weekend open thread – February 25-26, 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: None of This Would Have Happened If Prince Were Alive, by Carolyn Prusa. A woman in the midst of evacuating her family for a category four hurricane discovers her husband has been having an affair. Funnier than it sounds.

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

{ 847 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.

    1. fposte*

      These are brilliant. I feel like this was just one person’s idea and then slowly the skeptics got converted as the creation process continued. And the easter egg in October is hilarious.

    2. Fair Winds*

      All pretty funny until you realize this work product was produced by a federal agency that had other responsibilities. I am personally in a job that relies on the Army Corps and other agencies to approve projects. I can’t begin to tell you how many times that simple projects have been delayed again and again because these agencies are “too busy” to do the work.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Unless they are doing marketing for you, I can’t see how it’s related. I seriously doubt this calendar was produced by the same personnel who would be approving your projects, or that the Corps could have afforded to hire more folks with decision-making responsibility by letting go of one person who knows Photoshop.

      2. fposte*

        The Portland District of ACE has a media department. A low-budget campaign (this could be assembled in an afternoon) to heighten the profile and put a friendly face on the corps would be absolutely within the remit of that office, same as keeping up the Twitter and Instagram feeds is. This wasn’t built by people who skived off from working on a bridge for a week to do it.

        1. RLC*

          The calendar might have even been produced by an intern, student, or volunteer! I worked for a US government agency for nearly 35 years and this is exactly the sort of fun but low-risk project we’d offer to a creative/talented person in one of those roles.

      3. Pippa K*

        This seems like the same mindset that makes government employees pay for their own coffee at work. Curious to know if you also object to firefighters passing out candy from their trucks in parades, military jets doing flyovers at large sporting events, and the Oklahoma Dept of Wildlife Conservation running a very funny Twitter account. (Only one of these things costs a lot of money, and it isn’t the photoshop cat calendar.)

      4. Generic Name*

        For a counterpoint, I probably have the same job as you. I’ve been waiting for over a year for an approved jurisdictional determination. I love that USACE put out this calendar. I don’t think for a second that the folks handling permitting had anything to do with this calendar.

      5. Peanut Hamper*

        Wow. Have you never worked with government agencies before? Because most of them are under-staffed and under-budgeted for the number of requests they get.

        I find it hard to believe that a single cat calendar is the cause of all your delays. (And heaven forbid that people aren’t allowed to have a little fun at work and produce something that a lot of other people will enjoy.) I have no problem with the CoE producing this. I wish the Department of Defense actually spent more of their time doing things like cute animal calendars, and less time doing what they typically do.

  2. Jackalope*

    Reading thread! Share what you’ve been reading this week, and give or ask for recs! As always, any kind of reading is welcome.

    I started Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo a couple of weeks ago. It’s the sequel to her book Ninth House, which I had been eagerly awaiting (checking the internet for rumors of a sequel every week or two for around a year type of eager), but when I started reading it I quickly realized that I’d forgotten a lot of it. So this week I read Ninth House again, and now I’ve started Hell Bent again. I’m about 1/2way through, and am enjoying it, although I’m getting to a stressful and climactic part and I really want to get to the bit where everything’s okay-ish again.

    1. lookin' for a book*

      I’d love some reading recommendations. I’m having a hard time finding books I like.
      Things I’ve liked: anything by Fredrik Backman; Tana French; Celeste Ng; travelogues, adventure stories. Light mysteries. A japanese book (read in translation) about a dying 20-ish year old who visits all the people important to him trying to find a place for his cat.; a korean book (in translation) the old woman with a knife.

      Things I dislike: pretty much any fantasy or scifi, horror.

      1. Rosyglasses*

        Have you tried any of Haruki Murakami? The Wind Up Bird Chronicle and Hard Boiled Wonderland are two of my favorites. Japanese author, a little bit of mind bending-ness but not really sci fi or fantasy. A few other recommendations you might like are The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi, and Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I love Murakami! He’s got a lot of unexpected humor; start with his short story collection The Elephant Vanishes for a good overview of his style.

      2. Teapot Translator*

        Maybe Ovidia Yu’s books would fit the bill? She writes murder mysteries set in Singapour.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Oh, seconding this. Great sense of place. I really liked the Crown Colony mysteries, set before and during WW2.

        2. Hlao-roo*

          Another murder mystery suggestion: The Red House Mystery by A. A. Milne. Yes, the author of Winnie the Pooh. If I recall correctly, his father was a fan of murder mysteries, so he wrote one and it’s an enjoyable read.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        Favorite travelogues:
        Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell, in which she visits the sites important to our three assassinated presidents. Travel, history, ruminations.

        In a Sunburnt Country by Bill Bryson, in which he visits Australia.

      4. I take tea*

        I liked The Travelling Cat Chronicles. If you enjoy the genre “human meets animal that change their life” (I’m a bit particular to it) I can recommend some more or less autobiographical books:

        A street cat named Bob by James Bowen. A story about a homeless man in London who manages to get back on his feet, partly because of the cat Bob. There’s a sequel, but I haven’t read that one.

        Dewey by Vicky Myron and Bret Witter. A library in Iowa gets a kitty in the return box. It becomes a library cat, name Dewey Readmore Books. This story told me quite a lot about life in rural Iowa, which I found fascinating, because it’s different to my life.

        A couple of Swedish books, that seem to be translated into English:

        Olga about Olga. A cat’s reflections about her life with me by Margareta Ekström. Told from the cat’s perspective

        The old man and the cat. A love story by Nils Uddenberg. A retired Professor of Psychology became a beloved cat-owner when a cat chooses him. It has a sequel too, but it isn’t translated.

        And a non-cat story: The penguin lessons by Tom Michell. An Englishman working at a boarding school in Argentina in the 1970’s rescues an oil-drenched penguin and it become the mascot of the school where he works.

      5. I take tea*

        For travel adventures I can recommend Thor Heyerdahl. He was a Norwegian adventurer and ethnographer. His theories are quite a bit debated, but the stories about his expeditions to prove them are a fantastic read. His book about the Kon-Tiki expedition is my personal favourite. (The Kon-Tiki Expedition. By Raft Across the South Seas)

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

          LOVED *Kon-Tiki*! My 5th-grade English teacher told us about Heyerdahl’s expedition, and I was entranced Heyerdahl’s account.

      6. GoryDetails*

        Light mysteries – have you read Helene Tursten’s “Elderly Lady” collections? Loosely-linked short stories in which a beautifully diabolic octogenarian manages her life.

        Even lighter: Donna Andrews’ “Meg Langslow” books, cozy mysteries with extended-family humor.

        Travel books: the “Silent Traveller” books by Chiang Yee, from the ’40s and ’50s mainly – I adored several of them, including the ones on Boston and San Francisco.

        Classic travel/adventure books: Cherry-Garrard’s Worst Journey in the World, about Scott’s South Pole expedition – quite riveting.

        And an even older one, Incidents of Travel in Yucatan by John L. Stephens; fascinating accounts of one of the earliest explorations of the Yucatan ruins.

      7. Children's Librarian*

        Have you tried Liane Moriarty? I like her books a lot, and I think they have some crossover with Celeste Ng. (Nine Perfect Strangers gets weird and I probably wouldn’t start with that one–I really enjoyed it, but it seems to be highly divisive amongst her fans; really Big Little Lies is the place to start.)

        The voice and humor of Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson really worked for me, I think that kept it feeling like a light mystery, although it’s not cozy and does deal with some heavier topics (no heavier than a typical Tana French, though).

      8. word nerd*

        Have you read any Jhumpa Lahiri? Perhaps some overlap with Celeste Ng (I love both authors). I would suggest starting with Interpreter of Maladies (short story collection that won a Pulitzer) or The Namesake. For a light mystery, The Thursday Murder Club is fun.

      9. AY*

        If you like Celeste Ng, I can also imagine that you would enjoy Maggie O’Farrell (particularly recommend Hamnet, which is about Shakespeare’s son), Amor Towles (A Gentleman in Moscow about a count under house arrest in revolutionary Russia), or Yaa Gyasi (Transcendent Kingdom, which is about a young scientist and immigrant dealing with the recent death of her brother).

        For travelogues, I can heartily recommend Blue Latitudes and other works by Tony Horwitz. In Blue Latitudes, he traces the voyages of Captain Cook. All of his books are great.

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

        *Life on the Mississipi* and *Innocents Abroad* by Mark Twain. *The Riddle of the Sands* by Erskine Childers. *Three Men in a Boat* and *Three Men on a Bummel* by Jerome K. Jerome (which I think I saw recommended on AAM originally).

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

        Have you read Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe mysteries yet? I think of them as light mysteries, generally. They’re set from the early 1930s to the early 1970s (when the author wrote them), but the characters don’t really age, and their banter is one of the great pleasures of the series — one of the things that make them very re-readable is going back and seeing all of the subtle digs the characters make in their endless contest of one-upsmanship. These books are worth reading and re-reading slowly so that you catch all that’s going on. The books also give readers a good view into the politics and social climate of some bygone eras. Some of my personal favorites and good starter books are *Some Buried Caesar*, *Black Orchids*, and *The Second Confession.*

      12. clownfish*

        For light mystery with some humour, I’d recommend A Nun in the Closet by Dorothy Gilman! Very funny mystery about a pair of nuns who travel from their abbey to investigate an estate donated to them by a mysterious benefactor. There they find a man suffering from a gunshot wound, a suitcase full of money, and a whole bunch of goofy mystery. It’s a very fun and fast read!

    2. RagingADHD*

      Earlier this week I finished A Line to Kill by Anthony Horowitz. It’s the third in his series of self-insert mysteries, with an ex-cop as the sleuth and himself (along with ample references to his real-world books and TV writing) as the Watson character who is chronicling the adventures.

      It’s a nifty concept, and I’ve enjoyed all 3 books, but I have a feeling like the conceit may have run its course unless he finds a way to transform & transcend it. The main conflict in this episode became less about solving the mystery, and more about his own character worrying whether the book would have a commercial enough ending. In that respect it reminded me a bit of the movie Adaptation, but of course in a conventional mystery format.

      It was fun, but it’s not really a fresh idea anymore. I hope he manages to spin it in a new direction, or maybe just let three be enough.

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        There’s actually a fourth book in this series – Twist of a Knife which came out a few months ago. In this one Tony himself is the suspect after a murder of a critic who reviewed his play

        I liked this one better than the third fwiw but I agree I think it’s run it’s course

      2. Rosyglasses*

        I recently read Moonflower Murders – which seems like it’s in this series? It’s the only book I’ve read by Horowitz, and I … was not a fan at all. The only part of the book that was good was the inset mystery, and the last 40 pages or so. I generally read very quickly and quite widely, and this was a slog and a disappointment. I’m up for trying him again, but curious as to whether my experience was fairly singular?

        1. RagingADHD*

          Different series. I haven’t read Moonflower, but it is the sequel to Magpie Murders. I thought Magpie was fun and clever.

          He did the TV adaptations of Midsomar Murders, Foyles War, and many of the Poirots. IME, his novels are in the same vein: the good ones are very enjoyable if the style is to your taste. But the style isn’t for everyone, and some stuff just doesn’t quite work.

        2. Rational Lemming*

          Moonflower Murders is the second of what are so far two books with the same characters. Magpie Murders is the first. While I wouldn’t say you NEED to read Magpie Murders first, I think it would be very helpful in understanding the characters. I liked Magpie Murders a lot – partly because of the mystery in a mystery aspect. (BBC/PBS also just did a series of Magpie Murders – which I liked less than the book…)
          Horowitz might be worth another try. I like the Hawthorne books (which is the series mentioned above) but those are best started at the beginning as well – “The Word is Murder” is the first.
          I don’t love Sherlock Holmes but I did also enjoy Horowitz’s “The House of Silk”.

          1. Rosyglasses*

            I’ll give it another go – I’ve seen several of his PBS shows which is why I was so surprised that I found the book quite boring. But I’m always up for another try!

    3. germank106*

      “Paris” by Edward Rutherfurd. Listened to this while on a recent trip with the Geezer. We still have about half to go. Reading “Bleak House” before bed.

    4. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I was excited to finally finish the Chosen and the Beautiful..I tried to return a Collen Hoover book to a friend but it didn’t go well. Do I have to read it? ( Sad face emoji)

      1. word nerd*

        I like plenty of popular books, but I am not a Colleen Hoover fan at all and don’t really get the apparently massive appeal. I hear you!

        1. Rosyglasses*

          I’m not a fan of CH either – and being in the thick of bookstagram; the sheer amount of fans gets overwhelming.

    5. Girasol*

      Just finished The Circle by David Eggers, about an employee in a fictional tech company that’s like a combination of Google, Facebook, and Microsoft. It’s all about social media. It hits a little too creepily close to home for this tech worker.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          I read The Circle a few years ago, and I would recommend it if you’re looking for a present-day/near-future tech dystopia book.

        2. Girasol*

          If you’re interested in seeing where an upbeat, well-meaning high tech company might end up going, it’s a good story.

    6. GoryDetails*

      Current reads include:

      MY BRAIN IS DIFFERENT, a non-fiction manga-format look at the author’s own experiences with ADHD and the accounts of others with that and/or other developmental disorders.

      MOLASSES MURDER IN A NUTSHELL by Frances McNamara, a mystery set in 1919 and featuring real-life character Frances Glessner Lee, who created a number of intricate miniature crime-scenes with such detail that they were used to help train law enforcement officers in how to gather evidence. The novel fictionalizes several aspects of her life but adheres to many historic incidents and locales – including the deadly Molasses Flood. And it also adheres to the many restrictions on women; even the most sympathetic characters sometimes get quite demanding as to when Lee should stand down. Frustrating, but realistic!

      1. ICodeForFood*

        There’s a non-fiction book about Frances Glessner Lee, too. “Eighteen Tiny Deaths” by Bruce Goldfarb. A little slow at times, but worth reading.

    7. Bluebell*

      Fairly light reading this week- the latest Mary Kubica, which was just OK, the Stand In by Lily Chu, which was a cute romance with a fun premise, and Mean Baby the memoir by Selma Blair. Night Wherever We Go is next, and I expect it will be intense.

    8. The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon*

      I just finished The Hands of the Emperor, which I heard about in the comments here. Thank you to those who recommended it! I loved it so much and missed several bedtimes because of it! It’s very much doing its own thing as a book (going from the Emperor’s meeting the Moon to an extended debate on universal basic income like nbd), which is my favorite thing and I was rooting for basically everyone (but especially Kip). I’m waiting a bit to read the sequel so I can look forward to it and savor it even more.
      I’m currently reading Still Life because I’ve been meaning to get started on the Gamache series for ages, and I’m enjoying it. It is suffering by being the next book after a book I absolutely loved, to be fair, but I’m getting more and more into it.

      1. word nerd*

        Do you know if there are going to be more books in the series besides the sequel? I’m trying to avoid starting series that aren’t complete. (For example, I’m very impatient to read the next Murderbot and wish I hadn’t started the series yet so I could’ve binged it in one go. Love your username, btw.)

        The writing in Still Life is lovely!

        1. AcademiaNut*

          Goddard has said there will be a third direct sequel, but no timescale on when. Her writing is very interconnected, though – there are books and stories closely connected that aren’t direct series, and the Greenwing and Dart series, which lightly connects, so it’s not really the kind of thing that’s going to be completely done.

    9. AngelicGamer (she/her)*

      I just finished Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny and I might need to just sit in a dark cave for a while over it. She put something that was Canadian history (Project Babylon) and made it her own to the point where I thought it was all fiction until the author’s note. It was brilliantly done and it also came with the question of can we forgive the artist and enjoy their art in the form of a serial killer turned playwright. Just really good but heavy.

    10. Rosyglasses*

      Re-Read “The House in the Cerulean Sea” (which I first heard about here and it was a marvelous read a few years ago, and again this time). Then ordered and read “Under the Whispering Door”, also by TJ Klune – and cried no less than three times (mostly happy tears).

      Read “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” for the place in which we do not speak of on the weekends (a spin on 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, but for work) — and the bones of it are good, and decidedly less evangelical leaning than its source material (which I was glad for).

      Today I read “White Chrysanthemum” which was a very unexpected story, but one that I am grateful I was exposed to. Written from the perspectives of two sisters, one in the 1940’s in Korea at age 16, and the other sister at age 70+ in 2011. Set during the Japanese occupation of Korea, we learn about ‘comfort girls’ which I had never learned about, and apparently as of 2015, Japan has still never formally acknowledged. Beautifully written, but painful to read at times. (Content warning for sexual assault scenes if you choose to pick this one up)

      Next on my list is to finish the hefty first (!!) volume about JFK, written by Pulitzer Prize winner Fredrik Longevall. It clocks in at 700 pages, and I got about halfway through it last year. I WILL finish it!

    11. JustForThis*

      I’m looking for recommendations for a very specific interest: books with sentient houses / dwelling places.

      So far, I’ve read:
      * Two classics, Robin McKinley’s Chalice (the house is not sentient, but the grounds are) and Spindle’s End (featuring a sentient castle)
      * A.J. Lancaster’s Stariel-Series, which features basically exactly what I’m looking for: a house which is it’s own kind of character, contributing to the plot.
      * Matteson Wynn’s (as yet unfinished) Housekeeping-Series; again with a house as a central character
      * The first volume of the Ilona Andrews’ Innkeeper-Chronicles. I felt that the Inn is less of a character and more reacting to orders.
      * Jessica Day George, Tuesdays at the Castle, a charming middle grade book with a very much sentient castle.
      * Becky Chambers’ sentient ships in the Wayfarer novels scratch that same itch for me.

      On my to-read list are:
      * John DeChancie, Castle Perilous
      * GennaRose Nethercott, Thistlefoot
      * Jenny Schwartz, The House that Walked Between the Worlds

      I’d love further recommendations!

      1. word nerd*

        Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones–the castle is probably enchanted to behave the way it does, but it does feel like it’s almost sentient in some of its actions. A bonus is that if you haven’t read any DWJ before, you’re in for a treat since she’s written many excellent stories!

      2. Reba*

        The Ancillary series by Ann Leckie
        The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie
        Scholomance series by Naomi Novik — it’s a boarding school not a house but hey!

        Arguably, Piranesi by Susanna Clarke? (Though I think it’s not for everyone, this is one of most extraordinary books I’ve ever read)

        Horror/gothic entries:
        What Moves the Dead (retelling of the House of Usher) by T Kingfisher
        White is for Witching by Helen Oyoyemi

        The Sabriel series by Garth Nix — it’s more enchanted than sentient, and honestly not all that much of the action takes place in the house… But I love to recommend the first three books in this YA series.

      3. GoryDetails*

        T. Kingfisher’s BRYONY AND ROSES might count; it’s a re-imagining of “Beauty and the Beast,” and the House is a key character.

      4. Jackalope*

        The High House by James Stoddard and its sequel The False House. (I just discovered that there’s a 3rd book in the series but I haven’t read it so can’t say how good it is.) It’s been awhile so I don’t remember how much of the house is sentient vs. being magical and richly strange, but the house is definitely something of a character in the book.

      5. Lurker*

        Seven Empty Houses: Samanta Schweblin. Not sure if it’s exactly what you’re looking for but you might find it interesting.

      6. Rose is a rose is a rose*

        Ooh ooh ooh! If you are into short fiction I just finished listening to Levar Burton read Nnedi Okorafor’s “Mother of Invention”!

        “A young woman in a future Nigeria find herself in a deadly pollen storm, alone but for her smart home.”

      7. Silence*

        The innkeeper series gets more into the inns and what feeds them after the first book but are still minor characters

      8. Hlao-roo*

        If you want a horror take on sentient buildings/houses, I recommend:

        The Shining by Stephen King
        House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

  3. Jackalope*

    Gaming thread! Everyone share what games you’ve been playing. As always, all games are welcome, not just video games.

    I’ve unexpectedly had a week of no gaming – D&D was canceled because of the holiday Monday and I’ve been too busy reading to game. Maybe tonight.

    1. HA2*

      Been playing The Wandering Village! Neat game about a village you get to build up on top of a giant walking monster dinosaur thing (called an Onbu).

    2. Not Australian*

      Just completed my second year playing ‘Forge of Empires’ and I now have three villages. With the first, I’m struggling to get out of the Contemporary Era and into Tomorrow: the other two are at least a year behind that.

    3. Bookgarden*

      My partner and I are interested in getting into DnD. We’ve never played it and just started watching Critical Role so that piqued our interest. However, we both have decades of experience playing console and PC RPGs for, so we’re able to follow along pretty well.

      I read that it’s possible to play a DnD scenario with just two people and thought it’d be a fun activity for the two of us (a larger group would not work due to a health issue I’m struggling with right now). Does anyone here have any experience with this? If so, are there any campaigns or other things you can recommend?

      I also heard about the board game Descent, and that it works for two people with an online app acting as the DM-type character. Would this be a better idea for us, or are the games so different to the point that it’s not at all a similar experience to DnD?

      Any comments or recommendations are much appreciated!

      1. Princess Peach*

        My partner and I play RPGs with just the two of us. We use the official rules / stats / dice as a baseline and then do whatever works from there. We mostly use Star Wars: Force & Destiny or D&D. One of us writes the scenario and plays as the GM. The other one plays two to three characters at the same time. We found that one character alone has too limited a skill set, especially in models like D&D that are designed around an ensemble group. The scenario is usually some specific mystery or quest that can be fully solved / completed in a couple hours.

        The other thing we discovered in the wilds of 2020 were Unlock games. The escape-room-in-a-box concept is fairly popular, and several brands make them. The Unlock series by Space Cowboys combines physical components with a phone app, and that makes it a bit more dynamic. We’ve had a lot of fun with those.

        1. Bookgarden*

          Thanks so much for the advice! Glad to see that this works out. Seems like the consensus is that one of us should control a party, so I think we’ll go ahead and do that. I guess we just need to decide whether to go with D&D, Pathfinder, SW, or something else entirely.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        We’re running a Pathfinder adventure path with three of us – one GM and two players – though we originally didn’t expect my husband to play so it was just gonna be me as a solo player. The adventure paths are usually written for 3-4 players, so this was my opportunity to play the pack lord saurian shaman druid that I’ve been planning for years – at level 2, I have two “fauxlociraptor” (jurassic park style velociraptors, not biologically accurate ones, I forget what the correct name for them is) companions, 4 of them by level 5, and by level 8, all four of them will be awakened and I’ll basically be playing the whole party of two druids, a barbarian, a sorcerer and a rogue all by myself. :D

        1. Bookgarden*

          Oh that sounds like so much fun! I hope you, your fauxlociraptors, and the rest of your party have a great adventure!

      3. Jackalope*

        I don’t know if this will help or not, and maybe you’ve already considered it. But if you’re concerned about being around people for D&D or about going somewhere, just wanted to say that our D&D group has been playing via Zoom for almost 3 years now with no problems. It’s possible to play D&D with real maps and minis and everything, but it’s also possible to play just with theater of the mind. If that would make it easier for you to play with another couple of people you could give it a try. (If not then please ignore.)

        1. Bookgarden*

          Thanks for responding! At this time my biggest concern is that I won’t be very dependable for meeting once a week or the like. I don’t want to have to keep cancelling at the last minute due to a physical or mental health issue, but with just my partner we can pick it up at any time. When this is resolved, I’ll be very interested in an online group!

    4. Generic Name*

      I got wingspan and finally played it for the first time. It’s very complicated! My husband, who has been playing tabletop games for decades is very confused by it. I think I’m getting it, but I’m trying to think who I can play it with to make games of more than just 2 people. I’m a biologist, and I work with a bunch of other biologists, so I’ll see if maybe anyone’s played it before.

      1. CG*

        I was so excited to get Wingspan, but my partner and I can’t figure out how to play! So complicated. Whats the payoff like in terms of entertaining gameplay? Would you recommend powering through until it starts making sense?

        1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

          We had some trouble getting started too. I think the instructions aren’t written super well. I bet there are YouTube videos that might explain it better.

          1. Effin Birb*

            I like Wingspan quite a bit! One of my board game group friends describes it as “a really simple engine builder,” but my family, with less gaming experience, was VERY confused when I got it for them for Christmas and we tried playing. (TBF, we started playing kind of late in the evening and I probably didn’t do the best job of explaining!)

            Basically, your goal is to get the most points by building a bird habitat. On each turn, you can take one of four actions: playing a bird card, getting food tokens (which you need to play birds), laying eggs (which you eventually need and which are worth points in their own right at the end of the game), or drawing a bird card. You play a bird card in one of three habitats: forest [food], grassland [eggs], or wetlands [draw bird cards]. The more birds you play in a particular habitat, the more you have to pay each time (in eggs, specifically), but the more benefit you get in later turns if you take the action that corresponds to that habitat. For example, if you play a lot of birds in the forest, you’ll collect more food each time you gather food. If you have birds in the grasslands, you’ll get more eggs, and in the wetlands, you’ll get more bird cards.

            This is a pretty good (if fast-paced) explainer video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueb7VOth0V4.

            I would say it’s not so much the gameplay that’s complicated (the core of it is pretty easy – you take 1 of 4 actions each turn) as that it has a lot of different parts and different ways to get points. I would say after 2-3 times playing, you’ll likely have a much better feel for it and it does reward replay as you start getting better at strategy. But it takes a bit of time for some of the more advanced elements to make sense (like tucking birds, caching food, winning round points, etc.).

            Of course, you can totally flip the table and quit anytime you want! No one can make you play it if you’re not feeling it.

          2. Bart*

            It took us a few times to figure it out but it is our favorite game now!! There is a sample game included in the box—did you try it? It helps limit choices while introducing you to the game. We thought that was helpful.

      2. Reba*

        My suggestion for smoother play is to find ways to make resources less scarce. You could as one idea (a house rule we use), not discard food at the start of the game. Or you could try always just letting people take the eggs they need to play birds (rather than need to earn/gather them only through play).

        It *is* really complicated and for me, resource scarcity is super frustrating and makes the game go too slowly. Especially for people who are not familiar with the complicated, many-little-bits contemporary tabletop games, there is kinda no payoff. IMO the fun part is when your engine starts working, but it takes too long to eke out birds to get there.

        The People Make Games video about it is a good watch. They seem to come down on “disappointing” overall, I still feel like at least you get to look at the bird cards for a couple hours!

    5. srahm*

      I played Coup with some friends recently – super easy to learn card game with a strong strategy component, it goes fast and is really fun!

    6. Dinoweeds*

      I just started playing The Last Campfire on my Switch and holy cow do I love it! Interesting puzzles and cute characters.

    7. AngelicGamer (she/her)*

      Been playing Bowser’s Fury today after I spent the rest of the week doing speed run courses on Mario Maker 2. No Giovanni chronicles this week but will be next week. We’re at the London Fire of 1666 which, ya know, vampires will not react well to.

    8. Cartographical*

      I’ve been catching up on the Dragon Age tabletop game in order to run some sessions. So far so good. I’ve been a devotee of BioWare games for years and there’s a lot of nostalgia there in addition to some good-looking modules.

    9. MEH Squared*

      I’m back on an Elden Ring (FromSoft) kick. I usually play From games as a Pyro, but have not for this one because there are so many other juicy magicks. On my current run, I’m trying to go as pure Pyro as possible now. I’m having a blast and waiting for Armored Core 6 (also by FromSoft) to come out this year.

    1. talos*

      Curious for people’s recommendations for relatively easy indoor plants that will do well with…basically no light?

      I love in a first-story apartment…that has only north-facing windows…in the Seattle area.

      1. Amory Blaine*

        In my north facing Alaskan windows, I have miscellaneous ivies, philodendrons, string of hearts, and spider plants. There are lots of good looking LED plant lamps available these days, though, if you want to grow something a bit more exciting!

      2. Siege*

        I have oxalis and a peace lily doing the best in my north-facing Seattle windows. I have a bunch of neanthes, all several years old, that I need to look into better care for, a Ming Aralia that turned itself into an eight-foot Dr Seuss tree 15 years ago, a nerve plant, an oak leaf ivy that’s reviving after a major cutback, and maybe a Pothos or something like it.

        I got a ficus triangularis, a myrtle, and an olive tree on in December. The ficus lost most of its leaves but seems stable now. The olive is thriving, and I think I’m going to lose the myrtle but I’m not sure.

        I did a big repot in November, so things are still settling. I do have good light even though it’s north-facing, because the building next door is a story and a half lower due to elevation change, so it’s unblocked light. You might get good results with a couple of lights. I’ve lived here 17 years, so other than the three newest, it’s not like I brought them in from a better setup elsewhere. I don’t care for dealing with humidity so I gave up on ferns years ago, but a lot of folks have them; ficus benjamina will typically do pretty well once you figure out your plant’s specific needs. (Every ficus I have ever known is picky in a different way from the others, including the glorious one my parents had that died when I aged out of talking to it. They are the most “I do not vibe with this soil” plant.)

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        My local nursery had a thing called a succulent platter, with pretty succulents in a shallow tray. Succulents can take a lot. (The one my daughter left with me thrived on being left alone for two weeks over Xmas.)

      4. GoryDetails*

        My go-to for low-light plants would be pothos – but you might also look into a small Aerogarden unit (or other self-watering/lighting gadget). I usually use mine for lettuces, but have had great success with stocks – the flowers have been blooming for weeks now, fragrant and quite lovely. [That said, it took about 8 weeks before the first blossom appeared, and when the plant exhausts itself I’ll have to start over – but I’m very pleased with it as an enhancement to the dreary winter!]

      5. e271828*

        KatEnigma suggests air plants. I have had a lot of success with air plants shallowly set in small polished ceramic trays (like, Ikea candle dishes, about 1/3″ deep or so) or, in one case, a long narrow dish that was for olives? like you were supposed to put a single row of giant olives in it. It worked perfectly filled with gravel with a row of air plants in it. Air plants like bright indirect light on a windowsill, they can be misted lightly daily (do not let water pool at the base of the leaves, but the gravel can be damp), and some of them may bloom and throw offshoots once they are settled. They do not like to be disturbed, so keep out of pets’ way.

      6. ProcessMeister*

        Zanzibar Gem (Zamioculcas) might be ideal if you can get it in your area. Mine gets a small amount of indirect afternoon sun and gets watered maybe every 3-4 months. One of the few indoor plants I haven’t managed to kill. (I do have a green thumb but it goes brown when I step indoors).

    2. KatEnigma*

      We planted a gardenia and “get some flowers for the 3rd tier of our stackable strawberry pot” ended up with my son picking out a Gerber Daisy that takes up the whole tier. We also got beautiful blue glazed terracotta pots for our front walk (bump outs on both sides created for pots in each house of the neighborhood) in which I planted pink geraniums. We are zone 9a. We lived in Zone 9a in San Jose/South Bay Area for years, and even with scorching South facing balconies, and not remembering to water it consistently, we had a geranium in a large pot that we dragged from rental to rental and finally to Wisconsin, that survived all the heat and abuse for 12+ years. So I am counting on it being able to survive Texas sun, especially as they are next to part of our sprinkler system.

      Otherwise we have a raised bed planted with tomatoes and carrots. It’s our second year here, and we learned last year that we needed to move the garden into some shade… We never have much luck with carrots, but the 5 yr old wanted them.

    3. Amory Blaine*

      Starting artichokes from seeds! I bought plants at the farmers market last year and was delighted to have multiple artichokes producing in my Alaskan garden, so I’m trying to start my own this year. We are also planting an orchard, so I’m deep into research on fruit varieties appropriate for far northern gardens!

      1. Pennyworth*

        If they are globe artichokes, you can get new plants quicker by taking off the side shoots from the base, and they will be true to the parent plant. Seedlings can be a bit variable.

    4. Green Goose*

      My husband is growing cilantro in the kitchen window with our two year old. They are sprouting and I added some to a taco!

      1. allathian*

        You’re lucky that you can enjoy cilantro. I’m one of those with the gene that makes it feel like soap in my mouth, unfortunately. I can enjoy it in small amounts, such as in guacamole, but I don’t like the leaves as a garnish in Asian food. Interestingly enough I quite enjoy coriander seeds in food, as well as other herbs from the coriander family, such as parsley.

    5. Old Plant Woman*

      Can you add more light? LED shop lights look industrial, but are clean and white, inexpensive and plants love them. If you can afford it, there are beautiful indoor lamps to spot light one plant. There are a lot of recommendations for low light plants. But my experience is that all plants, and people, need more light to thrive than we really expect.

    6. Missb*

      I promised I’d only grow two types of tomatoes this year, but then I started buying some seeds from Ukraine. I have a ridiculous amount of tomato starts. I’ll be testing the local deer, who haven’t entered the yard since we fenced it (we have dogs). I have too many to plant within the fenced vegetable garden.

      I’m growing a lot of pansies and coleus from seed this year.

      I’m also growing some blue turmeric. I bought some from a seed company (roots/tuber/whatever they’re called, not seeds).

      1. KatEnigma*

        I said 3, and we planted 4. I’ve had as many as 9… That was the year my parents house sat for us for all of July while we were in Kyiv, coincidentally, waiting for our son to be born. I was growing tomatoes for us both. Then we unexpectedly moved cross country in December and I had to dump most of the frozen tomatoes I had in the freezer.

    7. Jackalope*

      Question: we have some critter (I think squirrels) jumping in some of our young cherry trees and breaking off the branches. I think they already managed to kill one of them by breaking ALL of them off. Any suggestions on how to make them stop, or how to protect the branches from breaking?

    8. Not Australian*

      Our garden’s embarrassing: the gardener stopped coming during the pandemic and we have no idea if he’s still in business, and the work is a bit beyond us now. Seriously considering fencing off part of it and just leaving it alone while we concentrate on the rest.

    9. Professor Plum*

      I’ve been experimenting with microgreens. I’ve had good luck with pea shoots and a mix of broccoli, kale and cabbage. Fun to add them to my salads.

    10. fposte*

      I have plans to ungrow things. The backyard has become a wilderness and I haven’t been up to dealing for a few years. Though a friend who does bonsai is all excited about getting some of my Rose of Sharon, so I guess it’s growing something new for somebody.

      In the meantime, my huge amaryllis is in late bud which means I need to find something to stake it, as it falls over when it blooms. If I don’t come back, the garage ate me.

