weekend open thread – June 10-11, 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: Games and Rituals, by Katherine Heiny. I have mixed feelings about short stories because when they’re good, I wish they were full-length books and that was the case here. Each story really enjoyable and each too short.

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

These are our adorable foster cats, Cheerio and Nermal. They’re supposedly two years old, but I think Cheerio is closer to one. They’re incredibly sweet and friendly and love to play wildly! Can you give them a home? Apply to adopt them here.

{ 1,233 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. Bagpuss*

    so cute! I am on the wrong continent and don’t think my 2 would appreciate the competition!

      1. Pennyworth*

        They are delightful I hope they find forever homes soon.
        Has anyone been watching Billispeaks on YouTube? I am amazed at the emotions a cat can express when given the opportunity – and their creativity. I now call coffee catnip water, thanks to Billi.

      2. juneybug*

        Boss: What is the status of the TSP report?
        Me (if I was Alison): Ah, sorry, boss…I haven’t started it yet.
        Boss: Why?
        Me: Cause I have the most adorable cats in the world and I watch them all day.
        Boss: ” ”
        Boss: Do you have kitty cat cam I can watch?

    1. Elizabeth West*

      If I had a house instead of a tiny apartment, I would take them in a heartbeat. <3

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I’m just saying, I discovered this thread immediately after discovering that two of our three dogwoods have decided it must be the start of May and bloomed after all.

  3. Potatohead*

    VA is just a little too far for me to go, sadly. But I’ll be moving in two months and after that finding a pair of fuzzy friends to live with is priority #1…

  4. DisneyChannelThis*

    Anyone have a brand of custom keyboard and keycaps they want to reccomend? Also could you share price point. A little overwhelmed with options but ready to replace the worn out keyboard that came with the PC.

    1. MEH Squared*

      I have a mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX Clear switches. The brand of keyboard doesn’t really matter–what matters is the different kind of switches for stiffness. So if you look up a list of the different Cherry MX ________ (color) switches, you can get a general gist of the firmnes of the different colors. I would say the Clear switches are medium firm. The keys make a clickety-clack sound as you type, which is plseasing to me, but might be annoying to others. Mine was roughly $58. Hope that helps!

      1. anon24*

        Love Cherry switches. I went with the silver speeds, which are not really recommended because they are crazy sensitive (even most gamers don’t like them) but I love them for both gaming and typing. I adjusted for gaming more or less immediately but typing took a few months and was completely worth it. The downside is that now I have a very difficult time typing on non-silver speed keyboards because they feel so clunky and unresponsive. I’ve heard great things about Cherry Blues as well. Don’t have any recommendations as far as custom keyboards or keycaps, I have a Corsair K95 keyboard and have had it for probably 2 years with heavy use and love it. The only downside is it does require iCue software which is free but another program on your computer. The k95 runs around $180 if I remember correctly and comes with the keycap renoval tool and a few different key setups for gamers, also if you buy custom keycaps they can easily be swapped out.

        1. MEH Squared*

          I like the heavier ones for typing! It’s so satisfying to thwaack away on my Cherry Clears! I use a controller for gaming so that’s how I get around the chunky feel of the keys for that purpose. I mainly use my keyboard to type, and I wear out a keyboard in a year and two months or so because I type so much (and am very hard on my keyboards). But I will never return to non-Cherry keys again.

    2. ildrummer*

      If you want brand recommendations, Keychron keyboards are really good. t
      A number of their higher end keyboards are milled out of an aluminum billet so they are hefty and provide a great base for heavy typers (like me). I bought the Q10 with Gateron Silent Red switches and love it.

    3. Quinalla*

      Really like my Ducky One keyboard. I had an old IBM keyboard for years and years, after it died I usually bought the cheapest keyboard I could find as that was the closest I could get to the mechanical responsiveness of that IBM keyboard. Now I am in heaven with all the mechanical keyboards out there! Between that and my gaming mouse with different weights in it, amazing! Great for my work (drafting) and fun (lots of gaming).

  5. Good things, small packages*

    Has anybody tried Pepper bras for small busts? Looking to hear first-hand experiences. Personally I have issues with cup gaps in normal bras but I like full-coverage cups. TIA!

    1. Melissa*

      I have, because I was drawn in by Instagram ads. Their bras are fine— exactly what you would get at Macy’s or Kohls. I wear an A cup, that’s what I ordered. and they fit like an A cup. So they’re fine!

    2. Pearl Grey*

      I have a large ribcage to cup ratio and had a cup gap problem with the Maidenform bras that I wore in the past. The Pepper AA cup bras are a much better fit for me. I have the Pepper MVP Multiway Strapless Bra, Classic All You Bra, and FeelGood Wirefree T-Shirt Bra and am satisfied with all of these. The Ultra Fine Bralette doesn’t offer much support, but it works as lightweight coverage under a leotard.

    3. Emma*

      I like them! They do seem to fit better than other brands. I agree that some of them are kinda boring. but overall I really appreciate having something that fits. it’s the first time I found a strapless bra that really fits

    4. Belle87421346*

      I have! I really like mine. It adds umph without a lot of padding, fits better than other bras I own and is super cute.

    5. Reba*

      I couldn’t get a good fit, and found the sizing odd. Highly recommend visiting the subreddit A Bra That Fits.

    6. HamlindigoBlue*

      I’ve not tried Pepper, but I would like to suggest the Little Bra Company. I’ve had really good luck with them, and they have additional options for wide-set or close-set, which I didn’t realize was a thing but it does help with getting a great fit.

    7. Anon Poster*

      I just did my first Pepper order about 4 months ago. I’m very happy with the fit and plan on ordering again in the future. I’m a 34AA, so it’s nearly impossible to find bras that fit out in the wild without venturing into the children’s section. The bands fit a little tight at first, but they adjusted themselves after a few wears. So far I have had no issues with cup gaps.

    8. gsa*

      I’ll have to ask my brother. My sister-in-law cannot find anything off the shelf that suits her. She’s on the other end of A or AA.

    9. Blomma*

      I have several of them (all wireless or bralettes) and I really like them, especially the modal ones. Very soft material and comfortable. The t-shirt bra is the only one that still seems to have a slight cup gap, but it isn’t too noticeable.

  6. Gondorff*

    Going to kick off the weekend thread mainstay: looking for book recs! I read Emily Henry’s Book Lovers about a month ago and LOVED it. It was genuinely one of the first times I actually saw myself as the female protagonist in a romance book. Naturally, I picked up her new book, Happy Place, and just got around to reading it and wow, absolutely could NOT relate. So now I’m looking for something to cleanse the literary palate, so to speak. Any recommendations for fiction would be great!

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      The fiction I am recommending most reliably just now is The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi, by Shannon Chakraborty. Set on and around the Arabian Sea in the twelfth century. Pirates. Demons. Sea monsters. Map makers. Real and fake treasure maps. And then they get the old gang back together to pull one last job.

      It would appeal to those who like fantasy, but also fiction with a strong sense of a different time and place, and fiction about people in mid-life for whom adventuring isn’t the same as when they had good knees.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I have this on my library hold list and I’m hoping to get it just in time for an upcoming vacation – you’ve made it sound like perfect vacation reading material :)

    2. word nerd*

      Book Lovers is my favorite Emily Henry. I didn’t care much for Happy Place either, especially the ending. Could you provide more direction on what would feel like a palate-cleanser to you?

    3. Tammy 2*

      Linda Holmes’ books are wonderful and similar in tone to Emily Henry (though I think they are much better). You might also like Beth O’Leary–The Switch has been my favorite of hers so far.

      Also, I liked Beach Read much more than Book Lovers.

      1. Bluebell*

        Tammy- we are definitely on the same page! I haven’t read the new Emily Henry yet though. Trish Doller has also been a good find and J Ryan Stradal as well.

      2. Amey*

        I also loved Book Lovers and haven’t been able to get into her others and would also recommend Beth O’Leary! In particular The Flatshare and The Switch.

    4. MoreThanJustAnnoyed*

      I just got Martha Wells new book, Witch King! I am liking it a lot thus far but also really hope she writes a few more Muderbot stories

      1. word nerd*

        The next one, System Collapse, is expected this November. I don’t think that’ll be the last one, either. Yes, I’m having trouble waiting.

          1. Alanis*

            For those who love Murderbot, you can get all the audiobooks on a Humblebundle right now for about 20 bucks.

    5. M&M Mom*

      I agree! I loved Book Lovers , it haven’t even finished Happy Place. Have you read her book Beach Read?

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Specifically in the palate cleanser vein:
      Tupper Isn’t Going Out Today by Calvin Trillin, about alternate side of the street parking in NYC.
      Jeeves and The King of Clubs, a loving homage to the Bertie Wooster series in which they get to be spies.

    7. the cat's ass*

      Anything by Laurie Colwin. Maybe her ouvre is a little dated, but I loved these books when i was struggling through the 80’s and the 90’s as “the only Jew in the room.”

      1. Bluebell*

        If you haven’t read Vintage Contemporaries yet, definitely do! It’s such a sweet homage to Laurie Colwin.

    8. MP*

      I have enjoyed anything by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Of course Seven Husbands is her most popular but I’ve read all her others except Forever Interrupted and I’ve liked all of them. Good palate cleansers. Remarkably Bright Creatures is very good too!! I really really loved The Paper Palace but I wouldn’t call it a light read. I have so many more recommendations but I think I should stop myself there :)

    9. PhyllisB*

      These are old, but if you like humor, you might like Dixie Cash’s Domestic Equalizer series.
      I just finished You Broke My Heart, But My Hair Still Looks Great.

    10. BadCultureFit*

      I love Book Lovers. Highly recommend Curtis Sittenfeld’s ROMANTIC COMEDY, which just came out. SO great.

  7. Loredena*

    I’m heading to Italy next week! My husband and I live in NY, but we’re driving into Toronto to fly from there (via London). We’ll be taking a cruise with most of my immediate family, and other than worry about the plague we’re pretty excited about it.

    I do have a couple questions though: On tours, should I plan on jeans/capris over long shorts? I assume so for the Vatican of course, but I don’t know more generally what’s considered acceptable. Except for the 2 direct-booked tours I’m assuming I should be tipping the guides, but is there a standard?

    My husband will be using his e-scooter. I’m 8 weeks out from knee surgery, so I’m considering that I might need to rely on wheelchair or one of those transport carts. I don’t know how to arrange the latter though — and I don’t know if I should be tipping/how much for either scenario. In the US I know one absolutely should tip but what about Toronto/England/Italy? anyone know?

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      To arrange the wheelchair/transport cart, contact the airline. You might be able to do this through sub menus on the website, or might need to call the airline directly.

      1. Pennyworth*

        If you give an airline advance notice the will look after you very well. I flew four days after a hip replacement, asked for a wheelchair and they met me at the front door, and looked after me like I was made of porcelain.

        1. Seal*

          I flew 3 weeks after a knee replacement and had wonderful wheelchair service at the airport. They met me at the door, took me through security and on to my gate; once I got to my destination, they met me on the jet bridge, took me to pick up my luggage, and then to my Uber. You do need to contact the airline in advance to set it up though. Make sure you tip the wheelchair pusher well – they’ll literally part the crowds for you!

    2. starsaphire*

      About Rome, and Italy in general: Lots of cobblestones and uneven paving, not a lot of sidewalks as we know them. Contemplate whether it will be easier or harder for you to maneuver with wheels.

      About tipping: We paid for things with cards, and there was no option to tip with meals. We always left cash in the hotel rooms for the maids, but there really wasn’t any other tipping mechanism that we saw. (My husband carried the bags so we never dealt with a porter or skycap.) We also didn’t do any guided tours, so can’t help you there.

      About clothing: There are signs outside most of the cathedrals that very clearly state, no bare arms/legs, etc. I packed lightweight scarves that I could throw over my T-shirts; I made my husband pack long pants. I think you’d be fine just planning ahead when you know you’re going into a cathedral or sacred building, to have your legs covered and bring a scarf. Which, conveniently, they sell all kinds of scarves in the touristy cart things right outside, lol!

      Enjoy! Hope it’s as amazing for you as it was for us. Our trip was an absolute dream, despite some luggage drama.

      1. Loredena*

        Thank you for the detailed response! I was wondering about the cobblestone with his e scooter. Sounds like our decision to pack canes just in case was a good one

        1. Well...*

          Also there are plenty of cabs around for reasonable prices. I took my mom to Rome when she was awaiting surgery and had difficulty walking, and we took cabs everywhere. Her cane was super helpful from the cab to wherever we were going, though.

      2. Ginger Cat Lady*

        I’d bring a long maxiskirt to put over shorts for times when you need your legs covered. Way more comfortable, easier to put on over shorts, and rolls up smaller, too. When we went, the long crinkle skirts were popular and I just twisted them, tied them in a knot and tossed them in my backpack when not wearing them.

        1. JSPA*

          Seconding. (Wrap skirts are extra easy, if you can find in the right weight and length.)

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I was going to say – something like this, or (depending on your size) a big pashmina or sarong you can wrap around into either a skirt or a shoulder wrap. (I even used mine as a sack in a pinch once, when the bag I had broke open!)

        3. KatEnigma*

          I have traveled with a long pull on skirt through various countries (Italy included) over the course of 30 years now. It’s always a solid choice.

        4. nobadcats*

          Yeah, seconding or thirding a couple of maxi skirts. There are quite a few really cute ones on amz. I purchased 2 myself. Easy-peasey elastic waistband, takes seconds to dry after hand washing. And yup, just twisting them into a knot is a perfect solution for small baggage space.

    3. Well...*

      Get the early morning tour/early morning ticket for the Vatican! the price includes breakfast AND you get to be alone in the Sistine chapel for like an hour before the crowds hit. V important if you’re travelling in the summer.

      Also the best thing I saw in Rome is the creepy af Capuchine Crypt. An extremely detailed macabre art piece of hundreds of skeletons made by a bunch of monks over the course of a few decades and no one knows why (the church has a sanitized explanation but historians are like ???). Check out the pictures, but it’s worth it to see in person. Truly wild.

      I think long shorts are fine. There are some other churches around Rome that might make you wear a poncho if you are sleeveless or your shorts are too short. They give you the poncho and still let you in so it’s NBD.

      Also always ask what the set taxi price is at the airport from airport workers (like a tourist center for example) or wait in the proper taxi line as indicated by airport signs. People try to scam you and offer 2x more expensive cab rides, claiming they are cheaper. The official rates are set by the gov and they are the best rates. Wait in the real taxi line, it is the cheapest and safest option (I’ve been scammed and was perfectly safe though, just out some cash).

      Have fun! I love Italy. Great food.

      1. Bernie*

        The Capuchine Crypt was INSANE if you are into that sort of thing. It’s a really unexpected “artistic” presentation of human remains that does not reflect most societies’ rituals for the dead and is far different from modern Western standards. Those monks were something else.

        1. nobadcats*

          It’s like the Sedlec Ossuary in the Czech Republic.

          Just wild. No one, not even historians, know why this was done. I mean, at least the catacombs in Paris have a reasonable explanation behind them. But an entire church built from human bones? Monks, they’re gonna do their thing. [Gallic shrug]

    4. Interesting…*

      It’s been a while since I was in Rome, but then I felt like tour guides who are used to Americans had adopted American customs like tipping.
      Our tour group leader (from the tour company) collected tips from the group to give our guides. Cynical me assumes they were shared…

      1. misspiggy*

        They likely were, or no tour guides would be available for that company next time.

    5. European tipper*

      Re: tipping: while the wait staff are paid regular wages, it is still absolutely expected to tip. In Italy you leave your tip on the table when you get up and they collect it when they clean your plates.
      Whether you just round up or leave 10-15% depends on what coins you have and whether you are generous or not. In a restaurant you should tip 10% at least.

      1. GetUpOuttaThat*

        Second this, and I’m adding the UK to this. In some cafes you would not tip, but if you sit down for a meal you must tip. 10 – 15% is good.
        (In a bar or another stand-up-counter situation like a gelateria, you don’t have to tip but could if you liked.)
        As another commenter said, there may not be an option to tip by card, so for those cases you should carry some cash.

        Don’t know about Italy, but in the UK you tip taxi drivers.

        I hope you have a gorgeous trip!

        1. Laura Petrie*

          Some places in the UK add service charge, in which case you wouldn’t normally tip. Also be aware that if you tip on the card machine rather than in cash it doesn’t always get passed on to staff.

          I rarely tip taxi drivers. I’ll leave extra if I’ve missed the last train home and have to get an Uber as it’s 10 miles from the city centre and they’re unlikely to get any business on their way back. Most cab drivers in my area are rude and terrible drivers so I don’t feel the need to reward them with extra money

        2. Oread*

          When I was in Rome last summer I ate out a lot at sit down places, and when I paid with a card there was the opportunity to tip on it frequently.

        3. allathian*

          I’m in Finland and here the tipping culture doesn’t exist. Even if you tip, the waitperson is rarely allowed to keep the tip for themself, it’s shared between everyone who’s on shift at the time. Or else the restaurant owner keeps the tips, which is totally legal here.

          When I lived in France and Spain, tipping was a thing but usually this was done so that you’d round up to the nearest even number and tell them to keep the change, definitely not more than 10 percent, though. This was 30 and 25 years ago, though, so things may have changed. And I had the perspective of a not wealthy college student/intern…

    6. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

      Don’t forget to bring something to cover your shoulders too!
      Also, size every possible opportunity to eat gelati.
      If thirsty, small supermarkets sell large bottled water for a fraction of the price of small bottles (think 15 or 20 cents compared to 2 or 3 Euros)

    7. Taki*

      I live in Sicily and there is very little tipping. No line on the receipt, people give you the most inconvenient change combos back, etc. Sometimes I leave my change (like if a bill is 18ish and I pay with a 20) but it’s never compulsory. I only tip when I’m using DoorDash or something.

      I would wear capris but mostly because mosquitoes have been way worse this year than last. I’d also prefer to be more covered from the sun.

    8. Rekha3.14*

      Toronto is basically like the US. We tend to rip servers, taxi drivers, Uber, etc. The machines for using credit cards will ask you and there’s no need to tip at the cafes like Starbucks or Tim Hortons, but standards at a sit down meal that they bring you the food is 15-20%. Even a few dollars US is fine, I wouldn’t her Canadian just to tip. I think many vendors will take USD anyway. We do park and fly, and tip the van driver about $5, which covers our 3 bags for “handling”.

      Pearson is an airport, relatively new renovations, no smaller than any other major city north american airport I’ve been to.

      enjoy your trip!! sounds wonderful.

    9. cleo*

      Italy is wonderful. My best advice (as an American with Italian heritage and relatives currently living outside Rome) is to be flexible and be open to surprises.

      Not everything you want to see may be open (could be closed for renovations or just closed randomly), but what you see and do will be amazing.

  8. All Monkeys are French*

    Speaking of cats…
    My cats get three meals a day – one of freeze dried food in an auto feeder and two more of canned food provided by the humans. The problem is the screaming that begins a solid two hours before each canned feeding. It’s causing much frustration, especially to the human who is home most of the time.
    The auto feeder stopped the morning screaming, since it removed the humans from the equation, so I’m considering a Cat Mate feeder that can be used with canned food, but many reviews say it doesn’t actually keep canned food fresh for very long, even with the ice packs.
    Has anyone used a feeder that works with canned food? Or do you have another solution to the incessant begging of loud cats who think they are starving? (I’m certain free-feeding would cause my cats to gorge themselves silly, and I prefer to stay away from kibble. All three cats are currently healthy and at good weights, according to the vet.)

    1. Gondorff*

      I have a Cat Mate feeder for wet food and it’s a god send! I got it when my vet suggested doing 4 smaller meals throughout the day instead of two big ones to help with my tubby boy’s tendency to gorge and then get sick. In my experience, the provided ice packs keep it cool enough. Food is still moist after 12 hours of sitting out. I’ve even put out a second feeder when I unexpectedly had to be gone overnight and wasn’t able to arrange for a sitter and had no issues with it on a second day either. I can’t speak to whether it will keep cold food cold, as I don’t feed my cats cold food, but it keeps room temperature food from drying out which is all I need it to do.

      1. Gondorff*

        I should clarify, food in the covered compartments is still moist when it finally comes out as the final meal. No food sitting out without being covered is going to stay moist for 12+ hours!

        I use the 5 compartment C500 feeder, for reference.

      2. All Monkeys are French*

        This is good information. I was hoping it might work for two days’ worth of meals but lots of reviews made that sound unrealistic. A daily reset is probably wisest, but it’s nice to know it could work longer in a pinch.

    2. Not A Manager*

      Hmmm. As I understand it, the issue isn’t that you’re actually not available to feed them, the issue is that if they know you’re feeding them, they act like brats.

      If the automatic feeder doesn’t hold the food safely for as long as you’d like, could you literally place the food in it 2 hours before feeding time, and put it in the feeding location? The cats would lose their minds at first if they know you’re priming it, but if they reliably have to wait a long time for the food to actually dispense, maybe eventually they’ll leave you alone, since you’re no longer dispensing it.

      1. All Monkeys are French*

        Yes, we need to remove ourselves as the identifiable source of food. I’ve joked with my partner that we need those panda suits that zookeepers wear.
        If I try the feeders I’ll definitely need to make “setup time” separate from “feeding time.”

    3. Elly*

      We’ve used the Cat Mate feeder for a few years now and they’re great. We reset them every night around 9pm, and then they turn at 6am (wet), 12pm (dry), and 6pm (wet). And when we reset them we put dry in the open container.

      The ice packs are no longer cold by the time we reset them every night, but I think they do what they need to. I wouldn’t rely on using it for 24 hours of wet food.

    4. TechWorker*

      No solutions but we also have a cat who thinks they’re starving (and one very gentle boy who only starts asking for food at the ‘correct’ time). I think it helps to be really regimented with timing but also to some extent I have just tuned it out by now! She is always ‘starving’ so can’t be trusted :p

      (She’s a healthy weight, just, if we let her free feed I am convinced she’d be obese in about a week. She eats everything she’s given immediately)

      1. Hazel*

        I used to freeze wet food and leave it out in the coolest place for later consumption if I was away overnight. It might be a really weird idea – but also free to try – see if frozen wet food confuses them enough – or entertains them trying to lick it!

    5. Animal worker*

      I don’t have any knowledge of the auto feeder mentioned, but just adding another perspective to consider. When I first got my cat a few years ago, I was very conscious of all the stories I hear about cats demanding food, especially very early in the a.m., and as a very much NOT morning person I wanted to avoid that.

      I’ve focused on never feeding her if she’s begging for food. In the morning, I do everything else up in my room and she’s fed her first meal (partial can wet and partial scoop dry) as the very last thing before I head downstairs – so I’ve been up and doing other things for at least 30 minutes before she’s fed. That’s very intentional so she’s never fed as soon as I get up.

      In the evening she gets the rest of the canned food when I get dinner for myself and feed the parrots theirs, so we all eat dinner ‘together’ as it were. As I’m getting the birds settled in for the night (time varies quite a bit, could be 9:30 or midnight), she gets a small bowl of something high value (meat from my dinner, part of one of the shreds/broths, etc.) as she’s secured out of the ground floor for the night. Then very last thing before I go to bed she gets a very small amount of dry food. Overall food amounts all OK’d by my vet so even though it sounds like a lot it’s controlled.

      The only time she’ll ‘beg’ at all is as I’m getting her food put in a bowl and then put down for her, and I’m fine with that, as long as she doesn’t do it other times to try to get me to feed her. On the very rare occasions she does I just ignore her and don’t respond at all, or depending on my mood say something like ‘sorry, sucks to be you, I don’t think so’.

      I know there’s probably a big factor of my being lucky with her behavior, but I do think being very conscious of never responding to whining or begging, and not feeding her immediately upon waking/coming home/etc. also play a part in her being more patient. Good luck.

      1. Bart*

        I agree! We now always feed the cat after the dogs are fed. Gathering the dog bowls get her racing to her bowl, but no whining or really any reaction before then because only having the dogs eat leads to her eating. In my previous household the cats were fed at a certain time (including this one) and they would start harassing us until we would give in—including 5 am feedings where I would get out of bed to make it stop. What a mistake to reinforce that behavior. I am impressed that she has stopped harassing me now that I never would reward it. However, when we use an automatic feeder for a short trip, she will constantly go over to it to scratch at it or try to knock food out (we joke that she is praying at her food altar)—so auto feeders aren’t the answer for every cat.

      2. nobadcats*

        Smart!

        Never. Ever. Give in to the begging. I have a friend who gets up at whatever stupid o’clock in the morning two or three times a night to feed his kitties. When I heard that, I said, “Well done! Your cat has trained you up proper!”

    6. The Cosmic Avenger*

      LOL, I may have to try the panda suit! We got the Cat Mate C500, and while we really only used it for a full day we spend away from the house, I think it would work for you. It did freak our kittens out a bit at first, but that’s why I used it for midday feedings for a while when we were home; I wanted them to associate that (LOUD) whirring noise with meal time. If you’re using it for breakfast while you’re home that might not be as much of an issue, though.

    7. nobadcats*

      Never. Ever. Give in to the screaming.

      I don’t have a specific solution for your kitties, mine gets a 1/4 cup of kibble in the morning and a mini canned soft food every evening. She gets a wild hair up her butt some mornings and caroms off my hip as she gets the zips at 4.30am. But she still knows that kibble isn’t hitting her dish before 7.30am. I yell from the bed, “you can yodel in the bathtub all you want, there ain’t no food coming your way for another four hours.”

      Then I wake up to her sitting and staring at me or patting my face. Totally not creepy at all.

  9. HannahS*

    I hope this is ok for the weekend thread, since I’m hoping to talk about clothes rather than work.
    You know how there’s “corp goth,” the style that people who dress goth created that’s work-friendly? Is there a corp-cottagecore or corp-history-bounding? On Instagram, I see people wearing Little Women Atelier and Voriagh and Son de Flor and their clothes are beautiful but alas, my job isn’t writing love notes by hand on an oak desk while the sun streams in and I sigh gracefully before smelling the flowers that I gathered…no. I work in urban healthcare and live in a big, dirty city with a toddler. Is there a way to get those vibes without looking like I’m wearing a costume?

    Alternatively, how do you adopt your favourite aesthetics into your clothes, when you have practical considerations to make?

    *Also hahaha I can’t afford their clothes so I’d be making copies, but I’m an accomplished seamstress and could reasonably makes dupes. And my extended family are country folk so I’m WELL aware that people who actually live in rural settings tend not to dress like 19th century heroines. I need some whimsy in my life, stat.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I would start with The Interesting Vest. It can be added to the practical outfit, and in a pinch made of something washable. Easy to sew.

    2. Micah*

      Have you seen the youtuber Rachel Maksy? She did have an office job she had to commute to the first couple of years. Though I am not sure if she actually showed her work outfits or if she just talked about it. I seem to recall something about the trouble of winter clothes when commuting… Sorry that’s only a hint of being helpful.

      1. radiant*

        I love Rachel’s channel – I think she does a good job of recreating historical stuff but making it wearable on the daily. Sadly I have little to no sewing skills, so I just admire her work from afar :)

    3. Not A Manager*

      Some of those dresses look totally office-appropriate to me. The short sleeved “Beth” dress and a lot of the Son de Flor dresses in particular. But if those won’t work for you, can you add whimsey in your shoes and accessories?

      1. Sloanicota*

        Man, I love the look of linen, but I have never bought it without regretting it as soon as I try to wash. I guess you just have to be a committed ironer, or something, because nothing has ever looked as good as it does on the hanger. I have tried the shower trick, I own a steamer, but I’m just apparently not willing to iron my casuals.

        1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

          With linen you simply have to live with it, since even if you iron it before wear, it’ll crinkle very quickly.
          My first cousin once removed always says: “Linen crinkles nobly”, as in: it’s still a fine fabric and if it crinkles it’s still fine. :)

        2. Velvette*

          I have the same issue and though I know linen “wears in” well it also doesn’t feel nice on my skin and I just can’t make myself like it. Viscose linen noil (often just called viscose linen or linen/rayon blend) has solved all my linen issues. It has beautiful drape, is a joy to sew, feels great against my skin, and doesn’t wrinkle like 100% linen does!

        3. Blythe*

          FWIW, I LIVE in in Son de Flor linen dresses. I got so sick of thinking about what to wear, so I bought about 7 and just rotate through them. Definitely an expensive investment, but I LOVE not thinking about what to wear. I have not had a problem with wrinkling. When I wash them, I straighten them out when I hang them up to dry. It’s possible I just have a high tolerance for wrinkles (though I don’t think so).

          1. Emma2*

            I had never heard of these dresses before and just looked them up – thank you! They look lovely and I have just ordered two dresses to try them out.

    4. Sloanicota*

      I am definitely known for mixing weird and beautiful calf-length full skirts with ordinary cotton tank tops and hiking sandals for casual outings. I don’t know what people think (I don’t really care TBH) but I enjoy it. I think I would do an a line below-the-knee for work rather than some of my uber-romantic outfits. I also have renaissance hair so I can play that up or down – literally, as a ponytail de-romances it – depending on my mood.

    5. the cat's ass*

      Vests, scarves, and socks are great places to start. I thank the Creators on a daily basis that I wear scrubs to work. But i DO splash out on socks and scarves.

    6. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      What is it you like about these dresses? Because I’m seeing some common style choices:
      *long gathered skirts
      *puffy sleeves
      *muted, earthy color palette with low color contrast
      *soft, flowing lines
      *slightly fitted around the waist, loose elsewhere
      *lots of natural fibers
      *fairly delicate trim and details

      The gathered skirts are probably not the most practical (though still better than a pencil skirt!) and the puffiest of puffy sleeves are going to get in your way. But the rest seem totally sensible for everyday wear! Maybe dial down the poofy, unstructured look for professional wear though-a bit of structure communicates seriousness and professionalism.

      Make them in sturdy cotton that can be thrown in the washing machine and doesn’t need much ironing.

      Could you see yourself wearing:
      * a butter yellow blouse with a pintuck yoke and slightly puffy sleeves cuffed at the wrist. Combine with brown trousers and oxford shoes.
      *a muted blue tunic top, gathered at the neckline and fitted through the waist, with short sleeves trimmed in a small ruffle. Combined with navy ponte pants and dark shoes.

      ***Important Caveat: remember to use colors and cuts that actually flatter your body. No use making great clothes that would look awesome on a model, but look horrible on you. For instance, those lovely loose natural linen dresses would look exactly like a potato sack on me.

    7. Taking the long way round*

      Have a look at WolfSelene on IG – you might like her style, and she frequently posts from work, wearing what I would describe as cottage core :)

    8. RW*

      I guess the first question is what sort of healthcare? Expectations can vary wildly – I’m in NZ, in a city which leans not formal at all, and in GP land which seems to be usually less formal than hospitals… but some things that might work for me?
      I think the key to making An Outfit work appropriate can often be trying to tone down a slightly more out there piece with other pieces that read more normal in your work environment. Could you wear a floaty, slightly puffed blouse with your ordinary work pants? Or a below-knee floral skirt with a plain fitted t-shirt? The soft/feminine makeup looks probably are work appropriate to start with, if you wear makeup, and if you have long hair braiding it would a) get it out of the way for work purposes and also b) have the vibe. I personally leave mine down most days, but I don’t do procedures super often (and always have a hairtie in my desk in case I’ve forgotten I’ve got one coming up! Have had to pin it in place with pens a few too many times…)

      1. Wilde*

        Haha I’m also in NZ and my male GP wears a black band t shirt, shorts and running shoes no matter the weather. He’s also balding but has a mullet. He’s an excellent doctor and sets the dress code low enough that cottage core would be absolutely acceptable here!

