weekend open thread – January 27-28, 2024

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: The Golem of Brooklyn, by Adam Mansbach. A golem learns English by binge-watching Curb Your Enthusiasm and taking LSD and then heads out to defend the Jews. This was amazing.

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

{ 1,050 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    A reminder that the weekend posts are for relatively light discussion 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. MissB*

    My in-law was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s this week so of course my spouse is having a hard time. Luckily his sibling lives with their parent so the in-law isn’t alone.

    We live about 2 hours away, and my spouse recently retired so I know that they’ll be spending more time together.

    After my last attempt to spend time with my in-law, I’m less likely to dive into problem solving mode. My in-law needs more stimulation that they’re getting (dr’s orders basically) and I have zero faith that my spouse’s sibling will be able to do much at all, because life is tv and social media.

    I feel guilty for staying out of this. Spouse’s sibling flipped out on me when we hosted in-law for a week, thinking that we were trying to steal their parent (we weren’t.) I don’t need the drama but I want to do something, kwim?

    So what would you do? How involved would you be? I happen to live my in-law very much.

    1. WellRed*

      For now i would stay only as involved as you normally are and see what happens. It’s an awful and overwhelming diagnosis and sibling already sounds like they feel … I dunno, crowded? Not saying that’s on you! It’s not! Play a supporting role for the time being. I’m sorry about the diagnosis.

      1. JSPA*

        Complete agreement.

        If someone is told that they have Alzheimers, and is on board with more stimulus, and asks for help in making that happen, that’s very different, in terms of stress, and autonomy, than having people visit stimulus upon them. I have (broadly) not seen random stimulus help people, when they’re coping with a loss of function.

        (Each individual is a single data point, not an average; there’s no study saying that everyone with Alzheimers benefits reliably from new and increased stimulus.)

        There’s always an urge to do more, just to do more, and feel like one is doing something. Resist the urge. If there’s something small and additional that they might enjoy (they used to do jigsaws, and you have a simpler, yet beautiful one that they might do with you while you’re visiting)…fine.

        But if someone has helped them work out a routine that’s keeping them semi-independent by its predictable simplicity, you’re not doing anyone any favors by changing things up. A new and different stove, a new and different front door, different reflections…all of that can be noise in the circuits.

        I’ve also seen that people with dementia can enthusiastically buy into a suggestion based on a completely misinformed conviction about their remaining capacities.

        So yeah, even if “stimulus” comes on doctor’s orders, and you do it with the best of intentions, I’d be very (!) careful instituting some new set of experiences and programs, without the whole family having full buy-in. And with extra weight given to those who live closest, and have seen the decline, and the remaining coping skills, in most detail.

        1. Name changed for this*

          it’s sad that the caregiver is the one having issues with the visit—she’s going to need to learn how to take breaks to avoid caregiver burnout.

      2. NotSarah*

        There will come a time when the care taking spouse needs a break. So perhaps you can focus on your own happiness/self-care so you be 100% ready to step in with just a bit of notice.

    2. A313*

      I agree with WellRed to play a supporting role, at least for now. There’s a reason Alzheimer’s is called “the long goodbye,” and it’s likely there will be plenty of time and opportunities to be helpful. I am so sorry for the diagnosis. It isn’t easy for anyone involved.

      1. Averylongwindedperson*

        I don’t really have any good suggestions, I’m afraid.

        But as someone who lives with a parent with some medical issues, and increasing memory/confusion problems, I will say it is very easy to feel critized by other people, as well as internally, about how you do things.

        I am doing the best I can, but it is really hard, enormously hard, a lot of the time. Suggestions from other people. without any practical help, are usually not appreciated by me. Yes, I am sure they would do x, y, and z better than I manage, but since they aren’t, and I am, it is mostly besides the point.

        I get that you love your in law, and want what is best for them, but what are you prepared to actually DO? I’d figure that out first.

        Also, you can help, even if it means helping in a way that you might not think of, but what might help best is if you can manage to help in such a way that you are helping the sibling help in what the sibling thinks or wants help in. Not by helping in way that you think is needed. Even if you are completely right and something could be done better by you helping in the other way.

        I hope this makes sense. What I guess I’m trying to say more than anything is that even if you can provide enormous and great help, in this situation, you need to have the person who is dealing with most of the work, agree that you are being helpful. Otherwise, you are not only not being helpful, you are being actively unhelpful.

        1. melissa*

          100% this. It’s like with parenting— someone saying “I bet your toddler would have fewer tantrums if you did XYZ” is almost never appreciated. Even if it’s true! Because everyone who is doing the hands-on work is already doing the best that they can.

    3. Don’t put metal in the science oven*

      You might try books and social media suggestions for small things you can do while you’re there that won’t make your BIL feel like you’re criticizing or trying to take charge.

    4. RLC*

      Circumstances prohibited me from providing in-person support when my MIL was diagnosed with dementia (I became full time in home carer for my parents shortly after MIL’s diagnosis, nearly 1000 miles away). I found that the most helpful role I could play was sympathetic, supportive listener for my husband. Having a listener and sounding board with “one degree of separation”, a slightly less involved view/different perspective but who still cares deeply for all family members involved can sometimes be a big help in these types of situations.

      1. Turtle Dove*

        That’s how my husband helped out at the end of my mother’s life. I supported my mom, and he supported me. It’s the ring theory (comfort in, dump out) I learned from Carolyn Hax.

    5. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I was extremely impressed by Teepa Snow (lots of videos on you youtube and her website) both for explaining how dementia progresses and some totally practical techniques for things like how to dress someone.

      It would have made my relationship with my grandmother in her last years easier, and she only had mild mental issues.

      1. fposte*

        Another rec for Teepa Snow. Her videos were hugely helpful when I was dealing with a friend with early onset.

      2. Yikes Stripes*

        I’m a professional caregiver who specializes in people with dementia and Parkinson’s (so, eventual dementia) and I cannot possibly recommend Teepa Snow as a resource enough. She’s phenomenal.

    6. Rara Avis*

      Can you and your husband spend time with your in-law and give the caretaker a day or weekend off? It sounds like your husband is retired but you aren’t, so you wouldn’t be able to visit as often. But maybe framing it as respite care for the sibling would help make it less fraught.

      1. Just Another Cog*

        This right here. My own Dad died in 2020 after having lived with Alzheimer’s for several years. My Mom did most of his care, with visiting nursing care a few hours a week. We asked my Mom how we could help and her number one request was “Dadsitting” so she could have freedom to get a haircut, visit the library or grocery shop, ALONE. I’d say just ask your BIL/SIL how you can best help and leave it at that.

      2. Reluctant Mezzo*

        I don’t blame the sibling for living on the screen; caregiving is immensely exhausting and the screen a welcome respite.

    7. Lalage*

      Just a reminder that – there is nothing you or anyone could do to significantly change what’s going to happen. I am not suggesting to go against the doctors suggestions, but this fall into ‘easy to do, cheap, won’t hurt’ more than ‘going to do an incredible difference’. Maybe you could start thinking about ‘things we/your spouse can do with him/them to make memories’.

    8. Hotdog not dog*

      Have you looked into “adult daycare” type programs? My MIL was able to join a 3 times a week group for seniors with memory issues. They mostly played board games, listened to music, or did arts and crafts. It gave her some needed stimulation and also gave my FIL (her main caregiver) a break.

      1. DannyG*

        My FIL benefited greatly from that type of program. The hours he spent at the Adult daycare also let MIL rest, clean, meal prep. Things she couldn’t do when he was home (he was a wanderer).

    9. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I’m sorry. Been there and it sucks. Any previous challenges in the family dynamic will be exacerbated.

      The Alzheimer’s Association has a wealth of information and support for everyone involved. Take a look at their website and at the resources available online or in person in your area. Rally your own support system.

      And maybe take a deep breath and a look at how you feel about sibling? Not saying you’re wrong – you know them and I don’t. But if Sibling is going to be the hands-on caregiver they will need support whether you approve of how they are living.

      I stayed out of it with my MIL completely – and I am a palliative care doc with significant expertise in the area. My MIL didn’t want my help, her caregiver (her brother) felt he HAD IT ALL UNDER CONTROL and after a couple of offers/attempts that were rebuffed (rudely) I backed off and stayed backed off. I was there for my husband and that was my role.

    10. m2*

      I am so sorry. It is great you and your spouse want to be involved.

      My mom is the main caregiver of her mom even though she has a brother who lives with the mom (but sounds like your sibling-in-law). Being a caregiver is a lot of work. My grandmother refuses to move into nursing and she has dementia.

      Look things up, the state can provide helpful things like meals on wheels, aides, etc depending on where you live the situation, and if you filled out paperwork.

      My grandmother went to a sort of adult day care for awhile that she liked (and then didn’t). Many places also have respite care so I would look those up and speak to them in case you need to send the in-law in permanently or need a week or a couple if you and your spouse and sibling have an emergency and can’t take care of in-law.

      Caregiving is very difficult and draining. It shouldn’t be put on one sibling and imho be shared and you should get help if you can.

      sending you good energy

    11. Katefish*

      If you like to read, The 36 Hour Day is extremely helpful for all things dementia, including support systems.

    12. RedinSC*

      Oh I feel this so much.

      My mom was diagnosed in November. The doctor said basically the same thing, however, my father is reluctant (opposed to) bringing in anyone from the outside, or moving to a place that could provide the stimulus.

      You’re not alone, and it’s a difficult place to be.

    13. Gentle Reader*

      Maybe buying an in-print newspaper subscription would be a way to provide some mental stimulation.

      1. Oh, just me again!*

        You don’t say how far the disease has processed, but if it’s early, maybe puzzles, shared over video calls. I would ask my mother the help me with a crossword, read out the clues, tell her tre number if letters and what we already had. Shed get a few. If that’s too difficult, maybe dancing? Calethenics? Again, shared over video call? If they are willing.

  3. Llama Llama*

    If you could travel back in time to see some major (or not so major) events and needed to bring a present day back in time to barter with what would it be?

    I have been thinking about something like Tylenol or ibuprofen. Granted it would be good to barter but also could have huge butterfly effects. Also to be specific I am going back 500 or so to see what’s up with the ‘treasure’ at Oak Island.

    1. Be the Change*

      Tylenol and ibu are brilliant! You’d have to bring a lot.

      Gee… Following along the practical line, I might think about modern pencils and Bic pens. I wonder how many more novels Jane Austen might write if she wasn’t using a darn quill!

      I don’t know when I’d like to return to, depends how long I got to stay in then-when. I’d love to see the place I live when it was inhabited by only its First Peoples…and maybe stay. In that case I think I shouldn’t bring anything at all!

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        I’d figure out a way for Austen to have dialysis; my vague recollection is that she died of kidney issues.

        1. Kara*

          Current thought appears to be cancer; lymphoma, i believe. That’s unfortunately a little less easy to bring something back for.

    2. cabbagepants*

      Such a cool conversation starter! Maybe a Polaroid camera and lots of film, if you can even buy that anymore. Or a bag of Mandarin oranges. Or antibiotics.

    3. RLC*

      Ancient Egypt to see the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza, to see how it was really done. Bring a large quantity of rechargeable LED headlamps and solar panels to keep them charged. Barter said headlamps with workers to get insider look at the project designs and tools used.

    4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Dye, spices, and lace. I wouldn’t want to try to sell medicine, especially for a short term trip, because it is hard to demonstrate. And I wouldn’t want to bring incomprehensible technology, because the whole trip would be about the magic light sticks and also because they’d break and run out of batteries and there’d be no way to fix them. Dyes, spices and lace were things that people had back then, but ours are much cheaper to produce, with modern science and shipping and machinery.

      Did you know that during the medieval times, they used to doctor the saffron with gold dust? Because it was sold by weight, and gold was cheaper ounce for ounce.

      Depends on the time period and location, of course. But generally something that is made easily by modern industry but required enormous effort to create back then.

      1. TechWorker*

        +1 on medicine being hard to demonstrate. If someone appeared and said they were from the future and offered me pills I think I’d be like ‘er no?’

      2. zaracat*

        Technology breaking down in this sort of situation is a well recognised historical problem. Back in the 16th and 17th centuries clocks and automata were popular diplomatic gifts, designed not only to be clever or amusing but also to demonstrate a country’s technological superiority (the unspoken message was “don’t start a war with us, we’ll win” – the early modern equivalent of a having a Boston Dynamics robot dog dancing at your embassy dinner). The recipient usually had no way of maintaining or repairing the tech, so it would eventually become simply a decorative item with a vaguely remembered cool story attached.

      3. Buni*

        Definitely spices all the way, in as recognisably-raw a state as possible. For £30 in my local supermarket I could haul enough spice to fund an entire lifetime in the 1600s.

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Good idea on the *whole* spices idea-I hadn’t thought of that but they would be much easier to sell that way.

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      Woosh, this is a hard one! There’s plenty of events I’d like to see, but what to bring? The whole “step on a butterfly” issue looms large.

      I think I’d pick some time/place where a priceless treasure was buried and carefully mark the spot so I could dig it up (assuming it wasn’t already–lots of research needed.) I’d bring something like fancy glass beads or other things that weren’t achievable with the time’s tech but hopefully wouldn’t start a war or plague.

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        ROADWORKS by Roger Zelazny had the point of view character working that scam, he was a Very Noted Archaeologist with a grand reputation.

    6. Jay*

      As we are taught in The Chronicles Of St. Mary’s (Jodi Taylor is a treasure), the best possible item to bring would be toilet paper (a minor plot point on one of the books).
      Her reasoning being that until very recently, paper was rare, difficult to make, and valuable. Toilet paper is easy to transport, and, most importantly, it completely degrades almost immediately. There is little chance anyone would be able to do anything with it which would disrupt the timeline. I find this equally insightful and hilarious.
      So I’m stealing it ;)

      1. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

        There is little chance anyone would be able to do anything with it which would disrupt the timeline

        Except, you know, NOT dying of typhus or cholera.

        1. Kara*

          Fwiw toilet paper won’t accomplish that. The underlying problem is contaminated drinking water, usually from one or more nearby cesspits or outhouses, and toilet paper won’t do anything about that. You want to butterfly effect history, bring chlorine tablets. Or teach people to boil their drinking water.

    7. Dark Macadamia*

      My first thought is produce. I’ve always found it so interesting how things like bananas and pineapples were SO exotic and rare in many parts of the world compared to how accessible they are for me now.

    8. Richard Hershberger*

      Viagra. Pain relief is nice, but cut to chase with what the powerful old dudes really want.

      1. amoeba*

        Hah, true. (Would there have been such a high demand with the shorter life expectancies back then though? No idea!)

        1. TechWorker*

          I’ve read that we often vastly underestimate how old people got hundreds of years ago because the average lifespan includes the fact the child mortality rate was super high. People did still live to their 60s and 70s… so I’m gonna go with yes

          1. UKDancer*

            Yeah if you survived childhood you had a reasonable chance of making it
            to 60 . Women had a risk of dying in childbirth and men died in wars, but otherwise lifespans weren’t as bad as people think because child mortality affects stats.

            If I’d lived in the Middle Ages I would have definitely preferred to join a convent. No risk of childbirth and some more interesting work.

          2. sulky-anne*

            It also depends what part of the world you’re talking about. Where I live, there are many accounts of people living to well over 100 before colonization.

      2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        It’d be a chore to market, though. You can’t exactly rock up to the powerful dude and promise to fix his virility, because he’s unlikely to be happy with the suggestion that there is something wrong with it in the first place. You’d have to build a reputation and let the powerful dude send one of his servants to you secretly. And you’d probably be best served by claiming mystical powers or some such, and I really wouldn’t want to go the Rasputin route.

    9. fhqwhgads*

      See I’d also be tempted with things like tylenol or ibroprofen but then I think “it’s probably bad if they trust rando pills from rando me” so maybe not?
      Maybe I’d bring clean water.

    10. Sopranoh*

      I’ve always said that if I could go back in time, I’d go back to right after Bach died and buy all of those lost scores that his wife sold and bring them to the present. For trade, I think I’d bring some purple fabric. It would be unusual and ex Enough to get me what I needed, but it wouldn’t have a huge impact on history.

      1. Hibiscus*

        Ah, so you’d be in Kage Baker’s The Company series line of work! It’s science fiction about a company that figures out immortality and time travel, but can’t sell it. So what they do is go back and kidnap children who would otherwise be lost in catastrophic events to turn them into immortal agents, and then use them to steal items that would be lost to future rich people.

    11. allathian*

      I’d go back to see some of the powerful women of history like Boudicca, Joan of Arc, Cleopatra, and those Viking women who were given a warrior’s funeral.

      I have no idea what I’d bring back with me from modern times, though.

  4. Be the Change*

    I’ve posted before, long back, about a somewhat difficult friendship in my life, and how regular commenter fposte really helped me find a way to be at peace about being what I COULD be to that person (thanks again, fposte).

    In mid-December, this friend whom I have known for 40 years suddenly stopped all contact. Like, super suddenly: we were doing normal couple times a week texting back and forth and one day they were silent. No more texts. Not answering emails. No response to a holiday present. No response to voicemail. I was so worried after 3 weeks that I asked their emergency contact, “Hey, have you heard from Friend, are they physically okay?” (Yes.) They live on the opposite coast so I can’t drop by even if that was a good idea. I think they’ve blocked my number, is there a way to tell for sure?

    This person is monumentally stubborn and can have strange notions, so I can see them deciding one day that They Are Through for whatever reason they chose not to tell me and not being able to walk it back. But I would really like to give them the benefit of the doubt and say “Hey, I’d like to make whatever this is right.” How do you do that if someone has disappeared into a black hole?

    So…TF? Anyone have experience with this?

    1. PhyllisB*

      The only thing I can think of is reach out to emergency contact and say what you told us; that you would like the chance to get past…whatever is wrong. (Of course phrase as you wish.) If this isn’t successful, you will have to accept that you will have to wait for them.

    2. Ellen Ripley*

      You want to give them the benefit of the doubt, but it seems they put out a very clear signal of “I don’t want you in my life right now”. They didn’t fall into a sinkhole or forget how to use their phone. It’s not an accident. I admit, it’s kinda weird! But they have made a choice and the most respectful thing you can do is, well, to respect their choice.

      Would reaching out harder be for any reason other than closure? Would it even provide that closure? I’d reflect on your own feelings and maybe talk them over with a trusted friend or therapist.

    3. Double A*

      Well, I have a kind of immature idea, the silent treatment is immature. You could flip the script. You could send them a message that you are deeply offended they didn’t thank you for the gift and you are cutting off contact and will be in touch when or if you are ready.

      If they’re used to everyone else accommodating their tantrums it could be interesting to see what happens. And could give you some peace of mind that you’re the one in charge of initiating contact.

      1. Quantum Possum*

        If they’re used to everyone else accommodating their tantrums it could be interesting to see what happens.

        They’re not having a tantrum. They’re withdrawing, for whatever reason.

        Relationships should not be viewed as power struggles. It’s best to just accept that we can’t control people or situations, and find peace within.

        1. Double A*

          Okay, my phrasing was unkind. But withdrawing without a word is hurtful, whatever their motivation. From some phrasing in the post, I assumed this is more silent treatment than anything else, and giving someone the silent treatment is a form tantrum. It just seems like the kind of behavior they have taught other people to tolerate from them (I am extrapolating from Be the Changes comments about making this right). OP, are you always the one making things right? Do you want to keep carrying all the emotional water in this relationship?

          I get there are many reasons to keep doors open for all sorts of people in our lives even ones who treat us shoddily at times. So OP you have to decide what keeping that door open looks like and if you still want to do it in this relationship.

          1. Quantum Possum*

            OP, are you always the one making things right? Do you want to keep carrying all the emotional water in this relationship?

            ^ 100%. These are very important questions, OP.

    4. Pamela Adams*

      I think the answer is let them disappear. You know they are physically well, and don’t want contact. If they change their mind, they know where you are.

    5. Quantum Possum*

      I love fposte’s comments, too. :)

      So, I am That One Friend who often disappears into a black hole. It has nothing to do with other people and everything to do with me. I still love and appreciate every gift, every word, every act of support and love from friends…even if I’m in the Void.

      Your friend knows that you care and are there for them. I’m sure it means a lot to them that they have someone like you in their corner. For whatever reason, they’re just struggling to communicate right now. Trying to force them to talk is just going to drive them further underground.

      Your friend is telling you (by not telling you) that they need space. The kindest thing you can do is give them that. Take this time and energy and focus it on being kind to yourself, as well.

      1. Blue wall*

        I’m so grateful to this comment, all these comments, and the question, as my closest friend of the last year has gone dark on me this week also. Very helpful to hear it’s whatever is going on with them.

        1. Quantum Possum*

          I’m so sorry you’re dealing with that, but I’m glad I could help ease your mind in some way. I’m always embarrassed to confess that I’m one of those people, lol.

          My friends know all this, of course, and somehow they still love me and accept my deep weirdness. They have other friends who are “normal” – I’m not the kind of person who can be someone’s One Friend. So I definitely second DJ Abbott’s advice about nurturing other friendships. :)

    6. WellRed*

      Let them go. Be open to them reestablidhing contact if you want but honestly they sound tedious at this point.

    7. RagingADHD*

      Do you have their physical mailing address? I’d write a nice, no-pressure note along the lines of “Hey, I’m not sure what happened, but I haven’t heard from you in a while and I miss you. If there’s anything wrong, I hope we can work through it. I’m here whenever you might want to talk.”

      And then I think you have to leave it be.

    8. JSPA*

      I’d probably ask some third party to read the last few weeks of text exchange, if it’s not too private, and see if there’s anything that could be misconstrued, land badly, or signals that you missed.

      Or possibly make one up!

      “I can see how my mentioning that I was thinking of pork chops could be read as offensive, and I want to apoligize, if so.”

      Often, apologizing for the wrong thing will at least get you a, “no, it’s not that.”

      But eh, if you’re northern hemisphere, I’d probably assume some variant of SAD (or the winter blahs, if you don’t want to medicalize) and drop a short text every couple of weeks (not referencing the fact that they are not responding).

    9. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Let it go. Either they’ll get over it and reach back out, or they won’t. Whatever “it” is, if it’s gone so far that you think they’ve actively blocked your number, chasing them is more likely to harm your cause than to help you.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I have been on both sides of this — when I was the “chaser,” me trying to follow up with my suddenly disappeared “friend” in a big pointless blowup attacking me on social media (luckily mine so I could privatize it) about how she’d hated me for ages and listing every perceived flaw in my character for the duration of our friendship. Not fun.

        When I was the “chased,” I had detailed to the “chaser” exactly why I was ending the friendship, with several explicit “if you continue to treat me like xyz I will not be able to continue this friendship” discussions. It took six years before they stopped actively chasing me, trying to get mutual friends to bring them over to my house “to surprise me,” trying to get my housemate to give them my router admin password “so they could help out,” and to this day almost ten years later I am told they still insist that they have no idea why I cut them off out of the blue. Your friend may have a different perception than you do, and that may or may not be a significant thing — I’m not saying you are like my chaser and there were explicit discussions about problems or anything! I’m just saying, if you have different viewpoints on what happened, chasing will do more harm than good, no matter who’s memory of the situation is “right”.

    10. fposte*

      I’m glad previous words have been helpful, and I agree with most people here that I’d accept this as their wish, which might not be about anything you did. I might send them a card in six months or so saying you miss them and hope they’re doing all right. But I think if it was something they wanted to talk out with you you’d have heard about it, so I wouldn’t go to the “Can we talk this through?” place. I understand you have the desire to do what you can to fix things, but it seems pretty clear that’s not something they want.

      I have found, as I got older and I hear the lives of my friends who gave gotten older too, that this is not a hugely uncommon way for a friendship to get sidelined. Sometimes it comes back and sometimes it doesn’t, but I don’t think anybody’s ever made somebody change their. Ind about needing space by jumping into that space.

    11. Zona the Great*

      I’m the friend that ghosted (well, I told her I was done first) rather suddenly and I’m certain ex-friend got her legs taken out from under her. In my case, I was holding on for as long as I could and then some life things happened and I knew the only way forward for me was ending it abruptly. I’m glad she hasn’t tried reaching out and I do hope she found peace but I’m glad it isn’t at the expense of my peace anymore.

    12. Bitte Meddler*

      A friend did this to me, too. I reached out to one of her local friends (we live several states apart) and that friend confirmed that Ghost Friend was, indeed, healthy and active.

      So, obviously, it meant that Ghost Friend had purposefully decided to drop our friendship. Nothing I can do about that except mourn the friendship and move on.

      Ghost Friend was also mercurial. Small things would set her off. We were in several FB groups together, and she would flounce out of them on the regular (and then apologize to the mods and ask to be added back).

      She flounced out of our relationship and will — or will not — ask to be let back in, as she sees fit.

    13. Lizard the Second*

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. Just wondering, is the emergency contact a reliable person? Eg not a controlling spouse trying to isolate your friend.

  5. 85001*

    I am in Phoenix AZ for a few days. Tell me what off the beaten track things to do. Bonus – an awesome restaurant I need to try. Thanks!! xo

    1. WellRed*

      I loved the Butchers Apprentice restaurant. It’s near the convention center and arena. We did a tour of phoenix botanical gardens which was really cool (and god awful hot). Had a great margarita in the PBG restaurant though.

    2. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      I hear good things about Blue Hound Kitchen. I always get a burger at Lenny’s when I go back.

    3. rainfall*

      Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve is just outside of Phoenix and is quite an amazing place. There’s a museum and a hillside full of petroglyphs to view — and as the sun changes, so do the petroglyphs that become visible.

      1. Free Meerkats*

        Seconding this and the botanical garden.

        If you’re up for a little exercise, this is a good season to climb to the top of Piestewa Peak. It’s only about 1 1/4 miles round trip, but it’s 1200 feet elevation gain; steep and rocky, but the view is great from the top. The other trails around there are easier.

        Been so long since I’ve lived there that I can’t recommend and places to eat.

    4. Snarkle Motion*

      It’s been a few years since I was there, but I remember really enjoying a stroll around the Japanese Friendship Garden (small admission fee, but substantial enough garden to feel worth it). Can’t remember a thing about the food though; I think the conference fed us most meals.

    5. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      I have family in Phoenix and visit at least once a year. This time of year, I really like the Desert Botanical Garden.

      If you are in or willing to travel to the northern part of the city, I’d recommend Chino Bandido (Mexican/Asian restaurant founded by a Mexican American and Asian American couple) for the awesome black beans. North Scottsdale has Perk Eatery, which has excellent breakfasts and a great Reuben sandwich (open for breakfast and lunch only).

    6. allx*

      Postino-3939 Campbell-wine bar with several locations-my favorite is the original one housed in a converted 1940s post office with large roll up doors (like a Texas ice house). Very cool vibe, nice lunch spot. Next door is La Grande Orange a curated general store (and pizzeria) for fun browsing and unique gifts.

      LON’s at the Hermosa Inn for dinner or drinks/appetizers on the beautiful patio at sunset. Beautiful location.

    7. Zona the Great*

      Best tacos on earth are located at Cocina Madrigal and the best pizza on earth is Pizzeria Bianco.

      Downtown Tempe is the best part of the valley and has a streetcar and Tempe Town Lake. Today is Tempe Bloom!!! Go see the flower wars!

    8. Donkey Hotey*

      Someone else already mentioned Taliesin West, so I’ll add Scale and Feather Mead in Avondale.

    9. Marvel*

      There’s a show called Islander playing at the Herberger Theatre Center this weekend that is an amazing production, 10/10 would recommend. Two actresses play a multitude of roles and mix their own music using a loop station live onstage. It’s about a small island in Scotland and the relationships and community therein, and the music is amazing. (I’m working on the show and I’m seriously blown away every performance.)

  6. Canada Or Bust*

    Anyone here live in Toronto or Vancouver who can provide some info on nice neighborhoods/suburbs on the more affordable side?
    Relevant backstory: Husband and I, currently living just north of Chicago, are seriously thinking of moving to Canada, either at the end of the year or next spring/summer. Toronto is the closest major city to us, which we’ve been to several times and love. But I think because of Weather Issues and employability (spouse is in environmental education), we’d probably end up more permanently in Vancouver. We have savings, and would rent until we found the perfect condo. I know Vancouver is especially expensive, so suggestions of nice suburbs are welcome.
    Thank you in advance!

    1. Dorothy Gale*

      I think you might like North Vancouver. Lots of hiking trails, parks, local ski hills, mountain biking. Single family homes are expensive, but condos and townhouses can be a bit cheaper than Vancouver proper, depending on the neighbourhood. It’s very family/outdoor oriented, not a lot of nightlife, but downtown Vancouver is only 20 minutes away

      If you are thinking further out of town, Port Moody area near the skytrain is a good option as that makes it much easier to go into the city. There are a lot of small breweries and it’s an area with a growing population.

    2. impatial joy*

      For Vancouver area (lower mainland) – there are many nice neighbourhoods, but traffic can be bad. I’d also give some thought about what’s important: access to beaches? Skiing? Hiking? or more space in your apartment/condo? Do you want to live your day-to-day life with no car, and only use a car-share once a month for a Costco (or equivalent) run? Do you want to feel like you’re living in a suburb or a city? And, I’d think really hard about the influence of sunlight on your mood. If you tend towards winter blues due to lack of light, you can certainly exacerbate those by choosing the wrong area. In general, the winter is going to be a lot greyer than you’re used to, and that can take some getting used to.

    3. Magpie*

      Have you considered Victoria? It’s still fairly expensive and it is a much smaller city, but I love it here. It’s a good fit for someone in environmental education, and the weather is much better than in Vancouver. I mean it’s still the coast and it’s rainy in the winter, but it’s not nearly as dreary for the rest of the year.

