I was going to suggest some really cool living plant walls that I’ve seen on some plant Instagrams, but those are probably only worth it if you actually want to care for them rather than just having something to fill the space.

      I’ve definitely assumed nature = plants here, so for me, I’d like something like a large scientific print of my favourite plant with the traditional style drawings and maybe cross sections or something like that. If you search “botanical art” or “botanical illustration” – thats the kind of thing I’m thinking of, and then you can narrow it down.

    5. Bobina*

      Oh second one because you just reminded me of some posters I’d love to get – not nature, but the NASA Space Tourism posters. I *love* those and definitely want to get at least one for myself!

      If you search “NASA space tourism posters”, you should get to the official link where they are free to download too!

      1. Lady Alys*

        Aren’t those fabulous? I like the US National Park posters too, mostly done either by WPA artists themselves, or in that style. My brother has something from an Etsy shop that was a whole series of those images in a grid.

    6. Anono-me*

      I’m looking at this design issue too. I have lots of huge walls and need 6’x3′ or 6’x6′ somethings. One space is getting a quilt, but there are more. Right now I’m considering one of three things.

      1. Wood frames with beautiful fabrics stretched over it. (Similar to how an unpainted canvas is made.)

      Edging large pieces of sheet rock so that they look finished then:

      2. Applying dramatic wall paper. (I love the look of wallpaper, but hate stripping it so much that I will never again wallpaper a wall.)

      3. Have young family members go Jackson Pollock on it in colors that I like for the room.

    7. fposte*

      It would depend on you finding fabric that doesn’t fall too far into the abstract/minimalist for you, but you can get wooden stretcher bars from a craft store or online and then mount a fabric print on them (you just staple the fabric around the backside, so even a craft idiot like me can manage it). People do that a lot with Marimekko (I think because their prints are scaled very large), but obviously you can use anything you want. I’ve posted a link in followup to an Etsy example so you can see what I mean–be sure to look at more than just the first picture so you can see how the dimensionality works.

    8. KatEnigma*

      Browse Etsy. I’ve had my eye on a large wooden piece for over my bed now for awhile- $120ish range.

    9. Feathers*

      How about framing sheets of really nice wrapping paper? Websites like Society6 have all kinds of inexpensive and beautiful nature print wrapping paper that you can trim (or leave large) and frame.

      1. trilusion*

        And while you’re on Society6: If you find an artwork there that you love, they can print it for you in different sizes and in different ways, e.g. poster, canvas, wall hanging or even on a shower curtain

    10. Dark Macadamia*

      A wallpaper accent wall, or decals/stenciling of a tree pattern? A hanging scroll style art print might work – more tapestry-ish than a framed piece or canvas, but not a tapestry (I’m thinking the things where there is a bar of wood at the top and bottom but not on the side – they don’t necessarily actually roll up but have that vibe. I think they’re fairly easy to DIY if you find a fabric or poster you like).

      1. Chaordic One*

        I’ve seen some really gorgeous William Morris wallpaper. Expensive, but decorative and worth it.

    11. Girasol*

      If you’re not in any hurry, watch thrift stores. There’s a lot of really awful stuff there but occasionally you’ll turn up a one of a kind gem. We have several that look to be amateur painters’ works, one of a Colorado trail in autumn and one of Texas mesas, but they’re really good works and very pleasant to look at. We also found a set of landscape paintings by a known Amish artist that wouldn’t be worth an episode of Antiques Roadshow but they really suit us. You could go online to get nice Audubon prints and old botanical drawings which look great matted and framed, but they’re likely to be better as a grouping of two or three, so that might not suit you.

    12. Brunch Enthusiast*

      There are services that print any image onto a large stretched canvas. That can be a bit more to the cosy end of the spectrum than the more formal framed-in-glass presentation.
      You might like an aerial photograph of a really striking landscape? Or maybe a very very close-up shot of plant parts or mosses or something that we don’t usually look at in such detail? Anything goes as long as it’s high-enough resolution to print at your preferred size without looking blurry!

    13. Missb*

      Consider a tree stump print off a place like Etsy. Basically someone finds a really cool downed tree, takes a slice and then does an ink print of the slice. So you see the growth rings, thicker (bark) outer edge. It looks pretty cool.

      I bought one off Etsy that’s actually three large prints because it was a really huge tree.

    14. Bluebell*

      As a temporary option, have you checked your local library? Many of them lend posters and prints of different sizes. It’s free, and it could help you narrow down what you want.

    15. Chaordic One*

      I’ve seen a lot of surprisingly good artwork offered for sale at reasonable prices at local art shows, craft fairs, swap meets, and even farmer’s markets. Most of it made by local artists. Also local Artist Guilds. It doesn’t hurt to look.

    16. mreasy*

      We ordered wallpaper on Spoonflower and framed it – we did two frames so it’s a diptych but it looks great and works on a big wall we were unsure how to handle.

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

      Do you like vintage travel posters? I found some I really liked, and they definitely perk up those blank walls. I tried to co-ordinate the colors of the posters I picked with some of the colors already in the room. I used all posters dot com.

    18. Morning reader*

      An artist daughter of an old friend of mine (first name Tohar) creates mandala-style wall art with painted wood cuts. It’s thin wood that hangs flat on the wall. I’m not describing it well but it’s beautiful! A good alternative to framed paintings or pictures.

      Tohardesign.com

  22. Fly Away*

    I don’t know what to do about giving my nieces uneven amounts of money to put toward their college savings plans.

    I started out sending my first niece $200 for her Christening and then $250 for each birthday and Christmas. My second niece was born around when I was laid off from my job, so I only gave her two college funds gifts before I stopped sending either of them money (my six months of unemployment benefits ran out and I had no idea when I’d find a job).

    I ended up being unemployed for two and a half years before getting stuck in a minimum wage job for a year, and then getting my current job (better paying than the minimum wage job, but the pay still isn’t great).

    I figured I should start sending college fund money again soon (albeit smaller amounts than previously since I’m earning significantly less money now than the job I got laid off from), but I thought I should send a check for my younger niece to even out whatever amount I’d sent my older niece. I looked through my checkbook, and was distressed to discover I’d sent my older niece a total of $1,700 and my younger niece only $550. So a $1,150 difference. Which is a lot to me.

