weekend open thread – July 1-2, 2023

Resident cat Wallace watches over foster cats Cherry and Norma. (Norma is sick but getting better.)

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: Barbara Isn’t Dying, by Alina Bronsky. A man who has relied on his wife to cook and clean for him his entire life needs to learn new skills when she takes to her bed. (My mom, who is named Barbara and was told last summer she would be dead by now but who — in an excellent turn of events — is very much alive, has been getting a tremendous kick out of the title. But I’d be recommending the book regardless because it’s great.)

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

{ 986 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. Btdt*

    I’ve been wondering how your mom was doing! Glad to hear that she’s still here and having some laughs :)

      1. sagewhiz*

        Wonderful news!

        Your mom might get a kick out of a top I bought my DIL—who is living with cancer—that reads “still living purely out of spite” When DIL used almost exactly that phrase on day, I quickly went on a search, found choices on amazon, and she hooted with delight when I gave it to her.

        1. Ladybugg*

          When I was diagnosed with cancer in 2011 I bought a tshirt from the musical Spamalot that read “I am not dead yet”.

        2. Kaerie*

          My teen daughter’s favorite shirt during her treatment said “My oncologist does my hair”.

        3. Middle Aged Lady*

          Pne of my friends ‘outlived’ hospice for a long time. She told me, “I never do what I am told! I refuse to die on their schedule!”

      2. Denise*

        I’m so happy. Cancer treatments are built out of tears and grief. My dad and his brothers died of pancreatic cancer. I want all the time you can possibly get. I want a successful treatment found if I get pancreatic cancer in 20-30 years.

      3. My Brain is Exploding*

        And not just extra time, but GOOD extra time. That’s some good news!

      4. Elizabeth West*

        I’m thrilled for you! *hugs* to your family and an extra one for your mom.

    1. Cancel or not?*

      This is such nice news. I’ve been thinking about Alison’s mom but didn’t want to ask. Also Barbara is one of those perfect era names. It’ll be interesting when Barbara, Lisa, Susan and Debbie all become baby names. Karen is doomed though, I think!

    2. Dicey Tillerman*

      Oh, Alison, this is wonderful to hear!!! Everything you’ve shared about your mom makes me think she’s a pretty badass woman :)

      1. the cat's ass*

        echoing all the above and glad she’s getting extra quality time with you all

    3. Esprit de l'escalier*

      This really is wonderful news, but I missed it. Where is it posted?

  3. Invisible fish*

    So for the folks who recommended A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet … and the next 3 books … does reading about the choices the Exodans made to ensure a classless society and survive give you hope (because we as a species really are capable of that) or drag you down (because we as a species *could* do that but aren’t)? I vacillate between the two as I wait for the 4/last book in the series to pop up in my library queue.

    1. Ahnon4Thisss*

      This doesn’t answer your question, but have you read her other series, Monk & Robot? Amazing imo.

      1. RC*

        I love everything she’s written. “To be taught, if fortunate” is the other standalone.

        I want to live in her world, any of her worlds, and I try not to dwell on the fact that we haven’t built that world ourselves because I know that would not be a good path for me to go down mentally. I just swim in the prose.

        1. RC*

          I think I *do* find it hopeful that all of her worlds are clearly achievable from where we are now. Like, the Exodans and Monk and Robot societies all came as a response to some horrific ecological damage, and it is hopeful to think that we could actually learn.

      2. Invisible fish*

        On my list!! I’ve pestered so many ppl to read the books I have read so far I figured I should follow my own advice about that other series!

    2. Donkey Hotey*

      For me, it is pure, unrefined hope-ium which i inject straight into me veins. It doesn’t bother me that we aren’t there yet because, in a sense, her books are part of the blueprint to hire e could get there. I love her work and recommend it to everyone.

      1. GoryDetails*

        “pure, unrefined hope-ium” – I love that! And, yes, that’s how I feel about her work.

      2. Donkey Hotey*

        gah! “part of the blueprint of how we could get there.” stupid fingers.

  4. Pearl Puffin*

    The other day on either Instagram or Twitter I saw a crochet hook that was made ergonomic by a common household item. I cannot find where I saw it or what it was. has anyone else seen that?

    1. MissCoco*

      I’ve seen tennis balls and makeup sponges, usually people will stack a couple and squash them together to make them firmer

    2. Patsy*

      There is someone on TikTok that sells chunky foam handles for crochet hooks. My friend swears by them.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      subreddit r/crochet has discussed a lot of workarounds from asking tape to Sculpie.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      They’re still officially Cheerio and Nermal (named by the rescue group we foster through) but we have nicknamed them Cherry and Norma.

      In foster kitty news: Norma was diagnosed with FIP last week (don’t worry, this isn’t going to be sad news). Previously FIP was always fatal, usually very quickly, but there is now a treatment (84 days of shots!). It’s not approved for use in cats in the U.S. and you have to get it from an underground market. But we’ve started it and she’s already improved enormously.

      A week ago, we were questioning whether she was going to make it. But now, just six days into treatment, she is not only moving around again, but also playing, eating voraciously, bathing herself, and just overall seeming much happier. It’s looking like she’s going to be okay — we’re hugely relieved.

      More on the situation with FIP treatment here — it’s truly ridiculous:

      https://abc7.com/cats-covid-coronavirus-cure/6253361/

      1. QOTM*

        So glad I saw this, I once lost a newly adopted kitten to FIP, I had no idea there’s a treatment now!

      2. Enough*

        But the real question is how long are you going to foster till you admit defeat and official add them to the family?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          We are determined not to foster fail because really want to be able to keep fostering cats, which would be harder if we kept them! The rescue we work with rescues a lot of cats who have been sitting in shelter cages for a while, and they can only help as many cats as they have foster homes to put them in … so I really, really want to be able to keep fostering since our doing that means fewer cats in cages. But I do know our track record on this…

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            But also, if I can encourage others here to foster too, please do! You can be directly responsible for more animals getting out of cages and into homes, and it’s incredibly rewarding!

            We got sucked back in this time because I contacted a bunch of rescue groups to ask if I could make a large donation that would specifically go toward getting more cats into foster homes, and they all said, “It’s not a money issue, it’s a lack of foster homes issue.” So here we are. So if anyone reading can be a foster home, I hope you will seriously consider it!

            1. Antagonistic Kittens*

              Does one have to have pets of a specific temperament to foster cats? Our current cats are not friends with each other (we still get about one hissing, running fight a day), but one was barely friends either us for months at first.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                We are lucky in that our cats like other cats, which makes it a lot easier. But I think you can still foster as long as your cats don’t stay outright hostile. Some hostility at first is normal, of course — but if they’d settle down and coexist reasonably peacefully, you’d be okay.

                If they wouldn’t, another option is to offer yourself as a more short-term resource — so if one of their longer-term foster homes is going on vacation, or they just need an interim place before they find a more stable place, you could be the person who takes the cats for the weekend or week or so forth (as long as you have a room where you could keep them separate from your resident cats). Even just doing that a few times a year could be a big help.

              2. Sloanicota*

                I’d say all you really need is designated space you can shut off. I also foster and the suggestion is typically to keep the new cats away from your cats for at least two weeks (not everyone chooses to do this, but I have always been grateful I did, because most of the kitties I foster are coming off the streets and it turns out they have picked up various stomach ailments / other contagious diseases). I often do not introduce my fosters to my residents at all because I do teeny kittens which start off closed in a bathroom and then get the run of the guest room. It’s still far more space than they’d get in the shelter.

                1. Jackalope*

                  Hah! This brings back memories. We tried that with our two youngest; we brought them home when they were 9 weeks old. We learned that a) after the first few days they had NO interest in remaining peacefully in the guest room (which we had of course set up as a tiny kitten paradise, with toys, scratching posts, things to climb, etc.), and b) it is harder than it seems to contain two tiny kittens who have no interest in being contained and who have nothing better to do than wait by the door until we open it!

              3. Cat and dog fosterer*

                Foster cats should be kept separate for at least 2 weeks and rescues would be happy if you have a separate room. Talk to them about options for short-term fostering.

                Also keep in mind that some cats will cause more problems. Unfixed or recently fixed males might smell, and there are fosters who can’t intake males unless they arrived in care already fixed (it takes up to a month to get the testosterone out of their bodies). Other cats don’t want adults in the home but kittens are okay.

                If your cats aren’t getting along well then I would suggst trying with young kittens, if you do at all. One of our rescuers fosters because she can’t stop, but her cats are a delicate balance and fostering can offset that balance. She can’t foster males at all.

                I don’t want to discourage you but it isn’t worth your cats being worse off!

            2. Elansha*

              Has anyone with kids fostered cats? It sounds like something that might work for us, but I’m not sure if it would be too hard on my daughter (7 years old)–we don’t have pets but she loves cats…

              1. JSPA*

                maybe read some of the “hotel cat” books together? There’s a helpful constant theme (sometimes foreground, sometimes background) of (cats) making others feel welcome, whether their stay is short or long. But it’ll 100% depend on your particular kid. How is she with a “lovey” object that’s been lost or has decayed past saving? How is she when saying goodbye to a friend? Is she fine with petting cats on a walk, then moving on, or is it always drama to get moving again?

              2. Cat and dog fosterer*

                Several of my fellow fosterers have kids that age and no pets. I don’t know what conversations they had at the start, but they explain that all cats coming into the home are rescues that will go to other homes. They also volunteer for a rescue where fosters meet adopters, so the kids meet the family who are grateful for their gift of fostering.

          2. Cj*

            we live on an acreage, and over the last 30 years we have had many stray dogs and cats show up. (we always drive around and check with the neighbors and put up posters to see if we can find their owner.)

            there are a few that we intended to keep from the start, but meant to find homes for the rest of them. we found homes for something like for five oor six, and couldn’t give up the rest. If we tried to officially foster, I’m sure they would all be foster fails.

            like Alison, we currently have six cats. we did actually adopt one from a Humane Society because our tuxedo cat that looks exactly like Alison’s Hank died a few years ago, and we really wanted another tuxedo. the rest just sort of appeared.

        2. Cj*

          that was my first thought. and my second one was “didn’t they have different names?”, which was asked and answered above.

      3. RMNPgirl*

        Glad to hear it’s working. I lost the first kitten I got as an adult living on my own to FIP when he was 19 months old (I’d had him since he was 4 months). It was horrible and I still feel the grief 12 years later.
        I’m happy to know there’s now a treatment/cure even if it does require an underground market.

      4. ThatGirl*

        I have a friend who went through the black market to save her kitty, and I know she’s glad she did — but it really is a ridiculous kind of thing.

        1. Cj*

          there might be a logical, scientific reason that it’s not approved for cats in the US, but I sure can’t think of one, since they will die without treatment. if it turns out that the treatment kills them, the end result is the same, and if the treatment works, the end result is awesome.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            My understanding is that the company that holds the patent doesn’t want it licensed for use in cats in the US because of the risk that data from animal trials could slow down its approval for humans.

            1. Cj*

              I read the article you linked to above after I saw your answer here. I noticed it was dated
              in 2020, so I Googled the covid medication it was talking about (can’t spell it!).

              I read the information that is put out by the manufacturer, which should be current, and it says it is FDA approved. it doesn’t say it’s only approved for emergency use, but I suppose that could be the case.

              if it is totally FDA approved, the company doesn’t have that excuse anymore. if trials are needed to study the FIP medication in cats, they should at least be conducting those now. and maybe they are, (it’s too late at night for me to want look it up), but I figured Alison got her information from the organization they are fostering for, and from her post it sounded like they are not conducting cat trials at this time.

              and oh my goodness – 8 to $10,000? I spent between 5 and $6,000 on a dog that had bloat back in 2004 when my wages were a lot less, and $600 on a sick cat in 1982 when my monthly gross pay was $635, so it’s not like I haven’t done it, but that’s an awful lot of money.

              it’s great that there is an organization that helps people with leftover vials get them to the people that need it. I’m going to save that article so I have it if we ever have a cat with FIP.

              and it’s awesome that an AAM community member offered their extras to Allison.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                It’s not that much anymore, fortunately. The price varies based on the cat’s weight and type of FIP but typically it’s between $1000 and $3000 now.

                Also, that’s interesting about approval for humans! So my info on why it’s not been approved for cats sounds like it’s out of date. I’d like to know what the reason is now then, since it’s very much not approved for cats here yet (although I believe it is in the UK).

                1. Cj*

                  that’s still a lot of money, but much more reasonable, and something we could actually afford.

        2. Cj*

          an illegal black market, or you just have to order it from a country where it is approved?

          i’d get it even if it was an illegal market to save my cat, I am just curious.

      5. Double A*

        Allison, my cat had FIP and fully recovered! I actually posted here for advice. Actually, I have some extra medicine from his treatment and I would love to pass it on, it’s two vials. Can I email you about this?

  5. RMNPgirl*

    What are everyone’s plans for the weekend and 4th (if you’re in the US or if you’re an American abroad do you do anything)?

    I’m going to a cookout Sunday but nothing on Tuesday. It’s my first 4th with the 1 year old cat I adopted in February. I always get lots of fireworks set off near my neighborhood and I’m not sure how she’ll react so I want to be home with her just in case.

    I also decided not to take Monday off because 1 – I work remote and 2 – most people at my company are off so I get to save PTO and end up with not much to do anyways.

    1. WellRed*

      I took it off (seriously corporate overlords? Just give us the day). I know I won’t get anything done so why pretend? No specific plans but four days off? Hallelujah! Might do some extra housework and organizing. Stuff like that. Rainy weather predicted.

        1. Business Pajamas*

          As another remote worker I suspect the distinction is something like if she had to get dressed and commute into the office it would be worth using a day of PTO, but working from home in casual wear uninterrupted and/or catching up on low priority tasks, she’d rather save the PTO for something better.

          1. Clisby*

            Yeah, I hardly ever took off July 4 when I was working – it’s just not a holiday I care anything about. Working July 4 meant I could take off a day some other time, when it suited me.

        2. Sloanicota*

          Hiking, if the heat/smoke cooperates! I’m also going to do the Thing That We Do Not Mention on the Weekend Thread on Tuesday, which I think will help me catch up since I’ll be the only one doing That, but I’m planning a long outing with the dog to wear him out, and maybe a fireworks display on the evening of the 3rd. Like you said, I want to be home with the dog on the 4th. He doesn’t actually seem that concerned by fireworks this year, but I wouldn’t want to leave him alone and have him freak out.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            We make a ‘Murrican meal; usually hot dogs and beans with corn on the cob. Usually we have strawberry shortcake but this year we’re trying a kind of strawberry biscuit casserole that’s in our latest Cuisine magazine. We also watch a movie like Predator or Commando or anything else that is kind of Stereotype America.

            We don’t bother going to the fireworks because it’s a crowded nightmare and with the busses on a holiday schedule it’s too much trouble. I like watching them on TV with the comfort of an adult beverage, though!

        1. Once too Often*

          For many, but not all. Thank the people working in the stores you shop at, gas stations you use, restaurant/coffee shop/etc where you stop for a meal or a drink, etc. Tip well, as appropriate, & ask for a manager to compliment staff who merit it elsewhere.

        2. Clisby*

          At least in the states I’ve lived in in the US, “public holiday” means nothing unless you’re a public employee. For example, I’ve never worked anywhere that gave all the federal holidays off.

      1. Stephanie*

        I’m salaried white collar, but my company has a large hourly unionized workface. Union negotiated Monday off as a holiday and it’s just a company holiday. Glad for that because tomorrow would have been joke work day.

      2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I wish I had took Monday off but I don’t think I could have gotten everyone in on just three days. I only do things that need to be in person in person.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Might get together with my dad on Sunday. On Tuesday we’re hoping to go to a local living history site, where they have a wonderful day-long program with costumed historical interpreters who do skits, speeches, and presentations about key figures from the Revolution, notable presidents, and cultural experiences from US history.

      For example, sometimes they have a WWII swing dance with GIs and WACs, or a Colonial ball with Martha Washington.

      In the evening they have live music and fireworks. It’s a great time.

    3. California Dreamin'*

      We are celebrating the birth of our nation in the birthplace of our nation! (Visiting Philadelphia for a few days.) On the 4th specifically, we’ll be at the National Constitution Center and the Liberty Bell (though we may get scared off by long lines there) and then will be able to see the big fireworks over the Museum of Art from our hotel room!
      We have two cats that we adopted in mid-July of last year, and I’m really sad about leaving them alone (wonderful catsitter will come twice a day, so not truly alone.) The country club a few blocks from us sets off fireworks on their golf course, and I’m worried that the kitties will be terrified. Oh well, what can you do.

      1. These tables are filthy!*

        You can see the bell from outside the building if the lines are too nuts. I really like what the NPS has done with Independence Mall and the displays outside, just across Market from the bell.

        Enjoy the fireworks! The set list for the concert beforehand looks pretty good this year.

        In case you haven’t seen it here’s a list of free museum days this week:

        https://www.visitphilly.com/articles/philadelphia/free-museum-days-philadelphia-attractions-wawa-welcome-america/

        1. California Dreamin’*

          Thanks! The Constitution Center is free on the 4th, so that seemed like an awesome activity for the day! My kids are going into APUSH next year, so they’re kind of excited about seeing so much American history stuff (we’re also doing Independence Hall and the Museum of the American Revolution.)

          1. Chilipepper Attitude*

            That’s so cool! Is it their first AP? I’m trying to think of helpful advice beyond take lots of pictures. I taught AP Euro and a few of my students visited Europe after our class and they were so excited to tell me they saw things we talked about. Mostly just have fun! But if each kid has a fav or a thing that interests them, do some googling to find out more (to model researching a thing) and to find different POVs about the event/thing. If you were rich or poor or black or white or a man or a woman, did you have the same POV about it? Or what led to a thing/event, what thing or event happened bc of it.

            Sorry, got my inner history teacher excited! Have fun!

            1. California Dreamin’*

              Thanks! They had AP Euro and AP World last year (two different schools.) My daughter who struggled to connect to AP Euro is excited about exploring history that she has a little more base understanding of. Encouraging them to think from different perspectives is a great tip!

    4. Rara Avis*

      My husband’s cousin is holding her first 4th party in 4 years. (Say that 5 times fast.) So we’ll go to the parade and then to her house for swimming, horseshoes, salsa and dessert contests, and lots of good food.

    5. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Currently out of town, flying home Sunday. Monday we sleep and do laundry. Tuesday we’re going to a cookout with friends. Nothing exciting.

    6. Missb*

      This weekend we are having dinner with one set of neighbors and then dessert/drinks with another set (and bringing along the first couple).

      For the 4th, no plans. Probably bbq. We aren’t really into the fireworks. We will hear the big displays. And a few of our neighbors will light off ones that are definitely not legal. We are outside of city limits and the sheriff office is spread too thin so we just grin and bear it.

      Honestly I’d love to be back in Bath, England for the 4th. No reason, just a long ago 4th spent there and really enjoyed the peace and quiet.

      1. Me... Just Me (as always)*

        weekend in Nashville for some music and libation. Then, good ol’ pool party & bbq at my brother’s house on the 4th. fireworks later.

      2. These tables are filthy!*

        We were in Iceland last year and the lack of fanfare was wonderful.

    7. ecnaseener*

      Going to lunch and a matinee show with a friend on Sunday, and then on Tuesday night I think I’ll be able to wrangle at least one friend into watching the fireworks with me!

    8. gsa*

      Going to eat lunch on the 4th with a newfound friend.

      The cat will figure it out. Can you probably react to your own feelings. Let the cat be a cat. If you want to run and hide, let it…

      1. Cj*

        Are there “thunder shirts” for cats like there are for dogs? they work really well on most dogs for fireworks.

        hiding would probably make a cat feel safer. my concern is that if they think the noise is inside the house, they will dash out the door and run away.

        since OP doesn’t yet know how their cat will react, I would keep it confined during the fireworks. in a room with a litter box and water, of course, and maybe their favorite toy.

    9. fposte*

      I am driving to Chicago for an ill-timed doctor’s appointment that leaves me trying to avoid thousands of departing NASCAR fans.

        1. fposte*

          Thanks. I was actually in Chicago last weekend and there was an odd mix of Pride and prep for this bizarre NASCAR street race in the middle of the city. Getting through it was slooow (ironically, since NASCAR). I’m hoping they’ll at least be going in the opposite direction from me but I’m leaving plenty of time.

          1. Cj*

            a NASCAR street race? that’s a new one to me! I’m going to have to see if I can find a video of it.

            1. Cj*

              just realized you said prep for the race, and it hasn’t been run yet. I’ll have to watch at least part of it live.

              1. fposte*

                There was a prep race yesterday morning and it looks like the main event is today at 4:30 CDT. I may have to have a look myself–it’s such an odd concept.

          2. Stephanie*

            Detroit had a race (not NASCAR) downtown. I pretty much avoided it, but Detroit’s downtown is also a fraction of the size of Chicago’s.

      1. SaraV*

        I’m visiting my parents in the Chicago ‘burbs right now, and I’m SO glad I don’t have to go downtown until the actual 4th to take the train home.

    10. PhyllisB*

      My “Baby” girl is coming in today from IL. It’s the first time she’s been home in four years. Her 36th birthday is tomorrow so we’ll will get to celebrate with her.
      This will be the first time I will have all my children and all but one of my grandchildren together. (Sadly, one remains in prison. )
      But excited to have the others. Looking forward to seeing the changes in the IL grandchildren, photos just aren’t enough!! (Guess I should have posted this under the Joy’s thread. :-)

    11. Bunny Girl*

      Drug all the animals and myself and my boyfriend will probably rejoice at the quiet house.

    12. Nona Selah*

      The Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta is always on the 4th and this year I am finally running it! And then later I’ll make strawberry shortcake and soothe the dog. That’s about it. I’m not taking Monday off either. It’ll be nice and quiet and keep me in the groove of getting up early so Tuesday morning isn’t a shock.

    13. Zephy*

      I think we’re having some kind of picnic lunch/dinner, either tomorrow or Tuesday, not sure. I need to ask my MIL what, if anything, she wants me to make for it. The menu usually involves, like, burgers and hot dogs and potato salad and such. I’ve got some cookie dough in the freezer I could throw in the oven, or I could do something else, but I’m betting the grocery stores are going to be pretty picked-over if I wait too long.

      We can see most of the big fireworks shows in our area from our backyard, so that’s usually what we do for fireworks-involving holidays rather than go out somewhere, much to the chagrin of the resident tiny dog. But he’s fine as long as he’s got his bravery shirt on and MIL is close by.

      My work schedule is now set up such that I have every Monday off and work half-days Saturday, so I’m in the Forbidden Zone right now, but I’ll be out of here in about two hours and then back on Wednesday, so I got me a nice little 3 1/2 day weekend.

    14. RussianInTexas*

      Traditional lunch with friends in a Brazilian (ha!) churrascaria, then whole lot of nothing, then fireworks in the town’s park, it’s only 12 houses away.
      Not taking Monday off, because like you I am remote and there will be nothing to do, no point of burning a PTO when I can do a bunch of the household stuff without doing so anyway.
      Partner IS taking the whole week off because he had side ridiculous amount of PTO and is planning on doing some home repairs, plus spending Wednesday smoking various meats that we’ll be taking to the long (Thursday-Sunday) board games weekend with friends in Austin.

    15. I don't mean to be rude, I'm just good at it*

      We take our food truck to humongous festival every July 4 and make bank. Last night after I parked our truck after an event, all the antifreeze leaked out of it. (Not good) I’m waiting for the tow truck and hoping it’s a quick fix, but I have a feeling it will be a day of cutting grass and having a family bbq.

    16. GoryDetails*

      I don’t usually do anything special for the 4th, though in the past I have enjoyed some pretty great fireworks displays – both at the local ballparks (which offer great visibility if you can get a seat) and once in Boston, including the Boston Pops concert on the Esplanade, with the “1812 Overture” leading into cannon fire and then the full fireworks display. (That was fun, with a group of friends to help stake out spots earlier in the day and take turns running for refreshment, holding the spot while others took restroom breaks, etc., but I don’t think I could manage that much time in a crowd anymore.)

    17. Donkey Hotey*

      Working Monday because
      1 Monday is always a remote day.
      2 Everyone else in my team is taking Monday off.
      3 I’m the junior person, so I have less PTO then they do.

      As to plans, my wife is traveling until Sunday, so i get a weekend off pizza and Shakespeare (I’m on a quest to read and see all 37 in three years.)

    18. Can't Sit Still*

      Monday & Tuesday are paid days off for me, so I’m taking the rest of the week as vacation. I have a huge TBR pile of books and I have some house stuff to do. I am oddly excited about the house stuff – I’ve been a homeowner for almost a whole year now! I also have some knitting and weaving projects should I run out of books.

      My cats don’t really care one way or the other about fireworks, thankfully. Oddly, it’s apparently legal to sell fireworks in my city, but it’s illegal to set them off.

    19. run mad; don't faint*

      Our local pool usually has a cookout and potluck. But they sent out an announcement that it’s been postponed because of the excessive heat. So we probably won’t do much, just grill some hotdogs or chicken and hang out inside. It really is hot!

    20. Seashell*

      The rest of my household is going out of town, so I’m doing pet care. I plan to read, catch up on my TV/movie watching without interruptions, and probably watch the fireworks on TV.

    21. Trina*

      I don’t normally do anything special for the 4th, but since it runs into prep for the semi-annual charity marathon/meet-up of my online friend group, a bunch of us are just going out a day early so we can do BBQ and fireworks.

    22. Potatoes gonna potate*

      My office gave us Monday off. I was going to spend the two days doing self care stuff, but I think I’ll be doing Instacart. We’re not sure about Tuesday, there’s fireworks in the park that I want to see but I’m not sure if the baby will be scared of them. I mostly dread holidays now.

    23. Quality Girl*

      We’re doing something fun for the first time in five years. It’ll be our 4yo’s first fun 4th. We’re going on a flashlight hike up the foothills right off our friends’ house to watch the fireworks in town. It’ll be three families with kiddos all around the same age. I’m stoked!

    24. Gyne*

      Avoiding family who had a covid exposure and asking my “feelings” about getting together while they’re supposed to be isolating. (um, my “feelings” are that we should all follow the cdc guidelines, such as they are…)

      Taco potluck at the office on Monday, then going hiking on Tuesday because I already worked my holiday weekend over Memorial Day and it’s my partner’s turn to cover- yay!

    25. Bluebell*

      Spending the weekend at the family cabin, and being grateful the air quality is good. On Monday I’ll be back home helping a college roommate (who lives down south) get her daughter settled in her apt in a city near me. Tuesday will be pretty calm but we might go to our towns Fourth of July picnic. Then later in the week, friend and I are heading up to VT for a few days, which should be very fun.

    26. OtterB*

      We went to see 1776 at the Kennedy Center today (Saturday). One of my favorite musicals, apt for the season, and an excellent production. No particular plans otherwise. My husband is working Monday but I’m not – my office closed for the day as a thank you for a lot of work while shorthanded over the spring.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Loved that production! Saw in NYC last year. On Monday night or Tuesday I’ll watch the movie – personal tradition – and we’re going to a BBQ with friends Tuesday evening. Earlier in the day on Tuesday I’ll get to hang with one of my besties – we’ve both been traveling and we usually see each other at least once a week and I can’t wait to have a good long talk.

    27. goddessoftransitory*

      We make a ‘Murrican meal; usually hot dogs and beans with corn on the cob. Usually we have strawberry shortcake but this year we’re trying a kind of strawberry biscuit casserole that’s in our latest Cuisine magazine. We also watch a movie like Predator or Commando or anything else that is kind of Stereotype America.

      We don’t bother going to the fireworks because it’s a crowded nightmare and with the busses on a holiday schedule it’s too much trouble. I like watching them on TV with the comfort of an adult beverage, though!

    28. Elizabeth West*

      I had it in mind to go downtown and wander around and play tourist — I’ve been here for two months and haven’t done or seen anything! And this entire weekend is the country’s largest Fourth of July festival, Boston Harborfest — it runs through Tuesday and I took Monday off. :)

      I can read a subway map easily thanks to all my time on the London tube, so if I get lost, it’s no biggie. As long as I can get back to the Orange line, I can get home. However, today, I ended up cleaning closets (I have one big clothes closet and one tiny storage closet). It needs to be done and I didn’t finish but I did get a lot done in the bedroom and culled more donation stuff.

    29. KuddelDaddeldu*

      I’m doing my tax return (late, but not too late where I live). I had procrastinated too long… not fun but needs doing.

    30. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      Just did my tax return (belatedly, but not too late where I live).
      For us here in Germany, it’s just a normal weekend. I’d really like to get a day off for all the various independence days around the world, there must be over a hundred!
      On the other hand, July 4th is my anniversary, nicely tying this in to another thread today :-)

    31. The Other Dawn*

      My husband is going camping today and coming home Tuesday, so I’m thinking I’ll empty out the closets (it’s 99% my stuff anyway).

      I started buying some new clothes and travel items for an October NE/Canada cruise and also for a Caribbean cruise in January. As I’m bringing these new clothes and items home/receiving packages, I’m realizing I have no closet or drawer space left, nor do I have any free clothes hangers anywhere in the house. Much of the clothing I have now I tend not to wear, either because it no longer fits (gained some weight) or I was just never thrilled with it to begin with. Time for a massive cleanout.

      I have to work Monday. I’m working from home at the moment since I’m still recovering from hip replacement surgery. I don’t have any spare PTO to use, so I have to work. Seeing as how many people are taking PTO in the company, it will be a slow day so no big deal. I plan to get stuff done while still doing some small work tasks and monitoring email and the phone.

      Tuesday I’ll just wait for my husband to get home and maybe hit the diner later on or something. No cookouts.

    32. epizeugma*

      I’m in the negative on PTO so not taking Monday off, but I have Tuesday as a company holiday—I just moved and will be using the day to unpack/reorganize!

  6. Forgotten Username*

    Anniversaries – do you celebrate them? If so, what do you do? Or do you have any suggestions for us?

    My partner and I have never celebrated our anniversary (of when we started dating), mostly because we are not really anniversary-celebrating type people. But this year will be our 10th, which seems like one of those bigger years, and I feel like I want to acknowledge it in some way, but neither of us really has an idea what to do. I don’t really like to eat in restaurants since COVID started, and we have a dog I would like to include in the day if possible. Weather may be bad for outdoor activities however – otherwise we would just do a hike and enjoy that.

    1. RagingADHD*

      My husband and I have a tradition of forgetting our wedding anniversary, because we both have the same affliction about dates. If asked, we could tell you the date we got married immediately. But we never realize “that’s today!” until pretty late in the day.

      So we usually wind up doing something low key like a card or a bottle of wine.

    2. DannyG*

      My late wife and I celebrated our first date anniversary as well as our wedding anniversary. I would send her flowers at work for the former, one rose for every year. We got to 30. Wedding anniversary was usually travel. Multiples of 5 were big trips: long weekend at Grand Hotel for the 10th, Broadway for a week for the 15th. Renewed our vows at 20 (with foster daughter as maid of honor) because we didn’t know if she would make it to the traditional 25. Didn’t make 30, but I still bring her flowers on the first date anniversary.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        “I still bring her flowers on the first date anniversary”

        This making me a bit teary. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    3. Middle Aged Lady*

      We used to live about a mile from the place where we kissed for the first time, which we considered our dating anniversary. We used to walk to the site on that date, and kiss.
      We have stopped celebrating and only do the actual wedding anniversary. Sometimes just a card, sometimes flowers and candy, sometimes dinner out. Just depends on work schedules, mainly. Now that I see your sweet post, I planto revive the kissing anniversary, though we live far away from ‘the spot.’ I am sure I can find somewhere suitable.

    4. Anniversaries*

      I used to ask my husband to send me flowers at work because I got a lot more mileage out of them that way :) He was a good sport and did it, often without being reminded. We also used to go out to dinner, pre-Covid. Now I write him a gushy note the night before so he’ll see it when he has breakfast (he’s an early riser, I’m not). We’ve been married over 50 years and just surviving to another anniversary together is its own gift, one I no longer take for granted.

    5. Rara Avis*

      27 for us yesterday. We try to go out for dinner, usually. We travelled back to our honeymoon location for our 10th and to a really fun family arts camp for our 20th (with kid in tow.) We started talking about saving up to travel internationally for our 30th.

    6. Cookies For Breakfast*

      We don’t make a big deal out of anniversaries, though marking them, even briefly, feels nice.