      1. AnonymousCanadian*

        Seconding. I’ve lived in a lot of different places in Canada (and abroad), including both Toronto and Victoria. Can recommend both (I’ve never lived in Vancouver, so I can’t speak to that). I’ve never bought a condo or a house, so can’t help much there, but have a bunch of general thoughts just in case they help at all.

        Toronto is much more exciting; Victoria is much more scenic. Toronto has better public transit; Victoria has more parks that are central/accessible. Both cities are far more expensive than they were, especially Victoria, which is getting a bit crowded. Both have had late-summer wildfire seasons over the last 5-10 years that end with the cities blanketed in awful smoke, but they’re both very safe. There are more and more bike lanes in both, and locals grumble, but they do make getting around easier for the cycling crowd. In Toronto, the main obstacle is weather/cars; in Victoria it’s how hilly the terrain is – only a little flatter than San Francisco.

        Toronto has a harsher climate, but it’s mild by continental standards (the amount of snow is actually pretty limited most winters). Victoria has lovely summers that are dry and sunny but not hot – they’re nicer than mainland B.C.’s. The catch is that the winters out there are so relentlessly grey, chilly, and usually wet that I had a harder time dealing with winters in Victoria than in Toronto. Toronto gets more light and is quite a bit farther south than Victoria as well, so there’s more daylight available in the fall/winter. Many buildings in Victoria have poor insulation, poor waterproofing, and/or rudimentary temperature controls since extreme temperatures are rare; Toronto is better-prepared for all sorts of weather because it’s more ordinary to get it there.

        Toronto has all four seasons and they’re dramatically different, though the spring and fall are only medium-length. Most of the trees are deciduous, and fall is full of colour! Victoria has a lot of evergreen trees, and seasons aren’t nearly as noticeable or distinct from each other; the average high temperature in January isn’t a whole lot lower than the average temperature in July, plus the spring and fall are very long and so gradual that you almost don’t notice things changing.

        Toronto is more cosmopolitan (restaurants for probably every kind of cuisine you can think of); Victoria is more progressive on average (even one of the old-money suburbs had a Green Party guy elected to the provincial government a few years ago). I agree that an interest in teaching environmentalism might tip the balance there if Victoria is of interest, because that’s a big thing out there and the B.C. coast has a ton of hippies/activists.

        Getting to Vancouver from Victoria involves a 45-to-60-minute drive or bus-ride up to the ferry terminal and then a 95-minute ride across the strait and then another 45-to-60-minute drive to downtown Vancouver, but it’s a pleasant, relaxing ride with lots of pretty islands to stare at, and the ferries are big and mostly modern and have a ton of room to sit and/or wander either inside or out on the decks, plus a inside gift shop and cafeteria and some little cubicles for working.

    4. HannahS*

      For Toronto, it really depends on how far from the city you’re willing to be. If you’re looking for a condo, parts of midtown, Pape Village, and North York near the subway lines have a smaller city feel but are accessible to the downtown, and remain less outrageous in price compared to the downtown core.

      One thing to consider, if you were hoping to stay closer to Chicago but are not wedded to Toronto, specifically: Hamilton. I went to school there and my partner is from there. It’s a great mid-sized city, remains affordable (for Ontario,) and has a lot going for it. It’s far away enough from Toronto that it has it’s own restaurants, sports, and arts scene, but close enough that you can go to Toronto whenever you want, and Hamilton has a better outdoors/nature scene. In my opinion, it’s the most big-city-like-city near Toronto, and it’s only an hour from Buffalo.

      1. Felicia*

        as a lifelong Torontonian Hamilton is also somewhere I would consider and really the only closeish place with city vibes . it’s not nearly as cheap as it once was though and the price difference is no longer that different than parts of Toronto so you’d have to do some current math.

        I currently live right near high park and for renting its actually a lot cheaper than other places and cheaper than you’d think it would be. Its also feels downtown adjacent but much quieter and nicer nature.

        Though I used to live near Yonge and Sheppard and my sister still does and I’d recommend that when it comes to North York. It essentially was the downtown of its own city until Toronto amalgamated and it still feels like that a bit.

    5. Book bug*

      I moved from a small university town just north of Chicago recently to Toronto. I’m living in North York (very northern edge of Toronto). even being in an “affordable” place my rent more than doubled. Also much higher are other regular bills (car insurance is wild, phone plans and Internet are way more expensive, etc).

      That said, of your willing to really spend the time searching you might be able to find better deals. Though it is difficult to do from a distance. North York is nice and it’s on the more affordable end. Vaughn is further north and outside of Toronto proper, but has slightly more affordable housing. I think Hamilton was ok when I was looking (though it was too far from employment for me).

      Note: rent control only applies to buildings from before 2018

  7. Lexington, KY question*

    In April I’m taking a solo women’s travel trip that starts in Louisville and ends in Lexington. I’ll be driving to Lexington and Uber’ing to Louisville to get to the start of the trip, but I need to park my car for a week somewhere in Lexington. Does anyone have any ideas of where I can park inexpensively for a week in/near Lexington? Thanks in advance.

    1. sswj*

      Try The Kentucky Horse Park. Acres of parking, and unless you’re there for the last weekend in April (which will be a madhouse – huge international level event that weekend) it shouldn’t be a problem.

    2. Belle*

      The airport might be another good place to park. And I would leave plenty of time if you are planning to Uber. It can be up to 1.5 hours from Lexington to Louisville so you may not get many willing to do the trip there and back.

    3. manders*

      And Thunder Over Louisville, the opening of Derby season, is April 20 this year, so keep that in mind. Louisville loses its collective mind on that day, and some of the interstates will be closed.

      1. Belle*

        Not just that day either. Roads start closing several days before hand as they put up the barricades. it is crazy around downtown that week!

  8. Wegovy*

    Removed, per the weekend rule on medical advice, which was recently updated to prohibit requests for experiences with specific medications (because they’ve been increasing and the site isn’t equipped to host them).

  9. Peanut Hamper*

    I don’t think my life will be complete until I can read The Golem of Brooklyn. That simply sounds amazing! Alas, my local library does not have it (yet). I need to make sure they get it.

    (Also, that was probably the best two-line book review I have ever read!)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Someone here recommended it a couple of weeks ago — I read it immediately and then made my sister and best friend read it too. It’s fantastic.

    2. Bluebell*

      It’s a wild book. I finished it in a day or two and immediately recommended it to a friend who told me he really enjoyed it. Quite a departure from other golem books I’ve read.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Yep, I read the synopsis above and immediately went to my library’s website to place a hold.

    4. Nicosloanica*

      Keep in mind you can request your library add the book, and it really helps authors when you do! (and shows interest in certain areas, which the librarians will keep in mind when they are selecting what books to add to the collection in future).

      1. Octhex*

        The very first time I requested a library buy a book, I remember the care I took to write up why I thought it would be a good addition to the catalogue (including looking up awards of the book and author). And I remember the amazement that I felt when I got a note back that said they’d just got in the six copies that they had bought and one was being held for me!

        So, yes, do request things from your library!

    5. ampersand*

      Yep, I’m sold on this book based on that description alone! I’m sure it’s good–this is the same guy who wrote Go the F**k to Sleep, a book that suddenly made SO MUCH SENSE after I had a kid.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Now I HAVE to read it. That book was fantastic! (And yeah, having a kid makes it all make sense. It is definitely written from experience.)

        Also, the audiobook by Samuel L. Jackson was simply amazing. He was the perfect person for it.

      2. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        He also wrote a very cool verse memoir about his brother’s death by suicide and what it was like navigating that at the same time as sudden, unexpected, book fame. I am all in for the Golem of Brooklyn!

    6. DefinitiveAnn*

      I saw the rec about 4 hours ago. checked out the ebook from my library and read it on a 2+ hour drive. It was great.

      1. anonymous sober person*

        That sounded awesome to me, except the LSD part. I’m not personally a fan of substance use. How much of it is in the book, like is it mentioned on every page or just a couple times in passing? If it’s the latter, I could probably handle it.

    1. Ellen Ripley*

      That was a wild ride… Being stuck with 4 toddlers as a single parent sounds just great, what a nice gesture :) /s

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        4 under 4! As a single parent. Intentionally. Yep. NO.

        I not sure that’s even physically possible. Like, I’m sure there is some woman out there with an Olympic level uterus who could pull it off, but odds are good that the writer doesn’t have one of them.

        And she wants him to be at her side through the pregnancies!
        And he’d have to trust that she’s still going to want to give up parental rights after the baby is in her arms and hormones are coursing through her body.
        And she seems to have given no thought to who will be raising the children in the time between the first birth and the last. Is she supposed to be Mommy for a few years and then vanish?

        1. Brevity*

          … because OF COURSE she’s going to be able to conceive, carry and birth four perfect children in four years with no complications, no possibility of health problems either on her part or theirs….

          1. nicosloanica*

            if OP actually tried to go through with this bananapants plan, I’m pretty sure she’d realize within her first pregnancy that 4 under 4 is not feasible, whether she’s planning to drop them off without having any involvement in their lives but also start paying child support or not

            1. Observer*

              No it’s not. Believe me, I’m from a community where birth control is frowned upon. And you can be sure that it’s actually rather UNCOMMON to have this kind of thing happen.

              And, yes, I’ve heard all of the comments about how if any woman is not having a baby once a year, she’s probably using BC of some sort. And, no. That’s not the way this stuff works. Even if you don’t nurse.

              1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

                I was homeschooled, so I grew up with a lot of large families. Very common to have the first two babies pretty close together, but usually still at least a few months over a year apart. Then the third one a bit further apart, and usually by the fourth things were starting to slow down. Also, there was often a gap in there for a miscarriage.

                Having babies 12 months apart means 3 months between pregnancies. Even 15 months apart doubles the break time.

                And all of this presumes healthy, fertile parents, which is not guaranteed.

                1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

                  Actually, it would be 4 under 3.25 years. Because if she plans on having the last baby done 4 years from now, and she gets pregnant right away, the first one won’t be born for another 9 months.

        2. Clisby*

          My mother had 3 children in less than 3 years – twice. First group of three, skipped 4 years, second group of 3.

          1. this is how we baby boom*

            haha, my parents had 7 kids in 10 years with no multiples-before turning 30! Thanks, 1950s!

          2. oof and doof*

            Yeah, a kid per year used to be very common (and still is, in some religious subgroups). My grandmother had 12 in 14 years.

            1. Observer*

              Not so common at all.

              Some one mentioned 7 kids in 10 years – that’s a year and a half. That’s far more common.

              But it’s far from universal, and it’s not necessarily a matter of using BC or not. There are a lot of things that affect when / if a woman gets pregnant. So what this person is planning is possible. But not likely, even if she were still married. And it’s *certainly* not something you can plan for in this way.

              1. Quantum Possum*

                Well, to be fair, you have to take into account the universe’s darkly perverse sense of humor. Isn’t it always the most self-absorbed, cluelessly bananapants people who inexplicably skate through most of life? If anyone is going to have four easy, healthy pregnancies and deliveries in 4 years, it’s going to be This Lady.

          1. kitkat*

            I had forgotten about this letter and I am filled anew with both rage and an intense curiosity about what happened and further details and the answers to the questions

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Why do you think the ex is also bananapants? The only bad decisions I’m seeing him make are letting his wife talk him into opening up his marriage, and possibly staying married as long as he did. I wouldn’t consider either of those bananapants bad decisions, just ordinary ones.

    2. Teapot Translator*

      OP is a mess. Captain Awkward, as always, gives good advice.
      Personally, I needed to read this: “If I have any encouragement to offer it’s that you will probably not flail like this forever, you will probably not feel this level of grief and FOMO forever”. My situation is in no way similar to OP’s, but I am flailing a bit and I am feeling a bit of FOMO, so I needed to hear/read that this, too, shall pass, if I stand still with my emotions.

    3. Dorothy Gale*

      That one was guanopsychotic. You want to assuage your guilt by attempting to pump out four babies in quick succession, and then running for the hills? I don’t think that’s how any of this works. It was great to see captain awkward giving them a firm smackdown.

      1. Observer*

        You want to assuage your guilt by attempting to pump out four babies in quick succession, and then running for the hills?

        I think that CA was right, and it was more about hanging on to the guy than actual guilt.

        I hope this woman never has kids, unless she does a LOT of basic growing up. Because she’s apparently missed one of the most basic rules that functional adults understand – you have to make choices, and you can’t always have *everything* you want. And also, sometimes you don’t get to choose which things you get.

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      That was…batshit. Just utterly batshit.

      This woman is the dictionary definition of A LOT. I imagine the polyamory thing was not the only reason her husband fled, luckily before this crackpot lunatic scheme could be enacted. Can you even imagine trying to coparent with this person? (And no, I don’t believe that “I’ll give him the babies and vanish into the night” line any further than I can throw it.)

      My favorite line was “it’s too soon for him to agree to this crazy idea.” Lady, there is no time when it wouldn’t be too soon. At the heat death of the universe when entropy has totally taken over it will STILL be too soon.

      1. Quantum Possum*

        This woman is the dictionary definition of A LOT.

        ^ Perfection. :)

        Can you imagine the stories that poor ex-husband could tell??

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          The whole shebang reminded me of a quote I read somewhere: ” [X] is our most exhausting friend.”

      2. Observer*

        I imagine the polyamory thing was not the only reason her husband fled, luckily before this crackpot lunatic scheme could be enacted.

        Yeah, the polyamory is just a symptom of a larger issue. And I’d be willing to bet that either it was just a last straw, or made ex-hubby realize what he was dealing with.

    5. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Is there an intergalactic prize for the phrase “… together they form a bullshit Voltron worthy of its own wing in the International Shitshow Museum.”? And I’m also picturing some of the bosses in AAM posts as exhibits in this museum, to say nothing of the Cheap-Ass Roll display in the lobby.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        There should be. I’ve been looking for a writing idea… perhaps I’ll poke the idea with a stick.

      2. Vio*

        A great quote, I love her way with words. It’s a shame there’s no comments section on her site but given how much work those can bring it’s quite understandable.

      3. Quantum Possum*

        to say nothing of the Cheap-Ass Roll display in the lobby

        Please enjoy our gift shop with its wide assortment of holiday greeting cards, including our best-selling Christmas design that merrily proclaims, “They can take Santa and stick it up their ass!”

      4. Quantum Possum*

        Speaking of Cheap Ass Rolls…in the comment section on the coworker’s update letter, Former Young Lady posted this solid-gold parody (comment-3673117).

        This is just to say
        I have purchased
        The dinner rolls
        That were not

        And which
        You were probably
        Hell-bent on perceiving
        As insults to your very being

        Forgive me
        They were delicious
        So cheap
        And so ass

    6. MEH Squared*

      What the hell did I just read?! That is….just wild! I love how Captain Awkward was like “Buckle up because I’m about to read you for filth.” I’m really glad she was upfront about how bananas this idea is and that the OP was deluding herself as to what she wanted from this proposal. Daaaaaang.

    7. Golden*

      Even if in some alternate universe CA thought OP’s plan was excellent, what would the advice even look like? I’m not even sure someone could answer OP’s question without extremely intimate knowledge of the situation between the ex spouses.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Lol when I first started reading I was thinking “well you absolutely should not try to convince him but I guess you could offer…” and then the further I read, the clearer it became that that offer would be bananapants. “Hello Ex, I know you used to want four kids. Well, I am willing to bear them for you if you still want them! My conditions are: We would have to start right now and pump them out as quickly as possible, you would need to be a part of my life for duration of the pregnancies, and I will not be helping to raise them other than financially. I know that might not seem optimal, but have you considered that you might never find anyone else to have kids with?”

        1. Jackalope*

          Also, I would point out that as a dude he has a lot more time to find someone else to have babies with than she does. Like, I don’t think he’d WANT to wait until 80 to start a family, but he’d potentially have the option.

    8. WellRed*

      Oh my. I hope the exhusband meets someone wonderful, remarries and has kids. Maybe that will ward off batsht exwife. Also, “Internal Shitshow Museum” may be the next thing I’ve heard all week!

    9. Nicosloanica*

      I think the Captain is writing a book, which explains somewhat why the output on the blog has changed. I will read it! Honestly Alison is kind of terrifyingly amazing with the output and focus she seems to have.

    10. Nervous Nellie*

      I saw this and was just floored. OP talked about what she wanted, and what she felt her ex used to want, but didn’t mention a thing about the wants and needs of those 4 little children. They are not just babies, they are people! Can you imagine feeling your Mum produced you for Dad and then walked away? But popped in now and then to toss in another sibling? Jennifer nailed it, as always. I so hope she writes a book!

      1. Observer*

        OP talked about what she wanted, and what she felt her ex used to want, but didn’t mention a thing about the wants and needs of those 4 little children.

        Of course she didn’t talk about what those kids would want, because they don’t have a choice. And the reality is that she not really talk about what her Ex wants but what she *wants* him to want. But she has to frame it as “what he REALLY wants, even though he doesn’t know it” because, unlike future kids, he actually has a say in the matter!

    11. Pam Adams*

      I’m surprised she hasn’t gone to the ‘have fertility treatment to have multiples,’ plan, but perhaps that’s next, when she can’t get him to commit to 4+ years.

    12. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      I noticed how the writer just kind of glossed over the open marriage to now divorced part. If you read the Chump Lady blog, usually one partner convincing the other to open the marriage means they already have (or are about to have) an open marriage anyway, the other partner just doesn’t know it yet. Open marriages started in that way generally end in divorce. I sincerely hope the ex tells her to pound sand.

      1. Generic Name*

        Yep. There’s more than a little desperation to prove that she Keeps Her Promises, which makes me suspect there’s one very big promise she didn’t keep. Like she was in an “open marriage” except he didn’t know it.

    13. RagingADHD*

      There is so much magical thinking and self-absorption in that letter, I don’t think the polyamory was the only factor in their marriage breaking down.

    14. GoryDetails*

      Late-breaking reply here: I enjoyed the Captain’s reply to that letter, despite thinking/hoping that the question was fake – the “four children” seemed too oddly specific/excessive, among other things. And then today the same letter popped up in “Dear Prudence” – who also replied with “not a good plan”.

  10. Rebecca*

    Name two-ish shows you loved. Others, what else would you recommend? I’ll put my two shows in the thread.

      1. Amey*

        We enjoyed Colin from Accounts shortly before watching Fisk and felt they had a similar Aussie humour.

      2. RagingADHD*

        Fisk is a treasure. The only thing wrong with it is that there isn’t enough of it yet.

        The possum episode deserves to become a classic.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Finished the first season of So Help Me Todd recently and really enjoyed it.

      Also watched We Got This, which is really more a mini series. A huge tax bill and finding a lot cat leads an American in Sweden to investigate the Olof Palme assassination.

      1. Anne Kaffeekanne*

        If part of what you loved about Gilmore Girls was the small town shenanigans (which is a big part of why I keep coming back to it), Hart of Dixie might be worth a try!

      2. Susan*

        Have you watched Modern Family? The first several season especially funny!!! When it first aired I want a fan but I grew to love this show! Belly laughs !!!

    2. Anon in IL*

      Penn & Teller Fool Us – a kind wholesome show without any of the mean-spiritedness seen so often on contestant-type shows.

      Finding Your Roots. I am often deeply moved by the guests’ backgrounds especially when they have overcome great generational adversity.

      1. Helvetica*

        If you like Finding Your Roots, I wholeheartedly recommend UK’s Who Do You Think You Are! There is also an American version but I find the UK original more heartfelt and moving.
        If you have access to BBC, DNA Family Secrets is also a charming show about regular people but the stories there are truly heartbreaking. Stacey Dooley is the perfect host to keep the story going and comes off so sympathetic and lovely.

      2. Seashell*

        I love Finding Your Roots. Ditto to the suggestion of Who Do You Think You Are. Also, there was a show called Genealogy Roadshow that did a similar thing with regular, non-celebrity folks and is free on some streaming services. https://www.justwatch.com/us/tv-show/genealogy-roadshow

        The other shows your likes made me think of were Mythbusters, Antiques Roadshow, and The Repair Shop. All reality shows that are more factual & upbeat in attitude than the norm.

    3. Quantum Possum*

      I almost always have either Bob’s Burgers or It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia going in the background.

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      Let’s see: I’m currently watching Death in Paradise (still) and Father Brown, and a French procedural called Astrid. All very good.

      Other shows are Hilda on Netflix, Adventure Time (DVDs) and Forever Knight (also DVDs, watch the Scaredy Cats YouTube channel for hilarious reviews of the first season.)

      I’m not really watching anything new, except for current seasons of stuff like the first three.

        1. GoryDetails*

          “Repeat to yourself, it’s just a show, I should really just relax.”

          I love MST3K and Rifftrax as well – even caught a couple of the (filmed version) of their live shows, great fun!

        2. Your favorite cat meme*

          Always & forever indeed. I’ve also become hooked on 372 pages we’ll never get back, a podcast where Mike Nelson & Conor Lastowka read through the worst books of all time. It’s pretty damned wonderful.

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

      Slings and Arrows, for those who like comedy and theater/Shakespeare and romance.

      All Creatures Great and Small (the new version) — great for lovers of animals and dramedies.

      And have to agree with goddessoftransitory on Death in Paradise — good for those who like mysteries, comedies, and lots and lots of sunny island scenery.

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

        Also liked the recent BBC Sanditon (which starts based on an unfinished Jane Austen novel but then wanders into a lot of early 19th-century tropes with spunky heroines) and Around the World in 80 Days (which takes liberties with the original text but produces a great story that winds up being even better in some ways — and way less sexist and racist).

      2. Nervous Nellie*

        Ah, Slings and Arrows! Canada’s national treasure Susan Coyne’s love letter to Shakespeare. I watched it with The Complete Works at my side, and was so moved by their Shakespeare performances within the story.

          1. Nervous Nellie*

            Agreed! That the reluctant understudy was moved by his own performance was perfect. And to see Canada’s other treasure, Paul Gross, being such a mess was a delight after his other great series, Due South, where he was the quintessential buttoned-up, disciplined Mountie. Oh, how I dreamed of meeting him as a kid…..

    6. Bethlam*

      Rizzoli and Isles. Only have antenna TV, so never saw it when it first aired, but it’s on twice a day on one of our retro channels.

    7. The Dude Abides*

      Suits. Watched the first couple seasons “live,” partner and I picked it up in 2015, and watched to the end. Tried to get into the Pearson, but was too dark.

      1. Banana Pyjamas*

        You might like Royal Pains. In spite of being a medical show it has more Suits vibes than say Greys Anatomy.

    8. Helvetica*

      Dalgliesh – atmospheric, moody, stylish British detective/crime drama.
      Lockwood&Co – fun, thoughtful and lovely YA series about ghosthunting/-catching in an alternate reality.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        We loved both of those, so I’ll throw out our other recent favorite: For All Mankind. I mean, it’s not similar to either of those shows, except it’s about recent (alternative) history.

    9. Irish Teacher.*

      The first season of Smother. The two follow-ups were just cashing in, really, but the first season was a genuinely engaging murder mystery and Irish without being Oirish.

    10. Cicely*

      “Frasier,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and “Bates Motel.” These are my stranded-on-a-desert-island absolute favorites.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        I spent the last year riding my exercise bike while watching Frasier. What a simply amazing show with an amazing cast. Such great writing and direction! I haven’t watched the new version out of fear it won’t live up to the old one.

        1. Cicely*

          Same, Peanut Hamper. I was excited when the new “Frasier” was announced, but I haven’t watched it, also because I don’t want to risk being disappointed lol.

    11. Phryne*

      Things I saw recently that I liked: The Bear, series (fiction) about a restaurant in Chicago. (minus the infamous 2nd season Christmas episode, seems decisively love it or hate it, I hated it, almost didn’t finish the session because of it); and Blue Eyed Samurai, an animation series set in feudal Japan. Brutal and adult themed, but brilliant artwork and interesting story.

      1. EmF*

        That second season Christmas episode is a perfect example of “I can see how brilliant this is, it’s excellent, it’s really good, and I hate it an awful lot.” I had to watch it in five-minute increments.

        Thank goodness for “Forks.”

        1. Phryne*

          I didn’t think it was good at all tbh. Wildly over-acted, strained and forced conversations that were three quarter filler words, everybody constantly screaming over each other just made me tune out, there is zero relation to the story of the series, it is a mystery why these people are even willingly in each others company and just when I thought it was finally, blessedly done it jumped the shark.
          But yeah, love it or hate it :D

    12. Chaordic One*

      Seaside Hotel and Ghosts (the American version). (For some reason the British version of Ghosts just didn’t connect with me. OTOH, I love pretty much anything with Rebecca Wysocki.)

    13. AloeAloe*

      Deadloch! It’s both funny and dark, an eight-part series about a serial killer in a small Australian town. I’m not much into thrillers/crime, but the utter absurdity of small-town life, the brilliant acting and the focus on complex female characters got me hooked. Now hoping for a second season.

    14. Accidental Itenerate Teacher*

      The Repair Shop- alot of the episodes are up for free now on YouTube which makes it easy to watch. It basically shows a bunch of people who are experts in their field repairing damaged family treasures for people. Its a lovely gentle show so its great for unwinding at night.

      Brokenwood- a New Zealand murder mystery show. People who’ve mentioned enjoying Death in Paradise would likely enjoy it as well. One of my favorite things is how it’s set in a small town and actually kind of feels like it- the background and incidental characters actually re-occur.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Seconding “The Repair Shop” – I adore it, from the history of the various items (some personal, some actually Very Historically Significant, some both) to the charming/affable/highly-competent repair-folk, especially when they collaborate on something.

      2. Liminality*

        I can’t find The Repair Shop on any of the streaming services anymore! But I love that show and I would watch it again if I could!

        1. Accidental Itenerate Teacher*

          Its just on regular old YouTube now.
          They actually have a channel where they’re going through and uploading all the old episodes.
          I think their up to series 5.

    15. Elizabeth West*

      I really loved Broadchurch –it’s bleak and tough to watch in spots but damn was it good. Also What We Do in the Shadows, which is set to end with the new season. I hope it maintains the quality throughout.

    16. Peanut Hamper*

      Is it okay if I’m still upset that Firefly was cancelled after less than one season? It’s still a favorite.

      I still watch The Fosters on a regular basis. Absolutely a great show.

    17. noncommittal pseudonym*

      Where are you watching MST3K? I can’t figure out who carries it.

      Also, I’ve been binging Fringe. I’m still trying to figure out what’s going on, about the 3rd time through.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I have the DVDs but you can watch most the eps on YouTube. I’ll put in a link to a site that shows you where to find them.

    18. Susan*

      Love Modern Family and The Middle. I can watch them over and over. The first several seasons of Modern Family make me laugh every time. Later seasons are still good. If you need a good laugh I highly recommend that show!!

    19. ChaoticNeutral*

      Our Flag Means Death! A surprisingly heartwarming TV show about pirates and drama on the high seas

  11. Peace frog*

    Is there legislation regarding the amount of time a health provider can take to send you a bill? I realize this may be state-specific, but I’m having trouble finding the right terminology. I’m aware of the “No surprises” acts and “balance billing” but all my searches regarding time frames only discuss how long you have to pay, which is the opposite information from what I need.

    1. Pay Card Purgatory*

      No idea, but I have a funny story!
      When my daughter was in grad school, we randomly got a bill for her 4 month old well child check. (she was born back when they were not 100% covered like they are now)
      I called them up and said “are you SERIOUS?” and they just laughed and told me to ignore it. Doctor was retiring and closing up the practice must have triggered something. That was 5 years ago and nothing bad has happened.

    2. Sue Smith*

      It does vary by state. A search term I found might work is “medical billing time frame.” I found an article that might be helpful. I’ll link in the next post. It looks like contacting your state’s division of insurance (or looking at their website) might give you your answers.

    3. E*

      Try “statute of limitations medical bill + [your state]” — I don’t think that’s quite the correct term in this case but when I put it in Google lots of state legislation around this came up . LMK if that works for you, I’ll be happy if so !

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Look for your payer + timely filing limit as well. That’s how long the provider has to send a bill to your payer. There’s additional rules for rebills corrections appeals etc but they have to send the first bill within the limit. I’ve seen it range anywhere from 30-365 days.

    5. Kay*

      I don’t have a specific answer for your, but I recently had a provider tell me that my insurance had a year to dispute a bill, which was why I was receiving a bill for a visit that was over a year ago. So – in some places at least – the answer is a year and then some.

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

      Made chocolate mousse with avocado, banana, cocoa powder, sunflower seed butter, no-fat 1/2 and 1/2, and sweet and low. Yummy.

    2. AGD*

      My bed is so comfortable that climbing into it makes for a combination of mini-euphoria and deep gratitude every single time.

    3. RLC*

      Startled this morning by hearing someone outside my dining room window tapping on glass; turned to see a rather “hangry” chickadee hitting glass with its beak to let me know that I was slow in replenishing the seed supply on the window ledge. With recent blustery weather I’ve begun placing seed on window ledges in addition to the collection of feeders, and I was obviously remiss in keeping up the supply. Tiny grumpy songbirds are just…cute!

      1. Quantum Possum*

        Birds are great. :) This is so cute.

        It’s always the little ones who have the biggest attitudes, isn’t it, lol? I have a pair of Carolina wrens who boss me around. I hear that fussy voice and I hop to. My tufted titmice will get impatient while I’m filling the feeders, and they’ll fly over and start eating while I’m still pouring.

