weekend open thread – April 20-21, 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: Victim, by Andrew Boryga. A man from a disadvantaged background finds success by embellishing his life story. Things don’t go entirely accordingly to plan. It’s riveting.

mystery guests

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

{ 835 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    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 what happened to me today” personal-blog-style posts are not. We also can’t do medical advice here.

    Please give the full rules a re-read if it’s been a while!

    1. Constance Lloyd*

      I’m not much of a Swiftie but I really enjoyed it! With 31 songs it’s not hard to find several catchy tracks, but Down Bad and But Daddy I Love Him have been stuck in my head the most. The second half is solid, and I really appreciate Prophecy leading into Cassandra.

    2. Annie Edison*

      I broke up with my long term partner a few months back after thinking we’d be together forever so I’m living for all the melancholy breakup tracks. So long London and loml feel like they could have been written for me

    3. Glazed Donut*

      I’m probably in the minority opinion here – it’s just not for me. I’ve seen her live many times, listened to her other albums and enjoyed them, but this one feels flat (caveat! I’ve only listened to the first album drop from midnight, not the surprise second one yet).
      I enjoyed ‘seeing’ her growing up in her lyrics and music but for this one, the songs have the same sound (Jack Antonoff…) and the subject matter feels very one-dimensional, strictly autobiographical, and lacking the development I felt I’d seen in the prior albums.
      These are all her choices for what to write and how to sound! I just don’t think this album is one for me. I appreciated the NYT review of it – it’s pretty much how I feel.

      1. Victoria*

        Agreed! I like it well enough, but it feels like background music. She needs to move on from Jack Antonoff and that synthy backdrop he adds to everything.

      2. Elle Woods*

        I agree with you. So much of it sounds the same. The most notable track to me is the one with Florence Welch because it stands out–in a good way–from all the others. The NYT review was spot on; this album definitely needed an editor. Like Victoria, I wonder if it isn’t time for her to try a new producer. Personally, I’d be really interested to see what a Taylor Swift album produced by Rick Rubin would sound like.

    4. SBT*

      Listened to all 31 songs! I’m headed to see her in Europe this summer…and I’m hoping the songs from this album make minimal appearances on the Eras Tour. The sounds are repetitive, but really it’s just too sad and depressing. I wanted at least a few upbeat bangers. That said, objectively, it’s solid and she’s clearly a talented writer and lyricist. This one just isn’t for me.

  2. Bored!*

    I am going to be laid up for a few months and want to get away from spending all of my time doom-scrolling social media. What projects / hobbies can I do entirely from my couch that you would recommend? Open to spending money. Must be able to keep my leg straight while doing it.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Things that I personally do from my couch and could do with my leg straight:
      Cross stitch
      Spinning yarn (e-spinner, not foot treadled)
      Coloring app on a tablet
      Binging TV
      Sudoku or similar puzzles

      1. Qwerty*

        I highly recommend getting a stand for your cross stitch frame. I got one for $25 at Michaels (with inflation may higher but there’s usually a 40% off coupon) that I use with my scroll bar frame. Greatly reduced the awkwardness of trying to hold it up and I spent the next few months binging Netflix while cranking out artwork

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          True! I don’t stitch projects bigger than about 8×8” and usually much smaller so I didn’t think about that, but a good point.

    2. Mystery*

      Colouring Book
      Upper body portion of chair yoga.

      A desk you can put over your lap might be helpful.

        1. Clisby*

          I’m not laid up, but I’ve been seeing some facebook videos of people doing embroidery and thinking about getting back into it. (I’m 70, and my grandmother taught me embroider when I was a child, but I haven’t done it in years.)

    3. Risa*

      I second the hobbies mentioned by Red Reader… I had surgery a year ago and was laid up for about a week, and I got a bunch of crochet done. All of these are easy to pick up and put down as you have bursts of energy and then tire out while you heal.

      I also tried to up my knowledge of tv shows and movies and compile a list of both (Oscar winners, Top 100 lists, etc.) that I began to work my way through. It’s easy to binge watch movies and tv shows while doing these other hobbies.

      Also if you have a computer skill that you could volunteer for a non-profit, you might be able to find a short-term project you can help them with (like building a website, converting a database, etc.). I also do that for a veteran’s association that I have an affiliation with.

    4. Jay*

      Video games, candle making.
      Maybe try your hand at writing?
      Take up a musical instrument? Guitar or drums might be out of the question, but something like a flute or even a Steel Tung Drum (like the Hapi Drum)/Handpan Drum.
      Try your hand at art? It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just learning to sketch/paint by watching YouTube videos of Bob Ross or Cpt. Bob.
      If you are willing to move to another chair/Emergency Backup Couch with a good view of the sky, you could take up star gazing/amature astronomy.
      If you have people able to spend some time on it with you, you could start a table top RPG or other table top gaming group.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        Harmonica is the ideal instrument for recovery (or anyone!). It’s nearly as simple as a kazoo, plus it helps with breathing when a person is laid up and not getting exercise.

          1. Jay*

            One of the instruments that I mentioned, the Hapi Drum (the smaller ones, at least), is actually perfect for apartments. It’s got a soft, bell-like sound that doesn’t really travel, is generally softer than most tv’s, and is super calming and relaxing. I have one in my apartment and have had no complaints, even from the neighbors who complained about EVERYTHING.

      2. Angstrom*

        Musical instrument — If you know someone who plays an instrument, playing together is great fun. Learning an instrument as an adult is also a great way to learn how mucic works.

      3. Treble Maker*

        As a musician, I second picking up an instrument! Ukulele, tin whistle, and kalimba would be my votes. All small instruments, readily available online, and fairly inexpensive. Kalimba is probably your best bet if you share walls!

      4. MeepMeep123*

        Guitar could work quite well in a sitting position with the leg straight. And it’s great fun.

    5. office hobbit*

      If you need a lap desk/tray table for your couch seat: someone here recommended the Able Life TV Tray Table a few weeks ago. The same table is also available with a pole/handle to assist in standing. I’ve been lowkey looking for a highly adjustable couch/lap desk for ages and this one is the best I’ve seen in that time. (Tho full disclosure I don’t have it myself–yet!) It relies on the couch legs sitting on top of the table base, one thing that wasn’t entirely clear at first glance, so you’d have to measure to make sure it’d fit.

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        A Tablemate sliding table is one of the few which adjust low enough for me while sitting (smallish person).

    6. RLC*

      If you like hand sewing, English paper piecing is a very “anywhere” activity! The paper templates and fabric pieces can be purchased ready-cut, or you can cut your own templates and fabric. All the supplies you need will fit in a shoebox or small tote.
      Also recommend needle point.

    7. Donkey Hotey*

      I’m a huge fan of counted cross stitch. I learned back when i was in the Navy and it’s always a wonderful back burner hobby. And I also specifically have some patterns that I refer to as “If I’m laid up for a few months” projects.

    8. Anonymous cat*

      Depending on how much brain bandwidth you’ll have, are there any topics you want to learn about?

      Like The Great Courses series about a history topic? Or learn more about classical music?
      Watch all the Shakespeare tragedies?

      1. Anonymous cat*

        Also Zentangle looks like a fun way to draw and is supposed to be kind of meditative.

        1. ESus4*

          Yes, Zentangle is a wonderfully accessible meditative drawing method. Go to Zentangle.com for an intro and then look for an introductory class taught by a CZT.

    9. Dancing Otter*

      No one’s mentioned needlepoint yet. There are small kits at craft stores (e.g., JoAnn or Michael’s) at modest prices, if you don’t know whether you will like it.
      Some people like doing “needlepoint” on plastic canvas, but then you have to figure out what to do with the result. /s

      I *think* you could do macramé in such a position, at least smaller pieces.

      Under the embroidery heading, there’s sashiko and other forms of visible mending.

      1. Jasmine*

        Oh! Macramé bracelets would be nice! You could give them as gifts to people who help you out.

      2. Clisby*

        Also – if you can do counted cross stitch, you can do needlepoint. I’ve done needlepoint projects where I got the design from a book of counted cross stick examples.

    10. Blomma*

      I am similarly laid up and I just spent an absurd amount of money on Lego sets. (In my defense, I had to cancel a planned vacation and the amount I spent on Lego is still less than I’d have spent on the vacation!)

    11. Knighthope*

      Drawing in a sketchbook with colored pencils like Prismacolor, black ink fine point markers, or black pencils, calligraphy. Sashiko kit (embroidery, traditionally indigo cloth, white thread), weaving on a small loom.

    12. WoodswomanWrites*

      When I had a lengthy recovery from knee surgery, I stumbled on a game that involves memorizing the flags of different countries and completing it quickly for extra points. It took a long time to get them all and it was fun. To this day many years later when I occasionally play, I remain the game’s top scorer. The tech was never updated and for all I know there are only a handful of people playing globally at this point, but it still makes me happy when I get a perfect score and my handle is posted.

      I also second putting together a highly reviewed movie list based on genre, timeline, etc. It’s fun to work your way through them.

      1. Armchair analyst*

        This also reminds me of all those wordle variation games
        Nerdle for math
        Worldle for geography
        There was another one for geography – globe-le?

        I tracked them all at leaderboardle for awhile there

        1. Bethlam*

          Also phrasle (with a phrase, and a six letter, 5 letter, and 4 letter Wordle), and redactle.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Oh! I hadn’t thought of this until I read your comment, WoodswomanWrites, but that reminds me that I did Lizard Point geography quizzes for a while in my spare time, and it really helped me in identifying US states and world countries by sight.

        I also got obsessed by Geoguessr for a while, spending hours exploring places online trying to identify them by language and other signs. I still could spend a lot of time on that.

      3. Ali*

        you can play this game on the Seterra app! You can identify countries, cities, and flags, either in regions or over the whole world. I love it!

    13. Falling Diphthong*

      Any sort of art class on YouTube. (I am guessing some form of drawing would be better than painting; there are high quality water color pencils.) Tip from an art teacher: start with the end of the video to determine if you like the picture.

      Handmade Christmas stockings or ornaments if you decorate for Christmas. Cross stitch is good, in being simple to pick up and there are a lot of patterns out there.

      You might collect some good nonfiction shows if you want a learning element and figure your hands will get tired. I will toss in the documentary A Year on Ice, about wintering over at the Antarctic research station. And the series The Repair Shoppe, about fixing things.

    14. Camelid coordinator*

      I will be in a similar boat in about a week and bought the supplies for a new knitting project. I might spend a little time working on my handwriting with a neat book about cursive, plus there are a couple small embroidery projects I could work on. I might start a puzzle on another surface, which I realize would be hard from the couch. Good luck with your recovery!

      1. Camelid coordinator*

        Also I plan to have a Bluetooth speaker close by so I can listen to books or podcasts while crafting without having something in my ears.

    15. Pocket Mouse*

      Digital projects, life admin, civic engagement!

      -Organize/clean up your hard drive, cloud drives, and email
      -Write/update will and related documents (I recommend NOLO’s Get It Together and freewill dot com)
      -Transcribe handwritten documents as a Smithsonian Digital Volunteer or with the Library of Congress
      -Call/email your representatives and submit comments on legislation
      -Write postcards with Postcards to Voters

    16. Mazey's Mom*

      Genealogy! There are a lot of online resources available (free and paid), you can build family trees online and share them, and even take a DNA test to find more far-flung branches of your tree. I use Ancestry, which I’ve linked to my desktop Family Tree Maker software. I also have subscriptions to 3 historical newspaper sites and a UK ancestry site. The Family History library (in Salt Lake City, run by the LDS church) has a free online site that’s very extensive, and you can build trees on there as well. Find-A-Grave can help you find where your ancestors are buried. Once you start it’s very easy to go down the rabbit hole, and you can find some very interesting things about your ancestors.

    17. My Brain is Exploding*

      Only throwing in what I haven’t seen yet: tatting, origami, napkin folding, manicure.

    18. BikeWalkBarb*

      Zentangle: Simple, structured drawing using simple graphic moves that turn into surprisingly intricate creations. Meditative, relaxing, satisfying, and you work on really small cards so it’s easy to finish one–not a big undertaking. https://zentangle.com/

    19. Sam I Am*

      add captions/ notes to all your digital pics giving names and dates and locations, maybe set up a scanning station for digitizing your old photos?

    20. Reluctant Mezzo*

      Latch hook rugs. Cross stitch. Video gaming (I keep my laptop on a sliding table. your leg should be able to stay up on a stool underneath it).

    21. Christmas cookie*

      I am not a crafter so…reading, organizing your photos/creating photo books, pruning/tidying up your Christmas card list, putting together mood boards or other visuals for home decorating projects you want to do, writing cards or letters to family members or friends. Getting into a Tv series or podcast. FaceTiming relatives.

      If it’s going to be a while, perhaps you can find an organization to help out, like maybe writing website blurbs for adoptable dogs or something? My friend has a broken ankle and volunteered to do our elem yearbook this year from her couch.

    22. TechWorker*

      Duolingo is a good option for feeling about as mindless as doom scrolling but also vaguely productive lol

    1. Unemployed in Greenland.*

      I love the goatee on the one, and the little Monopoly Man mustache on the other!

    2. Jellyfish Catcher*

      I think that a significant number of Alison’s and hubs kitties began as fosters.
      Good on you both, the “guests” are safe, sound and loved for as long or short a time that they
      need to be in your home.

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        Also, I don’t think Alison’s ever not foster failed so if they are fosters then it will be interesting to see where these ones find a forever home ;)

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I can see why you would think that :) BUT, we did not foster fail with Humphrey! Or with Eve’s brothers, and also Kate and Piper from a long time ago. But we do foster fail more often than not, which is why these guys are explicitly foster-to-adopt, meaning that we agreed with the rescue group that we’ll adopt them as long as the existing cats are okay with it.

          We only intended to take one (for the hole Hank left) but the rescue talked us into a bonded pair. They say that shy bonded pairs are their hardest to place, and these guys are VERY shy and thus had been waiting a long time.

          1. Nitpicker*

            Names please. And maybe an updated version of your summary write up of the whole family?

          2. Cat and dog fosterer*

            Sorry for getting it wrong! I thought I had read it somewhere, but it might have been a joking comment.

            I hope it goes well, because your rescue is right. We have a bonded timid pair that was in rescue for a few years before finally finding their forever home last year. You are such a good person!

      1. Bluebell Brenham*

        Yup. I know that cats don’t want to wear tiny hats, but these two seem like they’d look very handsome with them. They’d definitely look good in Alison’s holiday photoshops!

        1. Cat and dog fosterer*

          I’m a fan, but then again I had 3 kittens in a litter named Poirot, Hastings, and Miss Lemon.

  3. Expat Edward*

    I will be finishing a 2 year overseas assignment in China this summer. Feeling extremely anxious and unprepared about returning to Canada.

    Any tips or advice about returning after living abroad?

    1. Silent E*

      Welcome back home (soon)! Yes, I have tips; done this myself. Be prepared to have culture shock in reverse, AKA, re-entry shock. Be patient with yourself! I’ll link to a couple of resources in a reply. All the best to you.

      1. Silent E*

        Well, the links showed up as their own post further down the comment section, under my username.

    2. chili oil*

      Been there, done that, two or three times. You’ll have culture shock all over again. How fluent are you in chinese? If you are relatively fluent it might be worth finding a group of chinese speakers to hang out with – they’ll carry some of the culture with them, so it will feel more familiar. If not, volunteer to have conversations with students to practice their english/french. They’d probably appreciate someone not only to practice the language with, but who is familiar with their culture.

      Feeling anxious, I get. Why do you feel unprepared? If you grew up in Canada, the way things work hasn’t changed too much. Maybe more homeless people.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        Totally agree on the linguistic POV here – if speaking Chinese is a big part of your day-to-day, try to make arrangements to keep it up when you return.
        What do you love/will you miss about China when you go back? Maybe you can look up some Chinese markets etc. near your destination so you can restock on what you’ve come to love.
        I would try to fill yourself in on news and maybe even some culture – I remember returning to my home country and not recognizing any of the new songs on the radio, that was weird!

    3. Jasmine*

      Think about the customs you learned that you want to keep when you go home and the ones from Canada that you will be glad to go back to. If you get a chance to talk to people headed to China soon help them by giving them some valuable knowledge! Helping others may help you value yourself.

    4. Armchair analyst*

      When I returned from the Arab Middle East in the middle of summer, I distinctly remember seeing a young woman in a scoop neck tank top at baggage claim at my destination in the US and thinking “why is she dressed like that – she is asking to be harassed – oh wait I’m in America now – she can wear what she wants and people generally don’t harrass – wow that was a weird thought – well I guess I’m back”

    5. Kate*

      I have lived abroad and come home several times in my adult life.

      The number one piece of advice I received was not to assume that everyone’s lives had stood still while I was gone. I’m not the protagonist in their story!

      So it was a huge shock to me when I moved back and it seemed like so many people’s lives HAD a stood still. Same school, same job, same house, maybe a new car, tops.

      Given the excitement and challenge and adventure and frustrations that the previous three years / four years / five years of my life abroad had been, it was really hard not feel judgemental.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        I wouldn’t assume that people’s lives had stood still because they were in the same house and same job. Many people remain in the same house and job for their entire adult life and that’s not a bad thing

        People’s lives not standing still generally refers more to things like people will have fallen in love, broken up, gotten married, gotten divorced, had family members die, have had children or nieces or nephews or grandchildren born, had health scares, had made new friends, had fallen out with old friends, have been on numerous holidays and seen new places and so on and so forth.

        And honestly, if people’s lives had stood still, that’s not bad either. That generally means they have achieved their goals and are maintaining their happy, successful lifestyle. Not that it’s bad to make changes either.

        I can see how it must be weird to have had so many changes in your life and then to see others still enjoying the same experiences they had before you left, but neither choice is better or worse.

        1. Kate*

          Did I say they were better or worse?

          It was just a shock, and the OP asked what to expect re culture shock on coming back.

          If anything, I am now the kind of person I would have judged back then — it’s a different chapter of my life and I am enjoying having things be “stable” and “the same” for once in my life!

          1. Coconutty*

            Yes, you did. You said you were judging people for what you perceived as their lives standing still. It’s good to hear that you have outgrown that kind of thinking, but the OP should know now that they would be wrong to think similarly.

      2. Generic Name*

        I am assuming you were very young (in your 20s) when you went overseas, and of course you changed a ton, but it’s really not that remarkable to have the same spouse, house, job, car for 2-4 years. And I say this as someone whose life has changed completely in the last 6 years (new job, new car, and new spouse).

      3. Coyote River*

        As you get older, you’ll realise that sometimes no news is good news. Sometimes you’ll reach a point in your life where things just click together, and you can settle into a good routine and enjoy stability and peace. Do not judge those people in your life, as they may have a different metric of progress than you.

      4. ActualTeacher*

        The one piece of advice I give is to not be judgmental of people who’s situations I don’t know 100% because I travelled abroad.

        I would recommend you incorporate that piece of advice into your life, because you don’t know what’s going on these lives 100%, and you don’t know what progress they want or their goals are.

        Another piece of advice I got from living abroad is that it opens our minds to new experiences, and it helps see the world outside of ourselves. Incorporate this one as well.

        Glad you’re lucky enough to go live abroad.

      5. Nancy*

        People being in the same school, job, house as before is not surprising or remarkable. By changes, people usually mean what Irish Teacher meant, not that a bunch of people are going to move or change schools. I’m sure they had their own excitements, challenges, and frustrations as well.

      6. Maggie*

        Dang, maybe they’re just content with what they have. And by that logic you didn’t do anything either since you didn’t buy a house or car.

      7. LilPinkSock*

        I don’t understand why you’d judge someone for not buying a new house or taking a new job in three years.

        1. Roland*

          I don’t understand why everyone is piling on them for sharing their experience and making it crystal clear with the last sentence that they are not in fact advocating for judgement.

    6. Spacewoman Spiff*

      Go easy on yourself and be prepared for the reverse culture shock, like others said! I did some crying in grocery stores…I just felt completely overwhelmed by the amount of CHOICE in my daily life and wasn’t expecting that. I also was surprised by how overwhelmed I got in crowded places where I was hearing lots of people talk…although I learned the local languages and was reasonably fluent, I was able to tune out conversations abroad in a way I couldn’t when they were in English. And also be prepared for the strangeness of not talking much about your life abroad. I found that a lot of people just weren’t interested in talking about it because they didn’t have any comparable experience, and this was especially startling right after I came back—trying to summarize 3 years of my life in one sentence before moving on. Also prepare to (if you’re job hunting) really translate your work abroad into terms a hiring manager will understand…I did Peace Corps and not everyone understood what this meant.

    7. Jackalope*

      One tiny practical detail: if you can bring any spices back to Canada, or small food items that are non perishable and easy to transport, do that. You may figure out how to find stuff in Canada, but it will probably take awhile and it might not taste quite right. Spices travel easily (Although put them in a plastic bag or something in case they spill), and are easy to transport.

      On a slightly more big-picture scale… Keep in mind that your cultural understanding of the world has changed, and there will be things that used to feel normal and familiar to you that will now seem very odd. Feel free to comment on things that are truly bad (anti-Asian racism, for example; you didn’t share your ethic background but if you yourself are not Asian this may come as a surprise to you even if you thought you were prepared), but also be ready to hold everything lightly. There are many cultural differences which aren’t right or wrong, they just are. It’s okay to have feelings about them, but try to let things go when you can.

      If you can find a community of people from China you can always hang out with them on occasion so things won’t feel as strange. You can also see if there are any online blogs about re-entry, bonus points for re-entry from your specific locations or your specific employer.

    8. allathian*

      Yes, I’ve been abroad twice as a young adult, both as an exchange student (in France) and as an intern (in Spain). In each case, the reverse culture shock was almost as bad as the culture shock of leaving. Although it has to be said, the reverse culture shock was very mild in each case compared to my first experience of living abroad as a kid.

      That was when I was 12-13 and coincided with the switch from elementary school to UK secondary school to Finnish junior high (we start school in the fall of the year we turn 7, with 6 years of elementary school followed by 3 years of junior high and 3 years of high school or vocational school, about 60 percent of a cohort graduate high school). High school seniors are either 18 or 19 when they graduate, meaning that very few people get a bachelor’s degree before they’re 22. I was just entering puberty when we went to the UK, which undoubtedly also contributed to my feeling ill at ease and weird most of the time. (I don’t regret the visit at all, though, I learned a lot, including English, and there’s no reason to believe I wouldn’t have felt just as ill at ease and weird if we’d stayed where we were.)

      That said, my visits abroad as an adult were so short, 6 months in each case, that I had barely had time to adapt to how things were before returning. I was pretty much in the honeymoon phase the whole time. I also moved back to the same city that I’d left, and I wrote a lot of letters to my friends and family members, and they wrote to me, during my visits, so I knew from their letters that things had happened in their lives during my absences.

  4. Jackalope*

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

    I read a book called Magical Midlife Madness by KF Breene. It was a fun and cozy fantasy about a middle-aged woman who inherits a magical house when she’s at a crossroad in her life. I had a great time with it and finished it in one go. If you enjoy it, there are also several sequels.

    1. Atheist Nun*

      I just finished Sparrow by James Hynes. Through a fictional narrative that is, judging from the afterword, based on careful, comprehensive study of histories of the Roman empire, the author brings to life the story of an enslaved child in the Christian Roman world who is forced into sex work. The narrator notes that (paraphrasing Tacitus) “the Romans created a wasteland and called it a peace. The entire empire is a mosaic of rape and murder and bastardy and forced labour, of which I am only one insignificant, dull-coloured fragment, off to the side, at the very edge. Insignificant, perhaps, but also representative.”

      If you like ancient history, you might appreciate this book. I thought it was wonderful; it is grim and full of brutality, just as you would expect from the subject matter, but told in vivid detail and with great sympathy towards the people who usually go unnoticed in history.

      1. Rara Avis*

        I feel like I should read it for professional reasons, but I just can’t do grim right now.

        1. Anonymous cat*

          Do you mind if I ask—are you a Latin teacher? Is that why it would be professional? (Plus the Latin name!)

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      Re-reading Just An Ordinary Day, a collection of Shirley Jackson’s short stories. It’s one of those books I have about ten bookmarks in for my favorites.

      I really love this collection because it’s got tons of not just her “spooky” stuff but the more lighthearted things she wrote for various magazines. Her talent was extraordinary.

      1. word nerd*

        Ooh, I’ll have to check this out, thanks! I love Shirley Jackson enough that I go outside my usual reading preferences for her–I normally don’t read horror, and I don’t read many short story collections. I’ve read only a few of Jackson’s short stories, and they are exquisitely constructed.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          It’s such a wonderful variety, because they were her bread and butter (magazines would pay a thousand dollars a story!) So she could shape her unique voice around just about any “house style.” Even when her subject is spooky it can be very, very subtle, like the slightest breeze coming from…somewhere.

    3. Paralegal Part Deux*

      I’m just about to start Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros. A friend of mine recommended it to me, and I’m super excited to start it. IIRC, my friend said it’s a trilogy and that the first 2 books are out with the 3rd book coming out in January.

      All I know is that it involves dragons, and I adore dragons. :)

      1. Missa Brevis*

        I don’t want to yuck your yum too much, so all I’ll say is that it’s a great book for if you’ve haven’t read a ton of other fantasy novels. If you’re more familiar with the genre it’s … predictable. And sometimes that’s fine! I mean, most of the romance novel genre is built on knowing exactly what kind of story you’re going to get. But everyone hyped Fourth Wing to me, and then I read it in a state of extreme deja vu because I constantly knew exactly what was going to happen next, and I found it pretty frustrating.

        (My personal dragon book recs would be The Memoirs of Lady Trent or the Temeraire series – I also remember liking Mercedes lackey’s Dragon Jousters books, but I read them long enough ago that I’m less confident in their actual quality.)

        1. Freya's Cats*

          +1 on Naomi Novik’s Temerarie series. If you like dragons that is the one!
          I agree on Fourth Wing. It does not really live up to the hype. Personally I had the most trouble with the sloppy world building, but that might not bug everyone equally.
          But don’t let that put you off, it was entertaining enough to spend the time on and I did like the second book better.

        2. Paralegal Part Deux*

          Thanks for the heads up. I may put it to the side for now and try the one you recommended. It’s not that I don’t mind a little mental “junk food” every now and again, but it’s not what I’m looking for at the moment, you know?

          1. Clarity*

            Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton is delightful — think Pride and Prejudice but everyone is a dragon.

      2. CityMouse*

        I felt.like it kind of read like YA except with a lot of sex thrown in. I thought it was fine? it’s a fast read. the second book really just keeps throwing in twists I don’t think the author earned.

      3. No name yet*

        I started Fourth Wing last winter, and the first few chapters just didn’t keep my interest, so I put it down. I then tried again last month, and just devoured it. I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to reading the sequel, but am also fine waiting for a few months while I’m on my library’s e-book waitlist. I’d say it’s definitely worth reading if you like dragons and books about human/dragon relationships. :)

        1. Paralegal Part Deux*

          If you have any other books that fit this bill, I’m down for it since I do like those.

          1. No name yet*

            My wife loved the Temeraire series (His Majesty’s Dragon is the first one) for that exact reason. I couldn’t really get into it (even though I love Naomi Novik’s writing), a bit too much militaristic-history focus for my taste.

            1. CityMouse*

              The second (third? it’s been a while) where they go to China and flash out the Chinese dragon society is my personal favorite.

              I will also cop to the fact that I haven’t finished the series yet. I think I have one or two left.

            2. Reluctant Mezzo*

              After a while, I began making bets with myself on the Temeraire World Tour and where they would end up next.

          2. Freya's Cats*

            There is a collection of stories called ‘the Dragon Book’ edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois with about 20 stories of dragons by various authors, including some well known names like Jonathan Stroud, Garth Nix, Naomi Novik , Peter S Beagle, Tanith Lee, Dianne Wynne Jones, Gregory McGuire and Tad Williams.
            Such collections are often a mixed bag, but I like nearly every story in that book, it is one of the most fun anthologies I’ve read. Not sure if it is still in print, it’s from 2009, but a Google search suggests it is still available second hand. If you like dragons I can really recommend that one too.

          3. carcinization*

            Well, there’s always Delany’s Stars in my Pocket… depending on what you mean by “human/dragon relationships.”

      4. JR 17*

        I don’t do fantasy but I really like Rebecca Yarros’ contemporary books. She’s excellent at emotional intensity, so if you like that vibe (star-crossed lovers, etc.), I say read Fourth Wing. I’m avoiding about half her books currently, because most of the military ones just seem too heartbreaking (though In the Likely Event was great). But her extreme sports stuff is a lot of fun.

    4. GoryDetails*

      Started reading Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley. It’s about a middle-aged gay man who’s just broken up with a long-time partner, and is now faced with the possibly terminal illness of his beloved (but elderly) dachshund Lily. Promises to be a thorough tear-jerker, and yet the writing style is enticing and funny as well as poignant.

      Also in progress: Bloom by Delilah S. Dawson, in which a woman who’s just broken up with her long-time boyfriend (I didn’t realize there was a “breakup” pattern in my choices here) finds herself oddly entranced by a woman who runs a deluxe-cupcakes-and-soap stall at a local farmer’s market. The descriptions of the goods are so delectable that it’s quite distracting, but there are already hints that things will go horribly wrong at some point…

      On audiobook: a new-to-me version of Liaisons Dangereuses, with a very good voice-cast. I’m enjoying it, although I find the main characters more and more horrible every time I read the book.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        It definitely had some sad parts, but I enjoyed Lily and the Octopus. The audiobook narration was good, too. There are some lighter moments in there, too.

    5. Dwight Schrute*

      Just finished All Good People Here and the ending ticked me off because it was so unresolved and abrupt. I really wish she had taken the time to write a satisfying ending.

      Started Bride and I’m enjoying it so far! it’s nice to read some one offs after reading series lately

      1. Sweet Fancy Pancakes*

        My book group read All Good People Here a couple of months ago and we were all so ticked off by that ending!!

    6. Writerling*

      Reading The Friend by Sigrid Nunez for my writing class, definitely fascinating to read as a writer (but also for the ride).

    7. Amory Blaine*

      Stuck halfway thru Lincoln in the Bardo… I started off thinking, wow, what a weird and fascinating book! but never quite got all the way into it. I am now debating whether to persist or go read something familiar and engaging!

      1. word nerd*

        For me, it never quite pulled me in emotionally, but if you do decide to finish it, I found the audiobook easier to get through, and it has a full voice cast for the different characters, including famous people like Nick Offerman, Susan Sarandon, Ben Stiller, David Sedaris, etc.

      2. Nervous Nellie*

        I LOVED Lincoln in the Bardo! It was so dreamy. I was disappointed it didn’t really touch at all on Buddhist thought (and I suppose, why would it?), but it was sad and quiet and kind. It reminded me of an original Twilight Zone episode of a woman whose home is on the path surviving soldiers took home at the end of the Civil War. Like this book, it was a beautiful treatise on life & death, and the author’s poetic way of writing unattributed conversation in this book I found riveting. It has a very satisfying ending, if that motivates you to stick with it.

    8. Lemonwhirl*

      Finished reading “Annie Bot” by Sierra Greer, which was one of Alison’s recommendations a few weeks ago. What a fantastic book! It kept me up too late a couple of nights. I bounced around trying to find the next book to read, and I think I’ve landed on “The Search Party” by Hannah Richell, which is a mystery set at a glamping site.

      One of the books I abandoned was “Everyone Who Can Forgive Me is Already Dead” because it had a first-person narrator who keeps saying she has a secret and/or lied about terrible event. That doesn’t build suspense for me, just annoyance. :D

    9. Freya's Cats*

      I’ve read Godkiller by Hannah Kaner, which I enjoyed. It is set in a world in which gods are actively culled because sooner or later they will become megalomaniac. I love original world building, and this one was very interesting.
      Also read another installment of Lindsey Davis’ Flavia Alba series Fatal Legacies, which was one again a nice little palate cleanser. How she keeps churning out these without getting boring I don’t know, but keep them coming.
      Now started on Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. I enjoyed The Daughter of Dr Moreau and I loved Gods of Jade and Shadow, and this one is over again a treat so far.

      1. Freya's Cats*

        Have now finished Mexican Gothic and it did not disappoint. Wil be ordering some more books from her soon I think. Have my eye on Certain Dark Things.

    10. Teapot Translator*

      It was a slow week for me. I read The Rescuers by Margery Sharp and One Corpse Too Many by Ellis Peters. In the medieval murder mystery genre, I think I prefer Margaret Frazer’s books, but I will try another book in the Cadfael series.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        Have you read Peter Tremayne’s Sister Fidelma series. It’s a bit earlier, the 7th century and in Ireland, so very different society from feudal Europe. In fact, some of it might seem weirdly modern, but if you like medieval murder mysteries, you might enjoy them.

      2. just here for the scripts*

        Try the Oxford medieval murder mysteries by Ann Swinfen—first one is called The Book seller tale. Love the series—era-appropriate CSI mystery and each book covers both daily life as well as what a particular career-field would have been like (tales are: the book seller’s, the novice’s, the merchant, the huntsman’s, the troubadour’s) with a recurring cast of characters.

