weekend open thread – May 13-14, 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: Liars and Saints, by Maile Meloy. Secrets follow a close-knit Catholic family through four generations. A satisfying family saga.

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

{ 911 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

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

  2. hannah*

    This is kind of a weird one. My husband and I are friends with a couple, let’s call them Carol and Jim, who are always bringing us home-cooked food. Every time we see them they bring homemade food for us. Sometimes it’s cookies or brownies or coffeecake but sometimes it’s a plastic container of barbecue or soup they made that week. Sometimes we get a text that they made too much for dinner and are dropping off a container of extras at our door, “we won’t bother you but it’ll be out there around 8:00 so be sure to grab it.” If we have a dinner party and assure them they don’t need to bring anything, we’re providing everything, they show up at the door with a covered dish in hand.

    We’re not in need of this help, we’re not busy or dealing with a crisis in the family. And here is the thing….they are not good cooks. At best the food is bland and not very palatable. At worst it’s inedible. I love that they love to cook and that they want to share it with us….but we don’t want it. I’ve tried everything I can think of—saying we’re on diets, don’t have fridge space, et cetera. The food keeps coming and we often get texts later asking how we liked it.

    Is there any way to stop this or should we just politely accept and then dump it every time? I feel bad throwing away food and I wish they’d stop giving it to us.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Ha my neighbor used to do this to me! I’d see a text hours later that he had left some tupperware of leftovers in some obscure place and then I had to decide if I was going to risk trying it versus lying that I had enjoyed it when I really threw it away because it sat out on my hot side porch for four hours. It was sweet I guess that he tried, but yeah, he also didn’t cook things I could actually eat (I was vegetarian at the time) nor was he responsive to my answers. I did just throw stuff away, thank him non-effusively, and return the tupperware. He eventually stopped.

      1. BatManDan*

        Completely tangential, but I’d love to hear how either of these people (the food-dropper-offers in these two comments) viewed it. What would THEIR version of a letter to an advice column look like? LOL

        1. Prospect Gone Bad*

          My neighbor did this for years (and I happily accepted because she was a good cook) but I eventually had to get her to stop except on rare occassions because she likes high-fat foods and sugary desserts and I have a couple health things and need to eat healthier.

          The thing with her was two fold. One was the economies of scale of cooking. She’d buy a head of cabbage and a pound of beef, for example, the smallest quantities you can buy, and there was no way to only cook enough for one person.

          On a larger scale, she simply loves homekeeping. Her kids moved out and she misses domesticating and having people around to enjoy it, and finding any excuse to whip up a cake or blintzes or a pot of stew.

        2. laser99*

          “I’m a really, really good person. Almost a saint, really. How do I know this? I prepare the most delicious food imaginable, and deliver it to my friend.
          I know, right???”

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      Channelling my inner Alison, but how direct have you been? Have you actually said the words “please stop giving us food”?

      If so, stop making excuses. If they leave something on the porch make no effort to bring it in promptly. If they contribute to a dinner party just say “oh you didn’t need to do that” and put it out but don’t take any yourself. If they put food in your hands and you feel rude handing it back, just toss it after they leave and when they follow up say it wasn’t your kind of thing or you didn’t have space for it etc. Maybe have ONE more conversation along the lines of “look, you’re very thoughtful but it doesn’t make me feel good to receive food gifts and I would really appreciate you stopping. It’s nothing personal.” If they whine or get offended it’s just “well, I’ve told you many times I prefer not to receive food gifts, if you’re unhappy with how I react you know you can just stop.”

      Caveat, I would not be able to say any of this and would silently pretend to appreciate their gross food forever lol

    3. RagingADHD*

      I’d try one more time with something like, “That’s very sweet, but I wish you’d share this with someone in need. We have more than we need already.”

      If they keep on after that, throw it away. Then if they ask how you liked it, tell them, “Well, like I said, we didn’t have room for it in the fridge, so it went to waste. Would you like your container back?”

      They aren’t going to be thrilled about it, but you can’t play along forever, so you might as well get it over with.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        This, yes. Honestly, if you can, just don’t take it. “Oh, I appreciate the thought, but we don’t have room in our fridge or our meal planning this week for it, so we won’t take it – good luck finding someone else to give it to!”

      2. Quinalla*

        Agreed, this is how I would handle it. Give them the feedback that you didn’t have space or it didn’t fit your diet so you had to toss it. Don’t soft-pedal the feedback.

    4. Not A Manager*

      “My husband and I like to plan our own meals, and frequently we aren’t able to include the food that you send us. I so hate to see it going to waste! I’m going to ask you to please stop bringing us any food because as much as we would like to, we simply can’t eat it.”

      As with the unwanted baby clothes, it’s possible that you will need to literally return the food to them. “I’m so sorry that we can’t use this. I hate to throw it away and I hope that you’ll find someone else to enjoy it.” You shouldn’t have to do that more than twice.

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        This is so good. I really like this approach and could see myself using it.

    5. Old Plant Woman*

      I can get a little exuberant sharing produce. Then I swear I saw a neighbor run out the back door and jump the fence shouting no more broccoli! Can you be more direct but still really nice? Before they really drive you batty and you don’t like them so much? Maybe something like” You are so kind and generous, but no more food. Please. Really. I love you, but don’t bring… Please no cookies. You’re so nice Take this back home and give it to someone else… Thanks anyway. I’ll help you put it in your car. Tell me about…” Maybe that could help?

      1. MassChick*

        This made me laugh (your neighbor getting frantic over unwanted broccoli).

        For OP, I’d try a firm and clear “we are very specific and planned about your food/menu and we hate that your food is going to waste. So thank you but please stop”.
        For the parties , you’ll have to be gracious hosts and just handle it like unwanted alcohol, flowers, etc.

      2. Romeo loves Sadie*

        Mmm, I could really use some fresh broccoli for a couple of recipes I want to try. I wish you were my neighbor!

      3. Elizabeth West*

        Where I used to live, it was endless zucchini. I love zucchini and I’m unable to eat broccoli anymore (intolerant after taking warfarin), so gimme all your squash!

        1. Festively Dressed Earl*

          Same! When I was a little kid, we had to be very careful not to leave our car doors unlocked while we ran an errand. No one was going to steal our crappy car; they’d leave half a dozen zucchini on the front seat.

      4. Courageous cat*

        This is ALWAYS the way to do stuff like this, imo, but you have to be confident in yourself when you do it. If you like the people (and maybe even if you don’t), it’s so much easier to be laughingly, almost comically blunt than it is to very gently and politely tiptoe around an issue.

        With the first one, they’ll think that you probably wouldn’t have been *that* blunt if you truly hated them/were upset/whatever, but with the latter, they might worry that you’re secretly very upset or judging them.

      5. Anon-e-mouse*

        My sister says the only time people in her small town lock their doors is in zucchini season, to prevent unwanted drop offs (because everyone always plants too much zucchini) …

      6. BreakingDishes*

        I thought it was zucchini that sent neighbors running. I stand corrected.

    6. Old Plant Woman*

      I’m sure you would never tell them they’re lousy cooks no matter how often they ask why. you don’t want Lima bean stew.

    7. My Brain is Exploding*

      I think I would call/text/tell them at a time they are NOT bringing food, and say that while you appreciate their thoughtfulness, you and your husband are not going to be able to accept food from them anymore, and to please stop. If pressed, just tell them you are doing some very specific meal planning now and would have to throw it out because you don’t want to waste your own food. And then if they bring something (other than to the dinner party, just put it out and don’t eat it), don’t take it. Tell them, “I can’t take this; we won’t be able to eat it and I don’t want it to go to waste.”

      1. RLC*

        My mom used a similar script fairly successfully with a couple of neighbors many years ago. Their intentions were good, but their kitchens would have violated every sanitation rule imaginable.

    8. Ellis Bell*

      I would definitely start telling them the food got wasted, instead of thanking them; something like “Ah, sadly we couldn’t fit it into our meal plan – we really didn’t have room in our fridge either.” Try one preemptive message of “We really appreciate the thought of the food gifts, but because we don’t need extra food, and prefer to organise our own meals, it’s beginning to feel a bit wasteful and I’d rather just have your company in future.” Be sure to be vague about your meal plan because any info about that may be used to tweak their recipes to your requirements. In the future, spelling out that it didn’t get eaten will do. Sometimes I am glad of my food intolerances!

    9. eeeek*

      I’m curious about whether they have family or cultural norms around this. I’m in a “hot dish for emergencies” midwestern US state: there are also expectations about gifts for hosts (wine and/or flowers and/or chocolate) and the polite offer to bring something or not. This seems related. I wonder if you can turn a conversation to that topic to see if this is some merger of “never greet a host empty-handed” and “we love to cook and it’s what we can bring, so we’ll bring that”…
      We also have a friend who also always brings food when we’re hosting. She was raised to believe that you ALWAYS bring a hostess gift, and her family always brought food. When I asked her about it, she told me about her very large family of very energetic, hungry kids visiting relatives, and her mom always bringing food. Given the number of stories that ended with “it was a good thing mom brought that extra pot of chili,” I had to wonder if her mom suspected their hosts wouldn’t have enough food. Of course, today it makes no sense for her to continue doing that for us, but she does because it’s one of her unbreakable social rules – it’s her family’s hostess gift.
      And we also almost always throw out what she brings – between the randomness of what she brings, bad flavor combinations, and sketchy kitchen hygiene, we’re not going to eat it.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        Idk, I’m from the rural South where we had similar cultural norms, but this is different. I don’t know anybody who just randomly shows up at other people’s houses with food when they’re not hosting anything and aren’t dealing with a crisis like an illness or new baby. I would be really uncomfortable with this if it happened over and over. The fact that they’re not even good cooks is the icing on the cake, so to speak.

    10. JSPA*

      This is apparently a friendly relationship that you want to continue. So being “professionally direct” (or “as direct as you’d be with an acquaintance who you didn’t mind losing as a potential friend) is not the right answer, given that this isn’t a new pattern that you are trying to nip in the bud.

      Luckily that also means that a low level of personal sharing would not be inappropriate. Cue the polite lie.

      examples (you choose whether the more creative ones will be easier to remember, or not worth the confusion):

      “We have some health things that we are figuring out. We’ll let you know if that changes, but for the foreseeable future, please don’t bring any food items.”

      “We’re getting the house ready in case our friend’s kid with a bunch of food sensitivities will be staying with us. We’ll let you know if that changes, but for the foreseeable future, please don’t bring any food items, as we won’t want them coming through the door.”

      ” We find we are eating quite differently these days, as we age. While we appreciate the kind urge that leads you to share your favorite foods, we really can’t use it.”

      To cushion the blow, as bringing food is probably some sort of friendship love language for them, you could specify something that you would still be pleased to receive, or a time of year, or shared food thing? “fresh fruit is still welcome!” “we can still happily take excess garden veggies if you’re swamped by zucchini and cukes in July!” ” “We’re up for sharing a giant bag of basmati rice, though, if that would be fun!”

      If on the other hand they’re sharing the food because they’ve got the food equivalent of a hoarding problem (morally unable to throw it away), especially if they in fact say they just didn’t want it to go to waste, then it probably makes more sense to throw it out for them, as an act of kindness (in that you’re not really in a position to direct them towards, nor pay for the level of counseling that it takes to deal with that sort of issue). I’ve seen it in people where they or their parents suffered from intense food insecurity or food power struggles (poverty, war, witnessing literal starvation around them, food restrictions or anxiety or other disordered behavior in their own parents). Those things are a lot harder to unpack than, “Hey honey, I bet the Johnson’s would love some of your soup.”

      1. Heather*

        I like tbis! And I agree, the advice above to be direct is geared toward coworkers, not friends. So I think a little lie is fine. I also think taking it and throwing it away is fine.

    11. BatManDan*

      Looking at this issue from 50,000′ (and therefore, the following insight is likely to be widely applicable), it’s worth noting that the longer something has gone on / been perceived as acceptable, the longer it will take to extinguish the behavior. The first few times that you “change the rules” or assert a boundary, they are likely to perceive it as a one-off or a temporary situation, rather than “this is the new normal,” or “I’ve been misreading them all along and it was never welcome /acceptable.” The more direct you are, the fewer times you will have to repeat the rejection / boundary, but it’ll take some repetition to sink in.

    12. Jay*

      I don’t know if this is the case with you, but I’ve known a few people over the years that consider this to be a good way to get rid of unwanted, but still edible, food so that it doesn’t go to waste. They find someone who the ‘just know’ can ALWAYS use it, and deliver unto them all their culinary abominations. Sometimes it’s the old folks on fixed incomes, sometimes folks going through hard times, sometimes it’s the busy couple they think doesn’t have time in their lives to cook a real meal for themselves.
      Often, they are right, and it’s a welcome addition to peoples diets. There used to be a very nice older lady in the building I live in who would happily take my extras/mistakes. Often, she would take them down to the various charity organizations or the Senior Center for folks who haven’t had a home cooked meal in a long time. Sometimes she would keep some of the better stuff herself ;)
      Of course, the difference is that I’m an excellent cook and, at the time, had a job that often needed me to deploy deep into the field for weeks at a time on short notice, so that huge pot of really good beef stew that I was planning to eat for the next week needed to go somewhere, and my tiny apartment freezer was already full.
      It can start to be more problematic when what they are dropping by is the food that they don’t want because there is something wrong with it, for instance, one of the ingredients was a little off, or if they weren’t paying attention and messed up the recipie. If it’s just that it’s bland or tough, but otherwise just fine, maybe consider speaking with someone from a local church/charity and see if you can either pass it on to them yourselves, or if you can arrange an introduction to your ‘generous’ friends. They often know of families going through difficult times or seniors on fixed incomes that can’t afford fresh food who would be absolutely THRILLED with a huge Tupperware container full of bland barbeque.
      Hope this helps.

    13. marvin*

      It sounds like this is their way of expressing care for other people. You could try having an open discussion with them where you let them know that you really appreciate everything they do for you, but having extra food in the house has become very stressful and you could use their help simplifying your kitchen life.

      Given how relentless they have been so far, though, I suspect they will find ways of justifying it to themselves. Clearly this is fulfilling some need they have rather than really being about you. Otherwise they would have listened to you earlier. So I would try this approach, but be prepared to get more direct after.

      1. marvin*

        Forgot to add: if these are people you care about and whose friendship you value, I do think it’s worth trying to sort this out directly. Otherwise there is this mismatch in your relationship, where they are constantly imposing on you because it suits them, they’re not listening to you, and you’re likely to get increasingly frustrated.

        If they’re more like acquaintances, then maybe it’s easier to take the path of least resistance and deal with the leftovers. Ultimately it’s a kindness to them and an investment in your relationship to put the work in to fixing this.

    14. ExtraGuacPlease*

      So after reading all the responses, I’m wondering how the fact that they are neighbors affects your options. Life is so much easier when you get along with your neighbors. If you gave them honest direct feedback, wouldn’t that risk them taking it personally and creating a rift that could lead to other problems down the road? To answer your question, we need more info. What’s driving them to do this? Do they think they’re helping you out? If so, you could say what others suggested above to the point that it’s not helpful and here are all the reasons why. Is it really a selfish motive like some people above thought? If so, I think it’s worth weighing whether they will be able to hear your direct feedback productively. If not, it may be better to keep the peace and throw it out if you don’t want to risk straining the relationship.

    15. Kay*

      If you decide not to say anything, and to be clear I think you should (anytime they text you can simply say you didn’t see it in time and had to throw it out), can you start composting with all of their food? Perhaps if you get some new garden soil out of the deal you won’t feel so bad about it.

    16. Are You Sure?*

      In my younger days I hosted food-centric gatherings for a large group of friends. From meat eaters to vegans, diabetics, allergics, and more. My partner and I bought and prepared all the food (BYOB), making sure all the restrictions I knew of could have a full meal. People knew they could ask for the ingredients of each dish and I wouldn’t forget to name the one thing they couldn’t eat and hadn’t thought to mention.
      One couple always brought a small salad and no beverage. This may have been a custom in her home country, it may have been economic. No problem, others were happy to share. I would thank them and put the salad in the refrigerator. Explaining that I had promised people no sugar and obvious ingredients did no good. “There’s only ‘a little’ sugar in the dressing and you can’t even see the meat…”
      My decision was that my integrity, and my friends’ health, was more important than their feelings. I would not put your friends’ bad food out at a dinner party. It’s just teaching them to keep doing it.

    17. Festively Dressed Earl*

      Side note about “how did you like it?” It’s not rude to say “It wasn’t really to our taste. I hated wasting it, but we had to throw it out.” You’re not insulting their cooking, but you are getting the message across that it’s going to waste.

      1. Deanna Troi*

        I would respond “we didn’t get a chance to taste it. It’s unfortunate that it went to waste, but we hadn’t planned on having it.”

  3. Random Dice*

    I’m looking for lesbian romance novels, full of well developed decent characters being kind to each other, with romance and sweetness. More on the romance side than erotica, though I won’t object to hotness.

    The queer version of Get a Life, Chloe Brown (fans self) or the lesbian version of Red Hot and Blue, is kind of what I’m looking for.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      The author of Red, White & Royal Blue wrote a lesbian romance too – One Last Stop which was pitched as a queer Kate & Leopold (a 2001 romcom). I haven’t read it yet so don’t know if it fits the bill. (skip her I Kissed Shara Wheeler which I did not enjoy but also the main characters are mostly enemies who are mean to each other and actually not nice to anyone else either).

      Wrong Number, Right Woman by Jae. <– exactly what you're asking for, I think.
      Perfect Rhythm (#1) and Not the Marrying Kind (#2) by Jae

      Nothing to Lose by Clare Lyndon

      Proper English by K. J. Charles

      Generally I prefer a bit more conflict than you're requesting. My all-time favorite is Edge of Glory, a winter Olympics lesbian romance between an irreverent snowboarder and an ice queen downhill skier. They both are dealing with being top athletes and all the pressure that comes from that, and they eventually help each other overcome their issues by being together and talking.

      1. Tiny clay insects*

        I just read One Last Stop a couple weeks ago and LOVED it! I definitely think it fits what you’re looking for.

      2. Still*

        Thirding One Last Stop! I could have done without the supernatural premise but the characters were lovely and there was a great “finding your found family in a big city” kind of vibe. The side characters were even more lovable than the main couple!

        1. Random Dice*

          I just started One Last Stop. So far so good!

          I also enjoyed Proper English.

          I’ll check out these other books, stat! I really appreciate the advice.

      3. Random Dice*

        Oops sorry my prior response was to you. I put all your recommendations on my list!

      4. UsuallyALurker*

        For an alternate perspective, I loved I Kissed Shara Wheeler but didn’t read One Last Stop because time travel is not a trope I enjoy. So I would say read the descriptions and see what appeals. :)

        1. Person from the Resume*

          But even if you like Shara Wheeler, you’ve got to admit it’s not full of “decent characters being kind to each other, with romance and sweetness” which is what the OP is asking for.

      5. Techno Support*

        I’ve read Proper English and really enjoyed it, so I second the recommendation.

    2. Annie Edison*

      I liked Delilah Green Doesn’t Care and loved the sequel, Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail. Both have a couple very steamy scenes, but if memory serves, you could skip over those parts and still be left with a satisfying read

      1. Random Dice*

        I don’t mind steamy – Get a Life Chloe Brown has the most face meltingly hot sex scene I’ve ever read, but also lovely people who were real and human and fleshed out (and autistic which is personally meaningful), and connecting with each other on multiple real levels.

        I’m just not looking for erotica, which is mostly just about the sex. I want to care about the people before they hook up.

    3. Junior Dev*

      Everything by Shira Glassman is very sweet, most of her work is romance between 2 female characters. I really like her Mangoverse series which is fantasy but she also has plenty of non-fantasy work.

    4. Mid*

      This is on the historical fiction side, but I liked A Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics. There’s definitely plot, but it’s on the steamier side as well.

    5. Izquierda*

      In addition to the great recs above, check out books by Meryl Wilsner, Alexandria Bellefleur, ”Season of Love” by Helena Greer, and “The Holiday Trap” by Roan Parrish!

      1. Random Dice*

        Oh and I just saw that “Fiancee Farce” is by Alexandria Bellefleur. It’s cute!

    6. Some like it warm*

      I haven’t read it yet but Margot Zimmerman Gets the Girl! It’s a queer YA romance that comes highly recommended through Autostraddle.

      1. Laura Petrie*

        What sort of age range would you say it’s for?

        I’d like to get some books for my 11 year old queer niece. She’s not the strongest reader so something aimed at mid-teens probably wouldn’t be suitable for her.

        1. Some like it warm*

          It sounds more suited for high school than elementary/middle school. Also noting that there is an autistic lead (and author), since Random Dice said that’s of interest!

    7. Anonymous Educator*

      I highly recommend Malinda Lo’s The Last Night at the Telegraph Club and also recommend its sort-of-sequel (same universe, different characters, different time period) A Scatter of Light.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I do highly, highly recommend Last Night at the Telegraph Club, but it has 1950s era homophobia and racism. It’s more drama and not romance and sweetness. Read it, but don’t go in expecting romance and lightness.

        I found A Scatter of Light way more YA, in this case a high school grad lusting after a slighter older butch coming to terms with her queerness, but the butch in actually in a relationship so again it’s not what the OP is asking for in terms of “decent characters being kind to each other, with romance and sweetness.”

    8. GoryDetails*

      Not quite in the same ballpark, but if you might enjoy some SF:

      Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi, featuring a protagonist who’s a gay woman of color coping with a degenerative disease and a failing economy – OK, that sounds really depressing, but it gets better. The spiky-but-likable heroine (who’s a “ship surgeon”, a high-end engineer with a near-psychic connection to the ships she works on) stows away on a ship in hopes of getting a chance to become part of the crew, only to find that (a) they seem to be pirates and (b) she feels a distinct attraction to the woman in charge.

    9. romance*

      You might like Ashley Poston, who writes about friendship and love with lots of queer characters. I just started The Dead Romantics and I’m loving it. Heart of iron and soul of stars are gorgeous but sci-fi, just so you know

    10. FashionablyEvil*

      Putting in a plug for Smart Bitches Trashy Books—great blog and comments section about all things romance. One of their regular bloggers (I think Tara) is into all things les fic.

      Would also recommend Olivia Waite’s Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics, Think of England by KJ Charles, and Freya Marske’s most recent book (though it’s second in a series and I would read them in order) if you like historicals.

    11. annyjennywaynest*

      I have really enjoyed the Regency romance Alpennia books by Heather Rose Jones. Daughter of Mystery is the first one. Great world building, characters well developed, romance but really no on-page stuff. For 1940s, although not without troubles of its time, I liked Passing Strange by Ellen Klages. Also historical (Civil War-ish), Two Wings to Fly Away by Penny Mickelbury. And seconding Lo’s Last Night at the Telegraph Club.

    12. Romance!*

      My girlfriend and I both really loved For Her Consideration by Amy Spalding – strong recommend.

    13. curly sue*

      Try ‘I Kissed a Girl’ by Jennet Alexander – it’s fade to black, so no erotica, and in that New Adult zone. (Lesbian makeup artist and bisexual scream queen fall in love on a movie set.)

    14. The Wizard Rincewind*

      Rachel Lacey’s “Don’t Cry for Me” is sweet and features tiny kittens!!

      1. Mid*

        Oooh yes! That book is absolutely sweet. Technically none of the characters are human but they’re well developed and kind.

    1. Anona*

      The DC area is large – my rec for Zinnia in Silver Spring is not going to serve someone well in Arlington. Is there a specific neighborhood you’re looking for?

    2. CityMouse*

      That’s a hard question because there’s so many options.

      DC proper or DMV? Standalone brewery or brewpubs? What kinds of beer? Metro accessible?

      My favorite DMV brewery that you can buy in the grocery store is Port City in Alexandria. But that’s a place that might have a food truck outside but doesn’t serve food (at least not the last time I was there).

      For brewpubs, there’s Right Proper and Denizens (Silver Spring).

      Coffee, for me is too neighborhood dependent. I’ve always wanted to try the day coffee shop in Pineapple and Pearls just so I can say I’ve tried two Michelin star coffee.

    3. Janet Pinkerton*

      Okay my favorite roaster is Nagadi in Silver Spring which is only open weekend mornings. My favorite MD suburb weekday coffee shop is Lost Sock Roasters in Takoma. My favorite DC coffee shop is Sweet Science in NoMa. My favorite DC coffee shop in Federal Triangle is Timgad. My favorite Ethiopian-focused coffee shop is Sidamo on H St NE. Qualia just north of Dave Thomas Circle, Creative Grounds in Eckington, and Grace Street Roasters which apparently is still in Georgetown but is moving locations.

    4. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Coffee shops:
      Killer ESP in Old Town Alexandria

      Cidery: Lost Boy Cider (they often have food trucks, or you can have food delivered or even bring your own crock pot)

      1. CityMouse*

        Killer ESP has been gone for a while. Unfortunately the owner was a COVID denier and sexually harassed female employees. There is a replacement with a similar name but it’s not the same.

  4. Falling Diphthong*

    Mrs. Maisel thoughts as it draws to a close?

    Loved: The Susie-focused episode; That Susie never learned to play golf; Knowing what happens to the kids and overall the flashforwards as a storytelling technique; Midge’s dress for Zelda’s wedding

    Did not love: Abe and Rose are not allowed any dignity; Apparently Joel carried around a letter so that if he was arrested while standing next to Midge he could hand it to her and at last she would know that he and Susie both knew about the mob stuff and both decided not to tell her but Joel has been committing lots of crimes to protect her pristineness from the mob? I find this infantilizing and enraging; painful parallels to what Midge is doing to Rose in the 70s.

    I wonder if rewatching in a few years, knowing where things go, I’d see it more as the story of the friendship of Midge and Susie and how each became wildly successful. While each showing very little personal growth to match the professional growth.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I was just about to post about it too!

      I’m seeing a lot of fan reactions about the episode last week and how it’s the show’s Emmy contender and I felt like it was … just okay? Better than a lot of this season but not really the best of the show overall. Susie is both the funniest and the most heart-wrenching character and I just didn’t get that from the testi-roastial like I would’ve wanted (compared to the very short scene with Hedy a few weeks ago, for example. When Susie wants to cry I want to cry too.)

      I’ve never been a Joel fan and I agree with you about the mob storyline. I feel like that whole situation is too dark for the previous world-building of the show and I wish they’d found a different way for Midge and Susie to have their falling-out that involves less Joel and doesn’t take away from Susie’s character so much.

      I feel like the show is picking up a lot of stories and dropping them right away. I like the way the time hops have come together so far, though, so I’m trying not to be grumpy about it yet. It cracked me up in last week’s episode when someone was like “I know what happened!” and then went to the bathroom, leaving the characters and us hanging.

      Hank Azaria was a great guest star! I wish Midge had taken his offer. Generally I’ve been enjoying the time hops but I miss the more linear storylines (getting gigs! touring with Shy!) and I feel like a short sitcom arc could’ve been fun earlier in the season. Especially if we could’ve had that instead of the trash musical lol.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I feel like there’s a way to do the mob storyline where it swings in a compelling way between deceivingly lighthearted fun and whoa, it’s the mob, this is dangerous, and the show hasn’t hit that rhythm at all.

        Storylines I really liked:
        • Midge at B Altman, figuring out how to be a responsible adult who has to think about money. The personal growth side of her arc really pulled me into the first season only to get abandoned later.
        • Joel has a chance to become a comedian after Moishe tells him he’ll support this choice. And Joel realizes he doesn’t have the chops or passion for that, and has to figure out what to do now that all the obstacles to his “dream” have tidily removed themselves. I feel like that’s a dilemma we don’t often see portrayed in fiction.
        • Susie disguises herself as a “plumber” via a plunger at the summer camp. Escalating ridiculousness that paid off.
        • Rose moves to Paris. The character was very one note in Season 1, and this added so much more dimension to her. I loved that only Zelda noticed, that Rose landed in a tiny walkup and was glowingly happy, that there was this whole sense of deciding to open up a new chapter in one’s life by taking a plunge. I wanted the show to go bold and leave Rose and Abe happily carving out a new life in Paris, and feel every storyline after this one has instead robbed them of dignity.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          100% with all of this!

          I was thinking about it the other day and I wish the “we own you” conversation had matched the vibe of the first time Susie met them when it was like, okay, they’re supposed to kill her but you never really worry that they will. Then we could’ve had a scenario where Susie tells Midge they’re no longer involved, continues putting Midge in crappy obligation jobs, and the falling out is Midge realizing Susie’s been lying to her and her whole career will be affected rather than Joel going to jail. Makes Susie more redeemable, keeps Frankie and Nicky funnier, and avoids the ickiness of Joel “saving” Midge.

          Rose and Abe should’ve moved back to Paris when he lost his job. I feel like that’s the really obvious and in-character move for them but it would’ve taken them away from the core storyline (and we’d probably lose Zelda altogether?) so I get why it didn’t happen. The show hasn’t known what to do with them since, which is so disappointing! Especially because I’ve always felt like the way Gilmore Girls handled Lorelai’s parents was so compelling, giving an older couple interesting stories and character development outside of their relationship with their kid/grandkid.

        2. Roy G. Biv*

          I keep thinking Rose has that family money she said she no longer wanted any part of, but at some point it will come back into play. It comes from business investments from her family, so maybe they’re just banking it for her for now.
          And re: episode 7, I was aggravated that she tipped her hand to Gordon about the Parr showcase. Now she’s going to have to slink back with her tail between her legs. Probably.

  5. Jazz and Manhattans*

    I’m looking for recommendations for Switzerland! Sweetie and I are going soon and will be travelling by rail throughout Switzerland. We will visit: Geneva, Visp, Zermatt, Bellizona, Zurich then Vienna. While we will be staying in those towns we have a rail pass where we can see other places. Any recommendations for restaurants, sights? I love jazz and would like some choices on clubs as well. TIA!

    1. Tiny clay insects*

      When I was in Geneva, I loved crossing the border to France on foot, and then riding the gondola up to Mont Saleve. It was fun and inexpensive and easy.

    2. StellaBella*

      Check out the website MySwitzerland dot com for ideas. If you want a nice view over Geneva climb the Cathedral to the top, or do the Saleve as noted too for an even bigger view of the area. Old Town walking thru Geneva is nice, and Les Armures is a nice restaurant in old town by the cannons and a cool set of mosaics on the walls. See the Reformers Wall in parc Bastions. Try chocolates from Rohr, the tiny poubelles chocolates are awesome. Also the Geneva pave (cube truffles like paver stones) chocolates are nice. In Zurich also old town and Sprungli chocolates. Bellinzona do all three castles and enjoy gelato. Visp go up into the Valais for a walk. Also you can find lots of locally made food in each place and check out local cheeses and such.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      From Zurich we took the ferry over to Rapperswil, the city of roses. Really lovely and there were in fact roses everywhere.

      Also did a lot of cathedral climbing in Zurich, and in general touring the old parts of the city was really cool.

      I recall in Geneva (or possibly Zurich?) taking a chairlift up to a spot with a good view, hiking around the ridgeline (so relatively level) and taking another chairlift down. This is probably an option at many points; squint at your map for the straight lines of funiculars.

    4. heyitsteatime*

      Zurich: Jules Verne Panoramabar for drinks with views over the old town

      Zermatt: Schäferstube restaurant for cozy sheepy atmosphere and Raclette; ride the funicular/gondolas/lifts up the mountain for mountain views and to go inside the glacier

      If your rail pass allows, make reservations to ride on Glacier Express to/from Zermatt!

    5. TravelTips*

      If you love jazz, you should go to Basel. They have a long history of music teaching at the academy. There’s a jazz festival and from a quick Google, a ‘Jazz Campus’ with lots of events.

      Nietzsche taught in Basel, and Herman Hesse started writing there, so lots of arty/academicky history. Another fun thing is in the summer, people jump in the river with their stuff in waterproof bags, float through the city, and get out and have lunch. And there used to be a community-built wooden structure theatre/bar in an off-grid community by the river, which was okayed by the council (this would never happen where I’m from so I was pretty excited!) I was there quite some time ago now (around 7 years ago, so not sure if it’s still there).

      Ok I miss Basel now!

      1. amoeba*

        If it’s the Klybeck area, it still is! And would second Basel. Swimming in the Rhine is great, also the little popup bars at the riverside for drinks etc. It’s in general quite laid back and relaxed for Switzerland, I’d say! Also, great museums, it’s quite the art hub. (In case Art Basel happens to be during your stay, would definitely recommend…)

        If you do decide to take a trip there (it’s about 1 h from Zurich by train), happy to give more recommendations!

        For Zurich: had the best meal of my life at F39. For coffee, would recommend Bros, Beats and Beans (but there are many nice places). In general, Kreis 4 and 5 have loads of nice restaurants and bars (Vier Tiere Bar in Kreis 4 if you like Gin at all, they have like 300 different kinds). For a nice stroll, take the train up to Uetliberg and have a walk there, more a hill than a mountain but great view of Zurich and the mountains/lake.

        Other towns worth visiting: Luzern (and the lake there in general), Bern (both easily reachable from Zurich), Lausanne (close to Geneva), but also Montreux and honestly, the whole coast of Lac Leman (Lake Geneva). Chateau de Chillon is a nice castle on the waterside in Montreux.

        Also, do you hike at all? Would definitely recommend going into the alps (e.g., Interlaken area, Grindelwald…), at least to take a gondola up and/or do an easy little (or bigger, obviously, if you wish) hike. You can really be in the middle of the mountains within 1 or two hours by train, including the gondola ride, and the views are indeed amazing. Trails are very well maintained, so if you have proper shoes and the weather is alright, as long as you stick to the route, there shouldn’t be any trouble!

    6. Bulu Babi*

      In Zurich, check out club Moods, they often have interesting music gigs. Some of my favourite restaurants in Zurich are Dapur (amazing Indonesian food) and Marktküche (high end 7-dish meals, you’ll stay there all night).

      Backing Basel and Luzern as nearby cities to visit.

  6. Loopy*

    Looking to find casual new clothes on a budget and I need them for an upcoming trip so online shopping isn’t an option. I’m looking for chains with really good prices that aren’t Walmart. The only one I can think of is TJ Maxx. I’m in SE United States and need to shop this weekend so unfortunately I don’t have time to wait for sales or figure out which stores are running special sales.

    Any go to spots where you can get pants/jeans for around 20 bucks or less (to give a sense of my idea price point)? I never shop so I’m really at a loss. I have a pretty low tolerance for shopping so sometimes when I go to those big outlet places with many smaller stores I am over exhausted after store two and leave without anything. A large store with many options is ideal.

    1. Yay for Friday!*

      Honestly, I like to shop at Goodwill. The prices are much cheaper than new prices and mine has a lot of variety from a lot of different stores. I often find clothes that are basically brand new.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Seconding Goodwill. Jeans at my Goodwill were $7.50 a pair last time I shopped (a few years ago).

      1. Blue wall*

        Kohls is a great idea! I have been very successful lately at TJ Maxx and their sister store Marshall’s as well. I’d stick with these options and if you are unsuccessful maybe Steinmart or Nordstrom Rack.

      2. Person from the Resume*

        The nearest Kohl’s is a bit of a trek for me, but I go there every time I’m clothes shopping for casual (non-athletic) wear which is 2-3 times a year and usually can find what I’m looking for.

        I’d also suggest Target. They have cute stuff.

    2. Jessica*

      Old Navy – get a few pairs of their linen pants and some fitted shirts or even button downs.