      We don’t do gifts, instead we pick something nice to do together that is easy to arrange at short notice (usually a meal out at a place that is new to us). And as is custom for celebrations in this household, we choose a cake to bake together and have it ready on the day we want to celebrate.

      None of this has to happen on a specific date, usually whichever the closest weekend is. We remember the time of the year we got together, but the specific day got lost over the years, and not even our families and closest friends know when it’s coming up (we used to remember two different dates, a couple of days apart, but we’re so chill about anniversaries, we stopped trying to get it right long ago).

    7. vombatus ursinus*

      If you both enjoy it and work well in the kitchen together, I would suggest cooking a nicer-than-usual meal together at home. That way you don’t have to go out but it still feels a bit special.

      My partner and I also like to look back through our photos from the past year on our anniversary or New Year’s Eve to reflect on nice things we’ve shared and if there’s anything different we want to prioritise for the next year :)

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      If the weather is going to be crappy, is there either a fun thing (binging Wednesday) or practical thing (painting that room) that you could do at home with the dog?

      For our anniversary we are going away for the weekend with our dog. After googling to find the new way to limit airbnb searches to those that allow pets (it’s under “Who’s Coming”) I put in a search for the weekend at a few locations that seemed appealing within a 2-4 hour drive, and we are going to to the one on a farm where most of the reviews are “Our dog loved this.” Not that we live only for our dog, but that a chill spot with little traffic and a lot of space to roam around and a pond to jump in if you want to be a swamp thing (this last part does not apply to me) is right up our alley. Lots of hiking nearby, but chilling in the rental with books or Netflix is a fine backup plan.

      Many years ago we watched our niece and nephew so my brother- and sister-in-law could go into a hotel in the city for their anniversary, which my husband thought was weird. But then we bought a house and had kids, and when you’re home there are usually chores that you really should be doing. In a hotel, those chores aren’t there! So we grasped the appeal of giving yourself a 1-2 day trip to where the chores are not.

    9. gsa*

      We always do some thing we did the first time around.

      I met her because some mutual friends said we should, cuz we were both tall!!!

      Think back to some of the things you first did together and recreate one.

      After 10yrs you should have more than two ideas.

      Congrats on 10 years together.

    10. PhyllisB*

      We will celebrate our 47th this year. The first year we were married we did a “mini ” celebration each month (gotta love newly weds!!) Then on the actual day we would either schedule a trip (we would take vacation the week of) or during the Baby Years when it was harder to schedule getaways we we just go out for a really nice dinner with champagne and the whole works.
      This year we didn’t do anything. I was still recovering from my hip replacement and was using a walker…this year I don’t know. We don’t do gifts anymore because at our age we don’t really need anything, but hubby always gives me flowers and a card regardless.

    11. SuprisinglyADHD*

      My partner and I rarely celebrate anniversaries or birthdays ON the date. We pick something we want to do and then schedule it for some convenient time (usually 1-3 weekends later). Our favorites have been cooking a special dinner or going to do some cool thing! This year we both forgot our anniversary till a week later.

    12. Happy Anniversary!*

      I’ve been married 42 years. When we got married, we decided we weren’t going to do gifts, because we saw how people got too worked up about that. So we get cards (sometimes; we haven’t lately…just discuss a week before, “hey, are we doing cards?”). We usually try to get lunch or dinner out (but no big, fancy, expensive places). Sometimes we’ll get something we both want, sometimes we’ll go to a museum, sometimes we have a trip planned and just call it “anniversary.” And, of course, anniversary sex!

    13. RussianInTexas*

      We do, just a nicer dinner than usual. Something interesting and/or new.
      We were friends first, had a drunk one night stand, went to breakfast next day, and it’s been 11 years now. We consider the evening before the breakfast The Date.
      It’s always easy to Google the day, the opening ceremony of London Olympics.

    14. Donkey Hotey*

      We celebrate Schmoop-Iversary season (all three important dates all happen in one week – spread across different years). These days, it’s a day together, often with a nice meal. Nothing huge, just together.

    15. The Coolest Clown Around*

      This week is only the second anniversary for my husband and I, but last year (and our plan this year) is to try to take a day off – or the weekend if we can’t – and do a video game marathon together. Then we do dinner at the restaurant we went to the day he proposed – medium-dressy so nice food but not crazy expensive and we don’t feel pressured to wear anything special if we don’t feel like it

    16. the cat's pajamas*

      If you like hiking, I think you should do that. No need to cave to societal pressure, you do you.

      If you want to do something to make it extra special that could be an option, like maybe going to a new trail, or bringing an extra fancy meal or something like that.

      You could also do something creative, like writing ten things you like about each other, make a scrapbook etc.

      Happy Anniversary!

    17. Pieforbreakfast*

      We just celebrated our wedding 13 last Sunday, and both of us realized it the Friday before. We don’t do anything grand to celebrate but do try to do something different than a usual day would entail. So if it falls on a weekday we eat a nicer meal, play a game or go to a movie vs TV and reading. On a weekend go to a museum or event or…
      This year ended up being on the day of a hot air balloon festival we’ve always talked about going to so we actually went, afterwards went to a nearby natural area to walk and relax. On the way home we stopped at a new Asian supermarket to explore and found dinner ingredients (along with a lot of interesting snacks).

    18. Seashell*

      Our anniversary is close to my birthday, so we usually do an anniversary/birthday dinner out.

      1. allathian*

        That’s what my parents also did, my mom got married two days before her 22nd birthday, and my dad proposed on her 21st.

        I’m very bad with dates, I don’t even remember the exact date of our first date, so we don’t celebrate that. I also don’t care at all about celebrating either birthdays or anniversaries on the exact date, at least not unless it happens to fall on a Friday or Saturday. Instead, we try to schedule a date night with a movie and a dinner in a sit-down restaurant, we did that again this year, for the first time since 2019, because our anniversary’s in March.

        Next year we’ll be celebrating our 15th.

    19. run mad; don't faint*

      I’ve been married 33, maybe 34, years. Nowadays, we celebrate by buying each other flowers and making a nicer meal including champagne and good cheeses or caviar. Very low-key. When we were younger, we went out to each at good restaurants that we wouldn’t or couldn’t afford to go to otherwise.

      It sounds like you all are very much outdoors people. I don’t know what your particular weather concerns are, but if it’s the heat, is there a lake nearby where you could take a picnic, go swimming and bring the dog?

    20. Pocket Mouse*

      We celebrate the anniversary of when we got together, as the timing of our marriage was determined in large part by when it became legal for us to marry, and because we consider the fact that we’re partners (read: teammates in life) to each other more important than the fact that we have the “insurance” of being married.

      What we do to mark the anniversary varies a bit, but it’s always a discussion to plan what sounds enjoyable to us at the time. Maybe it’s a special meal, or a long walk, or seeing a movie, or playing a game, or some combination of activities – at its core, it’s us setting aside time to enjoy being together.

    21. Feliz*

      We usually go out for a nice meal somewhere and talk about our goals and plans for the year together. Little things and big things. The last one was basically “we’re moving across the country and starting new jobs” so the goal was basically just to survive that and not get divorced during the stressful parts :) We’re now successfully relocated so the next one will require a bit more thought.

      Neither of us are very good at remembering on the day either :)

    22. OtterB*

      We have never been much for celebrating. Sometimes a card, sometimes out to dinner or fixing a nice dinner at home, sometimes not much of anything.

      We celebrated our 45th last weekend and went out to a slightly belated dinner last night.

    23. goddessoftransitory*

      We celebrate pretty standardly–exchange cards and year gifts (1st year paper and so on) and go out for dinner. Nothing too big time. It’s fun finding appropriate theme gifts–last year was our fifteenth, crystal. I wanted to do a crystal skull but couldn’t find anything that wasn’t a million dollars or cheap crap, so I got a pair of stemless wine glasses with skulls on them instead.

    24. Cj*

      our wedding anniversary is the 4th of July, so it’s easy to remember at least. we usually just go watch the fireworks, although the older we get the less likely we are to do this or anything else. the fireworks don’t start till 10:00, and I’m getting too old for that!

      Danny G posted that he and his late wife also celebrated the anniversary of their first date. ours was on New Year’s eve, so once again easy to remember. we went to see Sharky’s Machine, and for several early years we watched it on video on that anniversary. then we just started going to movie, or watching one on pay per view. we sure as heck don’t make it up until midnight to see the ball drop anymore. sometimes I’ll watch it drop in a much earlier time zone.

      I’d love to go out for a filet mignon on both those anniversaries, but the nearest place that has decent ones is over an hour away. I guess there is one that’s only about 20 minutes away, but the steak is pretty but not great, and it is terribly expensive for the amount of food you get. and if I am going to pay that much, I want the steak to be awesome, not just good.

    25. Scout Finch*

      We went to a Matchbox 20 concert this year as gifts to ourselves. It was 24 years for us (but we cohabitated 13 tears before that) and the concert happened to fall on our actual anniversary (and the the 24th,of the month).

      Usually it’s just cards and dinner out or at home, depending on the actual day it falls on.

  7. QOTM*

    I’m having house guests for the first time since COVID. I have the basics well covered, but what are the unexpected extras you have enjoyed when staying at someone’s house?

    1. ruthling*

      Accessible plugs for my phone, including near the bed in case i want to use it as an alarm. Fresh low scent soap. A selection of pillows.

    2. Bluebell*

      Nightlight in the hall and/or bathroom so that trips in the night don’t become trips in the night. Also, tissue in the guest room. If they like coffee in the am and you have their preferred roast/brand, you get extra points.

      1. Snell*

        +1

        Not even ice cream specifically, but when the kitchen is stocked with snacks/treats to my taste that I know aren’t usually bought for that household, that brought me a small smile + small warm feelings towards my hosts.

    3. Middle Aged Lady*

      No decorations on the flat surfaces of the guest room so I actually have room to put my things.

      1. captain5xa*

        And no decorations covering all the surfaces in the bathroom either! Please keep the toilet tank cover, sink top, and bathtub/shower surfaces free of them. Travel bottles of shampoo or soap are fine along with a toothbrush and toothpaste sample.

    4. Jessica*

      I don’t know how searchable it would be, but there was a previous weekend thread that had an extensive discussion about this with lots of really good ideas.
      Please put a trash can in the bathroom if it hasn’t got one already.

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

        Yes, and maybe a couple of easy-to-find rolls of toilet paper for when the roll runs out? And stick some maxi-pads under the sink? Easy-to-find trash cans in other locations as well.

      2. Expiring Cat Memes*

        Might have been the question I asked on the Jan 14-15 open thread. (My new guest room turned out gorgeous btw! Everyone comments on it and takes some ideas home)

    5. LBD*

      A comfy house coat for after a shower. They’re so bulky to pack and it’s a bit of a luxury to find one there waiting.
      A selection of books that might appeal.

    6. Professor Plum*

      Bedside lamp so there is a light option besides turning off a light switch and then stumbling back to the bed in the dark.

    7. Fellow Traveller*

      I stayed at a friend’s house and he had the wifi name and password in a pretty picture frame on the dresser. I thought that was a nice touch.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        One friend had a guest book where people signed their names and left notes about their stay and the date, it was very sweet.

    8. Chaordic One*

      Some kind of raised clear space to set things on, such as folded clothes or the toiletry items I bring with me. An empty, or almost empty dresser top. A nightstand where there’s room to set something on it and it isn’t cluttered with things on it. An empty straightback chair. Sometimes a wooden chest with nothing on top of it.

      Good quality soft facial tissues. Extra TP. In the worst case scenario, a plunger, just in case you need it.

    9. e271828*

      If you have space for a suitcase rack, those are very nice to have if one doesn’t want to unpack altogether and have to repack.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      some sort of a desk or writing surface, suggested by our first houseguest when we asked. also the last houseguest due to covid sigh.

    11. Dwight Schrute*

      A power strip or accessible plugs for charging things, a nightlight for the hall/bathroom, a fan, and blackout curtains are always things that I appreciate when staying somewhere new! Not needed by any means but nice extra touches

    12. Firebird*

      When my son visits, he sometimes has to WFH. There’s already a desk and comfy chair, so I’m going to put up a curtain as a backdrop to hide some ugly shelves, when he’s on a zoom call. It has two vertical tension poles with a curtain rod up near the ceiling. It was called a room divider on Amazon.

    13. Golden*

      A mirror in the room is nice if the guest will be sharing the bathroom with you/other guests. I like to wear a lot of makeup, but feel rude about hogging a shared bathroom for that purpose.

      I definitely second a bathroom trashcan. I stayed with one of the higher ups at my work once, and had to sneak my used floss down to the kitchen trashcan. I’m very glad I wasn’t on my period that weekend!

    14. Flames on the Side of My Face*

      A clock in the bedroom, which seems to be rare these days. I wake up a lot when sleeping in new places and would love to be able to see at a glance what time it is without fumbling around for my phone.

  8. Sparky*

    I don’t know any of my neighbors that well. We can say a friendly hi how are you doing as we walk to our cars or get our mail but that’s about it. Last year on the 4th of July the newly moved-in family across the street lit fireworks (actual launch into the air fireworks, not just ground sparklers) in the street, right next to our car that was parked on our curb. We are in a state where it is illegal to set off fireworks, and I know this because of neighbors in my parents’ community that have gotten in trouble for this. We didn’t try to stop our neighbors, we just watched from our window to make sure they didn’t hit our car, or House, or nearby electric pole. Nothing was damaged, so we let it go.

    With the Fourth of July next week, it’s on my mind again. Complicating this matter is that the family seems to only speak Spanish. A couple times, when a package was delivered to our house by mistake, and it was theirs, and we tried to speak with them about it when we delivered it, no one who came to the door spoke English. So I cannot so easily ask them not to set off fireworks again. I am not someone who is going to call the cops on a neighbor just because they’re setting off fireworks (this did happen on my childhood home, even when the fireworks were set off in a field far from anything flammable). So I don’t wish to call the cops unless something is actually set on fire. I’d love to ask them to not do it, but I fear our language barrier. Given that I found the wrappings of fireworks right next to my tires last year, I’m worried about proximity to my car and my house. But would you do if you’re in my stead?

    1. RagingADHD*

      Setting off fireworks in residential areas isn’t just illegal because of the fire hazard. It’s very dangerous.

      Every year, the ERs are full of people — especially kids– who lose eyes and limbs.

      I’d ask someone I know who speaks Spanish to help me write a note, or download a spanish-language flyer explaining that it’s illegal, and why.

      And then if they did it anyway, I would have no problem calling the cops, because I don’t want it on my head if somebody gets maimed. I have insurance on my car and my house. They’re replaceable. Body parts aren’t.

      1. MissElizaTudor*

        Sparky is right not to call the cops preemptively.

        There’s only a chance something bad will happen if they don’t call the cops. And it wouldn’t be on their head if it does. It’s on the neighbors’ because they are the people setting off the fireworks.

        If someone does call the cops, something bad is much more likely to happen (if they actually come, something bad 100% will happen – they’ll get in legal trouble), and it could end up being much worse than a firework injury. Being badly injured, killed, deported, or jailed are all possibilities when the cops are involved. And then it would be on the head of the person who called the cops.

        But printing out a Spanish language flyer explaining the risks and getting someone to translate a request not to do it is a good suggestion.

        1. maringe*

          Nope. Not gonna *not* call the cops. It’s far more likely that someone will get hurt because of the fireworks. RagingADHD is spot on.

          1. Observer*

            Not likely at all that anyone other than the family gets hurt. And despite all of the coverage, the odds of the family NOT getting hurt are still smaller than the odds of them getting hurt. But if someone calls the police? DEFINITELY a lot of damage.

      2. Observer*

        Every year, the ERs are full of people — especially kids– who lose eyes and limbs.

        because I don’t want it on my head if somebody gets maimed.

        That’s not Sparky’s responsibility, though. It would be one thing if the people at risk were people OTHER than the ones setting the fireworks. But the idea that having the police called on them is a good way to protect a family is kind of. . . I’m hoping that you are just out of touch with reality and don’t realize just hoe dangerous calling the police could be for them.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      I’ve been seeing signs all over the place this past week saying fireworks are illegal – I bet your town has some kind of graphic, hopefully with a Spanish version too, that you could leave on their doorstep. It’s likely they already know/have seen it and either won’t repeat last year or don’t care, but dropping it off makes it a little more pointed that someone nearby wants them to stop.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      Do your local firefighters do any preventative work, or have leaflets around firework safety? Ours tend to do awareness around bonfire night which is our season for people doing dangerous shit with fireworks. They’re always really willing to come out and talk to people about safety, or keep an eye on things neighbours have reported to them as potentially dangerous; they let bonfires or informal firework displays go ahead if people seem to have the safety basics covered, but if it’s unsafe they say why and shut it down. If they have any Spanish materials, or speakers to have an informal chat ahead of the time, that would be ideal.

    4. Mighty midget*

      If you put the text of what you’d like to say to them here, maybe a Spanish speaking AAM reader would translate it for you? (Sadly, I can’t offer to do that myself)

      1. sagewhiz*

        Google translate works very well, as long as you retranslate back to original language to ensure accuracy/clarity

    5. gsa*

      I think this idea will work.

      Go knock on the door and introduce yourself. And bring some beer. If there are school-age children in that house, they speak or are learning English.

      If I was in that situation, I would move my car and hang out with them.

      I have been working with native Spanish speakers for so long that I now know many their children as adults.

      Your neighbors children are learning English.

      Oh and learn a little Spanish.

      Hello, Thank you etc.

      For perspective, I’m NC in the Construction Industry. If I had to make a blanket statement about the people I’ve met, welcoming and family oriented.

      Go for it!!!

      1. Cj*

        do not bring beer unless you know they drink-someone in the household might be a recovering alcoholic that has trouble being around alcohol.

        and if they do drink, doing so while setting off fireworks makes it even more dangerous.

        it would be great if they learned at least some spanish, but since they don’t know any now, hanging out with them doesn’t seem like it would be much fun.

        also, if you are hanging out with them and they do get busted. the OP will be busted, too.

        1. bathing suit gown*

          “ do not bring beer unless you know they drink-someone in the household might be a recovering alcoholic that has trouble being around alcohol.”

          I see the new “no fan fiction” rule is working out great (/s)

          1. Cj*

            I would consider my comment fanfiction if the OP had mentioned bringing beer, because they might know very well that the neighbors drink, and it wouldn’t be my place to question it.

            I don’t think it’s fanfiction when the person who said to bring them beer is not the OP. their thoughts that the neighbors do drink is just as much conjecture as my thoughts that they might not for a very specific reason.

            as someone who worked with a recovering alcoholic and was given a secret Santa gift of booze by someone who didn’t know, and it caused them to relapse, I don’t think it’s ever a good idea to give alcohol to someone unless you know they drink. this coworker never stopped drinking again after that, and a couple of years later they died from a combination of drinking alcohol and taking Ativan. that was really stupid thing to do, but they also had liver and other health problems from drinking.

    6. Sloanicota*

      Ok, I can see I’m in the minority here, but I would not do anything about this except keep an eye on the situation to protect myself / my dog / my property. I live in a city where illegal home fireworks are very much part of our culture. People do get hurt, but mostly it’s the people setting off the firework or the ones gathered around it. I don’t live in a fire area and that might change my mind. I’m not calling the police on my neighbors over a few bottle rockets. That’s just my stance.

      1. Cat's Paw for Cats*

        Thank you. I was beginning to think I was the only one who felt this way. Once a year, I’ll just keep an eye out for my property and let it go.

        1. Sloanicota*

          No offense to the wonderful people here, but I find the general culture to be high on the risk-avoidance / conscientiousness scale

          1. Cat's Paw for Cats*

            I agree and much of the time it’s because people have a tendency to extrapolate too far from isolated instances. Even more so in these days of information saturation. It makes it easy to take things out of proportion.

        2. RagingADHD*

          Well, the OP said they want it to stop. I don’t actually call the cops when I hear fireworks in my neighborhood.

          But then again, my direct neighbors aren’t shooting arial fireworks over my house or car. They’re putting crackers or spinners in the street, which is different and lower risk.

      2. Veronica Marx*

        I agree with this! I would park my car elsewhere, if at all possible, and keep an eye on everything, and otherwise let it go. A majority of people in my neighborhood love fireworks and it devolves into unfruitful Facebook/Next Door arguments every year with the people who don’t. These arguments change nothing. I’m not a huge fan of fireworks, but I’ve just learned that it’s going to happen and there’s nothing I can do about it–I make sure my dog is comfortable and if anything got too close to my house I’d say something, otherwise I just let it go, and am thankful it’s only one night!

      3. Llama Llama*

        I agree. I live in a city that it’s illegal to set off fire works and also gets plenty of rain (including this weekend). Unless other stupid things are going on, police will ignore it for this weekend. And I know that they will have better things to do than worry about that.

        Move your car and let it be.

      4. Retired Accountant*

        Yes, this would be a fool’s errand where I live. I hate “home” fireworks, but just have to deal.

      5. Not Totally Subclinical*

        Same. Fireworks are illegal in my city, and nonetheless my neighborhood will be full of them on the 4th, as well as New Year’s Eve. I accept that this is going to be a bad sleep night, take a walk around the neighborhood, and enjoy the show.

      6. RussianInTexas*

        I love in the “fireworks are illegal for 20 miles each way” area, and people do them every year, big ones, and I won’t call the police on them either unless there is actual damage.
        Partly because it’ll stop eventually, partly because I go to friends house and enjoy the show, so that will make me a hypocrite. But also, unless there is an actual fire, no way the police will actually show up for the every report of fireworks. It’s super low priority, especially in the city. The fives are crazy high, but there is simply not enough police to do it.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          Fines! Fireworks drow the highest individual fines in the City of Houston, $500-$2000 per each firework. No one ever gets caught anyway.

      7. Art Soplo*

        These aren’t bottle rockets though, per the OP. they’re full-on fireworks. That can start fires, *ruin* property, and SEVERELY injure or kill people.
        OP could try, before July 4th when everything shuts down, contacting their local govt to see what the recommended protocol is for reporting illegal fireworks activity (maybe the town has a special phone number for that). Or maybe the town is like, “call the cops, that is the only way to do anything about it.” In which case: call the cops. Because they’re going to show up anyway when the OP or their neighbor or some other random neighbor loses a hand to the fireworks. Or a house. Or someone’s kid blows off half their face when a fireworks display goes wrong. which it very much will.

      8. The Other Dawn*

        Same here. Quite a few people in my neighborhood set off fireworks, including aerials, and no one cares. It lasts maybe 15-20 minutes and it’s over. The people with dogs, which seem to be most people around me, just keep the dogs inside and comfortable.

        If I were in the situation OP is, I wouldn’t do anything other than try to move my car if possible. If it’s not possible to park elsewhere, then I’d likely find a way to ask the people not to set off fireworks near my car. Use Google Translate to craft a short note to leave it their mailbox, or hand it to them directly. I wouldn’t call the cops unless there was damage to my property. It’s once a year and it’s over quickly usually.

      9. Fierce Jindo*

        I wouldn’t call the cops, but an angle that hasn’t been mentioned is that fireworks are *very* polluting. Especially if you have a baby, pregnant person, elder, or other medically vulnerable person in your home, keep your windows closed and use an air filter if you have one.

    7. Nervous Nellie*

      Your municipality may have warning flyers in other languages on their city website. Mine does! Hopefully they have one you can print & deliver with a friendly basket of cookies or something. Good luck – hope everyone stays safe!

    8. SuprisinglyADHD*

      Contact your local fire department directly! They probably have a dedicated phone number that’s not 911, or you can go to the station and talk to someone in person. They most likely have someone who speaks spanish, who could speak to that household about safety, and might have pamphlets etc in spanish too. Generally, the fire department will never contact the police unless it’s desperately needed, they want people to come to them in a fire situation and not hide (my great-aunt hid from the fire department during a house fire in the usa, due to childhood experiences in western europe).

    9. Bluebell*

      It may not be the exact thing you need but the consumer product safety commission has a video and press release about fireworks safety in English and Spanish on their website.

    10. Cj*

      when my mom was a kid, the roof of their house started in fire because one of her siblings stupid threw a *legal* sparkler on it. (they thought it was out, obviously.)

      fires and injuries from this stuff can be very serious. I wouldn’t want to call the cops on them that night, but I also wouldn’t want large fireworks being set off near my car and home, so I think it is good you are trying to let them know ahead of time.

    11. The Shenanigans*

      Honestly, if you can’t communicate with them, I’m not sure what your other options are really except look out. Do your best to make sure nothing and no one is on fire. Maybe over the next year or so try to become friends with them. Then you’d have standing next year to invite them over and not use fireworks. I absolutely agree that calling the cops isn’t a good idea.

  9. A Walmart question*

    I recently got on the Walmart website thinking I would order a couple of items. They have 3 choices for how to receive prepaid orders: Shipping, Pickup, and Delivery. Can anyone explain what the Shipping and Delivery options are? They sound like the same thing to me but obviously are different options to Walmart, and they don’t explain it anywhere that I could find.

    1. Ampersand*

      Target makes this distinction, too, and I assume it’s the same—shipping means it ships from a warehouse somewhere. Delivery means it’s delivered from a local store (so is quicker, but also has to be in stock for you to order it).

    2. Enough*

      For most websites shipping means it’s coming from a warehouse or affiliated seller directly to you and delivery is an item in the local store they deliver instead of you going to pick it up yourself.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Shipping comes through USPS or UPS, like from Amazon. For delivery, they pick your items in the local store and drive the bags to your house like Instacart.

    4. Filosofickle*

      Typically:
      Delivery = Walmart delivery/courier service, they pack it up at a local distribution center or store and drive it to you. Usually same day or next day. Everything you order has to be available locally. Walmart sells fresh groceries this way.
      Shipping = Mailed to you by a service like UPS or USPS from a distribution center. Can include less core items fulfilled by third-party sellers or a center anywhere in the country.

      Walmart has a crazy number of “dark warehouses” that support its delivery services.

    5. Missb*

      Shipping is akin to Amazon shipping something to your home in a box.

      Delivery is a local person making a delivery for Walmart. In our area that means a 3rd party delivery in someone’s private car.

    6. A Walmart question*

      If you opt for Delivery, do you tip the driver? I never have anything delivered, not even pizza :), and don’t want to stiff the driver if a tip is customary. And how much is typical?

      1. The Shenanigans*

        Yes you tip. Minimum where I am is about 20% of the total order (including taxes and fees) and before coupons or sales.

      2. Art Soplo*

        If this is on Walmart.com, or the mobile app, and you pick the “deliver it to me” option, there probably is an option to leave at tip when checking out. There will probably be a few different options: 10 percent, 20 percent, 5 percent of the total dollar amount, or an option to leave a custom amount.
        (Basing this on my own experience ordering from walmart’s mobile app and selecting the deliver option).

    7. The Shenanigans*

      Shipping is traditional shipping like from a catalog or online store. That is usually a few days, though it could be overnight.

      Delivery is home delivery like Instacart uses, where they collect it for you and a runner comes with it to your house, usually that day, sometimes the next.

      Pickup is the collect for it you and you pull your car up to the store or go inside and grab the bags.

  10. Daisy*

    I’m housesitting for relatives in Houston (The Woodlands). Recommendations for fun things to do?

    1. Bluebell*

      There’s music at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell pavilion. Tomball isn’t too far away and they have some nice antique shops, a brewery and a food truck court. There’s also a nice nature trail.

      1. Past Lurker*

        The Woodlands Mall used to have lots of restaurants and stores around it and the area was pretty walkable. And you’re not too far from Lake Conroe if you like camping, fishing, etc.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I really love the Houston Natural History Museum, and specifically their massive trilobyte exhibit. (Which illustrates that life on Earth had a loooooong history before we got to dinosaurs.) It’s a block from the art museum, which is also good.

      I could eat every meal at Torchy’s Tacos.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        The new-ish Morian Hall of Paleontology in HMNS is amazing. And I can spend half a day in the Hall of Minerals.
        HMFA always has some interesting exibits.

    3. RussianInTexas*

      Old Town Spring in not far and is a fun destination. There is a ton of restaurants around. Few breweries in Conroe.

      1. Bluebell*

        Tell me more about Old Town Spring. I have a relative in Spring but have never seen Old Town.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          It’s a small walkable neighborhood with the old-timey shops and restaurants. I believe they also do outdoor concerts and events, especially around holidays.

    4. RussianInTexas*

      Also! Being in/near Houston, find yourself good Vietnamese or Indian or Tex-Mex or Thai or any other food you want.

    5. Invisible fish*

      If you’re here for the 4th of July, there will be a variety of fancy fireworks to choose from. The Houston Symphony also does a fantastic performance the night of July 4 at the Miller Outdoor Theater in Houston proper- the drive is worth it.

  11. Jackalope*

    Reading thread! Everyone share what you’ve been reading! Ask for or give recommendations!

    I’m partly through Jesus and John Wayne. It’s been good but also stressful. I’m amused that I know almost all of the people mentioned in the book.

    1. Bluebell*

      I was thrilled to see that Alison recommended Barbara isn’t dying. I think I got that recommendation here and read it a week or so ago and really enjoyed it. This last week I read the True Love experiment by Christina Lauren, which was fun, and also finished Yellow Face which Alison recommended. I have started reading the Woman in the Library, it’s a bit too clever, but I like the Boston Public Library setting.

    2. Sister George Michael*

      The Death of Mrs Willoughby by Claudia Gray. A fun Austen mash-up in which the son of Darcy and Elizabeth and the daughter of the couple from Northanger Abbey team up to solve the murder.

      1. Sopranoh*

        I didn’t realize there was a sequel. Nice. I found Claudia Gray through my Star Wars obsession. It’s nice to find someone who’s interests match yours so closely.

      2. Not Totally Subclinical*

        I just got this from the library and need to read it; thanks for the reminder!

    3. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

      The Secret of Fire by J.J. Fischer. It’s the first in a duology and I am so eager to read the next one!

    4. Jamie Starr*

      I just started “Small World” by Jonathan Evision. The story line/premise is kind of interesting, but the characters seem a little cliche so far. Like an African American who is a basketball star and hopes to make it to the pros or a descendant of Native Americans who had a drinking problem; an Asian immigrant who works in the laundry, etc.

    5. Daisy*

      An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon was…I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a depressingly realistic depiction of slavery, even if it was in an antebellum sort of generation ship. Or nonbinary leads. Or an autistic protagonist. 10/10, completely incomparable.

      1. Sitting Pretty*

        Oh my goodness I love Rovers Solomon. read Sorrowland last year. I’ll add this one to the queue!

    6. StellaBella*

      I found a few books last week at the charity shop, and am reading The Spy Who Came in from The Cold by Le Carre. And also reading Empire of the Vampire again as Empire of the Damned comes out in March 2024. So excited!

      And on email, I get the Daily Dracula again. They start 3 May when the book starts and go thru November when it ends and not every day has an email just days of the journals that Stoker wrote in the book. Daily Dracula Dot Substack Dot Com. you can read the archives online there.

      1. Invisible fish*

        Re: Empire of the Vampire- went to look it up, get plot synopsis, see if it was my type of book. Every synopsis says no sunrise for 27 years. Before I go any further: how do ppl not freeze to death? How do humans survive if there’s no sun to grow plants? Not being snarky – world building matters, and I’m curious.

        1. Jackalope*

          This book sounds like it’s totally not my jam, but I too was curious about it. Apparently they eat more root vegetables and plants that don’t need as much sunlight? That doesn’t really make sense to me because plants will still need SOME sunlight, plus all of our energy comes from the sun and not just for plants. So that might not be satisfying to you.

          (Note that the first review that I read on GoodReads said that the book is misogynistic in a pretty vicious way; all or most of the women die, and unlike the men’s death scenes which are quickly over and with minimal detail, the women tend to die slowly in greater detail and with descriptions of how beautiful they are and how their clothes are mostly torn off during the process and so on. Plus several other details but that was the most disturbing to me. This is not to tell you not to read it, just I know that I would personally find that very disturbing to read so wanted to give you a heads up in case you feel the same.)

          1. noncommittal pseudonym*

            Ph.D. in Botany. Yeah, that’s not at all how that works. Even root vegetables have to flower to make more seeds, and most of them are biennial, meaning they flower the second year. The enlarged root we eat is to store energy so that they can flower the next spring. If you eat all of your radishes or whatever the first year, you won’t ever get flowers, and so you will quite quickly run out of seeds.

