weekend open thread – September 23-24, 2023

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand.

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: Fifth Avenue Glamour Girl, by Renee Rosen. It never occurred to me that the story behind the rise of cosmetics giant Estee Lauder would be fascinating, but it turns out that it is. This is a novel — historical fiction, I suppose — but it’s based on the real story of Lauder’s life.
* I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,277 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. Goose*

    I decided this is the year I learn to cook! Does anyone know of a “Couch to 5k” equivalent for cooking? Or YT videos with a set plan? Veg preferred if possible

    1. FWIW*

      Goose, I salute your mission. With respect to my own evolution on the topic, here’s what I learned on my journey: To learn to cook, eat what you make. The Barefoot Contessa has good recipes for those of us starting out, but the key is to not eat out, don’t live on cereal, just cook your food and eat it and keep that feedback loop cycling to your destiny of excellence!

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        For general encouragement read Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking and More Home Cooking–you will always be able to console yourself that you did not make a spinach pie that caught fire.

      2. carcinization*

        I’m going to do that annoying thing and reply before reading all the responses, but Budget Bytes has some great vegetarian recipes, and some of them are very basic/none of them are super-complicated. She also has stuff like advice on how to stock one’s pantry and how to meal-prep.

        There’s also a vegan cooking site called Bad Manners (formerly Thug Kitchen) that seems quite accessible, but I have only cooked a handful of their recipes so am not as familiar, and it’s maybe not quite as geared towards beginners. I have really liked the recipes of theirs I’ve made though.

        1. carcinization*

          (If my reply nested other than underneath the original vegetarian-cooking-beginner question I apologize, I didn’t mean for it to!)

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      I recommend Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything: Vegetarian.”

      I also like Deborah Madison’s “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.”

      Both are very complete books with a lot of recipes and good instructions, as well as variations and tips about putting flavors together.

      America’s Test Kitchen is a bit on the food geek side, but if you like lots of explanations for how and why recipes work, they give you the food science. They have both a vegetarian and a plant-based cookbook.

      If you want to learn to bake bread, I recommend Bernard Clayton’s books. He wrote excellent instructions that include how long steps will take. (Caveat: he wrote before food scales were common in most home kitchens, so all measurements are by volume.)

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Love the How to Cook Everything books. I have the general one and pages are coming out of it–sure sign of constant usefulness!

      2. Clara Bowe*

        America’s Test Kitchen has a vegetarian cook book that is pretty solid. I also really recommend the BudgetBytes website. There are a ton of veggie recipes with photos and detailed instruction.

        One way or another, just doing the thing helps the most. That and keep your knives sharp, have a large cutting board, and always use a bigger bowl than you think you need when it comes to salad.

    3. Fruit Snacks*

      I’d have to look up her username but there’s a lady on TikTok who shows recipes and cooking methods from the point of view of teaching someone who has never cooked a thing in their life before. I’ve found her helpful before.

    4. RedinSC*

      I don’t know if he does vegetarian dishes but the few videos on YouTube of chef Jean-Pierre are so fun.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        I really liked the Student’s Vegetarian Cookbook by Carole Raymond. I have the older one but there is now a revised edition. All the recipes are simple and made for 1-2 people. I found it right out of college when I wanted to cook more cheaply and healthily. Vegetables were cheaper back then but it’s still a good starting point.

    5. Stardust*

      You could try Hello Fresh or Blue Apron (or a similar meal subscription service) for a while. I felt like I was in cooking school when I did Hello Fresh. There is an option for Vegetarian recipes.

      1. Queer Earthling*

        Also, all of Hello Fresh’s recipes are available on their site, if you want to just buy the ingredients at your store but still have the instructions. Most of their packet/jarred sauces are just white label versions of common ones at the store, so using what you can find is fine.

        1. Clisby*

          Yes, my grad-school daughter did Hello Fresh for awhile – a friend had used it for quite awhile and passed on some new-customer coupons where you only had to pay for shipping. She didn’t keep on with it because she knows how to cook, but she quite liked some of the recipes and still makes them.

      2. Pippa K*

        Good suggestion. I’m a competent basic cook and recipe follower, but HelloFresh has definitely developed my sense of timing (how long should this take, at what temperature?), how to make basic sauces, and my knife skills (from endlessly slicing carrots and potatoes!). And you’re nearly guaranteed that it’ll come out right.

      3. MJ*

        What I loved about Hello Fresh was that, in addition to learning basic cooking techniques, it also allowed me to try different cuisines’ flavour profiles without having to purchase tons of spices that I’d only use once.

        It also taught me to dry fry gnocchi (no butter or oil in the pan) – which worked so much better than the soggy lumps I use to end up with when I boiled it.

    6. Pennyworth*

      I enjoy Serious Eats. You can sort recipes by vegetarian, vegan etc and it explains the science of what makes different techniques work, which might be useful for a beginner.

      There is a channel called Manjula’s Kitchen which has a huge number of Indian vegetarian recipes, if you like that type of food.

    7. Bonne chance*

      Moosewood Kitchen has a bunch of (mostly) vegetarian cookbooks, and some are more focused on simple recipes while others get more complex. You could definitely start with the Simple Suppers Cookbook, then move onto the Original Moosewood Cookbook or the Moosewood Cooks at Home book, then (maybe) finish with the Sunday Cooking or Celebrates titles?

      For really getting started, I love the intro sections from Midnight Chicken (incidentally, at least half vegetarian recipes) and from America’s Test Kitchen vegetarian cookbook (which others have mentioned). Those intros basically cover general principles/ingredients/equipment and explain basics you would really need to get started. Good luck and have fun!

    8. English Rose*

      I’m in the UK so what I recommend you’d have to adapt the measurements, but I learned via Delia Smith’s Complete How to Cook. Delia Smith was one of our first ‘celebrity chefs’ and she’s gone out of style a bit because she’s not flashy and/and or sweary like many more modern cookery people, but her methods are great and easy to follow.

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        I was going to recommend this! It’s the closest thing I can think of to a Couch to 5k of cooking – iirc it starts with how to boil an egg (b/c of people saying to her “oh I can’t even boil an egg”) and gradually builds in skill/ complexity level. It’s not vegetarian but I can’t remember how meat-heavy it is.

        Otherwise I second the suggestions to start with a cookbook with “student” or “easy” or “5 ingredients” or “20 minutes” or “one pan” in the title, then gradually ramp up to the ultimate dizzy heights of vegetarian bliss, the cookbooks of Yotam “so many ingredients” Ottolenghi (once you’ve sourced dried lines and black garlic and golden raisins, they’re actually very achievable for a home cook, like you don’t have to do anything that requires intense precision or special equipment – no julienning or deep-frying or sous-viding – they’re just more at the 5k end than the couch end).

      2. Mark*

        Strong second for Delia, which is also what my mother – a home economics teacher for 30+ years – recommends to everyone. The TV series also seems to be available on YouTube.

    9. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Cook90 is by Epicurious and it’s a challenge to learn to make all your own meals. There’s a book and info on the Epicurious website. It’s not specifically vegetarian though.

      1. Doc McCracken*

        Not specifically Vegetarian or Vegan, look up Alton Brown’s Good Eats television show. It’s science teacher meets chef and very instructional. When listening to a talk Alton gave at a food event years ago, he said one of the biggest compliments he ever receives is Home Economics Teachers using his episodes to teach students.

        1. Quinalla*

          Came here to say this, Good Eats is great and he tends to use regular “stuff” to cook instead of using 10,000 kitchen gadgets. He does a great job of explaining the food science behind things which I find fascinating and often suggests alternatives in his recipes. Not vegetarian, but very interesting and a great way to learn techniques that actually work. Link in my response to a list of episodes and what food is featured so you can pick and choose!

    10. kina lillet*

      Ask a trusted friend to come over and teach you a couple times! Then grab a cookbook—Mark Bittman is a good call—and choose something to eat that sounds good, like you’re choosing from a menu.

      Tips:

      You can learn without an “advising friend” but it helps to have someone who can tell you when onions are translucent and so on.

      Cooking a meal will take longer than you think, unfortunately.

      Get all your ingredients out on the counter, and then start cooking. If something is on the stove, you won’t have enough attention or time to chop the next set of ingredients. An exception is if the recipe tells you, ‘do this thing while this other thing happens.’

    11. Rachel*

      Pinch of Yum has an SOS series of recipes that are 5 ingredients or less.

      My advice here is to really lean on premade ingredients at first. I would not start with recipes that call for a lot of knife skills or timing.

      Focus on assembly more than cooking and when you feel more comfortable in the kitchen, then move on to the Mark Birman and Ina Garten recipes.

    12. Cooking*

      I learned to cook by starting with the “5-ingredient” cookbooks. If it only has 5 ingredients, how hard can it be? A lot of the recipes use canned or packaged items to start, but it’s still better and cheaper than takeout. It gave me a sense of how to put things together and the confidence to move on to more complicated things after that.

    13. Falling Diphthong*

      Perfect Plates in 5 Ingredients by John Whaite, which I got at the library and then realized the author is a past Great British Bake-Off winner.

      I like this because paring back ingredients gives you ideas on a new way to shine with just a few things. Several dishes from here went into my regular repertoire. Veg focus without being strictly vegetarian.

    14. PhyllisB*

      Good for you!! I’ve been cooking for over 50 years now, and it’s so satisfying when others enjoy what you prepare. Even if you’re cooking for one, it’s still great!!
      I will give you some advice I learned in high school home economics class: first read your recipe all the way through and make sure you have all ingredients on hand. Next, put everything out that you will need and as you use something, put it away or at least on a different counter.
      I was making strawberry muffins one weekend and they didn’t rise as much as I thought they should. Never having made homemade muffins before I didn’t think much of it, just thought it was the difference between homemade and mix. We sat down to eat, and I happened to glance over at the counter. There was the cup of sugar I was supposed to add. :-) luckily they turned out well anyway.
      My second piece of advice is the first time you make a recipe, follow it exactly. After you’ve done it once and decide if you like it, then you can improvise.
      Main thing is, have fun!! Even if it fails, you have learned something and unless it catches fire, you can probably still eat it.
      Like I heard a chef say once, if you mess up an omelet, you still have scrambled eggs.

    15. word nerd*

      This is not exactly couch to 5K, but I did enjoy Washington Post’s free 3-month weekly newsletter called “Voraciously: Plant Powered” for some ideas.

      For me, I feel like the way I got better at cooking was to develop some easy core recipes that I liked and wouldn’t mind making repeatedly. So let’s say if you like chili finding a basic chili recipe online and then maybe experimenting with it a bit until you’re happy with it and you can just make it from memory. Eventually you add to the number of these basic recipes for yourself and then you can have a good foundation to build on if you feel like getting fancier later.

    16. Mary S*

      When I first started cooking more, I set myself a goal of making one new recipe a week, usually on Sunday afternoon. It actually became fun to look for recipes and plan it during the week.

    17. allx*

      Thug Kitchen. It is wonderful and covers all the steps you would ever need to know including the bare essentials for staples/tools/equipment you need to start cooking. All vegetarian and the food is delicious. It might not be for everyone based on lots of sweary language but you can’t go wrong for a first time cookbook. Even though I have been cooking a long time, it is my go to for delicious plant-based recipes.

      1. carcinization*

        Did they change back to being called Thug Kitchen again? I thought they were called Bad Manners now.

        1. allx*

          Probably not! I am likely just behind the times because I use the actual Thug Kitchen cookbook and don’t follow on-line. But I love the recipes in the physical cookbook and how it is set up to be accessible.

    18. Jim was The Office villain*

      A few years ago Bon Appetit did a learn to cook series called BA Basics that was pretty good, IIRC. The Washington Post also has Voraciously, which is geared towards new cooks. Both of them are more vegetarian themed.

      I 100% learned to cook by watching Food Network in the mid 2000s (mostly Giada de Laurentiis and Ina Garten). I learned knife skills, what spices go together, how much salt to put in things, etc. I used and use cookbooks and websites for recipes, but I know how to do things because of what I learned watching the Food Network. I don’t know if it’s still what it was, but YouTube can provide the same instruction; I love Alison Roman and Smitten Kitchen because they’re detailed and show everything. If you have Max, there’s a ton of Ina’s old shows on there, too.

      I’d also recommend investing in at least one good knife. It’ll probably cost > $100, but it’ll be worth it. The knife I use most often is the Wusthof 7” chef’s knife. Get a knife sharpener, too, and you’re set. Perfect for chopping and slicing anything and Wusthof will fix or replace it if the handle has issues.

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

      For me, the “having ingredients on hand” part is hard. I’d maybe pre-plan a couple of things you’re thinking of cooking and make sure you have all of the ingredients in the house. Try to pick things at first that don’t have a ton of perishable ingredients in them so that if you get overwhelmed and don’t make the things, perishable ingredients won’t go bad (or be prepared to switch gears and freeze any perishable ingredients that can be frozen well until you’re up to using them).

    20. Kathy the Librarian*

      My favorite is Alton Brown. He gives details instructions including why a step is necessary. My most complemented dishes are almost always his recipes.
      Also, an older book called “Easy Basics to Good Cooking” by sunset. Early in my cooking life, this was my bible. Still have my dog eared copy and refer to it every now and then.

    21. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

      I will say this: invest in good equipment. I like cooking — actually I love the process & smells more than eating. What I hated was dull knives and warped pots and not having a steamer or the little gadgets growing up that my mom said we didn’t need to buy and using all the things we didn’t need to replace.

      You don’t need to go ham on Emile Henry pots or professional chef brand knives. Just don’t start from negative – IKEA isn’t bad for starters!

    22. Emily H*

      “I Can Cook Vegan” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz is a beginner-oriented vegan cookbook that has a lot of really good recipes. The only thing that makes me hesitate to recommend it is that there are some recipes that rely on soaking cashews and whirring them in a blender to make fake cheese sauce… but if that’s more involved than you want, it’s really easy to skip those recipes, or (since I’m not vegan) just use actual cheese.

    23. Random Dice*

      In addition to Top Chef University cooking classes, Gordon Ramsay has a class with MasterClass on the basics of cooking. (“Gordon Ramsay Teaches Cooking I”)

      The Spruce recommends America’s Test Kitchen Online Cooking School for cooking fundamentals.

    24. Tasty dinner*

      My partner was in a similar boat and what we did was to order a meal prep subscription (local equivalent of HelloFresh) for when it was his turn to cook dinner. It allowed him to cook actual dinners of stuff we liked, but cutting down on the prep time significantly so that he could actually make the food during a normal week night. Because all the ingredients were pre-measured and the recipes are pretty self explanatory (I think they also get a lot of feedback about issues which are often not corrected in normal cookbooks, like “in step 6 you ask me to do something with a cut onion, but none of the previous steps mention cutting an onion and now the other food got burned while I cut the onion”). At the beginning it took him about double the time the recipe said it took to get cooked, but there was always edible food at the end and he learned a lot about different ways of preparing food and now just cooks from normal recipe books.

  3. matilda*

    Has anyone proposed stopping exchanging gifts with friends, family and/or spouse and if so, how did that go? I’m thinking of proposing it with at least 2 of those 3 groups (family and spouse) and would like to hear from others who have done it. Does it feel like something is lacking on birthdays or holidays? Did the people you proposed it to take it OK or did it feel weird?

    1. MP*

      I wouldn’t say I stopped but I greatly reduced exchanging gifts with my family/spouse. I would honestly like to reduce further so I’m glad you are gathering ideas here.

      With my husband we don’t do anniversary, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, etc gifts. We usually do birthday gifts but just something small. It was a mutual decision so no hard feelings.

      We still give our families gifts for birthdays but I have found it unnecessary for a while, I’m definitely going to follow this thread for ways to propose stopping.

      Anyways, my favorite thing that we’ve implemented is Secret Santa for Christmas so we each just buy a gift for one person on his side of the family and one person on my side. Everyone reacted really positively when we proposed this except for a notoriously difficult family member. I think we all enjoy being able to put thought and effort into one person’s gift instead of just a mad dash to buy something for everyone just to check it off a list. I know “Secret Santa” is Christmas specific but it’s just a gift swap so it could be done for any holiday.

    2. talos*

      I’ve mentioned it, but not pushed for it too hard, with my parents now that I live 1000 miles away from them, making gifts hard to transport. We generally struggle to shop for each other as well. And we’re not even Christian! I genuinely do not understand what my parents get out of the holiday gift exchange these days.

      Sadly, I’ve gotten exactly no traction and holiday gifts will continue to be a source of stress.

      1. Fishwife*

        It might be they are lonely at the holiday/Birthday and the present let’s them know someone some where cares. As we age the pool of people who help you celebrate gets smaller to non-existent. Small useful things are often nice to send, or get them a gift certificate for their favorite hobby shop or restaurant.

      2. Sloanicota*

        Yes, in deference to the “but what else will we DO??” response, I’ve suggested hand made gifts only, food only or making an elaborate meal together, books only, gifts under $5 only, etc, in the spirit of weaning us towards less gifts overall (my family is pretty silly, we often don’t know what to get each other but want to be generous meaning a good amount of money is being wasted and people aren’t even getting things they like). I wish we could do gifts for the children only, and then everyone is free to sip tea and watch the kids enjoy the holidays, but alas my niblings are getting older now and prefer gift cards or clothes over toys, which is understandable but less fun for all. TBH my folks still just think I’m a Grinch haha.

    3. WestsideStory*

      I’ve tried it for the past three years with my in-laws but nobody agrees. This means I still get cheap tsotches for the holidays (which I invariably drop off to Salvation Army down the street)and continue to restrict myself to hosting them to one fabulous holiday meal.
      I absolutely feel your pain. In my own family, holiday gifts are for children. Only.

      1. NotBatman*

        My family (2 parents, 2 siblings, 3 kids’ spouses) transitioned to doing a “Secret Santa” for gifts about 5 years ago, meaning each of us only buys one present. We also all do an experience together – skiing, weekending in a nearby city – that we count as an additional present. The way my dad got universal buy-in was framing it as “I bet if we all only got one gift we could pool the rest of our gift-buying funds to go to NYC for the weekend;” it’s worked ever since.

        1. Sloanicota*

          I love the joint activity instead of gift idea … but last year my parents just added a joint activity AND gifts haha. Still a work in progress here.

    4. MissCoco*

      My family and I are down to 1 gift for Christmas. When I brought it up my mom asked to not fully cancel gifts because she likes shopping for us, but we just do 1 gift per person so it’s very manageable. My husband and I get two gifts, my parents get two gifts (my mom and I exchange clothes/hobby stuff/whatever and my husband and dad exchange books).

      It’s fun and celebratory on Christmas morning, but also very easy to prep for and we don’t have to haul tons of stuff home with us! The first year was hard to get used to for my mom especially, but last year she said she was happy we made the switch.

      My mother in law voluntarily offered cancelling Christmas gifts this year and we are doing a weekend away together instead (before Christmas). My in-laws are the huge gifting family so I’m thrilled that they are wanting to downsize themselves. I think it’s mostly because my husband and I have a move in January, but I’m going to lobby hard to roll it over into next year.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Husband and I give gifts, but they’ve evolved over the years: we’re trying to limit it to one or two requests and then a bigger “us” gift, like replacing our cheap crap bookcases with nicer ones for Christmas this year. But we still do cards, and I still buy for my mom, sister and nieces/nephew every year. Sadly, since my dad passed, I have fewer gifts to buy.

        1. Sloanicota*

          I also try to treat myself to a nice gift in this vein every year, which makes it easier to be patient with a bunch of ill-fitting sweaters or whatever the family insists on buying. Because my birthday is in the Spring I generally treat myself to buying new garden plants for that event.

          1. MamaSarah*

            Yes! I ordered myself a gift last winter – a lovely lavender sweater with puff sleeves that made me happy every time I wore it.

    5. Please Make It!*

      My friend group has had success with doing a secret santa or white elephant type gift exchange. Only needing to buy one gift on a set budget makes it manageable. Some years there’s themes. Sometimes we get info about what the other party wants, sometimes we don’t. When the gifts are opened there’s usually guessing about who bought what. Sometimes the gifts can be stolen after, sometimes not. There’s a party to open the gifts (which sadly went virtual during covid), that even those not participating in the gift exchange part can attend. It keeps it fun for everyone, since there’s the party to look forward to whether you’re doing the gift exchange or not, and it’s fun to see what people got and try to guess who bought what.

    6. Squidhead*

      Spouse and I largely* stopped exchanging gifts when we were actively saving to buy a house. Our incomes were not high and we both knew that money spent on trinkets was not money spent on house, so that helped. For birthdays and our anniversary we do usually get the other person a card or bake a thing or go out to dinner/have friends over to dinner, so I don’t think it feels like the day is forgotten. We live far away from most family so for Christmas we do exchange some gifts by mail with others and we open the gifts we’ve received (just none of them are from each other).

      From my perspective, also, I find gift giving immensely stressful to the point where I would happily not ever receive gifts if it meant I didn’t have to shop for the perfect gift. So I was happy to give it up! Spouse likes giving gifts more than I do but I believe is also satisfied with this arrangement, *especially since we’ve said we can (and both sometimes do) get a gift for the other person that’s truly special or timely. We’re just not obligated to do it because the calendar says so.

      I think you can approach it in a number of ways, depending on what your actual desire is and what you think the other party is most receptive to…very loose ideas below:

      If you just don’t want stuff (or at least the stuff this person chooses!): “We have so much already, let’s give to charity this year.” “I really value spending time with you, let’s pick a fun activity as our gift to each other.” “I’m finding consumerism exhausting, can we agree to only exchange baked goods/cards/Zoom chat this year?”

      If you can’t afford the level of spending or are uncomfortable with what they appear to be spending on you: “I’d like to go more minimalist for gift-giving, why don’t we each give each other one special ornament for our tree?” “Since we’re saving for a house/baby/trip/school, what do you think about committing our holiday funds to that this year?”

      If you suspect you both are just doing this out of obligation or the feeling that the other party expects it: “Can I be blunt? I find giving gifts really stressful. Can we talk about whether there’s something else we can do to mark the day that we’d both enjoy?”

    7. Jackie*

      Did it this year starting in January and it’s been wonderful and freeing. I had my own mini-store in the basement. Giving personalized gifts for all occasions was my love language for years. Proposed to my friends to just give a card for birthday and Christmas and all were on board. Best of all I returned over $400 of “ stuff” to TJMaxx and Marshall’s for store credit and spent it all on meeeee and dog toys. Hubby and I agreed to under $100 holiday limit if we decide to buy something for each other.

      I still do baby and wedding gifts, plus always for our admin assistant and techs special day, but I highly recommend cutting out the other exchanges. All of us sighed in relief!

    8. Kayem*

      I’ve tried so very many times to stop but it never ends well. My household doesn’t celebrate Christmas but everyone else in our circle does celebrate it. Both of my parents suddenly decided to be all in on Christmas gift exchanging once my sibling gave them the magic grandbabies. And since said sibling and sibling’s spouse celebrate Christmas, it has now been inserted into our lives. And it’s expensive as hell. I’m out of work until February so I can’t afford to give gifts to my family members who’ve decided this is their thing now but if I don’t then it becomes A Thing. And it’s the kind of A Thing that gets pointed looks, loud dinner proclamations to other guests, and just plain weirdness. I just don’t have the stamina to put up with that on top of all the other A Things and weirdness that are already present at family gatherings.

      This year, because I’m broke, I’m making the bold move of not giving gifts to adults. I will give a gift to each of my niblings, but that’s because they’re kids who celebrate Christmas and it’s not their fault the adults are being weird about it. But it’s going to be a huge source of stress. And I now live in the same town as said extended family, so I don’t have the excuse of not being able to travel. The only reason I avoided so much of this last year was because I got COVID three days before the family gathering.

      Anyway, reducing/eliminating gift giving has been a failure most of the time for me, and everyone I know who has tried it themselves (whether for reasons of budget, environment, or not being Christian) have also either failed or had very limited success. I don’t know what it is that makes not gift giving such A Thing.

      (Disclaimer: I always beg people to not give me any gifts for Christmas because again, not a Christian, don’t celebrate Christmas, but no one listens. And I’m already anxiety ridden enough that receiving gifts that I didn’t reciprocate just makes me feel a thousand times worse.)

      1. Jasmine Tea*

        Don’t feel guilty! If you told them in advance You have no reason to feel guilty. It may take a year or so, but they will get used to it. They may even decide they like it better this way when they find their stress has been reduced. Tell them you love them regularly and send them a nice card when they’re not expecting it. Just because you’re thinking of them!

      2. JSPA*

        Out of work or otherwise broke is where a handmade card with a coupon good for x hours of some useful help really shines.

        If stuff can be done in person, there are a dozen excellent options! But even “I will tell knock knock jokes to your 5 year old for an hour while you take an important zoom call after regular work hours” is a real, legit gift.

        “Good for 3 hours of baking lessons for your tween–and shooting tik-tok IS allowed.”

        “Good for hand-delivery of fresh-baked bread when you have the sniffles.”

        “Good for 4 hours daytime or evening emergency babysitting over this holiday period, for up to three kids.”

        “I will let your child do clown makeup on me for youtube purposes.”

        “Good for 3 hours of participation at a school bake sale, book sale or equivalent fundraiser, in your stead.”

        “Good for 2 hours of helping you scrub cobwebs from your garage, including masking up and dealing with the chipmunk nests.”

        These are each an offer of $25 to $100+ worth of time and labor! Anyone who sniffs at them is being a jerk.

    9. Who needs gifts?*

      With my husband, I made it clear from day one that I didn’t want him wasting money on any gifts for me no matter what the occasion, and he had the same philosophy, so we have never exchanged gifts in almost 20 years of marriage. We would rather spend it on vacations, home improvements, extra mortgage payments, etc. With my family, we had already been gift free since every kid turned 18. With his family, shortly after we were married, they asked to go gift free, and we were thrilled that is what they wanted. Everyone is happy, no one wastes money, and we just enjoy good food/drink/each other’s company on special occasions/holidays.

    10. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I didn’t propose it so much as I mostly just … stopped doing it. I get gifts for the family kids if I’m going to see them in person around the occasion, but if I’m not going to be there I don’t mail them. (There’s only one set.) These days I send my parents and siblings a Christmas basket from Harry and David or similar per house and call it a day. I get my husband gifts still.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I did unilaterally do books-only a few years. It feels very luxurious to go to my adorable local store and drop a lot of money (for me, anyway) picking up all the books that look good. It is a much more pleasant shopping experience than my usual last-minute panic, at least.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Oh but I forgot to add – the secret for me, living in a gifts-mandatory family, has been to lean into buying souvenirs when I travel, which is more “fun” shopping for me versus panic scrolling Amazon on December 12. I try to buy from local artisans and give myself permission to buy more than I usually would. A travel gift is reasonably thoughtful IMO, because it sends the message “I thought of you when I was in X place” and I feel more inclined to be spendy when I’m looking at pottery in Greece in July, or whatever.

    11. California Dreamin’*

      Lol, I’ll come at this from the other direction… with my husband’s family, we’ve for years been doing a name draw at Christmas where each person gets a gift for one other person (not including your own nuclear family.) I thought this had always worked well. Then my husband’s siblings approached us about perhaps discontinuing gifts in 2020, and readers, I cried. I threw a fit. I wondered why they would want to cut out this one lovely tradition in such a dark, dark year. I expressed that my younger kids (still young teens then when all their other cousins were grown) were getting shortchanged on years of familial gift-y celebrations. I’d like to say that the craziness of 2020 had me in a heightened emotional state.
      In any case, my sisters-in-law, probably unnerved, backed down, and we all did a Zoom gift opening that year. Then in 2021 we were all together for Christmas and had welcomed two new spouses into the family, so we exchanged gifts again. Last year, a Christmas gift exchange was not mentioned and I believe it has slipped quietly away.
      This year, it was suggested that we now discontinue birthday checks (which were only given to the “kids” generation.) Which is fine. The “kids” are starting to have kids, so at a certain point you have to reevaluate.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I’m begging my mom to stop sending me gifts and checks because she’s running out of money! With the checks it’s easy–I just put them in my account and use them to pay her cable bill–but I get endless shirts from Macy’s that I am never going to wear.

    12. Goose*

      Yes! My sisters (and their partners) and I only do gifts for milestone birthdays or things like grad school graduation. Rather than just trading the same gift card back and forth forever. Our parents still get gifts because it’s both of their love language

    13. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      Spouse and I have made the Christmas decision year by year; usually we opt out for each other, just giving one gift to each parent and then several to our son. For a large family, on my mother’s side, we each chose one name from a hat, then set a price limit (usually $25, back when that would buy something quite nice). Everyone got one nice gift and it was basically stress-free. It didn’t feel weird at all; rather, it felt thoughtful.

    14. Aphrodite*

      I determined to stop Christmas gifts about three years ago, maybe four. (Birthdays are not an issue nor are weddings, etc.) This was around June or July. I had realized that as much as I had loved shopping for them all of my life, and as good as I was at it, that I no longer wanted to do it. So I told everyone separately (we are older and my parents were dead at the time) and was quite firm about it. I only got an argument from one sister who was terribly disappointed about it.

      It was one of the best things I did, though. Christmas immediately became about all the things I love: the music, the lights, the decorations, the holiday treats in TJs, the walks down our main street with musicians on street corners and lights everywhere, theatres, holiday productions, reading A Christmas Carol each year, and much more. But not about spending money. I have the greatest joy during December now and am completely immune to the “buy, buy, buy” messages.

    15. Meet Moot*

      We do secret santa in my friend circle and it’s worked wonderfully for us.

      In terms of my family, I’ll give a gift only if I can actually think of something great to give. There’s no bad blood or tension or anything between my siblings if we don’t give each other gifts or if the gift-giving is lopsided.

      My partner’s side of the family is *very* materialistic, and that’s difficult for us. I asked my partner once how it would work if we maybe gave some handmade food or gift cards or donated to a charity they care about but he said they really care about the number of gifts and the money you spend /sigh/ I’m hoping some of that is alleviated when we move abroad.

    16. English Rose*

      Not for birthdays, but for Christmas our large extended family has done the following for about five years now. We each buy separately for children under 15 that we’re first degree relations with, i.e. son/daughter, nephew/niece, grandchild etc.
      But for grown-ups we have a ‘Secret Santa’. Each adult draws the name of just one 0ther adult to buy for, and we agree a financial ballpark, which is currently around £50 (we’re in the UK). That means we can put a reasonable amount of money into one adult present instead of trying to spread smaller gifts around for everyone, and we still each end of up spending less overall.
      It’s fun as well, trying to guess who’s bought your gift.

    17. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      With my own siblings we established years ago that we would only give eachother some sweets instead of actual gifts. It works out so-so. Because both my siblings *love* a specialty sweet that’s produced almost exclusively where I live, I get them some of that. But it’s comparatively expensive and only giving them a small amount looks really skimpy, so I get them more. So whilst I never have to think about what to get them, it’s still more expensive than I’d like.
      With my partner’s siblings we all agreed years ago to not actually gift eachother anything, and then come Christmas, we mutually sheepishly gave eachother something, saying “I know we’re not gifting eachother this year but I thought you’d quite like this”… Which defeated the purpose but is also a charade we’ve kept up with ever since. xD We’ll see how it goes this year…

      I must admit, I *like* giving people I love presents! It brings me great joy and as long as the receipient enjoys it, too, I see no real reason to stop. I do also like gifting immaterial things, though. So when my grandmother’s big birthday comes around, she’ll get poetry readings and a-postcard-per-month and washing&rehanging her curtains, and the like.

    18. Ellis Bell*

      We use a draw names app at Christmas so we are only buying a gift for one adult family member. Everyone gets a gift and you add a wishlist to the app to make shopping easier for everyone. We buy gifts for the kids, but this is a lot less expense and clutter for the adults, but we still get to open gifts together.