    What would you guys do in this situation? I’m feeling very awkward and guilty over it.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I type this as someone about to pay for my youngest child’s last semester of college:

      Don’t worry about it at all. If you are able to start giving money to each twice a year again, do that because it’s important to you, at a level that is workable with your current budget. Maybe that’s $50 for a while.

      Because you stopped for both of them when unemployed, the amounts will even out with no action on your part. The age gap simply dictated that the oldest would always have $1150 more in her account, and that gap would close up when you stopped adding money for her (at 18?) and then were only giving to her younger sister for a few years. There is no actual discrepancy here for you to correct.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      I doubt anyone is adding it up in the way that you are! These are gifts; gifts are pretty random, representative of that particular time and meant to be appreciated in the moment, there’s no looking back and adding up when it’s about gifts! Besides, your younger niece has more saving up time before she goes. If your budget is different now, there’s also different ways to support your niece depending on your relationship with her. You could offer her tutoring, help her with the decisions or go through a budget with her. If you still feel like you want to help more than you have, you can go shopping with her for school stuff before she goes and let her pick out some specific stuff within your real budget. Kids know you love them if you show up for stuff, more than if you pay for stuff. Besides, it’s really helping out your sibling isn’t it? I’m sure they appreciate any help you’ve given and can level it out themselves.

    3. Not A Manager*

      If you’re planning to continue giving to them regularly, @Falling Diphthong is right that there would always be a gap between them. If you think that you want to give them a good start but that you can’t commit to continuous gifts, then I’d top off the younger girl’s account slowly, with amounts you can tolerate when it makes sense to you, until they’re evened up. Then give what you can, when you can, evenly between them.

    4. Sunshine*

      As a parent I would be so appreciative of this. One it’s such a lovely way to support your loved ones future. Second my kids have too many toys and every holiday brings an onslaught. So to me 20-30$ in lieu of birthday gifts would be so lovely.
      Don’t worry about the disparity. Gifts should be reasonable based on where we are not a standard or someone else’s expectation.
      What a nice aunt you are

    5. fposte*

      Aside from the “this isn’t really about math so don’t focus on it,” I’ll note that if you’re doing this annually, your older niece will likely be going to college earlier than the younger so there are more years for your younger to receive a contribution to the fund.

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      Just give them the same amount each time! You’ll presumably stop giving to the older one before the younger so it more or less evens out. You could always keep some extra saved in your own accounts for the younger one if that makes you feel better, and then if she ends up needing it, like for grad school or because she doesn’t get a scholarship or something, you’ll have it to offer.

    7. Pamela Adams*

      Mine is the opposite. I started all 3 funds a the same time a year ago, but one child is 13 and the others are 7 and 8, so will have more time.

    8. Fly Away*

      Thank you for the responses!!! It’s really helpful to hear other peoples’ perspectives on this.

      I hadn’t considered how the younger niece would always be “behind” by default just because she’ll be going to college a few years later than the older one. So that’s a good point.

      And you guys are right that the college fund money is a gift, so I don’t need to “do the math” and “keep track.” I don’t think they’ll ever end up being “even” if I start giving them equal amounts again and am unable to ever give my younger niece extra, but they’re gifts so I don’t have to make sure they’re retroactively perfectly fair. It’s like how I’ve bought my older niece more books and toys just because she’s been around longer. I don’t need to go back and buy extra books and toys for my younger niece to make up for it!

      (And it’s not like I planned to make my gift-giving uneven. My brother and SIL told me they only wanted to have one kid, so having to give college fund money to two was unexpected. And I didn’t plan on becoming long-term unemployed or ending up in low paying jobs.)

      1. M*

        It sounds like this is really important to you. I do want to make sure you know you are not obligated to do this—circumstances change and you do not need to give the same as you did before yours changed. One thing you could do if it doesn’t feel like enough is give them money at a level you can afford it, and set apart a little more in an account of your own. If you don’t end up needing it, that’s a great graduation present. If you do, they’re none the wiser and you are taking care of yourself.

    9. Bluebell*

      I wouldn’t be too concerned. I think it’s lovely you are doing this, and you have no idea what might happen in the future. When our kid decided that college wasn’t for them, we created two 529s for our niece and nephew last year. At this point, we have made one distribution to niece, who is in her freshman year. Meanwhile, nephew has withdrawn from 2 colleges, so we are not sure if we might transfer money into the nieces 529. Their mom is just happy to get some help.

    1. Neurodivergent in Germany*

      I love the talks by Sarah Hendrickx on YouTube.
      She talks about relationships a lot

      1. Neurodivergent in Germany*

        I don’t tend to like books that are geared specifically towards women or are too self-helpy. YMMV

        Blogs that helped me:
        – just stimming by Julia Bascom
        – Articulate Autistic by Jaime Heidel
        – Musings of an Aspie by Cynthia Kim
        – Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism by Shannon Rosa et al

        And a favorite book:
        Unmasking Autism by Dr Devon Price

        Hope this helps.

    2. Just a different redhead*

      I do enjoy some of the articles on AANE’s blog, like https://www.aane.org/understanding-neurodiverse-relationships/
      They also have a page https://www.aane.org/topics/adults/women/ that had some things that really helped me in general.

      This is less specific but there’s a lot of advice buried in the interviews at Learn from Autistics, here (if you like reading): https://www.learnfromautistics.com/blog/
      Here’s an example that might have something helpful in it… https://www.learnfromautistics.com/voices-spectrum-15-sarah-hendrickx-autistic-females-marriage-advocacy/

      The thinking person’s guide to autism has already been mentioned, but, seconding ^_^

  23. The butler did it*

    HOA website hosting recommendations?

    My low-key, very small HOA (<30 houses) has to move our site, as our current host is closing down. All we need is a password protected site to store documents and a way to send emails to the members. Free would be awesome, otherwise low cost ($100/year or so).

    Most website builders (weekly, wix, etc) don’t have the email feature. Google sites could work but making it private could be tricky, and it can be so clunky. There are a couple HOA specific hosts I’ve found but they are more than we need (we’re not collecting money) and the costs are higher.

    Thanks for ideas!

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Does the email have to be connected to the website? And do you really need a website? Groups dot IO was created when Yahoo! Groups was closing down, and while it was created primarily as an email list service, it offers pretty robust features, including calendars and file sharing for groups.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Sorry, I realized that I don’t actually know when groups.io was created, but that’s when it really took off, a lot of Yahoo groups migrated there, and personally I think it was an upgrade.