            I know it’s absurd to pick apart fiction on the basis of scientific details, but that kind of stuff pulls me out of the story and ends up irritating me.

            1. Invisible fish*

              Jackalope and noncommittal pseudonym, thank you for the 411! Yes, wonky world building pulls me right out of the story, too!! As does creepy misogyny!

    7. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

      This week I’ve read The Reading List and The Keeper of Stories. Thought both were excellent, mostly feel good books but TW for suicide featuring in both.

    8. Tiny clay insects*

      I’m rereading Faithful Place by Tana French because I’m in Dublin this week. :-)

      1. GoryDetails*

        Re Tana French: I adore her Dublin-murder-squad books! (In the Woods and Broken Harbor are probably my favorites, but I love ’em all.)

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          In the Woods haunts me….what actually happened? Will we ever know?

          My favorite is The Trespasser, because of one character’s perfectly constructed revenge hinging on her understanding of how helpless men are when faced with a very culturally encouraged type of offer.

    9. word nerd*

      I’m in the middle of Knowing What We Know: The Transmission of Knowledge From Ancient Wisdom to Modern Magic by Simon Winchester (the guy who wrote The Professor and the Madman). Really enjoying it so far, and I think it would especially appeal to the librarians here. It touches on all sorts of areas: oral traditions, the development of books/libraries/encyclopedias, kindergarten, museums, the digital age, etc. across different cultures and times as ways of keeping and passing on knowledge.

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      I just started Leviathan Falls, the last book of The Expanse. The books have been as compelling and satisfying as the show. And I imagine when I am next searching for new stuff to read I will go back and read the first 6 books on which the TV series is based.

      A character at the end of book 8 reflected that she and her husband had been together a long time and had been so many different people during that time. Which resonated with me because I am often exasperated by the advice to marry only when your permanent and unchangeable adult personality has kicked in. People change throughout their lives. (And making all your decisions with another person’s needs and wants in mind, sometimes outweighing your own, and adding small irrational people who do not sleep–those are things that many people point to as changing them.)

      1. Mephyle*

        You do know that after you finish Book 9, there’s still the shorter Expanse stories to read (if you haven’t already) collected in the volume titled Memory’s Legion? Most of them happen between or during the timeline of the books, but one of them is sort of a coda to the series.

        As for re-reading, many obsessed Expanse fans (ahem) are in a continual cycle of rewatch, reread, rewatch, reread… Maybe it will wear off eventually, but I found that this epic story spoiled me for almost anything else.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I gave The Ark about 10 minutes before concluding that, nope, this was not going to be the sci fi space ship show to try after the bar set by The Expanse.

          1. Mephyle*

            Recommendation, then, for a series that will not disappoint, probably: Wool (book series by Hugh Howey), Silo (show on Apple TV).

            It’s very different in scope and tone, but from the beginning it gave me some Expanse vibes. It’s my go-to recommendation for Expanse fans who are looking for a story that will not let them down post-Expanse.

    11. Sitting Pretty*

      I just last night finished The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell. It blew my mind. It’s hard to categorize. Centered in Lusaka around the development of the Kariba dam over generations. All these families from various parts of the world interacting. It’s strange and historically compelling but also kinda magical and sci fi. The characters are so absorbing and the way all their stories intersect just kept me riveted.

      I read another Namwali Serpell book, The Furrows, a few weeks ago and liked her style so much I went and found this earlier book by her. They are quite different but both such compelling stories. In part because you’re not entirely in reality, and it’s not always 100% clear the genre, but it a really fascinating way! Like, is this a ghost story? Sci fi? Historical fiction? Magical realism? Well… yes a little bit. Such great writing!

    12. Veronica Marx*

      I’m reading The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Armin. I can’t remember if Alison recommended this one, but it’s very much in the same vein of a couple she did recommend and I loved (Barbara Pym books; I can’t remember the specific one she recommended, and Diary of a Provincial Lady). All funny British books set and written in early- to mid- twentieth century Britain featuring woman living their daily lives. This one features a trip to Italy with 4 near strangers. So far quite funny and delightful. I loved Elizabeth and Her German Garden by the same author, as well.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        There is a charity second hand book sale a couple of times a year near me and somebody had donated lots of Virago books. I got Diary of a provincial lady and Enchanted April.

        Speaking of the follow up to the former, A provincial lady in America, I would like to know what American readers made of it.

    13. Nervous Nellie*

      I am being dazzled by yet another amazing choice pressed into my hands by my local & beloved bookseller: Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Burton. It is apocalyptic fiction at its best – a pottymouthed crow is the narrator. Pardon the pun, but it’s a hoot – humorous, suspenseful and full of feeling. It has a sequel Feral Creatures which I will be collecting from said bookseller today.

      Also, oooh, oooh, oooh, holy cow, gang – Greenwood by Michael Christie, a Canadian novel. It is a sprawling story about climate change in a slightly futuristic British Columbia. His descriptions of a newborn infant will give you chills, they are so perfectly crafted. I could see it could be turned into a film, but I sure hope it isn’t.

    14. SuprisinglyADHD*

      I just finished Gideon the Ninth, which I found through someone’s fanart online! It was riveting, I really like the setting, characters, and plot! I was a bit irritated by the author’s vocabulary though, it really felt like she sat down with a thesaurus and picked words that barely mean what she intended. The built-in dictionary for Libby failed me several times, I had to go look things up online and eventually figured out that she liked to turn nouns into adjectives or adverbs, or abbreviate without clarification. (eg it took me quite a while to find “ossuary” because she called it an “oss” with no context).
      The characters are AMAZINGLY well done though, she juggles a main cast of 17-ish(?) individuals who all have different personalities, cultures, and speech patterns. There’s a cast of characters in the beginning, and a dossier of them all in the back, written from one character’s point of view, which I found very helpful.

    15. Not Totally Subclinical*

      I just finished How to Survive History: How to Outrun a Tyrannosaurus, Escape Pompeii, Get Off the Titanic, and Survive the Rest of History’s Deadliest Catastrophes by Cody Cassidy. It’s a quick read, and I learned a few things.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        I’m reading Honey Girl as recommended to someone in a previous thread. I’m not a huge romance reader either but it sounded fun, and it is so far. Good light, summer reading.

        Also finished Your New Playlist by Lae and McRae Acuff, it’s targeted to teens but still good. I’ve read a bunch of their dad Jon’s books.

        Both are audiobooks and the narration is good.

      2. GoryDetails*

        How to Survive History sounds like those Worst-case-Scenario books (which I love); I’ll have to check it out!

    16. GoryDetails*

      A new-to-me manga series: *Last Gender: When We Are Nameless*, a series set in a bar that welcomes all variations of gender expression and sexual preferences. The setup allows various characters to describe their own situations – whether they’re certain as to their own identities and desires or are still working that out – and the text provides definitions and descriptions of many different forms of gender-identity. “Info-drama,” perhaps?

      In honor of Canada Day: *Over the Rainbow: Folk and Fairy Tales from the Margins*, from the Canadian “Exile” anthology series; this one featuring fantasy stories re-imagining or inspired by fairy tales, and with a diverse mix of characters.

      On audiobook: *The Majestic 311 by Keith C. Blackmore*, narrated by R. C. Bray, which is… very strange indeed! Imagine a magical-portal story a la Wonderland or Narnia, only instead of curious kids, the explorers are a band of tough, grungy outlaws, and the portal is the train they intended to rob. They climb onto the train as it emerges from a tunnel during a snowstorm, and find that they’re on a very different train, one that apparently went into that tunnel ten years previously and never came out again. And now they’re on a weird journey that feels more like a videogame than a novel – which is not to say that it isn’t entertaining.

    17. Wilde*

      This week I finished Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton and it was a wild ride! Rich and nuanced characters, delightful plotting. One of the best books I’ve read this year.

      1. word nerd*

        Argh, I’ve been wanting to read this but hesitating because I have eye problems and usually get through audiobooks so much faster and it’s not available in audio form at my library. I may need to bite the bullet and just read it in print or sign up for an Audible trial…

    18. My Brain is Exploding*

      About 1/3 of the way thru “The Dutch House,” which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist, and I’m not enjoying it. Technically the writing is good (grammar, descriptive language, etc.) but I can’t seem to engage with the characters, or the back-and-forth thru time storytelling. Meh.

      1. word nerd*

        I know what you mean. I just never got that interested in the characters or what was going to happen to them. I got bored whenever they would just sit in the car in front of the house. I haven’t really been able to get into any of Ann Patchett’s novels even though I recognize she’s a good writer. I did, however, really enjoy her memoir These Precious Days and pretty much listened to the audiobook of The Dutch House just because of it (in her memoir, she talks about how she commissioned an artist to draw the cover for her and got Tom Hanks to narrate it). But yeah, I still didn’t end up liking it much.

    19. goddessoftransitory*

      I just re-read Convenience Store Woman and remembered how much I love the level of commentary the author gets into a deceptively simple structure.

      One of the characters is a misogynistic loser who is entitled and delusional in equal measure and constantly contradicts his own absurd pronouncements. He’s the distillation of every incel website on the net. His big thing, besides being infuriating, is ranting about how society will never leave anyone alone, that anyone who isn’t in lockstep with its dictates will be “thrown out of the village.” It’s all eye-rollingly cliched.

      But the author also slyly points out that the guy isn’t wrong. His family rags on him endlessly, but so do his former coworkers, shocking the protagonist of the novel because the manual that runs the place (and that she lives by) specifically forbids such conduct. They have no trouble breaking the to her sacred rules of how to behave at work in order to mock a “foreign object.”

    20. Love to read*

      Thanks for all the recommendations! I often come here to look for new book suggestions!

      My current read are the Hamish MacBeth mysteries by M. C. Beaton. After a few of them, I am ready to vacation in the Scottish highlands.

    21. Elizabeth West*

      Currently reading Jeremy C. Shipp’s book The Merry Dredgers, about a woman who goes to the cult her sister had joined to find out more about the “accident” that put her into a coma. It’s so good I’m jealous, haha.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        Ooh that sounds interesting. I just started The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan, about the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. Published in 2006, the author points out that the people he interviewed for the book who lived through this were already in their 80s and 90s, meaning most are likely gone by now. Just a weird realization.
        Anyone else reading nonfiction here? Any recommendations?

        1. GoryDetails*

          Non-fiction here: Tsunami: The Newfoundland Tidal Wave Disaster by Maura Hanrahan, about the tsunami that hit Newfoundland’s Burin Peninsula in 1929.

  12. Jackalope*

    Gaming thread! Please share any games you’ve been playing. As always, any games are welcome, not just video games.

    I’ve continued with Stardew Valley; about halfway through my first winter. It’s been a lot of fun so far but really sucks you in.

    1. Jay*

      Still a mixture of Diablo IV and Fallout 76. With a bit of time spent in Cell To Singularity and Ultimate Fishing Simulator II when I’m too burned out for real gaming and it’s too early to go to bed.

    2. Porch Screens*

      Still plugging away at FE:3H – I recently finished my Black Eagles run and now I’m on Chapter 4 of my Blue Lions playthrough. Unlike Triangle Strategy, where I was reeeeeally tired of the game by the time I finished all 4 playthroughs to see all the endings, I’m still having fun with 3H even though this is Run #3.

      Otherwise, I’ve been playing Gloomhaven on Steam and having a blast! I’ve dabbled a bit with Campaign Mode but am largely focusing my time on Guildmaster since it’s apparently (intentionally) a little easier to allow you to learn the game and all the classes.

      And speaking of Steam, anyone picked up or planning to pick anything up from the Steam Summer Sale? :)

      1. Sopranoh*

        I’ve played 3 houses so many times. I’m still not tired of it. Fantastic game!

      2. SuprisinglyADHD*

        I’ve started a new game called Kena: Bridge of Spirits. What a beautiful game! I chose the Story Mode” difficulty, because I get really discouraged when I can’t progress due to a specific fight. It’s a wonderful game, and the central hub expands gradually so it’s always worth coming back to see what’s been unlocked! And did I mention beautiful? The world is gorgeous!

      3. No name yet*

        OMG!!! My kid just started playing Civ6 on the iPad, and it was making me super nostalgic (I played 1 & 2), but I couldn’t justify $60 for my computer. I had NO IDEA there was a sale, it’s currently 90% off!!!! THANK YOU for mentioning it!!!

    3. Daisy*

      Civ 6! Lady Six Sky is my favorite civ so far, with Jayavarman a close second. Generally I don’t play on particularly hard difficulties; I just like to build something pretty and make friends :-)

    4. ecnaseener*

      Finally jumped on the Disco Elysium bandwagon. It’s very fun, but I suspect I’m not doing a very good job lol!

      1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

        Oh man, that is such a weird little game. My hubby played it last year. I kind of learned to love it, because it is so damn strange and also creative, but also… man, it’s weird. I guess that’s what happens when an arts collective makes a video game.

        Also, I think the it’s kind of the point that you (the protagonist) *can’t* do a good job for reasons that will become clear to you.

    5. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

      Sky: Children of the Light, and Portal. Both good, in my opinion.
      I especially like Sky and played it since 2019. It’s multiplayer, but tends to be filled with really nice people. Made good friends through it.
      Portal was good, but at times I messed up the controls.

    6. Jackers*

      I rarely play computer games, but!

      I was helping my son move into a new apartment. I really like the organizing of a new home and he told me about a game on Steam called “unpacking “, which is pretty basic, but I thoroughly enjoyed. Unfortunately it takes only a couple hours to play the whole game so the enjoyment was short lived. Are there any similar games anyone knows of?

      1. SuprisinglyADHD*

        Unpacking is a really nice game, I like to replay it when I want to be chill and just arrange things! If there are similar games I would also be interested, but as far as I know, it’s unique! (although I wouldn’t be surprised to see copycats soon)

      2. Avis*

        A Little To The Left is an organisation puzzle game. It doesn’t have the narrative of Unpacking but some similar mechanics.

    7. fposte*

      There has been an update to my favorite game, Godus! I play it on iOS but it’s available across platforms, and it was a big crowdfunded deal from a legendary designer that started out really cool and then stalled out. For *years*. I came in after the initial drama and was happy just to play around in a very pretty world, but it’s very exciting that new stuff is happening.

    8. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      Finished Dragon Quest Builders 2 this week. This game really went from “haha funny fantasy Minecraft” to “legit crying over a high-five and the successful crafting of one (1) medicinal herb”

      Also I’m finally playing some PS2 games I slept on. I’m about an hour into Rule of Rose and that game is, and I mean this in the best possible way, I’d up.

    9. Bluebell*

      Not a video game but has anyone tried Connections, a new game on the NYT games app? It’s very fun. You have a block of 16 words to fit in 4 categories. Apparently it is the same concept as a British (I think) game show but I’m enjoying it.

      1. Not Totally Subclinical*

        Yep, same concept as the Connecting Wall on Only Connect. It’s a fun game.

      2. Pippa K*

        Love it! Quick and fun with just enough brain engagement to play as I’m getting my day started.

    10. Trina*

      I’ve gotten back to playing Dorfromantik here and there. It’s just placing hexagons on an empty “board” and trying to match up edges and finish goals – feels like it should be a mobile game, tbh – but it’s just very satisfying and good for chilling/vibing. (And on sale on Steam right now, unsurprisingly.)

    11. Don'tbeadork*

      Still enjoying Disney Dreamlight Valley. I’ve done all the star path except for eating a jillion 5 star meals because I’m just not being active enough to justify it. I do need to do some mining or digging or something just to use up some of my character’s energy so I can justify eating a meal that I could be feeding to birds!

      Need to check out that Steam sale.

    12. Junior Dev*

      I love Stardew Valley! It’s nice because you can play it super intensely and try to optimize things, or have it on in the background while chatting with your fellow players, or anything in between.

      I learned a board/card game called Fort where you are a kid building a fort and trying to get other neighborhood kids to play in it with you. It’s really fun! Moderately complex, it’s a deck builder and it has symbols for mechanics the way Race for the Galaxy does.

      1. Jackalope*

        Yeah, my spouse and housemate are both biting their tongues really hard because I’m not making more optimal choices, and they want me to discover everything on my own rather than doing it the “right” way (although they both said that one good trait about SV is that you are free to play in a suboptimal way and still do well, unlike some games where that can really come back to bite you.)

    13. Elizabeth West*

      I finally got my PS2 and 3 consoles unpacked and set up. I played Flower a little bit! I love that game; it’s so relaxing. I’d really like to revisit Katamari Damacy soon. What a delightfully bonkers game that is.

    14. Jay*

      So, just this evening, I discovered a hidden gem called Dave The Diver. It’s tough to explain, but, basically it’s sort of like Dredge, sort of like those old timey adventure games, just weirdness all around, but the GOOD kind of weirdness.

    15. KuddelDaddeldu*

      I’m just starting to try my hand at lockpicking. Got a set of picks and clear plastic practice locks so I can see what goes on inside while developing a feel for things.
      It’s said to do wonders for manual dexterity and mindfulness.

    16. hmmmmm*

      My husband and I went to Gamestop on Friday and went ham picking up new Switch games. When the switch first came out, we bought it as a family console, but this week we finally caved to the inevitable and he got his own. :)

      So I’ve mostly been playing Taiko no Tatsujin: Rhythm Festival (I looooove the Taiko no Tatsujin games, highly recommend if you want mindless music rhythm games), and Spyro, which is such a fun nostalgia kick.

  13. HannahS*

    Shoe recommendations, please!

    I need new every-day shoes, for work or casual life or both. I don’t know exactly what style I’m looking for, but they need to be shoes that I can really walk in–I walk to work and back, walk for exercise, walk for pleasure. I’ve been wearing Toms and Ecco sneakers for years, but they are not supportive enough (Toms) and not good enough quality anymore (Ecco.) Bonus points if it’ll work with a skirt. I am kind of out of touch with what shoes people are wearing–I noticed today for the first time that everyone seems to be in sneakers now?

    Give me your recommendations! Post links. Tell me about your outfits. No judgement; if your style is not my style I promise I still want to hear about it. Pretend that cost is no object, but give me your frugal recs too.

    1. Anonish*

      I bought all black nikes. Originally for all black merrell sneakers because they look slightly more like shoes vs sneakers. But I’m pretty happy with the Nikes
      I have very casual business casual office. It’s an easy blend in with long pants. Or with low socks and capris. And even it out with a little dressier top/ cardigan.

    2. California Dreamin’*

      I have Allbirds in many great colors. Tree Runners for summer and Wool Runners or Mizzles in winter. They go with everything and are the most comfortable everyday shoes I’ve ever had.

      1. Emma2*

        I would add that they have great ballet flats – cushioned soles but not clunky looking. I can easily walk for several hours in them. I don’t know how supportive they are but I find other ballet flats not great for walking because the soles are so flat and thin.

      2. Blue wall*

        I tried Allbirds but they were too narrow for my wide feet. Right now I’m doing a hospital chaplaincy internship, wearing business casual dresses, wearing Lems sneakers. I think I have the Krout and Chillum

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

        Huh, that’s interesting, because I have 2 pairs of Allbirds and find them really unsupportive. They’re basically just socks with a little bit of squishy rubber on the bottom, which makes them great for sitting on a plane/train/car trip, but when I tried using them for long walks or especially for standing for long periods of time, I started getting horrible plantar fasciitis symptoms, which hadn’t happened to me before with other shoes. I specifically have the wool version lace-ups in both high top and low top.

        1. It happens*

          The allbirds flats are far superior to rothys in all ways. Nonetheless, they are not supportive. If you have ANY arch, Achilles, or fasciitis issues, they are only good for short hops (mile at a time, with multiple hours rest between). Signed, learned the hard way

        2. Bibliovore*

          I have bad,wide feet. For standing around Birkenstock Bostons. For walking, travel etc All birds ( full size seven, usual size 6.5) with Birkenstock sport inserts.

    3. Sparkle Llama*

      I have a pair of black slip one from BZees that I love. I wear them to work and running errands. I will wear something nicer for important meetings and an actual athletic shoe for real exercise but I find I keep wearing these slip ons more and more

      1. Mad Hatter*

        I second Bzees slip-ons. Plus they can be tossed in the washer and air-dried.

    4. OyHiOh*

      My walking shoes are Slow Man brand ladies split sole dance sneakers. They have honest to Godzilla the best arch support and padding of any shoe I’ve ever worn in my life, including my hikers (Merrell brand). I bought grey upper/white sole and they do not look like dance shoes upon casual observance. I also have a few pairs of split sole “ballroom practice” heels. They have laced, mesh uppers and I choose them in cuban heels, although other heel styles are available. They are very walkable in ways that other more typical heels aren’t. My feet can flex in a more natural way while moving.

      My style is highly fluid. Day to day my style vers from corporate butch (high waist wide leg trousers, tucked in button down tops, blazers) to business casual femme (sheath dresses, cardigan, heels). I’ve worn the dance sneakers with both types of outfits when I know I’m going to be on my feet a lot.

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

      SAS (San Antonio Shoes, I think) has a number of styles that are comfy for hard-to-fit feet.

    6. Jay (no, the other one)*

      For serious walking I have Hokas – three different versions. For walking when I d0n’t want it to look like I’m wearing sneakers, Arcopedico.

    7. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I’m a fan of Adidas Stan Smiths, on my third pair now. I walk everywhere I can and find them so comfortable – even this latest pair I accidentally bought half a size too small. I also find that, unless they’re starting to fall apart (think holes in the soles), they’re good at keeping my feet dry when it rains.

      Most of my outfits include jeans or smart casual trousers, even for work, and the shoes work perfectly.

      I often see them worn with mid / maxi skirts and dresses, which is the kind of outfit I like on other women but never think I could pull off. This year I took the plunge and wore them with a new seersucker dress while on holiday. I felt great, even looking back at myself in pictures.

      To address your point about quality: I’ve been buying the ones that are actual leather. In recent years, they introduced new materials, which I worry would be flimsier / not as durable.

    8. Pop*

      I really love my Rothy’s. Two years in of me wearing them four days/week and they still look great. I would definitely wear them to walk to work, and frequently do wear mine to walk the dog, but wouldn’t necessarily for exercise as they’re not sneakers. So YMMV if it would fit what you’re looking for.

      1. MP*

        Agree with Rothy’s! I have found the loafer flats to be the most comfortable of the flats but they also have slide on sneakers that might be more supportive for walking but still look nice. I haven’t tried those though.

    9. Love my Brooks Addiction walking shoes*

      I wear my Brooks Addiction walking shoes every day. I have arthritis in my big toe and this shoe was recommended by my podiatrist. So comfortable and I’m pain-free wearing them. I have wide feet, and Brooks offers wide sizes which many manufacturers don’t.

      I do everything from miles of urban walking to an aerobics class to gravel walking paths. I have the black leather option so it doesn’t look like an athletic shoe, and I can wear them with dressy pants. They are well-built and have a good grip on any surface, including when it’s raining. The Addictions are durable also. With wearing them daily, each pair lasts me about a year and a half before the sole eventually wears down. I know it’s time for new shoes when my arthritic toe starts to ache.

      Unlike many brands, Brooks makes the wide size that I need. A big plus is their return policy. You can return the shoes for up to 90 days after purchase, even if they’re used.

    10. heckofabecca*

      I use Softwalk shoes! They’re super supportive and comfortable, and they have a ton of options that would work great with skirts—flats in particular.

    11. Time for Tea*

      I’m living in Ariat skyline slip ons this summer. Almost all of my footwear is Ariat as they do fit the shape of my feet well! Not cheap but I expect to get maybe 3 years wear out of them in constant use (lots of walking, mud, wet, etc, but I do try and look after them) from a lot of years of experience with the brand.

      1. Doc McCracken*

        For nice dress shoes and casual shoes, I recommend Vionics to my patients. They are designed for people with plantar fasciitis and other common foot issues But are cute! I have a pair of ankle boots and sandals. They also make a nice sneaker. For sneakers I wholly support going to your local Mom and Pop running store for a fitting. There are many high quality running and walking shoe brands but it’s most important to have the right type of shoe. Good luck!

        1. Other Meredith*

          I love Vionics, they have helped my feet so much! I have flip flops, ankle and two pairs of slippers.

        2. Patsy*

          Another vote for Vionics. I have a bad ankle that needs arch support, and I have sneaks and even sandals that are comfortable.

          1. Jules the First*

            I had been told many times that my bad ankle needed arch support until I encountered a remarkable physiotherapist who pointed out that actually the arch support was disrupting my natural gait and therefore not helping. He put me through six months of exercises to strengthen my feet, ankles and calves and then put me in barefoot shoes for grip with no padding and no arch support and here I am, 40 and chasing my toddler up a mountain in flat barefoot sandals getting side-eye from the others on the trail in their hiking boots. Jokes on them – my feet were grubby, but not sore at all. So every time I see someone saying their feet hurt, my recommendation these days is not different shoes but a good physio who can strengthen and realign – much better value in the long run than new shoes.

      2. Pippa K*

        I love Ariats so much. Their riding boots are well made and durable and great value for the price, and so comfortable that I wear them (the paddock boots) as my preferred daily-life boots as well. Their cowboy boots are equally great, and they have a combo riding-hiking boot that is comfy with good support. I’ve had arch, back, and plantar fasciitis problems over the years and Ariat boots have always been great for me.

    12. NeonFireworks*

      Clarks are decent, but I’ve found Rockport even better. They don’t have storefronts anymore, but they often have sales online.

    13. I take tea*

      I recently bought a pair of shoes called Safe Step. They are cute and really surprisingly comfy, and I have walked a lot around town in them. They seem to be Greek, so no idea if you can find them.

    14. *daha**

      Consider shoe inserts – replacement insoles. I figured out that shoes that used to be comfortable and supportive for me – and no longer are – had worn out insoles. You don’t need to spend $50 – $500 on fancy orthotics. Supermarket brands like Dr. Scholl’s can do the trick.

    15. Jim Bob*

      Hokas if you’re on your feet all day. They tend to fit narrow, so you may need a wide or double wide even if you usually don’t. Most comfortable pair of shoes I’ve ever owned. Only downside is they clearly look like sneakers.

      1. anonymous foot issues*

        I have to wear orthopedic shoes and have had good luck with Footsmart .com They are targeted to foot issues but also have shoes designed for walking comfortably in all widths.

        They can be a little more expensive but you can use their site to find styles/brands and then order elsewhere. They have a wider range of widths and sizes, too.

    16. the cat's ass*

      I still adore my danskos. Work with scrubs at work, skirts and trousers. Just not camping. For that i have my Dansko sneakers!

    17. Chaordic One*

      I really like Rockport. Clarks and SAS are decent, but many of the ones that come in my hard-to-find size are just plain ugly.

      I like New Balance athletic shoes, but (there’s always a “but”) in recent years they’ve been phasing out their more reasonably-priced shoes and there isn’t much to pick from that is less than $100.00 a pair. Also, they’ve been messing with their sizing. They used to be true-to-size, but now many of them tend to run small. (I’ve read a whole bunch of reviews that support this, so it isn’t just me and my spreading feet saying it.)

    18. Nona Selah*

      I injured my foot last year and really got into finding shoes that wouldn’t hurt. I’ve had great luck with Skechers, both sandals and sneakers. Vionics has been mentioned elsewhere here and I definitely back them up. I love the sandals I got. Also take a look at Aetrex (they have a mary jane that I wore to work for awhile) and Danskos! My husband gave me a gorgeous pair of Taos boots for my birthday as well, they feel great.

    19. RLC*

      Everyday/casual workplace: Vans, traditional lace up sneaker style. Huge array of prints and colors from conservative to wild and their gender neutral sizing includes a true women’s 10.5 (a much overlooked size). Better support and traction sole than Tom’s for my tastes. My everyday style is jeans/capris/tees/camp shirts.
      Dressy: Cuban heel ballroom dance shoes converted to rubber sole and heel cap by local shoemaker. My dressy style is retro/1940s- early 1950s vintage so these complete my look. (Think Agent Peggy Carter from the TV series).

    20. Hotter Brand Shoes*

      Hotter brand. They’re in the UK. Used to get free shipping & returns AND 40% off on your first order. Some look like grandma shoes but there are some cute MaryJanes. Come in lots of different widths and are great walking shoes

      1. heckofabecca*

        Seconding Hotter! I love their ankle boots, which I wear in the winter with dresses of varying lengths and leggings. I have Murmur in navy and Tenby in black.

        1. SarahKay*

          Thirding Hotter. I have the ‘Shake’ MaryJanes in five different colours at this point and they are my go-to shoe. Up until I moved last year I would walk to work in them which was a three-mile round trip and have always found them super-comfortable.
          Get on their mailing list and you’ll get all the offers – last week I think they were doing 40% off many (most?) styles.

    21. The teapots are on fire*

      I wear Softwalk and Zeira brands–they come plenty wide, but they are not cheap.

    22. TRH*

      I like the New Balance 840 series for work – leather tops – and their Fresh Foam and/or Trail shoes for walking. I also like the Nike Pegasus, and any Hoka, although I do get frustrated that Hoka’s heel area compresses rather quickly. I can wear my New Balance for a couple of years. The 840 are not fashionable though – they’re rather ugly. But for my arthritic/plantar fasciitis feet, they’re great!

      I can wear Blundstones for work if I put a decent insole in them. My favourite insoles are called SOLE by yoursoledotcom. They heatmold to your foot and have rather aggressive arch support.

      Good luck! Shoes are expensive, aren’t they?

    23. Samwise*

      Dress or work shoes stored on desk at office, or carry them. Don’t worry about looking fashionable on your walk. Wear running shoes or walking shoes or (my preference, because the support is fabulous) hiking boots. I buy Lowa boots. I’ve worn them with a cotton sheath and pearls — I put on pumps or flats when I get to the office.

      But then, I’m too old to care if it looks weird. Plus I lived in Chicago for many years, where every woman wore sneakers or running shoes on the bus el or train. With panty hose and a business suit.

    24. Love to read*

      Ziera is great for me – wide but small foot. Allsorts is my go-to shoe, which I have in several colors. If you look at the end of the season, there are great sales.

      I recently tried Cosy Feet, a British shoe, with a US distributor. The shoes take various inserts. The fit is not as good as Ziera, but there are flat dressy shoes which I have worn to weddings.

      1. Love to read*

        Also unisex Birkenstocks, in the most basic styles. The women’s styles are too narrow, the men’s are too long.

    25. hmmmmm*

      My favorite shoe brand is Fluevog. Pretty expensive, and most of them are *not* casual, but the Seventh Heaven Derby Swirls? An absolutely perfect everyday boot. good thick rubber sole, and a nice big toe box, and I feel ready to stomp around everywhere.

    26. SB*

      Vessi. Honestly, I was shocked by how comfy they are & when they say waterproof, they mean it. I have the boardwalk slip ons & the chelsea boot. Love them both.

    27. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I love my Merinos. I have a pair of red slip ons for fun, and a pair of black slipons with black soles that are hardly noticeable as comfy shoes in a regular workplace. I put Dr Scholls inserts in.

      Also have a pair of Birkenstock sandals. The big clunky Peppermint Patty kind.

  14. meet up or not?*

    In two weeks, I am traveling for work to a place where a couple of old friends from grad school (so, 20 years ago now) currently live. I was a bridesmaid at their wedding. I’ve contacted them to potentially meet up, and they seem quite willing, but now I’ve gotten cold feet.

    You see, in the 20-year-or-so iterim, I’ve gained a significant amount of weight. Like, double my size since they last saw me. I’m not sure they’d recognize me if they saw me. Plus, they are known to have a particularly acerbic sense of humor – once replaying again and again a voicemail left by another friend which they found hilarious because of him snorting and sounding like the epitome of a dork. (I can’t explain it, and it’s been a long time, so I can’t explain more than that.)

    I really don’t want to be the butt of their jokes for the next several years.

    I can’t decide if I want to contact them to make a plan to meet, or if I just slip into town and out and claim that, sorry, all my time was absorbed in this training. Sorry! Maybe next time.

    1. RagingADHD*

      Have you been in touch in the interim? Any chance they are less mean since they grew up?

      If you don’t actually remember them fondly because in hindsight you realize they were not nice people, or if you have stayed in touch and know they are still nasty behind people’s backs, then there’s no reason why you have to go through with it. Better to let that connection go.