    3. Just here for the scripts*

      With mom’s day on Sunday there’s bound to be sales at all of the stores already listed—big fan of Kohl’s, H&M, Old Navy, Macy’s, and Ann Taylor Loft.

    4. RLC*

      Nordstrom Rack has been my go-to for jeans for years, and if you’re a member Costco often has good prices on name brand casual clothing including jeans.

    5. The Dude Abides*

      Burlington is my go-to. Selection can be hit or miss depending on size, but even their normal-priced stuff is reasonable. The clearance rack can have some downright steals – I’ve snagged pro team shirts/jackets for under $10

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Ooh there’s one in the shopping center where I get groceries. I have this same problem but for warmer weather office-friendly clothes.

        1. The Dude Abides*

          They have a lot of options for office-friendly stuff.

          If the pickings seem slim, ask one of the floor associates what days the trucks come in, then plan to shop those nights or the next day – having worked in receiving, stuff usually hits the floors within a day of coming in.

          Source – I worked in receiving for a year before finding a FT office job, and worked 1-2 nights a month for another two years to keep my employee discount.

    6. JSPA*

      target. If you have some heft (as I do), torrid’s sales rack might be worth a lookb sales rack might drop into your price point, and at my local store they often have stuff on the small end of their range (large end of other stores’ range) on the sales rack. (Maybe people who are in the “in between” sizes prefer to think of themselves as smaller???).

    7. PhyllisB*

      I love Catos. They also have shoes and jewelry if you want to accessorize. They have regular and plus size clothing.

    8. PhyllisB*

      If you are in the South, you are probably near a Belks. They have great sales and usually have coupons that give a further discount. I went a couple of weeks ago and got two shirts and two pairs of capris for less than $100.00.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Another vote for Belk. Things are always on sale at Belk, they have a wide variety of sizes, and their Crown and Ivy line is very good.

    9. carcinization*

      I remember H&M being fairly cheap, and finding casual clothing that I liked there, but haven’t been since pre-pandemic.

    10. Cat's Paw for Cats*

      If Belks is in your area, they often have good sales. I’ve bought jeans for as little as $8 and often for under $20.

    11. mreasy*

      Secondhand is the best bet when you’re on a budget as you can get lower prices on higher quality / longer lasting items.

    12. Loopy*

      Thank you to everyone! I started with Ross and Marshalls but didn’t have much luck, and found out too late (after I had an arm full of clothing) that our Marshalls has no dressing rooms available due to low staffing. That also meant a very very very long wait in line.

      I didn’t realize how out of sync I had become with current styles (I hate high waited jeans!!! And paying for clothing with rips)

      I managed two hard won pairs of pants and don’t think I’ll be going back to those options since it took a lot of time to sift through the clothing. So I’m very grateful for the other options here I can explore.

      I do have a Belk but always thought they were just a little pricier (closer to Macy’s?) And am definitely curious about Burlington. I also may try the Kohl’s.

      1. Squeakrad*

        I buy almost all my clothes at Old Navy. I am also a larger size and they have much more selection in larger sizes online and they do in any of our local stores. I pick a bunch of stuff which usually not cheap great discounts and if I’m not sure about the sizing, I read the reviews and use their “true size“ option. I rarely have to send anything back anymore as I’m used to have the clothes fit me. And they really do last forever if you choose wisely! I have a few dresses, tops, and pants that I’ve had for several years with no obvious wear and tear.

    13. amoeba*

      I’m in Europe so don’t know most of the chains mentioned here, but for me H&M almost always works! Even when I’m not so restricted by budget, I still end up shopping there a lot of the time because I like the choices they tend to have. The price range should be alright for you (although they do have slightly more expensive things as well, but then there’s also always sale and basics are cheap, anyway).

  7. Grits McGee*

    I have a very specific clothing search question- does anyone know of clothing brands that consistently offer dresses/skirts with
    1) woven, not knit, fabric in natural fibers
    2) 50s/a-line silhouettes with fitted waists and looser hips-to-legs… areas
    3) everyday looks (ie, not super formal or poofy-sleeved dresses that look like they’re designed for elven princesses)

    I know eShakti is probably the most straightforward answer, but I just haven’t been very happy with the fit of the clothes I’ve gotten from them in the past… so I guess a second question would be eShakti success tips?

    1. Alex*

      I have gotten what you describe, at various times, at Banana Republic and Ann Taylor Loft (Outlet usually), but I wouldn’t say you can count on them having something like that at any given time. A little while back the “fit and flare” look was in but it is less common now.

      Did you do eShakti custom or standard sizing? I’ve always had good experiences with their custom work. Did you put in all eleventy-million measurements in? Maybe double check that they are right?

      1. Grits McGee*

        Thanks Alex- yes, I did the custom option with all of the measurements. The princess seams at the bust just fit in a really unflattering way and the skirt hung at an awkward length. The cotton jersey also looked much thinner and cheaper in person than it did in the website photos. This was 5 years ago when there were no returns for the customer/altered garments, so I ended up wearing it once and then putting it in the donation pile.

        1. Firefly*

          Big suggest on paying a tailor to do your measurements for eShakti. I needed a vintage-style black dress to be a bridesmaid a few years ago and so I’d had my measurements taken at a bridal salon for a small fee and the dress fit well.

    2. pb*

      I’m not sure about the knit vs woven criteria, but for the others I really like Pact. I have four of their fit and flair dresses in different patterns.

      1. Taki*

        That is so funny, because my boyfriend ordered some stuff from Pact and by accident, they sent him 4 of the same model of fit and flair dresses in different patterns and they look great! I hope I didn’t get your package instead. :P

    3. Blythe*

      I LOVE Son de Flor for this!! Their dresses are pricey but gorgeous. They are my work uniform.

      1. Loreli*

        Lots of Lands End stuff is knit. Their sizing is inconsistent and tends to run too big (or “too much ease”). I find many of their styles to be dowdy.

    4. California Dreamin’*

      EShakti does have the largest selection of fit and flare dresses. You absolutely need to do the custom measurements. Even then, not every dress will look great, but hopefully you’d have better luck.

    5. Yorkshire Tea Lady*

      Lady V Vintage do the fifties silhouette in natural fibres (or 97% cotton/3% elastane to be accurate)

    6. PhyllisB*

      I have a friend who gets really cute dresses at Modcloth. (not sure if that’s one word or two.)
      Coldwater Creek does have some lovely things, but they’re a bit pricey. On the other hand, their stuff is really good quality. I have things from them I’ve been wearing for years.

      1. OyHiOh*

        I would suggest ModCloth as well. I find their prints a bit too cutesy for my tastes but they’re well made and tend to favor woven rather than knit.

    7. BlueCactus*

      I have a couple of dresses and a pair of pants from Emily and Fin that are similar to that description! They’re pricey but very well made.

    8. Random Dice*

      Unique Vintage is high quality stuff. I’ve loved everything I got. A bit higher price point than eShakti but not crazy so.

      For eShakti, I use standard sizing – but if you had fit issues, I’d recommend you input all of your measurements manually.

    9. ExtraGuacPlease*

      Etsy sellers in Lithuania. High quality, reasonable prices, custom sizing and design tweaks. The linen I believe is also produced in their country. The only potential downside is color selection tends to lean cool so warm undertones are more limited. OffOn, notperfectlinen, etc.

    10. Ranon*

      J Crew does a lot of woven cotton with cotton lined stuff in pretty classic shapes

    11. Ron McDon*

      Not sure if you’re in the US (I guess you might be), but if in the UK, Joe Browns do loads of the sort of dress you describe. Their prints are gorgeous and the fit works well for someone like me (small waist, big hips).

      The sizing and fabric quality can be very inconsistent, though.

    12. Pumpkinhead*

      Darn Good Yarn sells dresses and wrap skirts in a wide size range and variety of prints, all made with reclaimed saris (materials vary from silk to silk blend), if that seems like it’s what you’re looking for. They have an F-book group as well that you can join to see some of the types of items available and how people style them.

  8. Business Narwhal*

    Anyone else into paper making? I’m looking for new techniques/this to do with the paper.

    1. AbracaDebra*

      We made paper once many, many years ago. I dream of successfully making paper sprinkled with dried flower petals. Swoonworthy! My daughter makes the most beautiful journals using a variety of bookbinding techniques. Paper made by hand would make gorgeous journal covers!

  9. Lizy*

    OTC hearing aids – what’s the best company? I got the Lexie ones and especially over the last few weeks am getting more and more annoyed with the company. Would love feedback from others before going with another company!

    1. Rick Tq*

      If you are in the US with a Costco membership their hearing aids are top notch and a LOT cheaper than going to an audiologist… Hearing tests are free, if you are good with OTC they will probably tell you. I looked at units via an audiologist and was surprised by the quoted price, the Costco units I purchased were 70% less. These aren’t junk devices either, Costco does bulk purchases of older models to sell under the Kirkland brand.

  10. Houston Bound*

    I will be spending what I expect will be 3 to 4 not-real-pleasant weeks living out of a hotel room with a kitchenette near the Houston Medical Center, starting mid-June. I’ve never been to Houston and don’t know anything about it. Any tips about Houston, especially cheerful things, gratefully welcomed.

    1. Bluebell*

      Hermann Park is very near the Medical Center, and is pleasant to walk through, with a zoo and botanical garden. It also has a good outdoor theater called Miller Theater, with varied free programming. The Museum district is also nearby and Houston’s MFA is pretty impressive. It’s also a nice neighborhood to walk through. Medical area isn’t too far from Downtown, and places I’d visit there are Tranquility Park and Market Square. On the east side of downtown, Discovery Park is a fun area. Houston now has a lot of great ethnic food – there’s an Anthony Bourdain episode on Houston that’s fun to watch. Houston is very hot and humid, so plan your outdoor time accordingly.

      1. MaxKitty*

        Hermann Park is undergoing a large construction project on the side nearest the medical complex, so it is better to take the tram than to try to walk (you have to walk quite a ways to bypass the project).

        1. KatEnigma*

          My son thinks the tram is the best part of the area, so this isn’t a hardship, BTW. :)

    2. RagingADHD*

      There are air-conditioned tunnels under the downtown area, with a lot of shops and restaurants. I don’t remember the name of the dumpling-and-boba place we found, but I ate there pretty much every day for a week last summer. Very refreshing to get out of the heat.

    3. anxiousGrad*

      I second everything Bluebell recommended! The Texas Medical Center is also right on the light rail line that goes to Midtown and Downtown, so you can get to stuff there easily. Besides Hermann Park, some nice places to walk around are Rice campus (also right next to the med center) and Montrose (the neighborhood on the other side of Rice). Lots of beautiful live oaks on Rice’s campus and lining the streets of Montrose. I would also recommend checking out Agora Cafe in Montrose – it has a really neat atmosphere. Houston also has a lot of really good ice cream places: Cloud 10 Creamery, milk + sugar, Tiny’s Milk and Cookies (also make sure to get a chocolate chip cookie there). The Menil Collection is also an excellent free art museum with a lot of antiquities and modern art, including a lot of surrealist art. If you like southern food, The Breakfast Klub has the best biscuits I’ve ever had. If you like barbecue, The Pit Room is really good (pro tip: call ahead and order your food to go so you can avoid the long line). Best of luck with your trip!

    4. Invisible fish*

      Will you have a car and/or access to one through, say, Uber? If so, I will be able to provide some suggestions for things you can get to that way.

        1. Texan In Exile*

          Would it be possible not to rent the car and walk and use the light rail? You are within walking (I consider two miles to be walking distance) of Rice Village, with lots of restaurants. And the Rice campus has a coffeehouse and cafe, although I don’t know if they will be open now that the semester is over.

          You are also by the light rail, which would take you downtown, which also has a lot of options, as others have already described.

          As much as I hate Lyft and Uber, this might be the case where that would be how you get to other places. (Plus driving in Houston can be a nightmare.)

          And I confirm what others say about walking around the Rice campus. It’s beautiful and I’m not biased just because I went there. :)

        2. KatEnigma*

          And Houston traffic is crazy too. This from someone who spent 12 years in Silicon Valley…

          Honestly, I’d use Uber.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I second that it’s easier to get around Houston by Uber than car–less stress, and usually also comes out to less money than renting a car and paying for parking.

            1. KatEnigma*

              I mean, we live NW Houston and even though my inlaws live in SE Houston, we avoid the worst of the traffic unless we have to go downtown, as we never get any closer than the Sam Houston if we have choice.

        3. KuddelDaddeldu*

          Consider going to NASA. Not too much of a drive and definitely worth it.
          If you are into tech, the natural history museum has an energy floor that’s worth seeing, and a great butterfly garden.
          I also enjoyed driving to Galveston, nice place (and a museum drilling rig).

          1. KatEnigma*

            If LW goes to Galveston, LW should be warned to go on a Weekday for the least amount of traffic on I-45, particularly through the construction and on the bridge.

            Even during Spring Break, traffic was way better on Tuesday and Friday than even a January weekend day.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      1) In this part of Houston the hotels are all near the medical center and the food over in Rice Village, on the other side of the Rice campus. This is confusing. But a quite reasonable walk, and it’s easy to lyft as well.

      2) If you like tacos, Torchy’s Tacos is fabulous and I could easily eat every meal there.

      3) Also had great casual meals at Local Foods, a farm to table restaurant. I know on these sorts of trips I’m often looking for a healthy option with some vegetables.

      4) You are right by Hermann Park, which has the Houston Zoo, Museum of Natural History, and Museum of Fine Arts. All of these are cool and worth a visit. I especially recommend the sculpture garden at the Fine Arts and the trilobytes at the Natural History. (Their hall of life really captures the time scale of life on Earth, with dinosaurs toward the end.) Also the park is great for walking around on its own.

    6. Invisible fish*

      But I can still have suggestions for the immediate area you’ll be in:
      * ZOO: go online and look up each day’s “events” – there are keeper talks and animal visitations that vary every day. I’ve been able to hand feed giraffes and pet armadillos and see baby snow leopards being fed goat milk! Keep in mind that in June, Houston will be hot as hell. Also, there’s a little man made … lake? Pond? Right next to the zoo where you can feed nutria. They come right up to you and look expectantly. (Yes, they’re still wild, but they know humans as a source of food so are chill if you’re chill.). If you haven’t seen nutria, they have hands for grabbing like a raccoon, webbed back feet for swimming, buck teeth because they’re rodents … adorable in their own way, and super adorable when eating the fruit you share.
      * Houston Museum of Natural Science- look them up online to see what exhibits and IMAX films are open when you’ll be there, then make your choice. (Beware: they run summer camps for kids, so at random times, 20 eight year olds may surround you.) Once you have your ticket for the thing you wanted to see, you can go into all the permanent exhibits for free. The gem hall is amazing. The Egyptian hall – good grief, you can spend hours in there. The IMAX films are phenomenally well done. They often have lectures at night, so keep your eyes peeled for that. (Why, yes, I did use to teach at those summer camps!)
      * HOUSTON MUSEUM OF FINE ART- it’s huge. It’s actually two giant campuses now, connected by an under ground tunnel. I can’t even begin to tell you where to start, except their permanent exhibit of Asian art is spectacular. See what things will be there when you’ll be in town – they have movie and lecture series, drop in book clubs where you read book x and then docents take you on a guided tour of exhibit y and you discuss how they connect.
      * MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART – right next to museum of fine arts- constantly changing exhibits.

    7. Invisible fish*

      From the medical center area, you can branch out to hit Kirby, which is a major route for fun things – someone already mentioned Rice Village, which is outdoor shopping close to Rice University.

      If you’re on Kirby, hit up House of Pie – it’s good diner food, but the focus is on PIE!! There is Dessert Gallery just a few blocks further down – so much fun and amazing dessert. Anonymous Cafe is close – you’ll need to look up the hours, and the menu changes based on what the owner feels like cooking.

      There’s the Rice Farmer’s Market- look up their hours – small but high quality.

      Look up Pasha on the edge of Rice Village on University Blvd. – Turkish food that will knock you out.

    8. RussianInTexas*

      If you will have access to the light rail: Discovery Green park in Downtown. Check out the Phoenicia Specialty food store next door. It has a cafe and a bar, but the store itself is absolutely fabulous (mostly Middle Eastern and Eastern European food). You can grab some lunch there too, and some food for later, since you will have a kitchenette. Street parking is free after 6pm in Downtown.
      Post Food Hall in Downtown is also great, if you want to sample various ethnic food, which Houston is great for.
      Memorial Park will require a drive or an Uber, but it’s great for walking. Houston Arboretum, that is attached to the Memorial Park is a very manageable size and is great.
      Miller Outdoor Theater in the Hermann Park is great, it’s cheap or free depending on the performance and the seating. Check them out! You can bring a blanket and some food and watch from the grass.
      Since you will have a kitchenette, check out your nearest HEB grocery store.
      And last, but not least: it’s will be HOT and humid. Seriously hot, so watch out for that. Sunscreen is an absolute must. Mosquito spray, sunglasses, hat for walking are too. But it could be freezing inside buildings, so grab a light cardigan.
      And watch the weather forecast for rain. When there is a flood watch or thunderstorm watch, take them seriously, these aren’t joke around here.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        Lucille’s is an amazing upscale but cozy place for Southern food. Needs a reservation.
        A bit farther out, across I-69 is Backstreet Cafe that has a lively brunch (recommended reservations too).
        Common Bond Bistro and Bakery is in the TCM, and good food.
        Museum District food that is less formal: Barnaby’s, Black Walnut Cafe, Fadi’s Mediterranean, and a mass of Vietnamese noodle houses.

    9. OtterB*

      If you would like a day trip to the beach, you could go to Galveston or to Freeport. Or you could make a loop: you can drive from Freeport to Galveston along the barrier island. Likely to be heavy traffic on the weekend but better on weekdays.

      Also, Murder By The Book is a nice independent bookstore not far from the Medical Center.

      1. anxiousGrad*

        I LOVE Murder by the Book. I moved away from Houston a year ago and this bookstore may be what I miss most! Brazos Bookstore across the street is also a really good independent bookstore.

    10. 00ff00Claire*

      It’s been 20 years since I lived in Houston, so some things may have changed, but I never had a bad restaurant meal in the entire time I lived there. There is so much variety and it’s so good! My two favorite places were Fadi’s Mediterranean and Lupe Tortilla. A google search says they are still around, with new locations close to the Medical Center. There is also a grocery store called Central Market, which is similar to Whole Foods, but I remember them having more grab-and-go options. Might be convenient for meals since you have the kitchenette.

      As far a cheerful things, the two most unique places I ever went in Houston are the Orange Show and the Art Car Museum. I can’t say I’ve ever been anywhere else like them – they are both unique installations of outsider art. Now there is a park next to the Orange Show that is open free to the public, Smither Park.

      I will also note that Houston is hot and very humid in the summer. I’m from North Carolina, so I can handle some heat, but Houston humidity is on another level. And I’m another vote for how pretty the Rice area is, especially compared to the rest of the city. That area actually has trees :)

    11. Invisible fish*

      I’ve been thinking about how some folks have noted that x or y is walking distance from the medical center – and while that’s technically true, it comes with a lot of caveats. The heat is literally dangerous in the summer here – the humidity basically prevents your body from cooling as well as it could, and the sun will fry your skin in a very short period of time. After walking somewhere, you might find yourself sweaty enough that it’s hard to enjoy what you’ve gone to do. Use the light rail and Ubers; really pay attention to the heat index; never plan to walk anywhere without sunblock, a hat, sunglasses, and a bottle of water.

      Then reward yourself for being a safe planner by going to Niko Niko’s for amazing Greek food!! Get tickets for the ballet and/or opera, which is downtown and somewhere you should be able to get to on the light rail!

      And don’t forget: while you may not “know” me or other folks in the area, you’ve got a passel of folks ready to give you ideas and tips to try to help things be more pleasant while you’re here!

    12. Invisible fish*

      Do you like historic homes? Bayou Bend/Rienzi should be in your list. Galveston has several historic homes, like the Bishop’s Palace, that are worth the trip. Once you’re on the island, if you like seafood, go to Gaidos.

      This will sound silly, but you can definitely spend a day at the Galleria. Not to purchase stuff – to people watch while eating pretzels and such! I only do that about once a year, but it’s fun to get treats that are trendy, look at the ridiculously priced items in store windows, go ice skating if you feel up up it. Very low pressure way to spend the day.

      In case you couldn’t guess, I’m a teacher with two weeks of school left, and my brain is fixated on things I can do during the summer.

    13. A person in retail*

      This is late, hope you’ll still see it – there is so much amazing food in Houston. If you like eating out you could eat somewhere different every night for 4 weeks. I once determined that there were like five Thai restaurants within a couple of miles of you. It’s been a while so I don’t know what’s still there, but when I was there Morningside Thai and Nit Noi Thai were both great. Goode Company barbecue on Kirby. Several great Tex Mex and Mexican places. Yildizlar on Richmond was my favorite Mediterranean nearby. Khyber something for Indian, I think that was at Richmond & Kirby. Really any kind of food you would want you can find in Houston. I also agree with everything already said – Rice is beautiful, the Museum District is great if you like that sort of thing, and the heat and humidity are horrid so be careful if you’re not used to that.

      Oh, and if you want to cook sometimes, there’s a Whole Foods not too far, and HEB Central Market a little farther, plus the usual Kroger, Target, etc. Fiesta is also an awesome grocery store to check out, if it hasn’t changed. It’s a bit farther though. I could go on all day; the food is the main thing I miss about Houston!

  11. SomethingSomethingMushroom*

    I’m taking an impromptu weekend trip to Portland with my 5 year old. Any recommendations on what to do or see? So far I’ve heard about Washington Park.

    1. Blythe*

      Maybe OMSI?! I have taken somewhat older kids, but I believe it is interesting for a range of ages.

      1. tangerineRose*

        OMSI is amazing and tends to have a lot of stuff that’s for kids. You might want to check their web page to see what they’re doing now.

    2. Not A Manager*

      It’s been a long time, but depending on your child’s interests and what’s available in your hometown, the downtown light rail system might be fun. Powell’s is an amazing pilgrimage. Your 5 year old might want to just pop in to see so many books on sale in one place. And the rhododendron garden is delightful.

      1. SnootyGirl*

        I second Powell’s – it is an AMAZING bookstore with the best hot chocolate ever [although it’s going to be in the high 80s and 90s the next few days so maybe he won’t want hot chocolate].

        1. tangerineRose*

          Powell’s is amazing! The parking is a little tricky. Sometimes I go to their Beaverton store, which is also large, but nowhere near as big as Powell’s in Portland.

      2. Bonkers in Yonkers*

        If your child has enjoyed any of the Beverly Cleary books yet, there’s a very sweet set of statues and fountains showing Ramona, Henry Huggins, and Henry’s dog Ribsy. Ramona is standing IN the fountain and laughing exuberantly like her real-life character would do! And the dog is also playing in the water. I think Henry is standing more quietly nearby, as he would do.

        It’s Grant Park in Northeast Portland; the west side of the park; easy parking IIRC.

    3. Middle Aged Lady*

      Like Blythe, I was thinking OMSi since it’s indoors. It is going to be beastly hot this weekend, undeasonably so, so be prepared for that. Washington Park is great.

    4. Tiny clay insects*

      I have no idea if this interests you, but I had the best vegan hot wings of my life in Portland (so good I even had them for breakfast on my last day), at The Veggie Grill. I’ve only been to Portland once, but I’ll never forget those wings.

    5. Actuarial Octagon*

      The zoo is lovely if a bit expensive to get in. OMSI is typically a big hit with the kids.

    6. Junior Dev*

      If they’re not scared of heights, the OHSU tram (aerial cable car)

      The Tillikum Crossing bridge is between that and OMSI and I think it would be fun for a kid to walk over. It is a neat bridge that doesn’t allow cars – only bikes, pedestrians and transit – and the design is really fun.

    7. SomethingSomethingMushroom*

      Thanks everyone! I think we’re going to try for OMSI and Powell’s.

      1. Rosyglasses*

        Across from POWELL’S downtown, there is THE best shaved ice – Waileua I think and there will be lines but it is so worth it!!

      2. Robin in PDX*

        Lan Su Chinese Garden is six or seven blocks from Powell’s City of Books; if your 5-year-old would enjoy exploring decorative buildings and watching koi, it’s a really refreshing green space in the city with interesting art exhibits.

      1. Vistaloopy*

        That was my question!! I could give lots of recommendations for Portland Maine

    8. Clover*

      This is probably a little weird, but maybe check out the Goodwill bins. The Portland metro area has four different Goodwill outlets where everything is sold (cheap!) by the pound, and it’s like the weirdest, funnest yard sale in the world. I do all my shopping there and always find cool treasures I never previously knew existed.

    9. VLookupsAreMyLife*

      Food trucks in Portland are out of this world fantastic!! Powell’s is amazing, Voodoo Donuts is overrated, IMO. Chinatown is near.

  12. Madame X*

    you identify as introverted and your friends, are more extroverted in you, what are some benefits of having extroverted friends? If you identify as extroverted, and you have friends, who are more introverted than you, what are the benefits of having introverted friends?

    Introvert vs extrovert debates on the Internet are really popular, but I found most of these conversations to be very tiring because they tend to promote a lot of stereotypes. Obviously people are a lot more complex than a binary designation determined by a personality test, but these categories seem to really resonate with a lot of people.

    1. Middle Aged Lady*

      I am extroverted but I like smaller gatherings. And quieter activities. A lot of extrovert friends like big parties so they can see everyone and get s lot of energy going. Introverted friends seem to like the samller gatherings so I can invite one or two people over and get some energy from that, but not exhaust myself with a big gathering. Introverts are usually happy to have me host, too, which works for me because driving can be a challenge for me. We can get together and work, too. One paints while the other writes and so on. This gives them quiet contact and me some time to work with another person present. If an extrovert is a good listener, they can give an introvert some good conversation by asking the right questions. Inteoverts I know take a while to answer. I Love conversation so much I am willing to wait. They usually have deeper things to say sooner in a conversation than exteoverts, who tend to do some settling in small talk first. If we understand each other, it can make for beautiful friendships. They make me think, they are quiet, and an extrovert like me can be a bridge to calm socializing. I am guessing at the introvert’s POV here.

    2. Annie Edison*

      Partner and I joke that he is my emotional support extrovert. I love people watching and hearing people’s stories and meeting strangers at the bar while traveling, but struggle to start the conversation and get drained and stressed about keeping it going. I just sort of want to – sit quietly and observe life as it flows around me?
      He, on the other hand, is a cheerful golden retriever who will chat up anyone, while occasionally remaining joyfully oblivious to the subtleties of social interaction
      We both help each other out – he helps grease the wheels of talking to people at social events, and I help him reflect on the deeper emotional contexts

      1. TheMonkey*

        >I just sort of want to – sit quietly and observe life as it flows around me?

        Thank you. This describes me as well and I’ve never been able to sum it up so neatly.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      Speaking from the outgoing introvert side (I’m comfortable in social situations, but need time alone), I like having friends who are enthusiastic event planners. I know people on the more quiet, socially anxious side who like having someone socially confident and talkative to go to events with, as it takes off some of the pressure.

      1. allathian*

        I’m also an outgoing introvert/ambivert. I’m comfortable in social situations, but find socializing with more than about a handful of people draining. I was shy and socially awkward as a teen, but the older I get, the more confident I am in social situations.

        1. Madame X*

          I think I fall on the category of extrovert/ambivert. I definitely feel more energized when I’m around my friends but I also really need to have my own space sometimes.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Same here — planning makes me anxious, so I like when someone else does that part of it.

      3. KR*

        I am the second person! My husband is my social buffer. And people generally like hanging out with him so I get invited to stuff he is going to by default so I can just hang out and enjoy being around people briefly until I run out of battery.

    4. Extreme Introvert*

      I’m 200%+ an introvert and my extroverted people are magic to me. Why? Because when we go out together, they deal with all the people stuff. Hosts, servers, bartenders, ticket takers, cashiers, security, everyone. And it’s not a big deal for them!

      I tell my extroverts it’s their superpower. They give me bemused smiles because they’ve heard this before and don’t grok the level of energy it takes me to deal with all these people-based side quests. :) It still utterly confuses me that there are people who don’t have to budget People Stuff Energy into their activities.

    5. Irish Teacher*

      Honestly, as an introvert, whose friends are honestly mostly introverts too, but has a couple of friends who are extroverts, I’d say the good things about being friends with them are unrelated to their extroversion.

      Despite the stereotypes, introversion/extroversion is only one part of a person’s personality and the extroverts I’m friendly with, I like because they are smart or kind or good listeners or because we share interests in common or have the same sense of humour.

      I do find the extroversion makes things difficult sometimes because they tend to want to be together all the time. I have one friend in particular who is very extroverted (though the far opposite of the stereotype – very shy, to the point she insisted I ask a bus driver if he were going where we wanted to because she was embarrassed to ask him) and even if we are in a clothes shop and she is taking forever to choose between two tops and I say, “I’m just going to go across the road to get a bar of chocolate/an ice cream/a can of orange,” she’ll say, “oh, wait a few minutes and I’ll come with you” when half the reason I’m going is because I need a break from being with people or I’m bored waiting for her to decide. It just doesn’t occur to her at all that people might want alone time and it’s hard to ask for it without sounding like I don’t like being with her, because her assumption is that wanting to be away from her means you’re mad at her or don’t enjoy her company, which is not true. (I mean, part of this is due to the fact that she is shy and anxious, but part of it is just because she is happy to be around people 24/7 so the idea that you can just not want anybody around doesn’t even occur to her.)

      But people have many traits and everybody is going to have some trait that doesn’t match 100% with your ideal friend.

      1. allathian*

        I’ve found that at least some extroverts can be educated. It requires patience on the introvert’s part and enough empathy on the extrovert’s part to understand that not everyone’s like them, at least when it’s pointed out directly.

        Apparently extroversion correlates fairly strongly with FOMO. I can’t remember ever experiencing FOMO, I simply don’t have the energy to second-guess my own decisions, and for as long as I can remember, I’ve had to budget my energy for socializing.

        When I needed to buy an outfit for my high school graduation (we don’t have gowns), I picked my then-best friend to go shopping with me. I hate shopping and she loves it, so our shopping strategies are completely different. A former boyfriend “complimented” me on “shopping like a man” in that I only go shopping when I need something, and as soon as I find something I like at a price point I can live with, I’ll buy it and go home. (He was a sexist jerk which is the main reason why I didn’t date him for very long, but the stereotype of the person who can spend hours in shops without buying anything is very gendered.) So when I followed my strategy and bought the first thing I liked, she was shocked because she thought we’d be going to at least 5 other stores to look at clothes for me. I did go with her to two other places, and I actually bought a second blouse because I liked it, but after that I was ready to go home. Our parents were practically neighbors, we originally met in middle school on the bus stop, so all the way home she kept wondering if I was really happy with what I bought. She seemed amazed that I could be so confident in my decisions that it didn’t even occur to me to second-guess myself.

        She was a dear friend at the time. But I did tell her the next time we met that as much as I enjoyed her company we didn’t shop well together because our strategies were so different. She was very understanding about that and there were no hard feelings on either side. But that shopping adventure definitely taught both of us something.

        We’ve never had a fight, but our friendship died on the vine because neither one of us made an effort to maintain it. I continued to hang out with her fairly regularly until she got married. The wedding was lovely, but after that she spent years abroad as a homemaker/SAHM while her husband worked a few months here, two years there, and during that time we basically lost touch.

        My former friend loves being around people, the more the merrier, but at least as a teenager and in her early 20s she was even more prone to anxiety in social situations than I was. I hope that she’s gained confidence as she’s grown older.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Extroverts are often the central nexus of friendship groups, connecting lots of disparate parts. They also do a lot of planning/hosting. If you’re on the quieter side, this sort of connection can really open out your life. I appreciate the hosting extroverts in my life!

      1. Agnes*

        That’s interesting, because I feel the opposite. I’m introverted, my husband is extroverted. It’s great that he talks up people wherever he goes, is happy to ask for directions, always wants to get people together. But I’m the one who sits down and says, “Ok, if you want to have people for brunch, what day, do you have their email address, what should we serve?”

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          I think the planning/organizing thing is separate. I’m an extrovert and a planner – I’m one of those people who thinks that planning a trip is half the fun. I have a good friend who is an introvert and also loves to plan. That seems to be a separate axis of personality.

          1. allathian*

            I’m an introvert and a planner, but a great deal of my planning is due to the fact that I really dislike surprises, even happy ones. I usually enjoy the anticipation more than the event itself, and surprises deprive me of the anticipation.

            When a friend of mine got married, her bridegroom planned their whole honeymoon. She didn’t even know where they were going until they got to the airport, he just told her to pack for a Mediterranean climate. They spent a week in Venice and she loved it. They have two kids now and she spent years as a SAHM, so she’s undoubtedly done her share of family project management since then…

            If my husband had done something like that to me, I would’ve been tempted to apply for an annulment. Thankfully he knows me better than that and he won’t even plan a surprise birthday party for me.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      When I, the introvertiest introvert, travel to DIsneyworld with my extroverted friends and I need fifteen minutes of standing in line to stick my nose in my book and Not Talk, they are happy to make friends with the folks around us in line and give me my quiet time without making me feel like I have to participate in entertaining them the whole time.

    8. E. Chauvelin*

      Somebody has to make the first move towards talking to a stranger and it’s probably not going to be me. If the purpose of the event isn’t explicitly getting to know new people, and I came by myself, I’m going to show up with a book to read until whatever the activity is starts. It’s not necessarily that I dislike talking, it’s just unlikely to occur to me and I’m going to come prepared for it not to happen. Extroversion/introversion isn’t necessarily what appeals to me about somebody, but having an extrovert show up and pick the introvert up as a friend and introduce them to the other introverts they’ve collected is a great way to make connections with all of them.

    9. Qwerty*

      I love those pairings because someone needs to come up with the idea on where to go / what to do and someone needs to be willing to join them. Someone needs to have stories to tell about all the people they met otherwise conversations can fizzle out real fast.

      I’m an outgoing introvert and I tend to befriend people who are extroverts but less naturally social. They think I adopted them and gave them a social life, but the reality is they generally have *asked* me to do so. I think I’m more of a facilatator – when I organize a work happy hour, it is because I’ve heard several people say they want one. At one point I had six of these “adoptees” and I just threw them all in a group chat to become friends with each other.

      I know my more stereotypical extroverted friends will always have a zillion things they want to do, so I can just say that I want to spend time with them and they will generate the rest of the plan. My more stereotypical introvert friends really appreciate that I send them invitations to group stuff fully expecting them to decline because I know they just want to be thought of.

      Just like work teams need diversity, so do friend groups. I think having personalities spread along a spectrum within a group can be more effective

      1. Madame X*

        It sounds like you have a really good mix of friends, whose personality traits are all very complementary to one another. That’s also been my experience.

      2. Filosofickle*

        The times in my life I’ve had a great social life were when I had a local best friend who had the network and the ideas, and all I had to do was be their wing person. I’m a gregarious introvert — I like talking to people and am a good guest, but left to my own devices I forget to leave the house!

    10. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I’m an extrovert with a mix of extrovert/introvert friends. I love my extrovert friends because they love to do stuff out in the world with me. I love my introvert friends because because they love to hang out, just the two of us, and have wonderful deep conversations. In the end I love my friends for all their amazingness and we find ways to make the introvert/extrovert mix work.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Which is not to say that I don’t have wonderful deep conversations with my extrovert friends! They are more likely to happen while we’re walking around a city than hanging out in my backyard, though.