      2. The butler did it*

        It looks like the email feature is free, but to get file storage, pricing is a minimum $20/month. I’m hoping for about half that.

    2. just another queer reader*

      One idea:
      – create an HOA email address on Gmail
      – store the documents in a shared folder on Google Drive.
      – create an email list in Gmail, and use this list for sending emails as well as administering access to the shared folder

      This should be free, as long as you’re below the storage limit (which I’d fully expect!)

    3. Observer*

      Do you actually need a web site?

      A single Google drive account should work. So could accounts from MS, Box, Drop Box. None of them provide an enormous amount of storage in their free accounts (check their site) but all of them do have upgrades, and mostly they are not too expensive.

      The real question is whether you actually need multiple people with different logins, and whether you need email address. All of them allow multiple users, but you are going to have to look at family / business plans, rather than the personal plans that would be free. If you are a non-profit you may be eligible for free accounts from both Google and MS. They are also you two best bets if you actually need to provide people with email.

      1. The butler did it*

        We could possibly do a shared drive, but everyone in the HOA legally needs access to the documents. I don’t want to have to juggle permissions for 45 folks. Google really has knuckled down on authentication so using a shared account, even just for the board, would be tough.

        1. Observer*

          A web site would be your WORST option.

          Unless you can qualify for either google or MS free accounts, you are not going to be able to do this for $100 unless you want to give everyone the same level of access and and keep changing the passwords. But realize that this is in incredibly risky strategy, and you are asking for trouble. It’s not for nothing that Google (and others) have cracked down on 2FA.

          Does everyone need access to actually edit the documents? Or just to READ them? If the latter you might be able to pull something off without too much expense, and a bit of inconvenience.

          1. The butler did it*

            Yeah, I think our options are a free but clunky Google approach, or pay about $250/year for a service that does everything the board needs.

  24. Shoe Shopping Anxiety*

    I know this is a vast and varied community, so I’m hoping someone has run into this problem as well. I HATE shoe shopping; whining through it as a kid at the mall with my mom has evolved into full-fledged avoidance and now I wear shoes until they are literally falling apart. When I make myself go shoe-shopping, I end up getting super-anxious and going into this spiral of “what if they end up being really uncomfortable? Can I return them if I’ve worn them? Can I ethically donate them if I know they fit weird? My feet look so weird in these, do I have oddly shaped feet?” And so forth.

    Has anyone else dealt with this and have ways to get through it? I get what I can repaired, but that’s not an option for all my shoes. I know that waiting until my existing shoes fall apart adds to the stress because I get to DSW with a “I’m not leaving this store without something” attitude, so I’m trying to shop more often, but I still end up in that spiral. Is there a way to make it enjoyable? I know that lots of people do enjoy it, but I can’t get my brain to accept it. Any shoe-shopping advice appreciated!

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      I have large feet and really hate buying shoes in-store due to many shoe shop assistants over the years treating me like I was some kind of freak. (I’m only a UK size 8 / US size 10, but that’s still outside the size range of many brands.)

      For me, the answer was to buy a lot of different pairs online (via Zappos when I lived in the US, since they have a pretty generous return policy) and wear them inside for a few days till I was sure they would work out, then returning anything that didn’t work. I hope this helps and good luck!

      1. Not A Manager*

        I second the idea of buying many sizes/styles online and trying them at home. It feels wasteful but if you return them to one of those central drop-off locations there are efficiencies in sending them back.

        I also develop incredible brand and style loyalty. There’s one style of Vans that fits me perfectly. No other style does, even if the difference is just a slightly thicker sole. So now I order exactly the same style in a new pattern off the Van’s site whenever my old ones start to fall apart. For athletic shoes, nothing fits me better than New Balance, so I don’t even try any other brands. If I could buy the same fashion shoes over and over, I would, but alas they don’t make the same style each season. (I’m looking at you, ten-year-old Franco Sarto sandals.)

    2. Kiki*

      I also hate shoe shopping! I have two ideas which are wildly different from each other: 1) If you’re not icked out by the idea of buying secondhand: My wife poshmarked a BUNCH of new shoes when she started working an office job. You can get secondhand stuff for much lower prices, so if it doesn’t work out it’s not as big of a deal. She did the same thing for me with jeans – instead of searching around in stores to find the perfect pair of new jeans and spending $80 on one pair, we spent $80 on 10 pairs of jeans that I could just try on and now I have 3 new jeans that I love. It depends on if that feels worth it to you. 2) The other thing I have done is to just focus on finding the one brand of shoes that works for me, and then I *know* that their shoes will always be comfy and that the style will work for me. I really like Everlane and Cole Hahn for flats, and Aerosoles for heels, and Dansko for comfy every day shoes. If you can start keeping notes on the shoes that usually work out for you that you already own, that might help narrow it down the next time you need to shop (versus having to look at ALL the brands). Good luck!!!!

    3. Barnacle Sally*

      If you find a pair of shoes you like, can you buy another pair as “back up” so you’re not starting from scratch when the first pair starts to wear out? Or perhaps make a note of the brand. I notice that I really steer towards Merrell and Columbia brand shoes for my outdoor activities so I don’t even really bother looking at other shoe brands anymore (which cuts down on my shopping time and choices) as I know those brands suit my feet and they’re durable.

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      You can absolutely ethically donate shoes that weren’t right for you. Everyone’s feet are different, so your “nope, these feel terrible” is someone else’s “these are my favorite shoes”.
      My father is notoriously awful about shoe shopping. When we find something he likes, we buy 2 pairs so there’s a backup ready.

    5. Anono-me*

      Go to more expensive dedicated shoe stores. The people there are more apt to know their products due to training and higher wages for longevity. (DSW is a good shoe store for what it is, but the D stands for discount.) Many of the brands that have ‘cute, but sensible not cheap shoes’ have the same core shoes year after year with name and minor cosmetic changes. Find good shoes in a brand that does this that you like and then when you need new ones ask the salesperson at the nice shop to help you find this year’s version. (Also, buy multiple pairs if you can.)

      1. Shoe Shopping Anxiety*

        I actually am buying fairly good shoes (DSW isn’t really that discount anymore!) and tend to spend $80-150 on a pair when I am able to find something I like, if only because I know that if I like them I’ll be wearing them for a long time. It’s the getting to the point of finding something I like that is really hard for me because I get so anxious while shopping.

        1. Reba*

          When you do find a good pair, buy 2.