    19. run mad; don't faint*

      I tried to stop exchanging Christmas presents with a rarely cousin and her family. We have a much larger family than she does. I always felt bad that she had to focus on buying so many presents when we don’t even see each other often or stay in touch all that much. It can be a lot of mental and emotional labor figuring out what to get even for people you know well. I didn’t phrase it like that of course. She agreed, thought it was a good idea…and promptly sent a restaurant gift card to the entire family for Christmas. I think she thought I was asking because we were short of money or something. These days we’ve settled on sending each other a food gift for Christmas for the whole family and that seems to work out pretty well.

      I’ve had better luck with friends. We try to get together around holidays and consider our gift the chance to see other when we haven’t for a while.

      1. Sloanicota*

        This is one thing we’ve been fairly successful at; we send one “all family” gift to extended family members, usually a nice food basket or game or something, that’s from all of us to all of them (whoever’s gathering for the holidays that year, usually) – which is a vast improvement from all five of us individually trying to buy something personally for all six cousins we don’t know well. Also it turns out that my mom, who got the most emotionally out of the gift-giving tradition, enjoys picking out the gift and arranging it, so that’s been very nice (we pay her back).

        1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

          Oh that’s something I do with a close friend, too! Over the years it got harder and harder to find something for the friend and everyone in the family, so one year the friend said “We would really appreciate a variety of chocolates to share” which is what I got them and have done ever since. I spend 30 minutes in a sweet shop, cobbeling together a good mix, another 30 minutes at home packing them up nicely, and off I send them. Quick, easy, not too expensive – certainly quicker and less expensive than trying to find something meaningful for each of them – and they all enjoy having a variety of sweetes to choose from.

    20. JustAnon*

      I had a friend once declare to me that he found it hard and time-consuming and in general not enjoyable to pick out gifts and so would not give me Christmas gifts any longer, but if giving gifts was something I enjoyed and brought me pleasure, he would be ok with receiving gifts from me.

      I do not really recommend this approach.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Aww, he was trying haha. Hopefully you were able to be equally direct and agree that there would be no more gift exchange but still friendship.

        1. JustAnon*

          Yes, I do believe that he wanted to acknowledge that I enjoy finding well-fitting gifts and giving them to people and he didn’t want to just unilaterally take that joy away, and it just came out really weird. We’ve agreed to mutual non-gift-giving.

    21. Golden French Fry*

      Yes! I’ve never been a gift person, so when my husband and I decided that our collective streaming services will count as our gift(s) to each other for the year it reduced a lot of anxiety.

      Gifts only flow down in my family so I never had to do them, and it always seemed like a hassle for my husband to find gifts for his side. He kind of just stopped over COVID and seems less stressed about holidays now. Nobody has been like, hey where’s my gift? so I say it’s gone over well!

    22. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My gift list is spouse, child, my niblings’ kids, and a children’s charity my mom & MIL supported.

      I long ago stopped exchanging with aunts, uncles and siblings on both sides. We eased into it with a “draw a name” kind of thing for a few years.

      My mother and mother-in-law insisted on keeping going.

      My father-in-law the chef gracefully switched to making Christmas dinner more elaborate instead, with son&grandchild as sous-chefs.

      My MIL’s holiday-prep baking days with her grandchild were equally legendary. That kid had MAD cooking skills going into high school culinary arts classes!

      If you have elders who WANT to exchange gifts, asking them to formally teach some skill of theirs is a memory maker. Bonus, you can ask the elder to sit & watch you “to make sure I’m doing it right” when you see they’re tiring.

    23. allathian*

      My family stopped exchanging Christmas presents a few years ago. Before that, we’d devolved into sending wish lists to each other. Now only our son gets gifts. We host Christmas dinner and that’s our gift. My sister contributes some of the food as her gift.

      My dad’s opted out of celebrating any and all holidays, so he gets nothing, except maybe some leftovers from the dinner he declined to attend.

      For birthdays, we tend to buy flowers.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I like the idea of flowers, but honestly if you’re ordering from a distance they’re just as expensive as a gift people would probably enjoy more, and they don’t last terribly long. I do flowers for in-person birthdays though and always enjoy them, and I buy myself flowers for my own birthday without shame haha.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, that’s true. I only order condolence flowers from a distance. I live in the same town as my parents, sister, and MIL and we exchange flowers in person at Christmas.

          1. allathian*

            Our Christmas flowers tend to be in pots, so they last a bit longer. Red poinsettias are a very popular Christmas flower here, and my MIL once managed to keep hers looking pretty until Midsummer!

            I can generally keep a bunch of cut flowers pretty enough to keep for around two weeks. They’ll look nice longer if you change the water about once a day or every other day and cut the stems every time you change the water.

            I have too much stuff already, so the only gifts I’m truly happy with are flowers and consumables like chocolate or fancy coffee. Or the most recent book by a favorite author.

            Another issue for me is that a few months or years after receiving a gift, I rarely remember the giver or the occasion, with very few exceptions. I remember the givers of our wedding gifts and a couple of things I got for my 18th birthday. I have some candles my BFF has given to me, but I don’t remember when I got which candle.

            I find shopping for gifts to be very stressful unless the recipient has given me a list of suggestions. I hate trying to guess what someone might like, even people I know well. And no matter how nice the gift, the stress of trying to find a nice gift always beats the pleasure of receiving something, no matter how nice. I just don’t think the possible pleasure’s worth the guaranteed stress.

            1. amoeba*

              I still have one from Christmas 2020, going strong! Mostly green nowadays, but a very nice indoor plant, anyway!

    24. DJ Abbott*

      For those who can’t get out of giving gifts- back when I used to give gifts to older relatives, I gave things like baskets of fancy coffee, or personal care products, or gourmet foods. Something that could be used up and wouldn’t just sit around forever. It always seemed to be appreciated.

    25. Falling Diphthong*

      My brother-in-law proposed this for everyone under 18, and that in practice meant “once my kids age out I probably stop.” Overall impression: “Whew. That’s off the table, and we don’t need more stuff.”

      I have the youngest kids in the group. And so even though it wound up “unbalanced” it was totally fine. My kids (now in their 20s) remember doing stuff with their aunts and uncles when we saw each other. Whether or not the uncle gave them a physical gift on their 15th birthday is nowhere in their childhood remedies; not needing to shop for this uncle twice a year is an example of how this family is relatively easy to be in.

      1. zaracat*

        Yeah, I do think you need to be mindful of the kids’ ages and how they’ll perceive the arrangement. I remember when my ex’s siblings decided “gift exchanges only for the younger kids” but their cut off age excluded my daughter who was just twelve and also an only child – it was so mean that she had to sit there on xmas day watching her younger cousins open their presents while she got nothing

    26. Texan In Exile*

      There are so many good things about Mr T’s parents being dead, not the least of which is that we no longer face the drama of gift-giving events. My family of origin does not do gifts. Mr T’s mother thought a gift for every occasion was required, not just to give but also to receive. As in, for Mothers Day, I send my mom a card. Mr T’s father sent Mr T a link to some garden thing that cost $100 (ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS!) and said that’s what Mr T should get his mom for Mothers Day. (ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS!!!!)

      It would not have been so bad if Mr T’s mom had had good taste and if she had been reasonable, but she was not blessed with either capacity.

      Hence, we got things like cheap pressed-wood nesting tables painted with hibiscus and hummingbirds, vases hand painted with purple flowers, and a live potted Meyer lemon tree that required eight hours of sun a day and temperatures of at least 68 degrees.

      We live in an old house in Wisconsin and that’s what I will say about the lemon tree, which survived far longer than I thought it would, given the lack of attention, sun, and warmth it got.

      The other items were returned for store credit to a store that carried only like items, so we never used the credit. I cannot understand why she bought such things in the first place unless her reasoning was that there was absolutely nothing like it in our house – nothing at all – and therefore the lack of such items indicated the need for such items?

      When Mr T tried to suggest gently that we not exchange gifts, she got offended. When he suggested that maybe instead of physical things, we share experiences, she huffed that was like giving us cash. (Which, considering it cost us hundreds of dollars to visit them every time we submitted to a command performance, I would not have minded, especially as they didn’t even feed us three meals a day. They didn’t eat lunch and saw no need to provide it for guests.)

      One year, they were very excited about the presents they had gotten us. They handed me a shoebox and my heart leapt in hope. Maybe they had gotten me shoes! An odd choice, to be sure, but at least shoes are something I like and are something that would have been useful.

      Nope. It was a cast-iron cat.

      Y’all. I am not a fan of purely decorative items that need to be dusted.

      But I will say that Mr T loves that cast-iron cat and many people have asked to be next in line for it, so I will let that one slide.

      It’s the other present they gave us that year that I truly remember.

      They gave us a photograph of themselves.

      With a choice of two frames.

      Because that’s what I really wanted – to see their grim, unsmiling faces hanging on the wall of my house, every single day.

      The cast-iron cat now lives by our fireplace. The photo has been in a drawer in the bureau in the dining room since we got it. When Mr T dies, I am going to set that photo on fire.

        1. WestsideStory*

          I enjoyed it vicariously as well! My in laws do not understand my lack of enthusiasm for the fine goods at Cracker Barrel…

    27. Qwerty*

      I’ve stopped exchanging gifts with most adults :) My love language is quality time – maybe that’s an angle that you could use? My view is I’d rather do something together, whether it is a night out or just a casual hang out.

      My siblings and I decided a few years ago to stop exchanging Christmas gifts. I think it came out of some discussions about how hard it is to find gifts for adults and a desire to de-stress the holidays. Christmas became game day instead of gift day – we might pick a theme like everyone bring a wrapped board game and we play those all day, or we might do minute-to-win-it style games. Birthdays eventually followed the same path.

      My parents are less on board with the no gift thing and we eventually gave up. It makes my mom happy to give us gifts, though the number has decreased now that she has grandchildren to focus on.

    28. Generic Name*

      Yes. I got my family (parents, aunts, sibling/spouse) to agree to a gift exchange rather than a bunch of adults buying things for other adults who can afford to buy whatever they want. We did it for one year then my mom said she liked buying for everyone and we were back to the giftapalooza I was trying to stop. :/ My mom buys multiple presents for each person, but I’ve at least settled on one gift per person. I just don’t have time for all that shopping, and shipping stuff across the country gets expensive.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I wish I had pushed harder when my niblings were small. That was the time because I could have redirected all my mother’s loving gift-giving energy to them, and they would have actually appreciated it, and I was soooo stressed trying to buy and ship eight or nine really high quality gifts twice a year (birthdays and Christmas) plus thoughtful gifts for mothers and father’s day (really trying to back off this and just do food gifts now … ). It always felt like a big waste of money and time to me. It’s gotten a bit easier now that the kids are older and just want gift cards, so that’s four less intensity gifts to deal with, and I have given myself permission not to wow anyone with my gifts these days.

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

          I really love shopping for Christmas gifts. So, so much. We’ve got 5 adult kids & their SOs and 1 grandbaby. Yeah, they’re all getting multiple gifts. They can’t avoid it & so they all give me a great list. I have the money and don’t mind spending it. I also buy my spouse several gifts and we get both our parents gifts. It’ll add up to a few thousand dollars that we budget for.

          1. MamaSarah*

            How do I get on your list?

            A coworker left a gift of a delicious hot chocolate on my desk one Christmas…I had gone through such a rough breakup earlier in the year and it meant a lot to me at the time to be remembered. Sometimes a little gift fosters the connection we need.

    29. Chaordic One*

      We never completely stopped, but we did reduce the number of people we gave gifts to and the number of gifts. We kind of gook a phased-out approach. Family members, mostly adult children (adult brothers and sisters), some with with children and some without, as well as more distant family members (uncles, aunts, great uncles, great aunts, cousins) agreed that they’d stop buying gifts for each other. Pretty much all gifts on all occasions. There would still be a few exceptions along the lines of a bottle of wine, a six-pack, a bottle of booze, candy, cookies, and food items which we didn’t consider to be a big deal.

      However, we all agreed that we would continue to give gifts to the children. Gifts for the children were generally phased out usually sometime after they graduated from highschool. Depending on the child and the relationship, some of them continued to receive gifts until they finished college and if they married would get a wedding present. The big exception was grandparents who continued to buy and receive presents for and from everyone. (And it goes without saying that the grandmothers ended up doing most of the buying.)

    30. Oracle*

      I have too much clutter and felt that spending hours and hours and hours finding the perfect gifts for ten family/friends was too much stress, so I explained this to everyone and requested that we stop giving gifts for any holidays, including birthdays. It’s great! So much less stress and stuff. I still buy cards to send in the mail, but the only time I buy gifts now is if I randomly see something I know someone will love. (I do send money for my niece and nephew’s college funds though.)

      Ironically, the only people it felt awkward with was my one sibling’s family. They didn’t buy me gifts, but I was buying my sibling, their spouse, and their children gifts and mailing them since they live a few states over. Felt like I was saying “I don’t want to buy you gifts anymore” instead of “less stress and clutter will be mutually beneficial for both us,” but I guess I was less obligated to give them gifts to begin with!

    31. Corkey's wife Bonnie*

      My husband and I stopped with each other and instead we go out for a very nice dinner. We’ve been doing this for 7 years now and don’t feel like anything is missing. In fact we’re more relaxed the day of the holiday and can spend more time just chilling, it’s great!

    32. My Brain is Exploding*

      We went halfway with the adult kids. They are particular and don’t really need anything. So before Thanksgiving we give them money. They then have to buy their own presents, wrap them, and bring them to our Christmas gathering. It’s really fun, we still enjoy watching everyone opening things (because it’s still a surprise to everyone else), they gifts they really like, and they scope out Black Friday deals and get some great ones.

    33. Anon for This*

      With very close family, make sure to have the conversation about it first. If my husband had explicitly said “hey, can we not do gifts for any holidays and special occasions, except for the kids for Christmas/birthdays?”, I wouldn’t have been thrilled (I love choosing gifts for people and finding things they’d genuinely like) but could’ve been talked into it. Instead, I found out when I was the only person with no gifts under the Christmas tree.

    34. cleo*

      My brother and I agreed to stop exchanging gifts between adults. I don’t remember which of us suggested it first but it was a very mellow conversation and it works great. We live pretty far apart and visit during the summer so it seemed like a natural evolution to stop shipping presents to adults who don’t need extra stuff. I don’t have kids – my partner and I send presents to my brother’s kids and a lovely card to my brother and his wife.

      My husband’s family decided to stop exchanging gifts between adults and just give the kids gifts. I wasn’t involved in that decision – it was in place when I married in 20 years ago. There was some “present creep” and re-negotiation over the years, where adults started exchanging small presents like calendars and books and later recommitting to no presents. Once my niblings graduated high school, we stopped sending gifts, but still send cards.

    35. Ariana Jinx*

      Our large family decided to do this decades ago after one Christmas when four of us bought each other the same book! We do pitch in on food and drink and buy for the children, but not the adults. As a result, my own Christmas presents are fairly limited but I always buy myself really nice things in depressing old January, and they’re cheaper too. The reduction in pre-Christmas stress is amaaaaazing…It wouldn’t work for everyone, but we’re a close family and it’s worked for us.

    36. Dancing Otter*

      My cousin Barb had three sons. My parents and I gave Christmas presents to all of them for years. Then I had my daughter. That was the year Barb decided to stop exchanging gifts. Coincidental?
      I’m still a little salty about it forty years later, but of course I couldn’t say anything without seeming greedy.

    37. Posilutely*

      We scaled back a lot a few years ago because we were buying for over 45 people and it was just way out of hand. We got a mixed response. A few people were very relieved which was great. My husband’s cousins took it personally when we said we weren’t going to buy for their children any more. I think they were mainly annoyed because they didn’t gain anything from it as the presents weren’t reciprocal – they have never bought for our children! My best friend just said ‘no’ when I mentioned stopping gifts so we carried on!

    38. Donkey Hotey*

      The big shift we made was to give “experiences, not stuff.” Tickets to a show, preferably one to be done together, not something else to dust. It’s not a complete solution, but it has made a big impact in the groups we exchange with.

  4. Peanut Hamper*

    Does wrapping in celery really keep it fresh for a long time? I’ve been told this multiple times but it seems to require a lot of foil. Is it really worth it?

    What is everyone doing to keep celery fresh? I only use it in cooking, so a head of it goes bad long before I’m even close to using it all, and I don’t think you can freeze it without blanching it.

    1. TriviaJunkie*

      I wrap it in a wet paper towel and it lasts a good few weeks. Never tried foil as a trick, but the towel works great.
      Also if it goes a bit floppy, I find trimming the ends and soaking in watcer for a few hours makes it good as fresh

    2. Not Totally Subclinical*

      We cut off the bottom and stand it in a glass of water that’s kept in the fridge; it keeps for a few weeks. Bonus is that when I open the door looking for something to snack on, it’s right there, so I’m eating more veggies than I otherwise would.

      Blanching before freezing apparently extends the shelf life and improves the color/texture, but if you’re going to use it in soup or a puree you can get away without blanching.

    3. Lifelong student*

      I have started wraapping it in foil and it definately extends the refrigerator life. I do keep it in a vegatable drawer. The cost of the foil is worth the extension of the freshness.

    4. Samwise*

      Take the celery out of the bag if it’s in one. Shake out the dirt sand warer (if any). Don’t wash it til you need to use it. If it’s very wet, let it sit out til it’s just a little moist at most. Wrap the bottom half in dry paper towels or a cotton napkin. Put it in a plastic bag. The whole thing should be inside the bag. Keeps forever. When you use it, trim off any dry or yucky stalks and leaves. If the paper towel or cloth napkin is wet, change it out with dry towel/napkin. Wrap it back up.

      BTW, if you use foil, the foil can be re-used. Smooth it out, wipe off any schmutz, let it dry thoroughly, fold up.

      1. Esprit de l'escalier*

        Seconding the re-use of aluminum foil. I do that until it cries Uncle, which is quite a few uses. Same with plastic wrap.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          And foil can be recycled after it rips; each town I’ve been in has had its own handling guidelines.

      2. Peanut Hamper*

        Oh, this makes my day. I was hesitant to use heavy duty foil because of the expense, but if I can reuse it several times, this more than makes up for it.

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      We chop it into sections and put it in a Tupperware with a little water at the bottom (just covering the bottom of the container.) Keeps it fresh in the fridge for a week or so.

    6. Pennyworth*

      I just ate some perfectly fine celery out of my fridge – it should have been used by September 4! All I did when I first used it was cut the top of the sealed bag it came in (it had been trimmed), pull off a few pieces, then put a rubber band around the top of the bag/celery. The cut end of the bag was not sealed, no damp towel, no foil. Still half left, so it is back in the fridge. I’ll try to remember to report again when it has been there a full month.

    7. Squishy*

      I find that celery lasts for a long time as long as you keep it contained somehow – whether in a plastic bag twisted closed or any tupperware.

    8. The bean moves on*

      I very rarely use celery, so when I need some for a recipe , I used to go to the salad bar and pick up what the amount I needed – if you reuse your plastic tub, there is less waste

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      1) Chop its toes off and stick it in a glass of water.
      2) Some stores will sell you individual stalks, good if you occasionally need 1-2 stalks and don’t otherwise use it.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        My jaw is on the floor at your second suggestion! I wish some stores around me did that! That would make my day/week/month!

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Our grocery does that! It’s a crapshoot as to whether you can get ‘big green stalks’ or ‘ugly duckling’ ones, though.

    10. There You Are*

      I wash, pat dry, cut into sticks, and then wrap in foil packets. The celery stays crisp for a ridiculously long time. Like, two months.

    11. JSPA*

      if you want the flavor more than the texture, dried lovage is like a stronger, deeper celery flavor. Excellent in soups and stews.

      1. Anon for non*

        Same, if it’s going into soup or stuffing or the like I don’t notice that it’s frozen not fresh!

  5. third sarah*

    Calling all DIYers! I want to learn to do more things around the house myself rather than always having to call a handyman, plumber, electrician, et cetera. I’m pretty good at picking things up by watching Youtube videos but it’s intimidating getting started. I was thinking of starting with replacing all the house’s door handles for nicer ones, and maybe toilet seats, maybe installing a bidet, maybe new outlets/light switches.

    What projects did you surprise yourself by being able to do yourself rather than calling in a pro and any tips for someone like me who wants to be handier but is just getting started?

    1. Happy Camper*

      If you switch out door handles. Be very mindful of how the old one came apart and also, speaking from personal experience, keep the door open THE ENTIRE TIME. Test the knob and lock 3-4 times before you close the door. Or you may or may not accidentally lock your four year old outside because you have the key and are inside.

      1. Zephy*

        How, though? If you’re inside and the door locks from the outside, you can open it from the inside. If it locks from the inside, you have the key. What’s the problem?

        1. Sitting Pretty*

          Well, not sure what Happy Camper’s story was but I was repairing the door handle in my son’s bedroom. And right when I had it fixed (I thought) and shut the door to test it, the whole mechanism came off in my hand. All I had was the tiny allen wrench for the set screw. My toolbag was outside the door so I couldn’t just grab a screwdriver and take things apart to set myself free.

          Fortunately he has enough stuff that I was able to find something… a pen, a ruler, a drumstick, a Pokemon? Can’t remember now! But I eventually got out. It sure would have been better if I’d tested it before locking myself in

    2. Jay*

      Toilet seats are EASY.
      If you want something to boost your confidence and probably won’t require you to buy new tools, start there.
      Doorknobs are more trickier, but still doable easily enough, provided you do a bit of homework before you start and make sure to have all the right tools before you start. Little tip, from someone who learned the hard way: Do an interior closet first. This gives you the chance to learn your tools an make some mistakes. The stakes are low so, if you mess up, the worst that happens is that you can’t get into your linen closet for a couple of days until a professional arrives to fix the problem. This is better than your front door being held closed with an old bike lock. Which may, or may not, have happened to someone who’s name rhymes with hay.
      Be careful playing with electricity. Even when you know what you’re doing, it’s easy to get shocked, or to blow a fuse, or to damage expensive electronics. My advice, based on just witnessing someone try this, is to unplug everything, cut off your breakers, have all of your safety kit in order, make sure someone else is around to help if need be, and always do these things in the day time, with windows open to allow for natural light so you can fix mistakes if you knock out electricity to the whole house and no longer have working lights.

      1. Jasmine Tea*

        And when you turn off breakers put a note on it saying “DO NOT TURN ON!!!!” And tell all in the house the same!

        1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          Lock-out, tag-out – see if you can lock your fusebox/breaker cabinet with a padlock and keep the lock in your pocket.
          Use a two-pole tester to verify there’s no voltage.
          Use a headlamp, they’re great to peek into junction boxes etc.
          Mark wires and take pictures step by step when taking something apart
          And honestly: Don’t play with electricity. Hanging a lamp or exchanging a switch or socket like-for-like is okay, leave changing circuits and especially anything in the fusebox to the professionals.
          Same for water: Swapping out a faucet is fairly easy, pipework I’d leave alone as the risk of a minor leak causing huge damage is too large for my comfort.
          My degree is in computer engineering, so I’m comfortable around all things electrical – and know when I’m out of my depth.
          Some community colleges gave DUY courses, those may help.

          1. NotBatman*

            My family (2 parents, 2 siblings, 3 kids’ spouses) transitioned to doing a “Secret Santa” for gifts about 5 years ago, meaning each of us only buys one present. We also all do an experience together – skiing, weekending in a nearby city – that we count as an additional present. The way my dad got universal buy-in was framing it as “I bet if we all only got one gift we could pool the rest of our gift-buying funds to go to NYC for the weekend;” it’s worked ever since.

    3. Annie Edison*

      I am an occasional DIY-er, although not so much lately as other things have taken priority for my time. But- door handles, toilet seats, and new light switches are all pretty easy even for a beginner. I had some trouble with the door knob/bolt lock on my front door and ended up needing some help with it (if memory serves, the hole for the bolt lock was slightly offset from the position of the new lock and needed to be re-drilled, or something weird like that), but you should be fine.

      My proudest moment was replacing the float valve in a toilet all by myself- I felt incredibly accomplished with that one! I’m more recently trying to get into refinishing furniture and love getting to turn old shabby things into fresh shiny ones.

      Tips- expect everything to take a little longer, and possibly cost a little more $ for unexpected parts- than you think it will. This is also maybe personal preference, but I have a few physical books that are guides to various handyman/DIY home projects. I prefer starting with those first rather than YouTube- I like having everything in one place instead of having to search and watch multiple videos, I can skim through the instructions and then re-read multiple times without having to try and find the right spot in a video, and I know it’s a trustworthy, reliable source. Once I’ve looked through those, I’ll YouTube a couple videos to watch the process or answer any questions. Flipping through the books also helps with inspiration- I can skim through sections and get ideas for things to learn or try later

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      Don’t mess with anything electrical until you’re sure you know what you’re doing. Outlet covers and light switch plates are fine, but I’d leave anything else to the pros.

    5. Not Totally Subclinical*

      The one I surprised myself with was laying floor tile. I wouldn’t try to do it now that I’m older and my knees are bad, but it was not that difficult to do.

      Toilet seats are a good one to start with because they’re very easy — unscrew the old seat; screw the new one on. Changing the handles on kitchen cabinets/drawers is also generally easy.

      Electrical stuff varies. Replacing a light switch — generally easy. Replacing a two-prong outlet with a three-prong — unless you’re really experienced, call the electrican, because that ground wire needs to be there and attached. (And of course, always make really really sure that you’ve shut off the circuit before you handle the wires.)

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        I am a renter but doing small car repairs like replacing a headlight or taillight/fuses, or the air filter under the glove box is very cool and saves money. The best one I did was replacing a window switch that was falling. For my car, I watched a YouTube video and it was fairly easy to get the inside door compartment open. Definitely check first before trying, because some cars are easier to open up than others or have more stuff in the way/require more tools.

        1. Chaordic One*

          There are some very good YouTube videos out there. When my car’s headlamps burned out I located a video about what to do to change it. It was a ridiculously complicated and convoluted procedure. Changing the bulb on one side of the car involved having the remove to car’s battery in order to get access to the bulb. Removing the battery then made all of the electrical gizmos reset and I had to then manually reset the clock and all of the radio presets.

      2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        Yes!
        And lock out/tag out the breaker. I had a scare as a teen where my mother “helpfully” plugged in the supply end of the circuit I was working on. Nothing bad happened as I spotted it just early enough, but she’ll never live it down!
        Afterwards, I carried a plug with all three prongs connected. Turn off the breaker, test a socket on the same circuit (must be off), and put the magic plug in. Should someone try to turn the breaker on again, it will flip off immediately as the circuit is shorted out.

    6. Jackie*

      Join the “Handy Women” Facebook group. Lots of talented inventive women members who are supportive, and can answer almost any questions or help with ideas for your projects. Friendly community.

    7. Kayem*

      I replaced the garbage disposal in our former residence with a couple YouTube videos because the instructions were useless thanks to the landlord’s “custom” plumbing job. I was very proud of myself for doing that without going bananapants. I also replaced the kitchen sink in our current residence, though after that experience, I’m going to hire someone to do it next time. I’m not sure my back can handle the contortions again.

      Other things I’ve done with the help of YouTube: rewiring/replacing outlets and fixtures, hanging doors, replacing flooring, replacing drywall, plus things for my car, like replacing the alternator and radiator, and replacing computer parts.

      Things I’ve learned from YouTube that it’s better to hire a professional because I don’t have the patience/motivation: replacing windows, fixing the leaking outside faucet, replacing any part in the dishwasher (so many screws and clips…).

      I grew up with power tools and a father who made cabinetry and other fine woodworking things, plus I was a woodworker for years, so there’s a lot of common DIY things I just already know how to do. But pretty much everything electrical and plumbing I’ve had to learn myself since I was a teen.

      When doing something the first time, ESPECIALLY if you’re disassembling anything, take a photo of every single step, including where each screw was removed from or was put into. This has saved me so much frustration once I started doing that. When I had to learn how to take apart my 3D printer so I could repair it, I did not do that the first time. I’ve done that ever since, but I still have two screws left over from that first time that I have no idea where they go.

      As others have said, be very careful with electrical. Never ever do anything with an outlet or anything more intensive than replacing a lightbulb without first turning off the power at the breaker! If you haven’t already mapped your circuits to each outlet, switch, and fixture, do that first! It’s a pain in the butt, especially if not starting with an empty house, so get a friend to help. Make sure you get a plug in doohickey that will tell you if your outlets are wired correctly (they also are good for telling if an outlet has been turned off without lugging a desk lamp around).

      Harbor Freight sells a thing called a circuit detector that’s very helpful. You plug it into an outlet (there’s also a version that screws into light fixtures) and take the wand to the circuit box and it will tell you which circuit that outlet belongs to. Always double check the results because it can have issues with outlets have have been daisy-chained to other outlets, but it’s so handy for a quick check. Always use tools with insulated handles when working on electrical. Even if you know the circuit is off, better to be safe.

      Needlenose pliers are your best friend for pretty much anything. I would give up my hammer a hundred times over before giving up the pliers.

    8. Enough*

      Actually I haven’t really been surprised. But it probably helps that I rehung a door so it swung to the left not right and changed the wiring on a 3 switch outlet because I didn’t think the layout made sense for where the lights were located. I was 14. Mother and I did the door.
      Just replaced the front door handle and 2 interior ones. Will be doing a few more soon. And adding shelves to my pantry. And am trimming down 2 doors next week so they stop sticking. except for a bidet I’ve done everything on your list.

    9. RLC*

      To be aware of: depending on the age of your home, the replacement fittings available at a typical home improvement store may not always fit the doors/plumbing/electrical system in your home. I’ve DIYed repairs/upgrades to homes ranging from new to 100+ years old (and my dad was a remodeling and maintenance contractor); the newer the structure the more likely that the parts you need will be readily available. And the older the home, the more likely that fittings will be corroded together, windows and doors will be out-of-square or uncommon sizes, and so on. Not a deterrent or a roadblock, just something to plan for when considering a project.

    10. Decidedly Me*

      I replaced the control panel in my garage door opener once. I really just wanted the light to work again, but it wasn’t the bulb…or the socket….so it had to be the control board! Googled around for help with that.

      I’ve never sought out to be better at DIY – I just stumble into projects I want to try and then learn how. I’ve replaced the guts of a toilet, installed new seats, switched the light switch order in a plate of three, installed something to stop a sink leak (can’t remember that one’s name), and installed a new kitchen faucet (lesson learned from this one – make sure to pay attention to the instructions on what tools you need and don’t assume you have them!)

      1. Kiki Is The Most*

        Same same! Just doing the DIY because that was a good place to start in fixing something, not because I wanted to be better at it overall. It IS fulfilling though to be a wee bit handy, save money and time, and just use my own brain to solve the smaller home problems.
        If I think it is beyond my scope of knowledge, time, energy or tools (not going to buy a powersaw), then I’ll research a good handyperson with recommendations.

    11. Jasmine Tea*

      The veneer on living room cabinets was separating. We found the appropriate glue, took the doors off and after applying the glue put weights on while it set.
      Our apartment has a Japanese room with paper on the doors. When we moved in they were terribly discolored from previous tenants smoking and cooking habits. I watched a dozen YT video then my husband and I stripped the old paper off. We called a Japanese friend and sent photos to make sure they were clean enough. Then a friend and I applied the new paper which I bought online. I am most proud of this home improvement because it was something I had never done before!
      Do you homework and have fun! It’s a great feeling to learn how to do something new!
      And don’t forget to take “before photos”!

    12. Vincaminor*

      Just this past week, I replaced a worn-out valve in my attic water tank! I was so proud of myself! I found a tutorial that had pictures of every step so I had an idea of how everything went together, and then paid really close attention when I took the old one apart.

      I also started with replacing doorknobs and light switch covers, and really a lot of it is watching how something comes apart so I can run it backwards. For most things you don’t need fancy tools, but I’ve repeatedly been so glad I picked up a set of screwdrivers at Lidl for some ridiculously low price. Many modern fittings use star-tip or pozidrive screws, and being able to deal with those is great, as is always having the right size. The other thing I use a lot is my vise-grip locking pliers.

      You can do it! Some things need a pro, but a lot of things don’t!