    11. Techno Support*

      I generally describe myself as an “extrovert surrounded by introverts” and I would say that I prefer the company of introverts because I like having deep friendships, and because there is something really special about being the person that an introverted person wants to spend their social energy on. There’s a sincerity in that that is reassuring to me.

      I’ve also always enjoyed getting shy people to open up and feel welcomed. I was a mentor-student at my university and during the first weeks, one of the things I liked doing best was reaching out to the people who were sitting awkwardly in the corner and talking to them. If they didn’t want to talk, that was fine, but if they wanted to, then I’d made the first move. It feels good to reach out.

  13. WoodswomanWrites*

    Thanks to everyone who responded to my post a while back about how to make space for creative expression when my time and energy outside of work have been committed to being a caregiver for my mom.

    Your suggestions were helpful. I have a new mountain dulcimer that I’m playing and wrote my first blog post in more than a year about it. It’s felt good to combine writing and music. I’m hopeful that just writing that one post will kickstart carving out time, however brief, to engage in creative expression. For now, I’m keeping my instrument out of its case and visible where I can strum it now and then between other things.

    1. allathian*

      I’m so glad to hear that you’ve found a creative outlet again. I hope that it will continue to give you joy. A little bit of self-care is so important when you’re a caregiver. Good luck!

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      I’m so glad to hear that you’ve been able to give yourself a bit of space for self care and self expression (same thing?) I hope you’re doing well and are hanging in there in this difficult time.
      I believe I can speak for all of us when I say our thoughts are with you!

  14. Sky's Mom*

    I have the loveliest avid teen reader who happens to be content sensitive around romance and romantic relationships. Her preference is middle grade fiction (she would like to be a middle grade author). She is super self conscious about not reading YA and books more in her 17+ yo age range. I was wondering, since I know there are so many book lovers here, if anyone could suggest any YA-range books that have zero romantic plotlines. Does such a thing even exist?? She loves Frances Hardinge, Ethan Aldridge, Rick Riordan, and some Tamora Pierce for reference. Thank you!

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      “Code Name Verity” is one of my favorite YAs (historical fiction) and has no romance at all.

      “I Am Princess X” is a cool YA mystery with a graphic novel component.

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        Code Name Verity had me in tears. It was amazing. And I’m well into middle age.

        1. beep beep*

          Thirding Code Name Verity. I was in a high school ARC club when it came out and my copy of it actually fell apart from how well-loved it was. No romance, somewhat heavy content, but such a good book.

        2. Dark Macadamia*

          Yep, I discovered it in my thirties and it’s so good. Every time I talk about it I end up needing to re-read it immediately

        3. Sky's Mom*

          Thanks for the second FVM! And for reinforcing that age matters not when it comes to love of reading. :O)

      2. Clisby*

        Chronicles of Narnia?

        It’s been a long time, but I don’t remember romance in the His Dark Materials books.

        Also, Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book is still one of my favorite books – I’m 69 and have read it three times.

        1. Sky's Mom*

          Thank you! :O) She can totally relate to that – she loves re-reading her favorites!

      3. Sky's Mom*

        The thread is so long now and so full of reading awesomeness that I’ve started a Google Doc for sweet kiddo, and these are right at the top. :O) Thank you so much for your kindness!

        1. Sky's Mom*

          Good ones. I think she’s read both, I’ll have to check in with her. Thanks!! :O)

    2. AcademiaNut*

      Try the Binti trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor – I don’t think there’s any romance there.

      On the adult side of things, she might like the Murderbot books by Martha Wells. The protagonist is a security android who wants to be left alone to watch their TV shows in peace, and hates it when humans want to have emotions at them.

        1. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

          The Ancillary Justice series by Anne Leckie is also similar – the protagonist is a human/bot hybrid – it also has some interesting takes on gender (or lack of)

        2. Sky's Mom*

          Honestly, the protagonist sounds so relatable! :O) Thanks for the ideas AcademiaNut and for the +1 (makes me miss Google+) word nerd!! :O)

    3. Loves libraries*

      Oh I can so relate! It’s hard to find the YA romance free combo.

      Some suggestions, not completely romance free but minimised

      Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz

      Murder most ladylike series by robin Stevens (mild romance in later books)

      Tiffany aching series by Terry pratchett

      Hover car racer by Matthew Riley

      Mapmaker chronicles by AL Tait

      Ranger’s apprentice series by John Flanagan

      Will write more later hopefully

      1. Sky's Mom*

        This thread is so magical! Thank you for the incredible list of suggestions and for sharing that it resonates and you can relate. The fact that she isn’t alone in her quest is SO good for her to hear. “It’s hard to find the YA romance free combo.” YES! So grateful! :O)

    4. JSPA*

      have you done the 1940′-1970’s books? Fantasy and SciFi were quite romance-averse (sometimes just because there were no female characters and everyone was assumed hetero).

      Lloyd Alexander,

      Esther Averill (any faint hint of romance is blunted by all the characters being cats)

      The Borrowers series (Eventual and understated friendship shifting towards romantic attachment, from what I remember?)

      Wind in the Willows

      Susan Cooper / dark is rising

      E Nesbit (some assumptions may not have aged well, though they were very progressive for their era)

      Lois Lenski (slice of life Americana, some racial characterizations may not have aged well, despite her evident good will towards all / great progressivness for her era)



      1. JSPA*

        Of the ann mccaffrey books, dragonsong and dragonsinger are “safe” (various of her other work is significantly more romance or relationship-driven).

      2. Sky's Mom*

        Oh, my gosh! Thanks for these!! I really appreciate the details too so she has a heads up before she looks them up online to read the summaries. I don’t think she has dipped into much that far back except what she may have read for school?

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series might work? There’s a range of representation among the munchkins as far as identity (including ace and trans) but no actual romance that I recall. (The last one has a character who avoids being abused by her stepfather in one short scene and it’s not graphic or detailed, but you can tell from the context where it could have gone, so maybe check that one first. But there are five or six others before it.)

      Also her Up-and-Under series, written in the name of A. Deborah Baker – a four book series about a pair of 10-year-olds (I think) who climb over a wall that didn’t used to be there and go on adventures.

        1. Sky's Mom*

          Thanks Red Reader and Random Dice! I appreciate the suggestions and the bonus info! :O)

    6. word nerd*

      I just read A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher and loved it. No romance at all and lots of fun!

    7. Irish Teacher*

      The Butterfly Assassin and it[s brand-new (only came out two days ago, I think) sequel, The Hummingbird Killer by Finn Longman have zero romance, and don’t even consider it. There’s one point when a girl introduces her friends to a boy and they ask afterwards “who is he? A friend? An ally? Weird ex-coworker you can’t get rid of?” It was only on my second reading that it occurred to me they hadn’t even considered boyfriend, which he wasn’t.

      I will add that they are very graphic though and include pretty intense scenes of child abuse, murder, etc. Not sexual abuse, more…training kids to be killers and punishing them horribly if they don’t meet the standards.

      I am like your daughter and this is probably one of the reasons I continued reading children’s books like “The Chalet School” series into my teens, along with books like Agatha Christie’s.

      If she would like some children’s/middle grade books, she might like Witch Week by Diane Wynn-Jones, but it’s possible she’s already erad that or that ye are looking for more YA books.

      Also more children’s, but…if she likes historical fiction, then I’d reccommend Under the Hawthorn Tree by Maria Conlan-McKenna. In fact, anything by Maria Conlan-McKenna is pretty good. They are children’s books, but…older children, like aimed at 9-14 year old sort of age group. Under the Hawthorn Tree is set during the Irish Famine of the 1840s and is about three children, the oldest is about 13 trying to avoid the Workhouse after their parents die.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Tangent: Does anyone else remember their parents talking about “We don’t want to have to go to the workhouse/poorhouse?” Mine would mention it when I was a kid and I had no idea what a workhouse was.

        Then I watched the “Workhouse howl” episode of “Call the Midwife” and discovered why it was such a horrible prospect.

      2. Sky's Mom*

        Thank you so much for the recommendations and the good detail! She is getting braver as she gets older when it comes to content, but she is still careful and selective, so it’s good for her to know going in what may be popping up. So grateful! :O)

    8. Samwise*

      Not YA, but when I was that age I loved reading anthologies and collections. Short stories, fairy tales, mystery, sci fi, historical fiction, anthologies for high school lit courses (do they still have those? I bet you could find some in a used book store ). Not strictly YA books — it was the 1970s.

      Judy Blume!

      1. Sky's Mom*

        We love Judy Blume! My daughter really enjoyed her MasterClass writing course. So funny you should mention anthologies, because my kiddo collects middle school and high school literature anthologies and reads them for fun. :O) She hasn’t read through the entire thread here yet, but she smiled big when I shared your note! Thank you! :O)

        1. Samwise*

          Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles

          Elizabeth moon, The Speed of Dark (there’s a romantic/relationship plot line but it’s not goopy)

          Elizabeth Moon, Remnant Population (my very favorite of her books. It’s spectacularly good. Intense tho. Maybe read it first yourself)

          Mark Haddon, the curious incident of the dog in the night time

          Charles Portis, True Grit

          Robert Cormier, The chocolate war (I read this when it came out in 1974, I was 14. Made a powerful impression on me)

          Louise Fitzhugh, Harriet the Spy. I read and re-read this many times between 9 and 11 years old

          Rosemary Sutcliff, the eagle of the ninth

          Jonathan Stroud, the amulet of Samarkand

          1. Sky's Mom*

            Samwise, thanks for these! And for the heads up on content. Good to know. She really enjoyed Fahrenheit 451 and a short story of Bradbury’s, so I think she’d be into a deep dive on more of his work. She loves his writing style.

          2. allathian*

            I read (The) Speed of Dark once about 20 years ago and it’s one of those books that’s really stuck with me.

    9. CityMouse*

      Lots of good stuff already suggested. Seconding Murderbot and T. Kingfisher.

      The Thief series by Margaret Whalen Turner I think would be a good fit here. Fantasy/Greek inspired elements. I think it’s technically YA but I read it as an adult and enjoyed it. I don’t know that you’d call the relationship angles romantic exactly.

      1. Sky's Mom*

        Oh, Fantasy/Greek is a win for her. I appreciate the seconds too. It sounds like those two are in her ballpark. Thanks so much, CityMouse! :O)

    10. Analyst Editor*

      Beverly Cleary has a series of teen romance novels, “Fifteen”, “Jean and Johnny”, a few others. Look them up! They’re very sweet, completely G rated, and it’s also great as an account of 1950s teen life.

      1. Victoria, Please*

        I loved those books too and it tickles me greatly that I now live in the part of California that she was describing. I fully relate to Shelley have a lovely tandem bicycle ride *downhill* on her date with…Philip??…and then finding it a surprise hard slog back *uphill* — because the slope is pretty gentle, you don’t notice it until you have to run or bike it!

        (That said, the request was for non-romance stories.)

    11. Analyst Editor*

      I misread.
      The classic hard science fiction might be her jam: Asimov and Heinlein. Or, if she wants something weird and freudian layered in, the books of Alfred Bester (e.g., The Stars my Destination).

      In particular: Asimov short stories, and the core Foundation series (Foundation, Foundation and Empire, Second Foundation), and I, Robot. Asimov’s style is also dry and matter-of-fact, so even when there is a question of adult relationships (like when the robot lady is infatuated with someone), it’s presented without much drama.

      Also, Heinlein’s juvenile novels, and even his adult ones (although I didn’t care for ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’, and didn’t finish ‘For Us the Living’ – both too weird for me, and those both have more explicit sex/romance topics). Even in “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”, which has something akin to romance, does it in such a chill way it’s not really core to the plot and it’s all weird anyway (polyamorous in an environment where men outnumber women 10:1).

      1. Analyst Editor*

        “Robot Lady” – I didn’t really proofread that answer. I mean Susan Calvin, the scientist who studies robots, not “Robot Lady”.

        1. Sky's Mom*

          She has read some Bradbury through school and really loves his writing style. This is a great idea! Thank you! :O)

      2. CatCat*

        Heinlein’s “The Rolling Stones” would be a good one. Basically about a family’s adventures in outer space. I read it several years ago and it was just plain fun.

      3. Sky's Mom*

        No worries. :O) Beverly Cleary is a family favorite. The robot angle is intriguing! I really appreciate the extra details about Heinlein. Good to know! Thank you!! :O)

      4. NorwegianTree*

        I love Enders Game and Artemis Fowl, Agatha Christie’s books, The graveyard book, Good Omens,
        I love also The Solitaire Mystery by Jostein Gaarder (only read it in Norwegian, so do not know how the translated version is)

    12. Un, Deux, Trois, Cat*

      I’m a Middle School teacher and I do not think any of these books have romance:
      Among the Hidden
      The Maze Runner
      City of Ember

      Also you can do a Google search for “YA books without romance”

    13. Jay*

      All of Terry Pratchett’s young adult books. Johnny Maxwell, The Bromeliad Trilogy, The Carpet People, The Amazing Morrice And His Educated Rodents, and especially the Tiffany Aching series and Nation.
      The Tiffany Aching series is, especially the first couple of books, maybe the best YA series out there, at least the best I’ve ever read.
      And Nation is, quite possibly, the single greatest BOOK I’ve ever read.

      1. Sky's Mom*

        She really enjoys getting into a good series. Thank you so much for the awesome list! :O)

    14. the cat's ass*

      Joan Aiken’s “Wolves of Willoughby Chase” series tho they might be considered slightly younger YA. But no romances, as i recall.

      1. Jessica*

        Another Aiken book I love is “Midnight is a Place,” which is set in Industrial Revolution England and has adventure, mystery, friendship between oddly assorted people of all ages, but not romance. It’s great.

    15. Afishal*

      I enjoyed, and still really enjoy, all books by Diana Wynne Jones. Her books aimed at a younger audience (but still wonderful for all ages!) have no romance at all that I can remember. Her books targeting an older audience may contain mention of relationships but they are so far away from the focus of the book it’s like they don’t even exist, and certainly no descriptions of pining or kissing etc.

    16. Dark Macadamia*

      Oh, can I also say she doesn’t need to feel self-conscious about reading youngish books? I’m a middle school teacher and so many students are still reading middle grades. I’m an adult and I still read YA (by choice, not just for work). I’ve had 8th graders read books geared at 4th graders and be like “I think this is meant for high school” lol. I’m not sure if she’s getting comments from other kids or what, but in my experience students do not have a good sense of what books they’re “supposed” to be reading at any given age, and the lines from middle grades to YA to adult can be really unclear anyway. All books are for all of us and if she loves what she’s reading it doesn’t matter who it was written for :)

      1. Sky's Mom*

        Thank you for the reading recommendations and for your lovely note! I’m so grateful for your insight and support. She is super self-conscious and feels pressure, I think, to enjoy what she feels is more “age-appropriate” material, but romantic plotlines really detract from her enjoyment. She’s learning to manage some sensory challenges as a teen, and she is socially tentative until she feels safe and comfortable, which I think contribute to the sense of being “behind.” She is a gifted writer, and she has already authored two amazing middle grade novels. I think her passion for great story and great writing and her love of middle grade are super powers. She would greatly benefit from knowing that her tribe is out there somewhere. It’s one thing for your mom to encourage you to forge your own path and pursue your passions and another thing completely to see and feel that you are not alone. So glad you popped in to the thread. :O) This! “All books are for all of us and if she loves what she’s reading it doesn’t matter who it was written for :)”

        1. AGD*

          This! I stopped reading YA and MG books never. I’m in my mid-thirties and still enjoy them! In particular, I cannot imagine what kind of headspace I’d need to get into in order to write a MG novel; these days I read them and can’t figure out how the authors did it!

          1. Clara Bowe*

            +1 I am 42 and read several middle grade books last year. (FYI, Starfell: Willow Moss and the Lost Day was a delight.)

            And if they are super self-conscious about reading in public, maybe an ereader with a fun cover and setting up digital library access would be good? Kobos are on sale atm and have integrated library access w/Overdrive/Libby.

            1. Sky's Mom*

              Clara Bowe, I’m so grateful for your note. Kiddo is amazed by the responses, and it’s so good for her to see that she’s part of a larger community of readers who share her interest in MG. It’s a dream to see so much support here this weekend. I checked out the Kobos – super cute! Thanks for the ideas! :O)

          2. Sky's Mom*

            AGD, thank you so much for sharing your love of YA and MG. I’m so touched by everyone popping in to let her know she isn’t alone. It’s been a magical weekend sharing comments and suggestions with her. So uplifting. It seems to come so naturally to her, it’s a wonder to see. :O)

        2. Broken scones*

          There are so many gems in middle grade and it’s an amazing reading category to write for! Plus there are many published authors who write in multiple age categories, genres, etc
          (Someone mentioned T. Kingfisher in the thread–that is the author’s pen name; she is also known as Ursula Vernon, a children’s author.) Any adult who loves to read wouldn’t have fostered that love without children’s literature. I hope we one day are able to read your daughter’s works :)

          1. Sky's Mom*

            What a lovely thing to say Broken scones . . . tears in my proud mom eyes . . . . ty

            Also – we are freaking out over here because we had NO IDEA Ursula Vernon = T. Kingfisher! My daughter is a literature encyclopedia, and somehow we had no clue! The kids have a huge Vernon collection. :O)

            1. OtterB*


              Pick and choose among the T Kingfisher’s books. Some are romances – the Paladin books – so you probably want to skip those. But the ones that are aimed younger – the Defensive Baking book, Minor Mage (my favorite) and Summer in Orcus do not and are excellent. And some are horror, which don’t have romance but may or may not be what your daughter is interested in.

              1. Sky's Mom*

                Thanks so much, OtterB! :O) I saw your suggestions below too. Grateful for the extra details on T. Kingfisher so she knows going in. She’s a much braver reader than she was a few years ago, but she still screens and chooses carefully. Super valuable info.

    17. SuprisinglyADHD*

      The Artemis Fowl series is a great set of books, with no romance that I can remember. Modern fantasy/adventure/scifi, and great characters! The recent movie was ok but a disappointment to long-time fans.

      1. Sky's Mom*

        Grateful for the movie heads up. Good to know. We’ve been bummed before about book to movie disappointments. She is super careful now because she doesn’t want to detract from the magic of a great book by watching a movie that doesn’t do it justice. Thanks so much for the suggestion! :O)

    18. Girasol*

      Andre Norton’s sci fi. Her Witch World fantasy has just a very restrained hint of romance here and there but her sci fi is pretty bare of it.

    19. *daha**

      Ursula K. LeGuin – A Wizard of Earthsea and sequels
      Ysabeau Wilce – Flora Segunda

      1. Roland*

        There is some romance, or at least people getting into relationships, in the later novels. Not 1-3 iirc, but yes in the later sequels.

    20. SuprisinglyADHD*

      Also, there’s nothing wrong with skipping YA entirely! There are plenty of “adult” books that are perfectly appropriate for a teenager. Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series is fantastic, and most of them have either no romance or the one main relationship supports the plot rather than distracting from it. Lots of “classic literature” has exciting stories despite the dense language, I highly recommend an abridged version of 20,000 Leagues under the Sea!

      1. Sky's Mom*

        Thank you so much! I love that – skipping is okay! So much more challenging to weed through as you wade into content not specifically written for a younger audience. Grateful for the ideas!

    21. Rose is a rose is a rose*

      I’m currently reading A Snake Falls to Earth, by Darcie Little Badger. The protagonist is ace, although it is not a major plot point, and so far into the book I haven’t detected a whiff of romance. The author has a previous book, Elatsoe, with another ace protagonist but the book does have a very small romantic element between secondary characters. Both books draw on the author’s Lipan Apache heritage and have a mix of supernatural and near-future elements.

      1. Sky's Mom*

        I recently picked up the Kindle version of Elatsoe for my other sweet kiddo’s high school summer reading list! It sounds amazing. I’ll check out A Snake Falls to Earth. Super grateful! Thanks so much for sharing!

    22. Extra anony*

      I remember feeling exactly the same as your daughter! I definitely complained to my mom about all the unnecessary romance in the books I read. I gravitated toward books with less romance, like Sabriel by Garth Nix. Oh and I’m in my 30s and love a good middle grade fiction book :)

      Has she tried TA Barron’s Merlin and Avalon series? I don’t remember romance but it’s been a long time…

      1. Sky's Mom*

        Thank you so much for sharing your experience. Super grateful! It’s so good for her to hear that she isn’t alone. Merlin and Avalon and Sabriel weren’t on her radar yet, so she’s going to check them out! :O)

    23. Sky's Mom*

      Thank you for all of the incredible recommendations! I’m so excited to share them with my kiddo and go exploring. So glad I asked! The response has exceeded my wildest expectations!

      1. Mighty Midget*

        I don’t think anyone has said Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams. It’s a trilogy of four books (which sums up the style pretty well!!) It’s a long time since I read it, but I can’t imagine there woudl be any romance in there!

        1. Sky's Mom*

          She just mentioned recently that she is thinking of adding that to her list! Thanks!! :O)

    24. DefinitiveAnn*

      The Tiffany Aching books by Terry Pratchett. They are younger than YA, and there’s no romance, really, except as tropes that are mostly eye-rolling. I loved them when I first read them, just a year ago (and I am a grandma). The first is The Wee Free Men. Funny and smart.

    25. Broken scones*

      Please let your teen know it is totally normal to not want to read books that are YA and/or have romantic elements and there’s no shame in reading middle grade. And I say this as a librarian as well as an avid reader. I personally love romantic stories but the YA market is overflowing with stories that have romantic plots/subplots. If either of you are interested, I’m linking Ashley from The Bookish Realm and her discussion about YA books and if romance is even necessary. Ashley is a booktuber and public librarian so she knows her stuff: https://youtu.be/-fFDcQY-djY

      I would also like to recommend GALLANT by Victoria Schwab, NIMONA by Noelle Stevenson and the Eva Evergreen series by Julie Abe. The protagonists of GALLANT & NIMONA have zero romantic relationships and EVA EVERGREEN is all about family, friendship and magic; plus it’s middle grade! I adore this duology in particular :)

      1. Sky's Mom*

        Broken scones, thank you so much for the lovely note and the suggestions. I follow Victoria Schwab on social media. I’ve wondered if her work would be a good match for my daughter’s preferences. Her impression was that VS only writes romance-focused YA. So grateful for the clarifying details – she was pleasantly surprised! Especially grateful for Ashley’s YouTube link. I’ve only skimmed the comment section so far, and I can already see huge value in her seeing the viewpoints of other readers there. Thanks for popping in and sharing! :O)

    26. Bulu Babi*

      The Murderbot Diaries series, by Martha Wells! Also, that amazing book called something like A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking.

    27. Avid YA Reader*

      Diana Wynne Jones’s Chronicles of Chrestomanci series is a good bet! The first four books have young protagonists who aren’t interested in romance. If there is romance, it’s between secondary or tertiary characters and is not really explored in the plot.

    28. Wildbow*

      I’m a career author that leans aromantic, and sympathize with Sky. Romance has to be very interesting or formula-breaking to get me into it on any level. Looks like others have covered the bases- I can say I really liked the Abhorsen trilogy, which was already mentioned – if there was romance in it, I don’t remember it.

      I’d like to chime in that it’s not just books – encourage her to take in all sorts of media, to know what’s out there and how the genres she’s interested in are being explored. My own career kicked off because I started looking at superheroes and how to translate them from a visual style into the written word. For more ‘middle grade’ type writing, consider works like Coraline or the Courtney Crumrin comics. I’m very fond of the Bad Machinery strips by John Allison, with sharp and funny dialogue, good plotting, and solid art, but that does have one romantic plotline a few volumes in. It’s not another tiresome love triangle, at least.

      For anime you could pitch something like ‘Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!’ (girls in a highly stylized world try to create an anime – celebrates creativity in a big way), Kino’s travels (anthology series where a traveler visits strange communities and people – does get dark in places, however), or some Ghibli stuff (though it can be hit or miss).

      Credit to Sky, honestly. Being a teenager is hard, because you’re straddling childhood and adulthood, and too many people do themselves a disservice trying to put younger stuff behind them as they tilt hard toward adulthood. I see a lot of people forcefully do away with ‘kid’ stuff, only to rediscover it in University and later, whether it’s 20-somethings getting hard into pokemon again, or falling in love with Owl House and Steven Universe. A big part of being a teenager is finding your identity and identifying what you want in life, and identifying tastes like that is something she should embrace and find security in.

      1. Sky's Mom*

        Wildbow, this is such a wonderful, thoughtful response. Thank you – for the guidance and recommendations, and for the words of wisdom. The kids and I had a great discussion just today about super powers! And it turns out that though I had never heard of it, the kids are Ghibli fans! I am so grateful that you took the time to reply.

    29. OtterB*

      Somebody mentioned the Chalet School books, which reminds me of two books by Chaz Brenchley that are summarized as “English girls’ boarding school – on Mars.” The first is Three Twins at the Crater School.

    30. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      This may be a bit young, but I’ve enjoyed _The Mysterious Benedict Society_ series by Trenton Lee Stewart.

      Four remarkable children are gathered together to help fight against a shadow conspiracy. More fun and silly, like _Henry Sugar_ or the _Big Friendly Giant_.

      Also, one of Anne McCafferey’s Dragonriders of Pern trilogies is a non-romantic, coming of age story of a young girl/woman: Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, and Dragondrums (the third is a coming of age story about a young boy).

      1. Sky's Mom*

        She loves Mysterious Benedict Society – spot on! Love the reminder because she may want to grab it and reread after hearing it come up. JSPA suggested Dragonsong and Dragonsinger above, and I really want to ask her about those because she is all about All Things Dragon, but I’ve never heard her mention the series. This is sparking so many interesting discussions today. Thank you so much! :O)

      2. allathian*

        A word of warning, Anne McCaffrey wrote mostly bodice-ripper romances in a soft sci-fi guise. The dragons on Pern were genetically modified by the first human colonists to the planet, and AMC would rip you a new one if you dared to suggest that she wrote fantasy simply because her stories featured dragons.

        I used to be a huge fan in my teens and early 20s, and I was even a mod on her official fan forum for years (until it shut down), but most of her stories have aged quite badly. The Pern stories in particular feature several incidents of sexual violence and most of her main characters are involved in romances where an older and more experienced man dominates his female partner physically, and she may or may not dominate him mentally. I personally don’t think this is a particularly healthy relationship model, even if I wasn’t hurt as a teen by reading books like that. My parents never censored my reading, I was allowed full access to their bookshelf as soon as I showed an interest in the books, and I got the first three books in Jean M. Auel’s Earth’s Children series for my 15th birthday from my parents, and they’re basically erotica set in the stone age (not so much the first book, but the subsequent ones).

        While sexual violence isn’t shown in the YA Harper Hall trilogy (Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, Dragondrums), the first book features a disturbing incident where she cuts her hand and her parents intentionally allow it to heal wrong so that she wouldn’t be able to play stringed instruments and write songs anymore because only men were supposed to be harpers (communicators and educators as well as musicians). When she finally gets to the Harper Hall, she’s also quite viciously bullied. The Harper Hall books were published in the late 1970s and reflect the attitudes of the time.

        1. Sky's Mom*

          kiddo has always been carefully selective based on very specific personal criteria for enjoyment and comfort/safety that have evolved over time. extra data points to help guide her choices are greatly appreciated. thank you so much for taking the time to share, allathian.

    31. Mrs. D*

      I highly recommend the Arc of a Scythe series. So many of my students LOVE that series, and there’s only a ghost of romance in it. Very interesting premise: humans have achieved immortality due to medical breakthroughs, and now have to maintain population control. Scythes are tasked with “gleaning” humans in order to not overwhelm the earth with too many people.

      Also, the American Library Association’s YA division also put together a list of YA without romance: https://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/2019/10/07/romance-free-ya-books/

      Hope this helps!

  15. Chaordic One*

    I was recently gifted with a subscription to Britbox and I’m finding the selection of shows a bit overwhelming. Any suggestions about what to watch? I’ve been a big fan of the many British shows that have appeared on PBS over the years, so I’d especially appreciate suggestions of shows that have NOT been on PBS, but that should be.

    1. allathian*

      I think you’d get more suggestions if you listed what you’ve already seen and enjoyed. Also, if there are shows you didn’t like and quit watching, maybe list those as well.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      Have you seen the most popular stuff; comedy like Only Fools and Horses and Vicar of Dibley? Those have the most general appeal and OFaH has almost legendary status it was the highlight of Christmas day for years. I’d say the nineties Pride and Prejudice which features on Britbox is easily the best version, but it all depends on what kind of thing you’re looking for.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Once a year I get a Britbox subscription and watch the latest season of Death in Paradise. A British inspector is assigned to be the chief of police on the beautiful Caribbean island of St Marie. Utterly charming, like sinking into a warm bath with a good book. It’s hard to say why all the elements work so well together, but they do. About 10 seasons and most of the cast has turned over, which perhaps helps keep it fresh since new characters can go on arcs?

      I then give a shot to some other series; the only one that has stuck is Shakespeare and Hathaway, about two private investigators in Stratford on Avon.

    4. I cannot decide on a lasting name*

      Seconding the suggestion to say what you enjoy or do not enjoy. I have no idea what has been on PBS, but I enjoy Mum, Cranford, DI Ray, The Long Call, Unforgotten, Talking Heads, Indian Summers, Endeavour and much more.

    5. Miss Dove*

      I enjoy Vera, Death in Paradise, the Death in Paradise spinoff Beyond Paradise, Sister Boniface Mysteries and McDonald and Dodds. These last three are Britbox exclusives, I think, so I don’t think they’ve been on PBS. I’m also enjoying a 90s show called Pie in the Sky, which, while a little dated, is a nice light mystery. Bletchley Circle and its spinoff Bletchley Circle : San Francisco are dark, but good.

      In terms of comedy, I recommend QI and Would I Lie to You, two hilarious panel shows.

    6. Random Dice*

      I don’t like murder, so that knocks out 89% of British shows.

      But it’s still worth it for me for the cooking shows (Nigella and Jamie Oliver especially), and the gardening shows (Gardener’s World is so gentle, and inclusive, and warmly showcases gardens of all sizes and kinds).

    7. Jay*

      I’ve always loved Pie In The Sky, the worlds lowest key police procedural-ish. It’s about a very quiet, very rural, very British police inspector who is very, very DONE with being a cop. He is too old, too fat, and too miserable and is just waiting out the last couple of years for his pension to fully vest while trying to run his newly opened dream restaurant. It’s pleasant, relaxing, quietly hilarious, and gave me some fantastic ideas for old fashioned English recipes that I’ve since cooked up myself.

      1. Turtle Dove*

        I adored Pie in the Sky! It may be time to rewatch it. I must have seen it on Acorn TV. I’ve never subscribed to Britbox but have had a subscription to Acorn TV for several years.

        1. Jay*

          You know, I think it might be time to rewatch it myself! I could do with a dose of the good vibes.

          1. Turtle Dove*

            I just decided to rewatch it, starting tonight! Thanks for mentioning it and reminding me. I’m in the mood for a quiet gem.

    8. Princess Deviant*

      I really like The Mallorca Files – it’s cheesy, but I used to live in Mallorca so it brings back lovely memories.

    9. curly sue*

      We’ve been watching New Tricks and thoroughly enjoying it! It’s a police procedural, and has a lot of charm. The premise is that an ambitious Detective Superintendent makes a career mistake during a raid (shoots a dog) and gets reassigned to a project intended as a way out the door – she’s tasked to lead a cold case squad with three detectives pulled out of retirement. There’s a fish out of water element on all sides, as the ‘old guys’ adjust to modern policing, and as she adjusts to working on the off-beat.

      The characters are complex and really quite charming, and the cold case aspect means that practically every UK actor over the age of 30 seems to appear in it at some point. (A whole lot of ‘who is that guy?’ ‘well, he’s been in Dr. Who, and Star Wars, and Space 1999, and Midsomer Murders, and Downton Abbey, and Poirot…’) I’m a huge fan of police procedurals and mysteries in general, and this scratches that itch nicely.

    10. Zebydeb*

      I would like to put in a word for Detectorists. No idea whether this show is well-known in the US but it is an incredibly charming tale of eccentric hobbyists. Amazing cast. Funny and moving. Practically perfect!

        1. Zebydeb*

          You almost certainly know this already but the theme is sung by Johnny Flynn, who is also wonderful! His album Country Mile was one of the things I kept coming back to over and over during lockdown.

    11. WhoKnows*

      Karen Pirie was excellent – modern crime drama, only 3 episodes I think, but long. Line of Duty also fantastic.

      If you like cozy mysteries set in the 40s/50s/60s, Father Brown and Sister Boniface are great too. Death in Paradise is another “cozy” mystery type.

      Midsomer Murders if that’s on there? I can’t recall. It’s a classic, and a bit absurd in the best way. And each episode is movie-length. Vera is similar, but I don’t like it as much tbh. I find myself usually getting a bit distracted/bored in the middle for some reason.

  16. Liminality*

    Anyone ever successfully purchased/worn compression socks?
    A medical professional told me I should wear compression socks.
    I ordered a random pair online that I thought would fit, but stopped wearing them rather quickly after I noticed my feet starting to tingle and itch. I think the socks were too small and I want to play no games with neuropathy.
    How does anyone go about finding and successfully wearing compression socks?

    1. elvie*

      When I had to wear compression socks for a long airplane trip, my doctor sent me to the pharmacy to do a fitting and they picked the size for me. I had no issues wearing them (but it was only for one day).

    2. Jessica*

      Did the recommender specify, or can you ask them to, the degree of compression? Turns out there are different pressures.
      I bought socks online and had to experiment some before finding a kind that was good, as there proved to be variety even among ones that were supposedly the same size and intensity.
      My #1 tip from experience is to loosen the toes. Like once you get the sock on, then just give a little pull on the end to create space in the toe box so that they’re not mashing your toes.

      1. Can't pick a username*

        Or get the toeless ones. The toe part really annoyed me, and I was happy to find they came without!

    3. Bluebell*

      Yes- definitely ask your medical professional to specify a size. I ordered some online from Vim and Vigor and tried both nylon and cotton. Cotton was a little more comfortable

    4. Pennyworth*

      When I had a hip replacement my leg stayed swelled up for longer than usual and my doctor suggested compression socks. I just got flight socks at the pharmacy. I think they measured the circumference of my calf and matched the size on the sock label. I found them really comfortable so I still wear them most of the time, years after they were necessary.

    5. My Brain is Exploding*

      If you only need the lightest compression, try runner’s compression socks/calf compression sleeves. Mine are called Shock Doctor. I wear them on long car trips, flights, when I’m going to be standing for long periods, etc.

      1. Camelid coordinator*

        I like the Lily Trotter’s brand, marketed to runners. The sizing is based on your calf circumference. I wear them after a long run, when I’ll have a long day sitting, or anytime my legs start to feel like I’ve overdone it. The compression is 15-20.

    6. Pharmgirl*

      I’ve worn the Dr. motion brand for years at work. My job is a little different now but I still wear them on occasion, they definitely help.

    7. RagingADHD*

      I ordered some online that had a range of sizes according to your shoe size. They fit fine.

      I tried the kind that come over the knee and the ones that come just under the knee. For me, the under-knee ones are better because the longer ones roll, and that’s very uncomfortable.

    8. Dancing Otter*

      They make open toe ones. That’s what the hospital gave me after surgery. Those might be easier on your feet.
      Also, how were the top edges on you? If they were really tight, even rolling, that could limit circulation, leading to pins & needles sensations. Of course, that’s painful in itself, so perhaps you would have mentioned it…
      When I shopped for replacements, they asked for both length and circumference, not just a general SMLXL. I don’t know whether they wanted normal or swollen circumference – a significant difference at the time.