          I always used to find it funny that my mom’s closet was full of dupes or the same thing in all the offered colors… now I get it.

          I feel like as I’ve gotten older, my needs and preferences have become clearer to me. (I used to talk myself into things that didn’t work.) E.g., I can no longer tolerate shoes that squish my big toe out of alignment. This rules out a lot of styles, which is a pain, but at least I know I can dismiss them without a second thought.

    6. Ellis Bell*

      Instead of going shoe shopping, why not just try on one single pair of shoes when you’re other-stuff shopping? The more you try on, the more comparison you’ve done, and there’s more chance of spotting a bargain. You don’t have to have just one pair of shoes for school any more, or worry about growing out of them! It might take the pressure off. I haven’t gone “shoe shopping” since I was a little kid because I buy shoes when I see them. I see boots that would fit my calf, like once a decade.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      I have some mobility issues that mean I have to be very picky about shoes. The most productive thing I’ve hit on is, if I find a pair that work well, after a month or so of wear (test driving) I look for the opportunity to get 1-2 identical pairs, and I stick those boxes on shelves in the closet until the first pair falls apart. Doing this with light Merrell trail runners now.

    8. Healthcare Worker*

      Oh, I feel this so much! I’m very brand loyal and order multiple pairs online, wear them in the house for several days, select a pair or two and return the others. A little work but I end up with shoes I like. And any that don’t work out I sell on Thredup.

    9. fposte*

      I haven’t shopped in person in years. And even then it was for sneakers, and it ended up being a dud. Online is the way to go. Returns are a breeze, nobody cares. And then if a few months later you’re thinking “Wow, these shoes really work for me,” go back and get another pair of them while they’re still available.

    10. KatEnigma*

      Just because they “fit weird” on your feet doesn’t mean they will fit weird on someone else’s feet, or that someone buying from a charity shop will be as picky about how exactly their shoes fit. So yes, donate what you don’t find comfortable.

    11. RagingADHD*

      It sounds like Zappo’s was made for you. Order brands and styles similar or identical to the last ones you had that were comfortable, try them on at home, and send the rest back.

      If you find something good, you could also monitor sales and get a couple of pairs at the same time. Then wear one and put the other aside, or rotate them to make them last longer.

    12. GlowCloud*

      Two places I can reliably find shoes that fit my freakishly long and narrow feet?

      Army surplus stores (I buy women’s parade shoes in a Size 8 as my ‘smart job interview shoes’)
      Any sports shop that sells classic Dunlop tennis shoes as my casual everyday summer shoes.

      They’re the two places I know I can reliably keep going back every few years and expect to find exactly the same style and fit, because they don’t change with the season’s latest trends. My style is a little on the masculine side, so I find it easier to find a brand that specialises in flat, practical shoes and stick to it, rather than try to locate the one good pair of shoes amongst thousands of items of flimsy womens’ footwear on sale this season.

      I also have a pair of Grisport walking boots that I got at my local outdoor store, for a walking holiday 5 years ago, and I now wear for every city break and most weekends when I run errands in town. They’re the most comfortable footwear I own.
      I also have a couple of fancy boots and heels for special occasions, that I picked up randomly (and cheaply!) from a car boot or charity shop – I go to so few events, that I expect them to last me a lifetime.

      The key criteria I have when shoe shopping:
      *Lace-ups always – I need the extra flexibility of being able to cinch them tight enough not to slip off my feet, or looser when I’m wearing thick socks.
      *This shoe has to look good with a large cross-section of everything in my wardrobe – I look for styles that can be read as smart or casual, depending on what they’re paired with, and keep to classic black styles so I can wear them everywhere.
      *Nothing chunky – I need the shoes to create the illusion that my feet are dainty, or I feel like I’m wearing herring boxes without topses.

      You don’t have to teach yourself to love shoe shopping (it still gives me body dysmorphia from the ankle down), but you can hone in on three or four reliable brands or styles of shoe and take out a lot of the trial and error. Hope that helps some.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        It really struck me walking around Florence (Xmas trip) that many people were wearing some sort of flat boot, good for walking. But when I enter DSW it feels like there are at least 10 high-heeled boots for every pair of flats. Women’s work shoes is even worse.

    13. Bibliovore*

      I HATE shoe shopping. I am a 6.5 wide which basically makes me impossible to fit. Rieker used to be perfect for work shoes for years then they changed the fit. Also with my special needs I have to have a lot of support.
      I buy on-line and if they don’t fit right away they go right back.
      For me now I buy really expensive shoes that last and if I find myself loving them I buy a second pair.
      I also throw out the falling apart shoes so that I make space in my life and HAVE to buy/find new ones.
      For dress up- Birkenstock short boots (unfortunately they don’t make them anymore)
      For walking and out doors- Merril boots.
      For indoor work- Birkenstock Boston.
      For indoor house shoes- Birkenstock wool boston (winter) upgrade from Haflingers that fell apart after years.
      For walking casual or fun outdoors- Airbirds wool with my own orthopedic inserts. the mesh ones for summer.
      For puppy time winter- Moon boots.
      For winter to keep warm-ABEO from Foot Smart. I just looked and saw they don’t have the ones I got for this year. Darn I should have gotten two pairs.

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

        Seconding the excellent advice to buy multiple pairs of a style that you find comfy once you’ve found it.

    14. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Zappos if you’re in the US. I finally realized that ordering shoes online is trying them on, not buying them. They have free returns and a long return window. Last year I was looking for a pair of cute-ish well-padded walking shoes for a vacation. I think I ordered 12 or 15 pair before I finally settled on one. Most were returned immediately. I kept the top three contenders for several weeks and wore them around the house to decide. Once you know what works, stick with that brand.

      Also yes, you can ethically donate them. I just went through my closet and donated four pair of work shoes that I don’t wear at all anymore. One pair is barely worn. The others have some scuff marks on the soles and heels. Still no biggie.

    15. Alex*

      Some companies (albeit at higher price points) have try-on windows when you can wear the shoes and return them if they don’t work out. Off the top of my head, Vionic shoes does this, as well as Gravity Defyer (which is mostly sneakers/walking/running shoes). Look for companies like this, order online, and try them out. Don’t settle for something from DSW! DSW is for shoe shopping lovers, not haters.