    11. Callie*

      A friend is lending us his seed starting set up, so we’re just getting going with picking seeds. I don’t think we’re going to do any new fruits or veggies this year. We tried a lot of new plants last year. All the vegetables worked out. We are still waiting for some of the fruit plants to mature (and figuring out a strategy for the birds…)
      We are going to add more plants to my daughters sensory garden and fountain. We got several different types of native perennials last year…but my dog apparently doesn’t like phlox and dug up several plants.

    12. RussianInTexas*

      My two oleander bushes did not survive the last freeze. I need to replace them with something of similar size and non-major roots.
      I know nothing about plants. I don’t do plants. I don’t want to do plants, but that was need something. I need something that can be planted and never touched.
      I am right on the border of 8b and 9a zones (I learned about zones!)
      Any suggestions? I was thinking myrtle of since sort, maybe?

      1. PostalMixup*

        You might want to look into what plants are native to your area – they’ll do the best with your climate, and often don’t have to be watered once established, or watered only very infrequently.

        1. fposte*

          Even just asking on a local FB or Nextdoor type group will get you good information about what thrives in your neck of the woods. If you have enough experience to identify shrubs you see you can just walk around the neighborhood and see what predominates, too. Usually it’ll also be what’s common at nurseries.

        2. KatEnigma*

          Also, that reminds me- plant in Fall, not Spring. So the plants can get established before the heat of summer.

      2. KatEnigma*

        Nothing seems to kill the azaleas. Not even the one that was starting to bloom before the Christmas freeze. We’ve lived here a year and only trimmed them once- they seem to maintain their shape with minimum maintenance.

    13. PostalMixup*

      I’m aiming to start a native garden this year in a formerly weedy spot. I did the sheet mulching last year. I’ve got seeds winter sown in milk jugs – and my liatris are showing signs of sprouting! It’s very exciting, but I’m also very impatient for the rest of them to start coming up. We also just got an itty bitty baby redbud to plant near the patio and eventually one day give shade. We’d have gotten a dogwood, too, but the nursery was out of stock. And finally, we’re in the process of replacing our Japanese barberry bushes (oh, the thorns!) with New Jersey tea. It’s going to be a big year for our yard!

    14. Ally*

      My kiwi fruit plant is dying I think :( yellow around the edges of the leaves – any suggestions? Have put nutrient pellets in the soil and keep it well watered

      1. Venus*

        Sorry for the late reply. My suggestion for region-specific problems are to find local groups that can help you. I have noticed that even in the same part of the country there are variations to weather that make advice region-specific. I found a facebook group for my city that is very helpful.

    15. Other Meredith*

      Probably not anything new, but I’m trying a new setup. My regular yard garden has been struggling the last couple of years, so I’m going to do all container gardening on my deck and hope that at least that will keep everything from being killed by the fast growing weeds.

    16. Overeducated*

      I planted daffodil, tulip, and allium bulbs in my little back garden bed bordering the house, and green leaves are starting to come up! I’m tickled! I think I may have killed one of the 3 rose bushes that were planted when we moved in though. It looked like it had that spiky stem fungus and I panicked and pruned1 it way too aggressively out of fear it would spread to the other two. (Maybe inevitable though.)

      Later in spring I have a lot of goals but they’re not plans yet. I want to do a container garden out front with whatever clearance plants I can find again, that worked well last year. And I also want to plant a garden in a shady patch where grass never grows, with ferns, coleus, caladeum, and geraniums, maybe, but the soil’s pretty dry and packed and I haven’t even managed to figure out how to get large quantities of compost and mulch without a truck. Tips?

    17. BlueWolf*

      I think I bought about 12 new types of seeds for this year. Some of it will be experimentation for sure. I’d like to get a perennial pollinator garden going although starting from seeds is obviously the slow method. I do have some annual flower seeds like zinnias and cosmos I can sprinkle in to fill it out in the meantime. Also trying some new veggies: carrots, radishes, cauliflower, cucumbers, bok choy, a couple new varieties of lettuce, a new tomato variety that is supposed to be more disease resistant, and a new pepper variety. Last year I tried growing sweet corn in one of my raised beds because I love it, but it didn’t go that well, so I have a ton of space freed up to try a bunch of other veggies.

    18. The OG Sleepless*

      I’m trying something that is almost certainly not going to work: ranunculus. We visited The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA last May, the last weekend the ranunculus looked good. On impulse my daughter and I bought some bare-root ranunculus plants. The package said they would *thrive* in the southern California climate with almost no rain from May to November and a temperature range of 50 to 80 degrees. So of course I planted them in Atlanta, where the rainfall teeters between downpours and drought from May to November, and with a temperature range of 30 to 95. I planted them in the fall and they are supposed to be coming up now. Nothing so far, but you never know, I guess.

      1. KatEnigma*

        Yeah, I grew them in Santa Clara, CA. Streetview shoes me they are still there, 12 years later.

        There was one in our front garden in Houston that hasn’t died… But it was blooming when we moved in last December (why I know what it is) and nothing since. Both places are 9a, but Houston is much wetter!

    19. SofiaDeo*

      Going to start some Arenaria Montana indoors, to transplant outside later. This yard was all mulch and rock when we got the place, not a true xeriscaping and there is erosion occurring. We’re on a sloped lot in the Rocky Mountain foothills. So I am getting seed from outsidepride.com. Also getting one of their drought resistant grass mixes for the front yard, to replace the stupid “high water required” lawn most everyone has. This company has also developed a micro clover I am going to mix in with the grass, to help enrich this clay soil. We have a huge deer problem being in the foothills, and I am hoping these plants won’t be a huge attractant. Iam looking at mmm 10% or less clover mixed in with the grass, to not be super attractive for the deer. Supposedly this grass mix and the microclover can be “trained” to only grow 2-4 inches tall. Thus not only will I be using a lot less water, I will need to mow at most once a month! All my neighbors water every other day as allowed, then have to mow like weekly, the bluegrass mix grows 6+ inches and they don’t want that. I am planning on the Ariana to be ground cover near the house and areas hard to get at with a mower (before putting in a shrub and/or small tree). Since we removed all the rock from around the house 2 years ago, it seems much cooler in the summer even though there have been some record temps. So I hope this plan will eventually play out in having a low water use, drought resistant, deer resistant, butterfly friendly (the bee friendly stuff will be at the perimeter) yard we can walk around on bare feet.

  4. L. Ron Jeremy*

    Snow in California! Did any Californians get snow where they live?

    I’m in Fremont and didn’t get any, but I can see it on Mission Peak. How much did you get?

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      I haven’t been able to get up there myself, but there’s snow not far from me on Mt. Tamalpais. It’s visible for miles. The roads on the ridges in the park and adjacent public lands have been closed due to snow. Incredible.

      1. There You Are*

        I lived in SFO (and then Walnut Creek) for 3 years back in the 1990’s. I hiked Mt Tam as often as I could. Always wondered what it would look like with snow. Off to Google… :-)

    2. Rara Avis*

      San Jose. Can see lots on the hills around me, but none on the valley floor. But none of my colleagues who commute from Santa Cruz made it over the hill today!

      1. Manders*

        Aww, I used to work in Vacaville. It snowed (or “snowed”) once when I was working there, visible as just a light dusting in the hills toward the east. People were pulling off to the side of I-80 to take photos :)

    3. Aphrodite*

      Yes! I’m in Santa Barbara and we have snow on the mountains. The 154 was shut down for a while. It is exciting beyond belief.

    4. KatEnigma*

      We lived in Fremont our last year in California!

      Near 880, so no views of snow covered hills. That happened pretty regularly in Santa Clara though.

    5. fposte*

      Not in California, but we had graupel last night and I was very excited, because I’d only learned what it is a few years ago and correctly guessed that’s what we were seeing. So I guess this is also one for the small joys thread.

    6. All Monkeys are French*

      We got it on the north coast! We can see it on the mountains every year, but it never gets down here to sea level. I had two or three inches on my car Thursday morning, and half the staff stayed home from work. I made it in, along with the rest of the Yankees who work there.

    7. 1LFTW*

      I’m at sea level, so we didn’t get snow, but I can see the snow on Mt Diablo from my neighborhood.

  5. InTheCity*

    How do you figure out (or ask?) new acquaintances you’re hanging out with the level of friendship they’re looking for? I’m in a group chat of 8 women who responded to a FB post in our neighborhood group about interest in making neighborhood friends. We text every so often but have been planning monthly hangouts; we’ve hung-out 3 times.

    I really like everyone in the group and don’t have many friends in my city so I would love to build some closer friendships with them but I can’t tell if that’s what the other women are looking for. No one has initiated plans to hang out more than once a month and I don’t believe anyone has hung out outside of the monthly get-togethers. A few weeks ago, I was antsy to get out of the house and put out a last minute text about hanging out the next day. Everyone was busy (they said?) so it made me apprehensive about being ‘rejected’ again.

    I think because I have so few friends, I’m hyper sensitive about seeming desperate. Do I just start trying to initiate hangouts more regularly and see what happens/take their lead and back off if no interest? I never thought I’d be asking friends ‘what are we/what are you looking for’ but here we are!

    1. RagingADHD*

      I think asking would be pressure. Maybe approach one or 2 people at a time for something that is not so last-minute, but not a big production. Coffee or lunch.

      A last minute group text to 8 people is unlikely to get traction. One on one or two for a get together within the week is easier to work out.

    2. Not A Manager*

      Nah, don’t do that. And I wouldn’t put out a group blast, either. I think that “let’s talk about our relationship” could be a little off-putting (it would be for me, and honestly, I’m not usually looking for “close friendship” as much as I’m open to it if I genuinely click with the person). And I think the group text makes it too easy for people to feel sort of anonymous.

      I would just text one of the women and suggest something low-key. I like to provide 2 definite time options – not like, “do you want to get coffee sometime,” but more like “I’m on partial WFH next week – do you want to grab lunch on Tuesday or Friday?” I feel like that gives the person enough leeway to pick one that works or suggest something different, but isn’t so open-ended that they can’t easily say no.

      1. Chief Petty Officer Tabby*

        Except — easily saying no should be an option. Are we children, that “no, I don’t want to hang out with you.” isn’t an acceptable option? It’s so weird that you would suggest trying to force a yes out of someone.

        1. RagingADHD*

          NAM is advising to make it *easy* to say no. Not to make it difficult.

          By specifying 2 times, they can politely be “busy,” which makes it easy to say no if they want to. Leaving it completely open ended makes it harder to say no without being rude.

          Of course it’s always an option to say, “I don’t want to hang out with you,” but it is a pretty aggressive snub that most people wouldn’t want to give to someone who has never done anything rude or hurtful. Because, as you point out, we are not children and have learned a few manners.

        2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          I read “isn’t so open-ended that they can’t easily say no” to mean “choose something that has enough structure that they can easily say no if they want”.

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          As humans of any age, we don’t tend to enjoy hearing that someone is never going to want to hang out with us.

          That’s why the general advice, including NaM’s, is to issue more specific invitations–“Hey, do you want to grab coffee Monday afternoon?” so that “gosh I can’t then” is a workable response, whether “can’t” means “because I legit have a conflicting appointment” or “because I’m not in the mood this week” or “because I will always be busy.

          The advice from Miss Manners 1.0 was that if Person A issued three such specific invitations (specific activity at specific time and place) and Person B was always busy, Person A should take this as a polite “stop asking” and Person B should take this as “You know you’ve been legitimately busy every time A asked, but A just knows you said ‘no’, so if you would like to hang out sometime the ball is now in your court to issue A a specific invitation to do that.”

          (A modern thing that I am finding annoying–I think it was in a letter last week–is the person who wants others to issue invitations, to which this person will alway say no. But they want to feel included by having others invite them places. People want to get on with planning their social lives with people who have some inclination to show up, reciprocate, etc.)

          1. RagingADHD*

            I really don’t get that mindset, because I was brought up that if you invite someone 2 or 3 times to different things and they always decline without inviting you, that means you should leave them alone, and that continuing to invite them would be pushy and obnoxious.

            1. ecnaseener*

              Agreed, so if you want people to keep inviting you you have to make that explicit – “Oh no I can’t make that time, that’s such a bummer bc I really do want to see you more! hopefully I’ll be free next time!”

    3. Liminality*

      So, back in the day we’d call the conversation with a dating partner where we ask, ‘so where do you see this thing between us going?’ the DTR or Define The Relationship.
      I just cracked myself up trying to come up with a better acronym for Define The Friendship than DTF as I’m pretty sure that one is already claimed.
      That said, I don’t really have much advice for you as I am also not super sure how to DT-whatever, so at least I can offer the comfort of knowing you are not alone?
      Good Luck!

    4. Double A*

      Once a month seems pretty frequent for an adult friendship! And I mean that in a good way, like that means they like hanging out. I have kids so it complicates things, but I’ll go literally months between when I can make it work to see an in town friend, and if I see an out of town friend every 2 years it’s basically because we’re besties.

      1. Double A*

        (And by “complicates things” I mostly mean my kids get all of us sick constantly so aligning being healthy with other families’ windows of being healthy is difficult).

      2. RussianInTexas*

        I don’t have kids, and neither do most of my friends, but we all have jobs, other family obligations, live in different parts of town now, and simply are getting older and more tired.
        Once a month is lucky.

      3. new year, new name*

        I agree! It can take me a month just to *schedule* a time to see a friend, LOL

        I think if you’re looking for more frequent get-togethers, you might want something that you don’t have to schedule: that is, something that happens at the same time every week (or whatever) and you and your friends can show up together. For example, I met most of my local friends doing parkrun, and our parkrun crew also frequents a local pub trivia night. So if I want to see them, I know I can show up at the park on Saturday mornings or the bar on Wednesday evenings. There is absolutely no way I’d be able to see friends twice per week if I had to schedule those get-togethers each time!

        1. Silence*

          I agree with having an activity scheduled that others are welcome to attend or not. My mother has a daily walking group, I have a weekly tai chi group that meets in the park. Both have core members who show up most sessions and others who are less consistent

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      I feel the same way whenever I’ve joined social groups, and while I’d be very weirded out if someone tried to have a “define our friendship” talk I’d be THRILLED for them to invite me to do something aside from the monthly book club or whatever. Try either planning more casual things (I want to see Movie next week, anyone interested in joining?) or reach out to one or two of the people you click with the most with a similar type of invite.

    6. Still*

      Don’t ask the big existential question, ask small, specific questions that are an easy yes or no. I think the way to go is to plan things you will happy doing by yourself and invite people to come along if they want to. “I’m going to see the new Magic Mike on Thursday at 6, let me know by Tuesday if you want to come along”. You can either message the group chat or try a smaller, more specific thing: “Hey Specific Friend, I’m going to check out that museum we talked about, I was thinking Saturday or Sunday this week. Would you like to come along?”

      1. Nicosloanita*

        I would agree with this, but also – next time the group hangs out you could mention something like this that you want to do anyway and ideally wouldn’t mind doing alone, and see if anyone takes you up on it. I’d try two or three different things over time (a museum, a movie, a sports event?) before I concluded they didn’t want to hang out more than we already are.

    7. 40ish*

      Seems like you have only known them for a few months, building friendships takes time. I second the suggestion to text them for individual hangouts, it is likely one or two of them will be interested. I also get rejected with short term proposals all the time, it is tough to make these work.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      I think people might not have a clear idea of what this new friendship will be in time, beyond “more friends,” and so asking them to pre-define it would be counter productive. Someone can be picturing a deep friendship but that isn’t naturally evolving with anyone right now; someone else can be looking for casual friends until they meet Sonia and bam, clickage.

      I would kind of expect the 8 to gradually sort into people you see more and less often, based on schedule and compatibility and interests.

      I’d suggest proposing a “hey, want to get coffee Saturday?” to individuals in the group, rather than proposing all hangouts to the group as a whole.

    9. Courageous cat*

      “What are we/what are you looking for” in a friendship is almost always gonna come off a bit strong. They’re just not the kind of interpersonal relationships where that needs to be defined. I would just occasionally ask someone here and there and see if anything flourishes.

    10. There You Are*

      At the next gathering, have something fun planned / in mind for, say, two weeks later (a play, dinner at a new place, hiking in a pretty location, etc.), then announce that you’ll be doing X-thing and ask if anyone would like to join you.

      And then do the fun thing solo if no one takes you up on it. (1) It’ll still be a good time for you, if a bit muted; but (2) it gives you something interesting to talk about at the next gathering, where you can announce Fun Thing #2 you’ll be doing in a week or two, if anyone wants to join you.

      1. JustForThis*

        This is what I would strongly recommend as well. Plan something you would really like to do anyway (a movie, going to a museum etc.) and ask whether anyone would like to join you. A two week lead time, as There You Are suggests, sounds good. And definitely go in any case!

  6. Needing a printer*

    Printer recommendation please! I need to replace my home printer — I’m asking it here instead of on the Open Work Thread since this is for my personal use and no-one is going to help me with installation or trouble-shooting, It needs to be fairly compact and lightweight as I can’t lift more than 25 lbs max.

    I don’t know if I’m better off settling for whatever they have at a local Best Buy or Staples (where I could expect a bit of technical support) or ordering from amazon where there are more choices but I’d be on my own.

    Requirements: laser, monochrome, wireless, printer-copier-scanner functions, and (this is pretty important) a user-friendly interface for a non-techie person like me. Duplex printing would be nice but is not essential. I actually print very little these days — I do more copying than printing — but sometimes you gotta print a few pages,

    I also want to scan a lot of old paper documents so I can finally get rid of them, so a scanning feeder would be very convenient (maybe they all have that?).

        1. Not Australian*

          Thirded: mine’s just starting to show signs of ageing and it’s coming up for thirteen years old.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Seconding this! I’ve used all sorts of printers and scanners over the years, and the Brother machines have always performed well and without issue. HPs always seem to have paper feed issues (I actually had one vomit a sheet of crunched up paper at my last job). Epsons are good, but I’ve found that they can be finicky with regard to ink.

        I have one of the Brother mega tank all in one units. It scans, prints double-sided, and has given me no issues. In the three or four years that I’ve had it, I’ve replaced the ink cartridges once, and I print in color fairly regularly.

        I also recommend Vue-Scan for scanning software. It’s not free, but it is far better than any scanning software that comes bundled with either the printer or the operating system.

        1. Observer*

          HPs always seem to have paper feed issues (I actually had one vomit a sheet of crunched up paper at my last job).

          Interesting. I’ve had literally hundreds of HP laser printers over the years, and I’ve had exactly 2 that had feed issues, and one of those was with the envelope feed rather than the regular paper. (It turns out that our envelopes were too thin.)

      2. new year, new name*

        Absolutely. They last for-fricken-ever. I have a small Brother laser printer, which is a little more expensive than an inkjet printer but you basically never have to replace the toner so it comes out better in the end.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Yes – I got my Brother laser printer five years ago and I JUST had to replace the toner cartridge it came with this last fall. Also, it’s very accommodating to the cheapie $12 off brand laser cartridges.

      3. DataSci*

        We switched to a Brother laser when our old HP inkjet died and have been very happy with it. Our specific model is just a printer, no scanning, and also old enough it’s certainly not sold anymore, but seconding the brand rec.

    1. Liminality*

      Sometimes I wonder if we ask too much of our electronic devices. Is it important that the same piece of equipment be a printer, copier, and a scanner? If you truly don’t plan to print much, maybe spending the time/money on a high quality scanner and a less technically advanced printer separately?

      1. Rosie*

        It is pretty common now that most machines do all of the above. Unless you are doing high volume and/or need super high quality of one, no reason to not buy an all in one device.

        1. Observer*

          Correct. But their use case for scanning argues for spending a bit more on a separate scanner, and then buying a lower end printer.

          I just did a quick check on a couple of sites that I use regularly, and I came up with several low cost printers that are single function, but do everything else they are looking for, even duplex. I don’t like the absolute cheapest ones (~150 for the duplexing model) because of the design of the paper tray, which can be a concern in tight spaces. But if you’re willing to go to ~160-170, you’ve got more than a few choices that should work perfectly well in a low volume situation.

    2. StellaBella*

      I have a Canon TS6200 copier, printer, scanner that cost me about 70 USD about 4 years ago and love it. It is small and sits on a desktop out of the way.

    3. WoodswomanWrites*

      For tech things, I’m a fan of looking at options in person to help me figure out what I want and need. Sometimes I’ve gotten it there and other times I’ve gotten it online. Another option is to go with an online store that has good customer service. You can tell them your price range and your needs, and they can make recommendations. I have used B&H Photo and that helped me settle on my printer that I was able to set up myself.

    4. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      If the documents you want to scan are REALLY old (like old family papers), you might want to rethink putting them through a feeder if the paper is brittle or has edge damage. Brittle because it might tear or break in the feeder, and edge damage like chips of paper can break off and screw up the feed mechanism, besides the torn document possibility.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I have an HP office jet 3830, which does all those things plus, according to the sign on the front, apparently it can fax and “web”. I most often scan, make copies, or print. It is certainly lightweight, and we are on an ink program where it sends off wireless messages to HP that it is running low, send another color cartridge.

      I have a techie spouse who set this up, so cannot honestly speak to that side. Last month their was an Incident where I was like “We’ll just see if you ‘can’t find the printer’ when daddy gets home” and that night the printer was like “Yup, just printing away, I don’t know what she’s on about with that error message.”

    6. Rosemary*

      Honestly…I buy inexpensive* machines that do what I need them to do, knowing that they may not be the highest quality or last forever. I’d rather spend ~$100 every few years – tossing it when it malfunctions beyond what I can fix – than spend a lot of money and then be stuck with expensive repairs. Because no matter how much you spend…printers ALWAYS break (at least that has been my experience). Sure, if it something you are using on a very regular basis/very high volume it might be worth spending more. But if not…not need to spend a lot.

      *Inexpensive, but still a “name brand”. My current printer is an H/P. I spent less than $100 and it has held up for a few years already. The ink can get expensive – but it sounds like you don’t do a lot, so shouldn’t be too bad.

    7. HamlindigoBlue*

      I bought the Brother MFC-J805DW back in February 2020. The ink that it came with had lasted until now. The yellow is almost out, but the others are fine. What I like about it the most is when one ink cartridge is low or out, the printer still works. The cost of this device was way lower in 2020 than what it is now. I would not pay the current Amazon price for it, but the $119 I spent was fine. It prints duplex, copies, and scans. The only thing it doesn’t have that I sometimes wish it did is duplex scan.

    8. Girasol*

      I picked an HP inkjet that was on sale because I like the “HP Print and Scan Doctor” app. My problem is always the software on the printer and the drivers on the PC going to the next rev and then disagreeing with one another. Print doctor fixes that neatly. I also discovered HP small cartridges. I don’t do enough printing to use a full cartridge before it dries out beyond cleaning, so half-filled cartridges are a deal for me.

    9. ithappens*

      Love my Brother color duplex printer. Have never needed any tech support for it. And I’m sure the B/w version is equally as reliable.

      For scanning, when you say old papers, if you mean your own personal financial/work/detritus that you’re too scared to pitch just in case, then I recommend a ScanSnap duplex sheet feeding scanner. It’s the best. If it’s family stuff that’s not in the best condition, then you would need a flatbed, and the brother all-in-one would probably work. Tho if you are trying to digitize historically archival records, a higher-quality flatbed would be better.

      1. Lady Alys*

        My Fujitsu ScanSnap came with a plastic sleeve that can hold more delicate items, and can also hold larger items folded in half – the software stitches the two sides together (think larger newspaper clippings and so on). The ScanSnap is a true workhorse – I’ve had it for at least 6 years and haven’t even needed to replace any parts yet. I’ve also recently acquired a relatively inexpensive Canon flatbed scanner for old photos with rigid backing that won’t work in the ScanSnap.

        1. Observer*

          Yes, I love the scan snaps.

          The s1300 is fairly inexpensive. It doesn’t come with the sleeve, but you can get it from them. And if you are talking older, crumpled or really large documents, it’s WELL worth the cost.

          I agree that for REALLY fragile documents, though, I would go with a flatbed.

        2. FisherCat*

          Since you seem to like scansnap- any tips for getting it not to crumple and eat pages?

          I use one at The Place We Don’t Discuss On Weekends and every so often it crumples, jams, and rips a standard size, not too old, ordinary looking/feeling document. Any tips?

          1. Observer*

            The only time I have ever had this kind of problem on a page with a clean edge was is the scanner needed cleaning.

    10. MJ*

      I’m nth-ing Brother. We had a colour multi-function laser at work that lasted for years with moderately heavy use (approx 15,000 pages per year).

      Even better we managed to purchase it from a website that had a rebate offer, and got it for less than half the list price. :)

    11. Printer recommendation*

      Brother MFC-7340 here. This thing is about 15 yo and still going strong. I just keep feeding it refurbished toner cartridges. It even has a fax machine!

    12. Observer*

      I also want to scan a lot of old paper documents so I can finally get rid of them, so a scanning feeder would be very convenient (maybe they all have that?).

      If you are looking at scanning a lot of old documents, you may want to stay away from the lower end all-in-one units. Most of those either have a feeder with a tight curve, which can be hard on documents or have a flat bed for the scanner, which is great for older / fragile documents but limits you to one page per scan. The better mid-range stand alone scanners are of two types: Flat bed that allows one page per scan, with a feeder on the cover that allows multiple pages, but that’s not really good for fragile documents- again, the curve on these feeders really bends the page. A feeder with a fairly shallow curve that works for all but the most fragile documents.

      At this point it’s pretty easy to find duplexing printers that are not very expensive. I’ve had very good experience with HP, but Epson and Brother seem to do well. I’ve had pretty good experience with Lexmark at the higher end, but I have no idea how they do on the less expensive printers.

      One thing to keep in mind is that HP makes all of it’s printers with combined toner / drum cartridges while Epson and Brother mostly have separate units (although there are definitely some exceptions). The single unit is a lot easier for someone who is non-technical. (Don’t even consider a unit that uses loose toner rather than cartridges!)

      The other thing I would look at is what toners your local Staples / BestBuy / Whatever office supply stock. You don’t want to have to replace your printer or go on an extended hunt when you run out of toner.

  7. I'm A Little Teapot*

    UK people, please help a future tourist out! My family is going to be visiting from the US this spring (after the coronation) and we have questions that thus far we’ve struggled to find good info online.

    1. A single woman will be taking the train from London to Aberdeen, Scotland (staying in Stonehaven), on a Saturday. I see there are multiple train lines, multiple stations, multiple routes. LNER, ScotRail, Cross Country, East Midlands, etc. Ideally, would like to stop and see Hadrian’s Wall on the way. I really don’t know what would be best, or what the pros and cons are of the options.

    2. One member of the family uses heavy duty incontinence pads, in the US these are the Poise brand. It would be much easier if she didn’t need to bring sufficient supply for the whole trip. We see that possibly these are prescription items in the UK. Is it possible to go to the store and just buy them? If so, what types of stores and what brand(s) do you have there?

    3. Guide us on the weather. We’ll be there in May, so it’ll be spring and we do expect rain/damp, but it can be the kind of damp where you can’t get warm or the kind where you’re basically fine. Are we ok with a sweater? Need more? (Locations: London, Bath, Stonehenge area, Buckinghamshire, Scotland)

    4. Food. The stereotype is pubs are great places to eat, is that really true? Basically, if you want a decent meal for a reasonable price (and you don’t have the option of eating at home), where do you go?

    5. A section of the trip will include opportunity for what is termed “antiquing” in my family – going to the section of town that has a number of second hand/thrift/antique shops and just looking around, perhaps buying something here and there. Can you recommend any places that would fit this description? (Locations: London, Bath, Stonehenge area, Buckinghamshire, Aberdeed and Glasgow Scotland)

    1. rankodor*

      Don’t live in the UK but have spent a fair amount of time with family who live there. Some suggestions based on my experience, hopefully some locals will chime in as well and correct anything I’ve got wrong or add more in depth expertise.

      #2: I think Tena is the equivalent of Poise; they also have the Always brand. You should be able to buy these OTC in drug stores like Boots as well as supermarkets (Tesco, etc). It is possible to get them for free from the NHS with a doctor’s recommendation (if you live there) so perhaps that’s what made you think a prescription was needed? Just go to the Boots or Tesco website and search now, to put your mind at ease and make sure you know in advance the equivalent product to look for once you’re there.

      #3: in May, bring gloves! In the more southerly parts you mention, I have been okay with a sweater & jacket except for my hands at times. Have not been more northward so can’t speak to that.

      #4: pubs run the gamut and you sort of have to know the reputation of a place to gauge whether the meal will be decent. It depends on how much research you want to do. Some are more like “gastropubs” where food is the focus and they’ll have a chef-driven menu. Wetherspoons owns a lot of pubs, even ones that may look quaint and local, and the food served in them is pretty consistently mediocre and cheap compared to other places. If you’re eating on the go you can always find a Pret (sandwiches) or Itsu (fast casual Asian-style, not authentic). There are chains like Wagamama, Pizza Express, and Nando’s for a sit-down meal. I’m not recommending these necessarily but they are easy to find and a good option if you are in a “live to eat” mode rather than “eat to live”. Aside from asking for recommendations locally, the easiest way to find a decent place in an unfamiliar area is to just look on Google maps and check out reviews of what’s nearby.

      #5: thrift stores are known as “charity shops”; the most well known are run by Oxfam. They tend to be smaller and more curated than what you find in the US. In Bath, I recall several charity shops clustered around the Roman baths right in the center of town. The famous antique district in London is Portobello Road.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        #3: One of the delights of watching Berkshire and Hathaway for me is that the background will be this glorious garden bursting with summer roses, and our two leads are comfortably wearing coats and boots.

      2. Lexi Vipond*

        ‘Consistently mediocre’ is a perfectly fair description of Wetherspoons, but they are at least consistent – basic but edible, quick, cheap, and for some reason with good beer. I’ve kind of fallen out with them for ideological rather than practical reasons, but I wouldn’t rule them out completely, especially for a meal in a hurry (the Milecastle in Newcastle is conveniently near the station).

    2. Oysters and Gender Freedom*

      I also don’t live in England but trains in the north (Northern Rail) are problematic at the moment. Infrequent service, crowding, etc. There have also been rail strikes across the country and there may be more when you are there. Looking at the planned strikes for March, I see them on Tuesday and Saturday. Trains also can be expensive — on my flight from Manchester to Dublin I met a couple who were flying to Dublin because it was cheaper than taking a train to Edinburgh. So if you’re hoping for a hop off, hop on visit to Hadrian’s wall, I would say that’s not going to be easy. I enjoy trains, but I would suggest looking at flights and/or buses to Aberdeen.

      1. takeachip*

        Yes a direct coach bus from London to Aberdeen might be more convenient, and possibly faster, than making multiple stops/changes on the train. OP, go to the National Express website and see if they have a route/price that works for you. Their busses are comfortable and have luggage holds. I think Hadrian’s Wall could be a stretch, as I don’t think you can just easily hop off somewhere and look at it for a bit. But as suggested above, flying may be your best bet. It’s about 500 miles from London to Aberdeen. That’s the same as Chicago to Pittsburgh, or New York to Toronto. If you could do that on a high speed rail line it’d be one thing, but it’s quite a journey by land otherwise.

        1. InTheUK*

          The nice bit of the Hadrian Wall – where you can see it, plus there are interesting Roman forts to check out- that is in the middle between the sees and not easy to reach without a car. It’s a really nice hike but otherwise I would also suggest to check if you can find an organised tour from somewhere.

          1. Zebydeb*

            Completely agree, the trains are good at getting you from one city centre to another, but connecting onwards to an out of town location is another matter.
            Do consider the train. My colleagues use the London-Edinburgh routes regularly without issue. Luckily you should be able to avoid the lines with the biggest problems at the moment (TransPennine, Northern, Avanti). On the down side, the strikes are likely to rumble on and they only give a few weeks notice of strike dates.

          2. Donkey Hotey*

            Did they discounted the AD122 bus? We were there before the pandemic and there was a dedicated bus that went between Newcastle and Carlisle.

            OP, i may be painting with a broad brush but train plus wall excursion to see postcard views plus train north would be two full days and an overnight. Good news: there are places like the Twice Brewed Inn that cater to such tourists. Bonus: twice brewed is very close to two of the largest fort/museums and sycamore gap, which is the most photographed tree in England, Kevin Costner be damned.

    3. Kiwiapple*

      Lner is probably your best bet for trains without changing somewhere or Caledonian sleeper which is an overnight train – if coming from London. Seeing Hadrian’s wall is probably a bit tricky to get to. You would need to detour either to Carlisle or to Newcastle upon Tyne and then get a bus or train inland. You may be able to find a day tour company that does this. It will either be a long day or worth booking accommodation.

      NE Scotland is somewhere I used to know very well as I lived there for most of my life. For delicious ice cream go to Aunty Betty’s. The pubs at Stonehaven harbour used to be very good for food (also do accommodation). It’s a nice walk from the harbour to the ice cream place via the sea.

      My favourite place to eat in Aberdeen is The Braided Fig. I haven’t been in a few years so not too sure on the local scene.

      1. A Becky*

        There is a nice youth hostel near Vindolanda (the fort/museum on the Wall). It’s a pig to get to without a car, though.

      2. Lexi Vipond*

        Newcastle is directly on the main line from from London to Aberdeen, and it’s often cheaper (sometimes MUCH cheaper) to buy tickets for some combination of London-Newcastle, Newcastle-Edinburgh, Edinburgh-Aberdeen than to buy one ticket straight through anyway (even if you’re sticking to one train, or just changing to Scotrail at Edinburgh!)

        It’s the more basic Hadrian’s Wall experience, but there’s a good bit of wall at Heddon(-on-the-Wall), which has a fairly frequent bus from Newcastle, and then there’s the forts at Arbeia and Segedunum (Wallsend).

        I’ll comment on the Carlisle route and the middle of the wall later this (UK) afternoon, once I’ve been out and come in again!

      3. Anon for this*

        With the caveat that the strikes make things a nightmare and I used to do this journey a lot but haven’t in the past couple of years… if you decide on train rather than flying and get a strike-free date:

        Definitely LNER for London – Aberdeen. Get a train with no changes needed as long as it’s not a significantly longer journey. If you do need to change, go for LNER London – Edinburgh then Scotrail Edinburgh – Aberdeen. Both of these options should almost always involve a stop at Stonehaven train station so she won’t need to go into Aberdeen unless she wants to.