      But if you know them to mostly be good friends, it would be a shame to back out because of self-consciousness. You shouldn’t miss out on good things just because your body has changed. Everyone’s body changes in 20 years, in one way or another.

    2. Missb*

      You might find that they are not thin anymore either.

      I understand how you feel but life is fleeting. Make connections, don’t worry about your weight. They’re not meeting you for your looks presumably; you had a connection and you’re in town to say hi.

    3. Middle Aged Lady*

      I said something ahead of time in a message when meeting with old friends. I was so anxious about it I thought it would make things easier. I kept it light. “I hope you recognize me! I am much larger than I was when we were in college.” We had a great time.

    4. KeinName*

      I recently met a friend I haven’t seen since we were both teenagers and only occasionally got a letter from her in the interim. I was also very nervous. She was exactly as fun and on my page as she was then! And we had both gained the same amount of weight ;) totally irrelevant to our meeting.
      If you enjoyed spending time with them when you last saw them, go for it! You can cut it short if you don’t have a connection. And you don’t need to care what they say about you afterwards if you’ll never meet again after that.

    5. Ellis Bell*

      How about if you make the meeting small, like getting coffee rather than dinner? Also, have some kind of get out of jail free card if you have bad vibes… like you say you have other plans you need to leave them for, if it’s not going well. Maybe you won’t need it! It’s fine to be prepared for the worst but if you have any desire to see them, I think it’s worth taking a shot at meeting up. They’d have to be pretty memorably awful to make a thing out of someone’s weight.

    6. Mighty midget*

      If you find you don’t get on with them anymore, you can just drop out of contact and leave it at that. But MAYBE you’ll have a fab time and rekindle a friendship. So I reckon if it were me, I’d meet up.

      Can you find an excuse to send them a recent photo of you, so that they will recognise you on the day and it won’t be awkward in the moment? Ypu could ask them to send one to you too, because they have probably changed as well!

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      They are going to be different people now, just as you are. I really think you should give this a chance to be a fun get together where you reminisce about memories from decades ago. Bonus points if they live near the university and so you can wander around arguing about which things are different now.

      Anecdote about a reunion: There was a nerdy kid in high school who liked yo yos. At the time, people mocked him for that. At the reunion, someone asked if he was still into yo yos, and he whipped out his custom made yo yo and did a bunch of tricks. And everyone thought that was cool, and that having something you were so passionate about and dedicated yourself to mastering was really great. Everyone had changed between 18 and 28.

    8. Seashell*

      If they are making jokes about people who have gained weight, that seems like a them problem. Hopefully, they’re nicer than that.

    9. Clementine*

      If these are people who you believe would do that, why would you want to hang out with them anyway? Do you even like these people? Why were you friends with them back them if they were so awful?

      If you like them and want to spend time with them, give all of you the gift of recognising that it’s been a long time, you’ve ALL changed a lot in those twenty years, and don’t let your memory of something from back them influence how you see them. Expect them to behave like reasonable, decent human beings and hopefully they will.

      If you genuinely believe these people are still that immature, unkind and mean, they are not your friends. Stop contacting them, don’t meet up, and move on with your life without such horrible people in it.

  15. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

    I’m looking for a one-person portable table I can carry with me to outdoor events, probably worn as a backpack. I need something that doesn’t take up a hand while I’m carrying it and I can carry for about 0.25 mile there and 0.25 mile back, and set up while also holding hot food in my hands somehow. Alternately, I’m looking for another way to solve my problem, described more below:

    My neighborhood has outdoor events with food trucks three times a week, and getting a table in the seating areas is a challenge, so people often end up sitting on the ground instead or sitting in camp chairs that they bring. I have a lot of trouble getting up and down from the ground, and also am usually trying to eat something that needs utensils, so I’d really like to have a table, sturdy enough to set food down on, that I could stand at and eat instead (or maybe bring both a camp chair and a table, but it’s the surface to set down and cut food on part that I really need solved).

    It’s particularly frustrating because I’m going to these things by myself, and people in groups always have one person go grab a table while everyone else waits for their food, so they have a 10-15 minute window to watch for people to get up and leave and grab the next table, but since I’m by myself I can’t look for a table until I have my hot food in my hands and need a place to set it down ASAP. (For the two out of three that are by the municipal fountain, tables get camped by families who arrive early and stay several hours while their kids play in the fountain and an adult sits there with everyone’s stuff, so it’s even harder to get a table during the main mealtimes.)

    I just want to eat delicious pancakes using a knife and fork.

    1. Jay*

      Look at getting a nice little cart or wagon. A beach cart will have big tires and, usually, plenty of capacity. I typically bring a folding table I bought at Walmart for about $35.00 when I go fishing and my cart holds that, a small cooler for drinks, fishing poles, my chair, and tackle boxes (along with anything else I think I might need). It folds up small enough to fit in the back seat of my small car very easily, only weighs a few pounds, and those big tires have no trouble with grass, sand, gravel, cracked pavement, curbs, or even smallish rocks. It even handles stairs without too much fuss.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        It’s hard to get a wagon-style cart through the crowds at these things, although I see people with lots of kids doing it. I do have the folding shopping cart that I use during watermelon season and pumpkin season, so I suppose I could put a chair and a table in that if I could find a table, or maybe rig up a flip-down table to the side of it somehow…

        1. Jay*

          Walmart sells a wide variety of collapsible tables that fit easily in a shopping cart.
          This little critter actually folds small enough that you could use it as a tray to carry your food, then set it up and eat off of it: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Mainstays-34-Square-Resin-Fold-in-Half-Table-Rich-Black/844365764?wmlspartner=wlpa&selectedSellerId=0&wl13=1906&adid=22222222277844365764_117755028669_12420145346&wmlspartner=wmtlabs&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=c&wl3=501107745824&wl4=pla-294505072980&wl5=9002159&wl6=&wl7=&wl8=&wl9=pla&wl10=8175035&wl11=local&wl12=844365764&wl13=1906&veh=sem_LIA&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI0ryKttLt_wIVtRZlCh2hBAzZEAQYCCABEgJbaPD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

          Failing that, consider a full sized camping pack frame. They will let you haul just about anything smaller than a mid-sized sedan hands free. Something like this would let you bring the best part of a whole dining room set with you: https://www.sportsmans.com/hunting-gear-supplies/hunting-packs/freighter-frames/rustic-ridge-switchback-frame-pack-brown/p/1630389?channel=shopping&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIkKnCotPt_wIV_PfjBx3mgAUKEAQYASABEgIoE_D_BwE

          Hope this helps.

        2. Jay*

          Oh, while I’m thinking of it, some of those carts are actually small, sporty, and easy to maneuver, while still having the big wheels and decent carrying capacity: https://www.vevor.com/beach-cart-c_11774/vevor-beach-cart-beach-wagon-for-sand-tpu-14-x-14-7-deck-w-13-balloon-wheels-p_010819804805?adp=gmc&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_id=20124968317&utm_term=&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIwf7QptTt_wIVkYjICh0ITA5zEAQYBCABEgK0iPD_BwE Just for one example. They make many others across various price points. I’ve got a little one I picked up at Target for about $30.00 years back for just such a reason. It only holds a little bit, but it’s so much easier to get around than the big shopping cart when I’m just doing a little fresh water fishing.

    2. Forgotten Username*

      It looks like a lot of portable camp tables are low and meant for you to be sitting at the same time, and a lot of foldable camp chairs that come with tables only have a side table, which is not so handy for cutting things! I did see a Browning Rimfire camp chair with swivel table where the table can actually move to be directly in front of you when you sit. I have no idea how portable this is but it is sold on Amazon, at Cabela’s, and other sporting goods stores so that may be worth looking at online? It seems to be a pretty rare design. I envy you for having this dilemma – would love to be in that kind of neighborhood!

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Yeah, I have several folding camp/lawn tables, but they’re not the right height for this. I suppose I could take a folding TV-tray kind of table, although the one I own right now is wood and pretty heavy so I’d probably want to buy a lighter one. Seems like it’d be really awkward to carry on foot, though.

        I’ll have to see if there’s somewhere that I can look at that chair with the swivel table locally in person. I’m curious how small it folds for transport and how comfortable it actually is. $150 isn’t an impossible amount of money if it’s something I’d actually use 2-3 times a week, but it’s too much money to spend for something that sits in the corner of the garage without getting used.

        I was lucky enough to be able to be very picky about where I bought a house when I moved here. I was very tired of living in the “ooops, all houses” suburbia I had been living in, so I only looked at places within walking distance of Things That Weren’t More Houses. I have a smaller, older house that needs a lot more work than I could have gotten in a newer neighborhood for the same amount of money, but it was worth it to me to be able to actually go places on foot.

        1. Rrrach*

          Would one of those TV trays with cushioning underneath work at all? I was thinking it gives you less stuff to wrangle but would provide a secure surface to put your plate on.

          1. KR*

            This is what I was thinking, or a laptop lap tray you could pair with a small foldable stool or camp chair. The trays are small enough to fit in a backpack and you could sling the chair over your shoulder or strap the camp chair to a backpack.

    3. Bagpuss*

      would a lap tray work? it might be easier to find a chair you can carry, and a lap tray would fit into a backpack or tote bag.

    4. Girasol*

      Check Amazon under “aluminum folding table.” There are lots of options including ones that roll up and lok like they could tie onto or tuck into a daypack. We have the little one that looks like a TV dinner tray that folds up square but it’s really light and could strap to a daypack.

    5. Owler*

      I would search for “camping table, roll top” or “table in a bag” and see if any of those fit the bill. Some of the newer designs roll up and fit in a bag you can carry over your shoulder. Double check the height, as many are shorter to go with sitting on the ground or a chair.

    6. Squidhead*

      It’s late and you might not see this but what about a rollator-style walker? You could put your hot food on the seat or in the basket, then walk to your destination, unsling a folding table from your back, put food on the table, sit on the walker seat, and eat. I just can’t see trying to set up a folding table one-handed while holding a plate of pancakes and a drink! People also might (or might not because people) give you a little extra space if you have a walker.

  16. bookStuff*

    To publish or to self-publish? I’ve been planning to self-publish once I finish a second book that I think is ready – that way each book can kind of advertise the other. I ended up showing a couple of pictures from one of my children’s picture books that I’ve created to someone who was in at least a related business to publishing. He gave me some advice about getting published with an actual publisher. Now I don’t know what to do. I’m trying to think about positive and negative aspects of this. What do you think?

    1. Roland*

      He gave you advice on how to get published – but does he actually have a pulse on what publishers are looking for right now this year and also thinks your book is it? I don’t mean to be a downer, it’s amazing that you’ve written 2 books, but self-publishing is popular because it’s hard to get published traditionally.

      1. bookStuff*

        Thanks. I’m feeling like that, too. Submitting a book usually means waiting at least 6 months to get rejected, and I’m tired of that.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I think you might as well explore the actual publisher option and see if it pans out–they have more reach and promotion than you do. If it doesn’t happen, you can still self publish.

      Is your mindset “I would like more people to see my work” or “I would like this work to be exactly what I envisioned, and I don’t care how many people see it”? If the latter, then I would stick to self publishing.

    3. Sloanicota*

      Children’s books are a different bag so I don’t want to step out of my lane here, but the wider debate is one I’m very familiar with. Traditional publishing will generally put you in front of more people’s eyes, in part through book stores and libraries. There is probably research on the childrens-book-buying public and how dependent they are on these sources versus buying online. Even if you’re not worried about money, most writers want to maximize the number of readers. For genre and super reading categories like romance or fantasy, especially long series, especially something kind of quirky that might have a hard time finding a spot on the shelf, self-publishing is probably the way to go, particularly if you can do a high volume. For literary fiction, traditional publishing will take care of you far better. I don’t know for children’s, but somebody does? I also know plenty of people who decide to try to pursue traditional publishing for a year / 100 queries and then happily self pub.

    4. Cat's Paw for Cats*

      As a former children’s librarian, I would urge you to go the publisher route if that’s possible. Generally, that means getting an agent first. But the major advantage is that your book is more likely to be reviewed by public library and school library reviewers and therefore get much more widespread publicity and purchasing. It will also be eligible for notable children’s awards. Technically, self-published books are eligible for some of these awards as well, but in my personal opinion it’s an uphill battle. There is still a built-in bias toward professional publishers. Good luck!

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        The question every would-be author asks: “Do I really need an agent?”

        The answer is almost inevitably yes. Most publishers won’t look at the bigger genre stuff (fiction, kids’ books) without an agent and your submission will go directly to the slush pile.

        1. Cat's Paw for Cats*

          Absolutely. Many publishers won’t even accept manuscripts directly from authors. I would definitely get an agent.

    5. BadCultureFit*

      I’m a traditionally pubbed children’s author (YA and MG). I hate that people jump to self-pubbing so quickly, but the truth is, it is very hard to get traditionally pubbed, and some people have very different goals for their book(s). So ask yourself: why did you write these books? Do you want them to be seen as “legitimate” (sorry, but it’s true), or do you simply want to be able to say “look what I did!”?

      Self-publishing, as a reminder, costs money if you want to see any sales at all. You’ll be in charge of not just file creation but also cover design, copyediting, page proofs, illustration (if it’s an illustrated book), and marketing. Allllllllll the marketing.

    6. Rick T*

      Self-publishing is very common now, the group blog madgenius.com talks about the whole process and some of the pitfalls. If you exclude the vanity press thieves (publishers pay you, you never pay the publisher for anything) you are balancing control (and work) for profit share.

      A traditional publisher does everything for THEIR benefit and tradpub accounting for royalties makes Hollywood accounting look straightforward. Smaller presses run the range from just as bad to fully transparent accounting, there is no way to generalize.

      Being self-published means you do all the work and pay for things like editing and cover art but you get all the profits directly.

      Good luck!

    7. Trina*

      Another children’s librarian’s take, and I hope this doesn’t come across as harsh or too discouraging:

      If you want libraries to purchase and be excited about your book, you have got to go traditional publishing. The few self-pubbed books we have on our shelves (almost entirely from local, community members) are obviously inferior in quality. They’re essentially unedited, and as a result you get unoriginal, uninspiring stories and bland illustrations. The actual physical quality of the book is often worse too.

      Now, what are your chances with a traditional publisher? Like any entertainment industry, there are obviously elements of luck, knowing the right people, etc, that have nothing to do with the actual quality of the story; otherwise, in my opinion, the biggest factor right now is originality. We have “cute animals doing things” books coming out our ears, but I’ve been asked for picture books featuring characters with eczema and alopecia and had to send those patrons away empty-handed. Do your books cover new (or at least only lightly-trodded) ground?

      The main exception would be if, as BadCulture fit mentions above, your end goal is just to be able to say “look what I did!”, then self-publishing is fine.

      1. Trina*

        Another picture book that was requested that doesn’t seem to exist: one featuring being adopted from foster care. (The adult had a ~3 yr old that would be formally adopted soon and wanted them to know what to expect, especially the court process.)

      2. Deuce of Gears*

        To piggyback on this: I’m an author in traditional publishing, and I’ve published middle grade sf (Rick Riordan Presents – this one is the most relevant to writing for younger audiences, although not picture books per se), am working on a YA sf trilogy, and have published adult sf/f.

        “Self-pub vs. trad?” is tricky because it partly depends on your goals/abilities/budget, but it also depends on the *audience.*

        What my editor at Rick Riordan Presents explained to me was that for middle grade, kids in the 8-12-year-old range don’t have their own credit cards! They’re generally not purchasing their own books. This means the gatekeepers (= people who buy the books) are NOT the direct reading audience; it’s librarians (school or public), teachers, and parents, and at least some of those are going to be relying on industry journals/reviews (as has been pointed out), which largely excludes self-pub books. Unless you have an unusual audience/circumstance [1], self-pub will tend not to make sense for a MG book. I’m guessing that, depending on the specific target age, picture books (and books for younger readers) will have similar considerations.

        [1] I’ve read anecdotally of a case of an author self-pubbing kids’ books *specifically* featuring and targeted toward kids with a specific hospital-stay-type ailment (because their kid had had it too), which got around through word-of-mouth in support groups and hospitals for that ailment.

        If you were, say, writing mafia romance or military sf for an adult audience, going self-pub could make a lot of sense! I am doing very well in trad pub (high five figures to low six figures, it varies), but I also have self-pub friends doing equivalently well. It’s so dependent on your temperament and priorities and audience. If you enjoy running your own business and wearing all the hats and taking the responsibility, self-pub can be great – for example, you get complete cover control as a self-pub author, you get all the profits, but if the cover sucks to the point of tanking the book, it’s on you. And of course any outlay is on you; marketing in self-pub is complex, depends on what KIND of book you’re marketing, and if you’re on somewhere like Amazon or using FB, sometimes the rules and rules changes can be obnoxious. Even for most self-pub authors who achieve success, discoverability can be hard (especially now) and it usually takes time over multiple book releases to build a readership. OTOH, trad pub is notoriously slow and you surrender a lot of control even beyond surrendering money.

        I understand the reluctance to deal with trad pub. Finding an agent (let alone a GOOD agent) is time-consuming and often crazy-making. But for *kids’ books,* in most cases, trad pub will usually be a better bet. And if you do go that route, you definitely want an agent.

        Good luck with your books and with making the decision that’s right for you!

        1. curly sue*

          A digression: If you wrote the Aru Shah books, then you are my 15 year old’s favourite author. (Direct quotes include: “this is the first time I’ve ever really felt *seen* by a book.”) If not, then you’re still definitely a very close runner-up; she’s a huge fan of the RRP books, and we have them all, many in hardcover.

          1. Deuce of Gears*

            Ahahaha sorry, that’s not me! I’m Yoon Ha Lee, I’m much more boring. =D But I’ve met Rosh on a few occasions, and she is a terrific person as well as a terrific writer! If you ever get a chance to hear her talk, she gives fabulous presentations.

            1. Trina*

              Not boring! I love all of y’all in RRP and I love that when a kiddo comes up to the reference desk and says “I read Percy Jackson, what should I read next?” that there’s an easy answer that includes so many books that are so different and diverse yet all share that same sense of adventure!

    8. bookStuff*

      Thanks for all of the replies! I want the books to be out there, I want kids and parents to read and enjoy them. I want my books to help kids learn that books can be fun.

    9. DependsOnHowYouDoIt*

      self publishing used to have a major stigma but that’s mostly faded. however, there is a difference between the self published serious author route and the self published I’m just doing my thing author. The serious self publish author still uses professional editors, cover artists, readers for audioversions,etc. and you cannot tell the difference between them and traditionally published books by looking or reading them. Many of these self published books are best sellers and win awards. Many previously had traditional publishers and decided to change directions later. See Gail Carriger (also writes as G.L. Carriger) for a great example of a very successful author who went this route. If you don’t devote this level of time and resources to self publishing then the result will likely be much less positive.

  17. Cancel or not?*

    This is medical adjacent but not asking for medical advice- has anyone ever decided to skip an urgent care appointment partly because of the doc it is with? I messaged my doctor ofc this afternoon to tell them something might be an issue. They messaged me back just before the office closed. My preference is that if things don’t get better, I’ll call early Monday am and ask for a Monday appt. The after hours line wanted to set me up with a Sat appointment so I said that’s ok but if I’m not feeling worse sat, I’ll cancel. An hour afterwards, I looked at the doc they assigned me to. I saw them in January for something completely different and thought they were not that great. I also am concerned that if the doc notices I saw them in mid January they might not take me seriously. I really like my PCP and would rather wait to see someone Monday. Thoughts? (Alison, if this is too close to medical advice, please delete. )

    1. Not A Manager*

      You can call the clinic, or message them, and ask for an appointment with a different doctor. Honestly, they won’t judge you for it and they probably won’t ask why. I’ve done it.

      1. Cj*

        My clinic has two doctors that only work in urgent care. if you want to be seen the same day, your only choice is one of them. fortunately, I like both of them.

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      This is no problem and no one will notice it. Their schedules morph all day long

      1. Gyne*

        It often is tracked, and many clinics have no-show policies that involve charging a fee for a missed appointment and then dismissal from the practice for repeated no-shows. My dentist charges $50 if I cancel with less than 48 hours notice. So I wouldn’t skip the appointment without knowing what the possible impact would be.

        OP, if there is still time, I agree with the above advice – if you haven’t confirmed the appointment, just say the time doesn’t work and ask if they have any openings on Mondays.

    3. MassChick*

      Absolutely let them know you prefer (want) an appointment with your PCP. I’ve become very particular about my doctors because seeing a doc I don’t like is a waste of time and money.

      I’ll follow my rheumatologist wherever he goes (I’m not in the USA now) even though he’s offered to refer me to someone closer.

    4. YouwantmetodoWHAT?! *

      I have absolutely refused to see a particular doctor. As a matter of fact, I told one that he may have gone to medical school, but I have lived in my body my whole life and he needs to listen to ME, and then I walked out and told the admin that I wanted it put in my file that I would not see him even if it was an emergency. And I refused to see him after that.
      Remember, Doctors are supplying a service that YOU are paying for and you should not tolerate bad service.

    5. Cj*

      I have definitely done this at our vet clinic. if you want a same day appointment, you call at 7:00 a.m. when they open, or as soon as you know your pet needs to be seen. one vet is scheduled for these appointments each day, so you don’t have a choice in that respect. But if it’s not a true emergency and it’s the one vet I really don’t like scheduled that day, I’ll put it off until the next day and call again then.

    6. Observer*

      You’ve gotten good advice about cancelling, so I won’t repeat that.

      But why would it matter that you saw them in January? Was there something specific about that visit that would *really* stick in someone’s mind to make them take you less seriously?

  18. The Dude Abides*

    Update from last week: I am officially in the contestant pool for Wheel of Fortune for the next year.

    The 5-minute interview seemed to be the only step, which I was not expecting – I had been to two Jeopardy auditions previously, Chicago in 2008 and Detroit in 2016, and both were all-day affairs due to travel and involved mock games.

    I also am incredibly fortunate; the day after the interview, almost half of my city lost power due to tornados accompanying a derecho.

    1. Dodubln*

      I love your user name, huge fan of The Big Lebowski! I have been there and done that with the Jeopardy audition, did mine in Chicago in the late 90’s, I know of that “pain”. As far as WOF goes, congrats! Is there anyway you can be that contestant that doesn’t goes for vowels when there is no reason to do so? ;)

      1. The Dude Abides*

        I make no promises – from other ventures, I know firsthand that playing under the lights with real money at stake is different than playing at home.

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

      WOW!!! You go! I hope you get the call soon and that you have a wonderful experience with the folks there.

    3. Professor Plum*

      Congrats—and you’ll get to be on Pat Sajek’s last season. Curious what the 5-minute interview consisted of—can you tell us more?

      1. The Dude Abides*

        Just a bit about myself and why I would be a good contestant.

        I am not confirmed on the show yet, I’m just in the pool of people that could be picked. If it were up to me, I would rather have Seacrest as host, and my partner cannot stand him.

  19. tangerineRose*

    I am so tired of lawns! I was just pulling weeds (flowering clover) out of my lawn, and the whole thing seems so pointless. Lawns have to be watered and mowed and weeded. What’s the point?

    People can run and play on a nice lawn, but there must be lots of other ground covers (like clovers, probably) that would work just as well. Of course, if I switched to using clover as a ground cover, my neighbors would probably hate me, but there must be other options.

    I keep wondering how much water and fuel and human energy is spent on this. If other people want a nice lawn, that’s fine, but why do I have to?

    1. Old Plant Woman*

      I’m right there with you. Wheat fields take less work. Guess I don’t really want one in front of my house. Strawberries? I looked into alternate ground covers. Didn’t find anything I liked, even a little bit. Slowly replacing grass with shrub and flower plantings. Where do you live and how big is your property? PNW here zone 7. 1\3 acre and very small house

        1. Ranon*

          Check your state/ local laws- several have made it illegal for HOAs to require lawns (more common in areas with water issues or with a big native plant/ pollinators advocacy push)

      1. Sloanicota*

        I think all the time about how I’m just a little peasant burgher growing a wheat field – but then I throw away the harvest every week because it’s just a display of wealth *sob.*

    2. Old Plant Woman*

      Some wonderful natural garden designs available for all zones. Just be really really sure you’ve researched and planned and done it right. Other wise you can wind up with a hot mess.

    3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      My dad has been anti-lawn for decades. His current house has a pretty small yard, so he had it landscaped with a “dry creek bed” (smooth rocks arranged to look like a creek bed in a low spot), tufts of large bunch grasses with bark dust between them, a couple small trees, a few slightly-larger-than-a-cat decorative rocks for visual interest (neighborhood cats love to bask on them since they have good sightlines and get warmed in the sun), a few raised beds for vegetables, and sections of ground cover like lavender that you don’t actually walk on.

      He figures that he’s within walking distance of a park with plenty of grass, way bigger than his yard, so why have grass at home as well?

      You might try walking around your neighborhood and see if anyone else has something other than a lawn, to get an idea what might work locally. You could also talk to local landscapers.

      I’ve been thinking of turning a big, useless chunk of my lawn into a pollinator garden, but I keep spending my yard time hacking back everything else that’s trying to grow places until I miss planting season.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Mmmm, lavender! Love it, and it’s a great natural shoo-away for garden nibblers like deer.

    4. Ellis Bell*

      I planted some micro clover and Irish moss with some small stepping stones in an area where I need to walk over, but can’t get the lawn to do well because of tree shade. The clover hasn’t done so well at all – possibly it would with more light? Apparently scattering it in your lawn cuts down on the large, more obvious clover, looks more like grass, and improves the grass too? There are supposed to be mini flowers in spring, but it never took off for me. The Irish moss was straggling all winter and spring but has perked up considerably, expanded outwards a few inches and is covered with miniscule white flowers. It’s very grassy looking and emerald green. The only thing is the same reason that makes it unlikely to need mowing is the same reason I’m not going to replace my lawn with it; it grows at a snail’s pace and getting enough plugs to grow together would cost a fortune. I could definitely see myself replacing lawn over time; depending on how it deals with foot traffic. I’ve also planted a pathway with aubretia, carpet of snow, so I’ll see how well that does too.

    5. Madame Arcati*

      If what you hate is the maintenance you could dial that back a lot and still have grass – leave the clover, enjoy the daisies, mow rarely and encourage wild flowers. Nice to look at, less work and good for wildlife. Be a friend to the butterflies and bees!
      The thing is (and I thought about this a lot before deciding to have a lawn laid in my back garden, which the landscape gardeners have just started at the end of the past week, squeeee) is that the alternatives to grass aren’t necessarily lower maintenance. Artificial grass? You still have to clean it and it’s bad for the environment re drainage and wildlife. (and personal taste but I don’t want my back garden to look like a hockey pitch or a greengrocer’s shop). Poor little earthworms. Pave it? Expensive to do properly/attractively, you still have to pull up weeds from the cracks and pressure-wash etc to stop it getting all manky with lichen etc. Gravel? Weeds still make it through, you have to keep raking it level and all your plants must be in tubs. Tarmac? Environment again, plus your garden looks like a car park.
      Shrubbery….well gather round the fire, children, while aunty Arcati tells you a story of the house she lives in. It was done, by some previous owner many moons ago, as a shrubbery, one assumes with lower level bushes, a small corner where you can sit, and sort of pathways/areas of stoney gravel. Cut to me buying the house and all the shrubs were ten foot high minimum. They had grown over to meet above the pathways forming a couple of tunnels to the shed and to the sitting area which was completely shadowed at all times anyway. There was no way to enjoy it; my garden might as well have stopped a few yards from my back wall where the patio ended. It was an unusable jungle that blocked staggering amounts of light to my patio and house and even to my neighbour’s garden (semi detached house with six foot fence between). So much hard work and expense, both by professionals and by me assisted by my enthusiastic mother (nothing gets rid of a laurel bush so fast as a 75yo woman with a chainsaw and a wild glint in her eye!) has been necessary to cut down trees (who the blazes puts a leylandii in a suburban-size back garden?!), grind stumps, cut back bushes, dig up huuuuuuge weeds previously hidden by said bushes and left to run rampant, haul out ivy (although ours isn’t poisonous lol), a period of months where the whole thing looked like nothing so much as Passchendaele the morning after….ooof. But soon my simple desire to look at pretty flowers whilst sitting in a deckchair, will be reality!

      1. Firebird*

        I’ve been seeing articles that recommend washing your landscaping stones. As in totally removing them, washing them, and putting them back.

        I can’t wait until an HOA starts to require it. Somebody always finds a way to make the easy solution be more work in the end.

    6. Chauncy Gardener*

      Clover used to be “The” lawn choice until, I think, after WWII and companies had a whole bunch of weedkiller stuff leftover and needed to sell it
      Clover is great for your soil and all the pollinators. Many people are switching over to clover and other native ground cover type lawns. It’s so much better for the environment in so many ways
      Plus clover can be used medicinally, if you’re into herbal remedies. (I hope that didn’t veer into too much medical territory, Alison!)

      1. Girasol*

        Our first lawn was dutch clover. It grew wonderfully, smelled like honey, looked great, and choked out weeds. The only downside is that if your neighbors think clover is a weed they’ll hate you.

    7. Sloanicota*

      I can’t figure out how to actually get rid of my grass yet, but one thing I do is not cultivate it. I have – I think – “warm season grass” that stays brown much of the year but grows green in the spring. All I do is mow it a lot. I don’t water or fertilize it, I don’t weed it and I don’t use broadleaf (or any other) herbicide. Just mow. It’s good enough for me.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      Long ago I got my mother-in-law (a strong environmentalist) a book on lawns and their history, and I read it too. One bit that stuck with me was the author’s observation that even the major “tear up your lawn” advocates had a little bit of flat grass still in their yards, because it’s hard to beat that for children and dogs.

      My local garden store sells clover seed and I have sprinkled that around my yard to have some diversity in the ground cover.

      Assuming you are not in an HOA with strict rules about lawns, you don’t have to have a lawn. Though replacing the grass with a garden doesn’t cut down the maintenance.

    9. Ranon*

      Look up “Lawns to Legumes” and “bee friendly lawn” if you want some lawn options or just some support for not weeding the clover out of your lawn (personally I am trying to get more clover into my lawn!) Where I live a blend of fescues, clover, hairy vetch and a few other things gets you something you can mow (to 4″, none of this 2″ golf course stuff) that still supports pollinators.

      Many of my neighbors have no or very little lawn, there are so many things you can do with yards- around here going full wildflower/ prairie is popular especially in the “hellstrip” parts

      I’m also just doing weed cover (cardboard) mulching and putting in planting beds anywhere the grass annoys me too much.

    10. Anthology*

      I want to put ground cover in some steep parts of my yard, but I don’t have a barrier between my grass and the neighbors’ grass (on all sides) and all of them would flip out if it encroached on their lawns. It’s that kind of neighborhood.

    11. Donkey Hotey*

      My COVID project was ripping out out front lawn. Replaced it with wild flowers and perennials. We’re the one weird yard in our block and i love it. Spend maybe an hour a week pulling invasive stuff but otherwise low maintenance. If you don’t have an HOA or city regs prohibiting it, do it!

    12. Old Plant Woman*

      My back yard is mostly veggie garden. Side is fruit trees and berries with mulch, no grass. Not low maintenance. Front is grass and flowers. Would your HOA accept some version of that? I keep telling myself I want less work while I keep adding more stuff. Oh well. Grass is a plant too. So I guess it does good for the environment.

    13. Girasol*

      Natural meadows, unweeded and unmown, look lovely as long as they’re not in the front yard. IMHO the traditional city/suburban lawn that needs to be mowed is a throwback to English estates. It’s become such a tradition in the US that we’ve forgotten that the original reason to grow perfectly good grass and then whack it off is to make our homes look like the estates of wealthy families with large flocks of sheep.

    14. Chaordic One*

      This has previously been covered on this site, but if you still want to go with a conventional lawn, your local county extension office usually has good information on the varieties of lawn that work best for where you live. (They can tell you about varieties that are drought-resistant, have low water consumption and that are comparatively low maintenance.) It really seems odd to me that this kind of information is not more widely publicized and more widely and easily available.

    15. goddessoftransitory*

      You don’t! Ask local nurseries or google local eco groups to find how to install native plants and insect-friendly ground cover. It’s the next big thing and so much better for the environment in so many ways.

    16. Samwise*

      Flowering clover is pretty! My lawn is only partly grass, mostly a mix of “meadow” (aka weeds) and moss. It’s always green due to the mix, often flowering; it’s nice year round. It does need to be mowed (to keep down weeds ticks) but not too often.