          1. RLC*

            Good description! We have Bewick’s wrens push for a spot at the feeders showing no fear of much larger house finches and pine siskins. One bird info website notes their “active demeanor”, that’s one way to put it….

          2. Bird names*

            Funny you should say that – in German wrens are called “Zaunkönig” that is to say “king of the fence”

        1. tangerineRose*

          I have a picture I took of a California Scrub Jay (small, blue birds with attitude) looking straight at me and not looking pleased.

          1. RLC*

            I’ve had California Scrub Jays stand on the same window ledge and stare in and squawk at me if the peanut supply runs low.

    4. Snell*

      Found a set of Nordic Ware citrus cookie stamps on sale at a local shop, then at the register, got a surprise good of even more % discount from the shop’s post-season sale. I’ve had my eye on that design for a good long while (Maybe since high school? Maybe), but never pulled the trigger on it. When I just happened across the set layered with discounts, I couldn’t not.

      The stamps are gorgeous and the cookies they make are gorgeous. Still figuring out how to get the best performance out of them, but I’m used to doing that with new kitchen equipment.

    5. Cookies For Breakfast*

      The raisin scones I baked this week. We are having them for breakfast with homemade jams from a family member, and it’s glorious.

    6. The Prettiest Curse*

      There is finally a cafe within walking distance from my house! They opened last weekend and have been packed ever since. I’m really looking forward to having somewhere additional to hang out with my family when they visit.

    7. BellStell*

      Though it is in French sans subtitles, I watched the third movie in a trilogy, by Jean-Michel Bertrand called Vivre avec les loups. Beautiful footage of France and the Swiss Valais a bit and well documented of the conflicts. His other movies are La Vallée des loups and Marche avec les loups. He is a good filmmaker. Also I finally have found some relief for an eight week cough and am continuing my local move so yay!

      1. JSPA*

        If you’re up for a film in French (and Breton) likely without subtitles, I loved Les Algues Vertes.

        Drama and documentary without being “docudrama” schlock.

        Real people, all with legitimate, rooted motivations, which often drives them at cross purposes.

        Moments that have you on the edge of your seat, and moments when people just take in the beauty of the Breton coast, or a good cup of coffee.

        It tangles with legitimate thorny questions of how agriculture vs ecology triangulate with gentrification, and how news sources and politics are rarely ever truly independent. And there’s a central lesbian relationship (that’s actually real) where nobody has to do stuff that’s dramatic / tragic / psycho / hypersexualized / repressed / etc.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Thank you for reminding me I bought myself a subtitled DVD for what my French friend calls the funniest movie he’s ever seen – and I haven’t gotten to watch it yet so I have something to do after work when the teen has a study meet up.

        This from wikipedia –
        Les Tontons flingueurs (English: Crooks in Clover, also known as Monsieur Gangster, literally Gun-toting Uncles)

      1. Asloan*

        I really want to do this! I think they just changed the rules which have prevented me from donating all my life (living in Europe during certain years). I need to learn how to get scheduled and start making this a habit!!

        1. Angstrom*

          I use the donation center at a nearby hospital. One sits in giant comfy recliners instead of lying on a table, as can be the case at some blood drives.
          Drinking a lot of water before you go makes donating and recovering easier.
          I’m on a regular 8-week schedule. You might ask your doctor about your iron levels if you’re going to be a regular donor.

          1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

            I like the blood drive busses better than the ones set up in a gymnasium for the same reason. Better chairs. (The second category usually have beach chairs around here. Functional, but not as comfortable.) I really recommend the ones at churches though-very good chance of the church ladies having homemade cookies to feed you afterwards instead of mini packages of oreos and such.

          2. Anon for too much medical detail*

            I always have top notch hemoglobin and hematocrit, but (surprise, surprise) my feritin turned out to be low.

            I spent a bad few weeks after donating (and also after a tummy bug that’s known to interfere with iron uptake, and whose lingering effects had me eating less bulk, and thus less iron-rich veggies, than usual) before being diagnosed.

            So yeah, especially if you feel wiped out, or without stamina, or stuck at 40% max effort when exercising, when 80% used to be fine for short periods, do get the full iron panel, even if you know your “iron” is fine, per the donor center.

        2. JSPA*

          Yes, most of the deferrals for having lived in areas thought of as being higher risk for vCD (“mad cow”) are now lifted.

          It’s wise to check before going in, as back in late 2022, the red cross posted the following (and some other blood services may also be working slowly through their deferral lists):

          ” Those previously deferred under former vCJD criteria will need to be reinstated before being able to donate. Reinstatement of previously deferred donors began October 3 and it’s estimated it will take several months to complete as it affects hundreds of thousands of donors. Individuals will be informed when their reinstatement is complete. Individuals may also contact the Red Cross Donor and Client Support Center at [redacted, as it makes more sense to google for current info] for information about donor eligibility.”

          Vitalent says, “Donors previously ineligible to give blood due to travel risk of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), also known as mad cow disease, can now donate if they meet all other eligibility requirements. Review eligibility and make an appointment to give by visiting vitalant.org or call [redacted, as it makes more sense to google for current info].”

    8. Irish Teacher.*

      Not having had any phone calls from the hospital after I had my yearly post-thyroid cancer ultrasound the Wednesday before last. I get the official results at the end of February, but they said after the first one that if they find anything concerning, they call you before that.

      My students’ efforts on an entry for the Young Philosopher’s Awards. I just love it when students get excited about what we are doing in class. There was one day, we were nearly late going out for break because we didn’t notice the time passing, we were so busy planning.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Six weeks for ultrasound results?! Yikes. Glad to hear that no news is good news though!

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Terry Pratchett has come through with some laugh out loud moments— Thief of Time.

      And my teenager’s acceptance into college of choice came with a scholarship offer… half of out of state tuition covered. And that’s before FAFSA*.

      (*US federal financial aid forms that the states use too)

      1. Pippa K*

        My husband is reading Pratchett’s Mort for the first time and it’s delightful to hear him chuckle periodically from the next room.

    10. Nicosloanica*

      My sweet dog found a (live) possum in the yard last night, and rather than attacking it, he “treed” it, barked a little, and then happily came inside when I called him. Mr Possum lived to fight another day, and my dog reminded me what a good boy he is (when he feels like it).

      1. Snell*

        One of my (now dearly departed) dogs had a particular thing for birds. She wanted to kill birds. She had a blast doing that small-child-runs-through-flock-of-birds-scattering-them-into-the-air thing that I only remember doing myself until I was maybe 4 or 5. But when a pigeon was grounded in our yard, she just followed it around in interest as the bird hopped about trying to get away from her. I’m sure someone more knowledgeable than me could give an interesting analysis of her prey drive.

      2. Quantum Possum*

        Good Boy! :)

        I’m so glad Mr. Possum was unharmed. Opossums are great to have around. Your doggo will appreciate that they eat fleas, ticks, and other pests – not to mention that they don’t carry rabies or other scary diseases because their body temp is too low for most viruses to survive.

    11. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I booked my woofapotamus in for daycare days later in the summer when I know I will have all-day work events. The daycare trainer called me up and said “We DO get to see her sooner than that, right?” It makes me happy that she is so popular with the people I trust her to. :) (And while we were at it, we got her booked for her usual 1-2 days a month from January through July, including both her second birthday and the trainer’s birthday, because she specifically wanted snuggles with my Abigail for their birthdays if it was possible.)

      1. Asloan*

        Daycare is so expensive, but it makes me so happy to know el doggo has a place he loves to go where he can really “be a dog” and they’re happy with him!! It makes me feel great going on vacations knowing he’s having an absolute ball, since he’s usually so needy and melodramatic that I’d feel terrible at the thought of “abandoning him.” Plus, he’s never allowed to bark and carry on at home like he probably does there.

        1. acmx*

          I just got back from a trip and my new dog has been able to play with other dogs for 9 days….she is going to be so bored at home with me lol

    12. Hotdog not dog*

      I somehow managed to hit the balance where ALL of the laundry was done and put away. It usually feels like a never-ending chore; there’s always something in the washer, dryer, hamper, waiting to be folded….I don’t know that it’s ever actually all been “done”!

    13. Nervous Nellie*

      I finished a very cheap, crappy Chinese jigsaw puzzle that was a relic on my local game store’s clearance shelf. It was one of the last items they got during the pandemic at a time when they couldn’t get much from anywhere. It is a painting of the Great Wall, and was much harder to assemble than it looked like it should be. So, little joy – solved!

      But then, leaving the room to go out for the evening, I left the puzzle out and switched off the light. I looked back at it, and it glows in the dark! Wow! A second little joy! No wonder the pieces were a little gritty….

    14. Katefish*

      This is the definition of a small win, but still extremely grateful for it: I’ve moved through the Hangry portion of PMS to the tired phase.

    15. carcinization*

      My husband and I went to an antique store in town that we haven’t been to in a couple of years, and it was way bigger than we remembered and we found some nice stuff that wasn’t too expensive! I got a glitter heat transfer shirt, he got a sliderule, and we got a nice mermaid magnet and some drinking glasses… all for around $45.

    16. Elizabeth West*

      Although I’m stuck in this seemingly endless physical therapy (it isn’t going well right now, and is going to be extended — ugh). I absolutely love my team. All of them are just the best. They bust my ass, but they’re nice about it, and they’re all very funny and cool. <3

      1. Heffalump*

        10 years ago I was having PT following surgery for a torn rotator cuff. At one point several sessions in, the therapist said, “This is where you’re going to start not liking me.”

        At the end of the session I said, “I don’t dislike you. I dislike what you did.”

        Hope your PT isn’t too painful and doesn’t last too much longer.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Yeah, I don’t always like doing certain exercises, but I know they’re trying to help me. They’re good people — and funny too!

    17. AlexandrinaVictoria*

      I’ve been struggling with pretty severe agoraphobia for the past 9 or so months, but I was able to go out and have lunch with a friend! At a restaurant! It was great to see her and I got some delicious fish and chips.

    18. GoryDetails*

      I just learned about this project, to try to gather the “top pop from 17th-century England”:


      The project has gathered the most popular/successful broadside ballads, with writeups on each, including images of original broadsheets – and audio performances by modern performers. Great fun (and quite the time-sink)!

    19. Ms. Murchison*

      Visited my friends and their kids on a whim because I was in the neighborhood. One of the kids met me at the door with a gift of art.

  12. Heffalump*

    A couple of days ago (on a website about cars, of all things) I found a reference to “Llama Serenade” by Martin Denny, whose best-known song, I think, is “Quiet Village.”

    I think of a serenade as less uptempo than this, and it doesn’t really evoke llamas for me, but what do I know? Now you llama groomers will have something to listen to as you work.


    1. 248_Ballerinas*

      Great find! Discovering interesting music is a not-so-little joy for me. Llama vibe or not, it’s delightful. Now we just need some tunes for rice sculptures and teapot designing.

        1. Heffalump*

          Nor “Rice Is Nice” by the Lemon Pipers, best known for “Green Tambourine.” The reference is to the custom of throwing rice at weddings.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I agree I would not call it a serenade, but I like it. I’ve enjoyed Peruvian music since discovering Inti-Illumani in college, and I have a soft spot for the 1950s/60s music my dad played – so this hits an esoteric sweet spot.

  13. Vienna*

    Calling anyone with winter experience in Vienna!

    My husband is travelling to Vienna for a work conference and will be there for a week mid-Feb. We are in the middle of a hot New Zealand summer and our city doesn’t get cold enough for snow. Neither of us have been to Europe before.

    What do we need to know? About the weather and what to wear? Travelling around the city? Great places to eat? Cool things for tourists that can be done in an hour or two? Tipping or other cultural norms when out in public? A good gift to bring home for me and the kids (both preschoolers)?

    1. Neurodivergent in Germany*

      Hi there!
      I’m not in Vienna and have only ever been there a few days in summer, so I can’t speak to touristy stuff. But I think the weather is rather similar to where I am in southern Germany and gift options for preschoolers would be, too.
      So, the weather… In February it can really be anything from icy 10 below to a balmy, sunny almost spring +15, and everything in between including miserable drizzly foggy weather. Weather patterns have been quite unpredictable these last few years.
      If I were him, I ‘d make sure to take waterproof shoes (snow in a city will be yucky and slushy soon), big enough to wear woolen socks in them if need be. And a windproof jacket with a removable warm liner. Plus scarf, gloves, hat. Then he can adjust fairly easily to how warm he will really need to dress in the city

    2. TechWorker*

      Ive been there once in winter & once in summer, so not exactly a local.. I don’t think it’s likely to be huge amounts of snow, but it will be variable. It’s obviously not as snowy all winter as places further north, but if there happened to be a big fall the week he goes, he’ll want decent (ideally waterproof) boots, warm coat, gloves etc. If he’s worried about being cold maybe try to borrow a ski jacket if you have friends that ski?

      There’s multiple palaces & loads of museums too, not sure anything is must see vs it depending on what he enjoys! (Eg churches vs looking round old interior of palace vs gardens vs modern art?). I also spent a few very enjoyable hours at the zoo which is city centre and in a very cool old building (think multiple stories with aquarium near the bottom and monkeys/birds in enclosures hanging off the side of the building at the top).

      1. Austrian*

        This sounds like the Haus des Meeres (located in a former flak tower from WW2), which is primarily about sea creatures but does indeed have a couple of monkey/bird enclosures on the upper floors. The actual zoo – Tiergarten Schönbrunn – is set in a large park in the grounds of Schönbrunn Palace and not concentrated in a single building.

        I live just outside Vienna and the weather at the moment is wildly unpredictable – it would be anything from snow and ice to a relatively balmy 15 C +. My advice would be to keep an eye on the weather forecast before packing. If it’s like it is this week, he certainly won’t need any kind of thermals and a winter jacket would be better than a winter coat – but it might freeze again in February,m so who knows?

    3. Neurodivergent in Germany*

      About gifts for preschoolers : I think kids here like and play with mostly what kids in NZ know and like too.
      Maybe a stuffed animal, like a mountain goat or something that’s local? Steiff is a heirloom type brand but there are less spendy versions.
      Do you speak/read German? Austria has several popular children’s authors, although for somewhat older kids. Maybe a Wimmelbuch? That’s a wordless picture book a bit like a Waldo book, where you have to find people/animals in pictures of well-known places around the city.
      Or a sound book about Mozart? There are ones geared to toddlers and ones for the slightly older kids
      Or maybe local clothes for dress-up? A dirndl dress is adorable on a little girl. They range from affordable to very spendy.
      Wooden toys, though very popular here, would probably be too heavy to take home on a plane.

    4. DistantAudacity*

      For gifts – chocolate is a Thing. You will find Mozartkugeln everywhere! Or a plushie of a white Spanish horse?

      Transportation: Public transportation is very good, I recall taking a lot of trams. This in addition to walking around.

      The classic thing to do in central Vienna is the Hofburg palace, St Stephans Cathedral and also wandering around. The cafe culture in Vienna is top-notch.

      For weather – depending on the weather forecast: Wool is best (Icebreaker! Smartwool!), and a warm, fairly windproof coat (fully windproof or a heavy wool type). Windproof because the cold seeps in. Warm shoes/winter boots.
      Top tip here is to added inner thermal soles (the kind with a foil backing), as you can often get cold «from the ground up» and the extra insulation makes a big difference. Also knee-length socks, or at least mid-calf, again wool, helps a lot. It makes a big difference if there is a breeze or not. Beanie, scarf, gloves are also key!

      1. amoeba*

        Yeah, I’d really check the weather forecast – not from Vienna but not far off and it’s really quite unpredictable. Like, we had -5 °C one week and +12 the next. I’ve personally been fine for the colder days with my normal clothes (jeans, sweater, medium-warm jacket) plus tights/leggings and a scarf and gloves, but of course depends on how tolerant to cold you are!

    5. Ontariariario*

      If he likes food then sachertorte chocolate cake cafe, and in the amusement park there’s a bierfarden with legs of pork. I also went to a Mozart museum and to the top of a church or cathedral for a view of the city (can’t remember the name, it was years ago, but the roof had a funky design).

      For cold: wear good shoes and socks, layer with a good sweater under a coat, and bring or buy a hat and mitts (warmer than gloves). Plan to not stand around outside, and if walking around it should keep him warm enough.

    6. Dance*

      He will be in Vienna during the ball season! The balls are a huge part of Viennese culture (children there learn to waltz as soon as they can walk), so he may find it interesting to go, especially if he can go with a group of colleagues. Some of the balls are reasonably priced. They do have a strict dress code, but there are places in Vienna that rent ball apparel.
      For a lower key way of the same experience, a waltz lesson. There are many schools that offer private/small group single lessons (a couple of hours). Let me see if I can find the name of the school I took a lesson with, it was right behind the Rathaus and we had an exceptional time with a great instructor.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Honorary Viennese here, and I have visited in every type of weather. I recommend comfortable shoes as central Vienna is easy to walk around. Public transport is very good and there are different tickets and passes available.

        If you haven’t looked at it already, the official tourist office website http://www.vienna.info has lots of really helpful information and tips.

    7. Sunflower*

      I was just in Vienna a month ago! It rarely snows there anymore but I did happen to get there on a weekend it did. It was quite cold and windy so I would just make sure to check the weather before you leave and wear layers- definitely bring a hat, scarf and gloves.

      Public transit is great. I did a 72 hour pass for around 30 euro. There is also a direct train (I think called the CAT) from airport to city center. They require different tickets than public transit so make sure you read the signs correctly. Everything is run on an honor system (no scanning in or out) so just make sure you keep your pass on you at all times in case inspectors are out.

      Tipping- you can feel free to round up to the nearest 0 or 5 if you truly feel inclined to tip but its not expected (and you need to tell them before they run your card). In the US we have a thing for our phones called Travel Pass where it’s $10 a day for international phone access- I would sign up for something like that if needed. Google Maps is your friend for navigating- the city is a winding but it’s not hard to get the hang of.

      Food wise, there are a few well known places (Sacher torte at Cafe Sacher and Figlmüller for Schnitzel). Be prepared to wait in a line for both of these places if you’re determined but you can get good schnitzel most anywhere. There’s a great cafe right across from Figlmüller. Heunisch & Erben is a great (and IMO affordable) wine bar.

      So many museums! If you’re into books, the Austrian National Library is beautiful (there is an admission fee). Right near there is an adorable, not crappy souvenir shop called The World to Go where you can find something quite cute for your kids I’d think.

      1. Neurodivergent in Germany*

        About tipping: I think the conventions are somewhat similar to Southern Germany, i.e. less generous than in other parts of Europe and a lot less generous than in the US, but rounding up is expected (sometimes just to the nearest Euro, if you are a stingy Swabian) and rounding to the nearest 5 or 0, such that you tip around 10 percent of the bill is considered generous.
        Mozartkugeln make an excellent present. Kids might like Milka chocolate with fun add-ins.
        Is Lindt available in NZ? It’s the nicest you will find in a supermarket. Or you could go all out and buy handmade chocolates from an independent store.
        Do you like cookbooks? Austria is famous for Mehlspeisen (Strudel, pancakes etc) and beautiful classic cakes that don’t travel well (except maybe Linzertorte, the least glamorous), but you might like the recipes.
        Maybe an ingredient for Sachertorte, like nice Marillenkonfitüre (apricot jam)?

        1. KeinName*

          I must disagree with many things here. Lindt is very much Not the nicest chocolate in the supermarket (it’s also available all over the world). And apricot jam is also very much NOT called Konfitüre in Austria. Though bringing it home is a great idea, as are the cook books. But Linzertorte is quite delicious but will crumble horribly trying to transport it, better to bring the Sachertorte which has a hard glaze and comes in a box

      2. Chocolate Teapot*

        Yes, the CAT (City Airport Train) runs every 30 minutes between the airport and Wien-Mitte, which connects with 2 of the underground lines. You can buy a combined CAT and 24/48/72 hour transport ticket from so that saves some time. However if you ask at the ticket offices at the main underground stations they will work out which ticket is most suitable for you.

        And when it comes to being incognito, Viennese ticket inspectors are the best in the business, so don’t get caught out.

    8. AloeAloe*

      My last visit there was almost exactly a year ago, and since it was snowy/rainy/icy, I spent most of my free time enjoying the Kunsthistorisches Museum. It has amazing works of art, and not just the framed ones – check out the staircase with walls painted by Gustav Klimt!

      Also, bear in mind that Vienna waiters are famous for being a very specific mix of rude and witty – it’s part of their charm. I remember a fellow traveler asking what the apple strudel would be served with. The answer, completely deadpan, was: „Cutlery and a napkin“. So brace for this and enjoy it like you would a theatre performance.

      Speaking of food: This is by no means a must, but if your husband finds himself near Knödel Manufaktur, he should give it a try – they have all kind of dumplings (sweet as well as savoury fillings) and you can order one of each kind that strikes your fancy.

    9. KeinName*

      Zotter schokolade (available in Spar supermarkets near cash register) is good quality Austrian chocolate that mightn’t have made it to NZ yet. Nice as gifts for relatives. Also the Manner sweet shops (creamy pink exteriors) have all the Vienna candy, like Mannerschnitten. Sachertorten from the bakeries or from Cafe Sacher are transportable and will be good still when he gets home (typical dense chocolate cake). ALSO: Tea from Sonnentor, very nice organic tea bags, available in health food shops. Also a pretty souvenir. Pumpkin seed oil, delicious salad oil typical of another Austrian province (Kürbiskernöl). Maybe some Speck. I think he should go to all the bakeries and try all the pastries.
      For sights: Hundertwasser-Museum (if he misses NZ, since you have some of his architecture as well in Kawakawa). There‘s also an electricity works by him in town. And there‘s a whole hotel and spa complex in another province. Speaking of which, he could go to Therme Laa for the full Austrian sauna experience. You‘ve also no shortage of hot springs in your country but you don’t sit around naked in 100 degree heat so much.
      Brunnenmarkt for some mix of hipsters and multicultural feel.
      The Wotruba church.
      The Karl-Marx-Hof or a tour of some social housing for which Vienna is world-famous. There‘s some with pools on top and Saunas.

      1. Mephyle*

        This probably won’t apply to him, but anyone who has the opportunity and likes chocolate – or agroindustrial processes – should try to visit the Zotter factory located about 1.5 hours south-ish of Vienna, in the area of Graz. A well-curated, well-organized tour of the factory takes you through every step of the chocolate-making process (with tasting along the way) plus more flavours and additions to chocolate bars than you could imagine.

    10. KeinName*

      Oh and one does tip if one isn’t an arsehole :) Nothing will happen though if he doesn’t. You can give 10% or less, depending on your generosity. There‘s normal living wages and social security but tips are nice anyway.

      1. amoeba*

        Yes! I’m always confused where the notion comes from that we don’t tip in this part of the world. I’d say 5-10% is standard – if the service was bad, it’s not a capital offense to give no tip, and if it’s super exceptional, you can go up to 15. But not tipping in general is definitely seen as stingy.

    11. Vienna*

      Thanks everyone! It seems like he will need to get some wool socks. The chocolate sounds delicious too – hopefully it’s good enough to compete with Whittaker’s (if you’re visiting NZ anytime, it’s my number one food rec).

      1. chocolate*

        Zotter does not compare to Whittaker’s. It is small and artisanal and fancy. Whittaker’s is more like Milka.

  14. Hot Chocolate*

    An update.
    Tried a few things- upped the cocoa and the sugar, added marshmallows.
    What turned out best and I would do it again.
    one cup of milk in the electric heated milk frother.
    one shot of expresso with a tablespoon of cocoa and two tablespoons of sugar mixed in.
    Add the expresso mix to the hot frothy milk.
    This was what I was looking for- a warm sweet rich treat.

      1. Asloan*

        Haha I agree, this sounds delicious but if it contains a shot of espresso I’d call it a mocha. But who cares if OP is loving i t:D

      2. Hot Chocolate*

        this was actually one of the recommendations from the thread. The expresso makes a sludge of the cocoa and sugar and then that mixes smoothly with the hot frothy milk.

    1. anon24*

      I’m pretty sure I didn’t comment on your thread last week because you had already gotten so many great ideas, but I’m glad you found something that works for you! Good hot chocolate is amazing; I’m normally a tea drinker but every once in awhile hot chocolate is what my soul needs and I think everyone should be able to experience that special love and coziness that only hot chocolate can provide.

    2. acoustic-alchemy*

      Yay!! I’m glad you gave it another go – there’s nothing quite like hot chocolate after a icy evening

  15. Blue wall*

    I know there used to be a lot of Frugalwoods readers here. How do you feel about the changes to the sites and, well, the lack of posting?

    I miss the old site design in which the blog was foremost, though I found the gray comments hard to read. I think it’s unfortunate that Liz isn’t posting anymore, though I guess she’s successful on her FIRE path and is living a family life.

    1. E*

      Yeah I really miss the content and while I didn’t love the old design I def prefer it to this. I still love Liz tho. I hope she does a case study soon!

    2. HannahS*

      Yeah, I’m kind of bummed. I liked her writing, and I re-read all of her articles about having a kid frugally when I was pregnant. But I think the truth is that there isn’t as much of an internet market for “We successfully did FIRE and now we live a middle-class life without working,” as there is for the more extreme money-saving and farm stuff she was doing a few years ago.

      1. ivy*

        agree – other than the case studies, the blog’s gotten quite dull. Also not a fan of the constant requests to hire her. If I want to spend money on financial advice, I’d like a real financial advisor!

        1. Generic Name*

          I hesitate to call it grifting, but a large portion of the way the FIRE movement works involves side hustles and “passive” income. I think few are actually living solely off of income from their investments. I’d wager most earn some amount of income through either freelancing or other types of irregular work. So I think the name is actually misleading. These folks aren’t retired. They just don’t work a 9 to 5 job for the man. Which is great! It’s just not retired.

          1. MCL*

            This is a sample size of only one family I know of but from my perspective the only way they can do the FIRE lifestyle is by mooching off of relatives to have a free place to live and also fully lie about where they live and their actual income in order to have that state’s insurance for low income families. Maybe some of these folks are legit but it sure seems like there are some grifts.

    3. LLH*

      The last post Liz did in September was a case study and that was the first case study that she really pushed hiring her right in the middle of the post. She got a lot of backlash in the comments about how off putting that was and then she went on a long hiatus. I don’t think that was a coincidence, it was like she got ticked off at all those comments and said fine, now you get nothing. Which of course is her prerogative.

      1. Blue wall*

        Yeah I was re-reading those comments this week. Not surprising she stepped back, just sad for those of us who like to read the case studies.

  16. Bethlam - more chemo advice please*

    I got so much valuable advice from this group prior to starting chemotherapy, so I have a quick update and then I need to pick your brains again.

    My first two treatments were fairly uneventful. Hardly any side effects except tiredness, lack of energy and (whispers) constipation, but only for the first 4-5 days. Then every day better until next treatment. Also had some bone aches from the shot they gave me to help with the hit to my white blood count.

    And, oh yeah, my hair started to fall out 15 days after my first treatment, so my husband gave me a buzz cut and I’m now bald. Steroids are a big part of my regimen, so not having any trouble eating and my taste hasn’t been affected. Was thinking, hey, this isn’t so bad.

    Should have knocked on wood. I was originally diagnosed with a sub-type of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. They started my treatment based on that, although I knew they had sent my biopsy tissue out for more extensive testing. Unfortunately, the results of the supplementary tests revealed that my cancer is a more rare sub-type called double hit lymphoma. It is also more aggressive and harder to treat.

    Therefore, my treatment protocol is changing. I’m going to be getting different drugs and, instead of one day of chemo every 21 days, I will receive 5 consecutive days of chemo every 21 days – as an inpatient in the hospital. When my oncologist told us this, we were stunned, to say the least. We had been feeling that we finally knew what we were dealing with, we had a plan, and treatment wasn’t so bad.

    Now we’re in limbo again. We were so overwhelmed at the time, we didn’t think of all the questions until we were on our way home. My care is being transferred to the hospital oncologist and I have an appointment with him on Tuesday to get the details – and answers to my long list of questions.

    So, I’m hoping to get the benefit of your valuable experience and knowledge again: has anybody else had to get treatment like this, or have a family member or friend go through it? We know no one who has, so have no clue what to expect. Hoping someone here can give me an idea of what I’m getting into, as well as some advice for navigating the experience.

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

      So sorry you’re dealing with this! No advice, but sending a big hug. Hang in there!

    2. uisce chick*

      I’m so sorry you’re facing this. It must feel like quite a blow. When my husband has his chemotherapy 19 years ago, his first round had to be inpatient because of adjacent complications. It worked out very well, in that the oncology nurses were so smart and kind, we felt very confident in his care during a really ghastly week. His outpatient weeks were so hard we sometimes wished they were inpatient. Sending light your way.

      1. Bethlam*

        Thanks. I’ll be in a major cancer center in a major city an hour and a half away, and we do know people who have had experience there and can’t say enough good things about the care they received.

    3. Pamela Adams*

      While not dealing with that, I’ve spent a lot of inpatient time in hospitals. I always bring my phone and a tablet with a charger. also, since I’m fond of a particular brand of iced tea, I bring a couple of bottles.

      Be aware that sleeping in hospitals is difficult- you may need to do more napping between treatments, blood tests, etc.

      good luck!

      1. Imtheone*

        Bring an eyeshade for sleeping as hospital rooms can be bright! Also ear plugs for noise. It might be good to have a big sign that you are wearing ear plugs. The nurses were surprised that I didn’t wake up as soon as they came in the room. (This was after surgery, so different from what you are going to deal with.)