    9. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      The person who allegedly came up with the idea of history-bounding – herself borrowing the idea from Disney-bounding – is youtuber Morgan Donner. She used to work in a corporate office at the time but still wanted to keep wearing her style. She did a video about it ~3years ago that I’ll link in a comment to mine.
      She also did a short trip with the aforementioned Rachel Maksy and historical sewing youtuber Bernadette Banner during which they all made videos and Bernadette made one about how each of them handle the history-bounding in their own different way. Link, also, in a comment to this one :)

    10. Ellis Bell*

      A Victorian or eyelet style blouse with whatever bottoms you currently own will go a long way towards this sort of look, and they’ve always been really wearable. Also, the basic vibe of those fashions you reference seems to be “floaty A line midi skirt dress” which might be the most practical of all skirt types: warm on a chilly day, cool on a hot one, room for good pockets and works well with all kinds of shoes. In fact most of the shoes on those accounts are incredibly, pre-taxi and pre-car type of sensible! Wear lace up boots and Oxford style walking shoes for the working day win. After that it’s just deciding on what details tug at your heart strings, like you do want lace, pintucks, gathering, ribbon, puffed sleeves etc? I think if you’re concerned about looking too over the top, it’s always wise to start small and build on it. So your dress/skirt can be a basic background colour, like plain black/navy/sage/beige/dark green. If your heart is set on a pattern, go for a very small polkadot or muted floral with just two colours. Then start with just one accessory like a discreet lace collar, or romantic Alice band, or waistcoat etc. Chanel was right when she said if it doesn’t look right when you look on the mirror, take one thing away.

    11. AGD*

      I work in academia and sew on the weekends, and completely understand. Aside from the people at the very top, higher ed folks might wear just about anything – but even so, about half of the clothes I want to wear are just incongruous enough that I can’t wear them to meet with undergrads without looking like someone who left the house this morning thinking she was going to Comic-Con. I’ve been experimenting with taking a hypothetical costume I want to wear and leaving in some of the things I like about it but otherwise reducing it to something boring enough for work.

      The other thing I do is aim for a half boring, half fun outfit. I have a few skirts that are over-the-top (either a ton of tulle, exuberantly patterned, or just all the colors ever), but pairing one of those with a completely nondescript nicely ironed white cotton blouse seems to work.

    12. Nervous Nellie*

      I just want to say that you are getting some lovely advice here, and I totally see that for your work industry the question is a good one to ask. I just want to add that sometimes it is a refreshing delight to see someone who is so stylish and imaginative in otherwise conservative environments. A great example: I was out with my best friend last night in a high end department store because she was shopping for a dress to wear to a wedding. The young attendant who assisted her was in what I guess could be called ‘light goth’ or something like it. Not cottage core, but stay with me here. He was dressed like Richmond from the British comedy IT Crowd, with only slightly less eyeliner. The only thing missing was a top hat, which he would have rocked. And most importantly, he did not look like he was in costume – there was a naturalness about him that was kinda dazzling. He worked with my friend for a solid half hour, and in the end recommended & sold (and got a large commission I am sure) a very expensive dress to her, while his neutrally-dressed coworkers were standing idle. And you might think since it was a place that sold clothes that it might be easier for him to dress that way in his work day, but this place has always had a very conservative vibe. I was charmed by him and delighted that as soon as we were done, he was immediately approached by another customer for help, after she turned down invitations to help from his colleagues.

      So the short version – you never know whose day you are making, and who you might delight by showing this very neat side of you. You be you! Go for it. And since you sew (me too!!), you might like this link to Mood Fabrics’ free cottage core patterns. I made one of the shirts and it’s wonderful:

      https://www.moodfabrics.com/blog/free-sewing-patterns-for-all-your-cottagecore-wardrobe-dreams/

    13. Blythe*

      I wear Son de Flor dresses every day to work (they are now my uniform). I work as a middle school teacher, so while the job isn’t dirty/messy, it is definitely active. The dresses have been perfect.

      If you’re looking to… scale it back a bit in terms of aesthetic, maybe the answer is a shorter full skirt (below knee?) with a more modern top. I think the silhouette is the thing that lends whimsy– if you have a full skirt, more fitted top, and a nipped-in waist, you’ll have the vibes. Also, the right shoes can help!

    14. The Shenanigans*

      I’ve found that I got compliments on the blouses I bought from Lolita fashion clothing sites. You can generally order them to be custom fit as well which is great for people with larger busts, like me.

      Quick note: Lolita fashion is a grown-up, very modest, very frilly, very feminine style that grew out of Japanese feminism. It has NOTHING to do with that book.

    15. AnonRN*

      I’m thinking about what the residents at my hospital wear and it’s Figs scrubs (I don’t love them! And so expensive.) or they wear OR scrubs and Patagonia jackets, and on seminar days they are all dressed in, like, heels and cocktail dresses (female-presenting residents anyway). So I have a guess about what kind of mold you’re trying to break out of!

      One thing that struck me about the photos from LWA was the hairstyles…any room for you there? (Styling your hair before a 14-hour shift might not be high on your list!) I know some nurses who wear long straight skirts…I think Dickies actually makes some but I know one who makes her own. It definitely gets some double-takes but she wears it like she means it. She also wears sensible shoes that could be on the LWA site. I’m thinking a blouse-and-skirt combo is a better idea than a long dress, maybe because it seems a little more fitted in the setting of isolation gowns, sterile gowns, etc (and also if you wear a white coat, which some of our docs do and others do not).

    16. Quinalla*

      I’m not into this style, but I like other types of styles and I try to find (as I can’t sew :) ) either a jacket or shirt or belt or jewelry – one piece only typically – that I can put with an otherwise standard work outfit. For me that’s enough to feel like I’m in my vibe, but still very office appropriate. Doing more than 1, maybe 2 if it is jewelry paired with one clothing item, makes it feel too costumey to me.

      I don’t do this as I don’t really do anything with my hair except brush it and pull it back in a ponytail occasionally, but if you are good with hair that could be another way to add to your look a bit. Nothing to wild, but a hairstyle more in-line with your look.

  10. marvin*

    I need obscure movie recommendations! My beloved local video store is closing soon, so I’m trying to watch as many of their hard-to-find collection as possible. Please give me your recommendations for old movies, cult movies, international movies, or anything that would normally be hard to find.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Hey Babu Riba, from 1985, a coming-of-age and unfolding-of-life movie about five friends growing up in Yugoslavia. I saw this is college in the 80s, but the feel of it has lingered over the decades.

      Also from this time, The Toxic Avenger, if horror spoof is more your style.

      1. I take tea*

        Yugoslav movies makes me think of Emir Kusturica’s Black Cat, White Cat. I remember it as pretty weird and quite cool.

    2. Bluebell*

      Holy Motors, an amazing French film by Leo Carax. You might be able to get it by Kanopy but I don’t thing it’s on any of the streamers.

    3. Micah*

      I don’t know if it is obscure but The Fall (2009) (with Lee Pace) is rare and absolutely beautiful. A hospital where a young stuntman who’s lost feeling in his legs tells a story to a little girl and the viewers see the wonder of her imagination.

      1. Internat'l movie recs*

        Another hospital-set film: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (French) – based on the memoir of a well-known editor who suffered from locked-in syndrome due to an accident. Really beautiful.

      2. Alice Ulf*

        THANK YOU, I saw a trailer for this sometime last year, immediately forgot the title and the actor, and I’ve been trying to figure it out ever since. <3

    4. Angstrom*

      The Dish. Lovely gentle comedy(2000)
      Ball of Fire. Screwball comedy. Heck, anything in that genre, including The Palm Beach Story.

      1. cat in a hat*

        I loved The Dish. I tried to rewatch recently, but my library doesn’t carry it.

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

        Love those screwball comedies! I’ll put a plug in for *I Love You Again* and *The Awful Truth*.

    5. Internat'l movie recs*

      – La science des reves (EN “the science of sleep”): French-language film starring Gael Garcia Bernal <333 very sweet
      – Bienvenue chez les T'chis (EN "welcome to the sticks"): Another French film, comedy about a guy whose job transfers him to the middle of nowhere in northern France.
      – Water: Heartbreaking Indian film about a child widow
      – Born into Brothels: Documentary about children of prostitutes in India, given cameras to document their world
      – The Lunchbox: Charming Indian film about what happens when a worker accidentally takes the lunch intended for someone else (not like anything on AMA!!)
      – Run Lola Run: Innovative German film about a young woman racing to get her boyfriend out of a deadly situation
      That's all I got for now. Hope it helps!

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      My recs…

      Daughter of Shanghai

      Crimson Kimono

      The Adventures of Milo and Otis

      A Better Tomorrow II

      Sweet Hearts Dance

      Dogfight

      Peter’s Friends

      Love Matters

      Go Fish

      L’Appartement

      Denial

      Foreign Correspondents

      Pane e Tulipani

      Snakeskin

      Lantana

      Seeing Other People

      Loggerheads

      The Grace Lee Project

      Sleeping Dogs Lie

      Shortbus

      Ping Pong Playa

      The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

      La Doppia Ora

      Alex of Venice

      Searching

      1. AGD*

        I loved Searching so much I special ordered a DVD of it!

        Looking up a bunch of the rest of these now.

    7. Nicki Name*

      …And God Spoke, a hilarious film about people with high ambitions making a terrible film.

    8. Anono-me*

      “Momma There’s a Man in Your Bed” French film that gently but perfectly mocks societal privilege and stereotypes. Same people did the French/1st/much better version of “3 Men & a Baby”.

      “Escape from Sobibor” Heartbreaking, but hopeful story about the captives in the WW2 concentration camp. Stars Rutger Hauer.

      1. Anono-me*

        Also:

        “Best in Show” a comedy about the people who live for pure bred dogs and shows. I think the calendar screens alone make the movie worth watching.

        Any movie with Miss Barbara Stanwyck, especially the one from before 1934

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

          Ooh, is that *Baby Face*? I love Barbara Stanwyck (and *Best in Show*) too!

          1. Anono-me*

            Sorry, it is actually a typo that still works. I meant to say “… especially the ones before 1934.” As they have a different feel to them. But “Baby Face” is on of her best films.

      2. Pippa K*

        For another WWII drama, Lidice. Czech film about a village connected with the assassination of Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich. I saw it when it came out about a dozen years ago and found it interesting, if grim.

    9. Forrest Rhodes*

      Allegro non Troppo. Animated, with some brief live-action; Italian; classical music; very funny; in the same vein as Fantasia but with a more grownup “bite” to it (nothing sexual, as I recall, just that the Valse Triste segment is kinda sad).

      Enjoyed it very much years ago; haven’t seen or heard of it in a long time.

    10. MoreThanJustAnnoyed*

      There’s a Cary Grant movie, “Every Girl Should Be Married,” that I watched on VHS tape a very long time ago. It was quite fun (though I am not sure how well it would hold up to today’s standards.) I have tried to find it on streaming to no avail.

      1. Clisby*

        Seconded. Also, “Gregory’s Girl” by the same director.

        They appear to be available on Amazon Prime Video.

    11. The Prettiest Curse*

      I’ll probably think of many more later, but here are a few, with my notes on where else they might be available.

      Branded to Kill and Tokyo Drifter are two excellent and very weird Japanese crime thrillers from the 60’s. Because it was a studio quickie, Tokyo Drifter has an absolutely delightful product placement sequence for a high-tech hairdryer in the middle of the crime action. (Both on Criterion Collection DVD.)

      Death of a Cyclist is a Spanish film noir, different from American noirs in some ways, but very similar in others. (Criterion Collection DVD)

      Tears of the Black Tiger is a Thai western set in the 1950s. Visually striking and unlike anything else you’ll ever see. (No idea for this one, saw it on original cinema release.)

      I’m Your Man is a German romantic comedy about a woman testing a robot designed to be the ideal partner, starring Dan Stevens as the robot. (Streaming)

      1. takeachip*

        Mindwalk, Baxter, The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey, The Man from Earth, Repo Man, Goodbye Babylon

    12. Jay*

      Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits. It sort of brings to mind the “storybook” type of fantasy movie like Neverending Story and Princess Bride. It’s pretty great as a family movie, if you haven’t seen it yet.
      Labyrinth, the David Bowie/Jennifer Connolly vehicle.
      My two Halloween traditions, the delightfully cheesy The Monster Club and The Beast Must Die.
      Ice Pirates and Space Truckers, two low budget B-movies that really nail the “crappy/cool” vibe.

      1. Nicki Name*

        Another great holiday one: Rare Exports: A Christmas Story, a Finnish horror/comedy movie about… well, you can guess.

      2. Goldfeesh*

        Time Bandits is the best, though the ending was so scary to me as a kid. It was also produced by George Harrison who also wrote it’s wonderful theme song, Dream Away.

        Another movie that I don’t understand why it isn’t a well-known cult movie is the Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr movie, The Magic Christian. It is so funny in parts, some hasn’t aged the best from ‘68 as well, but it has the best cameo ever by Yul Brynner, and the best scene using Badfinger’s Come and Get It.

        1. Nicki Name*

          +1 for The Magic Christian, which has a bunch of other names you might recognize associated with it too. Great for playing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

    13. This field intentionally left blank*

      Not sure how hard these are to find, but they probably aren’t burning up streaming services, so maybe they qualify?

      The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension – cult sci-fi
      The Trouble with Harry – Hitchcock comedy, a bit dated but mostly works
      The Adventures of Baron Munchausen – Terry Gilliam fantasy; if you can find a copy with the “making of” interviews, those are also pretty fascinating
      Bubba Ho-tep – cult – Bruce Campbell is an aging Elvis protecting his nursing home from a mummy
      Dark City – A reasonably mainstream sci-fi ‘noir’ movie that had the misfortune of hitting theatres at the same time as the original The Matrix, so nobody saw it
      Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai – A black man (Forrest Whitaker) follows the code of bushido and works as a hitman for aging Itallian mobsters
      Dick Tracy – Early entry into the comicbook genre (circa Tim Burton’s Batman); come for the glorious art direction and set design… stay to watch Al Pacino trie to eat every morsel of it.
      Repo! The Genetic Opera – cult – A gonzo musical about people having their organ transplants reposessed. It works, if you’re into that sort of thing. Not for the squeamish.

      1. This field intentionally left blank*

        No edit feature, so self-replying for the one I forgot.

        The Court Jester – old Danny Kaye comedy, there’s sword fights and quippy dialogue, and it holds up pretty well for a movie from 1955.

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

            But the chalice from the palace holds the brew that is true!

      2. GoryDetails*

        Bubba Ho Tep – definitely! It’s very funny, and surprisingly touching in among the bizarre-ness. (Has a killer musical score, too.) Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis star, and it’s based on a Joe R. Lansdale story. Recommended!

    14. may spring rain*

      Also:

      Cinema Paradiso

      Pieces of April

      Burnt Offerings (if you like supernatural horror; free on Tubi)

      Harold and Maude

      Koyaanisqatsi

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

      If you like mysteries with a side of comedy, I really enjoyed the Miss Marple films from the 1960s with Margaret Rutherford (and they have jammin’ theme music). Also *The Mad Miss Manton*, a 1930s comedy/mystery.

      Also, *Charade* — a 1960s mystery romance with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn.

      In a totally different and more violent vein, I recently saw some Charles Bronson films from the 1970s–*The Mechanic* and *Mr. Majestyk*–that I really enjoyed.

      Some early 1970s crime-related comedies that are great were *A New Leaf* and *Cops and Robbers*.

      There are a number of Black action films from the 1970s that are also great–*Sweet Sweetback’s Badassss Song*, *Shaft*, *Superfly*, *Blacula* and *Scream, Blacula, Scream*, *Cleopatra Jones*, *Foxy Brown*, etc.

      1. SpellingBee*

        Oh, I was also going to recommend A New Leaf! One of my very favorites. Charade also wonderful – I rarely watch it deliberately as I’ve seen it so many times, but whenever it’s on and I happen to hit it in the list I always get sucked in.

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

          OMG–I didn’t know that existed! It is now on my must-watch list! : )

    16. Emma2*

      I am not sure if it is hard to find because it is Jean Renoir, but I find the film La Grand Illusion fascinating. It is very much a period piece; it is a 1937 film about French soldiers who are taken as prisoners of war by the Germans during WWI. It is a film that celebrates shared humanity and was made as fascism was rising around Europe (and obviously just before the continent tipped into WWII). It is this celebration of, and perhaps plea for a shared humanity, made on the brink of catastrophe.

    17. Pennyworth*

      I’ve no idea if any of these are hard to find, but older movies that have stuck in my mind are The Duellists (0r Point of Honor), from 1977, a Ridley Scott movie starring Harvey Kietel and Keith Carradine, Providence (also 1977) starring Dirk Bogarde, Ellen Burstyn and John Gielgud. The Women (1939) has an all-women cast including Norma Shearer, Paulette Goddard, Joan Crawford etc. French films include The War of the Buttons (1962 version) and The Chorus/Les Choristes (2004). Classics like The Third Man (1949, Orson Welles) and Notorious ( 1946 Hitchcock) are also good.

    18. sagewhiz*

      No movies to rec, but after the video store is gone, check out kanopy, a free streaming service offered thru most libraries (you sign in with your library card number). Can view on phone, tablet, computer or internet via smart tv. It’s known for offering foreign/obscure films & docs.

    19. Irish Teacher*

      These aren’t obscure at all, but not sure how well known they are outside Ireland. Michael Collins and The Wind that Shakes the Barley.

      The first is probably too well-known in Ireland, to the point people base their knowledge of history on it. It’s about one of the leaders of the Irish independence movement and it actually captures the various characters quite well and is an excellent film, but it’s obviously portraying things from Collins’ point of view.

      The Wind that Shakes the Barley is set in the same period but is fictional (though based on a common situation, of family members finding themselves on opposite sides of an utterly pointless civil war). The brilliant thing about this is that it was deliberately made so that the dialogue and so on isn’t perfect. If people stumbled over their lines, they kept it in, because in real life people don’t always reply 100% perfectly, especially not when in the middle of a war.

    20. The Dude Abides*

      Rollerball (1975) – ostensibly a “sports” movie, but as a lover of dystopian fiction there’s more to it

    21. o_gal*

      Peter Sellers in “After the Fox” (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060200/). He plays a thief who escapes from prison, then engineers a huge gold heist by impersonating a movie director, and getting an entire little village (along with a fading international movie star) to be in a “movie” that is the actual heist. One of the writers is Neil Simon.

      What’s Up Doc? (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0069495/). Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neil meet by accident at a geologist’s convention in San Franciso, and hijinks galor involving stolen diamond jewelry, mistaken identities, and musical rocks. Also has the fabulous Madeline Kahn, Kenneth Mars, and Austin Pendleton.

    22. E. Chauvelin*

      Possibly too hard to find, but I deeply love James Whale’s Journey’s End. Not that the remakes are bad but his remains the best.

    23. Nervous Nellie*

      Oooh! I am so enjoying the replies to this. I will add many suggestions given here to my own watch list. Here are some of mine:

      Wings of Desire (German)
      Diva (French)
      Mississippi Masala (American/Canadian)
      Stormy Monday (American/British)
      Goodbye Lenin (German)
      I am Love (Italian)
      I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing (Canadian)
      Lagaan (Indian) LAGAAN!!!! Oh, yeah. Watch it over 2 nights – it’s long.
      The Lives of Others (German)
      Mystery Train (American) and truly, anything by the director Jim Jarmusch
      The Unbelievable Truth / Trust (American, both by Hal Hartley)
      Monsoon Wedding (Canadian/Indian)
      Owning Mahoney (Canadian)
      The Quiet Earth (Australian)
      Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears (Russian)

      Also, anything from The Criterion Collection – their website has a vast list of fantastic films. I have been begging them for 15 years to buy the rights to a Russian/French/Mongolian film from the 80s called Close to Eden, about a nomadic shepherding couple whose lives are changed by the gift of a TV from an acquaintance. I saw it at a film festival on limited run in Canada in the mid-80s and have never seen it again. It was marvelous!

      1. Bluebell*

        Lagaan- because who doesn’t want to watch a four hour movie with a one hour cricket match in the middle! *such* a great movie!!!

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          LOL, Bluebell, right? But the love story is wonderful, the warm disregard for the caste system is exciting and the music, my goodness. And the cricket match is a nail biter because the prize is escaping the British usurious taxes for years. What a tale. Aamir Khan is a genius. There is also a wonderful book written about the making of the film: The Spirit of Lagaan by Satyajit Bhaktal. I have seen it so many times but weep & cheer each time.

    24. may spring rain*

      Not obscure, but three more reccs:

      Spirited Away – I don’t care for anime, but this one is an exception. Beautiful film.

      Crash – brilliant.

      My Octopus Teacher – you’ll never see octopi in the same way. Magical and deeply poignant.

      If I am not mistaken, all three won academy awards for ‘best picture’ in their respective categories.

    25. Hobbette*

      “I Know Where I’m Going” (Powell/Pressburger, 1945). Delightful comedy with Wendy Hiller and Roger Livesey. Look for a very young Petula Clark in a cameo role!

    26. Chauncy Gardener*

      “Being There” with Peter Sellers. The original Japanese “Shall We Dance?” “A Midummer’s Night Sex Comedy” by Woody Allen. Any Fellini movies. “Cold Fever”

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Oh yes, “If It’s Tuesday, it Must be Belgium.”
        “Scoop”
        “Moscow on the Hudson”
        “Big Fish”
        “The Smallest Show on Earth”
        “Ring of Bright Water”
        “A Roman Holiday”
        “Harold & Maude”

    27. Chaordic One*

      Admittedly my tastes are a bit cheesy. Most of these are just old, but they were reasonably popular in their time, but no longer seen very much and now hard to find.

      The Last of Sheila
      After Hours (1985)
      Christina (1974, starring Barbara Parkins)
      Smithereens
      The Reincarnation of Peter Proud
      Whatever Happened to Aunt Alice?
      Let’s Scare Jessica to Death
      Harold and Maude
      Car Wash
      Rachel, Rachel
      The Great Gatsby (1974)
      Three Bewildered People in the Night
      Shampoo
      Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff

      1. Chaordic One*

        Also:

        Secret Ceremony
        The Hunger
        The Loved One
        The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane
        Family Plot
        They Live
        Sisters (1973)
        Dressed to Kill

      2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        Definitely support Wings of Desire (Wim Wenders, not the remake City of Angels).
        Empire of the Sun
        Furyo – Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence
        Princess Mojonoke (animated, Studio Ghibli)
        When the Wind Blows (British animated movie, cutesy drawn, but very serious underneath, great music)
        Not that obscure:
        Rashomon
        The 7 Samurai (Kurosawa) and the Western remake The Magnificent Seven

    28. IrishEm*

      Anything directed by Giuseppe Tornatore, for me The Legend of 1900 and the Ennio Morricone score is second to none.

    29. Former_Employee*

      I recommend a bunch of John Sayles movies:

      Return of the Seacaucus 7 (1980)
      Baby It’s You (1983)
      The Brother From Another Planet (1984; the first time I saw Joe Morton)
      Matewan (1987; based on a real coal miners strike in 1920; Chris Cooper’s debut)
      Passion Fish (1992; wonderful; with Mary McDonnell & Alfre Woodard)

      Other movies:

      Carmen (1983; Carlos Sara’s flamenco version with the amazing Laura del Sol)
      Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988; Pedro Almodóvar)

      Otherwise, seconding others who mentioned The Third Man (1949; incredible performance by Orson Welles) and Diva (1981; Wilhelmina Fernandez)

    30. Anon for this*

      Going anonymous since I often recommend these!

      Matchstick Men (2004): A skilled but troubled con-man (Nicolas Cage) discovers that he has a 14-year-old daughter, and it turns his life upside down. Amazingly little-known for something directed by Ridley Scott.

      Primer (2004): Two guys in a garage invent a time-travel device; consequences ensue. Real “bang for your buck” going on – gripping sci-fi story on a shoestring budget!

      Lars and the Real Girl (2007): A shy, anxious man orders, well, a life-sized vinyl doll of an adult woman, but not exactly for the obvious purpose. He nonchalantly introduces “Bianca” to his little Wisconsin town as his girlfriend and takes her everywhere (events, family dinners, therapist appointments). The townspeople surprise themselves by largely coming to accept, and even embrace, the situation – but in the long run, something’s going to have to give. Disarmingly touching.

      Stories We Tell (2012): Canadian actor/director Sarah Polley learns that she is the product of what genealogists call a “non-paternity event,” which explains why she clearly doesn’t look like the man who raised her, or any of her older siblings. Polley made this documentary to put the pieces of the past together and capture her family grappling with the discovery. It’s deep and thoughtful rather than sensationalistic.

    31. WantonSeedStitch*

      “Der Himmel uber Berlin” (aka “Wings of Desire”) by Wim Wenders. I initially watched it because it had Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds in it. It also has the delightful Peter Falk and Bruno Ganz. It’s a charming movie, and when I heard that “City of Angels” was theoretically based on it, I was gobsmacked because it was NOTHING like the original.

  11. New Mom*

    Commentariat, my family and I would like your take. We are divided about something (low stakes):
    If you needed house sitters for an annual extended trip and you had a house sitter who left the place clean and tidy when they left, but was messy DURING their stay, would that be a deal breaker to ask them back? (In case it matters, the type of messiness was clothes all over the place)

    1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      Definitely not, so long as they made sure the trash was removed, dishes were cleaned (if used), etc. Honestly, this is me, so I wouldn’t judge!

      One caveat: if this somehow created a hazard for any pets they may be watching. (My dog ate a sweater belt once when my mom was watching him and the results were predictably disastrous.)

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      It would not in the slightest bother me. I just care what it looks like when I get home.

      Unless there’s a problem like frequent vet visits because the black lab always tries to eat the abandoned socks.

    3. Southern Soul*

      That would absolutely not be a deal breaker and would be points toward asking them back. But I also try really hard to leave my house clean (or at least clean-ish) when I have sitters. (We don’t use a house sitter, just a once-a-day pet sitter, but still.) I think this also kind of depends on how long this extended trip is. If it was more than a few days and you’re asking someone to live in your house for that whole time, I’d clean it just because I can’t stand living in someone else’s mess, and I’d say it’s rude on the part of the homeowner to leave their house that way when someone else will be using it.

      1. Southern Soul*

        After reading this again though, I think I misunderstood – was it the house sitter that was leaving things messy? In that case, I’m still meh about it as long as the house is clean when the homeowner returns.

    4. cold toes*

      Seriously? No. Why do you hope to mandate what someone is like *during* their stay? How do you monitor this? Do you have in-house cameras, or something?

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        That’s my question too. I have a couple cameras around my house externally, but the only one inside is pointed at where the dog is gated during the day. I definitely wouldn’t feel comfortable house sitting for someone who was watching me.

        1. Observer*

          I definitely wouldn’t feel comfortable house sitting for someone who was watching me.

          That’s a REALLY good point!

        1. KatEnigma*

          Yeah. Whoever took that position should perhaps consider their level of micromanaging. I hope the housesitter knows there are cameras watching their clutter.

      2. Lady Danbury*

        That was my question, too. That would be a dealbreaker for me as the house sitter!

      3. Observer*

        ? How do you monitor this?

        That’s a really good question. Also, something you should tell any potential house-sitter. In part, because a LOT of folks won’t want to sit if they are going to be monitored. With good reason!

    5. Double A*

      What. How would you even know? It would be a dealbreaker for me, your house sitter, who would not appreciate being monitored and I would not be returning. I certainly hope also that whatever way the homeowner found out about the during-stay messiness (I’m assuming it was cameras?) was disclosed prior to this person taking the job.

      1. Observer*

        It would be a dealbreaker for me, your house sitter, who would not appreciate being monitored and I would not be returning.

        If my experience as a baby sitter is anything to go by, word will also spread, narrowing your pool *considerably*.

    6. SofiaDeo*

      I am assuming you have hidden cameras. Clothes are not food garbage or outside people/dirt/germs getting inside all over. Why would you care if clothes are strewn about? To me the place is not attracting vermin in your absence nor are outside germs being brought in/spread around. I’d rather someone throw clothes around than throw a party. Except for the potential pet problem, this quirk shouldn’t be a reason not to employ someone.

    7. Dinoweeds*

      Yikes – how do you know what it looks like when they are there in the first place? Super not cool to have cameras in the house unless the house sitter was explicitly told beforehand. Even then, that’s not great.

    8. Indolent Libertine*

      If they were messy and careless with *your* possessions while there, that would be one thing. If they regularly left dishes unwashed for days, overflowing trash bins, food debris that attracted pests (or could have), smoked when they said they wouldn’t, things of that nature, that would certainly make me think twice about bringing them back.

      But if they just left their own stuff kind of all over the place? Especially clothes? When they probably were living out of a suitcase, unless you cleared out drawers and closets for them? How… does this even have an impact on you at all? And yeah, if you know about this because you have cameras, I really hope you disclosed to the sitters that the cameras were there and you would be monitoring them while they were in residence.

    9. Quandong*

      but how do you know about the messy clothing at all??? this is way more of a concern to me, honestly.

    10. New Mom*

      Oh, sorry I should have put this detail in: My parents have a house that they live in and my grandmother has a house nearby, they all go overseas for part of the year with my grandmother going for much longer. The house sitter was at my grandmothers place and while my parents were still in town the house sitter needed my dad to fix something and when he went by he saw the place messy but it was very clean and tidy after the person left.

      No cameras or checking in on the person without permission!

      1. WellRed*

        Eh, I wouldn’t worry about clothes or clutter. Im a clean person but do drag my feet on putting clothes away or recycling the newspaper.

      2. ThatGirl*

        I mean, who cares? They cleaned up before they left. I toss my clothes around sometimes or leave dishes in the sink, but I always clean up.

      3. Emma*

        oh I would definitely be fine with this then, especially since they tidied up later. they’re just living in the house. they left it tidy! that’s the most important thing.

      4. Observer*

        No cameras or checking in on the person without permission!

        That’s good. But that still leaves the fundamental question – why on earth would you care?

    11. Dark Macadamia*

      They… didn’t store their own clothes in the way the homeowner would store theirs? I’m having trouble even imagining how this would be a problem lol. Like did they throw a heavy coat onto a delicate plant or something?

    12. Fit Farmer*

      The only way I can see this possibly mattering is if you’d expressed to them how important it was to you that the house stay as tidy while you’re away as it is when you’re home, and the house sitter agreed to do that but in fact did not…*I* would’t think this is important at all, but different people are different, and if it’s something *you* care about, you can require it when you hire somebody. And for the upcoming trip, since it sounds like you liked them overall, certainly I would think you’d rather ask them if they’d like to come back with this new consideration, rather than not even open the conversation with them just because they didn’t do something they were never asked to do.