    13. Falling Diphthong*

      In general, YouTube is a great resource. My spouse grew up in an antique house that always needed stuff done to it and is as a result very handy. If he needs to do a new thing to his car (he replaced his Prius battery) he starts with YouTube, on the theory that he is not the first person to have this problem.

      You may need to try a few videos to get someone going straight at your level, but they probably exist. This was really useful when we built a deck and I could not figure out hurricane ties from the 2-D drawings.

    14. Peanut Hamper*

      The big thing for me: not everything needs to be tightened down as tight as you can get it. You can actually break things that way.

      Good examples:

      1) Electrical wall plates. Just tighten that screw enough to hold the plate in place. I’ve seen too many of these cracked because of being over-tightened.

      2) Anything to do with a toilet. It’s porcelain, and easy to crack if you put a lot of torque on it. Usually just a half turn with a wrench past finger tight is enough, depending on how tight you can turn something with your fingers.

      Also: the right amount of glue is far better than too much glue in most cases. If you’re clamping wood pieces together, you want just enough to squeeze out of the join when you clamp them. If it comes pouring out, you’ve used too much and now have a mess to clean up.

      Speaking of glue, that reminds me: Read the directions, no matter how small the print is. I love Gorilla Glue, but I’ve had a lot of people tell me it didn’t work for them at all. When I asked them if they had wet the pieces they were gluing together, I got blank stares. Gorilla Glue is water activated, so if you don’t wet the pieces, it just dries out and doesn’t hold. (I have to admit, I read the directions the first time mostly because I wanted to know what to do in case I glued my fingers together.)

    15. Texan In Exile*

      Thanks to youtube and to the home-repair books I got from my dad and from friends, I have repaired my own washing machine and dryer, replaced broken glass in a window, replaced the toilet handle thingy, cleared a clogged kitchen elbow joint, installed speakers in my car, replaced the set pin in my attic fan, and changed the oil and the radiator fluid in my car. The only thing I won’t try is electricity.

    16. The teapots are on fire*

      Fixing the “infotainment screen” in my Mazda 3. They get this thing over time where the touch screen decays and starts, well, touching itself, randomly changing options and settings and making you think you have lost touch with reality. I was able to pop off part of the dashboard, pull off the screen, and disconnect the touch screen sensor. I did need access to some of my husband’s tools to do this as I didn’t have a long enough extension on my wrench to reach a bolt I needed to get to. The dealer wanted $275 just to diagnose the problem and the free repair expired last year.

      Here’s my tip: Get good quality hand tools. Flat-bladed screwdrivers come in several sizes and cheap ones are made of soft metal that will deform and twist just enough to make you think you don’t know how to use a screwdriver. Look at online reviews because the brands that used to be good sometimes aren’t any more (Craftsman is a sad example). And as soon as you start doing things that involve turning a lot of screws or drilling, get a good cordless drill and again check reviews because if you get more cordless tools you’ll want to stay with the brand and use the same battery. Rarely used or simple tools you can buy the cheap ones from Harbor Freight, but things that are your workhorses and have to be like an extension of your hand, get something nice so your tools don’t fight you.

    17. There You Are*

      My proudest moment was diagnosing my treadmill’s noise based on YouTube videos, buying the right part off the internet, then taking my treadmill apart, opening the motor housing, replacing the motor’s brush (which is actually a solid object and not a brush), cleaning and lubricating the deck, then reassembling the whole thing and properly calibrating the tread so it wasn’t too tight or too loose and didn’t slide to the left or to the right.

    18. Anna Crusis*

      I replaced the cartridges in the bathroom sink. The most difficult part was figuring out which cartridges it needed. Also, I had to buy a set of hex wrenches for this project and ended up getting metric and non-metric sets because the faucet brand did not specify which kind I needed. Fortunately, they were on sale! The whole project took maybe 30 minutes to do and cost $50, including the hex wrenches. Replacing the shower head was easy too, and we also installed a bidet when we replaced the toilet seat. I forgot we already had pipe thread tape and now have extra.

      We replaced the ugly ceiling lights in the kitchen. That took two of us since it’s fiddly and working with your hands above your head is tiring. Some outlets need replacing but that might be past my comfort level for electrical things even with a well-labeled new breaker box.

      The next project I want to tackle is replacing window screens. A coworker swears it’s easy!

      1. Bethlam*

        I suspect this is a regional or different country vocabulary thing, but what is a “cartridge” for a sink?

        1. Hazel*

          The insides of the tap/ faucet. Used to be you replaced washers, now more often you replace a washerless cartridge.

        2. fhqwhgads*

          Depending on the sink, some have a cartridge inside instead of the more specific individual parts. It might be regional to have cartridges at all, but I don’t think it’s a regionalism for what the cartridge is called. I’m basing this on something a plumber told me a few years ago.

    19. DIY*

      I grew up in a household where everything was done either directly by my parents (with ample help from the kids) or other family members/friends would do it. So I have a slight overconfidence with DIY. What I don’t do is plumbing (because water leaking can quickly become expensive and the work being done by me invalidates my insurance) and some electrical stuff, just because I am not comfortable with it and don’t want to electrocute myself. But for everything else I feel that even if I don’t get it right first time, I can fix it! I got two books about home DIY just as a base (some advice on YouTube is really terrible, so having some information from sources I trust is good) and everything else Google will show me. When you are new to DIY, it’s annoying that you sometimes have to run out to the builder’s merchant to get additional supplies, but at some point you have enough stuff at home that you can fix most things.

  6. CaliUKexpat*

    The bats and rabies thing. There is so much conflicting information in the thread earlier today that I’m not sure if I’d count as exposed? From ages 1-5 we lived on a ranch in southern California mountains, in a house that had been unoccupied for roughly 7 years at that point. There were bats in one bedroom, but nobody slept there until it had been cleared and their entry blocked, at which point it became my elder sister’s room. But, bats are pernicious, and they’d been there for possibly years, so every so often one would find it’s way in, sometimes swooping us. And I can’t remember if I slept in there.

    I am mid-thirties now. Is this something I should be concerned about? It was an extremely long time ago, but I don’t want to mess about.

    Complicating factor: I now live in the UK, where there is no rabies. So would I even be able to get treated if necessary? or would I have to make a trip Stateside to even get it?

    I never even considered this before, bats in the closet was just a funny story we told growing up. Now I’m a bit concerned!!

        1. Lemonwhirl*

          Rabies vaccines for people are given to people who work with animals, like vets, or who are likely to come in contact with rabies/bats/etc. It’s an expensive series of vaccines, and it’s not handed out preemptively to just anyone. (And I’d say this would have been even more of the case 30 years ago.)

          And rabies vaccines don’t eliminate the need for rabies treatment if you have an actual exposure to rabies. You’d still need to get treatment. You just need less treatment and you have a bit more time to get treatment than if you’d not had the vaccines. (My family and I traveled to a part of the world where there’s sometimes rabies outbreaks, and we had to seriously consider whether to push to get vaccinated. In the end, we decided our risk was fairly minimal, especially after we decided we wouldn’t be visiting caves and that we had good health insurance that would cover evacuation if the worst happened and no rabies immunoglobin treatment was available where we were.)

          1. amoeba*

            Interesting! In Germany, it was still a standard recommended vaccination in the 90s (although for whatever reason I didn’t get it. My parents weren’t antivax or anything, just… not organised.)
            As it’s now been eradicated from foxes and only very few cases – from bats, indeed – occur, it’s no longer standard. But it was definitely normal and possible back then.

      1. JSPA*

        longest latency accepted in the literature was years (but hard to prove there was no more recent exposure). It matters how close to a nerve (or bloodstream) the bite (or mucous membrane contamination) is, as well as the amount of virus transferred. More commonly it’s 30 to 60 days; deep (e.g. large dog or other predator) bites close to the spine or skull can progress frighteningly fast, while small, distal nips can take 6 months or more to become symptomatic.

    1. Gyne*

      No, rabies’ incubation period is weeks to (rarely) months. If this was years ago, there is nothing to do and you are well in the clear.

      1. TriviaJunkie*

        Thank you! I thought I saw a comment saying it could sit dormant (right before a kid went nuts and I lost where I was!), but at least it’s not that long.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          It’s one of those “not impossible but very, very, very improbable” things where it’s happened but only a handful of times in recorded medical literature.

      2. Rage*

        There are a couple of cases with possible incubations periods that span for decades, but only 1% of cases have shown dormancy periods greater than 1 year. You are very likely fine.

    2. Happy Camper*

      Fun little tip for everyone, because I have been bitten by a bat before and had to get the rabies shot. If a bat bites you, kill it and keep it. They can test the bat to see if it has rabies, if it doesn’t you are fine.
      Not fun side note, 50% of the injection for rabies has to go in the bite site.

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        A friend got hit by a bat a couple years ago when they were biking after dark. There wasn’t an obvious bite but public health wanted to be careful so my friend got shots. They ended up being a series of vaccine-like shots (in the arm, not very painful and didn’t tire them out much) and that was it.

        1. Happy camper*

          Yeah so I got bitten on my index finger. Half of that had to go into the finger the other half into fatty tissue. I was 8 months pregnant at the time, gave birth a month after this and I still don’t know which was worse. The rabies shot was shorter. I guess? But equally painful. So just kill the bat and keep it.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          The new injections are a medical marvel to me. The treatments used to be a longer series and by all accounts more painful.

          The injection that goes into the bite site is the rabies immunoglobulin treatment, which is followed by the newer vaccine series.

          But look up the history… originally the miracle was surviving at all, and it took 100 injections. The first person to survive it without preventative treatment was treated less than 20 years ago. (And Jeanna Giese was 18 so if you’re here Jeanna let me say WOO HOO!)

        1. Generic Name*

          Well, when my dad woke up with a bat on his ankle, he instinctively threw it across the room. That killed it. :/ I don’t think the bat tested positive for rabies, but he got the treatment series anyway.

        2. Clisby*

          When I was in 7th grade, the big country house we lived in had a brief bat invasion. We found out when I was awakened by hearing something go WHAP against the curtain behind my bed. I got my mother (aka Wonder Woman) who killed the bat with a broom. We later found several of them sleeping in a window, and several sleeping in a big light fixture. I forget how my parents killed those, but at least they got the jump on them.

    3. Sloanicota*

      To be fair, if you told me this was your situation as of a few weeks ago, I probably would tell you to get the vaccines, because you were presumably unconscious around bats. That’s the general standard rule IIRC. However, I believe that’s an abundance of caution sort of thing; it definitely doesn’t mean you’d be likely to get it, just that it’s possible.

      1. fposte*

        Yup. I woke up to a bat in my bedroom and was deeply impressed with myself for getting it out. Then I saw on the public health website that unless you could prove the bat was rabies free vaccinations were recommended. So I got the vaccinations.

        Tbh, I didn’t find the actual shots that bad. There were a lot of them and they were in less common areas (butt and lower back) but they were otherwise normal shots, as opposed to the way they used to be when you had to get them in the stomach.

        And I’m still a little conflicted on the whole “if you’re asleep in a room with a bat you need to get shots” thing. I understand that people have slept through bat bites and that’s why, and if they explicitly state “especially if you’re drunk or high,” which seems to be a big factor, that gives people a risky path to denial. But cabins still do have bats flying around and I’m not going to get prophylaxis just to sleep near a lake, and I’m a light, perfectly sober sleeper so I might not opt for prophylaxis in that case. (And that’s without even factoring in cost.) The balance gets tipped a little more in my home exposure in that there wasn’t a colony, just a lone bat, so that was a higher risk of a bat behaving oddly for disease reasons.

        1. Texan In Exile*

          I still remember very very clearly getting my 14 rabies shots in my stomach, one a night for two weeks. After they dragged me out from under the bed, my mom had to sit on my arms and Dr B had to sit on my legs to give them to me.

          1. ampersand*

            See, this is my understanding of what getting rabies vaccines was like back in the day (1980s-90s). It was in the stomach, it hurt like hell, and I thought it was rare that you could even *get* vaccinated, though maybe I’m remembering that wrong. It seemed like even then, being bit by a bat might be a death sentence (or terrible waiting game to see if you had rabies) because the vaccine wasn’t widely available or administered.

            When OP wondered upthread if they had been vaccinated but didn’t remember it, I wondered how one could possibly forget this. It sounds like the vaccination protocol has changed significantly since I was a kid, thankfully.

        2. Can't Sit Still*

          My bat-in-a-cabin story is that I was asleep in a mountain cabin, dreamed I was bitten by a vampire and woke up to a bat flying around the room. When I had the possible bite, there hadn’t been a rabies case found in bats in over a decade, but we assumed better safe than sorry, so I started the series. When I was halfway through my shots, they started finding dead and/or rabid bats. The feeling I had was indescribable.

          On the bright side, the ER staff enjoyed my story, as did the injection clinic nurses, and really, it’s hard to top “I had to get my rabies shots because I dreamed I was bitten by a vampire.”

          1. fposte*

            It was a bit of a chore to get the serum from my health care facility, and in essentially a literal game of telephone a puzzled nurse asked me why I thought I’d gotten TB from a bat.

    4. Old Plant Woman*

      Please talk to your Dr. and give them time for research. I always thought you either got rabies or not. So what do I really know? Who knows.

    5. WS*

      There is rabies vaccine available in the UK – some bats in the UK do have rabies, it’s only terrestrial rabies that’s been eliminated there. People who work with bats or are travelling to countries with prevalent rabies get vaccinated. “Long incubation period” here refers to 5-7 years, not decades. But yes, your parents did risk your lives by having sleeping children around bats.

      1. fposte*

        I’m going to push back on that last a little because bats are so populous in many areas of the US. Children are a lot more at risk from dogs (and I say this as a dog lover) but we don’t consider that proximity irresponsible.

          1. fposte*

            But they kill more children nonetheless.

            I mean, you can’t go camping in much of the US without being exposed to bats while you’re sleeping. Does that mean kids should never go camping? The official CDC advice now is that a risk assessment should be made if you or your kids are exposed to a bat while sleeping, not that it automatically means you should get rabies shots.

    6. Alex*

      Oh, wow, I hadn’t even considered incubation periods of decades! I too was exposed to a bat as a child and didn’t get the vaccines (I don’t think it occurred to anyone that bat bites would be invisible). I had been sleeping in the room with the bat and probably should have gotten the vaccines.

      But yeah this was over 30 years ago so….hopefully I’m fine?? ack!

    7. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

      The information wasn’t so much conflicting as it was overblown. LW is probably 99% in the clear – the exposure guidance is out of an over-abundance of caution. Rabies is extremely rare, but it’s extremely fatal. However, the only way to know an animal like a bat is rabid is to catch it and test it. Easier said than done — for other species that are known to be rabies risks (i.e., dogs, foxes and raccoons), you can catch ’em pretty easy. There are also easy ways to implement vaccination programs for these animals when they’re in the wild. But for bats, its hard to catch them and it’s hard to initiate a vaccination program in the wild. However, they are a reservoir for rabies hence, the exposure precautions for them are very, very strict.

      It’s not because they “don’t get rabies themselves” (which was floated around and there is no evidence to support this). Bats are small, so their teeth and nails are small – it might be hard to see to the naked eye, particularly if it happened when you were asleep and didn’t feel it. However, if you are awake, you will know if you’ve made contact with a bat. Not sure why people think they have a magic ability to scratch you from fifteen feet away; it’s gotta get pretty close to you to do that and 9/10 you will feel it even if you can’t see it (it’s a rather small puncture wound that will heal quickly; which is why it’s if you are asleep, danger goes up — don’t bet your life on ‘pretty sure’), unless you are someone who is the type to scratch themselves often and not notice.

      LW’s case isn’t like yours. They have continued exposure and it’s unclear the level of contact they’ve had with the guano (including what the bats have been rubbing up against when they aren’t there and they’re flying around) and the bats themselves (one was hanging over the reception desk!) – for them, it’s a matter of calling someone in to get these bats tested and they have good reason to go get the rabies vaccine if they talk to their healthcare provider. They’re, however, likely gonna be fine. It’s a matter of not risking it. In general, finding a bat in the bedroom is a low risk of rabies exposure. If you have no known direct contact with the bat, post-exposure prophylaxis is generally NOT recommended.

      All that said, if you got rabies 30 yrs after a potential exposure, that might be the longest latent period known for rabies (through to be 1 month to 1 yr; and this sent me down a rabbit hole, where after reading a few papers, it’s likely very rare to have a single exposure and develop rabies >1 yr post that singular exposure. Other case studies are not able to rule out other exposures in places where many other exposures exist and their patient could not give a full history of exposure). I think more complicating for you would not even be in the UK, it’s in the NHS would cover a rabies vaccine series 30 yrs after the event. They most certainly have access to rabies vaccine doses because many rabies cases come from people who’ve traveled abroad anyway.

  7. Llama Llama*

    Reading recommendations!
    My 5th grade daughter is an excellent reader. Each night we read a book and have been doing this for a while. We have read all the Harry Potter books, Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and just finished the Hunger Games (and prequel).
    What should we read next that is kinda on that level?

        1. Clisby*

          Both my kids loved the Redwall series as well. They also loved the Bone series by Jeff Smith – I think Out from Boneville is the first. Warriors was another series they liked.

      1. Annie Edison*

        ooh yes that series is amazing! I discovered it as an adult and wish someone had told me about it when I was younger

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          I read the first book not too long after my grandmother passed away, and it really spoke to middle-aged me.

      2. Jay*

        Oh, my yes!
        These books should be required reading in junior high/highschool.
        In fact, any Terry Pratchett young adult books would be wonderful at that age.

        1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          If she has read Lord of the Rings, then she would likely enjoy the whole Terry Pratchett Discworld Canon. The Tiffany Aching books are YA set in that universe, but the whole Canon is not even R-rated; one of my nephews went through my whole collection at that age.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Tiffany Aching I suggest for slightly older — Wee Free Men yes, but Wintersmith is… darker.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Depends on the kid. (I look back at my own reading at that age, and I would have devoured those books if they had been available.)

    1. beep beep*

      At her age, I really enjoyed my mother reading Watership Down to me. If she likes animal adventures, there’s also the Redwall books, which there are a million of, and most all of them are excellent. My math teacher also did a reading time for our class in 5th grade, and the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books were a hit with our class.

    2. YAFantasySeries*

      Narnia? Prydain? Wrinkle in Time/Wind in the Door/Swiftly Tikting Planet? Artemis Fowl? Princess Academy series? Tripods Trilogy (SF not fantasy)? His Dark Materials?

    3. YNWA*

      It’s not fantasy but James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small series is a wonderful story about a rural English veterinarian. I read them at about that age in between my love of science fiction.

      1. Mitchell Hundred*

        Seconded, although I wouldn’t necessarily recommend those to someone who hasn’t already read some fantasy / fairy-tales. They lose something if you don’t get what she’s lampooning.

    4. fueled by coffee*

      Percy Jackson, Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girl series, Anne of Green Gables, A Series of Unfortunate Events?

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Yes, multiple series and also check out the “Rick Riordan presents” books for emerging authors of series featuring a wider set of mythologies.

        My daughter also loved the Warriors books at that age.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          My 16yo has Warriors prominently on the new bookshelf.

          Other faves from 5th grade then not in this list yet
          –El Deafo (graphic novel).
          –The Ranger’s Apprentice series
          –Catherine Called Birdy (but not the recent movie, it is bratty not charming)
          –The Tail of Emily Windsnap (mermaids!)
          –Dragon of the Lost Sea (Lawrence Yep)
          –Wings of Fire series (Tui T. Sutherland)

          Ursula K. Leguin’s Catwings series is aimed younger but just so beautiful.

    5. Rose is a rose is a rose*

      A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. LeGuin, as well as the rest of the books in the series. Also by LeGuin, The Annals of the Western Shore trilogy.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Unfortunately it’s possible… my kid couldn’t get into Earthsea at that age. Then we got the Studio Ghibli boxed set… by 14 the slower pace was more readable.

        2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          True, she intended it as YA; it turned out a bit deeper than many YA books but eminently readable. In fact, I’m just rereading it; I got a beautiful omnibus edition for my 50-oddth birthday.
          Just avoid the movie like the plague; U.K.LeGuin hated it with a passion and she was oh so right. They got practically everything wrong.

            1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

              The live-action miniseries (2004) is worst; starting with the main (islander) characters portrayed as Caucasian; it gets worse.
              UKL found the Studio Ghibli film “disappointing” but she had had very high expectations by her love for Miyazaki’s work (the Earthsea series was made by Miyazaki Jr.; I have not seen it but generally like Studio Ghibli).

            2. SarahKay*

              Both. If you are at all of the ‘*This* isn’t what was in the book” reader then, both.
              The 2004 one is dreadful; the Studio Ghibli one is… less bad. Ursula K Le Guin apparently told the director “It is not my book. It is your movie. It is a good movie”.
              You can find more from her on the topic at ursulakleguin dot com/adaptation-tales-of-earthsea

      1. Yay!*

        One of the best books ever. I first read it as a kid and I still read it once a year (I’m now 64). Also wonderful is the View from Saturday, by the same author.

    6. GoryDetails*

      Kipling’s “Jungle Book” and “Just-so Stories” were favorites of mine at that age (and even a bit earlier).

      T. Kingfisher has some books for younger readers, too, including Minor Mage (about a 12-year-old boy with very limited magic abilities, though he does have a trusty armadillo as his familiar) and A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking (a girl whose magic involves baked goods, from animating gingerbread men to creating a sentient sourdough starter – though all the whimsy does lead to a pretty dramatic battle later in the book).

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Only thing with T. Kingfisher is to warn your kid to read the blurb before grabbing other things she’s published—she also writes horror.
        Look for the hamster graphic novels she publishes as Ursula Vernon.

        1. GoryDetails*

          Yes, I love Hamster Princess; also Danny Dragonbreath. (Suitable for quite young readeres, but also entertainingly snarky for older ones.)

        2. SarahKay*

          And some of her writing is distinctly adult. If the protagonists are children / teens she should be safe enough; if they are adults then approach with care.
          T Kingfisher / Ursula Vernon even says that this is why she writes under two names: to avoid that ‘Nooooo!’ moment where she lunges across the library, desperate to remove the horror story meant for adults from the young hands of the unsuspecting Hamster Princess fan.

    7. Confused human*

      I loved Robin McKinley at that age–the Blue Sword, the Hero and the Crown, and a Knot in the Grain and other stories are all excellent.

      The Giver by Lois Lowry is more sci-fi, but it stuck with me since that age. An adventure one would be The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi.

      Gail Carson Levine and Roald Dahl are good picks for that age group, too, and similar feel.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I liked McKinley at that age – but be aware that Deerskin and Sunshine are *not* juveniles. Deerskin in particular is fantastic, but 10 years is too young for the material. Terry Pratchett is a good idea – the Tiffany Aching books, and the non Discworld Johnny books in particular.

        T. Kingfisher’s juveniles would work – Illuminations, Minor Mage, A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking, and some of her fairy tale stuff. She’s probably too young for the more horror stuff, like the Twisted Ones.

        Patricia Wrede’s Enchanted Forest series and the Frontier Magic trilogy. Tamora Pierce, the Circle of Magic and Tortall series. Diane Duane’s young wizards series – the first books pre-date Harry Potter, and they’re much more thoughtful books about being a teen wizard.

        Susan Cooper’s Dark is rising series (start with The Dark is Rising, which is better than Over Sea and Under Stone), Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain chronicles, plus the stand alone Time Cat and C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books, for classics. Also Edward Eager’s various books, and Winter of Magic’s Return and Tomorrow’s Magic by Pamela F. Service.

        For older stuff, I liked E Nesbit’s Psammead trilogy at that age.

        1. carcinization*

          So glad to see Dark is Rising, and seconding! I still want to go to Wales someday because of those books!

          1. carcinization*

            Ugh, to clarify, I probably should have put the word “recommended” after the word “Rising” in that comment, otherwise it looks like I may be recommending the abysmal movie :/

            1. SarahKay*

              Gosh, yes, avoid the movie!
              Also, go to Wales. I have the advantage of being in the UK, but I spend about ten days doing all the Welsh book locations back in 2017 and it was fabulous. Although while climbing Cadair Idris I realised how horribly unfit I was when I was overtaken by a man *carrying* his bike up the mountain, for the fun of riding it back down, presumably.
              I have a friend whose favourite book ever is “The Grey King”; he’s read to death two copies so far; his third copy is hanging on in there and hoping to avoid the death-by-bath that got the second….

          2. JaneDrew*

            Do it!! I went once and while I didn’t get to the top of the mountain from the Grey King, I walked around the lake at the base of it and it was magical.

      1. Florence Reece*

        Came to rec exactly this! The Chrestomanci series are some of the very few childhood books I still own because that world felt so special and immersive and magical. DWJ is fantastic.

    8. Not Totally Subclinical*

      Robin McKinley! The Hero and the Crown, The Blue Sword, Beauty, Rose Daughter, The Outlaws of Sherwood, and Spindle’s End are all great fantasy. Deerskin is also very good, but that story is about sexual assault (on-page) and recovery, so I wouldn’t recommend it for most fifth-graders.

      Kelly Jones, Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer. I read this book and promptly bought copies for every family with kids who I give gifts to.

    9. EA*

      I highly recommend all three of these:
      Merlin and Great Tree of Avalon series by TA Barron
      Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins (lesser known, but really good! Technically a lower reading level, but I read these as an adult and enjoyed it)
      Sabriel series by Garth Nix

      I also second Howl’s Moving Castle!

    10. goddessoftransitory*

      There’s a terrific older YA novel called Lizard Music that would probably be considered sci fi on two levels by These Kids Today–both for the plot, which involves mysterious TV broadcasts of a band of lizards, and the concept of broadcast television that went off the air at midnight!

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Came here to say this, time for some Tamora Pierce! Circle of Magic skews younger, Song of the Lioness has some PG13 content

        1. LyraB*

          thirding Tamora Pierce, but I would potentially start with Protector of the Small! 10 is the perfect age to start reading Tamora Pierce <3

          1. ecnaseener*

            Ooh, hot take to start with Protector! I would recommend publication order though (so Song of the Lioness then Immortals then Protector) both for the sake of context/spoilers and because of Pierce’s craft improving over time – better to breeze through the simpler earlier books and then be impressed by the later books than the other way around.

            (Or of course starting with Circle of Magic is equally valid, and there you really have to go in pub order).

    11. SagA*

      I think my daughter was a touch older, but I can’t recommend
      The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente highly enough. The writing is beautiful, and the imagination is fantastic. There’s a half-dragon half-library character called A-through-L. Because … half-library.

      1. AGD*

        This. There are also a bunch of sequels.

        Also, B. B. Alston’s ‘Amari’ books. Like Harry Potter but with a resourceful Black American girl in the lead.

    12. Zhu*

      Wimpy Kid is always a hit with my son in 6th grade. Less “literature” than the books you mentioned but they seem to help him deal with… you know, life.

      He enjoyed the Adrian Mole Diary (the early one) by Sue Townsent but it’s very British and not exactly written for kids. However, if your daughter is mature these books are a great way to get talking about contemporary history (they start under Thatcher), the Cold War, unemployment, middle-class and lower class, etc.

      1. allathian*

        I loved The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 and 3/4 when I was slightly younger than that. But I read the book less than 5 years after publication, and I had personal memories of things like Charles and Diana’s wedding. We lived in the UK in 1984—1985.

        I also loved Anne of Green Gables at that age.

    13. Dark Macadamia*

      Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer would be good if y’all enjoyed Hunger Games! Kinda dystopian but based on fairy tales – Cinderella is a cyborg, Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite, etc. They’re super fun.

    14. Yay!*

      The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart. Arthurian legend told from Merlin’s point of view. Has several sequels.

      Island of the Blue Dolphins.

      Really, anything that has won the Newbery Award.

      When she’s 14, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        There are a few Adult Situations in the Crystal Cave books–nothing explicit but where babies come from is definitely important to the plots.

    15. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Forgot 2 because they were MINE before my kid stole them:

      Jessica Day George, start with Tuesdays at the Castle

      Shannon Hale, start with Princess Academy.

      Tamora Pierce has been mentioned but I cant not chime in — start with Circle of Magic and the Circle Opens. Tortall books read in order published because she moves from middle reader to YA.

      As she hits middle school, suggest Garth Nix’s Sabriel.

    16. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I have to come back on one more side note — I love to hear when other families are reading aloud past the age of board books. It’s traditional in this family too, especially while cooking.

    17. Queer Earthling*

      Look into Bruce Coville’s books! Reading-level some of them are a bit younger than 5th grade, I think, but they have interesting themes and I honestly still enjoy them as an adult. The Magic Shop books and the Nina Tanleven books are particular favorites.

      Mary Downing Hahn’s ghost stories are also really fun juvenile fiction–Wait Till Helen Comes and Time For Andrew are very good. She also has some non-ghost stories; Stepping on the Cracks and its sequel Following My Own Footsteps are excellent stories taking place during WWII, although the third in the series is terrible so pretend it’s not there.

      I think at that age I was also reading Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon. I believe that’s also the age I read Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey, although the other Pern books might not be appropriate yet. I also read the Pit Dragon trilogy by Jane Yolen around then (there’s a fourth one but it’s terrible), which has a few more mature details but they definitely will go over the head of someone who isn’t old enough to get them.

      Also, my sister’s kids (ages from 13 down to 5) all enjoy the Wings of Fire series quite a bit!

      1. allathian*

        Dragonsong, Dragonsinger and Dragondrums, a.k.a. the Harper Hall trilogy, is explicitly marketed as YA, so they should be fine. The only part I have any issues with is the scene where the main protagonist, future Harper Menolly, cuts her hand while gutting fish, and her parents intentionally allow it to heal wrong because they hope it would stop her composing any more teaching ballads. Depending on the sensibilities of the kid, this may or may not be an issue. I find it difficult to read as an adult, even though I know that she’ll overcome her difficulties and won’t lose her ability to play stringed instruments permanently.

    18. LyraB*

      His Dark Materials – I read it when I was 12 and it was really good but I think it would have been incredible at 10

      1. Anne Kaffeekanne*

        I read it at 10 and Lyra was formative to me at that age! It deals with some heavy themes and a lot will fly over a kid’s head but it never impacted my enjoyment of the story one bit. She’s still probably my favourite character in all of fiction.

    19. Mitchell Hundred*

      Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series springs to mind.

      I also love Faith Erin Hicks’ The Nameless City trilogy, although that’s comics rather than prose.

    20. Cardboard Marmalade*

      D.M. Cornish had a fantastic series with the terrible name of “The Monster Blood Tattoo” trilogy. The first one is Foundling. It’s so rich and imaginative. I’ve reread it multiple times as an adult and really enjoyed it.

      Also recommend Diana Wynne Jones as an incredibly talented author, but with some reservations because the fatphobia and racism shine through in some really unsettling ways in a few of her books. Howl’s Moving Castle is a great one to start with. The Chronicles of Chrestomanci are almost all really interesting, but definitely worth having a conversation with your kid beforehand about how some of the characterizations in it may be offensive.

      1. I take tea*

        I feel you. I have loved Eva Ibbotson’s books with ghosts, witches and monsters since I was a kid, but the fatphobia is glaring. She dislikes people who are greedy and lazy, which sadly too often translates into them being fat.

    21. Falling Diphthong*

      His Dark Materials is really good and on this level. A world where your soul is visible as an animal companion; Lyra is a young wild thing growing up in one of the Oxford colleges.

      The HBO Max series, recently concluded, was an excellent adaptation.