        FWIW, I found the PBS Cadfael series way better than the books—but then with Derek Jacobi, how could you go wrong?

      3. Anon this minute*

        The Rescuers!!!!! OMG, I loved that series back in the day! Miss Bianca for the win!

      4. Llama face!*

        Wait Wait. Hold up a minute. The Rescuers was part of a book series and not just two animated movies involving mice?

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

          YES! There are a whole bunch of the books, which I remember staying up late and reading. Enjoy! : )

    11. Falling Diphthong*

      Tried and dropped a couple of books and I have cycled back to The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, about a high school student determined to escape her Silicon Valley town by crushing the college admissions process. Then the Monkey King shows up and insists she has to help him defeat all these demons that just escaped from hell.

      Like the Percy Jackson series, you learn a lot of the founding myths but from a modern perspective that acknowledges when Ye Olden Tradition is a really shitty one.

    12. Tortally HareBrained*

      Unsuccessful reading week for me as I DNF all three of my library books.

      I made it 300 pages into The Covenant of Water and enjoyed the initial story, but as a multigenerational saga once the second child left the family home I realized I wasn’t committed for another 400 pages of what was a “new” story.

      Excited this week because the new Sebastian St. Cyr book from CS Harris is out. Those are my palate cleanser reliable books.

      1. Sweet Fancy Pancakes*

        I just started another Sebastian St. Cyr book this morning- I had read several of them a few years ago, then got distracted by other things, and just remembered to go back and found that there are more that I had missed in the intervening years. I love when that happens.

    13. word nerd*

      Mixed feelings about The Mask of Mirrors by M. A. Carrick. I love the setting and world, and I found it pretty entertaining despite the length and slow pacing–just would have preferred if the same things had happened in half the length. I also thought a lot of the obstacles so easily overcome were veering into Mary Sue territory. Half the author duo being Marie Brennan (whose Lady Trent series I adored) probably tips me into continuing the series anyway. What say people who’ve read the series (or decided not to)?

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        My husband gamed with Marie Trent many years ago and has been recommending Mask of Mirrors to me on and off for a while, and it’s on my Kindle but I keep not getting there. Not on purpose, just other stuff keeps coming up first.

      2. The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon*

        I read the whole M.A. Carrick series and loved it, but I will say it doesn’t get less wordy. If you don’t like the first book much, I don’t think you’d like the following ones much either.

    14. No name yet*

      The Dinner Party, by Brenda Janowitz. Literary fiction novel focusing on three families coming together for a Passover Seder, and how new relationships highlight challenging family dynamics, and some secrets come out.

      Delilah Green Doesn’t Care, by Ashley Herring Blake. Contemporary queer romance about a woman going back to her hometown to photograph her step-sister’s wedding, everything that gets stirred up, and (of course) falling in love with the step-sister’s best friend.

      Beach Reach, by Emily Henry. Contemporary straight romance (though on the literary fiction end of the spectrum, I’d say) where two authors both have writer’s block so make a bet to write books while swapping genres (dark literary fiction vs. romance), and of course fall in love. There’s also a lot of family dynamics delved into, as the female lead discovers when her father died that her parents picture-perfect relationship was in fact a lot messier than that.

      Apparently this week was my week of reading books focusing on complicated family dynamics???

      (And Magical Midlife Madness sounds intriguing, definitely adding that to my TBR list!)

      1. Annie Edison*

        Loved Delilah Green Doesn’t Care! Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail is the sequel and focuses on the step-sister- highly recommend continuing with the series if you liked the first one.

        Emily Henry is great too! Book Lovers is my other favorite of hers

    15. Nervous Nellie*

      Two for me this week:

      What if This Were Enough by Heather Havrilesky – journalist and advice columnist’s articles about modern society’s obsession with self-improvement, and the consequences thereof. She is so eloquent that I read parts of it aloud to a woman sitting next to me yesterday at my car dealer’s service department waiting room, and she nearly pulled a muscle nodding so vigorously.

      Secrets of the Octopus by Sy Montgomery – a glorious little National Geographic book all about octopi and their amazing lives and capabilities. I behaved and got it at the library, but may break down and buy it. The photos are incredible, and the facts are surprising. The octopus that stole the bucket of fish and hid it under her belly because she wanted not the fish but to play with the bucket – what a charmer! Highly recommended if you need a book to cheer you up – this is just the ticket.

      1. BikeWalkBarb*

        I read Birdology by Sy Montgomery a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. She dug into specific species, broke down some stereotypes (chickens aren’t necessarily dumb clucks), shared her adventure trying to track a large dangerous bird in the jungle. Fun.

        If you like octopuses (octopi?), fiction for you if you haven’t already read these: Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt, and The Mountain in the Sea by Ray Nayler (much darker).

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          Thank you! I bought the Nayler book a couple weeks ago, but it’s near the bottom of the pile. Will get to it shortly. The others sound great! Thank you for those.

    16. My Brain is Exploding*

      Started The Color of Law. Did not know that public housing was originally NOT subsidized housing for low-income people, but was housing for people with moderate incomes during a housing shortage (followed by explanation of how it got to be segregated and subsidized).

    17. BikeWalkBarb*

      Recently finished The Fox Wife by Yangsze Choo: Detective mystery grounded in Chinese myths about shapeshifting fox people, told from the viewpoint of a fox wife and the detective who’s trying to solve murders that may have resulted from a fox person’s ability to charm someone so completely they forget to come in from the cold.

      The Deep Sky by Yume Kitasei: Science fiction, voyage to find another planet, Earth isn’t doing so well, possible sabotage on the ship, virtual reality/AI messing with people.

      Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Fairies: Similar in some ways to other series about a smart Englishwoman with a head for science who’s underestimated by those around her. I enjoyed the varieties of fairies–cultural differences, physical differences.

      Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune: So good! So heartbreaking in a few spots and beautiful. Gay love in the afterlife with baked goods and tea.

      I’ve caught up with the last Louise Penny Inspector Gamache book in the series and now have to wait for the next one to come out this fall. I haven’t watched the Three Pines series because if they cast it poorly I’ll be unhappy.

      On to nonfiction:

      Inclusive Transportation: A Manifesto for Divided Communities by Veronica O. Davis, whom I’m fortunate to know IRL. If you’ve never thought about how highways severed thriving Black neighborhoods and you work in anything in or adjacent to urban planning and transportation, this book’s for you.

      About to start reading and I’m sure it’s good because it’s by another friend of mine–When Driving Is Not an Option: Steering Away from Car Dependency, by Anna Letitia Zivarts. She’s an amazing organizer and advocate, non-driver due to her nystagmus, and a national leader in transportation issues related to disability. She founded #WeekWithoutDriving (https://weekwithoutdriving.org/), which has gone national, to encourage/invite elected officials and transportation professionals to get the real-world experience she and others have every day just trying to get somewhere. Buy a copy for your mayor, state legislators, members of Congress. https://islandpress.org/books/when-driving-not-option#desc

    18. Sam I Am*

      I just finished the Count of Monte Cristo, it lived up to the hype.
      I must say if I had to pick I prefer Edmund Dantes to The Count.

    19. carcinization*

      Finished Brust’s Lyorn. A bit slight but I still enjoyed it. Wish it wasn’t so long between books but I think he’ll make it to the finish line!

    20. Sigrid says hey*

      I just finished the English translation of Violeta by Isabel Allende. Brilliantly written of course, like all of her work. It is an epistolary novel as Violeta shares the story of her 100 years long life with her trusted and beloved Camilo. I highly recommend.

    21. Elizabeth West*

      Started the second book about the sentient triangle infection, lol. I’m really enjoying this junk-food sci-fi/horror. It’s the brain equivalent of stuffing yourself with potato chips. :D

  5. 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 haven’t done a lot of gaming this week (even our usual D&D was cancelled), but I’m hoping to get some Skyrim time in this weekend. I’ve finished the main thief plot line and am now deciding what to do next.

    1. Jay*

      Been playing Above Snakes, a more casual and relaxing than normal survival/craft game.
      I may love me some Icarus, First Cohort, but my pounding headache needs something more friendly for a while.

    2. Pippa K*

      I gave a talk on a controversial subject, it went well, and a student completely unknown to me came up afterward and said “I just want you to know I appreciate you.” It was so lovely and heartening.

    3. Missa Brevis*

      I am so late – so, so late, thanks tendinitis – but I finally got to the epilogue of Hades!

      I’ve also been replaying Sable, which is great for when I want something sort of chill and meditative.

    4. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      I finally got a PS5 this week! Tried Silent Hill: The Short Message and liked it, but didn’t like it enough to keep retrying a chase sequence over and over and over and uggggghhh.

      I finished the FF7 Remake Yuffie chapter last night and that was good. Really looking forward to taking Alan Wake 2 for a spin tonight (yay PS Plus game trials!) and revisiting Lost Judgment and the Kaito Files DLC, which I put on hold when Infinite Wealth dropped.

      Which brings me to: I finished Infinite Wealth. *gross sobbing*

      1. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

        Side note: I was not prepared for how physically huge the PS5 is. Absolute unit. Heckin chonker. Big boi. And this is, allegedly, the “””Slim””” model. good lord.

    5. Reluctant Mezzo*

      Jeopardy! is a game. I made it past the online quiz and will do the Zoom interview on Monday. I’ve done two of the in-person auditions before, wish me luck!

      1. The Dude Abides*

        Reminds me, I need to do the quiz again. I’ve done two in-person (one college, one adult), and had to turn down a third since I couldn’t afford the travel.

    6. The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon*

      I’ve been playing The Last Case of Benedict Fox, which is a fun Metroidvania. I’ve been enjoying all the puzzles and exploring, but there is one boss that is unavoidable platforming all of a sudden that was extremely annoying. My partner was kind enough to get me past that bit so I could go back to my li’l puzzles. :-)

    7. Sleve*

      I’ve been playing a lot of Sea of Stars this week. I’m almost as hooked on the wheels mini-game as I am on the main game, and the 9-hour soundtrack is incredible. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a game soundtrack so much since FTL.

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

      I saw the mourning dove couple on my fire escape again yesterday, after they disappeared for a few weeks’ break. Maybe they’ve raised their babies for the season, have a literal empty nest now, and are back to just enjoying each others’ company and hanging out again? It was a trip seeing them when I woke up, peering into my bedroom as they were perched outside, seeking a bit of shelter from the rain, and then they were there again when I got home!

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

        Admittedly, I don’t know for sure that these are the same mourning doves who had a bunch of “dates” on my fire escape earlier this spring, but I like to think they are.

      2. Snell*

        Pigeons, doves, and the like usually have multiple batches of babies throughout the suitable season. I would be very surprised if yours are actually finished with the babymaking this year. Breeding like rabbits (or mice) is really the only way they can maintain their populations given their…not terribly acute sense of self-preservation (in all fairness, city pigeons are almost all feral descendants of domesticated birds).

    2. Jay*

      Finally found out why I’ve been feeling like hell the last few months.
      I’ve been trying to live better in general and my diet had gotten SO high in fiber that it was flushing out all of my medication before my body could absorb anything! It’s going to take a few weeks to get completely back to normal, but I’m already seeing my mood and energy level improve, and the chronic headaches aren’t quite so chronic as they were a few days ago.

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      My spaghetti sauce came out extra delicious this time! It’s one of my “pride and joy” recipes so I love it when I really nail it.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          *cracks knuckles*

          This is a variation on the meat sauce recipe from How To Cook Everything, but I’ve made enough adjustments that I can call it my little foster recipe.

          You will need:

          A large, deep frying/saute’ pan and spatula

          1 lb ground beef
          3-4 slices thick-cut bacon (I cut these in half for quicker cooking)
          1 small white or yellow onion, minced
          2 generous Tbsp of minced garlic
          2 generous Tbsp minced ginger
          1 cup beef or chicken broth
          1 cup white wine
          1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
          2 Tbsp tomato paste
          1/4 cup cream
          Italian spice blend
          Powdered ginger (very important)


          1) Cook bacon in saute’ pan until crispy. Remove, drain on paper towels and set aside (I put it in the fridge to prevent Peanut the cat from investigating.)
          2) In same pan, cook minced onion in bacon drippings until translucent, 3-4 minutes, over med-hi heat. Add minced garlic and ginger, cook and stir 1 minute or so.
          3) Add ground beef. Cook, chopping and stirring, until broken up and no pink is showing. During this, sprinkle on a tsp or so of all spices and salt/pepper, stirring.
          4) Add white wine. Cook, stirring, until majority is absorbed/evaporated. Add more powdered ginger and a dash of salt and pepper.
          5) Add crushed tomatoes, stir, add stock. Stir into a slurry. Add more of all spices, turn heat to LOW. (Make sure it’s low or the bottom of the pan will scorch.) Cover.
          6) Cook on Low 1 Hour.
          7) At hour mark, add the tomato paste, stir, and add more powdered ginger, another dash of salt/pepper, recover, cook 1 more hour.
          8) At 2 hour mark, crumble and add bacon and 1/4 cup cream. Stir in, add one last touch of all spices (including salt/pepper/ginger.) Cook 15 minutes to half an hour. Remove from heat, resist urge to eat out of pan with a spoon, serve over pasta.

          The secret to this sauce is the ginger, bacon, and cream, and liberal doses of spices. It really is delish!

    4. Middle Aged Lady*

      Went back east for a visit and friends I hadn’t seen in years came out for a lunch/hangout and ask wistfully “are you moving back?”

    5. Snell*

      I went to get my ear re-pierced, at a place I’d never been before, and had a truly superb experience. Everyone in the shop (perhaps unsurprisingly so) had a ton more holes in their bodies than I did, so on some level, I did feel like a “faker” kind of, but the woman who did my piercing was not only scrupulously professional, but also personable/so welcoming/put me at ease as a customer. Their prices were a little higher than most other places in this area, and most of their jewelry is actually pricey due in part to the materials, but I left the place not only with a pretty perfect piercing, but honestly also kinda wishing that I had the option to pay for that quality of service at any business. Like, I don’t mean paying for the labor itself (although that was also top-notch(+hygiene practices, +knowledgeability)), but what I guess is called “customer experience”? I had one so good that I kind of can’t believe it really happened. Their pretty much universally rated 5/5 in online reviews, and after going there myself, I totally understand why. Like, it’s almost suspicious how good the reviews are, but having my own firsthand knowledge of the business, I have zero doubts about the legitimacy of said reviews.

      1. Snell*

        *They’re pretty much universally…

        I don’t know how that got past me; I usually never make that mistake because I hate it so much…maybe it’s the late hour…

    6. Freya's Cats*

      Found my first three geocaches this week. See if I can find some more this weekend.

    7. Jay*

      Another small joy! This one made my week!
      My personal computer desk’s keyboard tray has been failing for years.
      I fix it and it fails again, wash, rinse, repeat.
      It’s reached the point where I was planning on replacing the whole desk, which is really nice, matches all my other furniture, and I am very fond of, otherwise.
      I made one last google search on repair tips and discovered that they make keyboard trays that just clamp on the edge of the desk!
      I never even heard of these!
      It’s a perfect solution and cost me about $70.00 instead of the hundreds of dollars finding an equivalent replacement desk would have cost me.

    8. the cat's ass*

      I got my beloved little cat food can of a car back from the shop (after being sideswiped enroute to the airport) and it’s perfect!

      Kid (who dreads public speaking) successfully spoke at TWO separate venues this week and did great!

      Recovered from jet lag!

    9. Trixie Belden was my hero*

      Friend from college and work is in town today, will be staying with me tonight before they return home tomorrow, out of state. Looking forward to an evening of catching up and reminiscing about long ago escapades when we were just starting our careers. If only we had AAM then, but the Internet was in the stone age, so we had to wing it.

    10. Bethlam*

      1. Last chemotherapy treatment! 2. They took one of the drugs out of my cocktail in this last batch due to previous side effects and I had a much better week than after last treatments.

      Won’t know outcome until next PET scan, which will be in 3-4 weeks, but I’m so happy to be done with the 5 day hospitalizations.

      1. Isabel*

        That’s great! I hope you continue to feel better as the weeks pass. Will keep a good thought for your next scan.

    11. Filosofickle*

      Took a hike and the area had the teeniest tiniest wildflowers — nothing big or showy, just dollhouse sized blooms everywhere

    12. Blythe*

      I stayed late at school yesterday to tidy and organize my classroom. It had really fallen apart (I have a habit of putting things down on any available surface…) so it is a relief to have it straightened up. Plus, it makes me feel more hopeful about going in on Monday! (8 weeks + 2 days of the school year to go!)

    13. BikeWalkBarb*

      Today was the Earth Day Market Ride, a bike event organized by a staffer at our local transit agency (which is so awesome–they PAY someone to promote bicycling and have a kids’ Walk N Roll program that includes an Earn a Bike component). I was one of the ride leaders for the group that met at our local elementary school–groups start from various points around town and converge at a park for coffee and raffle prizes, then ride to the farmers’ market with our $1 market token they give everyone.

      The weather was GLORIOUS, we had great turnout, and I printed and gave out bike poems telling people it’s National Poetry Month and once upon a time my parents asked how I was going to put my bachelor’s degree in English to use, so this was the answer.

      I came home with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, mushrooms I need for making soup later, and the happiness that goes with eating a scoop of locally made salted cookies and cream ice cream.

    14. Reluctant Mezzo*

      My cat has actually let me sleep through the night by putting herself in the room she normally sleeps in, instead of waking me up and having me close the door on her for that room, which has her box, food and water (she thinks it’s me ‘tucking her in’). Of course, we still had the charming sound of the large planes doing touch and goes on my roof in the morning, but when you live only a mile and a half from the runway, there you are.

    15. TechWorker*

      Maybe more of a medium joy, but my brother & his partner are pregnant & house hunting. Sent them a

      1. TechWorker*

        … woops. A link to a house near me, and they’ve actually got an offer accepted on it! I am super excited to have them nearby.

      2. allathian*

        Congrats to your brother and his partner on both the house and the pregnancy! Enjoy the nibling when they arrive.

    16. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My powder room was painted eggplant purple this morning and I am SO HAPPY WITH IT. Husband and his brother are redoing the floors next weekend, and once that’s done they can install the sink and toilet and it will be usable again while I figure out the last few touches.

    17. Forrest Rhodes*

      For the last four months I’ve had no printer because HP stopped making ink cartridges for my (admittedly prehistoric) printer.
      But a week ago I found a company in Ohio that does make the HP cartridge I need, and my new cartridge arrived yesterday. O frabjous day! A printer that prints! Can life get any better?

  6. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    I asked for a mascara recommendation several weeks ago. Ended up buying Tarte Surfer Curl, which was heart breaking-everything I wanted in a mascara, except it ended up dusting all over my cheek bones after a few hours. Is there another one that is the exact same thing but in a water proof formula?

    -Cheap (at least in travel size)
    -dry formula so it doesn’t get on my cheeks if I blinked while applying it
    -not clumpy.
    -fairly natural look. I have pretty good lashes and just want to enhance them, not make it look like I’m wearing falsies.

    1. Constance Lloyd*

      Have you tried tubing mascaras? elf and milani both have budget friendly options at target. I used to only be able to find tubing mascara by brands like blinc at $20+ a pop, but it’s becoming more popular and therefore accessible.

      1. Anon Poster*

        I’ve been using the tubing mascara by No 7. It’s not my favorite mascara of all time, but it’s good. I keep coming back to it because when I get swayed by tiktoks into trying something new, the new brand is always smeared by lunchtime.

        1. Missa Brevis*

          I’m currently using up a tube of the colourpop ‘act natural’ mascara, which hits three of the four requirements, but it does take 10 seconds or so to dry down after applying.

          I’ve heard good things about the elf tubing mascara and lethal cosmetics tubing mascara, so I’ll probably try one of those when I need to replace my current one.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      I have had many designer mascaras flake on my cheeks, to the point of giving up, until someone here recommended Glossier (along with their boy brow). It’s really natural looking; I’d almost forgotten what that looked like with the fads for extending lashes. I don’t really know what a dry mascara is, but I’m pretty blinky and I don’t struggle with it. It’s not the cheapest, but I bought the black a few months after buying the brown assuming it was about to dry out…and it’s still going strong! It’s noticeably drier in the tube but it goes on well and still no flaking. I highly recommend their boy brow too. Great colours, two swipes of your hand, and you have very natural brows.

      1. delaware baby*

        ^^^ I second allll of that. Love boy brow, love the mascara, Cloud Paint less so but it’s still a good option. Glossier isn’t the most bargain-priced, but it is the best bang-for-buck I’ve found!

    3. Rosemary*

      Doesn’t fall into the cheap category, but I like Trish McEvoy mascara. I am an idiot with makeup and like this because it doesn’t flake/dust off, but is easy to remove.

    4. sagewhiz*

      My granddaughter turned me on to Essence’s Lash Princess mascara and I love it! Had tried soooo many brands over the years but always went back to L’Oreal Voluminous, which was meh, okay but better than others.

      Cheap: $4.99 (L’Oreal was almost twice that). Doesn’t flake, the waterproof comes off easily (I use olive oil as makeup remover). Amazon, Target, Ulta, I’m sure at most other places.

      Only “drawback” is, the wand is so long I’d bonk myself in the nose with it till I got used to it! ;-)

    5. Invisible fish*

      Lash primer!!! Lash primer!!! That’s the only thing that keeps mascara on my eyelashes and not my face. I’ve got one by Cover Girl that works just fine- after that, whether the mascara is cheap or expensive doesn’t really matter.

    6. Chauncy Gardener*

      Not cheap, but I really like Diorshow Waterproof. It stays on, never flakes and also comes in a nice dark brown which isn’t too much with my fair skin

    7. BetsCounts*

      I cannot say enough good things about OneSize Mascara. I have greasy lashes (?!) and would constantly end up with raccoon eyes before I found OneSize. I also like Tarte’s Tubing mascara- I think both of them are like $15 for travel size.
      I also used L’Oreal Lash Paradise + the related lash primer and found them to work well.

  7. Risa*

    Try essence | Bye Bye Panda Eyes Tubing Mascara.

    It goes on light, and you can layer it as needed. It’s not overly wet because it’s a tubular mascara. I really like how this one works. If I really feel like vamping, I use this as a base and then apply a second more traditional mascara. But standalone it give a really natural definition to the eyelashes.

  8. Anonymous cat*

    Last week “It’s Not Paranoia” asked about privacy issues and Sauron had some good information.

    I was wondering if anybody knew how worried we should be about So. Many. Apps. It seems like every business and organization out there wants to put an app on our phones AND wants to sell info from it.
    And some places make it almost impossible not to use their app.

    At the same time we’re supposed to be cautious with our personal info online. I click the boxes about asking them not to track me etc but I really doubt they’re paying attention.

    So how dangerous are all these apps?

    1. Double A*

      Hm, this isn’t something I feel overwhelmed by. I rarely install a new app on my phone, I try to do things through a web browser. Not that that protects my data all that much more. But if a company wants me to install and app I just… don’t? The constant asks are kind of annoying (looking at you NY Times) but easy to ignore.

      That said since I’m using Chrome Google just gets all my data. So I don’t know which is worse.

      1. Browser Shill*

        You can just switch to Firefox which a. doesn’t collect your data and b. has a ton of adblockers/data tracking protection. That is an easy switch. You can even port data directly over. You don’t even need to create an account.

        1. Double A*

          I do use Firefox for my personal computer but for work Chrome is pretty crucial. I’m still logged into all my Google stuff on Firefox so they’ve got me there but this is a good tip.

      2. slashgirl*

        I second Browser Shill’s rec–switch to Firefox–better privacy protections, for sure. Also, after June 2024, Chrome will NOT be letting you use ad blockers of any sort. Heck, I’d use Edge before I’d ever use Chrome….

        1. Girasol*

          Me too on Firefox, with NoScript and PrivacyBadger add-ons. And with the zillion apps that want to collect personal info, any of them that might be used in Europe already have an option for you to say, “Only necessary cookies” and opt out of the info collecting cookies. (Thanks, European Union!)

          On the other hand, you never know what’s happening in the background. I went to REI for a raincoat last week. My membership was from before there was internet and the clerk couldn’t find it. Oh, well, no rebate. But the next day I got an email from REI: “Do you like the raincoat?” I never told them my email address. That felt creepy.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      Once concern is that the more places your personal/credit card information is stored, the more chances that one of the companies is hacked, so you should keep an eye on credit card security.

      I would download the app assuming that the company will be tracking all your purchases and browsing habits, and selling that information (possibly anonymized, but I wouldn’t bet on that, even if there are laws about it). I would also assume that in the future if not now, this information will be used to provide dynamic pricing (ie, they calculate prices and special offers tailored to each customer’s spending habits, to maximize profits).

      One trick I use on web browsers is to use multiple browsers. I use one for web surfing, reading articles, posting on forums, and other casual stuff, and a separate one for actually making purchases and logging into things like email, Google or Facebook. That makes it harder for the the big companies to use my browsing habits to track me or sell me stuff. On my phone, I have location information turned by default, and turn it on when I specifically need it (when I need directions, or to reset to the local time while travelling), so it makes it harder to track my position beyond the level of which cell tower I’m closest to.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        Firefox has a container extension that does a similar thing. You can have containers for websites like that place we don’t talk about, school, streaming, etc. They also have a specific Facebook container extension.

        Duckduckgo has a browser now, too. The phone version also blocks trackers in apps not just websites.Their search engine is good, too.

        I switched to protonmail which is private and encrypted with other protonmail users. Google still gets some of my email that I send to people with gmail accounts,but not all of it at least.

        They now have a storage app, too. It’s a freemium model, so you can try it out. They include a vpn, too.

      2. Chaordic One*

        I also use multiple browsers, but Firefox is my “go-to” browser and my favorite. I am attempting to use DuckDuckGo more often as my search engine. Most of the time it is fine but still, its results aren’t quite as good as Google’s for a lot of things.

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      Not an expert in this, but a couple of apps to use if you are concerned:
      – DuckDuckGo is a search engine that doesn’t retain search results. It is slightly less convenient than using Google because it doesn’t remember your approximate location, so if you’re searching for something close to you, you’ll have to enter the city (plus state or province) instead of the words “near me”.
      Obviously, it also doesn’t autocomplete search terms based on your search history.

      – Ghostery Privacy Browser allows you to see which trackers a website is using. I never see cookie pop-ups when I’m using this browser, so I think it might automatically opt you out. This app also has DuckDuckGo as the built-in search engine.

      1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

        DuckDuckGo also offers it’s own browser with all sorts of privacy functions and opting out things. Highly recommend.

      2. Myrin*

        I’ve been using DuckDuckGo for three or four weeks now and basically don’t feel any difference usage-wise (seriously, what’s the difference between writing “near me” vs. “[name of place]” other than the first being vaguely scary, honestly? Not meant as a serious question or for you specifically, Prettiest, I’m just speaking rhetorically).

        There were a handful of times where I switched to Google for a specific search because I couldn’t find something I knew for a fact was among the first results when I last searched for it and indeed, Google remembered it. But other than that? Very little difference regarding use.

        (But also, this all happens on my laptop. I have barely any apps on my phone and the only times I access the net through my phone is to read AAM before going to work in the morning and the few times I need to look something up when I’m out and about. So I’m not sure how that might influence the DuckDuckGo experience.)

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Oh, I don’t think there’s a massive difference between “near me” and “place name” (other than more typing if it’s a long place name.) I always search using the place name, but I’m sure some people always use “near me”, so I wanted to mention that in case it’s a factor in the decision-making process.

    4. Jasmine*

      The thing I watch for is: can I delete it if I don’t like it? Read the reviews! I was just about to download an app, and I read in the reviews that the people who didn’t like it found that it was impossible to delete. Very irritating!!!
      You can also avoid going through all the hassle of set up if you read the reviews first and find out… no, I really don’t want this one! Not having a dozen unused app on your phone also protect you.

    5. germank106*

      I only install the apps I absolutely need. Everything else lives on my Chromebook. I also check haveibeenpwned.com regularly to make sure I’m still good.

      1. Myrin*

        I always feel very satisfied going on haveibeenpwned because the only instance it’s ever shown for me was some sort of WordPress leak (?) years and years ago.

    6. The Cosmic Avenger*

      If you have an Android phone, note that you can allow or deny any permission individually. I usually start by only allowing the obvious ones (location for mapping-related apps), and SO many want phone and/or file access. If the app works like that, I don’t allow any permissions; if it doesn’t, sometimes I’ll add them one at a time to see if it fixes it….or sometimes I’ll uninstall it.

      But I also don’t worry too much about it, as I know my information is available via online public records, so even if I never had a smartphone or online presence, my personal data would still be out there. I just try to limit it to what is useful to ME, vs. what is useful or profitable to the app maker.

  9. Trying To Get Help*

    Hi all. I hope this isn’t too close to asking for medical advice. I’m on my own health insurance for the first time, and I’m looking into being assessed for adult ADHD as I’m told I have a few of the symptoms. I found a local place that does assessments, but I can’t tell if they take my insurance. If they don’t, I do have some savings that I could use to pay, depending. If I call them, will they be able to tell me if they take my insurance/give me a quote if not? Their website is… not incredible.

    1. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      they should be able to but you also need to verify with your insurance provider directly. you can do that by logging into your plan and using “find care” or using the chat function (I like it better than calling because my insurance saves a transcript I can refer to again) or of course calling

      it’s always best to verify with both the medical practice and insurance

      1. Trying To Get Help*

        I’ll do this, thank you. I haven’t had good luck with their “find a provider” list previously but it can be another phone call.

        1. Texan In Exile*

          I do it in writing. If I can give the procedure code or detailed information to my insurance company, they will tell me IN WRITING (Blue Cross would never do that) if it’s covered or not.

          Your insurance might not be willing to commit, but it’s worth a shot!

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Agreed: sometimes the insurance wording is vague and means “X person in this practice is in network but Y person is not” or similar. Make sure you know precisely what they cover.

    2. Hanani*

      I was recently assessed for autism, and the place that did my assessment both checked what my insurance would cover and gave me the specific billing codes so I could check myself.

      I’m not sure if everyone does that, but it’s something you could ask for.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Yes, you can just call and ask. They can verify whether they take your plan. However, the entire testing cost may not be covered. They can give you an estimate of how much it will cost out of pocket.

    4. Read the fine print*

      Definitely confirm with your insurance company and know exactly what’s covered, and then confirm with the assessment place.

      Also watch out for things like “only psychologists are covered” or “this treatment/assessment requires someone with X qualification”.

      I’ve been burned on this one twice. Therapy with a psychologist is covered at a much lower rate than a therapist with other qualifications. A certain assessment my kid needed required a psychologist. We had it done at a clinic his psychologist recommended, but it was done by a medical doctor, so we could not get reimbursed.

    5. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      Don’t just ask if they take your insurance; make sure they are a participating provider for your plan. There’s a difference. I’ve been burned that way before.

      1. Trying To Get Help*

        What in the world is a participating provider? My apologies, I’ve never heard the term before.

        1. WellRed*

          Someone who accepts your insurance. ( it means they participate in the insurance plan’s network of providers.)

          1. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

            Yes, exactly. I learned this the hard way once when a dentist said they took my insurance. Turns out they meant “sure, we’ll bill your insurance company, but you owe the difference”. I didn’t realize it until after getting lots of expensive work done, only to find most of it wasn’t covered because the dentist was not a participating provider. I naively thought “take my insurance” and “participating provider” meant the same thing, but they don’t.

            1. Trying To Get Help*

              Wow, that’s awful. I’m lucky from the estimate in this thread that I could probably cover it, but dental work is SO EXPENSIVE.

              1. Lime green Pacer*

                My brother travelled to another country to get a LOT of dental work done, because it was so much cheaper there.

        2. RagingADHD*

          Need Coffee may be referring to “in-network” vs “out of network.” Some plans offer less coverage for out of network facilities or providers, but it really depends on your plan. For some plans, the “network” is anyone in state, and you only have to worry about it if you travel.

          Since you already have a place in mind, I’d suggest finding out the name of the provider and looking that up on your olan, rather than starting with the plan’s Find A Doctor.

        3. No name yet*

          Generally (in the US’s screwed up private insurance system) an insurance company will agree to pay for services for a specific provider, not for an entire clinic. Each provider has to apply separately to be covered by each insurance company.

          We had a situation with our dental clinic recently, where we’ve been going for years and everything has always been covered. They hired a new dentist and when we saw her, she wasn’t on the insurance panel yet (the process can take some time), so our dental insurance didn’t cover the visit.

          1. Trying To Get Help*

            Oh, the doctor themselves! That’s something I hadn’t considered. I’ll double check that as well then.

          2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            It also depends whether the provider is employed by the clinic or self-employed – think almost like a salon co-op, where the stylist rents their booth in the salon room, but is not employed directly by the salon owner, so they set their own charges and policies? If the providers are not employed directly by the clinic, each one will have to establish their own agreements with varying insurance companies.

    6. Christmas cookie*

      We just did this, though for a child.

      Call the provider. Also, call your health plan and get info on the mental health benefits.