      I pull out the weedy volunteers — English ivy, sprouts from the neighboring oak, redbud, maple, pine, holly.

      1. Samwise*

        And I have not watered it since I decided I was done with a grass lawn 27 years ago.

    17. Love to read*

      Before modern fertilizers, lawns were often half grass, half clover. Clover fixes nitrogen, so works as a natural fertilizer. The lawns were green and pleasant to walk on.

      People I know are also shrinking the lawn, adding native perennial plants.

      Hope something like this works for you.

    18. YouwantmetodoWHAT?! *

      How about pulling out the lawn and putting in a hummingbird, butterfly, bee garden? You could do a path, have a bench etc, and that way you can actually enjoy the space. Add some edible plants and you get food out of it as well.

    19. just another queer reader*

      I mean, do you have to have a nice lawn?

      What would happen if you stopped watering and weeding it, and only mowed, say, once a month?

      Would you get fined by the city? Shunned by the neighbors?

      It would certainly look different, but would it be worth it for all the time and effort saved?

  20. Anthology*

    Anyone else still dealing with wildfire smog? My house smells nasty (my husband has been experimenting with the food dehydrator…) and I am desperate to open the windows and freshen up the place.

    1. Indolent Libertine*

      Here in northern CA we are, unusually, free of smoke right now, but we invested in a couple of air purifiers when fire season started getting really bad here several years ago. We have a model from Germ Guardian that has a UV cycle that neutralizes odors; we keep one of them in the kitchen all the time and it really helps with cooking smells.

      1. RC*

        Putting on my atmospheric chemistry hat: be really careful with UV, it can make ozone and other stuff you don’t want to be breathing. e.g. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.est.1c02582. for smoke you’re better off just with a mechanical cleaner (run air through a filter) and if you really need smells gone, I think activated charcoal is the way to go. End of PSA :)

    2. Firebird*

      My bedroom still smells like smoke even with the windows closed and there’s no air conditioning. I know a surgical mask isn’t supposed to be useful for smoke, but it seems to help me a bit when I wear one to sleep.

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

        Yeah, I’m wearing a mask too while I sleep, and sometimes when I’m awake. My feeling is that even if it’s not perfect at filtering out everything, whatever it does filter out is all to the good!

    3. Chauncy Gardener*

      It’s really awful. And to top it all off, our central AC just broke so we have no choice but to open the windows.

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

        Ugh, I’m sorry. I’m in an apartment that is mostly dependent on having the windows open for cooling, so I feel for you. I did find a window filter that I ordered for the last bout of wildfire smoke that seems to work somewhat? I think it was the MicroAirScreen Window Air Screen at allergystore dot com? You have to measure your window to get approximately the right size, but they are adjustable. I just wish it were bigger, as I’d like to have the window open more.

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          Thank you so much for that recommendation! I hadn’t even thought of a product like that
          Thanks!!

    4. Sloanicota*

      I struggled a lot with the smoke (currently clear here). A) my dog still wants his walks and doesn’t understand why I’m limiting his time outdoors. B) my house is old and draughty so I don’t have a lot of confidence the air quality inside is so much better (I use upstairs AC window units which I tried to discontinue using on red days because I am not clear on the filter situation) and C) my car AC is broken so driving around with the windows open is mandatory (I wore an N95 in the car).

    5. Juggling Plunger*

      If you need to improvise something, it’s apparently possible to make a filter using a box fan and a bunch of furnace filters (Google “box fan air filter” for instructions and to make sure you’re getting the right kind of filters). There’s a bunch out there from random YouTubers, but I’m also seeing recommendations to do this from the University of Washington school of public health, Washington Post, etc, so I think it’s fairly legitimate (I’ve never done it myself, though).

      1. Jay*

        It’s called a Cursi-Rosenthal Box. I just built one and it removed the “musty” smell from my way-too-old-but-the-landlord-won’t-replace-it apartment carpet over night, reduced my indoor allergies to just about nil, and took care of the wildfire smoke. Cost about $75.00, most of that for the box fan.

      2. Jackalope*

        I’ve done that and can attest that it works well. The summer of 2020 we had a lot of smoke here and were still pretty isolated because of COVID so I couldn’t go anywhere else. That made all of the time I spent in my bedroom/home office at least possible; I’d been getting smoke even with all of the windows closed because it’s an old house with imperfect sealing. It made SO much of a difference. I’m not a crafty person – I swear I become all thumbs – but it was easy to put together even for me. 10/10 stars, would recommend, would do again.

    6. Roy G. Biv*

      Yep. We live in a state on the Canadian border and the smog has drifted here and remains, probably due to the humidity. Rain in the forecast so I hope it scrubs the air clean. Then all we will smell is the acrid smoke from the knuckleheads setting off fireworks all weekend.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Oh ugh. THIS x 1000000.
        WHY oh why oh why???
        Plus, it freaks my poor dog out.

    7. Can't Sit Still*

      An air purifier with a smoke filter will help a lot. I suggest one with auto detection near the food dehydrator. Buy an extra smoke filter or two to have on hand, because wildfire smoke clogs up filters like crazy.

      I have both a Coway Airmega AP-1512HH, which detects smoke, odors and other air pollutants, and a Levoit with a smoke filter, which needs to be manually turned on and isn’t so great with removing odors. In addition to wildfire smoke, the Airmega takes care of cooking odors, litterbox odors, and odors from neighboring condos.

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      Not this year so far, but the last couple, yes, and UGH, the smell! Like somebody barbecued a hamster cage (without the hamsters) and then added some rotten eggs.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      Today was very hazy in the Boston area but I couldn’t smell anything. The light had a brassy quality to it that didn’t look right, though. I was inside most of the day working on decluttering.

  21. air quality help*

    With all the smoke from the wildfires in Canada, I’ve been feeling it when I’m outside for even short periods of time in my area, so I’m looking for general recommendations for anything that people have found helpful for dealing with this. More specifically, one thing I’m considering is getting an air filter for my house. Does anyone have any experience with these and if they’ve found them to be helpful? If so, I would love some recommendations.

    1. Missb*

      I bought a portable air purifier off Amazon a number of years ago- germ guardian is the brand. We had horrible wild fire smoke for a long time (pre Covid), and it definitely seemed to help with indoor air quality.

      I’d you go that route, consider ordering a replacement filter too.

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

      I like the Alen brand tower air purifiers, available at Alen dot com. The ones that are towers have worked well for me (I think the only one left to get now is the T500). Buy extra filters, though. My old T300 is not working as well as it could on this wildfire after the last wildfire. I should have swapped out the filter early since it had gotten an unusual amount of use.

    3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      If you’re not worried about aesthetics, you can rig up a Corsi-Rosenthal box with some 20×20 furnace filters and a box fan. Even before the pandemic, I knew people who’d tape a single furnace filter to the back of a box fan and run it in the middle of a room (with the windows closed) to filter the air during smoke season.

      I have a furnace where I can put high-grade filters in the whole-house HVAC system as well, so if your system can handle those it can be an easy swap.

      1. RC*

        Seconding a CR box (google will help you set it up). Takes ~$100 and maybe 30 mins to make. We have an airmega here that usually lives in the bedroom.

        The thing to watch for is you do NOT want “air purifiers” that are claiming to do anything chemical/UV/ionizers, because that makes ozone which you do not want in your breathing space. Check out cleanaircrew.org, they have a lot of resources.

    4. Bexx*

      Californian here, and unfortunately well versed in air purifiers. The Conway Airmegas are the best ones I’ve tried.

    5. Bluebell*

      I’m on the east coast and bought an air purifier a few years ago when we had a smoky few days. since then we’ve used it a few times and it has helped. Shauna/goldengateblonde tweeted tips on dealing with wildfire smoke.

    6. Double A*

      Yes, we live in California so we have air filters to cover the whole house. I bought based on recommendations from the Wirecutter. They are essential during fire season and help a lot.

      1. Air purifier recommendation*

        I second the Wirecutter recommendations, which I’ve found useful for multiple products. I looked just now and I see now that the Levoit air filter that I mentioned in my other reply is on their list.

      2. BRR*

        I also got the wire cutter recommended one. I’ve noticed an improvement with pollen, which is why I originally got it, but it’s been nice to have for the wildfire smoke as well.

    7. Air purifier recommendation*

      As someone with asthma, air purifiers are essential when the air is smoky in California. I’ve used them for years and they make a huge difference.

      I’m a fan of the portable Levoit HEPA filter model. I selected this one because it consistently gets positive reviews, it’s affordable, and it’s quiet which is important because I’m sensitive to noise. I’m sensitive to noise and selected this one because it’s quiet. I live in an old building with leaky windows and if the smoke is particularly bad, I’ll have two running at once, one in my bedroom and one in the living room. Since the filter is lightweight and portable, I’ve taken it with me when traveling to use in hotel rooms, etc.

      I change the filter element every year before smoke season. In a particularly smoky year, I was able to see how dirty the filter part was when I removed it. It might not be necessary every year, but I always do it so I can trust I’m protecting my lungs as best as I can.

    8. Once too Often*

      Love the Intellipure; not cheap but make a big difference. Used by the Cleveland Clinic among others. A neighbor stopped by & commented on the air quality at my place. Went out & got herself one. It’s kept my place fresh on smokey days.

      Two filters; one is changed yearly the other every 6 months.

  22. work shoe help!*

    Does anyone have recommendations for comfortable but professional womens work shoes? I’ve been starting to do more in person work meetings, and I’m finding out hard to go back to professional shoes, especially since I sometimes have to do a fair amount of walking. I tend to need arch support, and would prefer closed shoes rather than sandals, so I thought something flat-like would be a natural choice, but I’m having trouble finding ones that are comfortable. I’ve had Rothy’s suggested to me, but those are just so uncomfortable for me (but previous flats I’ve had have been okay). Any recommendations would be great!

    1. MissCoco*

      I have quite high arches and the dansko Larisa flat is my all-time favorite work shoe. I have them in tan and black. I usually do 2-5 miles of walking a day between work and my commute and even with wearing them on a commute (including getting caught in more than a few downpours), they still look respectable after almost 2 years of wear.

      They do take a bit to break in because the upper starts out a bit snug for me, but that brief break in period is worth it to have a shoe that stays on my foot when walking and has decent arch support.

    2. NotBatman*

      Women’s loafers from the brand QSCQ have been my choice for a while now. They have arch support, no heel, and soft sides. I stand 4 – 6 hours a day at my job, and they’ve never given me pain.

    3. Anthology*

      Vionic. Styles vary from dowdy to tolerable, but they’re made for problematic feet, and work great for my bad knees and ankles.

      1. Indolent Libertine*

        I have some very comfy and pretty polished looking MJs from Cobb Hill. Very much recommended.

    4. Manders*

      I like ballet flats from Me Too, especially the more flexible kind that have some elastic around the top part. I could walk for miles and miles in them.

    5. Addicted*

      Comfort Plus by Predictions are my all time favorite, and inexpensive. I have them in many colors and can wear them all day.

    6. Joanne’s Daughter*

      Found the Rothy’s to be too flat for me although they are cute. I have many pairs of Allbirds, they are very comfortable and are washable.

  23. They Don’t Make Sunday*

    Bike accessory question: seeking a recommendation for sturdy and spacious bike panniers (double sided). My current ones are plastic ones from PUBLIC Bikes. They’re full of rips and holes and are so misshapen that they’re constantly getting lodged in my back wheel. I have to constantly kick them free while riding. Long overdue for a better set.

    1. Missb*

      Dh and I love Arkel panniers. Made in Canada I think. We each have a set of touring panniers (like two back, two front, a roll bag and a handlebar bag) but he also has commuter bags from them. Very well made.

    2. Come On Eileen*

      I don’t have a suggestion but wanted to tell you that I love your user name! When Harry Met Sally is one of my favorite movies ever.

    3. Dicey Tillerman*

      Ortlieb makes great panniers–I think I have the Classic Back-Roller ones. They’re waterproof and sturdy as hell, and they have a big reflective triangle on the back that makes me feel better about riding on the street. They’re not cheap, but you also won’t need to buy another set for probably a decade, at least.

      1. Keener*

        I was also going to recommend Ortlieb. I have one that converts from panier to backpack and it’s fantastic.

      2. I take tea*

        I’ve had a pair of Ortlieb for fifteen years now, and they are as good as new. Very durable and water proof. They are adjustable, but do try them out if you can, I know people on small bikes might find at least my model too big.

      3. Mighty midget*

        I have Ortleib too, been commuting with them 3 times per week for a year and still look almost as good as new.

      4. Phlox*

        My Ortliebs (backroller classic) are also ~15 yrs old, I bought them used off Craigslist. They have some scuffs from a bike crash in 2015, but vinyl repair tape took care of the holes. They are just sturdy and durable and Ortlieb sells replacements parts for the plastic items for easier replacement (none of my buckles are original i think? really cold winter + plastic = they snap sometimes).

        If you want more chic vibes, try Po Campo and Banjo Brothers is another option that is less spendy than Ortlieb.

    4. Bethlam*

      I have Axiom, 11 years old, used on multiple multiple-day bike trips, lots of training and casual rides, still in great shape. Large compartment and 2 smaller ones. big reflective triangles on back, smaller ones on front. Very well made and straps, buckles, and strings are all still good.

      Mine came with their own raincoats, but couldn’t find that model when advising my sister on her purchase.

    5. another Hero*

      I read a good number of reviews and basically all said to go with the Ortlieb Back Roller Classics. Because so many people have them, I was able to get a good-condition used set (with a backpack attachment, though I wouldn’t use them if I just needed a backpack). I’ve used them for both a bike trip and regular errands/groceries and I’m a big fan. They hold a lot, my stuff is dry even when I’m soaked, and I think they’re going to last a long time.

  24. Moisturizer recommendations?*

    It seems like Neutrogena has discontinued the product I’ve been using since approximately forever. I’m looking for a simple facial moisturizer with sunscreen built in, that doesn’t cost a million dollars an ounce or leave your skin feeling weird. Suggestions, recommendations (for or against)? Thanks!

    1. Not A Manager*

      I like Olay Complete moisturizer with sunscreen. It’s only 15 SPF but I don’t like a lot of chemicals on my face so that works for me.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I use the Trader Joe’s version of this. It’s good for everyday, for sure; would not recommend as your only sunscreen for a day at the beach or whatever.

      2. RC*

        Specifically the “sensitive skin” version— some years back they “reformulated” the “normal” one to use chemical sunscreens instead of zinc oxide, without advertising it, and it took me a new bottle and about a month of my skin being suddenly angry and awful for me to clock that that’s what happened. So annoying. But anyway, the sensitive one is still zinc oxide.

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      I am forever in pursuit of these basic moisturizers—companies keep seeming to think that I want something more complicated and discontinuing the ones I like. In any case:

      My current one is the Eucerin Daily Protection with SPF 30. It’s thinner and lighter weight so good for summer (sometimes not moisturizing enough for me in the winter) and usually about $10 a bottle.

    3. RagingADHD*

      I currently use the generic equivalent of Cerave AM moisturizer. I believe both Target and Walmart have house brand versions, and I wouldn’t be surprised if most large pharmacy chains do as well.

      Very light but effective, and SPF 30.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      I use CeraVe ultra-light, spf 30. For a couple months it became impossible to find in stores and super pricey on Amazon for some reasons but it seems to be available again now at a normal price! Only one I’ve ever found that doesn’t make me feel like I have product caked on my face.

    5. Bunny Girl*

      Australian Gold has some of my favorite facial sunscreen products. I use their tinted sunscreen but they also have a plant based one that I’ve used that’s very nice. It’s $11-$14 for 3oz.

    6. Deschain*

      Check out Vanicream Facial Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30. I don’t use this one specifically, but the other Vanicream products are great if you can’t tolerate fragrances or have sensitive skin. I changed to this when the Neutrogena became hard to find (probably because they were discontinuing it!).

    7. Kw10*

      Do products like this need to be washed off at the end of the day? I’ve been thinking I should switch to something with SPF instead of just a moisturizer, but I usually don’t wash my face at night if I’m going to shower in the morning.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Not that I know of. But I generally clean my face at night and use a heavier cream then, anyway. It’s a good idea to get the sweat and dirt of the day off your face before bed.

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      I use Neutrogena Healthy Defense with 50 SPF and swear by it. I used to get it at Rite Aid but my local store is so regularly hit by shoplifters that I resorted to ordering it on Amazon (reminds me, got to get more.)

    9. Suggestions Please*

      I asked this question a couple of weeks ago and got some excellent suggestions. I haven’t found anything quite as good as the Neutrogena products that seem to have been discontinued. I had been using Olay Complete and thought it was O.K. I’m kind of cheap and a bit put off by the prices of some the recommended products. Some commenters recommended buying travel-size products just to test them and I was shocked at the prices of such small containers, but if I didn’t like the product at least I wouldn’t waste it. I was also a bit put off that the shelves of my stores are crowded with gentle face washes that no one seems to want to buy.

      I bought the generic Target and WalMart versions of facial moisturizers with sunscreen and I think they’re both a bit better than Olay, with the WalMart version being my favorite so far. It seemed to me that the first few times I used the Target brand it left a “shine” behind that I really didn’t like. Having bought the product I thought I’d use it up and found that with regular use, the unwanted shine seemed to go away. Anyway, I’m going to keep experimenting and trying new things to see if I can’t find something better. I sure miss my Neutrogena.

  25. Cramped in the city*

    Bunk bed advice for toddlers.
    I read everywhere that the top of a bunkbed is for kids 6 and older.
    Has anybody put a 3 year old one on the top bunk of one of the “low” bunkbeds (bottom bed close to floor level, top bunk under 5′ high) ?

    I live in a two bedroom apartment with a 10m2 (109 sq feet) second bedroom. We can’t fit in a twin bed because of the shape of it and windows/wardrobe inside the wall situation, so us adults have the bigger room (and the kids pretty much sleep there right now, they’re 2,5 and 6 m. The toddler sleeps through only when someone is with him – he spent 6 months in his room and that didn’t change, so he’ll move back to the small bedroom when the baby’s sturdy enough to be left alone with him). Ceilings are over 9′, but we’re renting so we can’t do anything crazy.

    Thanks for ideas.

    We won’t be moving for at least a few years.

    1. Not A Manager*

      Probably you could, especially if there were rails around the top bunk, but IDK if I would do it. Can you put a bunk bed in the larger room and just have that as the family sleeping room? Can you put a platform double bed in the smaller room and the adults sleep there, with the children in the larger room? I had a platform bed that was basically a loft, with room under it for a desk, but you could put any furniture under it really.

    2. California Dreamin'*

      Yes! We had twins sleeping in a room that’s a good size but difficult to configure because there are door/windows on three of the walls. We were quite flummoxed when they were ready to move out of cribs because there was just no way to put two twins in there. I found the most fabulous bed. The best way I can describe it is that it was an L shape where the long side of the L was a twin bunk about 4 feet off the ground, and then there was another twin that was on casters that actually rolled under the higher bed to form the shorter side of the L. So basically the foot of one bed was in the space below the head of the taller bed if that makes sense. It was the most ingenious use of space. (And to top it off, there were also dresser drawers under the rest of the bunk part!) My twins slept in it from age 3 until they stopped sharing a room at age 13. I will look to see if it’s still sold and will comment with a link if it is.

      1. California Dreamin'*

        I got so excited that I forgot to say that safety-wise, the upper bed on ours was completely enclosed by a panel that came up maybe a foot above the mattress? To get out of the bed, the child who was up there had to scooch down to the foot of the bed where there was an opening, and there were three sturdy stairs down (not a ladder).
        We did have one mishap during a rowdy playgroup once where one of my kids took a fall off the upper bed. But I was never worried about someone falling out of the bunk in their sleep.

    3. Double A*

      Oh… I have never heard about that age limit. My daughter has been sleeping in a top bunk since she was 4. It has a railing. She generally very clumsy and has never fallen. The bunk is about should high so it must be about 4.5 feet? I have never really worried about it because we bunked her because she demands one of us sleep with her and I was sick of the floor being taken up by a bed. We’re often in the room with her but not always.

      As for a 3 year old, I would possibly do it if I felt they were coordinated enough. My daughter wasn’t by my son is on his way to being (he’s only 2 now but is better at climbing up/down things than her).

    4. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

      Been sleeping in my bunk bed (top one) since I was 4 (maybe a few months earlier), really not sure how much of a difference 1 year would make though. I’ve seen bunk beds with “roofs” (kind of tunnels that are fixed to its sides), something like that might help maybe?

      (If your children are anything like my sister and me, be prepared for arguments about who gets to use the top bunk though.)

    5. Alex*

      Can you fit a toddler bed that takes a crib mattress? I might also look into DIY ideas, like buying some low drawers or shelves and making a small captain’s bed with a crib mattress. Crib mattresses are 52 inches long, so you can have your child sleep on one until they are six and able to do a bunk. My friend’s child used to sleep in what was practically a closet and didn’t fit a twin size bed, and she slept on a crib mattress until she was 8 I think!

      1. Observer*

        Yes, those have become fairly common, as well as “convertible” cribs. My impression is that the toddler beds are less expensive, so if you are buying for a toddler, that’s the way I would go.

    6. Samwise*

      I would not put a child that age in the top bunk. Even a “low” top bunk is too high. Too easy for a child to tumble out.

      Maybe a trundle bed? Or put them in the same bed.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        Yeah, at that age my kids were still falling out of the toddler bed just a few inches from the ground! Also, you have to know your kids’ personalities. I’d love a bunk or loft bed to save the space, but my kids would immediately start launching themselves off the top bunk…so this isn’t an option for us for at least a few more years.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        When my sister was three or four she either decided to climb out under the top bunk railing, or she was sleepwalking, or she tumbled underneath it in her sleep feet first (she was a very active and often horizontal sleeper). Only her body could get through, not her head, so she was pretty much hanging by her neck and yelling for us to free her.

    7. Rekha3.14*

      We are thinking of the kid’s two- way bunk bed from Ikea, it’s about this height. We have a 3.5yo whose older sister (8) may be getting her own loft bed and it’s a reasonable, flexible option. The younger kid would just be on a mattress on the floor. Or can they both be on the floor? I’ve seen a cool bed online where it was this way, with a little frame around the bed. the floor beds I’ve seen are also called “Montessori” style.

    8. Jules the First*

      I’ve seen lots of parents turn the Ikea Kura bed into makeshift bunks – you set it up at the upper height setting and then put extra slats and a mattress underneath for the younger child. I’ve also seen it with a triple Trofast unit added to make big steps instead of the ladder.

    9. Observer*

      If you have enough floor space to pull out a trundle consider that. That keeps the floor space clear to use the rest of the time. Also, feel free to block the window. That’s what we did for our kids.

  26. Firebird*

    My daughter took me shopping. At the end of the day, she looked at me and said “Short people are screwed.” She no longer complains about my sense of style, so at least there’s that. I can sew, but I can’t make shoes.

    Dance music is calling me and I really need better shoes. Where can I find character type dance shoes in wide sizes? I’m a 6.5(US) wide, currently wearing size 7, because that was the closest I could get at the time. I’ve tried padding and insoles, but they’re still uncomfortable.

    Plain black with a 1 inch heel would be ideal. Regular low heeled dress shoes (no sandals or strappy types) might be workable if the heels are stable and not too high. A strap across the instep is fine.

    1. NotBatman*

      Much as I don’t like their… anything, I always use Amazon. As a fellow shortie, I got by with unflattering kids’ shoes until I found out you can filter Amazon search results by size alone. So I search “women’s character shoes”, select my odd size and width, and have a lot of options.

    2. Doctor is In*

      Zappos. You can search by size and width. You can get free shipping both ways. I also have wide feet.

    3. Just here for the scripts*

      Look for professional dance shoes like from Capezio. They’re in a whole range of sizes

      1. Not A Manager*

        I recommend Capezio as well. I just checked their site. They seem to have the required sizes, and they’re having a sale right now, too.

    4. BookMom*

      Would an actual dance costume supply store be a good option? 6.5 isn’t too small a size for girls/teens who take dance lessons.

    5. OyHiOh*

      Discount Dance is my favorite dance supply warehouse. They carry most of the standard character brands (Capezio, Theatricals. . . ) in ladies and children’s sizes. I think the lowest heel I’ve seen on their character shoes is 1.5 but that might work if you can get the sizing right.

    6. *daha**

      For wide shoes, I always recommend Hitchcock. They’re on the web as wideshoes dot com. None of what I see there seems to be specifically for dance, and I’m not a dancer myself, so I don’t know about suitability.

    7. Qwerty*

      Capezio sells their character shoes online and carries narrow, medium, and wide sizes.

      I prefer trying shoes on first rather than trusting “order up X from street size”. Local dance stores tend to be small businesses without websites, so I either search via Google Maps on a dance store then call and ask if they carry character shoes in my size (to save on driving). Or ask the theatere / show choir department at the local high school where they buy their shoes.

    8. Lluviata*

      For the last two dance shoes, I’ve made my own by adding suede to the bottom of non-dance shoes. I really like this method because I’m extremely picky about shoes. This way, I can buy a shoe that fits my foot and is the heel height that I want, then add suede so that it slides nicely.

      I buy the brand Soles2dance on Amazon. Look for “stick-on suede soles.”

      I’ve never had it come off, and I swing dance which can get pretty vigorous. I’m on my second pair of suede soles now, and I really recommend it.

  27. Taking the long way round*

    Did anyone watch The Shrink Next Door on Apple TV? It’s absolutely awful (that such a thing happened, I mean) and fascinating at the same time. What did you think of it?

    1. Junebug*

      Started watching during early Covid since I love Paul Rudd and Will Ferrell but found it too cringey and ended up reading the Wikipedia synopsis. Agree about the whole saga being both awful and fascinating.

    2. Sitting Pretty*

      I listened to the podcast and found the story fascinating and so chilling! Didn’t watch the show, may or may not. Both those actors and great but sometimes troubling things are easier for me to read or listen to. The storyline of seemingly “normal” neighbors/lovers/coworkers or whatever becoming increasingly terrible is just so interesting, and of course makes us all wonder if we’re really as immune to it as we think we are

      1. Taking the long way round*

        Oh yes, I want to listen to this now I’ve seen the show it’s based on.

  28. StellaBella*

    Gardening thread! What’s growing in your little or big garden?

    I repotted two aloe vera plants, and started some kitty grass, and cleaned up my porch garden. Plus took all the bulbs out of the soil (in pots) to store them in the cool dark basement until autumn. I will repot a monstera this weekend or next if I get to the garden store for soil.

    1. Madame Arcati*

      See above for my garden saga but one of the things I found in amongst the giant shrubs of doom was a small struggling rose bush. I dug it up and moved it and it is now flourishing and blooming beautifully!
      My herbs are doing well too – most survived the winter except the parsley, and I added dill and hyssop this spring. I have thyme, chives, lovage, rosemary, marjoram, oregano, mint too.
      I am very much taken with my salvia “hot lips”.

    2. Time for Tea*

      This summer’s main project is hedging. I’m ripping out an awful conifer hedge and replacing it with Portuguese Laurel that will fit in better and be easier to maintain.

      Last year I took out an uninspiring shrub border in front of that conifer hedge and put in two large beds instead, taking up a big chunk of the front lawn to do so. The plants I put in there are all doing really well, lots of pollinator friendly things and we have tons of bees from first light through to dark.

      Maybe this year maybe next year is to take up the rest of the front lawn and put another large bed in with paths between them all.

    3. Doctor is In*

      Kale, spinach and lettuce are doing well. I have 3 tomato plants with small green tomatoes that seem not to want to ripen.

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        Mine, too! So many little green tomatoes that seem happy to remain as they are. I wonder why?

    4. Missb*

      My dogs have figured out how to pick both raspberries and strawberries. Which is fine for the raspberries- I purposely let the canes arch over the garden fence this year and knew they might snack on them.

      But the strawberris- ugh, lol. The variety is Hood, which imo is the very best strawberry. I’m growing them in a greenstalk tower, which has 6 levels. The top three levels are clearly ours at this point.

      I added some alfalfa pellets to just under the soil near some veggies last week as fertilizer. Pretty sure a squirrel has decided that those are yummy. He or she isn’t affecting the plants at all but I may need to switch to liquid fert for a bit. The squirrel seems to be sampling a few bean plants that are emerging too. And I can see a few leaves of stevia have been munched. It’s all good so far.

      Dh and I toured the greenhouse manufacturing facility this week. It is possible that we will have a greenhouse built sometime next year and we needed to ask some questions about the foundation required as well as the logistics for getting power and water inside. Absolutely lovely greenhouses, and a sweet very local small business.

      1. Snell*

        I never have any problems with animals eating my strawberries before I do, and it’s not that there are no animals around—I get the typical urban wildlife grazing on the fruits of my labor during the day while I’m at work. I think my strawberries are fragrant and sweet, so I’m torn between being relieved that I get all the strawberries, and being insulted that no animal visitors want them, lol.

        I love a cute dog story. Our back neighbors have a jujube tree that drops fruit on our side, and when my aunt’s dog visits us, he doesn’t eat them, but he throws them in the air and kicks/chases them around the yard.

    5. Sloanicota*

      Last year I put out a bunch of day lily bulbs from a mixed set so this year I’ve been enjoying watching them sprout up in different colors of red and orange. I probably have six or seven that have come back well in the past few weeks. My spring bulbs did terribly though – I must have put them out too late (we had a late frost). None of my gladiolus are going to bloom, just leave spikes.

    6. Lizabeth*

      The bunnies are eating the black eyed Susan I planted earlier in the spring. The stinky rabbit/deer spray didn’t make a dent this time. It now has hardware cloth encircling it and hopefully will recover. And I think it’s the young bunnies that are chomping.

      1. Lizabeth*

        Also my ferns are very very happy that I repotted them into pots with a water wicking reservoir.

    7. Sloanicota*

      A gardening question for the people: what is with the folks who put that terrible high-pitched motion-activated deer thing in public places?? There are now two folks who have placed these facing the sidewalk in my neighborhood (not my neighbors unfortunately – people I never see and have no way to talk to). I think this is the height of rudeness. That horrible shrill sound is terrible every time I walk by, like an instant headache. If people want to plant deer-beloved plants in yards that face a wooded park full of deer, I have no opinion on that, but why split everybody’s head over it?? My current theory is that perhaps they are old people who can’t hear the sound themselves.

      1. Snell*

        Sometimes it’s not to repel deer, but free-roaming cats. I’ve heard a number of accounts all of which say it is completely ineffective for such a purpose, and also lots of complaints about being disbelieved that humans can hear that awful “fringe” noise.

        For people who put up those devices and do believe humans can hear them, it’s sometimes about repelling the youths or other humans.

        1. Snell*

          I realized that I didn’t really get into where you wondered “Why split everybody’s head over it??” but you will notice that in the two scenarios I mentioned, either the person disregards others who say it bothers them, or bothering others is the point, so. Not a whole lot of consideration for others in shared spaces, as you say.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        Never heard of this as there aren’t any deers were I live, but isn’t that noise pollution? It’s not like a car alarm if it’s set off to sound regularly.

    8. Thunder kitten*

      I propagated some basil and repotted it. My propagated mint (peppermint and spearmint are doing great in their containers.
      Chives, sage and oregno are fighting for dominance in a corner of our garden bed (I didnt realize sage and oregano were perennials or that chives would spread so much).

      waiting for cukes, peppers and tomatoes to ripen.

    9. Bunny Girl*

      I’m just fighting with my garden. We are in a drought and our county has said we can only use outdoor water three times a week. It’s not totally mandatory yet, but it’s looking like it might be heading there. And it’s been about 100 degrees on a daily basis. So nothing is looking great despite my best efforts. My lemon balm and mint are looking great though. I made an iced tea with them a couple weeks ago and it was great.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I think it was Fposte a few weeks ago who had a thread with some suggestions for collecting grey water in the home (easy stuff, like rinse your fruit over a bowl and then use that bowl to water plants). Of course this is only good for individual plants, it wouldn’t work for a lawn.

        1. Bunny Girl*

          Yeah I’ve been doing stuff like that and unfortunately our garden is just a touch too big to rely on this for the whole spread. I’ve been prioritizing my neediest plants like my cucumbers. Just not a good season for gardens where I’m at I guess. I think next year if we are still in drought conditions I’ll probably just do native flowers or herbs instead of vegetables.