        And go for first class if at all possible – they don’t serve the full meals they do during the week but the seats are bigger with more space and it will be much more comfortable for what is a long journey of sitting still. First class also includes free food and drink delivered to table, though at the weekends it doesn’t do the full meals it does during the week.

        There’s fantastic scenery along a lot of the train route, especially from Dundee – Aberdeen. The train line is right along the coast and if you’ve got a window seat on the coast side it’s spectacular. I always like to get one of the individual seats in first class to zone out and look out the window but then I don’t like talking to strangers. For me 3-4 hours on a train passes fairly comfortably but every hour after that gets more and more uncomfortable. London – Edinburgh is fine, I’d fine London-Aberdeen a chore.

        The Caledonian Sleeper doesn’t run on Saturday nights, but getting the sleeper up from London on the Friday night and arriving in Aberdeen Saturday morning would also be a good option and avoids several hours sitting on a train. I’d avoid the Hadrians wall visit unless it’s an absolute must see and the journey can be broken halfway up overnight for the trip. I don’t think it would be physically possible to do London – Aberdeen in one day and also have a stop at Hadrians wall via public transport.

        Scotland in May can either be sunny and warm for the time of year (mid-high teens in Celsius), or it can be a cold damp that gets right into your bones along with a biting wind that passes right through you. Prepare for everything, and have some kind of waterproof jacket with a hood (umbrellas are useless if it’s windy).

        1. Anon for this*

          Also: for rail journeys I like to go to national rail.co.uk to check all the options on different lines etc, it will show you options from all rail providers and also planned works that delay the journey or mean there’s a rail replacement bus instead of a train. The schedules tend to be finalised 3 months in advance so depending on when in May the specific date might not be available, but you can check an earlier Saturday for a general idea. Strikes are only announced a few weeks ahead so no news on those for May. Lots of different train companies are striking – if a different train line is striking then it won’t necessarily effect a booked LNER train other than maybe making it busier, but for a Network Rail (who run the infrastructure) strike it will be chaos with almost everything cancelled.

          You can then check LNER / Scotrail websites to see if there’s any cheaper options. Be careful about ticket types – the cheapest advance tickets will only be for that specific train, more expensive tickets will allow travel on any train but will be much more expensive. You want the best combination of shortest journey and fewest changes – the train from London to Aberdeen is called the east coast mainline and both slow and fast trains run on it (the faster trains will miss out a lot of stops at smaller stations), so sometimes it can be faster to change trains. I wouldn’t want to do more than one change though.

          For the Edinburgh – Stonehaven / Aberdeen route, Scotrail will sell tickets on any LNER trains running that route as well as the Scotrail only trains. You can check prices for trains to Aberdeen too in case it’s cheaper – if it is, she’s allowed to have a ticket through to Aberdeen but get off at Stonehaven.

          1. Anon for this*

            Also wouldn’t recommend a coach all the way from London to Aberdeen – it will be a long long long long journey. If the train isn’t going to work, fly.

    4. Kiwiapple*

      Re: weather – basically dress for all seasons! London will be several degrees warmer than NE Scotland. I’ve been to London where Londoners were dressed in UGG boots and heavy coats and I was in a t-shirt and dresses (as it was warm for me). Rain jacket, clothes you can layer, tights/stockings, boots.

      1. Anima*

        This. I’ve been to the UK until up north to Liverpool, and even then I needed all weather clothing. Especially in May. Be prepared! ;)

      2. londonedit*

        Yep, definitely bring a waterproof jacket and clothes you can layer. It’ll probably be somewhere around mid-teens to early-twenties Celsius in the south of England, but Scotland probably will be colder/damper, and there’s always the potential for the weather to be colder or warmer than the average! May can be chilly and damp or it can be gloriously sunny, warm and dry. You might be fine in a t-shirt some of the time, but you’ll definitely need a jumper to put on at some point, and a waterproof jacket is never going to go amiss. Then again, we obviously have plenty of clothes shops so you can always buy something if you find you need it!

    5. AcademiaNut*

      I did a vacation in the UK in May a few years ago (London through to Edinburgh) and the weather varied from high twenties and sunny at the beginning, to 11 degrees and raining at the end. I got sunburned at one point. I had a Gortex jacket and hiking boots, which worked well.

    6. Taking the long way round*

      1. Is the train journey part of the trip (I.e, you’re making stops along the way?) The trains are really awful at the moment. I’d recommend s flight from London to Aberdeen of you are just going from 1 point to the other. If not, coaching it is another option.
      2. Tena Lady are the over the counter pads here. You can ask the pharmacist for other brands if you need heavier duty ones.
      3. You will need probably more than a sweater the further north you go. Take layers! And a raincoat.
      4. Food in pubs can be great yeah! but I would stick to the non-chain pubs. Wetherspoons is a popular and cheap brand e.g. but I personally don’t like them. The more local, individual ones are much better imo.
      I’d look on trip advisor for local options at each place.
      5. You’ll get good antique places in all the big towns and cities. Google them, or if there is anyone here from those towns/cities they might be able to advise. I don’t know if any in particular by name.
      Second hand stores are all over. The ticket towns will have better quality ones. Google charity shops :)

      I hope your family member has a wonderful trip!

      1. Taking the long way round*

        I have no idea what a ticket town is. It should say richer town!

        (I live in the north west of England. The areas you’re asking about are wealthier, so you should be able to find what you’re looking for more easily).

      2. I'm A Little Teapot*

        Thanks! Yeah, there’s 4 of us going, and I will be splitting off from the rest of the family for a couple days so we have quite a complicated trip overall. (mom wants to “putter” around Buckinghamshire and I would just strangle her after a day or 2, so I’m going back to London for that piece)

    7. Ally*

      There’s an app called trainline which I found really helpful for trains. It has all the connections but also it’s updated with all cancellations etc. You can also buy tickets on it.

    8. Zebydeb*

      Pubs are not all the same! A lot of them do have good food now, and in Bucks and Bath you will probably find some really nice ones but it won’t be cheaper than eating in a restaurant. There are some pub chains that specialise in cheaper but filling meals. It is worth checking reviews online until you learn to recognise the sort of pub that will suit you.

    9. Laura Petrie*

      London to Aberdeen is a huge distance. An advance purchase ticket will be much cheaper but you’re tied to a specific train. You’ll also get a seat reservation with it. After the coronation should mean football season is over and there are not as many rail replacement buses at that time of year. I’d look at LNER from Kings Cross, not sure it goes all the way to Aberdeen but you can certainly get to Edinburgh. Avoid the west coast mainline with Avanti from Euston, their service has been shocking recently. I wouldn’t get the coach, it will take a lot longer. Seat 61 has guides for using trains all over the world and a lot of the lowest fares are only available direct from the train operator.

      As others have said, it can be difficult to get to a lot of Hadrian’s Wall without a car but there might be a bus service available. I’ve not been since a school trip in 2000 so can’t help much unfortunately.

      Weather could be anything. Layers are your friend and definitely bring a waterproof jacket. We do often get really hot weather at that time of year too. If you bring the wrong stuff, at least you can buy something different.

      Food- we have a huge array of cuisines. I’m not hugely into pub grub, but they can be good choices. Most UK cities will have some kind of street food market and similar mid-priced chains. If you like curry, that’s usually a good, cheap option. Dishoom is a great chain found in a few places. Fish and chip shops are also usually good and you can often find nice sandwich shops in city centres.

      Every town and city will have a selection of charity shops, sometimes they have some great stuff but can be a bit expensive. Some places will have antique centres too, where loads of traders rent space.

      1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        AD122 bus goes to several major forts. The easiest way to catch it is usually to take the train from Newcastle to Hexham and then catch the bus outside the train station.

    10. Vio*

      1. Not sure I’m afraid, but be aware there can be strikes disrupting train schedules
      2. Pharmacies and supermarkets will sell them, pharmacy is probably a better option as the pharmacist will be more knowledgeable on them than the supermarket staff and can give good advice.
      3. Weather can be unpredictable but you’ll probably get a mix of sunny, cloudy and rainy.
      4. Most areas have at least one Wetherspoons pub. They’re usually the best for good quality and price.
      5. Charity shops are probably your best bet, they’re similar to thrift stores but all the profits go to their charity. Oxfam, Heart Foundation, Sue Ryder (cancer research) and Salvation Army are common in most shopping areas throughout England, as far as I remember most are also present in Scotland.

    11. Anon for this*

      Sorry for spamming this entire thread, I keep on thinking of new things! For Glasgow thrift shops, head to the West End: Byres Road (which is next to Glasgow University where the main buildings have amazing gothic architecture, the cloisters especially are well worth a look) has a series of charity shops, including Oxfam book and music specific shops. Dowanside Lane, off Byres Rd, has some vintage clothing shops (I love browsing Starry Starry Night), Retro has mountains of old stuff and is more appealing than I’m making it sound, and there’s a couple more antiques places close by.

      Otago Lane is on the other side of Glasgow uni from Byres Road, but has a couple of vintage bookshops that are the quintessential used book stores complete with cats and I think has a couple of other vintage / antique type stores too.

    12. Lead Balloon*

      1. LNER (plus ScotRail from Edinburgh if needed) for a daytime trip or Caledonian Sleeper for an overnight. Best to book on the train company website, that will get you the cheapest price without booking fees and you can pick your seat. First class on LNER will be comfortable and will include light refreshments but standard is fine. Long distance coach – definitely a no from me. Hadrian’s wall would be difficult, realistically I think she would need to travel one day and see the wall and then carry on north on the next day.

      2. Supermarkets will stock the regular kind (pads and underwear style). If the person needs something a bit more specialist I’m not sure, because people in need of that probably get it through the NHS rather than from a shop. Perhaps try boots dot com (UK’s biggest pharmacy chain). They have online stock checking so you can see if it will be stocked in the places they will be visiting.

      3. Bring waterproofs, umbrellas and clothes to layer. May can be very warm or chilly.

      4. Pubs vary massively from the posher gastropubs with an emphasis on food, to very basic boozers with nothing more than a packet of peanuts. Most towns will have Italian restaurants and Indian restaurants, often Thai as well. Use TripAdvisor to find something to suit your price and taste.

      5.

      1. Wormentude*

        Boots also do order to store so you could maybe order a supply ready to collect at a branch where you are staying first.

    13. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      How much of Hadrian’s Wall do you want to see? There’s a place around the corner from Newcastle Central station where you can see the outline in the ground, but I suspect that’s not really what you have in mind! In any case you’ll want to get off the train in Newcastle and probably stay overnight, as most of the best preserved areas are more of a day trip than a rest stop.

      There are several places within the wider Newcastle area that have visible bits of the wall and Roman forts to visit, and you can get from Newcastle to other well-preserved forts via train and the AD122 bus. Good places to go if you are not that set on seeing the wall stretching off into the countryside are Arbeia fort in South Shields or Segedunum in Wallsend, both of which you can get to by metro. Arbeia has a lot of reconstructed buildings so it might be more visually impressive, but at Segedunum you can see the outline of the fort from a tower and see some reconstructed bits of the wall.

      There have been issues with train strikes but they have to announce those two weeks in advance so you should have some warning if you need to change your plans. I travel up and down the East Coast mainline a lot and I rarely have had any problems with trains despite the disruption. The train company itself doesn’t really matter that much except in the sense that if you buy a ticket for a particular train you can’t use it on another service. But if you’re taking the train from King’s Cross to Newcastle most of the services will be run by LNER or Lumo. You can sometimes save money by changing trains partway through (especially at York on this line), or taking the Grand Central to Sunderland instead of Newcastle, but if you do the latter then you’ll have to get the metro to Newcastle. It’s a nice view along the coast though.

    14. Sage*

      If you go for trains (which I definitely would) – book on the lner website as then you get to pick your seat (like you would for a plan flight). Means you can pick which way you face, pick aisle/window etc. And definitely agree with everyone recommending plenty of layers weather wise!

    15. Miss Flite*

      Food: In addition to pubs, there are tea shops with nice lunch options. And a range of sandwich shops (Pret a Manger, for instance). Much more so than in the US, you can find interesting take-away sandwiches in a range of stores (newsagents shops, pharmacies, grocery stores). Sandwiches are great for carrying on walks or eating on the go, if your group wants to eat very casually.

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

      Not a UK-er but have traveled there multiple times and (briefly!) moved there for love in my 20’s.

      Weather: any time I didn’t have waterproof/resistant footwear with a really good tread for slick/rocky/cobblestone footing, I regretted it. A packable hooded rain poncho or raincoat (knee length recommended!) is also a must. I find having multiple pairs (in different sizes/thicknesses) of washable merino wool tights/leggings to be invaluable– it keeps me warm even in cold, damp weather and the colder it gets, I just add another pair of tights on top of the last one. Plus, they take up hardly any room to pack, and they wash and dry pretty easy in a hotel bathroom.

      Food: no specific recs beyond always having trail mix/granola on hand for emergencies. I have lived most of my life in big cities or small college towns, and I was shocked the number of places it was difficult to find a place open for food after, like, 7pm.
      Also, the supermarket premade sandwiches are shockingly good.

      Thrift stores (charity shops): in London, there’s some really good ones up by Hampstead Heath (which is beautiful and worth visiting in its own right, especially if you luck out with some beautiful spring weather). If you are up for some walking, I recommend going first to Hampstead station, walking down Hampstead High St to hit a good little cluster (Mary’s Living & Giving, Cancer Research, Oxfam), and then cutting across due east toward the Hampstead Heath station (different than the Hampstead station! The reason I discovered these shops in the first place was that I didn’t know that!) Boutique and Octavia Foundation are the ones near Hampstead Heath. From there you can go north into the gorgeous grassy hills of the Heath, or head south towards the Belsize Park station for FARA and Marie Curie.

      Hope you have a wonderful trip!

    17. Madame Arcati*

      1) easiest way to plan train journeys is with a website like thetrainline dot com – looks at all rail journeys across the country and the company/operator doesn’t matter. You can buy the tickets from the direct and have them as virtual ones in your apple wallet or similar.

      2) Tena brand pads etc are widely available in supermarkets (Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Asda for example), same aisle as the “feminine hygiene” products. If they don’t have anything suitable find a branch of Boots and ask in there (it’s a pharmacy, chemist, toiletries, health and beauty product type chain).

      3) yes it could be chilly and damp but May can quite easily give you the first blast of summer weather (in the twenties celsius) – right when students are stuck indoors studying for exams lol. So have a t-shirt or shirt under that sweater/jacket just in case!

      4) food in pubs varies in price and quality just as it does in restaurants, cafés etc. It’s not that pubs are in general cheaper; it depends what you want. When you are out and about most food places will display a menu in the window etc so you can have a look before committing, but for planning a simple google of “good restaurants in Bath” or whatever should help. Tripadvisor includes this sort of info as well.

      5) Bath should be good for antiques I think and isn’t so big a city you need a specific area. It’s a beautiful city with lots of old buildings and other sights so you’re kind of walking around inside an antique as it is. And if you want really old; visit the Roman baths (sadly you can’t actually use them but it’s a wonderful museum/attraction). Salisbury (Stonehenge neck of the woods and worth a visit* ) would also be a good bet. Charity shops and don’t have antiques (unless somebody has missed a trick!) just clothes and bric a brac that people have donated to be sold for charity. I’m oddly lacking in up to date ideas for London but my suggested google search would be “vintage shopping London” or “antiques markets London”.

      Re Stonehenge you might want to book some sort of tour on a coach etc because you can’t there by train. My OH tells me you can get a bus direct from Salisbury station though, that’s on the South Western Railway website. It won’t be difficult it’s a cultural/tourism icon! A tour would be informative though; you can do one that includes Salisbury cathedral, Stonehenge, and Old Sarum (an Iron Age hill
      fort from 400 BC – you like old stuff, we can sort you out!) and you get the guide commentary etc.

      *Salisbury cathedral is very famous for having an extremely tall spire; people apparently come all the way from Russia to see it, so I hear… ;-D

      1. londonedit*

        Yep you can definitely get a bus from Salisbury (rail from London Waterloo) to Stonehenge, or there are also coach trips that go direct from London to Stonehenge and include all your tickets etc – you can book them online. Some of them do some crazy itinerary where you do Bath, Stonehenge, Windsor and Oxford all in one day but I think that’s far too much!

    18. Bagpuss*

      I hope you all enjoy the trip!

      1. Direct trains are available, prebook and if you can afford it, spring for first class as it’s a long journey. A stop off to visit Hadrian’s Wall would be tricky to do within a day, however, you could break the journey at Newcastle, get a local train to Hexham and a bus from there to Housestead’s Roman Fort. English Heritage is the organisation which looks after the wall (and other ancient structures) and if you look at the English Heritage Website there is a ‘PLan your visit’ section for each property which includes a ‘directions’ section – this will given information about access using public transport (in this case, the AD122 Hadrian’s Wall bus from Hexham Railway Station) Different sections of the Wall have their own separate listings, you might be able to access it from other stops, but I used to have family in Hexham so that’s the area I am a little more familiar with!
      CHeck ahead of time for rail strikes, and I woiuld recommend buying directly from the train co rather than a third party site such as the trainline (use it to check prices etc , but if you book direct it’s generally easier to resolve any issues) and pre-book a seat. It’s not mandatory with all types of ticket but it is advisable.

      2. AS others have said, no prescription needed (some people in the UK are entitled to free prescription items which could include things like pads, but they are also readily available over the counter) larger branches of supermarkets will have them (shelved in the same area as tampons and other menstrual products, normally) so will pharmacies (if looking for one, ask for a pharmacy or chemist’s shop, not a drug store) Lloyds and Boots are two nationwide chains of pharmacies, Superdrug also sell this kind of product.

      3. Changeable. We tend to get a lot of variety and you’ll notice the difference between Scotland and the South . Expect some rain, and pack layers. The met office website can give you weather forecasts for different regions to give you an idea of what to expect.
      Tena is probably the best known brand of pads but other brands will be available such as ALways or the pharmacy’s own brands.

      4. Pubs can be good, but they are very variable. As an earlier poster has said, Wetherspoons is ‘reliably mediocre’ you won’t get good or momorable food but it will be the same in any wetherspoons and it’s comparatively cheap. But there are are loads of places which will give you far better food and a much nicer experience.

      Some pubs are what are known as ‘gastropubs’ where the food will be excellent, (There is a puyb not far from my parents home that has a MIchelin star) others will offer fairly basic ‘pub food – things such as fish and chips, pies, steak and chips etc.

      In Bath, The Elder Restaurant is very good – they aim to use local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients and the food is extremely good. Yak Yeti Yak does Nepalese food, which is delicious and reasonably priced.
      There’s Oak, which is an outstanding vegetarian restaurant (all of these are very central, in Bath)
      There’s also Beckwith Canteen which is new and getting some very good reviews although I can’t speak for it personally not having visited yet.

      If you do want to try a pub, The Raven in Bath is a nice pub that does good quality pub food – they specialise in pies, and the Salamander is similar, nice pubs with good pub food.

      There will also be lots of coffee shops and cafes, which typically sell things like wraps / sandwiches, cakes and pastries.
      If you are visiting historic buildings (anything owned by the National Trust, for instance) these often have a cafe and sometimes a full restaurant, and normally have good food (especially things like cakes!)
      The pub at Avebury (near Stonehenge) is I believe pretty good.

      5. Thrift shops are known as charity shops here – there isn’t usually a set area of town but there are quite a lot. Antiques – there are various antique shops in BAth but not all grouped in a single area , but the city centre is pretty small so if you are walking around you can find them fairly easily.

      Enjoy the trip

      1. londonedit*

        Yeah Wetherspoon’s is ‘reliably mediocre’ in that they’re chain pubs so you get the same food/experience everywhere and they are shockingly cheap. I can’t ethically recommend them because the guy who owns the chain is a massive Brexit supporter and treats his staff terribly, and I really hope no one goes to Wetherspoon’s and thinks it’s representative of a) proper British food or b) proper British pubs. But if you’re stuck and you just want something cheap, Wetherspoon’s pubs are open all day and serve breakfast/lunch/dinner. Proper pubs vary in quality from basic bar food to sit-down restaurant meals – Tripadvisor is probably a good bet. Be aware that in touristy areas (i.e. Leicester Square/Oxford Street etc in London) pubs will generally be lower quality and more expensive. Try to get away from the main tourist drags and look for somewhere quieter (the roads to the north of Oxford Street have a wealth of pubs and restaurants and are far more pleasant than Oxford Street itself!)

        For food on the go supermarket sandwiches are available everywhere – M&S and Waitrose are on the posher end, Sainsbury’s and Tesco in the middle and Morrison’s and ASDA on the cheaper end. M&S, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose have small ‘express’-style shops on most high streets. Reliable chains with decent food also include Itsu, Pret, Leon, Gail’s, Ole & Steen, Wagamama, GBK and Pizza Express.

    19. Bagpuss*

      Drat, I typed a really long answer that doesn’t seem to have posted.

      I see others have covered the 1-3 but to add to the comments on 4:
      – Pubs can be anything from awful to fantastic, there’s a pub near where by parents live which has a Michelin star. Avoid Wetherspoons unless you are desperate – they are the McDonalds of pubs, you’ll get the same menu etc in any wetherspoons, but it’s definitely food as fuel, not to enjoy !

      IN Bath specifically – for good pub food, try the Salamander or The Raven (both in Queen Street) they both offer what you might call traditional pub food – Pies, fish & chips, etc, but good quality.
      If you want something a bit fancier, The Elder Restaurant (South Parade, near the Abbey) does excellent food and have an ethos of trying to use local, seasonal and sustainable produce as much as possible.
      Oak is an outstanding vegetarian restaurant and very goof value for the quality of the food
      Yak Yeti Yak (Manvers Street) offers authentic Nepalese food – very nice and again, reasonably priced.

      In London – huge range of options . If you have the time and budget, Monica Galleti’s Mere in Charlotte Street is outstanding (it’s not cheap, although lunch on a weekday can be surprisingly reasonable)
      Condesa in Maiden LAne in covent garden is a very good tapas bar and just across the road is Rules, which claims to be London’s oldest restaurant (it opened in 1798) and serves traditional british food – game, oysters, pies, stodgy puddings

      Other options (more generally) in larger towns and cities you’ll find lots of cafes – chains like Pret a Manger (sandwiches, salad bowls etc) and independents, Bakeries often sell savoury food such as sausage rolls / pasties etc (be aware, due to tax rules they will usually make a small charge for heating these up for you!) – Greggs is the big chain everyone has heard of .
      You an buy sandwiches and individual salad bows (pasta salad etc) in supermarkets (which often have ‘meal deals where you can buy (usually) a sandwich/wrap + snack (bag of crisps (chips) or candy bar and a drink, for a set price. If you want all three items it is cheaper than buying separately.

      IF you are going anywhere more rural then you may find it harder to find anywhere open later in the evening other that the local pub, and these days that might not be open every night or may not serve food every night, so do check in advance.

      Enjoy your trip!

    20. londonedit*

      Depending on when in May you’re planning – thought I’d mention that the last week of May is generally a school holiday week in England, so everything will be very busy! The last Monday of May is also a public holiday – most things like the major shops, restaurants and pubs will still be open, but will probably have reduced hours (similar to Sundays, when large shops are only allowed to open for a certain number of hours – most do 10am to 4pm or 11am to 5pm) and smaller establishments might be closed.

  8. WoodswomanWrites*

    My wonderful mother in her 90s is requiring an increasing amount of my time and energy as her short-term memory declines. I could use advice about finding the energy and space for myself to continue with my creative outlets that sustain and restore me.

    Fortunately my mother is safe, physically healthy, and happy in her own apartment in her retirement community where she has a dining room for meals, a medical clinic onsite, and options for assisted living and memory care should she ever need it. She has maintained her upbeat personality and expresses her appreciation for my efforts, and my siblings and their spouses across the country are supportive and helpful. However, in addition to things in person like setting up her weekly pill containers for medication, driving her to medical appointments that I manage scheduling for, etc., recently there are additional remote tasks that are almost daily.

    I live alone and since the pandemic in particular, time with friends is invaluable so I’m not feeling isolated. I’m finding myself too exhausted to engage in my creative outlets–posting my nature photography and writing on my blog, and playing my instruments–that I enjoy. Dong these things make me feel good but I’m often too worn out to access that side of myself.

    I know my situation as a caregiver with my own job and life is common. For those of you in comparable situations, how do you make the space in your life for creativity?

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Those remote tasks – can your siblings who are not local take those on? My sister handles a lot of the insurance and medical stuff, even though she’s not local. Maybe a sibling can help with some of the scheduling as well. For whatever your siblings assist with, have a SEPARATE group chat or whatever just for mom related stuff. That way, its all in one place, and you can not look at it sometimes.

      Caregiving is hard. You are not alone.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Thanks for the solidarity. One sibling has taken the same day each week for a daily task. Another will resume helping after recovering from surgery, including doing my mom’s online taxes remotely, and I’m hoping will take another day of the week. The third sibling is well-intended but not reliable. The scheduling stuff I have to do myself because I’m the local one who needs to accompany my mom.

        Yes, I hear you about the separate place for mom-related stuff. I have a bunch of bookmarks that I keep in a subfolder hidden in my Miscellaneous folder so I don’t see it come up as Mom all the time. Same with emails. Other stuff we do on the phone. So we don’t have anything that pops up as a text.

      2. Girasol*

        Caregiving is indeed hard! I get plenty of free time for creative pursuits while care givee is napping or reading, but there’s something about caregiving that often leaves me at “I just can’t.” I’ve made peace with the idea that when there’s time for creative work I’ll give it a try, but if my inner resources are just too worn out to make any progress that day, I accept that and tell myself, next time. My creative efforts are moving along at half speed and that’s okay, considering.

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          I appreciate your perspective. You’ve helped me be okay with coming to that place of “I just can’t.”

    2. GenX and loving it*

      Same advice as little teapot. My parents lived with me until Dad passed. (Stepmother couldn’t care for him by herself.) As the days went by, he required more and more care. I worked full time as well and had sitters during the day. I tried to maintain 3 to 4 days a week riding my bike and reading my bible every morning. My sister, who was out of town, came in once a month and gave me time to go spend time with friends. She also helped with managing bills etc. It may seem like alot and a big sacrifice to be physically/ mentally caring for an aging parent, but I don’t regret any of it. I got to be with him when he died and had some very special moments through the months that I will always cherish. It’s just one day at a time!

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        How fortunate your dad was to have you and your sister in a much more time-intensive situation than mine. Like you, I’m grateful for every day with my mother. I appreciate your perspective.

    3. Chauncy Gardener*

      Are there support resources in her living community for this type of thing? Kind of cross-over support?
      Our town’s senior center has a bunch of different support-y things they can provide. I know they give people rides to medical appointments, come to the person’s house to clean, grocery shop, cook. Maybe even set up their pills for the week?
      Don’t be afraid to outsource as much as you can!
      Good luck with this. I wish you the best with this process and hope to see you posting your wildlife photos again soon. They rock!

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        In our high cost of living area these things might be spendy but definitely worth looking into. And thanks for the fan mail for my blog!

        1. Jackalope*

          Years ago I went to a talk about dementia by someone who worked with the local elder care agency (if you live in the US every state should have something like this). She really encouraged getting a person to provide in-home care as a respite for caregivers; it’s a lot cheaper than pushing your mom into more expensive care earlier because you just can’t keep going anymore. If you can, look into getting someone for short amounts of time; maybe an hour or two a day a couple of days a week? It depends on the caregivers in your area and how they work their schedules, but that’s something that might be doable and save you from having to do caretaking stuff every day.

    4. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      Do you have a tablet? It is a great thing to take a long with you for Drs appt and visiting with your mom. When I’m with my parents, they like looking at my pics with me and FaceTiming the great grand kids (They have their own iPad but aren’t good using it on their own) I then use it to read books or go online during long waits at the doctors. You could use it to blog or do picture stuff while you are with your Mom.

      I’m starting a crochet project specifically to keep me busy during downtime with my parents. It should work well as I can talk and socialize while doing it but it’s also something for me and a creative outlet.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        That’s a good suggestion. My photos and associated editing program are on my laptop but it’s small enough to bring along. Thanks.

    5. Pill-popper*

      Hi, I’m not sure if this is applicable for you, but my local pharmacy has a service where they make up weekly or monthly medicine packs in advance. They keep the prescriptions at the pharmacy, send out a bill each month for the medicine they used, and include reminders of what prescriptions are running out soon. It doesn’t cost very much (at least where I live). Maybe you can ask your mother if she would be okay with that.

    6. MassChick*

      Can you arrange to take a week or so being completely “off”? Where you can either pre-arrange (or swap) all the remote tasks and everything else? Not when you are otherwise on vacation but as part of your non-vacation routine. If it’s possible, it may give you the space you need to get creative again.
      If it’s workable and useful then see if it can be done at regular intervals.

    7. Bluebell*

      Mostly here to compliment you on having supported your mom so much this far. Definitely reach out to your local council on Aging. When my sister-in-law was struggling with dementia, I talkedwith the people at her town’s council, and the women I talked with were great. I also second the idea of keeping the mom info as segregated as possible. Hopefully that can give you some mental space.

    8. Anono-me*

      Seconding all of the advice to get as much support as possible as soon as possible. Both elder care help (County social worker for elderly people, local parish nurse, home health aide, etc. ) and day to day stuff (groceries on line, lawn and snow service, housekeeping, etc.) It is much easier to maintain your well-being than to recover it.

      If you have a big medical 3 ring binder * for your mother add a sketch pad and some nice drawing pencils. Sketch or doodle or write poetry while you are sitting on hold .

      Sign up for a weekly in-person art or other creative class on a day when you have support.

      Ask your mom to tell you stories about when she was young. How she met her first sweetheart?, Did she have a nickname in school and why? What is her first memory of each of her parents? What were the most outrageous things she got away as a kid? What was her first vaction trip? What was it like when the smallpox and polio vaccines came out.? Record these and make a video.

      Journal about this journey. It may help you to leave all of the pressure and negative energy on paper.

      *”The BIG 3 ring binder of all things medical for X” saved us so many times. If I didn’t go to an appointment, all of my notes were there for the person who did and later I had their notes . Took notes in the front and then moved it to the appropriate section (ortho, or cardiac etc.) There was also “The Calendar” in there and several copies of a dated list of the person’s most current medications. It helped keep everything on track and made it easier for others to help.

    9. WoodswomanWrites*

      Thanks to all of you for your thoughtful comments. Just hearing about others’ experiences and ideas is helpful in itself, and I’ll follow up on specific suggestions.

  9. Missb*

    Hoarding and old people- how to deal with the after affects?

    My mom got Covid late last year, fell and was found almost a week later in her bathroom, pretty much on her floor. Dh and I traveled the couple hours to her town on the day after she was taken to the hospital and went to see her and try to clean at least her bathroom.

    I’d literally never set foot in her house since she moved there 2 decades ago. It was like the worst episode of the hoarders. The fridge hasn’t functioned in months and was crammed with rotting, melting food. Narrow pathways through enormous piles of random stuff.

    About a week and a half later, she was released from the hospital and came here to stay with us (or with my sibling). She moved back to her town to a temporary place about a month later (it’s been about a month).

    While she was here, we started cleaning out the house. We were able to salvage some stuff, but a lot was simply ruined by mold and mouse droppings/nests. The house is owned by my sibling. Mom hasn’t paid rent in about two years. The house is now completely empty, and my sibling is spending probably $50k to repair everything. It’s… a lot.

    Mom isn’t speaking to us. She’s mad, and I get that. She’s also started to flip out on her nearest neighbor. Other than she wont speak to us, she also doesn’t do medical care particularly. So getting her to a primary care dr is virtually impossible.

    I’m at a loss as to what I should do. I guess I should call her, but I’ve been trying to give her space to absorb all the changes.

    I feel stupid for asking, but, I guess I should call her?

    1. Liminality*

      Oh no, I’m so sorry for all of you! What a terrible and hurtful situation for everyone involved!
      Part of the tragedy of hoarding is that the mindset of people who hoard is so very hard to grasp for people who don’t. Your mom may someday accept what you and your siblings have done for her, or she may never forgive. Either way, the house itself is rightfully under the control of the owner and they are not required to allow her to continue to damage it. (Tenancy/eviction laws should be consulted for notice requirements, etc.)
      If her fall was an aberration for an otherwise healthy and capable adult then the best you can do is let her know you are there for her and send her your best wishes. Maybe check in on her every other week or so, if she’ll allow it. If, however, she is no longer capable of living independently then I’d start with Senior Services in your area for suggestions on relocation and care support. She can be just as mad at you all from a functional care facility as she is right now. And at least there she won’t be at risk of being stuck lying on the floor for days after a fall. (And in a hoard There Will Be More Falls.)
      The physical realities of her situation are the urgent part. She won’t have the time to process her losses and injuries if she isn’t capable of caring for herself. Hopefully, with a stable environment and patient family support she will find perspective and peace.

      1. Liminality*

        To answer your last question: Call her, if you feel it might help, but I’d recommend checking in with the rest of the people who would reasonably be considered as part of her front line support system and get an idea of what help might be needed and what help can be provided so you can be ready present that information to your mom if/when she’s ready to hear it.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Yes, you should call her. She isn’t just “mad at you.” She has had a tremendous blow to her identity as a functional independent adult. Obviously if she was living the way you describe, she has had mental health issues weighing her down for years, and now they have been blown wide open and everybody knows all her business.

      She has lost everything that made her feel safe and oriented in the world. Of course, it was not physically safe or healthy for her. You did what you had to do. But she’s got to be reeling from all this.

      Call her. She may not want to speak to you, or she may want to vent at you. But you should make the effort.

      There’s no prescription for dealing with something like this, and I’m sorry you’re all facing it. It’s so stressful and grueling for you as well. Just keep trying to reach out and see where you get.