      1. Observer*

        Sure you *can* require anything you want to. It doesn’t make it remotely reasonable. And, clearly they didn’t make this requirement known, so acting on this information is doubly unreasonable.

        And, OP, keep in mind that just because you CAN do something, if doesn’t mean it’s reasonable or smart. If you actually were to make this a condition, you would be creating some real potential problems for yourself. Because on the one hand it’s a condition that *is* going to reduce your pool, and on the other hand it’s *totally* unenforceable condition.

    13. RagingADHD*

      Given your update, I’ll say this: it wouldn’t be an issue for me, and if you were the homeowner asking for my input, I’d advise you to ignore it.

      But it sounds like your parents and grandma are the homeowners, and if it bothers them then it’s not really up to you. They are allowed to feel however they feel about it.

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

      Nah. But then, I’m the kind of person who would be messy with my clothes during their stay and then clean up nicely for you before you got home, so not the most unbiased source!

      1. New Mom*

        This is exactly me, I’m messy but don’t leave a mess so I was sort of surprised when it was a problem for my dad. And I wondered if he was the anomaly or if I was.

    15. JSPA*

      Not at all. Food mess or pet mess or lack-of-emptying trash mess can have knock-on effects. Clothes everywhere? That’s just disorder, not dirt. No harm, no foul.

      (I’m assuming you don’t mean they’re jamming used knickers and socks in the butter dish, with the butter, or putting garter belts on the cats.)

    16. Pennyworth*

      One of my kids house sits almost full time. They are not the neatest person day to day but but always leave their sits immaculate and get good reviews and a lot of repeat business. How do you know they are not tidy? Are you spying on them – because that would be a deal breaker with my kid. Trust is everything, and the willingness to share a bed with whatever animal expects to be there. References are important.

      1. cold toes*

        Yeah, we hired a housesitter like this once. Upon our return, she expressed her surprise that the cat *really* did sleep by her head.

    17. Irish Teacher*

      This wouldn’t even be something I’d have any opinion of. I mean, I wouldn’t care what they did with their clothes when they were staying in my house.

    18. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m not sure how I would even know, but as long as they’re not leaving things out that are dangerous to my pets, or breaking/getting into my stuff, or leaving food messes that are likely to attract bugs or rodents, then as long as my house is in the condition I left it when I return, I probably am unfazed about whether they left their clothes strewn about while I was gone.

    19. Ellis Bell*

      So I’m guessing that if the family is divided on asking the sitter back, only one or two of you is concerned about the messy clothes issue. Since they can’t possibly care how someone else is caring for their own clothes completely out of sight, they must be extrapolating some not-obvious meaning from it. I would just ask them: “What’s your concern about this; do you think it signals something about their judgement or responsibility?” I’m honestly kind of mystified as to how on earth it can matter, so I wouldn’t be able to help asking some curious questions! I’m also wondering if it’s your dad who has the objections (after seeing the mess in person), or if someone is objecting purely on hearing about it second hand. I’d be more inclined to listen to the former type of objection than the latter.

      1. New Mom*

        You really summed up my confusion. I just can’t see why it’s a problem if the house was messy while the house sitter stayed there but left in great condition when they left. I thought we had found a great person to use multiple summers in a row (and it helps me because when the houses are unattended I need to check on them frequently) so to not have them back over something that I consider a non-issue was perplexing to me.

        1. M. from P.*

          Yes, and also – did they have any empty dressers / hangers to put / hang up their clothes?

        2. Observer*

          Maybe ask whoever is flipping why they care. But maybe also, tell them that if they are going to arbitrarily limit their pool of house-sitters, you’re not going to pick up the slack.

    20. The Shenanigans*

      Nah, if they clean up when I get back, nothing is missing, and nothing is stained why would I care? They are presumably living there, so of course they are gonna get a bit lived in during their stay.

    21. Lady Danbury*

      Definitely not. Clothes aren’t going to have any long term impact (the way actual dirtiness might). As long as it wasn’t something that might have an impact on the house after I return (attract mold or insects, cause stains, etc), then I wouldn’t care about messiness.

    22. Ally*

      I feel like I’m missing something… they just had their own clothes lying around? But it was tidy when you were back? I truly don’t understand how this is a problem.
      What’s the alternative? You expect them to pack everything back in their suitcase every single day they’re living there just so it looks nice in case someone in your family has to stop by? You don’t want them to feel comfortable or relaxed or feel at home at all?

    23. marvin*

      I think the type of messiness matters. If it’s just clothes and things strewn about, who cares? That doesn’t affect you at all. If it’s actual filth or neglect, that could be an issue even if they clean up later. I suspect the people who are bothered by this might generally have a bit of unease around having people in their space. Maybe they’re thinking the housesitter is similar to a guest and should treat their home as if they were visiting for the afternoon. Probably best for them to focus on the state the house is in when they get back.

    24. Observer*

      sitter who left the place clean and tidy when they left, but was messy DURING their stay, would that be a deal breaker to ask them back? (In case it matters, the type of messiness was clothes all over the place)

      Why would you care that they had clothes all over the place while you were gone? It’s not like they did any damage or anything that could lead to damage of negative consequences. I mean, if they were leaving food all over the place, I could see worries about pests, for instance. But clothes?

      Am I missing something here?

    25. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I recently got back from a 3 week trip. I had a house/pet sitter. When I got home, the place was clean, the cats were healthy and happy, the mail was on the table, and there was general order. All the pictures she sent of the cats during the trip showed a generally not-destroyed house. Beyond that, I neither know nor care.

    26. Don'tbeadork*

      House sitter was messy during the stay but left everything clean and tidy? What do I care? Is the house still standing? Are the animals all cared for? Are they using distilled water to water my carnivorous plants on schedule?

      I’d gladly rehire them, or bribe them to stay in whatever way works if they’re family. I’m not living in their mess so it’s no skin off my nose.

  12. NYC hostel recs and advice*

    Looking for recommendations for a hostel (or other cheap accomodation) for New York City (or easy access by train/subway/other public transportation). Single female, early 20’s, so I don’t want too scary a place. If you don’t know have any hostel recs, what are the areas of the city to avoid? Where should I not go in the day? In the night? (if it helps: caucasian, not American, but can navigate big European cities). Anything I should know as a non-American?

    1. mreasy*

      Most places are fine! There are the “pod” hotels which are no space but quite cheap. It really just depends what your goals are. If you’re in Manhattan you will be fine. In Brooklyn unless you get way out to east New York or somewhere super industrial (where there won’t be hotels) you will be fine. NYC is way safer than people think. I would choose your neighborhood based on your destinations (eg museums, shopping, visiting?) and go from there. If you are planning to use public transit, I would find somewhere close to a subway. (If in Bk the L, A, Q, and J are all pretty useful.) but check travel times by transit to determine where you want to stay… I’d just use hotels.com. Can’t recommend Airbnb here for a number of reasons.

      1. NeonFireworks*

        Seconding the Pod hotels, if you’re okay with a single bed, tiny desk, and tiny bathroom. Never had a bad experience!

    2. Bluebell*

      I was going to suggest the Seafarers Intl House but sadly they are no longer open to the general public. I’m not an expert on hostels, but in general, midtown is fairly safe. I used to travel there a lot for work when I was in my 20s and 30s and never felt unsafe. Look up Pod51 – that might be an option for you.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I loved Pod 39, although I’m sad the rooftop bar dropped the tiki bar theme, so I second those as convenient, safe, and a good value.

        I’ve stayed at The Paper Factory hotel, which is a quirky boutique hotel (that doesn’t try TOO hard) just across the river in Queens. They kept the industrial feel, so if you don’t mind that, it’s got a great restaurant/bar, and it’s a one block walk to a subway station, which is a 10-15 minute train ride into midtown Manhattan.

        I haven’t stayed at the Paper Factory in a while only because I grew up in Queens, and most of my NYC friends still live there. Now I stay in Flushing, Queens (I just got back, actually), which is at the end of the 7 train, and while there are quite a few stops, there are express trains on that line. I usually take the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) from Penn Station (it also goes to Grand Central Station), which is a nicer, faster (and more expensive) commuter rail line. Flushing is probably now bigger than Manhattan’s Chinatown, and many of the hotels include congee and bao in their complementary breakfast, which I like. I prefer the Parc Hotel, but it’s a few blocks further from the action: the Asiatic Hotel was fine, and it was extremely central to things, and closer to the trains. The 7 train would take you 40-45 minutes to get to Times Square from there, and if you want to explore Brooklyn and Queens, too, this might be a good alternative, especially if Flushing sounds appealing. The Parc is probably a 10 minute walk to the trains, and the Asiatic 5.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Oh, I forgot, the Parc Hotel also has a rooftop bar where you can see LaGuardia Airport and the Mets’ stadium, which are fun to watch from there. I should have gone over there when I was staying at the Asiatic, but I had plans almost every night for dinner with old friends. <3

    3. Decidedly Me*

      It’s been a number of years, but I stayed at Chelsea International Hostel and would recommend it. Never felt unsafe (in the area or in the accommodations) and easy to get around places. I was in a shared room and the other women were all travelers from different European countries.

    4. Melissa*

      Seconding “most places are fine.” NYC is a safe city, and if you wander into some untoward neighborhood (you’d have to take the subway a long way to make that happen), you’ll figure it out yourself! Just relax and have fun. I lived there (in Manhattan and in Queens) for several years.

    5. Once Too Often*

      I’ve stayed at Leo House in Chelsea. It’s over $100/night now, but it was simple safe & easy. Its Catholic, so there are crosses in each guest room. No fridge or hot plate/microwave.

    6. Venus*

      I don’t know anything about New York, but Hostelling International has been a great option for me over the years and I’d recommend looking at them. Their cheapest seems to be a 12-bed dorm for $60. That might seem like a lot of people in one space, but in my experience they tend to be slightly more expensive than the cheapest hostels and therefore have more thoughtful guests. They accept all ages, have community spaces in the hostel where people can chat and get ideas for what to do in town, and sometimes have kitchens. When only the cheapest hostels were available I found that they were often noisy with parties and had mixed dorms with body odor problems. A few extra dollars a night solved this issue so well worth it! HI has been around for decades and tends to choose locations that are central and safe. Their NYC hostel says that it is “nearby Central Park”.

      Link in reply.

    7. JustATourist*

      well, I am staying in a cheap hotel in Chinatown (essentially the cheapest thing with a private bathroom Booking had in Manhattan). Still not cheap compared with an European city, but the position is good, and there is ample offering of cheap restaurants/bakeries around for eating. It does feel safe.

  13. Entertaining outdoors*

    Starting to enjoy the lovely summer weather and I’d like to make the most of it with our deck (2nd yr renting this place). I’ve thought of getting “twinkly” lights, we have two folding tables and a bunch of folding chairs, but otherwise, what would make the deck more inviting for day- and nighttime get-togethers?

    1. Not A Manager*

      If you’re allowed to leave stuff out there, get some comfy non-folding stuff. I’ve found very inexpensive sets (loveseat, 2 chairs and a coffee table) at hardware stores and big box stores. If you can’t fit a lot of stuff, get one or two chairs and a little side table.

      Again if it’s allowed, a small charcoal grill is inexpensive and super fun.

      A flower pot or railing box is cheerful, or some potted herbs.

      Real candles in hurricane lamps, or the battery powered electric candles are pretty and a nice source of light.

      If you’re going to spend a lot of time out there, get some heavy washable plastic wine glasses and some melamine plates.

      1. Entertaining outdoors*

        Thanks! The deck is just for our unit, so we can keep whatever we like out there.

      2. amoeba*

        For grilling, I’d recommend the “Lotus” grills (or something similar) – they work with real charcoal but have a battery-driven fan to reduce smoke and make them suited for balconies etc. (In my rental, normal charcoal grills aren’t allowed because of the neighbours but these are fine…)

    2. Anono-me*

      -A sun sail or huge umbrella for shade.
      -A fan for cooling and to help keep bugs away.
      -Fountain for soothing white noise and visual appeal. ( You can DYI a Fountain that doesn’t need to be plugged in for cheap with a large planter, some pretty rocks and a floating solar disk Fountain. )
      -Comfy lounge chairs. (For kids and younger adults they make super cool inflatable tube loungers that run about $25 for a good one.)
      -Yard games like croquet, corn toss and lawn darts.
      -Throw blanket/s for sitting in the lawn or snuggles on a cool evening.

    3. Sloanicota*

      Some big potted plants make a huge difference and can add shade/privacy/visual interest.

    4. Llama Llama*

      A few years ago I bought cheap plastic Adirondack chairs (I bought them on a super sale but they were 20 not on sale). When people come over, they always use them.

  14. mreasy*

    What is the AAM post you send to people you’re introducing to AAM? Mine is the spicy food HR debacle. (My Reddit AITA post for this is of course the Iranian yogurts.)

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

      The totally useful page Alison curated collecting a bunch of her advice on how to get a job.

    2. La Revacholiere*

      The company that mandated rings on each hand because an employee had OCD and the guy who pushed his coworker in front of a car because he was scared of birds.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I usually just recommend it in general, but I’ve told people about particular posts. The toppers:
      –Duck Club (quack!)
      –Spicy food thief
      –Go get your dog (sob!)
      –Liver boss
      –The dude who ghosted his ex, who then became his boss
      –The birdphobe
      –Hanukkah Balls
      –The boss who dumped his pee in the sink
      –Coworker wants people to call her bf her Master
      –Joaquin/Wakeen (I don’t recall if that was a post or a comment, but it lives in infamy in my head)

      1. PhyllisB*

        The one that got me hooked was the lady who stepped in wet concrete and went skidding down the hallway shrieking and apologizing before slamming into a wall. I have never laughed so much in my life. My family thought I had lost my mind.

      2. MJ*

        A post related to a specific work problem but then all those listed for fun. And also:
        – the Christmas party “plus one” that turned out to be a “magical date” where they were subjected to magic tricks, serenaded on the piano, subjected to longing looks…. and they proceeded to get drunk and become a legendary (unknown) guest that was talked about for years!
        – the gold Barbie statues

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

        Omg, I had never read the duck club one, or its even more bonkers update, and THANK YOU for bringing that into my life!

    4. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      I send them an AAM link to something that’s relevant to them so there isn’t really one post. I love the call for responses on a specific topic posts…tell AAM about food thieves, work holiday party, best/worst corporate gift…those always produce the biggest gems IMO.

      One of my fave responses was the work holiday party first date magician who ended up spitefully playing the piano AT the OP…absolute GOLD.

  15. Bluebell*

    This has been percolating since Monday— would love to get perspective and advice. I have a casual friend who I met professionally, and we’ve stayed in touch over the past 10 years. We live about an hour apart and only see each other once every few years but e-mail and text more often. she’s had a rough couple of years, so when she eloped last fall, I offered her use of my husband’s rustic family cabin. (we’ve offered it to friends and extended family a lot over the years. ) In mid May, she asked if they could have it for a week starting memorial day weekend as their belated honeymoon. I proposed that they could come up memorial day, spend a few hours with us and then stay for the rest of the week. I even had cleaners in ahead of time, bought flowers, and left them champagne and craft beer. They texted me the night before that they’d arrive mid afternoon but ended up showing at seven, which was right when we said we were going to have to leave.

    I heard from them once during the week, they were having a great time. They were going to bring the key and some towels they had used back to us on Friday on their way home. By Friday night they hadn’t showed, so I texted. She let me know they had left Thursday because it was too hot for their pet who was beginning to suffer from the heat. Then they said they would bring back the towels on Sunday. I let them know we might be out and they could drop things on the porch. She did add some very profuse thank yous with emojis, and said they enjoyed it.

    since then, I haven’t heard boo from her, but she’s posting frequently on Facebook. Plus she also asked on Friday if there was a sign-up link so that they could come back in fall and spend a little longer. And repeated on FB that they’d be coming back. At this point, not sure what I should text her. I don’t want to be too bitchy, or too privileged. I do want the keys and towels back by July 4 if possible , though we have extra keys. If she directly asks about next fall, I’m thinking of a very vague “we aren’t sure about scheduling, I’ll be in touch if I can offer”

    TL;DR- casual friend has been pretty unreliable, how much do I give her the benefit of the doubt?

    1. Not A Manager*

      Well, I’d be giving her the side-eye if I were you. Next time she says something about staying at the house, you could reply, “Let’s talk about it in person when you’re dropping off the key and the towels.” But honestly I’d do a slow fade whether you get that stuff back or not.

    2. Employee of the Bearimy*

      Just ask her now: “We need the keys back because we need to use the cabin. When can you plan to drop them off?” Don’t worry about her next stay or anything like that – you can deal with it if and when she makes the request. But she has keys to your property and it’s totally reasonable for you to ask for them back immediately.

      1. Bluebell*

        Technically, we do have more than one set of keys, so hopefully she won’t push back.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think you’re being too deferential here/soft-pedaling the message too much! She may not realize that this is a time-sensitive thing to you (she should! but she might not). I think you need to more clearly indicate that you do need them back right away — like, “Hey, I know you planned to drop these off Sunday, but we didn’t get them. I do need them back from you right away — can you do it sometime in the next three days and let me know which day it will be? If not, what date can I plan on? It would need to be before X.” (And X should not be July 4 — that’s way too far off. Next weekend at the latest.)

          This is not unreasonable to need! But make it really clear that it’s a need, not a vague “whenever you can” (because right now she seems to think it’s more the latter) so that she understands the expectation.

          I saw you said below you want to be nice about it — but I’d argue that it’s actually nicer to really clearly explain to her what you need and when you need it by (and that things are not as laissez-faire as she currently thinks) so that she has the opportunity to do what you need … whereas currently she’s misunderstood and doesn’t realize she’s stressing you out (and ruining her chances of ever being invited back). And really, you have already been incredibly nice. Now she needs to do her end of things, and it’s in no way not-nice of you to clearly spell out what that is.

          Also, I love questions like this and think someone needs to start an advice column focused entirely on awkward acquaintance/friendship situations.

        2. noncommittal pseudonym*

          Yes, but at this point, she has keys to your cabin. She could decide to just “pop in” for a weekend, assuming you wouldn’t mind.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            This was my thought, that she kept them so she could use it whenever she wants. I know that seems a bit uncharitable, but why would you not return someone’s keys?

            Whether you get them back or not, I’d change the locks, too.

            1. Cat's Paw for Cats*

              I hadn’t thought of this until you mentioned it, but it does explain why anyone would think they didn’t have to return the keys and towels right away. And she does seem a little proprietorial about future use.

              1. KatEnigma*

                Yep. I would change the locks. I would put in a lock that takes a code that is easily changed, rather than a key.

          2. Glomarization, Esq.*

            I think this is uncharitable fanfic that ascribes to malice what should be ascribed to mere thoughtlessness.

          3. Kay*

            Change the locks was one of the first things that came to my mind – with the lack of returning the keys and comments on a public forum about returning but hasn’t talked to the actual person who owns the place!

    3. Sloanicota*

      Oh dear, she’s being very foolish here. Someone who wants to be the repeated beneficiary of a favor should prioritize doing everything she can to be convenient here. Then again, she probably doesn’t realize this is irking you or that it’s time sensitive (although she should). Be very direct that you’d like the keys and towels back please. If there’s anything other than strict compliance, it sounds like the cabin will not be available for her next visit- these things fill up *so* fast …

    4. Cordelia*

      I think you’ve given her enough benefit of the doubt. I’d say be very direct and persistent “we need the keys back, please drop them round this week”. If I was staying in someone else’s cabin for free I’d expect to be the one buying the flowers and leaving gifts of champagne and craft beer! I think you are being taken advantage of.

    5. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      She still has the keys? So could get in at any time? I say a big nope to that.

      Why didn’t she let you know they were leaving early? Why didn’t they drop off the keys and the towels on their way home on Thursday? Why didn’t she bring the items back on Sunday? I think you’ve definitely given her the benefit of the doubt already, and stronger measures are warranted.

      Granted I’m CSM from The X-Files (“Trust no one”) but I think I’d already be changing the locks.

      1. Hazel*

        It sounds like she heard ‘I’m so happy for you, my gift is a week at the cabin!’ Reinforced by your kind gifts of drinks. You are thinking ‘others have reserved the cabin and I need this stuff back now’. It’s ok, just a learning thing. You can kindly tell her that you are glad she enjoyed, you do too, and you will need the keys and supplies back so you and others can enjoy it. If she asks to borrow it again, it might be taken, or you really only lend it for special occasions. If she asks to rent, you send her a contract with ‘bring your own sheets, towels and supplies’ and ‘the key lockbox code will be sent to you x days before’. That’s how our friends do it and they only rent to friends or friends of friends. It’s business and everyone is ok with it. Lockboxes aren’t expensive and you always have a key on-site.

      2. Bluebell*

        Thanks! I guess I err on the side of trying to be as nice as possible. The cabin is a good 3 1/2 hours from where she lives, so I’m not worried about her going back and setting up camp. I didn’t question her too closely about why she didn’t bring back the keys on her way back, as I think she was just truly worried about her dog. honestly though they were in air-conditioned car so who knows? I would also feel much more positive if I had gotten an email or text last Sunday saying “we can’t make it to give your stuff back because X. We will do it x day instead.”

        1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          It makes me wonder what’s going on for you that you see this as a matter of being nice or not. You can still be nice while being direct and getting your needs met.

    6. SofiaDeo*

      It’s not bitchy or privileged when someone is making noises about continuing to use/borrow from you when they won’t give things back as agreed. I recommend changing the locks, and writing off the towels at a loss. I don’t know why things like this (people acting really entitled, and being inconsiderate, and people saying one thing while doing another) seem to be occurring with greater frequency than previously. Whether social media has made us all more aware of what was going on before, or whether the behavior patterns and frequency have actually changed. For whatever reason this person is no longer acting like a friend, and I would write off the friendship.

      Here’s a related example. I had someone who I had as a friend and saw/did things much more frequently than you reported for mmmm 5 years. I was invited to be a guest at someone’s property and was allowed to bring one, and I asked her. For whatever reason (she also had had some severe life stressors in the previous months, I thought this would be a nice treat) she was an awful, insulting, disrespectful guest. It ruined the friendship. She never acknowledged she had done anything wrong, refused to believe the things she did/said while falling down drunk (one of the problems that weekend). I don’t know what brought all her awful behavior on, she refused to discuss it and acted like nothing had happened. I didn’t have keys that needed to be changed, or personal items that needed to be returned, though.

      I don’t think there’s any “benefit of the doubt” there is to give. She hasn’t returned house keys(!) and personal items, ignores your attempts to get them back, yet continues to post online she wants to go back, as if she owns the property. Trying to get your house keys(!) and other stuff back is neither bitchy nor privileged. It’s great to try and be nice, and spread love/happiness around, but you’re not obligated to do so for people who can’t meet the basic minimum of politeness…like returning house keys/personal items. It doesn’t matter how long you knew her, if she was a blood relative, or lived next door to you. This behavior is unacceptable. I am sorry to hear she has changed so much, she is no longer a friend.

    7. TooMuchOfAManager*

      You are being very kind and understanding. I would’ve been less so more quickly. In any case, at this point I would change the locks to the combination code ones that you can change at will. I would also ignore/delay responding to any messages from this person.

    8. Enough*

      Whether you get the keys back or not I would change the locks. Better safe than sorry.

    9. may spring rain*

      Not sure how wanting your towels and key back is “too bitchy, or too privileged.” They’re your things, you lent them in good faith, yet she still has them. You’d like your things back. That’s good enough.

      1. Pennyworth*

        Ask her if you can fetch the keys and towels – pick a time when you are pretty certain she will be at home, and say ‘Can we collect keys and towels at x time on y day, we really need them by y +1 day. ‘ Once you have them you can slow fade or always be booked out if she wants to return.

        1. Bluebell*

          Given that she lives an hour away, I think it’s way too much catering to her for me to go pick up the keys and towels. If they don’t have time, they can mail them to us.

    10. Bluebell*

      Thanks for all of the feedback. Buoyed by your responses (but before Alison chimed in), I sent a straightforward “ Hi, hope all is well.. we’ll be up at the cabin at the end of June and will need everything by the 22nd” and received a “oh, yes! sorry, it totally slipped my mind.” If I don’t get a date specified by Sunday am, I’ll use the rest of Alison’s script, and I also liked the “lend it for special occasions” reasoning. I might also say something about trying to limit it to other folks using it just once a year. Right now we have one friend who is quite ill and if he and his wife want to use it, I want to make sure they can, and another friend whose mom died in 9/11 and she has used it a few times to get away on that anniversary.

      1. RagingADHD*

        You don’t have to reply to her fishing for an invitation at all, much less give reasons / excuses. In your place, I’d simply ignore her comments about expecting to use it again, and if she asks outright, I’d just say that won’t work.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Yes, I think separating these two aspects is a good idea.

          This visit: You need the towels and keys back. If they fail to appear, you REALLY need them back, and will be messaging at shorter and shorter intervals about that.

          Future visits: Don’t need to be addressed until she actually returns the stuff. And it’s fine to have a clear “we occasionally lend it for special occasions, glad you enjoyed it for yours.”

      2. Pocket Mouse*

        Why are you letting the text exchanges lapse?! If it had reached, say, 5pm last Sunday and a friend hadn’t returned my stuff like they said they’d would, I’d reach out to see if that day was still good for them, or if there’s another time in the next few days that would be sure to work.

        Did you say anything today after her ‘slipped my mind’ text? That’s a perfect opening to set a date, and this time around, text her a few hours before to remind/confirm. And definitely follow up very soon after that time if she ghosts again. She’s being very inconsiderate with both your property and your time. I would not lend her anything every again, or if you do, go into it assuming you won’t get it back.

        1. Bluebell*

          I sent her a text with Alison’s suggested wording late this morning. No reply yet. I’ll text her tonight if I still don’t hear from her.

    11. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

      If she hasn’t returned the key and she’s talking about going back, I would be concerned that she plans to go back whenever suits her without checking with you first.
      Did you ever read the Mexican House Thief story on Mumsnet? It was so outrageous hard to believe it’s real, except we know from this column that people can behave in all kinds of strange ways.

    12. Anono-me*

      I think you are thinking of yourself as ‘her friend who happens to have a cabin and shares’; but I see her treating you like the ‘concierge of the Free cabin ‘. You need to decide if you are okay with how she is, not how you wish she was.

      No matter what you decide, I think you should have ‘Cabin Plan’ going forward. For example
      To lend the cabin:
      Both spouses must agree.
      Both spouses must have met the person being lent the cabin.
      Dogs y/n
      Hunting y/n
      Smoking y/n
      Borrower has housekeeping come after visit.
      etc as is appropriate for you situation.

      Additionally, I would recommend just replacing the cabin locks with keypad locks. Because I am guessing that the locks haven’t been changed since your great grand parents in laws’ time and that you have way more keys floating around than just these.

      1. Anono-me*

        To clarify, I don’t think your friend is being malicious or is a bad person. I just think she is one of those people who if given an inch, assumes the rest of the mile is hers also. Which in someways cam be more difficult for people to deal with; especially kind people.

        PS Unrelated to this situation, but because it sounds like your cabin is not convenient to pop over and check on; I would recommend security cameras and if it has internet, maybe a fire alarm and hot water tank leak alarm linked to your phone. That way you can check on the place after a storm etc.

        1. Bluebell*

          No wi-fi there, so that’s why I asked for a lower tech keypad lock in my other post. My husband and I are pretty clear about who we let use the cabin, and the rules for guests, including for family, but we’ve never added anything about cleaning or a time frame for returning things.

    13. Ellis Bell*

      I’m really not sure why this is being seen as so fraught and suspicious! I doubt the keys and towels are deliberately being kept from you. Yes she absolutely should have returned stuff when agreed, but people are human and forget to do things and they slip up sometimes. It’s okay to tell someone you need them to do something that they forgot about. If she pushes back after a reminder (but why on earth would she?!), or doesn’t apologize, then that’s not okay, but really, just be upfront and don’t read too much into it.

    14. marvin*

      This might not be the most generous response, but she sounds kind of entitled to me. Maybe this isn’t how she normally operates, but I think that if someone is doing you a big favour, it’s not too much to ask that you respect their time and don’t make things harder for them. All that to say, I think you should feel comfortable prioritizing friends who make an effort to communicate with you and show a basic level of consideration when you’re deciding who gets to use the cabin.

    15. Bluebell*

      Thanks all- I’m going to open a separate thread asking for recommendations on keypad locks. I hadn’t really thought of that before and it could solve a few issues. I’m not thinking that my friend is malicious at all, but am sad and a little angry about the repeated lack of consideration. We had offered to do a celebratory toast and got groceries so we could all enjoy a cocktail hour together and that didn’t happen, and then they’ve been cavalier about returning things. But we aren’t at the level of friendship where I want to have a deep conversation, and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to offer up the cabin again. Also, we haven’t been back, so I have no idea how they left it. Previous friends who’ve used it have left it in great shape. We’ve also used it as an auction prize in the past, and all of those people were very responsible. I suppose I should consider myself lucky that this is one of only two negative experiences we’ve had —the other was a family member who decided to stay longer because the weather had been bad, and that was many years ago.

  16. Q without U*

    Removed because this is the non-work thread (feel free to repost it on the work one!).

  17. word nerd*

    Reading thread! What have people been reading lately?

    There’s still been an unusual amount of fantasy for me lately, which is different from my usually more varied reading. Some of you recommended some to me recently that I enjoyed: Martha Wells’s Fall of Ile-Rien triology and H.G. Parry’s The Magician’s Daughter. I also couldn’t help rereading all of Patricia Wrede’s Dragons books when I went to download the audiobooks for my son to try out (did anyone else not know that her last name is pronounced “Reedy”?–totally did not know that until now despite loving her books for decades!).

    Alison’s book recommendation above reminds me that I loved Katherine Heiny’s Early Morning Riser (the blurb really doesn’t capture its lovely, everyday-life sort of feel), but I don’t know if I’ll read these new short stories.

    If I read some other recommendations too that I didn’t like as much, what’s the etiquette here with that? Is it better not to say anything?

    1. Lemonwhirl*

      This week, I’ve finished “The Killer Next Door” by Alex Marwood, which was a fairly gristly and not particularly inventive murder mystery set in a London apartment building, and “Small Mercies” by Dennis Lehane, which is a revenge story set against the backdrop of the 1974 busing integration in South Boston.

      I’m currently reading “Yellowface” by Rebecca F. Kuang, which was recommended by Allison in the last few weeks. It’s sooooo good and is hitting so many interesting notes, from an unreliable narrator to racism to authenticity and who gets to tell which stories and so many more.

    2. KatCardigans*

      WHAT?! I’ve been reading and rereading the Dealing with Dragons books for 20 years—and recommending it to other people as a librarian—and I never guessed it was pronounced “Reedy”! That’s going to be a hard one to get to stick in my brain.