    9. BlueCactus*

      I stand for long periods of time at work, and Dr. Motion are the best I’ve found!

    10. Jay*

      I bought a couple of cheap pairs at the local pharmacy. That let me dial in my best sizes without spending a lot of money. Then, when I knew what actually worked for me, I ordered a couple of nice sets from a local medical supply place and dropped the barely worn drugstore compression socks at a local clothing donation bin.

    11. Purple m&m*

      I found Dr. Scholl’s compression socks online & ordered a size up or “wide calf.” The extra room meant they weren’t too tight & are just what I need on long flights.

    12. All Monkeys are French*

      I wear compression socks for work, mostly for comfort while standing on concrete floors all day, not for any particular medical need. I really like Vim & Vigr. Their sizing seems pretty accurate. I have some Bombas I like but their compression levels are a little inconsistent – probably better for casual users like me. My new favorites are from Sockwell. In my opinion they run a little large but with the correct size they are comfortable and they come in lots of colors and patterns. I can get them locally at shoe stores that carry comfort shoes.

      1. heyitsteatime*

        Seconding Sockwell – they have them at our local REI and they come in different levels of compression, and they look nice too! I use for flights.

    13. Chaordic One*

      I’ve never successfully worn compression socks and, after reading the comments here, if I ever purchase some again, I’ll pay more attention to the sizing, although I do have pretty skinny legs. When I’ve worn them, I guess they did what they were supposed to do, but I’ve always found them to be uncomfortable and too tight. They make me feel like my lower legs are sausages stuck in too small casings.

      Conversely, I’ve worn “diabetic” socks which were the complete opposite. They were so loose that they constantly fell down.

    14. Lasuna*

      Especially because these have been recommended by a medical professional, I recommend buying them through a pharmacy or medical supply company. They will be more expensive, but this is the way to go if you can afford it. With a pharmacy/medical supply company, you will be able to use a FSA if you have one. I have found that when I buy them through nonmedical retailers, often the amount of compression is different than advertised, or they start out right but quickly stretch out and provide less compression than needed. Like many commenters, I like the toeless ones, but that’s just my preference – maybe get a few styles and see what you like.

      Make sure you follow the cleaning instructions that come with the socks. Washing/drying improperly can damage the socks and make them too tight or too loose.

      1. Knighthope*

        Agree. Ask for a prescription, because compression varies. Pharmacy tech/med supplier will measure your leg and ask your shoe size. Put them on by folding the leg over the foot (leg will be inside out), inserting your foot, adjusting around the heel and ankle, loosening from toes a little, and pulling them up. Don’t yank too hard on the top cuff.

    15. Liminality*

      Thank you all so much much! I’ll look until the specific strength/compression reconnection and also ask at the pharmacy about a fitting.
      I’m so grateful for everyone’s support!
      (Heheheh…. pun only partially intended…)

  17. AlexandrinaVictoria*

    I’m in the throes of serious house hunting for the very first time, and am really nervous. I’m single so I wouldn’t have a partner’s salary to fall back on if something went wrong. I know single people buy houses all the time, but I need stories of success before I talk myself out of this!

    1. Liminality*

      Best tip I have is: do not actually borrow as much as the bank will let you. They will absolutely offer you a bigger mortgage than you can comfortably afford.
      Next tip, remember that the mortgage is just the baseline. Property taxes, insurance, and applicable HOA fees will raise your monthly payment. (Also, be prepared for yearly adjustments to your property tax rate…. It rarely ever goes down.)
      Third tip, remember you may not always be as able bodied as you are now. Whether temporary (sprained ankle) or permanent (let’s not speak things into reality) it’s a good idea to think about what support you might need with the layout of your property when you’re dealing with injury or illness.
      Fourth tip, if you are buying into a shared building with an HOA the ‘green m&m test” is to find out how well funded the reserve fund is. (A poorly funded reserve is a neon sign pointing to a poorly run HOA)
      Final tip, set up a separate savings account for the home itself. Put as much as you can away for those big purchase and unexpected repairs that are bound to come up.
      As far as single ownership goes, yeah, there’s more paperwork and you’re making decisions on your own, but really, aren’t you doing that if you’re living alone in a rental property too?
      You got this!

      1. Can't pick a username*

        Def don’t buy up to the limit they tell you! As my mortgage broker pointed out, the mortgage co. doesnt care if you’re eating ramen every day.

        To put myself more at ease in the same situation as you, I took out a Home Equity Line of Credit, for just-in-case scenarios like job loss, emergency repairs. It’s impossible to borrow money if you’re out of a job. I don’t recall ever using it, but it gave me some peace of mind.

        And yes to having a house savings account.

      2. Prospect Gone Bad*

        “Best tip I have is: do not actually borrow as much as the bank will let you. They will absolutely offer you a bigger mortgage than you can comfortably afford.”

        I love you! So many people don’t agree with me on this, maybe because they haven’t been house hunting in so long. Everyone thinks this went away in 2008. It definitely did not, or maybe it did for a while simply by virtue of homes getting cheaper into the early 2010s.

        I make good money and have been seeing people in my pay grade buy homes we absolutely cannot afford without going on a ramen diet with no wiggle room . To be honest it feels like 2006 against, just with a different socioeconomic class

        1. Rick Tq*

          Living below your means is the #1 way to stay independent as you age, and buying less house then you are approved for is part of that for sure. The mortgage broker and the bank want to make money from the sale so they will naturally push for you to spend to maximum. By keeping below that you can have a house savings account, handle increases in home owners insurance and property taxes, HOA special assessments if you have an HOA, etc.

        2. IT Manager*

          I heard this great (and true) line on a podcast – your rent is the maximum you’ll pay for housing; your mortgage is the MINIMUM you’ll pay for housing.

          I’ve heard you should expect to spend 10% of the value of a house yearly on repairs (save it on the years you don’t spend it, that roof will need to be replaced sooner or later) … my experience with my 1965 house has been more like 20%.

          It’s all doable, and for me the consistency of a 30 year mortgage is worth it – but definitely budget for mortgage/tax/insurance AND maintenance.

    2. Mid*

      You got this! I know far more single homeowners than partnered ones. Of my general friend/peer/associate group, I’d say about 1/3 own homes, and of those ~50 people, 40 of them bought homes as single people. And you get to get whatever you want in a home, and to decorate and remodel however you want, without having to consider another person in that equation. That’s so fun! It gets to truly be your dream home!

    3. Lissajous*

      I’m not US based, so can’t talk to all the country specific stuff, but I bought my own home as a single woman five years ago and I’m about to renovate the kitchen and bathroom (without borrowing extra to do it) – so that’s somewhat successful?
      I worked out what *I* was comfortable borrowing – I ran the numbers up to 10% interest to work that out (which was about 7-8% above the typical loan rates at the time).

      I knew I was going to be looking for a new job and that I’d probably get a payrise when that happened (I did and I did). I deliberately got a house first and then looked for a new job – one, it was better for getting a loan to have been in the same job for some time; two, because I ran the numbers at the lower pay rate, I’m now able to pay the mortgage much more easily. (I have an offset account, so I just shove extra money into that as a savings account.) I’ve now rebuilt my savings cushion very nicely (aforementioned renos will eat into that a bit though).

      Also keep some money aside when buying so you’ve got money there just in case.

      Run the numbers, be honest with yourself about how much you need to live on, include some entertainment money in that (hobbies, holidays etc – don’t forget gifts!), don’t forget taxes and rates, do a very conservative test on how much interest you might end up having to pay some day, and keep a bit aside as buffer.

      And then work out what you really need in a house, and what you can live with!
      Me – location was important, an old kitchen I could live with.

    4. Sandi*

      I bought as a single person and love it! Some of my single friends have also bought because they saw how well it went for me.

      My comment to all of them: it will feel expensive the first year. Have some extra funds for fees, little repairs, and whatever else might pop up.

      I bought a small townhouse 20 years ago and after 2 moves I now have a small home with a yard. You don’t have to buy your forever home at the start. You can aim for a place that will be more affordable and good enough for the next 5 years. If you can afford the forever option now then even better but don’t plan on it.

      It’s harder financially at first, but it gets better over time. Your $2000 /month mortgage payment now will be $2000 /month in 20 years when your salary will be higher. So, as you think into the future and how uncertain things will be, keep in mind that the costs relative to your salary will be easier.

      I decided on affordability based on what I was spending on rent and what I was saving. I had paid off most of my student debt, didn’t yet have a car, and I don’t buy much stuff so I had a habit of not spending much when I bought. I decided to buy near transit and not get a car, and I stretched into what the bank was willing to loan me. It worked for me because I didn’t have to change much about my finances. I also have 6 months of savings in case something happens with my job and I need the backup, although I didn’t have all of that at first.

    5. Pennyworth*

      When I bought a house on my own I borrowed on the assumption that interest rates would go up and my income would not, to be super cautious. I also looked for a house that would be suitable for a roommate in case I needed extra money in a crisis.

      1. Filosofickle*

        “Suitable for a roommate” was one of my strategies. It’s not what my preference, and my small secondary bedrooms are less than ideal for that, but knowing I have a financial Plan B eased my mind. There are two ways to go — either buy the smallest / cheapest option, to have a lower payment, or go larger and know you can share it if needed.

        Eventually I do hope to share it with a partner, but I didn’t have doubts about buying alone. This is my chance to go fully maximalist on the decor while I have no one else’s tastes to take into consideration :D

    6. Octavia*

      I did just this years ago. It’s a process and I had my doubts too, but I’m glad I did it. I slept so much better knowing that I wasn’t looking at annual rent increases any more. I also got to do what I wanted in terms of paint, flooring, appliances, etc., which was lovely. I also have a non-evil HOA, which helps. And even though my baseline living costs went up, those costs were more stable and budgeting got easier.

      Number one recommendation: buy well less than what the bank tells you it’ll loan you. Buying less (and yes, a good agent and some luck) allowed me, as a single income, to pay off my home – and that’s a whole new level of freedom. (And I’m nowhere near retirement!)

      You got this!

    7. Pharmgirl*

      I bought my first home as a single person four years ago. I’m moving so I just sold it, now looking for my new home. Find a good realtor, I love mine. But also doesn’t hurt to look on Zillow on your own, it keep going to open houses to get a feel for what is out there/what you might like.

      I agree not to borrow as much as you can. It depends on the market where you are, but places are going way over listing where I am so also look below budget in case you need to over bid. There’s less biddding on houses that need work, but if you’re willing to put in the work that’s one thing to consider.

      One thing with HOA – my personal experience at my condo wasn’t great. It was a very small building so we self managed which helped keep the costs super low. but after only a year the current trustee moved and somehow most of the work fell to me. It was not something I expected when i moved, and it was really frustrating to get complaints from other owners. And just more work than I wanted (there is obviously work when you have a single family, but in an HOA you’re partly doing the work for others, and it got stressful after a while for me. )

    8. love flourishes*

      I bought my house as a single person 7 years ago and I love it.

      Get a non-adjustable rate mortgage. I know interest rates are high right now, but at least you know how much you’re borrowing. You can always pay down the principal if you come into extra money.

      The first realtor I had showed me some houses that were real dogs, so I dropped him because he wasn’t listening and started driving around neighborhoods I was interested in. I ended up finding a cute wee house that checked off almost all the boxes, and the realtor attached to this house was a wonderful lady. I’m ex-Army, so I showed the bank my DD-214 and got to skip on private mortgage insurance.

      Every house’s dearest wish is to fall apart: furnace, AC, water heater, they all love to break, so factor that into your budget concerns.

      And I will echo what others have said in the thread: you’ve got this! If you’re interested, it’s because you’ve already done your homework in this area. Imo, it was easier to buy as a single person because I didn’t have to run my decisions past anyone else. Ultimately, it really is a Room of One’s Own. Good luck!

    9. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      A thing to consider — a home warranty for the first year or two. I say consider — if all your appliances are thirty years old and past a reasonably expected lifespan, the warranty won’t cover them if they break, or if they’re brand new and still in the manufacturer’s warranty that’s obviously a better choice. But it’s at least worth looking at.

      *Mine practically laughed at me when my 20 year old heat pump gave up the ghost because I couldn’t demonstrate that it had had appropriate maintenance the whole time and it was only expected to last 10-12 years anyway. (The replacement gets annual maintenance by the company who installed it and has a separate warranty through that company now.)
      *But when the 8 year old water heater gave out, they covered 90% of the replacement, which saved me more than the first two years’ worth of premiums.
      *It’s also replaced one microwave, one washer and one dryer, to the tune of another almost 2.5 years’ worth of premiums between them.
      *In addition to appliances, mine also covers electrical and plumbing issues in the house itself, and I’ve used it for plumbing problems a couple of times.

      Mine is through American Home Shield, but there’s other options.

      1. Ugh*

        When I sold my first house, the buyer requested a home warranty policy from me. It was cheap, so I’m sure it was a good idea for her.

    10. Can't Sit Still*

      I bought my first home last year as a single person at 48. I decided that since I’m going to be single anyway, I’d prefer the security of a mortgage payment over perpetual rent increases.

      I bought a turnkey condo in an estate sale and ended up with a mortgage that was a little over half of what I had been approved for. To maximize flexibility, I got a 30 year fixed rate mortgage and bought a point to bring the interest rate down (the point will have paid for itself by the end of 2023.) I also have a split mortgage payment, and pay half a mortgage payment every payday, so even if I do nothing else differently, my mortgage will be paid off in 25 years. My primary goal was to have buying cost, at a minimum, the same as renting, with the assumption that my salary would never increase, but that taxes, insurance & HOA fees would increase. As it turns out, buying is already less than renting, since rent on my previous apartment has already increased 18%.

      Make sure to keep a chunk of cash in reserve for all the things that happen over the course of the year. I believe the rule of thumb is a minimum of 1% of your home’s value, annually. It’s only been a year, but I’d say that’s spot on.

    11. HahaLala*

      I bought my house when I was single 8 years ago. I ended up paying less in mortgage then I had been paying in rent, so it was an easy decision. I made sure to buy in neighborhood I loved and I picked a house where I knew I could add value– everything was move in ready at the time, but I’ve since upgrade & renovated a bunch. A few years ago my now husband moved in, and we just went under contract on a new place, so we’re prepping to sell & I know I’ve added a ton of value — I’m hoping it’ll sell for $100k more than what I paid for it! That’s $$ I wouldn’t be getting if I had kept renting.

    12. Cat's Paw for Cats*

      How exiting! I’m a retired woman, never married and have bought and sold five homes over the years. I have three pieces of advice:

      1. Don’t overspend because you want to have enough funds to decorate nicely. I was not completely happy with my first home, even though it was lovely and in a great neighborhood, because I could never quite afford to decorate it the way I wanted.

      2. Always have a cushion for job loss, illness, etc., even if it means delaying buying a house for a while. I kept two years of living expenses for emergencies and called it my “Go to Hell Fund.” Twice in my life had to use it, and it was a godsend.

      3. At the actual closing there will be a million documents for you to sign. You will not really have time to sit and read through them because everyone else will be waiting to do their part and leave. I recommend getting copies of the documents from the attorney’s office early and familiarizing yourself with them before the closing. They may not be ready so get blank copies if necessary, and then you will only have to check whatever was added at the closing. This will take a lot of stress away.

      Good luck and it is scary, but it will be just fine!

    13. Sunflower*

      I would suggest picking up the book Home Buying Kit for Dummies (was readily available my local library). It really walks you thru all the options and explains all the terms out so you can feel more confident making the best decision for yourself!

    14. jj's crystal palace*

      I bought my first home about 15 years ago as a young single mom earning a few bucks more than minimum wage. Interest rates were low and banks were offering 5% down with 40 year amortizations. Contrary to the advice of every other comment in this thread so far, I borrowed the maximum amount the bank approved me for, which juuuuust got me into the market with a 2 bedroom one bathroom condo. I put every dollar I had into the down payment and some DIY renovation projects. I got hit with an unexpected $5000 contingency contribution from the strata the first month I moved in. It wouldn’t have been a surprise if I would have read the strata meeting minutes, so do that if you’re buying into a strata or HOH. It was huge learning curve; my financial literacy was nearly nil. I didn’t even know what basic terms meant like equity, amortization, contingency fund, and principal vs interest fees.

      There have been a few hiccups along the way including a washer that flooded the laundry room (pro tip – ask a friend to borrow their wet vac lol), but I learned some excellent skills and have a lot more confidence as a homeowner now. I’m a little more risk averse now, so I’m not sure I would have made the same decisions. But, the equity I have built up in that investment now has put me in a much stronger financial position than I would have been in otherwise.

    15. SnootyGirl*

      If you are really worried you can buy mortgage insurance to pay the mortgage if you become unemployed. I set up automatic payments with my loan company and also asked for my payment to include an escrow so my mortgage payment also covers my insurance and property taxes (ay yi yi!). [Just make sure they pay it each year]. Interest rates are high right now so make sure you keep your credit score in good shape and make your paymesnt on time so you can refinance when the interest rates drop.

      I know you didn’t ask but here’s some tips. Property inspection, property inspection, property inspection. Do NOT let anybody talk you out of this! A competent inspector will walk you through the whole house and attic and crawl space and tell you what is wrong or good about the house. For safety items I would ask the seller to correct it or (better) to adjust the selling price so you can get it fixed. S/he will also point out the things you can put off until you have the money. For example: the house I bought had a problem with a faulty/recalled electrical panel, I asked the seller for $$$ so I could get it fixed on my own (they said yes) and I had it replaced before I even moved in. The house also has a fabulous deck but is old enough that the codes have changed. I talked to the inspector at length and he said it was in good shape, just no longer up to code with the way it was attached to the house. Also, don’t make a lot of changes right away. I bought the house and started making plans to remodel but then Covid hit and I lived in the house for two years before I could start remodeling. Those two years were very eye-opening. A lot of the things I thought I wanted I discovered I didn’t really need/want or I ended up configuring them a different way.

      Good luck – house hunting is exhausting and thrilling!

    16. Hanani*

      I bought my house as a single person (and I’m still single now). You can absolutely do it!

      Put away more money than you think for renovations and repairs. The rule of thumb for repairs is 1% the cost of the house. At least double it, and add another few percent for renovations.

      Figure out a down payment and mortgage rate that is comfortable (not just doable) for you. Only look at houses in that range. General rule is that housing shouldn’t be more than 30% of your take-home pay.

      Either get comfortable with DIY or find a trusted handy person/set of professionals. Even a move-in ready house is going to have Stuff Happen sometimes, and it’s good to be ready. Thanks to family I’ve developed a lot of DIY skills, which I like because I like knowing I’m capable of things.

      Professionals only for gas, garage door springs, and major plumbing.

    17. Mazey's Mom*

      I bought my first home at age 48 as a single woman (still am), and I think I lucked out. It’s not the best looking house around, and for many people it wouldn’t be an ideal location (my back yard backs up to train tracks, and a gas station is in front of my house), but the inside was much better than every other house I saw, and having lived in this town for years as a renter, I’m used to hearing the train. A few things I learned that for me made a big difference:

      1. Stick to your “must haves” but don’t have so many of them – be flexible. For me, having a level lot was very important because I didn’t want to have difficulty with snow removal. I wouldn’t compromise on that, but I could compromise on the size of the house. You’re the one who will be living there, so look for what you like instead of what others think you should have.
      2. Be realistic about how much fixing up you’re prepared to do. Ask how old the roof is and when the last time the plumbing was overhauled. I had major plumbing repairs done last year but at least now I know it was done right. Keep the inspection report and use it as a guide for future home improvements (and don’t be afraid to push back to the seller on problems that are found).
      3. When you’re ready to close on a house, get a copy of the paperwork in advance that you’ll need to sign and read through it. I asked for it but never got it. The closing agent made a big deal of me wanting to read every page before I signed; it was the day before Thanksgiving and she had several other closings to do before all the offices closed for the holiday. I was glad I took my time, because she had written the wrong county on many of the pages and also incorrectly noted on one that my house was part of an HOA. Had she emailed the paperwork to me in advance, it would have taken less time in the office.
      4. Ask the seller to share with you the contact info for the service people they used. That saved me a lot of time in the beginning but now I have my own “stable” of service providers to call on when needed.
      5. Talk with the neighbors and ask if there’s anything they would have wanted to know before moving to the area. Maybe they’ll share what they know about the house that the seller hasn’t disclosed. I spoke to one neighbor, and it turned out to be the seller! I found out later that even though there was another party interested, he decided to sell to me because I was the only one to approach him directly instead of sending my realtor to ask questions.

      I’m so very happy I became a homeowner. I was afraid to do it before and didn’t think that my credit was good enough or that I wanted to take on the responsibility, but I found a great lender to work with and bought a pretty solid home that basically just needs some cosmetic work, apart from the unexpected plumbing issues. My credit score has improved and my mortgage is much less than what I’d pay in rent for the same amount of space. Plus, I can do anything I want. I don’t have to get the landlord’s permission to adopt a pet, or paint a room. If I need to replace something, I buy what I want – not live with whatever cheapo crap someone else picks out. And if I decide to watch tv or move furniture at 3 am, I can, and no one can complain about it.

      Good luck with house hunting!

    18. Sloanicota*

      Best decision I ever made, financially! I found the whole thing *extremely* stressful, but now that I’m three years in I’m so glad I pushed through it. I’m also single, so it can be done! Considering how expensive rent is in my area, it’s not so much harder to tackle mortgage on a single income. I kept telling myself if it was a huge mistake or I ran into some terrible expense I couldn’t cover, I’d probably be able to at least make my money back (I picked a great location and did some property-value-increasing work before I ever moved in).

    19. Dancing Otter*

      Financial advice for *after* you buy…
      Closing costs always seem to come out higher than expected, at the last minute. Don’t put all your available savings into the down payment.

      Adjustable rate mortgages usually have a teaser rate that is almost certain to go up the maximum possible at the first reset. Get a fixed rate. You can refinance if rates ever go down.

      Review the calculations for the escrow portion of your mortgage payment. My lender made a mistake and hit me with a 100% increase in the monthly property tax payment at the first review.

      Also double check that they have the right info for the homeowner’s insurance payments. It’s a bear trying to get reinsured if your policy is canceled for nonpayment, and even worse if you only find out when you have a claim.

      My county has a website where you can look up the property tax by address. It’s a good resource to verify what the seller says the taxes are — they may have exemptions for which you are not eligible, like a senior freeze, or they may be “rounding down.” (Being charitable, there) This is also where you check later that your escrow agent and/or lender has actually PAID the taxes out of your account. Gggrrrr!

      Find out how much equity you need to have to opt out of PMI, and keep track. Your lender is unlikely to volunteer the information. (PMI is for their benefit. It’s not good insurance, and it’s overpriced compared to buying your own.)

      There’s also a point where you are no longer obligated to have an escrow account. I kept mine, for the convenience, but if you have the discipline to set aside the money on your own and the executive function to always pay on time, you might be able to earn a bit of interest doing it yourself.

      And for non-monetary concerns…
      Find out the village rules regarding landscaping, trash/recycling/yard waste, exterior maintenance, pets, etc. My hometown issues tickets for un-mown grass, peeling paint, weeds, not shoveling the sidewalk, soooo many things.

      Don’t trust the building department inspector; hire your own. Address any problems discovered in the final walk through *before* signing the closing documents. The seller has no incentive to keep their promises after they have the money. BTDT

      “Bleed” the hot water heater faithfully, if it’s the kind that needs it. They can do a lot of damage to your floor and walls if they burst. And a small leak in the plumbing can turn into a big problem fast.

  18. Mid*

    My best friend is getting married in two weeks, and as Person of Honor, I need to give a speech, and I’m panicking. I’m worried I’ll end up on a viral TikTok of Worst Wedding Speeches (though I understand I probably won’t say anything so offensive as to qualify for that kind of notoriety.)

    Does anyone have any good templates/outlines for a good speech? Especially when the bride is my best friend but her husband to be isn’t someone I know that well? Or good speeches you can link to? Tips and tricks? I’m not really concerned about the public speaking part of things, just the content of what I say. How long should it be?

    I really want to avoid the naggy wife/redneck husband tropes and jokes. I do want to keep it on the funny side, but without being mean. I also am very much LGBTQ+ while the groom’s family is very much not okay with that. (The bride obviously is!) The people in attendance are on the conservative side, so also nothing inappropriate or sexual. I’ve searched for “best wedding speeches” and honestly half of them seem….not great. They tend to rely on a lot of inside jokes or putting someone down, and I don’t like that.

    1. RagingADHD*

      I’m with you, that I like sweet wedding speeches, not mean ones. You could put these 4 points together (or something like them) and that would be plenty:

      -Cute / funny story about how you and the bride initially became friends, or how you became close.

      -Cute / funny or sweet story about how you knew the bride was really in love with the groom.

      -Funny or endearing story about a moment that made you believe he’d be a good match for her, or (in a jokey way) how he earned your “seal of approval.”

      -Warm wishes for their happiness, and a toast.

      IMO, shorter is better than longer.

      1. Sage*

        I’ve done a few of these and this is great advice! the overall vibe I think you’re aiming for is ‘isn’t my friend great, and isn’t it great she’s met this great guy’.

        and definitely agree re shorter is better – check with the bride if there’s an ideal length (especially if there are a lot of other speech givers) and otherwise I’d say max 5 minutes but shorter is fine.

        Once you’ve written some notes, practice saying it at home and timing yourself – you’ll want to speak more slowly and leave bigger pauses than you’d think (altho sounds like you know this already if you’re not worried about the public speaking bit!)

        1. RagingADHD*

          Yeah, not only is “Awwwe” (with maybe a little chuckle) nicer, it can be easier to pull off than trying to be hilarious.

    2. JSPA*

      I’d focus on “touching for everyone” rather than funny; if you are naturally funny, and home in on what makes the bride a special, sparkling person in people’s lives, that will probably bring some chuckles of familiarity. All you have to say about the groom is that she lights up whenever she talks of him, she’s even more herself in his presence, and that you’re so glad they’ve each found “their person” in each other. Captain Awkward had a fine template recently, if you need more guidance than that.

      Your being there and in a position of honor is already LGBTQ+ visibility. But if you want to stress the “love is universal” message, praise that “She’s always been so supportive of her friends finding ‘their person,’ regardless of the pesky details that so many of us get hung up on.”

    3. Ellis Bell*

      I would probably list your favourite things or memories about your friend, what her favourite things are about the groom are (especially if she’s not doing a speech). What she told you about him when they met, or how her nerves manifested (or didn’t) around the first date, or how you knew he was a serious contender for her, or your first meeting with him, can be a good space for material. If these things lend themselves to humour, great but it isn’t something to overly worry about imo. Just invite people in to those little details which will make them feel as close to the couple, or as close to the bride’s perspective as you are. When you’ve got as much material written down as possible, (you might do better reminiscing with another friend, notepad on hand, if notepad alone doesn’t cut it), go through and cross out and edit ruthlessly to make it as short as possible. You’ll feel tonnes better if it’s not too much to bite off and it can be more memorable if it’s short and sweet. When you’re left with just a few pearls, the string that will best hold them together will be pretty obvious, so I wouldn’t try to actually write it until you’ve got your main bullet points decided on.

    4. Pocket Mouse*

      Other commenters have great tips on structure, so I’ll focus on another piece of the content question. You can make a subtle plug for inclusion by keeping your compliments gender-neutral, such as “I’m so happy Best Friend found such an incredible person to share and build a life with” (‘person’ instead of ‘guy’) and by using framing similar to how you might for a queer couple, such as emphasizing fit as a couple, how happy they make each other, and how strong of a partnership they have (rather than hetero tropes like finding The One or calling your best friend a ‘catch’).

        1. the Viking Diva*

          For sure we tell women they have to catch a man. I was curious and checked google ngrams: References to ‘catch a man’ or ‘he is a catch’ are much more common than the parallel references to women/she. ‘The one’ may not be just hetero but it certainly communicates that there is a ‘one’ for everyone and you should not rest until you find them.

          Weddings – even gay ones, because they so often mimic straight culture conventions – can easily perpetuate heteronormativity and exclude single or polyamorous folks. I appreciate Pocket Mouse thinking about the toast as a chance to celebrate a specific couple while also resisting the notion that it must look the same for everyone!

    5. CityMouse*

      I was a maid of honor where I didn’t know the groom that well.

      Story about how my friend and I met.
      Story about how my friend introduced me to husband and jokes about how she tried to be casual about it but it was very clear the guy was important.
      Best wishes for the future.

    6. just another queer reader*

      I was in a similar situation a few years ago! I wrote a short (2-3 minutes?) speech.
      – introduced myself and how I knew the bride
      – told a sweet story about the bride
      – expressed my best wishes for the couple
      – ended with a toast, I think!

      In general, the idea is to say “I love my friend, I’m happy for her” (and then say nice things about the partner if you can, otherwise just focus on your friend)

      Brainstorming or workshopping ideas for a story/anecdote with a mutual friend might be helpful too!

      1. just another queer reader*

        I also got some good inspiration from articles on how to give a toast when you don’t know/like your friend’s partner.

    7. A caution*

      Lots of good advice here, but I would avoid including an LGBTQ+ message in your toast, no matter how subtle; it’s just not the place for it. Your presence is message enough. You are there to celebrate the couple, not make a point or teach a lesson. Or at least ask the bride if it’s ok first.

        1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

          Eh, I don’t think saying “person” instead of “man” is delivering a message or making a point, it’s just not framing the relationship in a way that doesn’t ring true to the speaker. I am not a marriage-oriented person so I don’t get asked to speak at weddings, thankfully for all concerned, but I wouldn’t be able to make a speech that implied, however subtly, that this brand-new straight marriage was “realler” than my 20-year lesbian cohabitation. I think Pocket Mouse’s advice was spot on.

      1. A caution*

        I would say that someone who is offended, or feels it’s too non-inclusive to refer to the man and woman who are getting married as “man” and “woman” is probably not the right person to make a speech at their wedding (unless the couple feels the same way).

    8. MEH Squared*

      I gave a speech for my bestie when he got married (on Zoom) during the pandemic. I planned it for weeks, and then I just winged it. I mentioned how we met on Twitter while we were both in a bad place, but how we’ve both grown since. We have supported each other for the last dozen years. I mentioned specific ways in which he has changed his life for the better and how proud I was of him. I did not know his fiancee, but I said that if he loved her, then she was part of my family. The whole thing was roughly two minutes and I just spoke from my heart. I’m queer, too. I did not include anything specifically queer, but I eschewed het norms. He told me afterwards that he was really touched by my speech.

    9. allathian*

      Good luck, shorter’s definitely better. Don’t be like my friend’s dad, whose speech started with something like “I was so happy when we brought you home from the hospital X years ago…” and went on for 45 minutes in 3 languages while the food got cold, the guests started fidgeting, and the bride’s smile got ever more frozen on her face. In my area, it’s considered impolite to eat or drink while someone’s giving a speech, except for the toast.

      When her sister got married a couple years later, she forbade her father from giving a speech. The MOH was charged with timekeeping and those who were giving speeches were told that the couple didn’t want a repeat of the big sister’s wedding and that they didn’t want any speeches to last longer than 3 minutes and that 5 was the absolute maximum, after which the guests were requested to continue eating. At 2 minutes the MOH struck her glass with a spoon as a warning, at 3 minutes she struck it again, and the person giving the speech was expected to wrap things up very quickly after that. The father of the bride did give a short congratulatory toast before the dancing started, but he kept it to just a sentence or two.

      Aim for 2 minutes, if you get a lot of applause or laughter, respect the audience by taking a break and it won’t matter if it runs to 3 or 4 minutes.

  19. The Prettiest Curse*

    It’s the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest this weekend! (It starts on Saturday at 8pm BST.) I’m really excited for the contest this year because it’s being hosted in Liverpool, my beautiful home city, on behalf of Ukraine, who won last year. And for the first time this year, people in countries that aren’t traditionally included on Eurovision get to vote too.

    All the songs I write about below can be viewed on the Eurovision YouTube channel – @EurovisionSongContest.

    Sweden are the favourites to win, as they’ve entered Loreen, who previously won. I liked her winning song, but think her song this year is fairly bland. Definitely not bland are the other favourite, Finland, whose song manages the impressive feat of going through 3 different musical genres in 3 minutes and doing all of them badly.

    Continuing the unusual (for us) trend of entering songs that aren’t terrible, the UK song this year is a fun and catchy pop number. I don’t think we’ll do as well as we did last year, but we should at least make the top 10.

    My favourites among the songs I’ve heard so far are France (basically a Lady Gaga song, but in French), Czechia (an anthem paying tribute to Slavic women, sung partly in Ukranian), and (the one I’m really rooting for) Austria, who’ve entered a catchy pop song about being possessed by the spirit of Edgar Allan Poe, which also takes aim at music industry exploitation.

    On the less-positive side, Croatia have entered an abysmal song this year that is supposed to be an anti-war statement- but the staging features 2 fake missiles shooting fireworks, plus the (all-male) group stripping down to their underwear.

    So, fellow Eurovision watchers, let me know who you’re voting for, and whether you think that (as rumoured) Paul McCartney will put in a surprise guest appearance!

    1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

      I definitely intend to watch if only I manage to stay awake that long – the time is super late in my time zone and I currently have Covid… I haven’t watched the other performances yet, only Finland’s (my own country). The hype is really crazy here! I don’t personally really like the song but I like how it’s brought people together to create really funny fan meme stuff that makes people happy. For example, making your own versions of the singer’s green sleeve thingy (I have absolutely no idea what it’s called in English) has become so popular that green fabric and yarn is sold out pretty much everywhere. I also think it’s better to send something weird and memorable that will either win or lose, than something that nobody hates but it’s similar to 5 other shows the same year.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I just looked at the videos on YouTube and I would say it’s a shrug. Usually a shrug is a short, knitted sweater. It’s smallest/shortest version covers just the arms and shoulders.

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        Even though I was complaining about Croatia and Finland, in general I much prefer the entries that do something weird and memorable, even if it doesn’t totally land. Back to back ballads and boring samey dance tracks are definitely the worst thing about Eurovision. One hour till the show starts!

      3. allathian*

        Yeah, I agree. I’m also in Finland, but I didn’t watch because the show started at about my bedtime in our timezone, and there’s no way I can stay up until 2 am these days…

        I was very meh about the song, but I’ve had it as my earworm for the last few weeks. Käärijä won the fan vote by a landslide, but the juries weren’t as keen on it.

        It’s become a phenomenon, a much bigger one than Finland’s one and only Eurovision winner, Lordi’s Hard Rock Hallelujah in 2006. I particularly enjoy the fact that it’s already been covered by a large number of artists, including Germany’s ESC entrant Lord of the Lost. He does a really good job with the Finnish lyrics even though he doesn’t speak Finnish.

        Several of my coworkers were wearing neon-green nail polish on Friday. My manager wore a dark pink dress, the same color as the backing performers wore.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          The Finnish song was definitely the choice of the folks in the arena. When it came down to Finland or Sweden, I actually started rooting for Finland because even though I didn’t like the song, I thought he performed it very well and it wasn’t as boring as Sweden! Fun media fact: so many people in Liverpool dressed up in imitation of the Finnish singer’s costume that one of them got mistaken for him and interviewed on live TV!