    3. Not Australian*

      To be brutally honest – and I’ve been there, twice – it sounds as if your mum is no longer capable of looking after herself in any way and you should probably be considering residential care. The hoarding, the food problems and the self-neglect, plus the antagonistic attitude, are classic markers of a situation which has got beyond even the best-intentioned family members to handle, and it’s time to put her in the hands of professional people who are trained for this sort of thing. You need to do what’s best for your mum, and giving in to her own wishes is only going to be counter-productive as the same (or worse) situations will arise again. It’s time to find out what your *other* options are.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Came here to say this. It sounds like a tough combination of whatever made the hoarding possible plus some other stuff. She does not sound capable of caring for herself, I am afraid to say. Outsource as much as possible to professionals
        Good luck and I really feel for you

      2. Emma*

        In the US, it can be hard to have someone moved into a residential facility who doesn’t want to go. My understanding is that the courts get involved in that case.

        It’s legal to be mentally ill in the US. When you’re a danger to yourself or other is when the courts step in. And usually it has to be fairly significant/documented for them to take action.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Well, she was on the floor of her bathroom for a week; I think the OP would have a plausible case that she’s in danger living alone.

          1. Emma*

            I mean, my mother in law showed up to the emergency room with a knife in her purse, making threats, and they only kept her on an involuntary hold for 3 days, so you’d be surprised.

            We had estimates from an attorney of anywhere from $8-15k of attorney costs/court fees to try to gain some kind of control where we could help make medical decisions. Again, not always as simple as we’d wish it!

            1. Emma*

              And I don’t have much experience with elder stuff, but we had a relative that lived alone and would regularly (weekly? Every couple of weeks?) fall or get stuck in their chair and have to call the ambulance for help. Elder care options for someone like this are pretty dismal if you don’t have money, or if you don’t want help.
              When we were able to eventually to finagle hospice services at the end of relative’s life, they did say they might eventually approach the courts if relative couldn’t safely care for themselves. But that was referring to not being able to independently get out of a chair/get food on a daily basis, not 1 fall.

              Maybe I’m wrong, but my experience of the US is that support is non-existent if you don’t have money, or choose to live a certain way.

              1. Emma*

                And nursing homes cost thousands of dollars per month. You can get a spot in a medicare/medicaid funded facility, I’m assuming only if medically necessary (not sure of the vetting process), but the ones we looked at were all one star on Google. And you typically can’t have much/any in the way of assets is my understanding. So any inheritance would likely have to go first.

    4. AGD*

      This is so hard – I really feel for you! The hoarding very definitely needed the intervention, but that must feel like the worst betrayal to your mother. Can you find an experienced social worker to help navigate the huge range of things going on here?

      1. Pill-popper*

        I think a social worker would be really helpful here. They have connections to services that most people would take a long time to find out about on our own, including for people who need to make the (huge, complicated) move to part time or full time assisted living.

    5. WellRed*

      What a mess, I’m sorry. Hoardings may have led to this but it’s not really the problem now. It doesn’t sound like she can live independently. Yes, you should call her. It sounds like all of you should be. Even if she refuses to talk to you, keep trying (I know this is hard). She’ll know you’re trying and maybe you’ll get through to her somehow.

    6. Sparkle llama*

      Not entirely what you are asking but you can try contacting your local fire department for assistance related to the hoarding. I have worked for a few cities that have provided that since hoarding is such a huge fire hazard (and creates fires that are very hard to put out). Help can include social services referrals or paying for a dumpster for you to use to clean out the house.

    7. My Brain is Exploding*

      Could you write her a letter? I’m sure others here with more experience could help you with the wording…putting in how scared you were that she was in the hospital, acknowledging how awful all of this has been for her, maybe throwing adult social services or something under the bus (I assume medical personnel had to get her out of the house and would have reported this). You could call her…if she doesn’t want to talk, she either won’t answer (so you could leave a message saying you have wanted to give her space but still want her to know you are thinking of her). I would also contact some senior services/social services of some sort, explain the problems (pictures would be helpful!) and have them meet with her, do some evaluations, and provide some information as to what your next steps should be. I am sorry you are going through this.

    8. Bluebell*

      I’m sorry to hear all this. Yes, I agree w the other commenters that you should call her. It may be easier for her to talk w you, instead of your sibling who owns the house. I also think getting a professional involved would be wise. Your sibling shouldn’t be expected to just let your mom start from scratch and then continue hoarding, with sibling bearing the cost of future damage. Senior services (in the U.S.) usually can provide advice about local resources.
      I’m dealing with a light version of this. My mother’s house is fairly messy, with 1/3 of her small study taken up by piled boxes and things she wants to donate or sell. Plus, looking at the expiration dates in her kitchen gives me the heebie jeebies. Now in her late 80s, she has no close friends in her town, and me and my siblings each live 2+ hours away by plane. Recently I offered to pay for a local “helper” program for a few hours a week, not a home health aide but more of a companion. She flat out turned it down, saying she didn’t need it, but maybe in a few years! It was really frustrating, but maybe she will think more about it.

    9. Morning reader*

      Yes, you should be contacting her regularly. I can’t tell from your description how old she is, if there’s some dementia involved or mostly the hoarding tendency, so it’s hard to tell how much you can communicate with her. If she’s not speaking to you and doesn’t want to hear you, I’m not sure what calling will do. But establish the habit of regular, daily contact. A text, an emoji, a fb post, anything that lets you know mother is awake and breathing today.
      You are past this point but to others with aging parents or friends who live alone: establish a regular checkin! It would be my nightmare to be lying injured for a week with no one noticing. I don’t want to pile on, but 20 years and you’ve never even been in her house? Or seen it on zoom or something? And no one, not friends or neighbors, not your sib who owns the house, noticed for a whole week that she was down for the count?
      People, check on your people, please. (You don’t have to be the one to check on your mom daily, but someone should.)

    10. MassChick*

      Please don’t feel stupid..this is such a difficult situation with no simple solutions. I suspect there is dementia in play; it is a snap diagnosis but I am caring for a parent with dementia so the alarm bells went off. I hope a screening for that can be arranged.
      Internet hugs in the mean time.. I know that feeling of anxiety and helplessness.

  10. Liminality*

    So, my very good friend has an ongoing frustrating family situation and she calls me up for sympathy. It ends up being a similar issue over and over and my attempts to ‘advise’ or ‘solve’ seem to end only in frustration.
    I’m on purpose not going into details because, at end of day, the details are irrelevant as the problem in these conversations is me.
    I want to be supportive, but I can’t seem to be part of a conversation without offering solutions.
    Is it possible to actually stick to ‘tea and sympathy’? Truly, I am asking, have you ever been able to be consistent in just listening? If so, how do you do it?

    1. RagingADHD*

      To be completely honest, sometimes the only way I can tamp down my advice-giving side and stick to supportive listening is to kind of tune out from the details and just pay attention to the person’s feelings rather than the words.

      Then I can reflect back to them and just say stuff like, “That sounds really rough. What did you do next?” Or “Wow, that’s awful.”

      If I engage too much with the details, it switches on problem-solving mode. Or even if I’m just trying too hard to understand all the details, it can generate a lot of questions, which can come across kind of accusatory or like an interrogation. So I try to keep it vague. Like skimming when you’re reading. Only with your ears.

      Does that make sense? I’m not sure I’m explaining it right.

      1. Rosyglasses*

        This is really helpful advice as I think about times where I am continually getting frustrated at folks in my life for recurrent conversations.

      2. Liminality*

        It does make sense, and you’re right. It definitely is the details that I end up tangled in. Thank you!

    2. I'm just here for the cats*

      It sounds like you might be the type of person who when someone is trying to vent you feel like you need to fix it. Your friend might not be looking for a fix. I would ask them straight out, do you want help finding solutions or do you just want to talk about how this makes you feel. And them just listen.

      Think about it from their perspective. They are just overwhelmed or feeling hurt and just want to vent or talk to someone who is not involved who had their back, but all they get is told what to do. It can be frustrating when 2 people are t on the same page. Listen and then try to do what they ask. But you sound like a great friend!

      1. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

        Yes, I was going to suggest asking if they want advice or not. Ask every time, then after a few times, you might be able to say “I’m sorry, I can’t listen to this any more.” (or some kinder, less blunt words to that effect).

      2. Liminality*

        Urgh, you’re right, I know you’re right, but even when I know that the goal is just venting it is So Hard not to be all, “you know that’s cause of the nail, right?”
        I’m not sure if you’ve seen the video on YouTube “it’s not about the nail” but it feels like that, every time.
        I’ll post a link.

    3. Not A Manager*

      Yes, I have learned how to do that. Like you, I am a solutions-oriented kind of person. I am in my own life, and I am for people that I love.

      What has really helped me is reframing the “problem” in my mind from “how should I address my family situation” – even if that’s what my friend is literally saying – to “I am upset and I want to vent and I want emotional support.” Once I have a new “problem” to solve – helping my friend feel heard right now – it’s pretty easy to do that. Because I am a solutions-oriented kind of person.

      The “solution” to “I’m upset and want to vent and feel supported” is to give the person a lot of space to talk, and to sometimes mirror back to them what they’ve just said or to extrapolate what you think they might be feeling. “Yes, it’s terrible when you can’t reply on someone. You must feel really frustrated.”

      One thing I’ve also learned to do is not to ramp up their emotion. There can be an urge to sort of elaborate on whatever they’ve said, especially if you agree with them and you’ve heard it a million times already. But that can make the person feel worse and more powerless. I find it’s better to just tone it down slightly. “Yeah, she’s always been problematic,” “oh, that’s really disappointing.”

      Also, if this is someone who tends to get into very fine-grained narration, I find that I listen a lot better if I have something to occupy me on the side. Knitting, or quietly prepping dinner. That way, I am already “doing” something and it prevents me from interjecting too much into the narrative trying to fix it.

      1. Liminality*

        Thank you for the idea of the perspective change. That does make sense.
        Also, yes on the ramping up issue. It’s so hard to avoid agreeing when I do see how the “other party” has a point, and disagreeing just makes it worse.
        Multitasking is also a great strategy. Thanks again!

    4. takeachip*

      If you are a task oriented person struggling to hold back your impulse to solve something, you can “hack” that task orientation by giving yourself the task of keeping the conversation going to help the person process, instead of the task of helping the person by coming up with suggestions. Maybe focus on their thoughts & feelings instead of actions? I try to do a lot of validation: “I can understand why you’d feel that way”; “It sure seems like they don’t appreciate you”; “Yeah, that sounds really painful.” A lot of time this is what people most need to hear. It’s also helpful to probe a bit into feelings & thoughts: “How did it make you feel when that happened?” versus “Oh that’s terrible now here’s what I would do next if I were you”; “So what are you thinking about all this now?” or “Where do you see this going?” versus “Why don’t you try X and X and X?”

    5. Team9to5*

      I hear you about this! Active listening is really challenging, especially if you’re a natural problem-solver (plus, problems can seem so much clearer from the outside). I think it’s possible to stick to sympathy, if that’s your goal!

      Whenever I’m in a similar situation, I stop to think about the effect I want to have on the person I’m engaging with, and what I would want in their shoes. It may sound silly/basic, but that step helps me remember to listen and empathize, rather than problem-solve.

      I have a boundary, though, regarding listening to repeated complaints! (My term for it is “complaining machine.” Everyone has a topic that they turn into a complaining machine about– it’s totally normal– but you don’t always have to engage.) You may find it helpful to set a time limit for how much you’ll listen, or you can divert the conversation constantly (e.g., through bland remark + change of subject) to send a gentle message about limits. It’s totally okay to not want to listen anymore! This seems like a pattern that’s been set by your friend, and it’s okay to shake things up.

      Final thought: the question, “what would happen if you [did xyz]?” can be helpful for getting people to actually consider a suggestion. I find the phrase can sometimes take people out of their complaining routine and consider the problem from another angle. But use it wisely! Only use it when you really, really think your conversation partner should reconsider their position.

      Good luck. I’m rooting for you!

      1. Liminality*

        Thank you! :)
        I’m going to deliberately work on seeing things from their perspective and also on setting a time limit.

    6. Probably A Bad Friend*

      I’ve got a friend thats been doing much the same.
      The way I’ve dealt with it is by reminding myself every time that if she wanted help shed ask for it.
      And (as horrible as it sounds) being bad at listening. I basically do the auditory equivalent of skimming- i try to take in the generalities of the conversation because if I focus too much on the details I’ll start trying to solve things.
      Then I spend the brainpower that would have gone to find solutions and instead use it to come up with new ways to say “that sucks” so I don’t sound too repetitive.
      Not sure that this is an advisable way to go about it, but it does seem to be the desired response. Unfortunately, this means the frequency of these conversations has increased dramatically.

      1. Liminality*

        Good point.
        And you’re right about the result of being a ‘good listener’ bring that you get to listen even more!

    7. AcademiaNut*

      I firmly believe that an acceptable response to “I just need to vent – I don’t want advice” is “No thank-you”.

      Providing support for friends is good, but it doesn’t obligate you to endlessly being a passive sponge for their bad feelings. I can provide supportive listening without comment for short, occasional periods of venting, but there are definitely limits on how much I am able to do without offering suggestions (particularly when the venter is more interested in complaining than actually solving the problem, or the problem is of their own making.).

      So if someone doesn’t want advice or solutions, I listen as much as I am able to, and then I change the subject, or if that doesn’t work, I limit the amount of time I spend on the phone with them. With someone you know really well, you might be able to be direct.

      1. Liminality*

        I’m definitely leaning more toward your line if thinking the longer this goes on. The main reason why I haven’t cut this particular friend off the sympathy train is that she has spent her fair share of time listening to me sob over my own tragedies.
        Still, changing the subject after a bit would probably be productive for both of us.

    8. allathian*

      It is possible, at least for a limited time. You just have to hack your problem solving side to define their problem as needing to vent rather than actual concrete solutions to a problem.

      That said, you don’t have to do that if you don’t want to. What do you get out of this friendship? Does your venting friend ever listen to you talk about your life, or is it all one sided? If it is, you’re perfectly within your rights to say enough’s enough and tell your friend that you’re happy to see her, but that you won’t listen to her venting for more than 10 or 15 minutes per visit or call. If she’s unable or unwilling to change the subject, she doesn’t value your friendship as much as she just wants to vent.

      Sometimes being willing to listen to someone vent can be very counter-productive. They get to air their frustrations just enough that they don’t feel the need to actually do something about whatever it is that’s making them feel frustrated, i.e. the listener’s just enabling the venter.

      1. Liminality*

        We take turns. :)
        She truly is a very good friend and she has definitely put in her time listening to me cry over what most likely seems to her to be very solvable problems.
        And we are there for eachother in the food times too.
        But you’re right, on the potential for it to be counter-productive, sometimes the talking does make it easier to postpone the doing of things.

        1. allathian*

          I’m so glad to hear that your friend is as supportive a listener as you are. That doesn’t mean that you have to keep listening forever if nothing changes, but I can also understand why you want to find other solutions that allow her to continue to be heard without stressing you out too much.

          I once had to end what had become a very one-sided friendship to protect my mental health. I had a friend in college who was very much a little poor rich girl, in that her parents were able to provide her with a lot of material things but didn’t give her much emotional support or encouragement. During and after college she kept getting hired thanks to her parents’ connections and either quit (because her parents were wealthy enough that she never had to work) as soon as she was given a task she didn’t want to do, or was fired for unacceptable behavior at work, like when she was constantly late to a job that needed coverage, excessively mouthy to her managers, or when things got really bad, showing up with a hangover, or worse yet, still drunk, at work.

          She used to call me at least once a month in the middle of the night, often drunk enough that she didn’t remember the call the next day. At the time I was still on a landline but she had a cellphone, so blocking her number wasn’t an option. Heck, I didn’t even have caller-ID at the time. I had to take my phone off the hook at night to avoid the calls.

          I put up with that behavior for far longer than I would consider doing today, but I felt I owed her because she helped me reconnect with a mutual friend so that we could all hang out together. She got us talking again when both of us were giving each other the silent treatment over what turned out to be a simple misunderstanding.

          I finally ended the friendship when I needed someone to vent to about some problems I was having with my then-boyfriend, and she blew me off completely. That’s when I realized that I didn’t owe her anything anymore and told her to delete my number so that she wouldn’t call me again when she was drunk. AFAIK she did, or at least she never called me again. The next time I saw the mutual friend, I got the chance to vent about both the end of the friendship and my problems with my then-boyfriend, which I solved not long after by dumping him. And a bit after that, I heard from the mutual friend that she’d been forced to block my ex-friend’s number, because she’d started to call her in the middle of the night.

    9. Irish Teacher*

      I think it’s partly a personality thing. Some people are better at listening and giving support whereas others are better at advising. For me, I think it depends on the person and on the issue. If the issue is something serious, I find it easier to just offer support whereas when the issue seems to have an obvious solution, I find it hard not to suggest it.

      I think one thing that might help is to remember that everybody is the expert on their own situation. She has information she may not have told you and also may have experience in the area that you don’t. Rather than looking at it as “the person doesn’t want advice,” think in terms of “they’ve been trying to solve this for weeks or months and have no doubt tried anything I am likely to think of in the next few moments.” Not saying you do look at it as them being unwilling to accept help, but it is an easy trap to fall into. Things often look simpler from the outside than they really are, especially stuff about families and it is quite possible your friend is not telling you the whole story (for example, she may want to protect a family member by not telling part that makes them look bad) and the information left out may change what solutions would work.

      Not sure if this is any help but I find when I think of it in terms of “this person is telling me about a situation I have no experience of and which they have spent a lot of time thinking of how to deal with, without coming up with a viable solution,” it’s easier to avoid coming up with advice, because it makes me aware of how naive any advice I give is likely to sound.

      Another thing that helps is putting myself on the other end and remembering times when I told somebody say about an issue with a student misbehaving and somebody who is not a teacher gave advice that is either completely counter-productive or that is so obvious it was the first thing tried. “Why don’t you give them detention?” “Um, they’ve been given detention every evening such a thing is happening and just refuse to show up for any of them. I doubt one more is going to make any difference.”

      1. Angstrom*

        I find it helps to rephrase “Have you tried x?” as “What happens when you try x?” . If she’s tried it, she can tell you without feeling that her competence has been questioned. If she hasn’t, it may lead to a useful discussion if she wants to switch into problem-solving mode.

        1. Seconds*

          And, “I guess X doesn’t work?” Or “I assume you’ve already tried X?” Or,”From here it looks like you might X, though I know there must be a lot I don’t know.”

      2. Francie Foxglove*

        “I think one thing that might help is to remember that everybody is the expert on their own situation. She has information she may not have told you and also may have experience in the area that you don’t.”

        A while back, Mr. Foxglove and I were roommates with a single woman while he started a new job and I freelanced as a llama groomer. Now, we were friends with Mary prior to moving in, and we still are friends with her and her then-SO, now-husband. But I can think of two instances where I really had to bite my tongue when she started what we called Marysplaining.

        1. I had an off-and-on client who twice took a phone call in the middle of a grooming session, came back in tears and asked to postpone. The first time this happened (not the first session), I was genuinely concerned, and also figured it was unlikely I’d hear from her again. Except I did, a few weeks later, and we had two more sessions before another weepy postponement. Then another gap, a couple more sessions, and finally I come back to the apartment and Mary asks how my day was.

        Me: “Ugh, Mrs. Q took a phone call and came back in tears and said we’ll have to postpone…”

        Mary: “She’s going through something. You won’t hear from her again.”

        Me: “…so since this is the third time this has happened, I told her that I think it’s not the right time for her to be a llama owner.”

        And the other time…I was talking about my very dysfunctional family, and I barely got two sentences in before she started *explaining divorce to me*. The way one would explain it to a fourth-grader. And guess what — my parents never got divorced; that’s not where I was going with my story!

        Gah. Seriously, she helped us out when we really needed it, and I love her to bits, but I just can’t tell her anything.

          1. Francie Foxglove*

            Oh, wouldn’t it be something if she’d been my enforcer! Nah, she was just patiently explaining (to me who was ten years older than she), what I’d known the first time Mrs. Q canceled a session. And the story about my family, she jumped right in and said, “Well, they couldn’t work out their differences, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t still love you a whole lot.” I just stared at her for a few seconds, then humbly said, “They never got divorced, but….forget it; it’s too upsetting to talk about.” She meant well, I know, but she teaches elementary school, and she’s used to that level of innocence and inexperience.

      3. Liminality*

        Thank you for the reminder. You’re right that she does have years of experience in the situation she’s been venting about. I know she isn’t dumb, and I will be more aware of her own experience and knowledge. I will do my best to be curious rather than judgemental.

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      I think it’s really tough when the complaints are always the same.

      My daughter will use me as a sounding board (and doesn’t mind advice if I have it), but she’s specifically in the mode “I need to figure out what to do about this situation, and venting to you is how I work through it aloud.” The next time I talk to her, the old thing is resolved.

      “I hate this pattern I’m stuck in, and rest assured there is absolutely nothing I could possibly do to get out of it” is exhausting, like the stress is getting transferred to you and then you have nowhere to transfer it.

      1. Liminality*

        Heheheh….
        “I hate this pattern I’m stuck in, and rest assured there is absolutely nothing I could possibly do to get out of it”
        Have you bugged my phone?

    11. Squidhead*

      The times I have been most successful have been when someone is telling me about things that happened in the past, so I can’t “fix” the thing anyway. Responses like “that sounds awful” “what did you do next?” “it sounds like you’re still really hurt/afraid/sad about this” are easier in this context. Sometimes I can tie it in to current events “well, I see why you’re worried about getting into another relationship” or the speaker might make that connection themself, but sometimes they just need to unburden about a thing that happened long ago. So, maybe tell yourself that whatever circumstance they are talking about *did* happen long ago, and try just letting the story flow? Telling the story of our lives to ourselves is an important part of processing events, and by listening, you *are* actually helping.
      (Keeping in mind your own limits for hearing about hard things happening to someone you care about.)

      Another technique can be naming your own impulses and discomfort “it’s hard to hear about this without wanting to “fix” it, even though I can’t. Thank you for trusting me and talking with me about it, and if I start trying to give you advice, it’s okay to tell me to stop.” For stories in the past: “I know I can’t change what happened to you, but I’m glad you felt you could talk with me about it.”

      1. Liminality*

        Good ideas.
        I’m going to focus on acknowledging what is happening and trying to listen as if it’s all already over.

    12. My Brain is Exploding*

      I have a similar friend, who was having personal health issues and parental health issues. There really were no easy fixes. I finally decided that for her (I don’t think I could do this for multiple people at the same time) it would be a great gift to her to just listen. I’d throw in some suggestions on occasion, and as another commenter said, “what if you tried this?” Sometimes I will just ask people (like her, or my kids) what they want (because I can’t read minds) – do you want to vent, do you want reassurance, do you want help? If it’s venting, then try to allow the last few minutes of the conversation to focus on something good…even if it’s that last episode of All Creatures Great and Small :). But really, if you think of it as giving her a great gift to just listen, I think that would help a lot.

      1. Liminality*

        I like the idea of ending on a positive note. Also, someone I know and love has been watching All Creatures Great And Small. :) apparently it really is a good show!

    13. MissCoco*

      I’ll second others, it really helps me to either decide personally or actually ask and hear from them that they just want to vent and aren’t looking for solutions.

      Right now for me, tea and sympathy has a time limit, maybe it’s 10 minutes, maybe it’s 30, but at some point I can’t keep feeling sad/angry/whatever on their behalf without offering solutions. It’s hard to thread the needle of shutting that down, but it can be done, and usually after a few attempts it becomes a new normal. I also try to sort of de-escalate their story rather than leaning into the badness, which helps increase how long I can empathize.

      1. Liminality*

        I think a time limit might be an effective help in this kind of situation.
        The de-escalate thing is definitely not one of my natural talents though. I’ll have to practice that one.

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

      I have gotten a ton of mileage out of “Wow, if that were me I would feel so _________” and/or “It makes sense that you feel that way.”
      Sometimes when I find myself going into solution-suggesting mode, I will catch myself and say something like, “I just wish I could wave a magic wand and fix this for you– I hate that you’re in such a bad situation.”

      Basically, the more you can talk about internal feelings instead of external actions the better.

    15. Silence*

      I seem to recall captain awkward had a post that may help. ‘I lent my friend an ear and now I want it back’
      I think the main points were:
      – asking if they were venting or looking for advice
      – acknowledge their feelings
      – if they are repeating themselves point it out / suggest a topic change
      – time limit before changing subject
      – if they have asked for advice and ignored it you can respond with ‘you know what I think about the situation and I am probably not the audience for this unless something changes ‘

  11. Webpage readability*

    Sometimes I get on a webpage where I can barely read the text, because it’s a very thin font that is not totally dark on a not-totally-white background — there’s just not enough contrast. Is there anything I can do to improve readability aside from enlarging it up to 120% or more? Ie, any setting or control I can use in the browser? I like Firefox on Windows, but would switch to another browser if it gave me that ability. It doesn’t seem likely, but I’m asking just in case…..

    1. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Sometimes I highlight the text and that helps. Sometimes it doesn’t. It’s a huge accessibility issue!

    2. I'm just here for the cats*

      It’s probably not a setting you can fix. It’s whatever font that that website chose to use. It can be annoying and websites should be more user friendly but sometimes people don’t think about readability. They just choose whatever font looks cool to them or their website server doesn’t have much font choices.

    3. Liminality*

      I use Firefox and in the address bar is a little document/page icon that converts the webpage into reader view which is essentially plain text on a basic background. Maybe that might help?
      The Firefox page says: If a page is available in Reader View, you can also access Reader View from the Menu bar by clicking View then Enter Reader View. Alternatively, you can press the keys command + option + R to toggle Reader View.

    4. Not A Manager*

      If it’s a serious chunk of text that you really need to read, a lot of times you can select the paragraph, copy, and paste it into a word processing document. Then you can change the font color and size to whatever you want.

      This can be a bit of a pain if you’re copying more than one paragraph, because if you select over images and pop-ups they get weird in your document. Try to select only text as much as possible.

      1. tangerineRose*

        Sometimes I’ll copy text into Notepad or Notepad++ because they tend to have nice clear fonts by default.

    5. Adelheid*

      You could use a user script manager addon (for Firefox: Greasemonkey, Tampermonkey, or Violentmonkey). With it you can use user scripts to change display and functionality of Websites, for example, there is a “Clean Font Families” script that changes the fonts back to their generic defaults (serif, sans-serif, …). There are also scripts for specific websites.

      1. Roland*

        Another option along those lines, an addon for just custom stylehseets like Stylus. OP, depending on your comfort level with web stuff, these might all work great and/or feel like a lot; I recommend checking out their firefox addons homepages and seeing if any feel approachable enough to you, because if you can get something like this working it’ll be your most comprehensive solution.

    6. ecnaseener*

      I have a firefox extension called Dark Reader that has a lot of control, not just making things dark – you can use it to increase the brightness and/or contrast quite a bit.

  12. Advice on dealing with stuff*

    Anyone really good at dealing with stuff, right in the moment, want to give me tips? Or someone who used to be bad at it but got better?

    I tend to let stuff collect in certain places (I have a closet that is a disaster) and then eventually get fed up, clean it out, find things I could have been using all along, it looks really good, I feel proud and then I just … repeat the cycle over and over again. I know the theories of a place for everything and I try that but once I slip once it all falls apart. I’m not a pack rat (I love getting rid of things) but it seems to have to hit critical mass before I’ll actually deal with it. I’d love to be a person who naturally deals with clutter but it’s a struggle and I don’t have good systems in place to control it. Would love any tips, even if they seem ridiculously basic!

    1. Liminality*

      I have an Out Box.
      Anything can go in the Out Box.
      But it must stay there for a set time. (You decide, two weeks? A month?)
      If at the end of that time I have neither needed it nor felt sentimental about it I put it in the trunk of my car for a drop off if I find myself near the thrift store.
      Consistent cycling of the Out Box helps keep me from the ‘out of sight out of mind’ problem.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I like this because a bit of advice (I think Marie Kondo was credited?) that resonated with me was that if you can’t see it, you tend to forget it’s there until you do a deep clean and unearth it.

        Things like the Christmas decorations can live in the attic, and things like that one really big pan can have a shelf in the basement where you go collect it to roast a big thing a couple of times a year. Things that follow “In event of specific, rare yet predictable occurrence, go to the attic and get the two boxes on the middle left.” But things like shirts, or handy little notebooks, that are interchangeable with other items you do use–those you need to find a way to see.

      2. Siege*

        I do this slightly differently. I usually have a donation box that I add things to as I come across them. I don’t leave it for a set time, but I have permission to take things out if I decide I’ll use them (I think this has happened like twice, it’s not common). When the box gets full, I donate it. It helps with keeping things less cluttered, because sometimes the place for something is someone else’s house.

    2. Samwise*

      I am like you. Things that are truly important to access quickly and easily, I make sure have a place and I always put those away promptly (keys, phone, wallet, medications, etc.)

      My kitchen table is cluttered but the kitchen cabinets are well ordered because I love to cook and I lose all the pleasure in it if I have to waste time scrounging for mislaid stuff.

      Everything else — I don’t worry about it. I spent a number of years forgiving myself for clutter and disorganization. An after effect of my mom’s OCD (that’s her actual diagnosis). Now I don’t feel bad or care. But it took a couple decades to achieve peace.

    3. Annie Edison*

      I’ve fallen off the wagon with this but for a while, I was having pretty good success with doing a daily 10 min clutter attack as part of my morning routine. Pick whatever part of the house feels most pressing and spend 10 min on it – my only rule was that I actually had to completely deal with each thing I picked up and put it away or throw it out, as opposed to just sorting it into piles to deal with later.
      When I was doing it regularly, I found that I could actually get quite a bit done in those ten minutes, but it was still short enough that it didn’t feel overwhelming to do daily.
      I also find that doing a five min speed pickup at the end of the day helps with staying at least somewhat on top of the clutter of daily life

      1. Nicosloanita*

        I do this but even shorter – the length of one song on my playlist or the commercial break of a tv show. It’s good for someone like me who’s type of mess is absentmindedly letting empty coffee cups or opened cans of sparkling water collect around the house,

    4. germank106*

      I used to work by the “out of sight out of mind” principle. Once anything was behind a closet door I didn’t have to (want to) deal with it. Now that we have downsized dramatically this doesn’t work anymore so I made cleaning clutter part of my household routine. As I clean in one room I take a quick peek into the closet/drawer/whatever and sort out what I no longer need and toss it or put it in the donation bin. Doing this regularly has cut a huge chore down to a few minutes every couple of days.
      I also learned to group alike things. So now all my cleaning supplies are in one spot instead of having the bathroom cleaning stuff in the bathroom, the kitchen cleaning stuff in the kitchen and all the other cleaning stuff somewhere else. I can see at one glance if I’m out of paper towels or if I can hold off buying dishwasher pods for a while.

    5. Squidhead*

      You’re finding stuff you “could have been using,” but is it actually stuff you *will* use or is it stuff you would *like* to use (but won’t because it’s too special) or want to think you’ll use but don’t need/like (but feel bad about throwing away)? For things you will actually use: put them into use right now, so they become a part of your flow in your space. For the other two categories, know yourself and own your habits. Saving a bottle of fancy lotion is pointless if you won’t actually use it. Either put it out in the bathroom right now, or put it in the giveaway/gift/donate box. As much as possible, don’t bring things like this into your house in the future (don’t buy them just because they’re on sale, etc). If they come into your home, put them to use right away (this is how I converted from body wash to bar soap!) or put them right in the Out box (thanks, Liminality!).

      You might need to consider how much tolerance you have for redundancy or overstock. We have extra towels for guests that just sit there when we don’t have guests. I don’t think of them as clutter, but they have to be stored somewhere and they spend 99% of their time being stored. We also shop at a warehouse store for things like toilet paper and paper towels. There’s usually an extra block of TP in our unfinished attic (plus the rolls in the hall closet). The space in the hall closet is only for TP and we do not let other things creep in when the TP is getting low. We’re okay with this because it works for us, but otherwise we’d need to change our shopping habits. If we bought smaller amounts, it might cost more per roll but we wouldn’t have so much excess stuff around. So, consider how much extra stuff you have queued up that you will actually use, and how much space it needs. This space is dedicated, and can’t be filled up with other things even if it’s temporarily low/empty. TLDR: be more selective about what goes in the closet. “Aspirational” items don’t get a spot in the closet unless you are really committed to using them. The closet is for storing a known quantity of stuff that is either expendable (TP) or intermittent-use (towels, the hair clipper, clothes you are not wearing this moment). The Out box is where other things rest until you get them out of the house.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If it takes less than a minute to do, do it now instead of pushing it off on Later You who will have a harder time of it. Example: You take your spaghetti plate and fork into the kitchen and put it on the counter next to the sink. The next day, you pick them up and realize that the red sauce is dried on the plate and fork, so you have to soak them. Then they sit in the sink full of gross water for another day. Finally three days later, they make it into the dishwasher. But … if you had just taken thirty seconds to rinse the sauce and put the dishes into the dishwasher, probably within inches of where you had left them in the first place, all this could have been avoided.

      Basically, have some consideration for Future You and try to help them out a little.

    7. fposte*

      I’ll add another possibility: how you’re doing it already is common and okay, and you could just embrace that. You have ebb and flow cycles, but you have enough flow cycles that stuff isn’t backing up on you. Some periods you have more organization and some periods you have less. I think that’s fine, and it doesn’t have to be consistent.

    8. anxiousGrad*

      I’ve been dealing with the opposite of your problem: I’m extremely neat but sharing a kitchen and bathroom with less-neat people. Since I am a do things immediately kind of person, I was driving myself crazy at first by constantly cleaning up after my roommates. Recently I’ve been trying a new strategy where I just do a deep clean of the shared spaces on Saturday mornings after breakfast. Now I only spend about an hour of my week cleaning up after other people and if I get kind of stressed about the mess before then I remind myself that it will be clean on Saturday. Maybe this strategy could work for you, too – you don’t have to change your entire approach to housekeeping and become an everything in its place person, but setting aside a specific time once a week to deal with clutter might be more manageable.