      In some cases, what your health insurance covers will depend on how they assess the adhd. Our kiddo got a full neuropsych battery, which was $$$$ ($4200 all in, which was 2 1-hour parent calls, a teacher interview, administering 2 4-hour sessions with the child, in an expensive area to live). Kid was not only being screened for adhd but other cognitive things as well.

      My sister was diagnosed with adhd with a quick computer based test, took less than an hour.

    7. Oof*

      Also, be sure to find out if the insurance pays it all, or if a percentage what that is, & how that plays out over time if you are diagnosed & getting follow up support.
      This may play into your decision to pay for your evaluation now or to hold off so that money can go to your share of the bills.

    8. Grits McGee*

      One other thing for talking to the insurance- if you speak to someone over the phone, ask for a reference number for the conversation. That way if insurance doesn’t cover something they said they would, you have something concrete to refer to. (Source: my former therapist mother, who did her own billing/reimbursement for medical insurance.)

  10. Birthday Girl Sasha*

    My roommate and dear friend Marcy had a cat who sadly had to be put down at the age of 7 last May after several months of cancer treatments. We knew it was coming but it was still very difficult (for both of us, as I’ve known and loved the cat since Marcy brought her home as a kitten). I didn’t think she’d get a new cat any time soon. To my surprise, in December, 7 months later, she brought home a 2 year old cat. She said a coworker had sent her a photo from a rescue because the cat looked so much like her cat and she fell in love instantly.

    Of course, no matter how much they look like, the two cats act very differently. After being in our house for 4 months, Marcy has told me at least twice that she doesn’t think she was ready for a new cat and she doesn’t feel bonded to this one. But she also still loves on the new cat and says “Even if you’re not my heart cat, I’ll still take care of you for the rest of your life”. So she’s not thinking of getting rid of the cat, nor is she neglecting her (feeds her, changes the litter, plays with her, arranges vet appointments).

    I however have completely fallen in love with this cat. She may even have accidentally bonded without meaning to; I don’t feed her but she still jumps down from Marcy’s bed and runs to see me in the morning when she hears my door open. So I’m debating whether it would be weird to ask Marcy if she would like me to officially be the cat’s owner. Nothing would change for the cat in house other than me doing her feeding and litter, but I’d take on the financial responsibility. Marcy isn’t the type of person to throw the cat into the street; if she didn’t want her, she’d either take her back to the rescue or rehome her with someone she trusted. But I love the cat and would happily take her. I’m just not sure if Marcy would still want her in our house if she decided it truly was a mistake to get her. (Important to note that the house belongs to Marcy, she is technically my landlord; so if she said no to me having a cat for any reason, even if just because she may decide to try again in a couple of years, I’d have to abide by that). So should I offer to take on the cat? If so, when? Should I do it the next time she makes passing comments about it was a mistake to get her or only if she actually told me that she was going to rehome the cat? And, just to get all my questions in one central post, if I did take her, would it be weird to rename a 2 year old cat, because I don’t really like the name Marcy picked out and the cat doesn’t seem to respond to that name or any nickname we try on her?

    1. Jasmine*

      Hmmm. You know how people have a guardian in their wills for their children? Maybe you could tell her you have gotten attached to her cat and would happily be her guardian if she was ever unable to care for it. That could open the conversation. Or is that making the conversation too serious? (I am a big advocate of people being prepared)

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Yes! This is a great idea!

        And everyone – please make a plan for what happens to your pets if they survive you. Mr T asked his parents for years to make a plan for their cats and they refused and when they both died in the same summer, Mr T’s most stressful task was re-homing the cats, as he did not want to send them to a shelter.

        My sister, who is our executor, has instructions to ask our catsitter if he wants Shirley. If so, my sister is to give the catsitter $5,000 to cover her vet bills and expensive CKD food. If the catsitter doesn’t want her, then Shirley is to be returned to the cat adoption place where we got her 15 years ago, along with $5,000.

      2. Cat and dog fosterer*

        I was thinking of something similar, although more of an offer to take responsibility for the cat in future if Marcy ever wanted, but I like your wording much better. That way if Marcy seems thoughtful and open to it, then Sasha could offer to take over financial responsibility sooner and take kitty if Sasha ever moved.

        As a more general comment:
        Some people feel that it’s a horrid thing to adopt a cat or dog and then give it up in future, and they happen to be quite vocal on social media. I also know a lot of people abandon pets for no good reason, and it would be nice if they felt more responsibility, but that’s a different issue. Over the years I have learned that sometimes original matches aren’t ideal and it’s okay to rehome a pet with someone else that is better. If Marcy isn’t feeling the bond then that’s okay, and it’s great that she will care for the cat completely, but in my view it would be a kindness of Marcy’s if the cat ended up with OP. Of course if Marcy’s bond with the cat grew, or if she felt no regrets, then it’s also great if the cat stayed with her. I’m having trouble articulating the sentiment that it’s okay to admit that not every match is perfect.

        It sounds like the name is more of an issue between OP and Marcy, maybe? If Marcy wouldn’t care about renaming then I would just change it, and if she might care then I’d choose something that is more of a nickname (not necessarily related to the original name, but something about their personality or physical features) and maybe start to use both names and then at some point drop the old one.

    2. office hobbit*

      I’m basing this on my own experience of having roommates, which was that we basically lived together like family (spent equal time in common areas, cared for pets fairly equally). If your living arrangement with Marcy is very different from this, my advice will probably be less applicable.

      I think you’re thinking of this too seriously. As you say, for the cat, it will not matter at this point. I wouldn’t have the serious conversation with Marcy about official cat ownership unless you move out or Marcy wants to rehome the cat. What I would do is begin playing and socializing with the cat (you clearly already do to some extent), and offer to help Marcy with responsibilities like litter, feeding, or any more structured “tire the cat out before bedtime” playtime responsibilities. (The two of you may decide it’s simpler for the cat if only one person feeds her, depending on how food-focused and beggy she is.) Basically, begin taking on some of the daily cat-owner responsibilities in a practical way.

      You can at some point decide if you want to offer to help pay for regular cat expenses. Or you could do this in a casual way, like picking up a bag of litter at the store while you’re there. (This wouldn’t work if Marcy has an autoshipment set up, though.) If the cat encounters any larger, unexpected expenses, I would offer to help pay for those.

      After doing all this I think the cat ownership will start to feel less fixed and more shared. If in the future you move out, or Marcy does end up deciding to rehome the cat, I would bring up ownership then.

      For the name, I wouldn’t change the cat’s name if Marcy will know. If you and the cat both move out and don’t use the new name when Marcy visits, then go for it. While you’re still living together, just continue trying nicknames (there are a lot of plausible-deniability nicknames like “Mrs Fluffy,” and the cat will probably respond to something in that category).

      1. Texan In Exile*

        (Thank you whoever recommended John Scalzi and Starter Villain, with Mrs Tum-Tum, AKA Director Mrs Tum-Tum, as “Mrs” is part of her name.)

        (Which makes me think of the 84 year old nun who is also a professor at the local dental school. The student addressed her as “Doctor Sister [lastname].”

      2. BikeWalkBarb*

        We have a running list of nicknames for our cat, whose official name is Tigger. (He was very flouncy jouncy bouncy as a kitten.) We use Tiggs most often but the list keeps growing. Tiggalicious. The Tiggalator. Mr. Stripey Pants (brown/gray tabby). Cute Boots (he has 4 white paws). The Striped Menace. Hall Monitor (when company comes over). Catniss Everclaw. On and on.

        He doesn’t officially answer to ANY of these because we, of course, are simply his staff. I say have fun with nicknames. The cat won’t care.

    3. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      imo a case of ask rather than guess or hint.
      I’d tell her that you know she hasn’t really bonded to the new cat, but that you absolutely have. You can give a thoughtful pause and say would it be cheeky to ask if you could become the owner instead and take over responsibility for vets bills, food etc

      1. Flower*

        Yes, do this. Don’t hint or wait around til she decides to rehome the cat!! Speaking up now will relieve her anxiety and yours, hopefully.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        This — next time she says something about it, there’s your opportunity.

  11. WoodswomanWrites, good books written by people you know*

    A few years ago, someone in my circle wrote a novel that she also illustrated. No one knew she was even working on it until she published it.

    I bought a copy to be kind and didn’t have any expectations. I loved it and recommend it to others. It’s called Splitting Heirs, published in 2021. I’d love to hear recommendations from others for these little known gems.

    1. fallingleavesofnovember*

      I talked about this in a thread a few months ago, but a friend of mine recently published a YA fantasy novel, which I loved, it’s called On Silver Tides.

    2. Call me St. Vincent*

      I am an ARC reader for my friend’s new memoir and it’s absolutely gorgeous! She also illustrated the cover and drawings inside in Chinese brushstroke. She is wildly talented and also literally the sweetest person. The book is called “In the Garden Behind the Moon: A Memoir of Loss, Myth, and Magic” by Alexandra Chan and is coming out in May but is available for pre-order on Amazon!

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Our own Elizabeth West has written Tunerville and Confluence; although I’ve only read Tunerville, it was really gripping!

      Someone I know has written a few books and articles, and I’ve really liked the three I’ve read: Osprey Island, The Good People of New York, and Out of the Girls’ Room and into the Night.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Thanks for the reminder about Tunerville. I bought it some time ago and it’s been buried in my pile of unread books. I’ve now moved it to the top.

      2. Myrin*

        Waah, I didn’t know Elizabeth published something! I know she’s been talking about her book(s?) here and there but I missed that it (they!) have been released!

    4. Chauncy Gardener*

      A friend of mine wrote and (I think) self published a novel called “Lucy Lied” in 2014.
      I wish that Reese Witherspoon would take it up. Or that the Coen brothers would make a movie out of it. It would be amazing!
      You can find it on amazon if you put the title in quotation marks.

    5. Tiny clay insects*

      Can I self-promote, or is that tacky? I have a light-hearted YA novel about a queer girl on a junior roller derby team coming out this summer. It’s called Mighty Millie Novak.

    6. sagewhiz*

      My long-time friend Jerry Greenfield published _He Lost It In The Catskills_ in 2022 and it’s so good I constantly tell people about it: A15-yr-old’s first summer job, lessons learned (& yup, we know what he “loses” ;-). It’s based on the summers Jerry spent working at the hotel relatives owned. Both LOL and poignant. Especially fun for those of us who grew up watching Borscht Belt comics on TV.

  12. anon for one day, and one day only*

    I missed the bulk of the “same name” discussion, but it did remind me of the first day of the school year in high school, where one of my classes had six Lams and six Trans (I was one of those 12). It just got funnier and funnier during role call each time the teacher called for another Lam/Tran. Teacher then asked if any of us were related, but nope, just a happenstance cluster of common family names. Oddly enough given the makeup of the student body, that class actually had no Nguyens. Maybe five months into the school year, I did find out that a full third of the high school badminton kids (across all HS years) were in fact Nguyens.

    1. Pam Adams*

      Living in Southern California, we get clusters of Asian names and and Hispanic ones. Since my name peaked in popularity sometime in the early 1960
      ‘s, I don’t suffer.

    2. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      The university that I work at has many students named Nguyen. They have reader cards where students can enter a phonetic pronunciation for the commencement reader, but there were still lots of discussions on how it should be pronounced.

      The day before the ceremony I was at a meeting where 4 graduating Nguyen’s were present and I asked them to pronounce it for me and they all 4 pronounced it significantly differently. I reminded them to update the reader card.

      1. anon for one day, and one day only*

        Haha, similar with me, when I was in grade school telling my dad about So-and-so Nguyen and That Guy Nguyen, and he corrected my pronunciation of Nguyen based on how his Nguyen coworkers pronounced their names. I shrugged saying that’s how my classmates pronounced their own names.

  13. Taking the long way round*

    What non-fiction books are you reading or have you recently read?
    -I’m just reading Jeanette Winterson’s Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal? It’s… astonishing. The writing is incredible.
    -I’ve just finished Alice Vinten’s The Real Happy Valley, which tells real-life stories of police women in Yorkshire, where Happy Valley, the TV programme, is set. It was ok. The stories were sad, and the bravery of the women really impressive – but the writing was a bit sensationalist for me.
    -Next on my list are Time To Think by Hannah Barnes, which is about the collapse of the Tavistock Gender Service for Children, and -Bernie Sanders’ It’s Ok To Be Angry About Capitalism. I saw him at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall a few months ago and enjoyed listening to him, but found it a bit disheartening rather than uplifting and inspirational, which I think he was going for. So I’m not sure what the book will be like. We’ll see!

    I’d love to hear your recommendations!

    1. Amory Blaine*

      Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown. I’ve been listening to the audiobook and cross referencing the printed version and having so many epiphanies. Highly recommended!

      1. BikeWalkBarb*

        I picked that up on an impulse in my local bookstore and it’s in my TBR pile. It appealed a lot when I flipped through it; glad to hear it’s good.

    2. Sapientia*

      I recently read Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ by Giulia Enders and found it both funny and informative.

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        Reminds of Bill Bryson The Body. So much info crammed in a tiny book and it was somehow enjoyable, so I actually reread parts instead of my usual steaming ahead to read x # of pages a day

    3. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      I’m about to finish Strong Female Character by Fern Britton – her autobiography. I read the first ¾ in one go because it is well written and really rivetting. It is also heartbreaking and eventually I couldn’t take any more heartbreak in such a short time, so I took a break. I want to finish it over the weekend, though.

      1. fposte*

        It’s a great book, but it’s Fern Brady. Pretty sure Fern Britton never worked as a stripper :-).

        I’m seeing Fern (Brady, not Britton) perform live later this year and I’m really excited,

        1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

          *actual LOL* You are, of course, right!
          My kingdom for an edit button.
          Thank you for the mental picture of Fern Britton as a stripper, though. That’s not going to leave me for a while xD

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      Improbable Libraries, a photo book about the range of libraries. Tiny libraries in repurposed phone boxes; huge libraries; libraries on boats or elephants or donkeys. If the concept “library” makes you happy, this is a good book.

    5. InkyFingers*

      Medgar & Myrlie, by Joy-Ann Reid of MSNBC’s The Reidout. She’s a superb writer.

      Also, Killers of the Flower Moon was excellent, and as riveting as any mystery novel. So good I won’t watch the movie—I can’t see how it could come close to doing justice to the truth, or J Edgar Hoover’s machinations for power.

    6. fallingleavesofnovember*

      I’m reading Winters of the World by Eleanor Parker. It’s about Anglo Saxon understandings of the calendar and seasons, looking at poetry and other writings from the time. I find it very well written, and I’d say it could interest anyone who is an English-speaker because it delves in to etymology of words we currently use. A lot of it is also tied to church calendars and feasts, many of which are the way my church still practices, so that’s super interesting to me. And of course, a lot of the sources she is looking at are writings that Tolkien studied and would have been very familiar with, so there are little things for Lord of the Rings nerds in there too!

    7. fallingleavesofnovember*

      I’ve been reading Winters in the World by Eleanor Parker. It explores Anglo Saxon understandings of the calendar and seasons through poetry and other writings. I think it would interest most English speakers since it goes into etymology of various words! There is a lot of focus on how church feasts influenced the calendar, as most of the preserved writings are from after the time the Anglo Saxons has converted, but I find that interesting because my church still follows many of those practices (e.g., the Christmas period extending to early Feb). Many of the sources she quotes are writings Tolkien would have studied and so there are little tidbits in there for LotR nerds as well!

    8. GoryDetails*

      The Black Count by Tom Reiss, a biography of General Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, father of novelist Alexandre Dumas – who got some of the inspiration for his characters from his father’s very adventurous life.

    9. Texan In Exile*

      Toxic, Sarah Ditum.

      The Woman in Me, Britney Spears – she has been failed by so many people who should have protected her.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        Finally reading How Music Works by David Byrne. It’s really compelling and fascinating!

    10. goddessoftransitory*

      I LOVE Jeanette Winterson!

      I just finished “Dirty Old London,” about Victorian London and its long, drawn out trying to solve such problems as sewerage, housing, hygiene and public toilets. The chapter on housing was such an eyebrow raiser–allowing for period rhetorical flourishes, the problems were exactly the same as here in modern Day Seattle, almost down to the phrasing!

    11. BikeWalkBarb*

      I’m reading Your Brain at Work, recommended by a colleague. Brings together a lot of neuroscience and uses scenarios to show how acknowledging the limitations of the prefrontal cortex and approaching tasks differently would make them a lot easier. I’ve also started listening to the podcast by the author. Lots of materials at neuroleadership-dot-com. Podcast is a little sales-pitchy at times but tons of information.

      Recommended two in the other book thread by awesome women I’m fortunate to know. If you’re at all interested in transportation policy (everyone’s favorite topic, I know!) look for these. Inclusive Transportation: A Manifesto for Divided Communities by Veronica O. Davis (pretty oriented toward transpo professionals but great insights for advocates and people who actually comment on draft comprehensive plans and bike master plans and the like), and When Driving Is Not an Option: Steering Away from Car Dependency by Anna Letitia Zivarts.

    12. Taking the long way round*

      Thanks for all of these amazing suggestions! I didn’t know of half of these writers, so I’m looking forward to investigating.

  14. Two cents*

    I have just moved! I am in a much larger space, which means everything is getting changed around. As such, I am doing a lot of trying to figure out where the logical and best places for various things are. This is a task that does not come naturally to me, but I really want to both complete and get better at.

    Thus, my questions:
    -Orphan socks. Inevitably one sock will get missed in a load or get knocked under a bed or something, such that I have a sock without a match at the end of the laundry process. But one that has a more than fair chance of being eventually reunited with its match. Where do you put orphan socks?
    -Household scissors. I don’t really have a junk drawer yet, but maybe I should? Where is that drawer in your house? Where are your household scissors?
    -Memories from past relationships. I now have space to honor some items that I have from my grandmother, or close friends that I no longer live close to. Some of these items aren’t really my style but I love what they represent. What items do you have and how do you display them? What do you do with items that don’t totally fit your style?
    -What thing do you have that doesn’t have a place in your space yet but should?

    Any stories and anecdotes welcome! Thank you!

    1. Part time lab tech*

      Orphan socks: We don’t have many because I try to put all the socks in one load and then hang them up in pairs. When I do, I don’t have a special place. Either I leave them in the laundry or put them orphan in the sick drawer.
      I attempt a one box rule for keepsakes and clothes that I love but don’t fit or too worn out to wear outside the house. We are moving this year and I hope to keep to that for the kids too.

    2. Silmaril*

      I keep orphan socks in the sock drawer.

      If they have a distinctive colour/pattern I reunite them with their buddy when adding the other one to the drawer. For the generic looking black socks, one a month or so I pull out all the orphans and try to pair them up.

    3. Helvetica*

      I keep my scissors in my cultery drawer – the cutlery is in its own frame, and I have space around it where it makes perfect sense to have scissors, bottle opener, egg brush, ice cream scoop, etc. It’s not junk but they are things either used in the kitchen or in the household, so they fit there neatly.

    4. Clara Bowe*

      Socks: I have a long, narrow plastic pen holder I got at the dollar store and tuck it in the front of my sock drawer. Orphan socks live there.

      Scissors: one in the pen cup on my desk, kitchen scissors on the magnetic knife strip on the side of my cupboard.

      Memory stuff: no clue. That feels thing-specific.

    5. Squidhead*

      Orphan socks get tucked in the side of the sock drawer until their mate turns up (usually the next laundry day but sometimes one sock gets a hole and the orphan has to wait until another sock is discarded to get paired up again).

      Scissors: one pair (6″?) in the kitchen for cutting open packages, one pair of 3″ scissors in a jewelry box in the bedroom for cutting off stray threads, tags etc from clothing.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Socks: I deliberately don’t pair my socks anyway, so I wouldn’t notice if one went missing :) I buy all my socks of the same low-ankle style but in different goofy patterns/designs, then huck them all into a basket in a drawer and just grab two random ones when I need them. (In fact, if I happen to grab two matching ones I usually put one back and try again.)

      Scissors… are everywhere. I have a couple pairs in kitchen drawers, several pairs in various places in my office, a pair in the pencil jar next to my seat in the living room, a pair magneted to the fridge, a pair in each bathroom, the garage. Small blunt-tipped ones in most of my leaving-the-house bags.

      I swore up and down I wasn’t going to have a junk drawer, and gave up about three months after moving in. :P My junk drawer is in my kitchen and contains a couple flashlights, various things-that-hold-things-together (command strips, tape, stapler, bag clips, binder clips, extra hardware packs from household furniture), a screwdriver with assorted business ends, all my appliance manuals. It’s a big drawer – the biggest in my kitchen actually – so assorted rarely-used kitchen gear (silicone piping bags/tips, etc) also take up the left-hand third of it, and the rolling pin that I still don’t know why I have is tucked into the back.

      We’re currently working on finding better places for various crafting bits, because as most crafters know, there is a difference between a hobby of CRAFTING and a hobby of COLLECTING CRAFTING SUPPLIES, and I enjoy both :P (Which could be worse – my husband is a collector, but never actually does anything with the stuff. I at least do the crafts, even if my stash is more than I need.) This year’s project is to finish redoing the upstairs rooms, and I think one of them will become a combination craft room/craft storage room, which means that if I take a big loom weaving class this summer as I would like to, and if I like it as much as I think I will, I will have a place to put a multi-shaft table loom. (Which is just another excuse to use my yarn stash, right?)

      1. BikeWalkBarb*

        “there is a difference between a hobby of CRAFTING and a hobby of COLLECTING CRAFTING SUPPLIES”–this was a snort-out-loud line for me. I throw so many things into this one plastic bin that someday will receive the gloriousness of my creative attention. At which point I fully expect that whatever I actually want to make will require a trip to various places for specialized items I have to buy.

        My local Buy Nothing group has about three large totes of craft supplies, yarn and fabrics that make the rounds every so often for people to add and take, and there’s a local secondhand craft supply place that gives credit if you take things in that they can resell. Both of these are good for the urge to collect crafting supplies; read that any way you want to :D.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      Socks: There’s a stack on the sweater shelves. I try to purge it on a regular basis.
      Scissors: I have a little desktop stand that holds scissors and rulers (in the deep middle part), pens and pencils (in neighboring narrower, less deep bins), and post its, paper clips, erasers etc in several smaller, shallower bins. It lives in the mail drop area near the front door.

    8. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      Orphan socks: There’s a basket in the closet for them.
      Junk drawer: A kitchen drawer, but I don’t keep scissors there. They’re in the “sharp things that aren’t knives” drawer with the veggie peeler and apple slicer etc. (Knives are in a knife block.)

      1. Brevity*

        There is no way I can’t ask these questions, I can’t help myself:

        Is there a regular way/time frame to bless fritos? Is it the only snack that needs to be blessed? If not, are there specific bless-times for others? E.g. pretzel bless-time versus Bugles bless-time versus Cheez-Its bless time?

        {I think part of the reason I don’t know this is because I’m Lutheran.}

    9. Turtle Dove*

      Orphan socks: I don’t have a great home for those either. They usually end up in multiple piles in the bedroom closet. When I organize in there, I try to match up pairs. I’m realizing it makes sense to use a single bin for them, so thanks for the nudge!

      Scissors: Household scissors live in a bin in a drawer of the dining-room hutch. It’s the central location on the main floor.

      Memorabilia: This stuff lives in pretty baskets on top of bookshelves. I wish I had a better home. I don’t like visual clutter, especially if it’s stuff I don’t love (but someone I care about did), so this one’s extra challenging.

    10. RagingADHD*

      I keep scissors in pen cups in different parts of the house, including one that is magnetized on the fridge.

    11. Anono-me*

      What to do with the memory items depends alot on the shape and size. Can you do a series of shadow boxes in a hallway or a group on a wall in a secondary room? Or possibly display the items in a dedicated curio cabinet or bookcase?

      I like shadow boxes and curio cabinets with glass fronts, because they require less fussy dusting and I think they look more sleek and cohesive.

      We almost exclusively wear one type of either white or black socks. Those don’t get matched, they get stacked and in the morning we just grab the top two of the color needed. If one of the few specialty socks becomes unmatched, the clean singleton goes back to live at the bottom of the laundry basket until their mate shows up or I give up. Also, it is now a cool thing (atleast in middle schools in my area) to wear mismatched socks .

    12. Quinalla*

      I have a small open on top fabric box like you can get at a Container store or anywhere with household stuff really. It’s in the laundry room as I have front load washer/dryer on the ground with a counter above so it’s on the counter with all my detergent, dryer sheets, shout, etc. Since we are 2 adults and 3 kids, I have about 50 orphan kid socks at all times :P I also have a small spot on a bottom shelf in the closet for my husband and I orphaned socks.

      Household scissors: I keep one pair in my room. Used to be in my top dresser drawer along with other random things you need occasionally but now that I don’t have a dresser so we have a small chest that has a big open top area to store things and two small drawers. So scissors, tape, greeting cards, etc. go in one drawer, the the other has backup glasses, swim goggles for the kids and a few other odds and ends. I also have scissors in the basement at my desk (for fun and for WFH) with another pair of scissors. Then in the kitchen are the kitchen shears and there is an old pair of kitchen shears in the garage for cutting boxes or other crap where we don’t care if it wrecks the scissors. I like having scissors on all floors :)

      For memory stuff, we have several shelves in the living room that we put things on that we want everyone to be able to see. We also have several bookshelves and one corner display item shelf upstairs that is more for things we want to see, but as you said aren’t really our style. I put books behind with display things in front on the bookshelves. The rest I keep in bins in the crawlspace or in that big area of the small chest in the bedroom. Don’t have room or desire to display everything.

      Anything that doesn’t have a place is likely in a bin in the crawlspace in the basement or in a closet in a bedroom upstairs.

    13. just here for the scripts*

      Definitely have a junk drawer in kitchen—scissors, mailing tape, eyeglass repair list, crazy glue, rubber bands all live there inside similar drawer components as our silverware drawers

      Mementoes: ours are put on bookcase shelves to breakup the sheer-wall-o-books we have created. Pictures are framed and hung—others are on a photo file in Apple TV and often cycle through on our 65” tv—I hear you Cana do the same with Google pictures (I wanted a digital frame, but affordable were all too small/too expensive/required extra corded travel from far-removed outlets).

    14. nerdgal*

      I keep scissors in a ceramic cup thing on my desk that also holds pens and pencils.

      I seldom find the mate to orphan socks, I think my washer has a wormhole to another dimenson.

    15. Patch*

      Orphan Socks: All my socks are the same style/color, so I don’t have this problem. I keep all my socks in a drawer in my bachelor’s chest though. I line them up in piles of six. If I had different colored socks and had orphans, I would just make an orphan pile.

      Household Scissors: I have some of those long, narrow baskets you can get from the dollar store in the drawers in my desk (in my bedroom) and in some drawers in the kitchen. One basket in each of these places has scissors, a utility knife, and thick permanent markers.

    16. acmx*

      Orphan socks: if it’s orphaned because I dropped one while doing laundry (so it’s still dirty) then I throw the pair back into the basket. If it’s missing, then on top of my dresser.

      Scissors: top drawer of my kitchen island* holds scissors for opening anything and my utensil drawer holds the pair I use solely for opening food stuffs.
      (*almost the whole island is non cooking stuff)

      What thing do you have that doesn’t have a place in your space yet but should – anything that would normally be in a garage or shed lol I lack both.

    17. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      Orphan socks- first I limit them by only buying one style of athletic socks so there is no such thing as an orphan. I just toss those in the drawer unmatched (the horror!) My spouse also has one style and he matches his up so those stay in the bottom of the clean laundry basket. Work sock orphans go in a basket on my dresser.

      Scissors, I keep a pen jar in the kitchen and a pen jar on my desk and both have a pair of scissors and a letter opener in addition to pens. But you still should have a junk drawer because there will be things and if you don’t have a place to put random small things, they will never have a home.

      I always choose memories over style. To be fair, I don’t have much style. I have some stuff in a curio cabinet and some other things on floating shelves. And a few shadow boxes for bigger events that had a combo of memorabilia. Those are in my office, not in the public area though.

    18. Llama face!*

      -Orphan socks: They live in my clean clothes laundry basket until I’m certain their match will not turn up.

      -Household scissors: Kitchen scissors are in the knife block, another pair of scissors are in the pen holder near my phone and entrance way, and a third pair of scissors is in the pen holder on my home office desk. I also have a small pair of (sanitized) scissors in a sandwich bag in my First Aid kit for cutting bandages.

      -I have no suggestions on the memory-rich items; Mine are stuffed randomly all over the place and are not living their best lives.

      -I’m still working on a good place to store emergency/evacuation supplies aka “prepping” stuff.

    19. Not Totally Subclinical*

      Orphan socks: Separate small bin in a different drawer from my paired socks. They’re close to the main sock drawer, so it’s easy to put the odd socks away at the same time I’m putting away the paired socks. If the partner to the odd sock is already in the bin, usually I’ll see it, and if not, I go through it every couple of months to check.

      Scissors: This is a “have one everywhere I use it” item. I have one pair in a cup in my kitchen where I also keep pens. I have a large pair in my desk drawer and a small pair in my knitting bag. (And then there’s my good sewing scissors, which live in a top secret location and are off limits to all other household members.)

      Mementos: Most of mine live in a couple of boxes, though there’s a few I keep on display.

      Thing I haven’t figured out to store: Wool sweaters when it’s cold enough to wear them. Off-season, once they’ve been washed, they go in a sealed bugproof bin. But when it’s cold out and I’m wearing them regularly, I don’t have a convenient but bugproof place to store them.

    20. Chaordic One*

      Orphan socks go in the regular sock drawer, although, like Red Reader, I tend not to have very many of those because I usually buy multiples of the same sock so they’re easy to match up. Most of my socks are of 3 basic types. I have multiple pairs of scissors of different types (along with multiple letter openers) and they get put in mugs or pencil cup holders. I think I have a pair of scissors and a holder for pens and pencils in each room of my house. I have a lot of personal sentimental items that I display on bookshelves. (I imagine displaying some of them on a fireplace mantle, but I don’t have a fireplace.) That said, I still have a lot of things in storage and (for reasons) I just don’t have time to go through them and figure out what I want to keep and what needs to be gotten rid of.

    21. goddessoftransitory*

      Orphan socks–if they’re part of one of my many, many pairs of Hanes black socks, I save them. Then when I get a hole in another one, I can use it to make up the pair. With specialty socks, I hang onto them tucked into a corner of the sock drawer for a while, but eventually end up tossing them if the mate never shows.

      We keep a couple of “junk “drawers in the kitchen: one is the catchall that holds everything from dish towels to jar opener grippies to matches: the other is the “toolbox” one where we keep tools, tape, scissors and the giant bag of rubber bands I am definitely going to deal with one of these years. Actual kitchen scissors are in the silverware drawer.

    22. Aphrodite*

      -Orphan socks:
      I live alone and never seem to get them because I use the washing machine as my laundry bin. The socks (and everything else) go from my closet or drawers to me to the washing machine to the dryer and back again. It’s hard for them to get lost when they are restricted to that one route.

      -Household scissors:
      I have a pair in each one with two in the kitchen, one for food and one for everything else. They do not leave their respective rooms or their assigned location within those rooms, and are immediately returned to their specific location after use. I never fail to do this as I hate to hunt for things. One note: In the laundry room, I have nails in the wall inside the large closet to hang things and the scissors is one of those things. Scissors are one of the few things I have duplicates of; the others are soaps, lotions, combs, brushes and hair things, duplicates in each bathroom to avoid the annoying “where is it?” question.

      -Memories from past relationships: What items do you have and how do you display them? What do you do with items that don’t totally fit your style?
      I do not keep lots of things like that. I choose one or two and then display them so I can see them every day. I have two pictures of my deceased parents, having gotten rid of a half-dozen jammed up photograph albums on a high-up closet shelf where they were never seen and never appreciated. If something doesn’t fit your style sufficiently to display it consider it may be best to keep the memory and get rid of the item. I have a couple of gallery walls and on them have three-dimensional items along with photographs and artwork. Tables have things here and there. I tend toward minimalism so nothing is overwhelming but my home has a warm, comforting, safe feeling,

      -What thing do you have that doesn’t have a place in your space yet but should:
      Nothing. If it means something I have a place for it or I make one. If I cannot decide it may mean I don’t really want it.

    23. Part time lab tech*

      household scissors (and small miscellaneous): Our house has wine racks above the fridge (16*3) but we’re teetotalers so we use them like pigeon holes. It was originally to keep out of the way of toddlers with high curiousity drives. I like it well enough I plan to do the same with a smaller set, maybe 4*3, in our new house.
      I need to find a better way of storing tools. Officially they go in the garage but after being used they seem to be left in the backyard where they were used.

    24. Clare*

      Orphan socks: they go in a dedicated delicates bag that lives in my sock drawer. When I fold laundry all the socks get dumped out of the bag at sock pairing time, and at the end any remaining unpaired socks go back in the bag. It’s such a good system my partner asked me for his own bag so he could copy me!

      Scissors: kitchen scissors live in the drawer with the spatulas, whisk etc. Gift-wrapping scissors live with the birthday cards, tape, and gift bags. Sewing scissors live with the other sewing supplies.