    10. Anthology*

      I am redoing my front yard after having some hardscaping done, and trying to find some bulbs that will tolerate constant wildlife interference. We have had luck with daffodils (IIRC, they’re toxic, so that makes sense) but everything else gets gnawed to the ground until it gives up and dies. I’m thinking of adding some lily-of-the-valley, which is also supposedly toxic.

      I’m going to add some pollinator-friendly things for the bees and butterflies, but damn I’m tired of the groundhogs and deer destroying my bulbs. They bite everything off at the base, suck out the water, then leave it to die. It’s so infuriatingly wasteful. There’s a creek at the end of the street! Drink there!

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Maybe try some ornamental allium? The John Scheepers website has some super options and in general, no one eats allium. (that is the onion/garlic family). If you are in the corrent zone in the US, Camassia is great too for spring. Plus winter aconite, bluebells and hellebores. No one eats those
        There is also a product called Plantskydd. I think it is made is one of the Scandinavian countries. It has been deterring deer and other critters from eating all my hostas, daylilies and the like

    11. GoryDetails*

      My self-watering planters are full of eggplants and peppers (hot and sweet) and tomatoes, though only the peppers have any fruit nearing harvest-size. I have various herbs that are thriving in the overgrown garden beds (which I really need to tidy up one of these days/months/years {rueful grin}), including a small bay shrub (I bring that in for the winter and set it out again in spring – fresh bay leaves are AWESOME), some sage, and the beautifully-self-sowing chives.

    12. Girasol*

      Pinetree Garden Seeds shipped me a batch of strawberry crowns a month ago that arrived in the mailbox all shriveled and dried out. I thought, these aren’t going to grow! But I planted them anyway. The very next morning leaves were coming out. Three weeks later they started in on an amazing crop of berries. They go nicely with the black currants that are ripening now, just a handful of each in a bowl with cream.

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        That sounds delicious! I forgot to mention my own strawberries, which are in a pot and in a hanging container, and furnish one or two berries daily. Kind of hit-or-miss with flavor, though. The blackberries, on the other hand, are producing well and I’ve made a couple of desserts and frozen more for later baking.

    13. Sparkly Librarian*

      My current project is a FOURTH planting of cucumbers this year. The previous 3 failed (various reasons that I have adjusted for) and looks like 3 or 4 of the current 7 might make it to proper plant. I would be happy if 2 survived Last year I had no trouble, and beautiful Persian cukes, in a different bed, so I am aggrieved over this year’s developments.

      Sunflower seeds just went in. Carrots are small sprouts. The first bed of beans was munched to death, so I sowed again and they’re coming up protected by diatomaceous earth. Beans in the second bed are big vines, no flowers yet. Tomatoes are there, but green still. Zucchini flowers are coming on (first couple fruit had blossom-end rot, though). The kid has requested a pumpkin, so that should happen soon, but I have to clear some space for it by pulling out old nasturtiums.

      Temps are in the high 80s today, but cooler most of the time because of our microclimate. It’s nice to be outside (as long as I stay in the shade!) and we’ve started taking dinner al fresco on the little patio.

    14. Elizabeth West*

      I bought a little schefflera to replace the two big ones that unfortunately died when I was at my mom’s. My neighbor also gave me a Christmas cactus and an Easter cactus — I’m terrified I’ll kill them as I don’t have a great track record with succulents.

      I’d like to find something that will thrive in the bathroom. I have a very large, deep window ledge in the shower (the window is high up) that does get wet. The window is frosted with indirect light, but it would be a nice place for a plant or two.

    15. allathian*

      Our potato plants are getting big and our radishes are almost ready to harvest. Yay for homegrown food!

    16. MeepMeep123*

      My total mess of a garden is starting to produce minuscule quantities of fruit/veg. There are three (3) cherry tomatoes and two (2) ripening zucchini, and the fig tree has three (3) figs on it. The blackberry canes have two (2) berries on them total, and the raspberry canes have four (4) berries on them. Alas, I did not get to enjoy our amazing apricot harvest (five (5) apricots) because the birds got to it before I did.

      I’m still happy with it and it gives me a pleasant place to be in the morning, so there’s that, at least.

  29. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

    Hello everyone!
    I’ve recently started trying to grow plants from seeds (or other things, like putting some potato in the earth to get a plant). I’m not very experienced, do you have any suggestions which plants I should try to grow? Looking for ones that 1) are easy (or at least not hard) to get, for example by buying the fruit and using seeds from there and 2) I could then keep as pot plants indoors, mainly for decoration but as long as it’s green, I’m happy with it.

    1. NotBatman*

      I’d say look at how much sunlight is in your growing area, and then look at the requirements for various plants. I have a minuscule back porch with an opaque roof and walls on three sides, so I’ve had to switch from tomatoes to radishes.

    2. Sloanicota*

      My experience with growing plants from seed is not as successful as buying young seedling plants. In my veggie efforts I often get lots of sprouts, but they don’t transplant, especially if you’re going to take them outside. Also, not all plants grow the thing you want in the first year, so check for that. I say buy the seeds from a store so you can review the date – the ones I’ve ordered online are often old and I don’t get a lot of growth. If you want guaranteed success and you’re thinking indoors, anything in the mint family tends to be hardy – lemonbalm, catmint, etc, and you can make tea, which is nice. But note they are so vigorous they will often escape and spread outdoors which you probably don’t want. I also grow lettuce and kale from seed every year, but I seed them outdoors at the right time (early spring/late fall, here) so they don’t have to adjust.

      1. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

        I’m sadly not very close to a gardening shop, so if ordering online is a bad idea I’ll probably have to stick to whatever the store has available as plants or fruit/vegetables.
        I don’t care whether it really will grow fruits or so, right now I’m at a cactus that’s growing really well (apparently they don’t need seeds, you just cut a piece off and put that one in earth), I’ve found some lemon seeds that seem to grow (the biggest has four leaves already!) and a few apples, oranges and a pear that didn’t want to grow much.
        Thank you for the advice!

    3. RagingADHD*

      Green onions will re-grow from the root if you put them in a glass of water.

      You can root an avocado pit by suspending it with toothpicks or in a narrow mouthed jar – you want the bottom in water, but not totally submerged.

      Herb seeds can be bought by the packet very inexpensively, and many if them will grow on a windowsill. You might be able to root some parsley or cilantro if you buy a bunch very fresh, and they don’t need as much light as basil or some of the others.

      1. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

        Avocado sounds great, I’ll try it! Herbs sound interesting too, they’d be edible which would (possibly, if they grow enough) be an additional bonus.

    4. Foila*

      I’ve had good luck with buying a pound of dry beans and then just planting them. They’re usually pole beans so you need to be ready for how tall they get, but with basic care they grow pretty easily!

      1. RagingADHD*

        Bush green bean seeds (like Provider or Blue Lake,) are like, $1-2 a packet and make a nice small plant about a foot high. They do need a good bit of sun in order to produce.

        Salad greens or spinach do well indoors, and again the packets are about $1 at a hardware or big-box store.

    5. Expiring Cat Memes*

      For outdoors/edibles: I’ve found beans, peas, nasturtiums and sunflowers grow easily from seed. I think it’s the size of the seed that helps, they’re a bit bigger and hardier so they sprout easier when sown straight in the ground. You can also save the bottom offcuts from shallots/spring onions and place in water till they start shooting from the top again, then plant out. Same for carrot tops.

      Indoors I’ve never tried growing from seed… I don’t have the patience to look at a pot of dirt inside that long! But also most plants suited for indoors come from deep shade forest/rainforest areas and don’t (or rarely) flower, therefore don’t rely on seed for propagation – they use other methods like spores, bulbs, rhizomes, layering, sprouting from fallen branches etc. Plenty of vining plants (eg: monstera, philodendron, epipremnum) will easily grow roots in water if you take a cutting with some stem attached.

      1. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

        Just cutting something off of an existing plant is a good idea, I know it works for cactuses. I might be able to find some other plants that work, too.

    6. banana*

      I’ve grown a lot of kitchen scraps. Mango (open the hard outer shell and plant the nut at the center), avocado (1 seed in 3 will grow, but it’s attractive), citrus (leaves smell wonderful when you crush them). These are all trees, but they’re indoor trees. I had to get rid of the mangoes within around 7 years because they just grow tall. The citrus will tolerate having its branches cut, and then it will grow bushy. Oh, I’m also growing two pineapples, by cutting the tops off pineapples, and following internet instructions.

      I’ve also grown edibles: beet tops mostly. Cut off the leaves with some beet attached and place in water. I don’t know how much plant will grow because the leaves grow then I eat them. Dried beans will grow.

      1. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

        So many plants! The pineapple sounds similar to what Expiring Cat Memes above suggested, I’ll try that. Thank you!

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

      I have a few cacti I grew from saving some pitahaya (dragon fruit) seeds, and they are going like gangbusters. They seem to like pretty heavy watering as long as they’re in a good south-facing window. I’ve had them 5 years now and they’re still probably decades away from being big enough to produce fruit, but I find them very charming in a tentacle-monster kinda way.

    8. Girasol*

      I always grow from seed. It’s a lot cheaper than buying seedlings, but without a greenhouse to start things early I get flowers and veggies a few weeks later than my neighbors. Before last frost date you can put in lettuce and peas, either the shelling kind or sugar snap. After last frost, basil, greens of all kinds (like kale and pak choi and swiss chard), green beans, onions, carrots, beets, radishes, turnips, corn, and kohlrabi, and also potatoes from potato eyes. When the ground is warmer, cucumbers, melons, zucchini, and winter squashes. My favorite from-seed annual flowers are marigolds, nasturtiums, zinnias, cosmos, and sunflowers. Peppers and tomatoes don’t do as well directly sown so I start those from seed early in a few pots on the windowsill. I get seeds mainly from Superseeds. Their packets are smaller than most other companies’ – fewer seeds in each – but also less expensive, so my small garden can have a lot of variety.

    9. YouwantmetodoWHAT?! *

      Any kind of squash, they grow like weeds. Fortunately my family loves squash so its a win for us.

    10. Love to read*

      I haven’t done this, but I recently read about planting strawberries outside to get strawberry plants, and tossing tomatoes in the compost to get tomato plants.

      Sounds like it would be worth a try.

    11. Madame Arcati*

      Last year I accidentally grew a large sunflower, must have been an escaped seed from a thingy I put out for the birds. I did precisely nothing except add a can to support it when I knew what it was.
      Therefore I infer that sunflowers are easy to grow from seed!

    12. TX Trucker*

      If you are only trying to create greenery, and not grow food, seeds from store bought peppers and lemons germinate easy and will give you a nice indoor plant. Most of these will ne hybrid varieties, and I don’t recommend them if you are actually trying to grow edible food. Tomato seeds also sprout easy, but unless you have lots of light they tend to be weak houseplants.

    13. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

      So many answers and so many amazing ideas, I didn’t expect that. Thank you everyone!!
      If I actually manage to grow something, I’ll report back to you.
      Looking forward to all the green, I’ve started the pineapple mentioned below and probably will get some bell pepper seeds later. I doubt I’ll get any fruits out of my plants but they are what I have at hand right now and were mentioned to be rather easy.
      Again thank you!!

    14. Ellis Bell*

      I would say the easiest and quickest things to grow are watercress, spinach and cut-and-come again lettuce. Would easily fit on a windowsill too. These seeds are not hard to find; very often in the supermarket and I think I bought mine off a rack in a general homewares store near the tills.

    15. Thunder kitten*

      You wouldnt be able to move them indoors, but snap peas/snow peas are cheap and easy to grow from seed outdoors.
      Since the plants tolerate frost relatively well, you can start them relatively early in the season without having to worry about cold snaps killing plants.
      You can also try propagating herbs like mint or basil – when you buy a bunch, take a few healthy looking sprigs, snip off the end, pull off leaves from bottom few inches and put in small jar of water and wait. Eventually roots will sprout from the stem and you can plant in soil, outdoors or windowsill. (plant mint in a pot, or it will take over the space)

  30. MassChick*

    Wonderful update about your mom. May she continue kicking obstacles out of the way!
    Wallace is a replica of my dear departed Dusty, a grey tuxedo who was a total love bug. What a sweetheart Wallace is <3

  31. Lady_Lessa*

    Pop Culture question: Was there an interesting woman either live or fictional about 18-20 years ago named “Emmalynne”.

    The reason that I am asking is that two young women are doing summer work at our main office with spelling variations on that name. It’s a name that I’ve never heard of, and with two about the same age, I wonder what may have caused it. If it helps, the office is central US, and slightly South.

    Thank you

    1. Cramped in the city*

      emeline (or is it Emmeline?), very minor Harry Potter character in the books (she’s an auror who dies). Phonetically works but otherwise I’ve got nothing.

    2. Sloanicota*

      Emmeline Pankhurst was a British suffragette around the turn of the century who may be experiencing a resurgence of popularity as part of the whole reclaiming-history movement. (In 1999, Time named her as one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century so maybe she came on people’s radars then).

    3. RagingADHD*

      Emma is a perennial favorite name, and Emmalee had a brief stint of popularity in the late 90s. Then “-lyn” suffix names started getting popular in the early 2000s. Emmalyn / lynne started around then and seems to have peaked in the 2010s.

      It’s just a trendy thing.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I’ve noticed that lately the trend is for very “soft” names for girls. Eva, Ava, Emma, Sofia – Emmaline may fit in with that. Growing up, our girls names were sharper – Kate, Julie, Kristen. I’m sure the pendulum will swing back sooner or later.

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          What a perfect observation, Sloanicota! I had sensed that but hadn’t quite put it into words. Same era for me. Among others, I went to school with seven Jennifers. My own name is Irish and very old, and soft, and hard to spell, pronounce or remember for most, and always envied the Margarets and Julias.

          I kinda love the current name trend – very Jane Austen!

    4. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

      Emmeline Harris from Anne of Green Gables? Much older than 20 years ago, but maybe there was a renewed interest in your part of the world at that time?

      1. Valancy Snaith*

        That character is a creation for a film adaptation and doesn’t appear in the books, I would be truly shocked if it was the genesis for a naming trend.

    5. Rara Avis*

      Emmaline is a family name for my sister-in-law’s family. Both she and her daughter are part of a long line of Emmalines. The family has been in CA for 3 generations but I don’t know where they were before that.

  32. Professor Plum*

    This week I saw on Aerogarden for sale in my neighborhood for $24–and I actually was the first to respond to the posting and got to buy it. I usually hear back that someone else beat me to the opportunity. Very excited to start an indoor herb garden. Must clear away an old computer from the counter where it will live before starting things up. Does anybody else grow an indoor garden?

    1. BookMom*

      I have a small Aerogarden (3 pods) and my next door neighbors have a whole bunch of them. It’s so handy and much tidier than pots on a windowsill, and you’re not dependent on seasonal sunlight. Fresh herbs all year round are great! My only tip is to keep the plants trimmed back or they get a little out of control. I bought mine on a flash sale on Amazon at half price.

      1. Professor Plum*

        Thanks for the info. My new one has space for 6 pods. It was new in the box, only the pods were missing, so I’m also waiting on refill pods to arrive.

    2. Bunny Girl*

      I had an Aerogarden that I admittedly let go to pot. I really need to clean it up and use it again. It just seemed to get out of control very, very quickly. I guess that’s good and bad?

        1. Bunny Girl*

          I did mostly herbs. I have been meaning to clean it out and try again and I’ll probably do herbs again. I know they have salad kits and I’ve thought about that because our family goes through lettuce like there is no tomorrow.

    3. GoryDetails*

      Welcome to the Aerogarden club! I hope it works out for you. I love mine, though I primarily use them for salad greens; it’s such a luxury to have fresh greens on hand, whether a few leaves for a sandwich or an entire serving for a salad. No worries about rinsing off sand or picking off bugs, either! In the winter I love having that vivid pool of light and greenery, and even in summer it’s good for salad greens as the lettuces easily bolt when grown outside.

      I’ve grown basil, too, but not other herbs; the tall, reedy ones like dill seem to outgrow the planter too fast, and the more dry-climate ones like thyme and rosemary seem happier outside.

      I did experiment with flowers last winter, with a three-pod Aerogarden that I got on sale. I didn’t have high hopes – I figured the flowers would take a long time to bloom and would then fade quickly – but the stock seeds that I chose were really, really good! They reached blooming size within six weeks, and from there they kept blooming for MONTHS, with a lovely light fragrance too. If I’d kept up with pruning back the spent blossoms they might have lasted even longer.

      1. Professor Plum*

        Growing flowers sounds lovely! Yes, even though I haven’t started yet, I already want more Aerogardens so I can plant more! Not sure if it’s a club or an obsession LOL!

    4. TX Trucker*

      I love my aero garden in my window less office. Orange hat tomato from Baker Creek Seeds is my favorite. It only gets about 9 inch tall (even in dirt) and produces dozens of cherry tomatoes. They also make a mini bok choy that has done well in the aerogarden. If you drink coffee, and use the individual creamers that come in tiny plastic cups, they are the perfect size to replace the aerogarden cages.

      1. Professor Plum*

        The orange hat plant sounds like the perfect match for an aerogarden. One thing that has surprised me in my recent research is that people often don’t fill all of the spaces. I’m curious how many tomato plants you grow at a time.

        1. TX Trucker*

          I have a 6 pod unit and will fill 3. Tomato’s have some very aggressive root systems. I tried all 6 once and the root system was so extensive it clogged the pump. Sometimes I will start 6 in the AG. But I will transplant some to dirt before they get too big

    5. Professor Plum*

      Even more excited about my purchase after reading about everyone else’s indoor gardens! Thanks for sharing.

  33. Elle*

    I’m looking at the pros and cons of hiring a college advisor for my HS student. It’s thousands of dollars. Is it worth it? It doesn’t seem that complicated to look for schools if you have access to the data. I’m I wrong about that?

    1. Sloanicota*

      Hmm, is your student interested in going to very select / difficult places to get into, or something? If they’re going to be pretty happy with a good state school I don’t see why this would be necessary, neither I nor anyone I know used one – but maybe things really have gotten so much more complicated in the last 20 years. Do they help with scholarships?

    2. Elle*

      She has no idea what she wants to do and state schools are fine. I live in a high income area and many people are relying on these folks to help with finding the school, applications, essays, scholarships, etc. but to me it sounds like they’re just using websites available to the public to do research on the family’s behalf. I do think 5is is a more recent trend among people with money. We are not really among that group with money so my husband and I are curious about why so many are doing it.

      1. Invisible fish*

        This is going to sound awful, but I teach high school, and … umm… these parents are doing it just because they have the money to do so and erroneously think it’ll help their children in some way. In reality, letting your child explore her options through college websites and campus visits is probably a better choice- she’ll develop autonomy and be invested. No one knows what they want to do for their education or career when they are in high school or college, even if they think they do. They change so much and so quickly from year to year that being super firm on “I must do x, and to do so, I must enroll in y college and join z program!” is very limiting at a time when a child should be exploring her options and trying new things (in a responsible manner, of course !). Put that money you’d spend on this useless person towards visiting her top five colleges and have lots of fun when you go!

      2. Sitting Pretty*

        Oh my yes, I feel this. We too live in a high-income, highly educated, and very professinally-oriented area. The pressure to do academically rigorous things has been instense since my kid was a toddler. It’s been over a decade of resisting that so he could play, explore, and find his own path. Now that he’s about to be a HS junior, it’s all turned into a college frenzy.

        I work at a university too. My thoughts on this are that yes, a college consultant will give your kid an edge because they’ll be able to really help them tailor the search and the application materials. But it’s a hair’s breadth edge, and it only makes a difference if your child is aiming for an elite school or an elite program within a school. There are SO MANY great colleges and universities out there where your kid will have an excellent experience and they won’t need to contort themselves to get in.

        IME, even if you’re looking at honors programs within a more normal range of schools, or scholarships, you’re totally fine just searching for colleges and applying the usual way. What really matters on the application are your child’s grades, extracurriculars, activities, volunteerism. Help your child make sure all that is reflected well in the applications. And some kids need help keeping track of all the steps and deadlines… but you probably can make an excel spreadheet together and don’t need to pay someone to manage that for you!

        What REALLY matters though is that your child feels good and excited about the schools they are applying to! Go on as many college visits as you can reasonably manage. Even a nearby college that they are totally uninterested in is worthwhile for providing comparison. And try to set up a few one-on-one meetings (virtual or in person) with students or profs at the department your child is interested in majoring in. The big tours are great and useful too, but you’ll learn more about the actual culture of that department and what it’s like to be a student there.

        There is a lot of anxiety around college and the pressure is intense to get it “right.” But just like AAM is always reminding us about workplaces, the search process is a two-way street. Colleges are trying to recruit good students and students are trying to find the right college. Help you kid feel empowered to ask questions, explore options, and utimately and land a spot at a place they can thrive.

      3. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

        If she really has no idea what she wants to do, I highly recommend community college for 2 years then transfer to 4 year school to finish. Otherwise it can be a very expensive self discovery process.

        1. Samwise*

          Just be aware that it may take more than two years at the college/university to complete the degree after comm college, depending on the major requirements. See if the comm college has established “critical pathways” towards particular majors at the state University system.

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          And even that can wait. I tried the “go to community college if you don’t know what you want to do” thing and flunked out of three different ones in different attempts, like a collective GPA of 0.3 for all three tries. Once I figured out what I actually wanted to do, I finished my bachelor degree magna cum laude and went on to get two masters degrees.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I have two kids who have graduated college, the youngest in May. I would not spend your money on this.

      We did not use this, and I don’t think it was the norm in our neighborhood. (Moderately wealthy suburb with excellent schools.) I’m mostly familiar with it from The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, where it resonated as a tool to try and get out of her dreary neighborhood and financial limits and onto the life path she wanted–obviously there must be This One Thing that if you do it and execute it perfectly then Everything Will Be Fine, an attitude I very much recognized from my oldest.

      I think college guides (that give you a one-page overview of many schools) combined with trips to visit a few appealing schools are great. One thing that was really good with high-strung oldest was to visit a competitive school (Cornell) in her sophomore year. The orientation spelled out things like how they really care that you have high grades in the most difficult classes you could take at your school, as she earnestly explained to us while claiming that we had told her she should take easy classes to make her grades higher. (We had not told her this–that was her friends–but sometimes you’ve got to hear it from an authority who is not your parent so we rolled with “Yup, what Cornell told you” while hissing to each other that, damn it, that was exactly what we told her.)

      Your high school should have people who focus on this. Someone you hire could be better–but as with career advisors for adults, you don’t have to be qualified to hang out your shingle. And how would you measure results compared to what would have been without the counselor? Lots of kids get admitted to lots of schools without hiring one.

      The one thing that sticks out to me is that I felt my oldest did too many activities just trying to be impressive to college boards and could have dropped half; my youngest found one thing he liked and just did that when I think he would have been a more appealing candidate had he added in, say, three more activities. But letting my kids figure it out in high school was important to me. Also youngest went to a state school that is also one of the top schools for his major, and he got to do the thing he was super passionate about (minus covid), so his high school choices were in line with what he did later and it was all good (minus covid).

      I think questions to ask might be:
      • Will my kid listen earnestly to this person and take their advice, where they might brush off the same advice coming from me?
      • Is this person qualified to give advice? Some will be excellent, and some will be “this is a job I can start with no credentials or experience.”
      Both of which get to living in a glut of information, and trying to figure out what information is good and useful and accurate.

      My oldest also got college advice that resonated with her from a friend’s mom. Again, not different from what I was saying, but hearing it from someone with a less intimate relationship–and phrased much more strongly as “X is not a good idea, you should do Y”–had it land as it didn’t from me.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      The ironic thing is that the kids who would really be helped by an advisor are the kids from the families who couldn’t possibly afford it. First generation university students, for example, or recent immigrants, whose parents either haven’t done the application process themselves, or who aren’t familiar with the local system and language.

      Having your kid do a lot of the research themselves, with some help from parents, and writing their own application isn’t going to be as efficient as hiring someone to do it, at least for getting into a school. But the kid is going to be learning other useful skills. Hitting an elite university with no experience doing things for yourself is going to be a lot less useful than going to a good but not top university with practical problem solving and decision making skills.

      Part of the motivation is the idea that getting your kid into an elite university (starting the process by getting into an elite preschool in the more extreme cases and ending with a college application coach) is necessary to make them happy and successful. The pressure results in a lot of miserable students who got into good schools, but have no idea what to do when their life isn’t being micromanaged by ambitious parents, and no clue what they actually want out of life.

    5. California Dreamin'*

      We’re using a private college counselor for our two younger children who are now rising juniors. We did not use one for our older son because his school (private) had excellent college counselors on staff. The youngers go to two different schools where I was less confident in the counselors for various reasons.
      The pros of a private counselor for me are that:
      1) a good professional knows about great colleges all over the country that you haven’t heard much about, and they can make recommendations for schools to take a look at that you hadn’t thought of and would be a good fit for your child.
      2) as someone said above, your child might listen better to the advice given by another person. I could go on and on and on about college stuff to my kids, but they don’t want me to do that and I shouldn’t make that the focus of the next couple years!
      3) with my older son, I found the time management part at the end pretty stressful with all the supplemental essays and early action schools and whatnot (and he only applied to 7 colleges.) He was a great student, but he has anxiet and his executive functioning was still in development, and he needed to be sort of assisted along time-wise to help manage his stress and get him over the finish line with the apps. It was not appealing to me to tackle this again with two kids simultaneously. The college counselor will do all the deadline management with them and make sure all the supplementals are on track, etc.
      4) one of my kids has the potential to be a top tier applicant and is looking at some most-selective category schools. Which is fine to try for a few of those if she likes them. But I need help coming up with some match and safety schools that will be just as appealing for her. Also help with ensuring that she indeed has a top tier application if that’s the direction she wants to go.
      5) This isn’t me, but I have a close friend that is using a private counselor for her kids because neither she nor her husband went to college, and she just felt stressed out by the whole thing because she didn’t know anything about it. Her peer group now is all college grads, and when the conversation would turn to college stuff, my friend would get really anxious with the feeling of “I don’t even know what I don’t know.” The college counselor is doing a great job of making her feel like there’s someone to guide their family through the process.

      All that said… if your child will likely go to a state school or they feel no desire to conduct a comprehensive nationwide search for their college, then by all means it’s totally unnecessary!

    6. AGD*

      My perspective is about 20 years out of date, but I opted for a self-directed process and would recommend that. I bought a copy of a comprehensive college guidebook and worked through it one school at a time, drew up a list, sent in applications, and (with my parents’ help) visited several of the schools I was accepted to. The decision between those was straightforward and I LOVED where I ended up.

      I did have a great guidance counselor at my high school, but that didn’t change anything about my methods or my decision.

      (This may or may not apply to your kid, but I also loved doing it myself because it made me feel more in control of my own soon-to-be-adult future.)

      1. Squidhead*

        Me too, 25 years ago! Reading the descriptions of colleges helped me narrow down things I wanted/didn’t want. I also did well on the PSAT (does that even still exist?) and pretty much immediately started getting recruiting materials. At a time when “webpages” were fairly rudimentary, printed glossy photos were helpful too. As it turns out, I wound up applying early-decision to a school recommended by my youth group leader (after visiting it and several other schools). I was accepted, so only ever had to do one application. But my room was filled with stacks of booklets and notes.

        1. Stephanie*

          Oh the PSAT…I remember that. Same thing — I did well and my mail was just inundated. It did introduce me to some schools I probably wouldn’t have otherwise considered.

      2. Stephanie*

        This was me (sounds like I’m around your age). I remember buying some Fisk Guide to Colleges at Barnes and Noble and just reading the entire thing and taking notes.

    7. Zephy*

      I’ll +1 that you probably don’t need to pay someone for this service. Your kid’s high school probably has someone who can give them the same information for free, if trying to research schools on their own is overwhelming. Which is fair! There are a lot of colleges! If they’ve taken the SAT or even the PSAT, they may already be getting spam from tons of schools; if not, the floodgates will open once they do take one of those standardized tests.

      As a financial aid professional at a private university, I would advise your student to go to a public school. Especially if they aren’t totally sure about their desired career path (also entirely fair!), getting an associate’s degree at your local state/community college is a 100% valid path to take after high school. It’s going to be considerably cheaper than going straight to a university, even a public one, and most states have some kind of reciprocity between the state college and state university systems where an AA or AS from X State College guarantees you admission to X State University as a junior, so you only need 2 years at X State U to get your BA or BS. The exact terms of the relationship will vary, talk to admissions staff at both XSC and XSU to get clear about how the pipeline works.

      Last bit of advice, I assume your student is at least a rising junior; if they have the opportunity to do so, they should also consider taking AP or dual-enrollment courses in their final years of high school, in an effort to get a few general education credits under their belt. This will free up some space in their schedule to explore subject areas, if they don’t have a clear idea of what they want to major in. I started college with basically an entire semester of gen-eds covered by IB, so it allowed me to take a lot of Intro to X classes before I had to declare a major in my second semester.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I remember getting this advice as a high schooler (“go to the local community college for a few years and then transfer”) and I think it’s okay to acknowledge the cultural elements of going away to school too. I assume there are students it works great for and then students like me for whom it wouldn’t work well. I can’t imagine spending two years in one place and then trying to transfer in. It took me two years to start making good friends! Plus, I was desperate to get out from under my parent’s thumbs, which I would not have done if I’d stayed local (and was one reason they wanted me to do it, encouraged by a guidance counselor who always suggested/recommended that path). If it’s financial necessity, then that is what it is, but good students in that boat should also look hard at scholarships, which is what I ended up doing.

        1. California Dreamin'*

          I also read something once about how people have different needs/expectations from college. For some, it’s really just about obtaining a degree in the most expedient way, and for others it’s about the full four-year cultural experience. I’m definitely in the second group, and I was always puzzled by the advice given about doing community college for two years (unless a financial necessity.) It helped me to recognize that oh, some people are looking for something entirely different from what I was looking for!

          1. Elle*

            My brother did community college then transferred to another school. He wasn’t ready to go away after high school and wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. A couple of years of community college gave him a chance to mature, save money and figure stuff out. He’s always said it was the best decision he’s made.

          2. Zephy*

            That is a fair point. It feels irresponsible to tell someone to go for “the College Experience(tm),” whatever they believe that entails, given the absolutely insane state of college tuition right now, though. But you’re right, different people are going to have different reasons for doing…well, anything, really, and your personal calculus is going to be different from mine. I went straight to a private 4-year university right out of high school, and while I have managed to pay off my loans, I did so by getting extraordinarily lucky and having extraordinarily generous family. I think if I woke up tomorrow age 16 again, knowing what I know now, I would have made very different choices vis-a-vis my post-secondary educational career.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          Yes, “the college experience” was such a thing for me, my spouse, and my kids, that “just plan to go somewhere else after a couple of years” is always slightly dissonant to my experience. (Three of us have degrees in something I wouldn’t expect a 2-year college to offer–to follow on CD’s examples of people looking for different things from college.)

          Though finances and knowing what you want to do certainly play into what makes sense as a path–I wouldn’t rule it out, but there are people who would find it unappealing for various sound reasons.

          1. California Dreamin'*

            Oh, yes, this too… my husband and I and our older son all have “specialized” degrees. Sometimes these are best applied for as an incoming freshman. My older son’s program just isn’t offered at very many schools. I’m not sure how easily he could have transferred in.

        3. Agnes*

          Yes, and I think it’s fair to acknowledge that it may be actually the less motivated students who most need the support and peer group a 4-year residential institution can offer. Living at home and going to the local community college can easily feel like 13th grade.

    8. Elle*

      Thanks to everyone for giving such thoughtful answers. You’ve given me a boost in confidence and a lot to think about. It seems like this is more of a support that you may or may not need. I’m seeing the same results from people who have used them and people who haven’t which is why I’m a bit confused.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I really liked the example upthread of someone whose parents didn’t go to college–I could see a good counselor being really helpful support there. Or parents who didn’t go to college here–one of my oldest’s friends was advised by her British parents to quit all her extracurricular stuff at the start of junior year so colleges would see that she was focused on academics, which is not actually good advice in the US.

        1. Elle*

          My European baby boomer parents told me to follow my dreams to be an artist and not worry about all that money stuff. (Important to note that we had no money growing up) A couple of decades later I’m almost done paying off the loans. I do not want that for my kids.