    9. Girasol*

      To avoid that repeating cycle I have a rule about nothing coming in unless something equivalent goes out. So to put a new thing into the closet, a less-wanted old thing has to go to the second hand donation box. Thinking about how someone will find my cast-off and enjoy it always helps.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        I do this too!
        Echoing others above, I have “kondo’ed” a bunch of areas (sock and clothes drawers, clothes closet, under the vanity) so I can see everything. It’s amazing what a difference that made for me. I have no urge to buy socks because I can see every pair I have in one glance
        Fly Lady also does a ten minute clutter thing (I forget what she calls it) where you zoom around and declutter for a set time. Then it’s not so overwhelming.
        Good luck!!

    10. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      I think it’s pretty normal for this to go in cycles and for it never to really be “finished”. We’re all going to keep having stuff come in so it’s no surprise that you will need to continue revisiting it. I agree with some of the other comments that tackling it in regular small doses makes it easier than waiting for a bigger pileup. Could you schedule time on your calendar every month or every few months to make progress? With the mindset that you aren’t trying to achieve perfection in that time.

      Maybe also think about why the disaster closet (or junk drawer, or other messy spot) is a disaster. What about it or the stuff in it is making it go out of control? Do things that you keep in there really need a different home where they are more accessible when you need them? Are they things that you don’t want to deal with and you put them in there because you are avoiding them? Sometimes I find I need to fix the process rather than the things or the storage space.

    11. Fellow Traveller*

      I’m like you in that I tidy then it accumulates then I have a cleaning binge and then the cycle begins all over.
      Sometimes I just schedule time to go through it. Like if I see I have an evening or afternoon free during the week, I will literally write in my planner “go through counter bin.” Or “clean guest room”.
      I also have containers for the problem areas … bins and boxes to catch the clutter. So i don’t feel like I’m going through the whole closet, I just pull out the box and go through that. That way, too, if I’m looking for something I know that it’s likely in the mail bin on the counter or that box.
      But I agree with fposte- if it is working, then maybe make peace with your cycle. Hitting critical mass isn’t a time to get frustrated, just a time to set aside time to go through it. “naturally” dealing with clutter is a subjective thing.

    12. I take tea*

      I am definitely not organized, but one thing that has helped somewhat with the out of sight, out of mind is that we have divided the apartment into focus areas and every week something in the focus area gets seen to. This helped to get the whole place to get regurlarly checked over, without being overwhelming. It might be just a thorough cleaning, but we try to take at least one box or shelf or drawer and sort it. This way we have slowly managed to sort our messy entrance, for example. But we live small, I don’t know if it would work in a house.

    13. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      FLYLady dot com calls those places got spots, because one little spark and you suddenly have a dumpster fire of stuff piled up.

      Her approach is to religiously completely clear off those hot spots at a minimum every day, and can be more frequently based on what it is or how much tends to accumulate there.

      1. Silence*

        I like untucked your habitat as being similar about tackling things in bite sized pieces but less telling you to enjoy the process

    14. librarymouse*

      I have a similar issue, but I found the following advice from Adam Savage helpful: if it takes less than a minute to do, do it now (or in practice, the next time you get up lol). It doesn’t cover everything, but I find it useful for things like returning a book to the shelf, loading the dish you just used in a dishwasher, folding the afghan and putting it on the back of the couch, etc. Ot keeps things in enough of a working order that my weekends aren’t totally consumed by cleaning.
      (Also meet yourself where you’re at. My kitchen is on the opposite side of the house from my recycling bin so recyclables piled up in the kitchen while I ignored the above rule. So a couple of weeks ago I bought a slightly fancy-looking plastic bin to put in the kitchen for recyclables so now I only need to take a couple of trips a week to the bin. It’s been a game changer!)

    15. Advice on dealing with stuff*

      Thanks, all! This was a good mix of actionable tips that I will try to put into place and reminders to be kind to myself (something I definitely struggle with). All very helpful!

      1. Rekha3.14*

        You may find some tips in How to Keep House While Drowning by KC Davis useful. It’s short but good and helped me realize that sometimes good enough is good enough! I don’t have to live in a showroom. I LIVE here. It’s okay for it to look lived in if other things are managed (dishes are priority over toy clutter, for example, for me).

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’ve had a Samsung one for a few years and it’s fine. There was a recall a couple years back and they sent a guy to fix the issue. No complaints :)

    2. Kris*

      My household has an LG purchased in 2015, and we’ve been happy with it. Our main selection criteria were efficiency (energy & water) and size. The laundry hookups in our house are in a closet, and all the other washers we might have chosen were too big to fit.

    3. KatEnigma*

      This is my 2nd Samsung and I love it. Mainly I love that if you do a load of whites, for instance, it defaults back to “normal” or whatever your most commonly used setting is – so you don’t forget and shrink things the next load of you forget. (I did all the bedding in the house and then had to run a few cycles on “normal” to change the default back, just FYI)

    4. Manders*

      Yep, I have a top-loading HE LG washer. I like it. Got it in April 2020 (thank you stimulus money!) and haven’t had any issues with it.

    5. I'm just here for the cats*

      Thanks for all of your replies. I ended up getting a Samsung. I wasn’t sure if the LG would fit through our basement door and the others were a bit out of my price range.

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

      I have one that frustrates me because when it gets unbalanced, it just fills itself all the way up with water repeatedly in an attempt to redistribute the load. It’s so wasteful! I miss my front-loader that it replaced so bad and can’t wait til this one dies so I can replace it.

    7. Observer*

      I have a top loader. It works well. It’s large – probably larger than I need, to be honest. But I was replacing a machine that was the largest I could get at the time I bought it. And I forgot that I was probably going to be moving to smaller loads as my kids were moving out. I also didn’t realize that a HE model in the same footprint was going to have a lot more space in the tub as there is no agitator in there to take up most of the space.

      It’s just over 7 years old, and I don’t think I’ve had a problem with it so far.

  13. HBJ*

    A few weeks ago, I asked for recommendations for something to even out my skin tone and just be a light layer – BB or CC cream or tinted moisturizer. I actually ended up getting the Covergirl Skin Milk foundation. It was labeled in store as a tinted moisturizer, but upon reading the label at home, it’s actually not, just a very light moisturizer.

    I really like it! It is very light and does just even out my skin tone and hide a lot of blemishes. I’ve checked in various light, and it doesn’t seem to leave a “line of demarcation,” which I’ve never seemed to be able to avoid with full on foundation, one of the reasons I quit wearing it.

    I also picked the right shade right off. I almost always go too dark with foundation and concealer the first time, so I deliberately grabbed the next shade lighter than what my first instinct was to get, and it’s perfect.

    1. Purple m&m*

      You have now achieved the impossible on the first try. Good on you – and thanks to the AAM community. And, you should have a pint.

    2. LG*

      Don’t you just love it when things fall into place like that? That happens so seldom to me (I usually have a few fails before finding the right products) but it’s such a joy when it works the first time.

    3. Prospect Gone Bad*

      So you know, for uneven skin, there is a procedure called IPL where you get it lasered and it triggered your immune system to repair your skin. Takes 3-6+ sessions at about $500 a pop, so it takes some effort and money, granted it doesn’t feel like a huge amount in retrospect. I got rid of loads of stuff permanently and feel unbelievably better for it – from red areas on my face to tan areas on my forehead, all greatly faded. It’s great.

      Just get it done at an actual dermatologist. I’ve seen loads of videos of people going to salons and getting it and TBH it doesn’t look like anything is actually getting done. You should not look the same right after, it should cause blood to flow to your face and make parts of your face red. Also it can hurt depending on the setting or do nothing depending on the settings, so best to use a professional

  14. gsa*

    Who here follows English Premier League?

    We follow Chelsea because Christian Pulisic is American. We were in London at the end of October last year and tickets for Chelsea were stupid.

    We did get tickets to see the Queen Park Rangers. We were four rows off the pitch. Best game of seeing a long time.

    I will be up in the morning to watch the next batch of matches.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      I’m a Wolverhampton Wanderers (Wolves) fan because my dad was from Wolverhampton. I follow my team pretty closely, but don’t pay a huge amount of attention to other teams unless there’s drama or scandal going on. I haven’t been to a match in years, but I want to try and make it to one soon.

      The Premier League now is so different to how top-rank football was when I growing up. The teams are global brands now and there are so many more international players. It’s much more entertaining now than it used to be – but I really don’t like the trend of teams being owned by repressive regimes or oligarchs.

    2. YNWA*

      I’ve been a Liverpool fan since 1992 and watch most matches. Obviously mid-week ones are harder to get to due to work, but I can stream in my office sometimes. We have several streaming services to get the EPL, the Champions League, Europa League, and the various cups.

      1. londonedit*

        If it makes you feel any better, here in the UK you can’t get any football apart from the FA Cup unless you have Sky Sports, BT Sport and Amazon Prime!

    3. CTT*

      I’m an Arsenal fan, but I usually watch a lot of matches in a weekend regardless of who’s playing – I got in the habit while I was in law school because games were such great background noise while I was doing homework.

    4. Callie*

      My husband has family in Manchester, so we follow Manchester City. But if there is an American on a European team, there is a very high chance that one of those games will be on the TV if Man City isn’t playing.

    5. Indolent Libertine*

      My husband also follows Chelsea! He dreams of attending a match at Stamford Bridge if we ever go to the UK again. Son-in-law follows the Spurs.

    6. DistantAudacity*

      I pay attention, mostly to Man City because of Our Lad Erling Håland. And Arsenal for Ødegaard, but slightly less ;)

  15. sewsandreads*

    Making thread! What’s everyone making?

    This week’s has been a simple one — just making some overlocked calico sheets to put on our outdoor lounge, now our dog has decided that’s the perfect place to eat her bone!

    1. Not Australian*

      Finished piecing my second ‘Christmas Dinosaur’ quilt and now have three projects to quilt. I quickly made some Easter ‘bunny bags’ (there’s a tutorial by ‘The Quilted Forest’ on YouTube if anyone’s interested) and have now resumed a project I started last year … a patchwork circle skirt. This is going to be quite a big challenge (I’m a big person ;-P) but simple, and will make a change from the intricate stuff I usually do.

    2. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      I am crocheting a cowl scarf; it’s looking good so far. I’m still a newbie but I am quite enjoying crochet. I’ve got to learn some more stitches so I can make more stuff!

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Working on a double knitted Star Wars scarf for a friend, black on red. It’s a pattern I’ve done once before so it’s going fairly quickly!

    4. Claritza*

      Making cute bunnies from knitted squares! Rookie knitter project good for practicing garter or stockinette stitch. See Studio Knits website/YouTube for directions.

    5. Callie*

      I just finished a baby blanket that used a bubble knit stitch. I had never used that stitch before and I LOVED it.

      I’m starting a couple of throw pillows. I’m piecing together a few patterns so today I’m planning on knitting a few swatches.

      I’m hoping to mend a few of my daughters shirts and a couple of second hand sweaters that came with a couple of holes. The plan is to embroider hearts or flowers over the holes in my daughters shirts. Im new to embroidering, so we’ll see how this goes. Mending the holes in the sweaters should be easier as I’m a knitter, hopefully.

    6. Rara Avis*

      My kiddo taught themself to crochet and has made a jellyfish, cow, pig, and eggplant so far this week.

    7. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      Finish It February! I am finishing up a pile of bookmarks that I started for another person to give as gifts.

    8. Lexi Vipond*

      I’m trying to finish stuffing and giving faces to a lot of knitted teddy bears – I always put off the last stages, partly because I can read and knit but not sew and knit, and partly because it’s just fiddly, but I’ve deliberately waited for a Six Nations weekend and am hoping that three rugby matches worth of time will get me there…

      1. Lexi Vipond*

        Third match over, and although the stuffing is nearly done, the bears are all sitting staring at me with faces they don’t have…

    9. HamlindigoBlue*

      Knit socks! I’m trying to find a good sneaker sock/shortie recipe. So far, the ones I’ve made have just been meh. I’ve also got a crochet blanket that I’ve been working on. I saw the free pattern on the Hobbii website a while ago (Color Joy Blanket), and it’s just been a constant WIP.

        1. HamlindigoBlue*

          I don’t really have a preference for top down vs toe up. I learned how to knit socks with a top-down pattern, and I’ve done more pairs that way. With top-down socks, I have to pay attention to my cast-on to make sure it’s stretchy enough. With toe-up socks, I really like having different bind-off options for stretchy cuffs, but I find the cast-ons to be fiddly. If I want to make a pair of toe-up socks, I have to start them when I can sit down and not be bothered for a few minutes. If I want to start a mindless knit project, I would make a top-down pair.

    10. Heyheyall*

      Sewing “the orchards dress” x2 out of an old sheet as matching nightgowns for me and my bestie! I need to figure out buttons.

    11. Cacofonix*

      DIY’ing my way through a small pile of wood salvaged from other uses – a broken ikea futon bed frame, used bamboo flooring and cedar roof shakes. Made boxes, candle holders, a wood lamp, charcuterie boards, a wall sconce, and am currently working on a lazy Susan type server, made from the cedar shakes and the round glass turntable from a broken microwave.

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

      I am one sleeve away from finishing my second sweater of the winter! After many years of only being able to finish small knitting projects like maybe mittens or a cowl, I somehow had the right combination of free time and focus to get through not just one but TWO sweaters before it’s too warm out to wear them!!!

    13. OyHiOh*

      I’ve got multiple giant long run projects going, but my quick make of the day is a woven paper wall hanging in the style of kente cloth. Was intended to be a gift, but I think I’m calling this one practice and do the gift one next.

      I’m using quilling paper woven over 8 x 10 stretched canvas frame.

    14. Ella Kate (UK)*

      Knitting socks. Finished mums for Mothers Day, now working on dads early for Fathers Day so I dont have to do a knit sprint again >.>

      I also have a crochet shawl on the go because when am I NOT making some sort of shawl. I need to go through them and donate/sell some because they’re like my comfort crafting and I have many. But on the other hand, I do wear them a lot!

    15. Madame Arcati*

      I really need to finish the appliqué on a medallion quilt top, then I can baste and quilt it – I’m going for a combo of big stitch hand quilting, maybe some crows foot, and a few lines of machine stitch nearer the edges (I don’t have a long arm machine and I don’t really like freemotion).
      I also need to finish the gold work embroidery I started last autumn – it’s a crown design begun in a class, so maybe I can make it a commemorative coronation piece!

    1. Squidhead*

      Aw, I grew up near there (Claremont) and remember that view! Now I’m in NY. We have snow here too at the moment :)

        1. Squidhead*

          We moved there in 1985 and I attended Sycamore Elementary. Graduated from CHS in 96…and lived on the East coast (ish) ever since. I do remember a couple of days when we had swirling snow flakes in Claremont…very exciting! And the only skiing I’ve ever done was on Mt. Baldy.

      1. Anonymous, colleagues who read here will recognize it*

        Oh! I went to Pomona College! I used to bike up to the trailhead at Icehouse Canyon (haha I was a lot younger and in better shape). Grew up in Orange County, could see Baldy from our street.

        My sib sent pictures of wild burros coming down the mountains in the snow –they live in Riverside.

        I surely miss California…

  16. Tea and Sympathy*

    Thank you for the suggestions a couple of weeks ago on how to reduce my static electricity so that I could pet my brother’s cats without shocking them. The biggest help was slathering a lot of lotion on – my skin was really dry. I also am wearing more natural fabrics when visiting them, and I frequently touch the metal screws on light switch plates (I remind myself of Monk). It’s worked well enough that I’m back in the cats’ good graces.

    1. Ella Kate (UK)*

      Oh I’m so pleased you figured it out! And I’m glad kitties are letting you back in their good books.

  17. Mahalo*

    I’ve been leasing my apartment for almost ten years (downstairs unit where the landlord and their family live upstairs) and will be moving soon. This is my first rental. Relations with the landlord were generally ok but have deteriorated significantly in the last year or two during the pandemic. Trying to ever get anything fixed has been a nightmare and most often I’ve paid for contractors or new appliances myself because it was just easier than living with no heat/AC or washer. I’ve considered it my home while I’ve lived here so was content to do that.

    My question is around preparing to leave the apartment in terms of its condition. We’re on bad terms currently so I’d like that to not get any worse and as it’s my first rental I’m not sure what’s reasonable or ‘fair’ as the lease is silent on this. In the ten years the place has had little to no physical maintenance (decor, flooring etc.) so things look kind of tired inside and through the years they wouldn’t let me get it redecorated. There’s also some minor damage to a coffee table for example and where I’ve replaced a broken microwave or vacuum with a new one I’d like to take those with me ideally (I could replace them with alternatives if that’s needed). I’ve hired professional cleaners to come do an end-of-lease clean, but other than that what should I be doing? I’d like to leave on the best terms I can, even in the situation I’m in.

    1. Wombats and Tequila*

      If you’re worried about getting your deposit back, check the housing laws in yout area. For instance, in many areas, there are regulations around what constitutes wear and tear, and the landlord cannot deduct from you deposit for, say, dingy paint. There should also be regulations about how soon the landlord should return the deposit. Of course, once you have vacated the place, make aure to take pictures. If the landlord violates the law about returning your deposit, you can take them to court.

      1. WellRed*

        Local regulations plus any lease should also help with the hat you can take. Where I live, the landlord isn’t required to provide a washer and dryer for example, so those are mine(if I cared to take them, which no). Are the microwave and vacuum part of the building in some way or a regular push vacuum and counter top model? Those wouldn’t be covered. Also, the LL is legally required to provide heat and it doesn’t sound like he did.

      2. Mahalo*

        Thanks for the tip. I didn’t pay a deposit when I moved in so that’s not a factor, but I’d still like to leave things in a reasonable condition when I leave.

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

          If you didn’t pay a deposit, then you are definitely going above and beyond by hiring cleaners. If things are looking tired, the landlord will likely have to get someone in to paint and do minor repairs before he can rent it again (after which, it will need to be cleaned) so it will be wasted money on your part if you think the cleanliness will benefit the next inhabitant.

    2. Washi*

      I’m confused about the references to the coffee table and vacuum. Were you renting a furnished apartment?

      1. Mahalo*

        Yes, the apartment was furnished to a certain level. Things like that came with it, other things didn’t. The place had been leased for a few years prior to different people so anything in it was a few years old by the time I got here.

    3. Seltaeb*

      Make sure you have receipts or other proof of purchase for things you’ve bought personally (microwave, vacuum) that your landlord might think came with the apartment.

    4. Dinoweeds*

      If you didn’t put down a deposit, then I’d say you’re going above and beyond. Leave the place in reasonable shape, take what’s yours, and move on.

    5. Morning reader*

      Especially since you don’t have a security deposit, just do a normal level clean (sweep floors, wipe counters) when all your stuff is out. Landlord will likely need to clean, paint, do repairs after you leave anyway so there is no reason to duplicate effort. Your relationship has already gone south so don’t feel you need to do more to preserve it now. I’ve noticed that most apartment complexes paint and replace carpet between tenants, even if it’s only been a year. Then they charge a flat rate (used to be $400) for a cleaning service, charged against your security deposit, and it makes no difference if you cleaned when you left anyway. Just don’t trash the place further, don’t steal light fixtures and door knobs, and you’ll already be in the top percentile of good tenants.

    6. SofiaDeo*

      As everyone has noted, the laws vary depending on where you are. But for someone who has lived there for 10 years, and the landlord hasn’t painted, etc. virtually everything will be “wear and tear” unless actually broken. I hope you have all the receipts for everything you have fixed. If there wasn’t an inventory sheet specifically mentioning microwave, etc. when you moved in you are probably good to go with taking things you yourself purchased, especially if you have any emails etc re:things you told them needing fixing that they ignored.

      Take a bunch of pictures when you leave, on a phone or other device with a time/date stamp ideally. Then if they try to claim windows were broken, or floors/walls ruined, you have recourse. I took around 100 pics of a 1300 sq ft place. Doorframes were intact/not damaged, every wall and ceiling, tub and shower and toilets and sinks, joins where carpet met doors, everything. Sliding screen on sliding door. If you happen to have kept the broken appliances, leave those. Coffe table damage would be wear & tear, after 10 years. I mention this in case they try to take you to Small Claims, you have no security deposit but jerkwads will sometimes try to intimidate you by taking you to court. If you have all the pics, time stamped, any claims that the walls or carpet or whatever were ruined, can be easily disproved.

      The places I have rented in the past, sometimes had a “checkout” before handing over the keys, and I think this is a good idea. The most professional rental places I have dealt with have done this, and IMO it made getting my deposit back a breeze. Get a friend to come as your witness, ask your landlord if they will review with you, as you go room to room and take all the pictures. The “friend” who would be willing to be a witness/sign a notarized affidavit that the pics were taken at checkout, would be a good minimum if you don’t want the landlord there or they refuse. Having the landlord there, can be pro or con. Pro is, they know up front you are documenting “no serious damage” so less likely to try some court BS; the con is, if they are nasty/argumentative, they might try to start something. Which is why you need a witness, especially if the landlord is willing to do a walk through but has an argument/fight agenda. It’s easier to walk away/not get sucked into an argument, when you have a buddy to help keep you on track.

  18. JSPA*

    Since one elderly cat died two months ago, the remaining (always much-loved!) elderly cat (who, non-negotiably, can’t be allowed in the bedroom) has screaming, moaning or howling sessions, usually between 4 and 5 a.m. (normal cat rousing times) but really, anywhere from 1:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. The sound is anything from “baby with colic” to “sobbing dickensian ghost” to “mating foxes” to “piercing pure tone.” And it’s so very very loud.

    There is no new pain / no new health problems. Any doors that could be closed, are.

    You can even hear it from outside the house, through double glazed windows and concrete block and lath&plaster.

    Part of me says that if we again had, at least as a foster, a second cat, our cat would have something else to occupy those hours. But after 17 years of our old cat loathing our other cat (growling at him, swatting at him, glaring at him etc) this seems unwise. Not to mention, we don’t Want a Foster to learn the bad habit of screaming at 4 a.m.

    Besides earplugs, a CD player set low and on “repeat” (which usually wins us silence from 11 pm to 3:30 am), does anyone else have practical experience? I’m wondering about things like a projection nightlight on a timer that could go on at 4 a.m. for entertainment, or a food dish on a timer with different dry food than what’s in the other bowls.

    If we didn’t have houseguests and work duties in other timezones, we’d probably try switching from a 7:15 AM to a 4:30 AM wakeup time. But that’s no help on days when it starts at 1h30, 2h30 or 3h30.

    Part of me wants to find an otherwise-unadoptable older cat with medical needs, who’d be put down soon otherwise, and try bringing them together. But that’s signing up for p*ssing battles, and either a failed placement, or yet another long geriatric decline, with attendant inability to travel, and all the sadness of the final goodbye.

    Waking during the daytime sort of works, but at an age where they’re so frail, and so groggy if woken, it seems cruel to do it more than a couple of times a day. I mean… we KNOW how miserable it is to be woken from deep sleep.

    1. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Hi there, I plugged a night light in for my yowler, thinking that maybe she could then see a bit more clearly when she woke and would feel less unsure (deteriorating eyesight, maybe being a bit confused on waking). It seemed to help. Depending if it is cold where you are, can you get your cat a heating pad? Old bones stay comfy longer when they are warm. I borrowed a plug in pet heating pad years ago for a previous cat, and she adored it. More recent aging cats have had a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel which has stayed warm all night.
      There’s a new sort of pet bed being advertised a lot which is very squishy, they are advertised as reducing anxiety.
      If you haven’t tried a sheepskin, that could be worth a go- they seem very reassuring to cats of any age, comfy to lie on, lots of nuzzling and kneading happens! I have used normal sheepskin rugs, and sheepskin car seat covers, and sheepskins for human babies (treated to be more easily washed) and have generally got them at garage/car boot sales etc.
      One of my cats had a sheepskin cushion shaped like a koala, she adored it.
      If your cat’s behaviour is much worse very recently, maybe feliway or a sedative for a few weeks may help- your cat may be missing their enemy companion. Best of luck!

      1. JSPA*

        She has a heated corner of the room (to 21C) and a night light in two corners… and light in the litter box area…and three floofy cushions plus 3 cardboard boxes, and cat balls to bat, and a scratching post…but these are the hours they used to run laps around the room together.

          1. JSPA*

            Misses bossing him around, at least.

            “you’re on my pillow. Now on my chair. Now in my box. Now on my beanbag. Now in my cabin. Now on my perch. Move along! Move along!”… around and around. There were some growls and stampeding kitty feet. But no yowls. Now, there’s no trotting, just howls and yowls, and the cat toys don’t move around.

            1. Texan In Exile*

              And of course now I am thinking of this poem:

              Cat in an Empty Apartment
              BY WISLAWA SZYMBORSKA

              Die — you can’t do that to a cat.
              Since what can a cat do
              in an empty apartment?
              Climb the walls?
              Rub up against the furniture?
              Nothing seems different here
              but nothing is the same.
              Nothing’s been moved
              but there’s more space.
              And at nighttime no lamps are lit.

              Footsteps on the staircase,
              but they’re new ones.
              The hand that puts fish on the saucer
              has changed, too.

              Something doesn’t start
              at its usual time.
              Something doesn’t happen
              as it should.
              Someone was always, always here,
              then suddenly disappeared
              and stubbornly stays disappeared.

              Every closet’s been examined.
              Every shelf has been explored.
              Excavations under the carpet turned up nothing.
              A commandment was even broken:
              papers scattered everywhere.
              What remains to be done.

              Just sleep and wait.
              Just wait till he turns up,
              just let him show his face.
              Will he ever get a lesson
              on what not to do to a cat.
              Sidle toward him
              as if unwilling
              and ever so slow
              on visibly offended paws,
              and no leaps or squeals at least to start.

      2. JSPA*

        Anyone have a sedative they have successfully used on a tiny, geriatric cat?

        I will try the fleece and/or heated pad, but I think she wants ACTION and ATTENTION.

        Or, are there any small-animal pets that are fairly cat-proof, engaging to cats, unperturbed by cats, no feathers, naturally nocturnal or crepuscular, but not with a cat-type lifespan?

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          When we had rats, our cats liked to sit on top of the cage and watch them move about, and the rat would come out to sniff the cat’s toes. I wouldn’t leave them loose and unsupervised together, but the cage should keep the rat safe. They are also unfeathered, nocturnal/crepuscular, and usually live 2-3 years. The other rodents (hamsters or mice) would probably also work.

          I don’t know if I recommend a pet rodents as basically a cat toy though, unless you want to have one for its own sake. They aren’t particularly demanding pets, but they do require care and interaction.

          1. JSPA*

            Rats have a lot of personality, and are very active. I’d feel wrong getting one as cat entertainment. Do goldfish actually work? Or do cats ignore them?

            1. Yoyoyo*

              We had fish at one point and one of our cats was obsessed with them and the other couldn’t have cared less.

        2. jasmine tea*

          I had a cat on fish-flavored liquid Valium. We had to have it compounded at the only local family-owned pharmacy; it’s not something we could get at CVS/Rite-Aid. It definitely calmed her, but it made her clumsy as hell, so we had to safety-proof the house.

          1. JSPA*

            How long did a dose last? How was he/she when not under the influence (as it’s quickly addictive in people)? Or did it have to be administered for 24/7 calming, like for a self-biting problem?

            1. jasmine tea*

              She needed it for anxiety, because she was mistreated by her foster. We gave her one dose in the morning, and it was enough for the whole day. She struggled with coordination and depth perception while on it, so we had to keep her from risky/difficult jumps.

              It was about a year until we weaned her off it, once she was able to trust us and her environment. We just decreased the dosage (per the vet) and then also started alternating dose days until she tapered off to nothing.

    2. Texan In Exile*

      I have no advice but am following in case anyone else does as our Shirley has been a yowler (so much despair from an animal who weighs only seven pounds) since we got her.

      Also – is your cat a Meezer by chance? LordHaveMercy they are LOUD.

      1. KatEnigma*

        Yes. We had one too, from the time we got him at 12 weeks. And we adopted him WITH a companion and eventually got a 3rd cat. He seemed to like the sound of his own voice. Or liked the reassurance that we were still there when we yelled at him in the middle of the night. Or something. Allowing him into the bedroom didn’t make a difference either- except that he loved to knock things off the nightstand- especially glasses on water ONTO me.

        It’s a good thing he was cute.

    3. Double A*

      I would recommend talking to your vet. My cat had some anxiety (and grief?) related over grooming after my other cat died. We put her on some medication that calmed her down and stopped the behavior. And since cats can’t ruminate, you won’t necessarily need the medication forever, just long enough for them to feel calmer and change the habit. Even if your cat seemed to hate your other cat, he is reacting to a major change in his environment.

    4. TPS reporter*

      One of my girls did this after two passed. I second gabapentin, it takes the edge off. And it doesn’t have to be forever

      You could also try fostering an older cat to see if that helps. Even the other cat being behind a door might be intriguing enough

      1. JSPA*

        I’ll look into the gabapentin… thanks! Had been hoping for something more along the lines of distraction, as it’s actually good that for them to stay active (just ideally without all the screaming).

    5. Goose*

      My geriatric dog was on gabapentin for anxiety, but as soon as there was significant confusion/memory loss it had no effect. But it did help take the edge off in the beginning

      1. JSPA*

        We’re hoping it’s mostly or entirely the stresses of grief and change, not confusion/memory loss (that happened to co-occur). The other habits are all pretty normal (or what passes for normal in a creaky old cat).

        1. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

          Your setup sounds ideal and the lap of luxury, apart from the missing companion/minion. I wonder if your cat would watch one of the videos made for cats- hours of squirrels or birds or mice?
          The other thing might be to look for a toy that has a heartbeat or preferable makes a purring sound which your cat might find reassuring. I remember years ago there were studies using robotic seals to help people with dementia, the seals were fluffy and cuddly and moved a little and must have made some sound. My nephew had a teddy with a heartbeat, used a lot of batteries over time! And I recall my mum having a toy sleeping cat curled up in a basket, that “breathed”. The robotic seals were an excellent idea, don’t know how that idea has developed over the last ten years.
          There are also toys like furbies I suppose, ghastly things unless you could reduce the volume, but they do respond and waggle their ears etc – can’t tell in advance what a cat might engage with!

          1. JSPA*

            Good idea! Just ordered a “purr pillow” with touch-activated purring, plus yet another (poofier) donut bed, plus a heat-reflective warming pad for under the new donut bed. Am looking into “crepuscularly-active fish.”

    6. DWIGHT SCHRUTE*

      I’d probably talk to my vet about behavior meds. We had a cat who developed anxiety after he had dental surgery to remove all of his teeth and we tried otc options and ended up putting him on a low dose of Prozac and he was so much better! No more pulling hair out or excessively licking. We had tried numerous otc calming supplements as well as increased enrichment before adding the meds. They don’t need to be a forever thing but can be helpful for coping with life changes. Good luck!

    7. Been There*

      My vet recommended meds for my cat who displays similar symptoms. Something that she’d take at night and would calm her down.
      Thankfully my issue is limited to the time I wake up anyway, so I haven’t gone down the medication route.

      1. JSPA*

        Thanks all! I’ll look into a simple “calming sounds” toy, and make an appointment to talk to the vet.

    8. Pill-popper*

      I once made a setup for an elderly cat such as this. It had a soft-fluffy textured flat pillow for him to sit on. If you can keep that heated to around human body temperature and maybe play a purring sound, he will find it very relaxing and comforting. Bonus points if it’s in an area you all spend time in such as on the living room couch, and smells like you.
      If he wants entertainment, hide some bits of kibble around the living room so he can “hunt” them.

    9. the cat's ass*

      I’m so sorry about the loss of your kitty. And about your other old guy singing the song of his people in the wee hours! Might be grief, might be dementia. Our Old Guy is definitely demented and wakes up in the middle of the night and comes looking for someone, any one. We’ve started using motion detecting nightlights and that has helped, because we think his vision isn’t great. We also get up and bring him into the bedroom, where he settles down immediately and goes back to sleep. He refuses to sleep in the bedroom at the beginning of the night, tho. I also make sure that his bowl is full before i go to bed and will give him a little snack (Churu) at the same time.

      1. JSPA*

        There are three crunchy bowls (different sorts) and two water bowls (same water, but apparently it matters) and (still) three litter boxes. If we leave the path to the other cat bed (upstairs) open, we get the yelling at close range. I don’t think it’s senility, in that it started three nights after the other cat died, and has continued every night since then (and occasionally in the daytime, especially when standing on the stairs–where the acoustics are excellent–whether or not we are present).

        “come out, come out, wherever you are”? “I did not authorize this change”? Who knows!

      2. JSPA*

        motion detection might be a sort of reaction / interaction; if that’s the missing feature, that might work better than our two static lights. (leaving a regular lamp on was not a big success.) And it’s a safety feature for people, too. So I might as well get a couple, and try them out.

  19. allathian*

    Little joys thread

    What brought you a little, or a lot, of joy this week?

    Our whole family’s been on vacation this week. I’ve completed a 500 piece puzzle with our son. My husband and son have gone cross-country skiing every day, about 10k each time. I think it’s lovely that our 13 year old still wants to spend time with us, and I know it could change at any time.

    My husband and I went on a lovely date on Friday night. It’s been so long. We went to see The Banshees of Inisherin at an adults-only movie theater, where they also have a bar. Everyone behaved as people should in a movie theater; when the lights went down, everyone put away their phones and stopped talking. Most people had a bottle or glass of wine, some had non-crunchy snacks like sushi with it. A few ate popcorn, but not in our row. After the movie we had dinner in a Belgian restaurant, and after that we went home.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      This week has just been the WORST for the most part, but Friday was my puppy’s first birthday and watching her play with her new ball outside, then come in and eat her peanut butter pup cup (Frosty Paws doggy ice cream) and end up with a wee dab of ice cream on her enormous snoot made me smile.

    2. fposte*

      It’s been a good week! I’d say my best little joy candidate is making plans with a friend to see a play next week. We’ve talked about going to one of the local concerts or something so I’m pleased that we finally will make it happen.

    3. anxiousGrad*

      This week I went to work every day for the first time since November after dealing with a serious illness. I did fall asleep in my clothes last night, but I feel like I’m finally getting my life back!

      1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

        I’m also recovering from a serious illness and enjoying feeling normal again!