      Memories: The ones I don’t want to display (like my first birthday cards etc) have a special drawer. The rest have a low glass-fronted cabinet in an unobtrusive space. The cabinet doubles as a handy shelf for dropping things like mail on as I enter the kitchen.

      Homeless thing: my keys of all things! I’ve been planning to move my front door since BC, so I never got around to hanging up a key rack. I often dump my keys in my shoes of all places. I really need to accept that I’m not moving my door any time soon and put up a key rack.

    25. allathian*

      Orphan socks: I keep mine on top of the dresser. My husband uses one style of athletic socks most of the time, and one style of black dress socks if he has to wear a suit for a work event, and he keeps his in the sock drawer. If he gets a hole in a sock, he’ll always have a replacement. I’m not actually sure where our son keeps his orphan socks, at nearly 15 he’s responsible for doing his own laundry, at least to the extent of bringing the dirty laundry to be washed and putting away the clean laundry.

      Household scissors: Those keep getting lost although I try to keep them in one drawer in the kitchen, the large ones at least. We have separate sewing scissors and nail scissors (as well as clippers, I’ve never had enough patience to file my nails) that are kept in the sewing box and upstairs bathroom respectively.

      Memories are more important to me than style, although it has to be said that currently we have far too much stuff for the space. Our home’s more cluttered than I’d really prefer but that’s because we don’t have a specific place for everything. I also need buy-in from my husband to declutter because I don’t want to do all of it myself.

      We don’t have a clutter drawer, we have a clutter closet in the spare room that doubles as my office, and we also have a walk-in closet next to the master bedroom that’s filled with stuff we can’t find a place for elsewhere in the house. As well as an attic that I can’t get to because my mobility limitations mean that I can’t use the sort of ladder that folds down from a hatch in the ceiling, certainly not while carrying anything.

  15. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    Did anything give you a wry chuckle this week?

    For me, it was while watching reruns of “Person of Interest”, because in that series HR is the name of the corrupt police organisation that collaborated with organised crime and committed murders & mayhem.

    It made me wonder whether the writers had been subjected to the same degree of horror by HR as many AAM commenters.

    1. fposte*

      Just this morning, driving in the country, I encountered an uncontrolled railroad crossing (no gates or lights). And there was a yield sign in front of the crossing. And couldn’t help but laugh at the polite suggestion that you not drive into a train.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        “I was here first!”
        “I’m a train. Your call.”

        (Isn’t there a joke like that about a boat and a lighthouse?)

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      Spotting both Nigel Bennett and Geraint Wyn-Davies in different episodes of Murdoch Mysteries. We just finished our binge of Forever Knight and found it especially amusing that Bennett was playing the cop this time.

    3. SarahKay*

      Visiting a different supermarket than usual, that’s set on the side of a hill. I did my shopping and left through a pedestrian exit to the car park, which involved going up three flights of about 15 steps each (and no ramp).
      At the very top of the steps was a warning that the wheels would lock on any trolleys taken beyond that point.
      I looked down the 45-odd steps I’d just climbed and contemplated who, having got the trolley that far, would truly be daunted by the wheels locking.

  16. Book question: specific genre book*

    I’m in an online book club called Girl Meets Trouble and we read a specific genre of romantic suspense books, where (usually young) women get into a mystery to solve, and there is some kind of romance as well. For example we’ve read a lot of Mary Stewart, some Barbara Michaels, Elisabeth Peters and M. M. Kaye, plus a couple of Agatha Christie’s stand alone books, to mention the more known authors.

    Now that it’s been going for a while we would really like to include books with queer elements. Because the genre is mostly locked into the middle of the 20th century, and we have pretty much kept it there, it’s been hard to find, of course. Exceptions can be made if they feel right, and when it comes to LGBTIQA+ books, I do understand the need for them. But we’d like it to otherwise fit in the genre.

    The definition of the scope goes something like this:

    – female narrator (don’t want to make that one a hard rule though, more like Anyone But Cis Dude narrator/protagonist)
    – more suspense than romance, i.e. a real suspense plot, not just keeping their hands busy until they can plausibly fall in love
    – comfort-ish reading, not unhappy endings (and preferably not dead queers just because they’re queer)
    – fantasy / horror elements are ok, but not essential
    – somewhat available in print/e-book

    I thought that Ask a Manager’s well read hive mind might have suggestions?

    If you want to check out the book club, go to girlmeetstrouble dreamwidth org (add dots).

    1. Susan Lazarus*

      KJ Charles writes a lot of queer historical romances with significant suspense plots (gets referred to as “romance with a body count”) – most of the narrators are men but there are a couple of woman-led ones. Proper English is one – it’s a Christie-esque Edwardian country house murder mystery and a queer romance between two very different women.

      Some of her work has fantasy/horror elements – the Charm of Magpies series, the Green Men World, and Simon Feximal.

    2. Andromeda*

      I just started a book I can’t remember the title of!!!! Dammit! but it’s Jeremy P Bushnell’s newest one, about a woman (who I suspect is actually non-binary or a trans guy and hasn’t realised it at the start of a novel) in an alternate, kinda New Weird 1900s. It has a mystery and is throwing up romance flags. That might fit the bill?

    3. funkytown*

      Maybe something by Sarah Waters? Fingersmith or The Paying Guests I think meet most of the criteria, although maybe a little less comfort and a bit longer than I recommend for book clubs typically. A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske and the author Josh Lanyon have been recommended to me before which I think might also fit.

      1. Anon this minute*

        Fingersmith is awesome! (But yes, includes some pretty disturbing elements. Maybe preview before recommending for book club.)

        1. Anon this minute*

          P.S. Do NOT read Sarah Waters’s Affinity for your book club. Just don’t do it. It is very well done, but heartbreaking.

      2. Alex*

        Was coming here to suggest Sarah Waters too. Love her books, even though they trend a little more sexual than I’m usually into.

    4. WellRed*

      Might be slightly outside of your time period, but Laurie King has a series or two that might fit the bill.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Jane, Unlimited is a take on a choose your own adventure book, where the story is told as if Jane (a young person fulfilling her promise to her dying aunt to go to the weird old mansion on an island if ever invited) chose to go talk to a different person in each section, each time setting off into the story as told from a different genre.

      I will say that I liked the first two stories more than the last four, so this wound up being more of an “I admire how the author executed that” than “I loved that.”

    6. Still*

      I’ve just read A Master Of Djinn. Takes place in a fantasy, steam-punk version of Cairo in 1912 and follows Fatma, a detective trying to solve a murder case that keeps getting more and more complicated. Alongside Fatma are her newly assigned partner Hadia, and her sexy mysterious girlfriend Siti. I liked it, I have some complaints about the ending but I thought overall it was fun and well-done. Plus, imperfect books make for good discussion.

    7. GoryDetails*

      I enjoyed “The Undetectables” by Courtney Smyth; modern-day setting, three women (and the ghost of a gay man who died wearing cat-ears) forming their own detective agency in a world where magic is a factor – but not always easy. Varying sexualities among the main characters, hinting at relationships to come if there are follow-on books (which I very much hope there are). The story does shift viewpoints quite a bit, but the majority of it is from one of the women, who’s struggling with her own fatigue-syndrome disorder. There are creepy bits, but also lots of very entertaining banter.

      Mackenzi Lee’s “Montague siblings” books are fun – not mysteries per se, but in each book the characters have some kind of quest to go on, with 19th-century adventures with pirates and quirky scientists and whatnot. “The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue” focuses on Monty and his long-time friend (and eventual partner) Percy, “The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy” reveals what Monty’s sister Felicity has been up to, etc.

      “Meddling Kids” by Edgar Cantero is a riff on the gang-of-kids-as-detectives in mystery and horror novels, and was great fun – and also rather traumatic, as the four kids suffered extreme PTSD as a result of their last case, leading to their going their separate ways, with each having different emotional struggles. Sounds dark, but the characters do find their way back to each other and forward to what should be better lives – and it’s often wildly funny. Gay/bi characters, possibly-asexual characters, a secondary but memorable nonbinary character, and more. Oh, and I give the author props for an unusual writing style, part third-person-omniscient, part screenplay-writer (the dialogue shifts to screenplay-style at times), frequent breaker-of-the-fourth-wall (at one point the characters aren’t sure if they’ll “live to the end of this paragraph”). Lavish descriptions – sometimes from the viewpoint of the landscape or the walls of a room or the dog – add to the fun.

    8. Anon this minute*

      Mabel Maney wrote some fun Nancy Drew/Cherry Ames parodies in the 1990s, but they might not be in print anymore–Case of the Not-So-Nice Nurse and Case of the Good-for-Nothing Girlfriend.

    9. Irish Teacher.*

      They may not be exactly what you are looking for but some of the later Daisy and Hazel Murder Most Unladylike pretty much fit those criteria. Now, in this case, “young women” means teenage girls and in the early books, they are only about 13, so little to no romance, but towards the end, they start to have crushes and one of them starts to realise it’s girls she fancies. I think it is Death in the Spotlight where she realises she has a crush on a young adult woman. The other girl starts to develop a mild romance with a boy who is also into solving mysteries and who has a kind of rival club.

      1. Tiny clay insects*

        I am literally reading Death in the Spotlight for the first time right now! Amazing!

    10. goddessoftransitory*

      Just want to say I love Mary Stewart and am glad she’s still getting love!

    11. Book recommendation*

      Thank you so much for your suggestions, I see we have a lot to look into! I like the genre – especially Mary Stewart -, but they are of course products of their time, and we wanted to expand a little.

    12. Cleo*

      The Missing Page by Cat Sebastian – post WWII m/m mystery romance set in a small English village. The author described it as Agatha Christie, but make it gay.

      I second the recommendation for Proper English by KJ Charles – it’s probably the closest to your list requirements of any book I’ve read.

      Alexis Hall has a parody of that era of mystery fiction featuring a lesbian couple – I think called Murder Most Foul. I haven’t read it but the reviews are pretty divided on whether the parody elements are clever or unbearable. Read the sample.

      Zen Cho has written a couple books adjacent to your request. She’s a queer British Malaysian writer who writes was she calls “post-colonial fluff.”

      The True Queen has some elements you’re looking for and it’s fabulous. It’s set in ALT early 1800s Malaysia and England, with magic. A young Malaysian woman has to solve the mystery of her missing sister and her missing memories. There is a very low key Sapphic romance.

      And her Black Water Sister is a contemporary UF type book. The heroine is a recent college grad who’s moved back to Malaysia with her parents, after growing up in the US. She’s looking for a job and struggling with how / when / if to come out to her parents. She is also the very reluctant medium to her estranged grandmother’s ghost. It’s darker and more violent than my other recommendations but still has a happy ending. There’s also less romance – she has a girlfriend and they have a long distance relationship, so the girlfriend is almost entirely off page.

    13. lilybeth*

      Are you down with a mystery that’s also equally a heist? Because if so, Leslye Penelope’s The Monsters We Defy would be a fun one. A couple of the secondary characters are queer (and do not wind up dead), and it’s set in the Black community of 1920s DC. I found it a blast, suspenseful and smart and fun.

    14. GardenGal*

      The Killer Wore Leather by Laura Antoniou is a first-rate mystery and a delightful comedy of kink. It will definitely give your group something to talk about.

  17. Myrin*

    I hope I’ll be able to word this understandably, so here goes:

    I have three things in my life I regret not getting when I had the chance. Those aren’t huge, life-altering regrets, in fact, I don’t know if I can even really call them “regrets” at all because the objects are actually pretty small and unimportant, it’s just that I sometimes think about them in a “man, I’m still annoyed I didn’t just buy these”. Again, this is not consuming my thoughts or anything, more of a “it would’ve been nice to have these” kind of thing.

    My three things are:

    – a pair of summer shoes I came across at a shop while on vacation in 2006. They were open-toed, brown, and had a wedge heel. They weren’t my usual style something about them caught my eye. I even tried them on and they fit me perfectly! For reasons lost to time, I didn’t end up buying them, and I’ve been thinking about them from time to time ever since.

    – a fancily decorated pitcher/jug I saw at the hardware store in the summer of 2022. Again not generally my usual style but I saw it and fell in love. I didn’t get it because I was extremely short on money and still lived in a very cramped flat with my family so wouldn’t have known where to put it. I’m pretty sure I know the manufacturer’s name and although I only have a vague recollection of what exactly it looked like I’m positive I would be able to recognise it, but I haven’t been able to find it anywhere at all.

    – a turquoise funnel for my kitchen. This was three or four weeks ago at my local supermarket and I’m so annoyed with myself for not simply grabbing it because it was the only one of its kind in one of those “kitchen tools for 1€” cardboard boxes near the cash register. But I thought “you have a funnel, you don’t need another one” even though the one I have annoys me to death every time I use or wash it for various reasons. I’ve been looking for it every time I’ve been in there since but it’s gone.

    Do you guys have anyhing like that, too? Or something similar, like a restaurant you could’ve tried but decided against at that moment and then the next time you went there it was closed down?

    1. Helvetica*

      Oh, I love this question!
      For me, it was a midi-length deep purple dress that fit me perfectly but because of the length, and the style being more formal, I thought I wouldn’t have too many occasions to wear it.
      Cut to me a year later, trying to find a dress of that length to wear to evening receptions, which are very common for my career.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        One thing I’ve finally learned: if it fits perfectly? Really truly? BUY IT, and more than one if you can. Because when you go back it will be discontinued (RIP, my very favorite-est bra of all time that apparently no longer exists both in my size and in black.)

      2. Emily Byrd Starr*

        In 1999, I was in a gift shop in Portland, Maine, where I saw several blown glass balls, paperweights, and figurines. They had a collection known as “The Solar System” or “The Planets” or something like that. Each of the glass balls was made to look like one of the planets (i.e., Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter…) and I thought they were breathtakingly beautiful. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford them at the time. However, many years later, I began collecting blown glass items. I now have somewhere between 20-50. Incidentally, two of the items in my collection are from Josh Simpson’s “Megaplanets!”

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Mine are things that I DID have, but that vanished along the way and I’ve never found them again. I made myself this fantastic pair of super wide-leg pants out of burnt-orange wide-wale corduroy – they had a proper button-and-zip fly fastening, they had cargo pockets, they had real jeans-style front and back pockets, and they fit me perfectly. They are hand to god the ONLY item of clothing I have ever made where EVERYTHING WENT RIGHT. And somewhere along the way, they disappeared. I was wearing them in one of my favorite pictures of myself, and every time I notice them, I get bummed. I’ve considered trying again, but I can’t find the right corduroy anywhere, and I feel like it’s one of those magic things that I could only get right once.

      I also had a pair of platform clogs that I bought in high school while I was on an exchange trip to Munich – they weren’t anything terribly special, just plain black clocks with rubber wedge soles that were 2″ at the front and 4″ at the back, but I loved them and I wore them until they fell apart, and none of the replacements that I ever thought might be close enough really were.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Hiking in a slate gorge in college, I found a fossilized fern. Sternly telling myself “leave only footprints, take only photos” I arranged it by the side of the trail and went on. Later I realized that the two outcomes were a) someone else took it home; b) more slate crumbled down on it from above and it broke.

      I shall openly confess here that years later, visiting Petrified Forest National Park, I brought home a pebble of fossilized wood in defiance of all the signs.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      If it’s comforting, there’s a great section in the Scholomance books about how humans are bad at knowing what will make them happy, not in a monkey’s paw way, but just in the way that you will see this great dress, and bring it home, and think about how happy you will be when you wear it, and it never quite is the right time, and after a few years you put it in the charity bin with a sense of relief.

    5. Nola*

      Twenty five years ago at a craft fair one of the artist had a series of paintings of people done like Duplo toys. One looked so much like me – red bob, blue/green eyes, yellow dress/body. I passed on buying it because it was $80 which was just a little bit out of my budget for art at that time in my life. I really wish I had though. I still think about it and am sure it would have brought me more than 80 bucks worth of joy over the years.

    6. Rosemary*

      Not a small thing, but in my 20s I almost bought a condo in the building I was renting in at the time in a HCOL city. It would have been a stretch and I would have had to have roommates for awhile to cover the costs, but probably only for a few years before I could afford it on my own. It sold for ~$350K; now would be worth close to $1M.

    7. fallingleavesofnovember*

      Iceland, a circular brooch that appealed to my 13-year old, Tolkien-obsessed imagination, but was utterly impractical (where would a 13 year old wear something like that?!) But I still remember it.
      In general my family was very good at ‘walk away, and if you are still thinking about it in a few days, go back and buy it’ but there was no option to go back for that one!

    8. Turtle Dove*

      Oh, yes! I often think of a knee-length jumpsuit that fit like a charm, and I bought it and returned it. I couldn’t figure out where I’d wear it, and it was pricy. I regret I didn’t splurge.

      Like Red Reader, I yearn for an item that disappeared. It was a pair of earrings whose shape and colors were so pleasing that I fell in love. Maybe I’ll find them one day as a giant, cosmic surprise.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Oh, some of my favorite earrings! They were made for me by my uncle (patterned stained glass) in this gorgeous light purple shade. My then cat Danny decided to jump up on my dresser and knock my jewelry box to the ground, and one of them skittered off into another dimension, never to found again (and a few years later that building was torn down, guaranteeing it was gone forever.)

        1. Turtle Dove*

          Oh no! I’m sorry you lost it. What did you do with the remaining earring? I have several singletons and daydream about turning them into pendants for a necklace.

          1. California Dreamin’*

            I lost one of a pair of beautiful unique earrings that a friend brought me from Venice years ago. Luckily the earring had a little metal loop and I was able to take it off the earring hook and put it on a chain. I wear it all the time as a necklace now!

          2. goddessoftransitory*

            I kept it for years in hope, but I think I eventually shuffled it off (not sure where.)

    9. Trixie Belden was my hero*

      A piece of art I saw on vacation in Sedona, AZ ten years ago. I could afford it but hesitated at the idea of spending twice as much on an print I had bought a few years before that and had thought about for a year before I bought it. It still brings me joy. I still have a picture of the Sedona art on my phone and a card from the gallery.

    10. Anima/Aniimat*

      A necklace I saw on a medieval market last year (not really a ren faire because set in a real medieval town). This special market has a designer (what cool job is that “medieval market designer”?!?), as a friend who lives there told me, and the shops change – the shop might not be there next year. It was a very pretty fantasy necklace for actually a fairly good price. I wish I just had bought it.

      Also some replica Roman earrings in the museum shop of a Roman bath – I was fairly sure the Roman museum nearby would have them, too, and I could ponder the price (they were real gold and quite pricey) – to my astonishment the museum had no shop at all. Since the Roman bath museum is too far away, I’ll probably never go there again. I still feel sad about these earrings.

    11. Snell*

      Yes. Every time I put on my wellies with a cute french bulldog sailor print on them, I regret not buying the wellies with the big wirehaired fox terrier print instead (both from the same company). I bought the frenchie boots because I’m a dog person, but I’m much more of a terrier person than a frenchie person. I have looked all over online to see if any are being sold secondhand, but the official release was years ago, so I’ve had no luck.

    12. Dark Macadamia*

      A few years back World Market had the exact size/color/style of vase I wanted, and I even tried ordering it online but they canceled the order because it was out of stock. A branch in my general area (but not the close one) had it but I thought it was silly to drive all the way out there to check. It would’ve perfectly matched my smaller vases and I haven’t found anything I like as much.

      A sad one: when I graduated high school my mom wrote me a really sweet letter that was so special to me I kept it in a different place than my various birthday cards and silly notes from friends. It was in my family home and at some point during or after college it vanished. Literally the only one of those items I never found again. I suspect my mom came across it when they redid that room and for whatever reason decided to keep it herself or get rid of it. She’s no longer alive and I so wish I still had the letter.

      When I was pregnant for the first time I wanted to make a baby quilt and was very insistent on keeping things gender neutral, so I made a woodland themed design. But while I was shopping for fabric I came across a set of ADORABLE pastel girly pirate fabrics – little girls with hats and swords, ships, anchors, etc. I was like no I can’t what if I have a boy baby or a girl baby who grows up to hate pink, but honestly I could’ve just made the girly pirate quilt for myself for fun!

      In general I tend to buy things I think I’ll regret missing out on, and of course it rarely turns out to be true. I have several dresses that just sit in the closet because I “had” to get them but don’t have an occasion for them (they’re not even fancy or formal, just outside my comfort zone of casual clothes – if you’ve seen the SNL sketch called Fashion Coward it’s the “rooftop party” phenomenon lol).

    13. Anon this minute*

      Did not buy a gorgeous cashmere sweater in Scotland because it was like, $150. I know I was much poorer at the time, but self, what were you thinking?!

      Did not buy the most beautiful pearl jewelry I had ever seen in my life when I was in Polynesia because, again, it seemed expensive. In retrospect, it was well priced and irreplaceable.

      Did not buy this lovely print of a Lac D’Annecy travel poster that had all the colors just as I wanted them. Later ordered what seemed like the same thing online, but the colors weren’t quite right.

      1. Snell*

        “I was poorer at the time” is the reason I passed up the terrier wellies. Today I would wince for maybe half a day then move on with my life with two pairs of wellies, one of which I like a lot more than the other, but at the time, I had already purchased the frenchie wellies when I found out about the terrier wellies and I felt like the responsible thing to do was restrain myself.

    14. fposte*

      Brilliant question! Two main things come to mind. I tried in a dress to wear to a wedding in when I was in my twenties, and I was very much an academic in boxy clothing so was really thrown by a dress with actual shape. Wish I’d bought it annd enjoyed it. The other was somebody who offered to fly me to Paris business class on his FF points for a party he was throwing there. Tbh I might have regretted going as well, but what a great regret to have if so.

    15. Texan In Exile*

      I also regret not buying the shoes! I found a pair of blue, lizard-skin Lucchese boots (retail close to $1,000) in my size at a thrift shop for $40.

      They were gorgeous, but I thought, I already have a pair of boots. I do not need more boots.

      I left them on the shelf.

      By the time I got home, 20 minutes later, I realized the error of my ways and called the shop to ask if I could give them my credit card number to hold the boots for me.

      Somebody else had already bought them.

      Buy the shoes. Always buy the shoes.

    16. Pippa K*

      A pair of earrings at the New York Public Library gift shop a few years ago. They were gold and black, with an intaglio in onyx or glass that dangled slightly. I told myself I had enough earrings and didn’t need to indulge in another pair, which is true, but I really wish I bought these! Despite much searching, I’ve never been able to find them online.

    17. Love me, love my cat*

      Saw a coffee table at Marshall’s, probably 30 years ago now, and still regret not buying it! Probably can’t do it justice with my description, but I’ll try. The top was a wooden box (that opened) with rather dark stain and an intentionally shabby-chic slightly beaten up look. The box sat on a thin wrought iron frame, with wrought iron legs. They say you can’t miss what you never had, but I still miss that table. :P
      And a few years back I bought a large trunk at Tuesday Morning. It was covered in a slightly muted, mostly shades of brown fabric with a birds and cage kind of design. There was a smaller trunk also, which I didn’t buy. But now I’ve moved to a smaller place….well, you can probably see where this is going. Sob.

      1. Chaordic One*

        Similar, I saw a coffee table at Montgomery Wards more than 20 years ago that I regret not buying. It had drawers and a glass top so items in the top drawer were visible through the top. Then Montgomery Wards went out of business. I have never seen that coffee table again, though I do look online for a used one from time to time. I have seen similar coffee tables and they all cost anywhere from 2 to 10 times as much. (A near double of the one at Montgomery Ward’s was offered by a business that made custom furniture to order, but it was nearly ten times the price of the Montgomery Ward table all those years ago and I can no longer find it online, so maybe that company stopped offering it.)

    18. Chauncy Gardener*

      Gah! yes! A million years ago there was an amazing (big, perfect) black opal pin in a shop near me. I was in the eastern Pacific area at the time. It was a lot of money. I really wanted it. I visited it for at least two years. I really REALLY wish I had bought it. It sure would be a lot more money now and no way I could afford it. I would have eaten PB&J for it for a while back in the day, but it would be astronomical now. :(

    19. Not Totally Subclinical*

      A captain’s desk that I saw in an antique store during college. It wasn’t horrendously expensive, but since I was a college student it was more than I could justify spending. I still think about that piece of furniture, even though I probably wouldn’t have found it practical if I had bought it.

      I once saw a mug with Sandra Boynton’s “Don’t Let the Turkeys Get You Down” drawing on it but decided not to buy it on that occasion. I regretted that for decades, as I never found the mug again. A few years ago, I ran across one at a secondhand store and immediately snapped it up.

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

        Yay! I’m glad you got your happy ending with the mug at least!

    20. goddessoftransitory*

      Not going to a local Italian place at least once more before it abruptly closed. We put off going for years for absolutely no good reason, finally did, loved it, and just as we were adding it into the rotation–boom!

    21. SarahKay*

      A georgeous set of garnet and silver jewellery that I saw in Prague when visiting about 15 years ago – necklace, bracelet and earrings. At that time it was just too much for me to afford, but I do regret not having the cash for it. I went back about five years later, at a time I would ahve been able to buy it, but fashions had moved on and there was nothing even similar.

      A more cheerful story: when I was about twelve or thirteen I fell in love with a Rupert The Bear duvet cover in a catalogue. Mum wouldn’t let me save my pocket money and buy it, on the grounds that I would grow out of liking it very soon. For the next twenty years, I would remember that cover and regret not being allowed to buy it – and occasionally remind Mum that I still would have liked it.
      Then, the wonder that is eBay became a big thing, and much to my delight I found a second-hand one. It’s currently on the thin single duvet that I put over my feet at night if it’s particularly cold, and 50-something year-old me still likes it.

    22. Anon. Scientist*

      I was in a secondhand store in a classic east coast resort area and found this absolutely amazing, old master quality oil painting of a rowboat on a rocky beach from the 1800s. It was unsigned or the artist was a nobody, and it was full size (like 3×5 feet) and it didn’t quite fit our style, what with the gigantic old style frame. $700. I had my hatchback and we could have totally have tucked it in and found a way to baby it the rest of our vacation and drive it home.

    23. California Dreamin'*

      In a similar vein, at the first fancy grown-up dinner party I ever hosted (in my 20s), I served an amazing specialty cocktail that I believe I cut out of Bon Appetit magazine. It was holiday season, and this was some kind of cranberry-infused vodka cocktail. It was delicious and beautiful and perfect for the season. Somehow I managed to toss out the recipe. This was in pre-internet days, so I couldn’t just Google it back then, but I have tried and tried to find it online once that became a possiblity. I have found many recipes for cranberry-infused vodka, but none of them are that one, and they’re not quite right.

    24. HBJ*

      Oh yes. Mine was a jacket. My husband really liked it on me. It was cute but functional. I debated getting it, he said I should. But I didn’t need it, and it was somewhat pricey (not terribly, I think under $100, but I’m a pretty cheap person). This was almost a decade ago now. To this day, I wish I’d bought it. And I’ve looked for it on resale sites from time to time. And my husband for years said he should have just gone back the next day and bought it for me.

    25. TX_TRUCKER*

      Once at a craft fair, 20 years ago I saw this handmade bead, shaped like a cat. It was meant for a charm bracelet … which I didn’t wear back then and still don’t wear today. Occasionally I encounter some piece of art that reminds me of that bead and I think I should of bought it. I live a minimalist lifestyle and strongly try to limit physical possessions. I have no use for that bead, but sometimes events like this post make me think about it.

    26. Former archaeologist*

      My partner and I (both archaeologists at the time) went on a massive road trip back before either of us had a smart phone, so we did all our route planning at least a day in advance. My partner was snoozing while I was driving and saw a sign saying a well-known archaeological site was just ahead. I wanted to stop and see it, and the sign indicated it wasn’t far from our route, so I woke my partner to ask about stopping but my partner said nah. As soon as we passed the exit, I wished I had said I wanted to see it and taken the exit to discuss, since we could have hopped back on the highway if we reached consensus to skip it. There wasn’t another exit for quite a while so it would have added an extra hour or so to go back, and we no longer have a lifestyle that facilitates road trips with that level of flexibility.

    27. Pear Blossom*

      It’s always shoes, LOL!

      This was years ago, maybe 2009 or so, my mom bought a pair of high heels (on the low end, 2 inches or so) that were Marc Jacobs dups. They were perfect in every way. Her feet are smaller than mine but it fit us both.

      But then she returned them?!?! I was so upset. I think about those shoes like once a year.

      On the flip side, there was a llama pillow from Cost Plus World Market in 2018 (maybe a few years earlier) that I was obsessed with. My husband said we didn’t need more clutter in our apartment. I didn’t get the pillow. I was irritated at myself for not getting it and him for being a killjoy. I googled it recently and it is SO DATED! I laughed so hard. Can’t win them all :)

  18. Helvetica*

    What is an “original” that has made you realise the similar versions/knock-offs actually don’t measure up?

    My example is a very expensive Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress. I’d worn wrap dresses before and they always looked great on my body type but I was always curious how the “original” fits. So I tried it in a shop and honestly, I understood why it is the classic – the cut is immaculate, it is so well-fitted, the wrapping is thoughtful and artistic, and the material (specifically the silk jersey) is luxurious.
    Other wrap dress have been good but this is truly the original. I get so many compliments every time I wear it, so it has really justified itself.

    1. Rosemary*

      Not a specific item, but the “factory outlet” versions of clothes. Some items are fine, but others are just…off. And they often are not THAT much less expensive than the “real” thing.

      And I agree with you re: DVF. I don’t have a wrap dress (they just don’t work on my body, and I find myself fussing with them too much) but I have two other styles and always get compliments. They are so well made, and just fit well.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Yes! I’ve stopped bothering with outlet versions because they get misshapen or worn-out looking after just a couple washes. Places like Old Navy or Target tend to work out better for me than Chicos Off the Rack or whatever. I get my nicer brand names on sale or secondhand.

    2. mreasy*

      This happens so often with clothing. I am a big Poshmark shopper and I try to find deals on designer and other high-end clothing because the quality, fit, and finishing are usually so much better than anything I can afford to buy new.

    3. nerdgal*

      Baileys. There’s a couple of “irish cream liqueur” brands that are supposed to taste the same. They don’t.

      However, I only buy one bottle of Baileys a year because I cannot resist it.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Oh, Girl Scouts Thin Mints fall in this category! I don’t care how many people insist those Keebler things taste the same. THEY DON’T.

      1. HBJ*

        Oh yes. There is one brand and only one brand I will ever buy. They don’t carry it at the store I usually shop it, so I go out of my way to a different store to get it whenever I run out.

    4. Texan In Exile*

      I have just replaced a TopCare bandage on my finger for the 7th time in two days. The second the bandage senses a drop of water, it detaches from my skin. I have the wrapper next to me now to remind me to have A Talk with Mr T, who always wants to get the bargain version of things. I have convinced him on Dawn detergent, but have yet to get him to change his ways on Q-tips.

      (That said – Aldi store brands are amazing, especially their chocolate.)

      1. Deanna Troi*

        I will only use actual Q-Tips! Mr. Troi buys the generic ones even when I remind him not too. So then I buy them to use for myself and hide them from him until he uses up the generic ones first.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        My dad smoked for decades and utterly trashed his taste buds as a result, to the point where he legitimately could not taste the difference between full strength Pepsi and diet caffeine-free store brand cola, so he just bought the cheap stuff, and nobody would drink it but him :P I was 14 when I had a Coca-Cola for the first time and my little mind was blown. (But I legit can’t taste the difference between root beers, except for Barq’s, because whatever they put in it to make it caffeinated makes it taste absolutely gross.)

    5. Grits McGee*

      Oreos! I have tried just about every knock off I’ve come across, and none of them seem to be able to hit the chocolate note correctly.

    6. goddessoftransitory*

      I’ve never bought any but I understand that hand crafted shoes are basically angels carrying you around, and I’d love to commission a pair: just one pair of shoes designed for my own, personal feet.

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

      Medaglio D’Oro instant espresso in the little glass jar. Nothing else comes close, including their non-instant espresso.

    8. anon for one day, and one day only*

      There’s this Chinese candy called something like “san jia peng” ( idk the “official” romanization) that are little discs wrapped in paper to resemble a small firecracker. Throughout my childhood, it was my standard after-school snack. Mom would give me one, and I would ration the little discs through the afternoon. She stopped buying them out of concern for the manufacturing practices, and I didn’t see them again until my 20s.

      Recently, Mom bought a “clean” version by a company that promotes itself for having scrupulous manufacturing practices and ethics, and was excited to share them with me. We tried them. They tasted familiar and correct, in that both the original and this new clean version both contain hawthorn, but everything else about it was wrong and inferior. There are fancier versions, too, by which I mean they are marketed as fancier/higher class, but truly, they are not an improvement on the original common cheapo candy.

      1. Anon this minute*

        Do they go by “Haw Flakes” in English sometimes? I think my friend in college who was Taiwanese used to give me those. Yummy!