    9. Rara Avis*

      The college counselors at my school recommend against it, but we have a robust college counseling program with 4 counselors for 200 students. (The high school I attended had 1 counselor.)

    10. Bubba’s mom*

      OMG, if you can throw money at the college selection process doooo ittttt! Admittedly, I may still be scarred from the effort to get my son (rising junior) to select a school. That was what really illustrated to me how bad his adhd can be. I have adhd as well, and we suspect my husband is autistic, so we’re a fun bunch for projects. Plus, I’m first generation to graduate from college and not from the area so I’m not familiar with the colleges around here or the process of selecting one. It was a steep learning curve. If there had been money even to hire someone to be our project manager, I would have absolutely done it. But we did just fine on our own. Spreadsheets and twice weekly meetings got us through. We kept in mind the statistic that 25 percent of students change colleges so there was nothing that couldn’t be corrected, encouraged him to trust his instincts, and he’s in an awesome place for him.

      Be sure to keep all the mailers. Sometimes it’s much easier to absorb that amount of information vs a whole website. I also prefer having a thing to hold and sort and attach sticky notes to. It’s also fun to see who sends stuff … and worst case, throw them all in the air and apply to the ones that land closest. Higher education enrollment is in a weird place right now and I don’t know if it’s permanent or just a holdover from the pandemic that will dissipate when that group graduates. Kids who missed an on campus year are more inclined to stay on campus the rest of their education and colleges seem to be struggling with their acceptance vs enrollment percentages. Or maybe that’s the gossip that circulates every year. Many colleges now have a parent services department and they are very helpful.

    11. Pamela Adams*

      Save the thousands. Have your child consider state schools, there are lots of people excellent ones. The thousands you saved on college counseling will pay for an extra year of exploration or allow your student to graduate without debr.

    12. MadDog*

      We used one and she was very helpful. BUT, our decision and her helpfulness was massively influenced by the fact that the in-school guidance counselors whose job it was to help kids get into college were … horrifically awful. The college application process is insane and so, so much more stressful now than it used to be. The in-school counselors managed to increase that stress even more, while also managing to provide just awful advice on the merits. I do not think they could have been worse if they had deliberately set out with that aim (no, I’m not at all bitter about it! lol).

      So, for us, the outside college advisor was well worth the money because she helped explain things to our daughter in a way that made it all less stressful and easier for her to navigate. And even though some of the things she said echoed what we had also said, it was helpful for our daughter to hear them from a different person.

      But I can also say that while the money was worth it for us in our specific situation, I don’t think we would have gone the same route if the in-school counselors had had a clue.

    13. Colleagues will recognize this*

      Not worth the money. Put it towards travel for your kid to go visit the schools.

      I’m an academic advisor at a university. My kid had wildly diverse interests (fine arts or science or math). His requirement: out of state lol. He read up on various schools, I gave some suggestions. He selected a small number of schools. I stuck him on a plane and he went to visit. I did NOT go with him. (My folks did the same when I was in high school). He needed to see how he felt about the schools.

      Also, if the school turns out to not be right after a year or two, your kid can transfer. Lots of kids do, it’s not a set back or the mark of Cain. There are all sorts of reasons for a school to be a good fit or not, and sometimes you don’t know til you’ve been there awhile.

      My professional opinion is also that taking a gap year before college is a good idea, as is stopping out after a year or two.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Wow, trying to imagine a world where my parents let me visit a college without them (to be fair, they were the ones paying). You’re right, I think that would be hugely beneficial for a kid. I … don’t think we’ve increased the independence of our children since I was young.

        1. Stephanie*

          Oh man, mine did this with me. I had a blast doing it. Tbf, I was usually going as part of an admit weekend, so it wasn’t like I was showing up in a random city and trying to figure out a rental car/hotel/etc. I think it did help to give me a good view of actually being at the school.

    14. just another queer reader*

      I applied to colleges 10 years ago. I have pretty strong feelings about how much of an ordeal people make it into.

      When I was in high school, I researched colleges and found two that fit my criteria of location, size, and academics. I visited and applied to both, got accepted to both, and chose to attend the cheaper one (which gave me a full ride scholarship). I graduated with no debt and am now making much more money than I need and am mostly happy with my career and life. (I don’t think I’d be any happier if I’d chosen a different college.)

      I had a ton of advantages and privileges that made this possible for me.

      But I hope this is encouragement to you to keep it simple.

    15. Thunder kitten*

      I’m in agreement with most of the advice given. though I would caveat that if your childs interest/skill is very specialized (thing juliard), OR if they have unique academic / social needs (neurodiverse), having a specialist to guide them would be helpful.

    16. Elle*

      Before the weekend is over I want to say thanks again for the discussion. I was at a BBQ yesterday with several parents of incoming seniors. Those with college advisors and those without had the same information and experiences. I couldn’t really tell the difference other than those with had someone to sign up for the common app on their behalf and gave them a list of colleges to look at. We’ll be more into the process this time next year. I’ll let you guys know what happens.

  34. Kindest Way to Get Out of Pet Sitting*

    I have a good friend who lives in the neighborhood adjacent to mine here in Delaware. We both have cats. She travels a lot, and I don’t. When I do travel, I prefer to use a professional pet-sitting service to come in and see to my cat. I just think it’s smoother/easier and I am uncomfortable at the thought that my friend might get nosy in my house. She prefers to send increasingly desperate texts to our group thread trying to get people to come see her cat (who by the way bites). She has more money than I do, so I’m not sure why she doesn’t use a service. I was okay doing it one or two days out of the year, and it’s possible I might have someday asked her to do it one or two days for me – but it’s way too much now and I’d like a kindly, direct way of indicating I’m not going to do it again except for emergencies (which already come up fairly often when other friends fall through and she’s already across the country). What’s the best script? It’s generally by text. Two weekends ago I lied about leaving town and here she is again on my phone.

    1. Fellow Traveller*

      “I can’t this time, but here’s the info of the pet sitter I use. They’re fantastic!!”

      1. Kindest Way to Get Out of Pet Sitting**

        I’ll try this! I just find it a bit confusing because there’s no way she hasn’t heard of Rover or couldn’t find a pet sitting service if that’s what she wanted. I suspect she finds this easier/more convenient/cheaper. But maybe if I act willfully ignorant of that she’ll just accept that I’m not going to do it anymore.

        1. Fellow Traveller*

          FWIW, It took me yeeeears to come around to hiring a sitter for my kids even though I was plenty aware of services like Care.com and I knew that my friends also hired sitters. I can’t explain what my hang up was- probably financial as well as finding it hard to trust new people. Having a specific sitter referral helped me get over the hump.

        2. RegBarclay*

          She might not trust that an unknown pet sitter would look after her pets the way she wants. So a recommendation from someone she knows might ease her fears. (Or she’s just being cheap, but either way suggesting the service you use is a legit response)

          First time I hired a professional, I asked a friend to stop by and make sure the water & food bowls were really full, etc. The service was actually great, but before I’d used them I was really nervous about walking away and leaving my cats at the mercy of strangers who might or might not show up…

    2. Unkempt Flatware*

      “Oh I no longer do pet-sitting. I find it too stressful. Sorry I can’t help you! Here’s who I use….”

      I’m not a fan of saying, “I can’t do it this time” for people like this. They only hear “this time”. Let her know you won’t be doing it and won’t be changing your mind.

      1. Purple m&m*

        +1 on this. Best to let this person know that you are not an option any longer. Also best to keep 2 bland “reasons,” rinse and repeat. You: “I’m sorry pet sitting is just too stressful and I no longer do it. I use Rover.”
        Them: “ But my cat is so easy. Or my sitter fell through. Or I tried Rover and didn’t like them. Or it’s just this one time.”
        You: “Sorry, it’s just not possible for me.”
        Them: saying whatever they need to say to make you do it
        You: “I’m not pet sitting at all. Best of luck & have a great trip.”

    3. Only Cats*

      “Hi friend, I’m no longer available to cat sit Bitey for the indefinite future, I’ll let you know if that changes. [full stop, no justification or explanations, which may invite rebuttal]. I’ve found an excellent cat sitter on Rover, here’s their contact info and a discount promo code* if you want to give them a try.”

      Also, if she’s got a fearful or overstimulated cat who bites, it would benefit everyone. especially the cat, to have someone with lots of cat experience.

      *you can ask your sitter for their promo code to share with friends

      1. Esprit de l'escalier*

        The first sentence is good, but with such a pushy person I would avoid saying “I’ll let you know if that changes.” She sounds like someone who would ignore the “I’ll let you know” part and the “if” and latch onto the idea “LW might have changed her answer by now, so I just need to keep asking!”

    4. StudentA*

      She is sending it to a group of people, correct? You don’t HAVE to respond. If she asks you directly, use one of the scripts given to you here by the other posters.

      BTW, just like you feel more comfortable hiring a service for your cat sitting, she feels more comfortable going with a friend. One is not better than the other. There’s no need to critcize her for it (because you seem a bit defensive in your post). Just leave it alone.

    5. Gyne*

      I’d find it easier to refuse by group text than anything else! “Sorry, I can’t that weekend! Best of luck finding someone!”

    6. Rick T*

      The Travelling Cat Lady should board Bitey if she won’t hire a professional service when she travels instead of trying to guilt-trip someone in her circle into cat-sitting so she saves money.

      She has gotten away with the guilt trip up to now. If all she gets back are ‘sorry not available’ or silence she will eventually figure out a more reliable alternative than the kindness of her friends.

      Your answer should be “No, I won’t pet-sit Bitey” with no further information or excuse.

    7. Samwise*

      I’m sorry, but I can only help out once or twice a year for short stints. I use XYZ service myself, they’re great!

      Don’t lie about being out of town. Tell the truth. If that makes her angry or unfriendly, we’ll, that’s useful info…

    8. boop*

      I suggest a shift in mindset from “What’s a script I can use?” to “How do I tolerate the discomfort of saying no?” Based on this post you seem like someone who is generally polite and whatever you choose to say, I’m sure it will be socially acceptable. I think the actual issue is not how you say no but choosing to say no and being okay with it in your own mind. Which is actually really hard for a lot of people.

      1. Kindest Way to Get Out of Pet Sitting*

        Yeah … choosing to say no when I actually could do it, knowing she wants me to do it – I just prefer not to. It’s hard to value my preference over her stated need. But I really must give her a heads-up now, so she stops engineering emergencies (like, she’s already gone and is asking if I can go check on Bitey).

        1. Gyne*

          But that’s HER emergency, not yours. “Oh man, sorry to hear that friend! I’m not available to stop by but I hope you find someone soon!”

    9. allathian*

      Ugh. Just tell her that you won’t be available for cat sitting anymore, at least not without being compensated for it. Would you be willing to do it if she paid the equivalent of what you pay your cat sitter?

      She’s simply taking advantage of your kindness, but you don’t have to accede to her demands anymore. Just ignore her messages from now on. A reasonably healthy cat isn’t going to die if it’s left without food and water for 24 hours, if it comes to that.

  35. Bunny Girl*

    I am a certified yoga teacher and my dog is a therapy dog. We are collaborating with a non-profit to teach yoga classes and both myself and the ED of the non-profit are really committed to making them feel inclusionary, accessible, and different from the typical American yoga vibe. What’s something you have liked or you would like to see in a yoga class?

    1. Sloanicota*

      Hmm, maybe if people wear more regular clothes? I get that there’s reasons people like to wear spandex for yoga, but I would probably feel more welcomed at my level if there weren’t such specialized outfits …

      1. Bunny Girl*

        That’s a very good point. I myself don’t year anything specialized. I do wear yoga pants because they are good to do yoga in obviously but mine are not spandex and are very casual Target off brand and a t-shirt.

      2. Maggie*

        People wear tight clothes to yoga though because have loose fabric hanging down is a safety risk

        1. Sloanicota*

          Yeah, I get that, but as a person who doesn’t like to dress like that, it’s one reason yoga is an automatic no for me. I don’t want to dress in spandex and I don’t particularly want to hang out with people dressed in tight elastic stuff, and I’m not going to buy special clothes just to try an activity I might not like, so that’s why I’m not a yoga person. If OP is trying to attract people like me, it’s a factor. If not, hey, no problem.

    2. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Enough space to be comfortable! I went to one course where they crammed as many people into the hall as they could and it was so awkward trying to avoid touching or kicking the person next to me. Doubly hard for those with restricted movement who were doing adapted exercises that didn’t exactly mirror their neighbours’.

      My old place had aromatherapy and dimmed lighting, which was great for helping get in the zone, relaxing, holding balance and focusing on my own body instead of what everyone else was doing.

      Also worth considering how the mats get laid out in relation to the teacher and the planned class. I struggle with fast verbal instructions, so it’s a new class/teacher/pose, it’s much easier if I can turn my head easily to see what the instructor is describing than to break pose constantly and try get back into it.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        Thank you for the suggestions! We are fortunate to have a large space and we are definitely going to do some measuring to make sure people aren’t packed in like sardines because I’ve been to a few classes myself like that and they aren’t enjoyable. We will have to fiddle about making the room comfortable because it’s a multi-use room. I will see how we can lay out the room so everyone can see. I am a pretty slow talker in general but I’ll keep that in mind for instructing especially.

        1. Gyne*

          This is a weird little detail but the studio
          I go to has little painter’s tape L’s to mark the corners of where we should put our mats so we’re not too close together.

    3. OyHiOh*

      TL;DR – develop a culture of consent and respect.

      Please emphasize consent! I am fairly tuned into my body and when I need to adapt a pose, can usually feel what my body needs. And yet, there are studios and instructors I will not take classes with because of instructors who try to put their hands on my body (to “correct” a modification I’ve done intuitively) without asking permission. Just don’t.

      Enough spaces, as others have mentioned. Alternatively, outdoors if weather allows.

      Not sure I’d recommend aromatherapy though, unless you’re working with small groups and the culture fosters speaking up if something is problematic. Breathing in essential oils, even correctly diluted, can be really painful for many people.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        I am strictly hands off in my teaching, but thank you so much for pointing that out! The space we are in isn’t really going to be possible to do aromatherapy in, and I don’t like using it outside of my own personal practice anyway for sensitivities sake. I would love to do outdoor classes but the space we are currently in doesn’t have an outdoor space. Plus I don’t really trust my therapy buddy not to wander off. Ha. But maybe eventually we can find somewhere suitable.

      2. Roland*

        One thing I like in my current studio is that during the first few minutes, the instructors will find a time when we’re facing down or have eyes closed and mention that they’ll be doing gentle physical corrections but if we don’t want to be touched, just put our palm out or whatever signal makes sense for the current pose. Then they know not to touch you for the rest of class. Personally I really like physical help while also understanding that others really don’t, so I think this is a great strategy.

        1. Anon for this*

          my studio does this too, and I agree it’s a good practice.

          to answer the OP, I would like to see in advance that the teachers/participants are diverse (not just in terms of ethnicity, although that is important, but body shape and age). I appreciate that might not be possible but I’m increasingly put off by yoga classes populated exclusively by young, thin white women. (young thin white women have every right to practice yoga and not be judged for it and such individuals mean no harm – I’m just saying that a more inclusive group would appeal strongly to me personally).

          1. Bunny Girl*

            I’m in my early thirties and while I am white, I’m on the heavier side and admittedly not the most flexible. I love yoga for the mental and total wellbeing side more than the let’s bend our body like a pretzel side. So I hope to make more people comfortable!

      3. minimalist yoga for me*

        Hard agree about surveying your group (and being willing to forego them) before using essential oils or other aromatics. I would have to get up and leave as soon as I sensed it. It isn’t very soothing to feel your airways close up while the person says brightly, “But it’s a NATURAL oil!”

        In general I prefer a yoga class that is just … yoga. If I had my druthers there wouldn’t be any music either unless there was a lot of distracting outside noise to be masked. Just the teacher, the other students, me on my mat — that’s all I need to have a good experience. (And a teacher who asks permission to put her hands on me.)

        1. Observer*

          he person says brightly, “But it’s a NATURAL oil!”

          I’ve always treasured by father’s response to one such comment “Typhus is also natural.”

    4. Anthology*

      I’d like explicit warning ahead of time that a dog will be present, so I can opt out and find something else. I can’t exercise if I can’t breathe.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        Yes! We are advertising that a dog/dogs will be present and the non-profit is a therapy/service dog organization so there will be no doubt that dogs will be there.

    5. Team9to5*

      What a lovely thing you’re working on! When I went to my first yoga class, I would have benefited from descriptive instructions that assumed no prior experience. Everyone else around me seemed to know what to do, and I felt super lost. Even a one-sentence welcome/overview at the top would have been helpful.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        Noted! Thank you. I personally teach more yin/restorative yoga so the poses aren’t overly complicated but I really like to focus more on the muscle groups you are engaging than getting into the EXACT RIGHT pose. I also find that more helpful when describing what we are doing as well and I’ve found it very beginner friendly.

        1. Roland*

          The first yoga class I ever went to was a yin yoga class because the studio said it was beginner-friendly. Imo it really wasn’t and it was a stressful experience where I was seriously worried that doing a pose incorrectly for that long would be doing actual damage. Plus no one said anything at all before beginning so I had no idea what these blocks were or whatever. Felt very unwelcoming. All of which is to say, yes some kind of intro and a willingness to help beginners would be really good for an inclusive class.

      2. the bean moves on*

        oh yeah, like what a ‘practice’ is. i figured it out by the end but it really took me out of it when i was trying to parse what it was

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      It’s really helpful when the instructor goes around and indicates that, say, I need to rotate my hips to get the full benefit of this pose. Stuff that isn’t evident when I’m doing an online class or a video.

      I am specifically drawing that experience from a yoga-for-cancer-patients class, by the way, where a lot of people had physical limits that ruled out some movements.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        Thanks for sharing that experience! I do tend to wander around my classes and I always offer alternatives to what we are doing or how one can shift to get deeper into the pose. I also plan on getting there half an hour early and we plan on encouraging people to come chat with me beforehand if they need individual accommodations so we can chat about them one-on-one.

    7. Junior Dev*

      I have been really frustrated by yoga classes where I am unable to do a specific pose and just get told “oh, do child’s pose until the next thing” and end up spending 1/3 of the class I paid for in child’s pose. I know it is hard/impossible to tailor individual instructions to people in a class. But having different levels of difficulty for each pose or sequence is really helpful.

      Also, see if there’s a way a few people with different body shapes and ability levels can give feedback on some classes and in particular, the assumptions about what people can easily do, or do at all. Example: The way fat and muscle distributes on my body, I have never been able to sit on my heels by bending my knees—my calves just do not allow my thighs to go that low, and I end up doing sort of an awkward low kneel which takes a lot of effort to maintain. This has never been an issue for me except in yoga classes where the instructor assumes that sitting on one’s heels is a “resting” pose.

      However, I’m sure other people have other things going on with their bodies such that “easy” yoga poses or movements are difficult or impossible, even when they’re not otherwise disabled or injured—there’s a ton of things where normal variation in body proportion will mean things are trivial for one person and very hard for another. So try and give multiple options for things like that, and not just telling people to do some rest pose that causes them to lose out on whatever benefits they’re supposed to be getting at that part of the class.

      It would also be good if classes could have a description or rating of their difficulty—it could be hard/medium/easy but it could also be like “this class is good for a gentle intro to building core strength, but assumes a moderate level of flexibility” or something. I think yoga studios want to pretend that their classes are all equally accessible to everyone and it just isn’t true.

      1. Generic Name*

        I’ve had similar experiences to your first paragraph. I honestly was near tears in one class because I couldn’t do a large portion of the moves and the instructor had no equivalent poses or alternatives and I had to listen to her extolling the benefits of something my body couldn’t do.

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      A designated area near a wall or alcove for people who may need to step out for a few moments but not leave. My asthma was sometimes triggered by yoga, and if I didn’t get to the class super early I’d end up in the middle of the room with no way to duck out for a minute without disturbing everybody.

    9. Kel*

      Given that you are committed to inclusion and accessibility, please consider how well/not well studio is ventilated. If there isn’t good natural ventilation, HEPA filters and/or DIY Corsi-rosenthal boxes can really increase the clean air. Strongly recommend having classes be masked (or at least designate some classes masked) to allow for disabled/immunocompromised/COVID conscious folks to participate.

    10. Generic Name*

      Learn as many modifications of poses as you possibly can, and then give people a questionnaire to fill out to provide info in injuries or things that have to modify. I have scoliosis, and had spinal fusion surgery as a teen to correct it. My spine is almost completely rigid, and I cannot to any twists or bends. I’ve done yoga for almost 25 years now, but I don’t do classes anymore because I hate having to talk to the teacher beforehand about my limitation because they often have no idea how to modify the moves. The worst class I took was a “gentle” yoga class that was almost completely just spinal twists and bends. A good portion of the class was doing a supported lying twist that was painful/impossible for me to do. The “modification” was me lying on my back while the teacher spoke in soothing tones about how cleansing and awesome and relaxing the pose I couldn’t do was. :/ it sucked.

  36. Estate question*

    My parent recently passed. In our state, if you go thru probate, there is a six month period for creditors to make a claim on the estate. My parent’s assets are not significant and therefore qualify for doing a simpler “small estate” under $100,000, but then there is a two year period for creditors to make a claim on the estate (the heirs would have to pay, if it’s a legitimate claim).

    Which would you do? None of us siblings were terribly involved in my parent’s financial life, so there could be some unknowns, but how likely that is, I don’t know.

    Personal experiences stories are welcome, too!

    1. fposte*

      NAL. But it sounds like you’re asking about small estate vs. full probate? Usually you have something like 30-60 days to file so that should give you time to look at your parent’s papers and financial records. Small estate is a lot easier, so I would be inclined to file small estate unless their history and practice is really opaque to everybody involved or if they have clear patterns of overextension and disorganization. The other thing to keep in mind, if there’s evidence of a lot of debt, is that there’s usually an option to file for an insolvent estate–one where there isn’t enough to satisfy the remaining debt (not uncommon when there are final hospital bills). Probate tends to take a long time anyway so if your concern is shortening the process until everything is over, it may not get you much advantage, despite the earlier bar to creditors.

    2. Cat's Paw for Cats*

      Honestly, we had a similar situation with my mom’s estate and opted to go through probate. Simple, easy and over in a few months. I personally like the peace of mind of not having an unknown hanging over my head. When it was over, it was over.

      1. Clisby*

        Same experience after the deaths of my father and mother. However, I’ve gotten the impression that probate procedures can vary widely from state to state (I’m in SC). I think the longest delay was in waiting for all the final medical bills to come in, but that definitely didn’t take 6 months.

    3. Rick T*

      I’d check with a probate lawyer if the heirs are liable for claims on the estate.

      As I understand things from watching 3 estates go thru probate legitimate bills would be paid by the estate, and if there is a statutory time limit late creditors would be barred. In any event the estate pays all the bills, the heirs get their distribution after the bills are all paid.

    4. Dancing Otter*

      We used probate for my cousin’s estate, because she owned a house.

      She didn’t have health insurance after she was fired for exhausting her FMLA while dying of cancer. (She should have been on Medicare, but stubborn was an understatement. Maybe she had cognitive impairment from the chemo, but she’d been like that for years.) Anyway, there were a LOT of unpaid medical bills.

      When we notified the creditors of her death and the probate case number, only ONE company bothered to file. Saved her heir a bundle. The legal costs were totally worth it.

    5. Estate question*

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I’m not a gambler, and while I don’t expect there to be any surprise bills, I also don’t want to find out the hard way. So, we are going thru probate to limit creditors to a six-month period. It might cost a bit more as you have to publicize the estate in the newspaper and the court filing fee is a bit more, but it’s totally worth it to me to not have to spend 2 years hoping nothing pops up.

    6. Chaordic One*

      When my aunt and uncle (no children) passed, we went through probate. The only unexpected bills came from several different locksmiths. There were at least three and they totaled about $500.00. My aunt was already in a nursing home, my uncle was developing memory problems and he locked himself out of his home numerous times. We assumed the bills were legitimate and paid them out of the funds in the estate before we distributed the remaining assets in accordance with their wills.

      Not directly related, but several months later we discovered that my uncle had unclaimed money on one of those state-run “you might be owed money” websites which we claimed under the estate. They only totaled a couple of hundred dollars and distributed them. It required us to file an additional tax return for the estate.

    7. Gatomon*

      My mom passed last year, no will, pretty much no assets but her car (paid off). On advice of a lawyer I did a small estate claim, which amounted to a notarized piece of paper in my state. It cost me $75.

      As for debts, all she had was:
      – hospital bills due to recent cancer and, obviously, her death: these were all written off by the hospital as she was already widowed
      – parent PLUS loan: written off
      – two small credit cards: totaled <$500 so I would've just paid out of pocket anyway to make sure they went away but there was some money from her rental deposit coming back that covered it in the end

      You can pull your parents' credit report to see what's out there. It also helps to dig through recent mail, any paperwork they saved and things like their email account and phone for clues. My mom had all her passwords written down so it was pretty easy to get into everything. I'm not worried about anything lurking out there, but I know my mom was working hard to get debt-free and her first degree was in accounting.

      Now if it was reversed and it was my dad who passed last? Oh boy, I can't even imagine the disaster that would've been. I would opt for probate for the protection in a heartbeat. I'm stressed thinking about this scenario.

  37. Keener*

    Birkenstocks – Anyone noticed Birkenstocks getting narrower? Just bought a new pair of the same style/size/colour and noticed the sole is about 4mm narrower than my old pair. It is the rubber sole that is narrower so i don’t think it is related to the cork adjusting to your feet. I’ve also triple checked and they are both regular fit.

    1. banana*

      yes. I just started wearing a new pair, and my (one) foot is twisted somehow in the foot-bed, in a way that none of the pairs I’ve had in the last twenty years has been. Really annoying.

      1. Keener*

        thanks for confirming I am not crazy. just found a store with what must be older stock. Might have to go buy some back up pairs.

    2. Stephanie*

      I wonder with them getting trendier, if the designers are trying to tweak the profile to make them look less clunky. I also imagine trimming the pattern leads to some cost saves (I work in manufacturing and you’d be amazed at the cost saves from trimming some millimeters here and there over millions of units)

    3. Courageous cat*

      I have super narrow feet and I have found their narrow width to be about the same across the board the past few years, not sure about the regular/wide width. It may vary from style to style too.

  38. New Mom*

    This is kind of a work question but mostly a personal question—if you’re a working mom not by choice (i.e., if you’d rather be a SAHM), how do you cope? I just had my first week back at work after maternity leave and am already fantasizing about selling our wonderful, expensive condo so I could stay at home. My husband is not as ready to make major financial moves as I am, maybe not even within a year. I don’t want to miss my kid’s whole life and for someone else to raise him. How do you deal?

    1. California Dreamin'*

      This is perhaps not helpful for you, but when I went back to work after my oldest child was born, I immediately realized oh, actually, I’m not going to want to do this particular career anymore (typical work week in that profession is upwards of 50 hours). I ended up choosing a new career in an entirely different field that offered the possibility of a much more flexible schedule. I had to go back to school to get certification for that career, which took longer than we planned because I had two more kids while in school, but we committed to having a lower income while I was doing that. It’s been amazing, and I’m so glad I made the switch. I never missed a school activity and volunteered in my kids’ classrooms and all that good stuff.
      I sometimes kinda miss aspects of my old career, which was more glamorous, I guess, and maybe more interesting, but I have zero regrets.

    2. Emma*

      Give it time. It takes awhile to get used to. You’re at the very beginning! I’d give it at least a few months.

      It helped me to spend no more time than necessary at work, to work through lunch and leave slightly early, to sometimes take days off to spend with my kiddo. and to sometimes take days off for my own mental health.

      I’m helped by thinking of the long view- that my kid (now kids, just had a second really recently) get the example of a working mom and know that it’s an option for women to work. I also think of our long term financial stability, how this helps us save for retirement, and also helps my career long term – from what I’ve seen from friends who stay home temporarily, they almost never go back to work (or if they do, they basically start over), even when kiddo is school age.

      I have 1 kiddo who’s almost in kindergarten, and daycare has been soooo amazing for their social skills, learning how to adapt to different styles of people who care for them, and their general flexibility. I feel like they’re all set for the transition of kindergarten. They love their teachers and friends at daycare, and have learned so so much.

      It also helps a huge amount to have great daycare providers – mine are wonderful, skilled, and my kiddo loves it there.

      The first 6 months or so if daycare were so hard for me, but I’m so happy with the long term outcome for me and my kiddo. I feel so much better about sending kiddo #2 to daycare.

      Though I do wish we were like most other countries and had paid leave to age 1, but unfortunately the US government doesn’t support families.

      Hugs. it’s a really hard transition!

      1. Emma*

        And also, if God forbid, we got divorced or my husband died/was disabled unexpectedly, our family has financial options.

        But for what it’s worth I did want to stay home with my kiddo until about age 3 (and did get a stint working from home with kiddo because of covid). After age 3, I could see that they needed more than what I could offer at home, and it wouldn’t have been good for them to stay home.

      2. CityMouse*

        Seconding all this. It’s really normal to struggle with the transition back to work. I really struggled with the isolation of maternity leave and still struggled with putting my son on daycare. I know being a SAHM isn’t for me but going back was still really hard.

    3. No Such Thing as Having it All*

      Going back after maternity leave is hard. I have three kids and my youngest is 7 months so I have been there! It does get easier as everyone settles into a routine. One thing that helps is that in general I really like my job. Even though I’m not with my kids during working hours, I am still their parent and still the one raising them (all the important stuff like providing love, shelter, passing on values, etc.) Sometimes I remind myself that I wouldn’t be able to feed and shelter my kids without my job so by going to work I’m being a good mother.

    4. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I dealt by reminding myself that anything can happen that might turn off the income stream to the household’s earners: death, disability, divorce, lay0ff, whatever. I needed to keep my skills sharp, my network intact, and my own money coming in.

      There are a few SAHMs in my circle of friends who have stayed home all 18+ years, and now all of our kids are leaving home or gone. I have no earthly idea what long-term SAHMs do with themselves once they’re empty-nesters and haven’t had an employment history in this century. (Or, honestly, what they do once the kids are old enough to have cars or friends and don’t need to be shuttled around to their commitments.) I guess I don’t come from a “ladies who lunch” milieu.

      Working outside the home doesn’t mean you miss your kid’s whole life. It’s hard to go back at first. Know that you will be fine, your kid will be fine, and if things don’t go as expected in your future, you’ll be better placed to land on your feet.

    5. Gyne*

      Solidarity – going back is hard, and parenting while working is hard. I’m the primary breadwinner in my family unit so me staying home would mean a very dramatic lifestyle change – house, school, leisure activities, pretty much everything. I remind myself that no one really “wants” to work, but we all do our part to contribute and earn money to pay our bills and do fun things. Basically, I work to support my family and so I can buy any yarn I want without guilt! And as others have mentioned, if I stayed home and my partner was hit by a bus, I’d be scrambling to make things work.

      I honestly think my partner has the harder position as the lower-earning member of the family unit. He has a fairly high stress job he’s not passionate about and it’s much harder for him after a series of bad days to keep going back when he could easily quit and spend more time on the volunteer work he *is* passionate about. But he’s decided he wants to keep working in case I get hit by a bus. (For now!) His job also has better benefits than mine and actual flexibility so he can WFH when the kids are sick or off school.

    6. Gyne*

      Oh one more thing! You are still raising your kids, even if you’re working and they go to daycare during the day. You being present for them when you are together is what they’ll remember. My dad worked a lot of nights, weekends, and holidays growing up and I have no real memories of the Christmas mornings he wasn’t around, I remember the nights he read me bedtime stories when he wasn’t working. That’s the stuff that matters. I know you probably didn’t mean it this way because you’re coming at it from the stress of returning to work when you don’t want to, but us working moms and dads love our kids (and raise them) just as much as the SAH crowd.

    7. Bubba’s mom*

      I’m that mom, the one who stayed home for most of my kid’s childhood and doesn’t have any full time work experience in this century. I’ve freelanced and contracted part time, and volunteered for all the things, but I’m sure it’s affecting my current job search. So if anything, think about the long view: career growth and security, financial stability, retirement savings, etc. and as others have said, you’re still raising your child, you just have a bigger team of helpers. SAHM parenting is hard, and lonely, and financially risky. The amount of retirement resources in my name is pitifully small. And the joy of parenting and working is that no matter what you do you’ll feel like you’re short-changing everyone. You’re also still under the influence of hormones and social messages designed to keep you attached to your tiny, helpless human. They’re so cute, and often smell nice, and have an amazing laugh. And I felt emotional pain when my baby cried. It’s supposed to be hard to separate right now.