    2. Skates*

      American Eurovision obsessive here! Husband and I are throwing a watch party. Gotta say, my heart is with either Finland (Cha Cha Cha! This man has a hulk arms bolero, people!) or Sweden (tattoo-oo-oo). We’re having like 10 people over, none of whom are familiar with Eurovision at all and I’m so excited!!!!!

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Oh nice! This year’s contenders are all pretty good I think (except for maybe Croatia’s song).

      2. JSPA*

        good call! And the staging / singing on Cha Cha Cha just got better and better (or maybe it’s just the earworm aspect).

        “Poe” kinda faded, in that respect.

        I actually liked Croatia’s attempt to (roughly) channel Ukraine’s Verka Serduchka, then go a few steps more outrageous. A drag sensibility, only without the gender-swap (and I’m totally here for that, as someone who feels just as “drag” when dressed up to emphasize female or male). Dragging gender norms, war and graft and strongmen” and their sycophants, while proudly shaking a (very average) asses, to a simple tune any crowd could chant, while skimming just inside of the Eurovision “no politics” rule? Yes, please, and thank you! (And they got enough of the popular vote to confirm that the message landed.)

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I’m probably going to miss it this year (again!) due to the desperate need to be unpacking and having to venture out to find Walmart. But next year for sure. Enjoy it for me!

    4. Random Dice*

      No way Loreen is a contender. Her song is boring and unmelodic. Finland’s song is weird and hilarious and back to weird. I’m rooting for the crazy caterpillar.

        1. allathian*

          It’s just too bad that Loreen did win… Congrats, I guess. She’s the first woman who’s won ESC more than once, but I think Euphoria’s a much better song than Tattoo. Johnny Logan’s won it twice for Ireland, in 1980 and 1987.

    5. JustForThis*

      I’m not an avid ESC watcher, but stumbled upon some of this year’s entries on youtube yesterday — and was swept away by the Austrian song as well! Catchy, tongue-in-cheek, and clever, all in one. Keeping my fingers crossed for that one.

    6. Princess Deviant*

      I love Tattoo and am so glad it won! Also hello from a neighbour, I live across the river – Liverpool did great, hey?
      The presenters, especially Hannah Waddingham, were great.
      I thought the UK entry was a nice song but her performance wasn’t great live. I don’t think she deserved second from last place though!

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I live in a different part of the UK now, so this year’s contest was definitely a fun nostalgia trip for me. I loved the interval show with all the Liverpool hit songs (especially Dadi Freyr’s version of Whole Again) and it was fun to see Sam Tyder on top of the Liver Building – I didn’t even know they let people go up there.
        Too bad about the UK entry, I think the staging was a bit weak and there was a glut of female empowerment pop songs this year, but it’s a fun song, so should do well in the charts. I agree on Hannah Waddingham – if you’d told me the scary nun lady from Game of Thrones would do a great job of presenting Eurovision, I would never have believed it!

    7. Pineapple Salad*

      Italian Eurovision fan here: so proud of our wonderful entrant, Marco Mengoni, who was awesome as usual! I didn’t think Marco was going to win, but I’m delighted with his fourth place.

      Italy always sends the winner of our Sanremo song festival, which isn’t a specific Eurovision selection event, but a festival celebrating Italian music (and was the inspiration for Eurovision), so the winning Sanremo song isn’t chosen with Eurovision in mind. This year, Marco won Sanremo with a stunning ballad, Due Vite, but a lot of people were worried that it would get lost among all the Eurovision craziness. However, Marco really delivered (as he always does!) a gave a beautiful, heartfelt performance.

      Check out some of his other songs: it’s worth it! I’d recommend Ma stasera, Pronto a correre, I got the fear, L’essenziale (his Sanremo/Eurovision song from 2013), Credimi ancora, Parole in circolo, Hola, Ti ho voluto bene veramente… I’ll stop here, otherwise I’ll just list his entire discography!

      There were a lot of songs I enjoyed this year: Austria, France, Czechia, Finland, Moldova, Malta, Portugal…

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I thought the Italian entry was good this year, he didn’t need the trampoline dancers though! Nice to see Mahmood putting in an appearance too.

    1. Victoria, Please*

      This sounds like an excellent question for Bard, Bing, or ChatGPT! …there, a thought experiment!

    2. carcinization*

      Do you mean like, “Does a straw have one or two holes?” Or like the trolley problem? Or some third thing?

    3. NeutralJanet*

      I have an undergraduate degree in philosophy, which primarily means that I am incredibly insufferable (sorry!), but also means that I have thought experiments out the wazoo–what are you looking for, more specifically? Any themes you want, or are you planning some sort of activity? I assume you know all the classics (Prisoner’s Dilemma, Trolley Problem, Ship of Theseus, Tibbles the Cat, etc), but hey, maybe you don’t, and can start with just Googling “classic thought experiments”.

    4. GlowCloud*

      There are over 100 zen koans you could try, if that’s the kind of thing you’re looking for.

  20. Pocket Mouse*

    Has anyone reported a company or organization for violating the CAN-SPAM Act? What did you need to have available during the process, how onerous was it, and do you know what came of your report?

    A fun twist on this is that one of the organizations spamming me (the most egregious one) does seem to have permission to email someone, but that someone entered their email address with a typo so it’s coming to me instead. Unsubscribing works eventually, far later than CAN-SPAM allows, and there is no consistent contact info provided (another CAN-SPAM violation) that would allow me to contact someone to try to sort it out. And something apperently happens such that they—with my email address—periodically get added back/opted back in to the system.

    (Another fun twist is that I loathe the content of these emails but on occasion am excited to thereby hear about a development the email is bemoaning, so at least there’s that.)

    1. RagingADHD*

      I just hit the “report spam” button in my email options, and Gmail (or whoever) permanently blocks the address.

      I presume it’s reporting to the provider rather than the government, but since I never see it again, I don’t care. I do know from having managed email lists that getting spam reports from providers will eventually impact their ability to maintain an account (if they get enough), so it’s probably a more immediate solution in terms of consequences, as well.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        The good news is all of the emails from the egregious spammer already go to my spam folder, which I check regularly. The bad news is that each has a different ‘from’ address because varying loathsome entities seem to be paying for use of the email system/list. I’m hoping for a consequence where they have to pay fines as specified by CAN-SPAM (see above about loathsomeness).

        1. RagingADHD*

          Your Spam folder is not the same as what I’m talking about. That is an autofilter that sends suspected spam to a separate folder.

          Hitting the “report spam” option will register a complaint with the email provider and block the address.

          If you’re going to go through the trouble of regularly looking at spam emails that apparently make you upset (instead of letting them auto delete on schedule) and copy-paste each individual email address into an official complaint form, you could choose at the same time to report and block those addresses.

          You should do whatever feels like the best use of your own time and energy, but just be aware that you will not be informed of any proceedings, fines, etc that may result from a report. So if you’re hoping for some kind of satisfaction there, it will not be forthcoming.

          1. Pocket Mouse*

            Hmm, maybe we have different email providers? In Gmail, reporting an email in the inbox moves it to the spam folder, and Google support says future emails from the sender may also end up in the spam folder (rather that being blocked entirely). And the report spam option is not available for emails already in the spam folder. I appreciate the info that enough spam reports may impact the sender’s ability to maintain an account with the provider! Do you happen to know if that happens across providers, like if I report an email as spam in Gmail but the sender uses, say, Yahoo, will Yahoo get the memo that they’re sending spam?

            And when you say I will not be informed of any proceedings, fines, etc. that may result from a CAN-SPAM report, are you speaking from personal knowledge or experience with the process? If so, I’d love to hear more.

    2. Mimmy*

      No experience but your post prompted me to look up the CAN-SPAM act because of company I keep getting daily emails from despite telling it to suspend emails for 30 days. I am an existing customer, so very different from your situation. It’s good to know that there is legislation that holds companies accountable for sending unwanted emails.

      Normally, I’d say set up a rule in your email program (that’s what my husband is always saying to me lol). But that doesn’t help the person who DID agree to the emails *shrug*.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        Yeah, as I indicated to RagingADHD, my question is really about the CAN-SPAM process, not about email filtering. I know how to do that, and am doing it! Hope you can set things up to address your situation.

    3. Elle Woods*

      I reported an organization a couple of years ago. As I recall it, I needed to have the full email (including headers) to submit for the complaint. The emails stopped a few weeks later.

      Good luck!

  21. Stinky Feet*

    Two questions: Has anyone figured out why they suddenly had stinky feet/shoes? Does anyone have a preferred brand of socks that are mostly cotton?

    The shoes I had been wearing to work (only a few days a week in a normal office setting) got a horrible odor to them after I’d owned them for only about a year and a half. The shoes were the kind that are “water resistant” so I figured maybe they weren’t breathable, were making my feet sweat, and threw them out. The replacement shoes I got are very breathable and light, but they suddenly got stinky after only a few months of light wear.

    I’ve never had a problem with shoes getting stinky before, unless I was wearing them a lot while being active outside (and getting sweaty). The only thing I can think is that the sock brand I buy has had less and less cotton in them, and the last ones I bought were totally synthetic. My mom always said synesthetic clothes made her sweat, so maybe my feet are sweating.

    I’m considering Gold Toe Women’s Ultratec Crew Sock’s to wear to work, but was wondering if anyone had other cotton-y sock brands they like. (I can wear women’s and children’s sizing.)

    1. misspiggy*

      Synthetic socks are likely to be the culprit. I used to live somewhere where men commonly wore nylon socks, and even being in the same bus or railway carriage with them was horrendously stinky.

      Bamboo viscose socks are my go to – soft, environmentally friendly and very breathable. (Just don’t tumble dry them.)

    2. Blue wall*

      Do you alternate shoes? It’s good to give our shoes time to breathe between wears.

      1. Bye Academia*

        I was coming here to say this. I have naturally stinky feet and never wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row. It helps a lot.

    3. fposte*

      Synthetic socks are good bet, and sometimes also there’s just an odor tipping point. Even if you change socks I’d recommend doing some shoe refreshing–a spray of vinegar-water mix is what’s usually recommended, and then leaving them to dry thoroughly.

      I’m pretty much an all-Smartwool person except for the occasional shimming out in larger shoes. I don’t know if you meant cotton specifically or would be open to other natural fibers.

    4. Random Dice*

      I wear shoe liners that have silicone edges so they stay put.

      My brother – whose feet were so awful during puberty that his sneakers literally rotted – uses odor balls in his shoes, and sprinkles baby powder.

      Rubbing alcohol (and in a pinch, hand sanitizer) is good for dealing with odors.

    5. Dancing Otter*

      Do you have animals? Do you leave your shoes where Fido or Socks could be marking them?
      Have you been to the doctor for a checkup since this started? There are a few medical conditions that can change body odor. Low probability, but do mention the issue the next time you see your PCP.
      Have you tried removable insoles? Something you can take out and either wash or replace? I’ve also heard of odor-fighting inserts you use between wearings, mostly marketed for athletic shoes.

      1. JSPA*

        Most of the smell comes from the microbes that travel along with you naturally, not your own body. Pick up a new strain, develop a new odor.

        Or for that matter, change what your feet are exposed to, thus helping one group win over another, and again, different odor.

        It’s not realistic to want your skin to be sterile (don’t try!) but if you used to swim in a chlorinated pool, and now don’t (or vice versa) …or the ocean (ditto)…use certain sorts of soaps (ditto) or powders (ditto) or shared showers (ditto) or just new people sharing the same floor in the changing room at the gym–that’s all it’ll take.

        My mom used to swear by sunning her feet (tops and bottoms and toe spreaders) once a week, but she was also using it to fight back athlete’s foot.

        I find walking barefoot at the beach is the best sand-and-salt scrub, and the combined change of environment and exfoliation destinks my feet for some time… at least, until I put on the old stinky shoes and my feet are repopulated with the same old microbial stew.

        I suppose I could get it together enough to switch to all new shoes (and socks, and slippers, and flip-flops; and deep clean the floors and shower at home before going barefoot) after a beach vacation, though that seems…pricy.

    6. the cat's ass*

      I think youve touched on the main reason-synthetic socks-cotton or a predominantly cotton blend is best. Also the shoes can contribute-my fam went through a Keens shoe phase a couple of years ago and whew, the STINK from all of our feet was so bad the cats ran away from the shoes, even the sandal style.
      The only other thing i can think of is perhaps your diet has changed? Tho that’s a long shot.

    7. Enai*

      I don’t know why your shoes suddenly smell, but I have a suggestion for a remedy:

      1. have at least 2 pairs of shoes, don’t wear the same pair on consecutive days

      2. home-made febreeze:
      20% alcohol (as cheap as you can get; diluted rubbing alcohol is best)
      Distilled vinegar, diluted to 5% acid content (straight white vinegar, which naturally has 5% acid content, will do but food grade ingredients are not necessary)
      Make sure none of the ingredients contain sugar, else you get sticky shoes >_<
      Mix in equal parts
      Spray/mist on stanky object, don't soak
      Air out
      All better!

      Keeps basically forever.

    8. Jay*

      Do you tend to develop those deep callouses and cracks in your heels? I do and I’ve found out the hard way that bacteria can infest deep cracks if you have not ground them down often enough. It can make your feet go from normal to unholy in just a couple of days, and will absolutely ruin your shoes.
      What I have to do, should that happen, is to soak my feet in Epsom salts until the callouses are softer and they are cleaner, then grind them down with a series of files from “cheese grater from Hell” to “fine sandpaper”. Then you need to examine the cracks themselves. If they have gone all the way into your feet and become infected, you need to treat that, asap. Even if they don’t hurt NOW, they will before long. Repeated daily foot soaks after work, rubbing alcohol, and Neosporin work for me. If they hurt, are constantly bleeding, or look/smell very infected seek medical attention, as they can get very nasty, very fast.

      1. Can't pick a username*

        A 40% urea cream applied after after i shower (and after the filing down) has helped immensely. Can’t recommend it enough!

        1. Can't pick a username*

          So far, the urea cream has helped keep the cracking at bay, with only a little filing once a week. So much better than the moisturizer creams I was trying.

    9. Random Dice*

      But as to the why… any chance you’re a woman / person with a uterus who’s in her 30s or 40s?

      Sudden stinkiness can be hormonally linked – puberty, pregnancy, menopause.

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        Don’t even need a uterus, just the ovaries are enough …. as I learned after my hysterectomy. Lol.

    10. Qwerty*

      I had this problem when I started wearing ballet flats that made my feet sweat. Wearing liners helped mitigate the problem.

      The other half is cleaning up the shoes – if they are not breathable they might not be drying and/or bacteria started growing there. I have two sachets of baking soda and I put one in each shoe when I get home from work to absorb the moisture and odor. You can use any cloth for the sachets – I had a pair of stretched out cotton socks that I used.

    11. Girasol*

      The leather in a lot of modern shoes is fake and the shoes are machine washable. Can you toss those shoes in the wash now and again?

    12. MacGillicuddy*

      I have naturally sweaty feet, and all cotton socks don’t work for me. They get damp and stay damp. Bamboo works ok, also wool and wool blends.

      For the smelly shoes, buy a big box of baking soda, dump about a half-cup into each shoe & shake down so it fills the toe section. Leave overnight or longer, then shake out.

      Are the insoles (that come with the shoes) removable and washable?

      Avoid baby powder and powder-based foot sprays. If you have naturally sweaty feet, you end up with wet slimy powder on your feet.

      Alcohol based athlete foot sprays are helpful. As are the charcoal based odor-eater insoles

      Also, rotate your shoes so you aren’t wearing the same pair every day.

      And a word about Febreze – I’ve found it doesn’t eliminate odors, just covers them up resulting in a worse smell.

    13. Ellis Bell*

      What kind of material are your shoes made out of? I usually find that synthetic materials are Petri dishes which never dry out properly, so I stick to leather and canvas.

    14. FashionablyEvil*

      Is it the shoes or your feet? Athlete’s foot can also make your feet smell.

  22. Because bears… right?*

    My partner and I have a long weekend planned in Gatlinburg this month. We are renting a cabin super close (less than a mile) to the main strip. He wants to drive our Jeep Wrangler so we can take the doors and top off down there and enjoy the weather. He wants to leave it like that all weekend because the doors are a massive pain to take on and off. It will sit out in the open for 3 nights. This is not a great idea, right? Not concerned about weather or even theft, just…. Bears? Potentially damaging the inside of it? He doesn’t think the odds are high enough to worry about. I disagree. Which way would you go?

    1. sswj*

      If the vehicle has no food smells in it I doubt the bear would be interested. Bears go for cars where coolers are stored, or that have residual take-out meal odors. They do damage getting in to investigate, and then because they don’t fit well they do damage just moving around.

      No top or doors means good ventilation, a way for any curious bear to see that there’s really nothing there, and no way for him to get stuck.

      I don’t think you need to worry. Just don’t eat in the car if you can help it, and don’t park near the dumpster. That’s much more likely to attract them!

    2. The OG Sleepless*

      I would be worried about rain or just the dew. A lot of dew settles on things overnight in that area. Also lot of stuff falls out of the trees this time of year; I live in northern Georgia and when I had an oak and a poplar tree next to my driveway, they dropped stuff on and inside cars all the time.

    3. PhyllisB*

      I wouldn’t advise leaving doors and tops off overnight, storms brew up fast in the mountains and your vehicle could be soaked.

    4. Not A Manager*

      If you’re really not worried about weather, I personally wouldn’t worry about bears. Unless there is food hidden somewhere, I don’t think they are going to pay much attention to your car.

      And honestly, if bears WERE going to tear a car apart for no reason, they could do that even with the doors on. That’s why you don’t keep food in your car in bear country.

    5. connie*

      I have a relative in that area who left a car parked unlocked and came back to find some other people had taken a picture of a bear sitting in his car–they can open car doors and they know humans might have food on them. So it’s not a negligible risk. It also kind of depends on the terrain around where you are staying. Truthfully I’d be more concerned about raccoons.

      It can get very dewy overnight at this time of year because it’s humid forest and I just wouldn’t take chances that someone wouldn’t go through glove compartments, etc. You should expect petty thefts in places tourist frequent. Leaving the doors off, etc., is not a great idea.

    6. Llama Llama*

      Bears are really common. I live relatively close to Gatlinburg. My husband once was doing a construction job there and a bear broke into his partners truck. It did damage the truck and stole my husband’s (foodless) lunch box that had expensive earbuds in them. Funnily enough, the lunch box was found a year later by the homeowner and he got the earbuds back. They still worked!

  23. Manders*

    I’ll have a few extra hours in Nashville on a Sunday evening in June. What is the one restaurant I absolutely can’t miss out on?

    1. BlueCactus*

      Cafe Margot in East Nashville if it’s in budget. The menu changes every night; I’ve been there three or four times for special occasions and it’s always been phenomenal.

    2. Random Dice*

      Sinema, a converted old-fashioned cinema (hence the name) that is just gorgeous: circling gold staircases with rich peacock wallpaper and an Old Hollywood bathroom… and has exquisitely cooked New American food.

      They take pride in the incredible food. I asked the waiter about the mind-blowing aged cheddar on the charcuterie board, and he instantly knew the name of it (Prairie Breeze white cheddar, I ordered some right then), and gushed enthusiastically about it.

      It’s an experience for all of your senses. Well worth the visit.

      Speaking of which, I have some Prairie Breeze cheddar in my fridge right now, I’m gonna go eat some.

    3. Manders*

      Awesome, thanks for the suggestions. I am going to a conference Monday and Tuesday, and I’m thinking I’ll probably drive down Sunday afternoon, so my food will be covered (to a point – on University reimbursement!). This gives me ideas. I’ll be staying at the Graduate hotel?

      1. BlueCactus*

        You’re in my neck of the woods!

        Some other good spots in the vicinity: Jasper’s (new American, great happy hour), Midtown Cafe (very fancy, very delicious – I went there once for a VERY special occasion), Sarabhas creamery (fabulous Indian ice cream & coffee)

        Down in Hillsboro, which is a little bit of a walk or a 3 min drive: Fido (coffee shop and breakfast spot), Pancake Pantry (great pancakes, always a long line on weekends but if you get there early on a weekday it’s fine), Banh mi and roll (great little banh mi shop)

        For non food, also make sure to check out what’s going on at Centennial Park when you’re here – there are lots of concerts in the summer!

        1. Manders*

          Great, thanks! I have a conference on Monday and Tuesday, so I’m guessing I’ll drive down from Louisville on Sunday afternoon (I think I gain an hour), and leave after the conference on Tuesday.

  24. Adhoc Librarian*

    New Mexico recommendations, please!
    Specifically, Santa Fe and Taos in August. My family, (2 late teen kids, two adults), are spending a few days in each before road tripping to Aspen to meet up with family. We live in the UK, so are very excited about the prospect of eating a lot of delicious Mexican /Tex-Mex food that isn’t quite the same here! So, any recommendations for:
    -food tours (the ones I could find looked wicked expensive and seemed very sit-down restaurant – based)
    -street food (sadly I think we’ll miss the farmers’ markets in both cities)
    -restaurants in either city, or anything on the route north that’s a can’t-miss?
    -cool bookstores?
    -museums, especially anything that does a particularly good job of representing the Native American cultures/experiences specific to the area?
    -anything I’ve missed? Shops?
    We will also be visiting Mesa Verde and Telluride on the way north. Thank you!

    1. Bluebell*

      Definitely take the teens to Meow Wolf in SF – it is such a cool experience. I was in SF in 2019 and took a great tour, but that company seems to be out of business. Cafe Pasquale is a good breakfast/brunch spot. I thought the NM History Museum was well done, but didn’t make it to the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture.

    2. OyHiOh*

      Take a day trip out to Glorietta Pass State Park. The reason the park exists is because of a Civil War battle (that’s marked and described in absolutely excruciating detail) but the real glory of the park, in my opinion, is the pueblo site that’s well preserved and presented. It’s a jarring site because the pueblo is built out along a ridgeline, looking down into a valley . . . and at one end, Jesuit missionaries parked a gigantic honking fortress of a mission. You can clearly understand the impact of colonization.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Santa Fe: If you can stay near the old town, it’s very walkable and scenic.

      For breakfast, Dolina Bakery and Cafe. Central Europe (Slovakia?) meets New Mexico for a glorious hybrid. We went here for breakfast every day, as we were definitely not beating this. Especially recommend the Orechovnik French toast made with an incredible walnut cinnamon bread.

      La Boca is a very good tapas restaurant. If you’re looking for a special meal out where you can try lots of dishes, this is worth booking.

      The Teahouse: In the very walkable gallery district, good tea and food.
      Kakawa Chocolate House: Fabulous hot chocolate and chocolates.

      The Santa Fe Botanical Gardens are lovely and instructive. Right across from them is a set of museums: two of them focus on Native art, including works by current artists.

    4. EdgarAllanCat*

      – Dumpling cafe
      – Paper Dosa (get there EARLY!!! We waited *in line* at 4:45 for a 5pm opening.)
      – there’s a food truck area across the street from Kaune’s

      As far as museum hill, my favorite is International Folk Art Museum. Best ever gift shop & consistently interesting exhibitions. In the downtown area, I always go to IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA). Excellent exhibits, always thought provoking and sometimes unsettling/upsetting, but worth it nonethess.

      On the expensive side, but v. delicious – Coyote Cafe.

    5. EdgarAllanCat*

      In Santa Fe, visit the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA). Great exhibits that are always interesting & thought provoking & occasionally unsettling/upsetting.

      On museum hill in Santa Fe, there’s Museum of Indian Arts & Culture. I also love the Museum of International Folk Art, which has great exhibits & a fantastic gift shop. Skip the onsite cafe if you can. There are food trucks across the street from Kaune’s market, which will have more interesting choices.

      The dumpling cafe is also good, but not Mexican or Tex-Mex. If you like southern Indian food, try Paper Dosa. It’s really popular so get there early. We were ~15th in line at 4:45 for a 5pm opening.

    6. Unkempt Flatware*

      Toribios Mexican food stand in El Prado has the best tacos Al pastor I’ve ever had. Taos Diner for breakfast is a must. Better than Michaels Kitchen.

    7. Santa Fe Lover*

      Favorite restaurant in Santa Fe is The Shed, but you’ll want to get reservations. My family’s favorite dessert in the world is their mocha cake and I love their enchiladas Christmas style.

      I also agree with someone else’s recommendation of Sazon–delicious, but very spendy. So depends on what you’re looking for. However, it’s now on our list of must-go places when we go to Santa Fe.

      I also agree with The Teahouse; a huge selection of tea lattes (which is my jam) a great beets and burrata salad that I keep trying to replicate at home, and sandwiches/soups/that kind of thing.

      If you get a chance to go to Ten Thousand Waves Spa, which is a Japanese spa in the mountains about 15 minutes from town, I do highly recommend it. Both their treatments, which are fabulous, and eating at Izanami, the izakaya on site. It’s like a Japanese tapas place with a New Mexican flair. We really loved it.

      I do think the Georgia O’Keeffe museum is worth a visit. I found the Folk Art Museum to be fascinating. Like others said, Meow Wolf is very cool. Take a walk along Canyon Road and enjoy the (really expensive!) art to be found there in the galleries.

      1. Santa Fe Lover*

        Oh, and it’s not that close to Santa Fe (close to an hour drive) but if you can make it to Bandelier, that’s super cool and ties in really interestingly with Mesa Verde.

        Also, Rancho De Chimayo is delicious and a family tradition for me, but again, a bit of a drive from Santa Fe (around a half an hour). Chimayo is a cool place to visit in general.

        I hope you love it! I love New Mexico–the food, the scenery, and the culture. I hope your family does too!

    8. EdgarAllanCat*

      Also, Harry’s Roadhouse -great outdoor seating, convenient stop btwn Albuquerque & Santa Fe.

  25. The OG Sleepless*

    Recommendations for Old San Juan, Puerto Rico? Mr. Sleepless and I are going there for a couple of days for the first time in 30 years. Restaurants, things to see? Also, I hate to ask, but the last time we were there, San Juan was fairly high crime. Will a couple of middle-aged, obvious mainlander tourists be safe walking around?

    1. Bluebell*

      I was totally fine there but it was just before covid. I’m middle aged female and was alone and felt totally fine. I found a very worthwhile hidden architectural gems tour on Airbnb that was fantastic. Saw lots of cool indoor and outdoor things. I also did a sunset sail I found on Airbnb and that was lovely. The courtyard of Hotel El Convento was gorgeous but I didn’t eat there. Stop for paletas while you are wandering.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I’ve only been there as a day stop on cruises but I love it. La Mallorquina is the oldest restaurant on the island and has great food.

    3. Random Dice*

      Chocobar! Cortés is a famous chocolate* in PR, and the restaurant is both very visually enjoyable and delicious. They put a little bit of chocolate in dishes that one wouldn’t expect it, and it works – my favorite was a grilled cheese sandwich with chocolate.

      I was there 10 years ago, and because of the tourist reliance, there are cops EVERYWHERE. I think I saw 5 or 6 different uniforms, all official police officers. I didn’t feel unsafe in Old San Juan, and I have official safety issues.

      A fellow tourist said they tried to go in a sketchy part of Old San Juan and the police who were posted there to keep tourists from wandering into danger encouraged them to turn around.

      *”Chocolate Cortés is a 4th generation, family-owned, Caribbean, bean-to-bar chocolate manufacturing company. Originally established in the Dominican Republic in 1929 by Don Pedro Cortés Forteza, his pioneer spirit promptly moved him to export, and subsequently begin production of Cortés products from his native Puerto Rico; thus paving the way to fulfill his vision of developing Caribbean grown cacao to its fullest potential. Known for its rich and delicious hot chocolate, Chocolate Cortés quickly became a favorite of Puerto Rican and Dominican households to this very day.”

    4. Janet Pinkerton*

      I was just there a few weeks ago! I was with my local coworkers so I can’t speak to crime, but I never for one moment felt unsafe walking around. Definitely go to El Morro, it’s lovely to visit and also the large lawn has people hanging out on it, just a great environment. And just wandering!

      If you get outside of Old San Juan go to the kioskos along PR-187 and then go to the beach! 10/10 recommendation for Kiosko el Boriqua, especially the cod fritter.

  26. Bluebell*

    Darn- i blithely said yes to shingles vax shot #2 on Thursday afternoon and felt awful Friday (minor fever, aches, and tired). I was totally fine after shot 1. It’s subsiding a bit today, and I’m hoping to go to at least a bit of the local Porchfest that is happening this afternoon. If anyone wants to tell me how long side effects lasted after dose #2, and anything they did to feel better, that would be much appreciated!

    1. fposte*

      I’m generally low response to vaccines, but both shingles vaxes hit me like a truck; when I had side effects after my COVID vaccine I kept thinking “At least it’s not as bad as the shingles vax.”

      For mine is was 24-36 hours and when it quit it just straight up quit. I went from not wanting to get out of bed to being fine working out.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        This! But my mom got shingles in the fall, & it definitely made me realize that the shots are worth it!

        1. Clisby*

          No kidding! My husband got shingles a couple of years ago and watching him go through the pain sent me right to the pharmacy to get my shingles vaccines. (No side effects in my case, but I can’t remember ever having a vaccine side effect besides a sore arm. And I don’t even know whether I’d call that a “side” effect. It’s a pretty direct effect of having somebody stick a needle in your muscle.)

        2. jasmine tea*

          I’ve had shingles, and they still won’t let me have the vaccine because I’m not old enough. It’s infuriating.

    2. Bart*

      I had a reaction to each dose! I think it was about a day to recover each time. But my arm was sore for a week each time. I hope you feel better soon.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        If you have a local pool, I’ve found that going swimming right after my vaccines is a great way to avoid the sore arm. I imagine any other exercise where you’re motivated to move your arms around (pedaling on a machine?) steadily for 30-60 minutes would also work.

    3. WellRed*

      I had the same experience with shingles vax. I was think I felt not great (headache) for just a day.

    4. Fluffy*

      Shot #1 was a breeze – slightly sore arm. Shot #2 hit me like a ton of bricks – flu-like symptoms so bad I spent half the day in bed. Everything resolved completely in 36 hours. Better than getting shingles, for sure!

    5. allathian*

      Thanks for the reminder, I need to get my second shot. I had horrible symptoms from the first one, I was far sicker for about 24 hours than at any time with my admittedly mild case of Covid, so I’ve been postponing the second shot for a while. But I do need to schedule it soon.

    6. JSPA*

      My first (in 2018) was so bad that I didn’t do the second. And I’ve traveled extensively / had all the “unpleasant” vaccines without issue. Reaction within 10 minutes…high fever, chills extreme enough that they threw me onto the floor, teeth chattering so hard that I caught my tongue and bit it bloody. It was well over 24 hours before I made it further than the bathroom (I had gatorade and apples in the bedroom), but slightly less than 48 hours before I got to the kitchen for bananas and to replenish the cats’ food and water (then back to bed). I wasn’t feeling 100% until ~4 full days after.

      As I knew I’d had chicken pox as a kid, quite intensely, then been re-exposed at least once as a young adult (housemate had it), I convinced myself that this constituted adequate re-exposure. (There’s absolutely zero data supporting this assertion, to be clear.)

      I suppose I’d get another shot (or series) if I knew in advance that I’d be out of range of antiviral treatment for more than a week or two, especially if I expected to be in sneezing distance of small children in a country where they don’t do much chicken pox vaccination. But neither of those are currently the case.

      I suppose I’m still glad I got the first dose.

    7. Hiring Mgr*

      We had a Porchfest yesterday in my city also…perfect weather for it. Hope you were able to make it out!

      1. Bluebell*

        I am feeling better today, thanks. I did go to the Porchfest yesterday, along with thousands of other people!

    8. Tris Prior*

      I felt AWFUL the day after the shot, ok but not great 2 days later, and then was mostly fine. The sore arm persisted for longer than other vaxes though. Probably a couple weeks.

  27. acmx*

    Has anyone tried BistroMD (meal kit service)? Did you find that the food tasted good, good variety?
    I just got a mailer for it and I’ve been in a rut foodwise. I also dislike cooking (I’ve done HelloFresh and didn’t enjoy the experience. I didn’t like Hungryroot’s brands).

    1. Random Dice*

      I haven’t, but Factor 75 meals have been an utter lifesaver. I love them, my husband loves them.

      1. ronda*

        I used factor too. it was good. I think bistro md looks similar. there are several other options out there too.

        I would give it a try and switch to a different one until I found one I liked. do note that they are often subscription based and send you the default meals if you dont go in and skip or choose your selections

      2. acmx*

        F-75 looks good, too. I’ll probably try Bistro first since I have the discount then F75.

      3. specialK*

        I tried them about three years ago and did not find the meals to be very tasty. I’ve ordered Factor 75 meals numerous times and find those to be very good overall. You should be able to Google a good couple code for Factor 75.

  28. Choggy*

    Suggestions for a Luxury Vinyl Plank color that will go well with varying colors of cabinets, wall, furniture? The LVP will go in the kitchen/bath where the maple cabinets are, as well as in the living room where we have dark wood dining furniture, and one dark brown couch and two lighter beige Lazy Boy couch and recliner. The walls will be grey with a white trim. I don’t want to go dark as the room is dark enough.

    1. fposte*

      I’m biased (aren’t we all?) but I personally would lean toward a light oak shade. With the grey walls I wouldn’t want a grey, plus I think grey is getting a little past its peak. A beige to light brown oak style will read pretty neutrally on the eye, IMHO, and there’s a long tradition of light wood flooring and white trim for a reason. I’d just keep an eye on the undertones, especially with the maple cabinets, and steer a course between too yellow and too nothing.

      1. fposte*

        I should be clear that I’m not dissing the wall color; it’s just that there’s been a vogue for “everything is grey from top to bottom” neutral palettes that I’m not seeing as much anymore.

      2. Chaordic One*

        I second what fposte recommends. It will bring brightness into the room while creating some contrast to your cabinets and definitely to the dark brown couch.

    2. jasmine tea*

      My local furniture store has a wood floor of many colors mixed together, and I love it so much. It clearly works well with multiple colors/styles of furniture, since that’s the inventory. I’m thinking about copying it. Bonus points because our floor get uneven sun through the deck doors, and I like the idea of being able to change out planks without having to hoard a matched dye lot.

    3. acmx*

      I have Smartcore in pine and it has some grey tones. Purchased from Lowe’s. I really like it.

  29. Random Dice*

    Lupini flake recipes – I’m told it’s a low carb wonder, easily substituted for rice, oatmeal, pasta, couscous… but I have no idea how to actually do that.

  30. Paris Geller*

    My husband and I are going to start looking for a new apartment sometime this summer, as our lease is up in the fall. We’re hoping for a larger space. I’ve done a lot of apartment searching before, but this is our first time to do so together. Also, in the past I’ve generally taken whatever apartment is good enough & fit my time frame for moving. This time, we’d ideally like to stay somewhere until we’re ready to buy. Obviously we can’t predict the future, but it does mean we want to be more picky than I’ve been in the past. We’ve decided on a budget and some non-negotiables, but any advice for things we want to make sure to consider that we might not if we were just looking for “good enough” instead of “perfect for now”?

    1. Past Lurker*

      You can compare different layouts, amenities (pool, gym?) and location. Best of luck! My apartment complex was sold and it’s been a rocky 8 months with many amenities gone (pool and gym closed for example.) But it’s a great location and layout for us, so we’re staying for now.

      1. Lapsed Economist*

        Do you have a decision rule? Here’s what worked for us. Go together, at the end of the day separately make lists of the places you can imagine living in, only discuss the overlap. Alternate (I think better) version: each get unlimited vetoes, exercised right after viewing. Other partner may ask why, once per place, but can’t argue. Then at end of search discuss what’s left. Avoids someone ending in a place they aren’t comfortable in an effort to be nice or reasonable.