    16. Quincy413*

      Anxiety permitting, would you be okay talking with an experienced salesperson? My family has a lot of unique shoe needs/odd sizing and we all go to family-owned shoe stores that really pride themselves on good customer service. Not sure if those exist in your area; definitely would recommend

    17. Courageous cat*

      Huh, interesting. I don’t have this problem at all, First of all, why *couldn’t* you ethically donate them to someone else? There’s zero problem with that and would be the ethical way (or hell, sell them) to get rid of anything that doesn’t work. You can also wear them around the house for a while before you take them out to judge their comfort level. Also look at reviews online if you’re particularly anxious.

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

      There are some shoe stores that cater to hard-to-fit feet and carry larger/wider/orthopedic styles, like Eneslow in New York. Also, some brands, like SAS, tend to offer larger/wider shoes that are comfier. I’m living in some very comfy Birkenstockesque sandals that I think are from SAS right now.

    19. carcinization*

      Different people have vastly different foot sizes/shapes/comfortability considerations, so you can definitely ethically donate shoes with that you know “fit weird,” because something that’s a weird fit on you may be the perfect fit on someone else! Even if the weird fit is because they pinch in the toes or are way wider or narrower than you expect or whatever! Source: I worked in thrift stores for years, and have definitely bought shoes at thrift stores during and after that period, even when they ostensibly weren’t in my size, because they nevertheless fit!

    20. Melody Pond*

      In case this helps, I recently learned of a large online shoe repair business:

      nushoes[dot]com

      They can even do athletic shoes. I’m planning to send my shoes here when they need it – I also hate shoe shopping.

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

      Have you tried enlisting a friend? Not someone who is going to try to talk you into a cute but uncomfortable shoe. Leave that friend at home. Go for the friend you would call to hold your hand if you had to pick out a casket unexpectedly. Say, “I’m stressed about this, I’d love some support, and I’ll treat us to a nice lunch after.” Go, set a goal of just trying on, like, 5 different pairs, with no intention to buy anything unless you absolutely fall in love. And then enjoy the rest of your afternoon hanging out with your friend, who will probably think it’s the easiest friend-favor they’ve ever been asked.

    22. MaryLoo*

      Find a brand that fits your feet. This will take lots of try-ons. Each brand seems to have the same shape characteristics across styles. If you find one that works, buy multiples. This can be a challenge because companies change styles, so you’re caught with giving a style a decent test drive before the company discontinues it.

      Also consider the various Dr Scholl’s products from the drugstore- arch supports, gel insoles of different kinds. The thin gel liners are great for times you need to wear dress up shoes.

      I have hard to fit feet and am not willing to wear shoes that hurt, no matter how much I like the look. Which is a challenge because many women’s shoes aren’t shaped like feet. (assuming you are female presenting)

      Somewhere I read that in the trade, mens shoes are considered “articles of clothing” and womens shoes are considered “accessories”. Explains a lot.

  25. Movies!*

    Haven’t done this in a while – what have people been watching lately?

    I watched The Pale Blue Eye last night, which is of a piece with a lot of the 90s thrillers we’ve been watching lately (Primal Fear, Presumed Innocent, etc.). I know there’s been so much conversation about Netflix’s strategy, and I’m just like, this is what they should do: perfectly satisfactory movies for adults with lots of good actors in them. I’m glad I watched this one, and I probably will not think of it again (except for Gillian Anderson’s truly bonkers performance – she was not in the same movie as everyone else, and god bless her for it).

    I also watched Banshees of Insherin last week, and I was theoretically behind the “Colin Farrell should win Best Actor this year” push because I think he’s due, but now that I’ve seen it I’m all in. The speech about niceness! I cried!

    1. Todays the day*

      Enjoyed The Recruit on Netflix. CIA action but not too many car chases and shooting scenes, more background plotting etc.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      HBO Max:
      Season Three of His Dark Materials. Absolutely great series, the casting and storytelling are very true to the books (which my family loved) and one season per book is the right amount of space for the story to breath and unfold. Book one introduces us to Lyra, an orphan who lives at Oxford, in a world where your soul takes the form of a companion animal.

      Rewatching Pushing Daisies while kid is home from college. Such a wonderful series, about a pie maker who can bring the dead back to life after one minute. It’s a mystery, a romance, an ode to over the top aching sweetness (like it charges right through syrupy, which I don’t like, to create a fantastically intricate sugar landscape that I adore). Kristen Chenowith sings. There are bad ass retired synchronized swimmers. The narrator is Jim Dale, who did the Harry Potter series.

      Apple TV: For All Mankind, an alternate history in which the Soviets got to the moon first. Loved the first season; just started the second. I really like how they thought about how to incorporate characters who are not straight white men.

      Amazon: Leverage and Leverage Redemption are my comfort food; I’ll even grudgingly tolerate ads. I feel like the reboot is good but not great, but when a moment hits–such a delight. (e.g. Breanna is explaining to Harry how to move the arrow thing to the box on the screen, and he is gleefully explaining that he knows how to use a cursor, and she admits that his insistence on staying in character with the terrible Chechen accent is completely throwing her off.)

      1. Bibliovore*

        Thank you to whoever recommended Leverage reboot for a distraction the other weekend. it was perfect.

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        I forgot season 3 had come out! My husband and I watched the first two last year (he hadn’t read the books so was mostly humoring me) but we’ve moved on to other shows in the meantime. I might need to interrupt our watching for a few weeks for His Dark Materials :)

    3. fposte*

      I watched All The Queen’s Horses, a documentary about the town comptroller who stole $53 million over 20 years from a small Illinois town and funded a Quarter Horse empire with it. I was in state when the theft was discovered and remembered it, but that’s not necessary to enjoy or understand the doc. It’s also directed by an accountancy professor who does a fabulous job of breaking down how something like this happens and how frequently it does, if not to this degree.

    4. L. Ron Jeremy*

      I watched Ms. Sloane from 2016 last night and enjoyed it a lot. Synopsis is below:

      Willing to bend the rules for her clients, Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain) remains one of the most sought-after lobbyists in Washington, D.C. When asked to help oppose a bill that imposes regulations on firearms, she instead joins a scrappy boutique firm that represents the backers of the law. Her defiant stance and determination to win now makes her the target of powerful new enemies who threaten her career and the people she cares about.

    5. GoryDetails*

      I watched “The Glass Onion” and enjoyed it, though not as much as “Knives Out”.

      In the not-for-everyone-but-I-liked-it category, “The Menu”, a dark ritzy-dining/snark/escalating-mayhem tale.