      But since you’re feeling the pull, do some real investigating about how you can modify your job, budget, and career to better accommodate your family. How much can you flex? Can you do something part time? Work odd hours for part of the day? Does being at home with a small human fit your personality? I’d probably have been much healthier mentally if I’d been able to keep working part time, but it didn’t work out. For a long period of time my family worked better with me at home.

    8. Not Totally Subclinical*

      Working parent by choice, but one thing that helped me was doing the math and realizing that when you factor in naptime, my child spent far more of their waking hours with me than with a non-family caregiver. (I did not have a horrible commute, so YMMV.)

    9. Observer*

      See if you can find a few women like you. Believe me, you are NOT alone or unique! What you want to find are women who are not career above, but also not constant negativity over needing to have a paying job. Just spending some time with people who bring some positive energy but still *get it* can be really helpful.

      Think about changing jobs/ careers. Maybe even a job that pays a little less. “I need to have a paying job” does not have to mean “I need to have THIS paying job”.

      Look into changes that you could make at THIS job – I know that for a lot of the mothers with young children hybrid wfh made a HUGE difference, because it gave them a lot of schedule flexibility. Full time WFH would probably not have worked for them, but the nature of many jobs meant that as long as you were in the office for a few (mostly predictable) hours a week, you could do a lot of your work remotely in the evenings. (Of course, it helped that we had a very robust infrastructure in place, for reasons that originally had nothing to do with WFH.) That meant that they could get home in the early afternoon, be with their kids till bed time and then get on with some office related stuff. Brainstorm with others in similar situations to see what other good ideas people can come up with.

      Unless you are already living up to your complete paycheck, start thinking of spending money on ways that give you more time with your kid. Whether it’s household help so you can spend your at home time with your kid instead of the laundry, or some sort of activity with kiddo that can become baked into your schedule, etc.

      Also, being realistic about your finances AND what it means to “raise your kids”. I know some women who made some fairly drastic changes to stay home with their kids. And it worked for them. But I know some who made these changes, and it turned out that they still needed a paying job for one reason or another. In some cases it was the kind of unexpected catastrophe others mentioned. But also, in some cases, it just wasn’t enough, for whatever reason.

      But I also know some SAHM’s who don’t have time for their kids. Because finances are so tight that they simply have too much to do to spend any time with their kids. And often when they do spend time, they are distracted and / or resentful that they can’t be “getting things done.” I also see that with the kind of parents who think that either they have to do everything themselves for reason that have nothing to do with financed, which goes to what I was saying about really thinking about what it means to raise a child. Don’t get me wrong being a child’s primary caretaker is a big deal, and if that’s what you really want, I get it. (And it’s worth planning how you can get closer to that than you are now.) But if you feel bad that you can’t be the person who does everything for your kid, or you can’t do the things you do “perfectly”, it’s worth just getting rid of that kind of feeling. I know that this is easier said than done, but it pays!

      Lastly, prioritize paying for good childcare, whatever form it takes. Don’t get hung up of formal qualifications per se – some of my best caretakers over the years did not have any formal qualifications, but my kids build really strong relationships with them. And the key was that I needed to be able to TRUST these people with my kid(s). Thank G-d, I’ve been very fortunate, but a good chunk of my paycheck went for childcare costs.

  39. NYC workspace?*

    Hello! I’m going to be in New York City later this month for an event, and the way my travel plans worked out, I will have almost a full day when I get there. I’d like to get at least a half day of work in, due to some projects that are looking like they will be at a stage that they’ll need my attention, and also I am history’s greatest monster and do not enjoy spending time in NYC.

    Where are some good places to hunker down and get work done? I googled and got lots of WeWork and similar places, which I’m not opposed to – it looked like the average price for a day pass is $30-ish, which is probably less than what I would spend at a cafe to assuage my guilt for camping out – but I want to make sure that aren’t other options that I’m not thinking of that are more interesting and/or cheaper. Also, FWIW, I’ll be staying in Chelsea, but am adventurous.

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

      The Rose Reading room of the New York Public Library (the Lion Library on 5th Ave at 42nd street) is very good for getting quiet work done (and very pretty). And if you get tired of sitting inside, you can move yourself out to the tables in Bryant Park, which is right behind the library. Just be prepared for the library guards to search your bags.

      1. Lore*

        There’s also a rooftop cafe at the revamped Stavros Niarchos library across Fifth Ave from the main library. Basically that whole corner should give you many options! If you want to hit a different part of town, the Schomburg Center in Harlem, the performing arts library at Lincoln Center, the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library in Grand Army Plaza, the brand new Brooklyn Heights library, or the Long Island city branch in Queens, accessible by ferry I think?

        1. Bluebell*

          The Greenpoint branch of the NYPL is also a nice possibility. It’s fairly new and has a string environmental emphasis. Big windows, very airy.

    2. mreasy*

      I usually post up in my hotel’s lobby when I’m in this scenario traveling for work and arrive before check-in. And actually even if you aren’t staying there, the lobby at the Ace is a pretty great spot (you will probably have to order some coffees/etc – so similar price overall).

      1. NYC workspace?*

        I’ve had a bad run of luck recently where I plan to do that, but even the lobby wifi is connected to a room number, which I don’t have since I’m not able to check in yet. It’s definitely what I’ll try first though!

        1. Lore*

          If your hotel won’t give a person with a reservation that night courtesy access to the wifi (and bag check) they are a bad hotel.

          1. NYC workspace?*

            I thought that too, but it’s that there is no way for me to get on because there are only two networks – the one that is set up in such a way you need a last name and room number in order to do anything, and then the hotel employee network, which I can understand not wanting to give the password to (and they probably aren’t allowed). These have all been big chains, so imagine it’s a corporate policy to keep people from “loitering” in the lobby.

            1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

              When I arrive early at a hotel, I generally go up to the desk to see about (a) possible early check-in, and if that’s not possible (b) storing my luggage for me until a room is available. I would imagine “and can I also use the wifi?” would be something askable as part of that conversation – they may have a special “room number” set aside for that login situation. (It’s very rare that they can’t at least watch my luggage, but I also am doing this at convention hotels not in NYC so I have no idea if it’s different there.)

    3. Katefish*

      Any interest in camping out in a library? I don’t know Chelsea well, but I know the City has libraries all over.

  40. I don't mean to be rude, I'm just good at it*

    Our plumacot tree was very disappointing this season, but our peach tree has over 100 peaches getting ready to pick. The persimmon tree looks loaded as is our Loquat tree. We have another tree full of something, but I’m having a brain freeze on it’s name.

    How are your trees coming along?

    1. California Dreamin'*

      We put in a nectaplum tree a few years ago with such, such high hopes, and it’s been… disappointing. It doesn’t set much fruit, not enough to give the squirrels their share and have any left for us. This year there is one (one!) fruit on there. I think we’ll call it a loss and pull the tree out this year and choose something else. We’ve had decent luck with peaches in the past.
      The Santa Rosa plum we put in next to it is going gangbusters. Last year we had a giant plum crop and made delicious plum jam. This year it looks like they’re going to ripen while we’re on vacation next week :( Potentially we can get a neighbor or our adult son to come harvest them and maybe some will still be around when we get home.
      We have a huge, 20 foot tall pomegranate tree (technically a bush, my husband tells me.) It gives us more than 100 pomegranates every fall, and it’s quite a pretty tree when flowering (right now it’s covered in orangey-red flowers) and in the fall it’s gorgeous with yellow leaves and the dark red pomegranates all over it. It’s my favorite!
      And we’re in Southern California so like everyone else we have a big lemon tree and more lemons than we can use. No one wants our lemons because they all have their own, LOL. We’ve had success making a lemonade concentrate, basically, and canning that so we have these jars of concentrate and the kids can grab one and put it in a pitcher with water and have fresh lemonade instantly.

    2. Unkempt Flatware*

      Ugh that sounds nice! I’ve been trying for so many years to grow a mandarin tree in my back yard. My neighbor has mandarins as well so I thought there would be success due to proximity. Nope. Hasn’t grown a millimeter in 4 years. This September I will replace with a blue Palo Verde since those grow like weeds. I just need some shade!

      1. California Dreamin'*

        Oh, I wonder if we have the same tree… we have a Palo Verde but I’ve never heard it referred to as blue. It has lots of beautiful yellow flowers in the summer. Another favorite that we put in during our yard remodel!

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      We have three dogwood trees that did not bloom at all in April/May, their usual time. But then two of them said “It’s the end of June: We’re going for it!” and so now I have midsummer dogwood blossoms.

    4. I don't mean to be rude, I'm just good at it*

      1 am I open my eyes and say the word, “chayote”. All 3 of ours will produce enough to fill a bathtub.

  41. SuprisinglyADHD*

    Does anyone have advice on how to get Sears to honor the manufacturer’s warranty on a Kenmore Elite Refrigerator?

    The compressor failed. There is a 10 year warranty for the compressor in the manual. “For ten years from the date of purchase, a defective compressor will be repaired free of charge.”

    Sears will not cover the labor cost ($700+). Even the 3rd party repair company says it’s under warranty but they are stuck with Sear’s system that won’t accept that.

    Sears says labor is not covered because they do not cover “a service technician to clean or maintain this product”.

    Does “repaired” mean parts only, or parts and installation?” Is installing a replacement for a defective/broken part “maintenance?”

    Some of the confusion might be due to the fact that the CURRENT warranty listed on Kenmore’s website specifically says that it only covers labor to replace the compressor for the first year. But that shouldn’t apply to my 9 year old fridge.

    So is it possible to get someone on the phone that can actually do something that’s “not policy?” It took me 3 hours and 9 people to get someone who wasn’t restricted to selling me the Home Protection Plan Agreement, and then that person’s supervisor. Both lovely people but stuck at “it’s policy”. I think one person with a bit of autonomy would look at my warranty and agree.

    Sorry this is so long, I’ve tried a LOT of approaches in the last week.

    1. tab*

      I’m afraid that Sear’s dire financial situation means they ignore warranteed repairs. There are many online complaints about this. I had friends that went through this, and they ended up purchasing an appliance from another supplier. I’m sorry that you have to deal with this.

    2. I don't mean to be rude, I'm just good at it*

      elliott.org will give you suggestions to help resolve you problem

  42. Doggy Doo-not*

    Last week, I was walking my dogs through our neighborhood at about 10:00 at night (Phoenix so I can only go out when safe heat-wise). There’s always been a very old man on the corner who comes outside to watch me as I walk my dogs past his house. I know this is because of owners who let their dogs do their business in his yard and not clean it up. He lives on the corner of the busiest street in our neighborhood. Pedestrians have to wait by his stop sign to safely cross the street with their dogs. Of course, this is where dogs will pee (and poop). I try not to let them do their business in anyone’s yard but if they do, I rinse the pee with water if in grass and I always always pick up poop.

    Well, on my way back home at about 10:30, he popped out of the shadows to angrily confront me about my dogs pooping in his yard. I very politely say “oh no! it’s not us as I always have bags” while I pointed to my bags. He doubled down, so I say again, “op! Nope! Not us sir! Sorry you’re dealing with this!”. He followed me as I rounded the corner and continued harassing me. He kept saying, “this better not happen again” and I had to escalate my responses to get him to stop coming closer. Finally I stopped, turned around, squared my shoulders and said, “DO NOT ever confront me about this again!” and he finally turned around and left me alone.

    My question is, what would you do now? His house is the only path to our area walking paths. Do I avoid his yard all together and drive my dogs to the path?

    1. Not A Manager*

      Can you keep them at a tight heel position when you’re near his yard, on the street side, so they physically can’t access his lawn? It sounds like your longest wait time is at the stop sign.

      If he addresses you or even comes out on his porch I’d say, “Don’t approach me, my dogs are nowhere near your lawn.”

    2. Roland*

      You told him you always have bags, and you mentioned that you pick up if your dog goes in someone’s yard – does that mean that your dog IS doing his business in his yard? I wonder if his problem is “OP’s dog pooping in my yard” and you think the problem is “dog pooping in his yard and not being picked up”. Dog owners and non-dog-owners often have different opinions on how ok it is to let dogs poop in someone’s yard and I don’t want to get into that here, but I guess make sure you are clear on what his actual problem is, poop being left or poop in the first place.

      1. Doggy Doo-not*

        My dogs have actually never pooped in his yard. Ever. His accusation came about because the evidence was left by a big dog and I have two big dogs. I totally understand some folks don’t want animals in their yard at all. You’ll just have to take my word for it that my dogs enter his yard a reasonable amount of time that a reasonable person would smile about. I mean, they may simply sniff the grass near the stop sign for obvious reasons and that’s about it. I know why he’s upset. I will not be harassed though and my question was about what folks would do from here, not if the man was right or not.

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

          I guess I’m envisioning that there is a clear demarcation between sidewalk, street, and yard. If there is, just keep the dogs tightly on the street-edge of the sidewalk with yourself on the yard-edge. If this is a sidewalk-less area, then is it possible to fake a long stop before you reach his place in the hopes of encouraging a poop to happen earlier? I understand you think he should be more understanding about your dogs doing normal dog behavior, but especially if you’re out late at night, maybe it’s ok if your first priority is to not antagonize/engage with someone who might escalate to harassment/harm.

            1. fposte*

              I found your bringing up the bags confusing, then, and he may have as well.

              As far as what to do, it’s about your comfort level, which may vary from night to night, and that’s fine. But sometimes with somebody like that some proactive friendliness and a little forced teaming can be useful. Wave at him and wish him good evening as you walk your beautifully behaving dog, and commiserate with him on those terrible dog owners that cause trouble for good dog owners like you.

              1. Dragon Hoard*

                I don’t know why it’s confusing. He said, in essence, “you left dog poop on my lawn!” and she said “it wasn’t me, I always pick up my dogs’ poop with these bags here.”

                1. Celeste*

                  But I don’t think that is what’s she’s saying. In later posts, I think she’s saying the dogs didn’t poop in the yard at all – not that the dogs pooped and then she cleaned it up.

                  So that was the confusing part – we interpreted the initial post like you did, but that wasn’t correct.

        2. Not A Manager*

          “You’ll just have to take my word for it that my dogs enter his yard a reasonable amount of time that a reasonable person would smile about.”

          He might be an unreasonable person, but if your dogs are on his property at all and he’s told you he doesn’t want them there, you have to keep your dogs off his property regardless of whether they poop or not.

          1. Dark Macadamia*

            +1 “a reasonable amount of time” to be on a stranger’s property without permission is zero time! He escalated the situation in a really inappropriate way but he’s not unreasonable to expect people to keep their dogs out of his yard.

            1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

              Eh, I think “leashed dogs put a paw or two onto the edge of your yard sometimes, because dogs don’t really get the concept of property lines” is just one of those things that comes with living in a walkable neighborhood. Here, the people who don’t want dogs in their yards put up those teeny wire fences to make more of a border and/or landscape with an edge of something other than grass to make a boundary that dogs will notice.

            2. It’s not the poop. It’s the DOGS*

              Agreed. If you can’t keep your dogs one hundred percent off his grass, walk them in the street. This is why we put a picket fence around our front yard.

              And please don’t say, oh they’re dogs so they don’t understand. No. You are responsible for your dogs. Keep them off any lawn that does not personally belong to you.

            3. Dragon Hoard*

              No, it’s definitely unreasonable. A yard bordered by a busy sidewalk along a main thoroughfare that has a stop sign and crosswalk leading from it where people necessarily must stand and wait will sometimes have people or pets stepping onto the edge of the lawn from the sidewalk. That’s not “being on a stranger’s property” and it’s not something a reasonable person would object to.

              1. Not A Manager*

                It probably is unreasonable, but it’s his right. I agree with the general premise that people are allowed to assume that it’s okay for their dogs’ feet (or their own feet) to touch someone else’s property, but that assumption is rebutted when the owner makes it clear that it’s not okay with him.

                This man has made it clear that the dogs are not to enter his premises. The only acceptable response is to ensure that the dogs don’t enter his premises. Dogs don’t understand about property lines, but people do.

        3. Roland*

          I’m not saying he was right or wrong, all I said was make sure you understand his problem since saying “I have bags” is a solution to a different problem than “don’t go in my yard”. I wasn’t there and had no way of knowing your dogs never poop in his yard when all you originally said is you “try” not to let them go in yards and you clean up when they do. It wasn’t an attack.

          1. Celeste*

            That’s how I understood your comment – what to do from here depends on a clear understanding of what the problem is.

    3. Rick T*

      As long as your dogs are in the public easement and he does not block or impede your movement you should be OK just ignoring him. Can you cross to the other size of your street first, so you aren’t waiting in front of his house to try to avoid the situation?

      If he escalates to grabbing you, blocking your movement, or attacking your dogs you should get the local police involved for your protection. They may need to bring in adult services to address the old man’s mental abilities if he has fixated on *your* dogs as the source of the poop problem.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      This is a situation where I’d go kind of malicious compliance – make a point of crossing the street right before his yard, then crossing back right after so it’s very obvious that you’re keeping them away. Bonus if the dogs poop somewhere within his sight so you can make a big show of cleaning it up.

      1. banana*

        Honestly, I think the last part backfires. If I saw someone picking up after dogs that I think pooped in my yard, I wouldn’t jump to “this person always picks up after their dogs”, I’d jump to “I’m glad I told that person off, they’re going to backslide, so I’d better keep on top of it”.

    5. Prospect Gone Bad*

      The confrontation you already feared just happened, so IMO there is nothing left to fear! Just keep standing your ground and tell him to get cameras or if it makes you feel better, walk around with a bag full of something so you can go “see, here” as visual proof you clean after yourself

      I sympathize with both sides here. I really lose respect for people who don’t clean up after there dog when it snows. I never got why people think it’s OK to stop cleaning up after dogs because it snows. As if the snow makes it disappear.

      On the other hand, my dog will not pee in the yard then pee for ten minutes right in front of the one person who is outside when we walk. Never fails!

      1. Ginger Cat Lady*

        It could happen again.
        It could escalate.
        I’m boggled that you think a person who was aggressive once is nothing to fear. Quite the opposite.

    6. RagingADHD*

      I think the solution is to just be prepared for how you’re going to handle it if he is there again. You can’t stop him from looking at you, talking to you, or even shouting at you. If he wants to walk right up to the edge of his property and yell his head off, he has every legal right to do so – he’s on his own property. He’s allowed to be bananapants in his own yard.

      I think the suggestions to keep your dog on the street side and be proactively friendly and wave are the best ways to head this off, if he is not so far gone that it can’t be headed off.

      A lot depends on whether he is functional but wrong, or obsessive / irrational.

    7. Sloanicota*

      This happens to me. I have a large dog. Not everyone in my community picks up poop. People like to yell. And I’m someone who is very “safe” to yell at, as a young-appearing petite women. I have also tried to explain that I always pick up poo, but I accept that’s not really the point. People have also started screaming at me because my dog “looked at them.” I am as sympathetic as I can be; some people really hate/fear dogs. It’s more like street harassment, and in the same way, the best response is to grey rock and ignore it. I would not avoid a yard over it, but I would ignore someone yelling and not engage again after trying one time.

    8. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      I’m sorry you are dealing with this. sounds like you are being responsible, and he, can’t, or won’t, recognize that it’s other dogs. can you cross sooner? I’d feel anxious about another encounter too. maybe drive for a while and try again when he hasn’t seen you for a while?

      1. Morning reader*

        In your position, I would drive the dogs for up to a month so that you’re off this guy’s radar. Then start going again, maybe when it gets cool enough to go at different times in the evening. I find sometimes when tensions arise it’s sufficient to reduce the frequency of the stressor.

    9. SofiaDeo*

      I think what to do moving forward depends partly on your personality. I have dogs, and have experienced the “some people don’t care where they go” as well as “some think it’s dogs ruining their grass instead of the numerous cats, deer, bear, bobcat, etc.” I personally am more on the assertive side, small woman or no. But I also think it’s good training for my dogs to know just because it’s grass, they can’t go everywhere. (This is especially helpful when being in places where dogs have peed yet should not have, I then don’t have a huge problem/worry that my dogs contribute to an inappropriate urine or poop mess) My dogs are stopped often and commanded to “go pee” or “go poop” or “pee and sniff” as well as “no pee”, they don’t tell *me* when it’s time to pee. I always give the command, first, “go pee” at any particular spot.

      I personally would now have this particular lawn/stop sign a NoPee Area, and my dogs would be told “no pee” regardless of how many other dogs have marked it. Even if there is a median strip that technically is City property. This neighbor is super sensitive and I don’t care to aggravate these types especially. But I would be aware of his hovering or approaching me, and would probably speak first if he approached me with a “great night huh?” or “crappy weather, huh?” or something else neutral as I kept moving. Make sure he hears you tell the dogs “NO PEE (dog name)” in a loud voice in case he is hard of hearing. Since he’s already been rude/unreasonable, I would not want to engage if I could help it. But if he started up again, I, personally, would probably shout (yes shout) “LEAVE ME ALONE” as I kept moving. You have already tried to engage civilly, and your last interaction you explicitly stated to leave you alone. I hope you don’t have to start recording these interactions and involve the authorities, be he can’t be allowed to continue to come out and harass people on the street.

      If you aren’t as assertive as I am, please still consider everything except engaging him with a “nice night huh?” if he approaches you. You just may have to yell at him, first, if he approaches you again. I am hoping your final escalation/telling him off made him realize you are not going to allow him to continue to just harass you, because that is wrong. But do train your dogs to pee on command (especially great if you take them on frequent car trips), and avoid his yard, it’s not worth the hassle when people get really proprietary about grass outside.

  43. New Senior Mgr*

    The woodpeckers from hell have showed up at my home in the country. I’ve tried using reflective tape, you tube bird repellent clips, and it’s slowed them a bit but not gotten rid of them. I want to make sure they’re gone before I repair the damage to my deck. My work colleagues keep asking if I’ve killed then yet, but I don’t want to go that route, as expensive as this damage will be.

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      What are they attracted to? Is something rotting and a source of insects? I’d look into that.

      1. New Senior Mgr*

        The wood is old and easy to peck. I have monthly pest control and quarterly termite treatment.

        1. Prospect Gone Bad*

          Monthly and quarterly seem way too often? Tell us more about this deck. I just don’t know anyone who needs to put that much effort into this issue. Sorry you’re dealing with it BTW

      2. Anthology*

        They’re stupid as hell. I have some that peck our metal gutters constantly; I think they just like the sound. We’ve checked multiple times for bugs and found nothing.

        1. Owler*

          Flickers mark their territory by ratatattating on metal. It’s not insect driven, but just realm defining, basically. Our neighbors have a chimney cover that has been taken over by a Flicker every spring for the last 5-7 years. I also thought the bird was an idiot for tapping on metal until I learned about them.

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

      Have you tried putting up one of those fake owls? I don’t think they’re expensive, and a quick google told me that woodpeckers do recognize them as predators.

    3. Jay*

      The building I work in had a woodpecker problem and bought this little green thing that makes a sort of clicking noise. Apparently the woodpeckers can’t stand it. It was this thing: https://www.gardenoon.com/products/woodpecker-outdoor-ultrasonic-repeller-solar-powered-ultrasonic-animal-pest-repellant-get-rid-of-woodpeckers-in-48-hours-or-its-free-0h3n?variant=176f6968-fd65-4e36-be0e-3242cdca8047&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI0rjG_aju_wIVoRJlCh1ElwL6EAQYBiABEgI9j_D_BwE

      It seemed to work well enough, although the landscapers seem to really, REALLY hate it for some reason. They always uproot it and throw it around, even when it’s no where near the landscaping or in any way near their equipment. Maybe they just like woodpeckers?

    4. Choggy*

      We have a fake owl and a picture posted in the window near the area being pecked that has a black hawk on it. We had the board it was pecking replaced as well. No pecking since and this was a few years ago.

    5. No Name Yet*

      I’m really really sorry. We just replaced the wood siding of our house – it was getting on the older side (though still in good shape!), but a woodpecker decided that our house was tastier than the trees 10 feet away. The siding was fine, no bugs, no rotting (per both pest control and the people who replaced it), but it was apparently just very tasty. So far they don’t seem to be pecking on the vinyl siding… I don’t have any advice, just a lot of (expensive) sympathy.

    6. Thunder kitten*

      if you have woodpeckers, there is probably an insect problem. have you visually inspected the areas they keep coming to ?

  44. The Invention of Wings*

    Book question, about The Invention of Wings. I’m asking for spoiler-type answers, so skip the replies if you don’t want any!

    I started reading this and am having a hard time continuing. I’ll put my reasons in a reply as they are spoilers too.

    1. The Invention of Wings*

      I am a squeamish reader. I hate it when awful things happen to characters whom I’ve come to sympathize with, which is why I tend to avoid most current serious fiction — authors are really mean to their characters. But I am reading The Invention of Wings. I’m at the point where Charlotte (Handful’s mauma) is sneaking out at night, working for other people and whatever else she’s doing.

      So I am dreading the moment when Charlotte will be found out and punished, or suffer some other dreadful consequence, which seems inevitable. It’s deeply uncomfortable for me to keep reading wondering when the ax will fall and in what form, so I stopped reading and am asking about it here.

      What happens to Charlotte? And is the rest of the book more believable? (I can’t believe in Charlotte’s degree of recklessness, given her situation.)

      I’m the kind of reader who reads the last chapter of a murder mystery as soon as I’ve grasped the setup, then keeps reading to watch it play out. I don’t like suspense, at all. I’ll appreciate all of your spoilers!

      1. Not A Manager*

        Haven’t read the book and it sounds like it would make me anxious, too. I just wanted to say that I, too, skip to the last chapter of mysteries.

      2. Healthcare Worker*

        I wasn’t able to finish the book for the same reason! I’ll try looking at the synopsis first. My book club thought it was excellent

    2. RagingADHD*

      I’m not normally a last-chapter-first reader, but there are a few books that gave me such a sense of dread that I had to know if I could continue.

      I look at the synopsis on Wikipedia, Goodreads, or another type of review site that has a spoiler tag.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I am a devoted proponent of Does the Dog Die? website, and tense like hell whenever a pet is suddenly introduced in a suspense type book or film because now I have to worry about the dog for the whole darned thing!

      2. The Invention of Wings*

        What a good idea! I found a pretty thorough synopsis with loads of excellent plot spoilers. Now I know what happens to Charlotte and the other main characters, and I feel able to get back to reading the book.

  45. Potatoes gonna potate*

    Reading question for the book lovers here

    How do you all find time to read? Is it something to do in spare time or do you make time for it?

    I’ve always loved reading. I read so many books as a kid, and I read them quickly and would be a part of discussion boards when we got the internet at home. I loved reading in high school and college as well. As I got older and began working full time, reading for pleasure dwindled down to 1x a month or so.

    Cut to now, as a middle aged adult with a full time job and a toddler (and ADHD/exec dysf issues)….I just don’t have time to read. That hasn’t stopped me from buying books on my semi-monthly grocery trips, I’ve picked up about 6-8 books this year. The one book I started has taken me weeks to get through 2 chapters.

    My pile of books I * want * to read is getting bigger and I still have the desire but just not the time or energy for it. How do you all do it?

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      Keep different ones on hand for different free times.

      Right now, for instance, I’m reading Shrines of Gaiety before bed, have Bill Bryson’s At Home in the dining area for breakfast and feeding Peanut the cat (he demands tons of crumbled salmon flakes on his food so it takes a while) Perfection Salad in the living room for when I’m hanging out there, and various light/totable books in my bag (right now it’s Shirley Jackson’s Hangsaman) for reading at work during down times.

      I don’t get tons read at one time, but do get a lot of reading done altogether.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        That sounds like a pretty decent idea.

        I’d carve out time at work but we bill all our time, so I keep my non-work time to the bare minimum…like literally only for bathroom breaks or biweekly therapy appts. I’d read before bed but my daughter sleeps on top of me so no light.

        1. Not A Manager*

          Experiment with reading lights. I was someplace recently that gave me a little clip or stand with a light on it – I don’t quite remember how it worked but the light was very focused. Or try a camping headlamp.

          I like analogue books and it sounds like you do too, but you might have more luck downloading something you can read on your screen in dark mode.

          Also, what about audio books?

          1. Potatoes gonna potate*

            I haven’t tried audio books yet. I’m open to trying those. I have found that alongside not having a lot of time, my comprehension seems to be declining as well – I jump from line to line and can’t do paragraphs anymore. I’ll read two lines, read quotes, and then go back and re-read the entire page/passage. I never really noticed that I did this until very recently. I’ve never done well in lectures either, but I’m open to trying audio books

        2. Fellow Traveller*

          My kid insists that I lay down with her until she falls asleep (she’s 3.5) and I say, “Okay, but I’m going to read my book.” And then I read on my phone (usually via Libby) until she falls asleep.

    2. Finding time to read*

      I can’t say how other people do it — I’m guessing most people with your same responsibilities can’t do it either, or don’t need much sleep — but maybe you could try to make peace with the idea that right now you don’t really have the bandwidth to ignore the world and read. And maybe also stop making yourself feel bad about it by resisting buying more books, as the new books will not magically free you up to do the kind of reading you used to do.

      I very much sympathize as I too was a voracious reader starting in childhood, until life intervened. (PS, I love your screen name.)

    3. pineapplepants crazy*

      My partner reads by never surfing. But, you are reading. You’re reading right now: you’re just not reading books. So, put the computer/phone/tablet down and pick up a book. Or, realize that reading this site *is* reading. Just, not a book.
      Otherwise: be intentional. Go to bed a half hour before you do now and read. What ever housework that’s not done stays undone.

      It also gets easier as kids get older.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Didn’t think I’d had to actually specify but I meant reading books, not articles or this site.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      I’ve switched mainly to audiobooks since having kids. It’s not as immersive and I miss the feeling of sitting with a book for hours at a time but it’s better than nothing. I mostly listen to them while exercising or doing hobby projects, which are also hard to fit into my schedule now. I still buy physical books occasionally but they rarely get read, a lot of them are like a souvenir of an audiobook I liked enough that I hope to re-read it someday lol.

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

        I was thinking that if you listen to audiobooks without headphones (if they’re something that could be appropriate for kids too), your kids might also enjoy them. I think the first times I “read” *Alice in Wonderland* and *Pride and Prejudice* were actually when my mom would blast them when they were being read out loud on the radio. I liked them, and I’m sure it was good for my reading skills.

        1. Sitting Pretty*

          This was my thought too. And as the kids get older, reading out loud to them can become a way to read together. I read and re-read so many books out loud to my son at bedtime as he grew up and it was such a delight for both of us. Years of reading. So lovely.

          Now that he’s a teen, we’re not reading together anymore which means I’m absolutely luxuriating in my own reading for pleasure. It really is so different now to have so much of my own reading time on weekends and at bedtime. To everything, a season I guess…

    5. GoryDetails*

      Heh! It is definitely a matter of prioritizing whatever free time you have. I always have a carrying-around book that I’ll read if I’m in a waiting room or having lunch alone at a pub – and if I weren’t retired I’d probably dip into a book during down time at work as well. I do most of my reading either in bed – generally read for an hour or two before turning out the light – but that might not work for everyone. And I listen to audiobooks while driving, which adds up; even if I’m just doing short jaunts around town on errands, I can get through a significant portion of a book. [Not everyone enjoys audiobooks, and some can’t drive while listening because they find it distracting and/or sleep-inducing, but for me they’re perfect.]

      That said, I have had to accept that I will never be able to read all the books I want to – so I try to prioritize the ones I’m most eager to read, and am more willing to bail on a book early if it isn’t “giving me joy”.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        I’ve never done audio books, and I’ve always been a listen to my music and *think* while I drive (and oh, driving is a whole other topic here haha).
        Re bailing – I don’t think I’ve ever done that! I can’t recall if there have been many books throughout the years that I wanted to bail on. This one book is taking me forever to get through, which is a huge bummer because I was a huge fan of their other book! (happy to share specifics if anyone’s curious).

    6. MP*

      The only way I am able to read the frequency and amount I want is by having the Libby app on my phone so if I get brief periods throughout the day when I would normally just be scrol