      I just finished an adult dragon book: When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill. I really liked it; it had a mix of whimsical and serious elements that I wasn’t sure about at first but which ultimately worked really well for me. Con/Artist is up next, and I think it’s going to be a very quick read (despite everything taking me f o r e v e r to read lately because I have a one-year-old and too many projects going on).

      I think it’s fine to talk about books you didn’t like as much as long as you’re not trashing them.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Or trashing the people who like them. I belong to a reading group on Facebook, and until the admin got tough, some people were vicious.
        Let’s say your favorite genre is cozy mysteries (one of my weaknesses.) They would say things like, “those books are pure trash and I can’t believe anyone with a brain cell could possibly like something like that.” I’m old enough and secure enough in myself to shrug that off, but a lot of people take this sort of thing to heart.

        1. word nerd*

          I think the hard part for me is if I know someone really loved a book they recommended to me. I remember totally falling in love with Watership Down, and I was kind of disappointed that when I sent a copy to my friend she was meh about it, although in my head I understand that not everyone will like the same books! Even if I didn’t like a book that someone recommended to me, I admit I will often report back as “mixed” feelings and mention at least some positive aspect about the book.

          1. M. from P.*

            “Watership Down” was amazing! I don’t reread it because it’s sad but it really made an impression on me and I still think about it from time to time after several years.

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              That is my husband’s favorite book of all time, but I couldn’t read it until a year or two ago because I’m so “pile of wibble-tears” about animals in peril. FINALLY read it and loved it, the language is gorgeous and it’s basically The Odessey with bunnies.

      2. word nerd*

        Ooh, the dragon book looks right up my alley. Put that on hold at the library, thanks!

    3. GoryDetails*

      My recent reads include:

      THE REAL LOLITA by Sarah Weinman, mixing the story of Nabokov’s writing of his novel “Lolita” with the horrific real-world crime that may have inspired it, the 1948 kidnapping of Sally Horner. [Nabokov actually has his character mention the crime in the novel, so he was clearly aware of it, though how much it influenced the writing remains open to interpretation.]

      Somewhat less harrowing:

      A POCKET FULL OF RYE by Agatha Christie – a fine example of Christie’s work, with some delicious scene-setting, a clever police inspector, and Miss Marple stepping in at the halfway point to lend a hand. (The TV adaptation starring Joan Hickson is also very good.)

      On audiobook: an Audible Originals voice-cast adaptation of DYKES TO WATCH OUT FOR, very well done and entertaining.

      Re talking about books you didn’t like as much – sure! Negative comments can be helpful – and sometimes one person’s reasons for disliking something might be my reasons for wanting to read it {grin}.

      And there are more book referrals in Gondorff’s thread.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I’m still working my way through The Starless Crown, James Rollins’ fantasy thriller. I’ve been doing it on the bus/train on my phone (now that I know where my stops are, I can semi-ignore everything).

      As for recommendations, I think it’s okay to say “I tried it but it wasn’t for me.” Not every reader will connect with every book.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I have a coworker who keeps recommending random obscure sci fi authors to me simply on the basis that I’ve occasionally read sci fi and seems disappointed I haven’t heard of them. I’m sure they’re fine but I have a pile of books thirty deep to get through as it is.

    5. Hotdog not dog*

      My go-to for that is a casual, “that book just didn’t resonate with me.” As long as people are respectful it’s perfectly fine to say that something just wasn’t your thing.

      1. allathian*

        Indeed. Sometimes being a bit more specific can help, because someone else might really enjoy what you don’t like much.

    6. Girasol*

      I just finished Light from Other Stars and loved it. It explores relationships in a family and a small town but through the lens of sci fi.

    7. Buni*

      I’m going through Naomi Novik’s Scholomance series, which is like ‘Hey, what if Hogwarts but half the kids are trying to kill each other and the school itself has to be…fed’. So if 200 kids start as freshmen, 100 might make it to Graduation and of those ~50 might actually survive Graduation itself. It’s dark and hilarious and I’m loving it.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I love that someone finally thought “Hey, if you were in a magical boarding school where monsters regularly tried to kill you, what if that was really horrible?”

    8. Bluebell*

      Just finished Justin Cronin’s The Ferryman. Fast reading and it totally seems meant to be a limited streaming series. If you’re enjoying Silo, this has similarities. Also read Daryndra Jones’ A Hard Day for a Hangover, which is the third and last Sunshine Vicram mystery. Bad Summer People is next on the list.

      1. Lemonwhirl*

        I just downloaded The Ferryman from the library and cannot wait to get started. I loooooooved The Passage trilogy.

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

      Still on *The Secret History of Wonder Woman* — totally fascinating about historical influences on the character’s creation, but the more I read, the more I feel like William Moulton Marston was kind of a selfish dude. I’ve got no problem with his being part of a polycule, but it seems like there was some initial coercion there in its formation.

      And hurtling towards the end of *The Mirror and the Light*.

    10. Jackalope*

      Hey, everyone! I’ve been off camping this weekend and just got back to cell service range. Excited to see what people are reading. I am about halfway through A Day of Fallen Night by Samantha Shannon. It’s a prequel to The Priory of the Orange Tree. I’m enjoying it a fair bit, although it’s suffering from the great issue with prequels: we already kind of know how things turn out. For example, we just met someone whom I’m fairly sure is a main villain in POT, which means that we know they don’t get stopped here. So I’m stalling a little bit. Plus it’s even LONGER than the first book (which was around 800 pages), so there’s that too. But I had several hours of reading time yesterday because it was a bit weathery on my camping trip, which helped me focus a bit.

  18. Book Review Feedback*

    Ok really weird, highly specific question. I have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to write a book review for a major newspaper, and I want to know from readers: what do you like in a book review? What do you find engaging? How much of the writer’s personal experience are you willing to hear about vs sticking to the facts of the plot? Do you read newspaper reviews solely to decide if you want to buy the book or not, or do you ever read them as their own art form? Would you read one if you had no intention of buying / reading the book but thought it was interesting (I would, but I am weird). (I’m really hoping this doesn’t get taken down as a work post because writing is not my career at ALL, I just like to read for pleasure. I will not be compensated for the review either. This is sheer hobby).

    1. Giblet*

      Oh, what a wonderful opportunity! I would read it if it sounded interesting even if I didn’t intend to buy the book. A real grabber of a first paragraph would help with that. I would love to hear the reviewer’s personal experience if it didn’t take over the whole review. One thing I do not like, in movie or book reviews, is when they give away too much of what happens.

    2. WellRed*

      I never read book reviews as an art form (unlike food writing) but a book review can certainly make me add the book to my list. I really wanna know about the book. I’d recommend reading other reviews from that newspaper to get a feel for their house style. (I’m a journalist).

      1. Ali + Nino*

        Agree that I don’t read book reviews as an art form either. I wouldn’t mind hearing about the reviewer’s experience if included in a subtle way, and for a reason. I think it depends on what kind of experience. Like, are you an expert in the subject matter? Is it a rare experience like surviving a housefire or something? Or is it a romance novel and you’ve been in love?

    3. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Next to zero of your personal experience. A book review should be about the book, not about the author!
      At most you might say something like “as a nurse, I appreciated the realistic portrayal of nurses.”
      But keep in mind this is a book review, not an autobiography.

      1. Book Review Feedback*

        Okay so if I can ask, you are reading the review solely to decide if you might want to pick up the book? Although you have never (presumably) heard of this book before, you will read a whole thousand words just describing it to decide if you think it sounds interesting?

        1. word nerd*

          95% of the time I am reading a book review to decide whether I want to read the book. But I will only read the review in the first place if I think that there’s a decent chance I will want to read the book. I rarely read “1000 words” of a book review because I usually skim them pretty quickly. And once I decide on a “yes” or “no” to a book, I usually stop reading the review, even if I’m only halfway through. I agree with having minimal personal info included.

        2. Ginger Cat Lady*

          The whole point of book reviews is for people to decide if the book is for them or not. It’s not a personal essay tangential to the book, or a creative writing prompt. It’s a *review* of the book.

        3. Irish Teacher*

          I will say, it’s fairly unusual that I see a book review of a book I have never heard of before. Generally, if a book is well-known enough for a major newspaper to review it and certainly for them to give it 1,000 words (I do sometimes come across books I haven’t heard of in those tiny, 10 to a page, book reviews, but even then, they are usually in genres I wouldn’t read), then it’s probably well-known enough that I am likely to have heard of it, especially if it’s in a genre I like.

          I don’t know if this is true for everybody or how well-known the book you are reviewing is, but depending on the book, it may be likely that most readers will have heard of it.

        4. Falling Diphthong*

          Yes.

          I would put food and travel reviews in a different category, where I might read them to vicariously enjoy a week in Sicily without having any immediate plans to go myself.

          I wouldn’t read a review of a book to vicariously experience reading the book, or what it’s like to be a different person reading the book–I would intend to just read the book myself if that seemed appealing.

        5. LiptonT4Me*

          I periodically will read book reviews in magazines or newspapers. And really, all I am interested in is the review of the book. Usually, if I like the book, that’s when I look up the author to see if there are any other books I might be interested in.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      Like a movie review, it should give me a sense of whether this story would pull me in or not interest me.

      Almost nothing about your own experience, unless it’s extremely relevant to enjoyment of the story. (e.g. “I live in this part of Brooklyn and the geography is often off, which is confusing and takes me out of the story.”)

    5. Deuce of Gears*

      What are the newspaper’s guidelines? What’s the common practice by other reviewers at this newspaper?

      I have to admit my experience of book reviews is different than that of other commenters so far, but I’m in a quirky genre (full disclosure: I am a full-time sf/f novelist and I’ve done reviews in the past, in those genres). I’m more commonly reading reviews in genre-specific venues such as Locus Magazine or Tor.com or Strange Horizons, which often run reviews that include “personal take” slants. For example, Liz Bourke is a well-regarded reviewer/literary critic in genre who sometimes takes this approach. The norm is probably different in something like a nationally distributed newspaper.

      I also read certain book reviews for pleasure even if I don’t think I’m going to enjoy the book itself, e.g. Michael Dirda’s Readings or Jo Walton’s What Makes This Book So Great. In those cases, the author’s highly personal take and style *are* the draw. If I wanted a dry recitation of plot facts, I could (usually) go to the blurb or Wikipedia. But again, what’s more important is what the newspaper wants.

    6. RagingADHD*

      I read book reviews to keep on top of what’s being published, and I might put a book on my TBR list as a result. I read reviews where the book title, cover, or the review title catch my eye and seem intriguing, whether I’m likely to read the book or not.

      When you say “the writer’s experience,” do you mean the author or the reviewer? I like to hear a little bit about the author if it sheds light on the book or shows how the book relates to the rest of their body of work.

      If you meant the reviewer’s experience, I don’t mind a chatty style with references to the reviewer’s reactions, like “this part made me feel that way,” or “as a person with common experiences to the characters, this felt very familiar.” But I am not interested in a deep dive on the reviewer’s personal experiences, or a discourse tangential to the book. That reminds me of those tiresome recipe blogs where you have to scroll through 1500 words about the blogger’s grandmother’s neighbor’s pet hedgehog before you get to the actual recipe.

      I like reviews that talk about theme and structure as well as character and plot, particularly when those themes connect to real world issues or insights about the human condition. I don’t know that I’d consider them an art form in their own right, because they have no reason to exist without relation to the books, but they are definitely a sophisticated craft when done well.

      1. MEH Squared*

        I agree with much of this, and I mostly wanted to comment because the ‘I went to Target with the kids to buy toothpaste’ thing in recipe posts/videos (at the beginning) annoy the hell out of me, too.

        I read book reviews to get a snapshot about the book, and I don’t mind if the reviewer adds some flavor text (why they did or didn’t enjoy it–why they think it’s realistic or not). I also like when they bring up themes or societal issues in their reviews and how the book deals with them. I definitely read reviews of books I haven’t/don’t intend to read.

    7. Fish*

      I very rarely read reviews for fiction, but I do read a fair amount for non-fiction. Usually I’m looking to see if the reviewer liked it, of course, but also to see if they thought the subject was covered thoroughly, how the pacing of the book was, etc. I’m not terribly interested in the author’s personal experience unless it’s relevant to the subject matter. (Like, “as a lawyer, I thought that the author properly explained the legal terms used, but didn’t make them overly simplistic”, or something like that).

    8. Irish Teacher*

      I usually read them after I’ve read the book to see if other people’s interpretations agree with mine or if they have any additional insights. I have little-to-no interest in the author’s personal life but nor do I just want the facts of the plot – I can find those out from the book. I want to know what the reviewer thinks of the themes, if they have noticed anything that was done poorly or anything problematic, do they have any insights about the context in which the story was written?

      1. Book Review Feedback*

        I think this most closely resembles my experience but I don’t think it’s the universal way reviews are consumed, based on these comments :D

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I sometimes consume reviews this way, usually in an “I am so annoyed at X aspect of the book, were other people similarly annoyed? Oh good, they were.”

          But that’s going to be a vanishingly small part of the readership who are reading in, say, next Tuesday’s Times about a book that was just published. You’re parsing down not only “people who might be interested in reading something about this new book” but then “and have already read the entire book, a few days/weeks after it was published.” That sort of thing usually happens on fandom websites right after the latest book in the series comes out, or latest episode of the TV show. The review in a general interest publication should be aimed at people who have not read the book, but might.

          I think “voice of the author” stuff, where people read the review even if they don’t expect to read the book, is only for rare solidly established writers. (e.g. I think I recall Stephen Jay Gould was able to publish a book of his book reviews.) For a first piece, it’s unlikely that you will hit a voice so unique, so delightful, that there will immediately be a fanbase asking for more. Better to hit “really useful” if you’re hoping to be asked to review again.

    9. Emma2*

      I absolutely read reviews even if I have no interest in reading the book (if the review itself looks interesting) and I think reviews can definitely be their own art form.
      I don’t necessarily want to know about the reviewer’s own broader experience (unless it was very relevant), but I am interested when the reviewer can bring a broader perspective to the discussion of the book (eg comparisons to other relevant books, a connection to something about the author, something about how the book fits into the author’s broader body of work, etc).
      What a wonderful opportunity – I hope you enjoy writing your review!

    10. GoryDetails*

      Congrats on the opportunity!

      I read book reviews for many reasons. Sometimes I like the reviewer’s style so much that I enjoy reading their comments even on books I have no interest in. I read voraciously, so I’m always open to a review that will nudge me to add that title to my to-be-acquired list. And sometimes I’ll be curious about a new release and will appreciate a review that (whether positive or negative in itself) tells me enough about the book to gauge whether I’d like it. A little of the reviewer’s personality/preferences is fine with me.

      I’d suggest writing the kind of review that *you* would like to read, perhaps passing it by the editor or whoever you’re dealing with to see if it’s the kind of thing they’re looking for. Good luck!

    11. PhyllisB*

      I write book reviews on Goodreads occasionally. Sometimes I discuss the story line (being careful not to give away the twist.) Sometimes I write about how it relates to my life/experience. I especially do this if there’s a lot of reviews that already cover the plot.
      I also will make comments like, “if you like friendly romance or if you enjoyed Title of Book you will love this one.”
      Surprisingly enough, I can write a better review for a book I DIDN’T like than one I love. I still don’t give spoilers, but seems like I can find more reasons to articulate why I don’t care for something than for something I love. I usually get a lot of likes for my reviews, so someone is enjoying them.
      I also think it’s a good idea to read other reviews in this paper so you know what style they like best.

    12. Ellis Bell*

      I would like: 1) A sense of the atmosphere, tone or mood of the book, 2) comparisons to other authors so that if a reader likes x, y and z they will probably like this too, (or vice versa) 3) I don’t mind hearing about the reviewer’s personality in moderation, because I can tell from people’s personality if we are likely to agree on books, but it has to be relevant to what type of reader you are, 4) something light and conversational in tone. My old editor always used to say, no matter what type of piece I was writing, “imagine you’re telling a friend about it”, and that advice works a lot of the time.

    13. E. Chauvelin*

      I’m a librarian; I’ll read book reviews to find out about books to suggest for purchase/suggest for patrons whether or not I have any intention of reading the book, and I’ve read some I find extremely entertaining in their own right. I’m not sure what you’re getting at for personal experience v. recitation of plot facts; I’m not looking to a book review for either, unless the “personal experience” you’re talking about is “how this book affected me.” Give enough of the plot facts to ground the description of what you did and didn’t like about the book, which is more likely to be about tone, pacing, style, and/or character development than “and then this thing happened.” With that many words to fill it’s probably fine to mention things because they line up with your personal tastes (“there’s a brilliantly portrayed dog and that always makes me love a book” or “I’m a sucker for steampunk sufragettes”). But I agree that personal experience is mostly relevant to the extent it gives you insight into the book; does your career mean that something is portrayed well/inaccurately? Are they messing up the geography of the setting in a way that seems to go beyond artistic license? The point of a book review is to get across why somebody would like it/not like it, with enough detail so that the reader of the review can decide to read the book or not based on their own tastes and not just those of the reviewer. One reviewer’s “too much politics mixed in with the romance” was my “I must pre-order this immediately.”

      1. Jackalope*

        I think this is key. “I’m a sucker for steampunk suffragettes” is helpful for others who can use that to figure out whether they are likely to agree with you on good reading options. I read a whole page of reviews recently written by the same person and it clarified for me that we did NOT have the same taste in books so I could take what she said with a grain of salt. Likewise, I’ve had reviewers whose recs I took completely on faith since our tastes overlap.

    14. The Shenanigans*

      I want to hear the reader’s opinions, with only as much plot as necessary to get their opinion across. If I want plot recap, I can just Google “Title plot recap wikipedia”. If I am reading a review it’s because I want to hear opinions.

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

      I have definitely been hooked by book reviews that take it as an opportunity to teach me something about what the book says in a broader sense about history/society/a particular kind of experience.

      I personally tend to write reviews (just for Goodreads, not professionally) with the lens of “as a person with marginalized/uncommon life experiences, here are the things this book brought up for me that might be different/interesting”, and I always appreciate reviews that do a similar thing. That said, I don’t generally want to read about the reviewer’s experience in detail. For example, if you are writing about a novel that involves the death of a parent, and you, the reviewer, have also experienced that kind of loss, I definitely want to hear about how that part of the book spoke to you, and would appreciate maybe an anecdote or two about a memory it brought up, but the majority of the review should be on the book and what it says, not about you and your experience/background.

      I also often read book reviews of books *after* I read the book, either because I loved (or hated) it so much that I’m in a “must talk about this with someone!” frenzy, or sometimes just because there were elements that confused/unsettled me and I’m hoping someone will explain it in a way that clarifies what I’m feeling.

      I know this isn’t the work thread, but why is a major newspaper NOT PAYING YOU???

  19. New Haven Accommodations? -- Jean (just Jean)*

    Inspired by the question from NYC hostel recs and advice:
    Does anyone know of low-cost but safe accommodations in/near New Haven, CT for a young adult & parent travel duo? Need 2 beds but can share same bedroom. I’m looking for 2-3 nights in a plain-but-clean hotel or motel room. Prefer an in-room refrig or microwave, onsite parking, and room cost of $150/night. I know that might not be realistic.

    So far, my online research has found one-room cabins in Kettle-something state park (about 30 minutes driving time away). They don’t have running water; unclear if they have electricity or A/C. Sites like Hotels (dot) com have prices starting at, say, $69/night but I’m too unfamiliar with the area to feel comfortable about booking a place sight unseen.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. rr*

      Near Yale?
      https://www.ynhh.org/patients-visitors/amenities/suites
      I am always staying there (medical stuff), and I am very comfortable there. Not full service, not fancy, but basically a full kitchen, and nice people. Inexpensive (very, for the area). Parking included (or I believe – I don’t usually park).

      I, unfortunately, couldn’t get a room last week and stayed at the hotel across the street (also relatively inexpensive, at least with a AAA discount) and would rather never go back there. Even though it was supposedly a full service hotel.

      Qualification – a lot of people, like me, stay there for medical reasons. I don’t know if they give priority or not to that, but if it medical stuff makes you uncomfortable, maybe it isn’t the right place anyway.

    2. rr*

      I posted something, but I think because it includes a link, it might be in moderation.

      I want to qualify my response though when it comes through: the place I stay is probably not in the greatest/safest of neighborhoods. But I tend to stay put once I’m there. I don’t know how safe or not it is generally, or if you only need to not be wandering around late at night/early morning.

    3. New Haven*

      Will you have a car? If so, I recommend staying in Milford — only about a 20min drive to New Haven and there are a number of hotels. I’ve stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn in the last year and thought it was very nice, it’s probably a bit above your price range but the Hampton Inn looks less expensive and on Google Maps I’m seeing a range of motels and hotels that are cheaper and have decent ratings.

      Also it very much depends on when you’re going — prices will be much higher at move in time in mid to late August.

      Milford can still be an option if you don’t have a car and say flew into NYC and are taking the train, you’d just need a Lyft to and from the train station. Metro North is inexpensive and there are usually free Yale shuttles to central campus (and I think there are free city shuttles too, or at least there used to be).

      If you haven’t been to New Haven before, make sure to visit the Yale museums (free!) and get some pizza (Sally’s has an outdoor covered patio, Bar is close to campus and is very good, but there are tons of great options).

      1. New Haven Accommodations? -- Jean (just Jean)*

        Yes, I plan to have a car and I’m already a fan of Hampton Inns.

        I posted a thank-you to both you and rr but it seems either stuck in moderation or lost in cyberspace (if I hit “cancel reply” instead of “submit” :-P ).

    4. New Haven Accommodations? -- Jean (just Jean)*

      Thank you rr and New Haven for your suggestions! Both YNHH and the Hampton Inn in Milford, CT look promising.

      Thank you also, Alison, for hosting the weekend open thread aka this forum of AAM commenters’ collective wisdom.

  20. Un, Deux, Trois, Cat*

    How to make new friends when you’re 60+?

    I’m in my early 60s and I moved to a new location a year ago to be closer to my parents. I actually live in a 55+ community that has events, but I am an introvert by nature so going to these events alone is daunting. I do work – I am a teacher – but I’m still finding it hard to make friends for out of work socializing. I’ve looked through meet up groups, but I did not find much – there were a couple of groups that I need to go back and investigate further.

    Does anyone have any other ideas for me to meet people to socialize with?

    1. Melissa*

      I am not 60+ but one idea is that instead of searching for groups, search for hobbies. Including things that you aren’t currently into, or are unlikely to care about. I have at different points joined bird-watching groups, public speaking groups, etc. I didn’t really care about the activities, but it was an “in” to meet people.

      1. Jessica*

        I will disagree with this. If you’re open to trying whatever it is, go ahead, but don’t join groups whose purpose is something you know you don’t like or aren’t interested in. People can tell. And it blights the group experience when everyone else is trying to play chess or watch birds or whatever, but one person obviously does not care. There are a zillion groups doing every imaginable thing–surely you’re interested in SOMETHING. Many places have newcomer groups, people-of-a-certain-age groups, and similar things that are more just social and general meeting people.

        I think the right porridge for you is on one hand, not something where everyone else involved has known each other and been doing the activity together for decades, but on the other hand, not so casual that you can’t count on meeting the same people twice. Being thrown together by circumstances repeatedly over time is what fosters friendship development.

        Maybe consider taking a class in something? That’s likely to have the same people showing up reliably for the length of its run, and everyone will be on the same “I was interested enough to try this” level.

        1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          If you truly can’t see yourself enjoying the activity, stay away and don’t spoil it.
          On the other hand, if you’re curious and willing to be surprised, go! Just be graceful and friendly if it turns out that full-contact needlepoint is too bloody for you.

    2. may spring rain*

      Perhaps light volunteer work? A book club at your local library? A park or beach cleanup? A ceramics class? Just some brainstorming. I hope you find what you’re looking for. :)

    3. Not A Manager*

      Please don’t take this as sounding patronizing, because I truly don’t mean it that way. But you’re a teacher. What would you tell a new child in a situation like this? Sometimes you need to be your own mentor.

      I’ve moved to a new city and I’m trying to make new friends too. I’m also an introvert, and I don’t like going to stuff by myself. But you know, I find something interesting, I go by myself, and – just like a parent or a teacher – I make myself approach at least three other people/groups of people and introduce myself.

      It’s really hard, I don’t always Do The Thing, sometimes I need some time off, but at least once every few days I go to a new thing and I talk to a new person. I’ve had some interesting conversations, I’ve had some boring ones, but I’ve also made friends so far with one set of neighbors and a lady I met randomly on the street one day.

    4. Jelllllo*

      I have the same problem. And too many of the meetup groups I looked at specifically said age ranges that are much younger than I am. One even said something like “no oldies!” Do you, errrr… live near me? (Big west coast city?) We could get tea!

      1. Be the Change*

        how rude, so sorry they were like that. at least you didn’t waste any time on them?

    5. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Sometimes you have to do the daunting thing to get the result you want. You can do it!

    6. StudentA*

      What about starting some kind of club about something you’re passionate and/or confident about? Something introvert friendly? You get to make your own rules/bylaws, agenda, schedule, etc. Some ideas: book clubs, bible study, Toastmasters (seen plenty of introverts in this club), regular book (or clothing or something else) swap, a walking group (fitness related), or some kind of charity support or regular volunteer work.

      Outside of childhood, from what I’ve observed, your age group and up seem to be the easiest life stage to make new friends. It’s a time of changing life circumstances for many people, so they could be making new friends as part of moving into a new community, retirement, changing cities or states, etc.

    7. Ellen D*

      I definitely support the suggestion to look for groups that do activities you’re interested in, or join an evening class – or something similar in the daytime. These don’t need to lead to exams, but something like 5 or 6 weeks on a narrow topic.
      A Book Group might be another option, if there aren’t any with openings in your community, put up a notice inviting people to join you.

    8. Pennyworth*

      I participate in several community activities, and in my experience it takes a long time or luck to happen upon someone who is friend material. All I can suggest is keep on doing things that you enjoy, be open to friendships, and be patient.

    9. ecnaseener*

      Is pickleball a thing in your area? If so, there’s probably a beginner’s session you can sign up for. From what I’ve seen, pickleball players LOVE to introduce the game to new people, so they’ll likely be very welcoming. My parents (around your age) seem to have made dozens of pickleball friends in the last year.

    10. Girasol*

      I sign up for volunteer activities that I can’t get out of at the last minute, even if I don’t want to go, because they’re counting on me. Sometimes I meet people and enjoy the company, sometimes not. But the work makes it not-awkward for an introvert either way.

    11. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Honestly, in your place I would select one or two events in your 55+ community, steel myself and go. Sure, it takes a lot of energy to get there, but I would bet there are several people in similar positions to you who attend. If it’s a game night where they assign groups, that facilitates conversation. Maybe a lecture or a concert– you don’t have to talk to anyone initially, and if there’s coffee afterwards you’ll have something to discuss. If your specific community is more geared towards pool parties and happy hours then it’s maybe not the best fit, but you can look for similar events elsewhere.

      Local independent bookstores often host book clubs. Local pools probably have water aerobics. Check out the local parks & rec catalog, if there is one. When we first moved to our previous city, where I knew no one and everyone around me was much younger (or so it seemed), I found a local wine store that hosted wine tasting dinners and I went alone. I became friendly with the people who worked at the store and still keep in touch with some people I met at the very first one I attended.

      If you’re at all religious or you identify with a particular religion, check out church, synagogue, or temple websites for events or classes that sound interesting.

      Also, don’t immediately turn away from something that’s advertised as being for “singles 60+” or anything like that. Even if you’re not looking for a romantic partner, events like that can be fun and can help you connect with other people.

    12. ThatGirl*

      Ways my mom has made friends in her 60s and beyond:
      – volunteering at the local hospital
      – being friendly to neighbors (eventually babysitting for them!)
      – working part time at the nearby middle school
      – cancer support group

      I’m sure it’s harder as an introvert – she is very extroverted – but it does require putting yourself out there a little and showing up to things.

    13. carcinization*

      Where I live, the public library has a variety of events, and they aren’t all during normal business hours, so maybe you could meet people that way? In our town, my husband and I took an amigurumi class at the library and there were opportunities to socialize, and where my mom lives, she went to some library classes about native birds and plants. The library here also has a variety of book clubs, I’m going to start going to the speculative fiction/horror one that meets monthly in the evenings at local breweries and such.

    14. Not So Little My*

      Book clubs at local bookstores and communities oriented around the church/spiritual practice of your choice are places where I’ve seen wide age ranges socializing and an over-60 is not at all out of place. Hobbies or choirs seem promising too.

    15. LiptonT4Me*

      I am in your age group and also an introvert with the same issues. Where I live the library puts out a magazine of sorts offering classes, get togethers, day trips, lectures, etc. for all age groups. They usually will have things for toddlers all the way up to seniors offered at any of the branch libraries.

    16. Qwerty*

      My general recommendation as a shy person is to leap outside of your comfort zone and be very open about wanting meet new people / make non-work friends.

      Comfort zone – If I go to something that makes me feel really uncomfortable, there is an initial panic, but I force my way through it so by the end I’m in a comfort-adjacent zone. If I start with something that is just a small stretch, then the retreat will take me back to my comfort zone and I won’t expand. For example, attending a class or meetup for an activity that you don’t normally do or even have much interest in. The first time, you might keep to yourself and figure out how to do activity. The second time, you’ll recognize some familiar faces and start greeting people. I’ve gone to 3 events in a row for local small businesses (Not my field – I do tech) which has apparently labeled me as a “regular” and now the shy folks talk to me.

      Be Vocal – It is amazing how much other people want to help you make friends! I’ve started going to any random event that sounds appealing lately and once I say that I’m (relatively) new to town and want to know people who aren’t coworkers, people start recommending groups to try, places to visit, local events. Work into small talk when out and about, especially if at a mom-and-pop style business – people who are invested in their community will give you ideas. Tell your coworkers (use the phrase “non-work friends” unless you want to hang out with coworkers) especially anyone who has recently moved to that location.

      I have been learning that Eventbrite is a good place to look for local events and one of the search options is for free ones. If there is a group that you like, follow them on LinkedIn. A local professional group event led me to a semi-professional group, which lead me to a social group that takes up my Saturdays.

      You aren’t alone! I’d really recommend starting with your 55+ community. Since it is so close, you could even do it in small chunks and leave early with such a short commute. But showing up repeatedly could help you find a buddy to start exploring and going to new events with. I have had multiple friendships that were less about the two of us hanging out and more “we’re going to go to X together and force each other to talk to people but we have each other if it gets too weird”

    17. SG*

      I’m curious why meet-up groups seem doable, whereas the events in your 55+ community seem too daunting? I strongly recommend what AvonLady Barksdale advises, which is to push yourself to go to some of the events in your community and introduce yourself to others. It’s hard to get out of your comfort zone, but you CAN do it.
      Aside from being an introvert, I struggle with depression, and I undertand it’s tough to go to stuff alone, but the outcome will be a positive one! Sometimes it helps me to hold myself accountable to friends or family (even if it’s not a local friend) and make the commitment out loud to them, and tell them to ask me about it afterwards.