        1. anon for one day, and one day only*

          Yes, those are the ones. Nowadays, it’s something I eat only when I’m hanging out with cousins on my tier of the family tree or younger just to dodge the hassle of getting hassled by older relatives for eating junk food associated with dodgy ingredients and dodgy manufacturing practices. Same with pearl milk tea.

    9. Pear Blossom*

      Philadelphia Cream Cheese :)

      Open to other store bought options and I’ve heard Tillamoook is good too, but Philadelphia is the OG for me.

    10. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Other than soda as previously discussed, there are three things that I can think of where I absolutely refuse to buy store brands: Cheez-it crackers, Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, and Totino’s pizza rolls. Pretty much anything else, if there’s a store brand, I’m probably fine with it.

  19. California dreaming*

    Advice for a holiday to San Francisco/Bay Area, please!

    I’m spending two weeks staying with friends near Berkeley (near a Bart station with direct line into SF) in May. Super excited about it.

    I’ve previously stayed in SF many years back, and did the round of touristy things/popular attractions (Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf, MOMA, Haight-Ashbury, the Presidio, Golden Gate Park etc) then. Didn’t have access to a car that time, but planning to hire one on this visit.

    Would be *very* grateful for any recommendations for:

    a) places in SF worth visiting again/that would have changed a lot

    b) places in the Bay Area within a half-day’s drive which are worth visiting – was thinking of spending a couple days at Lake Tahoe, but open to other suggestions… My partner is coming to join me for a long weekend getaway, where should we go?

    c) any shops, restaurants or bars that I should visit, in either SF/Oakland or the surrounding area.

    Thanks so much in advance!

    1. California dreaming*

      For context: I live in the UK, so recommendations of chains would also be welcome. I’m at the more budget end of the cost spectrum (but could stretch a little for somewhere special), eat gluten free, and am a queer, plus sized woman.

      I love books and live music, and will be travelling/going out alone for the most part, except for one weekend where my partner joins me.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        The Bay Area is a great place for queer and gluten-free folks. Many options for food and happily it’s a global hub of queerness.

        A few folks have mentioned Point Reyes National Seashore. I recommend one hike in particular, perfect for May on a weekday. The Tomales Point Trail is an out-and-back route with spectacular views and elk that are so used to people that they stand right next to the trail for you to admire. You can walk as slow and as far as you like and turn around when you’re ready.

        Allow two hours of driving from Berkeley. You can get a map, etc. at the Bear Valley Visitor Center once you arrive at the park or just call them. You’ll have the place to yourself on a weekday. Alternatively, I suggest getting there by about 10:00 on Sunday morning to avoid crowds and difficulty finding parking.

        You’ll be at Tomales Point during wildflower season and there’s nothing like seeing the elk in a field of wildflowers with the ocean in the background. I’ve replied with a link to my photos from that trail as examples.

          1. California dreaming*

            What stunning photos! Thanks for sharing this (and the link to hikes below), it’s fab having such a specific suggestion, one gets a bit overwhelmed with the array of options sometimes.

    2. Kiki Is The Most*

      Take a Chinatown Food Tour. I *think* we got one through Get Your Guide (I’m not affiliated with any tour company btw), but it was a walking/food tour of chinatown. I’ve actually done a couple because they’ve been terrific!

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      a) I love the Asian Art Museum, which is probably moved and remodeled from your visit. The deYoung Museum in Golden Gate Park was an “it’s right here” spot that I wound up really enjoying, as all the art was by artists who had been alive when the art was acquired.
      b) Point Reyes is lovely. Seals on the beaches and elk on the open meadows. I do not have what it takes to be a seal, surfing the crashing waves onto the rocky beaches, but I like watching them. Nearby Muir Woods for the giant redwoods.

      1. Flower*

        Muir Woods is gorgeous. You need to reserve a parking spot in advance, though. There is otherwise nowhere to park and walk in and no shuttle, so if you don’t get a reserved spot you can’t get in. Visit their website. Have a glorious trip!

      2. WoodswomanWrites*

        The redwoods are amazing, but Muir Woods is very crowded and doesn’t even have the nicest forest. Skip it and head south of San Francisco to see the redwoods in San Mateo County. I’ll post the link in a reply to an excellent website, Redwood Hikes, that guides you to some great spots.

    4. Marmalade*

      Definitely go to Tahoe and take your partner. (Or have them fly to Reno? It’s much less chaotic for pickups). On your way to Lake Tahoe, stop at pushkins in Sacramento for lunch! There is also a bakery in tahoe city that has a solid array of gf goodies, it’s tucked up in a semi-residential area. You can also rent kayaks/paddleboards and get out on the water, the views are spectacular and it’s peaceful. In and out burger is also a great west coast option as a gluten free person as you can get burgers in a lettuce wrap and they only fry potatoes in their oil so you can have all the French fries you want. (I live in the Midwest but spent a good chunk of a summer in the Tahoe area a few years back). And for anything you forgot to pack, just go to target for a very American experience :)

      1. California dreaming*

        This sounds brill, thank you – big fan of kayaking, especially if I can fuel up on gf baked goods afterwards :)

        Cheers for the airport tip, always a fan of avoiding chaos at airports

    5. Two cents*

      Santa Cruz! Just don’t go with traffic at rush hour over the hill on 17. There are also great national and state parks within a half day’s drive. I don’t live in the area anymore and I miss redwoods…

      As for SF itself: I love the exploratorium and a tea place called the Imperial Tea Court.

      I wish you much fun!

    6. mreasy*

      North SLO County is great if you’re into wine, though it’s quite hot in summer.

      Alameda has both a pinball museum and one of the country’s oldest tiki bars!

      Dandelion Chocolate has a tourable and incredible factory / facility that’s very interesting.

      SF itself makes me sad as it’s so brutalized by gentrification. I used to spend lots of time there as a young adult and it’s totally changed. Though the restaurants are amazing as always.

      I extremely recommend not driving into the city!! Parking is a terror.

      1. Flower*

        Yes, parking is very difficult in SF. Also there is an ongoing rash of car breakins. Leave nothing in your car or trunk. (I’m including trunk because your car will be identifiable as a rental.). Also do not go up to Twin Peaks for the view — numerous tourists and locals have been robbed at that spot. Sorry but these are things visitors need to know. One thing that’s great is to go sit by the Bay near Marina Green — you can see the GG Bridge and many dogs out for a walk and at the right time of year, hundreds of pelicans flying overhead. Peaceful and beautiful.

    7. GoryDetails*

      If you haven’t done this already, the Camera Obscura near the Cliff House is fascinating – and the whole area is lovely, making for a marvelous drive (unless the weather’s too closed-in for the ocean views).

    8. Double A*

      I live halfway between Sacramento and South Lake Tahoe, so if you take 50 I recommend stopping in downtown Placerville! We have a charming little main street. It’s a small town but lots of queer friendly businesses. You will need to rent a car to get out of the Bay Area though. Our public transit options over long distances are not really great, though taking an Amtrak train from the Bay Area to Sacramento is doable.

      This is kind of a weird suggestion, but the Oakland cemetery is incredible. It so beautiful and gives you amazing views of the Bay Area. It’s a great place for an easy hike because it’s huge. The Chapel of the Bells is beautiful. Then you can wander Piedmont Ave and get lunch. There’s a food bookstore and lots of Asian food options that would be gluten free, and in general most restaurants will offer lots of options like that.

      Being queer anywhere is the Bay Area will be, like, basically the default so that should be very comfortable.

      1. RLC*

        If you like crowds and action, South Lake Tahoe has those; if you prefer a more quiet experience with less people and closer to nature, the west (California) side of the lake is far less populated.

    9. Forrest Rhodes*

      The Exploratorium on the Embarcadero, a fascinating, mind-boggling, semi-hands-on science museum. I always took adult as well as child-age visitors there and it always took us three or four attempts to leave, with lots of “Okay, but first I just have to see the [fill in yet another object, demonstration, etc.].”

      1. Filosofickle*

        I LOVE the Exploratorium! One time someone asked me what an adult does there…um, everything the kids do?! Except I go on the adult nights so I don’t have to bump any littles out of the way to play ;)

        What’s great is that it has everything — I skip whole sections that interest me less, like electro-mechanics and biology, but could spend all day with the exhibits about color, perception/optics, and “how your brain works”. Truly something for everyone.

    10. Almost Academic*

      for a: Some more offbeat places that I really enjoy include:
      – The Exploratorium
      – Musee Mechanique
      – The Wave Organ
      – Pacifica (nice beach to wander at sunset)
      – Antique Vibrator museum at the Polk Street location of Good Vibes (sex store)
      – Baseball game at the Giants Stadium or supporting the Oakland A’s, they usually still have plenty of seats day-of. You can bring in your own food, it’s good for just hanging out with a few friends.
      – Since you’ll have a car, just pull up AllTrails and find a ton of hiking trails nearby to explore

      for b: I would recommend up the northern coast, for example Point Reyes, Marin area, Muir Woods, Russian River, as all places to look into – they’re truly magical, especially at that time of year. Tahoe could be nice, but I would definitely check weather and roads before making the trek over, even in May.

      For c: Are you gluten free, or celiac? That will pretty heavily impact some recommendations and safety. Assuming the former, my recommendations are:
      – Get a super burrito in the mission district. My personal favorite is at Taqueria Cancun, but La Taqueria and El Farolito will also come up in a lot of search guides. Get it Dorado-style (grilled to be slightly crispy on the outside) – although I’m not certain these places have gluten free available. I think the only full-sized gluten free may be at The Little Chihuahua that I’ve seen. Head over to Mission Dolores park, and sit out in the sun to eat and enjoy (or grab ice-cream and head over there, if you want a fresher burrito).
      – Near the fruitvale bart, go to Wahpepah’s Kitchen. Amazing Native American food. It’s mostly open for lunch. Really good way to get a taste of the foods indigenous to the USA, and I believe that they have some gluten free items (but not sure if celiac-friendly).
      – Go to a farmer’s market and just browse and pick up whatever looks good.
      – For your partner – Croissants at Arsicault Bakery are some of the best I’ve ever had (and I lived in Paris for 9 years), but definitely full of gluten. I like the Civic Center location, more sketch/less picturesque but slightly fresher and less likely to sell out in my experience.

      Keep in mind that for food, prices on menus usually don’t include sales tax, SF Mandate and tax, or gratuity – so add about 25-30% on top of the menu prices to properly estimate what you’ll pay for a meal. Have a wonderful time!

      1. Polly Plantar*

        This is probably going to be a nesting fail, so apologies in advance. This is for California Dreaming. I haven’t been to SF since 1999, but I know the place is still there because I did a search. If you like sewing, you’ll love Britex Fabrics. The old location was a four-story building full of every fabric and notion you can imagine. It’s since moved, and is now at 117 Post Street in Union Square. My now 81-year-old mom, who loved to sew, had to see it when we visited. It’s a niche thing, I know, but I hope it lasts forever! I also wish I had visited the DeYoung museum and tea garden. We thought SFMOMA was just…okay. I hope to visit the Exploratorium one day. Hope some part of this might help you!

        1. California dreaming*

          I do love sewing! I do a lot of dressmaking, so will def check out Britex Fabrics, that sounds amazing

            1. Polly Plantar*

              There’s also Stonemountain & Daughter in Berkeley, CA. I’ve probably posted too much fabric stuff now!

      2. California dreaming*

        Thanks so much – these are great suggestions.

        I’ve actually never eaten a burrito (they tend not to have gf versions of the wrap part here), so I’ll def make a point of trying one at one of those spots.

        The Exploratorium sounds very much my vibe, it’s cool so many folk are recommending it as I hadn’t stumbled on it in my online research – will certainly be heading there.

    11. Falling Diphthong*

      Restaurants we went to in ’19:
      Kin Khao: Michelin star Thai with a tasting menu that’s a reasonable price.
      Mourad: Fancy Moroccan, very interesting

      1. Grits McGee*

        I haven’t been in Yosemite since 2011 (worked in the park), but I remember it being unpleasantly crowded once the weather warmed up, almost to Disney-like levels. Have the new reservation policies affected crowd sizes?

        1. The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon*

          Reservation policies help with crowds in Yosemite a bit, but not enough for anyone who doesn’t care for crowds. However, if a person is choosing between Tahoe and Yosemite, if it’s nice enough to be crowded in Yosemite, South Lake Tahoe will be PACKED. A person truly averse to crowds should head off to Calaveras County or similar. :-)

    12. Flower*

      The Disney Family Museum is fascinating and also has one of the best views ever. The museum is very dense, so if you try to look at everything you will wear out before you get to the best stuff. It is well worth a visit.

    13. Filosofickle*

      A suggestion nearby and BARTable for a low-key local day: The Oakland Museum of California. It’s a bit quirky in a great way, and three museums in one — history, art, and natural sciences, plus a beautiful outdoor terraced sculpture garden. Everything in the museum is specific to California or by Californians, so it’s truly a local experience. Then grab a bite at their cafe (for the convenience), in Old Town Oakland (great small spots) or at the Lake Chalet (for the water views). You can also rent a gondolier to take you out on Lake Merritt :)

    14. Pocket Mouse*

      In Berkeley: Cheese Board for cheese and (maybe) Chez Panisse to eat. For a view, head to Indian Rock Park at/after sunset. Check out the museum spaces at UC Berkeley.

      In SF: seconding (thirding?) the Exploratorium! Wandering around the Mission—especially alleys with murals—and then through Dolores Park to the Castro and getting a hot cookie and/or underwear at Hot Cookie could be fun, and would be a BART/MUNI outing rather than a driving outing.

      Outside the Bay: redwoods, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Santa Cruz. Lake Tahoe is nice, Truckee is similar and closer, both are likely a bit pricier than budget. It is so nice to be up in the pines though, and that’s a lovely time of year for it! If you go to/through Truckee, stop at the Donner Memorial State Museum and walk out on one of the attached trails. There are a number of beautiful trails in the area if easy/moderate hikes are of interest.

    15. California dreaming*

      Thanks so much for the recommendations everyone!

      Enormously helpful having such fab and specific suggestions – I really appreciate all the ideas and tips. Sounds like some beautiful hikes are in my future, and a great day out at the Exploratorium.

      (Also the heads-up about the dodgy parts of town and not leaving stuff in cars was v helpful – twenty years ago that seemed like less of an issue…)

      Reading all your great ideas has gotten me very excited for this trip :D. I’ll report back in due course…

      1. B*

        Yes, car vandalism is a real problem in the SF Bay area but the public transportation is really pretty good and ride shares are most everywhere. Also electric bike rentals, electric scooter rentals and these kinda weird electric car pod things are available too. So maybe leave the car at home when you do your urban exploring? Welcome to San Francisco!

  20. Anonymous person*

    I’m in the process of getting a wig to cover my chronic , irreversible thinning hair (not from chemo, thankfully). Would like to hear from anyone else who has done so or who made a similar drastic change to their appearance.

    1. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      I bought a wig to match my orange red hair (henna) when I had chemo, it was a Sophia Loren brand. I went to the hairdresser with it and he trimmed it a bit to suit me better. I loved it. It had fake scalp where the parting was, which significantly added to its realism.
      If you get one the same colour as your hair, you won’t have to think about any ‘edges’.
      Washing it was easy, then shaking it and hanging it upside down on a coat hanger to dry, very straightforward.
      My experience of staff in a wig shop is that they know their stuff, and will help you try some suitable styles. I chose a wig that was similar to my hairstyle at the time.
      When my hair grew back I did not colour it any more and went to grey overnight!
      If you don’t like to wear knitted hats, you probably won’t like wearing a wig, as they do fit firmly.
      Good luck with your experimentation!

      1. Anonymous Person*

        Thanks for the detailed advice. I’m looking at Bob-style wig that’s close to my natural color. I’ve had really short, almost spiky hair for so long that it will be fun, but a big change, to actually have a hairstyle.

        I plan to let close friends and family know beforehand so it’s not a shock when they see me in it. Still working out what, if anything, to say to people I see more casually at monthly Meetups and such.

        1. funkytown*

          Honestly I don’t think you need to say anything pre-emptively to casual acquantainces (or even to close friends- this just doesn’t seem like something they need to be warned about? If you had very long hair, and cut it off, is that something you would feel the need to tell them in advance?). Maybe be prepared to say “oh just trying something new!” if someone asks if you did something to your hair, and then change of subject. I can’t imagine people would be overly invested, really! Maybe it’s my circles but commenting on people’s bodies is very rude beyond maybe “Oh I like your hair today.” I hope that it goes very smoothly and you enjoy yourself!

  21. Teapot Translator*

    Where does one buy music these days (digitally)? I don’t use Apple products, so that’s out. I just discovered a band from Argentina and I want to listen to their newest CD in a loop.

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I must confess I go to Amazon for convenience & their huge digital library. I download sounds & albums to (free version) Amazon Music and have several playlists I enjoy.
      The alternative is Spotify.
      I think those 2 are the best options available.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thanks. I think I’ll buy the CD from Amazon. It’s rather expensive, but I guess it’s normal since the decline of CDs and it’s a band from Argentina.

      1. mreasy*

        Bandcamp is also usually direct to artist which is a nice bonus (and they’re not co-owned by major labels like eg Spotify). Though they won’t have everything, it’s a good place to look first!

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I still buy CDs, but rip them to my Plex media server (and before that, iTunes), so I can play them on computers or my phone or through my car stereo. Then I put the discs in an album I got at The Container Store, and recycle/give away the jewel cases, just in case I need to re-rip them. I like the combination of streaming convenience and full ownership of the physical media.

      That said, I’ve bought a few digital tracks and albums on Amazon or iTunes when they weren’t available on CD, but that’s not very often.

      1. David*

        Yes, me too! Plex shoutout :-)

        I also pay for the Tidal subscription offered as an add-on to Plex. It’s pretty decent, they seem to have quite a large selection. But whenever I find anything I really like, I’ll make a point to buy the CD, both to support the artist and to ensure that I have access to the music in a way that no streaming service can take away on a whim. (Not that I’ve had that happen, really, but it’s always a risk, and I have seen metadata changes on Tidal that make some songs temporarily inaccessible.)

        When I set out to buy a CD I’ll usually first look up the artist’s website and see if they have an online store, or a recommendation of where to go to buy their music. (Irrelevant but fun story: the last CD I bought, the artist actually came to do a show in my area so I was able to buy it directly from her, in person. It was a fantastic concert too!) If that doesn’t work, then I’ll look on Discogs, an online marketplace for (mostly used) CDs and records, or at Barnes and Noble where I have a membership. Then if that fails me, I’ll go to eBay and try general web searching to see if there’s anywhere the CD is available. For me Amazon is an absolute last resort, only if it’s the only place the thing is available at all, and then only if I really really want it.

    3. Buggy Crispino*

      God I miss going to a record store and spending a couple of hours digging through the bins searching for something new or exciting. I actually don’t love the sound of vinyl, they invariably end up hissing and popping, which drives me crazy, so I’m 100% a digital download guy. I use Apple Music, but there is nothing like walking into a physical store, starting at the A’s, touching and flipping through every record in the store.

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      Watching this thread closely! So many albums I want in a physical form, not a download!

    5. Clara Bowe*

      If it is on Azn, you can buy the digital copy and just download the files still. It’s drm free. I don’t love it, but it’s generally how I get stuff from Australia because the price for shipping is so cost prohibitive. Blaaah.

    6. Trixie Belden was my hero*

      Thanks for all the ideas.
      I REFUSE to pay a subscription for music for ETERNITY that I have already payed for on:

      I don’t trust that downloads won’t go away on the whim of some money grubbing record exec who rips off the artists.
      I used my MacBook 15 years ago to load my CDs into itunes, then an iPod until the CD tray broke. New Macbooks don’t have CD trays, although I could mess with an external drive. I wonder what I will do when the iPod eventually breaks. I don’t buy current artists. If I want to hear pop I listen to free radio. I’ve saved my CDs just in case.

    7. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      I do use Apple, but I have bought digital downloads from Amazon as well. I also buy CDs from any new artists I start getting into and then promptly rip them to mp3. I like to own the material, whether physically or digitally, rather than rely on a subscription. (You never know – the artist might get pissed off and pull their music from the service…) Thankfully it seems the CD jewel case is gone now in favor of a simple cardboard sleeve, at least for all the CDs I’ve bought recently.

  22. Falling Diphthong*

    Books (or other stories) that don’t equate a love of books as morally superior? Either a character you like isn’t into books, or the villain is?

    Was thinking of this as I happened to have a run of recent books that rested on the emotional weight of libraries, emotional weight of bookstores, or “she had a stack of library books” as shorthand to build a positive character we’ll identify with. And found myself musing on rare counter examples. To be clear, I am absolutely who these book-loving tropes are aimed at.

    Summer in Orcus by T. Kingfisher, an Alice-in-Wonderland-esque fantasy in which the chief villain loves to read. He carries trunks of books around with him and reads them on spider-horse back while his minions terrorize the villages. This is the book where it really hit home for me how much we tend to equate “loves books” with “is a good person.” And how self-serving that is for those of us who love to read.

    The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms, which features bits from the titular librarian’s daughter, who does not love to read. Who asks why her mom would think that various Important Works she assigns would resonate with her at all, and is skipping them to read a Danielle Steel novel which is actually fun.

    The Starless Sea by Erin Morganstern, in which the people trying to preserve the magical library unchanged are not the good guys.

    Bonus TV episode: Avatar S2 Ep10 The Library, in which our heroes visit a magical library. Kitara disparages Toff for not loving books, to which Toff replies that she has lifted some books, and they’re heavy and rectangular, and it just didn’t do much for her. The magical librarian seems way more into collecting and preserving knowledge than sharing it with anyone. And more than one nerdy scholar has managed to decay away in the stacks because they should have been running away but Look! A cool book!

    1. ecnaseener*

      Middle-grade, but A Series of Unfortunate Events does delicious things with this trope. The text tells us explicitly and continuously that good people are well-read and well-read people are good, but the narrative keeps poking holes in that paradigm right up to the very end.

    2. Pocket Mouse*

      I find Parks and Rec’s framing of the library as their department’s main nemesis pretty amusing.

    3. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      It’s a children’s book series, Brandon Sanderson wrote fun fantasies (the first is Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians) featuring a boy who has to take on a cabal of librarians intent on controlling the world.

    4. Shiara*

      Tangential, but I always laugh when I see the “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!” quote from Pride and Prejudice out in the wild. In context the quote isn’t a sincerely professed love of books, and the speaker is a minor antagonist.

  23. Falling Diphthong*

    What are you watching, and would you recommend it?

    Watched The Three Body Problem on Netflix, which was well-executed. Fundamental physics experiments have started going awry, and top scientists are being murdered, committing suicide, or completely stopping their work. Follows this mystery through five people recruited by a brilliant physicist as graduate students. The characters are really strong, and the long-standing friendships well drawn, and the big picture challenge unveiled is compelling. Bonus detail that there is a video game element, and one character finds the Winsome Urchin in this quite annoying, which game me permission to do the same and view that as a solid bit of acting and directing.

    I gave half an hour to the spy comedy Argylle, which managed to be silly but never fun. I think I paused it 3 times in that half hour because it wasn’t holding me, and the full run time is 2.5 hours. I don’t normally notice or care about CGI quality, but even I was like “This is a reaction shot from a poorly rendered CGI cat, against a poorly rendered CGI background of a beyond-improbable CGI escape.”

    1. Kate*

      Argylle confused the heck out of me!!

      I read the book first, and enjoyed it way more than I thought I would. Then I watched the movie, which seemingly has nothing to do with the book, except maybe the book I read is a *character* in the movie?

    2. WellRed*

      I think I’m going to give The Girls on the Bus a whirl this weekend. Would love to know if anyone else has seen it.

    3. Still*

      I saw Argylle at the cinema and I had a great time. It starts off weak, but then it gets more and more bizarre and outrageous, to the point where it’s obvious it’s not taking itself seriously, and you were never meant to, either. I laughed out loud and I think it’s achieved exactly what it was meant to.

    4. RussianInTexas*

      Finished Fallout on Prime. Never played the game, but enjoyed the series a lot.
      Catching up with Resident Alien on Netflix, highly recommend. It’s hilarious.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I’m you! Never played games in general (I am truly terrible at them) but enjoyed the story as it stood. Husband grumbled a bit about no super mutants but realized budget concerns might preclude including everything at once.

      2. BikeWalkBarb*

        Love Resident Alien!

        I got the chance to ask someone from Colorado if the seemingly warm relationship between citizens of the local tribe and the white people in town felt true. Got a nope.

    5. fposte*

      I finished binging Ripley with a friend and enjoyed it very much. I didn’t really care about the improbabilities or deviance from the source material; I just wanted a good noir romp and it delivered.

      1. Elle*

        Ripely is great! We’re going to finish it this weekend and I’ll be sad. We also enjoyed Manhunt. Last episode of a seven episode miniseries dropped Friday.

        1. TPS reporter*

          Manhunt was so good. I want to check out Franklin on Apple TV next, it looks like another good history drama.

    6. I take tea*

      Right now I’m watching a Finnish series called Munkkivuori, that I’m really sad I cannot recommend to everyone (except for Allathian, of course), because it probably won’t be easy to find. It does have an English name, “Summer of Sorrow”, so if you ever happen upon it, give it a go.

      It follows a group of kids in a suburb of Helsinki for a summer in the beginning of the 1980’s, where a child has disappeared and as a result some other bad things happen. The whole story is seen through the eyes of the kids, which makes it hard to piece together what is really happening. The adults and the kids live in totally separate worlds and no adult ever explains anything, which leads to the children making things up.

      It is well written, the filming and the light is incredible and the acting is good. It has got this low key feeling of dread throughout, it makes it hard to watch, but I have to see where it’s going. The pace is pretty slow, so if you want constant action, it’s not for you, but otherwise I think it’s worth the watch.

      The genre is maybe Nordic Noir, it has a little Dark or Stranger Things vibes (the latter mostly because of the time), but the monsters are all human (at least so far), and not really monsters, but people who do bad things because they think it’s right. The scars from the war are still very present (I realise that the end of the war is as far away for them as the 1980’s are to me – that is, a time I can remember quite well).

      Here’s an interview with the director in English: https://dramaquarterly.com/joy-and-sorrow/

    7. Chaordic One*

      I’ve been watching “Mr. Bates vs. the Post Office” on PBS. Episode 3 of the 4 episodes made is being broadcast tomorrow. It is certainly predictable, but yet oddly compelling and intriguing (much like the true stories it is based on). I understand that they are now considering a sequel to the original series to depict events that have occurred since the series ended. One personal observation and opinion of the series is that the actors cast as victims of the injustice are almost all (in conventional terms of attractiveness and beauty) less attractive than their real-life counterparts, while the actors portraying those responsible for the injustice are all more attractive than their real-life counterparts. Surprisingly watchable, at least once.

    8. SarahKay*

      I am steadily working my way through a re-watch of Prisoner Cell Block H – now up to episode 165 of nearly 700. It was made in the late seventies / early eighties, so in some ways it’s pretty dated, but it’s still very enjoyable.
      I first watched it in my late teens and I susect it influenced my thinking ever since, towards believing that people need a second chance and prisons should be about rehabilitation as much as possible.
      It does an excellent job of showing how hard it can be to make a new life once you’re out of prison. So many people don’t want to employ an ex-convict, and then even when one of them finds a job, co-workers finding out that they have a prison record can make them very vulnerable to being exploited – after all, who’d believe an ex-con if they complain that ‘nice Mr Bloggs’ has been harrassing them?
      Plus the main story lines are riveting, albeit sometimes perhaps a little OTT!

    9. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      I gave in to peer pressure and started watching Delicious in Dungeon on Netflix and my God this show has everything. Dungeon crawling! A monster lore nerd himbo whose first thought upon encountering a monster is “but how do we cook it?” A dwarf who can answer that question and who has figured out how to grow fresh veggies on the backs of dirt golems! Unexpected feels!

    10. goddessoftransitory*

      Finally gave in and got Hulu to finish watching What We Do in the Shadows–I cannot find any seasons beyond the second on a region-compatible DVD/Blu-ray. Luckily it’s still great and Guillermo remains my true love.

    11. BikeWalkBarb*

      Watching Bosch at last thanks to a friend’s recommendation. Not for you if you don’t want to see scenes of child abuse, murder, serial killers, and targeting of gay prostitutes. They keep most of the actual violence off screen so I can handle it; I don’t watch gore done for the sake of gore and this isn’t that but you do get the occasional close-up of a decomposing victim’s body.

      I’m still in season one, I think. As someone who divorced and had to co-parent I appreciate the handling of his relationship with his teen daughter and his ex. The LA racial politics are fascinating high-stakes stuff. It’s wading into police corruption now and federal investigations of organized crime.

      I’m thinking about why I can find Bosch relatable and likeable when in the abstract I’m horrified and angered by police shooting people (which he does, a lot). It feels as if this is part of what has created such tension in the real world between what white people like me both might experience and saw on TV over the years and what happens to people who don’t have my privilege. I grew up with the shows in which the cops might be bumbling or likeable (Mayberry RFD reruns, Columbo) or even hot (CHiPS) and they didn’t kill people.

      Anyway, Bosch. Not the appliance company.

    12. The OG Sleepless*

      My husband and I have been enjoying Slow Horses. Separately, I’ve been casually trying to watch Mr. Robot, but it’s really not grabbing me. I think I’m too old and too optimistic to be its target audience.

    13. allathian*

      Started the final season of The Wire. Still enjoying it.

      Also Shogun. That’s definitely not a show I want to binge on, so we’re pacing ourselves to about one episode per week.

  24. Movies!*

    What movies have you seen recently!

    I saw Civil War earlier this week. I’m definitely in the camp of people who are frustrated that it was so apolitical. Not that I expect a British writer to Make A Statement About America, but that it felt like lazy writing. If you’ve seen the trailers, there’s a part where they ask an armed soldier not to shoot them because they’re Americans, and the soldier (Jesse Plemmons!) responds with “okay, what kind of Americans are you?” And it’s such a chilling line but the resolution was such a cop-out. You don’t get to write a line that good said by an actor that good, and then have the motivation be ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. BUT, frustrating as that was, the script was paced so well and did a really good job of building and releasing tension and when to have a break. And the DC battle was so well-done, I was holding my breath the whole time. See it if you love Kirsten Dunst, I’m already mad about her likely 2025 Oscar snub.

    I also saw Sasquatch Sunset last night. It’s about a family of sasquatches, and there is no human dialogue. It was gross with lots of bodily fluids and gore and full-frontal Sasquatch nudity. I also cried twice. The power of movies!

    1. Jay*

      Godzilla X Kong, The New Empire.
      Not the BEST Godzilla or Kong movie ever.
      Mostly because they shoehorned what SHOULD have been a trilogy into one move, so we got no character development for characters that really needed it (like Skar King and Shimo). Skar King, especially, was utterly wasted potential. A “B” tier Mad Max side villain who could have been the Emperor Palpatine of the Monsterverse.

    2. Girasol*

      I stumbled over Cowboys and Aliens – Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford – on Netflix. What an oddly terrific movie! (If you’re interested, look quick. It goes off Netflix in a week.)

      1. Freya's Cats*

        Ha, I’ve seen that once long ago. It never really got famous I guess because it sounds like a bad spoof movie or something, and yet it does work and is so much fun.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Bruce Boxleitner (the actor of Babylon-5 and TRON fame) wrote a couple of similar themed “aliens in the Wild West” books as well, “Frontier Earth” and its sequel “Searcher”. Also way better than they have any business being.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Dune 2 is new to streaming. Very good at capturing the human interactions and the sense of the desert planet. You need to be able to handwave away how distance weapons come in and out of use in a battle.

      (Like Barbenheimer, it’s doing that thing where renting it right after release is about the cost of two movie tickets. My solutions were: Buy Barbie, which I have rewatched multiple times; wait a couple of months for Oppenheimer; rent Dune since we had recently rewatched the first one.)

  25. Lifelong student*

    Death planning- odd question perhaps. As I get older I am setting my life in order for next of kin. I have done all the usual things but read something this week which gives me pause.
    In this on line age, many of us use automatic debits to pay regular bills. I was aware that places like social security are notified by funeral homes of death in some automatic way. However, the article I read said that banks are also notified and freeze accounts. How does that affect automatic payments? For example, we have many utility bills that are automaticly paid by a credit card owned by only one person- although the partner is an authorized user. The actual bills are in accounts with partners name on them- not joint. Would that card be frozen? Any bankers or people with experience in this sort of thing have any insight?

    1. Miko*

      I’d also be interested to hear from someone in banking. Because I can’t imagine how anything automatic would know where you bank. How would banks be notified and how would whoever notifies them know whether you have accounts at Chase, American Express, Small Bank X, or Credit Union Y?

    2. nonprofit director*

      Not a banker and don’t know all the rules. This is based on my own experience only, as my husband passed away a little over two months ago.

      The only account that was frozen was the credit union account that was receiving his social security payments. Other money still went in. However, because it was a savings account, no money went out so I don’t know if automatic payments would have continued.