    22. Rage*

      Deltora Quest, by Emily Rodda (this one is bit younger, but I just love the series)
      Eragon series, by Christopher Paolini
      Khe, by Alexes Razevich (a really interesting premise, and one that probably few people have heard of)
      His Dark Materials, by Philip Pullman
      Dragon Keeper series, by Robin Hobb
      Out of the Silent Planet & Perelandra, by C.S. Lewis (skip “That Hideous Strength”)

    23. Just here for the scripts*

      The original (and/annotated) Alice and wonderland (and sequels) . Also the same for the
      Wizard of oz and sequels

    24. Cruciatus*

      Here are some of my own favorites. Some of these may be a little below, say, Lord of the Rings, but they aren’t boring, they are good stories, and I enjoyed the writing. Most are probably more HP/Hunger Games level.
      Pendragon series by DJ MacHale — Bobby Pendragon discovers he’s a “traveler” and gets sent to different worlds trying to stop Saint Dane from disrupting everything in that different world. The book narrative is mostly him writing letters back home to his friends telling them what happened, but his friends eventually have their own storylines as well helping him (the world) out. Bonus–all the books are out so no waiting!

      The Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan — A young boy is apprenticed as, you guessed it, a ranger, and the books focus on his learning ranger tricks (like staying hidden in plain sight) and working with people in his fief and beyond. While the main character is a boy, the girls/women in the series are also completely competent and not written ridiculously. One set of this series is out, but there’s a spinoff now. I just enjoy them!

      The Nevermoor series by Jessica Townsend — This series is in progress but a few are out now. It has a bit of Harry Potter flavor, but isn’t a copy cat. Morrigan Crow is cursed because she was born on Eventide and expects to die on her 12th birthday. But she is saved and sent to complete the trials for the Wondrous Society in order to gain access there. I don’t know how to describe more without giving it away but you can check out better description online.

      Just about anything by Tamora Pierce–strong, female protagonists. She has a few series out there and I think I’ve read at least most of them and enjoyed them all.

      1. Cruciatus*

        Also, a lot of people have recommended His Dark Materials and it IS good, but I want to say that I read them at 20 while I was in college and even I had trouble with them! I understood the basic gist of what was happening, but there is a much larger allegory of the books criticizing god, the Catholic Church, etc. I wasn’t religious so I wasn’t bothered by it, but I just want to throw it out there that some of the themes are a bit more adult than they appear at first glance.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I love that the Rangers Apprentice ends with the addition of a new apprentice…and who the apprenticeship is.

    25. The teapots are on fire*

      One of my friends is a retired children’s librarian with an interest in science fiction and fantasy. He recently recommended The Bartimeus series, about a world in which enslaved spirits do much of the work, set in an altered Victorian England. Interestingly the 12 year old main character isn’t actually very likeable.

      He also likes Dick Duane’s series “Young Magicians”. I haven’t read these series, but Steve’s book reviews have never, ever let me down.

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

      Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler,

    27. KR*

      Check out the inheritance series! I think it’s my favorite fantasy series and I started reading it in middle school when I was a year or 2 older than your daughter. The books are Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, Inheritance, and “The Fork, The Witch, and The Worm” – and there is a new book coming out super soon called Murtagh. Keep in mind as they progress it doesn’t get *gory* per say, but it is a realistic depiction of someone who is a fantasy hero and the injuries they might encounter or the battles they might participate in.

    28. Withans*

      If you would like your kid to grow up with a lot of feelings about Iron Age Britain, Rosemary Sutcliff’s books were a formative influence for me around that age, with The Eagle of the Ninth being one of my favourite books of all time. Her Arthurian and Ulster cycle retellings are also cemented as the one true version of those tales for me. (Heads up that a fair number of her books don’t exactly have happy endings. Eagle does, but The Shining Company is straight-up heartbreaking, as is Mark of the Horse Lord, and those are just the ones I reread as an adult to see if they were as sad as I remembered.)

    29. The Week Ends*

      The Oz series by L Frank Baum. The Wizard of Oz is the top of the iceberg, the movie was a poor sample, and my young son loved it.

    30. Fellow Traveller*

      So many suggestion here! I’m taking notes for my 11 year old!
      Books that my kid has enjoyed lately:
      The Keeper of the Lost Cities series (though I was meh on them myself, she LOVES them. I just couldn’t get into the writing style- would probably have been better read aloud)
      Aru Shah series
      Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
      The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz- great story about three kids in Medieval France on a grand adventure. I like all his books, actually.
      Unwind (about a society where, as a compromise to the abortion debate, parents are allowed to have their kids “unwound” when they become a teenager. It’s a little dark, but no darker than Hunger Games, and the same kind of feel.)
      I found His Dark Materials very dense, and vastly preferred Pullman’s Ruby in the Smoke Trilogy.

    31. Observer*

      Some books I enjoyed as a kid (also often way above my official grade level)

      Anne of Green Gables, and the series. Montgomery wrote a lot of good stuff, but I think this is the only series I’d read with a 10 year old.

      Louisa May Alcott. Mostly the “classics” – Little Women / Little Men / Jo’s Boys; 8 Cousins / Rose In Bloom; An Old Fashioned Girl. She wrote other books and stories as well, but some are not really appropriate for a 10 year old.

      The Borrowers by Mary Norton

      Edward Eager’s Magic books.

    32. DJ Abbott*

      I really enjoyed Madeleine L’Engle’s books A Wrinkle in Time and A Swiftly Tilting Planet. They bring both science and philosophy and are very thought provoking. A Wind in the Door isn’t as well written, but still interesting.
      I also enjoyed Isaac Asimov’s books.
      The James Blish adaptations of the original Star Trek series are better than the show, I don’t know if you want something more modern.

    33. YouwantmetodoWHAT?! *

      Tamora Pierces Circle of Magic books the first, oh 8 I think are fine for her age, but after perhaps not. Her Tortall books more for ages 12 up.

      I love Tamora Pierce – strong female characters, great friendships.

    34. Turts*

      Here’s two fairly niche Britsh recommendations, first is The Magician’s House series by William Corlett. I haven’t read this one since I was was an actual child but I do still have strong memories of them and especially the TV adaption. They’re rather ’90s in places (for example it’s presented as a bit of a scandal that a couple are having a baby outside of marriage) but have a pretty strong environmental message.

      The second recommendation is The Deptford Mice trilogy by Robin Jarvis. I didn’t read these until I was an adult but absolutely loved them. It’s an animal adventure in the vein of Redwall but goes to some fairly dark places (although I think if your daughter’s read Hunger Games and Lord of the Rings she should be fine). There’s also a prequel trilogy exploring some characters backstories as well.

      Oh, and a final recommendation – The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi, I was all over these when I was your daughter’s age.

    35. Anna Crusis*

      My kid enjoyed having me read to him until 7th grade, when it got harder to find books he wanted us to read and we unfortunately got too busy in the evenings.

      A few books that we both loved:
      The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon (funny),
      The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill,
      The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham (first in a series but we only read the first two)
      The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
      The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Jester.

      There are so many fun books for that 5th-8th grade range, but unfortunately I lost the list I kept of the books librarians had recommended and ones that we read when I upgraded my phone.

      1. Pumpkinhead*

        Seconding The Phantom Tollbooth! I read this book in the 5th grade and though it’s a little slow to start, since you’ve already read LOTR and the Hobbit together, I don’t foresee that being an issue.

    36. vombatus ursinus*

      One I haven’t seen mentioned yet is ‘Inkheart’ by Cornelia Funke — I don’t want to give away too much of the story but just trust me, it’s great!

      Maybe ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ by Lemony Snicket — it’s less fantasy-ish than your list, but smart and darkly funny and perfect for this age group.

      I’ll also second the recommendations for Tamora Pierce (Tortall and/or Circle of Magic) and Garth Nix (Sabriel/Old Kingdom series — ONLY the original trilogy, sadly the more recent additions from ‘Clariel’ onwards are both less age-appropriate and not nearly as good; Nix wrote another series called ‘Keys to the Kingdom’ for slightly younger audiences that also might be worth checking out).

  8. Swing Through The City*

    Are cars in funeral processions allowed to do whatever they want on the road (in the USA)? I’m not talking about a big one that would have official cars like a politician being escorted by cops. I just mean the ones of normal cars, where you can only tell if they’re part of the procession because their hazard lights are on and maybe a tag hanging from the rearview mirror.

    This week I was waiting at a red light and a bunch of cars were turning from another side of the intersection. When my light finally turned green, a car blocked the intersection and waved all the others to keep turning. I was annoyed at first, and then noticed the hazard lights and mirror tags that said funeral. I settled back and waited as did the car in the lane beside me, even though cars behind us were honking their horns. When the car blocking the intersection moved on, I followed behind to the next light, which had just turned red with the procession cars heading through it. Apparently there were more cars in the funeral procession that had not made it through the previous intersection and got stuck behind me and other cars. While I was at the next intersection in the lane to go straight through, there was a car in the lane beside me to turn right with a no turn on red sign. A car with their hazards on and the funeral tag came up behind the regular car in that lane, and started honking at them aggressively, wanting them to move on a red light. The other car did not move, because it was very clearly no turn on red. When the light turned green, that car turned right and the three Funeral cars who had been behind them, went straight through the turn lane and blasted through the next several red lights ahead of us to catch up to the funeral procession several intersections down the road.

    Obviously, if you get an emergency vehicle behind you flashing their lights, you’re supposed to go through red lights to make way for them and allow them to carry on to the emergency. That’s not the case for a funeral procession, right? I thought in years past that the need for these processions was mostly to help people navigate between a church and a cemetery, and that these aren’t really done nowadays, when we all have GPS is. This was the first I’d seen in a while. And if you’re in a procession, can you really just break laws and try to force other cars to do the same?

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Well, you can’t force others to break laws, but the procession is like a small, mournful parade. Nobody is supposed to cut in, and all the cars are supposed to stay together. (I think some places will ticket cars that try to cut in.) It’s not about finding the cemetery. It’s about accompanying the deceased to their final resting place. And getting a group of distraught people safely from Point A to Point B.

      Where my mother grew up, there is a tradition of driving past the house of the deceased on the way to the cemetery. It can be very emotional.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        The last funeral procession I was in was mid-2020. We didn’t have a lot of traffic to worry about.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        It can definitely be about finding the cemetery. We attended one recently where I got separated and only got there because my teen had just gotten a cousin’s phone number. More immediate family had turned off phones– and metropolitan cemeteries occur in clusters spanning many acres. I had a moment of panic when kid looked up “Catholic cemetery in $city” and learned there were several!

      3. JSPA*

        This, exactly. One should allow extra space and be aware of possible lagging participants as for any other permitted procession (which a funeral is).

        They can’t drive drunk or shoot out your tires, and I believe they still have to yield for emergency vehicles, but as far as rules of the road, they do broadly have priority. And it’s normal for them to go much slower than normal traffic, which is only wise; it can be awfully difficult to drive safely in traffic with tears streaming down your face.

    2. FuneralProcessionsAreAwful*

      They block bys stops, handicap ramps, and handicap parking spots here – parked, even. When I’ve complained I was told it was a funeral. I said they were still blocking my access to the sidewalk I needed. Apparently some of the churches without parking put out these little reserved for funeral cones hours before then essentially take over the whole area (even on major non-highway arteries). So obnoxious.

      1. Lilo*

        I find this so strange because I’ve been to probably a dozen funerals and we’ve never done any of this. Just park and driving normally. Maybe because people in my family tend to be cremated so we don’t really do hearses.

        1. FuneralProcessionsAreAwful*

          Most of the larger churches in the area are along major (non-highway) multi-lane roads and have no or very limited dedicated parking. The most obnoxious one (one town over from me) is across that main road from that town’s public library and next to a K-8 private school. When they have a funeral they consume all of the parking (legal or illegal) for several blocks in both directions including all four of the library’s handicap parking spots and blocking the bus stop between the church and school, both bus stops nearby on the library side of the street, all of the ramps up to the sidewalk leading to the library, most or all of the ramps up to the church and school, and sometimes even block one of the two lanes meant for moving cars on the library side of the street for hours at a time. Several other area churches have somewhat less invasive but still obnoxious variations on this. They basically take over everything with no warning. As someone with a walker who relies on public transportation, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been trapped in the street unable to get into the sidewalk (sometimes without enough space to turn around), been unable to catch a bus home because I couldn’t access the bus stop I needed, or otherwise had a massive problem caused by funeral processions parking everywhere with no regards for the rules of the road and particularly for maintaining accessibility.

    3. Blue wall*

      Technically no but it’s done. I think funeral processions, at least in my part of the country, are less common than they used to be.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Thank you! This confirms that where I grew up, the procession takes right-of-way from the lead car (hearse). Only emergency vehicles or a police officer directing traffic can interfere with that.

      2. Mimmy*

        Thanks anon24! The procession we took part in was in Pennsylvania, which likely explains why we kept stopping, as I mentioned below.

      3. Clisby*

        Definitely varies by state. In mine, funeral processions don’t get any extra privileges.

        SOUTH CAROLINA: There is no state law governing funeral processions, however, the Supreme Court of South Carolina failed to recognize a group of vehicles as a funeral procession when the group had no police escort, there was no permit issued by the traffic department of the Columbia police department, and the group was not following a hearse, but rather, driving to the funeral home. Jones v. Grissett, 186 S.E.2d 829 (S.C. 1972). Furthermore, a vehicle in a funeral procession is not exempt from following traffic-control signals and has no right-of-way to proceed through a red light. Nabors v. Spencer, 207 S.E.2d 79 (S.C. 1974).

    4. anon24*

      I have a comment in moderation linking to funeral procession laws, but I also wanted to re-comment and note that I misread your question in my original comment. I read way too fast and read it as you asking if it was right for the funeral procession to proceed through the red light, not for you to push through so the ones behind you could rejoin! You were correct! Don’t go through a red light against traffic! They really would have been mad if they were late for their funeral because you caused an accident and blocked the road!

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yes, I understand they want to stay together and may even be frazzled by being split up, but there’s no sense causing more funerals by having people play games in traffic.

      2. Charlotte Lucas*

        In my experience, the funeral director always gives the drivers instructions and explains what the local laws are.

    5. Good Boy Bubba*

      I’ve also found these funeral car lines to be weirdly aggressive. I was once at a blind turn in a neighborhood where it was very hard to see other cars coming. As I approached the turn, a Hearse drove by with a bunch of cars following. Seeing their lights blinking, I knew it was a Funeral line. I waited as these cars came, one right after the other around the blind corner, very quickly. When the line seemed to end, and no cars were coming right on top of each other, I waited a little longer before I went. Of course as soon as I made the turn, here comes at least two more blinking light cars that were with the funeral.

      Obviously, I didn’t mean to cut off the procession; I just couldn’t see these cars coming, and there was a big enough gap that I thought the line was done. The cars honked at me angrily, but I had nowhere to turn off. We only had to go a mile before we came to another intersection where I was planning to turn anyway, and the funeral cars behind me went straight across. So yeah, I concur with these funeral processions being frustrating and honking at everyone else who is just going about their lives.

    6. Annie Edison*

      Slightly borrowing your thread to ask- how are you supposed to know the rules about not cutting off a funeral procession? I don’t remember it being taught in drivers’ ed and I grew up in a mid-size suburb where those weren’t really done. I had no experience with one until my mid-twenties and living in a different state. I was very perplexed about why so many cars were just going right through an intersection without stopping. I knew it was a funeral procession but I didn’t know I was supposed to yield to them, and I was fresh out of grad school, broke, stressed, and late for work so eventually I just sort of… went. I can’t remember if people honked or just gave me dirty looks, and in retrospect I’m really embarrassed about cutting them off, I genuinely didn’t know what I was supposed to do. Is this one of those unspoken social norms everyone somehow knows, or did I miss a life lesson when learning how to drive?

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I think it’s a combination of having been to a lot of funerals, seeing it in action, and (if you’re lucky) having had it discussed ed in driver’s ed.

      2. Good Boy Bubba*

        I’m with you; etiquette for a funeral car line was never discussed in drivers Ed and I’ve never been part of one. The numbers of times I’ve seen one on the road can’t be more than 5. Wonder why it’s not taught in drivers ed. it would be nice to know.

        1. Random Bystander*

          I wonder when they stopped. I remember being taught that law when I was in driver’s ed, but that was 40-some years ago.

      3. Kayem*

        I was never taught about funeral procession laws in driver’s ed, so I have no idea. What I have noticed is that different places I’ve lived in have different cultures for people not in the funeral procession to behave on the road. Some places, traffic in the lane the procession is in will pull over and let them pass, same as ambulances. Some places it’s business as usual.

        Some places, drivers honk at the procession as a way of acknowledging it (which is startling when everyone around starts honking and I quickly spin my head around looking for whatever is barreling down at me). Where I am now, I found out the hard way that everyone pulls over, even oncoming traffic on a four lane divided highway. Which is terrifying at 80mph.

      4. Noodles*

        I remember learning about funeral processions when I was studying for my learner’s permit. It was in the book.

        1. Roland*

          It’s only going to be in the book if there’s laws about it. Doesn’t really help with convention in states where it’s not a law.

      5. fposte*

        I learned it from studying the rules of the road booklet. I’ve done that whenever I moved to a new state. If you haven’t done it, it’s worth doing, and most of us could stand to go back to it periodically, since changes happen.

      6. Hamster pants*

        Ooh that’s a good question. I’ve never really thought of it – I don’t think it was taught in drivers ed and when I actually did get my license (at age 30) it didn’t come up. I do however always feel nervous/paranoid that I may be cutting into a funeral procession. I live around a lot of cemeteries so it’s probably a good idea to learn the rules in my locality

      7. Lilo*

        I also don’t know how you’re magically supposed to know what’s going on if you drive up to an intersection with one already going or how you’re supposed to know when it ends. You can’t see if someone has their hazard lights on from the side.

        1. Random Bystander*

          Usually (and in some states, I think it is the law that there must be the flag on the car to be considered part of the procession), the funeral home will ask people as they are coming in if they intend to be part of the procession, and direct them where to park (already in the line), and while the funeral is going on, a little flag is suction-cup attached to the hood of the cars in the line.

    7. Ellis Bell*

      This is strange to me, that you would need special laws for a funeral cortege. In the UK there are no special laws at all, it’s etiquette to let as many funeral cars pass as humanely possible and to try not to interrupt them, but things like safety and access take priority, so funeral processions do get split up sometimes. Some funeral cars have little flags on the roof to help find each other and reunite the procession. Where I live, people will come out to their doorstep to watch a funeral procession pass if they know the person/know it’s happening and it’s common for routes to take in certain addresses for this purpose. I do remember my grandmother saying people were getting less polite and more impatient (she mentioned something about doffing caps), but I think that’s simply a natural result of a lot more cars (people mostly did not drive in her day) and a lot less caps.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        A key factor is how very very very car-centric the US is. Etiquette wouldn’t cover it – and clearly hasn’t – which is how different states ended up with different laws about it. These things are reactive, not proactive.

        Now, the issue with how much/little driver’s ed covers and how short most states’ driving tests are, leaving LOTS of room to pass the test but still be missing giant chunks of knowledge is a separate problem we have here.

    8. Mimmy*

      Well this is timely–my husband and I were part of a funeral procession a couple weeks ago and we were getting irritated that the line kept stopping, presumably because someone stopped at a red light or cut in front of the line. We thought it was the law that funeral processions have the right-of-way, but in reading this, it seems that there is some variation depending on the state.

    9. Lilo*

      I’ve seen a lot of really dangerous behavior from them and I think they’re terrible. Let’s honor the deceased by… risking the lives of other people? Awful. They’re not clearly marked enough to see from a distance and so you can’t anticipate them running lights or similar. If they had a police escort, sure, but most don’t.

      1. carcinization*

        I’ve never seen a funeral procession without a police escort (in fact that’s how I know a line of cars is one), so I guess that is a state by state variation as well!

    10. WellRed*

      We don’t all have GPS but even if we did, not sure how helpful that would be in a giant garden park cemetery. My dad didn’t even have WiFi back there when we buried him in 2016 though I think that’s improved. When my brother passed we did a small informal procession and had motorcycle cops for safety sake to do a last ride in the old neighborhood. We had a blast (as much as one can on such an occasion) and greatly appreciated the cops who made it safer for all and the drivers who took a minute to pull to the side.

    11. ranunculus*

      Former funeral service director here. Typically, in the states I have worked and lived in anyway, funeral processions get right of way. Cars in a funeral processions should keep their hazards on to indicate they are in the procession. Cars who are not in the procession should not cut into the procession, and should try to avoid cutting through the procession at intersections if possible/safe.
      In larger cities, especially if the procession will have to to busy roads or freeways, most funeral homes strongly recommend funeral escorts for the procession during arrangements. These are usually motorcycle escorts, but cars with police style flashing lights are sometimes used. We always used motorcycle escorts. One escort can typically handle 12 cars and so most funerals have at least 3 escorts. The escorts hand out the funeral car stickers you see on vehicles to procession members after the church service. One escort tries to stay with the front of the procession, one at the middle and one at the back. When an escort arrives at an intersection, and the light is green, the one at front will block the intersection so he hearse and all the cars can go through. The one in the middle speeds up to take the place of the one in the front, the one in back takes middle and the one blocking the intersection takes rear once all the cars have gone through the intersection. If the intersection is blocked, the cars can go through even if the light turns red. Basically if the escort is blocking the intersection the funeral procession does not have to follow the lights.
      Obviously, if the hearse arrives at the intersection during a red light it and the escorts and procession stop and the escorts wait until it turns green to block the intersection.
      Intersections are a highly stressful situation for hearse drivers, escorts and people in the procession which is why they are given right of way. Keeping a procession together requires constant vigilance, it’s a lot of different things to pay attention to. The escorts are typically retired police officers so they are good about doing their jobs safely but hearse drivers are just funeral service directors. Leading a procession is by far one of the most stressful parts of the job, at least it was for me. Please try to avoid cutting into processions or cutting them off if possible, they do have legal right of way in many U.S. jurisdictions!

      1. ranunculus*

        Oh and I guess I should say, it’s not usually a case of breaking a law or forcing others to break a law for a funeral procession to go through an intersection without stopping. Ideally you would have escorts blocking the intersection, and in some larger cities processions must stop at traffic lights or signs if they don’t have an escort. However, in many towns, processions do not need to stop at intersections if they are clear, with or without escorts, and only yield right of way to emergency vehicles.

      2. Swing Through The City*

        This is helpful information but are escorts common. With the exception of a political figure or service member/police officer, I’ve never seen an escort for “normal people”. The motorcycle set-up sounds ideal; they’re obvious and maneuverable. But it’s easy to overlook hazard lights and just wonder why are these cars are running red lights.

        1. ranunculus*

          In large cities, I think they’re pretty common, especially when there are a lot of freeways separating churches from cemeteries. I’d never seen them in the small town I grew up in; but funeral processions were always given right of way there, it was gone over in drivers ed and everyone understood that you pulled off or waited for a procession to go by if you weren’t part of it. I didn’t see escorts in Seattle a lot, but there’s only one major freeway there and it’s easy to avoid if you have to. I live in a large city in California now and it is pretty uncommon for a procession to not have escorts here. You can’t really avoid getting on the freeway here so it’s either hire escorts or don’t bother having a procession.

          1. ranunculus*

            But escorts aren’t required! Processions do still get legal right of way in most cases, regardless, so please give it to them!

            1. Swing Through The City*

              Googling my state laws in Virginia, funeral processions only have the right of way if they have a police escort. Considering none of the ones I’ve seen have had a police escort, then they weren’t entitled to run red lights and block intersections.

              1. Lilo*

                I checked my state laws and light running is illegal without a police escort. I live near a double divided highway relatively close to a cemetery and you have to understand – if I’m at an intersection I cannot see hazard lights or stickers from cars coming from the side. Especially if there are gaps in the procession you simply cannot tell where it ends.

                If you don’t have a police escort blocking intersections, do not run lights.

            2. Swing Through The City*

              (Submitted my comment when I was still writing) It makes sense to give the processions a little leeway but any interruptions of a processions I’ve been in or heard about were accidental with the procession getting aggressive with honking or driving on the shoulder. I get it’s emotional driving during funeral stuff (just two weekends ago I had to drive photos from my grandmothers funeral service to the restaurant where we were having a reception and was anxious because I got there later than I expected and everyone was already inside, so I was rushed and emotional) but the reactions seem extreme.

              1. ranunculus*

                You bring up an extremely good point. People leaving funerals are often incredibly emotional and sometimes even physically compromised. One of the escorts I used to drive with said their job was to make sure everyone got to graveside safely, because they couldn’t be relied on to get themselves there safely. Grieving people leaving a funeral are not the people you want on the road operating vehicles. But unless funeral practices or car culture drastically change, they are on the roads, and so the most practical reason to give funeral processions right of way is that they are basically very long lines of potentially unsafe drivers.

                1. Lilo*

                  I’m going to be harsh here, but if someone is so grieved they might be dangerous driving, they shouldn’t be driving at all. That’s what friends and less connected family are for. I personally drove my mother in law to my father in law’s funeral.

        2. Random Bystander*

          I know that there was a police escort when one of my nieces was killed, but that was in NYS and she was in high school at the time of her death, but other than her youth she was just “normal people”.

      3. FuneralProcessionsAreAwful*

        the funeral processions I’ve encountered are all going to the church (and as noted above the problems I’verun into are around parking at/near the church)…is it more normal the other way?

  9. beep beep*

    Anyone have tips for hanging slightly heavier things than posters in an apartment you don’t own? I have a smallish corkboard I moved with and adore, but it was previously mounted on some metal rivets and obvs we’re preferring not to put holes in the walls. Will like, four Command strips do or is there another solution not yet revealed to me?

    1. Blue wall*

      What’s the problem w putting holes in the wall? Is it against the lease or just personal preference?

      1. Filosofickle*

        Good question! I have put all sorts of nail/screw holes in every rental I’ve had (and passed on one that that didn’t allow it).

      2. beep beep*

        The lease is obnoxious about it, unfortunately- there’s a charge listed for them at move out. I suppose I could spackle them before we move out but that seems like one more layer of chaos for whenever that happens. Maybe I’ll give in and just put them up if I can’t find a better solution :P

        1. Chaordic One*

          You could be like that guy on the YouTube video. Instead of spackle he filled the holes with toothpaste. He didn’t get charged for the holes.

        2. Chaordic One*

          And another thing. This really bugs me because, more likely than not, the new tenant is probably going to want to hang something there anyway and will end up with the hassle of figuring out how to do it all over again from scratch.

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          What color are the walls?
          Because a small finishing nail hole, filled with spackle on a white or beige background, won’t be very noticeable. But against vivid purple would stand out more.

    2. Annie Edison*

      They make some heavy duty command strips that are rated for weightier objects- look on the packaging and it will tell you how many lbs it can hold up. I’ve used those successfully for framed pictures, corkboards, and even an inexpensive mirror.

      1. fueled by coffee*

        +1. Look for the “picture mounting” type of command strip, some of which are intended for frames up to 15 or 20 pounds

        But also, I’ve usually just put holes in apartment walls and spackled them before leaving (sometimes, landlords have even requested not filling in the holes, since nail holes are considered ‘ordinary wear and tear’ and they usually paint between tenants anyway)

      2. vulturestalker*

        A word of caution about this–I hung a heavy poster (15lbs) with four heavy-duty command strips (the velcro-y ones that are rated for quite a heavy weight). According to the packaging, four strips should have held easily, and they did for about four months. And then one night in the middle of the night I heard a crash–the poster had fallen off the wall and broken a chunk off my kitchen table. I hadn’t even noticed it was loose. Thank goodness nobody was in the way.

        Putting holes in the wall might be the way to go if you’re anywhere even close to the weight limit, unfortunately.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I had a place with molding around the ceiling with hooks that clipped on to hang heavier things. Picture wire from hook to item. I also put a nail in the wall in a place where the molding had space above it.

      A picture hook hole is easy to repair if it’s painted plasterboard… just make sure you use the right hardware so it doesn’t rip out because THAT is a mess.

      I’ve had too many Command strips fail to trust them fully.

    4. Peanut Hamper*

      I would urge you against Command strips if the thing is going to be on the wall for more than a few months. I’ve found that if you try to take Command strips off the wall if they’ve been up for more than a year, they will take some paint down with them, no matter how careful you are.

      If your walls are white, small holes made by nails or screws are easily filled with spackle or caulk and are invisible unless you know what you are looking for or they are exceptionally large.

      1. Maestra*

        If you warm up a command strip with a hair dryer before removing it, it should come off more easily and not cause paint damage. Just a tip!

        1. beep beep*

          Thank you both! I’m going to go hardware store hunting soon for both heavy duty strips and spackle to weigh up my options.

      1. amoeba*

        Yup, for lighter things those work great.

        Or just very thin nails, never had anybody complain about the max 1 mm holes!
        But also, spackle is super quick and easy, so wouldn’t really see any problem with that either. I hung my clothesracks on the wall on my last rental and filling those larger holes took, like, 10 mins, tops.

    5. Might Be Spam*

      Make sure your lease allows command strips. My landlord made sure I knew not to use them when I signed the lease.

  10. Ruth A*

    I’m looking for a new winter coat. Here is my problem: I’m a short woman, so I need petite clothes. However, my upper arms are apparently much larger around than clothing makers expect of short women, and I have very little range of motion (sometimes to the point of not being able to raise my arms as high as shoulder height) in the vast majority of coats I’ve tried on over the past few years. I’m not going to be doing major exercise or work in a coat, but I do want to be able to, say, get something off a shelf at the grocery store or get my groceries in and out of the car.

    Additional requirements: zippered (not buttons or snaps), machine washable, preferably no hood or a zip-off hood (but not a dealbreaker), water-resistant. I live in a not that cold place (it might get below freezing in the middle of the night, but not very often and not when I would be out and about), so it doesn’t need to be super heavy duty. I would not necessarily object to a men’s cut coat if there is such a thing as men’s jackets for very short people.

    Any suggestions?

    1. Rainy*

      So I don’t have a brand rec, but could you buy a coat that works for everything but length and then have it tailored to shorten it?

      1. Filosofickle*

        The problem with that is that petite doesn’t just mean overall hem length (in theory). It’s shorter in even dimension — shorter sleeves, shorter from shoulder to bust and bust to waist, etc. Everything is placed a bit differently, so the whole thing could need to be reworked.

        I have this problem as well. And what really bugs me is coats I’ve had for years that are too small now in other ways still fit in the arms. It’s not just me getting bigger, coat arms have gotten smaller! To save fabric? I don’t know. I used to be able to layer bulky sweaters under winter coats, now I can barely get a long sleeve t-shirt underneath so it’s a good thing I live in a warm climate now. My last winter coat that fits my arms is from Lands End, but it’s button-up.

        1. IntoTheSarchasm*

          It is possible to find a cape, very comfy and warm and looks like a long coat. Easier to alter if you can’t find a shorter one.

    2. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Since it’s not terribly cold where you are, have you considered a poncho? I’ve seen some (can’t remember where) that were nylon exterior and woolly or fleece interior.

    3. feline outerwear catalog*

      I have a similar issue but am also plus size. My current jacket is a men’s jacket I bought at a discount store and I don’t remember the brand.

      1. Ruth A*

        Any suggestions for specific things to try there? I’ve tried on a handful of coats from LL Bean and Lands’ End in multiple sizes over the last couple of years, and they’ve all been too tight around the arms.

        1. Healthcare Worker*

          Sometimes I order two sizes with a plan to return one. Perhaps a larger size would fit better in the arms, and you c ould tailor it to better fit your torso. Good luck!

    4. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      If you’re handy with a sewing machine (or know someone who is) or are willing to spend a bit more money on a tailor: putting in a gusset at the armpit should help!
      It’s what was traditionally done to give better range of motion in garments made from simple geometric shapes – because the human body is not exactly a simple geometric shape and with gussets (in various places btw) you could much better fit such a garment to a person’s actual body shape.

    5. Camelid coordinator*

      I am very cold-adapted, but I am wondering if you could get by with a down vest. When it feels cold outside to you you could pair it with a sweater. I have a nice LL Bean women’s petite vest with a slightly diagonal zipper that might work for you. (Search boundless puffer or just browse down vests) Good luck!

    6. Frinkfrink*

      If you’re willing to invest a little money in a coat made to your measurements, Ureshii’s Flight Jacket coat looks like it’ll hit your requirements. I’ve ordered other clothing, including a heavy coat, from them (though not this one), and had good results. They’re happy to talk to you about fit and fabric, in my experience.

      https://ureshiidesign.ca/flight-jacket/

    7. miel*

      Have you tried shopping the boys section?