    2. Lady Danbury*

      Beyond non-negotiables, I would also discuss “nice to haves” and try to get on the same page about how you’ll prioritize them. That way, if you find 5 places that have all of your non-negotiables, you already have a framework for how you’ll decide (distance to work, size, walkable neighborhood, X amenities, etc.).

    3. JSPA*

      A big one for me is sun exposure and cross ventilation (all year / all day / all weather) and proximity to sources of chimney smoke or other pollution point sources. I’ll circle a few blocks checking who has a woodstove flue pipe or cloud rising from their barbecue (weekend afternoon) or sniffing for smoke (cold, damp evening). In a city, that might be more about checking for hair salons with nasty chemicals offgassing and restaurants with smelly exhausts and prevailing wind patterns that blow across a major traffic arterial.

      If you’re more a filtered-air type of person, then maybe do the same in terms of quality and reliability of the filtration and air handling system.

      Pet policies… plants potential… quiet upstairs neighbors who have been there for a long time and have no intention of leaving… flooring you enjoy walking on… Enough counter space for your appliances (or a good place to put a cart)… If there’s any chance of procreating, at least a nook that could be screened into a nursery… If there’s any chance of still being there when said hypothetical offspring is old enough to get in trouble, ability to child-proof reasonably (windows, outlets, ability to block stairs, climbable built-ins).

      Do you like or dislike having more than one level? (I daydream and stumble; interior steps for a sunken conversation pit are not my friend.)

      If either of you were temporarily injured, would the apartment still be reasonably accessible?

      If the power were out, ditto?

      If there were [the sort of serious natural disaster that happens locally], is the structure and placement pretty good (or is it all sitting on top of 2 levels of parking garage with unmaintained crumbling cement and corroding rebar / at the low point of a floodplain /newish, but the only flat-roof structure in an area with massive snowfall / whatever)?

      As with a potential relationship, how comfortable are you? When you walk in, do you feel like lying down on the floor, and relaxing and breathing deeply, or do you feel you’re immediately starting to hedge, explain or justify how you could maybe make it work out, because (on paper) it send like it should be “the one”?

      Closets, or good space for armoires (and a way to get the armoires up, if needed).

      Cabinets that close solidly and don’t smell funky.

      Enough background smell that you don’t suspect that the whole thing has been filled with febreze, and that the stench will be emerging as it wears off.

      Compatible with your willingness to clean (as far as materials and details).

      I don’t care whether the floor is level, but you might. Bring along a marble, if so.

      If carpeted, feel around with your feet for any squishy spots, and investigate further.

      If there is anything at all that is crumbling or flaking you need to know what the various asbestos containing materials look like.

      Bring a simple scrape-swipe test kit for lead paint?

      State of the pipes and fixtures. Number and placement of outlets. Ability of the wiring to handle the draw you intend to put on it.

      Shared rec space is nice, and decent individual walk-in locking storage lockers for bikes (or other similar large / dirty outdoor gear) is nicer, if you intend to have your own.

      Policy on what sorts of e-bike batteries are allowed (or extra points if there is a truly safe charging area, if they don’t have a policy). Maintained fire escapes, regardless.

      Uncluttered, well-controlled garbage and recycling area (for pest control).

  31. Friendly, does not bite*

    Is there a good way to signal that I’m open to be approached for conversation? Not for dating or anything, just general human interaction.

    I used to live in a very friendly big city where I’d go out alone for dinner, eat at the bar, and bring a book. It was super normal to talk to other people at the bar (of a restaurant so I don’t take up a table). Even when I was reading a book, people would say hi and introduce themselves – sometimes that would turn into a 5min conversation, occasionally 15min, or make a new friend. It was always very easy at any time to go back to my book without anyone being offended. I feel like that city had a big “friend for the moment” vibe whether that moment was measured in seconds or hours – I never worried about dudes hitting on me in these situations. Going out at the end of a work from home day was a good way to get some light water cooler type socialization after spending a day alone in silence.

    My current place no one seems to want to talk to someone new – not sure how much is local culture vs effects of pandemic. Even if I don’t have a book or look at my phone, no one responds if I say hi. Since there is a good chance I’ll be on my own the whole meal, I want to have something to entertain myself (and it is a good exit strategy to end a conversation). How do I label myself as “friendly, does not bite” ? I’m just trying to get some light human interaction occasionally because I live alone and work remotely.

    This isn’t an attempt to replace hanging out with friends or going to meetups to find new people. Just casual water cooler stuff without having to make plans and dedicate a significant amount of time to a person or be “on” for the duration of a networking event. I’m an introvert, sometimes a short burst is all I’ve got bandwidth for.

    1. anon for this*

      Very dependent on the local culture. It might come down to finding a bar with a super friendly vibe, depending on neighborhood or the sorts of events/customers it attracts.

      I worked in the UK for a bit (pre-pandemic) and watched an earnest trio of young women from the American South start a project to try and make England much more friendly among strangers. I didn’t say anything about this, but secretly I very much like being left alone in public. While I understand that those women probably found the local social environment cold and hostile, my politeness standards are based on giving strangers space, so I enjoyed England (not to mention Finland). I’ve spent very little time in the American South and am not interested in overgeneralizing, but their descriptions of how people tend to interact in their own hometowns sounded intrusive and alarming to me. All relative, huh? :)

      1. Still not picked a username*

        I think you’ve extrapolated London to England there! It’s normal in most parts of the UK outside of the south east to just talk to people you come across. You can’t stand at a bus stop in Yorkshire without chatting to whoever else is there as if you’ve known them your entire life, and then quite possibly never see them again. The rest of the country really think Londoners are weird for the whole don’t talk don’t make eye contact thing they have going on.

        1. UKDancer*

          I think some of that is the density of people in London. Tubes, streets and everything else are crowded with people. So if you’re nose to nose with someone on the tube you don’t engage to give them the psychological space even if you can’t give them the physical space. The physical distance isn’t possible so you give people mental distance. If you see a lot more people in a day as a shop assistant, you perhaps notice the individuals less.

          Yorkshire, for example, is a lot less populous so you can speak to people more because you have physical space between you. Also life moves slightly more slowly so it’s easier to find time to speak to them.

          I should say, even outside London there’s a perception that Americans talk too much (and sometimes too loudly) and don’t always take the hint that people aren’t interested. It is a stereotype of course but I have seen it sometimes.

        2. Ellis Bell*

          Yeah, I was fairly certain the city OP was talking about was Liverpool! My dad would always come home from city pubs saying things like: “I met the most interesting South American engineer last night!” or “The new grads from your old uni are a super nice bunch.” Like OP, he liked transitory friends and it’s the kind of place where you can easily do it. London, no.

          1. Friendly, does not bite*

            Sorry, American here! It was Chicago.

            I did find people in London to be rather friendly when I visited!

    2. Aly_b*

      I think this varies a lot with local culture – I couldn’t believe it when I moved to the states and conversations started going beyond like 2 sentences where we all established that we were fine and the weather was supposed to be sunny tomorrow.

      One option if there’s a tourist population where you live might be heading to that area? Tourists might be a little more in the mood to be out and chatty, and more might come from places where that’s a thing.

    3. Not A Manager*

      I have a similar feeling. I’ve moved into a rental building with a fairly long elevator ride. People will respond if I make small talk, but they look very surprised and I can’t tell if it’s a burden to them. If I don’t say anything, people don’t say hi or have a nice day when they get off. It’s kind of weird to me and I wonder if there’s some unspoken convention that on the elevator you pretend you are in a private bubble?

      My advice about eating at the bar in particular is that bartenders do expect people to make conversation, and sometimes other people will chime in and then you can start a side conversation with them. Also, again at a bar, I think it’s never rude to ask someone if they recommend the dish that they are eating, or if they’ve eaten here before and can suggest anything. I’ve occasionally had luck with “I’m visiting here” or “I’m new in town” and asking about the neighborhood. Generally I think people don’t mind being treated as more expert than you.

    4. marvin*

      I think location makes a big difference, even on a small scale. I used to live in a city that’s notoriously unfriendly, but there were some bars and restaurants that tended to be a lot chattier than their surroundings. Often these were touristy places or little neighbourhood spots.

      Also, people tend to be less on guard if there is kind of an obvious activity or topic to talk about. If you can find a bar that has pool tables, dart boards, skeeball, pub trivia, that sort of thing, I find people often are open to chatting around those and inviting strangers to join. I also accidentally found that when I was in the middle of a scavenger hunt, quite a few strangers were interested and happy to get involved. So if you can think of some kind of interesting activity or game to do by yourself, you might draw some people in that way.

    5. purplr giraffe*

      This is 100% local culture. My city-specific subreddit has a thread every year or so about how unfriendly the locals are. Then, it gets flooded with 100’s of stories of helpful strangers in times of need, but otherwise people are aloof or give strangers space. We won’t talk to you, but if you need help we’re there. The flip side is that my daughter recently moved to a city where casual interaction is more the norm, and every time she goes she wonders why people have the need to talk to her. She’s minding her own business! So, yeah, 100% local culture.

    6. Extroverted Introvert*

      It can be the vibe you’re giving off personally, too.
      It sounds like you have a book/phone out and open, which might suggest to people who are not natural extroverts that you’re not interested. I’m not saying don’t have it available, but maybe visibly putting in a bookmark or closing the book if someone is nearby and making eye contact in the mirror behind the bar might help?
      My sister lived in Chicago for more than 10 years, and never once had a stranger talk to her on the El. She also didn’t have hilarious things happen to her on the El either, unless I was with her.
      I’d visit her once a year and every. single. time a stranger would talk to me. Even when I was sitting/standing next to her, had earbuds in, and was reading a book! I work in customer service, and I’m pretty sure I just project “Hi! Can I help you?” I don’t even like people (I work in customer service).

      1. Sloanicota*

        Agree with others that it can be about the bar (bustling neighborhood pub is best) and choosing the person you chat to – book/headphones/head down on their phone is usually the sign to me that they *don’t* want me to engage, whereas someone already chatting with the bartender or seatmate is more inviting. Be quick to disengage if the other person isn’t interested. Finally, this is terrible, but also if OP is/presents as male, they may have a harder time with this – I am female and generally chat very lightly to primarily other women and generally get a good response, but I tend not to chat at men or appreciate being chatted at by men (sadly) because I find they are more likely to see it as a prelude to a come-on.

    7. Anonymous cat*

      I wonder if it would help to read a magazine instead of a book? I think of magazines as being more temporary reads than a book so maybe more approachable?

      IOW, reading a book might look more serious/ “don’t interrupt me” while a magazine might look more like you’re just passing the time until something else happens.

  32. WellRed*

    I engage in this type of socialization and it works quite well. I assume you’ve tried a few different places in case you just happened upon a place with unfriendly people? Saying hello, having a friendly smile etc should do it so I’m perplexed.

  33. flying woes*

    In about a month, my partner and I have to fly across the US (coast to coast) for a wedding. Any advice for first-time (very nervous) fliers? We decided not to check bags so we’re limited to one suitcase and one “personal item” as carry-on, so we don’t have to deal with checked luggage. Any advice that might not be obvious?

    1. Reba*

      Give yourself plenty of time. The feeling of rushing in an airport (where you can’t actually make anything go any faster) can be so stressful. Get pre-check, especially if you think any more flights might be in your future.

      If you have a tablet or other device going with you, pre-download a movie or episodes you are looking forward to watching, so you have a distraction/reward prepared.

      For luggage, be ready to have to check your bag at the gate, especially if the flight is full and you’re in a late boarding group. I actually think this is the best of both worlds tbh! I get to have high confidence my suitcase will get where I’m going, but I don’t have to fling it over my head inside a crowded aisle (am short).

      Have fun!!

      1. flying woes*

        Checking bags by the gate is when you’re right outside the plane, right? Not way back at security?

        1. KR*

          Yes! Usually the flight attendants will tell the people handling the ticketing and boarding announcements at the gate that there is a full flight and not a lot of overhead room. The people at the gate will ask for volunteers first, and then if no one volunteers they will pick people to be voluntold – and it’s free either way in this scenario. They print a tag for your bag and you leave it at the end of the jet bridge (the hallway right before you get on a plane). A crew member will load it directly onto the plane underneath, and then when you get off the plane it will be put in the same spot in the new location. It doesn’t happen all the time but it happens more and more now that so many people try not to check their bags, and it’s more likely to happen if you’re sitting near the back of the plane in a later boarding group (so theoretically the plane would be filled up in the overhead compartments when those groups are boarding).

          1. Jay (no, the other one)*

            Sometimes they gate check it and give it back to you on the jetway. More often, in my experience, they check it and it goes to baggage claim.

            1. JSPA*

              very airport dependent. If it’s a Is small enough airport or small enough plane that you actually are on the tarmac and going up and down stairs to board and to deplane, they tend to have your bags between the plane and the gate. If you have a jet bridge, They will often have a wider area right before the plane itself where you do drop off or pick up. If it’s an even larger plane or a very modern / automated airport, It’s more common that it’ll be checked through to baggage claim.

              Regardless, if you have anything that absolutely must not be put in the hold or that would be a crisis if you were separated, like certain battery devices, essential medicines (inhaler!) etc, make sure they’re in your personal item.

              And remember that the “one bag” that you can have in the cabin is a lot smaller than checked baggage bag limits… And that you’re less likely to have to check it if you pack in something that’s at least a little bit squishable and/or not at the maximum dimension limit.

              It is worth saying to the gate and cabin crew, “I’m new to this” or ” I hear what you’re saying but i’m not sure what it all means because i’ve never done this before.” They’re used to giving abbreviated information to people who fly regularly– they can happily explain further if you let them know why you’re asking. (Otherwise, given short-staffing and the toll taken by Covid, some of then may be a little bit short, if they figure you’re just chatting to chat, or that you’re yanking their chain by feigning ignorance.)

              Oh: do go to your actual gate with time to spare…do listen to the announcements and watch the boards (assigned gates can change)… And do be careful with any alcohol or calming drugs (especially in combination) as people can have atypical responses while flying.

              I really like those horseshoe shaped neck pillows, so you can snooze a little without a terrible crick in your neck. If you wear it around your neck or clip it on your bag strap, airlines are generally fine with that.

              With higher air flow on planes these days (which I love!) If the ambient temperature seems to generally be a bit lower (also excellent for me). But the range goes from “definitely hot” (especially on the ground on a sunny day) to “definitely chilly.” Having alightweight first layer and a warm second layer (fleece, puffer, sweater) isn’t silly, even in summer (and it’s one less thing to pack, if you wear it).

      2. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

        Some people consider gate checking a bag to be a problem. I see it as a way to check your bag to your final destination without paying the extra $25. Last time we flew, I decided not even to wait for them to ask people to gate check. We got to the gate early, and I just walked up to the counter and said “Do you want volunteers to gate check their bags?” and the attendant said “Absolutely!” and checked our bags right then. I realized this is a great hack – free checked bags! the only catch is that you can’t pack a full suitcase; you have to pack carry-on style.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Keep in mind – you only hear the horror stories about terrible experiences. Nobody ever talks about when it goes just fine :) I fly at least 8-10 times a year and have never had my luggage get lost, a rude seat mate, an in-flight emergency, even airsickness. Always completely uneventful. (I did have a flight canceled once in the last ten years, but they let me know before I even left for the airport and made the rebooking process painless.)

      1. Decidedly Me*

        This! I won’t say every flight I’ve ever had has been perfect, but nothing I would call a horror story and the vast majority are completely uneventful. I fly a fair bit both domestically and internationally.

        I agree with checking in as soon as you’re able. Bring something to do (for me, this is typically a book). Be ready with your ID at security and ideally, have anything inside your bag already that you’ll need to put away anyways (phone, keys, etc) so you can get through the scanners more quickly. Check the monitors once through security in case there has been a gate change.

        Have fun!

      2. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

        I second this, I’ve flown a lot in the past two years and have had no issues with other passengers or had lost luggage. There were weather issues but only in winter.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Maybe, but I say all of that to someone at least a few times a year too, haha.

    3. CTT*

      If you can swing the cost, I would actually recommend checking your suitcase! I fly a decent amount, but I find keeping up with mine stressful when I don’t check it. I have to make sure I remember to remove what needs to be taken out before going through security, lug it around while waiting to get on the flight (less of an issue for you since there are two of you, but having to bring it to the bathroom, into stores, etc. when travelling alone sucks!), and then fighting for overhead bin space has gotten so stressful in the last five years (and has been mentioned, you may still have to check it anyway!)

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        Agreed! I’ve flown a few times recently and it seems like more and more people are trying to bring all of their luggage on board. They seem stressed and rush in the plane first (meaning more time in your tiny seat) to get the limited space up top. Then they get full and they’re making people check bags. I don’t know if this ever happened in the past and I just never noticed, but this is the first batch of flights where I’m seeing airlines have a process to check backs when the person is already on the plane. And every passenger seems annoyed. Even though their bags look too big to fit up top. I’m not talking one person, the last flight I was on in April, there was like 10+ people in front of me who had their luggage rejected as we were boarding and they were passing them down to the tarmac right then and there

      2. Cacofonix*

        That seems a matter of preference. Over the years I’ve found it far better never to check bags. I’ve learned how to pack everthing I need for almost any trip in carry ons that are small enough for European size restrictions – from 4 days to 3 months. I’ve caught tight connections that others miss, saved so much time at airports – it’s lovely to just get in and out and not wait for luggage or worry that it will reach my destination.

    4. fueled by coffee*

      Different airports — or even the same airport on different days — have different guidelines about what does or doesn’t need to come out of your bag to go through the scanner at security. So be prepared to take out (or possibly leave in):
      *electronics, especially computers
      *liquids (there’s the general “nothing-larger-than-3oz” rule, but sometimes I’ve had to take the whole bag of them out and other times they’ve let me leave it in my bag)

      Wear shoes with socks so you don’t have to go barefoot through the x-ray. If you’re wearing a baggy sweater/sweatshirt/jacket, they might ask you to take it off, so make sure you’re comfortable being seen in whatever layer you have on underneath.

      On the plane itself, one thing I’ve been told by first time fliers is that they were not expecting it to be so loud. So: the engines are loud, and they run the entire flight (because they need to keep the plane in the sky). You get used to it, but just be prepared. (Relatedly, if you’re planning on listening to podcasts/watching movies/etc. on the flight, be aware that you’re going to have to turn the volume *way* up (and if you’re worried about protecting your hearing, you might want to bring a book instead).

      They don’t feed you meals on domestic flights anymore (just complementary non-alcoholic drinks and a snack), so on a long cross-country flights you may want to buy something at the airport (or bring from home) to eat on the plane.

      1. Kay*

        For the shoes – easy to take on and off. You don’t want anything that will take you forever to undo and redo. I’ll usually do a slip on (and 100% socks).

      2. WoodswomanWrites*

        I always bring earplugs for plane flights, not for the sound of the engines but those from other passengers. Most people are pretty quiet, but I’ve sometimes sat in front of two adults having a conversation, or a parent with a young child, or worst of all a screaming infant. Earplugs are essential.

    5. Don’t put metal in the science oven*

      I always bring an extra change of clothes in my personal item just in case it has to be gate checked. Also, toiletries, meds, anything valuable or essential. Also bring some snacks in case the plane is delayed enough for you to get hungry (was on the tarmac for 3 hours once). I have a separate pouch for things I’ll need on the airplane: kindle, AirPods, chapstick. I take that out so I’m not scrabbling around in my backpack trying to get to my things. It’s hard to reach things on the floor in the plane.

    6. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      If available/affordable, upgrade to Economy plus (will be called something different on each airline.) You will board earlier, have a bit more room, and there will be room for your carryon.

      If you can’t do this, at least make sure to select your seats when you book. Unless you fly Southwest which doesn’t assign seats – I hear that the sooner you check in to your flight, the earlier you board with Southwest so check in as early as you can.

      Download and use the carriers mobile app. Enable push notifications for the app. You can get your gate information and any flight changes on the app.

      1. flying woes*

        We did pay extra for “premium class” or something (early boarding, specific seats, and free beer apparently). So that’s a relief for us.
        The phone apps are worth it then? I figured it would be a hassle to set up and then not work right anyway!

        1. KR*

          I think they’re worth it! You normally can get flight updates and info about the airport you’re flying into in the sky without paying for it, and some of the airlines have their in flight entertainment via the app now. You don’t have to sign up on a lot of them – I just download the airline app for my specific trip, set it up and use it for my trip, and delete it after most of the time

        2. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

          They are definitely worth it, you can check into your flight on it, check the app before leaving for the airport to see if your flight is on time, get your gate information, and get your boarding pass. If there is a gate change or a flight delay, they will send you a push notification. Delta will tell you when your checked luggage is loaded on the plane and when it gets to baggage claim.
          I always take a screen shot of my boarding pass in case I can’t pull it up on my phone for boarding but I’ve never needed it

        3. Jay (no, the other one)*

          Absolutely worth it. The last time I flew my flight was delayed about 20 minutes. I knew before the gate agent did because the app notified me. And if you do check luggage you can track it (at least on American) to be sure it actually got on the plane.

          My kid lives on the opposite coast and I retired a year ago so I could travel more – all that adds up to a lot of flying. As long as I leave myself enough time, it’s not particularly stressful. I would much rather sit at the gate with a book for a while than feel rushed and anxious waiting for the parking shuttle or standing in the security line.

          I prefer not to check a bag mostly because when I am flying home I just want to get home and don’t want to wait in the airport if I can avoid it (and my home airport is legendary for slooooow baggage retrieval). I use compression packing cubes and can fit a week’s worth of clothes into a rollaboard bag without a problem.

    7. It used to be civilized*

      If you’re nervous about the actual flying part, as opposed to/in addition to the airport/people part, see if you can find an explanation/video of what all those noises! and thumps! are when you’re taking off and landing.
      It’s been decades since my first flight, but on a recent flight my seat mate had never flown before and was terrified. (I was afraid she was going to hyperventilate/pass out she was so scared.)
      I spent takeoff, banking, climbing, and landing explaining that those noises were normal, the wings aren’t breaking, those are the flaps, just turning south, that’s how the plane brakes, etc.
      Oh, and if you think you’ll need a seatbelt extender, don’t be afraid to ask for one when you get on the plane. Much easier to hand it back with “I didn’t need it!” than to have to ask for one when they’re coming around to make sure it’s fastened.

      1. Ampersand*

        Seconding this advice. What helped me get over my terror of flying was reading a book about the aerodynamics and how everything worked. One of the things that scared me before I knew what it was was when the plane turned (it’s called banking)—it feels weird because of the seemingly steep angle, and it’s often done when a plane is gaining altitude. It’s totally normal.

        Also: no one likes turbulence—but if you encounter any, the best way to think of it is that it’s like hitting a pothole while driving. Planes fly at high enough speeds that it’s more or less like the columns of air they’re flying on are solid, so hitting pockets of air really is akin to hitting a pothole. Uncomfortable? Yes. Unsafe? Usually not; just keep your seatbelt fastened. I still remind myself of this every time I fly!

        And lastly: looking out the window can help with motion sickness, if you think that could be a concern. It helps your brain/vestibular system make sense of the motion if you can ground yourself by looking at, well, the ground. :)

        Truly, the worst part of flying is dealing with the airport (security, lines, etc)—once you’re on the plane it’s easy!

      2. Damn it, Hardison!*

        The podcast Fear of Flying was very helpful for me, especially episodes 83 and 85.

    8. flying woes*

      One more question, what counts as a “personal item?” Would a backpack be ok? Or would it have to be something smaller?

      1. It used to be civilized*

        If you can get it under the seat in front of you, it’s fine. My kiddo and I always use a backpack as our personal item.
        Not a gigantic one. She uses her old school backpack. I have an old hiking daypack I use for leisure travel. It’s a lot like a school backpack, with lots of pockets. I usually just shove a small purse in there, if I want a purse for my destination.

      2. Lore*

        The personal item should fit under the seat in front of you, if you’re planning to carry on a suitcase as well. So a backpack should be fine if it’s a standard book bag/laptop size.

      3. Yes*

        You really need to read your airlines FAQ section and/or give them a call. That and your airport website will tell you everything you need to know.

      4. Manders*

        I always use a carry-on (a pretty small one, too) that goes in the overhead bin, and a very large backpack, which goes in under the seat in front of me. I’ve somehow turned into an efficient packer, so I can live for 2+ weeks out of that. My carry-on is small enough that I’ve never had to check it at the gate because they are running out of overhead bin space. Also, the middle seat often (depending on airline) has more under-seat space than the other seats. Often the aisle is smallest. If you can pack your most essential things in a small pack that you can just take out and stick in the pocket of the seat, that would be best (ear buds, gum, your cell phone, kindle, etc). Then you don’t have to rummage for them while you are flying.

        And then sit back and enjoy! Use the restroom before the flight because there’s no guarantee that the fasten seatbelt sign will ever turn off. And let the flight attendant know that you are a first-time flier! They will come check on you. Despite all the negative things you hear, it’s not really that bad and I still love flying.

      5. JSPA*

        USA domestic flights are pretty forgiving. Is the rest of the world, isn’t (though they have to be more forgiving if it’s on the same ticket as a US flight).

        Often (for international flights) if they think something is too large, it’s as simple as turning the straps backwards over the body of the backpack and strapping them down tight so that it all looks smaller, and carrying that as you would a hand bag / clutch.

    9. Enai*

      Wear a well-fitting respirator (N95 with headband) to ward off the germs of your fellow travelers. Air exchange in planes is often not great, especially while on the ground.

    10. Lady Danbury*

      Creating a packing checklist will help you to organize what you need, streamline your packing and relieve anxiety about forgetting something. I always carry a flowy cardigan and pashmina (to use a blanket), no matter the season, because it can get pretty cold on planes. Even if you normally use wireless headphones, pack a wired pair if you intend to use the airplane’s entertainment system.

      I like to have a pouch in my personal item that includes the items that I’m most likely to use on the flight, so that they’re all easily accessible. That normally includes my headphones, phone charger, chapstick, hand and/or face lotion (airplane air can be super drying, especially on long haul flights), tissues, etc. A collapsible water bottle is also great for combating dehydration, as most major airports will have somewhere that you can refill and you can also ask a flight attendant to refill it on the plane. Overplan for entertainment because cross-country flights can get verrrrrry long if you can’t sleep. Download a bunch of books, shows, movies, whatever.

    11. Squidhead*

      Everything consumable you might buy in the airport is going to cost a lot. Want a wrap sandwich in a plastic container? $15. Want a bottle of apple juice? $5. You can bring an empty bottle through security and refill it after, and you can bring non-liquid snacks, but if you’re planning an all-day travel you’re probably better off planning to spend a dumb amount of money on food for an actual meal rather than arriving starving and dehydrated. Speaking of dehydrated, bring eyedrops! The last time I flew my dry eyes were worse than ever, despite turning off the air vent over my seat.

      Also speaking of dehydrated: on most flights there is a pattern…once everyone is boarded and seated, the plane pushes back and then taxis for take off. Until the plane reaches cruising altitude, passengers must remain in their seats (the capitan will announce when you can get up). So, there is often a fair amount of time (up to an hour with no turbulence, more if there’s a lot of turbulence) during which you are not allowed to use the restroom. Just warning you in case you forsee this being a problem! (I seem to have a sturdy bladder, and I pretty much refuse to use the restroom in-flight, but this is probably not the healthiest approach.)

    12. lbd*

      I have sometimes had problems with my ears not popping easily with the changes in altitude, and they have ended up very painful. I think it might be connected to congestion from allergies. I have found special ear plugs called Earplanes that made a huge difference. They were a bit uncomfortable for my ears, but the trade off was worth it for me.
      I also suffer from fluid retention if I am dehydrated, and since airplane air is really dry, and sitting can also cause leg and foot swelling, I bring fruit to eat on the plane. I bought pre cut up fruit, and grapes, and popped the plastic containers into ziplock bags. Lots of fluids without worrying about limits on liquid volumes. Sandwiches or wraps with lettuce or cuke or other veg also help. So many easy-to-carry snacks are dry or salty, so I plan ahead to keep my fluids up!

      1. Enai*

        Speaking of leg and foot swelling, compression stockings are your friend, if the available sizes fit you. They may not, so it’s best to measure your calf and ankle circumference and see if they’re in the tolerances specified before you drop $$ on hosiery that does nothing to stop you from getting thrombosis.

    13. WoodswomanWrites*

      I’m a small person unable to lift my carry-on luggage into the overhead bins without risking injury. I’ve always found that people are friendly and tall passengers are happy to help put my bag overhead for me and also take it down after we land.

    14. Healthcare Worker*

      Have an external tag on your bags with your name and address on it. Even if you’re not checking your bag, if you have to check it at the gate it helps with identification. Tell me how I know – when my flight was delayed they brought the bags off the plane and someone else took my unidentified bag. It was sorted out, but not without some confusion!

    15. Fit Farmer*

      There are many good tips & tricks here. When I first started flying on my own, I was glad that I had done it with my parents first, so that I was familiar with how to navigate the airport. The flying part is easy…here’s the “order of operations” for an airport in the US, as best as I can remember. I always fly with a carryon & personal item, and without apps or anything fancy—analog, old-school.

      Up to 24th before the flight, “Check In” on the airline’s website, and print your boarding pass, and bring it with you (you can also get one at the airport). I try to arrive inside the airport 2hrs before departure.

      If you’re checking bags or if you need a boarding pass, find the counter for your airline and wait in line, or if you just need a boarding pass, there are usually self-service screens for that near your airline’s counter. Otherwise, just find one of the big boards (well, giant blue screens, now) for “Departures” and find your flight, see if it’s on time, and check what gate it’s at (like “C24”, the letter is the “Terminal” or major zone, some airports have several.) Follow signs, usually hanging high from the ceiling, toward your terminal/gate.

      Eventually you’ll hit the security line; there may be some “special” lines for pre-check or whatever else, just get in whatever’s the “regular” line with everybody else. The first person you come to wants your boarding pass and drivers license/ID, and then you can put those away. Then get into the next line, for the scanners, where stuff goes in bins and people go through the scanner. The TSA people will tell you what you need to do, and often seem a little impatient, but it’s just because they’re doing the same thing for a zillion passengers — you can ask if you’re not sure what they want you to do. On the other side of the X-ray there’s no system for matching people with their stuff; you just wait for yours to come out and grab it, and put you shoes on wherever seems convenient. If for some reason they flag something in a bag, they ask whose bag it is, and open it up with you standing there, examine it, then send you on your way.

      Now you’re all set. Look again at the high-up overhead signs and follow them to your gate; if it’s a large airport it might involve a train or bus or a long walk.

      When you get to your gate, verify on the monitor by the door that it shows your flight information, and see if there are delays, or if it doesn’t show your flight yet, find a big blue board again with all the flights, to verify your gate number and on-time status. The gate agents are generally very helpful—that’s their job—and they can answer any questions you have, or confirm you’re in the right spot, and tell you what’s going to happen next.

      About 30min before departure, they’ll begin boarding for your flight (“Flight number such-and-so with service to [City]”, in an order according to what’s on your boarding pass—if you miss boarding with your group, it’s no problem to go in a later group. (It can be hectic, but no need to be nervous at this step! You won’t miss your flight.). They’ll scan your boarding pass; no need to show your ID.

      Once you’re on the plane, you’re going to be just fine—congrats! Eventually they close the door and a machine pushes the plane back, you drive around for a bit, and then take off—the most exciting part! If you’re nervous about the flying itself, just remember that the pilots are actually incredibly skilled and highly-trained, and so are the air traffic controllers. There are layers and layers of redundant safety measures. Assume everything that happens is normal — planes don’t just fall out of the sky, or break in a way that causes them to crash, not even in turbulence.

      After landing, eventually you get to leave the plane, and if you’re making a connection to another flight you can ask person at the desk inside the gate where to go, or look at the big blue board for the gate number—same process as before, to find the gate, except you don’t need to go through security. If you’re leaving the airport, follow the big overhead signs to “Exit” or “Ground Transportation”, and eventually you’ll make your way outside. If you feel lost, you can ask someone who works in the airport to point you in the right direction.

      You’ll probably pass through the baggage claim area, and in that same area are rental car stands, bus information, subway connections, taxis waiting outside, etc.

      Enjoy your trip! Get a window seat if you want to see the world from an entirely new perspective!

    16. SuprisinglyADHD*

      Thank you so much for so many helpful replies! I’m feeling a lot more confident now with all your suggestions and advice!

    17. tangerineRose*

      If you are taking more than 1 flight, make sure to have plenty of time to go from one to the other. Picture the first flight taking off late, then you have to rush through a huge airport to get to the other plane. I’d say try at least 2 hours. Bring stuff to do. Books, movies, stuff that is easy to deal with and doesn’t fall into a bunch of pieces easily.

  34. WellRed*

    Check in as soon as you can prior to your flight (I think it’s 24 hours prior). And know they may still make you check your bag at the gate if the flight is very full.

  35. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    Welp. That’s a new one. There is a package in my mailbox that was sent to Texas, using “John Walker” and my specific address as the RETURN address, and it didn’t have enough send-to address to be deliverable, so got returned to “sender.” Nobody by that name has lived here in at least three sets of residents and I think the first ones I know of moved in when the house was built.

    I have no idea what to do with this. Open it and see if I can identify a sender or recipient? Throw it away? Do I need to be at all concerned that someone is using my address as a return address for god knows what?

    1. all good*

      A handmade package? Like someone wrapped it themselves? Or more commercial? My cynical side thinks this is a scam that the sender wants you to be worried and put the full postage so it gets there. But, really it’s up to you what you do. I’d probably open it because I’m curious, my spouse would toss without opening.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        It wasn’t a postage issue, it was a “not enough address” issue. Basically it was addressed to “123 Main St, TX 12345” and returned because they couldn’t figure out how to deliver it.

    2. Interesting…*

      I think I’d be worried that my mailbox was being used for weird deliveries. Are you generally gone when the mail is delivered so this could be happening regularly and you just don’t know?
      But I work in a law-enforcement adjacent field and my LE buddies encourage my own natural suspicion, so YMMV.

    3. The OG Sleepless*

      I wonder if this is some kind of e-commerce scam, where somebody is trying to deliberately misdirect a package and collect insurance on it. Might be worth reporting to the carrier. They could have pulled your address from Google Maps and stuck a random name on it.

    4. Scully*

      I would return it to the post office and tell them this person doesn’t live there, in case there’s more packages to come.

    5. Don'tbeadork*

      Take it to the PO and explain to the postal people. They can tell you more specifically what your options are, and if they think it needs opening to see if they can ID a sender/recipient then they can do that. They can also dispose of it.

      I’d not open it if it wasn’t addressed to me. And if John Walker discovers his package didn’t get where it was supposed to go he can start the postal service tracing it.

    6. Guessing*

      100% take this to the postal service and ask them to flag it for the postal inspection service to investigate why there are boxes being sent with your return address.

      Lots of mail scams and things like drug deliveries use fake return addresses and you’d probably be better off with a record that you aren’t involved.

  36. SparklingBlue*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone playing this week?

    Not so much playing as watching for me–In addition to The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, I’ve been watching longplays of Elden Ring and Hollow Knight.

    1. ExtraGuacPlease*

      Are those movies? Forgive my ignorance. Theres an article on NYT today about Zelda.

      1. SparklingBlue*

        A longplay is a complete (often 100%) playthrough of a game. Depending on the game, a longplay may run for anywhere from 10-20 hours–or even more!