    4. WS*

      My #1 tip for being an inpatient is to bring lip balm! Also a phone charger with a long cord, you never know where the charging point is going to be relative to your bed. If you have any dietary restrictions, bring snacks that work with that. You may or may not be hungry, but it’s very easy to miss a meal then it’s hard to get any food.

      This kind of chemo varies hugely by person – some people are sickest in hospital which is great because that’s where the care is, some people are fine in hospital then feel terrible at home (which can be bad because you need more help but good because at least you’re comfortable at home), some people are pretty even all the way through.

    5. Anima*

      I do not have direct experience with this but my mom has. Not exactly your treatment, but also with changing treatment in the middle of it.
      We first thought it was the “simple” hereditary kind of breast cancer, but later one doctors confirmed it’s triple negative, stage III. Mums treatment is basically changing every doctors visit, depending on how her white blood cells do, how the cancer does, etc. We all, including mum herself, had to learn that this is about survival and all we can do is roll with the punches. It started to work out for us after a few months. Trust your doctors. And yes, take a book or tablet with you. I wish you well, stay calm, you can do this!

    6. JSPA*

      1. Check for clinical trials, notably level 3, in places you can get to.

      Armed with that information…

      2. This is hard advice to give, and harder to do, but…demand they tell you the percentage range for outcomes (unless you’re all-in, no matter what) as well as the side effects.

      If the answer is, a 10% chance of an additional 6 months, a 2% chance of an additional year, a 0.3% chance of 5 year survival,

      your path may be quite different than if those numbers are, respectively, 70%, 50% and 25%.

      And yes, a hospital may well default equally determinedly to moving on with the treatment, in both of those scenarios.

      3. HCPOA / advance directive: unless it offends your religion, write orders that prioritize lack of suffering even if there’s a risk to survival, and that allow withdrawal of treatment. Ideally, you don’t need it for the next several decades; but it’s there for if and when you do.

      1. AnonRN*

        re: Advance directives- Please make sure that you have discussed your wishes with your named proxy! They are supposed to make decisions on your behalf if you can’t make them yourself, but too often I see a proxy feel paralyzed (especially if the goals of care are changing).

        Hospitals are boring and predictably unpredictable. There’s a lot of sit-around-and-wait followed by “we’re going to CT scan right now because a slot opened up.” Rest when you can, take every opportunity to be mobile (as much as is appropriate for you) when you can. Ask in advance about when and what visitors are allowed so you’re not disappointed (mine has limited hours, no one overnight, and only one visitor in the room at a time). Ask if you’re allowed to have flowers (bugs=infection risk), fresh fruit, etc before people bring you gifts.

    7. Bethlam*

      We do have all of our legal documents in place – wills, health care poa, living wills, etc. Actually need to get those out so I can take copies of the health care ones with me.

      Bought a laptop, and have been using it extensively already; will have to remember all my chargers. Don’t know if I’ll get much done on it as I have no clue what shape I’ll be in.

    8. Miss Buttons*

      Oh Bethlam, my heart goes out to you. I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer last July, just finished 5 months of chemo 2 weeks ago, and will do a month of targeted radiation in February. I’m sorry your game has changed here.
      I trust my team of 3 oncologists greatly, but one big reason I trust them is that I did a lot of research to find out how the best US cancer centers treat my kind of cancer. And found out that what my team is doing is just what the best cancer centers do. I researched MD Anderson in Texas, Memorial Sloan Kettering in NY, Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and Dana Farber in Boston. They are four of the best in the US. They all have extensive websites with lots of information. I just searched on “double hit lymphoma” on the MD Anderson site, and their treatment protocol sounds very similar to what you’ll be getting.
      This is very different from just searching randomly on the internet, which can yield bad or scary information.
      I wish I had more targeted info or advice for you. All I can say is ask your doc a lot of questions, take it one day at a time, and get both your feet firmly on the hope train. Bless you.

      1. Once too Often*

        Radiation will dry you out. I learned after the fact that increased dietary fats would have helped with internal support for the tissue that is being “cooked.” Increase your water consumption, too; it was odd to be so dried out without being thirsty.

        I was fine, & fine, & then suddenly tired after 4 weeks of daily treatment. Didn’t last long.

        Get the gentlest soaps/bodywash you can find, & the richest lotion.

        After I was done, I heard a story in The Moth radio show, about a woman who put googly eyes & make up faces on her surgery sites when she went in for treatment. (You’d need to keep them out of your treatment field.). I was so bummed to have not thought of that myself!

    9. Once too Often*

      My thoughts are for potential supports as you two go thru this.

      I recommend reaching out to the in house social workers & the palliative care team (at my center they offer ongoing supports throughout treatment, not mainly end of life care) to ask about resources – for yourself & for your spouse.

      I tried to have someone with me for all conversations with Docs, preferably someone who could talk & take notes. My memory was shot & chemo eats at brain function in surprising ways. (“How does that open? The lid screws off. Oh, wow. Would you open that for me? Sure.” Was a conversation I’m told happened repeatedly.)

      One city over from us has a facility for patients & family to stay in at no cost, with a shared kitchen; guests prepared their own food. If something like that is available near you, saving your spouse 3 hours/day would be great. If not, does the center have a deal with nearby hotels for discounts for patients?

      This is expensive. My center pointed me toward a grant from a foundation set up to provide financial support to people with my kind of cancer; they provide funds for general expenses as well as medical bills. That’s been very helpful. What might be available to you?

      Headgear: Hats, Scarves, & More (.com) owned by a survivor & sells a variety of things to keep your head warmer & perhaps fashionable. She talks about why things are styled certain ways which helped me think about what I already had in new ways. There are groups who knit/crochet (sometimes goofy) headgear to donate. I was surprised to find I wanted different hats to sleep in than to wear up & about at home.

      Shawls/wraps: soft ones you can wear around your shoulders over the gowns; they seem to work better than sweaters.

      Skin & Hands:
      My nails split & tore. Glass nail files did a much better job with less misery than emery boards.

      My skin was super dry, it split, peeled, & sloughed off. Hands were the worst. Find the gentlest soaps you can. (I did better with body wash than bars; one manufacturer provided bars of “gentle” soap I couldn’t stand. Gave my NP a sample of the body wash I was using, she agreed it was much better.) And the richest lotions.

      Physical strength
      This will vary so much, but your body is working so hard. Surprising things get too heavy or it becomes a long haul to walk to the car to go home. Strength does come back but will require rebuilding. Or supplements. I was so weak, they checked my bloodwork & prescribed potassium supplements. That was like magic.

      My center has dieticians (MPH with a focus on nutrition & oncology in my case) who had ideas of things to try. Mine had access to all my records, so she talked about foods to support needs she saw in my blood work etc. She also had samples of liquid meals & supplements to try. If you didn’t ask for appts with her, she came to find you in the infusion center & introduced herself & her support. She also suggested things to improve digestion & elimination issues that often come with your type of chemo.

      Alternative care
      My center offered coupons for massage, reiki, qi gong, for patients & care givers. If you have any interest, check them out. There are some fab resources out there, if they are right for you.


      Friends want to help. If your spouse isn’t commuting daily, things friends can help with include picking up mail, feeding & entertaining/walking pets, & when he’s:you’re home dropping off meals (on a schedule of some sort that someone else manages).

      Nap prep: I stashed blankets by the couch, for those times when I was suddenly falling asleep or “had” to sleep there instead of in bed. I spent days just asleep, like 23 hours a day asleep, getting up to pee & drink something. Sometimes I ate something, but not often on those sleep days.

      Quality food. And your taste buds will likely change. I was given a fragrant warm chocolate chip cookie – & spat it out because “it has flour in it!” I spent a month happily living on asparagus. Then one day I couldn’t, & switched to brussel sprouts (which I had never liked before). Those are still a primary staple, but I can’t eat asparagus. As my system recovered, I’d get hungry for very specific foods. And filled up fast.

      Protect your energy
      I had a sibling & some friends who wanted me to make them feel better about my diagnosis/treatment impact. I noped right out of that.

      I had conversations about how to keep people informed. Some folks use Facebook, CaringBridge is popular. I switched most conversations to texting.

      The gift of driveway plowing/shoveling that winter was huge.

      Best wishes, & we hope to hear your news from time to time as you come thru this.

      1. MCL*

        This is a different course of treatment compared to OP, but my spouse has one more chemotherapy appointment (tomorrow) to complete that piece of colorectal cancer treatment. He has been taking oxaliplatin as part of his particular chemo course and it’s known to cause cold sensitivity (side effect is cumulative and gets more severe each treatment). That has definitely been an issue- holding a cold beverage, cooking (holding on to cold meat/veg to chop), metal doorknobs, etc are all tough. He wears gloves a lot and I do some stuff like take on more of the cooking. He has an electric blanket which helps him stay comfortable. Like others here his sense of taste really changes and his appetite for different things changes. I’ve been making him ginger tea by dicing up peeled ginger and boiling for 7-8 minutes, it can really be a soothing drink for upset stomachs.

      2. Bethlam*

        Wow, thank you – so much good information. I started packing a bag this morning, will add some things based on your suggestions.

        After 2 fairly easy rounds, I’m dreading the next 4.

        However I’m extremely fortunate in that my sister lives 1.5 miles from the hospital and has spare bedrooms if necessary, especially if we have bad weather.

        Thanks so much for your detailed, well-thought out reply. I feel more prepared and have a better idea of what I might expect.

        1. Once too Often*

          Glad this was helpful. I hope your team is as amazing as mine; I’m told people who choose to work in cancer are a special breed.

          Ask them about comfort – what kinds of things that seem to work for a lot of folks might you want to try?

          Your spouse should reach out for support for himself; he needs to be in good shape to help support you.

          Keep us posted, we’re rooting for you.

        2. Once too Often*


          Texture will matter, take soft things as first layers.

          If they offer you heated blankets, say yes. It got harder & harder to stay warm.

          At first I was shocked, but soon I was grateful my body was able to fight so hard. When I recognized that, something shifted & I knew all of me was all in on getting through this instead of feeling like my body had let me down. Made it easier to accept loss of strength, & to recognize incremental steps in regaining it.

    10. Bethlam*

      Thank you all for the advice and well-wishes. Trying to stay positive and hopeful. Will know more after Tuesday appointment. Need to know, yet afraid to.

  17. Yes And*

    How does one go about finding a lawyer who specializes in veterans’ affairs in NYC? (If it matters, I am not a veteran. The veteran in question was my father, and he’s deceased.)

    1. Hmm*

      Try the Bar Association. I don’t know if the city has one or if you’ll have to use the state and specifically request recommendations in the city.
      If no luck there, check to see if there is a veteran’s affairs office, state not local, or whatever New York calls the office that provides veterans services.

  18. Jackalope*

    Reading thread! Share what you’ve been reading and give or request recs. All reading welcome!

    I finally read The Road to Roswell by Connie Willis. I’ve loved a lot of her stuff but had heard mixed reviews about this one. I ended up enjoying it although it wasn’t my fav of hers. Anyone else read it and have thoughts?

    1. Snell*

      I changed things up a bit with some nonfiction and started Dark Money by Jane Mayer this week. Crammed with things that are good and important to know, but oof it is rough going. Every sentence turns my stomach.

    2. Pamela Adams*

      It felt too some on to me people doing dumb things to make the plot come out. I enjoy her screwball comedies at a shorter length.

      1. Jackalope*

        I will also admit that while I frequently enjoy her caricature characters who are there for humor, I just found Lyle to be annoying rather than funny. (If it’s been awhile since you read it, he’s the one who spent the whole time complaining about how the aliens were out to get them). And the whole dark bit at the beginning when they’re getting kidnapped and Indy is being absolutely controlling and such was actually darker (in my mind anyway) than I think the author realized, so then the whiplash when Indy suddenly became a good character in their mind and they had settled back into the screwball comedy-ness of it all was tricky. I finally just had to decide that it was sort of two books, and mentally separate myself from the first part in order to enjoy the rest of it.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I agree that it was dark, for sure, but think the idea might be to get across how insanely difficult it would be to work out any kind of communication with a truly alien being (like that film Arrival, which I’m sure Willis watched on repeat.) Whether it came across is…?

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I enjoyed it but man that was some Stockholm Syndrome.

        Also I really wish the “alien tries to force the people who just met to marry” had been toned way down–I wanted someone to stand up to Indy and stop contorting themselves to placate him.

    3. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I’m reading Detective Inspector Huss by Helene Tursten, and so far (around halfway in), it looks like I might have found a new favourite Scandinavian crime author.

        1. Cookies For Breakfast*

          So far, there’s no graphic violence. Brief description of how a victim died, and a lot of focus on interrogations and the investigation. I wouldn’t call it cosy (in the way, say, The Thursday Murder Club is cosy). It’s very focused on the characters’ feelings and lives, so it’s more like following a group of ordinary people in the day to day.

    4. Valancy Stirling*

      I just started The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. I’ve been in a pretty bad reading slump, so I’m hoping this one breaks it.

      1. Still*

        I read Seven Husbands in one day, while I was in bed, sick, and I thought it was very entertaining and easy to read. I think it’s definitely a good sick/airplane/beach read so I hope it gets you out of your slump!

    5. Teapot Translator*

      I read The Empty Grave by Jonathan Stroud (final in the series) and White Cat, Black Dog by Kelly Link (a collection of short stories). There is one short story that I didn’t get at all, but otherwise, it was good/okay.

      1. Jackalope*

        Do you remember which short story it was? I read that book a few months ago and I had a similar experience so I’m wondering if it was the same. I think (but it’s been awhile) that for me it was the Hansel and Gretel story?

        1. Teapot Translator*

          It’s the one where the protagonist (a woman, I think) is stuck in another city because her flight gets cancelled.
          I admit that I didn’t know whether the author was referencing other fairy tales most of the time. I’m not even sure which one would be the Hansel and Gretel one? Probably the sister and brother story, but it didn’t feel like Hansel and Gretel to me?

          1. Jackalope*

            The version I read had the title of each story on the page before it started and then would give the name of the fairy tale that it was (loosely) based on. And yes, the alleged Handel and Gretel story was the one with the two siblings living alone in a sci-fi setting.

            1. Teapot Translator*

              You’re right! I didn’t notice. *facepalm*
              So, the one I didn’t get is the one inspired by The Boy Who Did Not Know Fear. I just read the summary on the Wikipedia article and now I don’t get the original fairy tale and I don’t get the retelling. *shrug*

    6. Angstrom*

      Where I Come From, an collection of magazine articles about life in the Deep South from Rick Bragg. Good writing. The food articles make me hungry. :-)

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        Are those his essays from Southern Living? I love those. Every Christmas, I think of his story about how they used to cut down their Christmas trees on other people’s land.

    7. word nerd*

      Jackalope, did you finish A Power Unbound last weekend? I read it then too and I thought it was a satisfying end to the trilogy that pulled the different threads together, although the twist in the middle felt a little contrived to me.

      1. word nerd*

        I should add that I’ve read a lot of middle-of-the-road novels this week and would love some recs on nonfiction available in audiobook format. I especially like stuff related to languages, science, and nature.

          1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

            For a classic nonfiction, there’s Sea of Cortez and The Log from the Sea of Cortez by John Steinbeck and Edward Ricketts about their trip to the Gulf of California to research invertebrates.

            I enjoyed the memoir All Roads Lead to Austen by Amy Elizabeth Smith, an English professor, about her sabbatical trip to Mexico, Guatemala, and several countries in South America to discuss Jane Austen’s books with various book groups to get perspectives of readers from backgrounds very different from the standard US college students she teaches.

          2. Phryne*

            Not non fiction, but if you like something about Mexico and SF/F, I can recommend books by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. I’ve read both Gods of Jade and Shadow and The Daughter of Doctor Moreau and loved them, and I’ve heard positive things about Mexican Gothic.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          These may or may not suit, but I enjoyed them all and they’re at least adjacent to your “especially likes” to my mind:

          The Fallen Stones – Diana Marcum (a memoir of a woman who was working on a butterfly farm in Belize when Covid locked everything down)

          Alex and Me – Irene Pepperburg (a scientist and the parrot that she was working with to research language accumulation and intelligence in birds, and their 30 years together)

          The River of Doubt – Candice Millard (nonfiction account of Theodore Roosevelt’s several-months-long excursion into the depths of the Amazon rain forest along a largely unmapped river)

          1. Nervous Nellie*

            Ooooh, thank you! I went to a butterfly farm in Costa Rica a long time ago, and would love to read a story that has one in it. I’ve ordered The Fallen Stones at the library. Wonderful!

      2. Jackalope*

        I haven’t yet. I got about 1/3 of the way through, had to put it down for some reason, and then haven’t finished it. I picked it up again last night and am hoping that I’ll get to finish it this weekend. But I’ve had a crazy-busy week with something every single night, which is how I switched to Connie Willis for a bit – she tends to do the screwball comedies which require little brain power and you can just be along for the ride. When I picked it back up last night I did have to wonder how I’d managed to put it down, though!

    8. Come On Eileen*

      I just finished all three books in the Wayward Pines series – read them back to back and absolutely LOVED them. Super interesting plot that unfolds over the course of all three books. I’m now left wishing there were more than three books in the series.

      1. Bluebell*

        I remember loving this series as well, I think there are some related novellas or short stories that take place in the same universe, though not necessarily with the same characters. They were written by Blake Crouch, or maybe his son?

    9. Phryne*

      I’m currently reading The Starling House by Alix E. Harrow. I am a big fan of her previous books, The Once and Future Witches and The Ten-Thousand Doors of January, and this new one is, once again, a delight. The genre is fantasy / alternative history / magic in this world, and all with strong female leads.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Ooh didn’t know about this one! I loved the other two and am a big fan of historical fantasy in general.

        1. Phryne*

          This new one is not historical, it is set in the now. It is good though.
          Maybe you know it, but if you like historical fantasy: the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik, (Also not-historical but fantasy: every other book ever written by Naomi Novik, one of my absolute favourite writers ever).

    10. Jay*

      I have been feeling utterly brain dead, exhausted and unmotivated (mostly a combination of chronic health issues, depression, and The Place That Must Not Be Named).
      So I picked up a children’s book, of all things, by a cartoonist who’s work I am very fond of.
      It’s “Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made” by Stephen Pastis, and it’s just what the lump of mush that I’m calling a “brain” at the moment needed.

      1. Jackalope*

        Many years ago I lived with a couple of my niblings when they were little (both are in college now). One of them was a toddler, and we read the book Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel together many many many times. I have recently rediscovered the Bad Kitty series at the library (with many more books than the last time I looked it up) and have been checking them out and reading them for nostalgia’s sake the last few weeks. They are delightful (except for the ones that are Teaching a Lesson, which aren’t as interesting for me), and I’ve found myself absolutely cracking up at some of them.

      2. Nervous Nellie*

        Hah! Another quick cure for mush brain is Revenge of the Librarians by Tom Gauld. It’s a little book of comic strips about librarians, books & libraries. Every page is a chuckle or a snorting laugh out loud moment. It may cheer you up. Sending good thoughts!

    11. Sitting Pretty*

      Someone here recommended Camp Damascus by Chuck Tingle a few weeks back. Got it from the library and read it this week. Great horror story about a Christian conversion camp for gay teens, with all the weird twists and righteous battles of “good” and “evil” you could want.

    12. GoryDetails*

      I’m enjoying a SF anthology, “Entanglements: Tomorrow’s Lovers, Families, and Friends” – especially the story I just finished: “A Little Wisdom” by Mary Robinette Kowal, which postulates a near-future in which AI-driven support-bots (think robotic-support-dog-with-amazing-AI) can not only help people navigate the world but can also help comfort strangers sheltering from a tornado – in the basement of a museum, yet. Surprisingly charming, and making me tear up several times; really lovely!

      On audiobook: Am now listening to “How To Kill Your Family” by Bella Mackie, which is very clearly a reworking of the plot of Roy Horniman’s “Israel Rank”, the inspiration for the delightful dark-comedy film “Kind Hearts and Coronets” (which itself inspired the Tony-award-winning musical theater adaptation, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”).

      While the premise is similar – young person discovers they’re related to a vastly-wealthy clan, all of whom intentionally cast out their mother and refused any assistance or even recognition, and determines to kill off everyone who’s in between them and the inherited family wealth – I admit that, so far, the novel’s protagonist/narrator is coming across as even more sociopathic than the protagonist of the novel and film. I think it’s partly that there’s no touch of whimsy in this version at all so far – and that the protagonist is not only understandably irate at her wealthy relatives’ horrible behavior but is also very much a snob over the more humble, Actually Doing Something kin. Will see if the plot intricacies make the less-than-charming protagonist worth following…

    13. Bluebell*

      I just finished Fireworks every Night by Beth Raymer, which is about a super dysfunctional family in 1990s Florida, and the oldest daughter’s current life dealing with the fallout. it was well written, but it’s definitely A Lot, with climate change thrown in as an extra. Before that, I read Maybe Next Time by Cesca Major which is sort of a Groundhog Day thing. Definitely starts with the trope of “modern career woman with kids who is trying to balance it all,” but I liked how the plot developed.

    14. Nervous Nellie*

      This one has been mentioned by others before, but I am loving Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn. Four 60-something former assassins are sent on a retirement cruise by their employer, but the employer also sends a young employee on the trip to kill them all. It’s fast & lively, and speaks pointedly about women’s invisibility.

    15. germank106*

      I’m about halfway through Demon Copperhead. I’m not the biggest Kinsolver fan, but I can’t seem to put it down.

    16. goddessoftransitory*

      Still on The Iliad and The Odyssey; they are very well translated! I’ve read other translations but agree with Emily Wilson’s assessment that many of them try too hard to sound “elevated” and end up bogging down the stories.

      Also working through Dirty Old London, which is fascinating but quite dense, with lots of statistics. It does give a person a sense of the absolutely monumental task that installing sewerage and other sanitary necessities is, especially in an old city like London. The post war “planned communities” that sprang up after World War II take on a new perspective–you can see why people would be thrilled to start from scratch and “do it right” from the outset.

      I liked The Road to Roswell but was a bit puzzled by the ending–actually turned back to see if I’d skipped any pages. I will read it again soon, along with Cross Talk, her last one.

    17. Quantum Possum*

      I’m currently re-reading Octavia Butler’s “Lilith’s Brood” (Xenogenesis) trilogy. Last year I re-read her “Seed to Harvest” (Patternist) series. Good lord could that woman write!!

    18. LAGirl*

      I enjoyed The Road to Roswell, but it felt a little lightweight compared to most of Connie Willis’s other work. Fun, though. (The combined Blackout/All Clear duo is in my top 10 reads of all time.)

    19. carcinization*

      Finished and liked Cassandra in Reverse, about to start Black’s Book of Night because that’s the February selection for the book club I’m in.

    20. Peanut Hamper*

      I absolutely loved The Road to Roswell, but yeah, it kind of fell apart at the end. It seemed a lot less E.T. and a lot more…I don’t know. Maybe this is how an alien encounter would go, but who knew there would be this much bureaucracy and paperwork? Maybe it’s too realistic for what is ultimately a fantasy.

      I will say, though, that I have been giving wide berth to the cabbages in the produce aisle since reading it. Just saying…

      1. Jackalope*

        I’m wondering if it’s the first of a duology or something? That would cause the ending to make more sense.

    21. Elizabeth West*

      I started reading Teach Her a Lesson, a crime thriller by Kate Flora about a teacher who is assaulted by a student who then sets out to destroy her. I bought it from the Sisters in Crime booth at the Boston Book Festival last fall but only just now got around to reading it. It’s a gripper!

      Also finished Brian Klaas’s Corruptible: Who Gets Power and How It Changes Us. Highly recommend.

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

      Re-read some Sherlock Holmes for free online (bless you, Project Gutenberg!) and some Peter O’Donnell Modesty Blaise books.

      Started reading Max Carrados, about a blind private detective in 1914 London (also thanks to Project Gutenberg) — so far, I like the stories pretty well, as they have a Holmes-like feel to them, but I feel like sometimes the author cuts the stories off a little short without quite as thorough an explanation as I’d like.

      1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

        I liked the Modesty Blaise books. There’s a very campy spoof of James Bond films with Monica Vitti as Modesty that came out in 1966, which does not follow the original source material very closely.

    23. Clara Bowe*

      I just finished “Slaying the Dragon” by Ben Riggs. It was a history of the creation of Dungeons & Dragons and the company that came of it until its purchase in the late 90’s. It was well researched, but it felt kinda academic thesis-y. Worth the read, but it took forever for me to finish, even though it was relatively short.

      I’m gonna try “Tidesong” by Wendy Xu because I need something entirely different.

    24. Broken scones*

      I have been on a YA kick! I finished Dungeons & Dragons by Kristy Boyce; it was fun and cute! Now I’m reading Give Me a Sign by Anna Sortino.

    25. allathian*

      The Legacy of Heorot (1987) by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle and Steven Barnes. Sci-fi horror at its best. Not a genre I generally read, as I’ve become more squeamish with age. If you enjoy Alien, you’ll probably enjoy this.

      A colony of about 200 humans on Tau Ceti 4 learns that there’s a menacing monster that could kill them all. Things get pretty desperate but there’s a sort of happy ending in that the colony does survive and learns to deal with the monsters.

    26. Filosofickle*

      Yesterday I read The Golden Spoon, is a mystery novel that lightly spoofs the Great British Bake Off. Light and quirky.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        I tried reading Walkaway by Cory Doctorow, and could not bring myself to finish it. It read like it was written by a hormonal adolescent male, and needed several more rounds of editing. I heard Makers is a similar concept but better, but my library didn’t have it so I read For the Win instead. It was interesting, not the best book I ever read but interesting concept. It was also much longer than it needed to be. It didn’t drag on too much but I kept feeling like I would never finish it until I finally did. A lot of it was sad but there were some funny side jokes and the horrible corporations reminded me a bit of Murderbot.

        I like his ethos but might be better off sticking to his non-fiction.

    27. ChaoticNeutral*

      I like to have several reads going at once depending on my mood and where I sourced the recommendation from. Currently reading The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab, Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde, and listening to The Hunger by Alma Katsu! All very enjoyable reads although so far The Hunger isn’t as spooky/gory as I was hoping it would be.

  19. Jackalope*

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

    I mentioned this super late last week but I played a game called Very Loud Librarians. It’s by the people who created Exploding Kittens and has a similar feel in artwork. Some of it feels like a fast-paced Scattergories. We had a good time with it, and it was a good “larger group of general size that’s a bit fluid” sort of game.

    1. The Dude Abides*

      Ordered a pile of retro foils from Ravnica Remastered, and they just came.

      Debating on whether to add the Ravnica-themed Clue board game. The sticker price is holding me back.

    2. HHD*

      I finally got round to trying a new (to me) local game store, and walked out with a pile of my wishlist. This was made much easier by the fact that we have many gaming friends in the city that we’ve moved to (we were previously a two player only household) , and our home reno is now advanced enough that the dining/games table will be out of storage in the next two weeks.

      The only one we’ve played so far is My City, which is a legacy type competitive civilisation builder from agricultural to industrial. It’s super cute, and I love that there’s a non legacy side so it’s not 24 episodes and done.

    3. Jay*

      Started Season 3 of Diablo IV this week.
      Also messing about with my old favorite, Cell To Singularity, a shocking educational “Clicker” type of game.

    4. nopetopus*

      Still working towards perfection in Stardew Valley. I’m at 97%. Still working on one last villager to get to 10 hearts, find the last 7 walnuts, and ship 15 of every crop. I don’t know what crop(s) I’m missing! I thought after 8 years of game time I’d have gotten that one, but apparently not!

    5. Shy Platypus*

      I started a new BG3 playthrough and decided to go as Dark Urge. As a definite marshmallow-on-raonbows kind of person I was a bit scared it’d be too gory and I’d have to be a Bad Guy, but I heard such good things about it I wanted to try (and challenge myself a little).

      So far I really like it. As usual with this game, there are many ways to play as Dark Urge and I found a nice balance as a tortured, deep in denial version of it that mostly means well (though they can’t always do well). Looking forward to having that balance tumbled in the later stages of the game!

    6. Quantum Possum*

      I’m working diligently on replicating the Lizzie Borden House in “Sims 4.” I’m proud to say that I’m about 95% complete.

    7. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      I finished Lost Judgment last night (main story and school stories, Kaito Files will have to wait) and after a break to decompress from that ending (so viscerally satisfying) started Infinite Wealth. It was a single- digit hour at that point and I made it like 45 minutes before I had to tap out but they were an absolutely delightful 45 minutes. Ichiban Kasuga continues to be the purest of heart and dumbest of ass and I love him.

  20. Ron McDon*

    Hello, my husband and I are off to Madeira on Monday until Saturday – staying there for my 50th birthday on Wednesday – so I’d welcome any tips/recommendations from anyone who’s been there!

    We’re staying near the Lido, just along the road from Funchal in the South of the island.

    We’ve heard the weather can be warm and sunny in that area, but can be cooler the further North you go, and can be a bit changeable and showery, so I’m packing my anorak and lots of layers!

    We’ve seen that we can buy a 5 day bus pass on the Urban service so we’ll probably do that, although there seem to be 3 or 4 different bus services on some of the same routes, which I’m a bit confused by. The no. 2 bus seems to stop right by our hotel, so I think that’s the bus route we’ll mainly use – any recommendation for apps to find which bus stops/routes we need whilst we’re out and about gratefully received!

    I’m a vegetarian, husband loves steak, so any restaurant recommendations also gratefully received!

    1. BellStell*

      I just read an article in The Guardian about the water systems built for sugar cane and if you look on The Guardian website and search Madeira lots of stuff comes up with recs for food and salt water pools and beaches and hikes.