      We have another credit union account plus a regular bank account. Nothing has happened with either of them. I haven’t made the changes to remove him, but I am using both accounts as I regularly do. I am also using our credit card as I usually do, as I haven’t changed that, either. (There is a lot to do when a spouse dies and I can handle only so much at a time). All of these accounts have automatic payments that are processing just fine. These are all joint accounts, which may be why nothing has happened yet. Though oddly I was a joint owner of the credit union account that was frozen though not a member of the credit union, so who knows.

      Not sure if this helps, but it’s my experience so far.

    3. Filosofickle*

      My mother died not long ago, and my dad didn’t encounter any glitches like that across a dozen institutions and cards. Everything that was set up continued to get paid and he retained uninterrupted access to all cards and accounts — most of which they shared but not all. One card was in her name only, and even that continued to auto-pay without a problem. He has ultimately transferred everything in to his name only, but he was the one who contacted them to get mom taken off — they didn’t know otherwise and in some cases it took multiple phone calls and proof of death paperwork. IMO he created unnecessary headaches for himself not just letting sleeping dogs lie!

    4. Rekha3.14*

      In Canada, so not sure if applicable elsewhere, but when my MIL passed unexpectedly, part of “my job” was to go through her wallet and note all the cards, get the contact info, and contact them all to advise that she had passed (and FIL was living and still in the house) and either cancel or get the paperwork and assist in getting things to hia name. Bonus points for also adding my husband to accounts to help out his kinda deaf FIL. Made things a lot easier when he unexpectedly passed 2 years later.

      Auto payment didn’t stop but I believe they were all on credit card and not monthly withdrawal from the account. Only once we did the paperwork did the credit card based payments stop. So it can add up if you’re doing it for parents and no one thinks to cancel the card or the internet or cell phone in a reasonable time frame. Cell we didn’t cancel right away because many accounts had her number and would 2 factor until we could change them over. So make sure someone can access your phone…

      We did it about 5 months after she’d passed when we realized FIL hadn’t. If you haven’t a list of all the accounts you have anywhere, that would be very welcomed by whomever is going to handle your estate (bank, any property owned, credit cards, store cards…)

      Kudos for thinking ahead.

    5. Not Alison*

      Had this happen for a parent in the USA. Social security notifies the bank that receives the automatic social security deposits. Which usually ends up freezing the account. So make sure that your automatic payments are out of an account at a different bank otherwise they may not get paid.

  26. Lynn*


    I want to grow asparagus. I’ve read articles online. I live in Ohio.

    What are your tips or things you wished you’d known for being successful with asparagus?


    1. Retirement Pending*

      It takes a while, you plant the roots and expect a crop the second year. I had a raised box bed that did pretty well. Now I have asparagus growing volunteer from seeds downwind!

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      In Animal Vegetable Miracle Barbara Kingsolver writes quite a bit about growing asparagus.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Manure is your friend. Work in a lot before you plant.

      After harvest is over and you let the skinny spears go to fern stage, leave them all summer to feed the roots. When they die and turn brown, remove them and mulch with something else – you can compost the fronds, but don’t just put them back in the bed.

      This helps prevent asparagus beetles.

    4. Alex*

      My parents grow asparagus, and one thing that they messed up a bit was over-harvesting. It takes a few years for it to get the the point where you actually CAN harvest, and once you do, you still need to let some go to seed so the patch will be there next year.

      (Overharvesting mostly driven by my dad’s love of asparagus and him running out and trying to eat it while my mom tried to stop him lol).

    5. Girasol*

      The advice I’ve seen is not to harvest until they’re bigger than a pencil, so not in the first spring and maybe not the second. Then you harvest for no longer than 6 weeks and let anything that sprouts after that grow as it will all summer.

    6. Chaordic One*

      When I was a child we moved into this house that had an abandoned garden full of weeds in the back yard. The only thing that survived was a single asparagus plant. It was bizarrely hardy in spite of not receiving any care. Numerous times my father cut it down at the base and it always came back, year after year, in spite of freezing cold below zero degrees Fahrenheit winter weather. It didn’t die until my father built a garage over top of it.

      1. Snell*

        Asparagus grows from an underground crown. For some reason, I thought the lifespan of an asparagus plant was 20-25 years, but a quick internet search yielded no consensus. I would expect that professional growers might cull a crown if its yield wanes, but I assume it becomes more productive the more you don’t want it there.

  27. WellRed*

    Not the most exciting question but I don’t know where else to ask: part of the snap on my very expensive wallet broke and I have no idea where to get it fixed? (It’s a two year old Coach that I don’t abuse and certainly don’t have overstuffed with money haha). Im irritated by this since you would hope it would have lasted far longer.

    1. Chapeau*

      On their website, merchandise repair is a subject option on the contact us form. That was under Help.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      If it’s leather, find some nearby equestrians to ask where they go to get their saddles and tack repaired. The leather is usually thicker, but not always, so you may find some very skilled and experienced leather repair people via the equestrian community.

    3. A313*

      I sent a coach wallet to coach for a similar reason. Took a while, but it was worth it to me.

    4. sagewhiz*

      Also consider luggage repair shops in your area. They often repair all sorts of leather goods.

      1. Patch*

        Or a shoe repair place. The one near me has a gallery of items they’ve recreated/repaired, and it includes random things like a briefcase, pocketbook, baseball glove, axe cover, watch wristband, and luggage.

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          YMMV, but the shoe repair place near me is HORRIBLE. Absolutely ruined a gorgeous vintage handbag of mine. :(

    5. Anono-me*

      Even though you bought the wallet at Macys
      I would suggest asking Coach for help.
      There rules may have changed, but Macys is where I got hooked on Coach and
      when I had a problem 20+ years ago, Coach absolutely fixed it.

      1. just here for the scripts*

        Seconding this! Coach has fixed and maintained my two leather backpacks for 20 years! Yes you don’t gave it whole they’re working on it. And yes it takes a few weeks, but it’s totally worth it!!

    6. Chauncy Gardener*

      Oh I do think Macy’s at the Coach counter should help. If not them, then a Coach store. You’ll probably have to pay either way though

  28. Chapeau*

    Is there a shoe repair place nearby? Or their website has merchandise repair as a subject option at the contact us under help.
    And yeah, I’d definitely expect something from them to last longer!

  29. Eclipse traveler*

    Looking for suggestions for shorts I can wear under a dress in the summer to avoid chub rub. Looking for size 12 or so, and have a bit of a Meno-belly so something that either won’t roll down (or is bearable when it does) would be great. Don’t need it to be shapewear.

    1. Silmaril*

      Snag shorts are great – comfy, loads of colours, don’t roll down, thin enough to be wearable in summer but thick enough to be effective against chub rub. Not too pricey, and they last ages.

      Will put website link in a reply.

        1. I take tea*

          Ooh, they sell in Europe too. I might have to check it out. I suppose there might be summer some day, even though we just got more snow…

          1. Freya's Cats*

            Yes, I think they are based in Scotland. I ordered to mainland Europe and it takes a bit of time but no problems otherwise.

    2. Maryn*

      I second Snag and add Jockey Slip Shorts. There are other brands as well, all made of thin knit that stays in place, with properly located seams that don’t add to the chafe.

      The knit used is not at all tight, but to fully ease the meno-belly, consider one size up. I have a tummy that’s more comfortable that way in the slip shorts I have.

      I started with one in black and one nude, but now I have a handful of colors and wear them all summer long.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Echoing both Snag and Jockey. I prefer the Snag because they come in more ridiculous colors, but have and wear both. They’ve both gotten me through full 15 hour days at Disneyworld parks in 110 degree days in July without slipping, sliding, rolling up or down, or adding to the innate discomfort of the heat and humidity. I wash mine on the delicate cycle and air dry them, but the ones that have landed in the dryer by accident are holding up fine anyway.

    3. Alex*

      My personal favorite is the TomboyX nine inch modal boxers. A little pricey, but I’ve had their stuff for five years now and it is holding up well. Bonus that these are meant to wear as underwear. Buttery soft, no rolling at the waistband.

      I’ve tried Woxer as well, but their modal pilled up, whereas TomboyX did not. I’ve also tried Jockey brand (I think they are called skimmies?) and they are fine, but I found they sometimes rolled at the thigh and also didn’t like the material as much as the ones that are meant to be underwear.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      Undersummers – my favorite are the ones that have lace around the waistband, the thicker layer of material keeps it from rolling down.

    5. Freya's Cats*

      Adding my voice to Snag. Comfy in all sorts of sizes, not too expensive, don’t pinch your waist or thighs, come in many colours.
      There are also upper thigh bands available if various brands. Some aimed at sports but also more elegant versions. I’ve not tried those but I’ve been meaning to. If it is really hot and sweaty out any extra layer is just more warm and these don’t cover your hips or belly so I’m hoping they ventilate better.
      Not helpful in all circumstances, but talcum powder can also sometimes help against chub rub and sticky thighs.

    6. Qwerty*

      I get slip shorts on Amazon. I haven’t tried them yet, but I’ve started seeing options for pettipants if you want something looser rather than skin tight.

    7. Cally*

      The Snag chub rub shorts have changed my summer clothing life! I didn’t wear skirts for decades because nothing I tried avoided the dreaded chub rub but these shorts are magic and now I rock the flowy summer skirts in comfort with confidence. So comfy, cool, and in fun colours so if they show it looks good. I have like seven pairs now.

    8. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      I got Melerio slip shorts on Amazon and I specifically like them because they are not overly compression. I just want chubrub protection, but I hate being in tight things.

    9. goddessoftransitory*

      I’ll have to check the brand name when I get home, but I have several pairs in light nylon that can double as panties (but I wear panties under them so I can wear them a couple times before washing.) They are very comfortable and don’t do that “roll up thigh band of death” thing.

    10. Pretty as a Princess*

      If your primary concern is chub rub (vs “short dress and adding security”) I’d recommend a runner’s anti-chafe like Body Glide (which you can find on Amazon). Comes in a stick like deodorant. I run long distance and use it on my feet and anywhere that chafes, and use it when I’m in a dress or whatever, too. Works like a charm.

  30. ecnaseener*

    We usually have a Crafting Thread, right? I can start, tell us about what you’re making!

    I made good progress with a bodice block this week, this is my first drafting/tailoring project! I think I’m close now with just a few simple changes needed (knock on wood). My biggest problem is the old sheet I’m using for a muslin is all stretched out of shape, so I can’t tell if any grainline issues are with the pattern or just the fabric lol.

    1. Dancing Otter*

      I’m making a patchwork tote bag. All the pieces are cut, and interfacing fused. We won’t talk about fusing the appliqué to the iron, since I succeeded in cleaning it off, OK?
      Unfortunately, my sewing machine has informed me that it wants to see its friends at the repair shop. Forcefully. Insistently.
      So I am also knitting a cat blanket out of the softest, coziest bulky chenille yarn in colors found only in yarn. I swear it didn’t look that garish on screen when I ordered it! But the kitties at the rescue won’t care, right?

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I just started spinning yarn a few weeks ago, and today I treated myself to a pound of really pretty dyed merino roving as a sort of goal for when I get comfortable with the basic wool I’m currently practicing with :) I also signed up for a workshop at a local fiber festival in June! (Husband: “You’re REALLY getting into this, aren’t you.”)

    3. HamlindigoBlue*

      I’m still working on my mosaic crochet blanket that’s been a thing since late last year. I’m more than halfway done, but it’s just tedious at this point. It looks really cool so far, but it’s just slow going, and I’ll be glad when it’s done. I’m also looking through my saved patterns to decide which summer tank I want to knit.

    4. strawberry lemonade*

      Nice! I did, I think, 9 or 10 versions of mine and I got a lot better at sewing over the course of it. Biggest advice: do not half ass it. Get muslin and make sure you’re pressing your seams and do the sleeves early.

    5. The Other Sage*

      Today I finished an embroidery project. It is a scene under the sea with shells, a fish and some other elements.

      I used a fabric rest from a sewing project for this one.

  31. Small town*

    Dearest Younger Son is going to be spending 2 months in Tallinn, Estonia this summer. He is working on improving his Russian language skills. He hopes to pick up some Estonian but knows they have 14 verb tenses so that may be slow going. Any recommendations on things to see, foods to try, etc? He is an experienced international traveler so the bus or the train are no big deal. We will be visiting and wonder about places to stay. Any help appreciated!

    1. RagingADHD*

      English has 12 verb tenses, and Spanish (often considered one of the easiest languages to learn) has 16-18 depending who’s doing the classification. So he shouldn’t let that intimidate him!

      1. chili oil*

        Agree with the verb tenses. He basically only needs 3 or 4 to communicate – present/future /past and possibly a present perfect. Then he’s having all the conversations!

      2. allathian*

        It’s not the verb tenses that are the biggest issue with learning Estonian, it’s the noun cases. Estonian has 14, Finnish has 15, although one of them has pretty much fallen out of use in modern Finnish. In Finnish and Estonian, the noun cases serve the same function as prepositions do in English.

        Latin has six noun cases, German has four (nominative, dative, accusative, genetive). English has three, but they only apply to personal pronouns rather than nouns (he/him/his, etc.).

    2. Tallinner*

      As an Estonian, I’d really caution him to not learn Russian for this trip. It is not the language of Estonia, and us Estonians would not like him approaching it as if it were. English is very commonly spoken as yes, the Estonian language is hard, but a foreigner speaking Russian (who is clearly not Russian themselves) would be perceived a tad sensitively, especially in the context of the war against Ukraine. So, please learn the Estonian word for hello and you will get much farther.
      Otherwise – Tallinn is a lovely place. The restaurant scene is amazing and good food is plentiful, especially local, farm-to-table, nordic cuisine style. Traditional cuisine is more heavy meat-and-potatoes, let’s survive the winter, type, so not that appealing. Especially Kalamaja is full of quirky and fun places; Old Town is more touristy but still offers a good range of decent restaurants. Coffeeshops are plentiful and the coffee is very good.
      He will have time to see all of Tallinn and some more, and as Estonia is a small country, I’d recommend he get to other places in Estonia too – Tartu, Pärnu, or either of the islands of Hiiumaa and Saaremaa.

      1. small town*

        He already speaks Russian and will be staying with a host family. As a trans gay American there are many places he would prefer not to be where he might be less safe. He knows that Estonian language and culture are not Russian but get can get some experience there while working on both languages. Tanan teid abi eest!

        1. Heve*

          How exactly do his gender or sexuality matter to advice telling you that people in the former Soviet Union in general do not like being spoken to in Russian? Other than if he already is in a mire vulnerable demographic it might be extra important to be aware of local sensibilities?
          Russian is the language of their oppressors. Relations between Russian speakers and non Russian speakers were never very good but have deteriorated a lot since the war in Ukraine. And even if that were not so, if a local warns you to not do a thing, it is common sense to not do that thing.
          Not antagonising his hosts will greatly improve his experience there. Just take the advice and stow the defensiveness.

          1. RussianInTexas*

            This. As a person who is obviously originally from Russia, and speaks Russian as a native language, I would never speak Russian anywhere in the Baltics.
            The wounds are raw, and issues are may, even though the USSR has not existed for over 30 years.

        2. Once too Often*

          Just a reminder that folks are trying to be helpful here, & are pointing out things that could reduce his welcome – & thereby safety – in Estonia.

          Going to a formerly occupied country to improve his mastery of the language of their oppressors is not an ideal way to make friends & find respect. Strangers are less likely to look out for a youngster that (ignorantly) obliviously impolite & disinterested in the country & people of the present day. Imagine going to France to improve your German after WWII.

          He should go, have a great time, build his Estonian language skills, learn more about their culture, eat some great food, etc. He should probably also learn about life there under Soviet rule.

          Its easy to support learning Russian, but not in a formerly occupied country and especially not while Putin is trying to retake other formerly occupied land. And it’s a tad ironic to be focused on improving his ability to speak the language of a country where he would be at risk over learning the language of the country he is in & where he would otherwise be much safer.

          Best wishes to him & to you.

    3. Voluptuousfire*

      Also if he wants to do a day trip, there’s a ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki, Finland. It’s a lengthy ride, about five hours, but Helsinki is a great city. It’s walkable, has great design and if you’re into metal, it’s a Mecca of sorts.

  32. Be the Change*

    Is there some eloquent non-English, perhaps German or Russian, word for when you never want to do something, but then when you do, you are glad you did?

    I have a Saturday morning yoga meetup in the park. I never want to go to but I am always glad once I am there. What’s your thing like that?

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Doing a video from Move With Nicole in the morning. I feel stronger and more energetic and resolve that I will do this every morning (she has videos of all different lengths, so it can fit the rest of my day and my energy level). And then the next morning comes and resolve is not enough on its own.

      1. Anon Poster*

        I love that you posted this, I’ve been trying to talk myself into starting her videos again for weeks. I needed this little push!

    2. The happy introvert*

      I think I suffer from what I call Inertia :D

      Basically, whatever state I’m in I struggle to switch to doing something else even if it’s something I like and enjoy.

      So my things are… if I’m awake, I don’t want to go to bed
      If I’m in bed, I don’t want to wake up
      If I need to shower, I don’t want to but feel better when I do
      I also don’t want to leave my house to go to my yoga class but am always glad when I do.
      I often waste too much of my free time scrolling the internet or something instead of doing things I like such as reading, playing a game, puzzles, or etc.
      I don’t like to leave my house in general (I’m a real homebody)

      1. David*

        Huh, I can relate, I feel the same way.

        I don’t know a nice German word for it though. It seems like a good thing to have a word for.

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

        Can relate as well! Task-switching — even to a fun task — is hard . . . .

      3. Freya's Cats*

        Oh I am exactly the same. And it is even worse in winters, I practically hibernate.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      One of the things I (vaguely) remember from chemistry class is the concept of “activation energy.” If you put certain molecules together, but they don’t have enough energy they won’t react with each other. They’ll just stay the same, floating side by side without changing. Add in some activation energy and ~boom~ they’ll change/combine/fall apart/react in some way.

      So when I’m in a situation where I don’t want to go somewhere or do something I liked in the past (or have good reason to believe I will like once I get started, if it’s a new-to-me thing), I remind myself I just need to add a little “activation energy” to the situation for the “reaction” to happen.

  33. Lifelong student*

    Death planning question. Does anyone know for sure if banks are informed about the death of an account holder? My concern is with planning for the future when automatic payments are made through a bank or a credit card. In this age of on-line billing and banking- how does one deal with this after the death of the account holder?

    1. ecnaseener*

      They’re not automatically informed, no. My dad just had to call all of his mom’s banks, I think they needed a copy of the death certificate. In at least one case (I think a subscription service with autopay) he had to mail a formal complaint or something because they were making it so impossible to cancel.

      So, definitely keep a list of all accounts with any other death-planning papers.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Similar for life insurance claims. My dad had quite a few and we had to inform each company and fill out paperwork, and include a copy of the death certificate.

    2. WellRed*

      The banks will still needed to be told by whoever is put in charge of doing that stuff. And closing the utilities and credit card and subscriptions as well. I’m on my mothers checking account now so if she dies or becomes incapacitated, it won’t be a hassle to take care of bills etc in the interim.

    3. Generic Name*

      This is what the executor of your estate would do. To my knowledge, there is no automatic process that happens. A person has to take care of all that stuff. If you don’t have a will, that’s where I’d start.

    4. crookedglasses*

      Sample size of one, here, but I have seen a case where a bank account was closed shortly after someone passed, seemingly in response to to death certificate having been processed. It came as a surprise that the account had been closed, and our best guess was that the state notified financial institutions as a matter of course?

      1. DreamOfWinter*

        This happened to my stepdad too, when my mom passed. He was in over his head trying to sort things out and then they froze the joint account and canceled credit cards, so he had no access to any money until the death certificate was released. And of course that took nearly a month due to backlog and when it did come it had the wrong SSN on it!

    5. How's It Going?*

      When my dad died, we took a death certificate to the bank and closed the accounts. The accounts were already set with a beneficiary to pay out to, so the bank just closed the accounts and cut my sibling and me a check. If there are automatic drafts coming out for utilities, I’d imagine you’d need to cancel those first. But as far as I know, banks are not informed about someone’s death until you/executor informs them.

    6. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Yes, usually the executor (or estate administrator, in the case of small estates) informs the banks. Until then, auto-payments will still be made, which can be good, or it can cause issues. Once they know the account holder is deceased, they will often lock the account until someone can prove that they’re the executor or administrator, so be careful. I actually paid a few of my father’s bills with his checking account after he passed, which is technically not legal, but I was the estate administrator (I managed to keep it all out of probate) and only heir. But for most things it was easier just to lay the money out myself, as I knew I’d be getting the money in his accounts soon anyway.

    7. A313*

      I had to inform all of the banks and provide a death certificate. Keep in mind, you may want to keep their phone and email going until you’re sure everything’s settled. Before I informed the banks and other accounts, I could access them with my parent’s user ID and password, because then they would often send an email or text with a code to enter to be allowed into their system.

      Also, inform all 3 of the credit reporting agencies. When you inform one, they are supposed to let the other 2 know, but I found that didn’t necessarily happen.

    8. WellRed*

      I just saw above your longer version of this question. Don’t assume Social Security or anything else will be automatically notified. My mother had to notify them and provide actual (not a copy) if the death certificate.there are resources of books and checklists out there to guide you through all of this.

      1. Just a name*

        Our funeral home notified social security for us, so I’d ask them if they will. Also someone needs to notify one of the credit bureaus of the death. They have info on their websites about how to do that. Once one is notified they tell the others. Helps prevent bad people from stealing the identity of the deceased.

    9. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      To all who may someday be executors, order way way way more death certificates than you think you will need. I was floored by how many places would only accept originals, no faxes, copies, etc. And in many states it is cheaper to order 20 and use 5 then it is to order 4 and then have to place another order for the 5th one.

      But yes, having a list of every place you have accounts easily accessible to the executor is pretty important. I have a lot of my bills moved over to my credit card that I pay off every month because it is easier to cancel the credit card than it is to cancel ACH.

    10. Random Bystander*

      After my dad’s death last August, my Mom had to go to their bank (fortunately, a credit union with good staff) and all the credit cards. I think the only thing that was automatic was Social Security.

      I’m now the one who will handle things when my mom passes away (I would like that to be at least ten years from now! I mean, she is 78, Dad was 79, would have been 80 on his birthday, so I do have to be realistic about the likelihood). My parents had redone their wills and all the other documents (health care proxy–I’m now primary for Mom) in January before my father passed away, and one of the things that was included in the packet that I got (since I was second after a surviving spouse) included all the accounts/contact info.

      A lot of these do need copies of the death certificate (funeral home can help out with that and will recommend getting more than you think you need, there was something like one price per copy–I think up to 25–at the beginning and then if you needed more the per copy was higher). I think in all of the credit cards, the companies cancelled the old card with an immediate issue of a new card for Mom (which did involve a bit of a pain in getting things like points and other such rewards moved).

      So the list to be kept with all the other paperwork by the designated person (surviving spouse/named executor) would probably have something like:
      Main Bank – checking account #123/savings acct #456
      – auto payment for cable from checking account
      – auto payment for phone from checking account
      Credit Card 1 – Name/contact
      -auto payment for Fido’s food (charged on ## day of month)
      Credit Card 1 – Name/contact


    11. Zona the Great*

      100% guarantee this doesn’t happen anywhere anymore but my first job was as a bank teller in my very very small town (~2000 people) and we had a person who’s job it was to read the obituaries in all the newspapers in the county and freeze any accounts of the dead patron of our bank before family would ask. It was probably not technically allowable even then, in the early aughts.

    12. nonprofit director*

      Based on my experience with my husband’s recent passing, the only financial institution that was informed of his death was the one that received his social security payments. So be aware of that: If you are getting social security via direct deposit, they will notify the institution and likely take back money they think is an overpayment.

      Our other financial institutions have not been notified and I will need to do that myself. Additionally, I handled the estates for my mother-in-law and step-mom. Dad is still using the former joint account, and we needed to present a death certificate to close mother-in-law’s accounts.

  34. Honoria Lucasta*

    Hi, all! I just got an academic job in Pensacola starting in August, so I’d love to hear if anybody has recommendations or tips about 1) moving or 2) Pensacola! Are there hidden gems I should look for? What’s the best coffee shop/grocery store? Any insight about which neighborhoods are really great and which ones are notoriously unpleasant?
    Thanks in advance! I’m cramming to finish my dissertation before the job starts, so I won’t be able to hang around to answer questions — whatever worked for you / whatever you enjoyed, I’d love to hear it.

    1. acmx*

      The Naval Air museum is great and should be open to civilians again. Publix is the dominant grocery store in FL. Although Kroger has wormed its way in via online grocery delivery (no stores just warehouses) and may be in Pensacola.
      Moving: pay someone to do it all. :) For a really rough estimate, I moved from Dallas to a further FL city with about 1000sf of stuff for 5500 (packing, loading, driving and moving) in 2021.

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

        Seriously — throw money at the problem of moving if you can. Having people pack up your stuff is magical and saves SO much time and hassle and stress (source: ex had an employer pay to move him once). Just supervise the packing a bit, or they will wind up packing every single thing, including your garbage.

        You can pay them to unpack, too. True, you won’t know where everything is at first, but you will have a livable place almost instantly.

        Congratulations on the job! And good luck on your dissertation — you can do this! : )

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          We did this just moving to a new apartment in the same city, and it was hands down the best money I ever spent.

    2. trust me I'm a PhD*

      (hey, I think I remember your post a few months back about applying –– congrats on the job!)

    3. Anono-me*

      Schedule your move to be the first move of the day if you are hiring movers or renting a truck. You don’t want to wait for someone else’s problem to be resolved.

      If you are able to take Squirrel Nutkin’s excellent advice and do a pack and load move, please ensure your suitcase with your clothes for the next few days is safely stowed out of the reach of the movers.

      If you need a budget move, look at packing yourself, hiring experts to load your rental truck, driving yourself to Pensacola, hiring experts to unload and do your own unpacking. If you pack yourself, use sturdy moving boxes (craigslist), Pack them completely full (use newspaper if necessary) for structural integrity. Try not to make any boxes that are heavier than what the average person can carry. Either tape all hardware (screws etc) and remotes to the corresponding larger piece or put them in individual labeled zip lock bags and have them all in a ‘boss box’.

      Have a new place go box with tp, a few light bulbs, energy bars, bottled water, a few basic cleaning supplies.

    4. Jay (no, the other one)*

      We moved nine times in the first ten years of our relationship. Agree with advice to hire people to pack and move if you can afford it. And let them pack the fragile stuff – they are better at it.

      Failing that, get real moving boxes – not liquor boxes and PLEASE not Amazon boxes, which are made thinner on purpose and will not hold up. U-haul used to have a deal where they would take back any unused boxes for a full refund. Buy more than you think you will need. Also buy a lot of clean newsprint – much better than printed newspaper because it’s cleaner and flat. Use a lot of paper to wrap things. Watch a YouTube video on how to wrap stuff first. It matters.

      Label every box as precisely as you can (so not just “bedroom” but “sheets for queen bed/towels/soap dish”).

      Put together an “unpack this first” kitchen box with the things you use most often – for us that’s the pan we use for eggs in the morning, something to make coffee in, and plates and utensils for breakfast. Same for a bedroom box: sheets, towels, pillows, bedtime stuff (I usually keep my meds and toiletries in a suitcase I take with me). You don’t want to open eight boxes at midnight so you can make the bed.

      1. I take tea*

        Actually: make the bed as soon as you can. You will drop in exhaustion at some point – you really don’t want to need to start making your bed when all you want to do is sleep. To have a clean, cool bed to slide into makes for a much better first night.

  35. Patch*

    I’m wondering if I should start investing in something other than my retirement accounts.

    I’ve never had a super well paying job, so the only “investments” I’ve had since I started working full time ten years ago were a Roth IRA and employer 401k plans. I’ve also been putting money into a savings account, and have a decent amount saved in there now. I’m thinking I should gradually move some of my savings into some index funds (I have a Vanguard brokerage account), but I’m a bit intimidated by the taxes.

    How would it be taxed? Say I invest $5,000 in an index fund. If that amount grows to $6,000, I would pay taxes on $1,000? The next year it drops to $4,000, so I wouldn’t pay taxes? The next year it grows to $10,000–I would owe taxes on $5,000 or $6,000 of that?

    Is it difficult to figure out, or would Vanguard give me a tax form and I’d basically just have to plug a couple extra numbers into the Form 1040?

    Am I better off just putting more into my retirement account? Do any lower income posters here have both retirement accounts and other investments?

    1. Formerly in HR*

      I am in Canada, so taxes differ a bit, but the brokerage company I use provides several tax forms in Feb-Apr. They include the amounts I made in dividends and also differentiate a couple of things based on whether the fond is CA or US based. They also list what taxes they already withheld. Those all go in the respective coded fields on the tax form.
      Usually, taxation is not based on the fair market value you have at the time, it’s based on selling. If you bought for 5k and sold for 6k, the 1k profit is taxable – in CA actually 50% of that is taxable. If you bought at 5k and sold for 4k, you can get tax credits/deductions for the gain loss.

    2. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      If you invest in a mutual fund, stocks etc, you (mostly) only get taxed when you sell it. So all the ups and downs do not matter. And if you hold on to it long enough you pay capital gains tax when you sell which is usually lower than income tax

      The only thing you get taxed on every year is if the index fund pays out dividends. Those are taxed as ordinary income. You can keep the dividends to help pay the taxes or you can automatically reinvest them by enrolling in DRIP when you buy.

    3. The happy introvert*

      When you invest in an index fund in a Brokerage account, you generally only pay taxes on any gains when you sell the asset. Depending how long you keep the money invested in the account the gains would be considered long or short term capital gains. If you keep the money invested for more than 1 year then they are considered long term capital gains and you will pay less taxes. You can google long term capital gains and find more information about how much taxes would be for your situation.

      Another thing with index funds in a Brokerage account is that they often pay dividends through the year. If they do pay you a dividend, then you will pay taxes on the dividends in the year they are distributed. Many people set the dividends to automatically reinvest (dividend reinvestment plan) or DRIP so they will contribute to your investments being worth more but you will have paid taxes on them when earned.

    4. David*

      Other people have covered the two key things you need to know (that you only get taxed on the change in stock price when you sell it, and that if you hold it for long enough you pay a reduced tax rate).

      I’ll add that, yes, you do get a form from the investment broker with values to enter into your 1040. But it’s actually a few different forms that are often combine into one document. In any year where you sell stock, you’ll get a form 1099-B that shows you the prices and dates at which you bought and sold each group of shares; also, in any year where you received dividends, you’ll get a form 1099-DIV that lists how much dividend money you received. In both cases there are different categories of money that have to be reported on the 1040 form (or supplementary forms like schedule D) in different ways. So, handling taxes on investments is a bit more complicated than what you’re used to if you’ve only dealt with earned income (W-2) and bank account interest so far. It’s not egregiously difficult, you can figure it out if you give yourself some time to read the instructions, but it’ll probably be a bit intimidating the first time you do it.

      One other thing to be aware of is that if you sell a chunk of stock in the middle of the year, you technically owe the tax on that sale right that moment, you’re not supposed to wait until when you file your tax return the next year to pay it. If it’s a small amount of money, they won’t care, but if it’s a lot, you should make an estimated tax payment directly to the IRS and/or your state within a few weeks (there are specific deadlines you can look up), otherwise you might have to pay a penalty and interest.

    5. ronda*

      for taxes related stuff from funds in a brokerage account you will likely get 3 different tax forms all sent in one package. (I am looking at my one from vanguard as I write this for you)
      Do note that brokerage account do not usually withhold taxes unless you tell them you want to. If you have a small amount invested, it probably won’t be an issue, but if it is a large amount you may need to withhold more on your paycheck, make estimated tax payments or ask the brokerage to do some tax withholding.

      1. 1099-div. – most likely- this is the dividends that funds paid you during the year and are included in your income. This has several different lines for different things that can impact your taxes, enter it in your tax software and it will figure out how each line should be reported. Do note that lines 1a and 1b are not added together, 1b is qualified dividends (a portion of total dividends) that are taxed at a lower tax rate than ordinary dividends (qualified dividend are treated like cap gains mentioned below). your tax software will figure this out.
      2. 1099 Int. – certain investments pay interest instead of dividends. none of my vanguard funds pay interest. they all pay dividends.
      3 1099-B This is the gains/losses on any investments you sold during the year. It is divided into short term (investment held less than a year) and long term(held longer). All your gains and losses are netted against each other and get combined with line 2a from the 1099-div. If you have an overall gain, it is added to your income. If you have an overall loss you can subtract 3000 from your income. if you overall lost more than 3000 you can roll that forward to next years gain/loss calculation. Also Long Term capital gains are taxed at a different rate than ordinary income/ST gains. If your taxable income is less than 47026 (or 94050 if married) your capital gains are not taxed. after that they are taxes at 15%, and if you have around 500k in taxable income, then 20%. these thresholds are updated each year. Holding an investment for a year or more is likely to get you a better tax rate.
      Do note that line 2a on the 1099-div has sometimes surprised investors. I think vanguard got sued over it one year because they unexpectedly created large capital gains for people (which they usually dont do).