      This one was a few weeks back, but fun in a B-movie way: “Troll,” about a literal kaiju-sized troll awakened from Nordic mountains by blasting and not very happy about it.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I loved The Glass Onion, and am thrilled that Johnson and Craig seem determined to make this an ongoing series of odes to Agatha Christie.

        Knives Out is about a millionaire and so family-scaled, while Glass Onion is about a billionaire and so more society-scaled. While I prefer the first by a scosh, I expect future installments to tackle different set-ups and be fun in different ways–which is great on its own, that I don’t know what to expect beyond being delighted by something.

        I love the detail that Johnson was more picturing Mark Zuckerberg, but by fall ’22 A Different Tech Billionaire was seizing the “have you considered that he may not actually be a genius playing 17-dimensional chess” spotlight.

        1. Patty Mayonnaise*

          Ooh I think Knives Out is just as society scaled, just more metaphorically! Both films are very pointedly About Americans and I’m here for it.

    6. Eater of Cupcakes*

      That speech about niceness sounds good, could you maybe tell me if it comes in the first half of the movie or the second? (I need to know in case nature calls when I’m in the theater watching the movie, just so I don’t miss a good part!)

      1. Movies!*

        Ooh, I think it might be smack in the middle! It’s a bit of a turning point moment. (Also idk how much you know about it, but I personally would time my bathroom break for the second half when the finger chopping gets very explicit)

    7. Stitch*

      I was late to the party and just binged Andor. I can’t emphasize enough how great this show is. The performances from Stellan Skarsgard and Andy Serkis. The level of attention to detail. One of the most terrifyingly real villans Star Wars has ever had.

      Seriously even if you don’t like Star Wars, this one’s worth checking out.

      1. allathian*

        Oh yes, it was lovely. And the post-credits coda in the finale was brilliant, too.

        I’m currently waiting for the third season of The Mandalorian to hit Disney+.

        My husband and I just started watching the second season of The Wire (the docks). I enjoyed the first season, and I can see why it’s considered by some to be the best TV show ever made. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but it is good. While I’m more interested in cops than robbers, I love it that most of the main characters are Black, and one of the coolest characters is a Black lesbian cop.

        My husband and I are also watcing Vikings: Valhalla, set about 100 years after the original Vikings.

        We’re currently introducing our son to Star Trek TOS, DS9 and Voyager. We started with TNG because we didn’t want our son to give up on TOS too early. I’m enjoying my rewatch of all of them.

    8. cat socks*

      Just finished watching Midnight Mass on Netflix. It was okay. I liked Haunting of Bly Manor better, which I think is from the same creator.

      Started watching The Good Place, also on Netflix.

      The Movies That Made Us on Netflix is fun too. I like seeing the behind the scenes stuff about movies.

      My husband liked this old TV show from the 80s called Street Hawk. Reminds me a bit of Knight Rider on a motorcycle. It’s super cheesey so I just read while he watches an episode. There was even an episode with George Clooney!

      I’m also re-watching The X-Files and Star Trek TNG. Those are ones I put on in the background while doing other stuff.

    9. Angstrom*

      Just watched a 30s double feature: Baby Face with a very young Barbara Stanwyck, and Little Caesar with Edward G. Robinson.
      Stanwyck was great fun to watch — I think next up will be Ball of Fire and The Lady Eve.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Stanwyck is awesome! The Lady Eve is a delight. And don’t miss the deliciously noir Double Indemnity – Robinson’s in that one too, though in a supporting role.

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        The Lady Eve is a lot of fun (and includes Henry Fonda doing a brilliant pratfall), though the sexual politics are hilariously outdated. Barbara Stanwyck is so great in that role – her attempt at an English accent is dodgy at best, though her character is supposed to be faking it, so it actually makes sense!

    10. Rara Avis*

      The New National Treasure series, just finished Willow, All Creatures Great and Small, and I had never seen The Jurassic Park series so lots of dinosaurs.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Re Jurassic Park: I adored the first movie, and rather liked Jurassic Park 3; not so keen on 2. Jurassic World is marvelous, but its sequel really put me off; the poor dinosaurs have terrible things happen to them! (Haven’t seen the most recent one yet.)

    11. RussianInTexas*

      Just finished Wednesday, extremely enjoyable. Warrior Nun, also enjoyable.
      Going through the 3rd season of His Dark Materials, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.
      Glass Onion was a joy.

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

      Still working my way through *Death in Paradise* and hit up an old *Rumpole of the Bailey* this weekend.

    13. carcinization*

      If we’re talking about “streaming” or whatever the kids call it… like, watching TV on/from a computer and not a TV (we actually hook our laptop up to our TV, that’s why I added the word “from”), we’re watching the newest seasons of InkMaster and RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars, and slowly getting caught up on Star Trek: Discovery. Also sometimes watching old episodes of Classic Concentration (late 80s/early 90s rebus game show with Trebek), but I’m not sure if that counts.

      1. carcinization*

        (Also, we saw “Glass Onion” in the theatre before Christmas, I agree that it wasn’t as good as “Knives Out,” but it was still quite enjoyable.)

    14. sewsandreads*

      I’m back in Downton Abbey land — but if anyone has any good period dramas I’m here for them!

    15. Angstrom*

      Stumbled across the old British TV show “UFO”. The series is generic sci-fi, but the look of it is delightful — the costumes are so very 60’s. If you’re a woman working at Moonbase Alpha your uniform includes a bright-purple wig to complement your silver catsuit and boots. A minute watching the opening credits is well spent. :-)

  26. Foreign Octopus*

    I know I’m pretty late to the party since the show ended before the pandemic but I’ve recently started watching Suits. I’m surprised by how much I’m enjoying it, though I’m pretty sure a lot of that comes from the interactions between Harvey (whose smile is just gorgeous!) and Mike, which I wasn’t really expecting since I knew nothing about the show going in except that it was about lawyers.

    Had anyone else watched it, and what do you think of it?

    1. Decidedly Me*

      I loved that show! I watched some of it while it was live, but didn’t get a chance to finish it then. I ended up binging the entire series a few years ago.

    2. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Looked it up and I can view all nine seasons, but the first episode description gives me pause – how does Mike join a law firm without a law degree? Does he fabricate one or know someone or does the Manhattan law firm not conduct due diligence?