    18. Silence*

      I think there has been a lot of advice on where to make friends.
      Going out to make friends can be a bit 0 to 100. I have generally found it better to aim to have a friendly encounter as my first goal and each subsequent encounter with that person decide if I want to continue getting to know them or try else where.
      I think going to an occasional event at your over 55 community could pay off in knowing your neighbors names and faces even if you don’t end up close friends.
      It can take 100 hrs of face time to go from aquantances to friends so don’t rush it.

  21. MoreThanJustAnnoyed*

    How to move on from Church stuff? Or find a new church without feeling like a shitty person?

    The church I have been attending for about 30 years is devolving into chaos. I love the mission of the church, the people (ok, only most of the people), the outreach we do etc. It is a very liberal and progressive church and is getting smaller each year like most of the liberal mainstream churches are.

    We are at the point where we no longer have the volunteers to meet the needs of the church. I do volunteer a lot and I could do more but I really don’t want to. The secretary and pastor are both very disorganized (the church office is a mess.) We desperately need a new treasurer but no one wants to take on that responsibility.

    We recently discovered a massive error in payroll processing (see the Friday open thread for details.) The error has been going on since January and neither the treasurer nor the pastor (whose paycheck was completely wrong) recognized it. I have no idea how a person can not notice when their pay increases by $3000 a month.

    I want to leave and find a new church. I feel very guilty about leaving – My family is one of the main donors and without us, the church will have even more financial problems.

    1. Melissa*

      I have come and gone to many churches in my life! Honestly, leaving one always feels like it’s going to be a huge deal— until you do it. It’s sort of like quitting a job in that way. You can stay in touch with any friends you’ve made. And when you run into former church-acquaintances in town, you’ll realize how not-weird it is.

      Your family is a main donor. One thing to consider is that if you leave, it may light a fire under their butt to find new members and/or clean up their finances. Did your tithe help them not-notice a $3k/month error? Your departure COULD be a positive step for that congregation. Much like breaking up with someone, they are devastated, but five years later they’re in a much healthier position because of it.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Good point, if you’re a major donor and you’re also the only one who is really sweating this basically-embezzlement, well, that’s something most people would be able to understand if they thought about it a bit. That’s essentially your money they mis-managed. In fact, during the work thread, although I didn’t want to rub it in, my first thought was “what do the donors think about this??”

        1. MoreThanJustAnnoyed*

          Well, it is not widely known yet. I am going to let the board know next week – currently only the finance committee knows and then I will strongly suggest that we inform the whole church.

          I think I will personally need to set a hard line that if we do not get a new treasurer, I will be out. She has been making so many mistakes and never follows up on any questions that anyone has.

          1. epizeugma*

            Add a time limit to that hard line. “We need a new treasurer by X months from now.”

          2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

            and a new pastor.
            Keeping quiet about an extra 3k/month AND spending it is a huge breach of trust for any employee.
            What rules might they break in the future if they know they won’t face consequences?

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              Honestly, my first reaction? Was “Didn’t notice? Right…” Because that is a LOT of money. Then I felt bad because this was the pastor and the OP certainly hadn’t speculated on nefarious doings…but…

            2. Observer*

              Yes.

              There is no way around this. Because either they noticed it or they are SOOOOO out to lunch that they are dangerous. And I do mean that in a literal way. And at this point, there is absolutely no incentive to change anything.

          3. Glomarization, Esq.*

            The congregation will find out, whether they’re told ASAP or if the news trickles out to them. The question is whether you want to remain on a board that decides not to be open and transparent about this gross mishandling of church funds.

    2. Sloanicota*

      Oh dear. I have no advice but I sympathize. I’m also a member of a very tiny church that no doubt has financial issues also. I have resolutely declined to join the board and I’m sure they will hammer away at me to do so, but I work for tiny underfunded nonprofits in my career so I have zero interest in having the exact same conversations, only more so, in my free time. I do what I can and don’t make myself responsible for more than that. I do think I would have to literally move away, or pretend to, to get out of the church without a lot of grief.

      1. MoreThanJustAnnoyed*

        Yes, I am planning on moving in 5-10 years anyhow to be nearer family. I don’t know if I can wait that long or if I should wait that long. After 30 years it will be very hard

    3. Melissa*

      I went and read your thread on the other post. I am not trying to pour poison in your ear, but your pastor’s integrity is very much up for questioning. It is impossible to not-notice a $3k/month error. (It would be possible for someone earning 800k a year— although even that would be a stretch— but that isn’t what ministers make.) Her take-home pay doubled. For her to be playing dumb and saying “I dunno what happened”— That is way beyond disorganization. I would have grave concerns about her ability to lead with honesty.

      1. Golden*

        Is it possible that the pastor just has everything on direct deposit and autopay and never looks at the account?

        I now have all kinds of text alerts for deposits and withdrawals, but there was a time in my life where everything was on autopay and I was living well below my means, so admittedly I was just never looking at my account. I probably would have missed a pay doubling for a while too, although it wouldn’t have been malicious.

        Either way, it still points to the disorganization that Melissa is speaking about and might be a good sign to find a new spiritual home.

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          The pastor can’t pay the money back because it’s already spent. Nobody spends an extra $17000 without noticing. Not on the salary a tiny church pays their pastor. That is a LOT of extra money.

          I don’t look at my accounts as often as I should either, but that’s because I’m also living below my means. The money would still be in my account if the same mistake had been made on my salary.

          1. Sloanicota*

            Yeah I said in the other thread, I can totally believe someone didn’t notice the extra $17K coming into the account. But I’m struggling to understand how someone *spent* an extra 17K without wondering where it came from. All I could think is maay-bee, if it’s a joint account with a partner/kids, and the partner/kids spent it …

            1. Prospect Gone Bad*

              I agree but people have jumped on me for asking the same question in various other cases where people were overpaid. Apparently “people don’t know how much their take home should be” is the majority opinion online and people shouldn’t be held responsible for payroll errors. Not my opinion but that’s been the MO online

              1. Observer*

                A lot depends on how much it is. But in this case it’s a very large sum – that also is a HUGE increment in pay.

                $17K for someone making say $150 per year might go unnoticed. But that person also should be expected be able to pay it back. And reducing that person’s salary by $3k a month for 5.5 months also would not reduce them to below living wage. That’s not the case here. If the overage had been $1,700, I could see how someone might see it at way, but that’s not what’s going on here.

              2. Margaretmary*

                I think there is a difference between say $3k in a year and $3k in a month. Yeah, it’s not that uncommon to get weird extras in your pay. It’s happened to me on multiple occasions -tax rebates, holiday pay, stuff like that. A one-off…yeah, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if somebody assumed something like that. I agree most people don’t know exactly what their pay will be after tax, deductions, etc.

                But people generally have a ballpark figure. They might not know if it will be $2k or $2,300, but if they usually earn $1,500 a month and suddenly get $4,500, I think getting that more than once, which yeah, could be back pay or a tax rebate or something, I do think most people would question that. Or at least would have it to pay back if necessary.

                I don’t think they should get in trouble so long as they do pay it back, but having spent it all would raise some suspicions.

                I see a big difference between a one-off that wasn’t noticed and was paid back immediately as soon as raised and something that went on for months and “whoops, I spent it.” Still could be a mistake and of course, I don’t know the pastor or the situation, but…I think this is a bit more than expecting people to know exact fluctuations in tax rates, when bonuses are paid, etc.

          2. Dark Macadamia*

            Yeah this is the part that gets me. I definitely wouldn’t notice if extra money was showing up in my account, but it would still be there when I found out!

            1. Clisby*

              Yes, this part. I *would* notice that much extra money was coming into my account, because I do online banking and check my account at least once a week. But no way I would have spent all that extra. I’m not a terribly strict budgeter, but I have a very good ballpark figure on what I can spend, and I’m not going to exceed that by $17,000 over 5 months without doing it deliberately.

        2. Observer*

          <i.but there was a time in my life where everything was on autopay and I was living well below my means,

          Even then it would be seriously problematic. But you would have been in a good position to pay it back. The fact that it would be a hardship to pay it back, and reducing the salary to pay it back in any sort of timely fashion would reduce the salary to a non-livable wage means that the pastor could not have possibly been in this kind of position. There is no way a reasonably competent human being could have “not noticed” something THIS big.

      2. Observer*

        but your pastor’s integrity is very much up for questioning. It is impossible to not-notice a $3k/month error.

        Very much this.

        OP, a lot of what was said on that threat is something you should take into consideration here as well. Your Board is incompetent, your Treasurer not only incompetent but of questionable integrity, and your Pastor is not just “disorganized” but shady and manipulative. I mean, they REALLY think that insurance will just pay for it? Even if they did, don’t they see that they have an ethical obligation here? This is not a small amount! And it’s at a level that (if it were something covered by insurance) that would definitely affect your cost of insurance going forward.

        I know that this is not what you wanted to hear. But, it’s unfortunately the truth.

    4. Anonymoose*

      We recentlyish left the church we’d spent 8 years as part of. We knew we were a significant portion of the church’s income , and had good relationships with a lot of people there. It was hard.

      What helped was prayer, reminding ourselves that God’s kingdom was much bigger than just this one church, and that it was okay to move on. Once we did leave, we mostly felt relief, and almost immediately had a number of things line up beautifully in a way that was reassuring that we’d made the right choice.

      As far as I can tell our old church is just fine. Our family is doing much better for having moved on though.

    5. Old Plant Woman*

      Agree with everything everyone has said. Another thought pertaining to guilt, and I hope I can express my thoughts without getting too far out in the weeds. Your primary relationship is with Christ and your kind and inclusive belief system. Nothing can change that. Your church is supposed to be a group of like minded people who help, encourage and support you and many others. That group has structure so it’s more than a Sunday morning meet up. It sounds like the structure has fallen apart , and that made the help and support not work. If you leave, you will not lose your belief in Christ and kindness. The church will improve it’s structure, or not. That’s on them. You can’t fix it.

      1. Professional child wrangler*

        These are wise words and an excellent point. It’s always hard to leave a church, but sometimes it’s the healthy thing to do.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Personally, I consider that level of irresponsibility with the church’s money to be a serious dereliction of duty. And abdication of duty is a spiritual problem that impacts both the mission and the outreach.

      It’s only natural to feel conflicted about leaving a place you have been so deeply attached to. Perhaps you might get clarity if you and one or two other very active members (or fellow board members) sat down and had a serious talk with the pastor. Not just about the money, but about the overall direction of the congregation’s spiritual and organizational health. A culture where deference interferes with good governance is not healthy or sustainable, and that needs to be addressed.

      If we’re going to talk church stuff, there is plenty of Biblical instruction to try to talk things out face to face when there’s a problem, either in reconciliation or in admonition.

      Maybe the inner conflict/ guilt you feel is coming from a sense that you would be skipping a step if you just left without trying to talk it through. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t leave at all, but maybe that talk is a necessary piece of it.

      1. Observer*

        Personally, I consider that level of irresponsibility with the church’s money to be a serious dereliction of duty. And abdication of duty is a spiritual problem that impacts both the mission and the outreach.

        That’s a really good point.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Ok, a PASTOR walking off with an extra $3k a month and not saying anything is just extra skeezy. :(

    8. JSPA*

      not to cast aspersions, but when i have seen those accounting things happen at a nonprofit or religious institution– and its sadly not rare– the disorder was almost always cover for intentional misuse of funds. And the people misappropriating the funds were PASSIONATE about trust, and about being the bigger person (while also doing classic LanceArmstrong, “why do you love cancer?” undermining of anyone who asked too many questions). Which is to say, some of the people may not merely have drifted, but instead, either seen the situation, or gotten too close, and been warned off.

      You and your money can walk, with a clean conscience, as you’re not what’s causing the problems. Maybe see where some of the “drifters” have gone, trust their BS-detector over your own, and go there?

    9. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I get this. We are the major donors to a very small synagogue that no longer really is a community for us. If we could find another congregation locally where we were comfortable we would leave – at least I think we would. If this kind of thing happened we would at the very least back way off on our annual donation because I’m not giving money to an organization that misuses it (and I agree with others who are giving your pastor a lot of side-eye).

      You are not responsible for the church’s financial problems. If an organization is so badly run that one person’s donations are keeping it afloat, they have serious issues (even before the payroll mess). For me, synagogue is a place of respite and spiritual connection. If it’s more stressful to be there than to be at work it’s time to go.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Hard agree. If only one or two donations (however generous) are all that stands between the church and collapse, it’s time to leave.

    10. Llama Llama*

      1) I would honestly give the pastor the benefit of the doubt she honestly didn’t notice. People are terrible with money.
      2) Have no shame at all for leaving for whatever reason BUT
      3) If the pastor doesn’t pay the money back, through installments or whatever that tells you a lot about the integrity of the church
      4) If the church doesn’t fix how they handle finances and fast that tells you about the integrity of the church
      5) If 4 & 5 were handled perfectly, how will you feel about the church?
      6) Don’t feel guilty about leaving. If a church can’t handle one family leaving, then they are in big trouble as it is.

    11. KatEnigma*

      Before you go, make sure the state governing body knows about the “financial mistake” – and has been informed by people other than the embezzlers.

      I pointed out actual misappropriation of funds (funds given specifically for next fiscal year that Treasurer applied to current year to fill a gap, telling everyone she was doing it, shouting down any objections) 2 churches ago, and people told me there was no reason to pay for the forensic audit. And everyone refused to o even tell the Diocese, so…

    12. Camelid coordinator*

      For what it is worth, I think there are two issues here. One is that your church does not have the people it needs to carry out its work effectively. That is more of a work question. If you’d like some of my many thoughts about the state of church work I can put them on your post from yesterday if you’d like.

      It sounds like you are very burnt out on your church and feel some responsibility for carrying your church. I’d like to suggest that you put that burden down and take a break. You can easily say things have gotten so complicated I’d like to go worship somewhere else for a while. And then go do that. Somewhere else might mean participating in an online service, going to a different church in your town, or going to a retreat center. You can even keep sending in your pledge while you work out what you’d like to do next. I think you might have more choices than leave my church of 30 years or stay and work out this governance and financial disaster at any cost but it would be good to get some distance and see what they are. Hope this helps!

    13. username required*

      I haven’t read the Friday post but I will say I’ve been in a similar position where I didn’t notice a difference in my salary. I’d moved from Manhattan to Miami and was told my salary would be reduced because of the move, but I’d also be paying less tax so it would be about 15% salary change. Back then I never looked at my salary deposit as I always had a healthy balance with overtime and savings etc so it was quite a shock to be hauled in front of my manager and HR asking me about payroll discrepancies. Turns out the NY office hadn’t done the necessary paperwork to reduce my salary and Miami office were accusing me of fraud because I hadn’t alerted them to the fact my salary was considerably more as I was no longer paying all the NY state and city taxes. I ended up getting quite upset and then angry and insisting they take back any overpay immediately and wanting to write a cheque (yes it was that long ago). I’d worked for the company for a decade, had a solid reputation in NY.
      They backed off and apologised. I’d only just started working for that manager and I never trusted him after that, he didn’t even try and give me the benefit of the doubt.

    14. Observer*

      We recently discovered a massive error in payroll processing (see the Friday open thread for details.) The error has been going on since January and neither the treasurer nor the pastor (whose paycheck was completely wrong) recognized it.

      I’ll take your word for it that this was a genuine mistake. But either way, I’m at loos for the right words here.

      I feel very guilty about leaving – My family is one of the main donors and without us, the church will have even more financial problems.

      Eh, if your donation is such a major part of their budget, your leaving will probably REDUCE the *actual* ~~financial~~ problems, but probably lead to a shut down of the formal organization.

      I know that’s counter-intuituve, but right now, the place is just barely limping along. But a good chunk of their problem is not lack of funds (although I’m sure that’s a problem), but total inability to manage anything. The scope of that payroll issue says that money is flying out the window without any control or assurance that the money is actually being spent on Church items and may also literally be getting lost if people are still giving cash donations.

      Losing a significant amount of revenue when money is already tight is going to cause that to come to a screeching halt. And one of two things is likely to happen. Either someone (or a group) will step up to force some basic order in the finances, even if no one takes on the role of treasurer or the congregation will shut down. Given what you describe, it may not be the worst thing that happens. Because ultimately, that level of chaos is never going to lead to good outcomes, and can actually lead to a lot of bad stuff. And sometimes the only way to stop it is to shut the whole thing down.

  22. Abogado Avocado*

    What beauties, Cheerio and Nermal are! I bet they have the cutest toe beans! (Although, TBH, I’ve never see un-cute toe beans.)

  23. StellaBella*

    I have a junk mail (postal marketing mail) question. Today my sister in the USA got a postcard from PNC bank. Addressed to me. I have never lived in her state. I just called PNC and they were unable to help.

    So, I am going to fill in and send the Visit AnnualCreditReport (dot) com page. And fill in the direct marketers do not mail list …. Question: how do I find out how my name got added to her address and a card sent to her from a bank?

    1. Melissa*

      Maybe I’m too relaxed about this stuff, but I wouldn’t worry about it. I’ve gotten random junk mail to my home, addressed to my mother (who has never lived within 1,000 miles of here). Was it just an advertising postcard? I dont’ think you’ll ever figure out who sold your name, who also had it confused with your sister’s address.

      1. Might Be Spam*

        I’m still getting my daughter’s alumni mail, even though I’ve moved twice and we don’t have the same name and she hasn’t lived at either address. I’ve never gotten my mother’s mail even though we do have identical names and lived only a block apart for 25 years. ‘Tis a mystery.

        1. Amy*

          I get my mother-in-law’s alumni mail! She has never even lived in my house although we did go to the same college.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Same. My best friend, who has not lived with me or even in the same state as me for 20 years, semi-regularly gets texts asking if she wants to sell them my house. We have no idea how her number and name got attached to my address in anybody’s records.

        1. juneybug*

          My adult son got a text asking if he wanted to sell our (his parents) house.
          Considering our son is not the legal owner of our house, we got a good laugh of it.

      3. Hotdog not dog*

        I still get mail for my grandmother, who has a different last name, has never lived with me, and has been deceased for over a decade. I used to work for a company that used purchased mailing lists, so part of me is enjoying the fact that the junk mail people are wasting their time and money. (most of these places that buy and sell lists are scummy and deserve to go out of business, imo).

      4. StellaBella*

        Today she got another one with my name – a post card from USBank sent to her. So am looking into a few things online now.

    2. Wicked Witch of the West*

      Don’t worry about it. Just random junk mail. A while back my brother got an envelope addressed to me at his address in another state where I have never lived, using my maiden name. I’ve been married over 50 years. It was someone wanting to sell me medicare supplement insurance.

      1. StellaBella*

        well today she got another one with my name – a post card from USBank sent to her. So am looking into a few things online now.

    3. Chaordic One*

      I wouldn’t worry about it. I doubt that you’ll ever find out exactly how they got your sister’s address. I think that what happens is that some of these dubious marketing companies are doing a sort of “skip tracing” where they will see that you and your sister had the same address many years ago (perhaps as children). They’ll wrongly assume that you might still have the same address.

      If they have your sister’s address, but can’t find your address, they’ll wrongly assume you still live together and send mail to you at her address. These are usually broad “shot gun” advertising approaches, not targeted advertising campaigns, and the companies usually get paid based on the number of advertisements they send out, whether or not they are accurate.

    4. fhqwhgads*

      If there was ever an address associated with both your names, and the marketing company botches the way they handle NCOA/purchased lists, that’s how this usually happens. So say however many years ago, you lived together (might be as long ago as when you were teens). Someone sells your name and address, and her name and address. You move a zillion times. People buy lists of questionable age. They cross reference them, in an automated and imprecises way – they don’t care if it’s totally right, the lists are for marketing anyway. Somewhere in the process they deduce “person who lived at X address now lives at Y address” and chain them together, or they assume you/your sister’s names are duplicates of each other even if they’re different. Through that process they land on her name at your current address.

    5. Wink the Book*

      Not the same thing, but I would be chill about this because I once got a call soliciting me to sign up for cable in a state I had not lived in since I was a minor 30+ years prior. Me and the caller had a big cackle about it because the company had apparently tracked me down since I had the original last name my mom had when she lived there.

  24. WellRed*

    Question about car financing: if you apply for a car loan through the dealer do they put the application into several lenders and see what comes back? I got approved for a loan weeks ago via dealer but ultimately didn’t want the car. Just got a loan denial letter from some bank and was confused but maybe they denied that loan but another lender approved? I’m concerned any lender said no (credits ok, not stellar) and am concerned about this as I still need a car. My credit union has pre approved me so I may stick with them but it creates issues if the car is older.

    1. Decidedly Me*

      Yes, they will typically put it through many lenders (they’re supposed to tell you this, though), so you can be approved by one or more and denied by one or more. The denial letter should include more info on why you were denied (usually generic-ish, but it’s something!). I wouldn’t worry too much about getting a denial if you received approvals as well.

      When I got my last car, my bank denied me, but another one (maybe more?) approved me and I went with them. My bank then sent me “switch your loan to us” marketing for the length of said loan, lol!

    2. Fish*

      I work at a dealership and our finance manager doesn’t submit to every bank we work with, but he’ll usually submit to at least a few to see which one is going to offer the best rate, fewest stipulations, etc.

  25. Food for gathering*

    I am going to a small gathering over the weekend, I know the host but no one else, 4-5 people. We are to bring something to eat or drink, that was all the instruction I got. Do you have any ideas on something easy and/or not too expensive that I might bring? I don’t drink so a bottle of wine doesn’t work.

    1. BookMom*

      Cheese and crackers is easy. I’ve noticed but not purchased a cheese sample collection at Costco that is designed to bring to parties. But even sliced cheese from the deli counter cut into squares would work.

    2. Unemployed in Greenland.*

      If nobody is making any appetizers yet, maybe throw together a cheese board? A few types of crackers, two, maybe three varieties of cheese, and some grapes or dried figs – done-zo!

    3. Well...*

      Cheese, crackers, fancy bread sticks with olive oil flavor.

      Also bring fancy sodas if that’s your thing! Its always stressful and expensive for me as a host to get alcohol and equally nice non alcoholic drinks for non-drinkers, and when they bring something they actually like, it’s a huge relief. O have like 7 kinds of fancy craft sodas at my house from various get together a where I tried to provide options and nobody wanted the craft soda. I don’t really drink sugary drinks when I’m not socializing so they just sit around….

    4. Ali + Nino*

      How about a fun non-alcoholic drink (e.g., lemonade, punch, LaCroix, sparkling cider, etc.)?

    5. Jay*

      Well, it may be the Southerner in me, but you can’t really go wrong with something like real home made sweet tea, especially if you go through the trouble of adding real fruit to flavor it with. Weather you just put it in big jugs, or have one of those fancy dispensers, it still makes for a welcome treat. Same goes for real home made lemonade.
      If there is something to store it in, home made ice cream is actually very easy to make.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Not for the tea, but I put a recipe for homemade berry lemonade in the lemon party thread!

          1. Jay*

            Yours is WAY better than mine, which is basically slightly fancier little kids first lemonade stand grade!

        2. Jay*

          Well, I’ve always done it like this:
          -Make your hot tea like you normally would, just a LOT of it. Boiling everything up in a great big pot helps. Keep in mind, though, you will be adding ice to this, so a little stronger than a normal cup of tea is usually warranted.
          -Add sugar. Southern sweet tea is SWEET. Feel free to not go overboard and just use enough to make it tastier. You will probably want it sweeter than hot tea, however. Stir everything around until it is completely dissolved.
          -Let it cool to hot-ish (a little warmer than warm), but not boiling.
          -Cut whatever fruit you think will taste good in half. I’ve had good results with lemons, limes, and peaches. I’ve combined them in various ways as well, and that can be fantastic, although I would try that on a very small batch to see how it tastes before making gallons of the stuff.
          -Drop the halved fruit into the tea and let it cool to room temperature.
          -At that point you are done. Do a taste test, and if it’s good, then fish all but a few pieces of fruit out. Keeping a few in there is a nice way to make sure everyone knows exactly what you flavored the tea with. If you want more fruit flavor, juice a couple of the pieces you are taking out back into the tea. If your tea is strong, then add ice to help it get nice and cold fast, if it’s good as is, refrigerate (or jug it up and put it in a cooler with ice to chill).
          I don’t know exactly how long it keeps for, as I’ve never had a batch last long enough to find out when it goes bad, but it’s still pretty fantastic several days later, and only gotten a little less tasty after nearly a week, assuming you keep it refrigerated. If it’s left out in the sun, then I wouldn’t want to keep it around for more than that day.

          1. Jay*

            Okay, so major point I forgot:
            You want to take the tea bags out just before you add the sugar. I’ve forgotten to take them out before, and made myself a nice jug of sweet, fruity heartburn.

    6. Vanessa*

      Bruschetta is a hit. Dice tomato, minced garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. I like chopped up sun dried tomatoes too.
      Then slice a yummy loaf of bread, brush with olive oil and toast lightly. When it comes out rub with a garlic clove.
      Honestly always a hit.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      Smitten Kitchen: Endive with Oranges and Almonds. Easy to eat with your hands, fine to sit at room temperature, and something with fresh fruit/veg is often welcome at these things.

      I skip the oil and vinegar and drizzle a little honey.

    8. may spring rain*

      A bag or two of tangerines always works for me. Plus, easy to take the ones left over back home.

      I just wash and let others peel their own. Magic.

    9. Bluebell*

      I’m off to a gathering tomorrow and making tiny skewers of grape tomatoes with tiny mozzarella balls and basil leaves. Super easy to make. Not the absolute cheapest though.
      In the drinks category, Trader Joe’s has some really nice fancy sodas.

      1. Lady Danbury*

        I did this for a party recently and they were a huge hit. I’ve already been asked to make them again. I tossed the mozzarella in herbs de provence and a little olive oil before making the skewers, then drizzled them with a little balsamic glaze, but that’s totally optional.

    10. Squidhead*

      If eating with unknown companions and little guidance (will I like what they bring? can I eat what they bring? will/can they eat what I bring?), I’d at least choose something moderately filling that I know I’ll eat! At least I won’t be hungry if everyone else brings stuff I don’t like. Summery: pasta with pesto, grape tomatoes, shredded cheese; bean salads; mayo-less potato salad; deviled eggs. Mediterranean platter (hummus, veggies, olives, dolmas from Trader Joe’s, feta). Dessert? Any type of bar (brownie, lemon bar, etc pre-cut for ease of serving).

    11. Llama Llama*

      My go to is sausage balls (cheese, Bisquick, sausage). If you have a stand mixer, its super easy to make.

    12. Ann Furthermore*

      My go-to appetizer for parties is bacon wrapped dates. Super easy to make and they are always a huge hit.

      About 20 pitted dates (you can even buy them without the pits), 4 oz each of cream cheese and goat cheese (both at room temperature), 10 slices of bacon cut in half, and brown sugar.

      Mix the goat cheese and cream cheese together in a small bowl. Butterfly the dates so they open up like a book. Put a spoonful of the cheese mixture inside each date, and then kind bring the sides of the date back up and kind of mold it around the cheese. Don’t worry if you can’t close it all the way — it doesn’t have to be exact. Wrap each date in a piece of the bacon and secure it with a toothpick. Then roll each date in brown sugar.

      Bake at 425-450 for 10 minutes, then flip the dates and let them go 10 minutes more, let cool, and then eat. The temperature depends on the kind of bacon you’re using. I usually use thick cut bacon so I crank up the temperature a bit. I line a baking sheet with foil and spray it with cooking spray so that nothing gets caked on, which makes cleaning up very easy.

      They are great party food because everyone always loves them, and they’re good right out of the oven and also after they’ve cooled down a bit.

      1. carcinization*

        I made something like this at Christmas a long time ago but didn’t keep the recipe, so thanks!

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          I always make them for Thanksgiving and our standing NYE gathering each year. I love them so much. Last time I took them to a party one guy was going and on about how he doesn’t even like dates but they were still so so good. I tell any skeptics to think of the date as a vessel for the bacon.

  26. Junebug*

    I got an Evite to a baby shower for someone I only know casually. I’m in my 40s and have reached the breaking point of showers, especially as a childfree woman. Would it be awful or ok if I just ignore it and never open it?

    1. the cat's ass*

      As a nurse, i usually go in uniform with a gift or send one and say. oops, sorry, work, can’t make it! Or just ignore it if you don’t care about the people.

    2. Melissa*

      You can certainly do that, although I would just bite the bullet, open it, and RSVP “No.” I’m sure nobody will ask, but if they do, just say “So sorry, I already have plans.”

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      Just RSVP no. It’s so rude to leave the host wondering if you’re coming or even received the invite.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        This. You don’t need to give an excuse, but it’s rude to leave the invite hanging. This person is not running a night club–let them plan for the number of guests coming.

    4. Not A Manager*

      Why wouldn’t you RSVP no? I think there’s a line for a comment or a message. Put something like, “congratulations, so sorry to miss the shower!” and be done.

    5. Fried Green Tomatoes*

      I would just rsvp “no,” and you don’t need to explain why or send a gift. You barely know this person. But I wouldn’t just ignore it because you’ll probably just get a reminder if you do, and besides it’s polite to rsvp.

    6. Mind your manners*

      Reply no so that you aren’t making life harder for the person who is hosting. Congratulate the new parent, even if you don’t know them well, and be glad that someone thought to include you in a celebration. At the end of the day, it is nicer to be asked and given the option of attending than to be excluded.

      1. Junebug*

        Ok, you got me with the last line. Needed the reminder to reframe my thinking from “gift grab” and “unwanted weekend obligation” to “be grateful to be a part of something.”
        Thank you and everyone else who commented for sharing your perspectives!

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Is it, though? It’s an invitation addressed to a specific person. Why would it be ok to ignore it completely? I disagree entirely (I think ignoring the invitation is rude and I would simply respond with regrets) but I’m curious about the thinking behind your answer.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I guarantee you that you will not agree with my thinking, and I recognize that it is more extreme than the norm, but I find showers (baby, wedding, whatever else people have showers for) to be basically just asking for gifts, and to me asking for a gift is way more rude than ignoring the ask for a gift. So if I pretend I didn’t see it, then I can disregard the rudeness and get on with my day.

          (That said, in this specific case I misread the original question and thought I was answering whether it was okay to skip the party, not specifically to ignore the invitation. I stand by my answer but wouldn’t actually have said it if I had read the question correctly, I’d have kept it to myself. Also, now I have some thoughts bubbling because I am normally the Askiest of Ask people, and apparently gifting is where my brain draws the “no, you can’t ask for that” line. I had never quite realized that exactly, so thank you :) sincerely, not being sarcastic!)

          1. may spring rain*

            I’ve been to many occasion showers that hammer home “Please, no gifts” either in the invitation or in conversation. They’re not always gift grabs.

            1. Buzzybeeworld*

              I attended one where all the guests decorated a quilt square by drawing something or writing a message for the parents and baby in fabric pens. It was a party activity and the only gift given, and it was cherished by the family.

              I couldn’t tell you what anybody gifted me at my baby shower 17 years ago, but I absolutely do remember spending time with dear friends. I really bristle at the notion of gift grab. People just like to celebrate other people’s happy moments.