      If you are low income you might be able to get the savers credit. If your AGI is below 38251 for 2024 you’re eligible and if you are a little over that you can contribute to a traditional ira to bring the AGI down a bit. model it in your tax software to see if it is helpful to you.

      Your retirement funds are tied up until you are 59 1/2….. So think about the amount of money you want available to you before then and balance how much you have in your retirement accounts and your non-retirement accounts. If your take money out of an IRA or 401k early, you pay taxes and penalties. You are able to take contributions out of a Roth IRA if they have been in there for > 5 years, but not investment gains without penalty. (be sure to keep good records)– and know you may be shorting your retirement if you do this.

      And of course your investment can go up of down, so money that you may need to spend soon …. you might not want in most funds.

      and if you have 401k s at previous employers, I would roll them over to vanguard or fidelity. To consolidate for simplification and for lower cost. Fidelity offered me a rollover $ incentive, but you do need a pretty big balance for that. vanguard did not offer any incentives.

      1. ronda*

        For filing taxes…. If you look at irs dot gov and search “free file”, they will have links to partners software that you can use to file for free if you meet the criteria. (some complain that they try to get you to buy the software during the tax return process, so do pay attention)

        The IRS also tested IRS Direct File this year in 12 states. It had limits on what kind of income it included, but it might be an option in the future. (doesn’t look like dividends or capital gains were included yet)

        Or you can look for a tax aide site in your area. I prepare peoples taxes for free with this program. Open Feb to Apr 15. I work with the AARP sponsored one and we only have limits on the things we are not trained to do (like self employed with employees)… no age or income limits !

        Also note that state taxation may be different. Federal didn’t tax capital gains for my brother, but the state of GA did.

        1. Not aided by Tax Aide*

          Tax Aide is unlikely to help with investment income. In 2022 I did a Roth conversion, and told the preparer that, and assumed we’d then file any extra form necessary – he said there were none. In December 2023 I got a bill from my state (IRS hasn’t twigged yet, or is letting it go?) for interest on estimated tax payments they think I should’ve made in the first two quarters; my conversion and estimated tax payments were made in September. Turns out that the 1099 you get for the conversion doesn’t show that it was a one-time lump-sum withdrawal on X date vs income realized evenly across the year. I should’ve also filed form 2210 (and a different one for state) to show that I did pay estimated tax in the quarter in which I withdrew the money. This year I went back to Tax Aide hoping to file an amended return for 2022, and only then was I told that they don’t do that one. Bottom line, don’t count on Tax Aide for anything other than a very simple return — or at least try to call ahead to ask if they can handle your kind of investment income.

          1. ronda*

            We do investment income. (I am in the AARP run program, others might not). I am sorry you didnt get an accurate return. I haven’t run across a Roth conversion yet in my 4 years volunteering, so I am not certain if it is in scope for us or not. I dont remember it specifically coming up in training, so it might be out of scope.

            One of the other volunteers did say she ran into the problem of not paying the estimated taxes on her own conversion this year and had not know it was a problem before. (I think she did her conversion in December)

            We dont calculate any penalties and interest when doing a return, we just advise if they have a large amount due the IRS may charge them with penalties and interest. (and to adjust their withholdings if they expect this income in future years)

    6. Busy Middle Manager*

      The joy of investing in a personal brokerage account = the options. Everything in your 401K is probably these very broad market funds. May be good to buy those after a recession when stuff is generally on sale, but there have been so many other opportunities the last few years. Big food was one, then pharma, there have been a few awesome times to pick up utility stocks for growth and 4-5% dividends (haven’t been that high since 2008 and then the late 2018 crash and then covid crash (i.e. those opportunities are pretty brief).
      Then when stocks I like got too overpriced, I switched to treasuries then went back into stocks or CDs. If you do vanguard, they have funds for everything. So buy a random sector that is down. Which is basically nothing ATM BTW so there is no rush

      None of it is really that intense or complicated. Yes you report dividends, interest, and loss/gain on stock sales on your taxes. Only PITA on taxes IMO was if you buy a share in a partnership like AB stock/Alliance Bernstein, and get a K1. The fields don’t exactly line up with efile.

      Being lower income is actually to your benefit. It’s a huge emotional roller coaster to see your money go up and down. It’s best to get used to that feeling when you only have a few thousand. I remember one day years ago, I lost $700 in a day in my brokerage account and it felt like the end of the world, now it’s a normal hourly fluctuation. Or I bought an individual stock like AT&T back when it had a good reputation, and it went down 10% the next month on unpredicted news. You gotta get used to that before you invest a lot or you will go insane.

    7. Roland*

      Fwiw, your 401k and IRA funds themselves can be invested in whatever you want. If you’ve never touched that at all they’re probably in something like “target retirement 20xx fund” which is likely fairly conservative, but you can invest them in anything the financial institution offers and set up future contributions to be invested in whatever as well.

      Personally, I don’t find all this stuff to be enjoyable. Some people will say “it’s easy just do X or read Y” but I pay someone every few years to tell me what to do and I’m perfectly happy with that setup. She also makes charts and projections in excel that give me peace of mind about my retirement progress. So I highly recommend a financial advisor. Mine doesn’t manage anything, she’s fee-only and simply analyzes my financial situation and gives detailed recommendations.

  36. Amber Rose*

    So I’m going to Japan in 17 days and I really want pants that aren’t jeans. Something comfy that doesn’t look like PJs or sweats/leggings.

    Does that even exist and where might I find it?

    1. Alex*

      You can go in the flowy leg linen pant direction, or in the structured stretch pant direction. I’d recommend Old Navy for inexpensive versions of either of these (their pixie pants are stretchy and comfortable).

    2. Just a name*

      I like hiking pants for travel. Lots of pockets, not too tight, lightweight. Some even have zip off legs to convert to shorts or capris.

    3. Decidedly Me*

      I really like convertible cargo pants for all sorts of travel. Lots of closeable pockets and easy to go from pants to shorts. I have multiple pairs of Mier hiking cargo convertible pants.

    4. acmx*

      I fly in the loose leg linen type pants (not necessarily made from linen). I got mine from TJ Maxx if you have that in Canada.

      I do wear hiking pants (and fly in those) but didn’t wear them in Japan (wore them in Iceland tho). I like Columbia. Mine do not have a lot of pockets. It has 5 with the extra pocket being a small zip one on side of the thigh near the knee (I usually just use it to carry a tampon when needed).

    5. Maryn*

      I like Lands End Starfish pants, which are structured knit pants available in two leg widths, both with a wide and comfortable elastic waistband that isn’t gathered but completely smooth. The one negative is that there’s only a single small pocket built into the waistband, about the size of a credit card. The positives are comfort, even long sits like air travel, two-day wearability without the seat or knees bagging, and that they can be casual or dressy, depending on what you wear with them.

      If you’re in their size range, Lane Bryant’s pull-on black ponte straight-leg pants are similar, but with back pockets. The fabric is more polyester-y and the color deeper for having less cotton in the mix. I get three or four wears out of them, and they, too, dress up or down.

    6. Chauncy Gardener*

      LLBean has their Perfect Fit Pants in a bunch of cuts that are super comfortable, easy to wash and hang dry and stay wrinkle free

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        L.L. Bean Perfect Fit Pants have been my go to for many years. Comfortable, practical, and last forever. Plus if you don’t like them even after wearing and washing them, you can return them for up to a year for a refund.

    7. Not A Manager*

      I like hiking pants for travel. They’re easy to wash and dry in the bathroom sink, they’re super comfy, and if you get them in the right color and cut, they dress up fairly well. I have the Columbia brand Women’s Anytime Outdoor Capri Pants in black and they’re great. IDK what the full-length version looks like, but I might consider that if I wanted to wear them in the evening. The capris look cute with Vans and a sweater or jeans jacket, though.

      For touristy stuff I wear them with a merino hiking shirt.

    8. Anon for Id*

      Japan was dressier than I expected! (I’m an American who worked and traveled there for an extended time.) I wore my tea-length skirts a lot. When I did wear pants, I wore loose linen or other wide-leg pants. I would have felt really uncomfortable in hiking pants or knit pants in the cities–I would have worried that it made me look far to casual for public places.

      1. Roland*

        Yeah, I brought my non-jeans non-sweatpants pants that I owned and so be it, but I wouldn’t recommend going out and buying something new that looks casual for Japan. If you’re already buying, may as aell get something that looks kinda nice. Even just wearing pants put me in a minority compared to skirt-wearers. I’d have felt very out of place in hiking pants.

  37. Bluebell Brenham*

    Thanks to everyone who suggested cooler locales for a long summer weekend. It looked as if Ottawa was the winner, but plans have changed, so friend and I will be in Montreal in late May/early June. We both appreciate good food, cocktails, and street fairs. I love architecture and museums, and she’s a shopping enthusiast. She’s been there quite a few times, so I’m particularly interested in recommendations for things that aren’t on the usual lists.

    1. Scrabster*

      Has she ever visited La Guilde? If not it’s worth a visit for the exhibits by indigenous artists.

    2. Teapot Translator*

      There’s a special exhibition on the Olmecs at the Pointe-à-Callière museum! I have no other recommendations, though. I’m a bad tourist in my own city.

    3. Carmen in Canada*

      Montreal has lots of great neighborhoods to explore. I’m sure you’ll find lots to do. 2 museums I would recommend are Pointe–a-Calliere, a museum of archeology in the old port. And the Redpath museum, an old fashioned natural history museum in McGill that’s inside a very interesting building. Have fun!

  38. Lynne679*

    Does anyone have any experience using CareCredit or ScratchPay to pay for their vet bills? My furbaby has a major surgery coming up and the estimated pay is $3.5K-$5.2K. Luckily I have saved enough money for the surgery, but it’s still a huge chunk of money that I would need to take from my emergency savings if I were to pay out of pocket. The vet I’m seeing only accepts CareCredit and ScratchPay for monthly payments.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Not recently, but when I did need to use CareCredit (once for a vet expense and once for a dental expense), it was fine both times. It’s like many “zero interest for x months” programs – just keep an eye on when your x months are up.

    2. HamlindigoBlue*

      I use my CareCredit for expensive vet procedures. I’ve used it twice now for unexpected procedures, and it’s been great to space out the payments over 12 months with 0% interest. Also, just so you know, vet care isn’t the only thing for which you can use CareCredit. It’s also accepted for a lot of human health services.

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      We have a CareCredit account specifically for this: we set it up through our vet. It’s been a great fallback and they don’t charge fees on months you don’t use it.

    4. The OG Sleepless*

      I have lots of clients who use both. I’ve used Care Credit myself for my son’s scoliosis brace. It’s a good resource. Highly recommend.

  39. anonymous allergy sufferer*

    Is anyone else hunkering down with a bunch of air purifiers for the so called “holiday”? I’m grateful it’s at least not too hot out since I’m allergic to smoke and can’t open the windows until tomorrow, sigh.

    1. Rara Avis*

      It took me a while to figure out what holiday — and I’m in the Bay Area! But Golden Gate Park has cancelled the festivities this year (we’ll see how well that works!) and I’ve never encountered celebrants in my area.

    2. Generic Name*

      I’m sure it would be way worse if I ventured into downtown Denver, but here in the suburbs it’s a normal snowy spring day, fortunately.

    3. Maggie*

      Oh I thought you were talking about wildfires for a second! Lol now I realize you mean 420. Weeds legal here 24/7 so I’m used to occasionally smelling it on the street and haven’t noticed anything crazy here today

      1. WellRed*

        I thought wildfire too! Haha! This is not a thing where I live (a maybe because it’s legal here).

  40. small magnifying glass*

    Last week I was sad to be looking for a new small magnifying glass and asked about it here, because I had lost my really nice one. Well, sometimes you get lucky, and I’m happy to say I found it! It was in a totally unexpected room where I hadn’t thought to look for it. Yay!

    1. Maryn*

      Hurray for finding the lost one!

      Can you share with us what you like about it and who makes it? My eyes are of the age where I leave magnifiers here and there, because I often need them. (I can’t believe how small the instructions are on some things!)

    2. Anono-me*

      May I suggest that if the magnifying glass has brand and model information on it and if you have Amazon, that you put it in your Amazon cart for a few days then move it to your wish list. That way Amazon will remember for you and Murphy’s Law will ensure that it is never lost against (at least not until it is discontinued).

    3. small magnifying glass*

      Unfortunately there is no brand or other info on it. The plastic cover that the magnifier lens folds into is bright red which makes it easy to find in the desk drawer it lives in, so think about that when you look for one.

  41. slowingaging*

    Suggestions for visiting London for the first time. I was there years ago and loved it. She is in her 20’s and has set up to see the tourist things. I was trying to think of some local things…aka open air markets, fun concerts or.?????

    1. pumpkin*

      I got half price theatre tickets on some web site. It looked a bit sketchy but was fine. I like borough market and the Geffrye museum. There was a flower market that was only on sunday mornings near Bethnal Green tube that was fun

    2. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      I loooooooooove London, been 9 or 10 times in the last 9 years. There is a great YouTube channel called Love and London that HAS all those secret local spots, places/things to avoid and much much more (I think they have a free itinerary you can download).

      Personally, I experienced for the first time on my last trip and really loved: Chinatown, Spitalfields Market and free street art walking tour (self-guided). Caveat, I’m 50 and so finding Instagram-able spots and such are not my thing. Museums are free and good (and there are smaller museums out there, too (like the old operating museum). Can’t go wrong with a fun afternoon tea (there is a site out there that has all the discount codes for London tea, you can google). Food tours are always a WIN! Seeing shows, also. I used to walk up a few hours before the show to see if they had any single tickets left and ALWAYS got a a fab seat for a cheap price (I was over there for work trips for a couple years).

      1. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

        Also, I forgot to mention, there are many good sites, like Time Out London, that can tell you of free outdoor concerts and such by date :)

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

      Imperial War Rooms is Churchill’s underground WWII bunker, preserved till today. It’s like stepping back through a time machine into the 1940s. Loved it!

    4. Cordelia*

      Greenwich is a good day out, you can get the Uber river boat from one of the piers in Central London and it takes you out past lots of well known buildings along the embankment to Greenwich, where there is a cool market, a park, museums.
      There’s lots of free festivals and events, particularly in the summer, look at Time Out to see what’s coming up.
      There’s a company called London Walks which does walking tours all over London, lots of variety, some in less well-touristed areas – every walk I have done with them has been great.

    5. SarahKay*

      The British Museum on Great Russell Street is lovely – and free – even if she does no more than go inside and admire the fabulous Great Court (main hall).

      1. Anon this minute*

        Oh yeah, that was amazing! I walked in and was like, hey, that looks just like the Rosetta Stone . . . and it WAS the Rosetta Stone.

        1. GoryDetails*

          I did the same thing! Just – unbelievably awesome to find myself in the presence of something so significant.

    6. The OG Sleepless*

      My then-teenage kids really enjoyed the Camden City Market, recommended by somebody on a weekend thread in 2018. :-) St. Martin in the Fields Church has free classical music concerts. Two other things we did were through Free Tours By Foot: a ghost tour, and a walking tour of street art in Aldgate. I think a person in their 20s would enjoy both of those. My daughter also got a big kick out of walking through Harrods.

    7. Pretty as a Princess*

      The Treasure Room at the British Library is another fantastic (& free) experience.

    8. DreamOfWinter*

      I visited London for the first time last year. I agree with the comment about Greenwich – the river bus makes it an easy day trip and it’s just different enough to be really lovely. Do climb the hill to the Prime Meridian, if only for the views.

      I also visited the Science Museum, which was possibly my favorite museum ever; and I stayed near Borough Market, where I ate my weight in wonderful food.

  42. Daily Fan*

    Travel question: Going to Ottawa, Canada on Saturday May 4 and Sunday May 5. Will be using public transporation once we get there. Our Airbnb host assures us we are within easy walking distance of the public transit. Any must see places? Special events that weekend? Favorite brew pubs? My “other half” will be at a convenetion so I will be on my own.

    1. CanadianTechWorker*

      I love visiting Ottawa. The Parliament buildings are nice and I really recommend the Ottawa art gallery.

      The Museum of Civilization is also great. It’s not in Ottawa but in Gatineau, but it’s across the bridge and it’s easy to get to.

    2. AGD*

      The O-Train (usually) makes things very easy. Buses are pretty good too. Everything except some of the Gatineau buses is listed at octranspo dot com.

      Seconding the National Gallery! ByWard Market always has plenty going on, too. Canadian Museum of Nature is fun (dinosaurs!). Air and Space Museum is too. Love the Museum of Civilization, but note that it’s now the Canadian Museum of History after some very weird governmental meddling a decade ago or so.

      There’s an artisan craft market at the National Arts Centre on the Sunday. The Tulip Festival doesn’t start until the 10th, but you’ll probably still see many tulips! Try Major’s Hill Park. Most of the parks are very pretty, and there are places to walk along the canal and the rivers.

    3. fallingleavesofnovember*

      There was someone on last week’s thread who asked about visiting Ottawa too! A couple of suggestions from a local:
      – For a downtown restaurant (in the Byward Market): Chez Lucien. It has French bistro food and just a really good vibe. It gets super busy so I’d recommend going for an earlier dinner or lunch.
      – Parliament is great (I am a former guide!) the main building is under renos right now but you can visit the Senate in the old train station and the House of Commons (in West Block) separately. Both are really beautiful.
      – If you take the O-Train to Bayview, you will be very close to Hintonburg, which is a hipstery neighbourhood with a couple of good local breweries – check out Beyond the Pale and Tooth and Nail. It’s also very close to Little Italy (Preston St – I like La Dolce Vita as a restaurant) and Chinatown (Somerset St W)
      – If you like bookstores, Perfect Books on Elgin is close to downtown, and Spaniel’s Tale in Hintonburg are my faves and both will have a selection of local authors.
      – Biking along the canal or the Ottawa River is always nice. Along the canal you can head down to a neighbourhood called the Glebe which has a lot of old, very typically Ottawa houses and cute shops. Then walk or catch a bus back up Bank St to get back downtown.
      – We have lots of good local ice cream shops, Moo Shu on Bank St and Merry Dairy on Gladstone (in Hintonburg) are my faves, and both offer a good selection of vegan options and gluten-free cones.
      – Agree on the National Gallery – the building itself is worth it – and the Museum of History (formerly Civilisation), they will each have good Canadian content if you want to learn a bit about the country, and especially both have made big improvements to their exhibits on Indigenous peoples.
      – Downtown again, for coffee I actually really like Equator Coffee in the National Arts Centre, which is also a cool space to just hang out, they did a reno a few years ago to bring in light and air to the old brutalist building and I really love it.
      – Bytowne Cinema on Rideau St is a small, local theatre with an eclectic selection of films. Rideau St has gotten a bit sketchy lately, but it’s not actually dangerous.
      OK, I will stop as I realize you said you only have two days! ;)

  43. Rara Avis*

    I was peripherally involved with the finding of a lost dog. Dog was scanned by two different facilities — no chip. Our local shelter is full so the dog is being cared for by a Good Samaritan. Now someone has turned up on social media claiming it’s her dog.

    “That’s my dog. It’s chipped. Give it back.”
    “This dog has no chip.”
    “Here’s my proof of my dog’s chip. I’ve reported you to the police for theft.”

    It just goes on and on like this. I’ve stepped out of the conversation because all I did was take the dog for a scan. But I’m worried for the person watching the dog. I wish it could just be taken to the shelter and let them worry about ownership. (The dog was in terrible condition— very skinny and matted.) Is there any reason a person would try to claim a dog that wasn’t theirs? Or are they just so worried over their missing dog that the logic of (your dog = chipped/this dog = not) is escaping them?

    1. Maggie*

      I mean I guess it’s potentially true that the chip could have gotten lost or fallen out or something? Not really sure how that works. If the person really owns it and the cops are involved it should be quite easy to prove it’s theirs with vet records and even just photos on their phone.

        1. Victoria*

          They can definitely shift under the skin, though. This doesn’t help the OP, but your own vet should be checking to make sure the chip is where it belongs whenever your dog has a checkup.

    2. WellRed*

      This started off rude and escalated fast. It might be someone just loooking tire a fight/attention. The Good Samaritan should disengage and block.

    3. Chauncy Gardener*

      Oh no. The people “claiming” the dog either want it as a bait dog or for food (really). Please do not let it go to them.
      Chips do not fall out.
      I have done dog rescue for years, FYI.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      They want a free dog. Let the police handle it (and even if the dog is being cared for in-home, wouldn’t the shelter still be responsible for it in terms of identifying the owner or adopting it out to someone else?)

      1. Rara Avis*

        The shelter’s website has prominent language about full kennels, and don’t even bother coming by if the dog is not sick or injured. They’ve also been in the news lately for poor conditions due to space and staffing inadequate to deal with the post -Covid influx. So I don’t know if they are in a position to help at all.

    5. crookedglasses*

      Chips can migrate down the shoulders over time, but a lot of clinics will still scan over the shoulders for that reason. But two separate places missing it seems much less likely. I agree that there should be some easy mechanism like sending a photo of the dog to confirm though, and then get the dog rescanned for a chip?

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        As a note for legit pet owners – if your vet doesn’t already check your pet’s microchip at their annual checkups, you can request it! That way you can -a- make sure the information is still up to date, and -b- be sure that it is where it should be, or if it has moved somewhat you will be aware of that too.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          This was a huge issue during Katrina! So many people had outdated info, or the contact person had also been flooded out and couldn’t be located.

          The new recommendation is that at least one contact be out of your immediate area so if a really big disaster happens they may still be available.

    6. Geezercat*

      Microchips do, occasionally, stop working. The dog could be radiographed to look for a chip (they do show up well). I don’t know of any way to retrieve the chip info if it has stopped working…could possibly check w/the manufacturer of the purportedly-implanted chip, if this dog does have one that is not functioning?

      That all said – it is a matter for the police, at this point (if, indeed, they actually filed a report)

    7. The OG Sleepless*

      There are pet owners who get deeply into denial and try to claim that a found pet is the one they lost, even when it turns out to be the wrong sex/not neutered, the wrong age etc. I second the recommendation to X ray it for a chip. It’s remotely possible that there is a chip that stopped working, or that they didn’t find it when they scanned for it (which is how my dog ended up with two chips many moons ago).

  44. homeward bound*

    Anyone ever moved back to your home state after spending your entire life wanting to leave and finally getting out?

    I wanted to move away my entire childhood. When I got older I stayed in state but moved to a different area. In theory I like my state but had so many bad memories where I grew up. I hated the new area where I moved; lived there for awhile and made some friends but I always hated the area, there’s a ton of traffic, not much to do for someone who likes the outdoors, and it’s just generally not my place. I finally got out and moved to a different state a few years ago and was so so happy. Unfortunately where I live now has a very high COL but wages are also very low unless you are lucky enough to be higher up in your career, which I’m not. I’m very introverted and haven’t made any friends here and my spouse left me a little bit ago. I cannot make it work financially to stay here, and I can get a much higher paying job with a slightly lower COL back where I moved from where all my friends also live, so I’m moving back.

    I’m so devastated. I don’t want to leave. I don’t want to go back. I literally never intended on ever even visiting, that’s how happy I was to be gone. And now I’m going back to live. I’ve thought it through and it is the smartest choice for me right now and it’s not forever, but now that I know I only have a little bit of time left before I go back I’m starting to have nightmares. I had to go back to get some things dealt with for my job and my new apartment and I had a panic attack as soon as I drove across the county line.

    Has anyone else been through this and have any good advice?

    1. anon in uk*

      Could you pick a third area? Sounds like home really isn’t worth it if it’ll just make you feel trapped and panicky. Totally different part of the country? (I know a guy who needed a change from every place he’d ever lived all over the U.S. for various reasons. He took a job in Anchorage, where he remains.)

      1. homeward bound*

        Unfortunately my spouse walked out on me with no warning and I have practically no money (when we moved here I went back to school full time and have only worked part time jobs). With going back to where I was I was able to quickly get a job offer, and I’ll also have a support system. I didn’t have time or the mental capacity to look for a third option. If I would have waited around trying to find something better I probably would have ended up homeless, the only reason I haven’t yet is because ex spouse agreed to pay my rent for a certain amount of time.

        1. Generic Name*

          Please look into the laws for the division of assets during divorce in your state. Do not believe your ex if they tell you they get to keep all the marital assets while you get nothing. That is not how family law works. You do not need a lawyer to divorce. Google “self help desk [your county]”. You can walk in and they will tell you what forms to fill out and how to file them. They will not give you legal advice, but they will walk you through the process.

          1. homeward bound*

            Ex spouse has actually been ok to me in the aftermath, considering what an awful thing they did. We’ve filed for a divorce and it’s currently pending, I got a lawyer (they didn’t bother) but they paid for it. We managed to work out a decent agreement that I think is fair enough to both of us. There were some things I could have legally asked for that I didn’t, but I did so in exchange for other requests that they granted and legally didn’t have to.

            1. Generic Name*

              Okay, good. I’m glad you are legally represented. Hugs if you want them. I’m 7 years out from my divorce, and my life is kickass right now. Way better than it ever was during my first marriage. You WILL get through this.

        2. anon_sighing*

          Considering your circumstances, it’s best to go home and see it re-building your foundation. There may be unpleasant memories in your hometown, but right now, your present needs your whole attention. Does re-framing help at all? You’re not moving back, you’re going back to where your supports are because you need supports right now. You can always go away again, once you get your footing.

          It sucks but you’re making the right choice to help you find where you will go next.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Right. Think of this as bivouacking–you’re establishing a safe base camp in which to plan your campaign. It’s not a forever choice, and you are not at the mercy of this place the way you may have felt as a younger person.

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

              I agree — see this as a temporary step to build strength (and wealth).

              I had a lesbian friend who came out late in life and then had to temporarily move back to small-town Texas and go back in the closet to survive financially. It did suck, but I think she managed to hang in there by trying to find kindred spirits of various kinds, even though she couldn’t really be out. If you’re moving back to a conservative area and are not yourself particularly conservative, maybe you could check out the local Unitarian Church or Community Theater group to see if you could meet some folks with whom you resonate.

    2. Maggie*

      I’m seeing a couple other potential other options maybe? Why can’t you move to a different low cost of living area with job opportunities? Secondly, if you want to stay in your current area, are you open to roommates to changing housing? Don’t move somewhere you actively hate that makes you panic thinking about it.

    3. Sitting Pretty*

      I agree with the others that if you can find another option, it might be a good idea. However, sometimes you really do have to go back for whatever reason (for me it was divorcing at 36 and needing to move back in with my parents for a few years, after having been out on my own for a decade. THAT was fun).

      I was never ever going to come back to this area. But then I came back and it really wasn’t so bad. I think part of why the place we grew up can be so suffocating is because when we were little, we didn’t know what other options were out there. The values, the culture, the opportunities, and all the other ways of being were completely determined by our family and neighborhood. And if we didn’t fit into it, it felt like there was something wrong with us.

      For me, coming back after having lived other places, I had a much better sense of my own likes and dislikes. My own values. A whole new range of options for how to live, what kinds of friends to have, and just what matters to me. So I didn’t feel nearly as stuck as I expected. I came back and carved our my own path. A new path. Really quite different from anything I knew was possible when I was younger. And found myself to be really quite happy.

      I mean, a lot of the old cultural stuff is still there but I have a lot more tools for navigating it. It’s not determining my choices for me.

      So I hope if you do end up going back, you’re able to trust yourself to stay true to the more worldly You, the one with a bigger perspective, as you find your way. You may discover some new social outlets or interests that you never even knew existed before. Good luck on your journey!

      1. homeward bound*

        Thanks. I’m hoping this is all just the stress of moving and feeling like I “failed”. There are a lot of people excited to have me back. I have a game plan. I’ll have a full time decent job with decent pay and good benefits, and a second part time job working for a boss I’ve worked with before and who is great to work with. I was enrolled in college down here and doing great, I’m applying to colleges there and am going to try to keep attending school while working 2 jobs even if it kills me because it’s my only way back out right now; my current career is decent but it’s sort of a dead end and a job where pay varies wildly by geographic location (part of the reason staying isn’t worth it). I keep trying to tell myself that this is ok. I was talking to boss from my second job about how I wasn’t really happy to be coming back and he said “well maybe this is just your home base for whatever reason and you’re just coming back to your home base for a while and that’s ok and you’re lucky to have a home base” and I love that way of looking at it.

        1. Rara Avis*

          Maybe think of it as your home base, and set a goal —“ in one year, or when I’m done with school, or whatever — I’m going to be in a position to look for a better option. This time period is for regrouping and building my resources. I’m not failing — I’m making the wisest choice to roll with the punches and survive to get to the other side.”

          1. Filosofickle*

            This is my advice, too — it doesn’t have to be forever! You don’t have the capacity to make another choice right now so take the soft landing, take care of yourself and heal, and know that you can leave again. If you left once, you can leave twice. You haven’t lost the battle, it’s just a tactical retreat :)

            1. homeward bound*

              Thank you! This makes me feel better. I’m so afraid I’m going to get “stuck” here again. I think this is why I’ve started to have nightmares.

              1. Double A*

                I think the reason that people get stuck in their hometowns is that they never have plans to leave in the first place e and then they just…don’t. You cannot get stuck in your hometown because you already left! I live in an area I’m not exactly from though I grew up nearby, and the people I enjoy the most here are the people who left and came back. Like someone said above, they have a good sense of themselves and the world and have done a bunch of interesting stuff and now they’ve chosen to be here. Now, you’re not exactly choosing out of joy, but you are still one of those cool people who went out and did other stuff! Right now you need to return to home base to recharge and reset. Your plan is not to stay there, but if it turns out you like it you can choose to stay there. That’s not being stuck, that’s re-evaluating your hometown with adult eyes. And it’s okay to stay there even if there are things you don’t love but it feels good for you to be there. And if it feels bad to be there, you can leave again just like you did before!

                From what you’re saying, I think you’re in the midst of a storm and when it breaks, your options are going to clear and your horizon will be broad. But right now you gotta hunker down because, well, storm.

    4. WellRed*

      Are you really happy in the current place? It’s expensive and you haven’t made any friends? It sounds like you’re already pretty far along the path to moving home but using the word devastating is a pretty strong indictment. Is therapy an option? Do you have some local friends in the hometown for support? You are not that same person who left. You’re older, wiser, stronger. Remember that.

      1. homeward bound*

        I am actually leaving the end of the month. It was a family member who initially suggested coming back and gave a whole host of reasons why it was smarter than staying where I am and I was very resistant at first but spent a few very sleepless nights before finally deciding to see if I could make it work and when I made that decision it was such a relief, like I was definitely making the right choice. Now that it’s too late to not move I’m feeling the stress. I’m hoping it’s just all the changes?

        The funny thing is, a few months ago someone asked me how I liked living here, and I was like enh, it’s a place like any other, don’t have strong opinions one way or the other. A few weeks ago I was driving down a road and it hit me that very soon I won’t be driving on this road anymore and a wave of grief hit me so hard I almost had to pull over.

        I can’t afford therapy right now, but once I start my new job I might look into their EAP. Apparently it’s very good.

        1. WellRed*

          My mom will eventually leave Cape Cod where she’s been more than 20 years to live back home where I am. I’m very saddened by all the places and restaurants and people I will never be at again when that happens. It’s so normal!

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            That hit me when I went back to the town I went to college in, where my dad lived, and later to another part of the state, when he died; I had no reason to ever, ever come here again. I mean obviously I could if I wanted to, but I had no ties there anymore, at all.

        2. Still*

          It sounds like you have a bit of graduation goggles about the place you currently live. You didn’t feel very strongly about it but because you have to leave, suddenly it seems amazing and like you’re going to miss it very deeply.

          And maybe you’re going to miss the kind of person you were there, as opposed to the kind of person you remember being back home? But you’re still you, and you get to be whatever kind of person you want to be.

          I’m sorry, this all sounds very hard – your marriage ending, having to move, having to make decisions you didn’t expect, having to go back home. I hope you’re gentle with yourself and take the time to grieve. It sounds like you’re making a decision that’s going to set you up to be happy in the long run. That feeling of relief in your stomach when you made the decision? I tend to trust that feeling.

          And for what it’s worth, if one of my friends came back home, I would never consider that a failure. I’d just be thrilled to have them back. Local friends are incredibly precious.

    5. Not A Manager*

      I’ve read through the comments to this, and one thing I’m struck by is the combination of losing your marriage and needing to move. Those are both very traumatic events, and now you have to deal with both of them, and they are causally related. I think it’s possible that you are transporting some of the grief about your marriage to the experience of moving away from your current home/back to a place you’re not fond of.

      I’m also struck by your apparent lack of agency around the move. It sounds like your spouse more or less unilaterally ended the marriage, and now you feel somewhat powerless over where you’re going to live. Again, I think you might be conflating these two experiences.

      I wish that you could access some professional support, but since you can’t right now, I would try to mindfully separate the move from the divorce. As you say, your current home didn’t look so fabulous prior to your separation. It sounds like, whatever your previous experiences were in your home town, you have people there who think well of you, care about you, and actively look forward to your return. You are *choosing* to move back there, perhaps temporarily, for good and prudent reasons. You are exercising agency as well as you can, given your current options. And in the future, if you choose, you can exercise your agency to change your situation.