    2. KR*

      My husband finished hollow knight a couple months ago and it was one of my favorite games he’s played! I like to watch him play games (it’s like a movie where you have input) and I loved the artwork and the lore.

    3. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      Not me ugly crying my way through Chapter 13 of Like a Dragon: Ishin…

      I’ve been playing with an assortment of Wii exercise games too, mainly Walk It Out and Exerbeat, with a little Just Dance for flavor.

    4. Vistaloopy*

      I’m borrowing my cousin’s PS3 so I can play FFXIII for the first time. I’m enjoying it so far!

    5. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Replaying Trails to Azure for a second time.

      I learned that carryover from the first game includes changes to scenes between the POV character and his closet teammates (not just gameplay effects).

      Given how story and character-driven the series is, I’m having fun spotting the changes with the new carryover.

    6. Mid*

      I’m playing Cult of the Lamb, which I find adorable (though it’s controversial in subject matter!) and I’m eagerly trying to catch up on Life Stuff so I can play Zelda!

  37. GoryDetails*

    Reading thread: post about recent/current books you’ve enjoyed! (There are a couple of book threads already today: Sky’s Mom has one for teen-reader/middle-grade/nonromantic books, and Random Dice asked about lesbian romance novels. Some great suggestions in both of those threads, but I thought I’d start a more general one.)

    1. GoryDetails*

      Some of my recent reads:

      White Ivy by Susie Yang, with a protagonist who’s a Chinese immigrant who falls for the scion of a high-status and wealthy New England family – but the novel isn’t a romance or a struggle-to-fit-in tale so much as a twisty, almost Highsmith-ian thriller, with protagonist Ivy begging comparisons to, say, Becky Sharp.

      And a golden oldie:

      Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon, a sensation in its day – and quite the intriguing tale even now. I’m enjoying it very much, not least for the way the author sketches each of her characters such that their choices – while serving the sometimes-melodramatic plot – aren’t as bizarre as they might have been. It features a rather idle young man who’s not a bad sort but hasn’t had to work for anything in his life – but when an old friend is hit hard by a personal tragedy, he finds himself committed to solving the mystery and avenging his friend.

      And in the gentle-fantasy realm:

      A Psalm for the Wild-built by Becky Chambers, from her “Monk and Robot” books about an unlikely pair living in a surprisingly hopeful future world: the nonbinary protagonist who gave up their original goals to become a wandering tea-monk, providing the perfect blend of tea and sympathy to people in need, and a sentient robot, the first one seen in the generations since the robots became self-aware and wandered away.

    2. NeutralJanet*

      I’m currently working my way through Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith, about an MGB officer in Stalinist Russia investigating a serial killer targeting children. It’s quite engrossing, but also quite grim, and the paranoid atmosphere makes me so tense that I can’t read a ton at a time.

    3. Girasol*

      Dawn by Octavia Butler. It’s good. So far it hasn’t totally creeped me out like her Parable of the Sower did. That excellent dystopian fiction novel was so eerily realistic that it gave me nightmares.

    4. KR*

      The Liars Club by Mary Kerr. Rereading this one. About growing up in Texas in the 60s. Really enjoy it.

    5. PhyllisB*

      Just finished The Other Family Doctor by Dr. Karen Fine DVM. if you’re an animal lover, this is the book for you!!
      Can anyone recommend others like this? I read all James Herriot’s books years ago and two by Andrew Cameron. I’ll have to double check that, I remember one of his is Poultry in the Pulpit. Also All My Patients are Under the Bed. Can’t remember author’s name, but it’s by a vet that makes house calls for cats.
      If anyone knows of any others, please share!!

      1. word nerd*

        I don’t know if this is exactly what you’re looking for because it’s not about a vet, but My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell has a light, humorous tone you might enjoy, and it’s written by a naturalist who loves animals and had unusual pets.

        1. PhyllisB*

          Thank you!! I’ll look for it. I wasn’t just wanting books by vets specifically, it can be an entertaining book on dog training (I read one by someone who trains service dogs) or maybe someone writing about their pets, ect. I just enjoy animal stories and our relationship with animals.

    6. Bluebell*

      Just finished Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club by J Ryan Stradal and enjoyed it a lot. And also Lost and Found in Paris by Lian Dolan.

    7. Ali + Nino*

      I just finished The Peacekeeper by B. L. Blanchard, which I guess you could call a murder mystery, set in an alternate version of history in which the Americas were never colonized. I thought that part was pretty interesting – any other recommendations for “alternative history” reads?

      Also halfway through Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey by Isabel Fonseca. I read it a long time ago and I’m looking forward to the “new” (c. 2009 lol) afterward by the author.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        The Small Change trilogy is a series of alternate history novels by the author Jo Walton. The series are set in a Europe in which the United Kingdom exits World War II in 1941. The series has three books:

        Farthing – set in 1949 the book begins as a “cozy” or “country house” mystery involving the murder of Sir James Thirkie, a member of the “Farthing Set” and the architect of the “Farthing Peace” between the United Kingdom and Germany.

        Ha’penny – In 1949, Britain has slid into fascist dictatorship. When a bomb explodes in a London suburb, Scotland Yard Inspector Peter Carmichael is assigned to the case. He finds a web of conspiracy and a plot to murder both Britain’s new Prime Minister and Adolf Hitler during the latter’s Friendship visit to London.

        Half a Crown – The British government has become fascist and authoritarian. Peter Carmichael, formerly a police inspector at Scotland Yard, is now head of the secret police, called “The Watch”. He must deal with political intrigue by those jealous of his position and must safeguard his teenage ward while he keeps secret his illicit activities helping Jews and dissidents who wish to flee the country.

    8. Broken scones*

      I’m more than halfway through this shoujo manga series called WAITING FOR SPRING by Anashin. I also recently finished GARLIC AND THE WITCH by Bree Paulsen and started reading RIDE ON by Faith Erin Hicks.

  38. Voice workaround*

    Question for anyone who uses Google Voice on an Android phone. I need a workaround for something there is no official fix for.

    I use a Voice number for freelancing, and use my native cell phone contacts for friends/family. When importing the Voice app onto my phone to receive calls through that separate number, it intermixes my phone contacts with my Voice contacts, in both locations. So now when I go into Voice it also shows my friends/family, and when I go into my phone’s native call app it shows my freelance clients.

    Tons of Googling tells me that there is no company-created way to change this. There is a way to “hide” contacts in your Google account, but then I lose them in both locations. My husband suggested adding a “Z” to one set of contacts, so they separate themselves alphabetically, but that’s only convenient in one direction. On the other app, it will force me to scroll endlessly any time I want to use it.

    Anyone else deal with this, and have an idea of how to make it easier?

    1. RagingADHD*

      I have Voice and a native number on my phone. Can you articulate why you feel it’s important not to be able to see contacts in both places? It doesn’t mean they get the other phone number. You can still make outbound calls in your app of choice, and the inbound calls will come in on the number that was dialed.

      As far as searching for a contact, I never scroll to see contacts. I either click on a “recent” or use the search function.

      I’m just not sure what you are trying to achieve. The reason there is no “fix” is that it isn’t widely perceived as a problem, I suppose.

      If you need to categorize people, you can create Groups in your google contact list.

      1. Voice workaround*

        Gently, I’m not sure why I need to justify a “good enough” reason to do this. Keeping them separated is what fits with my usage style and preferences.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Gently back at you, I’m not gatekeeping the reason. I’m trying to figure out if there are other ways to achieve the end goal. Like, for example, using Groups to sort.

          Can’t suggest other solutions without knowing what the end goal or underlying issue is.

          Otherwise, the only answer is, “Nope, it doesn’t do that.”

    2. KR*

      I don’t have a workaround to make the contacts not appear, but one thing I do in my personal phone is make the profile picture of any work contacts the same picture of the company logo with a solid background so they’re easy to spot in my text screen and it’s harder to accidentally call or text them. It might help you visually categorize the contacts so you’re just looking for say, contacts that don’t have a solid green picture beside them.

    3. Interesting…*

      I hate this “feature” of voice. I have that number to keep my personal life separate from my work life. I don’t want the contacts mingled because I don’t want them mingled.

    4. Not A Manager*

      I also am not understanding the problem. You can use “groups” and then only choose one group at a time. You can use the search function instead of scrolling. And I don’t understand why your husband’s solution doesn’t work? If you start friends and family with “A” and the business contacts with “X”, the A’s will naturally show up first, and if you want to scroll through the business contacts you can search once for “X” and that should take you to the top of the list.

    5. Anima*

      I feel you – not with Google Voice but with contacts in general. I have a list of my people, husband has a list of his people, and we have a shared contact list – and now I have to scroll through all his Harald’s and Heinzes to find Hans (I didn’t even know there was a search function until now!). The solution for me was to put my telephone on “only show contacts from my email” or something. Is that a possibility for you? I suspect there is an option to only show contacts from one number? (Maybe I’m mistaken and you can’t do that because both numbers are active at the same time!)

  39. Sunflower*

    Has anyone found a travel liquid container that doesn’t leak? Even the pricey ones that claim to be leakproof have reviews saying they leak! Ideally looking for 2oz but will settle for 3oz if necessary (have to be TSA compliant).

    1. Forgotten username*

      Many years ago I bought some Nalgene travel containers from the Container Store – not sure what the quality is like now, but mine have never leaked and they are still being sold.

      1. MissCoco*

        These are my go-to, I most recently purchased a couple 3-5 years ago and they have held up great.

    2. acmx*

      I use the Pitotubes airless bottles. Mine are 1.7 oz. These are mostly pumps and have 1 spray head. I bought mine from bottlewise but you can get them on AMZN.

    3. Oysters and Gender Freedoms*

      squeezing any extra air out before you put the lid on helps. Bottles leak in flight because as the plane rises, the air in the cabin loses pressure but the air in the bottle does not so now the contents are under pressure. If you have a squishy tube and you squeeze out most of the air when you put the liquid in, then the air inside the tube can expand to match the pressure outside without causing a leak.

    4. Not A Manager*

      NO! I just bought some products that the guy at REI swore would not leak, and they leak even when they are sitting on a shelf, let alone in my luggage.

      I buy spices in tiny little glass jars, mostly from Penzey’s but sometimes elsewhere, and those work better than any fancy travel tubes to keep my liquids in.

    5. KR*

      Hydroflasks generally don’t leak if you use the screw top they come with – if you use the tops that have straws or nozzles to drink out of they leak. My husband uses Hydroflasks daily for hiking, working out in the wilderness, working out, and general tomfoolery and he is very hard on them – they get dented and scratched up badly and it still takes some serious damage before they leak.

      1. KR*

        And I realize now you meant like little travel containers and not a literal water bottle. My mind put an extra zero in there. Oops!

    6. Dainty Lady*

      put them in a zip loc bag? … also, the little bottles from something like Blue Apron do about a well as anything I ever found. the only thing that leaks from them, for me, is rubbing alcohol which I don’t mind too much.

  40. There You Are*

    Question for the people who have broken a lower limb bone and were on crutches: What accessory or home item helped you the most?

    I fell a week ago and broke my foot and severely sprained my wrist. So far I’ve ordered:

    * A cross-body bag full of pockets that holds four bottles of water, my personal phone, my work phone, my keys, and rubber/latex medical gloves (to cover the hand with a wrist brace so it doesn’t get wet or dirty when prepping food or brushing my teeth).

    * A hang-from-my-neck drink caddy (carrier?) so I can get my 30 oz tumbler of hot tea from the kitchen to my office and bedroom.

    * A 30 oz plastic tumbler with a lid so I can drink cold stuff besides water.

    * Wooly fleece crutch underarm pads.

    * A knee scooter with a basket for going from one side of my [not large] house to the other.

    * A 2nd pair of crutches so I can maneuver in my destination (kitchen or office/bedroom) easier than what the knee scooter allows.

    * A crutch bag (small bag that attaches to one of the crutches).

    * Special socks for my walker boot (doc wants me to stay off the foot for a month and see if the bone heals on its own before jumping straight into surgery).

    * Stretchy cotton liners for my wrist brace (because, ew, brace funk!).

    * A nighttime brace for my wrist.

    * An assortment of Ace velcro bandages so I can customize my foot and ankle wrap when going to bed.

    * Body wipes, since showering is pretty much out of the question.

    * A folding dolly / utility cart so I can roll packages in from the porch or move heavy things inside the house, like cat litter.

    What am I missing?

    I’d love to find something to replace my current method of carrying food, which is to only make stuff that isn’t liquid-y, put it in a big paper bowl, put the bowl in a plastic grocery bag (centering it so it doesn’t tip sideways), and then carrying the bag by putting the handles in my mouth.

    1. it's naptime*

      I’m so sorry. It seems like many of the items you’ve purchased will help. If your cross-body bag is big enough you could put a few things in sealable tupperware containers – I love the 1-litre size- and carefully carry that from kitchen to dining room. I’m not sure what a plastic tumbler is: is that like a thermos? Anyway, a wide-mouth thermos or nalgene will carry soup from kitchen to dining room without losing too much heat. Maybe get a large plastic bowl, so you can carry both in your cross-body bag. Or a backpack, if the cross-body bag isn’t big enough. Also, it sounds like you live alone. Can you get a friend help to carry the laundry for the next month?

      1. There You Are*

        The crossbody bag is long and narrow. So it would hold, say, a boxed submarine sandwich, but wouldn’t hold a Tupperware container upright.

        I didn’t even think about putting soup or other sloshy foods in a thermos. My 30 oz stainless steel tea tumblers are pseudo-thermoses. They just don’t have the spill-proof, insulated, screw-on tops (which I wouldn’t need for the walk from the kitchen to the bedroom/office).

        The plastic tumbler is just a really big plastic cup. It’s double-walled, so it doesn’t sweat on the outside and so it keeps cold beverages colder a little longer than a single-walled cup. The lid is no different than your average travel coffee mug: It snaps onto the top and there’s a slider that covers/uncovers a hole for drinking.

        Laundry will be covered by the basket for the knee scooter. I can put everything for a single load into a pillowcase and roll my way to the laundry room.

        Oh, and a backpack doesn’t work because the straps compete with the crutch tops.

        But thank you for reminding me that tea tumblers aren’t just for tea!

        1. it's naptime*

          You should be able to get a backpack with a chest strap that you can tighten. I have a climbing day pack(or two!) that I could use when I had crutches. You may not want to pay for one, they are not cheap, but it’s possible.

    2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Could you put your food in a tupperware with a good lid? Or more than one, if you don’t want the broccoli getting too friendly with the mashed potatoes. Then they can slop around in a bag without actually slopping all over the floor.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Or, you know what, one of those cute bento boxes might be good. Compartments for different things and I’d expect they’d be easier and pleasanter to eat out of than a bunch of tupperware.

    3. fposte*

      Sorry, this is a pain, literally and figuratively. Can you just get a high stool and eat off the kitchen counter rather than hauling food around? Is a shower completely out of the question or could you use a shower stool and a waterproof cast cover? There are also slip-on showerhead attachments that might help–I used one called Rinseroo. A grabber might be useful in the mix as well. I would also keep thinking the way you are with the crutches–that doubling up equipment to have it at various locations can be supremely helpful.

      1. There You Are*

        My elderly mother lives with me (I’m her primary caregiver, so this is an extra-stressful, extra-messed up situation) and a stool would be an additional trip hazard for her.

        And, yeah, a shower is out of the question. I’ve put a lot of thought into what it would take to get me safely into the tub, safely seated, and safely back out of the tub… and it’s more products and effort than I can manage right now. Maybe in another month or so?

        The Rinseroo might be more than my injured hand could deal with, in terms of being able to stretch it over my tub spout. The spout is flared like a dramatic cow bell. Even if the Rinseroo would fit, I don’t think I have the hand strength right now to put it on. But it’s a great idea for the future, whether that’s in a couple of weeks or a couple of months. Sounds like something both my mom and I would use.

        I actually don’t even know if my wrist is “just” sprained. I may have broken something. But the ortho doc I saw on Thursday is a foot/ankle specialist and — for $459 — refused to look at my wrist.

        And, yes, a grabber! I forgot to mention that I have one (well, two, actually) that I got ages ago during that one year I had both hips replaced. Even when all of my body parts are whole and fully-functioning, I use the grabbers on an almost daily basis. They’re super handy!

        I’ve got the Rinseroo in my “Save for Later” list on Amazon. I’ll buy it in another week or so, depending on how my wrist feels. Thank you!

      2. There You Are*

        fposte: I replied to you about 45 minutes ago, but my comment seems to have been snagged by the filter. Hopefully it shows up soon!

      3. Snooks*

        Absolutely get a package of Scrubzz for bathing. They are foam sheets saturated with a cleaning solution. Soak them in hot water, squeeze to work up suds. Wash with no rinsing.

    4. Just here for the scripts*

      Sounds like you’re doing pretty well…fwiw, I also had multiple sets of crutches, and I used a wheelchair at home and an at-home version of one of the rolling hospital tables—that way I could push the table with non liquids (hot dinner on a plate) while using my good foot to scoot around in the chair. Both things came from a local surgical supply store—wheelchair was a monthly rental, but worth it as it let me use my hands for things other than balding myself up.

      I also loved the grabby things on long reaching poles they give to folks who have hip replacements (I’ll provide a link in the next comment). That way I didn’t have to get up to get every little thing I needed—especially if it fell on the ground.

      Also, I would tie the plastic bag holding food and stuff to the handles of the crutches (on the outside)—sounds like the crutch bad does the same thing. For around the house I loved my big bathrobe with big pockets, so my phone was always on me (safety/emergency in case I fell), I had a place for the tv remote and lots of Kleenex.

      1. Just here for the scripts*

        I used a shower chair and a hand-held shower extension—there’s a tub version that goes over the side of the tub so I could sit in it and scoot myself in and then use the handheld shower extension to wash most of me. I believe it’s called a transfer bench:


        Dry shampoo was a life saver. As was the shorts-with-liners that runner use (one thing to get, wash and change).

      2. There You Are*

        I would *love* to rent or buy a wheelchair. Unfortunately, my home is from the early 1960’s and none of my doorways (except for the entrance to the kitchen from the living room) is wide enough for even the narrowest of wheelchairs.

        When my mom, who lives with me, had her hip replaced, I had to search forever to find a narrow walker where the wheels could go on the inside of the front legs instead of the outside.

        My house is also almost entirely carpeted. The kitchen and the bathrooms are the only areas without carpet. The knee scooter is a pain to push forward on the carpet. It would be reallllllly slow-going if I was trying to pull myself forward with my one good foot in a wheelchair on carpet. But, man, the fantasy of being able to use one is alluring!

        I said above to fposte (if my comment ever comes out of moderation; no idea why it got caught in the filter) that I have grabbers. Or “granny pickers” as a friend of mine calls them. :-) I had my hips replaced in 2012 and got one with each surgery. They’re awesome door prizes for getting 9-inch incisions. :-D

        And, yeah, the crossbody bag is serving the purpose of your big bathrobe with pockets. Since I’m on crutches and the knee scooter, I can’t have anything long and swingy near my legs. All of my shorts, capris, and leggings have pockets, though, so I can at least take my phone with me if I don’t want to strap on the bag, like for trips to the bathroom.

        Thank you for chiming in, Just Here for the Scripts!! I really appreciate it.

    5. Laura Petrie*

      I bought a wide necked flask and used that for food. I also used a travel mug with a fully sealed screw top to carry hot drinks

      I slept with a pillow under my ankle at night, keeping it elevated really helped. I also liked one of the triangular nursing pillows to prop myself up in bed comfortably.

      Resistance bands for exercises when you’re better. Do your exercises as soon as your doc or physio tells you it’s safe

      Hope you’re on the mend soon!

      1. There You Are*

        Thank you, Laura Petrie! (And I’m dying because I couldn’t type that without wanting to ask you how Rob and little Ritchie are doing. :-D )

    6. ShinyPenny (the other one)*

      Sorry you are stuck with this!

      As a daily crutch user, I can 100% endorse using the forearm-cuff crutches (sometimes called Canadian crutches, I think) with the full cuff. They are so much more user-friendly than the wooden armpit crutches (seriously beyond words), and really reduce the risk of acquiring a crutch-induced shoulder injury. They come in several weight classes, so you can get the lightest ones you can.
      I get mine from WalkEasy dot com. They carry a range of great options, including lighter weight crutches in case those work for you. They also have a “platform” crutch in case your wrist gets too painful—they’re designed so the forearm gets strapped to a horizontal platform at the top of the crutch, and the wrist is not weight-bearing at all. (If your wrist is currently not weight-bearing because your armpit is doing the work instead, you might want to check with your Physical Therapist soon– because armpits dislike weight-bearing, and may eventually become very unhappy.)

      1. ShinyPenny (the other one)*

        If you still have the narrow walker you mentioned, it should have a lot more options for carrying things than crutches do. There are a lot of bags and baskets and platforms custom made for each walker’s dimensions, specifically designed for transporting food and drink.

        But I, personally, swear by my favorite rollie cart! which is basically a light weight AV cart made by Luxor. (Currently $102 on Amazon: “42 inch tall Luxor Multipurpose Three Shelves Structural Foam Plastic Storage Utility Cart.”) Of course it’s easiest to use if you just need one crutch on a given day, but I can pull it behind me with a rope or a bathrobe belt, or scootch it along in front of me pretty easily, and the 4” wheels should tolerate carpet well.
        This cart is my saving grace for moving laundry (clean on top, dirty on the bottom) and bringing Instacart groceries or dog food deliveries in off the front porch in one load. It would be perfect for transporting dinner. If you are shorter, Luxor also makes a 36” tall version (which is more $, but sometimes on sale—and comes in happier colors! And makes a decent table.) I confess I have two tall black ones, and 2 shorter blue ones, because they solve so many logistical problems for me.

        Lastly, if your kitchen has smooth floors, you might try putting a rolling office chair in there. This is my third Favorite Thing. A rolling chair just makes cooking/assembling food so much easier, because you are not ALSO juggling crutches. Just be sure you feel behind you to confirm the chair is there, before sitting down! (No, I didn’t actually land on the floor. Just had one moment that was more exciting than I prefer. lol.)

      2. There You Are*

        @ShinyPenny (the other one) – I ordered a set of forearm crutches from Walk Easy. I hope the transition is smooth. I frequently use my (aluminum) crutches hands-free in tiny spaces by just putting all my weight on the underarm pad.

        I usually only do this with one of the crutches, but I’ve done it with both when my hands were full and I needed to set the items down a few feet away on the kitchen counter or on the counter behind me.

        I really like that Luxor rolling cart but my house is tiny (1600 sf) and full of stuff. My stuff, my mom’s stuff, my ex’s stuff, my dead brother’s stuff, my dead dog’s stuff, my cats’ stuff. Honestly, my home is one big trip hazard. :-)

        When my foot heals, I will mercilessly purge at least half of all the stuff. It’s been bugging me for awhile, but I kept bumping it down on my To-Do list. This broken bone is a big wake up call.

    7. ShinyPenny (the other one)*

      Sorry you are stuck with this! I hope it’s very temporary!

      As a daily crutch user, I can 100% endorse using the forearm-cuff crutches (sometimes called Canadian crutches, I think) with the full cuff. They are so much more user-friendly than the wooden armpit crutches (seriously beyond words), and really reduce the risk of acquiring a crutch-induced shoulder injury. They come in several weight classes, so you can get the lightest ones you can.

      I get mine from WalkEasy dot com. They carry a range of great options, including lighter weight crutches in case those work for you. They also have a “platform” crutch in case your wrist gets too painful—they’re designed so the forearm gets strapped to a horizontal platform at the top of the crutch, and the wrist is not weight-bearing at all. (If your wrist is currently not weight-bearing because your armpit is doing the work instead, you might want to check with your Physical Therapist soon– because armpits dislike weight-bearing, and may eventually become very unhappy.)

    8. lbd*

      A family member made a sort of elbow length fingerless glove out of an old tshirt to wear over my wrist dressing, to keep it clean. I could just imagine the dressing getting grubbier and grubbier as I wore it, so it was nice to have something in a mid tone neutral colour that could be washed if needed.
      I hope you heal quickly and fully!

    9. Anono-me*

      Lots of good suggestions already. Check places like Craigslist and Facebook Market Place for any items that are too pricey.

      Make a few mani-pedi appointments for the duration.

      Waterless shampoo and bodywash. Sometimes you are grimy and just too tired. (Healing takes lots of energy. )

      Hunting or contractor’s vest with a million pockets. You will get sick of hanging stuff around your neck.

      Contigo no spill mug. Contigo makes a mug that is closed unless you are actively pushing in a button. It is nice not to have to worry about balancing both yourself and and a glass of something.

      Rumba/housekeeper/friend who likes you well enough to vacuum for you.

      Skin supplements like flax oil. Your skin under the cast is going have a really hard time and unless they change the cast, you won’t get a chance to moisture, so do what you can from the inside.

      And speaking of changing your cast, as cool as they look, don’t get a glitter cast-they shed glitter everywhere.

      For others who may be using wheelchairs.
      Taking inner doors off of hinges can give you 1/2-1″ more room for wheelchair. And if the chair is only for home use, the wheele handles can be taken off of some wheelchairs and the user can use the tires to push the chair around.

    10. JSPA*

      I fell off my knee scooter and re-injured (after tipping and not quite falling, multiple times). Carrying any weight compounded the problem.

      If you have a non injured friend who can help figure out the tip angle on your particular model of scooter…do it.

      It turned out to be safer to not turn the handlebars more than a few degrees, and to just use my good foot and my hands to pick up the front of the scooter, for any tighter turns.

      And to have multiples of items, to minimize carrying anything.

      And adjust expectations of functioning more or less “as normal.”

      1. There You Are*

        Yeah, I figured out really quickly that planting my good foot and then picking up and moving the knee scooter was the only way to make certain turns in my house.

        And I’ve probably spent $500 in the past 48 hours buying multiples of things and placing them throughout the house.

        And, oof, adjusting expectations. I haaaaaaaaaate that a simple activity that used to take me 15 minutes now takes me upwards of an hour. I haaaaaaaaate that getting up to pee in the middle of the night is a production. I hate that my wrist brace makes typing difficult (my laptop is my main work “tool”).

        Thank you for the tips. I’m going to have to figure out the tip angle on my own. Hopefully I can do it while standing next to it, without my knee on it.

    11. Healthcare Worker*

      Have you tried using a walker instead of crutches? A walker allows for a bag, or a tray to attach that would make it much easier to maneuver around. I hope you have a speedy recovery!

    12. SofiaDeo*

      I got an ergonomic task stool that I could prop the leg in a cast on, and put dishes on a small lap tray. I could roll myself around carrying the tray in my hands. The stool had support legs in multiple directions, so I could roll sideways as well as backwards. I got very good at crawling on it in the middle of the night and pushing myself with the good leg into the bathroom. I also found it was easier to move “backwards” on this thing, I used my arms to push myself off of walls when getting close. This is easy to do on hard floors, much much much more difficult on carpeting. But IMO it was safer than trying to maneuver crutches in the middle of the night to the bath especially.

        1. There You Are*

          Hmmmm…. if I could find something like this with bigger wheels, it might work on carpet. Off to Google ergonomic kneeling chairs. Thanks!

    13. Chauncy Gardener*

      I’m so sorry about your injury!
      No helpful hints re-what to buy, but do not under any circumstances lean on your crutches! You will damage the nerves in your arms. I had a knee replacement recently and didn’t realize this, since I was trying to be as functional as possible, and kept putting my weight on the crutches on my armpits. Dang! The nerves in my arms were so painful and I’ve had to work really hard to work everything out
      Good luck and best wishes for rapid healing!

  41. SuprisinglyADHD*

    There’s usually a birding thread on the weekends, so random question:

    Does anyone know where I could find a chart or graph comparing the flying/diving speeds of various hawks, eagles, and other raptors? I could look up each one individually but that would take me a long time. This is just for my curiosity, not a research paper or anything.

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      I have never seen anything like this, and it sure would be helpful!
      I find that a lot of the books/info/etc on raptors is not that helpful in terms of identification. Like, who flies low most of the time? Who perches most? And geez, immature vs male vs female. I know they are all individuals, but I wish I knew more about identification.

  42. peaceful week: what would you do?*

    A week alone: hubby and kids are visiting his family for a week, and I get a blissful week without have to clean up after other people. The weather should be sunny and springlike when they’re gone. What would you do with a week of peace and quiet?

    1. Harriet J*

      Listen to a favorite album and loudly sing along.
      I would probably avoid cooking (unless you really enjoy that) and “graze” on fruit, bread&cheese, etc. rather than eating big meals.
      There is no wrong answer – enjoy!!!

    2. My Brain is Exploding*

      It depends on what you like and what your budget is! My idea now would be to start a big sewing/quilting project and have bits all over everywhere (I usually put my cutting mat on the kitchen island) and buy some grocery store sushi and eat leftovers. However, a number of years ago my spouse was out in the field for a week, one kid went to band camp, and one kid went to church camp. I decided I would have “Me Camp,” which included a different activity each day…rented a dvd (I did mention it was a number of years ago) and ate take out Chinese food while watching; had a pedicure; got a massage at the massage school; and I forget what else. Another time when everyone was gone I had a week of trying different exercise classes in the area: zumba, mixedfitt, spin, different type of yoga, jazzercise (either from the local Y or places where your first class was free or cheap). I could try these at times that might normally have interfered with family dinner. Have fun!

    3. costello music*

      i’d probably clean the first or second day so I’d really only have dished to worry about. would try to get through a book or two, have my bad reality tv on in the background. take some walks. sleep in when not working. so much!

    4. nobadcats*

      Rock the eff out to Queen (or whatever music you prefer), dance around in my jimjams, eat chocolate donuts, cause some damage that results in significant paperwork (Hot Fuzz reference), order food that nobody else likes that I do like… then cool down with a nice snifter of whiskey, throw treats for my kittycat, and then round it off with a binge watch of some British teevee muuuurder mystery shows that are my comfort food.

      But then again, I live alone, and this is pretty much every day for my cat and me.

    5. L. Ron Jeremy*

      I’d say dirty up the place and have the fam clean up when they get home. just.kidding.

    6. Missb*

      Starting when my kids were 4 and 5, Dh and his best friend would take them on a 2-week bicycle trip.

      I would use the time to do a simple home improvement project. It became a game for my kids- when they got home they’d go thru the house to try to figure out what mom had changed. The only year I stumped them was when I did the interior back porch. No one ever really went out that door so while I made it super functional and painted it from top to bottom, they couldn’t see what I’d done.

      I also cooked only my fav meals and only if I wanted to cook, and had girlfriends over for evenings of wine and laughter.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      The last time I had a week off like that, I did some gardening. I planted a whole flowerbed in the backyard of my previous house. The grass eventually took it over a few years later, but it was nice while it lasted.

      What I’d like to have a week for now is to finish unpacking. I don’t have any bookshelves or end tables yet, so I’m using the boxes. It looks crap but it’s giving me some floor space, plus I can finally sort through all the books and figure out where I can put them. I’m finding I really don’t want to get rid of any since I already culled so many of them *coughpackratcough* but I probably will eventually.

  43. Goose*

    Any recommendations for non-binder, sports bra type wearables for GNC folks? I find binders don’t lay the way I want them too (and and tough with weight fluctuations) but my Target sports bras aren’t cutting it anymore. Any direction appreciated!

    1. Dicey Tillerman*

      TomboyX has some good ones, and a wide size range. They have one style labeled as a “compression top” that’s styled like a sports bra. Also, for an actual sports bra, the classic Nike one (I forget the name, but it’s got the swoosh logo on the front) might be an option as well.

      1. Alex*

        Seconding TomboyX. Their products are awesome. They have several different styles of bras, from compression to sports to bralettes. My personal favorite is the original “essential soft bra” but of course different styles will work for different bodies.

        1. just another queer reader*

          I really like the Essential Soft Bra too, although I will say it doesn’t do much compression/ support if that’s what you’re looking for.
          I am a big fan of TomboyX’s fun patterns.

      2. Mid*

        Thirding TomboyX, they have sales quite frequently so it might be easier to get multiple sizes to fix as your weight fluctuates. I have their mesh compression tops, and they’re a good mix of support and flattening without being too constricting—I can wear them to the gym for a full workout without issue.

    2. Jessica*

      You might look at decentexposures.com. They do sports-style bras, in various styles (regular back, racerback, front close) and various fabrics, some of which are more compressive than others. Their stuff is not cheap, but it’s high-quality and durable (and made in the US by a woman-owned small company that pays a living wage). Most importantly, they do a lot of customization, so if their bras don’t completely meet your needs right out of the gate, this might be a place that would work with you to get it how you want it.

  44. costello music*

    i live in a condo with 6 units. me and two other units have mice problems and no doubt they’re living in our walls. they might even be in our connected building but on our hoa forum, no one has said anything.

    my hoa has continually said it’s not their problem. but at this point we seriously need the damn building fumigated (if not burned to the ground). even if i could afford it, having my place fumigated would be a temporary fix as surely the mice would find their way back to my unit.

    my spouse and i have put out various mouse traps but the things are smart and avoiding it/taking the bait without getting trapped.

    i would sincerely appreciate either tips about catching the mice or especially on how to get through the hoa’s thick skull that they need to fcking do!! something!! i am losing my damn mind.

    1. Just here for the scripts*

      Our coop’s super uses wire mesh and steel wool around the inside of our central hvacs. Also peppermint scented Cotten balls stuffed in amount the steel wool wire mesh.

      1. Enai*

        The peppermint did nothing except make my flat smell like cough medicine when I had mice. Steel wool in all holes I could find helped, though. Mice can squeeze through very small openings (less than 1/2 inch!), so there will probably be many, many holes.

        Also, anything edible should be at least unreachable, better in chew resistant containers. Tupperware or other hard-ish plastic will do.

    2. YNWA*

      it is an HOA problem and you might need to consult a lawyer to get them to fix it, especially if they’re in the walls. a lawyer will make them pay attention.

        1. YNWA*

          If cats are allowed by the HOA bylaws. In my condo, as an example, you can have only one cat and no dogs (but most people have two cats).

      1. Good Luck!*

        My rec is to hire a pest company that can help you figure out where the mice are getting in (to your unit and to the building). You’ll need traps/bait to get rid of the mice already in the building, but that will only do so much if new mice are getting in. (Ask me how I learned this…) A pest company can set and check bait stations to narrow down entrance points and seal them (or tell you where they need to be sealed by another professional, if it’s a bigger issue than spray foam can solve).

        Since mice are in the walls (and probably coming in through a basement or another common space), it’s already an HOA problem. It will only become a bigger HOA problem if they don’t act, as mice breed quickly! Perhaps they would be more willing to act if spending a little now meant less chance of having to spend a lot within the next year or so?

        1. costello music*

          we have mentioned that it would be easier to do it now but this has been happening for months. but apparently it’s a unit problem :))))) not a building problem :))))) since “you’re only finding them in your unit” :)))))))

          1. costello music*

            and i should mention the other two units in my building have complained and got told the same thing

            1. Enai*

              In the 18th century, it was believed that mice spontaneously spawned from the soil after a flood. Clearly, that means you’re overwatering your houseplants and the mice spawn in your potting soil, like creepers in minecraft spawn in underlit areas.

              I am a very reasonable HOA employee *nods, with serious expression*

              Seriously, time to push back as a group. Are there tenant’s rights organizations in your area?

            2. Mighty midget*

              Can you write a joint letter with the other 2 units, so that the HOA can’t pretend it’s just you any more?