    2. Circuses are Coordinated*

      Happy early Birthday! We were in Madeira in November so happy to pass along what we enjoyed. We were further up on the south coast and had a car so I can’t advise on the bus routes but from what we saw driving around the buses are everywhere on the island.

      Things we enjoyed: Botanic gardens, Volcanic center at Sao Vincente Caves, hiking the levadas and Ponte de Sao Lorenco (get there early as possible to beat the crowds), Seixal and the natural swimming pools. While wandering around Funchal was nice, you only need a day or so there. (Try the madeira tasting at Blandy’s). Overall we enjoyed the North Coast quite a bit: Sao Vicente, Santana, and Seixal. If you’re not big on hiking there were some flat paths branching off from Parque Florestal das Queimedas (Un camino para todos) which is nice to see a bit of the levadas and forest scenery in the mountains. The Volcanic center was fun to have a better idea of what caused the dramatic scenery you will see.

      I would indeed pack warmer layers for the North coast and for going up into the mountains. Plus a rain jacket/waterproof layers. Try to get an idea of when the cruise ships dock and then avoid Funchal (hotel could probably advise on this).

      Food – we have the same situation of one veg and one steak lover! Madeira is not a super veg friendly place but most places had the usual pasta with veggies etc. Art Food Corner in Funchal was one of our favorites for lots of veg options with tasty chicken dishes for the omnivore. Eating out is much cheaper on the North Coast. For lunch, I usually would have the house salad (everywhere had fresh lettuce and veggies) with the madeira cheese sandwich. Its a flat bread (pita sized) that they make like a panini with garlic butter and cheese.

      Hope you have a great vacation!

      1. Ron McDon*

        Thank you for taking the time to write such a lot of info, and I appreciate the recommendations (and birthday wishes) – thank you :)

    3. Lina*

      I can’t remember exact restaurants as it’s 10 years since I visited, but would recommend a visit to the Valley of the Nuns – you can get a bus to the top, then walk down into the valley, and there’s a restaurant there where you can eat chestnuts in every dish if you want (I did… my non-veggie husband had steak on a skewer instead). For meat-eaters, steak on a stone is quite ubiquitous – they give you the raw steak and you cook it yourself on a hot stone. It’s also fun to visit the market and sample all the different flavours of passionfruit (tomato/apple/banana etc).
      A sail on the Santa Maria replica is fun and you can go swimming off the boat and then eat cake and drink Madeira. Also a sledge ride down the streets!
      If you don’t mind walking as a group you can book onto guided walks between the highest peaks on the island which is useful as they drop you off and pick you up at the far end of the walk, but there tend to be crowds. There are also loads of gorgeous flattish walks along the levadas (irrigation channels); some go through tunnels so take a torch!
      Oh, and there’s usually a big queue for the gelato place but it’s worth it!
      Be warned, the runway in Funchal is seriously short. The pilots get three attempts to land and if they don’t make it you’ll divert back to Lisbon or one of the other islands. You can watch the planes from the roof of the airport (our flight back was delayed).

      1. Ron McDon*

        Thanks Lina for all this detail – I think hubby would like steak on a stone! We are definitely going to do the sledge ride – and it’s a good tip to bring a torch for the tunnels, I’ll make sure to pack one.

        I’d looked at the runway online and couldn’t believe how small it is – I had no idea that you could get diverted if the pilot didn’t make it in 3… let’s hope our pilot is experienced :)

        1. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

          We went to Madeira several years ago and loved it. Some levada walks are nice and gentle, some are proper hikes through tough terrain; there’s a lot of little guide shops that can help – we bought a book before we went and chose a couple from there. Absolutely do the cable car up and the sledge down, and the village is very sweet. Funchal Market is amazing, we just loaded up on fruit there to have for lunch. Boat ride (we saw a turtle! And dolphins) definitely. Enjoy it, I’d love to go back. (And happy birthday!)

  21. Blomma*

    Advice please for DC travel!

    I am planning a solo trip to Washington DC for an upcoming milestone birthday in June. I love museums and want to spend about a week visiting some of the Smithsonian museums, plus a couple of other major sites. I’ve never visited DC before so I’d love any suggestions for places to go, hotels, etc. I’ll list the places already on my list below.

    One thing I’m wondering about specifically is safety and if I’ll be ok walking from my hotel (preferably within 15 minutes of most of the museums I want to see and the Mall). I am somewhat disabled so, while the distance would probably be fine for me to walk, I cannot physically run away if I had a problem with anyone. Between my brain fog and anxiety, I prefer not to mess around with public transportation unless it’s extremely obvious where I should get off/on. Is that not too difficult to figure out? (I’m from the other Washington and the public transportation in my area is almost nonexistent.)

    Currently on my list:
    Museum of Natural History
    National Museum of American History
    National Zoo
    National Museum of African American History and Culture
    National Air and Space Museum
    Ford’s Theater
    National Mall + monuments


    1. Angstrom*

      Air & Space is undergoing major rennovations. A lot of it is closed off.
      The Holocaust museum is excellent.
      Some of the museums require a free timed-entry pass. You reserve them in advance online.

      1. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

        If you love aviation, take the metro over NEAR the other Air and Space adjacent to Dulles Airport. No direct metro station, but you can uber from a station if needed. It is an AMAZING museum (and…my dad is a docent there), regardless of being an Av Geek or not! Have a great trip!

    2. Washi*

      I can’t quite tell from your post, are you able to walk only 15 minutes at a time? It’s completely doable to stay near the mall and do everything on foot, but I think you’ll want to be prepared to be on your feet a lot, especially thinking about food. There’s not a lot to eat other than food trucks and the museum food right in the mall (the African American and American Indian museums both have great food but it would be a lot eating there all week for multiple meals).

      Safety wise in a such a busy tourist area I’d be mostly concerned about pickpocketing.

      If you are able to bike, Capital Bikeshare is a great transportation option in that area. That being said, I think the DC metro is a little easier to use than the NYC metro or Boston T because there’s not multiple lines using the same platform (like if you’re on the right platform, you don’t also have to check that you’re getting on the right train.) There’s also a circulator bus that does a circuit of the mall and only costs a dollar.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        The food advice is very good. Do not eat at the food trucks on the Mall. They’re not regulated, the quality is terrible, and the prices are outrageous. I would buy a bottle of water from them but that’s it. When I’m on the Mall and I need a snack, I go to the Hirschorn (coffee shop in the lobby) or the National Gallery of Art. For meals, I walk to Penn Quarter. There is also a cafeteria at the USDA that is open to the public, but I believe that’s only open on weekdays.

      2. Blomma*

        Thank you! I can walk longer than 15 minutes. If I end up walking from my hotel, I wouldn’t want to be further away than 15 minutes walking distance. But I will look into other options for transportation.

        1. Washi*

          That’s good (in that what you are describing requires a lot of walking.) I remember taking my very athletic brother to see the sights in DC when he visited, and between the walking, the crowds, and the heat, he was surprised how tired he got!

          If I were you, I would probably stay in Penn Quarter or Chinatown, so you’ll be near plenty of food options and if you’re pooped, you can have dinner and crash more easily. There’s tons of buses and between the Chinatown and Metro Center metro stops, all the metro lines at your fingertips. It’s pretty touristy but you are a tourist, so exactly what you need! For food I love Rasika and Daikaya down there.

          1. Washi*

            Also try to get Ethiopian food while you’re there! So delicious but difficult to elsewhere in the US (in my experience.) My favorite places are not terribly convenient to the Mall but I’m sure you could find somewhere nearby.

    3. uisce chick*

      The Phillips Gallery is a delightful place, and has some celebrity paintings, such as Luncheon of the Boating Party. Since it is smaller than the National Gallery, it can be an easier and less overwhelming experience. They also have a nice cafe. I usually get around DC with Uber or walking.

      1. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

        Yes! Phillips and Dumbarton Oaks are off the beaten path and truly wonderful. Also the botanical gardens are kind of right next to the Capitol so highly recommend!

    4. Reba*

      I would look into renting a mobility scooter or bringing one with you. The Mall is big, it will be very hot, and even when you get inside the museums, you then are there to stand and walk a lot!

      Natural History and Air & Space will both likely be very crowded with possibly a line to get in. NMAAHC requires the timed entry passes. I want to put in a plug for the less visited Smithsonians like African art, Asian art, and American Indian! And the Portrait gallery! If you are going in late June, you can attend the Folklife Festival on the Mall :) Any interest in the Library of congress tour?

      If you stay at the Hyatt or Holiday Inn, you are walking distance and while the area isn’t exactly charming you don’t need to worry about crime.

      If you stay a little farther away (lots of options at the Wharf and near Gallery place) it is easy to take the Metro 1 or 2 stops and pop up right in the middle of the Mall and Smithsonian station. There is also a shuttle bus that runs between the Mall and Waterfront area.

      The challenge with DC Metro is that the machines to get the cards and add money are as if they were designed by an alien species… But the station staff are usually helpful and can walk you through it.

      It is easy to get a can/Uber to the Zoo, this can be a really nice day as there are some great restaurants nearby too.

      Enjoy your trip!

      1. Blomma*

        Thank you! I have thought about renting a mobility scooter and still might. I’ve heard from other disabled travelers that the DC metro elevators are not great, so I’d be worried about trying to do the metro with a scooter when I don’t usually use one.

        I’ll think about some of these other museums. I especially love history museums and I tend to read everything posted so I’m not sure how much time I’ll have to add more places :)

        1. Washi*

          It’s been a couple years now since I’ve lived in DC but the metro elevators were ALWAYS out of service. If you end up going with a mobility scooter, I would just take the bus rather than risk it.

    5. Sitting Pretty*

      Check out the DC Circulator bus. It is designed with tourists in mind, and the route is very simple. Looking at your list, I can’t quite imagine doing all of that stuff in the same week without some kind of transportation to make it easier to get around. While everything is accessible on foot, there are long distances between the different museums.

      The Metro is also really pretty easy to navigate, it too is used by a lot of tourists so you can always find someone to help point you in the right direction.

      I suggest adding the national building museum to your list. It’s an impressive space and always has really cool exhibits. And if it’s open when you come (currently closed for a pipe repair), the Renwick Museum near the White House is a must-see.

      Have fun!

    6. Asloan*

      June is a wonderful time here! If your hotel is 15 minutes from the mall, as long as you’re not out too late, I think there would be a lot of other people out and about and I would feel quite safe (of course crime can always happen, but I would be comfortable walking alone there as a young single woman until 8 or 9ish). The metro is very easy to understand – not like the NYC subway, because there’s not as many changes from normal service, and there’s only one name for the stops in both directions) but I believe people do complain about elevator outages causing issues. If you’re in the heart of the downtown it will be easy to walk with lots of opportunities to rest, and you can always call a ride-share service or, less commonly these days, flag a cab. Have fun!

      1. Blomma*

        Thank you! I definitely wouldn’t be out too late-I’ll be too tired! Yeah I have heard of the elevator outages and that’s another thing that makes me nervous about relying on the metro.

      2. AGD*

        I haven’t been to DC in years, but when I last did, I was a woman traveling alone who was temporarily disabled (slowly recovering from a sports injury). I had no problems at all – though I was able to manage stairs if I leaned on a railing – and didn’t feel unsafe at any hour even though it was barely after New Year’s so the days were pretty short.

    7. Llellayena*

      The Spy Museum was awesome, though you might want to grab a cab to it. I recall it being in the opposite direction from the mall. Air and Space annex at/near Dulles might be neat if the main museum is too deep in renovations. I think the new subway line goes out there but I don’t know how close it gets. I always love the Native American museum on the mall.

      1. Nicki Name*

        I think you still have to take a bus from Metrorail to the Udvar-Hazy center– it’s a long way from the airport terminal.

        Seconding the Spy Museum!

    8. TX_TRUCKER*

      If you do take the metro to the zoo, I suggest you get off at the Cleveland Park stop and NOT the one labeled Woodley Park-Zoo. Both are about a 10 minute walk or less to the zoo. But if you get off at the “official” zoo exit, you will be walking up a very steep hill. The next stop has you walking downhill.

    9. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Immigrant Food is awesome – two locations (that I know of), affordable, interesting, and good. The Fenwick, which is part of the Smithsonian and not on the mall. It’s the Museum of Craft and it is one of the best museums I’ve ever been to. I visit DC a few times a year. Last year when I was visiting a friend who has lived in the DC area since the 1980s I asked her “What museum should I go to that I’ve never heard of?” and she said “The Fenwick” without hesitation. I spent the first half-hour I was there texting pictures to my husband and finally gave up and told him we’d have to come so he could see for himself. Which we did and he also loved it. It is probably not walking distance from your hotel. It’s worth the money for a cab or Uber or whatever. And there’s an Immigrant Food right around the corner!

      The other Immigrant Food I’ve been to is in the lower level of the Museum of the Word which is also very fun if you have any interest in language. A lot of it is aimed at kids. I didn’t care. We had a blast.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Sorry, must make two corrections– the museums you’re talking about are the Renwick and Planet Word. They’re both very good!

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          OMG. Thank you. See what happens when I post before breakfast without checking???

    10. GoryDetails*

      My favorite place to eat in DC was the Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe in the National Museum of the American Indian – but I see by its web site that the cafe is closed for renovations “through late spring 2024,” so if you’re interested in that, do check its status at the time of your trip. When I was there, the cafe featured several different regions, each with foods inspired by tribal cuisine in those regions – Pacific Northwest, Plains, Northeast, etc.

        1. Sarah BRB*

          The National Botanical Gardens is also right next to the NMAI and a must-see – there are probably some small stairs so I’d call ahead about mobilization assistance but it’s beautiful even if to go into the front atrium. I’d also recommend the National Building Museum, near the National Archives (also one of my favorite places), is one that you have to pay for but absolutely worth it – beautiful site with interesting exhibits!

    11. Planet xyz*

      The National Gallery of Art is fantastic. Some world-class art and a beautiful leafy courtyard inside to rest in when tired. The underground passage that leads to the East Wing has one of the best (art) bookstores I’ve ever seen, as well as a spacious cafeteria.

      Please please please visit the Enid Haupt Garden behind the old Smithsonian “castle.” I’m not terribly interested in gardens but it is my favorite place in D.C. Victorian on one side, Asian on the other, unless it’s changed since I’ve been there. Birds bathing in fountains and beautiful trees and flowers. The Arts & Industry building is right there too, full of cool stuff that was cutting edge in the 1800’s. And just a gorgeous building.

      It’s been a while since I lived there, so if any of this sounds interesting, please do a google search to confirm it’s as I’ve described.

      Have a wonderful time!

      1. Scrabster*

        Seconding the National Gallery, where you can (or could) get really close to a Da Vinci, and the cafeteria/ courtyard was a great place to rest and very calming. If you’re interested, IIRC the patent museum is in the same complex.

    12. Clara Bowe*

      Postal museum! It is so cool!!! And the Folgers Shakespeare Library. They sometimes do productions!

      1. Thoughts*

        Seconding the Folger! It’s a very manageable quick visit, their productions are wonderful if you can catch one, and I love their tiny gift shop!

    13. Glazed Donut*

      I went last year and had the best time! Give yourself LOTS of time for NMAAHC (it was my favorite! and also so exhausting!). Check all the websites for timed passes/ticketing, as it varies by museum. I was very disappointed in Air and Space – so much was closed off.
      In addition to the Smithsonians, I also went to the Woodrow Wilson house (you’ll need a cab). I thought it was a nice glimpse into history! I also went to the National Cathedral (free timed tour) and was enamored. It’s another cab ride, but was soooo worth it.
      Another tip I got from someone: the Washington Monument has tours inside where you can go to the top and look out the windows. I think these are reserved tickets (same day or day before, I could be wrong). It was cool to see and learn about how the monument was made & see the inside with the glass-walled elevator!

      1. Sarah BRB*

        Second the Washington Monument! Get an account at recreation.gov, and the tickets are available ($1 fee each to reserve) at 10 am both 30 days and 24 hours before the date you want to select. Since it’s June you really do need to be online and ready to check out at 10 am but one ticket should be easy to snag – or the day of in person (or be VERY nice to the National Park rangers – I’ve gotten in without a ticket but with a friend who had one. It’s essentially for crowd control). The elevator ride is very cool and you see the top two “floors” (which are tiny and you may not be able to take a scooter up, but they will let you use the elevator between floors if you can’t do stairs). There’s also a great view from the Old Post Office tower in the fancy hotel!

    14. SuprisinglyADHD*

      The National Postal Museum was described to me as a hidden gem, and they were right! Lots of hand-on exhibits, and it only took us a couple of hours (we skipped the stamps section and skimmed the baseball exhibit, those would have added more time but they weren’t our interests). The exhibit on how mail is sorted through the years, from hand-sorting, to manually typing the codes, to electronics that can read the addresses themselves, was my favorite.
      The Museum of American History was also great, I think that’s where we spent the most time.

    15. Girasol*

      You didn’t the museum of natural history. We spent a couple days touring most of the museums on the mall and that was my favorite.

    16. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      You can visit the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and see money being printed. It’s pretty cool.

    17. Union*

      I love the National Building Museum!! Even if you don’t end up getting a ticket to walk through the exhibits, the Grand Hall is very… well, grand. Love an indoor fountain.

    18. Once too Often*

      Have you seen the canes with a seat attached? They look a little heavier than a plain cane, but in a lot of the museums there is no place to sit, & one can do a great deal of walking on the Mall itself, so having a seat with you might be helpful.

      Early June, before most schools let out for the summer, is likely to be less crowded than later.
      Festival of American Folklife is great fun, but really packed; it’s late June/early July.

      June can be pretty warm, & DC uses a lot of a/c. I always had an overshirt or sweater to add indoors. I’d plan to carry water, & some snacks, as there will almost certainly be lines for food.

      The Washington Post.com has a food/restaurant critic. You may want to browse for additional ideas for meals (& prices, tho if you’re in the Seattle area you won’t have as much sticker shock in DC as some.). He has a live chat, too; you could send in questions in advance to increase the likelihood of his answering.

      WMATA.com should take you to the metro website & service map. You can see if it looks straightforward. There are escalators at all stations; if there are problems one walks or takes the elevator. Trains are full near the Mall, with tourists & Federal employees.

      Have fun planning your trip!

    19. noncommittal pseudonym*

      Renwick Gallery! American Arts & Crafts. I also enjoyed the National Building Museum – they were having a major Lego exhibit at the time – but it’s a little sparse.

      1. noncommittal pseudonym*

        Also, and of Jose Andres’ restaurants are awesome. Jaleo is my favorite (tapas), but Oyamel (Mexican) and Zaytinya (mediterranean), are also awesome.

    20. Oh, just me again!*

      Call your congressperson’s office right way! Their local office, in your district if they have one. They will arrange tours of capital, white house, Lincoln center. And they should do this whether you are a donor or even registered with the opposite party. Visit their office too. If you have a contact to put you in touch, so much the better, but if not, they want to make friends! You may or may not meet them, but probably have a staffer greet you and show you round.

  22. Cookies For Breakfast*

    UK readers with home decorating skill, I’m looking for advice to frame some A4 magazines (I love the covers, they are practically artwork).

    I found a YouTube video that makes it seem very easy. The creator is in the US and says she is using shadow box frames from a specific American store. I had a quick google (mainly the Hobbycraft website) and can only find square ones. Not sure yet how much to trust Amazon results, they are around £30 a frame and I guess I was expecting to find something cheaper.

    I was also thinking I might like a frame with transparent back, so the magazine floats inside. The main challenge seems to be depth – making sure it’s enough to close the frame with a magazine inside.

    If you’ve done this before, where did you get your frames, and what kind?

    1. Ron McDon*

      Could you cut the cover off the magazine, or are you specifically looking for a frame that will allow you to keep the magazine intact?

      I’ve bought several frames from Amazon over the years – specifically GB Eye, Allington and Oxford frames. They’re under £15 each and I was pleased with the quality for that price – I searched for ‘A3 frame for A4 print’ so it was a frame including a mount with a cut-out for an A4 item.

      But no experience of framing a magazine, I’m afraid! My sis-in-law box-framed 4 vinyl albums as she loved the covers and they look fab – I think she got her frames from eBay, so may be worth looking on there?

      1. Cookies for Breakfast*

        Yep, framing vinyls looks a lot easier, because most of the frames I’ve been seeing for this kind of use for are square.

        Cutting off the covers was my first thought, but looking at the video where the creator framed entire magazines, it looks like a much cleaner solution (I have the crafting skills of a pre-school kid, so neat straight cuts for every single cover are a bit of a gamble!). Looks like scouring Amazon and ebay is the main option here, unless someone comes up with a very specific recommendation.

        1. Llellayena*

          If you’re still open to cutting the covers off a metal ruler and an exacto/craft knife will help keep the cuts straight. I would avoid the glass float frames if you’re at all interested in preserving the magazines. Those frames use pressure to keep the art in place and the ink can rub off on the glass if you take it apart later. You can look at frames that are larger but similar proportions and get clear plastic corner mounts to hold the magazine centered on a solid background mat. I’m in the US so I can’t help with stores/brands but I worked as a picture framer for a couple years. Your local framer might be able to give you ideas even if you don’t use the framer for this.

        2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          How are the magazines held together? If it’s a staple, it’d really easy to take it apart and just have the outermost sheet which would fold really flat.

    2. Amey*

      Try The Range, Dunelm and IKEA, they each usually have loads of different frame options in lots of different sizes. I used to always get all my frames from The Range including some shadow box ones I’ve used for postcards.

      1. Bobina*

        Was going to say this.

        Depending on how much you want to spend, you could also just go to a framers. Can be a bit spendy (although for that side maybe not too bad?) and at least where I am, they do a great job at the consulting part – discussing colours for frames, mountings etc)

        1. Cookies For Breakfast*

          I’d like to avoid the framer this time round :) we have a very good local one we used before, but they are pricey and the cost of the frame would outweigh the cost of the magazines by quite a lot.

          I bought frames from Dunelm and IKEA before (just concerned they might not have the right ones, which happened to me with IKEA before), and The Range sound interesting as it’s a place I never heard of!

    3. Sitting Pretty*

      Does Etsy exist in the UK? I ask because I wanted to frame something of a specific size as a gift (theater playbills) and there are a few theater geeks on Etsy who make mats specific to the size that then fit in more standard frames (most of them sell frames too). Much better options than whatever I was trying to cobble together from the craft store. You may have some luck there.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        Etsy is a place I’d be happy to look at. What did you search for exactly? They must have updated their algorithm in recent years, and even the most specific terms and filters give me a majority of very irrelevant results, so I don’t use it all that frequently anymore.

  23. The Prettiest Curse*

    Which household item you own (big or small) has saved you the most money? I bought an inexpensive scalp massager a few years back that has saved me from buying a lot of scalp scrub. And even though washing them is a bit of a pain, having a stock of reusable face cleaning pads means that I almost never have to buy cotton wool pads any more.
    Share your money savers below!

    1. germank106*

      My InstaPot. It was a gift a few years ago and I didn’t use it much at first. Now that I have figured out how to make homemade yogurt and how to use the timer function, it’s in use at least three days a week. No more stopping for junk food on the way home, with the timer set dinner is ready when I come home. Also homemade yogurt, way better than store bought.

    2. Angstrom*

      Battery charger. Using rechargeable AA and AAAs has saved a lot of money and waste over the years. Also means you’re more likely to use the battery-powered devices if you’re not worried about buying batteries.

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      Menstrual cups. They can stay in place for hours and are washable so you can reuse them! Only one per cycle means it’s a bit environmental boon, too.

      1. Still*

        I’m sorry, what do you mean “only one per cycle”? Is there a kind of a menstrual cup that’s reusable during your period but then needs to be disposed of between the periods…? I don’t think I’ve ever heard about those!

        1. ThatGirl*

          She probably means the Instead style, which can be rinsed out and reused for a cycle but should be tossed at the end.

          1. Still*

            Thank you, I had no idea those existed.

            I’d be curious what makes them preferable to just a plain old fully-reusable cup… but I feel like that might be getting too far from acceptable dinner party conversation!

            1. Charlotte Lucas*

              Some of us don’t have in-unit washers and dryers. That’s what has always kept me busy from using cups. (It would feel very weird to wash them in a “public” washing machine. At least to me.)

              1. Blue wall*

                The cups I use are boiled in water on the stove to sanitize, no washer or dryer needed (and they’re made of silicon so that wouldn’t work). Maybe you are thinking of period underwear?

            2. ThatGirl*

              I don’t have a period anymore but I liked them because they were less wasteful and also less hassle than a DivaCup style.

      2. AGD*

        Came here to say this. My first one needed to be cleaned with boiling water carefully between cycles but lasted 12 years.

    4. Girasol*

      The freezer. It’s a 12 footer that was cheap 20 years ago and is still humming away. We fill it with grass fed local beef bought by the quarter, chickens in bulk when the local organic farmer is doing fowl subscriptions, and with fruits and vegetables from our garden, plus cartons of supper entrees and soups made in school lunch quantities and portioned out to thaw for quick meals later. It saves money and enables us to have better quality food than we could afford, and it saves lots of cooking time.

    5. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I bought an exercise bike for very cheap from someone local on Facebook Marketplace. By “very cheap” I mean a banknote I already had in my wallet (the bike retails for 5 times as much), and it was in excellent condition.

      Taking it home on foot was quite the experience, but well worth it: it’s been a year and I still use it once or twice a week. Definite saving comparing to taking up a gym membership I would use at the same frequency. Exercising in my bedroom while listening to a podcast is also quite lovely.

    6. Rick Tq*

      A folding post-style clothes dryer my wife brought back from Okinawa. We use it to hang-dry most of our clothes and I have old polo shirts that still look almost new.

    7. just here for the scripts*

      During Covid we turned our NYC apartment’s guest room into a gym and haven’t looked back! Saves us $145 a month (for both of us) and the health benefits are priceless (I roll out of bed and get on the portable stationary bike in my pjs before I can talk myself out of it; hubby gets workouts in 5-6 days a week—even fitted in an hour of weightlifting before our matinee today).

      The portable bike was <$200, the weight bench and adjustable kettle bells and adjustable dumbbells were around $300 each, although we didn’t buy them all at once. So while it comes to a bit of bucks, it’s waaaaaaaay less than the annual cost of the gym for the past 3 years.

    8. Not A Manager*

      Dutch oven and covered baguette baker. I bake my own bread; it’s super easy, delicious, and the price of good bakery bread is astronomical.

      Gullwing drying rack. The laundry room in my building charges a fortune.

      Exercise ball and band. These are all I need to get an isometric workout.

      Spray bottle filled with vodka. I spray my sweaters, woolens and silk and let them air out when they get musty. Saves on hand-washing or dry cleaning.

      Smallest possible chest freezer. Fits in my spare closet and lets me buy on sale, and prep food in advance.

    9. HannahS*

      Bread machine. I know they’re gimmicky and a lot of people bought and didn’t use them last time they were in style, but it really works for us. We eat a lot of bread, and for health reasons prefer whole grain without preservatives. As bread prices spiked over the course of the pandemic, it became worth it.

      My partner and I mostly work outside the home and baking regularly, even with the help of a food processor, wasn’t feasible. So we run the breakmaker twice a week, and it paid for itself in four months! The bread itself is mediocre (we have a cheap machine) but it gets the job done.

      You know what’s funny, though? Wheat in Canada is different from American wheat. It’s generally higher protein and is good for bread, but it has a strong flavour as whole wheat–and we don’t cut it with bread flour. I love the mild flavor of white whole wheat flour, but here you can only find it in very expensive gourmet stores for 15$/5lbs.

      (Also, you do not need to use a special bread machine recipe or bread machine yeast in a bread machine. That stuff costs a fortune and is a total scam.)

      1. Imtheone*

        Higher protein wheat grows better in cooler climates, so it makes sense that the wheat you get in Canada is higher protein.

        Wheat from the US south is much lower in protein, so good for biscuits, but poor for bread.

        1. Clisby*

          I live in the South and have noticed it’s pretty common for biscuit recipes to specify “Southern” flour. I guess people had poorer results with the other kind.

    10. talos*

      I recently bought hair clippers, which should save me like $200 a year on buzz cuts since I can just cut my own hair instead.

    11. AlexandrinaVictoria*

      A good set of glass food storage containers with air tight locking lids. Can be used in fridge, freezer or microwave. It’s allowing me to batch cook and actually see what I have, so food waste has been greatly reduced. Easy to stack and store, as well.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        A cold brew coffee pot, it’s easy to use and dishwasher safe. I have the glass pitcher style with a metal insert.

  24. Ellis Bell*

    What are your best pantry tips and products? We just ripped out the old, inefficient shelving in our understairs kitchen cupboard, plastered and painted it a fresh white. I think it was originally a pantry/larder because it has vents to the alley outside, and it’s a 1930s house. I have some IKEA Ivar shelving which fits the space perfectly in an L shape on the right, leaving just enough room to step inside under the sloping ceiling on the left. I think it will be mostly dry stuff and cans. I would like to keep apples and potatoes in there; I have some crates I can add wheels to for housing these, to roll under the lowest shelf. However I always seem to end up with a lost mouldy apple or potato when I have them in the depths of the pantry. Possibly this is because it’s been a pit for lost things in the past before reorganising, but I don’t fancy scrubbing out a wooden crate, so if anyone has a good solution I’d love to hear it!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My pantry is super deep front-to-back, so most of it is drawers, and I keep a sharpie so I can write on the tops of cans and jars what is in them. I keep multiple types of canned beans, canned tomatoes, soup, etc on hand and got tired of having to pull everything out to find a can of chicken noodle soup or whatever. I also put dry erase labels on the front of each drawer – I don’t go so far as to try to keep an inventory, but like, one drawer is labeled “beans and tomatoes” and one is “extra condiments” and stuff like that, and with the dry erase I can change them up fairly easily if I need to, or put relevant dates (“potatoes bought 1/27/24” for example).