    3. Filosofickle*

      I had fun with it for a couple of seasons — I like lightweight shows with quippy banter and smart people. Then I bailed, maybe in season 4? (Not saying why in case anyone is sensitive about spoilers)

    4. sagewhiz*

      Slightly OT but next try Boston Legal. Fabulous witty dialogue, quirky characters, and terrific legal scenes related to social justice.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I just binged several seasons of Boston Legal before I had to quit. I did enjoy it at first, though a handful of scenes were pretty uncomfortable. However IMO it does not hold up well, lots of scenes for shock value and not a lot of sensitivity/respect for social issues.

        I much prefer James Spader in The Blacklist. I would love to give Suits a try (saw the first two eps) but I don’t have it for free on a streaming service.

    5. The Dude Abides*

      Watched the first couple seasons “live,” then got back into it during seasons 5-6 and watched the rest “live” to the end.

      On the whole, loved it. Mike and Robert were by far my favorite characters; the only nitpick I had was that they didnt do more to flesh out Katrina and Gretchen as characters.

  27. Stuff*

    Why is it that every restaurant in California, especially chains, has to CONSTANTLY blare incredibly loud music? It’s gotten so much worse this past decade. I’ve got a sensory processing disorder and get overwhelmed by loud noises and really just want to be able to go somewhere for a quiet, relaxing meal, and it’s become pretty much impossible. Ditto for retail shopping.

    1. YNWA*

      Honestly, it’s everywhere. I’m in a Midwestern city and it’s been like that for a decade or so. I don’t have a sensory processing disorder, but loud noises really wear on me and I’m running out of places to go after 4pm because most go full blast with the music.

      1. Blue wall*

        Yup. There’s one Starbucks location near me that would be perfect to study in except their music volume is at least double that of other stores— I have no idea how people have conversations. I ask the baristas to turn it down but they aren’t always helpful.

    2. KatEnigma*

      Because if it’s loud, you don’t hang around and they can cycle through tables faster. There have been several articles about this in the past couple years. It’s on purpose.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Absolutely true. Loud music, slightly uncomfortable seats, counter-height tables, no outlets — it’s not a bug, it’s a feature. All to keep you from staying longer.

        Worked on me last week. I was killing time waiting for my car service, and tried to read at a bakery/cafe with my purchased snack and coffee — my goal was 1 hour there (which is their stated limit anyway), then I’d move to another place. Lasted only 30 minutes because it was SO LOUD. But they only have like 4 tables, so I get it. (I mindfully watched the other tables to ensure there was always at least one open and i wasn’t hogging!)

        I also have sensory issues and rarely go out.

        1. KatEnigma*

          Noise cancelling earbuds FTW. If you don’t turn on the noise cancelling part, you can hear the waitstaff.

    3. just another queer reader*

      Yes, I hate loud restaurants and shops! I also really don’t like when restaurants have TVs everywhere: I came to eat and socialize, not get distracted by the TV!

      I don’t know if you’re looking for ideas so please disregard if so. But. Eating takeout at home or at a park can be really nice! Patios are sometimes quieter too.

      Also my partner just got some Fancy Earplugs that supposedly aren’t very noticeable and help lower the general volume of everything. Another friend buys beige earplugs so they are the same color as their ears.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        We do car picnics sometimes if the weather is bad. The multi storey has a great view over the city and we go raid a nice deli, or somewhere else were people smile and don’t treat us as an inconvenience. I refuse to spend money anywhere where they tell you when you’re leaving before you’ve even got your coat off, or they’re trying to put you on a terrible table that’s too low to eat off because “there’s only two of you”.

    4. RussianInTexas*

      It’s not just music, it’s also all hard surfaces, high ceilings, open kitchens, etc. Constant background noise.
      It’s like they don’t want people to have conversations and linger.

    5. Eater of Cupcakes*

      True story: Once, at a lunch restaurant, I was super uncomfortable with the techno music playing, so I told my waitress that I’d pay her as much money as my meal cost if she put on some Beatles music instead.
      “We can do that,” she said. I went back to my seat, and after a while the techno ended and was replaced with “Here Comes the Sun”. I went up to the waitress, said “God bless you!” and gave her slightly more than a meal cost. (I couldn’t find exact change, and she was worth it.)

      And while I know it seems presumptuous for me to decide what everyone should listen to, lemme remind you that none of the customers had asked for the techno in the first place and it doesn’t exactly contribute to a calm, relaxing lunch even if you like it. :)

    6. the cat's ass*

      I SO feel this! I wear hearing aids which are great for everything but ambient noise. And loud Muzak combined with the plexiglass screens make it almost impossible to hear. Take out is pretty hard. And live music? I’ll listen to it but then can’t really have/follow a conversation. We’re doing a lot of takeout and going to the very rare cafe that doesn’t have live/canned music of a giant TV blaring over the bar. Lunchtimes seem to be quieter overall.

    7. L. Ron Jeremy*

      The local Togos had loud rap music blaring last time I went in. It really hurts my hearing because of my loud tinnitus. I won’t be going back.

      Life is getting louder every day and you can’t avoid it.

    8. Warrior Princess Xena*

      For 3 out of the last 4 wedding receptions I’ve been at, people start socializing and having a lovely time – and then someone turns on the music and it immediately becomes too loud to hear oneself think.

      Drives me totally crazy. I do not understand how this has become something people enjoy. Nice quiet background music to keep lulls from being uncomfortable is one thing but I end up leaving early with a splitting headache. And these were in all other aspects the most laid-back receptions around! Quiet, good but not ridiculous food, no heavy drinking, and all three of them were in church reception halls.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        That happened at my class reunion! One of the occasions when people really wanted to talk, but couldn’t.

      2. Sadie*

        At least at a wedding there is an expectation of dancing so some loud music kind of makes sense, unlike at a restaurant or pub with no dance floor. But I agree, it doesn’t have to be THAT loud and there should still be areas where people who aren’t dancing can have a chat and be able to hear each other without strain.

    9. time for cocoa*

      In my area, the good places for quiet background music are family-owned Italian restaurants. They always have soft Sinatra/Martin/Bennett playing.

    10. Lemonwhirl*

      I’m not in California, but I’ve been wondering whether the world got louder after the lockdowns or if my noise tolerance reset itself. I find most restaurants and stores now to be completely unbearable.

      I have a couple of different pairs of Loop earplugs that I keep in my handbag so I can mitigate the noise.