              1. Generic Name*

                Yes, and if you can attach the communications with the other tenants and the response of “nope it’s just you” it would add even more weight. I’m annoyed on your behalf that the HOA seems to be outright lying to multiple people. Not cool.

          2. Good Luck!*

            Ugh, I’m sorry. Seconding everyone’s recommendations to get the other units involved to try to get the HOA to act, since this is not just your problem! And agreeing that using steel wool to seal off your apartment as much as possible in the meantime is helpful, as is making sure food is in durable containers.

            I’d also recommend setting the traps (or bait stations) strategically to see where they’re going off within your unit. Mice tend to move along walls, so if you’re able to narrow down which traps are being set off or eaten from, you might be able to hone in on any overlooked spots to seal (like behind/under an appliance, in the gap around a pipe, or in any spots they’ve chewed through. I think the last one is uncommon, but our landlord hadn’t done any real maintenance in a looong time).

      2. costello music*

        that’s what I’m afraid of. but we are living paycheck to paycheck and any savings has to go to an immigration thing for my spouse. but maybe just a consult would help?

        1. WellRed*

          Can you and the other tenants go in on a lawyer? It doesn’t have to be a big lawsuit, an official letter might do the trick.

    3. BlueWolf*

      We just caught another mouse last night. What are you using for bait? We have had good success with peanut butter on snap traps. The other thing is to find any holes where they are coming in to your unit and close them up somehow. Previously they were coming in from behind our stove because there is a gap where the electrical cord and such go through the wall. We used steel wool to plug those. We also have a random hole in the baseboard of the cabinet next to our dishwasher where I guess the flippers just didn’t have the right size trim to cover it. We also just discovered a good sized hole in the drywall behind one of our upper cabinets. Not sure if the hole is a remnant from the cabinet installation or if the mice actually chewed through the drywall. I’m going to work on getting those closed up this weekend.

      1. costello music*

        we’re using nuts for bait.

        there is one hole behind the fridge that we’re gonna cover up. another is hard to describe but essentially impossible to get to without riping out cabinets. (the kitchen was shoddily renovated.) steel wool is a good idea.

        best of luck to you with your mouse problem!

        1. Sitting Pretty*

          Oh this is awful, I’m sorry. We had a terrible infestation in my condo. HOA did try some things but it’s just so hard to keep them out of buildings entirely.

          For us, we ended up going with glue traps. Which are brutal and our last option after everything else. We more or less lined the entire perimeter of the kitchen and half of the common room floors with glue traps. This helped us identify where they were coming in. We found some holes way down low in the back under the cabinets as well as some places they chewed through around electrical outlets behind the dishwasher and stove. None of these holes was even remotely obvious so all of our mitigation efforts up until then were useless.

          I couldn’t afford to rip out cabinets either. But we did find a way to shove some hunks of 2×4 up under the cabinets to seal the holes and then jam them into place with other pieces of wood so even an enterprising mouse couldn’t push or chew through. We also put fresh drywall patches around the outlets.

          And boom. Mouse problem gone.

          It was months of experimenting and a lot of work involving removing pieces of wall and removing then reinstalling the toe-kicks below the cabinets. But it was worth it.

          And we did have two different professional exterminators come out while we were trying all this. They told us that what they were going to do was basically what we were already doing, and they were just going to charge us a lot for it.

          It’s exhausting and relentless. Mice are marvels of nature. I have a ton of respect for their adaptability but also need them to be amazing somewhere other than my house. Good luck!

          1. MissElizaTudor*

            Absolutely do NOT use glue traps unless you will be able to check them very frequently (like every hour or two) and you are willing to kill the mice another way, such as with blunt force. Honestly, even if you can do those things, just don’t use them.

            They’re cruel. The mice will get hypothermia/dehydrate/starve/suffocate/bleed to death over hours (the bleeding to death comes from them hurting themselves as they try to escape) and will make sounds and struggle the entire time, so even if you don’t care about their suffering in the abstract, you’ll be exposed to it.

            Someone else suggested electronic traps, which I also recommend.

            1. Sitting Pretty*

              I agree that glue traps are horrible and cruel. I also know that we had to go to them as a last resort if we wanted to stop the infestation. Nothing else was working. We used every type of trap on the market with every possible kind of bait, including buying several styles of very expensive electronic traps. The amazing thing about mice is how quickly they can learn. One mouse would be caught in an electronic or snap trap, then every subsequent mouse would simply learn to go around them.

              Yes, glue traps only worked for us if we checked constantly through the day and night and could kill the mice almost as soon as they were caught. It’s agony for them and for us. The purpose of the traps for us was to figure out their entry/exit points since they seemed to be EVERYWHERE in our house. They’d gotten into the food, the appliances, the sofa, the bathroom. They started chewing right through the heavy plastic bins in which we stored the food to get it away from them! It was utter madness. They are just brilliant little creatures.

              After catching a bunch around three key points in the kitchen that we hadn’t been able to see in our investigations, we were able to block those areas and eliminate the issue. Blocking entirely took care of it after months of trying to figure it out. And no more traps of any kind needed after that.

              I offer this story not in support of cruel moustrapping but as a warning that mice may adapt to whatever you try, and to keep trying different things if they do

              1. Enai*

                Oh dear, this sounds like an absolute nightmare. I’m sorry you (and the mice) had to go through that.

                In my city, people feed the pigeons (they think) by throwing pounds and pounds of cereal (good stuff! Whole wheat and brown rice and the like!) on sidewalks. Shortly thereafter, rodent populations mysteriously soar. Makes me mad.

            2. Elizabeth West*

              Never ever ever ever will I use those. I got rid of all the ones the Orkin man put in Mom’s basement because once at an old job, they caught a mouse on one and it was the most horrible thing I ever saw. That poor thing.

              I once spent 45 minutes getting a baby snake off a piece of tape that had wafted down from a box in my garage , to make up for not being able to help the mouse. The snake was fine and I let it go.

    4. Quandong*

      I can’t advise about how to approach the HOA but can highly recommend electronic mouse traps.

      They’re more expensive to buy than snaptraps but much more effective, very durable, and more humane. When I was dealing with mice in a very old house the electronic trap worked better than any other methods including my cat.

    5. Llama Llama*

      My husband puts peanut butter on mouse traps to catch them. When we do have problems, it always works to get them.

    6. MissCoco*

      Use peanut butter as bait and make sure you are setting the traps very precariously (it should be easy to accidentally trigger them when you’re setting them down). Set them at the presumed/possible entry points, and with the long side along walls (as mice tend to skirt the periphery of rooms)
      Peppermint oil is aversive to mice (but it’s only a deterrent). You can use it at possible entry points and also inside cupboards/or near food, but inside something is best because it really does need to smell pretty intensely minty for them to be bothered by it. Using copper wool to jam holes is supposedly harder for them to chew through than steel wool. The little sonic plug ins are probably somewhat aversive, but when I researched them before using them for bugs in an apartment where I had pet rodents, it seems most rodents will eventually adapt to the unpleasant noise, and the sound’s radius isn’t particularly large.

    7. lbd*

      We set lots of traps, as many as we can get our hands on. Peanut butter is a good bait, but once I used a mix of molasses and chicken feed as there was no peanut butter. We use wood and wire snap traps as well as an assortment of plastic snap traps. We have also used a Catchmaster pro series multi catch mouse trap which is a live trap that can catch several mice at one time. Pricier than snap traps but works really well. Ultimately blocking the holes that they are getting in through is the best deterrent.
      Good luck; I hope you are soon rodent-free!

    8. just another queer reader*

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this (and that the HOA is neglecting this!)

      Without the HOA doing anything, I think you still will be able to eliminate (or at least greatly reduce) mice in your unit.

      1) Eliminate all points of entry and exit. Stuff every hole with steel wool.
      2) Kill any mice remaining in the unit.
      3) Keep your place unfriendly to mice by storing food in hard containers and generally keeping a tidy place.

      It’ll require some time and effort and rework, but you should be able to get this under control. My mom and I have used this method successfully several times.

      Cats are typically not much help, btw, they occasionally play with a mouse but unless they’re underfed, they usually aren’t motivated enough to actually kill. Also, fighting a mouse could potentially get the cat injured or catch a disease or parasite.

      1. Enai*

        I think the difference between good and bad mousers is mostly if they had a teacher. Since most cats get adopted as kittens and not taught to hunt by their colony mates, most cats are good at chasing the mouse but don’t know what to do with it after. I’m unsure if they even know the mouse is edible – the other toys aren’t either, after all!

  45. nobadcats*

    This is probably an odd one. Does anyone else have any experience with apartment management companies? Oh, wait, Hellmouth might be good at this.

    My building management recently switched to charging us for rubbish and recycling. It’s a nominal fee, less than I’d spend on breakfast at a cafe. But…

    1. Every. Single. Effing. Time. I try to take out my recyclables, the bin is full, just about fit to burst.
    2. The nominal fee is not in sync with our rental payments. Paying that fee would far exceed the cost of the fee.

    I pay my rent by electronic transfer, which has a fee of $20. That’s, in my opinion, stupid. It costs them less to process electronic transfers. I have a checking account, but haven’t written a check for over 20 years. I don’t even have paper checks for my current account.

    To add on a less than $10 rubbish fee and THEN say, “you’re late on your payment” for said fee is absolutely ridiculous. There’s no penalty for paying late on the rubbish fee, but why why why not just sync it to the same monthly rental fee so that people like me don’t get agita knowing there’s a fee out there floating around? WHY?

    I have just sent an email to them querying this thing. I expect no satisfaction on this, but would appreciate some validation that this is just a janky way of sucking $$ out of tenants and not giving them any recourse. I asked them to at least please post the [city] schedule of collection for rubbish and recycling. That’s the least they can do, right?

    1. Interesting…*

      I’d maybe also check with the city to see if this is legal. Where I live it’s not legal for landlords to pass on those kinds of fees.

      1. nobadcats*

        It’s in the lease. “Lessee understands that additional fees may be assessed…” I signed on to it. It’s not like I can back out now 2 years on. Sweet jeebus, I still haven’t fully unpacked from the move to this place. I’ve moved so many times, to so many places, but I’m a lazy-ass unpacker. I probably need someone to come in and organize my life. But not my books not those two people who organize books in rainbow colors, my god, I’d never find anything again.

        So, do tigers wear tutus? I must emphasize that I’m not unhappy here, just… disappointed. I knew when I left [city] 20+ years ago that they were corrupt. I had, apparently, forgotten how the mire blankets everyone for years and years and years.

        1. Enai*

          You know, landlords can write all sorts of things in leases. That doesn’t mean they can enforce them, though.

          Of course, that depends on the courts not being crooked. You know your city best. Tenant’s unions are good, actually.

          1. nobadcats*

            I moved from a blue dot in a red state, back to a purple dot in a red state. Every time I encounter city codes and other laws, I’m reminded of Hamilton, “Everything is legal in New Jersey.” I’ve researched, and when I left this state 20x years ago it was purple/blue, I came back home to a fully red state just a few years ago. I said to my bestie, “WTF happened?” She said, “Well, you’ve been out of the country, a lot of things changed since you been gone.”

    2. Qwerty*

      My banks (Chase and Ally) will mail a check for me for free and can be set up to do this on a recurring schedule. It’s what I’ve used when electronic payment wasn’t an option for rent – maybe check if your bank offers this?

      The rubbish fee is really weird, I don’t get why they didn’t just increase your rent by $10. The only time I paid a specific rubbish fee was at a complex that had a valet pick-up service.

      1. nobadcats*

        Hrm. My account is at Chase, so that’s a good note, thank you!

        Oh, they couched it as something like “as you know, the housing market has been volatile, so now we’re passing some charges off to you.” Really. That’s pretty much what they said. I was like, “and how, explicitly is that MY problem?” I swear, if they could charge us for gas for our stoves and radiators they would, but this building is so old, it would be impossible to extricate individual usage per unit.

        Oh, OH, and here’s the thing with heat. We don’t have any thermostats in our apartments, just radiators that kick on. I only let the one in the sitting room on. The other two I don’t need. And as a Midwestern girl, I need to have a window open at least 2 or 3 inches all winter long lest I suffocate in my sleep. [insert long, ongoing argument between me and my ex-husband when I had our bedroom window open 3″ during winter in Seattle, “Okay, Princess Fresh Air.”] Oh, no, we MUST have all of our windows and storms closed and maintenance will come around the outside of the building and check, and if they see some window a crack open… well, who the fvck cares? It’s not like they can clock it. My apartment, with all southern windows is like a sauna in the winter.

        I should have made better choices in my career so that I could just buy a condo or a house and not have to deal with this shite.

        1. nobadcats*

          I forgot to add, if maintenance sees a window a crack open, they’ll barge into your apartment with no notice and close it, and management will charge you $25 for the privilege.

          1. Alex*

            Sounds like your landlord may be breaking some laws here. Landlords generally need to give 24 hour notice to enter your apartment unless it is an emergency. An open window is NOT an emergency. And make sure your room isn’t hotter than 78 degrees during the winter (which still quite warm but that is the law, at least in MA where I am).

            And yeah just have your bank send a check! That is what I do. You can schedule them to just automatically send X amount to Y person on Z date of every month. Every bank I’ve ever had has this service and it’s free.

            1. nobadcats*

              When they sent the email about the windows being closed, they added the line that this should be considered notification. I work from home, so I’d be here in any case.

              1. fhqwhgads*

                They can’t send you one notification that “if X we will enter”. That’s not how the laws about notifying you works (if you’re in the US). They legally need to give you 24 hours notice for any time they will enter unless it’s an emergency, which an open window is not.

                1. nobadcats*

                  Yeah… I just checked [my city] codes, and it’s definitely different from my old place in Chicago. The “if X we will enter” is, apparently, legal in my hometown. And also, it’s only 12 hours notice here. So, they’re legally within their rights.

                  [insert eyeroll gif here]

              2. Observer*

                I don’t think that that flies. I’m pretty sure it has to be specific notice for each entry.

                1. nobadcats*

                  Well. If you can read city codes better than me, have at it! [City] code says as long as there is sufficient notice in advance, we’re fair game. Oh, I live in a designated FEHO building and it’s close to a state university campus. So… as they say, some restrictions may apply.

                  I didn’t move in here under an FEHO waiver. I chose this as first, an old building, and second, with all its fixtures and natural oak wood floors it’s almost an exact replica of my first apartment, except now I’m a grown up lady person and can afford a bedroom. It’s just in the years since I’ve been gone out of state and out of the country that the predatory landlords have taken over nearly every apartment building in all available local and semi-local areas. Good luck to you if you can find a decent apartment at a low rate which is not a crackerbox palace or infested with bedbugs and the reek of cigarette smoke.

        2. The Dude Abides*

          I bank with Chase, Bill Pay is absolutely an option, checks take about a week to get to the recipient once requested.

        3. Dancing Otter*

          Don’t give them any ideas about charging for the heat. My landlord takes the entire water and gas bill for the complex and apportions it according to square footage. So the people who can’t survive at anything under 85 F are subsidized by those of us who can’t get the f’ing radiator to go above 55.

          1. nobadcats*

            My last apartment was a three flat in Chicago. The thermostat was in our first floor apartment and I was in charge of the temperature for all three flats. I followed all of the city codes for when heat started, I think it was September 15th, and when it stopped, end of May. My former roomie and I had most of our rads turned off because it’d be like Sahara hot in our place, but third floor would be freezing. And yes, both of us being Sconnie girls, we’d have windows open all year long. Gas for cooking/heating was included in our rent. I paid very close attention to all the Chicago city codes and reported to the landlords (who were quite nice) any possible violations.

            They didn’t raise our rent for 13 years because we (well, me) were kind of the ad hoc on site building supers. We moved because, well it was 13 years, and the building was sold. My roomie moved to MI, and Princess Tiny Paws and I moved back to my hometown. At the time we left, each of us were paying our rent using Zelle.

            1. nobadcats*

              This is the price you pay when you actively choose to live in buildings that are over 100 years old.

              My current apartment has two doors (it’s an itsy one bedroom). One in the kitchen for service and the other main entrance in the sitting room. Both doors work, but I’ve put a shelving unit in front of the one in my kitchen and call it my “pantry.” We also have blocked off old dumbwaiter portals in the hallway. In the main closet in the sitting room, there are still heavy iron bolts in the doorframe for a single Murphy bed for the maid. These used to be called “bachelor apartments” back in the day when this building was set up. The dumbwaiter was probably, from my research, used to deliver milk or food from what used to be a kitchen in the basement.

              We call it “charming vintage details,” but sometimes, it’s a total pain in the ass.

        4. Qwerty*

          If you aren’t able to use the bill pay option for some reason, you should also be able to order checks online from your bank website. I’m not sure what it costs, but probably less than your monthly transfer fee. (I think my checkbook from Ally is free – might be worth setting up an account with them just for that!)

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        When I use online banking to pay bills, my local bank used EFT for the gas and electric (large local utilities) but mails checks to the oil company (small private firm), who is apparently not in the system.

        1. nobadcats*

          When I see your username, I always smile. I used to teach English overseas and work in educational publishing. It gives me a little internal chuckle.

    3. Observer*

      I pay my rent by electronic transfer, which has a fee of $20.

      Is there any reason you can’t use a check that is electronically generated?

      eg I have chase and I can generate a payment to anyone that does NOT go through ACH or other electronic format. I set up the payment and the bank sends a check.

      I do have checks somewhere but I haven’t used a physical one in years.

      1. nobadcats*

        I use the management company’s website, which is where the $20 fee is incurred. Again, I am not only lazy, but disabled and have no paper checks that I can write out and deliver to management company’s office. And… weirdly enough, Chase doesn’t have any local branches within walking distance of my home.

        Let’s just say that I live in a state in which the first ATMs were called “tyme machines.” Get it? “Time is money.” When I moved to Seattle 400 years ago, my now former roomie, who’d moved there a year before me said, “Don’t ask where the tyme machine is, people will think you’re crazy.”

        Eleventy episodes of Dr Who later…

        I think the very last check I wrote was before I left the US for Viet Nam. That was… um, 2004.

  46. Clover*

    Cat advice, please!

    We moved five days ago, from a relatively quiet city street to a very quiet country road. You can see three neighbors’ houses; otherwise, we’re surrounded by fields, woods, and river.

    Two nights ago, one of our cats busted through a window screen and bolted in the middle of the night. We haven’t seen him since.

    He’s had limited outdoor access for the past few years and is pretty bright, and this area isn’t known for predator activity. I suspect he’s still alive, but quite possibly lost and confused and scared.

    I’ve handed out flyers with his picture to all the neighbors, yelled myself hoarse while walking all around the area, put his favorite cat bed on the porch as well as kibble and water, and reinforced all potential escape routes so the other cats don’t run off, too. I plan to stalk the local shelter websites just in case he turns up there, too.

    Is there anything else I should be doing?

    1. Rexana*

      Are there local FB neighborhood groups you could post on? Have you alerted your old neighbors in case he makes his way back there? Unclear how far it is but cats have been known to travel a long way to get back to their old homes.

      I hope you find him soon.

      1. Clover*

        It’s about 90 miles to our old place, across a river and in a different state. Lots of busy roads. If he did try to go back there, it’s hard to imagine he would make it. But if he doesn’t turn up in the next month, we’ll let our old house’s new owners know, just in case.

    2. A313*

      Look at dusk with a flashlight underneath bushes, cars, etc. the light will reflect in their eyes and you’ll seem them. Put a used litterbox outside to attract him. If I think of anything else, I’ll post, and best of luck!

      1. Soup*

        it’s actually recommended NOT to put a used litter box outside as they can attract coyotes.

        1. Clover*

          Yeah, I have seen this advice, too. We have a large covered porch with a couch on it, and we’ve left some shirts that we’ve worn on the couch. We’ve also taken to hanging out on the porch, talking and reading, so that if he came around he’d see and hear and smell us. And we have a cat bed all of our cats use at different times, and it’s out on the porch waiting for him.

        2. A313*

          I hadn’t heard that about coyotes! That does make sense, since (most!) cats cover their business so as not to become prey.

    3. nobadcats*

      This happened a few years ago with a friend of mine. Her baby was feral and an indoor/outdoor cat. When they moved to the apartment below us, he snapped off his collar and was gone for three weeks. She was absolutely bereft, as you probably are right now.

      She would go out very late at night in our Chicago neighborhood, and just gently call him. Not yell or scream, just call his name. And yes, after three weeks, that cat came home.

      Same with my Pook. He busted out the window from our basement apartment in a fit over BIRDS in HIS garden. Please note, he was the most gentle cat in the world. It took me over four hours to find him in our next door neighbor’s bush, trembling and shaking, because it was his first time in The Out. I spent at least 30 minutes sitting outside the bush calmly cajoling him out of that bush and then he did his usual cling to me like a koala thing.

      Be patient. If there are no higher predators in your region, your cat is probably scoping the landscape and a little lost, but, cats have a particular radar for finding their people. My first cat proved it to me, and he didn’t even know which house we’d moved to.

      All fingers and toe beans crossed that your kitty finds his way home. Maybe, and this is just speculation, sit outside and gently call him, and he’ll hear your voice and find his way home.

      1. Clover*

        Thank you for this, it’s really reassuring.

        In our old house, he had a cat door, so The Out (I like that!) isn’t foreign to him.

        We spend a lot of time outside, working in our garden and around the yard, and we take a lot of walks along the road. Wherever we go, we carry treats and call for him.

        This is day 4 that he’s gone and he’s probably getting hungry. I really hope he turns up soon.

        1. nobadcats*

          I am hopin’ and wishin’ and prayin’ that your silly cat gets his ass back home and soonish.

          My cat, the Tiny Tyrant, aka Princess Tiny Paws, once slipped out behind me when I was doing laundry. We lived on the first floor, the basement apartment was being renovated, so all the plumbing behind the water heaters was exposed. My roomie said, “Hey, the Princess Fusspot hasn’t come for her dinner tonight. When did you last see her?” We both thought and thought … ooooooh, sh*t. So we searched our apartment and the basement. Then stood very quietly on the back landing. After a few minutes we heard a plaintive wail from behind the water heaters. Fusspot was underneath the tub in basement apartment. THAT was TWO hours of sitting on the basement floor with treats and not moving (she doesn’t like to be picked up), til I was finally able to grab hold of her.

          When I got her back to the apartment, her catroomie hissed at her. The Tiny Tyrant was like, “I was gone for EIGHT WHOLE ENTIRE HOURS AND NONE OF YOU EVEN NOTICED!” and sulked for… I think, about a week.

          There was earlier time when we had the back slider open (deck 12ft above the back yard) and SOMEone, not my kitty, decided to go on a walkabout. We didn’t notice til after dinner and then went on a frantic search for the girls in the pouring rain. Tiny Paws was huddled underneath the deck, Catroomie was halfway down the gangway huddled next to the neighbor’s house. For a whole week, Tiny Paws gave Catroomie the paw. “Let’s go outside, you said. It’ll be FUN, you said. Last time I listen to YOU.” And thus, Princess Fusspot has been very wary of being in The Out.

          Cats. They can be dipsh*ts, but we can’t do without ’em.

    4. ShinyPenny (the other one)*

      In my area, NextDoor is really great for lost pets. I signed up just for that reason. I haven’t needed it yet, thank goodness, but my neighbor has. Someone posted about finding her lost dog within one hour of the dog getting loose.

      Also, maybe post flyers (with a good photo) at area vet clinics, grocery stores, feed stores, and Post Offices. Just a way to get beyond your immediate neighbors, in case your cat traveled further than you think. Especially in more rural areas, this can ensure most of the population sees a flyer. (Not everyone will be using the internet.)

      You might consider specifically asking your closer neighbors to check inside any locked sheds and garages. It’s surprising how easy it is for a loose pet to slip inside a building they were never supposed to be in, and get locked in and not found in time. Lost pet flyers often include a request for people to do these checks.

      I hope you find your kitty soon.

      1. Clover*

        Thank you!

        Our new area doesn’t have NextDoor–it’s too rural–but we’ve made flyers and posted them at the post office, library, and general store. I also stuck them in the neighbors’ mailboxes throughout the area within about three miles.

        Good call on searching barns and sheds. I’ll add that to our to-do list.

    5. Aphrodite*

      Here’s what I post on Net Door whenever I see a missing cat post:

      Cats utilize their hearing and smell far more than their sight. So put out the cat’s litterbox, preferably uncleaned, near the front door. It will mean home to him. Also, not too close put out a small pile of your unwashed laundry so it smells like you. You can also add a dish of his favorite wet food that you have heated up very hot in the microwave. (The idea is not to feed the cat but for the hot smell to waft around.). The hot food idea is best used for relatively short periods of time; to increase the chance of him coming sit outside with a favorite book, preferably one that is calming or soothing, and read aloud as you would to a child. You want your voice to come across as soothing and welcoming rather than frantic. Day or night, whenever you go out looking, take a flashlight. Cats’ eyes are very reflective and you’ll be able to see the cat under or in bushes or corners more easily. Always, always keep your voice calm and loving. Look at least a couple of times of day, one of those being early evening when daytime noises cease. Bear in mind that if this is his first time out at a new place he probably isn’t far. He is scared so the idea is to get him to come to you as he likely will not respond to your voice (unless you are reading aloud to yourself as suggested above). And never assume there is nothing he can’t squeeze into; they are amazingly agile. Finally, if you are in the country now he might have fallen into a hole or gotten stuck in a pipe or such. During your searches keep a lookout for that. Finally, good luck. He might just show up soon looking proud for his recent adventures.

    6. Trixie*

      When my former foster (now foster fail) escaped, similar situation in that the cat wasn’t super familiar with the area. It was a few days, and what brought him around was sitting on the porch making noise with a spoon and empty cat food can. At that point, he starting crying/meowing back so at least I know he was near by. I left the door somewhat open so he could sneak in if he felt comfortable and safe, still responding to the food can. I realize you may not be able to do this, unless the other cats can be sequestered separately?

      If I’d had go pro or security cameras, that might have been helpful. Just to know the cat was in the area, and not quite ready to come home yet.

      Hope he comes home soon!

    7. L. Ron Jeremy*

      A pet detective worked for me. A bit pricey, but the tracking dogs found him hiding in the backyard of a neighbor’s down the street.

    8. Mirin*

      Tasso recommends laying a star shaped scent trail so your cat can ideally follow it home on its own.
      I’m certain that it helped immensely with my kitties coming home after going missing!
      The way to do it is you (or any person that is close to the cat) pick out clothes that you’ve worn recently and would be fine with getting dirty/ripping. I used undershirts and pyjamas. you put them in an airtight plastic bag to keep the scent.
      plan several routes that go outwards from your house in a star shape, each 1-2km long.
      go to the end of each route, tie a rope to one of the clothes and drag it through/on the sides of the path, especially bushes and trees, while walking home

      1. Mirin*

        there’s also something heartbreaking I’ve done everytime:
        1. call the police if they heard of a cat dying in a car accident since they went missing.
        2. email the local street cleanup people if they found a cat corpse. (would’ve called but they only offer email contact)
        it’s terrifying and sad but I think if they confirmed my cats death I could at least be sure of what happened and deal with it sooner rather than later

    9. Cat and dog fosterer*

      To add to the comments on here:
      Don’t put out the litterbox because it can attract predators or meaner cats who want to claim territory. Clothing with your scent is the better option.

      The local experts here use trail cameras, and if they see the cat on the camera then they put out a trap. Your posters are a key part of this because sightings from neighbors are really useful.

      Good luck! Sounds like you are doing almost everything right.

    10. Ellen Ripley*

      If you buy a camera with IR it can (1) record to see if your cat is coming around the yard at all and (2) enable you to see your cat at night, their eyes show up super bright when the camera is on night mode (ie IR). We have a Wyze camera that worked well for this when our cat got outside. I hope you find your kitty soon!

    11. Double A*

      I’d circle the house and look in absolutely any nook and cranny that is close to the house. When our total wimp of an indoor cat did this, he got as far as they first hole he could slink into (the steps to the laundry room) and didn’t move a muscle until we found him.

    12. laser99*

      Sign up for NextDoor. It can be toxic—you see a lot of arguing over politics and so forth—but it’s great for lost pets.

  47. Kw10*

    Thanks to a cooking mix-up, I now have an extra pint of heavy cream that was boiled with a cup and a half of sugar (i.e. VERY sweet). Any ideas for what to do with it? I doubt it would whip up into whipping cream since it’s already been boiled. It would be great in coffee but that’s a lot of coffee! Bonus points if the ideas involve strawberries or rhubarb since those are in season at the market!

    1. GoryDetails*

      Well, just pouring it over a bowl of strawberries sounds pretty good!

      Or perhaps try a tres leches cake, using your sweet-cream for one of the milks.

    2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Cream cake? I don’t think it would hurt it to have the sugar (or most of it) already mixed into the cream. Would be great served with strawberries or a quick strawberry rhubarb sauce, and maybe whipped cream if you have more cream.

      The allrecipes recipe has 3/4 cup sugar and one cup cream for a 9×9 square, so it could be doubled very easily to use the whole thing.

    3. Jay*

      Home made ice cream! That’s most of the ingredients you need right there. A little vanilla, a couple other things. Then you mix salt and ice in a big plastic bag, put your cream and stuff in a smaller plastic bag. Put the small bag in the big bag, and shake! After about 10 minutes or so, you have ice cream.

    4. it's naptime*

      Lemon posset! you’ll need to boil cream and sugar and add lemon juice, and maybe rind, once it has boiled. put it in the fridge & turn solid.

      1. Jay*

        Oh, yes! I hadn’t even thought of that! Lemon, orange, lime, any citrus really. They are all great.

    5. OyHiOh*

      Sounds like a base for a rhubarb custard pie!
      Joy of Cooking has an excellent recipe for this.

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        Custard and rhubarb are two of my most favorite things. And yet somehow it never occurred to me to combine them. I am very glad to know this :)

    6. nobadcats*

      I think you might have just conjured a DIY condensed milk. That calls for Vietnamese coffee!

  48. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    I’ve finally decided to try one of the Eshakti dresses. Is their cotton jersey nice and thick, or is it that thin tee-shirty stuff that shows every bump and lump?

    1. OyHiOh*

      I have a couple of their cotton jersey dresses. It is beautifully thick fabric and skims the body rather than showing bumps but also breathable and comfortable to wear in summer.

      I have a pair of wide leg casual pants in the same type of fabric that are probably my most lived in pants.

  49. Paralegal Part Deux*

    I know I’m late to the game and am hoping someone sees this. I’m going camping for the first time in my life next month and am not sure what all I need to buy other than the obvious (tent and air mattress which I’ve bought on Amazon).

    Any tips on what to buy or anything else camping related? I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.

    1. Fit Farmer*

      Well, camping can mean anything from “Sleeping one night in a rustic cabin that we drove to” to “We walked for miles and then lived for days with only the items we brought with us.”

      What will you be doing during the day, and where will you be at night? Will you be staying far from your vehicle, and do you personally have to think about food/cooking? Are you going with people who have done this before? (And can they be helpful in guiding what you need to bring?)

      1. Paralegal Part Deux*

        I wish it was a cabin! I’d at least have a toilet (I’d hope anyway.) This is an overnight camping trip in BFE, and I have no idea what I’m doing. I’ll be far from my car, going with my cousin and his family who have done this but he’s less than helpful with what to bring. He’s just like “lulz, it’ll be fine!”

        1. TechWorker*

          Huh ok, in which case you maybe do not want an air mattress, but rather a camping mat – it depends how far you’ll have to walk with your stuff. I think it reasonable to push for more details than ‘lol it’ll be fine’, unless they are offering to bring kit for you as well! (Are they? If they camp loads they may well be able to lend you sleeping bag/camping mat which would be better than buying a bunch of gear you don’t use again)

          1. Paralegal Part Deux*

            I don’t think they are, but this cousin is notoriously laid back and seriously doesn’t get worked up about much, and I tend to be an over-planner. I mean, I planned for WDW for a year before I went and had spreadsheets.

          2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

            Yeah, air mattresses are more comfortable but sleeping mats are far lighter.

    2. Not A Manager*

      REI rents camping equipment, so if you decide not to invest in the tent, for example, you can rent that stuff from them.

      Depending on what “camping” means to you, you’ll need a sleeping bag and something to cook on. Since you’re bringing an air mattress I assume you are not backpacking. If so, the easiest and cheapest way to cook is to get a small single burner cook stove and a canister of fuel. You can buy a small kit of cookware that folds up small and is meant to fit right on top of the burner. Usually there is some kind of small saucepan with a lid, and then the lid can flip over to be used as a small frying pan. You’ll also need a stick lighter. Most camp sites have fire rings/fire pits at each parking spot. Buy a bundle of wood on your way. You can collect kindling around the site but usually not logs.

      Useful tools are a small trowel, a hand hatchet, and a small mallet. These can be useful in setting up your tent and splitting kindling. Also bring a lightweight bucket or container to pump water into – assuming the site has potable water, which most do but check in advance. Otherwise you’ll need to bring water.

      1. Paralegal Part Deux*

        I didn’t even think of water! I feel so stupid. We’re camping on a backwater creek where we live, and it’s going to be hot and humid as we live in the southern US. I am not sure how I got talked into this.

        1. Alex*

          Backcountry camping is definitely for the planner! It does sound like maybe this is stressing you out more than you think you are going to enjoy it. I backcountry camp and definitely side eye “Lulz it will be fine” attitudes. That is a recipe for a really unfun time.

          You need to think about:
          Where and how you will sleep (you probably need a tent and sleeping bag).
          How you will access water for drinking and hygiene (if there is a creek, you may need something like a water filter to get drinking water, like LifeStraw or something similar, and a container to hold the water).
          What you will eat and how you will prepare it. You typically need to plan each meal so you have enough but aren’t carrying extra.
          How you will secure your food at night (where I camp there are bears so you need to bear-proof it).
          What the weather will be and what clothes you need for it.
          How you will go to the bathroom (is there a latrine? Do you need to bring TP/trowel?)
          How you will carry it all to the campsite and back. (You probably need a hiking pack)

          I’m not sure I would go with someone who refused to guide me and had a “lulz it will be fine” attitude, unless I was sure I could handle all these things myself, ie, had done it before.

        2. KatEnigma*

          Ya know, it would be totally okay to back out. It sounds like a nightmare to me, and I think you’re going to hate it too. Can you just tell your cousin that you’ve looked into what it would take and the costs more, and you really don’t think it’s for you. Which is the honest truth! I’m okay with tent camping- but not in the summer in the SE, and not when I have to hike in, rather than car camping.

          1. Clisby*

            Yeah, as far as I’m concerned, camping is staying at a Holiday Inn with not *quite* enough towels.

        3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Are you worried that your cousin won’t actually have proper gear, or are you worried because you don’t know what he’s bringing? Because water is ABSOLUTELY something the experienced camper should take care of. If you can’t trust him to bring water/a water treatment option, you should 100% not go camping with him. Water is the first and most basic need. You can go without food for several days but you can’t go without water. Especially in the South!

          1. Paralegal Part Deux*

            I think I’m mainly worried about what I’m supposed to bring along. I have nothing for camping and just have no idea beyond tent and air mattress which is all my cousin told me to get. I’m going to bring along some liquid iv for hydration which is what I used at WDW last year and was a life saver. Other than that, idk what all to bring.

            I think I may have ptsd flashbacks from the kayaking “adventure” last year he took me on which last like 6 hours, and I managed to find every rock, branch, and tree in that creek and was a 0/10 do not recommend.