      Anywhere that isn’t drawers, I try to keep things in some sort of larger container so I can pull them out and look through them rather than having to get shoulders-deep into the shelf to find the back and having stuff get lost.

    2. o_gal*

      Similar to your pantry is my chest freezer. I did something similar to Red Reader’s sharpie idea – I bought a small whiteboard and mounted it on the lid. Then I wrote down what I had in the freezer and how many of it – like “Salmon – 3 steaks”. When I go in to get something, I cross it off or reduce the number listed. When I put stuff in I write it on the board. Something like that might help you if you keep it in a place where you’ll look at it on a regular basis. So you can look at the list and see there are “potatoes – 5 lbs” and realize that you really, really need to make some potatoes soon.

    3. Llellayena*

      Line the potato/onion bins with paper. Bonus points if your grocery stores still use paper bags for groceries and you have a bin that fits those bags. If you find a rotting item, toss the paper and re-line the bin. Paper is also better than plastic for preserving longer. I always keep apples in the fridge so not sure about the paper for those, but in general lining the bins will help.

    4. zaracat*

      I keep my potatoes and onions in sturdy wicker baskets purchased from the thrift shop, each lined with an old tea towel (also covers the potatoes so they don’t go green). Not too heavy, easy to wash the lining. You could make a washable cloth liner for your wooden crates, or just use a cotton tablecloth. I usually store my apples in the fridge because it is hot here, but in cooler climates you can store in the pantry – I learned from my grandfather who was an apple orchardist that the key thing is to have them not touching each other and with a bit of air circulation around them as then at worst they’ll dry out rather than rot – use scrunched up paper, straw or the commercially made paper mache fruit trays with moulded cups.

    5. Ellis Bell*

      Such good ideas! I might paint a chalkboard square on the inside of the door to keep inventory. I could certainly line the crates with some cotton crib sheets and maybe some paper layers to keep the apples from touching..

    6. MaryLoo*

      To keep in mind: Potatoes need to be in a cool, dark, well-ventilated space. Light exposure causes them to turn green, and you shouldn’t eat the green parts. Here’s an article from Michigan State University about green spots on potatoes: https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/is_it_safe_to_eat_a_green_potato

      Apples need to be refrigerated to stay fresh. They also give off a gas that can make other fruits ripen. My local orchard has a sign “refrigerate your apples when you get them home”.

      A few years ago we had an infestation of pantry moths, so now I store stuff in glass jars, especially things like lentils, rice, breadcrumbs, kasha, farro, etc. that is sold in cardboard boxes. That way if one item gets pantry moths, they won’t migrate to other items.

      And since Consumer Reports recently published their tests on microplastics in food, I’ve been phasing out my Tupperware and Glad box containers (with much sadness, especially the Tupperware box that holds 5 pounds of flour…)

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I have some glass canisters in mind, already but I did not know that about apples! I get a lot of them in autumn, from a friend’s tree – too many for the fridge – but I could halve them between the fridge and pantry, and eat the pantry ones first. Luckily the pantry is cold. I hear you on the big plastic containers; if it’s nice and big, it’s made of plastic if my shopping experience is anything to go by.

  25. anon for this*

    Would anyone happen to have any recommendations for online ADHD group therapy or just informal internet support groups, especially for women/AFAB folks? A family member of mine has been diagnosed recently in their thirties. They’re feeling a bit isolated and don’t really have anyone to reach out to other than their individual therapist. We have a few shared family members who probably also have ADHD, but it’s clear that none of them want to talk about it. I’m happy to respect their wishes, but this also means looking farther afield. Anyway, thanks!

    1. Fish*

      The ADHD Women subreddit (r/adhdwomen) has been great for me. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a support group, but it’s got a lot of really good discussions and information.

    2. Time for Tea*

      ADHD for Smart Ass Women group on Facebook is good. There’s also a podcast and now book by the founder too.

  26. MassChick*

    Stella is adorable! But why is she ridiculous?

    (My boy looks so much like Stella that I keep forgetting she is a girl. I’ll try to send you a pic)

    1. Pam Adams*

      I think it’s the folded-down ear. Also, she looks like she’s been rolling and wiggling around

  27. 2024 - What will you be?*

    My 17 year old cat spent three nights this past week at the ER vet hospital. Her liver ALT (blood values) was in the 5000s. They got it down to 3100. I think it’s supposed to be less than 100. They did an ultrasound and discovered she has triaditis – massive inflammation of liver, pancreas and intestines. We brought her home last night because while it was the right decision to give her some time at the ER, there is ultimately only so much they can do. She also has a UTI, which was already being treated.

    I don’t know if she can come back from this, but she has already overcome several health challenges. If we have to release her to the Bridge, it will done from home. She passed a quiet night sleeping next to me. The real question is: what caused this? Vet is all in on toxins given how high the ALT is. While I can’t argue with medical science – yes I am a believer in science! – I’ve been looking for other possible explanations.

    One definite possibility: her Fancy Feast. Could have been tainted, there are reports and rumors of sick pets right now from the manufacturer’s brands. In the end, we will never know for certain. I have done all I could to remove any possible contaminants in the house. I’ve cleaned, washed, mopped, thrown out various things. If you are a praying person, please pray for her. Or send light, good thoughts. We are very open to positivity in any form.

    1. Asloan*

      Aw, I’m sorry. At 17 I would guess they’re extremely sensitive to things that wouldn’t usually be an issue, as very senior humans can be. I wonder all the time how old my sweet girl really is, because it will affect my approach to her medical problems; she may be as old as 18 if the shelter correctly identified her age when I picked her out, but perhaps they overestimated and she’s closer to 15.

        1. nicosloanica*

          (not the point of OP’s question, sorry to derail) – I’ve heard this, but I’ve also heard that it’s pretty hard to judge an adult cat based on teeth, as of course as with people there’s a lot of variation on how much wear / decay a cay experiences, particularly if they were strays. The shelter told me she was 4, but that might just be a best-guess answer to “well, she’s not a kitten, she’s definitely at least one year old, probably more, but not senior.” I think Alison also said she thinks the shelter had one of her cat’s – was it Fig’s? – age wrong, so I know it happens. And I also foster myself and have had the shelter misidentify the *gender* of kittens so I know mistakes can be made!!

          1. Cat and dog fosterer*

            Plus aging of animals from their teeth is based on a typical house pet and not a life outside. One of my foster cats was aged at 6 years old initially, then a carer in that part of town said that they’d seen him as a kitten 2 years earlier, and a few months later a different vet said 2 years old (after he got regular kibbles that cleaned things up). The first guess was from a good vet and he even said that the age was likely overestimated because they often get bad food outdoors.

      1. Cicely*

        Yeah, 2024 – I am sorry – I responded to your message previously without acknowledging the really painful experience you’re going through right now. It’s a really tough place to be in, and I’m sending endless virtual hugs. Your baby is lucky to have you.

    2. Cicely*

      “One definite possibility: her Fancy Feast. Could have been tainted, there are reports and rumors of sick pets right now from the manufacturer’s brands.”

      Do you happen to have links to those reports, or know where the reports can be found? I don’t see anything about a FF recall, or “reports and rumors of sick pets right now from the manufacturer’s brands” on the Web. Thanks!

      1. 2024 - What will you be?*

        There aren’t any recalls – yet. The maker is of course denying everything but every so often there is a wave of contaminated food. There is a FB page, Dr Judy Morgan Naturally Healthy Pet, Jan 3 post. Also I think NBC had a recent story about it. What I do know is after I called them to discuss it, they went right into the mode of filing a claim for the hospital bill (which her owner paid, I am her caregiver). That says volumes right there.

        1. Cicely*


          For anyone else reading this thread: The FB page in question a doesn’t provide a shred of credible, variable research backing her claims about natural foods with regard to domesticated animals. What’s really disappointing is Morgan’s credentials are solid, yet she appears to be mocking scientific inquiry with her specious claims.

          Not sure why “natural” is an issue just now, though, as there doesn’t seem to be a slew of animals dying from canned pet food from previous decades to now. That said, I don’t doubt that “holistic” diets are helpful in some situations, but anecdote isn’t data, and using anecdote as a guide is dangerous, since it’s a test that never fails.

          1. nicosloanica*

            It’s really weird right now in petworld – I am in a couple FB groups for my dog, and there are an active, vocal core of folks who a) as in human vaccine wars, claim that vaccines are bad for pets and their owners shouldn’t get them, and b) claim that pet food is killing pets and the only way to go is to cook your own pet food from scratch. I can’t even get answers on my dogs possible allergins because these people come out of the woodwork claiming the only solution is to like, kill and butcher your own game to feed them pure organs and whatnot. Weirdly, there *are* higher cancer rates in dogs than even as recently as the 80s – like the lifespan of a golden retriever is mysteriously shorter – but I blame breeding more than petfood, as well as the early spay advice which is apparently a real phenomenon (spaying large dogs too early does apparently have health impacts for real … but the conversations are all so muddy and conspiracy-laced it’s hard to take anything at face value). And I mean, there are petfood recalls, and some people’s pets must be the ones getting sick to trigger the alarm, of course.

            1. 2024 - What will you be?*

              Any issue to do with pets has a lot of rabid supporters on both sides. All I know for sure is that there are periodic waves of contaminated pet food that wreaks havoc. There are always early victims before it gets acknowledged and recalled.

            2. Cicely*

              Totally hear you, nicosloanica. It really can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaffe in these conversations. I just stick with my vet., especially because his clinic is AAHA-certified.

            3. Cat and dog fosterer*

              There are studies done about a good age to neuter or spay specific breeds. I was okay to get mine fixed at 7 months old by the rescue because it showed that would be okay. The study showed goldens shouldn’t be spayed (although I’ve fostered females in heat so I’d wait but I wouldn’t leave them intact) and neutering at a year old. I’ll post the link in reply.

              I’ve had dogs with allergies and fed them hamburger with veggies for a week. Not perfectly balanced, but it showed that their kibble caused issues. Turkey causes least issues, a friend feeds ground turkey with veggies and supplements. It seems to be that preservatives in kibble are causing more issues than beef vs fish. Or Costco fish and sweet potato kibbles are popular with rescues who get allergic dogs in care. I tried a bunch of things for a couple weeks each and settled on frozen raw that I cook, but do what works for you!

      2. Dwight Schrute*

        the complaints are about Purina from Dr. Judy and her crew. They are consistently anti science and hawk their raw only food. It’s fear mongering

    3. nopetopus*

      I’m so sorry you and her are going through this, sending positive vibes. Plants are always the first thing I think of regarding toxins for cats, but no clue if that applies in your situation. Please keep us posted on how it goes, if you want to.

      1. 2024 - What will you be?*

        I am so so careful to not expose her to anything, including all plants or flowers. Most are toxic in some way. Also have no air fresheners, essential oils, diffusers. I don’t spray cleaning chemicals carelessly. I don’t put anything on my body she might lick off or rub against, like stuff for sore knees. But, the landlord was in and out in the timeframe that vet gave (72hrs) trying to fix the heater. the mechanicals are in a storage area that likely has chemicals on the floor for pest control, he could easily have tracked toxins onto our floor. We just don’t know.

    4. Double A*

      At 17 she’s solidly in what I call Bonus Time for my cats. At that age things can just…fail. I will say I have been amazed what my now 19 year old cat has bounced back from in the last few years. I’ve had several, “Well this must be the final decline” vet visits and it has turned out okay. Keep enjoying your bonus time with your kitty and know that if it’s her time you’ve given her a wonderful life. Sending her healing thoughts!

      1. nicosloanica*

        that’s how I feel about my sweet girl at 18 – this is all bonus time – and I know I’m going to have to carefully monitor how she’s feeling because, although veterinary science could possibly keep her going, there’s an inevitable decline at play. My vet keeps brightly saying “old age is not a disease!!” but I think this means they would happily recommend treatments that are probably not in the best interests of a cat who is the human equivalent of 90+ …

        1. 2024 - What will you be?*

          To be honest, if the decision were mine, I do not think I would have done as much as her owner chose to do. I am not certain she can get through this. I am her caregiver, she lives with me, but her legal owner is the petsitter who rescued her.

      2. 2024 - What will you be?*

        I agree, she’s quite senior now, and bodies do odd things. I put out the question on FB and there was a lengthy post about possibilities other than toxins. One intriguing commenter said that her cat fell off the windowsill, hit his abdomen and had ALTs in the 5000s, since he had injured his liver. He recovered fully, BTW. But that shows, it’s not necessarily toxins. Most likely, yes.

    5. MP*

      My cat had triaditis and they said it was due to stress and lack of appetite. She was born as a barn cat and the runt of the litter and we took her in when my SIL joined the military. She was extremely sensitive and skittish so the rationale made sense to me in her case. She did survive however she had a feeding tube at home for a few weeks. She ended up passing away a couple years later, she likely had it again but her quality of life was not good at the time so we chose to let her go. I hope your kitty feels better!!

  28. Irish Teacher.*

    Any historical/scientific/other stuff you’d love to know but figure it will probably never be found out.

    One for me is the real St. Brigid. Most of what we know about her is myth and possibly a lot of it is a christianisation of the goddess, Brigid, so even the name may not be accurate, but somebody founded the abbey at Kildare and given that the later abbesses were the highest religious authority in the area, outranking any male religious leaders there, she was clearly somebody of significance and a force to be reckoned with.

    One of the stories says she was ordained a bishop and that’s not entirely beyond the bounds of possibility, given what we know about the Celtic church in Ireland, but…who knows?

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      Ooh, great discussion topic!
      Among many other things, I’d love to know:
      – What exactly went down with Richard III and the Princes in the Tower.
      – What fancy dinner parties were like in the Roman Empire and whether or not that empower managed to crush his guests to death with rose petals.
      – Whether the premiere of The Rite of Spring really did make the audience riot.
      – What on earth caused The Dyatlov Pass Incident.
      – How the original audience reacted to some of the great Greek tragedies.
      – Whether or not Saint Edmund was killed by the Vikings for refusing to renounce Christianity.
      – Who killed Elizabeth Smart aka the Black Dahlia.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Thank you, I’ll take a listen – I’m always up for hearing new theories on that incident because it’s just so strange!

    2. SuprisinglyADHD*

      Lost recipes! My partner and I were just talking yesterday about the man who invented Oysters Rockefeller taking the recipe to his grave, merely insisting that the green is “not spinach”. There’s so many like that.

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      Oh, yes, fascinating!

      What exactly happened to Amelia Earhart and DB Cooper.
      Copies of Shakespeare’s lost plays/where he’s buried.
      What happened to the settlers on Roanoke Island.
      What happened on board the Marie Celeste.

      I’m sure more will occur to me later…

      1. Llama Llama*

        Hold your bartering for Amelia Earhart. Some news articles are claiming to me that a guy ‘found’ the plane.

        1. Clisby*

          According to the ocean exploration company reporting this, they found something deep in the S. Pacific that was a similar size shape to Earhart’s plane. Whether it turns out to actually be that plane remains to be seen.

    4. Helvetica*

      There’s a list of lost artworks on Wikipedia and I’d love to know about any of them. A lot of them were plundered and hidden by the Nazis or the 13 from the Isabella Gardner Museum heist.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        As a crossover with the reading thread might I suggest we look for the Bishop’s bird stump as long as we’re going back in time?

    1. The Week Ends*

      ? I watched and thoroughly enjoyed but not sure what you’re referring to. I didn’t think the bottom 2 were the worst on the live show, I thought many of the safe ones were terrible and should have been on bottom.

      1. A. Nonymous*

        Ha ha, I was referring to my own about face from loving Mirage’s dancing to the horrifying realization that she didn’t know the lyrics.

    2. fhqwhgads*

      I watched it and am not sure what you’re referring to, unless it was something on Untucked. I almost never watch Untucked.

    3. TPS reporter*

      mirage not knowing the lyrics? that made me sad because their performance and fashion was so incredible.

      1. The Week Ends*

        Agreed. I’d never seen anyone botch the lyrics that bad. I guess she thought she was safe.

      2. A. Nonymous*

        Yes — I had whiplash from love-love-loving her dancing to the slow, horrifying realization that she didn’t know the lyrics and was about to be cut. Excellent, stressful TV!

    4. Stead*

      On the other hand I loved seeing a musical theatre queen get some love for doing what she does best — I hope this means Plasma will be spared a Janning.

    5. sulky-anne*

      I was just annoyed that no one has called out Plane Jane yet for just doing a Jimbo impression whenever she performs. This skit was basically just a less good imitation of the all-stars one. I thought Saphira and Nymphia were both way better.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        My understanding is this season was filmed before/during when that all-stars aired. So no one in the cast called it out during this episode because they couldn’t have seen the all-stars sketch in question; it hadn’t aired yet. But half the internet seems to be calling it out.

  29. Cicely*

    Curious about your or someone you know experiences with meeting celebrities.

    My mom and dad graduated from the same high school, and the time came for my mom’s 30-year high school reunion (and my dad went, too, although it wasn’t his 30-year reunion). One of my mom’s former classmates had become a Hollywood stuntman by that time, and brought Cybil Shepherd to the reunion, whom he was dating at the time.

    At some point, everyone among several tables got up to dance, except my dad and Cybil Shepherd. She smiled at my dad and said something like “Well, I guess it’s just you and me,” and then began talking with my dad like a regular person; was very personable and affable. I will always love her for being nice to my dad, especially since she had nothing to lose professionally had she not been nice to him.

    1. Rara Avis*

      George Steinbrenner. His granddaughter was a student at the school where I taught. On Grandparents’ Day, the kid was escorting her grandpa around, introduced me, we had a pleasant conversation. I only realized who he was afterwards. Steven Saylor. He came to give a talk at an event and I happened to be the person who could direct him to the right place. George O’Connor. Also spoke at an event and then happened to be on our same flight home. Some of my students had missed his talk so I brought them over and he did autographs for them. He sketches your favorite Greek deity with the autograph, which is really cool.

      1. Cicely*

        My own are Valerie Harper (SO, so nice and fun; may she RIP), Al Gore (also very nice and down-to-earth), and Anita Baker (I was a restaurant server in Detroit at a national steakhouse chain at the time – she was good friends with the chain’s local district manager, and I was their server late one night. She was very pleasant and laughed easily, as I recall).

    2. Cookies For Breakfast*

      The longtime partner of a relative’s closest friend is a singer/songwriter who once won my home country’s most famous music festival.

      I met her once, years ago, at a casual dinner at my relative’s. She’s a very nice and down-to-earth person, sounds completely different from her songs when she speaks, and music or show business weren’t a topic of conversation at the dinner table even once.

      This is my only “I once met a celebrity” story – not even moving to London changed that! Because the festival win was some time in the ’80s, no one my age has any idea who the singer is when I tell it. Their loss, her music is great.

    3. Irish Teacher.*

      One somewhat funny one was my meeting with Joe Lynch, an Irish soap actor and singer, when I was 13ish. He was opening a shop at the end of my street and my brother and sister and I were up and down, enjoying the festivities. My dad walked down with me at one point and started chatting to him and then said to me, “tell him what you think of his music,” and Joe Lynch, an older man (he was born in 1926 and would have been probably around 70 at the time) who sang oldie typed music, stared at me and asked “do you like my music?”

      Honestly, I wasn’t a particular fan of it, but I did (and do) like the old Irish ballads, some of which he sang.

      I also met Maeve Binchy once when she was signing books locally and she gave me some advice on writing.

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      I once took Carl Reiner’s pizza order! He was very polite and had his credit card ready.

      1. goddessoftransitory*


        Once I met the actor who played Roman on Days of our Lives in my line at the store I worked in: that was my soap and I was excited to meet him! Very nice.

        And my BIG STORY: back in my college days when I was a wee theater major, we had the actor Richard Hatch (the original Apollo from Battlestar Galactica) come in to talk to us in one of my classes. We were of course all entranced and I kept thinking he was looking at me, but dismissed it.

        Afterwards we clustered around to get some of that magical Successful Actor Dust sprinkled on us and…he looked straight at me, and kissed me full on the lips!
        This tends to be rightfully frowned upon these days, of course, but at the time I was thrilled. I was not at all popular in school, and having that kind of validation in front of my peers? It was great.

      2. Cicely*

        Oh, that’s cool; I adore Rob Reiner! That reminds me that a friend from high school once worked as a hotel desk agent and took a call from Harrison Ford, a guest at the hotel for a request (I think for room service). She said he was super nice to all the hotel employees.

        Makes me wonder who flight attendants engage with. I bet they have LOTS of stories.

    5. the waitress*

      When I was young college aged, I worked in the restaurant of a major hotel chain in Chicago. For some reason not apparent to me then or now, many different touring celebrities/professional athletes stayed there, including the Chicago Bears team before home games. The restaurant was open until 2 am on weekends and we often had stars looking for a bite to eat after a show. The ones I remember meeting were Perry Como (nice-kitchen had already closed but him/his team were polite and the cook made him a grilled cheese sandwich), Marlo Thomas (nice), Johnny Cash (he was okay, his roadies were popping pills, rowdy and challenging), and my favorite, Buster Crabbe (Flash Gordon), a wonderful gentleman!

    6. Bethlam*

      Madeline L’engle. Gave a fascinating talk at a local college. Spoke with her for a few minutes while they brought more books for her to sign. Lovely woman. And I have a signed copy of A Wrinkle in Time.

    7. Charlotte Lucas*

      My dad met Maria Shriver when she was a little girl. (Sargent Shriver belonged to the country club he worked at. So, he’s met him, too.) He said she was “very cute.”

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I can’t prove it, but I believe I met John Prine. I was in Mandolin Brothers dithering between a vintage Martin guitar that would be the better part of my entry-level paycheck and a more logical less expensive one. Another customer picked up the Martin and played for a few minutes—beautifully enough to stop me in my tracks. He handed it directly to me and said “That’s a very good guitar.” I bought it and have never regretted it.

      Years later I saw a concert video and had a lightbulb moment.

      1. Cicely*

        Ah, what a wonderful experience, Seeking Second Childhood, and I love the way you’ve described it. I mean, JOHN PRINE. Can we take a moment, everyone…

    9. Esprit de l'escalier*

      A very long time ago, when I was about 10 years old, my summer camp group of kids were invited to visit Pete Seeger who lived by the Hudson River not too far from the camp; he was a lefty politically and so was the camp, so probably someone knew him and arranged the invitation.

      He showed us around the property, talked about the work he had done on it, and was very nice to us. At that age, I didn’t know who he was, so I wasn’t impressed at being in the presence of a famous person. We were low-income city kids and I was impressed that one person owned all this acreage.

      A few years later I had become a huge fan of the folk-music scene, and I realized that this had been *Pete Seeger* — a very big name to me. I got to see him perform several times over the years and I always felt a special connection to him because of that earlier encounter.

      1. AlexandrinaVictoria*

        Oh WOW! I saw him several times live (with Arlo Guthrie) and he was one of my favorite people on the planet!

    10. sagewhiz*

      Johnny Rivers, in my 20s. Bought two tix then had a spat with my bf so went to the show alone. First & only time in my life hung out at the stage door after. Have no recollection how it happened that when he and the band came out I ended up in their limo. Fans surrounded it, inviting them to after-parties and he was exceptionally gracious turning them all down. (Also only time I’ve ever been in a limo!)

      Off we go to their hotel, it’s well after midnight, they’re all starving, no room service at this chain, no restaurants open, not even pizza places. But, I just happened to know the lone one in town that was and delivered until 2 a.m., and also happened to make the best pizza I’ve ever eaten. All the guys raved, which made me one popular gal. When I left, Rivers got me a taxi back to my car and told me to look him up if I was ever in LA. (Which I didn’t do.) All in all, a very nice guy, and the band were all gentlemen—looking back, I realize just how wrong that night could have gone.

      Oh, and another one: Wolfman Jack! He was in town (diff city now) as the draw for a fundraiser at a hotel. I was a newbie on the newspaper and for some reason the restaurant reviewer was set to meet with him before the (self)important music critic was to interview him. And for some unknown reason reason the dear lady invited me along! OMG this is the guy whose voice I’d listened to late in the night broadcasting from Mexican Pirate Radio!

      We arrive, he’s there with his manager, and the four of us sat and talked (well, I mostly listened!) as they told story after story and simply conversed with us like old friends. For two solid hours! And then the music critic showed up, all icy and self-important. The Wolfman’s tone immediately changed, she and I took our leave, and both chuckled over the fact Wolfman’s BS detector obviously kicked in as he had quickly switched to very short, clipped answers to the few questions we heard asked. Music Critic blew it that day, and in that short time I learned a ton about how to interview people, which I’ve put to use ever since.

    11. The OG Sleepless*

      Jeff Foxworthy was a longtime client at a previous job of mine. He is a super nice, friendly, down to earth guy, just as you might expect. I went in to talk to him once and discovered that he had wandered up front to chat with the receptionists, and took it in stride when another client came in and “recognized” him. Not at all a “leave me alone” celebrity.

      (The other client didn’t exactly recognize him. She stopped in her tracks, pointed, and said loudly, “Oh my God. I know you. You’re somebody famous, aren’t you? Hold on, don’t tell me.” He said genially, “You got me figured out. I’m Brad Pitt.” I was walking away at that point and almost fell into the wall laughing.)

    12. Bibliovore*

      I may have shared this before.
      I was visiting a friend on the upper west side of NYC.
      Early morning crossing West End avenue dragging a roller suitcase, probably distracted and an arm catches me across my chest and I hear “watch out!” as a yellow cab almost ran me down.
      The woman who saved me was Tina Fey.
      As I caught my breath, she advised me to be more careful and went on her way.

  30. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

    Montreal or Quebec City?

    Would you spend a long weekend in Montreal or in Quebec City? I’m leaning toward Montreal because of Cirque du Soleil. Also any recommendations for kid friendly activities, restaurants and hotels?

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      Montreal! Great museum, parks and restaurants. Tunnels if it’s cold and windy. And it’s just so darn beautiful.
      I have no specific recommendations since it’s been quite a while since I’ve been there, sorry.

    2. GoryDetails*

      I’ve done both, and enjoyed them very much. The Montreal visit was more big-city stuff – there was a lovely chorus-competition going on at that time, the main reason for my visit, but there were plenty of other things to do.

      The Quebec City visit was even better, with lots of historical tidbits and amazing food. The restaurant Aux Anciens Canadiens is historical/touristy, and had the most marvelous maple pie I’d ever tasted. A day trip to Montmorency Falls, and over to Île d’Orléans – where I got some splendid ice cider…

      Hope you enjoy the trip, whichever destination you choose!

    3. Teapot Translator*

      Depends on what you like. There’s definitely more to see in Montreal (museums, Mont-Royal, festivals, etc ), but Québec city has its charms.

    4. fallingleavesofnovember*

      As others have said, it depends what you are looking for. Both have old towns but Quebec City’s is larger, still has visible city walls, and feels more European. Depending on when you are going, Quebec City also has a big winter festival with snow slides, etc. If you do Montreal, I recommend finding a couple of neighbourhoods and enjoying wandering about. The Jean Talon market is pretty fun, and the Olympic Park has a bunch of museums, including a planetarium, insectarium, and the biodome (kinda like an indoor zoo), which are great with kids. Montreal also has a lot of summer festivals too.
      Personally we prefer Quebec City, but I think I’ve convinced myself that Montreal might be better with kids!

      1. fallingleavesofnovember*

        Also, Montreal is a lot more anglophone than Quebec, and a lot more visibly diverse (I.e. if you want restaurants of pretty much any cuisine under the sun)…I wouldn’t worry about being understood in Quebec City if you are in tourist areas, but again, if you want a real ‘Quebec, hey, everyone speaks French here!’ Quebec City will have more of that than Montreal.

    5. AnonymousCanadian*

      Enjoyed visiting both cities when I was a kid. The things I got to do in Montreal were more obviously fun for children – the Biodome is great, and there’s an amusement park on the river called La Ronde – but I’m glad I had chances to see Quebec City as well, and it’s definitely easier to walk around. Both cities have an amazing atmosphere and fantastic views from the tops of hills. Seconding the point about languages – the number of people in Quebec City who speak English has dropped dramatically in recent decades – but that shouldn’t make a big difference if you’re doing popular things, and hotel employees are usually bilingual.

  31. Camera Recommendations*

    I am looking into getting a camera – I’ve been traveling more and I hate that taking pictures requires my phone, because I always end up checking my notifications and not staying in the moment. Does anyone have a model they particularly love? I’m not looking for anything super-fancy; I just want to be able to take pictures of similar quality as my old iPhone.

    And, does anyone have thoughts on the cameras that are supposed to give more of a ~vintage~ look, like Papershoot and Camp Snap? I like that they don’t have a screen so there’s the old “I’ll find out what the pictures look like when I get home” feeling. The reviews I’ve seen have been very mixed, but it’s hard to find reviews that aren’t either hosted by the manufacturer and uniformly positive, or from very intense photo blogs by people who I think have much higher standards than I do.

    1. Phryne*

      I can’t recommend any brands, but I can advise to get one with a analog viewer as well if possible. It is much easier to frame your pictures well when looking to a viewer, and if there is a lot of light (bright sun) it also works better as screens tend to become unreadable.
      And consider if you would like a waterproof one, then you can take pictures in any activity and climate without worrying.

      1. Camera Recommendations*

        I am really glad you mentioned that because I just assumed all cameras would still have that, and now that I’m looking more closely, I am seeing that is not the case!