    4. RagingADHD*

      I started back jogging after some injuries and illness reduced me to just walking (sometimes very slowly) for several years. I’m not fast (never was), but it was a tremendous confidence boost just to prove I could do it. I was starting to wonder if I was just on an irreversible downhill slide.

      I suppose we all are, but at least I reduced the angle a bit.

    5. Hotdog not dog*

      My neighbors got a puppy, and Best Good Dog is in love with him! It’s so cute to see my 65 lb husky lay on the ground to boop snoots with 8 lbs of fluff. (Nobody is quite sure what kind of dog the puppy is, he currently looks like a small mop.)

    6. GoryDetails*

      My first “Wordy Traveler” subscription box arrived today. (I was drawn in because it featured a polar theme, with a selection of both fiction and non-fiction books themed on the Arctic or Antarctic, plus bonus items. And as a new-subscriber bonus I got a set of Peru-themed items as well.) The books were my main interest, though I could have acquired those separately and saved a little money – but I did enjoy looking through the box. The knitted headband will actually be useful, the little bookmarks-with-charms also; the postcards and the coffee and tea samples might be good as well. There’s also a small pottery cup and a Peruvian-style chullo hat (a bit small for me, but someone else might like it). The books include a biography of an Icelandic woman who was a sea captain around 1800; a crime novel about a linguist involved in a bizarre discovery in the Greenland ice; and a novel about the search for three men who’ve gone missing in the Andes.

    7. 2QS*

      I took an entire day off, picked the largest thrift shop I could think of, and went and spent five hours shopping there. Had a wonderful time! By the time I got home, I was hungry and covered in sweat, but I had a nice shower and cooked a great dinner and got comfy in bed.

    8. Veronica Mars*

      I took a staycation for a few days this week and spent it on projects around the house, puzzling, coloring, reading, a fancy spa day, taking myself and puppy on walks. It was glorious and made me feel much better about everything. Just a joyful time!

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

      Got my taxes filed!

      Am a little displaced this week, as my apartment is pretty unlivable as landlord finally fixes damage from a flood this December, but on the plus side, it sounds like my kitchen should be a lot more usable soon!

    10. Laura H*

      Love that I don’t need to worry about starting this thread every week.

      My grocery store (H‑E‑B, very local) has a few seasonal soda flavors that rotate- I got a pack of the sangria and am finding it super enjoyable!

    11. UKDancer*

      I have got some theatre tickets to meet up with a friend I don’t see as often as I’d like (distance and other commitments). It will be lovely having a night out and catch up properly.

      I have also booked for an online workshop with one of my favourite ballet dancers on Sunday afternoon. I always get so much out of his classes because he’s an amazing teacher.

    12. Retail Not Retail*

      Saturday my favorite dog at the shelter went on a field trip. Yay!

      Then on the 22nd she got involved in a fight and got on the bad list for monday… adopted today!

    13. GoryDetails*

      Visited a new-to-me restaurant with a friend, and was very impressed indeed. The highlight was the dessert, a very unusual flavor of macaron: rosemary and pine-nut meringue with a pear/bourbon filling and a honey glaze. Yeah, a total sugar bomb, but so tasty! [This was Revival in Concord NH, in case any New England-area readers are interested.]

    14. Detective Rosa Diaz*

      Women Talking in the cinema! As an offender therapist I absolutely loved how they handle the central theme of sexual violence.

      Also: had new doors made for my kitchen cupboards and drawers and gave them a primer and a first top coat and so excited.

      Took my 2.75yo to IKEA, successfully purchased pantry cupboard AND assembled it w only one tiny stab wound!

      Love nesting.

    15. I take tea*

      The floofy tail in that picture brings me joy!

      Otherwise nature, again, had a lovely walk on a sunny day and the snow was sparkling, but the ice on the sea has started to crack. I love the seasons.

    16. SofiaDeo*

      My joy this week, is that everything stayed on/worked throughout awful weather. I stayed indoors comfortably, and the car worked when I had to drive. I did feel bad for neighbors who had Furnace or Plumbers trucks in front of their houses during the storm.

  20. Lcsa99*

    Does anyone know the Camas/Vancouver WA area? We are going there in July for a wedding and are trying to decide if we need to rent a car, or if we can get by on cabs/Uber. How difficult is it to get an Uber there? Are the wait times long, or reasonable? Complicating things is that we are traveling with my mother, who needs a walker at minimum to go anywhere, so any rides we get would need to be big enough for 3 passengers +walker. If we get a rental car, what is the parking situation like? Would we be circling forever looking for spots, parking blocks away or is there cheap/free parking in the area?

    1. Idyllic Gulag*

      I’d recommend a rental, especially considering your mother’s mobility limitations. Cabs and ride share are available, but can be sporadic with long wait times depending on where you are. Parking’s fairly available even in downtown Vancouver, IME.

    2. Pop*

      Id also recommend a rental car and agree that parking will not be difficult. There will be some Ubers, but overall it will be much easier to just rent a car. And given the cost of Ubers, even considering to/from the airport, you probably won’t spend any more money getting a rental.

    3. Double A*

      I have family out there; I’d definitely recommend a rental especially if you’re more out in Camas. Parking really depends. Camas is pretty small town and parking is easy. I haven’t spent much time in Vancouver but have never had trouble parking in Portland which is in my observation a more bustling city. You might need to pay for parking sometimes if you’re downtown especially if you need it to be really close.

    4. Vancouverite*

      I live in east Vancouver, near Camas. Ubers and Lyfts are generally plentiful because it’s close to the Portland airport, but you’re likely to wait 10 to 15 minutes each time. I’d probably get a rental. You will have no issues with parking in Camas or Vancouver but may need to search a bit more if you head into inner Portland.

      Vancouver and Camas generally have free parking. You’ll pay for street parking for a few blocks in downtown Vancouver, but it’s free on weekends and in the evening.

      1. Ellie*

        I had no idea there were so many people who know Vancouver. I grew up there and now live in Portland. The world is smaller than I thought!

    5. Rosyglasses*

      I live in Portland, just south of there. Vancouver is big enough (and really really spread out) and Camas is far enough east of Vancouver that you will spend a ton of money ubering. Whether you can easily find parking really depends on where you’re going. Vancouver has alot of sections of it – but it’s fairly suburban. There is a downtown area but I’ve never had an issue with parking. It’s not quite as busy as downtown Portland or Seattle, for reference.

  21. Falling Diphthong*

    Recommendations of stories (books, TV, movies, other) that you weren’t sure were your thing going in, and then the story absolutely delighted you?

    Have just finished seasons 1 and 2 of Slow Horses, which was described as a show about incompetent screw up spies. Usually I’m a competence porn person–Leverage is my go to comfort viewing–so I wasn’t sure how I’d like it, but people raved about it like they did Ted Lasso and Leverage, so I gave it a shot. Sheer delight.

    Slough House is where MI-5 sends its screw-up spies–the ones you can’t quite fire, but you’re going to set them out of the way and hope they take the hint and fade away. In each season they get drawn into something and dig out just enough competence to pull things off, while also screwing up in ways that seem in character–like you do two smart things and then a dumb one, and that ratio is how you got to Slough House. River screws up in smart and earnest yet naive young person ways that could get him killed, and I laugh in delight every time while giving him helpful advice from my advanced years.

    It’s like instead of handing a usually competent character the idiot ball so a plot development can happen, they made a big idiot ball and put everyone inside it. (The larger MI-5 also keeps screwing up, often in “I’m the smartest person in any room, no way this plan has a flaw I didn’t foresee” ways–they’re all one public screw-up away from their own trip to Slough House.)

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Ted Lasso and Severance, I meant. Shows that can seem bland on paper and pack a massive punch in person.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Slough seems to occupy a certain space in the British imagination. Wasn’t The Office set there?

      I wonder what it is about Slough.

      1. Lexi Vipond*

        If I try to post a link then my whole post will probably vanish, but wikipedia on the John Betjeman poem called Slough explains a bit.

      2. UKDancer*

        It’s just not a very pretty place I think. It’s been heavily redeveloped in a not very attractive way after WW2 and doesn’t have a lot of lovely buildings or pretty scenery. It has a lot of trading estates and companies who want to be near London but not pay London property prices. It also has a comparatively high crime rate.

        I mean I’ve been through it a few times on the train out to Reading and it’s the sort of place you only go to if you need to, rather than because you want to go there.

        Sorry to any Slough people. That’s just my opinion.

      3. The Prettiest Curse*

        I think in Slow Horses, the office building they work in is named after Slough, but the books and the show are actually set in London. Since all of the characters have washed-up careers, I’ve always thought the name was a reference to The Slough of Despond and not to the town.

        I’ve only been to Slough once – it’s a pretty standard London commuter town. I think it just gets used as shorthand for dull middle England because its name is so uninspiring!

      4. Mephyle*

        Slough House was so nick-named because the washed-0ut spies assigned there are “so far off the map they might as well be in Slough”. For a little irony (deliberate, I’m sure) in Book 5, an important piece of action takes place in actual Slough.

        I recommend reading the books for anyone who is enjoying the series. There is so much more you can fit into a book than a show. Inner dialogue, for one thing – more about the characters’ points of view. And Lamb is even more outrageous.

    3. mreasy*

      My partner was after me to watch Succession, because he thought I’d love it, but I had found the first episode dull. Maybe a year later, I tried again, and absolutely loved it. The writing and acting are some of the best I’ve seen on TV, and it is so darkly funny.

    4. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I loved Slow Horses. A critic referred to it as the show where Gary Oldman doesn’t take a shower, which is delightfully apt.

    5. Helvetica*

      Just watched Lockwood&Co on Netflix – thought I wouldn’t have to pay much attention but it is super funny, captivating, beautiful world-building and really interesting stories. And the young actors are brilliant. It may sound like YA – which I think the novels it is based on are – but I would recommend everyone to watch.

      1. Roland*

        The novels are somewhere in the YA/MG range but they are also quite delightful. Joanathan Stroud is a children’s author whose works are intelligent and engaging, and can easily be enjoyed by adults. Can you tell he’s one of my faves? :)

        1. Rosyglasses*

          Echoing as another fan of Stroud. I was first introduced to him with his Bartimaeus Trilogy which is delightful as well.

    6. GoryDetails*

      The animated series Over the Garden Wall – from the artwork I didn’t think I’d care for it, but my sister strong-armed me into watching some and I was immediately enthralled. It’s a delicious mix of goofy/scary/touching – great fun!

    7. Dark Macadamia*

      Both “World War Z” and “The Girl with All the Gifts” – I hate zombie media of any kind, but weirdly enjoyed these ones? I don’t remember why I read WWZ but the way it takes a kind of historical approach to zombies as a world event was way more interesting than the typical “small group of people wanders around trying to survive” thing. The other one was a book club pick and very character-driven with a cool ending.

      Also a book club one – I thought “Valley of the Dolls” would be so trashy, and it was, but in an enjoyable way lol. I wouldn’t say I was absolutely delighted but I didn’t hate it.

      The movie “Elf” – I wasn’t a Will Ferrell fan but I get a huge kick out of the type of humor created by a really aggressively wholesome and sincere character.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I liked “World War Z” very much – the book, not the film, though it had some effective scenes. But the book’s scattered-viewpoint/post-trauma-interview setup gave it a realistic feel, and I enjoyed seeing how it all came together.

        Some books with a similar structure:

        Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson – AI/android/robot uprising

        War of the Worlds: Global Dispatches by Kevin J. Anderson: this one addresses Well’s “War of the Worlds” as an actual event, with the various stories presenting varied viewpoints from around the world. (For extra fun: each of the contributing authors writes from the viewpoint of a historical author or character, so you might get Robert Silverberg describing the Martian attack as if witnessed by Henry James, or Connie Willis giving her version as if written by Emily Dickinson…)

        The 2084 Report by James Lawrence Powell: yep, this one’s set in the future, and deals with the ongoing impact of global warming and climate change. Given how much of this one is based on things very likely to happen, it’s perhaps even scarier than zombies or robots or Martian invaders…

    8. Marie*

      Station Eleven. I resisted watching for a long time because a central plot point is that most of the world dies off in a sudden viral pandemic (it came out in 2021) and it hit too close to home for me at the time. But most of the story revolves around community building and thriving (not just surviving) after a tragedy. It’s beautiful, has incredible actors and writing, is well-made, and ended up being somewhat cathartic actually? Highly highly recommend!

    9. Veronica Mars*

      For me, the movie RRR fits this bill (on Netflix). I was mostly concerned that I couldn’t handle a 3 hour movie and would fall asleep but it was the most absorbing movie experience I can remember in a long time. I loved it and was completely captivated!

    10. Retired Accountant*

      Ted Lasso. I loathe soccer and resisted this for quite a while, and ended up loving it. Who knew?

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

      I got *The Watchmaker of Filigree Street* as a present. It’s kinda steampunk, I think, which is not really my genre, but I kept reading, and it turned out to be really good anyway. Set in Victorian London and Oxford and Japan of the same era, and with some historical characters like Gilbert & Sullivan mixed in.

    12. Chaordic One*

      “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” tv series. I was prepared to dismiss it, if not outright actively dislike it, just because it just sounded so predictable and twee. But it turned out to be quite good and compelling. It made me think of Africa differently. Too bad it was cancelled after only one year.

    13. Ali + Nino*

      I don’t know why but I was really resistant to watching the documentary “Blackfish” but after hearing about a few of the incidents involving trainers getting attacked I finally went for it and found it really compelling.

  22. Newbie*

    Is vanity sizing something that’s happening in womens’ shoes now? I found myself looking for a pair of womens’ flats recently. I usually wear mens’ or unisex shoes and have been consistently the same size since my teen years (I’m in my 40s now.) Imagine my surprise when the size 9 women’s shoes were all falling off my feet. Any ideas on what’s going on here if it’s not plain old vanity sizing? This hasn’t been an issue with men’s or euro sizing (yet), thank goodness.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      It’s not new I don’t think – I’m pretty consistently a size 41 European, but I have well-fitting women’s shoes in US sizes from like 8-10.5.

    2. MissCoco*

      I think it may be brand variation rather than vanity sizing. I’m a 37 in euro sizing, but anywhere from a 6-8 in American shoe sizes. I also think dress flats (if that’s what you were trying on) often require a smaller size than other styles because there isn’t all that much shoe holding your foot in, and I just need a tighter fit to avoid walking out of them.

      1. new year, new name*

        The shoe style is a good point, especially since Newbie is used to mens/unisex styles. In addition to the part where you might need a snugger fit for the shoe to “work” properly, I suspect that many women’s shoes are designed for someone who’s going sockless or wearing stockings, whereas men’s shoes might assume sturdier socks.

        But also, yeah. I’m 36 and, as far as I can tell, my feet have been the same size since I was 12 years old. But I wear/have recently worn running shoes in sizes 8 to 9, regular walking-around shoes in 7 to 8, and dress shoes in 6.5 to 7.5.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Vanity sizing would not make the shoes bigger than expected. I have yet to hear any woman be cooed over for having lush, voluminous feet.

      1. Newbie*

        It’s the opposite. I’ve been a 9 to 9 1/2 in dress shoes since Sam & Libby ballet flats were “in”. Everything I tried on in those sizes were huge and 8s were mostly what fit (with one 8 1/2). That’s what struck me as weird.

      2. Lexi Vipond*

        I think it would, wouldn’t it? (This is like thinking about what happens to time when the clocks go forward or back!)

        I think in UK sizes, but suppose I went to buy a 6 and they were unexpectedly enormous and I had to buy a 4, so I could then claim I had smaller feet because they were only a size 4. Unless I’ve got it back to front…

    4. Filosofickle*

      Considering I seem to be going up in size annually (after wearing the same size for 20 years), it doesn’t seem that way to me! I think there’s just a lot of variation across shoes, even in the same brand. My fav walking shoe brand is Saucony and across models I’ve fit a 7W, 8M, and 8W all at the same time.

    5. FashionablyEvil*

      I’ve not had this issue—I can vary a half size or so depending on the brand, but all my shoes are reliably 9 or 9.5. I do find there’s more size variation in cheaper products, so maybe if you’re looking at inexpensive options you might see that.

  23. I'm Done*

    I’m heartbroken after relinquishing a little stray cat that I had been taking care of, to the Humane Society because I was unable to integrate him into the household with my other three male cats. He would physically attack one of them with a vehemence that was incredibly scary. I actually got hurt trying to separate them and my other two cats were completely stressed. I put pheromone spray everywhere but it didn’t help.

    I found him injured on my doorstep asking for help. I took him to the vet, had him neutered, vaccinated and chipped and nursed him through an upper respiratory infection. He is the sweetest cat imaginable. So affectionate and loving and he slept cuddled up to me every night for the five weeks that he stayed with me.

    Now, I can’t stop crying over him being gone. I know that logically I did the right thing for him for the long term. While he was with me, I had to keep him confined to my bedroom/bathroom and that wasn’t sustainable for the long run. He so deserves to have a home where he gets to roam freely and where he isn’t stressed by the presence of the other cats but I can’t help feeling that I abandoned him and betrayed his trust.

    If anyone has gone through this, how did you forgive yourself?

    1. feuille*

      I’ve gone through it on the other side – adopted cats that were mean/violent to other cats in the household. Not all cats do well in groups. Not all people want more than one cat. This cat did not suit your household. You’re finding this cat the right household, that’s an excellent thing, and the cat will be much happier.

      The last two cats I’ve had have been one-cat-per-household cat. It’s fine. One of those was the sweetest cat imaginable- and yet highly highly territorial, the other was the king who ruled all. You saved this particular cat, nurtured it back to health, and that’s a great thing! Now it gets to find its (otherwise cat-free) people. You’re a good kind person, and by letting the cat find a different place, you’re arranging for the cat to live the happiest life possible. It thanks you.

      1. I'm Done*

        Thank you for your kind words. The head and the heart are at war but logically I know that it’s about the cat’s well being and not my own sensibilities. But it’s hard.

    2. My Brain is Exploding*

      Consider it like fostering…you got your cat into adoptable condition and successfully acclimated him to humans. And your house wasn’t a good fit for him! You know he will have a much happier life somewhere else.

    3. TPS reporter*

      I’ve fostered several cats and while ad when they left, so happy for them to find loving homes where they can thrive. I have other cats so have to think about the group dynamic and what is best for all. Cats for the most part are resilient so I’m sure he is thriving and holds. Little place for you in his heart and memory

      Also you surrendered him to the right place to find a good home. And think about possibly a family new to cats finding this gem of a cat as their first. His new family is on their lifelong journey with cats and one day too many be a rescuer like you.

    4. AGD*

      I’m so sorry – this is wrenching. You did the right thing! It would have been much harder to forgive yourself if you kept the little guy and it had gone badly – which would have been probable.

      This is a bit offbeat as a suggestion, but I wonder if what you’ve been through is enough like giving a (human) child up for adoption that it would help to read some essays or memoirs about dealing with the feelings surrounding that?

    5. jasmine tea*

      You did not abandon him. By turning him over to professionals with ample resources, you taught him that more than one human cares about his well-being.

    6. WellRed*

      You got him neutered, vaccinated and chipped, and nursed him back to health. That’s amazing and generous and will make it easier for someone else, who may otherwise not have the resources, adopt him. Well done!

    7. Siege*

      After spending a weekend with three hostile, anti-cat male cats (all neutered) staking out territory in my 750 sq ft apartment, it was pretty easy to let the most adoptable one go. The tension was so thick you could have built a house with it if you could cut it, and none of them were relaxing at all.

      I kept the other two until the second one passed away about a year later, and they never learned to get along but they did learn to coexist more peacefully. I still have the third one with me, and he’s adapted fairly well to the cat I adopted in 2019. They’re doing a big snooze on my bed right now.

      Giving the one up wasn’t easy – he was in the worst shape but the most appealing on paper – but the cat I still have was already mine and the one I kept was just phenomenally not adoptable on paper and I didn’t want him to die in a shelter, which he would have, he was 19. But after that horrible, unworkable weekend, it was clear it wasn’t okay for any of us and that made it easy. And it meant that I had more time and more experience to give to the newest cat when I got him; I’ve been able to rehabilitate him from a neglected monster who lashed out at everything to a love bug who sleeps on me.

      You launched your stray on the next stage of his journey in the best condition you could, and when the next cat who is the right fit comes along, you’ll have space to give him or her.

    8. Old Plant Woman*

      I feel for you. That’s really hard. You’re grieving and feeling guilty. Tough combo. But you really didn’t have much choice because you absolutely had to protect your three cats. They were there first. It wouldn’t have been right to let them be stressed or in danger. Maybe that helps a little?

    9. I'm Done*

      I want to thank everyone for their kind words. It’s really helpful to read all of your remarks. I know that I did what I could, given the situation. I would have never relinquished him had it not been for him attacking my cat Nero, who was a feral cat that I adopted back in November. Nero integrated really well with my two existing cats because he didn’t exhibit any dominant behavior. I also take care of Nero’s brother, who continues to live outside because he’s less socialized. For some reason my house seems to attract stray and feral cats.

    10. Manders*

      Hugs to you! Definitely flip the narrative – you provided him a good place to live and now he will find his forever home. That’s how I got my amazing kitty Nacho – someone had to give her up! And now she has a wonderful home with me.

    11. Cat and dog fosterer*

      Welcome to fostering! Whether you did it officially with a rescue or not, you took care of a stray and worked to get it a safe spot in a rescue. You are the best! You can’t save the world, but you can save their world.

      The best way to mend a broken heart is to help another one! But maybe don’t take my advice… I’ve rescued hundreds over the years (including litters of kittens and TNRs) and I’m just slightly addicted…

  24. ATL Recommendations*

    I am visiting Atlanta for the first time at the end of March. This is a very quick trip-48 hours (ish). My wife is presenting at a conference so I am meeting up with her on the last day and we will spend an extra day and a half in the area. We will be staying near Peachtree Center and won’t have a car. We have the aquarium on our short list, but that’s about it at the moment.

    Any recommendations for things to do or places to eat?

    1. Bluebell*

      I’m not great at Atlanta geography but the two places I visited while there were the High Museum of Art and the Atlanta History Center. Also enjoyed eating at The Flying Biscuit.

    2. new year, new name*

      Maybe the Coke museum? It’s basically next door to the aquarium. I went there a while back when I was in Atlanta for a work trip – the whole project team went, clients and all – and I remember finding it surprisingly fun. I mean, it’s clear that you are walking through a museum-sized advertisement (and that project we were working on actually had to do with safe drinking water access so…..), but the historical stuff was still super interesting.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        If you go there, try Beverly. Be prepared to take pictures of each other “enjoying” the experience.

    3. ronda*

      I used to work at cnn center in that general area.

      It looks like they have closed the cnn studio tour :(
      There is a college football hall of fame in the area, the centennial olympic park with a London eye type of ferris wheel nearby(but much smaller).
      These are both near the aquarium and world of coca cola.

      If you want shopping… the MARTA (public transportation) train, goes to Lenox Mall and kitty corner to it is Phipps plaza for slightly higher end shopping. On a slightly different train line you can get to perimeter mall. All have many restaurants nearby or inside.
      (both of these are on North lines from where you are staying but one goes more northeast and one more straight north). (the train also has a stop near the high museum, and at Peachtree center)
      if you would prefer a taxi for some of these things the taxis have flat rates within downtown or within midtown or within buckhead (and to and from the airport and these locations). you will be in downtown, High Museum is in midtown, Lenox/Phipps malls are in Buckhead. If you are going from downtown to buckhead or midtown, it is based on milage.

      sundial restaurant for a 360 view atop a hotel. I think it is revolving. I dont think I ever ate there I am just recommending for the view. They might have a bar you can go to for the view if their menu does not appeal to you. This is in downtown.

    4. CatvWrangler*

      I am not sure how close it is to Peachtree Center, but the Center for Puppetry Arts is the first place I will go if I ever visit Atlanta.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        It’s not very far. I took my kids there several times when they were little and it was delightful.

    5. Hola Playa*

      Kameel’s Mediterranean inside Peachtre Center food court – phenomenal

      Hsu’s Gourmet for Chinese and Cut’s Steakhouse right outside Peachtree Center on Courtland are both pretty good

      Sidebar near Georgia State used to be a fun dive

      For more of non-touristy dining experiences, take Marta a few stops north to Midtown (10th Street) and find your way to and Cypress Pint and Plate, Steamhouse Lounge, Ecco, Bab’s, or wander over to Crescent Street for a couple of upscale places if that’s your scene.

      Piedmont Park is walkable just east of that area and enjoyable for a stroll.

      Whole World Improv on Spring is in this area for an evening activity.

      Seconding the High – it’s also on Marta at the Arts Center stop. Also close to Crescent and some good places along Peachtree. It’s typically packed on weekends, especially second sunday (free tickets).

      MLK district is easy access by the Marta Streetcar along Auburn and in front of Centennial Park – Slutty Vegan and Thumbs Up Diner are great in this area.

      West Midtown along Marietta Street is a bit of a hike and isn’t accessed by Marta, but has some cool restaurants and Actor’s Express indie theater – maybe six minute Uber ride.

      Of course Uber is super easy, as well, if preferred.

  25. Teapot Translator*

    I signed up for a drawing class because I like to try new things (terrible at drawing) and it’s something to do away from the screen. Can you recommend a website or a YouTube channel to keep on learning simple, beginner stuff once the class is over? The teacher is showing us how to work with different mediums. At the moment, we’ve seen charcoal and pencils. No colour yet.

    1. 00ff00Claire*

      Not a website, but the book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain was very helpful for me learning how to draw. It’s been ages since I went through it, but what I remember is that it is primarily about learning how to look at things in a way that facilitates transferring something seen in the 3-D world to a 2-D paper. I remember it being less about creativity and more about drawing realistically, so it matched my goal, which was to improve on being able to draw what I see.

    2. OyHiOh*

      I follow Simple Daily Drawing on social media and there are several people who recently joined after completing drawing classes. This might be a good option as you gain skill and confidence. The thing with drawing is, if you do it regularly, you will improve your skill and confidence, even when you don’t feel like it.

      The prompts from Simple Daily Drawing are open ended and accommodating to a range of skill levels. A recent prompt “crushed” generated sketches of crushed plastic bottles, cans, and one epic wicked witch under Dorothy’s house.

    3. Sunshine*

      Not free but…
      Let’s make art has lots of kits with instruction. I especially like the watercolors.

    4. deuceofgears*

      Some things to try – see if one of these clicks with you, and good luck! I hope you have fun with drawing.

      – Drawabox (website) – this teaches drawing by construction, i.e. you learn how to create things by starting with simpler forms and building up to more complex ones (vs. drawing from observation).

      – Proko drawing basics (YouTube) – This is sort of a sampler for the Proko website, which has paid video courses; but Proko’s YouTube lessons should get you started if you’re interested in basic drawing. There’s more stuff in his YouTube channel.

      – Alphonso Dunn (YouTube) – especially if you want to take up pen & ink, but discusses basic drawing as well – also check out his video on “Essential Drawing Skills: Blocking-In,” which is a great technique to pick up.

      – Kirsty Partridge (YouTube) – has some decent tutorials if you’d like to explore coloring pencils or watercolor. That said, you probably want to look at her stuff after you’ve learned basic drawing skills like “how do I accurately reproduce proportions.”

  26. jasmine tea*

    Has anyone gotten good results from a permanent hair removal device for home use? If so, which model?

    I am not up for the constant appointments of professional laser hair removal; my schedule is just too chaotic. I looked into electrolysis instead, but there’s only two local places that offer it, and they both seem dodgy.

    From what I can tell, I am a good candidate: a dark brunette with porcelain skin. Lots of contrast.

    1. Blue wall*

      You might be able to find a way to make the laser hair removal appointments work for you- they don’t need to be routine. I’m on my seventh appointment over the past two years- not a big inconvenience at all. Wanted to share in case this might help you or someone else.

    2. o_gal*

      Tria home laser hair remover has worked wonders for me. It was hella expensive but worth it. I used to have a goatee and it was awful. I could have been the bearded lady in the side show. It took close to a year of zapping every few weeks, but now I only get occasional dark ones.

        1. o_gal*

          Sorry, I got busy with other stuff and haven’t had a chance to go look at it. All I can tell you is it’s a Tria Laser Removal 4x. It’s the original model – as soon as it was approved, I looked into it and bought it via Amazon.

        1. o_gal*

          It did not burn my skin, but I followed the instructions given with it. They tell you to work up the levels from lowest to highest to see what you can tolerate. I can have it on the highest setting and I feel the zaps but used to them now. In fact, I like the zaps because it means that it got another one. I think they also stated that you should not try to do a large amount at one time, and that you should wait some time before going over the area again.

          One note about burning is that you need to use it a few hours after shaving. If you have any length to the hair, you will feel it burn, smell the burned hair, and see the smoke, LOL. Currently working on my ugly nose hairs and those are hard to trim down low enough.

          The hair will not fall out immediately. It is killed but then it has to either work its way out on its own, or you can pluck it after a short time. It’s a very satisfying feeling to pluck one out where you get the hair, the root ball, and the clear shaft. Then you know it’s completely gone and will not be regenerating.

    3. Sunflower*

      I believe electrolysis actually takes more appointments then laser hair- any chance you’re getting the two flipped? Laser hair is between 2-6 appointments and electrolysis is closer to 15.

      Additionally the place I go to (Sev Laser- they have locations around the US) always have last minute appointments available if you call vs book online so it may be an option to literally try to squeeze it in when you can.

    4. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      I got decent results with a home IPL device by Braun (not exactly cheap but less than professional laser treatments). I also have dark hair and fair skin.

      Caveat: follow the instructions and do NOT overdo it. The first time I tried it on my legs, I tried to be super “thorough”, making sure to get good overlap over every section. Well, that landed me in the dermatologist’s office with the worst itchy rash I’ve had since a childhood poison ivy encounter. (It was so bad I was wearing sweatpants to work and school, and bringing hydrocortisone cream with me wherever I went for touch ups.) Naturally that made me a bit wary, but as long as I took it easy and was a bit more laid back about area coverage, I didn’t have any further problems.

  27. word nerd*

    Would love some recommendations for wireless earbuds. I have a cheap pair right now, but I’m wondering whether I should upgrade to ones with good noise cancellation in an effort to make sure I’m not damaging my hearing. I like to have them on when I’m doing chores like cooking or washing dishes, but I don’t want to turn them up too loud to cancel out background noise.

    I don’t listen to music usually, so it doesn’t need to have amazing sound quality for music, but I do listen to a lot of audiobooks at 2.5-3x speed, so decent sound quality for listening to books at that speed would be good.

    1. Liminality*

      Bone conduction headphones.
      I discovered them when my newly developed tinnitus made it uncomfortable to have things in my ears. I also am nearly constantly listening to audio books on increased speed. (Helps distract from the tinnitus.) Bone conduction headphones sit on/around your ears and send the sound in through vibrations that actually happen behind/bypassing your ear drum. So they’re less likely to damage your hearing. They’re kindof the opposite of noise canceling though, because as your ear canal remains open you can hear both the sound from the headphones and also the ambient sounds around you.
      A really good brand is called Shokz. (They used to be Aftershokz but recently changed their name.)

      1. PostalMixup*

        I really really really wanted to like these. I have a type of hearing loss that these should be really good for, but I just can’t get them seated on my face properly for the bone conduction to happen. I end up just hearing what is conducted through the air.

        1. new year, new name*

          Me too! I was certain they would change my life, but something about the size/shape of my head and how my glasses sit on my face is making it impossible. I still have hope that someday it will magically start working.

      2. HamlindigoBlue*

        I have a the Shockz OpenRun. I have the “mini” version, which is a bit smaller than the regular size (for these, I did need to measure from behind one ear, around the back of the head to behind the other ear to figure out which size to buy). They did take some getting used to, but I really like them as an alternative to my AirPods.

    2. Emily Elizabeth*

      My partner got me a pair of Jabra Elite Pros after I’ve always had cheap wired earbuds and I hate how much I like them and now can’t go back, haha. I use them primarily while cooking and cleaning, but he uses his pair at the gym as well and has reported they are good at staying put during activity. You can switch in and out of the noise cancelling mode and adjust your personal preferences through an app as to the background sound, amount of noise cancelling, etc.

      1. Generic Name*

        I also have jabra wireless earbuds, and I really like them. I like that they are earbuds but hook over your ear. They also have a wire that goes around your neck, so you can take them off and hang them around your neck. No way would I ever get the tiny earbuds that just go in your ear. I’d lose them quickly.

    3. BRR*

      I got the earfun airpro 2 a few months ago and I’ve been hap out with them. They’re a nice upgrade but not top of the line. They have a noise canceling function.

    4. Observer*

      Do you want true wireless earbuds, or would neckbuds do for you? (the ones that connect wirelessly to your device, but are on a cable that can hang around your neck)?

      I have a pair of Sony neckbuds, that are in the $30 range, and they work quite well.

  28. Movies!*

    Haven’t done one of these posts in a while! What movies have people seen recently?

    My sister and I are continuing our march through Oscar movies and we watched Triangle of Sadness last night and OOF we did not care that. I can sort of understand why it’s a best picture nominee, but I think it’s one of those movies that plays to some of the Oscars’ worst tendencies (it allows them to say “we are deep societal critics” but it’s not actually a meaningful critique). Also, people were not wrong about all the vomit and other bodily fluids! Just not an enjoyable viewing experience. But now I’ve seen 7 of the 10 best picture nominees, so at least I got to check one off the list.

    For an Oscar nominee that I can recommend, I watched Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (best costume nominee) and that was an absolute delight. I totally started crying at the end over the power of friendship and beautiful dresses.

    1. allathian*

      The Banshees of Inisherin is the only Oscar nominee that I’ve seen so far. Not what I usually watch, but I enjoyed it, even if it was a bit gory in some spots. CW for self-mutilation and physical abuse, although most of it happens off screen. Just the contrast between the wide open spaces and the claustrophobic personal relationships in small communities drew me in.

    2. Pamela Adams*

      Mrs. ‘Harris Goes to Paris is the only movie I’ve seen this year. I agree, it’s charming . The books- there are 4- are also great.

    3. Just here for the scripts*

      Loved Anything Everywhere All at Once—only Oscar-nominated movie (for this year) that we’ve seen.