    11. OyHiOh*

      Western US, but not west coast. There’s a lovely little breakdown/lunch place downtown that is utterly charming – in a pre WWII building with most architectural details intact and wide enough sidewalk to host a street side patio. One of my favorite places.

      Last spring, in an effort to attract a younger demographic, according to the owner, they suddenly started playing a techno/electronica playlist, far too loudly. It was completely at odds with the character of the cafe. Numerous regulars of all age groups complained, regularly. Finally, at the beginning of January, they switched back to the 40s thru 60s playlist they’d been playing for years, and turned the volume back down. The cafe is still packed. It attracts families, college kids, the work lunch crowd, and retirees. I get that they wanted to change things up, and I get that they needed to discourage lingering (it’s common to wait an hour for a table during peak times) but honestly, the little signs on the tables asking people to be considerate of those waiting does more good. It’s that kind of place, and that kind of community.

    12. Samwise*

      I used to feel like this. Then I got my hearing checked, got awesomely excellent hearing aids (pricey, worth it), which resolved most of my tinnitus and made loud background sounds the right volume. Occasionally I’ll leave the hearing aids off and I notice it every time.

      Not to say that public places aren’t cranking the volume, some do for sure. But overall I find that I no longer have trouble with too loud/too quiet/too muddled background or ambient sounds.

      Like I said, expensive. I got phonak hearing aids, the audiologist had some on discount. They are truly excellent quality. Not everyone can afford this—I decided to splurge and am very glad I did.

  28. Expiring Cat Memes*

    Shout out to GingerSheep for their cake salé recipe on last week’s open thread – such an easy and delicious recipe! I made one this week and it came out perfect on my first attempt. I did make a slight variation, adding 3 teaspoons of raw sugar to the base dough to get that faint hint of sweetness I was looking for and it was just right. For toppings I added what I had on hand: pumpkin, capsicum and red onion (chopped small and lightly pre-roasted to dry out and caramelise), toasted pine nuts, fennel seeds and lemon thyme. Was as delicious fresh out of the oven as it was out of the toaster for the next few days. I was keen to see how well it froze and reheated, but alas it disappeared too quickly! Very excited to experiment with other toppings :-D

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        Not yet, but I intend to try it out this week as I’m catching up with a friend who is GF. I’ll report back next week and let you know how it goes in comparison to regular flour!

    1. GingerSheep*

      Hi and thanks! So happy it was what you were looking for! I love pine nuts, so your version sounds really nice. In my experience, it freezes and reheats very well (I cut it in slices before freezing so I can take out just a slice or two, pop them for a minute or so in the microwave to unfrost then reheat in the toaster). If anyone tries the gluten-free version, let me know how it turns out!

      1. Cake salé anyone?*

        Yes, thank you! I was the OP on that query last week. Happy to say that I made it using a 1:1 GF flour blend, with feta and parsley. It was delicious, but I would have liked it to be a bit taller. How long is your cake salé pan?

  29. Bobina*

    This might sound a bit work-y but I’m honestly more interested in the discussion aspect of it.

    I’m in the UK and have a passing interest in rugby – a fully professional sport for many years now. But apparently not enough for the governing body to have gotten a handle on finances as 2 clubs went into administration (aka bankrupt) last year. I was reading an article on some of the fallout which talked about how players hadnt been paid for several months which got me thinking – I wouldnt keep working for an employer who hadnt paid me for more than 1 month (maybe 2 at a stretch). So what would stop these players from leaving?

    – Are their contracts structured in such a way that they cant leave even if they havent been paid?
    – Is it the publicity aspect of it (eg if they announced they didnt want to play a game because of not being paid it would create a media circus)?
    – Is it the complicated nature of professional sports and “trading windows” where because other clubs wouldnt be able to sign them, they dont have other options?
    – Other?

    I’m assuming technically the same could apply to any other professional sports league, so if anyone has any thoughts, is secretly a sports agent (or ex professional athlete!) and wants to share or has otherwise delved into the topic – I’m curious to know what you think!

    1. Irish Teacher*

      I wonder if love of the sport might play a part. In Ireland, our main sports (hurling and Gaelic football) are all amateur and still attract really good players. There was even a story some years back about a man who had to emigrate to the UK for work and still flew home to Ireland every weekend to train with his club and played in the All-Ireland for his county that summer.

      Now I know this is not the same as playing for a professional club and not being paid as GAA players have full time jobs besides and I assume the structure is set up to work around people’s employment, but…I think it does show just how much dedicated sportspeople are willing to do for their team.

      GAA players play for the love of the game and probably also for the glory of being one of the most famous sportspeople in the country, so I could imagine a professional sportsperson who isn’t being paid sticking with it for the same reasons.

      Obviously, I’m no expert here (I don’t even follow sports) but that is my initial thought.

      1. Bobina*

        Ooh thats an interesting point. Love of the game is an interesting one, although like you say – theres a bit of a difference between an amateur league vs one that is professional. I think this is my normal person brain approach thinking: surely if you’re a professional player, like any other profession you are exchanging your labour for money, so if the money stops – the labour stops? But that is probably not how a professional sports person thinks!

        But its taken me down an interesting tangent which is, even though they are professional, they probably grow up with the goal of playing rugby and signing for a club – and probably may not even know or think that you have other options. Though rugby is one of those sports that does try to encourage players to have a life beyond the sport – I think for many of them they probably dont even think about things like salary/contracts/moving unless its time to renegotiate a contract. So the idea that you have the option to leave if things dont “seem” right is probably very foreign (and to be fair, probably quite uncommon).

        Now I’m actually also curious about what the pay schedule is for a player and if some of it might be things like “literally not noticing you havent been paid” because you either have so much money or have other people handle your money that it doesnt affect you for quite some time…

    2. Ellis Bell*

      I think this is probably the top reason why you shouldn’t “do what you love”. If you have such a passion for something that you’ll do it for free, you probably will end up doing so. It’s easy for stuff like this to become the culture of an industry, especially if it was originally unpaid! That will attract people who can either afford to not get paid, or who have patience and continual hope-itis that payment is just around the corner.

      1. Bobina*

        Lol. Hope-itis is a great phrase! But yes, I suspect from what I’ve read, some of these clubs were behaving in a typical startup type way of saying “the money is coming! its definitely coming!” and so its probably easier to just stick to your routine and keep doing what you’re doing than rock the boat.

        Hm. Plus, team culture and all that. If you complained you hadnt gotten paid, would that make you not a team player? Its probably like “we’re a family here!” but