    2. tangerineRose*

      I have a camera with a lot of zoom. It’s a Sony, but various brands have good zoom. I bought it at Best Buy, where they had a bunch of cameras out (and connected to the table so people wouldn’t walk off with them) so that I could look through them and try the zoom, which really helped. I take a lot of animal pics when I can, and zoom is really helpful for that. I would like a camera that does better with movement though.

    3. Anon. Scientist*

      May be too fancy for you but I have a Lumix DC vario (this is about 10 years old) that has a optical viewport (which as it turned out, I never use) and a really, really good optical zoom that zooms out even further with an electronic zoom. It has the ability to adjust manually but I just leave it in the fully automatic mode for the setting I want. You may not need as much horsepower, but do get something with a physical/optical zoom – it comes in handy so much.

  32. NonFrequent Flying Person*

    Any tips or recommendations for how to be comfortable/pass the time on long haul flights with a connection? (And at the connecting airport too). I’ve not done a connecting international flight before, and only one long haul ages ago, so would appreciate advice from more seasoned travellers! I have comfy socks and comfy clothes to wear, snacks, books & a puzzle book, noise-cancelling headphones. Plus may watch some of the films…

    Anything I’m missing? All tips gratefully received…

    1. Leavin’ On a Jet Plane*

      Bring some lip balm & a small tube of moisturizer.

      I also have a small light pouch for all the things I’ll want to access while on the plane. You just pull it out while settling into your seat and then you don’t have bend down and scrounge in your bag during the flight.

      Bring some water & some snacks onboard.

      Consider downloading the airline app on your phone for updates and for ordering food. Some airlines don’t accept any cash or even credit cards. Only the app onto which you’ve entered your credit card number. On some flights you have to order & pay for the onboard snacks ahead of the flight.

      I bring a small hand sanitizer and travel Clorox wipes to wipe down the high touch areas (seat belt buckle, tray table, seat arms, overhead fan & light controls).

      I bring a power bank to charge my phone.

      1. Leavin’ On a Jet Plane*

        Oh and compression socks helps some people a lot. Not those super tight ones. Dr Scholl’s makes a thin knee high that’s just right.

        If you’re checking luggage, bring in your carry on: any meds, valuables, or anything you can’t afford to lose, maybe your toiletries, a change of clothes (or at least an underwear).

    2. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Following. We’re planning a trip to New Zealand next year (from the US East Coast).

    3. Sarah*

      Make sure you have some layers to put on/take off – did a long-haul flight last year and definitely found my body temperature changed quite a lot, or I noticed it more.

      I’m sure you know to stay hydrated, but, for real, stay hydrated. I was too shy to ask for more water as much as I should have done and ended up really headachy and cranky.

      I had hair long enough to tie back at the time so I put it in pigtails, which I was glad I did, as it got fairly static and flyaway on the flight. Having it in pigtails rather than a ponytail meant I could rest my head against the seatback comfortably. I had it loose when I was trying to sleep, then I could just tie it back up again when I woke up :)

      Handcream/moisturiser and lip salve/balm helped me feel more comfortable and less dried out!

    4. Still*

      Lots of water, something to wash your face (wipes or a cleanser + moisturiser), a thin wrap to use as a blanket or a pillow (or a regular pillow if you have the space for it, or a neck pillow if you like those; something to make it easier to rest your head).

    5. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I preferred to download a TV show season rather than rely on the in flight system – Netflix and Disney+ both let you download for later, maybe others too just those are the first I thought of.

    6. fposte*

      I have become a convert to the neck pillow. They’re usually memory foam so they compress well when they’re not used. I’d also carry a backup battery for devices if you’re thinking about watching films on your phone or tablet; while seats should have jacks, they’re not always in working shape.

    7. GoryDetails*

      Stay hydrated, even if it means more trips to the restroom. I ignored that one to my cost!

      During long flights, move around when possible, and try some in-seat position-shifting – this might be difficult given how cramped airline seats are nowadays, but it’s worth trying. Search for “in-flight fitness” for some ideas.

      As for passing the time, I’m an avid reader so a fully-loaded e-book would be invaluable. (I used to take along several paperbacks, as I could get through more than one on a typical cross-country flight, but an e-book lets me take a whole library!)

    8. Angstrom*

      I like at least one easy-reading “”fun” book, and one “serious” book that requires concentration. If you’re headed towards drowsy the “serious” book can put you to sleep. :-)

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

      Not suggesting, but telling you what I used to do. I flew to China 4 or 5 times a year from East Coast (sometimes non-stop, sometimes not).

      Once up in the air for the longest segment, I would ask the flight attendants to ignore me and take an Ambien, I would happily snore away for 10 hours and in my case, never woke up with a sleeping pill hangover.

      1. Phryne*

        I’ve done Amsterdam – Cape Town and Paris – Johannesburg, both of which are overnight flights. I would put in earbuds and put on a eye mask and sleep the whole flight. If you use a blanket, make sure to close the seat belt loosely on top of it, not underneath and don’t leave it off. If there is eg turbulence the flight attendants need to check if your seatbelt is on, if it is on top of the blanket they can see it and won’t have to wake you to make sure.

    10. Alex*

      Layers! I’ve frozen to death on airplanes, especially my feet! I’ve been known to wear two pairs of socks on a long flight.

      I’ve not been on a plane recently that didn’t have a huge collection of streaming stuff to watch, so I just watch that. I rarely bring my own entertainment at all. Not sure the players have bluetooth (maybe some do now, but not guaranteed) so make sure to bring headphones with an actual cord.

    11. Bluebell*

      I usually download a few podcasts, some that I want to listen to closely, and a few others that I know might put me to sleep. You can buy one use small toothbrushes that have toothpaste already on them if you like. I know it’s not really scientifically proven, but I usually drink an airborne tablet dissolved in water; if nothing else it hydrates me a little more.

    12. MissCoco*

      I always pack toiletries to do “before bed” and “wake up hygiene” on the plane or in the airport before and after a flight. Something that’s been a real game changer for me personally is packing either a complete change of clothes or just fresh underwear and socks to put on right after landing. I always feel kind of gross after a long flight, and often getting off the plane is just the first step in more waiting and then potentially another leg of travel. I find that starting off that first day with a clean and moisturized face and feeling clean makes my entire first day way more pleasant. I usually pack face wipes, deodorant, moisturizer, toothpaste, toothbrush, lip balm, artificial tears, and floss.

      In addition to staying hydrated, pack a water bottle that won’t shoot water at a neighbor if it’s pressurized (it’s mainly bottles with small straws that can do this). Get up a few times during the flight just to stretch out your legs, or just take a few minutes in the aisle after a bathroom trip to get your body moving. You can also do “airplane yoga” type things in your seat just to get your circulation going a tad during the flight, and help give yourself a break from sitting perfectly still.

      I like to bring something to *do* on the plane, either crochet or just a notepad I can use to journal or doodle in. I can only take so much reading and screen time before I need to make my hands busy. Also seconding podcasts! Great to have something to listen too while working on a puzzle or something.

    13. SuprisinglyADHD*

      Best idea we ever had: string cheese and salami sticks packed in an insulated cup with re-freezable plastic ice cubes. Compact, no need to worry about condensation making your bag wet, nothing to leak, and cool protein-based snacks were good for my stomach and staved off headaches.

      1. NonFrequent Flying Person*

        Thank you all for these brilliant tips, really appreciated – many I would never of thought of. All screen-shotted to be processed. Thanks again! (And any more ideas welcomed…).

        1. Adventure is Out There!*

          Also a non-frequent flying person here, but I’ve done two 14-hour flights, so here’s what I know: a resistance band packs flat and light, so for in-seat “exercise” to prevent blood clots/boredom/cabin fever, you can loop it around your ankles and move your ankles out to the sides, and loop it around your thighs and do knee lifts in your seat. In addition to the moisturizing tips like water, lotion, and lip balm, I’d add eye re-wetting drops. Finally, I saw advice above on snacks and will just caution that my experience was that my digestion slowed to zero on that long trip, so in the future I’ll be eating the smallest, lightest, easiest to digest food, just enough to give me the strength to stand in the customs line upon arrival! I wish you good health, and a safe flight!

          1. Isobel*

            The other important point with snacks: if you’re travelling to Australia or New Zealand you must remember to declare any food items. The biosecurity dogs are handsome and clever but you don’t want them sniffing out undeclared food and landing you with a fine before you’ve even left the airport.

    14. samwise*

      Reserve an aisle seat. You can stick your legs out (within reason), you don’t have to climb over anyone to use the toilet, and you can stand up in the aisle to stretch without disturbing anyone.

      1. samwise*

        Also, and I cannot recommend this enough, immodium tablets. If you can get the ones that dissolve under your tongue, those are the best.

    15. Roland*

      Honestly my number one tip is not to stress yourself out too much by reading all these comments and thinking you need all of these different things. Sounds like you’ve been on a plane before, just not as long of a flight. It’s just the same thing but longer :) If you have sufficient entertainment (and sufficient battery power for it, don’t count on seat power) and are wearing comfortable clothes then you’re good, everything else is extra.

    16. The OG Sleepless*

      I did the only transatlantic flight I’ve done in many years in 2018. My biggest surprise was that I started feeling really airsick about an hour before landing. I’ve never had that problem on shorter flights. The next time I do a long flight, I’m definitely bringing some Dramamine.

  33. Bibliovore*

    had time to stop by the local seafood store after work yesterday. They had 20% off for teachers AND they had house made gravlax, salmon salad and fresh sushi grade salmon. I bought it all.

  34. Holey socks, Batman*

    Thanks to everyone for last weekend’s thoughts about how to avoid gradually wrecking all my socks now that I walk a lot. I’m not sure how I knew about hiking shoes but not hiking socks! Whatever the case may be, I now own some Columbia hiking socks and they are lovely. Many thanks!

    1. Keener*

      DarnTough offers a lifetime guarantee on their socks. If you wear them out they will replace the socks for free.

    2. Holey socks, Batman*

      Thanks all! Sorry, ought to have noted: Darn Tough looked excellent and I really appreciated the tip there since they would not have been on my radar, but I get rashes from wool and alpaca, so I went to Millet’s and looked for the same idea in synthetic fibres.

      1. Keener*

        Glad you found something that works for you! For future reference not all Darn Tough socks contain wool. if you use the sock finder on their website one of the options is no wool.

  35. Chauncy Gardener*

    Is anyone here familiar with Rhode Island and which areas would be good for a retired couple to live? We would be moving from northern New England and retiring there. Any hints for meeting people and any other thoughts would also be very welcome.

    1. anywhere but here*

      Bristol is a lovely town! It’s right by the water, historic, strong community, and an easy drive to places like Providence and Newport

  36. T'Pol*

    Does anyone have a good recipe that uses beet puree?

    I pureed a bunch of vegetables from my garden to use as baby food in the fall but now the baby is on to more finger foods and less purees. I can pretty easily mix pureed carrots and zucchini into soups but I’m stumped as to what to do with the beets!

      1. Snell*

        ^THIS ONE!! When I do beet brownies, I don’t even bother to try making them “healthy;” sneaking vegetables into sweets is a nice bonus but really what I care about is the moisture beets add and help retain, and the absolutely gorgeous color it turns the finished product. Some people don’t like the taste, but I’ve never noticed anything bad or off or even particularly beet-like. Possibly that’s because I favor dark chocolate, which is a very powerful flavor.

    1. E*

      I wonder if you could mix it into pancakes or muffins the way some people use applesauce instead of oil? It’d give moisture and sweetness and a fun color. Lmk if it works!

    2. Elle Woods*

      Not sure if this fits with the kind of thing you’re looking for but Minimalist Baker has a recipe for roasted beet hummus that could probably be made with beet puree. It’s pretty tasty.

    3. Shiara*

      Beet chocolate muffins! I often use the Minimalist Baker’s recipe (link to follow) but will sub in non vegan ingredients depending on who I’m making them for.

      Beet hummus is also quite tasty.

    4. Fellow Traveller*

      There’s a delicious res velevet cake smoothie that I used to make with beets.

    5. allathian*

      My husband made a great pasta casserole with beet puree, chicken, onion, and blue cheese as the main ingredients. Lovely pinkish color.

  37. Elle Woods*

    One of the things I’ve discovered about myself is that listening to a podcast while working out makes the time pass easier. I’ve got a couple that I really enjoy (Maintenance Phase, Chasing Life with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Smartless) but would love recommendations for others. My preference is for podcasts that have 30-60 minute episodes; an episode here and there that is longer than that is OK too. Series are OK too. Not interested in crime, politics, or religious ones.

    1. Reba*

      The Turning — reported podcast about people in insular worlds. First season is about people who are former nuns (so it’s about religious experiences but not a religion podcast as such), second season is about ballet.

      Grouse – reported podcast about the endangered prairie grouse. I believe the reporter is now working on a new one about wild horses, so similar issues.

      Throughline – history podcast from NPR.

      Death, Sex, and Money – interview podcast including both prominent people (authors etc) and ordinary people. Currently in transition to Slate, so there may be a pause in episodes but there is a big back catalog.

      Decoder Ring – speaking of Slate, I’m not always interested in the topic but appreciate the deep dives into pop culture things I’m vaguely aware of.

    2. Cats in Boots*

      I LOVE Ear Hustle. It is about the lives of people living in prison. It is not about solving crimes, it barely touches on politics or religion (although it does discuss those topics at times) and it is SO GOOD. Really kind, really thought-provoking, and most episodes are about 45-60 minutes long.

    3. MissCoco*

      A couple that are a bit similar to maintenance phase are “If books could Kill” which is about “airport books” and other very popular self-help and opinion-based books. “Overdue” is about classic books you “should” have read, it’s pretty re-cappy, but the hosts are fun.

      1. fallingleavesofnovember*

        Seconding ‘If Books Could Kill’. And you could check out the back catalogue of ‘You’re Wrong About’. (We basically enjoy everything Michael Hobbes does!)

    4. Lemonwhirl*

      Absolutely love “Normal Gossip” – a host tells a guest a “delicious morsel of gossip” about normal ordinary people and usually a weird situation. The tone is perfect – it’s interested and curious and the stories are usually funny and human.

      Also love “You Are Good”, which calls itself “a feelings podcast about movies”. The hosts discuss a movie with a guest, usually through the lens of feelings. Both Michael Hobbs and Aubrey Gordon have been guests on “You Are Good”.

    5. T'Pol*

      One of my favourites is Normal Gossip, where they tell an anonymized gossip story. I laugh out loud and gasp during almost every episode.

      I also enjoy You’re Dead to Me, a BBC podcast about history. Features a historian who’s an expert on the subject and a comedian to react to what they’re being told.

      Currently listening to Terrible Lizards, a podcast about dinosaurs.

    6. Pieforbreakfast*

      Endless Thread- every episode a different topic based on a social media (mainly Reddit) post the hosts do a deep dive on. I enjoy it because they’re on the shorter side, the hosts are great together and some interesting topics come up.

      Handsome- three women comedians- Tig Nataro, Fortune Feimster, Mae Martin- chatting and answering a question of the week. They just work together so well and are hilarious. Tig had a podcast called Don’t Ask Tig before this that was an advice show featuring guest stars. It was entertaining as well.

      The Dream- investigative podcast, the first season is about MLMs, the second about the wellness industry and the third about the rise of personal coaching. The first two are the strongest but the third season had its moments.

      Nutrition for Mortals- if you like MP this may interest you, two Registered Dietitians exploring the world of nutrition with an eye to debunk the crap we’re told. The hosts are enjoyable to listen to and the topics interesting.

      1. Stead*

        When I listen to Handsome on a walk I get embarrassed by how much I’m smiling/visibly repressing laughter.

        I also want to second Throughline, and anyone who likes it should check out Scene on Radio — thoughtful season-long documentaries that explore and reframe big issues.

    7. Emily Elizabeth*

      Just Between Us has been my favorite for absolute years. It’s a “comedic variety show” with two writers, Allison Raskin and Gabe Dunn, and each week they answer a listener question, interview a guest, play a comedy game show, and discuss a new topic. Their guests are so interesting – animal experts, sex therapists, comedians, other writers – and the show covers all kinds of topics, from mental health, relationships, current events, social justice, etc. Their standard episodes are a little longer than your ask (about 70 mins – 90 mins) but the multiple segments make them a great pace in my opinion. They also recently introduced a more causal 30 minute show called Too Long Did Read It, a kind of sit around and gab talk show vibe where they discuss a variety of funny or interesting posts from Reddit.

    8. Angstrom*

      99 % Invisible: Design, history.
      This Is Love: Human interest stories
      Fast Talk: Cycling-focussed but a lot of interesting training and exercise phisiology information.

    9. Chicago Anon*

      BBC’s “Now You’re Asking,” with Tara Flynn and Marian Keyes. But it’s usually only 25-29 minutes—maybe for days when you know you’ll have to cut your workout a bit short?

    10. Phryne*

      If you like history, check out the various podcasts under the History Hit umbrella. There are a number of different subjects, and they are made by actual historians, meaning people who do historical research for a living.
      Another fave of mine is Fall of Civilisations, a podcasts about the why and how all sorts of civilisations, cultures, societies of the past disappeared.

      one I have not listened to myself yet but which my brother in law loves and recommends to anyone who listens is A History of Rock Music in 500 songs.

      And I know you said no crime, so ignore this one, but I cannot recommend podcasts and skip the best one I’ve ever heard, which is Death in Ice Valley. It is technically true crime, at it is about a real unsolved non natural death, but it is more mystery and spy tale than anything else. In 1970, in a remote valley in Norway, a woman is found dead. She has no papers, and the tags are removed from her clothes. Her suitcase is found in a locker, and the labels are removed from her cosmetics and they contain various wigs and glasses without corrective lenses. People come forward who have interacted with her, but the only thing they can tell is that she was not Norse. Who was this woman?

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        … Well, I will take your crime podcast and make a note of it, thank you :)

        1. Phryne*

          Apart from the fascinating mystery, the north of England and Norwegian presenters also have some really nice accents to have talking in your ear… and it won a prize for the soundscape I think. I think being pleasant to listen to is important in podcasts as well.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            For sure! (The story as you described it also made me think of the Somerton Man – I won’t link, but there’s a wikipedia article that gives a summary.)

            1. Phryne*

              Yes, I’d heard of that one too, the fact that there is more than one such case in the world just makes it even more strange.

          2. KeinName*

            I took up your suggestion yesterday night in bed and got so frightened that I had to switch to a comedy podcast. ‚This is also called The Valley of The Dead because…‘

            1. Phryne*

              Yeah, I listened to it while doing my daily lockdown walks in 2020, in a bright sunny summer on a bright sunny day.

    11. KeinName*

      The Best Medicine – comedian-hosted ‚competition‘ of people explaining why XY or Z is the best medicine, very entertaining and informative about different treatments and medical inventions.

    12. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      Reading Glasses – 30-40 minute podcasts about books, book tech, book suggestions, etc. The two presenters have their own reading preferences (horror and SF) but discuss other genres, too.

      All in the Mind – Australian podcast about psychology and related topics – most about 30 minutes

      In Our Time – BBC podcast about historical ideas, people and events – most about an hour

      Quirks and Quarks – Canadian podcast about science topics – most around an hour

      Nature Podcast – current science podcast from the weekly Nature magazine – most about 30 minutes

      In reSearch Of – hosts are watching the old In Search Of TV shows and breaking down the science and pseudoscience of each episode – most are around 2 hours

    13. Helvetica*

      Off Menu! Two UK comedians invite celebrity guests to a magic restaurant where they have to talk through their choice of entrée, main course, dessert, drinks, which can be from actual restaurant or home-cooked, or anything in-between. It is very funny and accompanied by broader talk of food, and a treat to listen to.

    14. dice*

      2 Scary 2 Stupid is fun – it’s by two Canadians who basically do movie/tv recaps and they’re very clearly having a great time. They tend to pick stuff I haven’t seen which is nice. The sound sometimes isn’t great but that doesn’t bother me – there are a lot of episodes, too. Some ~45 mins and some a little over an hour.

    15. Anon Poster*

      Reiterating love for You’re Wrong About (I could not stop talking at people about the Survival in the Andes episode for days), Normal Gossip, and Dead to Me.

      I also enjoy Brett Goldstein’s Films To Be Buried With. I thought I would hate that he asks all his guests the same film-centric questions, but I like that the questions focus the episodes and I like thinking about what my answers would be and how they change from time to time. I only listen every once in a while, but I enjoy it when I do.

      1. Lemonwhirl*

        Thank you for reminding me that Sarah Marshall from You’re Wrong About was a guest on Brett Goldstein’s podcast. I hadn’t managed to check it out before I forgot about, so it’s added to my playlist now!

      2. The OG Sleepless*

        Oo, I need to circle back to You’re Wrong About. I couldn’t adjust after Michael Hobbs left, but she still has some good material.

    16. just here for the scripts*

      Alan Alda’s Clear and Vivid
      BBC’s You’re Dead to Me (history and comedy)
      The Bowery Boys (NYC history)
      TCM’s the Plot thickens (6-7 episodes per season; 3 seasons so far—season 2 is on Lucille Ball, season 3 is on Pam Grier, and the periodic other 1-episode specials).

    17. Vanessa*

      Were you raised by wolves. is hilarious. Very entertaining etiquette questions answered.
      Science vs.
      Shameless ( pop culture deep dives and week in review)
      Glamorous trash (they review autobiographies)
      Just the gist (on hiatus but a good back catalog. Gives the gist of historical/ pop culture events.

    18. Wordnerd*

      The McElroy Family of Podcasts are extremely funny if somewhat off-the-wall improv comedy is your bag. My Brother My Brother and Me is the OG, but I would recommend Wonderful! An Enthusiast Podcast by the youngest brother Griffin and his wife Rachel. They have a lovely vibe and they just talk about things like they like for 30 minutes. Justin and his wife Dr. Sydnee do Sawbones, where they talk about medical history and sometimes current medical topics.

    19. My Brain is Exploding*

      The Moth …. an hour of a variety of storytelling that also airs on Public Radio.

    20. tangerineRose*

      It’s not a podcast, but I’ve been using the Libby app from the library a lot lately. You can check out an audiobook and listen to that.

    21. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m a fan of online fiction —PodCastle.org and its “relatives” like EscapePod and Cast of Wonders.

    22. ThatGirl*

      My husband has been enjoying Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend, and we’ve listened to interviews together on road trips. Conan is a very good interviewer, and you can never tell when it will be thoughtful and deep (Stephen Colbert) vs deeply deeply silly (Paul Rudd). But it does help if you like Conan’s brand of humor to begin with.

    23. Clara Bowe*

      The long time GOAT of skip-around and listen to what you like is Stuff You Missed in History Class. I’ve been a casual listener since 2012, and it still puts out 1-2 new episodes a week and on a variety of topics and random global history. I adore the more recent episodes on the dictionary wars (did NOT know that was as interesting as it was!) and the October “spooky” casts are a hoot.

  38. Cats in Boots*

    So, I found two tiny kittens under a storage container. Earlier that day, there was a dead cat on the side of the highway near the storage container that I’m 99% sure is the mother. All of the shelters in my area are very full, so I’ve taken the kittens into my house. They’re probably around 8 weeks old, so can and are eating solid food. Awesome, except that my partner and I live in a tiny one bedroom apartment…with our mature cat.

    So far, we’ve kept the kittens in our closet, but big cat (Elaine) is SO ANGRY. She hisses at the closet door, she won’t let us come near her, she stands in the hallway and stares angrily at the closet door, she is NOT HAPPY. I’ve been following directions on how to safely introduce cats, but it really isn’t going well (its been two days). Elaine yowls at night, no one is getting great sleep, and I’m very worried about the effects of stress on Elaine’s health.

    Does anyone have any tips, tricks, or relatable stories on how we can make it through? I have an adopter lined up for the kittens, but she is out on her sabbatical that ends in early March. Most likely, we’ll have the kittens for another 4-6 weeks.

    1. nicosloanica*

      People do rave about the feliway diffuser, although I’ve never tried it. This may be an unpopular opinion but my personal experience is to NOT cross-contaminate new pets with unknown medical histories with my resident cat. My own cat is a senior so I try to be very careful, and I’ve never regretted the seemingly over-the-top methods I’ve used (special slippers in the “kitten room”, changing into a different overshirt, no shared bowls, handwashing, towel under the door to prevent contact etc etc etc). Basically every kitten I’ve fostered that has come directly off the street has various communicable diseases – coccidia, panleuk, FIV, or at least URI, especially around weaning.

      1. Cats in Boots*

        Thank you!! Those are really excellent ideas I hadn’t even considered. I have the kittens lined up for a vet visit in a few days, so I’ll be extra careful.

      2. tangerineRose*

        That’s good advice. Keeping the kittens separate makes a lot of sense. If they are a little sick, that might be part of why your cat is annoyed.

    2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      1. Don’t worry about how to introduce the cats. No point trying to get them to be friends for such a short term stay. It will just stress Elaine out more.
      2. The kittens can and should stay in one room the whole time. A closet is much bigger than the cage they’d be at in the shelter. Possibly the bathroom would be a better option, depending on your home.
      3. Feliway.
      4. Give it time. Cats don’t like change. No need to worry until it’s been a week or two and Elaine shows no signs of settling down.

    3. Cat and dog fosterer*

      Agrred with all of this. Don’t bother introducing them, you might want to consider a washroom instead, and maybe try Feliway (it doesn’t work on ferals and has varying success on friendlies, but when it works, IT WORKS). It’s relatively expensive so if you have facebook then you might ask a local sharing group to borrow it for a couple days. You can maybe also explain the situation and ask if someone wants to kitten-sit for a month.

    4. SuprisinglyADHD*

      When we adopted our kitten from the front garden (in much worse condition than it sounds like yours are), we were able to borrow a “kitten tent” for the living room. The kitten had it’s own litter box in there, and toys and a couple of wine boxes from the liquor store with towels for sleeping/hiding/climbing. Our big cat could hear, see, and smell it but not reach it, and it could hide if it wasn’t feeling social. The adult was a lot calmer when he could see what was in there, how small it was, and that it was contained. The kitten couldn’t get into anything dangerous or end up stuck in the couch or something. We were lucky and got a vet appointment for the next morning so we knew it didn’t have anything contagious.

      1. Cat in Boots*

        I LOVE the idea of a kitten tent. Elaine just really hates closed doors and because our apartment is so small she’s always had full access to every room. Thank you!

    5. TPS reporter*

      can you get a big dog crate or tent for the kittens, so they are protected but Elaine can see them? cats do seem to really dislike a closed door.

      1. Cat in Boots*

        Oh this is a great idea!!! I have an old tent I’ve been meaning to get rid of, but it could work perfectly for this purpose. Thank you!

      2. Love me, love my cat*

        Please be very careful if you do this. I’m wondering if a crate for a large dog won’t have just-the-right-size ventilation slots or other spaces where a kitten could get stuck, possibly choked when it pokes it’s curious little head in it.

        1. Cat and dog fosterer*

          I’ve fostered piles of cats and kittens in XL metal dog crates, as do many rescues, and it’s totally fine. There is plenty of room for food dishes, litter box, and a carrier as a safe spot to sleep.

          The OP might even ask a local rescue if one can be borrowed. This happens to be a quiet time of year for us and I have extras. This may not be true in that area, but worth asking. Neighbors too as plenty of people get a crate for their puppy then don’t need it later.

          If Elaine hates the closed doors and not the kittens then this is a good solution, although very important to get the kittens treated for fleas and ear mites, and ensure they aren’t sick with FeLV. It’s good to treat for parasites (worms) but those aren’t a problem if they don’t share litter boxes.

    6. NB*

      You might want to check out videos (YouTube and Instagram) from Hannah Shaw (AKA Kitten Lady), a professional kitten rescuer and humane educator. She has lots of advice for fostering kittens in small spaces as well as quarantine guidelines for new babies in the home. She also has a website with a lot of information.

  39. Invisible fish*

    Recommendations for all inclusive vacations politely requested! Location, activities, etc., irrelevant. I just don’t want to plan. I want to hand over my credit card info and someone else handles everything. Thanks, y’all!

    1. Not A Manager*

      Have you looked into dude ranches? A lot of them offer all-inclusive packages that you can tailor to include or exclude actual riding. If you don’t ride, there’s still nature hikes, yoga, swimming etc. I personally like Tanque Verde outside of Tucson but there are a bunch of them all over the West.

    2. New Mom (of 1 5/9)*

      I really never thought I would like an all-inclusive resort, but I went to one in Cancun for work and it was really nice tbh.

      Cruise ships can also be nice for this. You pick the route, they drive the ship, you add on excursions if you want.

      You could also always use a travel agent if you really want to be hands-off!

    3. Left to wander*

      There are travel agencies that plan everything. Jacada Travel is VERY pricey but plans everything.

  40. Foila*

    I could use your help getting fired up for a doctors visit. I have an appointment tomorrow and I’m really dragging my feet.

    I’ve been at a new clinic but didn’t really click with the assigned PA. Now it’s been more than a year since I was in, so they naturally want to see me. My appointment is with a different PA.

    The thing is, I don’t think they can do much for me other than keep prescribing what I’m already on. Which is a huge bummer. I have fatigue that will soon make working full time beyond me. I’ve done the usual work ups, there’s nothing they can find. So this visit just feels like being hassled.

    So, any tips on going in with peace in my heart?