      While the shoulders in boys clothes typically aren’t as wide as the men’s, they might fit your proportions better. Boys XL is roughly equivalent to women’s S.

      There are a lot of coats that are designed to go down to the thighs or knees, so you could also go up a size and embrace the length. (I realize the sleeves might still be a problem.)

      Alternatively, since it sounds like you don’t need a super heavy duty coat, you might experiment with layering a good fleece with a rain coat (assuming you can find these in your size!)

      1. Janne*

        I’d also recommend boys’ coats! My mom is short (1.60 m) with strong shoulders and upper arms, and she has multiple boys’ upper garments for winter (fleeces, hoodies, coats) mostly size 164 (12 year old boys size I think?). An advantage is that these are mostly way cheaper than women’s petite clothes, and quite sturdy.

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

      I sometimes luck out and find plus-size petite sizes for my figure (short and round).

    9. Squidhead*

      No one has suggested Duluth Trading Company or Carhartt yet, so if a work-wear style is okay they might have something?

      Also if it doesn’t really freeze where you live could you do with a heavy fleece? LLBean and Patagonia (and probably others) have a fleece with a knitted outside that looks more polished than plain fleece and is warmer. Not sure if there are specific styles that are water resistant (maybe add a raincoat or umbrella?) but it’s probably more flexible than a traditional coat. I think “womens” styles come in both hip-length and thigh-length, not sure about “mens” styles.

    10. Aisling*

      LL Bean! I’m a petite woman at 5’ 1”, and they e got petite winter coats. They aren’t the cheapest but they are WARM and I love them. They fit well without swallowing me up too.

    11. Meep*

      You could consider a raglan sleeve jacket instead of a set-in sleeve style. Raglan sleeves are common in ski jackets (outerwear in general) They offer a more generous fit and range of motion by creating a larger “sleeve head” that covers the entire shoulder up to the neck. It eliminates the tight upper armhole and subsequently has a more open sleeve. You should be able to hit your other markers if you filter by “raglan” when you shop online at your fav shops.

  11. Hamster pants*

    Any TV shows in your lifetime that you got into long after it ended?

    For me it was the Office a few years back. Last weekend I ran across a mini marathon of Parks & rec and loved it. Once I finish up Malcolm in the middle that’s on my list to watch. (BC will always be Hal to me!

    1. Jay*

      Bojack Horseman.
      For YEARS I was under the impression that it was some imbecilic knock of of the life of Bo Jackson.

      30 Rock.
      I genuinely believed, until the mid-to-late twenty-teens that this was in some way related to 3’rd Rock From The Sun (or 3’rd Rock, as everyone I knew always called it). I HATED that show and assumed 30 Rock was some sort of sequel.

        1. RagingADHD*

          No. 3rd Rock From the Sun is about aliens pretending to be a suburban family to study humans.

          30 Rock is about TV executives at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York, and the show they are producing.

        1. Jay*

          That’s one I wish I had figured out so much sooner.
          30 Rock is one of the great all time classics, hilarious and with one of the great casts of TV history.
          3’rd Rock was half-way decent for its time, has a few okay quotes and memes, but it didn’t age well and I just always found it much more cringe than funny.

        2. fhqwhgads*

          30 Rock = shorthand for address of 30 Rockafeller Center aka NBC building aka sitcom about a fictional SNL-esque show
          3rd Rock = 3rd Rock from the Sun aka Earth aka sitcom about aliens

    2. Amy Gee*

      I don’t usually like medical shows, but I binge watched the show House just a few months ago. I really enjoyed it and was sad when it was over.

      1. Just here for the scripts*

        NCIS
        Castle
        Fringe
        The thin man movie series
        The inspector Morse series and the sequels inspector Lewis and Endeavor
        Abbott elementary
        Ghosts (and rumor has it that the bbc one will air in CBS in conjunction with the American one this fall)

        1. The OG Sleepless*

          We just watched Fringe this spring! It was really fun and just the kind of thing we like. We have no idea how we missed it before.

    3. Kayem*

      I’m getting my partner into a bunch of older shows (most that I’ve already seen but not since they’ve aired). We did all the shows that started with “Star” (many, many of those), and are now on Pushing Daisies. I wasn’t sure they’d like it, but it’s apparently a huge hit. I’m going to suggest Dead Like Me next, which I was watching right when we first met but before we started dating.

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        Oooh, yes to Pushing Daisies and Dead Like Me. And another Bryan Fuller series, his first – Wonderfalls. Thanks to Netflix, or would never have known about them.

    4. The Prettiest Curse*

      I’m currently working my way through The Wire, which waa not shown at all on British TV during its original run (fewer channels back then.) So much great acting in that show, even the small roles.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          We’re almost at the same point! (I’m nearly at the end of season 3.) The weirdest thing about season 3 for me is seeing Aidan Gillen play an American, since I haven’t really seen him do that before.

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, I know. And his character Carcetti’s just about as slimy as Littlefinger was in GoT…

            That said, I failed to flag Dominic West as British, too. Granted, I haven’t seen him in anything else.

    5. Aphrodite*

      I accidentally discovered TIL DEBT DO US PART about eight months ago. It was a Canadian show that aired, I think, between 2006 and 2011 (or thereabouts). Very interesting and even educational! I want to read her books but my library doesn’t have them and can’t order them. Amazon prices them quite high but I did check ABE and found much more reasonably priced ones there.

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      So many! I vaguely remember seeing Buffy a few times while it was airing but didn’t watch the whole series with intention until maybe 10 years ago? I first watched (and loved) Schitt’s Creek during the pandemic after assuming for years that it was bad because the scenes I was always seeing people reference weren’t very funny.

    7. Meet Moot*

      Didn’t start on The Mandalorian until way after the first two seasons. I thought Baby Yoda would be the dumbest thing out but I totally get it. They also didn’t rave about the soundtrack anywhere near as much as they should have.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I bounced off it the first two times I tried to watch it because of all the hype about baby yoda. I still don’t get the excitement about the character, but I did really like the show when I finally got into it.

    8. Maxine*

      White Collar! My best friend loved it as it was airing but I never seemed to catch it when it was showing – except for one episode, the season 1 finale. I was like “no way I wanna spend time on that!” Then years later it was on a steaming service I had so I figured I could give it another chance. Readers, I binged it, I binged it with my brother, I binged it with my parents, I just loved it! Especially the actor’s facial expressions, I could rewind 5 seconds over and over again, multiple times an episode! (The reason why I had to binge alone the first time lol)

    9. English Rose*

      Buffy. I became a total geek about five years after it ended. I have a box set of all the DVDs, and some of the follow-up comic books. I rewatch the whole series every other year or so.

    10. BayouBoogaloo*

      Oh yes, there are!!!
      Friends, The Office, Parks & Rec, New Girl, Breaking Bad, Dexter, Sons of Anarchy, Brooklyn 99, Ugly Betty (currently watching) — all of these are my favorites and im so glad i could binge watch them instead of only once a week in prime time.

      1. Doc McCracken*

        I caught Seinfeld on reruns. I was a little young for it when it originally aired. That show still holds up well for me. Buffy and Angel were other shows my husband got me into later. If you’re looking for another good one that is on streaming services but unfortunately only lasted 1 season, look up Kitchen Confidential. Amazing Cast (Bradley Cooper anyone?) and really really funny.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      So many because I never had cable. I’d seen a few episodes of Stargate and loved them so my husband got me the boxed set. Had a delay finishing because my then 8yo was getting nightmares even from just the sound effects (small house).

      I got some Tom Baker Dr Who for Christmas and we are working our way through all the ones our library owns. (The teen is torn between Tenant and Smith…. I used to say my heart will always belong to my first Doctor aks Tom Baker– but I am being seduced by Peter Capaldi.)

        1. SarahKay*

          I have a t-shirt with an image of the Tardis, plus the caption “You Never Forget Your First Doctor”. When wearing it, I’ll get this thing in shops where someone will randomly say to me the name of an actor who has played the Doctor, and I look blankly at them for about five seconds before remembering my t-shirt.
          And while my first doctor is Tom Baker, my favourite is probably Sylvester McCoy.

      1. allathian*

        My favorite Doctor is Christopher Eccleston, and I’m still a bit sad that he only wanted/got one season.

        1. Chaordic One*

          My first doctor was Jon Pertwee, but I really love Tom Baker and for many years he was my favorite doctor until Chris Eccleston was cast in the part. In many ways Chris seemed like he was channeling Tom Baker, but at the same time he brought a (dare I say) smoldering sexiness to the role that allowed him to replace Tom as my new favorite doctor. Since Dr. Who was off the air for several years, Chris’ performance was critical in relaunching the franchise. If they had miscast the role, the whole franchise might have only lasted for a year, but he nailed the part and paved the way for the doctors (and the spin-off programs) that followed.

          Like you I was disappointed that he only stayed on the show for a year. Moreover, after leaving the show, he played several roles where the characters were older and kind of dumpy and not at all like my sexy doctor. That said, I understand actors wanting to play other kinds of parts and roles and that also, sometimes they can’t be too picky about what parts they are offered and that they sometimes have to take what they can get. However, in the last few years he’s played some parts where the characters had some of that old sexiness that Chris brought to his doctor role.

    12. Seal*

      The Good Place. I read all the hype when it was on but never got around to watching. Finally binged it earlier this year and loved it.

    13. the cat's ass*

      I was a year late to the wonderful party that was Ted Lasso. Glad i finally saw it though, it’s one of the best series out there.

      1. JulieA*

        Same! I’m also looking forward to the relaunch of “Frazier” in October – I hope it’s just as delightful as the original.

        1. somehow*

          Thanks, JulieA! I forgot about that. :)

          Too bad John Mahoney, may he RIP, won’t be a part of it. I also heard David Hyde Peirce won’t be, either. :(

          But I’ll still watch, and can’t wait!

    14. Lil Bee*

      I watched “Emergency!” during my high school and college days. About a year ago I discovered the reruns and watch every evening. For a 50-year old show, it’s still quite entertaining and even used in paramedic training today. And it changed emergency medicine for the future.

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

        Oh, I love re-watching almost anything from my childhood in the 70s — SO well done, most of them, and very relaxing. I find the pace of a lot of TV these days a bit stressful.

      2. AlexandrinaVictoria*

        Me too, though it does freak me out how many body fluids they come into contact with without wearing gloves!

    15. Llellayena*

      Babylon 5! I was indoctrinated during my college years by someone who did watch it when it was out, but it was well off screen (and not even in reruns) by the time I saw it. I did eventually buy my own copy…

    16. Trina*

      My roommate introduced me to The Pretender well over a decade after it went off the air, and it held up pretty well, I think! Looks like it’s on Prime, so I might have to do a rewatch sometime soon.

    17. Chaordic One*

      There’s an old English show called “The Prisoner” that has elements that are just weird, but that holds up pretty well and that I think others would enjoy. I also enjoyed “The Avengers” (with Diana Rigg) athough that does seem a bit dated now.

    18. mreasy*

      We watched Lost the first year of lockdown! I did end up loving it, despite (okay, because of) it’s increasing absurdity.

    19. SarahKay*

      Agents of SHIELD.
      There was an Agents of SHIELD / Avengers fanfic based on the AskAManager story of an awful date at a Christmas party. I read that mid-2020, then later in the year read all the rest of the author’s Agents of SHIELD fanfic, and thus onto the actual original TV series, just about as it was ending, plus the Avengers films. I’d seen Iron Man (1, 2 & 3) but not any of the other MCU films.

      For those who want to know, for the fanfic: search for “You’re Where You Should Be All the Time” by Laura Kaye. For the original AAM story: seach for “the best office holiday party date story of all time” which was first shared on December 5th 2019.

  12. Lost Cat*

    Thank you so much to the folks who weighed in with tips on finding a lost cat while I was pet-sitting last weekend! I read through and tried as many suggestions as I could in the time I had

    A few folks asked for an update on kitty so if you’d like to read the conclusion of the saga… I spent several hours searching through every corner of their house and every cabinet. Facebook posts were made, and I left food and her bed out by the door and watched for a few hours each evening, in addition to spending some time wandering through the neighborhood on the (very slight) chance I could spot her somewhere.

    My friends returned early this week and searched the whole house again and were getting ready to put up fliers in the neighborhood when they heard a familiar meow… and there was the kitty coming down the stairs as if nothing had happened!

    We are still unsure where she was hiding since we’d both search the entire house multiple times, or how she managed to not make a peep any of the four nights I was over to feed the other cat, but mostly just relieved she is safe

    The moral of the story is: cats are insanely good at hide and seek, and sometimes they just need their familiar people back home to feel safe again.

    1. Cat and dog fosterer*

      Too funny!!!

      I would have thought that you’d know if the cat was still indoors if it ate food, but the presence of another cat answers that. I would have almost been tempted to put the other cat in a washroom or bedroom overnight just to see if food was eaten. But it doesn’t really matter for you because it all worked out. What a great update, thanks!

    2. Sloanicota*

      Glad it worked out! I am a cat fosterer and it’s not uncommon for people on our list serve to be in a panic that the cat is missing although they’re nearly sure it didn’t get outside. Very often, the cat ends up having been inside an item of furniture (couch, bed, padded chair), having pulled away the protective fabric on the underside.

      1. Annie Edison*

        Yes! my friend told me the cats had clawed up the fabric under the box spring and like to hide there sometimes so I was literally on the floor under beds searching with flashlights! (slightly awkward as they are relatively new acquaintances, but I guess now I know a lot more about their home organization systems!)

        Our only clue to her possible whereabouts is a mysteriously broken child lock on a cabinet that definitely wasn’t broken when they left, but even that doesn’t really answer it because a) I’d peeked into all the cabinets (though she could have been hiding in a back corner of this one) and b) they are very tough child locks. Perhaps she’s secretly a superhero?? The world may never know

      2. Samwise*

        Yep. Friend was sure cat had escaped outside. 7 or 8 of us took that apartment apart. After several hours — found Miss Puss when we unscrewed the back of a dresser…

        My son had a pet snake that disappeared for a month. One day he encountered it coming up the stairs. And yes, he became scrupulous about closing and weighting the lid on the tank.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Oh reptiles are *notorious* for this. And because they can go so long without food, they can turn up months later, seemingly none the worse for wear!

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m so glad you found her! Literally every time I’ve thought a cat might have gotten out, they were still inside somewhere and just casually saunter out at some point. I still don’t know where all the hiding places are, and they can make themselves much smaller than you’d think.

      1. Jackalope*

        So echoing this sentiment! Our solution for “finding” them (ie having them reveal themselves) is to open a can of tuna. They usually choose to come out at that point.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        A childhood friend’s cat like to investigate kitchen appliances and often got into dangerous places. Under a refrigerator. Behind the oven.

      3. Forrest Rhodes*

        And the key words there are “casually sauntering.”
        One day my indoor cat disappeared, and I knew he couldn’t get out of the house.

        I looked high, low, over, around, through, in between … no cat.

        Called in reinforcements. The search party eventually included the family, the neighbors, strangers passing on the street, a local psychic, the Boy Scouts, a marching band, heck, even the Coast Guard … no cat.

        At the height of the search, said cat strolls in, glances at the assembled crowd, yawns, “Oh, we have company? That’s nice. When’s my dinner?”

        No, I didn’t commit cat-icide—but I thought about it!

    4. GoryDetails*

      So glad the cat’s safe – and now everyone has a cool cat-anecdote! (I recall one of mine, a surprisingly-adept escape-artist; I was living in an apartment then, and one day got a knock on the door from the person who lived upstairs. Turns out my cat had climbed up the inside of a closet and found a gap into the upstairs apartment’s equivalent space; imagine their surprise at having a strange cat materialize out of nowhere…)

      1. Sloanicota*

        I once lost a big pet rat and it turns out there are waaay more ways to get into the walls than I ever realized. The underside of cabinets, the insides of appliances, grates/shafts/access spaces … luckily, my rat decided to come back on her own.

        1. Annie Edison*

          Oh my gosh one of my rattie girls got out of her playpen once. Luckily she didn’t get far, but she just about gave me a heart attack when I realized she was out.

          The heart attack only got worse when I realized where she’d gotten to- she’d casually wandered across the kitchen floor and was enjoying a nice snack from the dog’s food bowl, while making perplexed eye contact with our mini aussie. I’m not sure who was more confused- the dog, who could not for the life of her figure out what this tiny furry creature was doing stealing her food, or the rat, who couldn’t figure out what on earth to make of the giant furry creature looking back at her. The rat in question was not very brave, but also not very bright, so she’d regularly just sort of bulldoze her way into all sorts of dangerous spots.

          I still feel so lucky that the dog viewed the rat as a confusing mystery to be solved rather than prey to be chased, and that I realized the rat was out quickly enough to grab her back before anything else happened.

          Needless to say, their playpen got reinforced and the dog is never allowed out of the bedroom during rat playtime anymore, just to be safe.

        2. Cat and dog fosterer*

          As a kid I had a hamster and my one parent wasn’t thrilled so when it escaped one day I was worried that parent might force me to never have one again if they found out. In the end I put the cage down in the basement before my bedtime and the next morning woke up to find that it was curled up happily in her nest.

          1. Sloanicota*

            Yep, this is how mine came back too :D Turns out a nice clean crate with plentiful food and water is more appealing than the inside of walls.

    5. Generic Name*

      Ha, thanks for the update! When I read it, I thought to myself, “I bet the cat is hiding somewhere”. I have a cat that is great at hiding, and she hid the last time we had a pet sitter and freaked the poor woman out.

    6. Cordelia*

      I’m so glad to hear this!
      Our family cat once freaked at a loud noise (someone dropped a tray of cutlery!) and shot out of the kitchen – definitely still in the house as all doors were closed, but we couldn’t find him anywhere. Until a few hours later when he climbed out of the piano, he had somehow got in and up underneath the keys.

      1. OyHiOh*

        Being the offspring of a piano tuner/technician, who gre up seeing many a piano action disassembled and eventually re installed – impressive skill in the part of your dear kitty!

    7. Seal*

      When I moved into my new house my cats hid in the unfinished basement behind the dryer for a few days. They came out at night for food but were otherwise freaked out by the whole thing. I checked on them every so often to make sure they were still there. One day I couldn’t find one of them although I was sure they were all still in the house. After an exhaustive search I found her stuffed up in the rafters of the basement looking very uncomfortable. She must have jumped from the washer to a set of shelves to the rafter. Great hiding spot though, as she’s gray and tan and blended into the rafters. I had been looking behind and under furniture and appliances and closets and only happened spot her by chance.

    8. There You Are*

      That happened to me when I was cat-sitting for my next-door neighbor while she was in Alaska.

      Her youngest, Ragnar, disappeared. I turned the house upside-down. Like, flipped the couch onto its back, pulled things out of cabinets, crawled through every room on hands and knees, and had my tall then-BF examine everything in the house above my head height.

      Then-BF left and I sat on her coffee table (it was mine first, so I know it’s made of solid wood) and started crying. Eventually I ran out of tears and just… sat there… too worn out and stressed to get up and go home, and too scared to text my neighbor and tell her that her not-even-one-year-old cat was gone or dead.

      And that $%#&! little cat came strolling out from the hallway, sauntered across the living room floor in front of me, and went straight to his food bowl in the kitchen, like I wasn’t even there.

      I cried again, but this time in relief.

  13. Annie Edison*

    Reading thread! What books are you reading and enjoying this week?

    I just finished Chain Gang All Stars, which was deeply disturbing and breathtaking all at once. I actually held my breath for the final few pages.

    I’m now on to We are All the Same in the Dark for a book club I’ve just joined and I… can’t quite get into it? It’s sort of an atmospheric thriller/mystery. Folks who usually read this genre- what draws you to it, and what do you enjoy about it? I’m curious because sometimes understanding what other people love about something helps me develop a greater appreciation for it

    1. Jay*

      I am re-reading The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher in preparation for reading the new novella in the series, Warriorborn, and the soon to be released sequel. I forgot how much I liked this book!

    2. GoryDetails*

      The Hungry Earth by Nicholas Kaufmann, a horror tale of a small town infested with mind-altering fungus; it’s not *badly* written but is on the trashier side. (Feels a lot like the screenplay of a grisly horror movie.)

      The Wall by John Lanchester is very well-written indeed, set in a dystopian future where rising ocean levels and other climate change have devastated the planet – but where at least one country survives, protected from desperate “Others” by a huge wall. The protagonist is one of those doing a mandatory term as a Defender, so we see all this through the eyes of a rather bored and aimless young man.

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      Just starting my reread of Late Victorian Gothic Tales, one of my favorites this time of year. It includes the fantastic novella The Great God Pan, and every time I read it I get the summer day shivers all over again.

      Also, just received (like, as I was heading out to work) the Stephen Fry ancient Greece trilogy Heros, Myths, and Troy. Can’t wait to start reading it!

    4. Nana*

      If you like the Estee Lauder book, try to find the one about Helena Rubenstein (they were big rivals). HR was quite a character…and lived to be 90+

      1. Nana*

        Wrote the above and then realized I could Google her…A lifelong advocate for healthy living and self-care, one of the richest and most philanthropic women, Rubinstein died in New York City on April 1, 1965, at age 94. A year later, her autobiography, My Life for Beauty, was published.

    5. Pamela Adams*

      I just got a new anthology, Never Whistle at Night, a collection of Indigenous dark fiction. The three stories I’ve read so far are amazing.

    6. Julie*

      I just finished reading The Teachers by Alexandra Robbins. She followed three teachers in different schools in the U.S. and talked to many more. It will make you wonder why anyone still wants to teach any more, but you’ll also admire the teachers’ dedication and determination. Well worth reading.

    7. Jackalope*

      I’m working on the Clocktaur Boys series by T Kingfisher. I read book one and most of book two on a plane this week and am now waiting for a chunk of time to finish it. I’ve loved it so far; she has such a fun and unique writing style that I’m really enjoying.

    8. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m listening to the audiobook of “What If It’s Us” by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera. It’s very cute, similar vibe to the characters in “They Both Die at the End” but, well, no death (I hope).

      Also reading the illustrated edition of “Neverwhere” because I’m on a Neil Gaiman kick and I don’t remember much from the first time I read it aside from thinking it was good.

    9. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I just finished Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen, which is very well written, but also a slog. I didn’t always have patience for the religious guilt characters were immersed in at every page, which slowed me down.

      I’ve now started All The Missing Girls by Megan Miranda, hoping for a faster pace read as well as some food for thought for the novel I’m plotting (a protagonist returning to her hometown where a disappearance took place years ago is the main theme, so I’m looking for similar books to read).

    10. Lemonwhirl*

      I read “Holly” by Stephen King, which I very much enjoyed.

      Now I’m reading “The Stranger Upstairs” by Lisa M. Matlin. It’s okay – a little bit uneven and a lot of “buried past” stuff that’s not surfacing quite fast enough to hold my attention.

      I had a long car journey last weekend and listened to “The Rachel Incident” by Caroline O’Donoghue. I really loved it, and the narrator was perfect.

    11. I take tea*

      I just read A Natural History of Dragons, that I have seen recommended here. The premise of “I’m old now and have no more fucks to give, and here is my story of how I got here” was really enjoyable. The small girl dissecting a dove turnes into a dragon scholar in a very believable way. I liked it a lot and was happy to see it has sequels. I just requested the next one from the library.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        There’s five, and they just keep getting better! I blew through the whole series in a day and a half when I first read them on vacation.

        1. word nerd*

          Did you know there’s a sixth book? Turning Darkness into Light, an espistolary novel focusing on her granddaughter. I didn’t enjoy it as much as the regular series, but if you’re hankering after more books written in that world, there’s that.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I’m really hit or miss on a lot of epistolary fiction, but good to know, and I will see if I can find it!

    12. Hlao-roo*

      For thriller/mystery books, what draws me in/keeps me reading is usually one of two things. For lighter thriller/mystery book, I read to figure out whodunit or to learn what all the twists in the plot are.

      For more atmospheric thriller/mystery books, I read them for, well, the atmosphere. I read them when I’m in the mood for a plodding sense of dread and unease. I also like to read them in the high heat of the summer so the “chills up me spine” can cool me down a bit. Sometimes I’ll read them in the fall/winter ad well so I can experience the same crisp air and early sunsets as the characters.

    13. Loopy*

      I just finished the second book in the Crescent City series by Sarah J Maas, and I loved it. I’d never declare it’s the best writing or anything but as far as being really invested in the characters, I was hooked and it was enjoyable.

      Now I’m in book hangover stage where it’s hard to get into another series, my mind is still in that world. It’s been a long time since I had this problem. Any tips from other readers who binge read series is welcome! I’m planning on tackling the Throne of Glass series but just not inclined to pick up another book yet :(

      This… Is a thing other people experience right?!

      1. Jackalope*

        I’ve had that experience before too. I usually try one of two things: either I do something completely different (go play video games for awhile, for example), or I try to read a completely different kind of book, say if I just finished a fantasy series I go read a nonfiction book about the sociology of Unions or something. I find that something completely different can serve as a good palate-cleanser, as it were.

    14. SkooterTheTimeTheydy*

      Currently reading The Hatching, which is about a spider apocalypse so we’ll see if this reignites some arachnophobia. I just finished two books that are going on my to-buy list. Zombabe, which is about a group of teenagers in a small town who raise their friend from the dead and feed him bigots while figuring out how to keep him from needing flesh to survive indefinitely. The other book is Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune, which is about a young woman who returns to her home town and must try to repair the relationships in her neighbourhood, with a touch of magic food, if she wants her restaurant to succeed

      1. GoryDetails*

        If that’s Ezekiel Boone’s “The Hatching,” I rather liked it – cheesy in places, but fun. There’s a sequel, “Skitter,” which I picked up largely because I just love that title {grin}. (There’s a third book, “Zero Day,” but I haven’t read that one yet.)

    15. Frustrated and angry and struggling*

      I could not finish the All The Same in the Dark novel – I could NOT get into it.

      However.

      I’d really like someone to explain to me what happened, so if YOU finish it, please come back and sate my curiosity!!

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I go on Wikipedia or Goodreads for books like that–I don’t want to keep reading but I do want to know how it turns out!

    16. Mitchell Hundred*

      I read “Yon & Mu”, by Junji Ito. Sort of a short diary comic about abruptly becoming the owner of two cats after getting engaged. It’s funny, because I read this shortly after reading his longer work “Uzumaki”, which is a much more conventional (for his style) horror comic. It was weird to see him apply that kind of worldview to something so pedestrian, but I liked it a lot.

    17. PhyllisB*

      This is not about a book per say, but I wrote a review on Goodreads (Peg and Rose Get in Trouble by Laurien Bernstein for interested parties) and the author liked it!! To me that’s quite an honor when you think about how many reviews are posted on Goodreads.

    18. mreasy*

      I just finished Fight Night by Miriam Toews. Brilliant like she always is, but one of my favorites of hers. Beautifully written and devastating in its way, with a main character I think I will think about for years.

    19. Voluptuousfire*

      Rereading Prime by Poppy Z. Brite.

      To add into Alison’s book recommendation, Park Avenue Summer by Renee Rosen is great as well. It’s historical fiction about Helen Gurley Brown, the editor of Cosmo.

    20. word nerd*

      Want to say thanks to whoever mentioned Dan Stevens (from Downton Abbey) as an excellent narrator of audiobooks. I enjoyed his narration of Casino Royale recently. Haven’t read any other Bond books, but I guess this was the first one written and it was interesting to see Bond’s character before he fully developed into his regular pattern. Still really sexist though!

      It’s funny, I loved She Who Became the Sun when I read it a couple months ago and eagerly awaited the sequel, but I cannot get into He Who Drowned the World at all. I gave up at a quarter of the way through, and I can’t tell if it’s me just not being in the right mood or the book or what.

    21. the cat's ass*

      Just finished Jon Scalzi’s “Starter Villain” which was just the sort of silly the NP ordered-profane dolphins, sentient cats with keyboards, and a clueless but engaging protagonist.

    22. Just here for the scripts*

      Everything for me is character based. If I like the characters I’ll follow them anywhere! Nifty use of language is another key thing—I read a lot of audio books so if the language catches my attention, makes me laugh, or makes me hit replay to hear it again, it’s a real bonus!

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

      Finished up E.F. Benson’s *Worshipful Lucia* and on to *Lucia in Trouble*. I also finished *A Visit from the Goon Squad* earlier in the week. I liked it somewhat better by the time I had finished it. Not sure I’ll read the sequel, but maybe.

    24. Bluebell*

      I just finished Eddie Ndopu’s sipping Dom Perignon through a Straw, which tells of his experience as a disabled student activist at Oxford. Fairly short, and I thought he really gave good insights on living in a world geared to “uprights” as he calls them. Two Nights in Lisbon by Chris Pavone was a good page turner for a long plane ride. And I also finished Prom Mom by Laura Lippman, which I enjoyed.

    25. Dreaming Koala*

      Just recently finished “Lessons in Chemistry” by Bonnie Garmus, and absolutely loved it: very inspiring characters and a marvelous story.

    26. PastorJen*

      I’m reading “The Last Devil to Die,” the most recent volume in Richard Osman’s Thursday Murder Club series. I loved the first three so much I pre-ordered this on Kindle and it was delivered on Tuesday. I’m loving it so far.

    27. Ali + Nino*

      On the topic of atmospheric thriller, I just read I’m Thinking of Ending Things (I believe on recommendations here!) and enjoy 95% of the book – excellent pacing, creepy details, a growing sense of dread! – and THEN the ending. I was so mad I wanted to throw the book across the room. (Anyone else feel similarly?)

      I’m still slogging through two non-fiction books: 1) Scarcity and 2) Do No Harm (a brain surgeon reflects on his career; chapters are sort of vignettes on specific cases).

    28. YouwantmetodoWHAT?! *

      I’m binging on the October Daye books by Seanan McGuire. I’m on book 5.

      Before that I read read all the Tea Princess series by Casey Blair. Unfortunate series name, excellent books – beautifully written.

    29. Falling Diphthong*

      Reading The Last Devil to Die, the latest Thursday Murder Club. As delightful as the other outings.

    30. vombatus ursinus*

      I’m on a fantasy kick. I just started reading ‘White Cat, Black Dog’ by Kelly Link. It’s a collection of short stories inspired by or otherwise linked to fairy tales, and it’s AMAZING so far. I sped through the first four stories and then made myself put it aside so I wouldn’t finish the whole thing in one afternoon.

      Yesterday I finished ‘The Mermaid of Black Conch’ by Monique Roffey — it’s about an Indigenous mermaid who is caught by fishermen and brought to a small Caribbean island. It was quite short but really poetic and bittersweet.

      I also recently finished ‘Hell Bent’ by Leigh Bardugo, sequel to ‘Ninth House’ — I found it fine but not nearly as gripping or satisfying in its resolution as Ninth House was.

      Finally, I’ve been re-reading Samantha Irby’s essay collections before I go to bed — commenters who suggested reading non-fiction so I don’t get caught up in plot and read all night were on the right track :)

  14. Opinion Poll*

    I need a second opinion – is it rude not to answer the door if you are obviously home (car in the driveway, television on and probably visible through the window) if you are not in a state to receive visitors? Say I’m in my PJs, perhaps not wearing a bra, watching TV after the shower with wet hair. It’s night time. There’s a knock on the door. Me, I simply would not answer. I’m not going to run upstairs and change. Yes, it might be a kindly neighbor dropping something off, but unfortunately it’s not a good time for me. If someone needs help, I assume they’d call for help, or if it’s the police they’d say so. Right??

    1. Annie Edison*

      I’d feel totally fine not answering in this situation too- I always figure even if I’m obviously home, the knocking person has no way of knowing if I’m in the shower, or using the restroom, or just in a different part of the house and didn’t hear the knock so I’m in the clear to not open, and if it’s really important they can leave a note on my door or call.