          2. Buzzybeeworld*

            Showers are usually arranged by other people than the mother-to-be. These other people are saying to you, “hey, let’s celebrate this new mom and maybe help get her some things for the baby”. Don’t go to them in the future if you don’t want, but to judge a woman because her friends invite you to a party in her honor says more about you than her. Do you judge birthday parties, graduation parties and wedding receptions too? Gifts are generally part of these celebrations too, but you don’t hear people call them gift grabs. Just baby showers and bridal showers, two parties that are about celebrating milestones in a woman’s life.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              Maybe I just know some spectacularly rude people – I can think of one time in my life that I was invited to a baby shower that -a- wasn’t thrown by the mom-to-be, and -b- didn’t come with “here’s what and where to get us” front and center on the invitation, even before the date, time and location. So I’m pretty okay being a little judgey about that. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

              1. Nope.*

                Ok, but none of your responses justify why it’s okay to completely ignore the rsvp. It takes five seconds to rsvp “no.” Just do it and move on.

          3. Falling Diphthong*

            If you pretend you didn’t see the invitation, then that invites people to assume that you… didn’t see the invitation. And so they will attempt to contact you in other ways, assuming that the email went astray as they sometimes do.

            Just click no. Or otherwise say “no” via whatever medium was used to issue the invite, or by which you normally communicate with the host. You don’t need to get into the secret thoughts being thought by the person who invited you to a wedding, baby shower, gender reveal, housewarming, barbecue, sky diving, or other event you don’t want to go to.

            Very often I think the reason people host these events is that they want to gather together with other people, and are willing to expend time and effort to try and make that happen.

    7. Ellis Bell*

      I would just turn the invitation down; that’s how invitations work, and this is why I like proper invitations. Last year, my cousin’s new fiance was heavily pregnant (this was controversial because he was still married to someone else and only just about managed to tell his wife and move out, a few months before the birth). So, the baby shower may have been hastily arranged for that reason, but there were no invitations, just word of mouth. My mum asked a few weeks ahead if I wanted to go, but I’m not close to this cousin and I loathe baby showers, so I told her no. The day before the baby shower my other cousin (his sister) is texting me saying she “really hopes that I will go and that I will welcome new fiance and new baby into the family”. At this point I definitely have solid plans that are too late to change and I’m grinding my teeth in aggravation at being asked about it.

    8. may spring rain*

      Why not just RSVP “no”? That’s all the baby shower organizer is requesting: a “yes” or “no.”

      It really is just that straightforward.

    9. RagingADHD*

      Why not just decline? it’s an invitation, not a summons. You can say no.

      I think it is tacky not to RSVP.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I agree. It also takes much less energy to simply say no– otherwise, you get the follow-ups, maybe even calls, and the questions (“Hey, did you ever get my invitation?”) and then you have to figure out how to respond to THOSE. If you’re unenthusiastic about the event and/or people in the first place, why risk their continued engagement and make it triply awkward for everyone?

        “I’m so sorry, I’m busy that day, but I wish you all the best!” Takes two minutes and saves so much time.

    10. Nope.*

      The polite thing to do would be to RSVP no. Takes two seconds, and you’re not gonna be required to write an essay about why.

    11. Lady Danbury*

      I’ve definitely ignored evites for wedding/baby showers for people who I am not at all close with, to the point where the invitation feels like a gift grab. An invitation is just that, not a demand for your time or attention.

        1. Lady Danbury*

          I’m of the mindset that sending an invitation to a gift centered event to someone who you haven’t spoked to in years, except when you occasionally bump into each other in the street, is also rude. Especially since basic etiquette says don’t invite people to a wedding shower who aren’t invited to the wedding. I find life is easier when I don’t always obligate myself to be the bigger person when responding to someone else’s rudeness, but to each their own.

          1. ThatGirl*

            You’re certainly allowed to think that, but then people are allowed to think you’re rude because of it. Some invitations can be ignored, but I’ve planned events before that needed a headcount and if you can take five seconds to simply click “no”, it does a lot of good and zero harm.

    12. LilPinkSock*

      Please just rsvp no. It’s such a small, two-second task and it’s polite for the host so they don’t have to track down a headcount.

    13. Have mercy*

      Fellow 40s single, childfree woman here. Have lost count of the number of bachelorette/wedding/baby showers I have planned and hosted in my life. Please RSVP. I give zero effs whether my friend’s friends are coming or not, and whether they gift or not, but I do need a semi – accurate head count to put together the best party for all the guests without wasting unnecessary time/money. It really sucks to have to try to chase down the non-responses. And you can’t just assume they aren’t coming, because a shocking number of people show up without RSVPing.

  27. The Prettiest Curse*

    We haven’t had a discussion recently about the most interesting and fun phrases from languages other than English, so let’s do that here.

    The discussion about zingers this week got me thinking of l’esprit de l’escalier (literally, “mind of the staircase”) – when you think of the perfect comeback to someone but it’s too late. (The French have such a huge range of excellent expressions which don’t sound nearly as good in English.)

    And I recently found that there’s a brilliant saying in Danish for something incredibly boring which translates to “sausage of death”. (Surely someone has to use this as their AAM username!)
    Anyway, add your favourites below!

    1. Melissa*

      This is the opposite of what you want, but: I am learning Spanish. I read in a book recently their phrase “the drop that over-fills the vase”, and it made me really appreciate “The straw that broke the camel’s back,” as the English version is much more memorable and dramatic!

      1. amoeba*

        The German version is similar to the Spanish and I’ve always found the English one quite sad and brutal…

    2. Ali + Nino*

      Not a Portuguese-speaker but when I learned about the word “saudade” (i think lol) – longing for a period/thing/person that basically doesn’t exist anymore/you can never return to, I was like, damn, that hits hard. :-p

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        So many languages have great words or expressions for types of longing. The Welsh word “hiraeth” describes a concept which Welsh speakers say is essentially untranslatable but is something like a mixture of longing, nostalgia and sadness for your homeland. When I first heard about this word, I instantly recognised the concept because of having lived outside my own home country for so many years. I don’t speak Welsh, and I imagine that only people who do can fully understand it as a concept. But if you really missed the place where you’re from, you’ve felt something like it

    3. Well...*

      In Korea, to ask how someone’s doing, you ask them if they had breakfast. I like that one.

      I also like Spain’s swearing featuring various Catholic imaginary.

      The other way, but my old boss abroad loved when I used the English word “nifty.”

      And my least favorite is ordering a beer in Spain, it feels so much ruder than it is. The literal translation is “Put me a beer” like I’m ordering someone to put something right in front of me.

      I like how in the UK things get “sorted” instead of “sorted out.” But that leads to my least favorite panopticon catchphrase of the UK: “see it, say it, sorted.” The rhyme sits in that grating uncanny valley of being close but not quite right.

      1. Well...*

        More! I like how in Japan, people often ask you if you enjoyed something when I would have asked if you went somewhere. Like, “did you got to the hot spring?” becomes “did you enjoy the hot spring?” I have no idea if that maps onto a Japanese phrasing but I like that word choice.

        And in Italian, they have a specific word for the action us dipping your bread in the juices/sauces on your plate left over from your meal. It sounds kind of like stiletto.

      2. word nerd*

        There are other ways to ask how someone is in Korean too, but yeah, “did you eat?” is one of them, not necessarily only breakfast. Or “did you eat rice?” (rice meaning food more generally)

      3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I think Québec francophones also use a lot of Catholic imagery in their cussing?

      4. GingerSheep*

        « In Korea, to ask how someone’s doing, you ask them if they had breakfast. I like that one. »
        This reminds me of an acquaintance from Madagascar, who was attending an extended family gathering in another part of the island, and was surprised several people asked her how was her cooking pot/cauldron. It took her a few repeats before she understood it was the local way of asking how she was doing, and that the expected answer was « Full » and not « I got a new pressure cooker »!

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      “We have lost our sheep” in French for when the discussion has wandered.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        On a similar theme, “there is no cow on the ice” is apparently one of the ways the Swedish say that something isn’t a big deal. If there IS a cow on the ice, then presumably it’s all systems go.

        1. allathian*

          In Finnish, there’s a fun expression, “oma lehmä ojassa,” meaning to have one’s own cow in the ditch, i.e. vested interests. In some countries you can say that someone has their own dog in the hunt, which means the same thing.

          In Swedish, you can say “det ligger en hund begraven,” meaning that a dog lies buried, i.e. there’s something fishy/suspicious about whatever you’re referring to.

          1. amoeba*

            Ha, in German we have “da liegt der Hund begraben!”, translating to, I guess, “so there’s where the dog lies buried!” for when you figure out the source of something weird or suspicious. Similar but different!

      2. Lexi Vipond*

        Oh! I only know ‘retourner a nos moutons’, which is presumably what you do afterwards

    5. word nerd*

      The Italian equivalent to “it cost an arm and a leg” is “it cost an eye of the head.” I’m amused the need to specify “of the head” and that in both versions they’re singular body parts–maybe because you definitely want to keep the other one around?

      1. GingerSheep*

        Then again, in French, it either costs « an arm » (so cheaper than in English, you keep your leg), or « the eyes of the head » (les yeux de la tête)(therefore more expensive than Italian).

    6. Vanessa*

      Kummerspeck-grief bacon in German. Emotional eating.

      Frühjahrsmüdigkeit Spring tiredness. I feel this one right now. It’s light so long and it’s hard to sleep.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yeah, I definitely have spring tiredness at the moment. If it gets light at 5am, that’s when I wake up.

    7. Sloanicota*

      I’m kind of obsessed with “Päntsdrunk” in Finland, which is when you drink at home in your underwear. I’m just glad there’s a word for it.

      1. Be the Change*

        my sister and I are sitting here howling with laughter and admitting we’ve done it.

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        If you live in a country where it’s cold, miserable and there’s not much daylight for much of the year, then yeah, pantsdrunk is inevitable at some point!

      3. londonedit*

        The Finnish word is kalsarikännit and it is indeed great! I love that there’s a specific word for intentionally having an evening on the sofa in your underwear getting sloshed.

        Another Finnish phrase I like is an equivalent of our ‘sandwich short of a picnic’ – in Finland you might say ‘doesn’t have all the Moomins in the valley’.

      4. I take tea*

        Finnish also has its own word for the moment when the booze kicks in and you start to feel the buzz and usually feel good: nousuhumala, or rising drunk. To balance this, they have a word for when the feeling is starting to wear down, and usually you either become maudlin or belligerent, depending on your temperament (and usually hungry for junk food): laskuhumala, or sinking drunk.

    8. Dødens pølse*

      That’s funny – when I try looking up “sausage of death” in Danish, it /only/ says it is something boring but I’ve always associated it with something boring (or annoying) /and/ that it is something that just never ends. You eat and eat and eat but there’s still more sausage!

      (And I see there’s a couple of stores that actually sells sausages with this name, apparently very spicy ones.)

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Oh, I love that you used the Danish words for “sausage of death” as your username. Thank you for doing that – it has has made my week!
        When I originally read about the phrase, I did think that it’s perfect for things that are both boring and go on forever, so that’s how I’m going to think of it from now on.

        1. Dødens pølse*

          Ha, glad you enjoyed it. I won’t be using it as username here though so it is still up for grabs whether in English or in Danish!

    9. Cookies For Breakfast*

      One we say in my part of Italy, that invites puzzled looks if translated into day to day conversation in English: “The patch is worse than the hole” (when an attempt to solve a problem only creates more mess)

      One of my grandmother’s favourite sayings in our local dialect, which I hadn’t heard in years – my mother brought it up recently and I burst out laughing: “You couldn’t find a pebble in the Tor” (said to someone clumsy who keeps “losing” things right in front of them, like glasses that are on top of their head or similar. Obscure reference to a river near my hometown, which has, you guessed it, a pebbly bed).

      Also from my grandmother, the kind of morbid thing I heard her say since I was a child and she was in her 60s (she lived to well over 90). Her euphemism for dying and being buried was “going to eat chicory at the root”. Another very local thing: in the (now not so common) dialect she grew up speaking, many sayings are centered on peasant life, and the words don’t sound like Italian at all.

    10. Helvetica*

      Very niche but there’s a verb in Estonian, “viitsima”, which is kind of like the English equivalent of amalgamating “I don’t feel like it” and “I can’t be bothered” and “I don’t want to.” Mainly I like that it is one word, and a very specific verb, which is not the case in English and it conveys that feeling of when you have to do something or you want to do something but you’re just feeling too lazy or relaxed to do it.

      1. GingerSheep*

        Ha, that would be « j’ai la flemme » in French ! Glad to learn other languages are as lazy as we are!

      2. allathian*

        It’s similar to the Finnish verb “viitsiä,” which is usually translated to being too lazy to do something, but it definitely also has overtones of “I don’t feel like it/I can’t be bothered” as well.

    11. Foreign Octopus*

      There is a Spanish version of fish out of water which translates as “an octopus in the garage”, which is my favourite and I love.

      I also learnt a Russian one this week that is “hands grow from the arse” and it’s an equivalent of the phrase “to be all thumbs” in English, and I adore that.

    12. Valancy Snaith*

      Maple syrup in French is “sirop d’erable.” Table syrup (like Aunt Jemima) is sometimes referred to in Quebec as “sirop de poteau,” which means “pole syrup,” as in…it didn’t come from a real tree, it came from tapping a telephone pole.

    13. anxiousGrad*

      In Norwegian, there’s a saying “frisk som en fisk,” which means healthy as a fish. Which I think is pretty much only a phrase because “frisk” and “fisk” rhyme, so it’s definitely not a phrase where you can just say the English translation and have it still make sense. I also really like the Norwegian word for “absentmindedly,” which is “åndsfraværende.” “Ånd” means spirit, “fra” means from, and “værende” means being, so it kind of means literally “spirit away from being.”

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

        Ooh, Italian has “sano com’un pesce” (or something like that–my Italian spelling sucks) — sound/healthy as a fish — as well!

        I was very excited to be reading along in Italian in one of the Inspector Montalbano books and running into something that translated as “It tastes like the package it came in,” which is exactly what my Italian-American ex and her dad used to say about any bland food. I hadn’t known it was an Italian expression.

    14. Irish Teacher*

      In Irish, there is “is minic a bris beal duine a shron,” which means “it’s often a person’s mouth breaks their nose,” as in they say something so offensive, somebody punches them.

      “Athainionn cioróg cioróg eíle,” means “a beetle recognises another beetle” or “it takes one to know one.”

      One I only realised at it’s true worth when I was at an international event and they didn’t translate it literally and I realised it…loses a lot in English. “Slán abhaile,” which is…sort of a play on words. “Slán” means both safe and goodbye, so it’s “safe home,” which we also say in English. At the international event, they instead translated it as “safe journey home” and I realised “safe home” doesn’t make much sense in English, as there isn’t the same double meaning.

      1. Buni*

        I love that in a lot of Irish towns/villages the big ‘You Are Now Leaving {Place}’ sign will literally say ‘Safe Home’ underneath.

        1. Lexi Vipond*

          English-language signs in Norway often say ‘Welcome Back’ when they mean something more like the ‘Haste Ye Back’ on Scottish signs (I can’t think of the English English equivalent), because ‘velkommen tilbake’ does mean that in Norwegian.

    15. CityMouse*

      My personal favorite is that in Spanish (South American vaguely, this is not true everywhere) “Ladybug” is “la vaquita de San antonio” (there are variations) or word for word “the little cow from San antonio”.

    16. RussianInTexas*

      In Russian, when someone is lying obviously, you say they are trying to hang spaghetti on your ears.
      When you don’t want to do something because it may come back on you badly, you say that you don’t want to prove you aren’t a camel afterwards.
      And lastly, when you or someone else has zero musical abilities, you say a bear stepped on their ear.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          It’s actually comes from a sketchy comedy in the 1960s (I think). Sort of like a Soviet SNL.

    17. RussianInTexas*

      And the funniest PG13 curses.
      “Blin” – pancake. Use is for the situations you would use the f-word.
      Horseradish – “khren” – stern no. As in “horseradish to you”. Also, a mean old man is “old horseradish”.

    18. Ellis Bell*

      I am working my way through Marcella Hazan’s Italian cookbook and she says the Italian phrase for people you keep running into everywhere is “they are like parsley”, because they are sprinkled into every situation.

    19. Anne Kaffeekanne*

      I love the German phrase ‘Das Leben ist kein Ponyhof’ (life is not a pony stable/farm) for when things aren’t going the way you want them to. Best if accompanied by a no-nonsense ‘tja’ in front of it. It’s the one I most often want to use in English but it just doesn’t hit the same way.

    20. Anonymous cat*

      Not the question but I’ve always been amused how many British swears and phrases that Americans know from watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer!

      That’s the first place I heard the threat, “Do X and I’ll have your guts for garters.”
      Said by Spike of course!

    21. Pippa K*

      There’s an expression in (at least one dialect of) Arabic: “your mother-in-law loves you!” It’s said to someone who’s had some amazing good luck, by implication that he probably even has such a rare thing as an affectionate mother-in-law.

    22. Kw10*

      I’ve always thought it neat that Spanish has a word (estrenar) meaning to wear or use something for the first time. Like if someone says “nice dress!” you might reply “lo estoy estrenando” meaning “this is the first time I’m wearing it”, and it just captures the moment so well!

    23. carcinization*

      Sigh… the only one I can think of right away is one that horrified my husband, which is the Australian, “Well, I didn’t come here to f___ spiders!” (I thought my comment might go to moderation if I used the whole word, I don’t have a problem saying it or anything), like, you’re saying in an annoyed tone that you came here for a reason.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I love the bluntness of so many Australian sayings, most of which only work properly in an Aussie accent.

    24. Thunder Kitten*

      a village saying in my indian language is “it doesnt have horns on it”… which is what they say to when someone isnt recognizing an object or situation for what it is… (there are no horns to mark it as special). there is another expression that translates to “like the legs of a wading bird” to describe someone as very (too) skinny.

    25. the cat's ass*

      There’s a Japanese word for when you eat not because you’re hungry but your mouth is lonely.

    26. HannahS*

      My grandfather always commented in Hebrew that my similar-looking mom and brother looked “like two drops of water” (“kmo shtei goutei mayim.”)

      1. allathian*

        In Finnish there’s a similar expression, “olla kuin kaksi marjaa”, literally to be like two berries. The closest equivalent in English is probably to be like two peas in a pod.

  28. Jill Swinburne*

    Recommend me a TV show (probably Netflix since I’m not a mass subscriber) please!

    Something low-effort, entertaining, nothing that you have to pay super close attention to or with complicated arcs, and ideally not one of those things with 8 seasons of 22 episodes. I usually get about an hour and a half to watch TV at the end of the day so generally tired when I do.

    Generally I enjoy British comedy and drama, satire, nothing too gory or nasty, interesting premises and interesting characters. Not really into sci fi and I didn’t like What We Do In the Shadows.

    I loved Schitt’s Creek, Miranda, thought Lucifer was okay (but Tom Ellis was probably a factor!), Servant of the People (though subtitles can be tricky for me), Happy Valley (bit grittier than I normally go for but the characters made up for it).

    See what you can do for me please!

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      I don’t know if the British mini-series Sherwood is available where you are, but would strongly recommend it. It’s a brilliant crime thriller about the aftermath of the 80s miners’ strike.

      The recent mini-series version of The Ipcress File is a lot of fun. The BBC recently did a mini-series version of the Kate Atkinson book Life After Life, which didn’t get much attention but is definitely worth watching.

      And Happy Valley has just done a third and final season, which wraps up the story in a very satisfying way.

      1. Jill Swinburne*

        Saw the final season of Happy Valley! It was indeed an extremely satisfying end.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I’d recommend City of Ghosts, Rilakkuma and Kaoru, and The Baby-Sitters Club.

      1. Jill Swinburne*

        I loved The Babysitters Club (I was 100% its demographic though it made me feel old to have Alicia Silverstone as Kristy’s mum) and was gutted they cancelled it. On that basis I’ll have to check out your other recs – thanks!

    3. ThatGirl*

      Derry Girls, though you do need to pay a certain amount of attention if you’re not familiar with Irish accents. It’s hysterical.

      1. Jill Swinburne*

        I tried that but couldn’t understand a word (partly the accents, partly it was so quiet on my TV)! I was disappointed in myself since I’m from a British family. Might have another go though and see if I can get used to it, I enjoyed Moone Boy.

        1. KatEnigma*

          Derry Girls is a challenge. I’m normally good with accents, even those harder Brit ones, but I had to turn on captions for Derry Girls.

    4. Bluebell*

      Derry Girls is a great choice – short episodes and seasons but you might need subtitles. Very funny though.

    5. MoreThanJustAnnoyed*

      If you like dumpster fires, you can check out The Ultimatum or Love is Blind.

      Great British Baking Show is very nice and positive show.

    6. takeachip*

      Heartstopper, Last Tango in Halifax (featuring Sarah Lancashire from Happy Valley!), Rita, and Offspring are some of my favorites on Netflix that sound like they might meet your criteria. You might also want to look at some of the limited series they’ve made based on Harlan Coben books: The Five, The Stranger, etc.

    7. Julian*

      The Good place might be up your alley! It’s short epsidoes, and four short seasons, and it deals with complicated ideas but in really easy to understand ways. You don’t have to notice every twist and turn. It’s about a woman who died and got into “The Good Place,” but there’s a lot going on that she doesn’t understand. It’s cozy, funny, and one of the best acted tv shows I’ve ever seen. I might or might not be on my sixth walkthrough. Oh, and it’s on Netflix!

    8. Chris in Scotland*

      I loved the period drama Cranford, based on Elizabeth Gaskell’s novels. It has interesting and quirky characters, and a gentle humour.

    9. Lady Alys*

      Slings & Arrows – takes place at a fictionalized Stratford (Ontario) Shakespeare festival.

    10. Fellow Traveller*

      I love Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. So crushed that there are only three seasons! (I don’t have Netflix, but I streamed it through Hoopla with my library card.)

      1. KatEnigma*

        I like both Miss Fisher and the sequel/reboot of Miss Fisher’s MODERN murder mysteries.

        But I don’t believe either of them are on Netflix.

    11. Annie Edison*

      Jury Duty is an easily bingeable delight! It’s on Amazon’s Freevee (no payment needed, but there are commercials)

    12. the cat's ass*

      “Good Omens” was great fun, (and is coming back for season 2)as was the recently ended “Ted Lasso”. My fave on Netflix this year has been “The Extraordinary Attorney Woo’.

      1. Might Be Spam*

        I recently read that there will be another season of ‘The Extraordinary Attorney Woo’. Unfortunately I can’t remember where I read it and I don’t know when it will air.

        REPLY

    13. LNLN*

      Derek and After Life both star Ricky Gervais. Even if you are not generally a fan of his, these are both very enjoyable.

  29. Daisy*

    Removed because this is the non-work thread (feel free to repost it on the work one!).

  30. Courageous cat*

    Going on 3 months of unemployment as of tomorrow and it suuuucks. Weekday during the afternoon are the hardest. There’s just nothing to do and everyone else is at work. I have been going to different parks a lot and also hitting the library, but the first one is starting to become more untenable because it’s getting miserably hot here in the middle of the day.

    Anyone have any suggestions for low-cost/free things I can do that I may not be thinking of, before I lose what is left of my mind?

    1. Not A Manager*

      Free admission days at museums? Sometimes public libraries have tickets or passes to museums as well.

    2. anon24*

      I was unemployed last summer, and now I’m a full-time student who somehow has breaks. But I’m also the kind of person who is maybe ADHD so for me an afternoon can pass like a blink of an eye. When I have downtime I keep myself busy by:
      1. Hiking in woodsy/shaded areas where it’s cooler
      2. Online at home yoga on YouTube (yoga with Adrienne)
      3. Making a list of all the rooms/closets/cupboards in my home that need deep cleaned and systematically going through them
      4. Organizing my digital life, cleaning up my computer, phone, online accounts, etc
      5. any paperwork I’ve been putting off or non urgent phone calls/appointments that need scheduled
      6. books I’ve been meaning to read but haven’t. make a cup of tea, put on a soundtrack or other instrumental score and read away!
      7. I’m a gamer, so I can game on my computer, but I try to limit myself to after dinner except on weekends so the addiction doesn’t become a problem
      8. I volunteer. If that’s not reasonable long term, don’t bother.
      9. naps! occasionally I will just give in to the sadness and take a nap all afternoon. of course, this is not healthy every day but once every rare blue moon it is wonderful to give myself permission to be a sloth and stay in bed all day sleeping, reading, and being on my phone.

      I used to work a job where I worked 80 hours in 7 days and then had 7 days off. People used to ask me what I did in my 7 days off and I never really had an answer but I was never ever bored.

    3. Vanessa*

      A really cheap gym.
      Learning to do things on youtube. Knitting, guitar, painting.
      Help at a senior center.

    4. Sloanicota*

      I got really in to picking up trash along the riverbanks by me. I would document my take at the end of every day. Nice and shady/cool for hot weather, or a good accomplishment earlier in the day that justifies a more relaxed afternoon at home?

    5. Come On Eileen*

      MoviePass is $10 a month and you can generally see around three movies a month using credits! Fun way to pass an afternoon.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I spent a LOT of time wandering around the flea markets. I used to buy a lot of junk, but I broke myself of that habit, and then it became fun just to look and laugh at ugly or weird stuff. If I did buy anything, it was tiny and cheap and usually something I could use for crafting.

    7. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I was recently unemployed and tried to make the most of it. I live in DC where museums are free, so I went to a lot– if there are free museums, or free days, in your area, then definitely check those out. I organized and deep cleaned. There’s only so much of that one can do, but I tackled one home thing every week. I like to bake bread, so I did a lot of that– even “pricey” flour is relatively inexpensive. There’s always volunteering. When I was unemployed it was late winter and annoyingly cold, so I did stay inside and do a lot of binge-watching. I watched a bunch of movies.

      If you drive, look up day trips in your area. You may even find driving tours you can download– no need to get out of your car but still ways to see new things.

      The last time I was unemployed, I took a retail job– that was in the fall, so a lot of places were hiring, but if that’s an option I would recommend it. I worked in a kitchen store, which I loved, and did 3 6-hour shifts/week. I made no money ($10/hour is pretty bad) but I had structure to my day and new people to talk to. Then, when I was hired at a full-time job, I stayed on for a couple of weekends so I could use my discount. If you can’t take a paying job, maybe find a volunteer opportunity that requires office help for a couple of afternoons? VolunteerMatch dot org is good for that– I used to stuff envelopes and do data entry for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        My sister recently left a job and picked up part-time work in upscale fashion retail. Not only does she get a discount, but it aligns perfectly with her interests.

    8. Qwerty*

      I had a couple months off last summer so I get it – by the end I couldn’t wait for my start date. One thing that helped was over-packing my schedule on weekends, then using Mon/Tues as my personal “weekend” for social recovery.

      What about moving the hikes to morning? I used to do a hike in the morning, then run errands nearby, before going home for shower/recovery/mental prep since social stuff is evenings.

      Have you looked into daytime volunteering? Since you are about the library often, they could probably help point you in the right direction. I feel like food banks are usually looking for daytime helpers. I’m not a huge fan of the site VolunteerMatch because it was usually looking for people who could do part-time positions, but that might actually be a plus for you.

      Going to networking stuff for your field or areas you are interested could be helpful in finding more daytime activities. For example, I went to a couple tech meet-ups and heard about other groups that do free lunchtime seminars. So it starts off as an evening activity, but turns into something more. There’s a lot of unemployed folks right now, so maybe you’ll find someone that you’ll want to meetup for coffee or a hike with to just hang out.

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

      Reading in a cool tub with a glass of lemonade (or whatever your favorite cool drink is)?

    10. HannahS*

      If you live in a city with a college or university, see if they have free performances during the day. In my city, the understudies and MFA students often have performances at the arts centers before lunch.

    11. Raine*

      What’s a project you have at home that you’ve been putting off forever? If you’re like me, you probably have a stack of things you could donate/toss/recycle, or some other item that needs reorganization.

    12. amoeba*

      Knitting? Not exactly free but especially stuff like socks doesn’t need a ton of wool, needles are cheap, and it’s fun!

  31. Loopy*

    I have something coming up Wednesday that’s been on the books for year and would be extremely hard to reschedule.

    Unfortunately I am feeling a bit of a sore throat and was with a friend last weekend through Monday he has now been non-covid sick for a full week. While I am doing all the usual good practices such as hand washing, hydrating, getting tons fluids, plenty of rest, and taking my vitamins, my anxiety is the through the roof worrying about cancelling. I’d be so devastated. But aside from the usual wellness routine, I don’t think I can control if I come down with full blown sickness or not, so does anyone have any tips for managing anxiety about getting sick, in regards to missing a much anticipated event that wouldn’t be able to be rescheduled?

    I’m driving myself up a wall here!

    1. Old Plant Woman*

      It’s allergy season! Do a COVID test. If it’s negative, go. Take a pocketful of cough drops, tissues and two ice cold water bottles. I’ve had a few minor glitches and focused on every symptom to figure out if I was really sick. Negative test. Next day I just drank cold water for the throat and pretty much forgot about it. Our brains are strange and viscous creatures.

    2. pb*

      If you end up having just a minor cold, is it the kind of event you could wear an n95 mask to?

      1. Venus*

        It doesn’t even have to be an n95 mask, anything tight fitting that limits droplet spreading should work well.

        If you aren’t feeling great then I would suggest a mask even if you don’t have anything obvious. In big gatherings I wear a mask although I also take it off to drink coffee and eat meals, so I find a balance of limiting my exposure to others’ illness while also enjoying food and drink.

    3. kina lillet*

      There’s been a lot of smoke billowing around the US and Canada, which probably doesn’t help! Hopefully you don’t get sick, it would be a bummer to miss this thing. Sickness (and covid specifically of course) is a great ruiner.

    4. Aly_b*

      If there’s one thing that we’ve learned over the last few years, it’s that sometimes anyone can just get sick and there’s not much you can do. You may wind up having to cancel/skip, if you’re just feeling too ill or to avoid getting others who will attend sick. It sucks and it’s okay to have a lot of feelings about it. It’s hard when it’s more or less out of our control. The only thing I would maybe take out of it is to try to be extra careful (masks, avoid or reschedule hangouts) happening a few weeks before big events when you want to improve likelihood of being healthy.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Treat the symptoms with OTC meds as needed. Make a strong tea from simmering fresh ginger with the skin on for about 10 minutes, and drink that a couple times a day (it has some antiviral properties against the common cold).

      And if you aren’t feeling completely horrible on the day, and tested negative for Covid, mask up and go. I have found that DayQuil or real Sudafed (the kind you have to show ID for) can do wonders for helping power through in a pinch. Just observe the social-distance precautions.

    6. SofiaDeo*

      Change pillowcases daily, or at least turn them over. Put blankets/comforters in dryer (air only) or hang outside ideally daily. Disinfect your toothbrush and swap drinking glasses & mugs daily. If you *have* been exposed to a virus, this helps reduce viral load. If it’s allergies, the bedding suggestions plus showering just before bed including a hair rinse gets rid of pollen. If you don’t want to rinse hair daily, wear a hat outside to keep pollen off your pillows.