    1. nicosloanica*

      I am terrible, terrible at this. I’m maxed out on resolutions this year but my goal for next year may be to try and get back to the doctors and dentists I’ve been putting off or avoiding. There are real reasons it sucks! I never seem to express myself well and rarely come away feeling heard – I often get the feeling the doctor thinks I’m making it up or that it’s all in my head – I have been treated rudely or impatiently in the past, although I know many other people, particularly larger people, with worse stories. It rarely seems to actually help. But it’s the best system we’ve got, so I just try to keep low expectations and reward myself after going.

      1. Phryne*

        Maybe I’m saying something wildly obvious, in which case I apologise and please disregard, but if you struggle to express what is going on and do not feel heard, would it help to keep a diary of symptoms and their effect on your day? Then, when you are at the doctor’s, you have something to refer to when describing what happens, how often, what you can or can’t do because of it, rather than come up with it in the moment under pressure?

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I highly recommend this! My dad was a doctor, and he talked about how sometimes it took so long to figure out symptoms that he had to make another appointment to get to treatment options. Especially if there’s a list of symptoms, or you notice certain things happen at certain times (like insomnia if you eat X, or drug interactions.) Speaking of, make a list of ALL drugs and supplements you take regularly, including OTC stuff like aspirin.

      2. Foila*

        Thank you, yes, I understand so well! I’ve never had a doctor be dismissive, but I do get the sense that they’re listening to me with an ear for something that they can fix… which fatigue is not known for! So they hear me, but it’s always with a bit of disappointment, or hoping that I could produce something else, if that makes sense.

    2. Rara Avis*

      Can you think of it like taking your car in for service? Necessary to do on a yearly schedule to check that everything is still working right, so that any potential issues are dealt with? (I speak from the position of someone who just had a major health issue caught by a routine screening, and the outcome will be much better since it was caught early.)

      1. Anonymous cat*

        This is a great approach! It’s just maintenance, it’s a dull chore that you have to do X times a year, no expectations.

        Plus, can you combine it with a treat somehow or a useful errand? Like after the appointment, you can have an ice cream to celebrate it’s done?

        And I know I just said no expectations, but if it’s a new PA, there’s a chance you’ll like this one better. Even if they can’t improve your diagnosis, liking your PA might put you in a better frame of mind when you have to go.

        1. Loreli*

          I highly recommend the treat after the visit! I have a recurring every-few-months appointment for a condition that’s well-controlled but the procedures at the medical visits are unpleasant (yes I’m being cryptic on purpose). So afterwards I visit a local fancy (that is, pricy) pastry shop that I wouldn’t normally go to.

      2. Foila*

        I think that’s a good approach – it would be even better if they could change the oil, so to speak. I’m happy to go to the dentist with the knowledge that my teeth will be cleaner than before I went, but the doctor’s office is just a service check that tires me out. But it has to happen for them to continue seeing me.

        1. Dancing Otter*

          Wonderful metaphor!

          Oil and lube for the joints? Maybe a new air filter for the respiratory system? Tune-up for digestive/metabolic issues, or would that be a coolant flush?

          Pity a good wash, wax and polish wouldn’t buff out the wrinkles.

    3. KeinName*

      Can you read a nice instructive website by a woman‘s health center? I read one once and it had such a kind tone and instructions on how to make yourself Heard at the doctor, that I’ve felt emboldened ever since. If you are not a woman than maybe patient advocacy websites might have the same effect (I am just imagining it). Empowering you to get support, offering that support, instructing how to get the most out of it.

      1. Foila*

        Do you have one you especially like? I’d be interested to read it, though I think really the problem is that there are minimal treatments for fatigue. No matter how well they listen there’s just not much they can offer me, unfortunately. My best hope at this point is that something new will come out of the long COVID trials that could help, but that’s years away.

    4. New Mom (of 1 5/9)*

      > The thing is, I don’t think they can do much for me other than keep prescribing what I’m already on. Which is a huge bummer. I have fatigue that will soon make working full time beyond me. I’ve done the usual work ups, there’s nothing they can find. So this visit just feels like being hassled.

      That is so frustrating. Have you considered seeing an MD instead of a PA? They have vastly more experience with respect to clinical hours (>15000 vs 2000 for a PA when they get certified). As with all providers, you have to find one willing to listen to you, but if you’re feeling despondent about the same old, same old, it might be worth it to make a change sometime.

      1. Foila*

        Thanks for your thoughts! I would love to see an MD but I have yet to find one who is taking new patients. I do know folks who have gotten to an MD by scheduling a semi-urgent appointment that went to the first available provider who happened to be an MD, but I’ve had no luck requesting one.

        1. New Mom (of 1 5/9)*

          (Maybe try plugging your insurance in at Zocdoc and see if you can find anybody? Assuming you’ve already tried going through your insurance directly.)

    5. Llama Llama*

      Could it be that it will be status quo? Possibly. Or you come in and they say ‘there is this new medicine that we think will work for you.’ and bam! it’s amazing. Or they find a problem that they can fix easily because they caught it early.

    6. Ewe a lamb*

      Schedule something nice for yourself for after. Ask a friend to meet you for an ice cream sundae. Go to a park. Rewatch a favorite movie, with popcorn. Find a cat cafe. Whatever would be something to look forward to. And, if appointments make you anxious (they do me), carry a tiny stuffed animal in your pocket that you can touch. Or, as I’ve seen younger people do, bring a giant Squishmallow with you!

  41. Em H*

    I’m one of those interior design people who like everything so picking things is a nightmare for me, and I have a flooring question relating to my new place (small 1960s bungalow) I’d welcome some input to. Are there any upsides/downsides to consider around putting the same flooring in all the living spaces (except kitchen/bathroom)? I’m thinking about how spacious or compact it would look in particular and if matching/contrasting flooring between rooms makes any difference with that. It’s a 2 BR so we’re talking bedrooms, living room, dining area and hallways. I’m thinking of an engineered wooden floor, shade as yet undecided but to sit well with walnut furniture. I’m maxed out on decision making at this point.

    1. nicosloanica*

      Sounds great to me and easier to clean, as you can just keep going. Probably save on installation too. You can always do rugs in different spaces if you decide it looks too samey later.

    2. anywhere but here*

      I have exactly zero credentials on interior design but everywhere I have lived (I have only rented) has had all flooring the same everywhere except kitchen & bathroom. I have never considered it as something to worry about or notice. One non-stylistic consideration would be whether you might prefer having carpet in the bedrooms, but if you like hardwood everywhere then it seems an easy and common way to do flooring.

      1. nicosloanica*

        People do seem to prefer carpet in the bedroom, but I just don’t get it. Maybe it’s because I have messy pets but carpet just seems like it would be impossible to keep clean and is a giant allergy dust trap. A nice rug would be just as cozy in my opinion.

        1. anywhere but here*

          I think the pros and cons vary based on the living situation – vaccuuming is more annoying than sweeping, but less annoying than mopping. Spills are easier to clean on hardwood floor, but (afaik) hardwood floors are more expensive to replace than carpet if something goes really wrong. Carpet is more comfortable to stand and walk on than a hard floor. Rugs are nice but if the plan is to have hardwood floors + rugs everywhere then it seems like it would be easier to skip a step and just do carpet, you know? I don’t have health issues so I don’t have a strong preference either way, but my partner does so I have accepted that I’ll have to avoid carpets.

        2. A Girl Named Fred*

          See, funnily enough, I prefer carpets for the same reasons you hate them, just reversed apparently – I think they’re easier to keep clean (or at least not visibly dirty, the way linoleum/hardwood show Every Little Thing) and would rather my pet have the traction that carpet provides versus sliding all over. Plus, if I’m going to throw rugs down anyway, why wouldn’t I just do carpet?

          But to each their own, and I mean absolutely nothing bad about/against you nicosloanica – I think this is clearly a matter of personal preference that varies wildly so as long as everybody’s got whatever they want in their living space, more power to them! It’s just funny to me how everyone’s preference tends to lean toward the same reasons, just attributing them to opposite flooring types lol

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I agree with you, it is funny! I’m team no-carpet though – I put down rugs to give my dogs traction, but I prefer rugs to full-blown carpet because if the rug gets spilled on, I can put it in the washing machine, and when it wears out eventually, it’s much less hassle to replace a rug than a carpet :) (I also prefer very low-pile fairly smooth rugs with minimal padding, not fuzzy or plushy ones, so my robot vacuum goes from tile to rug to hardwood without any issues.)

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I used to love carpet…then I saw the dirt underneath one when it was removed. Now I go for large rugs I can vacuum on both sides and wash outside in the summer.

          3. The OG Sleepless*

            I grew up in an old, drafty farmhouse with all hardwood floors, and for years I’ve said I wanted to keep carpet in all of the living areas except kitchen and bathroom, because I’ve walked around on enough cold, hard floors to last me the rest of my life. I’m finally changing my mind on that, as I see hardwoods in living rooms and think of how nice they look. I have hardwoods throughout my downstairs now except in the living room, and I’m dying to get rid of the carpet and put down hardwood. I think it would look great and pull the area together visually having the same flooring. Too bad the estimate I got is TWICE what I was hoping and completely out of my budget.

    3. Double A*

      We did this in our house (including kitchens and bathrooms) and I love it. We used laminate that looks like wood. We use area rugs.

      One thing to consider about hardwood is it tends to scratch easily. The laminates are waterproof and scratch resistant. We are not easy on our floors and they look great after 6 years.

    4. Phryne*

      If you do the same floor everywhere, you get the best spacious effect if you can avoid having thresholds between rooms, have the floor run on uninterrupted. But that might mean you might have to replace the doors if they are now fitted with thresholds, so depends on whether you find that worth the effort.

    5. Generic Name*

      I grew up in a historic house, and all the floors were wood, except the single bathroom, which was tile. I think it’s normal for all the flooring to be the same and bathrooms and maybe kitchen is different.

      1. nicosloanica*

        I’ve noticed that people tend to run the same wood laminate into the kitchen too, so literally all floor except the bathroom may be the same. It doesn’t quite look right to me but I suppose the laminate is more like tile in its response to water (which is why I assume old houses didn’t tend to have the hardwood in the kitchen).

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Here’s a funny: My house (built in the mid-80s, though I’m not sure when the floors were last done) has tile in the living room and dining room, but hardwood in the rest of the main floor, including the kitchen and the bathroom, plus up the stairs and through the upstairs hallway and half the master bedroom.

          Weirdly, the other half of the master bedroom is carpet, as were all the other bedrooms upstairs, but we’re in the process of ripping out the upstairs carpet and replacing it all with new laminate because my husband’s cats did a whole lot of damage to the carpet in two of the bedrooms and it’s not salvageable.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      From a point of view of someone who had to maintain an older house, Have a divider at the doorways even if you choose to have things in both rooms be the same. That way if something dire happens in one room you need not address flooring of the entire house. (“Dire” could be anything from spilling a bottle of rubber cement on a carpet to cracking tile to fire or water damage.)

    7. samwise*

      Our house is all wooden floors (1949) except for the kitchen and bathroom. Very easy to take care of. No carpet = cat barf/poop/pee don’t leave stains or smells if you get to it reasonably quickly, same thing for mud/yard clippings/snow etc off of shoes and boots. I’m scheming and saving to change the kitchen floor to wood or maybe wood laminate

    8. mreasy*

      I always prefer this, both for cleaning ease but also because it makes spaces look more open imo.

  42. Why can't there be both?*

    I’m currently living in the Phoenix metro area and I don’t like it. I moved here to start my career and adulthood and in a couple of years, I’ll be able to make a move if I want. I always thought I’d want to move back to the mountains where I lived in my early 20s but now that I’ve experienced diversity and sharing space with people of all walks of life, I’m sad to think of moving back to a beige place. Specifically, I was in Tempe yesterday during the Call to Prayer at the Mosque and I realized I never ever want to live without Muslim neighbors, and therefore without the color and beauty of life.

    Am I relegated to city life if I want to be part of a diverse community? I want mountains and hiking and streams and wildlife and quiet and….color. Is this incompatible?

    1. Frankie Bergstein*

      This is a really good question! As a BIPOC person, I just sort of assumed I’d need to live in cities to have racial and ethnic and religious diversity (I assume that’s what you mean by diverse) and never questioned that assumption nor really encountered evidence — like data or personal experience — to counter it.

    2. Double A*

      I live in a rural area and part of it is that you just…don’t see as many people, period. You don’t walk out the door and just rub up against variety, because you drive everywhere, and when there are groups of people they’re often smaller. Part of what you’re enjoying is the quantity of people around you.

      This said, what you’re describing is why people pay so much to live in the Bay Area and other parts of California.

      1. FanciestCat*

        Yep, that was what I was going to say. What you’re describing is the Bay Area, super diverse but you’re a day trip away from some of the most gorgeous beaches, hiking, and skiing in the world. That’s why it’s so, so pricy. If you’re ok with it being less senic and more farmland, there are a number of diverse cities in California’s central valley that are cheaper like Sacramento or Stockton, that are still within driving distance of the beach. The Pacific NW cities are good for access to nature as well, tho less diverse than Cali.

    3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Immigrants tend, by and large, to move to cities. If you want more skin color variation in a rural area, there are some areas where people didn’t choose to move-either the south with a high African American population, or places with a high native population. However, this not diversity so much as biversity. Also, there will be long standing issues between the two populations.

      I’m not aware of any rural areas with a high rate of multiculturalism.

    4. AGinGA*

      Look into Atlanta. The suburbs are way more diverse than you expect, partly because of Atlanta’s explosive growth over the last several decades. There are parks and green spaces all over, even if the mountains are at least an hour north. Plus museums and culture. Georgia has political issues, so look carefully. Other large, growing cities may be more diverse than you expect.

    5. Squidhead*

      I live in a small city in Upstate NY and it’s pretty diverse, but if you drive 15 minutes you can be in rural (not wild, but rural) countryside. Healthcare and higher education are the largest employers in my city right now, which helps but there is a lot of stratification. I’m most likely to see white people at the big major chain stores but there are numerous Asian markets, a whole refugee community, a growing population of Spanish speakers, Muslims from many parts of the world, a conservative Jewish community, etc… As a white person I feel like I need to know where to look to recognize what’s around me because I don’t see it represented at the Target, you know?

      I did spend a lot of time in the Southwest as a kid and my impression was that the sprawl of Phoenix feels like it never ends (so you can’t drive just 15 minutes and stop seeing those endless tan shopping plazas). Up here, cities are smaller and haven’t completely subsumed the surrounding towns, so you can simultaneously be closer to nature and closer to people. Our mountains are more worn down than yours and we get a lot more rain. Small towns here tend to be redder and cities tend to be bluer (I think this is almost universally true), but if you’re going to be in a position to move and are willing to come East, it’s worth a visit in advance (in both winter and summer) to see what you think.

    6. Pam Adams*

      I think living somewhere diverse where mountains, etc. are within reach is probably your best choice.

    7. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      Portland, Oregon has the hiking and mountains and wildlife very close. Demographically, it is 65% white, with Asian the second highest demographic. Religiously, it is very unreligious – over 60% atheist/agnostic/no religion. A smattering of Buddhists (1.2%) and few Muslims, Hindus, or Jews (less than 1% each).

      Seattle is 60% white, 16% Asian, 6% Black. It has more Christians than Portland, and more of other religions, too.

      College towns can be smaller but still have some diversity. For example, the institution I worked at had about 30% students of color, although the faculty weren’t as diverse (closer to 20%). For some reason, it had a lot of international students from the Middle East where the government would pay for the whole family to accompany the student, so there is an active mosque in town and you see a lot of spouses and children as well as the students.

    8. Maggie*

      I think it’s kind of incompatible with living in area of low population and around nature. There’s not going to be tons of diversity because there’s not very many people. Are you Muslim yourself?

        1. min*

          I’m a religious and ethnic minority and if someone outside my community said “I never want to live without (my minority)” I’d find that kinda weird. Tokening or othering or something.

          1. Why can't there be both?*

            How sad! I’m an orthodox Jew and I’d be so thrilled if someone said that about my community. That I value having Muslim neighbors so much that I never want to leave is othering? Ouch.

    9. Brevity*

      Maybe find a small city/big town with a university?

      It really depends on the university, but I grew up in a small town with a branch campus of the state university, and it was not “small town”. It attracted both international students and faculty, plus brought in all sorts of cultural stuff (Russian and Chinese ballets; Italian orchestras; studio arts maker from everywhere) that everyone in town was invited to. A lot of international faculty and grad students have kids, too, who enroll in the local school (or at least they did where I’m from), so they really were integrated into the community.

      1. Clisby*

        Also, in my experience the presence of a university often is accompanied by things I wouldn’t expect of a similarly sized town without a university. Like a really high-quality bookstore, more variety in restaurants, etc.

        1. putting the NY in anonymous*

          I second this. I lived in Ithaca, NY (which is a double college town) for a while. It had 3 or 4 incredible used bookstores and a fantastic local library, lots of interesting restaurants, a science center, at least 3 local theater companies, and musicians of all kinds stopping by for concerts. There are people there from all over the world, plus it’s dramatically pretty. “Ten square miles surrounded by reality,” they called it. There was so much going on that it made the remoteness less noticeable and the cold winters worth it.

    10. California Dreamin’*

      If cost of living isn’t a concern, I live in Los Angeles which is obviously very diverse, and we have both mountains and ocean nearby (the cliche being that it’s the only place where you could surf and ski in the same day.) There are a lot of foothills with hiking. I wouldn’t exactly call it living in nature since it’s a giant metropolis, but nature is within easy reach.

      1. LAGirl*

        Nature is indeed within easy reach, as Los Angeles is the only major city with a mountain range running through it. Yes, cost of living is an issue, but this highly diverse city is a truly wonderful place to live.

  43. Wardrobe advice*

    Hope everyone is having a nice weekend! I’m a mid-thirties curvy woman looking for some fashion advice. I’m most comfortable in hoodies, sweatpants (natural fabrics, not restrictive, warm), and sneakers (I walk as my primary method of transport) and looking for clothing (size 12/14)that feels as just comfortable but looks more polished/presentable when going out in public. I’m in New England and willing spend if it means I don’t have to sacrifice utility for aesthetic.

    1) I get cold easily. Blazers/jackets are warm enough but my upper back/shoulders get tense from being constrained for so long. Is there something that has the structured look of a blazer but feels as relaxed as a zip up sweatshirt?
    2) I’d love to have elastic waistband or drawstring pants that look like dress pants. I love the idea of Betabrand but they looked too much like yoga pants and not enough like pants on me.
    3) I found some sweater dresses at gap that I love, but struggling to find and comfortable yet appropriate shoes. I walk everywhere and it’s currently winter, so I need something waterproof with good traction (and ideally lightweight). I’m women’s 10.5W shoe size.

    Any suggestions? Am I being too picky? Is a pipe dream to feel comfortable but look put together?

    Thank you for taking the time to read my question!

    1. Elle*

      Have you looked at Lands End? I got the exact pants you’re describing from them and they’re working well.

      1. Chicago Anon*

        They also have sweater-blazers that would probably give you the polished look and comfortable feel that you want.

    2. eh*

      Old Navy (used to?) have a style of legging like pants that they kept near the pixie pants – they’re super comfortable and literally all I wear for work when it’s cold (I’m in New England too).

    3. SuprisinglyADHD*

      With a sweater dress, I often wear sneakers, especially if the weather is icky. But depending on your tastes, cowboy boots are a cool option! You can get ones with rubber soles and good grip, and they come in a huge range of colors and styles from “hiking through mud” to “night on the town”. The style I prefer has a slight heel that’s chunky enough to be easy on my ankles. They last forever, and most can be re-soled and have new inserts. I’ve never worn a pair out and not gotten a compliment. The comment I get most often is “I wish *I* could wear something like those” to which I say “they match everything, go for it!”

      1. Chaordic One*

        You might consider hiking boots. Personally, I like the contrast with a sweater dress, but you may, or may not, feel the same way.

        1. Wardrobe advice*

          Thank you, I love my hiking boots, so I won’t bother feeling self conscious when wearing them in public. :)

        2. Charlotte Lucas*

          I love my riding boots with dresses. Comfy and fashionable. (During warm weather, I switch to espadrilles. You can generally find very comfortable ones.) Or athletic Mary Janes.

          But I agree that sneakers can look great with the dresses.

      2. Wardrobe advice*

        Thank you SuprisinglyADHD. They do have the right look, so hopefully can find a brand that works comfort wise.

    4. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Ann Taylor has some jackets that feel like cardigans. Don’t know exactly what they’re called. They look far more tailored and are heavier and warmer than a regular cardigan and feel exactly the same as a sweater when I wear them.

      1. mreasy*

        I have a structured heavy sweater with lapels (knit blazer really) from j crew a few years back and I love it. But if you’re feeling tense & constrained from a blazer of jacket, it isn’t the right size for you. Better to have hems/sleeves shortened than your body tensed!

    5. Saddesklunch*

      Universal standard had some great elastic waistband but looks like dress pants options – can be on the pricey side but they have good sales. They may have other things that fit your needs too!

    6. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Ponte fabric might work for you! It’s slightly stretchy and more polished than sweatshirt material, but I find it just as comfortable. I have bought pants, blazers and tops in it. Lots of places carry it, my favorites are Eileen Fisher (very pricey, but look for sales, note that their sizing runs large), J Crew/J Crew Factory, Nordstrom, Talbots and J Jill. You might also like the Wearever collection at J Jill. Similar to ponte in terms of stretch/comfort, but a bit lighter weight. As others have mentioned, sweater blazers are a nice alternative to formal blazers; I’ve gotten nice ones from J Crew/J Crew Factory. Also look for knit blazers which are made from material a little nicer than sweatshirt material; I’ve bought a couple from Nordstrom. Lastly, J Crew Factory, Banana Republic Factory and Everlane sell dress pants with elastic waists. At J Crew Factory they are called the Jamie Pant, at Banana Republic Factory they are the Hayden Pant, and at Everlane they are the Dream pant. One last thing – J Crew Factory and Banana Republic Factory always have sales, so don’t pay full price there. (I promise I don’t work for either company, I just buy most of my work clothes from them.)

    7. Anne Kaffeekanne*

      For the shoes: I bought Blundstones in fall, after thinking about it for several years (they’re pricey!) and I don’t think I have worn any other shoes since.

      I wear them with dresses a lot and I personally think they look really nice with them. I have also worn them on long, muddy and/or snowy walks, city trips, and on a weeklong holiday to Scotland. The classic one isn’t super dressy but they have different models depending on what you’re looking for.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Doc Martens have styles from casual to dressy. I have a pair of Mary Janes, but my mid-40s daughter has several different styles of boots, as well. Her knee-high ones are great with dresses.
        The arch and ankle support, especially with the available insoles/inserts, is great if you walk or spend a lot of time on your feet.
        I think I paid around $160 for mine, so not dirt cheap but not outrageous. Once you know your size, they show up on Poshmark surprisingly often, because some people don’t have the patience to break them in.

        1. Anne Kaffeekanne*

          Ha, yes, I thought about Docs but I walk my heels bloody (literally) even in regular sneakers for the first 6 months, so trying a shoe infamous for how difficult it is to break in was a step too far for me.

          I haven’t had a single blister in the Blundstones, which basically means I consider them a miracle shoe (obviously depends on your feet! mine just seem to, for once, really vibe with these shoes).

    8. Comfy*

      Flax has great jackets in natural fabrics that are comfy but nice looking. (They also have pants, skirts, etc) Best if you can find a store that carries it so you can try them on before buying online. Downsides: usually linen, so may need ironing, and if you find a style you like grab it in multiples because they sell out fast and some styles don’t repeat. Also: you can get good condition used pieces on ebay.

    9. Sarah BRB*

      I’m in the petite side but I’ve found some great elastic waist, warmish/thicker side, non-jogger/more put-together looking pants at Costco – online are also good deals (but more save more!) and easy return if you’re not sure you’ll like them. They have items from more expensive brands but I like the regular stuff better honestly (like Hilary Radley). And most have pockets!

    10. Samwise*

      When you’re walking outside in the cold, don’t worry about matchy sneakers. Be warm.

      Sweater dress with tights. Wear hiking socks over the tights, hiking boots. Carry (or leave in your office) a pair of comfy flats or dressy boots. I like lace up ankle high granny boots, but that’s me.

  44. Uncool Tuber*

    Is there some secret trick to drying sheets that I am unaware of? I have to untangle them multiple times to get them to dry thoroughly, free the pillowcases from the corners of the fitted sheet, and it takes so.much.time.

    1. Double A*

      Do you use dryer balls? Also I bought these things called Wad Free that you attach to a corner. I dry my sheets with other stuff so I’m not sure how well they work but they seem to make some difference.

    2. Squidhead*

      If you’re already having to run the dryer twice I’d just do one load of the flat sheet and pillowcases and one load with the fitted sheet!

      Our dryer has auto-sensing modes (where it turns off when it thinks things are dry enough) and timed modes. For sheets and towels I use a timed mode (60 minutes on high) because things are always still damp with the auto-sensor. It’s probably overkill, but 40 minutes isn’t long enough for a full load. We do have some wool dryer balls that seem to aerate the laundry a little better, too.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Yes, I dry the fitted sheet by itself! Takes less time that it does when it gets all balled up.

    3. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      Wool dryer balls (I got mine at Trader Joe’s) do make a huge difference with drying sheets and towels.

      Also, when was the last time you had the dryer ducts cleaned? When my loads stop drying in a single cycle, that always clears the problem up. This is beyond emptying the lint trap.

    4. Snell*

      I use a big laundry bag, the kind you use for delicate items, even though my sheets aren’t delicate. They may not dry as fast as unbagged (at least, unbagged and no-tangles…which doesn’t happen, so I use the bag), but it stops the tangling and I never have to run the dryer more than once. One sheet per bag, though.

    5. Indolent Libertine*

      Another vote for the TJ wool dryer balls. I just today saw an “on this day” FB post of mine from a couple years back where I said I had “achieved the Turducken of laundry” by having a handkerchief, twisted into a tight ball, down in the corner of a pillowcase, itself twisted into a tight ball, in the corner of a fitted sheet, likewise. It was quite something to see (and untangle)!

    6. Not A Manager*

      Soooooo frustrating! I have more free time than common sense, so I literally dry ONLY the sheets, with dryer balls, for about 10 minutes. Then remove them and let them finish by air drying. I also do this with my cotton tee shirts. They get much less wrinkled if I pull them when they’re still damp, smooth them by hand and let them dry flat.

      1. Murgatroid*

        I started doing this as well, even when the washer load includes socks, underwear and shirts. I just pull out the sheets and dry them separately first, with all the wool dryer balls -we have a set of six. This avoids finding a damp t-shirt wadded up and stuck in the corner of the mostly dry fitted sheet except for the corner that held the damp t-shirt.

    7. Peanut Hamper*

      Fitted sheets are the gelatinous cubes of the dryer dungeon. I try to hang them up for an hour or so before putting them in the dryer so they are less dense dense and thus less likely to absorb other things. It’s a crap shoot. Sometimes it works, sometimes it’s like “what did I do to deserve this?”

      1. Imtheone*

        I never had this problem with my old dryer, but something about my new dryer makes the sheets ball up. (The old dryer bit the dust and was too old to be worth repairing.)

        I’m going to try the suggestions.

  45. Elle*

    Has anyone ever been to Geiranger, Norway? Our summer cruise is stopping there and I need advice on what to do. Is booking the 5 mile hike to the waterfall worth it or is there a better way to see the sites?

    1. Reba*

      Yes, worth it! We did the excursion that included a bus trip through the Trollstigen pass, and we got outdoors but I remember wishing we had more time to walk. It’s absolutely a beauty spot.

        1. Reba*

          Well, the really switchback-heavy “stair” part was actually taken super slowly because we were in a giant bus, it was a bit hair raising :)
          I would say motion sickness is a risk, if your kids would have trouble on a mountainside scenic road elsewhere, it’s similar to that.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Well, that’s a blast from the past. I haven’t been there since 1987. I was with a local family for the summer. So we didn’t book a tour we just went. I don’t know how much it costs but I can’t imagine going without seeing that view.

      And watch for the face of Slartibartfast* on the wall of the fiord… I swear he carved a self-portrait.
      (*Douglas Adam’s reference)

  46. Slippery foot peel anyone?*

    This is so random but I’ve had no luck googling, I’m hoping that somebody here will recognise what I’m talking about.

    A while ago, I remember looking at this very intense melt-off peel for cracked heels. Everybody in the reviews was saying it’s amazing but that it’s extremely slippery; many advised to have everything within easy reach, and I remember somebody complaining that they couldn’t get out of the bathtub because their feet got so slippery!

    Does this ring a bell for anyone?

      1. Slow Horse*

        The Baby Foot Peel absolutely is one of these products! So called because it makes your feet as soft as a baby’s.

        I’ve not tried that but have used another one from Oh K! which was really great.

    1. Glazed Donut*

      I get the “Holler and Glow” peel from Target. Leave the foot bags on for an hour or so, then a week later the peeling begins. Love it!

  47. New Mom (of 1 5/9)*

    Sometimes when I type in the URL for this site my brain is like…
    [Drake disapproving meme] Ask a man
    [Drake approving point meme] Ask a manager

    That is all. =)

    1. nicosloanica*

      I recall reading other commenters say that they use the Ctrl + F function to search for moderator comments and they refuse to type “ask a man” so they search for “ask a mana” and ever since reading that I do the same thing now haha.

      1. Roland*

        Reminds me of my job where I frequently want to search for lines with the word “analytics” in a big ol log file with thousands of line. Usually 4 characters would do it – but I get going to 5…

    2. tangerineRose*

      I created an html file that I use that has a direct link to ask a manager and lots of other sites I want quick access to.