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        EEAAO is one of my most favorite movies of all time. Just watched it for the third time in the theater. Highly recommend.

    4. TPS reporter*

      Tar is so incredible. It demands a rewatch though because it’s so nuanced that pick up more the second time.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I haven’t seen the animated “Little Vampire” but I enjoyed the 2000 live-action film very much.

    5. GoryDetails*

      Have mostly been watching series or mini-series of one sort or another – HBO’s “The Last of Us” (fungus-zombie apocalypse); “High Water” (a 2022 Polish mini-series based on the 1997 Central European floods, with some fictionalized characters providing the viewpoints; “Kingdom”, a 2020 Korean live-action historical/horror series (more zombies – what can I say, I like zombies); and “Black Spot,” a French non-zombie series in which lots of other types of monsters/supernatural-things pop up.

      I did see a 2017 Canadian film, “Ravenous,” that I enjoyed – a kind of slow-burn zombie-like plague (that may be limited to a small area; the folks who live in the region can’t communicate with the outside and have no idea how far-ranging the plague is) with some intriguing twists.

    6. Jackalope*

      I watched a South African movie recently called Little Big Mouth, which was a lot of fun. It was a rom-com opposites attract type movie and was mostly fairly light, which was exactly what I wanted. I will warn people that the only consistently likable character was the female lead; the male lead became likable by the end, the other two main support characters… not so much. But I enjoyed it.

    7. Detective Rosa Diaz*

      Women Talking was absolutely Chef’s Kiss imo. Very well handled re: sexual assault AND deep democracy.

    8. Angstrom*

      Been watching old stuff…
      “The Palm Beach Story”, 1942 screwball comedy with Claudette Colbert. Woman running away from husband meets millionaire traveling incognito, husband gets pursued by millionaire’s cousin. All ends happily. Lots of character actors being characters. :-)

      “His Girl Friday”, 1942, Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant. Remake of “The Front Page”. Amazing fast overlapping dialogue.

      “Tarantula”, 1955. Your basic giant-bug B movie. The fun is in the details, such as the grad student arriving in the small desert town in a suit with a hat and white gloves.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Oh, those are great! “Palm Beach Story” is such a giddy thrill, “His Girl Friday” a delicious snark-fest, and while “Tarantula” isn’t my favorite of the giant-bug movies (that’d be “Them!”, with giant ants – and a female-scientist character who does a lot more than just running and screaming) it has its charms.

    9. Hiring Mgr*

      If you like horror/unintentional comedy, “Blood and Honey” might fit the bill. Winnie the Pooh and Piglet have been abandoned by Christopher Robin as he goes to college and they revert to being feral bloodthirsty creatures on a killing spree.

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      This weekend we watched:
      The Woman King on Netflix, about the woman warriors of Dahomey (modern Benin) in the 1800s. Really excellent and I now want to find a “making of” feature. They went in for really good fight choreography, in which most characters are barefoot–so far from the “wave your arms around and we’ll cut 20 times in 15 seconds and hope it looks like a fight” version. I was very aware that up to a few years ago this story would have been told through the eyes of a visiting European; grounding it in the lives of Dahomey women was so much better.

      Minor point in that one: I loved how beautiful Queen Shante was. Like, beauty as a tool of political power–she was never less than stunning, and she was always using that to advance her own agenda.

      Sharper on Apple TV. A con/caper movie set in NYC that keeps switching viewpoints. By the midpoint we were delightfully befuddled as to who was lying about what, but they were definitely lying. Opens with a meet cute in a charming bookstore, to which there are many back layers.

  29. Emily Elizabeth*

    What is your favorite method to roasting a whole chicken? I tried it for the first time a few weeks ago and am cooking again today. I followed tips from a Spruce Eats recipe and it was delicious but would love to refine and perfect!

    1. o_gal*

      Look up the America’s Test Kitchen recipe for roasted chicken with warm bread salad. You will wonder why you ever did any other recipe. I make it with extra bread and we eat it as a side dish.

        1. o_gal*

          The chicken is spatchcocked and roasted over top of bread cubes. The recipe calls for you to take the cubes and make them part of a leafy salad, but they are too good for that. We call them chicken candy – they end up saturated in chicken-y goodness and some of them get lightly crunchy. It’s kind of hard to describe but think savory yummyness.

          The reason why the roasted chicken part is so good is that first you put on your chicken gloves. You take kosher salt and rub it between the skin and the meat. You get your whole hand under there, rubbing it all over the breasts, thighs, and legs. Then you let it rest in a fridge for 24 hours, so the salt first causes the chicken to release juices which are then absorbed back into the chicken. Separating the skin makes an air pocket that causes the underskin fat to render out and baste the meat.

    2. BRR*

      I always spatchcock mine (from Kenji Lopez-Alt). I also brine it in buttermilk overnight (from Salt Fat Acid Heat).

    3. Glomarization, Esq.*

      We do a Jamie Oliver thing. Olive oil, salt, and pepper on the outside of the chicken. Stab a lemon a few times with a sharp knife, then put it and maybe some rosemary in the cavity. Set the bird on a “trivet” of celery, carrot, unpeeled garlic cloves, and onion in the roasting pan. We roast it covered until close to done. Works for a turkey as well. You can do a duck like this but you’ll need to check every half-hour or so to remove the rendered fat.

      Search terms: jamie oliver perfect roast chicken

    4. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      Roast at a high heat like 425 degrees for about 20-25 minutes (it should be browned) then lower the temp to about 325 until it reads 160 degrees. This takes me about an hour longer for a 4 lb bird in a convection oven.

      What I use for seasoning: 2 tsp paprika, 1 tsp thyme, 1/2 tsp each of garlic powder, onion powder and pepper. I don’t use salt but you probably want to add 1/2 tsp of salt. Slice 2 Tb of butter into 6 pieces, dredge it in some of the seasoning then slide it under the skin of the breast. Slather rest of seasoning all over the chicken.

    5. FashionablyEvil*

      I do Marcella Hazan’s chicken with two lemons. It’s just the chicken, salt, pepper, and the two lemons. You start the chicken breast down and part way through. Comes out great every time.

      1. Newbie*

        This. It’s impossible to eff up. I’ve done turkey with two lemons using my grapefruit-size meyer lemons as well.

    6. Decidedly Me*

      If you don’t mind prepping things in advance, AllRecipes has a “Roast Sticky Chicken-Rotisserie Style” recipe that I’ve made a bunch. You start with a spice rub and it sits overnight, so advance planning is necessary.

    7. Girasol*

      Mimi’s Sticky Chicken (google the name and you’ll find it.) Put an onion in the cavity, pat a dry rub all over it, turn it breast side down, and roast on low heat for hours. The meat is moist and tender and the seasoned drippings make heavenly gravy.

    8. Me*

      I “roast” chicken in the instant pot right from the freezer. Add whatever spices or onions on top, pressure cook for an hour or so. I’m also at a high altitude.

    9. SofiaDeo*

      Romertopf or other clay pot, they always come out juicy.I prefer my Schlemmertopf brand, it has a light glaze i side bottom so food/odors don’t stick like the Romertopf brand one. You can remove the lid 1/2 hour near the end if you must have crispy skin.

  30. Excuse Me, Is This Username Taken?*

    Any recommendations for a water intake tracking app that is free or provides the ability to use most of the features for free?

    1. AnonAgain*

      If you are talking about drinking water and other beverages, I use the pro version of Hydro Coach. If you don’t mind ads give the free version a try

    2. Amused*

      I am not intending to be snarky, but when did drinking water become so complicated that an app is required? It seems a piece of paper and a pencil would do the trick if you want to keep track (or even just the notes feature on your phone). I guess I’m just old….

      1. Observer*

        Paper and pen is not a useful method if you really need to track your intake. Because that usually happens to people who are running around and don’t necessarily have a pen and paper on hand. Waiting till they get back to their desk and then remembering what they drank is setting them up to not actually track what they drank and how much.

    3. SofiaDeo*

      I set water alarms on my phone, and made a quick note when I had to skip one. Free, didn’t use any data or wifi. A series of repeating Calendar things might work, if you are in front of a computer all day.

      Before I was at the point of alarms (I used them to remember the various meds I had to take), I would fill a glass Growler and sit it on my desk at work. I needed to finish it before leaving at the end of the day. If you need to drink, say, 2 of these daily, just pour out/measure what is left at the end of the day. Disengage from the device!

  31. Dr. Doll*

    Anybody got a recc for a great spice grinder or mill? Prefer hand crank to electric (hate that shocking noise with electric).

    1. Aphrodite*

      Several years ago I bought the COLE & MASON Derwent Pepper Grinder because it was highly recommended by Cook’s Illustrated. It has proved to be outstanding. It’s not inexpensive (about $50) but it still works perfectly and has about eight or ten grind sizes.

      1. ronda*

        my purchase history shows it is called. OXO Good Grips Contoured Mess-Free Pepper Grinder

        you twist it to grind
        the opening to refill is big and easy to use.

    2. I take tea*

      I love my Skeppshult cast iron grinder. I use it for all dry spices. It even grinds dry rosemary to dust, which you can’t do with a mortar and pestle. It seems to be available on Amazon, I’ll put a link in a reply.

  32. Victoria, Please*

    All y’all eShakti users out there, give me your tips for the best experience!

    I’d love to buy like 3-4 identical black dresses and have a uniform, but that means they really do have to work well.

    1. Elizabeth Bennett*

      Perhaps things have changed, but I had a very disappointing experience with eShakti. At the time I was a size 22 and the dresses that arrived were way too small. Think a size 10.
      Then I got the runaround about returns – that I couldn’t return them and perhaps I could just give the dresses to a friend.
      Thankfully I had paid through PayPal and a few days after I filed a complaint with PayPal, I received a refund from eShakti.

    2. Filosofickle*

      My one issue with eShakti dresses has been length — either too short or too long, every time, pretty far off the visualization. In the future I plan to either get them long and plan on hemming them myself, or try giving them a specific length measurement to follow. Otherwise, I’ve found their fit chart measurements to be bang on so that’s helpful.

      1. Filosofickle*

        In response to the other comment, they do run small — I wear a couple sizes larger with them, what I would have worn twenty years ago before vanity sizing took over — but if I follow the chart they are what I expect. I have only returned a couple of things but haven’t had trouble.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      I haven’t been terribly impressed.

      First order: I got 2 tops with custom measurements. One I ordered “as shown” and I LOVE it, it’s really pretty and fits well, but I feel like the material is kind of cheap feeling (rayon ish). It’s held up well so far to frequent wear, though. The other I ordered with a more modest neckline and it was awful. I’m pretty sure they cut the pattern for the original low V and then just kind of stitched it halfway shut, so a… Y neck? It looked weird and I returned it. Same cheap feeling material.

      Second order: it was supposed to be delivered by 2/13 and still hasn’t shown up. I’ve contacted customer service 6 times with no response. They charged me right away, though! It looks from the current tracking that they finally started making the items but I probably won’t be ordering from them again.

    4. California Dreamin’*

      I have had lots and lots of experience with them. I think it works best if you do the custom measurements. Fill out the whole form. Also, all the customization options are great and I’ve used them liberally, but honestly, the closer you get to the original they’ve shown, the better it will come out. I’ve found that if you change the length and the sleeve and the neckline, it’s just hard to know how it’s going to look. So try to find a dress that you pretty much like as-is but maybe you want it a few inches shorter or longer. Or you want the wide scoop neck instead of the regular scoop. And even with custom measurements, sometimes things just don’t work on you when you get them. I’ve probably returned almost half of what I’ve ordered over the years. I always return for credit because I know I’ll order something again at some point. They are pretty great for those of us that don’t fit neatly into sizing parameters!

    5. kina lillet*

      Definitely use the custom measurements and buy a variety of cuts. The fabric is generally not super great, though I do like the t-shirt fabric dresses and the poly dupioni. Additionally, some of their patterns will fit your custom measurements better than others–I ran into one pattern where the skirt was sized up by adding one flat panel in the back instead of evenly sizing up the gores??? Very odd.

      I usually order like 5 or 6 dresses and return all but one or two. It’s a pretty good hit rate for dresses, but it’s certainly not perfect.

    6. Melissa*

      I absolutely love EShakti. I always do custom measurements. The only tip I haven’t isn’t really a tip, just be sure you measure accurately! The first time I was feeling a little optimistic or vain about my waist size. So I may have cinched the measuring tape a little tight. My pants came and, while I can button them, I can’t take a deep breath in them! So next time I added an inch to the waist and they’re perfect.

    7. Alex*

      I’ve ordered several things from them and had great experiences, including many compliments on how well my dresses fit!

      I did do custom measurements, and all the styles I ordered were a knit fabric. When customizing the style, do make sure you can visualize what it looks like. There’s a reason people go to fashion design school! Making too many changes can make it seem sort of…homemade (not that homemade is a bad thing, but you know what I mean). Also, if you are adding more material to a style, like making it longer or adding necklines and sleeves, be aware of the material that the dress is made out of, because some materials can be awkward when in bulk (for example, a really long, heavy material skirt).

  33. Can't Sit Still*

    I would like to up my coffee game. I currently drink lots of cold brew (both homemade and Stok un-sweet) & instant espresso with milk heated & frothed in a Breville Milk Cafe. I really miss flat whites and espresso macchiatos, though.

    I’ve tried a Moka pot, an Aeropress and several drip coffee makers, but none of them are exactly right. But maybe I just need a coffee grinder and to stop buying pre-ground beans? Or should I get an espresso machine? Or maybe I’m fine and should just go to a coffee shop when I want a flat white?

    I am looking at the Breville Bambino Plus or possibly the Breville Barista Express Impress, since it has a coffee grinder, but I am open to suggestions. Pre-lockdown, I typically spent $100 – $200 on espresso-based drinks, so now that I am working a hybrid schedule again, I feel like it would pay for itself in a year or so. Or faster, considering how much a flat white costs now, compared to its 2020 price.

    I am open to suggestions!

    1. BRR*

      I got a bambino plus a little over a year ago and love it. I chose it because the grinder makes such a huge difference for coffee and I figured I would get a better grinder if it was separate.

      I’d start by getting a burr grinder. I was amazed at how much better my cold brew tasted when I upgraded from a blade grinder to a burr grinder.

      1. Heffalump*

        If you can afford an electrically powered burr grinder, great. If not, they make hand-cranked burr grinders also.

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I got the Breville Barista Touch (has a built in grinder) and love it. So easy to use and my lattes taste great. I had a bad Starbucks habit and buying the machine has definitely weaned my off daily trip.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Definitely grind your own beans. It makes a huge difference unless you’re making regular drip coffee.

    4. FashionablyEvil*

      Definitely agree with grinding your own beans and buying fresh coffee. I order mine from Counter Culture—it gets delivered on Thursdays and was usually roasted on Sunday. Makes a huge difference! Also, you want a different coarseness for cold brew (very coarse) versus espresso with the Moka pot (quite fine). I think if you upgrade your beans and grind them, you may not find you need to change anything else.

    5. ricecakes*

      You 100% need a coffee grinder. I’d also suggest grinding the beans finer than suggested. I don’t have a burr grinder, so I can’t speak to that, but I do close to baby powder fineness for an aeropress.

  34. Bibliovore*

    Man Plans/God Laughs
    A propane tank rolled out of the back of my Outback and dropped on my left foot.
    Xrays (fractured metatarsal and urgent care- ice , elevate, and no weight until I see the specialist on Tuesday)
    Big trip (ten days in Palm Springs- first since Covid, long planned with Mr. Bibliovore, first solo trip that isn’t work since I was 25.) Cancelled.
    Good news- not out any money, everything was refundable.
    Bad news in some pain.
    Looking for distraction just binge watched – Light and maybe funny- TV like Ted Lasso or Ghosts , Books like Marian Keyes or Thursday Murder Club, Movies like Guardians of the Galaxy

    1. Indolent Libertine*

      Oh noooooo! I’m so sorry, that sux! When I feel terrible, I binge a bunch of Great British Baking Show on Netflix. I have also enjoyed Grace and Frankie. As for books, the work of Michael Charon is both beautifully crafted and very enjoyable. “Summerland” is probably his lightest, but “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay” is also great fun.

    2. GoryDetails*

      So sorry to hear that!

      Light/sometimes funny TV: in the charming-reality-making-things genre, the Great Pottery Throwdown is very entertaining. [In the most recent season – season 5 as per HBO Max – the host was out for several episodes with a foot injury; not sure if you’d find that amusingly sympathetic or Too Much, Too Soon. But the first few seasons do not involve major injuries as far as I recall.]

      Movies: Galaxy Quest came to mind at once; it’s one of my comfort-views. [I also love Tremors, but it’s more monster-movie – still funny but with more mayhem.]

      Not SF, but very amusing: the 1995 film of Cold Comfort Farm.

      Hope you’re on the mend soon!

      1. Angstrom*

        “The Dish” is a lovely gentle comedy about a tracking station in a small town in Australia during the first moon landing.
        In a completely different genre, but visually striking, is “Kobo and the Two Strings”. It’s modern stop-action animation. Story is classic hero’s quest, mix of comedy and action.

    3. Rosyglasses*

      I’m so sorry! I’m nursing a bad sprain myself and side-eying the new treadmill that I now can’t use much.

      Hubby and I are watching Clarkson’s Farm on Amazon Prime, which follows Jeremy Clarkson (a UK game show host/celebrity) who is trying to figure out how to farm his land. He’s quite funny.

      The Good Place and Gilmore Girls on Netflix are some of my stand-bys when I need something light. Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee also on Netflix features Jerry Seinfeld doing 15-20 minute interviews with other comedians and funny folks.

      Not quite light, but the filmography is fabulous and there are some funny parts in White Lotus on HBO Max.

      Loot on AppleTV is very sweet, starring Maya Rudolph as a rich ex-wife that is quite detached from the reality of the world but tries to start working in her charitable foundation and I found it endearing, funny, and light.

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

      If you like GotG, that got me thinking about the Marvel show Loki, which has a similar irreverent sense of humor. That, in turn, makes me think of Taika Waititi’s work, and if you’re in the mood for a very sweet, devastatingly funny mockumentary about vampires, the original What We Do In The Shadows is one of my all-time faves for when I need something to pick me up. There is occasional fake blood on screen, but it’s not scary or gory in the traditional sense.
      Hope you heal up well and quickly!

    5. Any old username*

      Hope you feel better soon. TV – Death in Paradise is good and there are about 11 series so plenty to binge watch if you like it. Books – Laurien Berenson has a series about murder mysteries around dog shows. And Mary Kay Andrews is another murder mystery series I’ve just started.

    6. Hello Sweetie*

      I hope you mend well and swiftly.

      I’d recommend giving Derry Girls a go (available on Netflix). You’ll laugh so hard you’ll pee a little. We were so so sad when it was all over.

      We also enjoyed the first season of Extraordinary (on hulu).

    7. Virtual Heating Pad*

      Aaaargh! Hope you feel better soon. Wonderful light movies: Dave, Galaxy Quest, School of Rock, The American President, Arsenic and Old Lace, A Fish Called Wanda. Also, beautiful to look at and calming to the soul: My Neighbor Totoro. I like the subtitled version but it’s also been dubbed into English; it’s just that I first saw it with subtitles and when they dubbed it I didn’t agree with the actors they picked. .

    8. Elle Woods*

      Ouch! That sounds really painful. I’m sorry you won’t be able to go on your trip.

      A couple of shows I’ve binge watched in recent months and that are light and often funny: Abbott Elementary (Hulu), The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon Prime), Loot (AppleTV+), Schmigadoon! (AppleTV+), and Only Murders in the Building (Hulu).

      I’ve also watched the first two episodes of The Reluctant Traveler (AppleTV+), staring Eugene Levy. So far, both episodes have a been a fun and pleasant way to spend 30-40 minutes of my time.

    9. WoodswomanWrites*

      Oh no, I’m so sorry to hear about your injury! For light movies, in addition to some others recommended, some oldies but goodies are Galaxy Quest, Tin Men, and Night at the Opera.

    10. *daha**

      Here’s a movie we watched on DVD last weekend: Baby Driver (2017). It’s mostly car chases and shoot-em-ups, rated R for violence and language. Baby is young, but highly skilled at stealing cars and escaping from the police. Kevin Spacey hires/blackmails him to be the getaway driver for the heists that Spacey plans. Each heist has a new crew of goons, with Baby driving. The gadget in the film is that Baby needs to set up the perfect playlist for driving for each heist. One review I read compared it to Guardians of the Galaxy in the way it integrated the music into the plot and action.

  35. Ali G*

    Hi Everyone!
    Hope you are doing well and surviving crazy weather. It was 80 here on Thursday and today it snowed.
    I am looking for ideas for a gag (but not too gaggy) gift for my younger brother who turns 40 in a couple weeks. He was the youngest (until he got married last year) of all the kids, so he’s been the baby. We want to welcome him to the 40-something club :)
    We spent quite a bit of money on his wedding/honeymoon, so I don’t want to spend too much. We don’t normally do birthday gifts, but we want to do something fun/silly.
    Any ideas welcome!

    1. fposte*

      Inspired by the awesome calendar linked up top, you could make him a customized calendar using family pictures for maximum effect and put in a few dates commemorating childhood experiences that may or may not have happened on that day.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        How about each of you give him a different random thing with him printed on it? The socks and a mug, maybe a puzzle and some underwear too? Apparently you can even get custom printed M&Ms! Or just look at what ever shutterfly will print on. That way he just keeps unwrapping more things and they all have his face on them.

    2. Lexi Vipond*

      I know someone who gave a friend a copy of Logan’s Run for their 30th birthday, but I don’t know of an equivalent for 40. It’s ruby for a wedding, so maybe red things, or something with ruby in the title…

      I’m intrigued to know why he got older when he got married, though!

      1. LasVegasRecs*

        I assume meaning his spouse is younger than him and spouse qualifies as the youngest “kid” now? That’s how I read it, although it took me a second.

    3. TPS reporter*

      I like cups, mugs or shirts that say something like vintage 198(birth year) or making dreams come true since (year). Etsy has a lot of cute and fun things if you search birthday, and a lot of vendors customize

    4. Goose*

      I’ve done Walgreens printable gag gifts a few times. Take a funny photo and make it a stamp, set of stickers, coasters, etc…

    5. Lcsa99*

      I always found it fun to do kids stuff for a milestone birthday like this. Coloring books, crayons, bubbles, yo-yo, slinky. Stuff like that. Just fill a basket with whatever you can find.

    6. Sooda Nym*

      A snack basket with snacks packaged in quantities of 40? Forty Oreos, 40 peanuts, 40 goldfish crackers, 40 m&m’s, etc. You’d have to do some of your own repackaging, but could be super fun.

    7. Not My Money*

      A toilet night light was a surprisingly popular Secret Santa gift many years ago and now it’s my go-to gift that’s fun and silly, yet practical.

    8. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

      You may want to change the technology, but for my eldest sibling’s birthday, we got her a UB40 cd.

  36. Prospect Gone Bad*

    Is there a way to get charities to stop or lower the volume of mail coming into my house without contacting each one individually? I am completely overwhelmed. I’m getting a solid 5 if not 10 letters a day from animal rights and environmental orgs. The more I’ve given, the more the # of individual charities writing has ballooned. There have been a few days recently where I’ve gotten 15 letters in one day. It took me a full hour to go through it all and tear out the plastic parts and remove all of the pennies and nickels taped to paper to make the paper recyclable on only 10 days of mail. I don’t have time to keep doing this and am moving in the next few years and don’t know how the 100+ charities spamming me will know I moved, and not inundate the next home owners.

    Also, why are charities doing this? It’s making me really dislike some. The pennies-taped-to-paper and silver-dollars-taped-to-paper is the worst especially since you can’t really go around using silver dollars. I have no clue what to do with them. It’s like someone dumping garbage at your house. I’ve resorted to just throwing the whole thing in the trash at times if I’m getting a lot during busy periods where I have no downtime and am getting home past 8 pm every day

    I realized this sounds very curmudgeonly so I am going to add, why does pot being legal mean people smoke outside other peoples’ houses? I am cooking now and want to open the window but can’t because there is a pot cloud outside. Again. If you love pot so much, maybe do it where you live? Not where other people live?

    1. GoryDetails*

      Re the charities: I guess they do it because the return is higher than the investment, but yeah, it’s annoying. If there are “unsubscribe” options you could try those – for reputable charities it might actually help, but for not-reputable ones it’ll just confirm your address so maybe not so helpful.

      Re the pennies and silver dollars: who sends you dollars? I’d take the dollars! Got some in change from a USPS vending machine and had no trouble using them as legal tender. True, most vending machines won’t take them, but over-the-counter transactions should work. Or just drop them into the next charity-you-support donations bin and let them handle it.

      Re the pot smoke: if the situation is such that you aren’t comfortable asking them not to smoke outside your windows, maybe try cooking something really, really smelly near the open window, with a fan inside your kitchen to ensure that the aroma wafts outward? [I’m thinking burnt popcorn or microwaved fish, but lots of things might do. I especially hate the scent of Febreze; if you spritz some at your window and get any protests, you can apologize but explain that you’re trying to quash that weird weedy smoke-odor that keeps turning up… ] I’d have suggested cooking your normal foods with a fan aimed outwards, but if the pot-smokers have the munchies it might just attract them.

      Good luck!

    2. 1LFTW*

      Re pot smoke: No advice, just sympathy. I fully supported decriminalizing cannabis, but I HATE being around it. It’s a major asthma trigger for me, and more I’m exposed, the more sensitized I become. Unfortunately, I have a neighbor who smokes outside (and the neighbors on the other side have a frequent visitor who vapes in their car with the windows rolled down) and I’m just like, have you never heard of hotboxing? It’s a great trick to increase your high, without causing health problems for others!

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

        Ohhh, I’m with you, I also have problems with pot smoke– if I’m exposed to even a little I get sick to my stomach, and if I can’t get to fresh air fast enough, it can even trigger vomiting. I have a neighbor who does the exact same in the alleyway behind our houses (row houses with parking in back), and in the summer when my windows are open, it comes right in and I hate it so much. I think it’s only one of the guys who lives there, but because he’s always in his car doing it, I can’t tell which one, and he always drives off after smoking instead of getting out and going into the house, which is a whole nother thing I could rant about). I don’t want to approach the car when he’s in it because then I’d truly spend the rest of the day ill, and I don’t want to just go randomly asking all the people who live there if they’re the ones smoking out back all the time, because, I dunno, that just doesn’t seem like it’s likely to be a successful venture. So instead I just seethe and try to re-aim my fans outward when I notice it happening, but it just sucks so much.

    3. Inkhorn*

      Do the envelopes have a return address printed on them? “If undeliverable please return to….” or similar? If so you could try writing “Return to sender – not at this address” on the front and dropping them into a postbox. Hopefully someone at the receiving end has the sense to update their mailing list.

    4. ghost_cat*

      I was making regular donations to a charity for a specific program and it was necessary for the charity to send me correspondence related to that program. However, they would also send me multiple and ongoing correspondence seeking donations for other programs. I rang them and was very, very, clear that I was donating for a specific program, that it didn’t seem to matter how much money I gave as it was clear that it would never be enough and that if I received one more bit of correspondence that was not related to the program for which I was donating, that I would cease all donations. It worked.

    5. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      Check catalogchoice.org. It’s mostly for catalogs but I think I’ve unsubscribed from some charity mailings there too.

      1. Bunny WatsonToo*

        Seconding Catalog Choice. It works unless you have given money in the past to the organization; if you have, your best bet is to contact them directly.

    6. Xyz*

      I have had some success writing not at this address return to sender on stuff, not compete but it has stop some after I did it a couple times.

    7. Morning reader*

      I’m curious about the pot thing because I sometimes smoke outside my house. How can I tell if I’m bothering my neighbors? They are far enough away that it’s not blowing back in their windows, but I’d hate to be That Guy.
      And no, I’ve never heard of hotboxing. Sounds like a good way to get so stinky that people then are annoyed if they have to stand next to you.

      I’ve heard this has become a problem in more densely packed cities. I don’t have a solution, but, if you are not allowed to smoke outside, not allowed to smoke inside your own apartment, not allowed to smoke in a car, where exactly are smokers supposed to smoke? We need a more systemwide solution. Smoking clubs with smoking jackets and taxis home, or maybe little phone booth type installations with a fabreze mist before you open the door to leave, or… something.

      I wonder who is smoking outside other people’s houses and why? That’s so weird.

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        How can I tell if I’m bothering my neighbors?

        The odor likely carries farther than you think it does, honestly. Nobody on either side of us (city living) smokes weed, but we definitely know when someone else on the block is indulging. It carries farther than ordinary cigarette smoke, and still carries — though less so — when one is vaping.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I mean, the obvious solution is to not smoke, since there are other options (edibles etc) that don’t have impacts on the folks around you. It’s not anyone else’s responsibility to make sure that smokers have options, you know?

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

        Yeah, I hate to break it to you, but if you smoke pot, it doesn’t matter if you’re hotboxing or not, everyone who doesn’t smoke can smell it on you, and you probably have at least one neighbor who fervently wishes they knew you well enough to gift you a lifetime subscription to an edible dispensary or something.

      4. SofiaDeo*

        Vaporizers minimize the amount of odors IMO.Plus you save $$ since it’s not burning all over the neighborhood. I think densely populated areas like apartments and condos and such are the worst. You can check the wind and try to stand where it blow into the street instead of, say, directly into someone’s window. And avoid standing near the “air intake” of large buildings HVAC or furnace, if it’s outside on the ground and not on a roof. I put small fans in the window facing “out” where I have issues with smells coming “in”.

      5. Rara Avis*

        We live in a house that has close, but not crazy close, neighbors. No AC. In the summer we have the choice of headache and nausea from the neighbors’ pot, or risking heat exhaustion in a tightly closed house. (We want to open the house at night to pull in cooler air.) There is no reason they couldn’t smoke inside their own houses and spare us the secondhand smoke — but I also don’t feel that I have the right to tell them they can’t do a legal activity on their own property.

    8. I don’t post often*

      On the charities: Don’t open it. Grab a big black marker and write “return to sender addressee unknown”. Put it back in the mailbox and put the flag up.
      The important next step: Do not give to another of these charities, ever.
      Eventually it will stop.

    9. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Are you sure you have to strip the plastic windows and tape out of the envelopes before you put them in the paper recycling? The last few places I’ve lived, I haven’t had to do that for our curbside recycling (just confirmed with my city website, as well).

      As for dollar coins, I’d echo what @GoryDetails says, you can spend the dollar coins just as well as a paper dollar bill, not sure why you feel you can’t use them. In a “worst” case scenario, you can take them to the bank the next time you have some regular in-person business and change them for paper money or even just deposit them.

      Putting a link in a reply to some guidance for getting off mailing lists. The page includes a link to the Direct Marketing Association as well as some other tips. Notably, if you just write “return to sender” on these mailings, they likely won’t actually go back to the sender because the postage on the envelope won’t cover it.

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      I give recurring donations to a few charities, and explicitly stopped one because they sent me too much physical spam, and upped donations to others because they didn’t send me a bunch of stuff to throw out. And told them why when I canceled/upped.

      The more I’ve given, the more the # of individual charities writing has ballooned.
      This is not a coincidence. Stop donating to those spamming you. At this point, they have put your name on a list and are selling it. You can be ruthless about throwing things out.

      The change can go in any local change collecting jar–keep an eye out for one by a checkout and then bring your excess change when you visit that business.

    11. Melissa*

      My husband donated to a conservative legal organization. They must have sold their mailing list to a bunch of right-wing groups because now I get tons of junk mail and the envelopes say things like “It’s time to take our nation back from the woke elites!” I’m embarrassed by what my mail carrier thinks of me (as though he has time to care haha).

    12. My Brain is Exploding*

      Lots of good ideas about cutting down on the charity solicitations. What has also helped at our house is to give through our church. It supports the Mission, a food pantry, and several other things. We can make a designated donation – so a check to the church specifying it goes to the food pantry, for example – and the church adds that to its regular support of the food pantry. Therefore those organizations don’t have our personal contact info.

    13. Clara Bowe*

      I’ve had the best luck sticking a note reading “Do not send more solicitations. Unsubscribe me.” in the returnable envelopes they send and mailing it back. And if I donate to a charity, I mark “Do NOT share any of my information to third parties. I will not donate again if you do.” on the donation note.

      Has helped a lot!

    1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      HTML tags. It’s hard to explain, because if I type one up, the browser thinks I want to italicize something instead of leaving the symbols. Basically, you tag the text by putting i for italics (or b for bold) where you want to start the italics and /i (or /b) where you want to stop. But you put the tag in the triangle brackets (the ones that share keys with the period and comma) so the computer knows that you are talking to it instead of just typing words.

      If that doesn’t make sense, google HTML tags to see what they look like.

      Make sure to use the closing tag! If you don’t, the computer will just keep italicizing the rest of your message.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      You use the pointy brackets (the less than or greater than signs above the comma and period) and put your html code inside, on either side of the text. Demo with round brackets:

      To make a word (i)italic(/i).
      To make a word italic.
      To make a word (b)bold(/b).
      To make a word bold.

  37. Anon in IL*

    Any recommendations for a heating pad (for shoulder)? I don’t mind spending a little money, but the last two I’ve purchased have stopped heating after a few weeks.

    1. fposte*

      IME, that is just the way heating pads go these days; I don’t know that you can spend your way out of it. I’ve mostly had good luck with Sunbeam; if I’m buying off of Amazon, I’d stick to a known brand and bought directly from Amazon, not third-party fulfillment.

      1. Pippa K*

        Seconding the Sunbeam recommendation. I have a couple of them, they get very heavy use, and so far they’ve lasted a couple of years or more. For shoulder use, you might like the ones that are shaped to drape around your shoulders and neck.