    7. Loopy*

      All, a belated thank you for everOnes replies. I don’t want to speak too soon but in a stroke of what might be luck, I’m feeling better than when I posted Friday night! But a lot of the sentiments and ideas here were very helpful should I be speaking too soon!!

      1. askalice*

        hope you feel better! if I have a non-covid cold or illness I want to get over in record time, I go on the full immune offensive. I drink a LOT of water, plus make a ginger turmeric honey garlic citrus tea and drink that by the bucket, and I make chicken soup (make a green veggie broth if you don’t eat chicken), plus I make sure I am extra warm with baths, hot water bottle, rug up, lots of rest, and if I have any appetite left, heaps of citrus. I work in a deadline/event driven industry and many the time I’ve had to boost the hell out of my immune system to be able to attend/deliver, and a few days major health focus can turn around a cold in a remarkable way. It won’t work on covid or like chicken pox etc, but it will vanquish a common cold 9 times out of 10. good luck!

  32. slowingaging*

    “I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled.”
    ― P.G. Wodehouse, The Code of the Wooster

    Our gruntle had improved considerably, even if it was not actually fully gruntled. Times, Sunday Times (2010)

    I really think we should use the word gruntled more… just sayin. What word do you want to use?

    1. Double A*

      It’d be great to have more opportunities to be just whelmed, neither over nor under.

    2. Nervous Nellie*

      Good one. In deference to The Office, I would like to say I am a bit stitious. Not super, just a bit.

      1. Pippa K*

        Terry Pratchett has a character in Jingo who is substitious: “He believed in things which were true but no one else believed.”

      2. slowingaging*

        I got erita and gruntled with joy. I was combobulated about the ept answers. hmmm

    3. Jessica*

      This thread reminds me so much of a book that is so good that I can’t restrain myself from recommending it to you all, although I realize this is not the reading thread. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is an absolutely magnificent YA novel by E. Lockhart. Frankie refers to “gruntled” and similar as INPs–the Imaginary Neglected Positive, which is an absolutely delightful, albeit fictional, grammatical concept.

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        Jessica, thank you for this. This book looks great! Just placed a library hold for this book. Ready to be whelmed. :)

  33. Bluebell*

    Those kitties are cute, but thrill me with your backyard wildlife stories! Tonight I went to close a window just before sunset, and thought I saw a fluffy cat in the backyard. People- it was a fox!! I’m used to bunnies, chipmunks and squirrels. Still, I can’t compete with my friend whose neighbor caught a black bear in her backyard camera.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I live within sight of a major US city, and over the past few days people have been very entertained by a young black bear roaming around the streets. Today the animal control people sedated and relocated the bear.

    2. Snell*

      Last week, I was driving around the edge of a public park (this is longtime developed land in the middle of the city, so think playgrounds, big lawns, an exercise circuit route, cement paving everywhere else) on the way to an afternoon coffee, and I saw movement out of the corner of my eye, at tree-branch level. Turned my attention to it, and it was some kind of raptor!

      Wasn’t expecting that, even though we very rarely catch sight of one sitting on the fence in the backyard, picking apart its kill. I had just never seen one at this park, in such a busy, public space with so many humans about. It was so pretty, big wings making big, graceful flaps. Flew straight up to land in a sycamore. In my head, I 1. comprehended that there was a bird, 2. “Man, that’s a big bird.,” and 3. “It’s a predatory bird!!!”

      Oh, man. You guys, it was so pretty.

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      We live near a nature reserve, and the other day my husband saw a badger while he was walking the dog there. (It scuttled off pretty fast, so no danger of getting bitten.) My husband is from California and even though badgers live in some parts of North America, he’d never seen one till we moved to the UK.

      1. Sloanicota*

        An interesting facts is that the North American badger is not closely related to the European one. Just happenstance that they are so similar in appearance!

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          That’s really interesting! You don’t hear badgers mentioned very often in the US (at least in my experience living there), so for a long time I didn’t even know that they had them there.

      2. Bagpuss*

        I saw a Badger last night (uk) . lots of young ones this time of year.
        highly unlikely to bite unless cornered.
        in lockdown I was lucky enough to see some cubs, surprisingly squeaky, they were playing ‘chase’ with each other and didn’t notice me until they were almost on top of me!

    4. GoryDetails*

      I live in southern NH, along a brook with some green-space that allows for a wildlife corridor (though the increase in housing developments are cutting back on the wildlife sightings for larger critters). Over the decades I’ve seen in my yard deer, coyotes, a mink, foxes, and on one thrilling occasion a black bear – that was when I really began to take seriously the cautions about putting away bird-feeders during the bears’ just-out-of-hibernation feedings! Had ‘possums on the back porch and skunks under the shed as well. (One summer evening many many years ago, when I still had indoor/outdoor cats, I saw my tuxedo cat lying on the driveway with her white tummy showing, and went to give her a scritch – before “she” scuttled away WITHOUT TURNING OVER FIRST. Yup, it was a skunk, right-side up, not my cat upside-down!)

      There’ve been moose in the area once in a while too, though not in my neighborhood. But I have hopes of someday seeing a bobcat; neighbors have posted Facebook clips of one ambling through a back yard…

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Somebody posted a meme showing a patio full of dozing young bobcats with the caption “I’m going to die petting something I shouldn’t” and I related SO HARD.

    5. The Dude Abides*

      My neighborhood is fairly wooded and near a large park, so we get our fair share of rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, and an occasional deer.

      Imagine my surprise one morning when I see a mallard duck in our side yard. The park does have a pond, but IMO still a long trek for a singular duck to make.

    6. Bunny Girl*

      I was getting something out of my car one evening and was leaning down when I saw something just over the top of the opposite window. I assumed it was one of the stray cats we have back behind our house so I started just chatting with it, calling it closer. I straightened up and it was a fox. LOL

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I used to get possums in my backyard; they would eat any cat food Pig left in her dish. She just sat there and watched them. Another time, I was walking in the neighborhood and saw a vulture feasting on some roadkill across the street. He flew up to the top of the light pole as I approached. I felt a bit bad for disturbing him.

      There was a bear wandering around southeastern Massachusetts, but not over here. The only thing I’ve seen here so far is a couple of bunnies in the trees near the graveyard behind my building.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I see occasional buns around Capitol Hill in Seattle, just hopping about.

    8. Anthology*

      My at-the-edge-of-the-woods neighborhood is now home to at least one fisher, confirmed on my neighbor’s backyard camera. I thought I’d gotten used to the “is that an animal, or a woman being brutally murdered?” noises that come with having foxes, but fishers really crank it up a level. It sounds like they’re running a fight club in the yard at night. Much to my cat’s displeasure, we now only crack the bottom windows and fully open the top, so he can’t go nose-to-nose with any wildlife.

      Aside, we are having a brutal drought and I’m so worried about the animals. I wanted to put out water, but my husband thinks it would attract mosquitoes too quickly to stay potable.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        We have to keep Peanut off our balcony because the moron would immediately try to start something with the local crow family and not last ten seconds.

        We’ve got lots of crows on the roof outside my windows at work, too, with a disturbing propensity to bring lots and lots of small bones (there’s tons of restaurants around serving chicken and such) to pick at and strew around. It looks like a side quest from Silent Hill out there.

    9. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      At least once a year we get possums breaking into [place we don’t talk about on the weekend]. They invariably climb into a trash can looking for snacks, realize they can’t get out, and stay curled up making hissy faces at us until the Animal Control guy comes to relocate them to whatever sanctuary for wayward possums they have.

      1. Bluebell*

        I love the idea of a “sanctuary for wayward possums,” and would like to see the possums having to listen to a lecture or sermon. I did see a possum late one night when I was dealing with Japanese beetles one summer.

      2. New Haven Accommodations? -- Jean (just Jean)*

        Thank you! Great phrase! “Sanctuary for wayward possums” may become my new all-purpose expression for “place where sinners go to repent” aka “a place that gets those annoying folks out of the way for the rest of us.”

    10. Chauncy Gardener*

      We’ve had an otter in our pond off and on since April. It was super cute and very cool at first, and I don’t care if he eats all the fish, but he’s started in on the frogs and now we’re having our own version of Silent Spring. I am bummed!
      He is the most voracious predator I’ve ever seen!

    11. Bookgarden*

      I recently saw a possum in our backyard from our window! I had somehow made it decades without ever seeing a living one before so I was thrilled. It was larger than I expected, and my (indoor) cat’s reaction was unlike one I’ve seen. She seemed unsure if this was a cat-type thing she needed to defend her territory against, or if she should hide under the bed. The possum must have noted she was behind glass, or was pretty confident, because it looked at her for a few moments then kept shuffling along at the same pace to it’s destination.

      We have lots of anoles where we live now that rest on the outside of our windows. Our cat noticed they move in patterns throughout the day, so she sets herself up around the house as the sun and lizards go about their daily business so she can always watch them and pounce against the window when they move. It’s always fun to watch and the anoles rarely notice her.

      1. Anna Crusis*

        We had a possum clamber up the back steps to stare in the sliding glass door. The cat was *very* excited about this. Possums have weird little feet. My kid and I held the cat and got some photos of the possum and talked about it relatively calmly, so when it came back the next evening to visit, the cat was calmer and merely stared back at it through the door.

        We haven’t seen the possum since, but with the cat not reacting to sightings, maybe it’s a backyard regular?

        I regularly see and hear red-shouldered hawks around here – so beautiful but kind of sad when they strike songbirds. They seem pretty acclimated to city life – one was sitting on my roof and swooped right past me less than ten feet away when I was coming home one day.

    12. goddessoftransitory*

      It’s not a backyard, but once I was walking home from work in the evening, and saw what I thought was a cat trotting down the middle of the sidewalk. My first instinct is always “Pet!” but luckily when I got closer I saw that it was in fact a raccoon, bold as brass, not giving a fiddler’s damn about being slinky or unspotted by puny humans.

    13. Tea and Sympathy*

      I live in a midwestern state where we sometimes see bald eagles. They are relatively new here, so it’s still a thrill to see them.

    14. Rara Avis*

      Saw a fox on a cemetery walk while visiting my hometown. Saw a baby groundhog eating his lunch very calmly along with 1700 alumni/-ae at my college reunion.

  34. Broken scones*

    I was recently invited to a birthday party that is lemon themed. For context, this is my coworker who I get along with and she is in her early 20s. I’m looking for any ideas for cute, lemon-themed gifts. Thank you in advance!

      1. Broken scones*

        I’ll have to see if she wears any jewelry. I checked etsy and got distracted looking for myself! Lots of cute lemon-y options, haha.

      1. Reba*

        I highly recommend the Chef’n citrus squeezer for anyone who make cocktails or bakes.

    1. Silent E*

      This sounds like a cool party! Some suggestions:
      Lemon stress ball (yes, it’s a thing)
      Lemon mug/cup for work or home
      Lemon kitchen dish and hand towels
      Edible lemon-flavored things, like lemon curd or lemon infused oil
      I also like Ginger Cat Lady’s idea of earrings or somthing similar on Etsy.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If you are even vaguely kitchen-handy – homemade lemonade concentrate! Very tasty reconstituted with just water, but excellent with sprite, ginger ale etc as well.

      Mix together in a big pot: 6 cups puréed berries (of any types, you can do all one kind or a mixture, and frozen ones work too), 6 cups of sugar, 4 cups of bottled lemon juice (it’s more consistent than fresh squeezed). Heat it to just short of boiling, then strain it and let it cool. You can put it in pretty much any kind of container, a pretty bottle or something (when I make it for home I just whack it into an old Nalgene). Keep it in the fridge* and reconstitute at 1 part concentrate to 2.5 parts other stuff, roughly. (You can also of course cut the recipe down proportionally.)

      *or if you know how to safely can jam, like in ball jars, you can can and store this stuff the same way.

      1. Broken scones*

        My kitchen skills are bare minimum LOL but this sounds like a fun future project to try out, thank you!

      2. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

        This recipe would be great frozen in 1/2 cup portions for storage

        I think I shall be trying it! Thanks!

    3. Turtle Dove*

      I adore lemons and often receive lemon-themed gifts. I’d love earrings, as Ginger Cat Lady suggested, especially if they were made of glass or ceramic. My favorite lemon-themed gifts have been drinking and juice glasses with lemons printed on them, a lemon-shaped pin cushion for my sewing basket, lemon cookies, and a tabletop topiary with (fake but realistic) lemons and leaves. The fake plant is about 18 inches high, and I set it out every spring to enjoy until fall.

      1. Broken scones*

        I googled tabletop topiaries with lemons. They’re so cool! Thank you for the lemon-themed ideas.

    4. Corky's wife Bonnie*

      Going on your name, what about a little treat bag with lemon scone mix, lemon curd, and maybe some limoncello?

    5. Lady Danbury*

      Lemon scented spa/bath goodies (if you think she’d be into that), lemon scented candle (Nest has one that smells divine), lemon hand lotion, lemon sheet masks, Bliss lemon sage body lotion, lemon printed apron (if she likes to cook), lemon printed pouches (cosmetic bag size or smaller for purse organization), food gifts (lemon curd, lemon infused olive oil, lemon ginger tea, limoncello etc.), lemon scented sachets (for drawers/closets). Searching “lemon gifts” on amazon will also result in a variety of options, even if you purchase elsewhere.

      1. Broken*

        I sound like a broken record but…I hadn’t considered hand lotions or the like. Thank you!

    6. Jessica*

      If you have a farmer’s market nearby, try to score some lemon cucumbers? Most people don’t know about them and it would be a novel twist on the lemon theme.

  35. Seltaeb*

    Has anyone found a good way to keep small area rugs in place on carpet?

    My bedroom has rather ugly, very low-pile wall to wall carpet. I can’t remove or change it for various reasons, so I thought I would get a couple smallish area rugs to put next to the bed and at the foot of the bed. I’ve tried two different kinds of rug pads, and two different kinds of carpet tape, and nothing has kept the rugs from moving and bunching up for more than a day or two. Is there another solution? If I talked to carpet installers, is there something they could do? (Preferably something semi-permanent that could be removed without much damage to the underlying carpet.)

    1. Old Plant Woman*

      Would bigger rugs work for you? They’d cover more of the ugly rug and could be anchored by your bed or other furniture.

      1. Lady Danbury*

        This is exactly what I’d do. Go for something with a pattern that coordinates with the underlaying carpet, not necessarily matching. If you google rug layering, you’ll find tons of examples and visual inspiration.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      The Washington Post just ran an article about how to change flooring in a rental. It includes tips for anchoring rugs on carpet. I’ll post the link in a reply.

  36. Junior Dev*

    I’m looking for media suggestions—especially books (esp. SFF), music, poetry, comics/graphic novels—that might be comforting or cathartic in my specific situation. My best friend of nearly a decade basically got mad at me over something extremely dumb and seems like he’s ending the friendship over it—I can’t really tell his intentions because he’s refusing to talk to me except about purely logistical things, but I think that’s an answer in itself. I know he’s the jerk, all my friends and family think he’s unreasonable and toxic, and I know I’m better off distancing myself from him…and also, I miss him terribly and I keep thinking about how two weeks ago we were still friends and everything seemed fine.

    There’s not really anything to do besides suffer through it and let myself be sad. I’m not looking for advice on how to handle the situation—but I do want something that might help me with these feelings of hurt and regret and grief that just keep coming on whenever I have a moment to myself.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      “They Both Die at the End” by Adam Silvera – near future sci-fi YA about people who sign up for a service to be paired with someone on the day they’re predicted to die. It’s about building a new friendship, not losing an old one, but has the sense of regret and grief because the protagonists are dying young and confronting things about themselves. Really wholesome and good for when you need a cry.

      I’m sorry about your friend situation.

      1. Junior Dev*

        I just finished chapter 2 of the audiobook and I think this is perfect for how I’m feeling, thank you. That sense of inevitability and lost potential and suddenly feeling nostalgic for small mundane things.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          Oh, good! It’s one of the best audio narrations I’ve heard, the narrators somehow have really great chemistry even though I’m sure they recorded their parts separately.

    2. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

      I like writing ridiculous Austen fan-fiction (e.g. Mr Bennet has a secret history as an international jewel thief) because you’re in another world and the small amount of concentration required changes the direction of your thoughts. Feel free to substitute with author or series of your choice.

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

        Lol, I love this! I sometimes try to compose Mary-Sue-ish fan fic in my head when I have trouble falling asleep. I never get very far in the story, but yes, it helps to break the cycle of whatever I’m fretting about.

    3. NeonFireworks*

      Oh, I feel for you – a friend of mine did this four years ago and it freaking hurt for a long time. I did a lot of imagining that I was visiting a cemetery to lay flowers on the gravestone of that friendship – which was helpful. I also did a lot of obsessively rereading our text messages and emails and handwritten notes in a series of attempts at figuring out Exactly What Went Wrong – which was not helpful, but probably was inevitable.

      I found some SFF solace in stuff by Becky Chambers (wonderful characters who often have solid friendships), John Scalzi (he’s very funny but can also be sweet and profound when writing about his characters’ loved ones), and Sharon Shinn (sometimes her work is just about characters trying to figure out how best to support each other).

      I also watched a lot of videos of people reuniting. Like, everything from welcoming a family member home at the airport to (especially) pairs of people finding unexpected DNA matches and hitting it off with them or someone finally tracking down a beloved friend from a pre-internet childhood. The UK and the U.S. both have versions of “Long Lost Family” that were a comfort to me (they sometimes move their subjects off-camera when things get too raw/emotional/private, which made it feel less exploitative than it might have). It wasn’t that I was fantasizing about reuniting with my lost friend – instead, it felt like the existence of other people finding each other and then bonding was compensating, on the level of the entire human universe, for what I’d been through.

      Wishing you peace and healing.

      1. Junior Dev*

        Thank you. I might literally lay some flowers in one of the parks we have been to together. I’ve got a hold on a Becky Chambers book at the library already (a Psalm for the Wild-Built) and a John Scalzi book (Metatropolis) and I’m looking forward to them. I’ll check out Sharon Shinn

    4. Qwerty*

      I’m sorry! This sounds like any advice for dealing with a breakup applies – friend breakups suck

      Idle Phone Apps
      – Merge Dragons
      – Forest Island
      – Rollercoaster Tycoon (bonus of nostagia if you had the computer game!)
      – Township

      I discovered Merge Dragons following a breakup during lockdown and I’ve found the idle-style games take up *just* enough of your attention to distract you from the current situation and let your emotional side sleep/heal. I often play them while watching TV

      TV Shows – Scripted
      – Winx
      – Big Bang Theory
      – The Librarians
      – Doctor Who
      – Coupling
      – DC’s Legends of Tomorrow

      Reality TV
      – Are You the One?
      – Too Hot to Handle

      Not sure what apps these currently live on. New tip: If you have a Roku, use the search feature and it will tell you which apps currently stream the show/movie for free or for $. This is how I recently discovered the CW app is free with ads.

      Books – I don’t have any specifics here, but I find young adult books are good for when you need something easy. Not sure what is popular these days, but that’s how I ended up reading the Divergent and Twilight books – I wouldn’t call either of those good books, but I actually enjoyed them due to giving my brain the break it needed.

    5. carcinization*

      On the tor website there’s a Charlie Jane Anders novelette called Six Months, Three Days that I thought of, but I’m not sure whether it’d be helpful, of course….

        1. carcinization*

          I thought that book was just okay but I really liked The City in the Middle of the Night… which is kind of about a fraught/complicated friend breakup… hmm.

          1. Junior Dev*

            Six Months, Three Days was perfect for how I’m feeling. I finished it and immediately read it through a second time. I can see myself/friend in Judy/Doug and I can also see my own feelings about the situation in both of them. Thank you.

            I put a hold on The City in the Middle of the Night at the library.

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

      This may sound weird, but you might want to try reading Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola Behrendt’s *It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken*. It’s about dealing with the pain of romantic breakups, but I think you might find some helpful stuff in there to help you with your friend breakup as well.

  37. Forensic13*

    Recommendations for podcasts with niche subjects, especially history or science? I’m caught up with a podcast about the history of nursery rhymes (A Tisket Tasket podcast, if anyone else likes that type) and need more to listen to!

    1. KR*

      Sawbones is fun! It’s medical history, particularly all the wild ways people used to practice medicine.

    2. Defective Jedi*

      Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History are long podcasts that are not about the adult entertainment industry, despite the name. They are remarkably thorough and long (3-6 hours each), so there’s lots to listen to. Downsides for me are it’s only him talking and it’s very focused on military and conflicts. Good to have in a rotation of podcasts!

    3. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      History of English. It’s just as much a history podcast as a language podcast.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Co-sign, I love History of English!

        To give you a sense of how in-depth it goes – each episode is around an hour. At episode 32 you finally start Old English.

      2. NeonFireworks*

        YES, this one and Lingthusiasm (about linguistics in general, but often super interesting sub niches).

    4. Cordelia*

      if you can get BBC shows where you are – There’s No Such Thing As A Fish is based on the comedy show QI (for Quite Interesting) and goes into detail about lots of silly facts that you might not have known. Also “You’re Dead to Me”, which looks at various historical subjects in a funny but also informative way

      1. amoeba*

        Also, In Our Time! It covers such a broad variety of topics that you’ll certainly find a few that are very niche. It’s basically the host chatting with experts from various fields with a different topic each episode, ranging from the kamasutra to mathematics to history to biology… you get the idea!

        The infinite monkey cage is also great, a bit funnier and generally physics-themed.

    5. StellaBella*

      The Science Show of Australia ABC is good as is In Our Time of BBC as is SciFri and also RadioLab and 99% invisible. I also like Rutherford and Fry on BBC

    6. Kiki*

      Have you heard of “ologies”? They do a different niche subject each episode, but I bet you could find more niche pods through this one! I listened to their two part ep on dolphins and it was wild. Did you know dolphins and sea lions guard 25% of the US nuclear arsenal?!?!?

    7. Just here for the scripts*

      Clear+ Vivid with Alan Alda
      If you don’t know about his work as an advocate for science communications, you can also pick up the audio book version of his book “ If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?”

    8. RMNPgirl*

      Rex Factor – they rank all the British kings and queens and determine if they have the “Rex Factor”. They’ve also done the Scottish rulers and I think are doing consorts now.

    9. Rose is a rose is a rose*

      Gone Medieval is a medieval history podcast. The latest episode is ‘The Greatest Medieval Divorce Scandal.’

      Cool People Who Did Cool Stuff is a podcast about “the wildest rebels, the most beautiful revolts, and all the people who long to be – and fight to be – free.”

    10. Cookie Monster*

      I haven’t listened to it yet myself, but The New Yorker recently brought to my attention Stiffed, which is kinda history-related (although maybe not as far back as you’d like). The description:

      “What happens when a group of scrappy feminist journalists team up with a porn king? The true story of Bob Guccione, VIVA magazine, and 1970s feminist porn.”

      I’m assuming it’s closely related to Minx, that TV show on HBO.

    11. Numbat*

      Betwixt the Sheets is great fun; the history of sex, scandal and society.

      Sentimental Garbage is about pop culture that is overlooked, under examined and under appreciated because it’s typically loved by teenage girls. The Spice World and Bring It On episodes are wonderful, as is Josie and the Pussycats. Cathartic and vindicating if you were a teen girl in the 90s-00s.

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

      I absolutely adore Avery Trufelman’s “Articles of Interest” and “Nice Try” podcasts. The first explores history/society through the lens of fashion and design, while the other features various attempted utopian communities throughout history. Both are fascinating.

    13. NeonFireworks*

      Making New Worlds with Erika Nesvold! It’s a mini-series of about 15 episodes (with a new book out) about the ethics of space colonization from all sorts of angles.

  38. SparklingBlue*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone playing this week? (video, board, card, or tabletop?)

    The second expansion to the Scarlet and Violet series of the Pokemon TCG (Paldea Evolved) released in the app, and I was lucky enough to get the rare full art variant of one of my favorite Gen 9 Pokemon from the new set.

    1. M. from P.*

      I’ve just learned to play a family card game called Boom Boom. The goal is to assemble a full set of Cat or Dog Pictures. My seven year old nephew beat me three times in a row and he was so proud!

  39. Aphrodite*

    Probably most of us here have specific retirement savings vehicles, but I’d like to talk about the most basic level of finances here: savings, credit cards and simple debt.

    The NYT ran an article (June 7: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/07/magazine/bad-credit-repair.html#commentsContainer) about so-called credit report agencies and it’s left some things on my mind. I wonder if others here would be interested in sharing their thoughts and ideas, not on the article per se, but on their own take in regards to the basic levels of credit, debt and/or savings.

    After buying my first and likely last home in late 2020, my bank account looked shockingly empty. Since then, I have been trying to re-build my savings back up; sometimes things like a major dental procedure, an emergency vet visit or desperately needed yard work has taken a toll on it but I continue to fund four basic savings accounts: Savings, Emergency Fund, Home Fund and Money Market Fund. None have time limits on them so they are always immediately accessible. I have goals for each that will take a while but each month money goes in. I also have a Cash Jar at home that has about $55 in coins and is also being built up to a goal of $500, most of it being in bills of ones and fives with some tens and a few twenties. (I live in earthquake country so if a quake or fire cuts off electricity I have plenty of cash in small bills and coins.)

    I also like not being in debt and having a high credit score. It almost feels like a game to set goals–zero debt, above 800 score–and watch myself win each month. I am within five months of no debt at all. And my credit scores are currently in the 815-830 range.

    I keep several financial (Excel) databases. The primary one is called Home Payments, and it shows what I pay each month for my mortgage, taxes, insurance, park rent, water system, gas, electricity, cell phone, internet service, and my remaining debt because that was due to home stuff. I also include repair costs when they happen. This is my third year of keeping it and I find it interesting to do comparisons. I also find, to my surprise, that having this concrete information at my fingertips means I do not get caught up in the scary feelings that articles about rising prices and scarcity of some consumer items can engender in me. I feel a buoyed confidence in all my choices, much more than ever before, because I feel I have so much control over the “foundation” of my financial home.

    What about you? I feel I always learn here so I would love to hear your thoughts, opinions and ideas.

    1. really*

      Your processes are very similar to ours. We have more accounts but the premise is the same. Keep a budget to see where your money goes and have specific pots for specific purposes. Having all your money in one pot makes to too easy to spend. It’s nice to know that even if you don’t have all you want in an account that you have something so you aren’t always raiding other monies.
      For credit cards you might want to adjust when they come due. Since we are retired and all our income comes in on a monthly basis I have changed the dates for my cards so they coincide with the largest monthly check. This way everything gets paid.

    2. Anthology*

      I really want to make an explicit budget, but spouse and I are both natural penny-pinchers, which makes it so easy to be lazy about finances. 95% of what we spend goes on our Discover card, which has excellent built-in spend tracking and categorization tools, and thus only enables my laziness. :p

      I do have almost everything automated: monthly personal/retirement/household savings into HYSAs or brokerage, utility bills debited directly from checking every month. Reaching the point where I made enough income to start using autopay was a major mental milestone for me.

    3. Sloanicota*

      I have to be honest, budgeting is great, but so often it is a mask for the “real” factor behind savings, which is – having enough income to cover expenses. When I first bought my house, like you, I dipped down below what was an acceptable amount of liquid savings to cover little emergencies that came up. All of us are more or less vulnerable to this – for some, an extra $150 ticket could cause everything to go kaplooie, for others we’re okay until the dog needs emergency $5000 surgery or we’re rushed to the ER. For about a year or two, I faithfully tried to budget with a spreadsheet … but the simple fact of the matter was, I didn’t have enough money coming in. I finally got a break and got a better-paying job, and now despite the exact same method of scrupulous account-keeping, everything is great, I’m watching the money increase every month, and those smaller emergencies are just minor bumps in the road. But it wasn’t really my careful budgeting that made the difference. And I know I’m still just as vulnerable to a large enough bump.

      1. Annie Edison*

        Thank you for this! I have been budgeting carefully and obsessively for 15 years now because that’s what all the personal finance books say to do. I’m a bit embarrassed, but it’s taken me until my late 30s to realize no amount of budgeting is going to fix the fact that I’m in a very underpaid field and I can’t magically budget my way around that fact

        1. Sloanicota*

          At one point housing + insurance took almost all of my paycheck. There’s really no way to budget your way out of that one.

  40. Jess*

    We are moving to Australia! I’ve been very lucky and lived all over the world but what are your best moving tips in terms of things you should do once you arrive to hit the ground running?

    My current list includes: Applying for Australian tax number, sorting out SIM cards, opening bank accounts, obtaining a working with children’s check (similar to a DBS or a FBI fingerprint check) and applying for Australian Medicare. We are moving with just suitcases so don’t need any packing tips :)

    1. Lady Danbury*

      Some of this advice might not apply, based on whether you have housing, jobs, etc sorted. If you’re not super familiar with the city, I would try to do a short term rental or airbnb for a few months rather than just picking a neighborhood to commit to for a year or more. I would also research commute times by plotting out directions from your expected residence to expected work location around rush hour, as opposed to at a random time when there might be far less traffic. If you have to furnish your new place, having a comfy bed should be your first priority. Try to seek out locally based bloggers/vloggers who reflect your own personal style, whether it’s fashion, lifestyle/home, food, etc. They can be a great starting point for finding the type of places to shop, eat, etc that make you feel like you’ve found your vibe, no mater where you are.

    2. Sage*

      Oh, I’m so envious! I lived in Sydney as a child and always hoped to go back. We looked into it seriously a few years ago but were advised that it was unlikely we would qualify for permanent visas.

      No advise, just good wishes!

    3. sewsandreads*

      Just a heads up — WWCC can take forever to come back, BUT if you’re applying for work in schools (specifically Catholic systemic), you can jump start the process by lodging position applications with your WWCC application number!
      Also, by WWCC being the wording you use, I’m guessing you’re moving to NSW. You’ll be able to store a lot of licences (drivers, WWCC, etc) on your phone as legit ID in your Service NSW app. It’s my favourite thing, but I did run into some issues in QLD a couple of years ago because it’s not something they had there.
      I haven’t lived over the world all that much, so wouldn’t have much relevant advice, but all the best!

    4. sewsandreads*

      Also, entirely dependent on where you live — outside of cities, public transport can be… hit and miss. I live in a location that would be classed as regional, but we had a LOT of city people flock here during COVID, only to realise aside from a few beaches and some occasional celebrity glimpses, it’s a bit of a sleepy area and getting around is awful without a car. I’m assuming you’ll be near a city or in one, but definitely something I didn’t even consider until meeting quite a few out of towners here!

    5. Inkhorn*

      If housing is still on the to do list, check the council’s flood maps before picking a place. We get some wild weather here and quite a few towns/suburbs are prone to ending up partially underwater.

      And get somewhere with aircon! Trust me, you do NOT want to endure an Australian summer without aircon.

    6. Gathering Moss*

      If you’re coming to Sydney, and don’t already have medium term accomodation sorted, start looking _now_. Housing here is a major issue, currently: our rental vacancy rate is hovering around 1%, and house prices to buy are nightmarishly high. It’s a major problem!