      I’m curious what others will say though and am wondering if there might be a generational divide with some of the answers? I feel like with older generations who were adults pre-cell phone days, it was more common to have neighbors or other visitors dropping by unannounced and they’d be more used to opening the door regardless.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Am early Gen X — dropins after dark were emergencies or preceded by a quick phone call.

        I shut my blinds or curtains compulsively at dark.

        1. somehow*

          Same. Early Gen Xer and currently watch way too much true crime to answer a knock at my door at night that I’m not expecting.

          Funnily enough, no one I know or live next to has ever said, “I knocked on your door [last] night.”

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      It is absolutely not rude! In fact, it can be much safer not to answer an unexpected knock at the door.

      If you had a butler, they could say that you are Not At Home. That doesn’t mean you’re not there, just that you aren’t receiving visitors.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        FYI – I am solidly GenX, and this question makes me think of the old “Phone First” ads.

        When I was growing up, it seemed like unannounced visitors during the day were more likely to get the door opened (they were often kids looking for the other kids or a neighbor or the mail carrier), but not early morning or evening/night time knocks. It felt very similar to the fact that you didn’t get phone calls outside of certain hours unless it was an emergency or prearranged (like long distance or someone who worked odd hours).

    3. WellRed*

      I once got locked out of my house AFTER the housemates and I returned from celebrating my birthday. They were all home and all had a policy of not answering the door if they weren’t expecting anyone. This was in the barely cell phone era. Typing this, I’m still annoyed ; )

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        If there’s any chance the knocker might be someone who lives with you, definitely do your due diligence!

    4. GoryDetails*

      I’d say it isn’t rude to ignore unexpected knocking-at-the-door even if you *are* in a state to receive visitors – though sometimes it might be quicker to crack the door, mutter “not interested”, and close the door again. [I live in a state prone to lots of door-to-door campaigners every election year. Sigh. A “no campaigners or solicitors” sign helps a little, but still…]

      But if your question has to do with a particular friend/relative who thinks it is rude, you may need to have a discussion with them that does not involve what the commentariat said {wry grin}. Maybe come up with a special knock for friends-and-family, for emergency use only?

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        ^^^^This. We don’t answer the door unless we’re expecting someone, no matter our state of dress. In our area it’s almost always “salespeople” (some of whom work for documented scams like magazine subscriptions, repair scams, or fake charities); our neighbors will usually text me if they have a question, or come over while I’m outside. On the occasions where we get each others’ mail, we just leave it in the mailbox. We both work from home, and there are a lot of times during the day that we’re both in meetings.

    5. anon24*

      I usually go look through my peephole, and I may throw a hoodie on to cover the fact that I’m not wearing a bra and then open up, but I have no shame. But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with not answering the door! You’re an adult, and you get to decide whether or not you are receiving visitors!

      Anecdotal story here, once I was the person knocking on a door late at night. I like to rollerblade after dark sometimes, and one night I was out pretty late when I went past an apartment building and realized there was a small fire on the second floor balcony. Because I had my rollerblades on I couldn’t get up the stairs quickly to get to that apartment, so I went to the downstairs apartment and knocked pretty urgently on the door. When the resident very hesitantly opened up I told them what was going on and asked them to go upstairs to notify the resident and get a fire extinguisher. After the excitement calmed down and the fire department cleared everything, I thanked them for opened the door for a random stranger late at night and admitted that I had been a little worried about my own safety banging on someone’s door that late.

      1. Nicosloanica*

        Ironically, I just knocked on someone’s door this week, and they kindly answered! I was walking and my dog needed water. It was unexpected as it hadn’t been that hot when we set out, and I hadn’t planned to walk as far as we ended up walking (got lost). However, this was during the day, when I’m personally way more likely to answer the door myself. At night I’m less likely to do so.

    6. Peanut Hamper*

      I read somewhere that you should always put on a jacket before you answer the door. If it’s someone you don’t want to see, you can say “Sorry, just on my way out to run some errands.” If it’s someone you do want to say, you can say “Oh, perfect timing! I just got home. Let me take my jacket off and come on in.”

      1. Zephy*

        I imagine that ruse only works if you’re wearing regular/”outside” clothes under said jacket. If you’re in PJs with wet hair, it may not quite land.

    7. fposte*

      Not at all rude. It’s your time and your home and you are the boss of both. In my lifetime we’ve all evolved to this on ringing phones and the same is true for ringing doorbells.

      I gave big front windows and a window in my door so sometimes I just show myself in the window and shake my head; I’m not always up for a steely ignoring of somebody who can actually see I’m there. (Though sometimes I just hang out in the back till they go, too.)

    8. Squidhead*

      The UPS driver is the most common ringer of our doorbell these days and they don’t expect a response. They drop the package, scan it, ring the bell, and leave. So you could always say “oh, I thought it was just a delivery.” Our actual friends and acquaintances never “just drop by” without texting so the chances of missing someone we wanted to see are very low.

      We do have a no soliciting sign but still get political campaigners and sometimes religious missionaries. Depending on my mood I will answer or ignore. I don’t mind making it obvious that they’ve interrupted me doing something very important and/or pointing out the sign if I find them irritating, but if it’s someone petitioning to get on the local ballot I’ll sign it which is probably why they keep coming around!

    9. numptea*

      As a small not-strong woman, I have no qualms about ignoring the door when I’m home alone. However, I do work from home, so during daylight hours I may open the upstairs window and lean out with my headset fully visible. That takes care of my “what if it’s unexpectedly important” anxiety, but still makes it clear that I am busy.

    10. Hamster pants*

      Im a millennial (1985) and I would never open the door for anyone unless I was expecting them. I grew up being taught to never answer the door when home alone and…..I’ve pretty much just followed that rest of my life even though I haven’t been home alone in literally years. Not to mention, I really hate tapping/knocking noises and constant ringing. Also at any moment, I’m braless or any otehr state of undress and/or busy with my toddler.

    11. Ellis Bell*

      I don’t think it’s rude to take a shower, or a nap, or be in your pajamas at home… and so it’s not necessary to always be ready to see visitors at home. A lot depends on who it is who’s knocking, and whether they/you would consider it rude to have missed them. If it’s anyone who is close enough to be received at any hour though, they would have my phone number and likely would have called first! I feel like anyone else should know that they are rolling the dice on your availability. Video doorbells can help you figure out who’s at the door, and you can even explain you can’t come to the door right now if you want. I still really, really regret answering the door without looking one time; it was an ex who I had told not to contact me again. It was fine, but I still think that was really stupid.

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

      I generally don’t answer knocks, though if it’s a food delivery, I’ll yell for the deliverer to leave it outside the apartment door (tip taken care of on line). If it’s my building super, he’s persistent enough that I’ll know it’s him and tell him to hang on while I get into some sweats or something.

      Of course, one time, the knocker was my mailman who was trying to ensure that I got a package of chocolate I had to sign for, so ignoring the door does come with some downsides.

    13. Clisby*

      Nope, not rude at all. (I’m 69). Just like it’s not rude to ignore phone calls, texts, and emails. I’m not claiming it’s rude for somebody to contact me, unsolicited. They can do that all they like. Just like I can respond or not, as I like.

    14. Maryn*

      Remember, the doorbell or knocker is your servant, not your master. It tells you someone is there, but it does not have the authority to make you respond. A great many people rarely answer the door because they choose not to.

    15. There You Are*

      When I first bought my home, a years-long friend of mine dropped by, unannounced and unasked, well after dark, and knocked on my door. I ignored the door (didn’t even know who it was at the time).

      He then walked behind my verrrrry prickly holly bushes to peek through the tiny gaps of the mini blinds on my front window and knocked on the glass hollering, “It’s me, Roy! I can see you sitting on your couch! What the hell; open your door!”

      That was the day we quit being friends.

      It was also the day that I put decorative cushions in the bottom of my front window sills. (My house is raised up because of its pier-and-beam foundation; the bottom of my front windows are about chin level on someone 6 feet tall. The cushions are enough to block the view inside unless someone brings a ladder).

      Also, when my ex’s parents first visited after he moved in, they were staying in their travel camper at a site on the edge of town. One morning, after my ex had left and I was racing around getting dressed for work, they walked straight in my back door without calling ahead or even knocking when they showed up. WTF??? I had literally just pulled a shirt on mere seconds before, after walking through the house in only a bra.

      I was livid.

      His parents were livid that I was lived.

      His father said angrily: “Never in my life did I think that I would be unwelcome in my own son’s home!”

      I said, “This is MY house. Your son’s name isn’t on the deed. And NO ONE walks into my house without asking first. You will be graciously welcomed when you call before you come over.”

      1. Observer*

        This is MY house. Your son’s name isn’t on the deed. And NO ONE walks into my house without asking first. You will be graciously welcomed when you call before you come over.

        Would it have been ok if his name HAD been on the lease?

        These people sound like real boundary stompers. But it doesn’t sound like the problem is that they didn’t pay attention to who was paying the bills, but basic courtesy and decorum. You don’t walk into someone’s room – even in your own house – without knocking.

        There is a Jewish tradition that one should not even walk into one’s own home, if others live there, without announcing themself / knocking first.

        1. There You Are*

          No, I wouldn’t have been OK with it if my ex had been on the deed, but it was the first thing that came out of my mouth because Ex had only lived with me a few months at that time.

    16. JSPA*

      yep. you’re fine. People nap, people take calls, people use the toilet, people take baths, people use noise-canceling headphones…

      If someone’s banging madly on the door like it’s an emergency, yell out the window whether they need you to call an ambulance. But for unexpected sales, political or social calls, You have every right to decide if you choose to “be in” to visitors, or not.

    17. Random Bystander*

      I do not consider it rude not to answer the door, even though you are obviously home, regardless of how you are dressed. I’ll glance through a window that allows me to see who is at the door, but unless it is my aunt (who is probably there to drop off a bit of her overabundance of produce) or other family (though most would have called to alert me that they were coming first–primarily because these family members have multi-hour drives), or I am expecting a signature-required delivery and see the appropriate vehicle, I will only answer the door if I want to. I am an older Gen X.

  15. Jackalope*

    Gaming thread: share what you’ve been playing this week and give or request recs. As always, all games are welcome and not just video games.

    I’ve been out of town and out of cell phone reception for most of the week so I haven’t played anything this week, but I’m thinking about something in the Final Fantasy series for this weekend (we got all of the newly remastered FFs recently so I have my pick).

    1. Kayem*

      I’m playing Shadows Over Loathing this week. Though I’m going to try and figure out how to hook up my old gaming systems to my smart TV. I’m babysitting my niece this weekend and she’s going to need some entertainment. Though considering her parents have all the latest gaming gadgets, I’m not sure if she’ll find PS2 GTA as thrilling. But at least the city’s annual comic con is happening this weekend, so she won’t be totally bored.

    2. Quoth the Raven*

      I haven’t played videogames in a little bit, but I’m currently waiting for one of my tables of Vampire the Masquerade to start the session. I’m playing at another table tomorrow.

      I think it was you, Jackalope, who asked what I thought of it. Personally, I find it even more engaging than other systems like DnD and Call of Cthulhu, but it can be very emotionally charged, so if you’re interested in trying it, keep it in mind.

      1. Jackalope*

        I think that probably was me, since I know I asked someone about it recently. What did you like about it? And when you say “emotionally charged”, what does that mean? Is it something like lots of people die (very plausible in a game about vampires), or you have to make tough moral choices, or there’s relationship drama, or…?

        1. Quoth the Raven*

          So, what I like about it is that the game is very much “personal horror”; it’s about you against yourself against the world. Unlike DnD where you tend you have a big bad, you are faced with your character’s (in)humanity and the choices they make about it. It’s also a very political setting since there are a lot of factions involved and a system that in a lot of ways replicates human society.

          Of course, all this means you have to make tough moral choices (you are a vampire, after all). How are you going to feed? Where are you going to stand in the politics of the city? How are you going to protect your touchstones, who are the people and places that bind you to your humanity? Do you try to stay “human” for as long as you can, or do you embrace what you can be? In my case, I also added relationship drama because that is something I wanted to explore (like my vampire is in love with a human; how does he work that out, if he even can?) and the dice can be very unforgiving if Lady Luck is not on your side, so that’s kind of what I mean by “emotionally charged”. For a game about vampires, it’s extremely human.

    3. The Dude Abides*

      Slowly working through another play through of Link to the Past with the young’un.

      Magic Worlds is currently ongoing, and given that it’s only Standard/Draft, I simply do not care. Did see some of the previews for upcoming sets, RIP my wallet.

    4. SparklingBlue*

      Working on Pokemon DLC at the moment–out of the six Final Fantasy Pixel Remasters, I would suggest playing the original, 4, and 6

    5. Shiara*

      I got Stray Gods for my birthday and have played a bit of it. It’s a musical visual novel where the premise is the Greek gods are living among mortals in the modern day. I’m enjoying it so far!

    6. Nessun*

      I’ve been eyeing that remastered FF set! Let me know if it’s worth the price? I used to play them all and have been toying with getting back into it on my Switch. Right now I’m traveling, but when I’m home it’s mostly ACNH and my PC MMORPG (GW2), with a little Theatrythm thrown in.

      1. Jackalope*

        My husband has played through most of them now and he feels like they’re worth it. He said it’s the same games but with some of the annoying bits fixed up (like being able to run if you want instead of going slowly, or being able to save anywhere if you want), and he’s really enjoyed them.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My teen talked me into pre-ordering the Secrets of the Obscure expansion for Guild Wars 2. There’s some great parts — skyscale now can get combat launching and flaming fireballs–but there are definitely issues.

      Biggest issue is instructions that are unclear or just plain wrong.

      One example. A story step is to hunt rifts across Tyria — but apparently rift missions outside SOTO map do NOT get counted towards the story step. We found that out from in-game chat NOT story step text.

      Second, miscellaneous introduced bugs. Targeting & kill counting are misfiring and need a patch. The login screen’s been forgetting my username and password. Others have reported crashes and getting stuck in walls.

      Third, the way they changed the dailies.Those 3 quick missions to earn game gold were a quick burst of GW2 dopamine on days when I didn’t otherwise have time to play. The missions are more varied, but my family used to all go in at once and now we’re often assigned different missions. That is the saddest change.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        My husband adds the new map is really hard to navigate especially for players who don’t yet have a skyscale.

  16. Jackalope*

    Question about Cons: I’ve never been to a Con before (like Gen Con, Comicon, etc.), and I’m considering going to one in my area the next time it comes around. I realized however that I’ve never actually known what one DOES at a Con, or what the point is; I just like nerdy and geeky things and have heard that Cons might be a good place for that. Anyone who has experience with them able to fill me in? What do you do when you’re there? What are the good bits? The bad or boring bits? Any good stories? For this I’m mostly thinking of geeky types of Cons, but if there are other types by all means feel free to share.

    1. GoryDetails*

      Congrats on considering your first con! I’ve been to a few, from small local ones to full-blown Gen Con, and there’s always lots of choice as to what to do/see/buy. The specific con should have a web site with a FAQ that could be helpful for getting started.

      I’ve enjoyed some of the panel discussions – especially when some of my favorite voice-actors or authors were involved. You can browse the panel schedule and see if anything appeals, and then schedule around that time-slot.

      There’s usually a dealer’s room with artworks, souvenirs, snacks, costume items, comics, etc. for sale; can be fun, can also be hard on the budget, so browse with caution.

      For me, part of the fun is just wandering around the area, seeing folks in various levels of costume and/or with killer T-shirt slogans; “spot the fandom” can be quite entertaining. [Some of my favorite bits involve fandom mashups, where someone will construct a character based on “Star Wars meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer” or some such; there are wildly inventive folks out there.]

      If it’s a big con, you will need to pace yourself; stay hydrated, plan for breaks, if you’re an introvert plan for LOTS of breaks… maybe scout out quite corners in which to get away from the crowds. [Smaller cons won’t tend to be that crowded and might be easier to start with.]

      Hope you have a great time!

      1. Jackalope*

        Just checked and the one I’d most likely start with (since it’s in my area) has a quiet room set aside for introversion which sounds lovely. On the other hand the number of attendees is roughly twice the size of the small city I grew up next to – eep!

        Is it a problem if I’m not in cosplay? I love seeing cos players but am not creative in that way and find it stressful rather than fun so probably wouldn’t dress up (although the people watching sounds fun).

        1. GoryDetails*

          No problem if you don’t want to do any cosplay! There may be specific events tailored for costume-wearing, but otherwise you’re fine.

        2. Donkey Hotey*

          I’ve been going to conventions for over ten years. I’ve cosplayed exactly once. It was a blast but don’t want to do that part again.

          To your larger question: I always make great plans to see panels and celebrities, but more often than not, I just wander and interact with people as I can.

    2. Nicosloanica*

      I’d say one waits in line a long time haha. Which isn’t bad; that’s part of the process! Bring a book, wear comfy waiting clothes, and chat to your fellow con-goers, etc etc. But if you have interest in meeting an actor, getting something signed, or getting a photo – lines. If you want to go to a cool panel and there’s limited space available – lines. Lines for merch! … Maybe the one I went to was unusual. Ironically, I had the same takeaway from my one and only trip to Disneyland.

      1. Confused human*

        Panels with voice actors and creators are great. It’s really fun to wander around and people-watch, as so many people are dressed up.

        A lot of people who attend cons are deep-dive superfans in their favorite fandom, so it’s sort of a time to let loose and let all your nerddom hang out. If you’re outgoing, you’re likely to find fellow fans who have deeply-held opinions about spin-offs and and fanfic pairings, and you’ll be able to have conversations in person that you might not be able to elsewhere.

        I have a friend who is a big Star Trek fan who loves to get photos with cast members and spends most of her time doing that. I have meeting celebrities kind of awkward, even when they’re nice, so I steer clear. You can also google around to see which of the guests are reported to have positive fan interactions vs. those that are just meh.

        The biggest thing for me with cons is the amount of stimulus. There’s a LOT of people, and especially in the exhibitor hall, there’s going to be a lot of echoing and noise. Some cons now offer quiet spaces, so look for those offerings as well if that’s a space you might need.

        I also always look for gaming tables, but that will depend on the kind of con you’re attending.

        It’s very choose-your-own adventure! But it can help to know a few things you most want to do, since you probably can’t see everything, and you don’t want to spend the whole weekend in a state of FOMO.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Well, at the one I was at most recently, which was a small to medium regional con, there were:

      – A tabletop game room where you could sign up & play RPGs or board games, including one-shot campaigns for learners.

      – Panel discussions on all sorts of topics, some with celebrity speakers and some with community experts, like the local head of the 501st Legion.

      – A costume contest.

      – Celebrities available for autographs and photos (Shatner was there but we missed him)

      – Lots and lots of vendors with cool stuff, art, accessories, collectables, costume pieces, etc.

      – You could have someone “bounty hunted” for charity and taken “hostage” by Mandalorians.

      -General people watching and chatting about costumes.

    4. WestsideStory*

      Bring water and snacks, if not a sandwich. In our city the Cons are all held at a massive convention center famous for its its insanely priced food and essentials (ie water).
      Bring a collapsible tote bag for swag or things you might buy. And a sharpie for autographs.
      Have fun!!

      1. The Dude Abides*

        Add cash, in a mix of bigger/smaller bills for purchases/tips.

        I’ve never gone to a Con, but when a cadre of locals go to a larger Magic event, I look up which artists will be in attendance. Depending on the lineup, I make arrangements to get some cards signed by artists, and make sure 1) the artist is compensated for their time, and that the middleman is also compensated for their time.

      2. Mothman’s Uber*

        I definitely concur with sneaking in food. Even if they say you’re not allowed to bring outside food, which most caused say because they’re under contract with the convention center for their own in-house food services to feed attendees, it is very easy to sneak food in and eat it out of sight of any staff people. And I say that as someone who is been a volunteer con employee a couple times!

      3. Donkey Hotey*

        Definitely. I always bring a refillable water bottle and some protein bars. I’ve never received flack for bringing in an empty water bottle (it’s like airplanes. pass security and fill up after.)

    5. Kayem*

      I mostly hang out in the expo hall. Depending on the con, there can be a lot of interesting local artists and writers who have booths set up. Several years ago, I discovered a local artist who rendered comic book characters in glitter. It was absolutely amazing and I have a couple of his works at home.

      There’s always panels, which can be very fun. Back in the 20th century, I went to a couple Transformers conventions (one of which was my first). They had some great panels I attended. One had a lot of discussion on all the weirdness that goes on behind the scenes in voice acting. I wanted to be a voice actor back then, so I loved it. There was another panel with comic book writers who talked about how difficult it could be to work with the comic code authority and the pranks they used to pull on them. The con’s website should have a list of guests and panels being offered, which is helpful in planning.

      The con our city is having this weekend is pretty meh this year, but I promised my niece I’d take her to it. And this is advice to both you and myself: get plenty of sleep, wear shoes you can walk and stand in for a lengthy period of time if needed, make sure you eat, bring water, and make sure you locate the convention hall bathrooms ahead of time.

      Oh, if you have any interest at all in buying anything in the expo hall, make sure you bring cash or a mobile payment method. I know most places can take cards using mobile devices, but there’s always some places where you have to pay cash. Some vendors prefer it due to fees associated with cards and sometimes devices can go down. At the con I was at last year, one of the expo buildings had the absolute worst electrical outlet situation. Halfway through the day, everyone had to take only cash or check because devices ran out of batteries and the few outlets that existed were at the entrance ticket booth. A friend of mine was a vendor there and said they had to start sending rotating gaggles of booth helpers to run to other buildings to charge devices.

    6. Mothman’s Uber*

      I’ve been going to geeky cons for years, and my best piece of advice is to never be afraid to talk to people near you. I have made so many line friends just by talking to people standing near me in line for panels/autographs/photos. If you’re all standing in line for the same thing, then you have at least one thing in common you can talk about. Some of those line friends have even transcended that one convention. One line friend I made at San Diego comic con, a convention that is notoriously difficult to get tickets for, I help them get tickets the following year. I haven’t seen them since, but it still brings a little bit of joy to my heart, knowing that I help them get to the convention a second time when they weren’t able to get tickets on their own.

      Anything else you want to know about guns, happy to address. I think they’re great fun, and I always enjoy going to them.

    7. anonymous geeky type person*

      I hate to say it, but if you are female presenting or a member of any marginalized groups, watch your back. Even if a con has a quote “code of conduct” or anti-harassment policy, etc. don’t expect that it will be followed or enforced. Proceed as though it doesn’t exist and be pleasantly surprised if there are no issues. I learned this the hard way…

      Also, consider masking up. My friends who went to cons in the last few months all reported folks getting covid.

      1. Cardboard Marmalade*

        Seconding that there are definitely Weird Vibes to be found, even though of course there are also plenty of really great people– being forewarned that not everyone who shares your interests will also share your values is useful advice I wish I’d had as a young AFAB Con-goer. (And if you haven’t read Captain Awkward’s Geek Social Fallacies yet, that’s a great primer on why these sorts of things can be hard to navigate.) Also seconding that masking is a great idea if you’re not planning on it already.

        YMMV, but for me the best part of Cons for me was always the discussion panels. Those always felt like the place to have real connection and interactions beyond just “omg I like your costume” or “hi please sign this book”.

      2. Jackalope*

        This is something I’m a little worried about, although at least having it be on my home territory makes it a bit easier because I have ways to get away if needed. I’m trying to convince some of my fellow female geek friends to come with me; we’ll see if they decide to go. If they do then that helps out a bit.

    8. Petréa Mitchell*

      Hi! Uncloaking and posting under my real name because I’m a long-time congoer and volunteer, and I may wind up revealing my identity from what I talk about if start talking about any specific experiences.

      The first question is: what kind of con are you talking about? If it’s a media-type con with a focus on TV and movie stars (probably with the words “Comic Con”, “Expo”, or “Pop Culture” in the name) then you go any browse the vendor hall, pay to meet celebrities and get their autograph or a photo taken with them, admire other people’s costumes, and maybe enter a costume contest. There may also be panels to watch of fans discussing TV shows, specific franchises, the state of the industry, or so forth.

      If you’re talking about one of the broad-based science fiction conventions, you can expect a *ton* of panel discussions about everything under the sun (and beyond it), workshops, and readings. There will be author and artist guests and sessions for free autographs. There will be a con suite for hanging out and eating snacks, and evening get-togethers sponsored by other cons, publishers, or bids for the travelling sf cons. There will be fan tables and exhibits from other cons and local fan groups. There may also be additional lounges, a video room, a gaming area (possibly with a library of games to check out and try), concerts, and a few things I can’t think of a way to describe quickly. There will also be a vendor area, but much smaller than one at a media con, and a costume contest.

      In between are various special-interest cons with specialized events for people who have that interest. Anime cons will often have voice actor guests, fan panels, raves, and an anime music video contest. Gaming conventions will have a ton of scheduled games, an open gaming area, and tournaments, plus sometimes industry guests and fan or industry panels. Etc.

      If your motivation is just “I want to do some geeky things”, your local science fiction convention might be your best bet, but there might be a specialized convention that matches your specific interests better.

      1. Jackalope*

        I think the one I’m looking at (specifically because it’s close to where I live and so has the lowest number of barriers to attending) is a Comic Con. It’s big enough that (I just discovered this!) it has its own Wikipedia page. Eep! I’ve looked over their website to get an idea for what I might want to try, and I’m not entirely sure. I do know that the particular group that produces the content that I’m a fan of has been there the last the few years, which makes it more interesting for me to try it. On the other hand they’re also very popular in general, so it will probably be tough to try and see them.

        I think I’m also interested in trying out the games room. I have a small group of friends that has started playing D&D together the last few years (it was our “how to bond over Zoom in 2020” activity that has continued). We’ve sometimes considered trying other games but it’s tough to jump into many of the RPGs when no one knows how to play. I’d like to try some of them out and see what they’re like and if they’d be good for our group. It looks like they have a good gaming room that could be fun to try. (On the other hand, I am a female-presenting person and I know that can make it trickier at places like that. I did see that they have an alleged strict no harassment policy, and I’m hopeful that that might be enforced, but I know it often isn’t, or is tough to enforce because volunteers can’t be everywhere.)

    9. Llellayena*

      If you go while the writers/actors strike is still in effect, don’t judge future cons by the panels you see in this one. Actors are limited in what they can discuss so you’ll get more “how did you get into acting and what hobbies did you get into during Covid” discussions.

    10. ConsAreAllDifferent*

      Note:all of this was pre-pandemic.

      Depends on the type of con. Some are book focused. Some may focus on a specific fandom. Some may have just a few events and some may gave dozens or hundreds. I’ve been to big cons and small cons and general cons and more tailored cons and they have really different feels.

      Some things you will likely find in some form at most cons:
      – topic specific panels. this is my favorite con activity. many allow audience questions so come prepared if you wish.
      – games/interactive sessions. thus can be trivia, arts and crafts related, variations on game shows, act out scenarios, build your own stories based on commonly chosen requirements, or all sorts of other things. These can also be a ton of fun, but are often more dependent on finding the right co-participants
      – meet and greets. either autograph or coffee chat type sessions with an author, actor, illustrator, etc. Some cons charge extra for these.
      – sales room. these may be art galleries, varied stalls, authors at tables, or some other configuration but generally offer some type of walk through and browse. Some folks will expect purchases in cash only, some may take credit cards, and maybe some will accept other types of payments (not often in my experience).

      Some cons will also have things like filk sessions, a dance, a masquerade contest, or other stuff, but that varies by con.

      I highly recommend staying at the con hotel if you can afford it, or at least another hotel extremely close by. I have gone to local cons as day sessions and had to leave while things were still ongoing, missed opportunities to have late night meals with authors or others I’d met that day, etc. Many of the cons I’ve attended had formal activities until 11pm or midnight (and some started as early as 8am) so commuting, especially by public transit, will mean not getting the full experience.

      Have a great time!

    11. That Girl Over There*

      oh! been going to NYCS since 2008 and my first piece of advice: bring a charger for your phone! (also make sure you have enough memory for photos/video.) be prepared to wait in line for a WHILE. have a budget and stick to it (I don’t follow this but really should haha). I usually make sure to have pens just in case, a hardcover sketchbook to help keep things flat, and this year I will be being a small poster tube as well.

      depending on the con, there are panels /screenings, art & collectibles to buy, people to meet (both “famous” and fans). I’m so excited for you! have fun!

    12. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Depends on what you want to do, and what con you go to. I like to see the cosplay, walk around the vendors, and go to panels. Some cons I’ve been to they don’t have panels I’m interested in, so I mostly am there for a day and I hit the vendor hall. Other cons it’s multiple days and I’m in panels all day, every day. I have friends who are big into collecting, or like to get photo ops and autographs. I’m not, but I still like to look.

      Some cons are very kid oriented. Other are more adult, meaning drinking and parties. Many cons are family friendly during the day at the official con, with the parties being offsite in the evening. I’m not into the parties or drinking, so I skip that stuff.

      If you’re not sure, finding a local con to start with is a low risk way to figure out if you like it. It’s a lot easier to ditch when you have a vehicle and live 30 minutes away.

      There is of course lots of potential downside – “cosplay is not consent” is a phrase for a reason. But those downsides are going to exist in any large gathering of people. In my experience, cons are a place where those of us who are geeks, nerds, etc can have a place that is OURS. The normals are welcome, but they are guests and have to be nice. There’s nothing quite like being with several thousand (or tens of thousands) other people who are weird like you. Even if we don’t share a fandom, we each have our fandoms and thus we get it.

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If you have any love of acoustic music, do make some time for a filk session. (Filk is folk music about sf/f and the genre has many originals as well as parodies.)

  17. Filosofickle*

    I have a kind of silly question but I’m curious — we only know how we perceive the world and it can be a surprise to find out others do not see / feel / experience things the same way.

    If I reach blindly into my laundry bin into a mass of black knit pants I can identify every item by touching the fabric, without looking. I always find that a little bit delightful and even surprising no matter how often it happens. Can most people do this, identify fabric by memory and touch?

    Feel free to piggyback and ask about something you’re curious about, or share something you took for granted that you discovered isn’t typical or vice versa.

    1. Annie Edison*

      Oh my goodness I have learned so much about how differently we all experience things since moving in with my partner a few years ago. I didn’t realize how many things I was taking for granted, or projecting my experiences onto others, until I had another person to contrast with living intimately in my space.

      This has been good in some ways- prior to living with him, I genuinely had no that other people can just… do things, like getting out of bed in the morning or getting lunch from the refrigerator, without having to think about it, give themselves multiple bribes and motivational talks, and fight through multiple layers of anxiety/perfectionist guilt. That discovery finally kicked me into gear on getting on antidepressants and it’s been really nice to discover what it feels like to move through my to-do list and just get things done.

      1. Filosofickle*

        The fact that people simply DO things and feed themselves without a whole to-do is fascinating for me too!

        1. Sloanicota*

          I think that’s one thing I didn’t realize until I lived with another woman. I am fortunate with my weight and health that I tend to just … eat what I want when I want to (although I do think about trying to eat healthy foods, or occasionally note that I’m not making the best choices today). I didn’t realize how much drama and pain people have wrapped up in food until I saw someone else going through it each and every meal or snack. It was really hard to see. I hate what our culture has done to so many people.

          1. Filosofickle*

            It’s a mess! For me it’s a double whammy — both the cultural diet/weight baggage plus ADHD/ASD. The latter for me causes sensory issues and being out of touch with my body — it’s easy to forget to eat (even with reminders), and if that goes on too long I shut down and lose the ability to make any decisions about food and, worse, nothing is edible. If we introduce trying to “eat better” when I make a food decision, it only gets worse.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Many things, yes. I have a few items that are similar enough in texture that I know it’s one of these 2-3 things but not necessarily which one until I pull it out.

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      I was a real early reader as a kid, and it always amazed me how amazed older people acted when I could read what [I now know] was pretty advanced stuff, or could recite poems from memory. That was just SOP for me and it blew my little kid mind that Actual Grown Ups found it special or remarkable.