        1. DarthVelma*

          I have one of these and it gives me joy:
          https://www.amazon.com/Sunbeam-Extra-Large-Micromink-Shoulder-Settings/dp/B00LX5CR0M/ref=dp_fod_1?pd_rd_w=cKurp&content-id=amzn1.sym.c9de28c6-d943-4f39-bc8e-d8e51f6f30a0&pf_rd_p=c9de28c6-d943-4f39-bc8e-d8e51f6f30a0&pf_rd_r=N5N9EHFF0497PWF0MV5T&pd_rd_wg=I3grN&pd_rd_r=0186d016-b05a-44e6-a997-0b3c90b61ad8&pd_rd_i=B00LX5CR0M&psc=1

          I have a trick shoulder that sometimes just dislocates itself, and having a heating pad that completely covers my shoulder is wonderful. I’ve also found it useful when my neck muscles get all tensed up from stress. I’ve laid it flat for back pain. I’ve laid it over my mid-section for cramps. I’ve even wrapped it around my arthritic knee a time or two when it really needed the heat. So it’s good for a lot of things, but in particular for shoulders. :-)

    2. Llellayena*

      If you or a kind friend have some light sewing skills, you can make a heating pad of whatever size and shape you want from 2 pieces of fabric and some rice. I like adding dried herbs to the “stuffing” for the scent when it’s heated. The finished heating pad goes in the microwave for 30-60 sec, holds its heat for a while and can be reheated. Test the timing for heating it, it can get too hot if you’re not careful. My small one I use 45 sec for anywhere that isn’t my face, but only 30 sec for my face (headaches) since the skin is more delicate.

      I made these for Christmas presents about 8 years ago, maybe slightly more, and mine is still going strong and I know some people I gave it to are also still using it.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        I have done this before, and they are wonderful. (I never thought of adding dried herbs! That’s a great idea!)

        You can also keep some in the freezer to use as ice-packs. They don’t stay cold for as long as they stay hot, but they do the trick.

      2. Ginger Cat Lady*

        In a pinch you can fill a clean tube sock or knee sock with dry rice and tie a knot in the end to keep the rice in. I’ve done this before and when I accidentally made it to hot once, I discovered a soft fuzzy sock over it was really nice, too.

        1. Girasol*

          Me too on microwaving a rice-filled sock. When the grocery has a bargain on knee-highs, I get a pair plus two pounds of rice to split between them and make one for each of us. A minute and a half in the microwave and it’s hot. They’re not as pretty as sewn ones but if they get dirty I can untie the ends, pour out the rice, launder the socks and refill. These are wonderful on a chilly evening.

    3. DWIGHT SCHRUTE*

      I have a Walgreens one that I really like! I’ve had it for about two years now and it’s the “king” size minky one.

    4. Enough*

      This is a gel pack that can be used for both icing and heating and reusable. The Wonder Pax. Daughter got one that’s specifically for neck and shoulder.

  38. Indisch blau*

    Does anyone know much about the Israeli Rav-Kav? I am going to Israel on Monday for three weeks as a tourist and will be using public transportation.
    My understanding is that I can get a Rav Kav at the airport for 5 shekels and load it in one of several ways: either with a certain amount that’s used up trip by trip or with a pass for a certain length of time and for a certain distance.
    Since I’ll be there for three weeks and will be traveling north to Galilee and south to Eilat, I’d like to get the month-long pass for up to something over 600 km.
    I read one place that the month-long passes are only valid for a calendar month – i.e. it would make sense to wait until March 1 to buy it. Somewhere else I read that they are valid for a month beginning on the date of purchase (i.e. from Feb 27 to March 26).
    I’ve also heard that buying a pass for the national parks can give a discount on public transportation. Does that mean I should first by the parks pass and then load the Rav Kav?
    Note: The fare structure was revised in August 2022.
    Thanks to anyone for any help!

  39. LasVegasRecs*

    I’m wondering if anyone can provide any recommendations for Las Vegas. My fiancé and I are planning to get married there later this year in a small-ish ceremony (approx 30 guests or so). We have our ceremony venue picked out, it’s just a simple ceremony where photography and such is all included. The thing I’m having trouble with is hotels. I’ve never been to Las Vegas and am finding the hotel options a bit overwhelming to sort through. I don’t know how much to go off online reviews because they seem to vary wildly on different sites. Ideally, we’d like to offer a mid-priced room block as an option, but obviously guests could stay at other hotels depending on their budget. We’d like to stay on or near the strip. The options I’ve been considering are some MGM properties like Vdara, Park MGM, MGM Grand, and the Resorts World properties, but open to hearing about people’s experiences at other hotels.

    1. Not A Manager*

      I’ve stayed at the NoMad Las Vegas. It’s attached to the Park MGM and shares some amenities. I don’t quite know the relationship between them – it seems like the NoMad is a smaller boutique within the MGM complex. The rooms are very nice.

    2. RMNPgirl*

      Depending on when you’re going, you may be able to get good deals at the higher end places like the Bellagio and Wynn/Encore. I’ve stayed at the Wynn before with a view of the strip for $119/night. Usually that’s during the week and it’s higher on Fri/Sat nights, but might still be worth it. Sometimes they also throw in things like a resort credit that you can use at the hotel restaurants or buffet (the Wynn buffet is very nice).

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I pretty much always stay at Luxor – in fact, that’s where my husband and I got married.

    4. Rosyglasses*

      Something you may want to consider depending on your guest’s preferences is whether they’d prefer to stay in a property that has a casino or not. I know for myself I’m no longer interested in being around smoke and machines in the same place I’m trying to sleep/rest – but like I said it will really depend on what your preferences are and your guest ages/preferences.

    5. KR*

      When we got married we stayed at The D. It’s off the main strip and more near Fremont St (the older part of Vegas). The name is kind of silly (and it’s called The D for the reason you think it is) but it was very clean and a more reasonable price than the big hotels on the strip.
      I would not recommend Excalibur – I stayed at it and it was dated, and the venting in the hotel wasn’t adequate so the cigarette smoke was a lot.
      We stayed at the Flamingo a different time and it was pretty nice, more expensive than the D, with the added benefit of actual Flamingos in the gardens of the resort. I want to say I’ve stayed at Cesars too and it’s about as nice as you would expect for such a well known hotel, but pricy.
      Keep in mind that the traffic on the strip can be very slow depending on the day so depending on where your wedding chapel is, I would recommend factoring that into your hotel choice, or at least the choice in when you leave for the venue or time sensitive plans. You can use google maps to plan for expected traffic on certain days or times.
      You can register and pay for your marriage license ahead of time online with Clark County and that can save time when you pick up the license. Their clerks office is great though and they have a very efficient office.
      Congratulations!

    6. Joy*

      Safiya Nygaard (youtuber) recently did two videos on staying at every hotel on the Vegas Strip. She shows you what each room looks like, how much she paid, and lots of entertainment/food options. She’s very good with organizing and time stamping her videos, so you can go straight to whichever ones fit your price point.

      1. Grits McGee*

        I thought of Safiya’s reviews immediately too! I’ve never been to Vegas, so I can’t vouch for her review, but it was very comprehensive. The video also goes into the logistics/experience of walking from attraction to attraction, which might be helpful.

    7. The Other Dawn*

      It’s been a long time since we stayed, but we really like the Signature at MGM Grand. It’s a non-casino hotel attached to MGM. Very nice and I remember the price being reasonable.

      I would not stay at any hotel on Freemont Street near or under the canopy. Freemont Street is very loud at night and the music runs well into the early AM, something like 2 am or 3 am I think. Even a room that isn’t facing the canopy can still have quite a bit of noise from Freemont. If you want a party atmosphere and don’t care about the noise, go for it. If you want quiet and sleep. skip it.

    8. NaoNao*

      I got married in Vegas and we got a suite at the Cosmo which was gorgeous but they have a nightclub/pool club that blasted heavy-bass music all Friday/Sat night FYI. I strongly recommend the Wynn or Encore (Encore only books weekends). It’s across from Fashion Show mall, on a quieter end of the strip, it’s got a luxury mall inside as part of the hotel, and it’s elegant and just…nice. The pools are especially lovely. We’ve also stayed at the Venetian and The Palms and The Wynn is by far our favorite. I also think the Paris might have some reasonable deals and they’re smack in the middle of the action and very cute with tons of restaurants and shops.

    9. Donkey Hotey*

      Late answer: unfortunately “MGM” doesn’t narrow it down much as they own about half the strip. That said, Mrs. Hotey and i go to Vegas every winter. We stay at either the MGM Grand or the Mandalay Bay. But contacting anywhere and guaranteeing X number of rooms will definitely get you a cut rate.

      Couple extra notes: cabs are now flat rate from the strip to McCarran, so don’t worry about going north end. Also, be VERY careful with the wedding chapels. The picture selection immediately after the ceremony can become a very high pressure sales job very quickly.

  40. Goose*

    Just saw a mouse run across my floor and my cat didn’t even notice! How do I turn her into a deranged murderer of mice in the next hour so I can sleep tonight?

    1. Liminality*

      Explain in clear words and pictures that she is Under No Circumstances allows to touch or harm said creatures. Kitty will then be sure to do exactly the opposite of what she was told.

      1. Goose*

        I need the mouse to put on a costume of “my hand doing absolutely nothing” so I can direct her rage.

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

          I cackled at this so hard– wish I didn’t know exactly what you’re talking about!

    2. KatEnigma*

      You need a terrier of some sort. A well fed cat could GAF about mice.

      Terriers kill mice for the pure joy of it.

        1. eeeek*

          Squirrels or larger, sayeth my terrier/beagle. She glances at mice, indulges the chipmunks as they maraud the garden. But if she suspects there is a squirrel on the roof of a house a block away, all hek breaks loose.
          Sadly, I know her size parameters do include skunks.

    3. GoryDetails*

      I don’t think you can teach a cat to be a mouser if it doesn’t come naturally. I’ve had some that were quick and efficient mouse-slayers, some who wouldn’t care if a mouse ran across their heads, and my current three – who think mice are delightful self-activating toys, so they fetch them up from the basement and put them in the bathtub so they can play at leisure. They have yet to kill – or even badly injure – any of these mice. I can only hope that when I catch the mice and set them free outdoors, they run and tell their friends to avoid the Gladiator Games!

      1. Anonymous cat*

        Mine won’t even attack bugs! She just watches them and follows them around!

        I’ve tried explaining Division of Labor to her and who is responsible for what in this house (especially her responsibility to take care of bugs), but she just gives me a big-eyed cat look and doesn’t take responsibility.

        1. Goose*

          Her royal highness doesn’t understand your unrealistic expectations. She’s clearly just in charge of sitting around and looking pretty and nothing else

    4. LG*

      I’ve had more than one cat that was a good mouser, except if the mouse was inside. Then, they regarded the mouse as a toy, and would just play with it instead. Very frustrating!

      1. Goose*

        I just wish mine would notice the mouse! She was just mad I woke her from her nap and refused to even look/sniff in its direction.

    5. marvin*

      I’ll give you my tried and true tip from back when my cat would release live mice in my room and then go take a nap. Take a fairly thick rope of material, a sheet or bath towel will do, and drape it from the floor out of an open window. Try to pick a window that doesn’t have a big drop on the other side. In my experience, the mice will try to avoid being in an enclosed space with a cat and will climb the rope to freedom.

    6. Alex*

      It’s actually not super great to have your cat killing mice in your house. The mice can carry disease and you don’t want that all over your cat. Also, a mouse slaying by a murderous cat can be messy business that you then have to clean up. Blood on the floor, walls….and you don’t get to pick where that happens.

      Better to try to get an exterminator to implement some pet-friendly pest control in your house.

    7. Girasol*

      I had a mouse go under the sofa and got the cat to chase it out. It ran under a closed door and cat just reached a paw under the door and snagged it. Yay cat! He wouldn’t let it go so I took him and it outside (farm country, far from roads.) An hour later he’s at the door begging to come in and so I let him in, failing to notice that he still has the mouse, and it’s still alive and kicking. I’m not sure this whole idea of cats catching mice really works.

  41. Prospect Gone Bad*

    Anyone have a trick to making a decent gluten free dessert that isn’t loaded with calories or loads of unhealthy stuff in general?

    I just got all excited to make an almond-flour cake – then saw the calorie count on almond flour, and my heart sank. I cannot justify eating that, each serving would be over 1000 calories once I add butter and a little sugar. This tiny back of almond flour had over 3000 calories.

    I’m feeling like everytime I come up with an idea, it gets debunked like this. Like there is no such thing as a healthy dessert. Help!

    1. ithappens*

      I just made the Nyt tender almond cake last week. The key is portion size.

      Yes, as written, the ten pieces in the 9” springform pan have 287 calories each, but if you cut the recipe in half and make it in a 7” spring form pan you’ve reduced it to eight pieces (oh, they seem bigger than ten!) at 180 calories. But yeah, desserts are tough.

      Angel food cake using gluten free flour could be another good option, it’s mostly egg whites.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Well, nuts are high in calories, but they aren’t unhealthy. They also have a lot of nutrients in them. The point of a dessert is to be a small portion of something indulgent.

      If you want a lower-calorie dessert that isn’t highly processed or artificial, then fruit and things with a lot of air whipped into them are your friends.

      Pavlova is wonderful and not too heavy. Egg whites & sugar, slathered with fresh berries and a bit of whipped cream on top.

      The gluten free yellow cake mix from Aldi is surprisingly good. I don’t think it’s any less calories than regular cake, but you could do a Frasier cake with fresh strawberries inside instead of loading it up with frosting.

      1. Emma*

        Exactly this. They have good fats and protein. Way different from overly processed “empty” calories.

        1. Courageous cat*

          Well, eating healthy and eating to lose weight are two different things. Some people might be doing one or the other.

    3. Samwise*

      Sorbet with fresh berries, chocolate sauce or chocolate sprinkles or a very nice chocolate truffle on the side.

      You can use the almond flour to make macarons. Not that easy, but you can control the calorie count by making smaller cookies.

    4. Double A*

      Desert should be a little indulgent, otherwise just eat some fruit and pretend it’s desert. But I also second something like a crumble or cobbler. You can make the topping out of oats and any flour amount will be much lower. Also check out Minimalist Baker, she has a ton of ideas.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        Oh I never heard of Minimalist Baker and I am loving this site! For example the Vegan Double Chocolate Mousse Pie. Thanks for the tips everyone but especially this one!

        It’s giving me ideas of different ingredients to use, I didn’t even know some of this stuff existed (never knew coconut yogurt even existed)

        1. Double A*

          I wish I had discovered her when I was single, I would probably have developed a better stable of vegan dishes! Now feeding a picky family I’m not up for experimenting and just stick to the little-kid approved basics. But they actually like some of her no bake bites and balls, which are basically just but butter plus some other stuff.

    5. Not A Manager*

      Cooks Illustrated has a good recipe for a berry fool. It’s basically thickened fruit puree, chopped sweetened fruit, and whipped cream, all lightly swirled together in a wine glass or a parfait cup.

    6. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Look up the online article “How to make perfect chocolate mousse” by Felicity Cloake.

      She makes mousse without cream – just chocolate and egg and a little sugar. It’s pretty much foolproof and really good. I’ve made it without sugar and it worked too.

    7. Brunch Enthusiast*

      3000 calories would be a little over a pound of almond flour, which is a lot more than I’ve ever used in a single cake. On the other hand 4 ounces of almond flour has around 3000 Joules = around 700 calories. Since you mention it’s a tiny bag I’m wondering if there could be a labelling error where it’s showing Joules instead of calories in the nutrition information?

      1. RagingADHD*

        I think “tiny” was just sticker shock. A one-pound bag of almond flour is a standard size. It is of course smaller than a standard bag of wheat flour, because it is denser.

        I mean, if you ate a pound of almonds of course it would be high in calories.

        1. Brunch Enthusiast*

          Oh okay, I didn’t realise that. Here (Ireland), bags of ground almonds are typically in the 100g to 200g range, so that’s interesting to learn!

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      If you want it to be healthy, you should recategorize fresh fruit as “dessert” and eat it after meals. Berries with whipped cream (you can whip your own with a small amount of sugar, or none) is a classic for a reason.

      My starting gluten free recipe would be Smitten Kitchen’s salted peanut butter cookies, a delicious cookie that happens to be gluten and dairy free. (I have a kid with a dairy allergy.) I add chocolate chips.

    9. Sopranistin*

      Try a recipe using a different gluten free flour. Flour made from grains – like oat flour, brown rice flour, buckwheat flour – will have a lower calorie and fat content.
      If you want to further lower the calories of a baked dessert recipe, oil/butter can be all or partially replaced with unsweetened applesauce. Obviously, though, it does change the texture of the finished bake. I’ve found success replacing half. For example, if the recipe calls for half cup of oil, I use 1/4 cup oil and 1/4 cup applesauce.

    10. 00ff00Claire*

      I think it will depend on what you define as healthy vs unhealthy. Almond flour is certainly going to be higher in calories, but I know there are some people who prefer it to more common gluten-free flour blends because the blends are often composed of pretty “empty” calories just like regular old white flour from wheat. I personally don’t mind the blends because they are not that different nutritionally to white flour and I am OK with that in moderation.

      Two websites I can think of to check out are Well Plated by Erin and FODMAP Everyday. Erin’s blog is one that I consider healthy, so a lot of her desserts have less sugar than recipes might find elsewhere. FODMAP Everyday is a resource for the low FODMAP diet for people with IBS. I follow a low fodmap diet and a lot of people with IBS (including myself) don’t do well with loads of sugar, so most of the dessert recipes on that website factor that in.

      I like oats, so if that’s something you like and can eat, I recommend the Pumpkin Cranberry Oat Breakfast Cookies from Fodmap Everyday, the Strawberry Oatmeal Bars from Well Plated, or the Raspberry Oat Bars from Budget Bytes. The breakfast cookies are the healthiest and despite being breakfast food could certainly be eaten for dessert. For the Strawberry Oatmeal Bars, I follow the directions using the substitutions she suggests to make it gluten free and dairy free. I’ve used Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 GF flour, but this recipe is flexible enough you could use a whole grain GF flour blend and it would probably work fine. For the Raspberry Oat Bars, I just substitute the Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 GF flour and GF oats. You can also replace the 8 Tbsp of butter with 8 Tbsp of nut butter or sunflower butter – it’s really good this way and will be slightly healthier because nut & seed butters have some protein in addition to the fat.

      If you are looking for a cake, I recommend the King Arthur Gluten Free Cake Pan Cake (Vanilla). It’s a riff on the old “Wacky” cakes from the depression era so it isn’t especially rich and therefore less unhealthy than cakes with butter, etc, but it does contain 1:1 GF flour, so it’s not exactly healthy.

      I’ll post links in a separate comment. I hope you’re able to find something that works for you!

      1. 00ff00Claire*

        FODMAP Everyday Breakfast Cookies – https://www.fodmapeveryday.com/recipes/low-fodmap-pumpkin-cranberry-oat-breakfast-cookies/#wprm-recipe-container-11355

        Well Plated Strawberry Oatmeal Bars – https://www.wellplated.com/strawberry-oatmeal-bars/#wprm-recipe-container-32956

        Raspberry Bars – https://www.budgetbytes.com/raspberry-oat-bars/

        King Arthur Cake Pan Cake – https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/recipes/gluten-free-vanilla-cake-pan-cake-recipe

        The King Arthur cake has a sweet frosting, but you could replace that with some macerated berries and that would probably be very good!

  42. Oven Disaster*

    Help! I accidentally left an instant pot lid in my oven and preheated it. The plastic melted off, and it was a big smelly mess. However, I managed to get the plastic out, and wiped down the oven with baking soda. I used it at at 375 or so a day later, and everything seemed fine, so I thought the problem was over. I tried it use it at a higher temperature today though, and I could smell the plastic again. I can’t figure out where it’s coming from. I wiped the surfaces down again, but it still smells. It’s definitely not super-strong like before, but it’s there. Any advice?

    1. GoryDetails*

      Ouch! Did you take out the oven-bottom and clean underneath? (My oven has a removable tray/pan; not sure how typical that is.) If there are plastic drips underneath that could explain the smell.

      If you’ve done that and it doesn’t help, you may need to do a few rounds of maximum-heat/cool-down/wipe-down.

      1. Oven Disaster*

        Thanks for the response! It doesn’t have a removable bottom. Maybe the answer is repeated heating and cleaning cycles like you suggested. I will give that a try. If only life had an undo button!

    2. Idyllic Gulag*

      Similar to “burning in” a new-out-the-box oven, I’d try a few cycles of heating to 450 or so, letting it cool, then wiping down. If your oven has a steam feature use that, otherwise a pan of water on a lower rack during the cycle can help. Good luck!

    3. Observer*

      If your oven has a proper self clean mode, open the windows and turn on the exhaust fan, the set it to self clean while you are as far away from the kitchen as you can get.

      Self clean takes time because it’s necessary to cool the oven down before it can be touched – it gets HOT. But the heat will pretty much burn off everything you might have in there, and also almost anything that kind of got absorbed into the oven itself. But you also don’t want to be in the kitchen because if there is some plastic residue somewhere or baked into the oven, you don’t want to be breathing the fumes.

      Once the oven is cool and safe to open, wipe it down.

  43. CSRoadWarrior*

    Just wondering, does anyone fly one airline in particular to collect miles, or simply go with the one with the best price? I recently started collecting miles on two different airlines and even have a credit card for one of them so I have started collecting miles. And I do live near one major airport so that also works in my favor.

    I also fly at least once or twice a year across country from coast to coast (think New York to California) and am thinking of traveling overseas more often, especially since life returned to normal after the pandemic, so this was something I recently got interested in.

    What are your guys opinions on this?

    1. Not A Manager*

      I don’t actually fly that often, so I have a mild preference for the airline with the miles, but I’ll take a different airline if it’s significantly better for me. Sometimes Southwest is the clear winner even though I don’t collect their miles, because of the two free bags and the lack of change fees.

      Mostly I amass miles through using my credit card. I have one credit card for an airline, and one for a hotel chain, and I save those points for international travel.

    2. Ginger Cat Lady*

      I can’t afford to fly anywhere near often enough that miles from actually flying would be worth anything.

    3. Helvetica*

      I’m outside of the US, so I don’t know if this is a thing there but Miles&More has been great since it covers many airlines I do use, for work and personal travel. My suggestion is to determine which airlines you use most and then join their programme, rather than other way around. I have also noticed that miles used to expire pretty quickly, even with regular travel but since the pandemic, they have definitely become more lenient about it.

    4. mreasy*

      I travel a lot for work, and I have status on my usual airline, JetBlue, which makes the travels much nicer (mostly cross-country). I also have their credit card, which earns miles as well. Definitely worth it to me!

    5. Monkey's Paw Manicure*

      There were some years when I flew a lot and tried to do it all on one airline to collect the miles. A couple years later, after I had to call customer service to reactivate them to use for a trip, I decided I wouldn’t bother letting point collecting modify my behavior again.

      To collect enough airline miles to do something with them, you have to commit, which may include using that airline—even though it may not be the best flight for you, using their credit card, renting cars with a particular agency, and staying at certain hotel chains. I didn’t care enough to make the point dance part of my life. 20 years later, I can’t say I’ve regretted this decision.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Jet Blue was usually the best price-time-etc for trips I was making frequently, and they are slightly more comfortable–something that matters a lot more to me now. So pre-pandemic I would start with them. Miles to occasionally cover a trip was a nice bonus of having a predictable airline experience.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I prefer to fly Southwest anyway, because of their luggage allowances and the fact that they’re generally cheaper for my needs, so I also have their credit card for both the points and the perks.

    8. Glomarization, Esq.*

      For all intents and purposes I’m with one airline to collect miles. My usual travel pattern (2-3 times per year) takes me through an intermediate airport where theoretically I could change airlines from the first leg to the second leg, but one of those legs is very, very susceptible to delays and cancellations. I don’t like the elevated risk of losing non-refundable fares on Airline Two if I miss a second leg due to shenanigans on the first leg with Airline One. If it’s all Airline One, then Airline One has to carry me or refund me, one way or the other.

      So the household uses a credit card that collects miles points and we do all our travel (solo or together) on Airline One, and we join the chorus of everybody else using Airline One to complain about how terrible it is all the time, LOL.

    9. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I now have status on one airline from a combination of flying (pre-pandemic) and credit card usage. The only reason I booked another airline for a trip this summer is because it offered a reasonably priced nonstop to our destination, which will mean 10 hours en route rather than 16. Otherwise I stick to “my” airline as much as possible.

      I chose the airline because our previous city was a hub and the credit card they offered was through my bank (so an easy process to apply/get the card) and offered a big bonus for signing up. Our current city has plenty of flights available on that airline but not quite as many non-stop options to certain destinations. Hasn’t been too inconvenient though. The only time it was a bit of a PITA is when we were going to Ft. Lauderdale and really wanted to use miles but couldn’t get a non-stop– so we flew to MIA and drove north. Not too terrible.

      Having the credit card has been a HUGE help. In early 2020 I was able to join my partner on a business trip (and fly first class) by booking with miles. I used miles to get us to a friend’s wedding. Last year I did a transatlantic crossing and flew home, and one-way fares at the time were absolutely outrageous– I was able to use miles for that flight and save about $2k, plus I was able to fly straight home (using cash would have taken me on a weird circuitous route if I didn’t want to spend $2500, which I didn’t). I use my credit card as a bill consolidator– I pay for everything with it and pay it in full every month– so earning points has been pretty easy for me. I’m job searching and hoping for travel in my next role because I really, really want to start taking advantage of that status!

      I have a friend who collects points for fun (he’s part of a community of people around the world who do it, it sounds really complicated but he loves it) and he tends to stick to one airline and its partners unless there’s a big advantage to using another (he has frequent flyer accounts with several). He once upgraded me to business class on “his” airline because he had so many points.

    10. AK_Blue*

      I am in a city now with more airline choices, but grew up in a town on an island that only one airline flew to, so I’m pretty loyal. I did convert miles earned on that airline for my spouse and i to fly business class and back to New Zealand, so that was a nice payoff. However the airline has just joined oneworld and is futzing with their mileage redemption charts, so a 60,000 mile one way business class ticket to Oceania might be a thing of the past. But since I live in Alaska, it’s just easy to stick with Alaska Airlines.

  44. Ali + Nino*

    Who’s your “style icon” – someone you want to emulate in terms of how they present themselves, whether it be hair, makeup, general “mood,” etc.? Do you incorporate any of their style into yours, and if so, how?

    1. CTT*

      Mine has been Sofia Coppola for years; she’s not fancy, but she definitely has instilled in me a love of well-made wardrobe staples in neutral colors that will last forever

    2. Rosyglasses*

      For me, I love the ageless ease of @goodbyecroptop – and then I also follow @caralynmirand to help find styles that are more my jam for a curvy body since she and I have similar builds. @ewalinakanty has a really neutral palette and has inspired several clothing and handbag buys as I build my staples. Jennifer Aniston will always be a style icon to me for her classic looks – and I can tell that alot of my clothing choices have been inspired with that in mind. Classic, clean lines, neutrals, and avoiding fast fashion.

    3. Anima*

      @fannyrosie on Instagram. She’s so elegant, and I love alternative fashion – she’s doing very classic Lolita Fashion.
      @maimagi (also Insta) does have a certain fahsions sense I love to look at, but don’t try to emulate – don’t know why, I just think she looks neat and I would not. :D

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      More aspirational, but Eileen Fisher used to have a signature model in her 60s–she looked both fabulous and her age.

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

      Janelle Monae all the way. I took up sewing in part because I wanted to try and incorporate more afro-futurist/sci-fi elements into my clothes. I am an absolute failure when it comes to hair and makeup, though. Maybe someday I will learn those skills!

    6. Red Sky*

      Ouiser Boudreaux (Weezah) from Steel Magnolias. Yes, I live in my overalls during the summer and if I had a faux fur coat I’d add that in the winter.

  45. M&M Mom*

    Gloves: has anyone bought really warm gloves recently? I keep buying different pairs, but they are never warm enough for being outside for any length of time here in MA. Thanks!

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      lothlorian dot co dot nz

      Gloves made of a blend of merino and possum hair. Wool is too itchy for me; these are soft and comfortable and don’t itch at all. First encountered on a trip to NZ 20 years ago, and thrilled when I found the online store with the same brand.

      1. fposte*

        Whoa, there’s some cool stuff on that site; thanks for the intro. Merino is actually wool, but I’m with you in finding it a lot more tolerable.

    2. 2QS*

      I had the same problem a few years ago. Ended up solving it by ordering online from people in Canada (the brand name is Kombi).

    3. Reba*

      For dressy, cashmere lined leather gloves. I have Portolano and a department-store-branded pair. Choose longer length if possible.

      I also highly recommend putting a pair of handwarmers/fingerless mittens on over your gloves. Adds a lot of warmth but you keep the dexterity vs mittens.

      Thin liners inside mittens are my other strategy. I recommend gloves or mittens that are insulated (i.e. not just fleece or knit). I have an old old pair of down insulated mittens that are serious business.

      I have Reynaud’s so I think about this a lot!

    4. Anono-me*

      I suggest that you go to a place like Fleet Farm and buy the best ice fishing gloves that you can. (Or other serious outdoor sports stores like Cabellas or Sheilds, but probably stay away from shopping mall sporting goods stores.) You might also want to check out their snowmobile gloves (hybrid glove and mitten comb) or their heated gloves.

      Or if you are OK with mittens, maybe go to Menards and look for their ‘slapper’ mittens. These are super warm but fairly inexpensive shearling mittens, in the usually only found in the men’s section. They are called ‘slapper’ mittens because if you slap your hands against one another you get a really loud clap (really popular with the winter cheer team at my school. )

      1. KatEnigma*

        Carhartt. Carhartt’s thickest waterproof stable gloves stood up to North Dakota’s far sub zero temperatures when snow blowing couldn’t wait for temperatures to get more acceptable.

        But they are work gloves, and not everyone wants to wear ugly brown work gloves. LOL

        1. Anono-me*

          Carhart are great. Practical, sturdy, super warm, and last forever; but very utilitarian and a dairy farm brown color.

          Most serious ice fishing gloves are black neoprene with a reinforced palm and look fairly tailored. Mine looked fine with my dress coat but I wear them for all kind of outdoor activities in -25°F or worse weather .

          Also for the next snow blower: think about getting one with the heated handles (and the tent). Worth the money.

          1. KatEnigma*

            To be fair, I have a pair of black carhartt that I forget how they were marketed, but don’t scream barn gloves.

            We’ve moved to Houston, and they will never be used again, thank goodness. We sold the snow blower with the house. Many a time my husband looked at the guy across the street with his snowblower with the tent. It would have been less expensive to pay for a service. LOL And he was permanent WFH by then.

    5. Generic Name*

      What kind are you using now? I’ve never found the stretch knit ones to be very warm, for example. I have a pair of fleece gloves from llbean that are warm. Also some fleece-lined ones from REI are also warm. I have a pair of cashmere lined leather gloves from Overland trading that are warm and also dressy. But for really really cold weather, nothing beats mittens.

      1. KatEnigma*

        The stretch knits are so useless! And anything with the tips that work with your phone just leach cold through those tips! (Spent 4 winters in the coldest city in the contiguous US- 2nd coldest in the US.)

      1. Imtheone*

        Wire cutter just had an article on warm gloves. Unfortunately, maybe only available to New York Times subscribers, I don’t know. Some interesting suggestions.

    6. Ranon*

      I live in Minnesota. Mittens with liner gloves are the best solution to warm hands + dexterity. Plus keeping your core warm so your body lets your heat get all the way to your fingers.

  46. abca*

    Light therapy/SAD lamp recommendations? I am in the EU and well known recommendations from reputable US sites aren’t always available here. And the internet is flooded with fake reviews and scientific looking articles from people with a monetary angle. I did learn not to go for the cheapest ones because they make you sit super close to the light. Recommendations for good lamps that are available in the EU and do not flicker would be great!

    1. fposte*

      Not sure where you are, but I looked randomly on the German Amazon. I looked specifically for Philips, since I own a few by them, and they had plenty of options from Philips. The ones specifically listed as for SAD were by Beurer, which is a solid brand, and they were well reviewed; Fakespot gives the Amazon reviews a B and considers there to be minimal deception.

    2. Tea and Sympathy*

      I recommend Travelite from Northern Light Technologies. I‘ve used mine every day for about 6 months/year for the last 20 years, and have not needed to replace the lightbulbs. It’s a true SAD lamp, not just a bright light. I bought mine from their website (Canadian company that ships internationally), and then a few years ago I bought the exact same light (to keep at my mother’s house for when I visited) on Amazon. Amazon is SO much cheaper.

  47. Cat Sling*

    Does anyone use a sling to hold/carry their cat? I’m thinking of giving it a try.

    My 25-pound Maine Coon has become very needy and physically affectionate since his sister passed in the fall. He crawls up my torso when I’m working at my laptop, and likes to be held upright against my shoulder, like a toddler. I cannot hold him and work at the same time, and even taking breaks to hold him is hard on my arthritic wrists because he’s so damned heavy.

    I suspect he would take naps if I was strong enough to hold him for long periods of time. He dozes off when he’s held, but I’m constantly shifting his weight and disturbing him.

    1. Ella Kate (UK)*

      Sort of – until he outgrew it one of mine would snuggle into the pocket of my hoodies (the single piece open both sides kind) and go to sleep. He was most upset when he realised he was Too Big for that.

      He made his own hammock in a chair with rug and shoving some cushions around and would probably adore a sling, as he does like being held in a similar way to what you describe.

      I’d say give it a try!

    2. Generic Name*

      I was just browsing bored panda, and they had a thread of cute dogs (so of course I clicked). Two of said cute dogs appeared to be in a messenger bag type thingy. So I googled and there’s an actual product that would probably work for your cat! Searching “dog carrier sling” should bring it up. Saw a bunch available on Amazon.

    3. Double A*

      I have not tried this, but my first thought was a ring sling. Intended for babies, but…could work? He could climb out of it pretty easily if he felt the need to escape.

  48. Invisible fish*

    What store or brand has the loooooongest women’s plus size bike shorts that you know of? 8” is still short on me, but I can’t seem to find much. I’m losing patience with searching, so I’m going to put this out to people who know much more than me.

    1. Generic Name*

      Maybe a crazy idea, but what about buying pants and taking them to a tailor and having them hemmed to the length you want?

      1. fposte*

        Or even just cut them off and fabric glue the hem? (I have just learned about fabric glue and I am gluing everything.)

    2. Enough*

      Can’t comment on quality but googling long length brought up WomanWithin website as well as Amazon options.