    7. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      I moved from the US to Canada so I don’t know any Aussie specifics, but a similar process. My advice is get all your stuff in order as much as possible before going, especially financial and paperwork stuff. You may not want to or be able to close all your accounts, but if you can consolidate and simplify, do it now – it’s a lot easier when you’re still in the country. I’ve had trouble working with a US bank account that said they were fine with me living outside the US, but then there’s been all sorts of headaches because their system won’t accept my Canadian phone number for the verification codes. I ended up closing it after all. Find out about taxes on both ends and if you have any retirement accounts that may be affected (should you keep them? Can you keep contributing to them? Etc) And have absolutely any paperwork or identity documents you can think of organized and ready to go for when you will need them. Scan them and save them digitally too.

      1. Numbat*

        Australia is big and diverse, if you share where exactly you’re headed you might get better, more specific advice.

        But some things that occurred to me hours later…

        Do some reading/ watching/ listening about Australian Aboriginal history. Find stuff created by Aboriginal people, not just about them. Learn who the traditional owners are where you live. Learn what an acknowledgement of country is and how to give one. Learn what a Welcome to Country is.

        And two things to take seriously: water safety (swim between the flags at the beach!!) and sun protection. Lots of newcomers underestimate just how badly the sun will burn them here. There’s not a much ozone protection, it will mess you up.

    8. madscientistnz*

      Seconding the sun protection- do not take this lightly, use hats and spf 50 at the least, even on cloudy days. The sun is SO much stronger than you think.

      This is a suggestion for after you’ve arrived, it works well for me when I’ve moved countries (including to Australia) – find a ‘shopping friend’ (or neighbour, workmate). Basically someone who likes shopping and can tell you where the best place to buy something is (and sometimes a suitable price). At the beginning, I never know what the shops are called, where the best shopping areas are etc

      So I would ask, where do I go to get a cheap bed? Where sells quality but not expensive bras? Best supermarket for bargains? And because they like shopping, I get great information, they enjoy being helpful, and small steps to friendship are taken.

  41. La Revacholiere*

    Recommendations for Munich, particularly around the Marienplatz?

    I’m going at Christmas. I have only been once before and climbed the Peterskirsche then, but am not Christian and thus am not super interested in seeing churches or doing Christian-themed sightseeing. I like museums.

    I’d like to know about good restaurants that aren’t super tourist-oriented or expensive, and especially any bakery or cafe where I can get some really spicy, dense gingerbread!

    1. Valancy Snaith*

      There is a really phenomenal Vietnamese restaurant called Chi Thu on Morissistrasse, a short walk away. Inexpensive and fabulous banh mi.

    2. Taki*

      Marienplatz will have a Christmas market (Christkindlmarkt) set up in it. I wouldn’t consider this xtian-themed sightseeing as I’m more focused on eating and drinking and looking at crafts/souvenirs. I think they are fun to walk around even if you don’t buy anything. Get a hot Glühwein with a shot of rum in it and a spicy sausage (Krampuswurst). They will have the Oktoberfest-style gingerbread hearts with the frosting writing on them but I wouldn’t bother, they’re not fresh. There will probably be bakery stalls with actual gingerbread and not the tourist frosting hearts.

      The Alte Pinakothek and Pinakothek der Moderne are two U-Bahn stops away from Marienplatz and are a classical and modern art museum respectively. The German hockey league plays near the Olympic stadium (maybe 10 stops from Marienplatz) which is basically minor league hockey with cheap tickets. There is also an aquarium near there, and BMW Welt, which is cool even if you aren’t a gear head.

      The U-Bahn is very easy to use and pretty cheap, but the city center around Marienplatz is very easy to walk as well.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Seconding the Christmas market. This past Christmas we went to one in Bolzano, Italy that was lovely. I love that they give you your hot drink in an actual ceramic mug (for which you pay a deposit, which you can get back). A great place to score a gingerbread house that is actually tasty to eat.

  42. beep beep*

    How do people learn when local events are happening? Should I finally bite the bullet and get a city newspaper subscription?

    This is spurred by me walking out of my downtown place-that-must-not-be-named building yesterday and finding a fairly large street festival happening a block away. I’d seen the road closure the day before and briefly Googled to see if I could find if it was for construction or something else, but nothing. It was a pleasant surprise, but I wish I’d been able to budget for it, as there were so many lovely vendors but all I could justify was the lunch I’d been looking for.

    Thank you for any help or advice.

    1. Valancy Snaith*

      If your town has a Facebook page, either official or unofficial, that’s probably the best place to learn about local events. A local newspaper subscription would probably also be a good bet. Frequently things like street festivals are also popularized with posters in the vicinity.

      1. CityMouse*

        Yes, as much as I find Facebook problematic, it’s really good for this kind of thing.

        1. Bunny Girl*

          I agree. I didn’t like using Facebook and tried to get off it but I felt totally cut off with local things around town. So now I just lurk. I have an account but don’t actively use it except for events.

          1. beep beep*

            This is fair. I deleted my Facebook account years ago and don’t have Instagram since it’s the same information-selling ecosystem, but if it’s what everything is on nowadays… we’ll see.

    2. Time for Tea*

      I find things that are happening from a local Facebook group, our council does a weekly events email newsletter, flyers on notice boards in local shops are still a bit of a thing here, and also we have a small number of local journalists who will flag up events in their email newsletters too.

      1. Venus*

        Yes, we have facebook groups here that are good for sharing info but if you don’t have an account then my local council member sends out weekly emails with all the events. I could sign up for the weekly emails at my work location too.

        1. beep beep*

          A local council sounds like a good idea- I’ll look into that. Thank you! I already get some emails from my work location, but they’re usually building-specific, like food being set out on a certain floor.

    3. TPS reporter*

      my city posts on Instagram and m has a calendar on the city website. the mayor and city councillors pot too. the city councillor for my district will also remind about events on nextdoor.

    4. Indolent Libertine*

      Yes to FB and Insta if you use those. Is there a weekly free tabloid size paper for your area? Here they have stalls outside our local small grocery (and of course a website as well). We also have a glossy magazine called “(Name of City)” which has tons of ads and articles, and also an event listings section.

      I’d also ask your coworkers, especially the ones who seem closest to your wavelength, where they find out about local events; they’ll know what the best sources are for your particular area.

    5. really*

      Local papers are not always the best. i have found that they as well as the local TV stations seem to tell you about the events after they have already started or are over.

    6. Girasol*

      Even in my relatively rural area I can google ” events” and get three or four civic event calendars. It’s worth reading them all because they all know different events.

      1. Girasol*

        Ack, I can never remember which punctuation isn’t rendered here. I meant to say “my-city events.”

    7. Ranon*

      Calendar on the city website, bulletin boards at the local library and rec centers, the occasional over the street banner on the right street. Chatting with neighbors and coworkers too. The downtown commerce whatever org runs a calendar too.

      And, honestly, living in a place for a year, missing things the first go round, and remembering to keep an eye out for them the next year!

    8. Harriet J.*

      I’d just like to put in a plug for subscribing to your local news. If we don’t support local journalism there won’t be any reporters covering city council meetings, the board of education, etc.
      Decisions that greatly affect our lives – property taxes, new housing developments, parking regs, etc. – are made at the local level. We need to pay attention and since most of us don’t want to attend the zoning board meeting, we need reporters who will.

    9. TX_Trucker*

      Is your City large enough to have a tourism office, visitors bureau, or anything similar? Their website or email newsletter usually lists events. What about a local Meetup social group? Even if you don’t attend as part of the Meetup, if it’s a large open group with no membership fees, that may be a way to learn of events. But my goto, as others have said is the Facebook page for the local government.

    10. HannahS*

      My old municipality had a calendar of events on the city website. I’d check it once a month and transfer everything into my own calendar, so I could at-a-glance see what was going on.

    11. Raine*

      I got on the mailing lists for the major venues in my area so I can see when performances/concerts are happening. I also stalk the local “free news” websites – sometimes events get posted there that don’t get announced on local TV/local newspaper.

  43. Might Be Spam*

    How do you make sure to get enough sleep when you have to get up early the next morning?

    I have a habit of not being able to get to sleep when I have to get up early. I had to take my son to the airport at 5am this morning and even though I went to bed at my regular time, I didn’t get to sleep until 3am. This happens regardless of the reason for getting up early. Happy, sad or neutral makes no difference. I’m able to get up on time, even though I’m woefully short on sleep, so fear of oversleeping isn’t the problem.

    1. TPS reporter*

      argh I have the same problem. it doesn’t always work but I try to do a very relaxing bed routine, shower, read a book, do a meditation. not necessarily going to sleep early but doing a long wind down.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Same — if I miss any part of the wind-down or start it too late, it takes forever to get to sleep. It’s annoying.

        I also need to go to bed when I get tired instead of pushing through it to do one more thing, or else I get a second wind.

      2. Sloanicota*

        Yeah, if I start a loooong wind down really early, sometimes I can get an extra hour – but I still often wake up frequently, worried I’ve missed the alarm. I just try to remember that one night of crappy sleep isn’t going to kill me, and I’ll make it up over the week. And go for coffee.

    2. Decidedly Me*

      For me, I get paranoid that I’m not going to wake up to my alarm so early, even though this has never been an issue for me, so I set multiple ones for piece of mind.

      Additionally, knowing that I won’t be getting enough sleep makes it harder for me to go to sleep (oh the irony!), so I try to shift my sleep schedule a few days running up to it so I can go to bed earlier.

    3. Jm*

      You Think fear of oversleeping isn’t the problem but it is still digging into your subconscious. I try to derail this by setting two alarms. Sometimes it works!

    4. Bob*

      I’ve had the exact same problem for 60+ years, and have never found a solution. I’ve just learned to accept that I will be sleep-deprived the next day, and will catch up on sleep the following night.

    5. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I’ve accepted into my heart that I simply can’t. I can maybe make myself fall asleep half an hour earlier than my usual time. But I’ve learned over the decades that it’s simply impossible. So I make sure there’s some good strong coffee waiting for me in the morning, turn my alarm on for the ungodly hour that I need it, and head up to bed at my usual bedtime.

    6. Courageous cat*

      I read boring stuff in bed till I physically can’t keep my eyes open. If I try to sleep even a *moment* before then, my subconscious worries about waking up early will keep me up.

    7. RagingADHD*

      Melatonin and a calcium-magnesium supplement at bedtime help, but they arent a magic bullet.

    8. kina lillet*

      Counterintuitively, try to accept that this just happens. You know it does, your goal is basically just to rest in bed and relax so your late night doesn’t affect you too much.

      It’s pretty likely that you snoozed for a good chunk of that time that it felt like you weren’t sleeping. The less pressure you can put on yourself, the longer those little snoozes will last.

    9. Lady Danbury*

      I have the same issue. I think it’s a form of anxiety, where I’m stressed about not getting enough sleep, so then I can’t fall asleep and it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. No good advice, but you’re not alone!

    10. Alex*

      When this happens, just tell yourself that it doesn’t matter if you don’t sleep. You know you can get up on time. The worst that can happen is that you are a little tired. For me, watching TV helps me go to sleep (I know, I know, they say no screens but this is what works for me!), and so I watch TV and just have a regular night. If I don’t sleep, that’s just life and I don’t stress about it.

      It helps get you out of the mindset of “oh no, I’m not asleep yet at 1, I only have four more hours! Yikes! Oh no, it’s 3! Only two more hours!” all night.

    11. goddessoftransitory*

      Honestly? Benadryl. It’s not a permanent sleep problem solver, for sure, but that stuff is knockout drops to me.

    12. carcinization*

      I was also going to recommend melatonin. These situations are actually supposed to be what it’s best for, i.e., shifting ones sleep schedule, rather than trying to go to sleep at ones regular time. My husband takes it whenever he needs to go to bed earlier than usual, or when he knows he woke up late but needs to go to bed early, etc.

      Melatonin gives me the spins and nightmares though, so I stick to stuff like chamomile tea. The only other thing I can think of is either exercising or doing something really boring/exhausting before the early bedtime.

    13. Lemonwhirl*

      I use Rescue Remedy Night drops. It’s all flower extracts, and I imagine it’s mostly the placebo effect, but it helps calm my mind and make me feel drowsy.

      I also set many alarms, each at 10 minute increments, and if it’s something like a flight, I might arrange for someone to ring me (it pays to have friends in many time zones). Knowing that the alarms are handled in multiple ways can often help settle my mind.

    14. may spring rain*

      For trying to fall asleep when I’m restless, I think about how tired I am on mornings when I still feel sleepy and would love even another 10 minutes. Works most of the time to send me to dreamland.

      But when it doesn’t, and I’m staring at the clock, knowing I’ll only have two or four hours of sleep, I tell myself that I’ll get a long nap. Lowers my expectations of a full night’s sleep for that night.

  44. ElspethG*

    Best cheap and easy ways to get extra iron into my diet when I’m veggie and don’t really have the energy (or executive function) to add whole new recipes to my roster?

    This week I got rejected from blood donation and a year’s deferral for the third time in eight years (been donating as regularly as they’ll let me since I was seventeen…but there were two years in there where I was banned). Since the last anaemia deferral, I’ve been taking daily iron supplements, but maybe they’re not cutting it anymore? 5’9″/176cm woman, not particularly heavy periods, so I think it’s a combination of naturally being on the low-iron side and having a meat-free diet. I’m O- and CMV- so I really try to prioritise donating as often as I can!

    My current plan for easy iron increases is adding cubes of frozen spinach to literally everything I cook and switching my snacking habits to be things like dried apricots

    1. CityMouse*

      Beans, lentils are a good source of iron too. Cashews for snacking?

      Does your iron supplement have vitamin C too? that can help absorption.

      1. Quality Girl*

        This. My hemoglobin is normal for the first time in my life since I started taking a Vitamin C tablet with my iron pill (not medical advice :) just my experience).

    2. Emma2*

      If you are vegetarian rather than vegan – eggs.
      I am a long time vegetarian and have dealt with anaemia at times. My body simply does not seem to absorb iron from vegetable sources very effectively, but does much better with eggs. I have been told by a nutritionist in the past to aim for 5 eggs a week. I don’t necessarily hit that number.
      One of my easy egg recipes (which I quite enjoy) is to hard boil an egg and then mash it up with half an avocado, a bit of salt and some chilli. It is essentially an egg salad, but with avocado instead of mayonnaise.
      Similarly, scrambled eggs with some veggies is extremely easy. If I am making a stir fry, I will beat an egg or two, and cook them in a very thin layer before I start cooking the rest of the stir fry (like a very thin omelette). Set it aside and break it into little pieces and stir it through the stir fry towards the end.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Tossing a horseshoe (or any other big hunk of iron) into your cooking pot.

      1. Sutemi*

        In the same mode, cooking in a cast iron skillet.

        Leafy greens and beans are some of my favorites foods with iron, but there are also supplements with better bioavailability than the generic pills at the drugstore.

    4. Reba*

      Also a longtime vegetarian. When I had iron deficiency in the past, but couldn’t tolerate supplements, I found the dailyiron dot net website helpful.

      Legumes of all kinds are amazing, perhaps more than greens — beans, lentils, tofu counts too! Edamame for snacking. Some grains like amaranth and spelt are also good, but many grains also have iron inhibitors and benefit from soaking. Vitamin C (not necessarily adding a supplement, just looking out for this in foods e.g. broccoli, bell pepper) and or amino rich foods can help iron absorption.

      Canned coconut milk is also packed with iron, so delicious coconut lentil dal type dishes could be in your future!

    5. Not A Manager*

      Cook up some lentils or red/white beans and freeze them in small blocks with a little cooking water. Toss them into whatever you’re making along with or instead of the spinach.

      Make an easy tomato sauce with olive oil, garlic and canned tomatoes. Cook it to a medium consistency. This freezes beautifully and can be used on its own as a sauce, or dressed up however you like it. When you’re cooking with tomatoes, add a bit of tomato paste for additional flavor and also iron.

    6. Bluebell*

      Not sure if it’s available in your country, but Floradix is a liquid supplement that gets high marks for absorption. Also, try to cook in a cast iron pan, as that can release iron into the food.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Floradix did wonders for me postpartum. Much better than regular iron pills or one-day multivitamins

    7. Rose is a rose is a rose*

      Nettles (yes, stinging nettles) are another leafy green high in iron,as well as vitamin A, calcium and magnesium. Depending on where you are it’s probably easiest to find nettle tea, but I love eating the fresh (cooked) greens in season. The sting goes away with cooking or drying, I promise!

    8. Glomarization, Esq.*

      If you haven’t already, I’d see a doctor to confirm that it’s an iron-deficiency anemia and not another cause of anemia (or even some other issue altogether), and/or whether you would benefit from iron infusions.

      1. Past Lurker*

        Seconded, that’s how a friend found an issue that would have been deadly if not treated in time. She got suspicious when even iron infusions didn’t do much.

        1. Jess*

          I’ve a friend who’s just had an iron infusion that doesn’t seem to have helped. What did your friend have?

          1. AnonRN*

            Not Past Lurker but we also had a friend who found out she had colon cancer this way. Tumors take a lot of blood supply and can be fragile (so they have tiny bleeds). I am NOT saying this is what your friend has! There are a lot of ways your body can be anemic and iron deficiency is only one of them. There are other supply-side shortages (ie: trouble making enough blood) and then there are demand-side shortages (losing/destroying blood). It can take a lot of investigation to figure out the cause(s).

      2. 2QS*

        Thirding. Everyone assumed I had iron-deficient anemia because it runs in my family, but it turned out I didn’t!

    9. Selling a place while you live there*

      Dark chocolate is high in iron :) also old-fashioned molasses.

    10. fhqwhgads*

      1) cook your food in cast iron.
      2) Whole Foods house brand frosted mini-wheats

      The second suggestion originally came to from a blood bank after getting rejected for the same reason. The major brand frosted mini wheats have gelatin, which I won’t eat because vegetarian, but the Whole Foods version is vegan.

    11. JSPA*

      being vague on purpose, but B12 and other vitamin deficiencies can leave you anemic, and various digestive problems can block uptake of adequate vitamins, even if you’re taking a daily dose. So can a gastric bleed. Or any of many other serious conditions. This is “see your doctor” territory, ESPECIALLY if you are feeling exhausted and short of executive function.

      if you were short of iron itself (not taking supplements) I’d suggest cast iron pans. But that really doesn’t sound relevant here.

      1. M*

        seconding this- and NOT offering medical advice but I had to have B12 injections rather than iron supplements. Pernicious Anemia is nothing to mess with- make sure your doctor is looking at all of your bloodwork.

    12. Redactle*

      As well as adding more iron, adding vitamin C at the same time increases the iron absorption – so a glass of orange juice with the meal will help. Tea and coffee inhibit iron absorption (see my old self who used to take an iron tablet with tea).

      But I agree with the others to check with a dr there’s nothing else going on – my iron deficiency anemia was put down to being a young woman who didn’t eat much meat for 15 YEARS until a new dr realised I was actually celiac, just didn’t have the classic symptoms.

      1. Bobina*

        Was going to mention this – my friend had other symptoms, but it was interesting to me that one of the ways they confirmed the coeliac diagnosis was when even taking iron supplements didnt improve their iron deficiency.

    13. Thunder Kitten*

      Lentils, beans, soy / tofu are high iron as well (good in protein too). You can add turmeric and cumin spices to your cooking as well. Make sure you consume foods with vitamin C alongside the iron – it helps absorbtion into the body.
      Look to cuisines that have historically been vegetarian friendly – indian, asian for interesting recipes.

    14. I take tea*

      Adding that I’ve read that dairy can bind the iron, as apparently also plant milk with added calcium. I also got told not to drink tea (or coffee) around two hours before and after taking my supplement. That was surprisingly hard. I drink a lot of tea.

    15. amoeba*

      Just to mention that spinach isn’t actually high in iron, that myth is down to a decimal point error in some list printed decades ago!

      Otherwise, seconding (thirding, whatever) the suggestion to check with your GP – mostly, also check your ferritin levels, not just the hemoglobin. Those are the stored iron in your body and you can see whether you’re low before you actually become anemic!

      Also, would definitely look into infusions, my ferritin was super low (although I wasn’t anemic) and my doctor basically said that it was super unrealistic to get it up just with oral supplements. It can apparently be quite hard to see a real effect there!

      And yes, do not take your iron supplements with milk (or plant milk, or coffee as well, I think)! This really hinders absorption. My best friend had super low iron for years and nobody could really figure it out, she even had a colonoscopy to check for other issues such as bleeding – until she stopped drinking a liter of milk per day. Since then, normal levels.

  45. CityMouse*

    This is a stretch but anyone familiar with Dusseldorf? I am going to be there for a couple days on a combo work/family trip and I’m looking for things to do with my preschooler. I see there’s an aquarium and animal park.

    1. Anne Kaffeekanne*

      I live in Düsseldorf!

      I haven’t been to the aquarium, so can’t speak to that, but the Wildpark Grafenberger Wald is lovely. Entry is free and loads of local animals to see. Bring carrots/apples to feed them – you can also buy kibble at the park but my nieces and nephews for some reason think it’s more fun if they brought their own veggies/fruits.

      The parking lot gets packed on weekends and becomes a nightmare to navigate, so I recommend coming early or taking the tram to/parking at Staufenplatz and then walking up through the forest – it’s about 20-25 minutes, and if you want to, plan a stop at one of the playgrounds in the forest (there’s several – I personally think Plagbergwiese has the most fun climbing but the slide at Hirschburgwiese is my niblings’ favourite. There’s at least 3 more I can think of off the top of my head, we once did an entire day of playground hopping).

      Hope this helps! I don’t have much more ideas for preschool kids unfortunately (although maybe a trip to the Neandertal Museum, if your preschooler likes museums? Also has a massive playground out front) .

      1. CityMouse*

        That sounds exactly up my kid’s alley. Which tram stop do you recommend? I see a couple relatively close.

        1. CityMouse*

          Never mind, I understand which stop you mean. If you just put it in maps it says to get off right next to the hospital, which I think seems off. That will 100% be on my to do list, I am there during the week so it shouldn’t be too crazy.

          My German is pretty much limited to “bitte” and “danke” but I’m going to try my best.

          Thank you!

          1. Anne Kaffeekanne*

            You could actually totally get off at the hospital stop (Gerresheim Krankenhaus, it’s the 709 or U83 tram) and then walk up the road (Ratinger Weg) and use the back entrance to the park – the gate’s open during the day, so maps isn’t wrong! I always come from the other side so this didn’t occur to me haha. If you do that, there is a shop by the station (Bauerngarten Benninghoven) which has a+ cakes, can recommend wholeheartedly.

    2. amoeba*

      I’m from there!

      The aquarium is pretty nice, was there on a recent visit. Quite crowded on the weekend but I’m sure it’s better on a weekday.

      If you’re into Japanese stuff (food, but also shops etc.) at all, check out the area around Immermannstr.! It’s the biggest Japanese community in Europe and has loads of great restaurants and other stuff.

      Bit outside (ca. 20 mins by train), but the Neanderthal is where the Neanderthal man was found. It has a great museum that I really liked as a child and also a park with “prehistoric” animals.

      Go up to the Rheinturm (the big tower) for the view.

      Schloss Benrath is a pretty little baroque masion with a great park, as well.

  46. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    How are your pets doing? Any recent fun stories, successes, new acquisitions?

    My “baby” Great Dane Abigail – we call her variations on “the woofapotamus” – is now just shy of 16 months old and had her first grown-up annual checkup and vaccinations yesterday. She’s been 115.x pounds every Friday for the last three months, so we’re pretty sure she’s full sized at this point, which puts her in on the small end of the normal range for lady Danes – so now she’s the Daintiest Woofapotamus. She’s calmed down quite a bit, though we’re not fully out of the velociraptor days yet, but I can see the couch potato times coming!

    Her big sister Alannah, who is half her size and will be 9 this fall, has learned a new trick – if she hears me say “Abigail Rose, LEAVE IT!” she grabs a tug toy, runs over and shakes it in Abigail’s face to help distract her. Cracks me up. (And she holds her own in the tug game too, despite being so much smaller!) She’s a sun puppy, so she likes to lay out on the deck – last week I went out there and she had propped a stick up against the deck railing and then lay down on her side so that the shade from the stick was exactly over her eye on the upward side.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      My cats have taken to sleeping on top of me.

      The Spanish Inquisition curls into a bend in my body, usually my knees. Very sweet, though if I attempt to turn over she can magically triple her weight.

      In contrast, Destructobot likes to perch atop me like I am a termite mound and she is a cheetah surveying the savannah of my bedroom.

      1. Pam Adams*

        I’ve had cats who liked to sleep on top of me like that. It requires careful negotiation when you want to turn over in the middle of the night.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Peanut likes to crawl between us, get belly rubs, then climb onto my “lap” (I’m lying on my back and it’s basically my lower belly) for a good snooze. It’s fine until I have to change positions and he gets all indignant and demands the belly rub routine again.

    2. Not A Manager*

      “She had propped a stick up against the deck railing and then lay down on her side so that the shade from the stick was exactly over her eye on the upward side.”

      That is adorable and also kind of scary. I’m glad she uses her powers for good.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I got a picture of it for the folks who are all “must have been a coincidence.” It’s not, you can tell. She is a very smart doggo :)

    3. Hotdog not dog*

      Best Good Dog had a good vet checkup. 2 1/2 years since his initial diagnosis and surgery for osteosarcoma, and he’s in pretty good shape for the shape he’s in. We’re starting him on a joint supplement to help with the arthritis which seems to bother him more than the cancer. I recently heard someone refer to Siberian Huskies as Frosted Mini Wolves, and it’s just the right description!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I’m so glad to hear he’s still doing well!! Which supplement are you using? We just started Alannah on cosequin as a precaution – vet says in her experience arthritis is less of an if than a when as dogs age, so hopefully starting her on something fairly early will help.

        1. Hotdog not dog*

          It’s called Movoflex. It’s too soon to say if it’s working, but he likes them. ( beef flavored chews, so as far as he knows he’s just getting an extra treat.)

      2. Dog and cat fosterer*

        There is a monthly injection for osteoarthritis called Librela that recently became available. I would recommend supplements first but it’s good to know there are options when the pain gets bad.

        Note that the best way to address arthritis is to have one’s dog at an ideal weight. I have a few neighbors who have arthritic dogs and ask me for advice yet ignore it when I find ways to kindly say that feeding less food would change their dog’s life. They finally stop asking but tell me about experts they visit for physio and pain management. It’s such a shame because the dog would have so much more energy if it weighed a bit less. I’m not suggesting anything about your dogs of course, they could easily be a good weight, but I mention it because it’s the easiest thing to do and even losing a few pounds can make a big difference with arthritis. I had an obese shepherd foster (a large dog) who would growl and try to snap anytime someone got near his front paws. After losing 10% of his initial weight he was running instead of shuffling painfully, after about 15% loss he was shaking paws (in other words excited to have people touch his paws), and after a 20% loss he was off painkillers. He eventually lost 40% of his original weight to be healthy, yet even his initial weight loss changed his life.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Our bud (a senior) was diagnosed with Horner’s Syndrome this week. (Basically a droopy eye, with the added “bonus” of his inner eyelid sometimes covering his retina.) Vet says it’s idiopathic (we did bloodwork just in case, everything came back looking good), not serious, and there’s no treatment. He’s not uncomfortable and it doesn’t seem to bother him too much, though I do think he’s confused because his sight has changed a bit. There’s an excellent chance it will just go away on its own, I just hate that he looks even sadder than usual.

      Poor baby tripped a couple of times on our walk this morning. That’s been happening more often because he gets tired and just doesn’t pay much attention to where he’s going, but he loves his long walks so much. We’re also at the point where he needs to be lifted into the car more often than not and he haaaaates it. I just have to remind myself constantly that he is just fine, he tells me when things aren’t ok, he’s still a happy bud, all that good stuff.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        My Elder Statesdog Gone Beyond had that (or at least a similar “inner eyelid covering the eye” type condition) for several years before she passed, and she never seemed to notice it, but it always made me nervous. It’s hard when they get older – do you think he could maybe learn to go up a ramp or steps into the car, like up onto a wooden box or something as an interim step?

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I think he could, but unfortunately we park in a building garage where the cars are a bit too close together to make it practical. We could try having him climb up and sit in the trunk (we have a station wagon, so it’s not a closed trunk) but he prefers the comforts of the backseat and I am reluctant to make him adjust to something that would be less comfortable. He’s barely 60 pounds so not super heavy. I really wish there was a way to get steps to try out, but all of our dog friends have puppies. I might try his daycare/trainer.

          The eye thing is just so sad. Everyone is so sympathetic and they feel so bad for him! He doesn’t care. He’ll take the extra rubbies.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Yeah, I couldn’t get her to use the ramp but I did end up switching her to the tailgate of my SUV instead of the backseat because it was easier on both of us to get her up into the lower space. I put a big cushy bed back there when she was going to ride with me. (Abigail has to ride back there now, because she’s too tall for the backseat – she bumps her head on the ceiling in the backseat :P )

    5. Chauncy Gardener*

      My (small) cat was lying on my (large) dog’s head yesterday. My dog was looking up at me like, “Really?? Is she really allowed to do this?” Fortunately he is a super patient dog, and pretty soon they went back to spooning per usual.

    6. SofiaDeo*

      Alert Dog who warns me of strangers walking down the street (doesn’t bark at people or dogs he knows) or people/strange vehicles stopped/parked in front of the house, is also so alert that on walks around the neighborhood in the winter, he “alerts” on each and every snowman the neighborhood kids make after a large snowfall. So recently, when a neighbor got a new, fairly large prominently placed lawn ornament, he went crazy warning me about the “new threat” on the street, the first few times he saw it hahahaha

      I get to enjoy this every few weeks regardless, we are on a “training route” for the Post Office and our route gets a new postal delivery person every 2 weeks. Just as he “learns” who the new person is……a new one arrives.

      1. Pippa K*

        My big hound barks ferociously at helicopters and passenger airliners, even leaping up to emphasize his point. To his credit, our home has never been attacked from the air.

    7. sewsandreads*

      My dog (8 years old but forever a pup in my eyes) is currently barking because 1. Crows have taken over our backyard and 2. Her other human is walking back from the gym and she can hear him, so naturally this is another reason she should tell the crows to go away.

      She’s plodding along, enjoying life, and will be a happy lady tonight when she’s surrounded by the extended family getting cuddles.

    8. Time for Tea*

      18 year old cat had a dental this week. I was expecting a bit of a massacre in his mouth given his age but there was only one broken tooth that was removed (that you could see from a quick look so we did know that one needed sorting out), and so far he’s recovering really well.

      He’s not the friendliest cat to live with, preferring his own space near you over actually being touched and will let you know the minute you overstep a boundary, but when we picked him up in the evening he had apparently spent all day being carried around and cuddled by the vet nurses. He always does that when he goes in making me look like a liar when I say he’s not a fussy cat!

  47. 2023*

    As of this week my cat and I are in another rental, by ourselves. Barely made it, everything is so expensive. Some kind people helped make it possible for us. I was seriously worried about becoming homeless, or having to re-home my cat.

    I’ve been renting a room for the last few years. I was a good roommate, considerate, took excellent care of her pets while she was