    4. What’s next?*

      I am aphantasic (don’t see pictures in my head/have a mind’s eye) and it was a very very odd thing to find out was not everyone’s experience. I truely thought that when people said things like “picture yourself lying on a beach” in meditation, it was just a figure of speech. Ditto counting sheep to get to sleep. But then I found out some people don’t have a minds voice….our brains are wonderful and different!

      1. Lemonwhirl*

        Me too!

        Completely the same.

        I’ve always found guided meditation to be so boring. OK, I’m thinking about a beach…and???

      2. Vio*

        Wait what? I can’t even conceive what it would be like not to have a voice… much as I may sometimes wish for an inner silence (there’s usually at least half a dozen contradictory trains of thought going at a time so it’s a never ending cacophony in here!) I can’t imagine what it would actually be like.
        But it was only a few years ago I realised that most people can actually tell what direction a sound comes from. I’d always assumed that when characters in stories follow a sound or smell then it was just poetic license and not meant to be literal. But no, it seems other people can actually DO that and I can’t.
        I can also raise my left eyebrow on its own, both eyebrows or neither. It was only after a friend mentioned that they couldn’t lift either eyebrow separately that I noticed this.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Interesting that you can’t detect the directionality of sound. I wonder what that’s about. It’d be interesting to test it (sorry, scientist …) – like many people, I’ve been able to instinctively track the movement of small items that bounce off the floor (earrings, food) just from the split-second sound of the bounce itself, which almost has a directionality in it somehow – something I always thought was neat.

        2. fposte*

          The directionality may be connected to how your brain coordinates the input from each ear—the difference is what conveys directionality.

          I’m weak on mental images and fairly strong on mental voice, but I was surprised to find that amitriptyline ramped up the volume and clarity of my mental voice. So suddenly one of the random phrases that floats around my head without much attention would come to the fore exactly in a particular actress’s voice. I found that rather entertaining and was sorry to lose it when I went off the medication.

          1. What's next?*

            I can raise my left eyebrow, and it is not genetic (in my case). I read a lot of books where people raised one eyebrow, generally quizzically, and I thought that sounded pretty great, so I decided I would learn to do it. I spent a lot of time gazing at my left eyebrow in the mirror and willing it to lift. In the end it did. if you are similarly inclined, give it a try. People find it baffling.

        3. Might Be Spam*

          I can independently wiggle either eyebrow (or alternate them) and roll my tongue. Babies love this.

          My dad could wiggle his ears, but nobody else in the family can.

          1. Clisby*

            I once tutored a 2nd-year-old as part of a reading program – one day he was trying to distract me from getting started, so he wiggled his ears. I said, “Wow! I can’t do that.” Very tentatively, he touched one of my earlobes, shook his head, and said, “These aren’t right.”

      3. Irish Teacher.*

        That was my first thought too. I thought meditation was chanting silently. At my sister’s secondary school graduation Mass, the principal did this thing about “close your eyes. You are walking through a field. Now you are walking through another field” and I truly thought we were just meant to keep chanting silently “I am walking through a field. I am walking through a field.” I didn’t do it but realising that people could actually see fields makes it make a bit more sense.

        And yeah, I can’t imagine not having a voice in my head. Until I learnt about aphantasia in my 30s, I never knew thinking could be anything except silent talking. To me, it goes thinking-whispering-talking-shouting, all the same, just gradations of volume. I even do occasionally accidentally whisper something I am thinking, in the same way you might accidentally say something out loud when you meant to whisper it.

        The other one is that when people say they dislike or even hate a food, they…can often still eat it without gagging.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          For me, “dislike” for a food is “I would never voluntarily eat this but can choke it down to be polite.” Like mushrooms, for instance. “Hate” is “I will vomit at the mere thought of trying to put this in my mouth.” That’s seafood.

        2. Aquamarine*

          I find this stuff so fascinating! Can you imagine the feeling instead of the picture? Sometimes when I meditate I imagine being in water because it makes my muscles relax like they would if I were floating. I wonder if you could imagine what it feels like to walk in a sunny field even if you don’t “see” the field in your mind? (Not saying you’d actually want to – I’m just curious about which senses we can activate with our mind).

          Also, I’ve started to occasionally whisper what I’m thinking too (my husband keeps saying WHAT?).

          1. Might Be Spam*

            I get so frustrated because I can’t visualize what they are asking me to do and I end up with a headache.

            I think your idea of imagining the way something feels (like being in water) may help. Sometimes I try thinking about walking through fallen leaves and feeling them crunch under my feet. It helps that I have a memory of doing that.

            1. Sloanicota*

              This is something I’ve always found interesting – for people with no visual imagination, you still have visual memories, right? So if someone says, “think back to your wedding day” – are you picturing it like a movie screening behind your eyes?

              1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                Not me — I have no visual nothin. Among other things, this is largely (we think) where my version of face blindness came from – I don’t have a visual memory of what someone looks like, so I have to go by other cues such as “she had brown shoulder-length hair and a lower-pitched voice.” If I had a dollar for every time I have asked my husband to remind me, what color are your eyes again? :P After ten years I can recognize him now, of course, but old pictures of adult-him without his beard or with a different hairstyle are a whole different story, and I would be absolutely useless to a police sketch artist because I’m not even sure what shape my own facial features are if I’m not looking in a mirror, let alone a purse snatcher I saw for three seconds.

                1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                  We literally had a conversation last week when a friend of ours shared a group picture that was about 12 years old – I’ve known my husband for 20 years, so this picture did not pre-date our knowing each other, and I was at the convention with the group when the picture was taken – there’s even a fairly good chance that I was the one who took it. But looking at the pic I had no idea he was in it, and in fact made a less than polite comment about “that guy’s” wardrobe choices without realizing it was HIS taste in clothing I was disparaging :P

              2. Claire*

                No, we don’t. Or I don’t, at any rate. When I think back to a past event and remember it, it’s like a story I’m telling myself. There’s no picture, no mental movie, no visual component at all. I don’t see things in my head. Ever.

              3. amoeba*

                Nope, not at all! I mean, I can conjure up tiny “glimpses” of images in memory, like, it’s not absolutely 100% missing. But definitely nowhere near “movie screen behind your eyes”.
                I absolutely have that for audio, though, can “stream” music or voices or whatever at will! Which is why it bugs me that the “condition” is called aphantasia – like, there’s other senses!

      4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Same! I read an article about aphantasia and went into the living room with my husband and housemate.

        Me: “I just read the most bizarre thing. If you guys close your eyes and picture a beach, do you, like … literally, actually VISUALIZE a beach? Like in detail?”
        Them: “Well, yeah? Of course?”
        Me: “I need to sit down.”
        Them: “Wait, you don’t?”
        Me: “No! I close my eyes and I see darkness. All my life I thought ‘mental image’ was a metaphor – you’re telling me it’s A REAL THING???”
        Them: “Well, that explains a lot.”

        I have a constant mental narrator though. My own voice by default but if I’ve recently watched something containing a distinct voice, it might shift. The few months I was mainlining Forensic Files, it was that narrator and it was hilarious, that dude makes everything sound shady. “She went into the department store to purchase … some CANDY. And a DEE VEE DEE MOOOVIE.”

        1. Vio*

          Until I read *this comment* just now, I assumed that a mental picture was metaphorical. I can imagine that I can see something, but there’s no picture. Ask a question about the ‘picture’ and I’ll decide on it and add the detail to the description… guess I can add another oddity to my list. Fortunately we’re all odd, just in different ways.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            If somebody tells you to think of an actual picture, like the Mona Lisa, can you? (Serious question!)

            1. I'm A Little Teapot*

              Yes and no. I don’t see the image in my mind, but I do know what it looks like so if for example you say “same as Mona Lisa’s smile” then I know what you’re talking about. If I see the picture on the wall or in a book, I’ll recognize it as the Mona Lisa. (I’m explaining badly, sorry.)

              Interestingly enough, I’m not good at remembering the images either. I have a hard time with remembering people’s faces and often need to use other cues to know who they are. So, re the Mona Lisa for example, if I was a talented artist, I could not reproduce the Mona Lisa based on memory. I can get something closeish, but never exact.

              1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                I commissioned a picture of my husband’s cats anthro and in costume at a convention a couple years back and described them from memory… and got wrong which eye the one-eyed cat had removed seven years previous :( so the resulting picture is awesome, but she’s backwards.

              2. fhqwhgads*

                I’ve been wondering about this since the previous discussion, and hope you don’t mind my asking. If you don’t see the image in your mind, how do you know what it looks like? Or how do you know that you know what it looks like? I realize that might be hard to answer. Because I do see the image in my mind, I don’t know how to explain how not to, so possibly it’s the same for you in the other direction?

                1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                  I have no idea. I don’t dream in visuals either, but I know for a darn fact that the other night I dreamed that I was meeting two friends at a very noir bar, and that when I got there they were being played by Liam Neeson in a suit and Christina Hendricks in a LBD, and that she was wearing very bold red lipstick and he had a tie on that matched it and I felt RIDICULOUSLY underdressed because nobody told me we were dressing like a Bogart movie when we met for a drink. I don’t know how I know all of that, I just do :)

            2. Might Be Spam*

              When I think of the Mona Lisa, all I get is a smudgy blur that feels like it is off to the side and slightly up. Prior knowledge tells me it is square and the colors are brownish, but I can’t see it in my mind.

              Also, I absolutely hate meditations that tell you to picture things. Trying to do it is so frustrating and gives me a physical headache.

            3. Vio*

              I can think *of* it, but I can’t *see* it. I also wouldn’t be able to tell you much about the details of it without seeing it very recently. I think she has black hair and of course her famous expression but what colour her clothes are or what the background is? I’d have to google.

          2. WFH FTW*

            Same! I’m sitting here… “WHUT!??”
            I see blackness. Can describe a beach and such with my eyes closed. But actually SEE a beach? Nope.

            Off to call family members! (Is it just me?)

            1. What's next?*

              I know! It’s wild when you first find out about it. I quite often ask people to close their eyes and imagine an apple and tell me whether they actually see an apple, and whether they see it in black and white or colour, and can they see it 3D or just flat, and can they rotate it. Everyone is different but they have a really hard time accepting that what they see/can do is not the same as what others can. One of my nieces actually has a movie going on in her head all the time (like the voice that a lot of people have, but a full action movie!). There is a uni in Sydney that is researching aphantasia and they send out emails from time to time if you are interested.

        2. Sloanicota*

          I have a mental narrator and visual imagery (as well as a nearly-constant musical background score, which we’ve discussed here before), so I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive, although it would make sense that it might fit in with whether someone is an audial/visual/kinesthetic learner.

          1. allathian*

            I have a constant mental narrator, and that’s at least partly why I have trouble with learning by listening because I have to focus to shut that narrator down. Otherwise I listen to my internal narrator rather than the speaker. When I read something, it’s my internal narrator reading and I don’t lose focus the same way.

            I don’t have a constant musical background score, although I’m prone to earworms in spite of being fairly tone deaf.

            I don’t count sheep when I’m trying to fall asleep, I play Tetris in my head instead. When people talk, I can see what they’re saying as mental subtitling, this happens so automatically that I don’t even think about it. It’s no doubt connected to my ability to spell words when I’ve seen them written down only once.

            I have a vivid visual imagination, and I can definitely see the Mona Lisa in front of me when someone mentions the painting.

        3. Jackalope*

          I too recently discovered that other people have actual images in their heads when they think about things. I have a certain amount of mental imagery sometimes but it’s pretty weak and often flits away if I concentrate on it too hard. For the most part this is fine, but for the last year or two I’ve been trying to learn how to draw again, and I’m struggling with how to draw things without looking at a picture of them. Some of it is that you don’t analyze something in the same way if you haven’t looked at it closely (so for example I had an innate understanding of my cats’ shapes and how they move, and I could tell at a glance what mood they were in and such, but I couldn’t reproduce it on a piece of paper), but some of it is that even if I try to focus on something to remember it, it feels like water trickling through my hands, and it doesn’t stick in my brain.

          1. JustEm*

            I’m the same way! I can get very brief mental images but they aren’t clear and are gone in an instant

            1. amoeba*

              Yup, same for me. And it’s hard trying to do it on purpose! It’s more like very tiny glimpses.
              I’m OK with faces and recognising people though.

          2. allathian*

            I have vivid images in my head, but that doesn’t mean I could reproduce them on paper. Art was by far my best non-academic subject at school, I was far better at art than crafts, music, or home economics (cooking & baking).

      5. I'm A Little Teapot*

        Same. No mental images. I also don’t have an internal monologue, at least not as has been described to me. The realization that others do have these things made a lot of common phrases make more sense.

          1. I'm A Little Teapot*

            Math I’m decent but wasn’t amazing at it. Geometry never made much sense to me. Mental math – I’m terrible, even at basic stuff. I’m accountant. I use a calculator.

          2. OyHiOh*

            Strong visual memory person here – yes, very good with mental math, also excellent with visual maths like geometry. However, algebra was an entirely different story (nothing to visualize).

          3. Donkey Hotey*

            Late to the thread but with adding: I’m aphantastic and I can do two digit multiplication and division in my head, but it’s talking, not visualizing.

    5. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Some of the differences with my partner have been entertaining to discover.

      He can’t drink from a bottle of water while he’s walking – he has to stop to take a sip. I find it completely natural to do both at the same time (my mother has since confessed she can’t do it either).

      I can’t do math in my head, unless it’s something simple like working out how much change I’m owed, or adding up points at a board game. He can mental-math anything in a matter of seconds. I always use my phone calculator, and there he is saying “no, no, you don’t need that”. Well yes, I do, or I’ll get the number wrong. This also reminds me of an old Twitter thread asking people to perform an operation (a subtraction I think?) and explain the numbers they used at each step – everyone’s answers were completely different.

      Here’s the one that baffled me the most, though. He says he doesn’t get brain freeze, and never even knew what it is. I thought perhaps it was an English word I knew and he didn’t, so I tried to articulate. “So you never…feel like your brain hurts like hell and is on the verge of paralysis when you eat something very icy too quickly?”. And he doesn’t. Totally puzzled that it’s a thing and I hadn’t just made it up. I really thought it happened to everyone!

      1. Nicosloanica*

        Oh! Your math comment reminds me of my father trying to teach me long division. “Write the numbers on your mental blackboard” he kept saying. “See how you can add, subtract and divide them?” Erm, no, I can picture the blackboard and write the numbers on it, but they will go blurry / be gone / change by the time I come back to them. Maaaybe something one could practice with time?? I think people with “busy minds” like me may be less good at these kinds of things. The inside of my father’s head seems to be quieter and less distracting.

        1. Jackalope*

          My dad and I used to have mental arithmetic competitions. We’d do stuff in our head or out loud and see who could finish up first. I’ve found that to be a useful skill when out and about, in part to figure things out like how much I’ll need to pay for something, and in part if I’m listening to a talk that’s boring me that has numbers in it somewhere.

          1. Filosofickle*

            My mom made math into a game when I was young — she’d have me calculate what something would cost minus the discount plus the tax or tally things up to “beat the cash register”. I thought it was fun and boy has it been useful in life! I can’t do it nearly as well anymore.

            One of my strangest experiences in life was solving a complex calculus problem in my sleep. I had spent hours on it unsuccessfully, then in a dream that night somehow I visualized the entire page of numbers and substitutions in my head and solved it! I woke up, wrote the solution down, and went back to bed. It was correct.

            1. Nicosloanica*

              Fascinating! My father (above) has said the same thing – he has solved math problems in his sleep. Sadly I can’t solve them awake, but I have other skills haha.

            2. pansies*

              I studied math at uni, and “solving problems (in one’s) sleep” was totally a thing some people can do, and some couldn’t. I was in the couldn’t camp, but my daughter (studying math at uni) is in the could camp. When I’m stuck, I need to go do something physical (run/ride bike/etc), then my thoughts flow and I can solve the problem (or at least get to the next step).

            3. allathian*

              Cool. August Kekulé apparently worked out the ring shape of the benzene molecule in the 1860s when he had a daydream of a world snake (Ouroboros) eating its own tail, although the veracity of this tale has since been disputed.

            4. goddessoftransitory*

              Man that game would have sent me into a stress meltdown in seconds. Mental math beyond the most basic 1+1 level goes through my brain like water, I have to write stuff down.

              1. Jackalope*

                Part of it was that there were no stakes other than being able to get the answer faster than my dad (which is especially fun when you are a kid). My siblings never joined in, being less interested in math, and as far as I know there was never any pressure on them to try if they didn’t want to. Depending on your background you still might feel under pressure, but my perspective was always just that it was a fun way to play around.

                1. Filosofickle*

                  Never thought about it before but with my mom it was a fun game. But if it had been my dad initiating it, I’d have felt tremendous pressure and would have melted down. (Cite: the stick shift debacle of ’89)

        2. Cookies For Breakfast*

          Your last two sentences are exactly why I think my partner is better at it. Funnily, I used to be quite proud of my progress, because it took me ages as a child to learn any kind of useful math at all (I was almost out of my teens when I finally found a way of thinking about percentages and proportions that made sense to me). Now I raised the bar to trying to add up and divide as fast as he can, or with numbers as complex as he can, and my cluttered mind tends to fall short. Which, in an age when I have a mini calculator in my pocket at all times, I’m totally ok with.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Did you have trouble with analog clocks? I couldn’t tell time on a non digital until my tween years at least. I could do “o’clocks and thirties,” as I called them; that is, I could tell one o’clock or one thirty. But the whole “It’s one seventeen” was a blur to me.

            1. Cookies For Breakfast*

              Oh gosh, yes! I like to know the exact time, down to the minute, so analog clocks that only rely on the angle of the arms (i.e. clear surface with no markers) are extremely unhelpful for me. A relative gave me an analog wristwatch as a “fancy” gift for my 18th birthday, and luckily it had markers for every individual minute, because without them I’d just never have worn it or been able to read it (I loved that watch and used it for 10+ years).

        3. goddessoftransitory*

          Same here. I can picture lots of things like a field or sheep over a fence, but I cannot write numbers on a mental board and keep them there, much less do a math problem. Pencil and paper for that.

      2. fposte*

        There was a task on the British comedy show Taskmaster where people had to drink a glassful of liquid without closing their mouths, and most people just could not get their brains to swallow with an open mouth. But of course that’s mostly habit and training, and one person—perhaps not coincidentally the only American—just happily chugged the glass down in a matter of seconds. And then there was much discussion among the viewership about whether you could swallow with your mouth open (a yes for me, but I had to be firm with my brain on starting).

    6. The Prettiest Curse*

      – I have a really hard time tuning out visual distractions. If I’m trying to concentrate and someone is doing something that involves small movements (or if it’s dark and they are using something which lights up), I have to either block my view of what they’ve doing, or move seats so that I can’t see them. I know from the discussions here about knitting/crocheting during meetings that people often do that because it helps them focus, so I would always be the person to move unless it’s a situation where there’s assigned seating – in that case, I’d ask an usher or staff person if it was okay to move.

      – Related to this – I can’t really do in-person dance classes, because if the person in front of me is doing something wrong, I will start doing that exact same thing wrong as well, even if my brain knows it’s wrong. (Professional dancers must somehow develop the ability to ignore other people’s incorrect movements, which is really impressive to me.)

      – Also probably related – I have a weirdly good visual memory for landmarks and buildings. As a result, I find it pretty difficult to get truly lost if I’m walking around. Watching films or TV, I can instantly recognise locations that I’ve seen before. I can also visualise the location of everything that I need to buy in the supermarket, which means I can write shopping lists which list items in the order in which I walk round the aisles.

      – Not me, but my mum trained as a singer and has perfect pitch. She cannot stand if anything is out of tune, to the point that if there’s canned music playing and the singer is out of tune, she will try to talk an unfortunate staff member into turning it way down or totally off. The recent church music letter was hilarious to me, because my mum would sit through that exactly once and then complain loudly and for a long time!

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        I’m with you on the visual memory. All my life I’ve been getting praise for my sense of direction, and perhaps that’s the reason after all?

        Writing the shopping list by aisle is one of my top life hacks, I couldn’t begin to think how much time it’s saved me. With the side effect that now, if I happen to go shopping at my parents’ local supermarket when I visit them, it takes me three times the effort…

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Yes, the supermarket thing is so useful! I generally only have to go to a new supermarket a couple of times before I can start to remember where items are located. I recently went to my mum’s local supermarket for the first time in a few years and was surprised by how much I remembered.

        2. Irish Teacher.*

          I’m the opposite. I have a really good memory for anything I’ve read or heard, but anything visual…nope. As a result, I always had people confused that I had difficulty with spelling “when you read so much.” I have to learn to spell each word. I won’t know how to spell it from reading. This means I can speall some really difficult words easily, but some “easy” words stump me, because I never thought to learn them. I do once I notice and I can learn them quickly just by reciting the spelling a couple of times but if I haven’t done that, I won’t know. Learnt how to spell the word “errands” only a couple of years ago, around 40.

          1. Nicosloanica*

            Oh yes, I think this is is common among fast readers. I don’t see the word as a collection of letters – each word is more like a shape, I guess, or maybe a sentence is like three shapes combined – something like the way you type without consciously reaching for each letter on a keyboard, or the way pianists play lines of music – which is why it’s not uncommon for people to read every page of a book but not remember the main character’s name at the end.

            1. The Prettiest Curse*

              I have the exact same thing with seeing words as shapes. Didn’t realise this at all till I started refreshing my high school French with Duolingo, which will throw in similar words to make sure you’re paying attention. I really have to slow down to get it right!

              I also find having a lot of different choices visually overwhelming. For this reason, I cannot just go onto Netflix and scroll to find something to watch – I have to go on there with a specific TV show or film in mind. If I’m trying on glasses, I have to narrow it down to specific visual criteria really fast or otherwise my brain won’t like it.

              1. goddessoftransitory*

                Oh, me too, or at least a genre. I can scroll through PBS or Acorn, say, but not just random “here’s a bunch of stuff.”

          2. I take tea*

            I can spell pretty good as long as I can write it down, because I will notice if it looks wrong. But if someone asks me how to spell something, I usually can’t say. I have to write it down, look at it and tell you. And because I read a lot and notice if something looks wrong, I have problems understanding how people can mix up “your” and “you’re” and so on. It was not until I really talked with someone who actually reads aloud in their head, that I started to understand it. (A bit, I still think that you can’t mix it up as long as you pause and think, but I’m the kind that reads my sms or chat several times before sending…)

            1. Sloanicota*

              Ugh, I never, ever used to have any trouble with things like “your / you’re” or “there/their” but now I have seen it written wrong over and over and over again (too much time on internet message boards and too many text conversations, I think) that I find myself occasionally falling into these errors myself!! The horror!!

            2. Filosofickle*

              I did spelling bees as a kid, and if i have to think hard about spelling something I can only do it by seeing the word in my head. Like letters floating in space being typed out one by one. I did teach myself to read by memorizing books, so it makes sense that I see words that way.

              Speaking of typing…I also find it interesting that I haven’t the faintest idea where letters are on a keyboard by trying to visualize it, but if I start touch typing I know where everything is flawlessly. My muscle memory knows it but not my conscious brain.

          3. The OG Sleepless*

            Conversely, I can spell *anything.* I just can. I don’t know whether it’s related to how much I read or not. I just know that if I even glance at a sign that has a typo, it jumps out at me like a beacon. I can spell words I’ve never even seen, just something about them makes me know what they should look like. My mom says my grandmother was the same way. When I was a kid, I had no idea why they even taught spelling. Didn’t everybody just know how to spell words?

            1. allathian*

              I had almost the same experience. I’m not sure if I could spell a new word in a new language without having seen it written down first, but once’s enough for it to stick.

          4. amoeba*

            I find that interesting, because I have almost no “inner eye” but spelling and comma placement is quite easy for me! I’d say I get basically every word right instinctively in my native language and most in English. Language is different for me than pictures, somehow. Even written.

        3. goddessoftransitory*

          When the store suddenly does a reorg of its stuff it’s a hellscape! “The cereal is supposed to be HERE! WHY IS IT THERE NOW???”

          1. Filosofickle*

            It’s so frustrating when they break my mental grocery map! Cleaning is also dangerous. My visual memory is what saves me from my messy self.

        4. amoeba*

          I think it is, yes! At least the other way round – I get lost easily because I *don’t* have a good/hardly any visual memory!

    7. Angstrom*

      Having skill at something can change one’s perception.
      I started sailing when I was young, and when I look at a lake it’s easy for me to see the wind patterns in the color and texture of the water. I can tell a companion in a boat “Gust coming from the left, on us in 3 seconds” and they’ll say “Huh? Where?”
      Climbers see avalanche danger where others see pretty snowfields. Engineers walk into a cathedral and see load paths in the arches. Spinners see sheep in a field and visualize how that breed’s wool might become an interesting yarn.
      If we all had the same filters it’d be an awfully dull world.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        This reminds me of when I worked retail in my college days. We used have to tidy up after closing before we could go home and when I started, I was stunned by the deputy manager and supervisor competing to see who could guess most accurately how long it would take. It could be anything from about half an hour to two hours, depending on who was working (obviously took longer if we had a lot of new people), how many customers we’d had that day (if it was quiet, we could do some tidying up during the day), whether there were any items that were really messed up, etc, but they’d be like “I’d say it will take us about 35 minutes” and would usually be right to within five minutes. By the end of my year there, I could do the same.

        1. Nicosloanica*

          Hahah I actually sometimes get annoyed with myself when I start getting TOO deep a knowledge or vocabulary of really mundane things – like, okay, that’s a sign you need a bigger life, Nico!! (Only if it doesn’t correspond to things I really love and value, of course).

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            I tend to notice “random patterns” at work, like “Man, the Madison store is getting so many customer orders from Mikes!” and my brain wants to conjure up a sinister conspiracy about them. That’s when I know it’s been a little slow.

      2. Jackalope*

        I worked at a zoo for a few years, and while I wasn’t the one in charge of setting up enclosures so I don’t have all of the nitty gritty details, I can still go to a zoo and pick out the heating rocks, the arrangements for animal enrichment, the maintenance doors that are discretely hidden in the background, etc. It’s kind of fun, and when I’m with other people who didn’t work at a zoo they enjoy learning the secret details behind it all.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        Paleontologists looking at a pile of gravel. “Those 99 small grey lumps are rocks, but that one there is a fossilized mouse jawbone.”

    8. Jean (just Jean)*

      Does anyone else have synesthesia (condition in which sensory input gets mixed up)? In my case each of the digits 1-9 has its own color. Some are more strongly colored than others and a few are so similar (dark brown, blue, purple, black) that it can be hard to tell them apart.

      I never thought to share this information until I was deep into middle age. Or I was also afraid that hearing about someone else’s system would overwhelm my own. The human brain is certainly an interesting place!

      My synesthesia doesn’t occur every time I encounter numerical information and it’s not quite a life-long condition. I began to do this in elementary school, around 3rd-4th grade/ages 8-9, when I was bored with doing math problems.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Synesthesia is fascinating! I would love a brain simulator that could let us experience things like synesthesia, aphantasia, dyslexia, face blindness, color blindness…I’d love to see what they see!

      2. Pippa K*

        Yes, I do! This type is called grapheme-color synesthesia, and for many people it affects both numbers and letters. I’ve had it my whole life that I can recall. When I was learning Arabic, I recognized the point at which the script became a “real language” for me because Arabic letters started having mental colors for me, just as letters in English and Spanish do.

        I like my mentally-colored letters, but people do look at you a bit oddly when you say things like “I confused Will with Kevin because their names are similar colors.” :)

        1. carcinization*

          Yes, I have it, and I did a whole presentation for my graduate school classmates about it because we were in a related class… the weird thing is that so did another student who wasn’t a synesthete, so… my presentation was better than his. There were only like 15 of us in that class back in… 2006 I think, so plenty of other presentation topics, haha.

      3. Turtlewings*

        Yes, letters and numbers all have different colors for me! Music, too — I always see music in colors and textures, usually moving. I’ve known of people with synesthesia so strong, they couldn’t have music on while driving or they wouldn’t be able to see the road. Mine’s not nearly THAT strong! I can see everything around me perfectly, the colors, etc. are only in my head.

        1. AGD*

          I have sound-color synesthesia (chromesthesia) and I think this is part of why I studied cognitive science. Intellectually, I know this is just my neurological wires getting crossed, but synesthesia (usually) feels so normal to the person with it that it’s hard to accept that other people either don’t have connections like this, or do have them but with different pairings of stimulus and response. When I’m asked whether I like having synesthesia, I say that I don’t mind and that the idea of turning it off sounds like the whole world going into grayscale: it wouldn’t be too disruptive, and sparingly that could be interesting, but it would also seem to be missing something.

    9. Sitting Pretty*

      For decades, I didn’t have to use an alarm clock. I could tell myself when going to bed that I needed to be up at 6:45am and my eyes would pop open at 6:44 precisely. And it wasn’t just because I had a routine. I could do this when napping, traveling, having a conversation. whatever. Like the internal clock was precisely synced with the external clock and it never had to be set.

      This actually really freaked me out. Like, have I been so programmed by the capitalist machine that I’m a robot now?

      Well, not to worry. The pandemic short-circuited the magic body clock and now I’m back to setting alarms like everyone else. It’s kind of a relief. I feel like I broke free

      1. Sloanicota*

        Oh yes, I have this ability too! But it’s not perfectly reliable, so I still have to set an alarm just in case. But I do always think it’s fascinating. How can my brain possibly know that it’s exactly 7:54 while I’m asleep??

      2. allathian*

        I’m not quite that accurate, but I usually wake up before my sunrise alarm starts getting lighter. If I sleep until the alarm goes off, I’m sleep deprived.

    10. Felice*

      A couple of things I only found out as an adult:
      I thought people just didn’t like cilantro, not that they actually tasted it differently (tastes soapy to certain people) due to a certain gene. Second, when my husband is on the verge of a sneeze, he looks at the sun which triggers the sneeze. He always told me to do this, but it never worked for me. Turns out that is also due to a gene.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Apparently that syndrome is called ACHOO–Autosomal Dominant Helioopthalmic Outburst Syndrome. Cute!

      2. Filosofickle*

        Oh the sun/sneeze thing is a gene?! I sneeze a lot (like a lot a lot) and have tried many times when I have that almost-sneeze situation and it’s never worked for me.

      3. amoeba*

        I don’t think that one’s 100% clear, though! There’s said to be a genetic component, but it’s not 100%. And my own experience is the best personal corroboration for that (although I don’t expect people to believe a random person on the internet, sure): I used to be firmly in the “tastes like soap and ruins every dish” camp. Until I wasn’t and now I actually really like coriander/cilantro. It was quite sudden, as well, like, in the space of months. No idea what changed but pretty sure it wasn’t my genes (although some epigenetic modifications? Who knows!)

    11. Lexi Vipond*

      I can’t find things by touch unless I close my eyes. Not sure I could do the fabric thing anyway, but things like fishing for a pen from the bottom of my bag.

    12. ditty ditto*

      I can’t remember the term for this, but I have the thing where whenever a song is in my head or I think about it, I remember it in the same key it’s in. And it makes sense to me, since I grew up gravitating toward music and enjoyed learning to play instruments / melodies by ear. I don’t know how common/uncommon it is, but I know there’s a term for it. Fun thread!

      1. OyHiOh*

        I have this, plus near perfect pitch. I was teaching a group of actors a song several years ago, and casually remarked that they could find it on YT “and it’s pretty much always in key of E like I just sang it so you can definitely search for it there too” and one of the actors kinda laughed and was like “well, not all of us have perfect pitch” and I was just completely mind blown. I know how my ears work, how on earth did I not know this?????

        1. amoeba*

          Just out of interest – what would be the difference between the two? For me, they’d both be what we call in German “absolute hearing” – so, not just hearing notes in relation to each other, but actually being able to tell “that’s an E!” without any external reference.

          I believe that’s genetic? Anyway, I don’t think it’s something you can train (unlike the relative stuff!) and it’s not something all musical people have (hence, tuners!). My dad was a professional musician and he didn’t have it, it’s not like you need it, either, basically everybody uses a tuning fork as reference, anyway.