      If it were me, the thing that would be most helpful right now would be to think of myself as someone who responds well in an emergency, pivots when appropriate, engages in self-care, and is generally badass. Which, from your description of your divorce negotiations and your decision-making process, it sounds to me like you are.

      1. homeward bound*

        Thank you. This is a good framing. Everything has honestly been so unexpected and happened so fast its just been so difficult to process.

      2. Blue wall*

        This is a beautiful framing and I agree with your take on the conflation. Good luck to you, homeward bound. You are *in* it right now; let yourself be in all the places (mental/physical/emotional) you are.

    6. Alex*

      It sounds like you may need some therapy to deal with the bad memories, if they are so severe as to be giving you panic attacks. I assume you are not going to go live WITH whomever gave you those awful memories, so maybe it would be helpful to remind yourself that a state/city/county isn’t actually a being that inflicted anything on you. You can make your own story in the same place as you experienced a bad one. You are an adult now, and you can make your own choices and get out of situations that are bad for you (unlike when you are a kid). You can embrace your friends and support system that make you feel good and you don’t need to let anything in that makes you feel bad. Good luck! It sounds like it is probably for the best and it may work out better than what you think.

    7. Qwerty*

      I moved back to my home state a while back and was happy for a few years. I was miserable in the town that I grew up, but enjoyed the town I went to elementary school in and then later in college. Absolutely loved being in Chicago for several years and thought I would never leave, but somewhere between a wedding getting cancelled and my company going under it lost its shine right around when my parents started needing help taking care of my grandparents.

      Spend time outside of your hometown. It sounds like you already have an apartment, otherwise I’d say pick a different town at least 20min away. The reason I ended up really liking being in my homestate was proximity to family – my parents and I spent a lot of time together and I am grateful I was able to give them some relief in their caretaking duties. My job ended up being miserable and my new friendships ended up fizzling out, but having one positive thread in my life gave me something to focus on and that kept me happy.

      Going back also doesn’t mean that you’ll be there forever – I ended up moving on after a couple years when that chapter of my life closed too. My current location is where I’ll probably stay for life.

    8. Busy Middle Manager*

      So many questions! So you don’t seem to like any of the three places, despite superficially liking the current place. Not sure if it’s a place like San Francisco or something and you’re more haunted by “what could have been” rather than actually liking it there?

      What are your general life priorities and values? There should be more going on besides liking the physical location you’re in. You mention memories in the hometown, but you’re not going back to the past. Are the same people there? Is there a threat of some repeated event?

      I’m having a trouble picturing this because you describe the place you grew up as horrible but it’s also high income and lower cost of living, so if anything, you can live well there. What was the problem there? Family?

      also why are these the only choices? If you’re moving to an apartment and not to a relative’s house, why do you need to specifically go there?

    9. Anono-me*

      Lots of great advice has already been posted about viewing the move back to you hometown as temporary and a good smart way to regroup.

      You say you are in school. I’m concerned about you having to transfer collage credits.
      This may sound silly. but have you looked at student housing? When I was a freshman. There was an ancient woman (40 haha!) living in my dorm for a few weeks while waiting for a single room. As far as I know she lived in the dorm until she finished her engineering degree. Plus RAs and house mothers usually get housing and a stipend.

      Also general break up advice that might be useful as I think maybe the break up and move home has been a one two punch. Get out you most kick ‘tush’ boots (combat style if you have them) and wear those for the next week or so and then whenever you are feeling discouraged. Dress to match the boots. Cut and/or color your hair, even just a temporary rinse. Turn on happy and/or powerful music. If you can, volunteer for an invasive species clean up. (Hacking out buckthorn can be very cathartic. )

  45. SuprisinglyADHD*

    Ah, it’s time to start yard work for the year. By which I mean continuing the years-long battle with the six different kinds of invasive vine that keep trying to take over my property… Wish me luck!

      1. Jay*

        My granddad planted garlic and hot peppers around the perimeter of his garden to keep pests away.
        It seemed to work for him.

        1. Ginger Cat Lady*

          The voles tunnel underground, so above ground stuff doesn’t work for them. Probably worked well for above ground pests like rabbits or deer.

    1. The OG Sleepless*

      I feel you. I’ve been battling vinca and English ivy the whole time I’ve owned this house and it’s a stalemate at best.

  46. Beach reads*

    I like to keep a book in my beach bag for days I can sneak off for some Vitamin Sea. Weeks can go between beach days, so I need something not too complicated. I’m thinking a collection of short stories or essays might work. Something on the lighter side, no fantasy or sci fi.

    For humor reference: enjoyed Tina Fey’s BOSSYPANTS, collections by Mindy Kaling and Caitlin Moran; WORLD’S WORST ASSISTANT; Amy Pollard’s book; Jenny Lawson. Dave Barry, back in the day. Don’t care for Chelsea Handler or Sarah Silverman.

    1. Jay*

      There are some “List” type books that are really good.

      -“Nature Is The Worst (500 Reasons You’ll Never Want To Go Outside Again)” by E. Reid Ross.
      -“What If?” and “What If 2” by Randle Monroe. Also, this person writes the webcomic XKCD. I highly recommend getting some of his collections, if you can. Or at least checking out his site.
      There are plenty of others out there that escape my memory at the moment.

      I also am a big fan of the Weird US books. They are these cool Legend Tripping collections of strange places and events from every state.

      An old favorite of mine for just such an emergency was a good collection of comic strips. The good stuff.
      -Bloom County
      -The Far Side
      -Calvin and Hobbes
      -Pearls Before Swine
      -If you can find it, Girls With Slingshots

    2. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      Do you like Barbara Kingsolver? I really liked her essay collection High Tide in Tucson. A lot of them are humorous. I also liked Neil Gaiman’s The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction. Especially good if you like the people he likes (e.g, Tori Amos, Diana Wynne Jones. The Terry Pratchett essay was the most touching.

    3. Bluebell Brenham*

      Laurie Notaro’s comic essays are a lot of fun. I’ve enjoyed Dulce Sloan’s Hello, Friends. My Squirrel Days by Ellie Kemper is hilarious.

    4. EA*

      Wow, No Thank You – Samantha Irby
      Born a Crime – Trevor Noah (not really essays though)
      Hyberbole and a Half – Allie Brosh
      Kitchen Confidential – Anthony Bourdain (not really funny but might fit this need)

  47. phone hot spot question*

    I’m active in an organization that meets for 2 hours twice a month in a building where there is no wifi. We want people who can’t make it to the meeting in person to be able to zoom in, so someone uses their phone as a hotspot.

    I wonder if we should buy a cheap phone specifically for making this zoom session possible. This would probably be its only usage.

    Does anyone know how cheap of a phone we could get that we could use as a hotspot? I don’t know what kind of capacity is involved — memory? battery? something else? ie, what are the minimum relevant specs? I’d like to bring a more detailed suggestion than just “we should buy a cheap phone.”

    1. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      So, I don’t know if you need a whole new physical phone for this or if people have different phone providers that offer hotspot capabilities as part of the bundle. Example, I’m with T-Mobile in the US, and I’ve never seen any difference in my phone bill for using my phone as a hotspot (hours at a time, for work, when my home internet got borked).

      Memory shouldn’t be an issue with hotspot, the phone is just a conduit for being sort of a “mini router”. Battery…sometimes hotspotting can drain battery a little faster, but if you plug in the phone during your meeting or plug into a portable battery backup, it should be just fine for 2 hours.

    2. Jay*

      They have things that are just portable wi-fi hotspots.
      As I understand it, there are ones that are pay-as-you-go.
      I know I’ve seen a few in the $50-$75 range online.
      You would need to research how much bandwidth you need vs. cost, but, this might be the best option, as it will be used so little.
      Just Google “Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot”.

      1. Anono-me*

        Some libraries have portable wifi Hotspot available for checkout.

        However, I recommend asking if people mind using their phone for the hotspot before you get too invested. Because I suspect that at least several people in your organization have phone plans with more hotspot than they need, and would rather use their phone as a mobile hot spot than worry about another electronic device.

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          Yes. I have AT&T and can use my phone as a hotspot for no extra cost – I do it fairly often. Would be happy to do that for a meeting.

  48. anon_sighing*

    I like being low to ground sometimes and laying on the floor. Does anyone have a futon or flour mattress brands they can recommend? Preferably something slim (just wide enough for one body) and not longer than 170cm (5’7″)?

    1. Esprit de l'escalier*

      I find my yoga mat to be pretty comfy over my wood floor, and some mats are rather thick so would be even more comfy than my thin one. Not terribly expensive and easy to roll up and put somewhere between uses.

      1. anon_sighing*

        I hadn’t realized Yoga mats could be so long. I think a longer mat + a folded comforter over it would work for my purposes — do you have any recommendations for thicker one?

        1. Esprit de l'escalier*

          I haven’t looked lately, but a couple of years ago I wanted to get a 2nd thin mat and all I saw online were thick ones, which I don’t like for yoga. So just search for yoga mats. Some sellers tell you how thick they are.

    2. Rara Avis*

      We sleep on a regular futon on tatami mats. It’s Queen-sized. We bought it at local futon store. The mats came from a store in the local Japantown.

      1. anon_sighing*

        I have been looking primarily online but I do know one place I pass by often that advertises Japanese imports like futons. Not sure why I didn’t think of it…I do like shopping in person, to be honest.

    3. Jay*

      They make slim air mattresses for camping:

      They also make more comfortable memory foam type ones:

      Was that the sort of thing you were looking for, or were you looking for something thinner?

      1. anon_sighing*

        The memory foam one is what I somewhat visualized! Just something simple to lay down on that wouldn’t have my hip poking the floor – I’m generally pretty good with hard surfaces but the first one seems like it’s similar to the comforter situation I have now (doesn’t have the necessary padding — although I’m tickled by the image of the person laying on a bunch of stones…I am somehow not convinced that’s comfy BUT…)

    4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      They make human sized dog beds, if that’s a thing you would like. No idea what brands are good though.

      1. anon_sighing*

        A tad bigger/more involved than what I was originally seeking but after looking this up, this would make an amazing gift for several people I know so thank you!! The ones that come up on a simple search do look amazingly comfy though. That + a good sun spot…

    5. Hatchet*

      Look at sleeping pads and see if they might work for what you need. (Usually people buy them to put on cots or the ground while camping.)
      In my limited experience, some are inflatable, while others have a foam pad inside. I’d think the foam ones would work for you.

      1. anon_sighing*

        The foam ones look more my speed – I do have some ability to layer things and I’m gonna be using it indoors, so I imagine I have less considerations (been looking at some camping gears asks around the web).

    6. Blue wall*

      There’s a few barefoot movement fb groups where this question comes up regularly; you might check those out. Generally there’s concerns about leaving the mattress on the floor and mold forming underneath it bc no air flow.

      1. anon_sighing*

        Definitely looking for something that’s smaller and more fold-able or rollable. I just want to be able to take it out and lounge for a bit in my living room but put it away when not in use!

    7. BookMom*

      Seems like the self inflating camping mats that are designed to go under sleeping bags would work. I think the youth sizes (for roughly 10-14 year olds) would be short enough, and they roll up nicely for compact storage.

      1. anon_sighing*

        I think camping mat is def the prevailing suggestion – I will mosey around some stores to get a better sense of thickness and what’s out there!

  49. Busy Middle Manager*

    I am struggling getting my parents to do anything about my mother’s health situation. She is becoming wheelchair bound and was in a rehab place for a while, and, well, has no plan. It becomes too much for me when I go there and I get sidetracked with all of the physical aspects of the house then am too exhausted to deal with them.

    My mother was always emotional but it was in a good way, until recently. She’d be in the den crying to Steel Magnolias and it was comforting to have a mother with a heart. But now I’m seeing she lacks planning and resiliency. She got a packet from the rehab upon discharge and hasn’t read it.

    She keeps crying and saying no one understand her. And I’m sitting there like, who is this “they?” “why do you do care if people “understand” you, you need a physical therapy plan or you’re going to have to sell the house and go into a nursing home?!”

    This is killing our relationship, I don’t see any motivation to change even at such a crossroads. It’s bringing up a lot of family issues, my mom’s side has a lot of people who haven’t tried anything and are all out of ideas. I have no clue what to do or say to get her motivated and trying to walk around and to get some therapy and improve. What happens now? Anyone’s parents ever get a burst of motivation? Or is it always just downhill from here? But how long does that even take?

    I feel like we need a Tabatha Salon Takeover of their household. One thing I realized is that psychotherapy is not working for her. My dad had an affair 27 years ago and my mom talks about it like it was last week. The therapist certainly isn’t getting her to focus on the current situation. It has had me thinking about brain wiring, I notice people on my mom’s side tend to dwell on stuff forever, and I’m wondering why they haven’t moved on. My issue is, they all sort of gang up and support my mother, but support her being complacent. And I don’t think that is helping

    1. anon_sighing*

      My friend has a mother like this. Lots of issues and zero ability to adapt or adjust. She grins and bears it but she is one of the most patient people I know and even she is beginning to crack with frustration at times. Her mom says all the doctors are lying, that she is doing her exercise and nothing is working (she i snot doing them), she refuses to go to the cultural community center to socialize, refuses to get a substantial hobby or make friends. It’s all too “hard” or some other lacking excuse short of admitting “I don’t want to.” I have stubborn & frustrating parents, but her mom takes the cake. I have some thoughts on stuff that might help:

      > She is becoming wheelchair bound and was in a rehab place for a while, and, well, has no plan.

      This is the physical problem. It’s objective for the most part. You can think of it as that. She has steps she needs to do to prevent this or ease the transition into a wheelchair. There isn’t confusion here — either she can follow a plan to get mobility back to some manageable baseline or she will need to prep her home for a life in a wheelchair.

      > It becomes too much for me when I go there and I get sidetracked with all of the physical aspects of the house then am too exhausted to deal with them.

      Be systematic. When you look at everything and think “gotta get it done now now now” it’s like someone pouring a load of bricks into your backpack. Add the bricks — and yes, they’re still bricks — one-by-one. What is most important? The stairs so she can get up easier? Lowering the cabinets so she doesn’t have to reach? What “major” project have cheap workarounds (i.e., if you need to lower the cabinets, can you come up with some on the counter solution?) If the house is messy or something on those lines, do not be shy to hire someone to clean it. Focus on the things that you actually need to do vs the things you could do so you may as well. Outsource as much as you can afford. Otherwise, triage by “needed this yesterday” to “will need to do soon” to “will need in the future.”

      > But now I’m seeing she lacks planning and resiliency.

      You’re likely right but also she’s an emotional person and this is hard on her. Denying the future is normal for people with limb loss, mobility loss, hearing loss, sight loss. I do think a support group (the rehab facility or hospital may have one — I know my hospital has one for vision loss) for this — if she’s amendable — might be a good place for her to cry with others and hear other people’s stories. I don’t know your mother but she may benefit from seeing others in the same situation to be able to project herself into it and visualize her reality. Right now, she relies on you a lot, I think, both emotionally and physically. It’s time to outsource part of the emotional support.

      You may have to sit her down for a planning session, if not. Write it down. Tell her clearly what you can and cannot do for her and what she needs to do to avoid a worse case (i.e., sell the home and go to a nursing home).

      > I have no clue what to do or say to get her motivated and trying to walk around and to get some therapy and improve.

      Is she responsive when someone goes with her? You can do it or hire a home health aide once or twice a week to just go outside and walk with her. Getting someone motivated is hard — it’s better to spend time getting them into a routine. I nagged my mom every day to go to the gym and I nag her when she doesn’t go. She got into a habit after me going with her, going regularly, and to avoid being nagged at. Put on your WORST micromanager hat for this, if you think it will work.

      > My mother was always emotional but it was in a good way, until recently.

      This, through the whole thing, stuck out to me. Especially regarding the cheating — I am not this emotional, it’s so foreign to me. Someone cheats on me, they’re out of my mind after I get my anger and hurt and betrayal out. But there are some people who remember hurt like it was yesterday. Have you ever talked through this with her? Not trying to tell her it’s 27 years ago, not to get her to get over it, but telling her something like “I’m proud to have you as my mom, no matter what dad did” and “this is how I felt when I found out” or “you survived dad cheating, this is a piece of cake in comparison”? I find that people who hold onto things are holding onto them until they hear some magic words no one has told them…I only assume those words are comfort they didn’t get in real time. People always offer anger on behalf, but rarely praise.

      All that to say, you can support her but twist that support into a call to action rather than using it as an encouragement to be complacent. I think the key to getting her motivated is using her emotionality and extreme sentiment to your advantage.

      1. Anon this minute*

        Re: the point about whether mom likes having someone with her when exercising: My mom was also an emotional person who needed people to listen to her, and she wasn’t much for self-motivated exercising. We found her a personal trainer who came to the house and co-incidentally had a degree is psychology and was a great listener. Whenever he came over, she liked him so much that she would exercise with him while chatting about whatever was on her mind. It was good for her body AND her spirit.

        Maybe interview some personal trainers who make house calls and hire the most empathetic, patient one? The money’s probably worth it.

    2. Phryne*

      ‘The therapist certainly isn’t getting her to focus on the current situation.’
      Patients and therapists need to be a match. That has nothing to do with a therapist being good or not, sometimes it is just not a match and does not work. If this over is not working, that does not mean no therapist ever will be able to help your mom, just that this one is not a match. Don’t give up on the therapy angle altogether.
      Also, maybe your mom just needs to work though the old and apparently unresolved trauma to be able to face the current issues. That must be frustrating for you because you very keenly feel she is running out of time and it seems like old news to you, but clearly it is something she is still struggling with. If it cannot be helped it will just take more time than you’d hoped.

    3. Hang in there*

      Since you brought this part up I hope this is ok to say — she needs a new therapist, stat. You said the one she has is not helping. I went through a major and functionality change recently too, and it can be very destabilizing and emotionally paralyzing, at least temporarily. Having the right person helps me “walk” through it. It’s not instantaneous though! One has to adjust to the new normal and it’s not fun nor easy. Also…this sounds very hard on you (not surprisingly!) — could therapy be helpful for you also? Dealing with all this sounds really difficult.

    4. Jay (no, the other one)*

      You can’t fix this. You can’t work harder at it than she is. It’s incredibly, horribly, depressingly hard to watch and it feels fixable. It’s not. So what do you need to do to take care of yourself?

    5. Generic Name*

      I have some advice from the perspective of a very emotional person. So your mom has some unprocessed trauma from decades ago and you’re mad she isn’t “over it” by now and think her concerns should be exactly the same as your concerns. So yeah, she kinda does have a point when she says no one understand her. Why is is a problem that she wants to process the shitty thing your dad did to her now? The therapy is for her, right? I suggest letting your mom talk to her therapist about what she wants to talk about. Her current situation clearly isn’t what is weighing most heavily on her mind. Maybe once she feels heard about that she might be ready to process the tough situation she is in now.

      I agree with anon_sighing’s advice above on the practical stuff. The only thing I’ll add is you can’t control (or change) another person. Your mom won’t suddenly turn into a resilient planner who is motivated to do physical therapy and plan for living in a few small rooms (with the man who cheated on her?) for the rest of her life.

      This is all so hard. My mom is in her mid-70s and says she plans to live in her inaccessible 3 story historic home in a different state from both her children until she dies. I guess she assumes she will not have any mobility issues and will be sprightly and clear-headed until the end. I am resigned to have to deal with the fallout when it comes. Hang in there.

    6. NeonFireworks*

      Might be something to recruit an occupational therapist or a social worker to help with.

      1. Girasol*

        Second a social worker. Being unable to focus may also be a feature of early dementia, so it might not be her fault for not trying to deal with the situation. But in that case she may need outside help. A social worker can help figure out what sort of help is needed and put you in touch with resources beyond therapists.

    7. Shiny Penny*

      It’s so hard watching someone you love make choices that don’t feel are safe or sensible. What helps me is focusing on the reality that Life is a “choose your own adventure” situation, and all you can do is accept that not everyone is going to make the same choices.
      My dearest loved one goes for walks in the woods alone, in all kinds of weather, because she needs that joy in her life. She’s over 80, fragile in some ways, and not great at temperature regulation, so I can see the risks— but I have to support her choice because she gets to choose her joy! And choose her own risk.
      I support her by requesting she text me when she leaves the house, so I at least have a time frame to track. I have supplied a flashlight and a taser and a Mylar emergency blanket. I accept that she often feels those things are too heavy, and unnecessary. I accept that if she falls and breaks a bone, that her life may be shorter and have some unpleasant experiences. But life is kinda short anyway? And the end is usually rough anyway? So I respect her right to choose her joy.
      That’s just one example of many, where MY solution to my distress has to be acceptance. She is the captain of her ship, and gets to decide where she’s heading. I’m just a pilot, available to help navigate rough local waters at request. I remind her of upcoming rough waters I can foresee, but the real choices are all hers.

      tldr: The goal is *not* to mold her into a smart sensible teen, ready to go off to college and make good choices as an independent adult. Instead, the goal is to behave in a way that ensures she feels loved, accepted, and respected. Support her autonomy. We are all gonna die, and it’ll probably be rough. But we can make each other feel loved in our imperfections.

      1. Anon this minute*

        I love this point. My dad was like that too — insisted on hiking alone through his late 80s until he physically just couldn’t anymore. I was just like, “Please bring your cell phone so you can call for help if you fall.” In retrospect, I wish I had honored his wishes of independence even more than I did near the end.

    8. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Honestly it sounds like maybe you DO need to understand her better in order to help her. And a realization that her solutions might not look like what you want, and you need to respect her autonomy.
      She wants to be understood. That alone is reason to try to understand her instead of just push her toward what you think she should do.

  50. Liminality*

    It’s almost 5am here. I am awake.
    Took some melatonin last night and was in bed around 9:30-ish, cause I was just awake till after midnight the night before and I was hoping for a good night’s sleep this time.
    I’ll take sleep tips if you have them, (I’ve seen the sleep specialist medical professionals so we don’t have to talk about medical stuff) but mostly I’m curious about what other people do when they’re just…. awake. It’s too early to simply call it a night and start in on daytime stuff, but I’m so awake that the odds of falling back asleep are low.

    1. Sitting Pretty*

      I’m a recent convert to guided meditations for sleep. I keep a few “go back to sleep” meditations queued up in my Spotify (there are so many ways to do meditations now. I also have some on my podcast app) so that when this happens I can just start and go back under. Also just general sleep hypnosis recordings. Most of these episodes have a sleep timer you can set tonshuboff after 30 minutes or the end of the episode or whatever.

      I know meditations don’t work for everyone but they’ve been really helping me lately. Good luck, sleep is precious and I hope you find your way gently back

    2. Anonymous Koala*

      I’m a big fan of getting up, even if it’s 4AM. I’ll do some light morning chore type stuff depending on my mood – emptying the dishwasher, or folding laundry – or sometimes I’ll read a book on the couch with some warm milk or herbal tea. Usually by the time I’m done I’m either sleepy enough to try and go back to bed, or awake enough to just go ahead with the rest of my day.

    3. Generic Name*

      I normally just try to lay in bed and relax. I’ll pull up a fantasy I’ve got going in my brain sometimes. Sometimes I’ll get out the book light and read a book. Or I’ll try to do something soothing on my iPad in the dark. But YMMV, as I don’t really have insomnia.

    4. Sleeping Better Now*

      I have started listening to a podcast called “Nothing Much Happens”. The author tells a short story in a low, soothing voice where nothing much happens. Maybe just going window shopping in her village and stopping for tea – that kind of thing. I have very rarely heard more than 5 minutes of her story before I am out. I listen to it before I go to bed and will also listen to it if I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep.

    5. allathian*

      I normally get up between 5.30 and 6, so if I wake up after 4.30 I’m simply calling it a night. It helps that my husband and I sleep in separate rooms, so I’m not going to wake him up if I switch on my bedside light and start reading. After 4.30 there’s no point in trying to fall asleep again, even if I succeed I’m going to have to get up in the middle of the next sleep cycle, which is going to leave me more woozy than getting up would. The earliest I’ll get up is 5.

      I have some problems with insomnia, and one thing that’s helped me is a nearly total ban on electronics in the bedroom. My only exception is my sunrise alarm because I hate waking up to noise.

      Generally if I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall asleep again within 15 minutes, I’ll read for a while. It has to be something familiar that I can put down in the middle of a sentence if necessary, and not too exciting because that’ll make falling asleep even more difficult. My old Peanuts comic strip collections are great for this.

  51. carcinization*

    It seems like cooking/baking threads haven’t been happening quite as much lately, and it’s probably too late for me to start one since it’s late Sunday morning, but… does anyone have anything interesting planned in those directions, or want to mention what tried and true favorites are on the menu for the upcoming week?

    Last night I made Smitten Kitchen’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies for the second time, despite the name they don’t contain Reese’s anything, they’re chocolate cookies with a peanut butter filling. I rolled them in some sparkly sugar instead of regular granulated, and they turned out nicely/I’m going to bring some to give to my friends when we go out to dinner this evening.

    I’m going to make a soup recipe I haven’t made before for lunch today, that starts off with browning chicken thighs then adding stock and cheese tortellini, and spinach and other things eventually. Hopefully we’ll like it!

    1. Camelid coordinator*

      Last week I made Smitten Kitchen’s crumb cake which was so delicious I’d like to make it again, but I will probably make some sandwich bread to get us through the week’s lunches instead.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I really appreciate Smitten Kitchen’s risotto and polenta recipes, both of which are baked in the oven rather than stirred endlessly on the stove.

        Also that she makes them with water–“replace all water with chicken broth” is such a default for cooking hints, but I often want the thing to taste of itself, not vaguely of chicken.

      2. Pippa K*

        We made Smitten Kitchen’s southwestern brisket this weekend, and it’s amazing. Now I’m having tacos, sandwiches, brisket omelets for days…so good!

    2. Generic Name*

      I made 2 loaves of banana bread yesterday, using a recipe I got on the weekend thread about a month ago!

      Dinners this week will be what we call “quick fix” because I’ll be at a conference and husband will be working some long hours. Your soup recipe sounds really yummy!

    3. Bluebell Brenham*

      Last night we were at friends enjoying pre-passover pasta. We chose Smitten Kitchen’s pasta with asparagus and goat cheese as a springy option, and it was delicious. Tomorrow night, our Seder will have its standard main dish, a layered salmon with red onion, lemon, and rosemary.

    4. Elle*

      I’ve got Kitchen Treaty’s instant pot golden lentil soup going now. I’m going to try Dishing Out Health’s new eggplant parm recipe later.

    5. Sitting Pretty*

      My son had a friend stay over last night so I made waffles for everyone this morning. Made them gluten free with some oats soaked overnight in milk and other GF flours. Totally winged it in the assembly, no recipe.

      They turned out great! Everyone devoured them and I’m not sure anyone realized they were GF. It could be that they were just being polite but more likely it was the generous application of butter and maple syrup.

    6. Chauncy Gardener*

      I made King Arthur Flour’s Cherry Blossom cake and it was wonderful! It’s basically a lemon yeast coffee cake with blops of cherry pie filling in it. Everyone loved it!
      I’ve also been working my way through RecipeTin Eats salad recipes and they’ve all been great so far.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      This week I had the cookbook Noon by Mieke Peters, which focuses on lunches. Things that feed 1-2 people, are mostly vegetable forward, and are relatively quick to put together, which is how I am often cooking for the empty nest. The following was delicious and very simple–I thought the seeds would be too tough but they weren’t at all.

      Salmon with a Coriander Crust

      1 T coriander seeds, lightly smashed in mortar and pestle
      1 egg white
      1 8 oz salmon fillet
      Olive oil
      1 T butter
      1 T lemon juice

      Put the coriander seeds on a plate, in a bunch about the size of the salmon fillet. Put the egg white in a shallow bowl of deep plate. Dip the skinless side of the salmon in the egg white, then the coriander.

      Heat olive oil in a pan over medium-high. Add the salmon, skin side down, and cook for about 7 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and flip salmon, cooking for about another 7 minutes. Season fish with salt and transfer to plate.

      Add butter to pan and heat over medium-high until sizzling. Add lemon juice and whisk for 10 seconds. Pour over fish.

    8. Just a name*

      I made Joe’s Stone Crab key lime pie recipe for game night and it was a great success. It is always a hit. I bake it longer than the 10 minutes in the recipe so I don’t have to freeze it before serving although I do serve it cold. Juicing the limes takes a bit of work although I have made it with bottled juice before.

    9. Pam Adams*

      no cooking yet, but today is veggie prep day! Going to cook sweet potatoes, butternut squash, broccoli, mushrooms and asparagus for the week.

    10. Snell*

      I am hopeful for Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Super Moist Pumpkin Bread, take 2, in the next few days (take 1 burned, badly. My oven is weak, and I ended up overestimating the higher time/temp dial setting that I would need to compensate for that).

  52. Empress Ki*

    What do you say to people who shorten your name if you don’t like it ? Like for instance calling you Mike instead of Michael or Val instead of Valerie ?
    I don’t like when people shorten my name. I don’t want to be rude, but I also prefer to be called by my real name.

      1. Empress Ki*

        I do this, Sometimes it works, but sometimes people take it wrongly. I’ve even been explained it is the way they do things in the UK (I am from another country).

        1. Indolent Libertine*

          That’s such a weird thing for them to say! There really isn’t a long-standing tradition in the UK that I know of that allows people to dictate to someone else what their own name is; and England in particular is absolutely not known for excessive informality. I suggest saying “How interesting. Nevertheless, I go by Valerie, not Val. Thanks!”

        2. Phryne*

          Could you maybe tell them a little fib, like that the shortened version is what they call someone else in the family with the same name so it is confusing and impractical for you? Or that the shortened version has a bad association for you (leaving what exactly that would be vague).
          Makeing them a tiny bit uncomfortable about makeing their reaction to your very reasonable request weird for the both of you.

          1. Empress Ki*

            It has actually a bad association. The shorten version of my name means beard in my native language (but English speakers don’t know that).
            I have noticed that shortening names is quite a common thing in the UK, while in my home country this is more rare, unless the name is very long.

        3. SarahKay*

          I mean, lots of people choose to go by shortened versions of their names in the UK – or possibly get stuck with it from a very young age – but lots of them don’t. Whoever told you that is just making excuses for their own unwillingness to get your name right.
          Signed, a UK resident who knows people with shortened and non-shortened versions of pretty much all shortenable names.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      If people in your social and/or work circles are doing this, can you explain to the person/people you are closest to that you strongly prefer to be called by your full name only (you can add on the meaning the nickname has in your native language if you think that would help them understand better, and skip the in-depth explanation if not) and ask them to:

      (1) Make a point to always call you by your full name and
      (2) Gently correct others in the same circles when they call you Mike/Val.

      Depending on where this is happening, you might need to have a few of these conversations (for example, one with the person in your friend group you’re closest to, one with the person in your book group/running club/etc. that you’re closest to, one with the coworker you’re closest too, etc.).

      Sometimes people are less likely to argue/push back if someone else says “actually he goes by Michael, not Mike” than if Michael says “hey, I go by Michael.” (The world shouldn’t be this way, but as long as it is, drafting in a few other people to spread the word about your name might go a long way.)

    2. Not A Manager*

      I don’t explain. I just say my own name, in a flat tone, whenever people change it. In my case, they add a diminutive ending that I don’t care for. “Oh, Nammie” – “Nam” – “Really? In my country we say Nammie” – “It’s just Nam.”

      Where I live, people don’t usually try to explain my own name to me, so I just say my name correctly each time they modify it. I feel like the more you get into explanations, the more you invite people to have opinions about them. And really, how people say your name is just a preference. You don’t have to justify it.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Nasturtiums too, I think. (Bonus: They’re actually edible, I’m told they’re sort of peppery.)

        1. Bluebell Brenham*

          True story- if the bunnies or squirrels get hungry enough, they will eat young nasturtiums. I use cages around anything I want well protected. I also found that coyotes kept the bunny population down when they moved to my neighborhood last summer.

          1. Generic Name*

            Interesting. In my area the coyotes eat mice and it’s the foxes that eat bunnies. My last house had a family of foxes nearby, and I rarely even saw bunnies. My current house (maybe 2 miles away?) has tons of coyotes but few foxes, and we are overrun with bunnies.

    1. Jay*

      It’s kind of funny.
      I responded to another post on gardening with something my granddad did to keep pests out of his garden. It wouldn’t work for them (different critters, different problem) but they mentioned that the solution WOULD work for things like rabbits.
      Specifically to plant things like garlic, onions, and hot peppers around the periphery of your garden.
      Apparently, they REALLY don’t like that stuff and will avoid it like the plague.

    2. Generic Name*

      We have raised planter beds that does a good job of keeping the bunnies out. The mice still get in, though. :/

      1. Generic Name*

        Also, I plant native or naturalized to my area plants that are listed as “rabbit resistant” in my flower beds that aren’t raised. I have tons of gorgeous flowers and foliage, and the bunnies and I mostly coexist.