    13. allathian*

      I’m almost tone deaf. Almost, but not quite, because I don’t have any trouble hearing the upward pitch of a question in English or other languages. But I’m amazed by people who can do something as simple as identifying the key of a song, something that’s completely beyond me. My husband can do that, and so can our son, even if he barely listens to any music at all.

      I only need to see a word written down once to be able to spell it, at least in languages that use the Latin alphabet, and I draw the limit at around 10 syllables. I had to look up that town in Wales, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, to spell it.

      1. Lexi Vipond*

        Perfect pitch – being able to recognise notes and keys without any external reference – is pretty rare, and one of those things you either have or don’t have. You can kind of learn to recognise notes from memory, but I wouldn’t call it simple!

        1. OyHiOh*

          I can do this – hear notes/keys/intervals without external references. I can also “hear” a reference note (usually middle C because I am a choir/orchestra kid by birth and training) in my head, and then start a song on pitch without external references. And also, look at a piece of sheet music and hear it as I read through the notes. My brain is a bit special, lol. However, both of my parents have the same abilities so within our family unit, these unique, fairly rare anomolies were treated as completely normal and matter of fact “anyone” can do them. You can imagine my surprise in college, and beyond, discovering that no, in fact, these are actually really unusual and the reason why pitch pipes and other tools are a thing!

        2. amoeba*

          Yup! I mean, unless you mean “minor or major key”, which is indeed easy for musical people. But perfect pitch (so, D vs E major), no way.

    14. Just here for the scripts*

      Learned two years ago that hubby and I (32+ years together) have different types of memories—I always literally see what happened in my head like the medical examiner in iZombi, and he …doesn’t. If I can’t see it, I don’t have a memory of it. Explains why every time I couldn’t find something and hubby would say “try to imagine where you last saw it” would make me soooo mad. I mean if I could see it, I’d remember it—that’s what memory is. It’s only when he said in passing (about something else) he said “it’s not like memories happen like in iZombi” and I said “but they are EXACTLY like that!!!” that we realized how differently we remember.

    15. OyHiOh*

      I’ve got a veritable smorgasboard of entertaining neurological games going on in my head.

      I have a very strong visual/generally sensory memory. I recall memories visually, but also by scent and by emotion. Sensory memories bring up specific visuals, sometimes moving pictures, sometimes stills. I didn’t realize until relatively recently that a memorization/recall technique called “the mind castle” is one I just . . . . do (you visualize a room, then attach key pieces of what you’re memorizing to objects in the room); related, I can recall the place on a page a piece of information was found. Oh, and also, I have very strong spatial memory. My studio looks like untidy piles of paper and yet, when I need a specific page, I usually know which pile it is in and roughly where in the pile it is. I find lost objects by mentally visualizing where I was the last time I had the object and re tracing a mental, visual path. I do I also have a strong narrative voice that runs pretty much constantly, unless I am actually typing words or listening to music with lyrics. From this and other conversations, it seems relatively unusual to have both strong visual memory and an unprompted narrative voice.

      Then there’s the focused hearing. As opposed to a couple posters on this thread who cannot distinguish the directionality of sound, my sense of directionality is hyper attuned. On the simple end, when I go to my child’s band concerts, I can tune out all parts of the band except their section. On the difficult end, I can pinpoint once child in the band and focus only on that specific student; everything else in the band turns into an unfocused blur, while that one student is acutely in focus. This was a particularly good skill to have back in my violin/chamber music days because I could switch between listening to my own instrument, listening to the whole group, and listening to each of the others in the quartet. Related, nearly perfect pitch. I was likely born with it, but years of tuning a violin by ear, and living with a piano tuner parent certainly honed an innate neural connection. I also have a very good ear for understanding accents. This is one of the neurological quirks that I was absolutely *shook* as an adult to realize not everyone has.

      Because I’ve done a bit of archery, I happen to know that I’m cross dominant (right hand/left eye dominant). I do suspect that my parents may have encouraged possibly ambidexterous toddler Oy to be right hand dominant because basically my entire body is left dominant except for handedness and when I need strength (as opposed to dexterity) I also favor my left. It’s rather curious!

      I can roll my tongue, can lift either my left eyebrow or both (but not my right independently), can blink my left eye but not right, and cilantro does not taste like soap to me. Weirdly, although both my late husband and I were/are non soap tasters, two out of three of our kids *do* have the soap taste genetic. No idea how that one worked out!

  18. Confused human*

    Looking for advice from pet owners of older dogs, and maybe a sanity check.

    So for the last several months I have rented a room in a house of a woman who I mostly get along fine with. (We’re both pretty private people and don’t talk that much.) She has two dogs and mentioned that occasionally the large older dog has accidents.

    The problem was more than occasionally to begin with, and now this dog pees and poops in the house multiple times per day. I am self-employed with some health issues and often need to work from home. The owner often mops up after the dog when she gets home, but even then that means that I am often left dealing with common areas that smell of urine and feces for hours. The owner acts as if living in a house like this is totally normal, and has rarely mentioned it.

    She casually mentioned diapers one time, and I finally got up the courage to ask her to get them. But it only occurred to me today, now that the dog has them, that it is not good for the dog to wear a soiled diaper for hours. I also don’t want to be responsible for changing this dog’s diaper every day.

    I have never been a pet owner, so I have no idea how people with animals engage with aging pets with incontinence issues. She got a medication from the vet, but after multiple weeks the problem remains.

    How would other dog owners handle this? I am frankly shocked that constantly having your floor covered with pee and poo is treated as an everyday ho-hum occurrence. That’s part of what made it take me so long to say anything, because the problem seemed so obvious for someone you are renting a room to. Is there anything I can recommend? Do all dog owners just experience aging dogs like this? I understand that she can’t come home every few hours to change a doggie diaper, but this doesn’t seem like a solution, either. Any ideas would be appreciated.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Aww boo, I’m sorry this is happening. It is true that older pets can become incontinent and it’s tough to handle. It’s one thing to consider when reviewing quality of life, but that’s something a third party can rarely influence in my experience. I was also surprised visiting a friend when his older dog dumped on the floor but at least my friend works from home and could clean it up right away – as you said, he didn’t seem to consider it that weird. Ideally, there would be a solution – if not doggy diapers, then a doggy pet door or indoor training (they can use an indoor spot like a cat, you can put down puppy pads – they make them for adult dogs. Obviously works better for small dogs than big ones).

    2. EA*

      To be honest we just dealt with our dog peeing in the house the last six months of his life and mopped daily. I know it’s gross, but he had cancer, and we just wanted him to live out his last few months comfortably. But it was just me and my husband at home so different than having a roommate.

      1. Jackalope*

        Yeah, I always thought that was super gross and I’d never put up with it… and now we have a cat who is… less continent than he used to be. We’ve tried a couple of things to varying success and he has a lot of days when he’s fine, but there are still more accident days than I’d like. And at some point in time it’s tough to keep going with the constant cleaning. We’ve worked with the vet some, and since he’s still otherwise doing well (some chronic pain but appears manageable, he can still do his favorite things, still eating, etc.) it doesn’t feel like time for The End, but we’re keeping an eye on it. Sorry about this, though; it’s really lousy to deal with.

        1. JSPA*

          Mine’s there now. But also isn’t eating and is staggering, and ancient, and gaunt. Saying goodby in the next couple of days.

          For now, there are litter boxes in every accessible room; puppy pee pads on every accessible couch and chair and beanbag, and towels over the pads; and several doors that normally would be open are now closed.

          Luckily the washer has a near-boiling “diapers” setting, to handle all the towels. And I’m looking into diapers tomorrow, if the eating and staggering resolves.

          All of which is to say, it’s not outrageous that a pet becomes incontinent… but it is pretty questionable for the owner to not handle the situation more proactively, one way or another.

          (Even just timing meals and walks can help with the pooping.)

          For the dog be incontinent both ways makes me wonder if this is a thyroid problem, or dementia, or what; asking her what the prognosis is, and what her plans are, might give you more clarity on what you need to do (or spur her to bring the dog to the vet, or come home and walk him at lunch, or hire someone to do so, or give you money off the rent, to do so.)

      2. BRR*

        When our dog was old we just dealt with the accidents as they happened. Realistically there is only so much you can do and our primary goal was for our dog to enjoy the last part of his life.

    3. MissCoco*

      Hire a pet sitter or dog walker to come by multiple times per day, change/increase the meds, or enclose the dog in an easy to clean area (puppy pads etc). In the case of trying a med that still hasn’t worked after weeks, I’d be heading back to the vet to try something else as well.

      I think pet owners can sometimes become blind to their own situation, especially if it occurs by degrees, and in a case where it’s tied up with health and aging, I’m sure it’s even harder for an owner to handle emotionally, and there are probably physical limitations of what the dog can handle (is the dog capable of holding it at all anymore?). In your situation it’s complicated since you are renting, but no, I don’t think consistent indoor poo and pee is the norm for aging dogs. When our aging beagle started having urine accidents while napping it was pretty immediately a big deal. I think the 3rd or maybe 4th time she had a leak we were talking to the vet.

      1. Nicosloanica*

        OP I wonder if the owner would be willing to give you a cut on the rent if you were willing to do a bit more for the dog. They would be saving on paying a dog walker/carer and the animal already knows you. You could negotiate the price that makes you willing to consider it …

    4. WestsideStory*

      Would they consider a dog gate/baby gate to restrict the dog away from your common areas? So the dog would have a safe space for relief and you wouldn’t have to deal with what is a sad but pervasive odor.
      That they tried the diapers shows me they are not ignoring your issues with this. Thank you for being so sensitive about this – incontinence in pets often means they are at the end of their life span. It may be helpful to have a “listening” time with your housemate as they may be feeling overwhelmed by the sadness as well as the extra work involved.

    5. Old Plant Woman*

      Not your dog and not your battle. What if you did everything reasonable to support the home owner and her dog while busting your tail to find another place to live?

      1. WellRed*

        To be fair: confused human is paying to rent a room in exchange for a reasonably clean environment. They may need to move out, but it’s not unreasonable for the landlord to try and keep up her end of the agreement or at least discuss the issue now that the terms, if you will, have changed. And confused human came here to ask if this was normal.

        1. Old Plant Woman*

          Sorry. Did not mean to put down confused human, landlord or most especially old dog. That was totally not my intention. I was just putting myself in that situation and thinking with my nose.

    6. Golden French Fry*

      Not a dog owner myself, but the families of both my high school and college boyfriends seemed to treat frequent dog pee/poop on the floor as an everyday ho-hum occurrence. Diapers and puppy pads were a thing in both situations, but neither really seemed to solve the problem.

      Agree with other commenters who suggested asking the landlord to contain the dogs in a separate area of the house. High school boyfriend’s family’s (carpeted, yuck) formal dining room was just the dog waste area and it was gross, but at least the other areas of the house were somewhat safe.

    7. Random Bystander*

      My mother has a dog (Great Dane, so these are not small) who has become a little bit incontinent in that the dog will poop when getting up from a bed. Of course, my mom is retired, so always there when it happens and just picks up the poop and disposes of it as she would the poop that happens when they get outside for the walk. Inside, however, also gets treated with a spot clean (as appropriate for the landing point–the fabric of the bed or the wooden floor next to the bed), and a spritz of air freshener for any lingering odor. So far, there haven’t been issues with urine accidents, but I imagine they would be treated much the same (though perhaps with some “puppy pads” put down where they might be expected.

      For about a year and a half, I was dealing with a cat who wasn’t all that old who turned out to have GI lymphoma, so I was dealing with frequent diarrhea accidents (not uncommon to wake up in the morning and do the ‘poop and puke patrol’ and find 3-4 puddles that had come from one end or the other. Unfortunately, he reached the end of his struggle and I had to put him to sleep 9/16, but I’ll just say that it was best to clean ASAP (there were other incidents with him during daytime, and I work from home).

      I would talk to her as JSPA suggested, to see if there is some way to a solution.

  19. RagingADHD*

    Y’all, I just saw that S16 E1 of Taskmaster dropped on YouTube, and finally — finally! Sue Perkins is on.

    I can’t wait.

    1. Vio*

      Discovered the show recently on Netflix but they only have the first six series, fortunately there’s other means of obtaining the rest. I’ve just started series 10 with the sudden social distancing making for some interesting changes.

      1. fposte*

        If you’re in North America, the official channel offers the later series free on YouTube and is dropping new episodes 24 hours after UK airing, which is amazing.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I hadn’t seen much of her before, but S1 makes it clear that she is daft as a brush in the best way.

        1. Cat and dog fosterer*

          I don’t know her well either but she’s married to Jon Richardson (Cats Countdown) and her daftness did make me wonder about their family dynamic! I’ve seen that they have a show together about their home life, but I don’t think I could watch it.

    2. D'Euly*

      So excited! I found s15 a little lackluster, though the barge task was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.

  20. starlight*

    I just want to say how much I appreciate this site and these weekend posts in particular. I appreciate the weekday content for all the obvious reasons but these weekends posts—just in the few hours this one has been up I have gotten book recommendations, some ideas for handy work around the house and read some interesting discussions about topics I hadn’t thought about before. I know a lot of work goes into running the site and keeping the space an enjoyable one to be in and I wanted to say thank you for it!

    (I also remember a few years ago around the start of the pandemic the weekend threads had taken on a different tone and a lot of thought and effort went into resetting that. I think it worked!)

    1. Sloanicota*

      Oh interesting I think that was before I was regularly engaging in the weekend posts. I forget what a long history folks on these boards have! I also really appreciate the conversation that goes on here.

  21. MEH Squared*

    That video of Laurie grooming Stella melted my heart. Laurie is such a good big brother, and it seems as if Stella is fitting right in.

    1. I take tea*

      I liked at the video and thought “what a relaxed cat”. You can see that she feels completely secure. So nice.

  22. Kayem*

    Thanks to everyone for the suggestions on a brisket rub free of pepper, mustard, and capsicum! I tried the pink peppercorns with some toasted dried onion and mesquite smoke powder. The peppercorns caused my partner some issues, so I won’t be doing that again, but I got a lot of great suggestions to try for next time!

  23. Snoozing not schmoozing*

    Since it’s not terribly cold where you are, have you considered a poncho? I’ve seen some (can’t remember where) that were nylon exterior and woolly or fleece interior.

    1. WestsideStory*

      I’ve seen a few around town. If your in the US, Talbots (also online) has some suitable for traveling or to the office.

  24. goddessoftransitory*

    Okay, this was inspired by work, but a general question:

    What technology do you consider absolutely a normal, everyday, unremarkable part of life, but apparently gobsmacks people around you, no matter their age or occupation?

    I take phone calls for a living, and I cannot believe how many people are shocked or astounded when I say “this is X Company, is this John Doe?” They seem to think I’m a wizard or Skynet or something, but it’s just Caller ID! That’s been around since the 1980s! It is nothing new or special, but I hear “OMG HOW DID YOU KNOW!” five to ten times a day. It doesn’t matter if the person is older or clearly a Gen Z youth that was issued a smartphone in the womb.

    1. Kayem*

      It’s amazing how people forget about caller ID. During one of my mom’s…phases, she told everyone who would listen to her about what a terrible child I was because she called me and I refused to answer her call and how awful it was to be such a great parent with such an ungrateful child.

      She’s had caller ID on her landline since the 20th century. She was an early iPhone adopter. At this time this happened, I had both a (soon to be cancelled) landline with fancy cordless phone AND and smartphone. Even my dad knows about caller ID and he only just got an answering machine five years ago.

    2. Kayem*

      As to your question, I don’t know if this is because it’s still in the “shocking new thing” phase for most people or I’m just jaded, but I work with AI for my job. To me, it’s nothing fancy, just adding data and doing cross-checks as needed, but apparently it’s a miracle to so many people. I’m like no really, this thing is brainless, it’s not going to take over humanity any time soon, it can barely remember how to apply a five digit criteria score to the thing I just told it to.

    3. Might Be Spam*

      I have a Google Voice phone number set up to ring and display notifications on my phone, tablet, and laptop. People’s minds are blown when they realize I’m taking their phone calls on my laptop or tablet. Most of the time, my phone isn’t even turned on. They are totally intimidated at the idea of doing it themselves, but it’s not that complicated. It’s just an app or an open browser page.

    4. Cookies For Breakfast*

      My mother is in her 70s and fairly tech savvy. She has a good command of computers and email because she used them for work, and she’s worked her way through several smartphones. Still, I can’t get her to come round to buying things online.

      On one hand, fair: she lives in a small town where going to the shops is still the norm and fairly easy. On the other hand, here are some examples of conversations we have.

      “I’m so upset. We were turned away at the cinema because they ran out of tickets. What am I supposed to do, turn up two hours in advance?”
      “You do know your local cinema has been offering online booking for years?”
      “But how’s that even meant to work? I can’t print the ticket off my phone!”

      or this:

      “What a handy kitchen gadget you have here. I’d love one for myself.”
      “Cool, I’ll send you a link so you can get it.”
      “But where? Do you think the stores in our town will sell it?”
      “We bought it online, and so can you, from the same link.”
      [utter amazement follows, and I know she’ll never buy it in the end, because paying online = ruin-inducing scam and witchcraft]

      1. I take tea*

        I sympathise with your mother. I’m quite a bit younger, but I actually dislike shopping online and will often forego something that I can’t buy in a shop. I do book tickets online, but as for actual merch I usually go to a shop, rather than order it, even if ordering would make more sense and be less complicated.

        1. Nicosloanica*

          Yeah hahaha I’m not really sure this is an age thing. I don’t like putting random apps on my phone, which is increasingly how things are done these days, and I often want to see the options for myself before deciding. Everyone at my old office would order sandwiches via app and go pick them up, and I was the luddite who wanted to get in line and order after looking at the options. I’m not that old.

            1. Just here for the scripts*

              Me too! I mean apps instead of browser defeats the entire mission/power of the internet.

            2. OyHiOh*

              I’m in a long running fight with book of faces because I hate the app and insist on opening it in browser, on my phone. This partially ties to having strong visual memory (see thread above on neurological quirks) and the fact that the browser and app are organized so differently that to me, they might as well be completely different social media sites; and the amount of memory the faces app gobbles up. I’m an artist in my non work time. I prioritize phone memory for photos, lol!

              In general, I much prefer browser to discreet individual apps. I have a few, like the parking meter app for our city, which I do prefer over trying to make sure I always have quarters, but that’s it.

        2. Jackalope*

          Yeah, I have some things I can buy online – tickets, books by an author I’m already familiar with, etc. – but I find there are so many details that you can’t get from online and often those ruin the purchase for me. Clothing is an absolute no unless I’m buying another of the same thing from the same store because I tried it on in-person and know that I like it. I remember at one point in time wanting to buy an office chair of a specific style, and I couldn’t find anywhere that had that style in-person so I could try it out. ONE store had a single version (they were using it for their staff but allowed me to try it out), and it was awful for me (wrong proportions), which is why I needed to try it out. The people at the store couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to order a few different chairs, pay for them all, put them together, try them out to see if they worked, and then return the ones that didn’t, as if that was somehow faster and more convenient than going to a store with samples of the various chairs that I could park my backside in and try out right then and there.

    5. Rachel*

      Everybody knows caller ID exists.

      Some people, when calling customer service, have a script in their head. They know they will be providing name, account number, reason for the call. When you already know their name, you threw off their script.

      I, personally, don’t care one way or another as long as the transaction is completed. A few things to keep in mind about your approach:

      (1) family plans exist. So people calling you might not be the name on the caller ID

      (2) sometimes the name on the phone and the account name do not match up. When I got married, I changed my name and did not change it on my cell phone plan because I was waiting for a plan to end and start a new one. All my other accounts were in my married name, so I would say “this is Rachel X but the account is Rachel Y.”

      I never found this approach to be faster, is my point.

    6. Jay*

      I have regularly and consistently shocked and amazed people by knowing just a few useful keyboard shortcuts.
      Ctrl-F to search.
      Ctrl-C to copy.
      Ctrl-V to paste.
      That type of thing.
      They work on pretty much anything at any time on any PC (I have never used a Mac. of my own free will, so have no idea if that goes for them).

      1. KarenInKansas*

        I used alt+tab during a grad school class presentation to navigate to a document and the other students were BLOWN AWAY. They asked more questions about that than the presentation topic.

    7. Can't Sit Still*

      My building has an intercom system for buzzing people in while residents have a building key. The lock is fussy, so when I don’t want to deal with it, I buzz myself in using my smart watch or my cell phone. Witchcraft to anyone that sees me do it. Maybe people have forgotten that you can use a phone to…make phone calls?

  25. bassclefchick*

    Need help with counted cross stitch:

    I’m working on a baby announcement with Snoopy as the theme. I’m having a hard time deciding if I should do Snoopy’s outline first (black and dark grey thread) or his “fur” first (white and off white thread). I use the loop method to start the threads, but I’m concerned about ending them. It would make sense to do black first, so I can bury the white in the black. But the black is only one row wide. I’m not sure how to bury the black thread when there’s so little of it.

    I do the pin stitch method to end the light colors, but I’m not sure if that will work for black, as everything that would go over the pinned stitch would be white or offwhite.

    The rest of the pattern is mostly every single shade of blue DMC has, so it could work to bury the black in the dark blue, I think? What wisdom can this great community offer?

    1. Squidhead*

      Okay I don’t know if I can describe this correctly but I would start and end colors under themselves (on the back). This means it won’t matter what color you stitch first as long as you don’t carry a dark color under a light field.

      My method involves terminating the thread by sliding the needle under about an inch of stitching on the back and pulling it snug, then snipping. It’s much easier to slide the needle under a diagonal stitch than a vertical stitch. So for your row of black stitching (or at least the last 6-8 stitches) I would place my stitches so that the back looks like /// (slashes) rather than the back looking like a bunch of parallel lines. Each stitch goes bottom-left-to-top-right-bottom-right-to-top-left and then back to bottom-left to start the next stitch creating a diagonal (one cell) slash on the back. Repeat for several stitches and you have a place slide the needle under and pull the thread snug, then snip. If your normal method of stitching a row is to do all the BL-TR stitches first (moving in one direction) and then come back the other way doing all the BR-TL stitches then you need to start your row 8 stitches from one end. Work the long way away from the starting point. When you get to the far end turn back (complete each X). When you get to the starting point the whole back will be parallel lines but now you will switch to completing each cell for the last 8 stitches (making slashes.) Then terminate your thread. Does that make any kind of sense?

      1. Squidhead*

        oops, I terminate under about 1/2″ of stitching. I like 16 to 18 count fabric, so 6-8 stitches is not an inch!

      2. bassclefchick*

        It actually does make sense! Make a complete stitch at a time, instead of a row of half stitches, then moving back and finishing the “x”. I’ll try that! Thank you so much.

        1. Squidhead*

          Thank you for the question because it is how I have just learned about the loop method and pin stitches! I tend to do fully-worked canvases so hiding the start (I start under a nearby darker color or hold the tail on the back of the fabric and cast over it for several stitches) isn’t usually a problem but I didn’t know either of these techniques!

          1. bassclefchick*

            You’re welcome! I really like the loop method, because then you only have to bury the end of the thread and not both the beginning and end. I just learned the pin stitch method myself, and thought it was brilliant. I’ve seen something called “parking”, but that confuses me and don’t think I’ll do it.

            The other thing I learned? If you need to finish your thread and it’s REALLY short (like, shorter than your needle): thread your needle with a different piece of thread so there’s a loop on one end, doesn’t matter what color, bury the needle, then make sure the thread you want to end is caught in the loop and pull it through. Blew my simple mind!

    2. Buni*

      I always do dark colours first and pale after, as the second / third / fourth stitch you do through the same hole will always slightly overlap the ones before.

      I always secure a thread by either running it under something close by or under the first few stitches of itself if there’s nothing there. I hate knots in sewing with an all-encompassing, completely irrational hatred.

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Not a cross stitcher, but I needlepoint. White gets dirty. When possible, I do white last. I have done outlines first and last, and there are pros and cons. It depends on the threads for me. As for burying threads, I would not bury black under white. Figure out how to vary your stitch so you have coverage on the back for the one line or bury it under the other colors, and keep the tail as short as you can to help.

      I have so rarely cross stitched that I can’t actually remember what the back looks like, so hope that is helpful.

      1. Nitpicker*

        I followed the tag and found one fanfic intersecting with Lois Bujold’s The Curse of Chalion (Iselle writing in). It is absolutely awesome!!

    1. Nicosloanica*

      Oh my gosh how did I not know about this!! Oh, perhaps we should all flood the tag with amazing stories now. I am a novelist and I can only dream of finding something I wrote there (or on TV Tropes, or in Wikipedia, which happened once briefly and got deleted – might have been a friend of mine). It wouldn’t be likely in my case though as I don’t really write a genre that attracts fanfic … but if AAM can do it, it’s possible!!

        1. Nicosloanica*

          Yes, I’m always intrigued how sometimes the “biggest” shows have very few fics, while others that probably aren’t huge outside certain circles will totally dominate AO3. Sometimes I like fics from shows I don’t care for, in fact, if I like a certain angle in the fanbase. I suppose it’s (a) shows or other media that have a very passionate fanbase, regardless of size, (b) that appeals to the demographic of people who write fics (so skews female and younger, I guess?) and (c) that generally have the types of relationships to generate a lot of fic. At least AAM has (a) going for it haha.

    2. GoryDetails*

      That’s great! “You should never default to superpowers to solve your problems” – indeed!

      My first experience of Ask-a-manager-inspired fan-fic was “You’re Where You Should Be All The Time,” inspired by the now-infamous “best office holiday party date story of all time” Ask A Manager post, and shipping Marvel’s Agent Coulson and… Hawkeye, in a touching/hilarious way.

      1. SarahKay*

        Ha, I just posted about that fanfic in a thread above about watching TV shows long after they were done.

  26. ShroomTaDa*

    We’re renting a house with a pool! yay! But it’s freezing even though the weather where we are is sunny and warm. The pool heating options that pop up on Google seem to be poorly rated. Anyone have suggestions of ones they love? Or is it a better bet to just get wet suits!

    1. Not A Manager*

      Per the commenter above you, may I suggest just using your superpowers to surreptitiously heat the pool?

    2. Healthcare Worker*

      When I was a kid we had a “solar blanket” that we used on the pool to help keep the heat in. You had to remove it to swim, we rolled it up on the walk around the pool, and it extended the swimming season by about 6 weeks in both the spring and fall. It worked best if you started using it while the temperature was still warm, and before the water temperature dropped too much. Purchased it at a pool supply store.

  27. Keeping Secrets*

    My partner’s sister told me something in private, and asked me not to tell anyone. Later that week, we were at a family gathering with many of my partner’s relatives. The main topic of conversation was the SIL’s “secret”. Apparently she’d told some other people, and they freely discussed it with others. My partner and I were the outliers in this family – both of us had kept the secret, even from each other.
    So now I’m curious about how other people deal with secrets. Would you share it with your significant other (or trusted friend), or would you keep it to yourself?

    1. Enough*

      At the very most if asked to keep a secret I might tell my husband. But even then it depends on the secret and the people involved. And it probably 99% of cases there is no reason to tell anyone any way.

    2. Jackalope*

      I would keep it to myself if I knew the person wanted me not to tell. I have secrets I’ve never shared from decades back; some of them may be no big deal now but I’ve kept them to myself just in case. That being said, if there’s something that I really need to tell someone for some reason (like once when I had someone close to me share the trauma of their abuse and I had to verbally process it [they were out of the situation by that point so trying to help them wasn’t needed other than listening]), I will tell my spouse and no one else.

    3. Squidhead*

      I would generally keep it to myself but depending on the person and the secret I might ask them if they’ve told anyone else. I think it’s a little strange that she told both you and your partner but asked you both not to tell anyone thereby creating a situation where you felt you needed to hide something from someone who already knew it anyway.

      1. Keeping Secrets*

        It turns out she’d told quite a few family members and asked them all not to tell (she was kind of a drama llama). But she also said she assumed I’d discuss it with my partner anyway, so I was totally confused by the whole thing. Still, if you want a secret kept, I’m the one you’d want to tell!

    4. Irish Teacher.*

      My rule is that I only discuss secrets with people highly unlikely to know the people involved. Like if somebody at work told me a secret, I might tell my mother or brother or a friend of mine in England, probably without specifying who it was, beyond “a person at work.” “A person at work is pregnant and told me to keep it to myself because she doesn’t want the principal knowing yet,” sort of thing.

      So I might tell a trusted friend from college a secret passed on to me by somebody from work who they have never met, but I wouldn’t tell them something about somebody they knew. If I had a partner, I wouldn’t tell them something about their sister.

      Like “Enough” says, it does depend on the secret, but there are very few circumstances where I’d tell anybody who might know the person (I’m not going to say “never” because well, if somebody told me they were planning to embezzle from somebody and asked me not to tell the person in question, of course I wouldn’t keep that, but under normal circumstances…)

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        If I couldn’t tell my husband, I probably wouldn’t tell anyone except my sister–she lives across the country so she wouldn’t have any personal stake in it or anyone to tell who would care.

      2. amoeba*

        Yeah, true. Normally I’d keep secrets to myself, but if, for instance, my colleague told me they were job-searching and please keep it to myself, I might tell my boyfriend (who has no connection to my work).

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Depends on whether my husband knows the teller. If not, and it’s something that I have Thoughts about, I might talk about it with him just to settle my brain. If he does, I probably won’t say anything to him about it unless it somehow might affect him. When a mutual friend had mentioned to me she was quietly on the outs with another friend, and he was going to be at some event including both of them, I mentioned it to him with minimal detail so that if he noticed they weren’t as friendly as usual at the event, he knew it was an actual situation and could avoid accidentally sticking his foot in it. (Which he did appreciate after the fact because apparently they were not as good at avoiding each other as they had meant to be and there was tension and he was one of few people not asking about it.)

    6. numptea*

      I tell nobody. I’ve always been more of a listener than a talker, and I’ve never experienced that “bursting to tell someone” feeling about someone else’s business. I’m content to spectate.

    7. RMNPgirl*

      If someone tells me not to say anything to anyone else then I won’t. Although, sometimes I do ask if I can tell my mom because I tell her everything. If it’s another family member, then I won’t ask about telling her but my friends or work colleagues etc usually are fine if I tell my mom because it won’t get back to anyone they know.

    8. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Generally speaking, I’m a vault. I don’t share anything with anyone if I’m asked not to.
      The few times I have not done that have been times when my worry for the person was pretty high, and I needed to figure out what to do. Those times I’ve discussed it with my husband, and in one instance I talked with a professional as well.
      But there have been times when my husband came home from seeing his mom and was shocked I knew something about his family he did not and the person who told me was surprised he did not know.

    9. GoryDetails*

      I commend you on your secret-keeping abilities!

      If someone asked me to keep something private I’d certainly want to – but knowing my tendency to Freudian slips, I’d have to warn them that while I’d never pass the information along intentionally, it’s entirely possible that I’d let it slip inadvertently, and if they really wanted it secret they shouldn’t tell me.

      There have been situations where I knew some private information that, while not told me under a vow of secrecy, was pretty obviously not to be shouted from the rooftops. I did sometimes vent to a close friend, who’s definitely good at keeping things confidential.

      I’m not likely to have my own secrets, but if I did, and if I felt the need to share them with those close to me, I’d expect those with partners to feel free to talk it over with them. FWIW. But I know and trust my close friends and relatives’ partners, which makes a difference! If a relative was married to someone I did not trust, I probably wouldn’t share secrets with that relative at all.

    10. Pocket Mouse*

      If someone asks me not to tell anyone, I don’t tell anyone. If I want to talk to my partner about it, I ask the person if they’re comfortable with me telling my partner and abide by their answer.

      If the topic is private, but I’m not asked to keep my mouth shut, I am likely to tell my partner but will specify to my partner that I got the impression it’s something the person doesn’t want shared more widely. We’re both pre