weekend open thread — May 25-26, 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: Very Bad Company, by Emma Rosenblum. An executive disappears at a dysfunctional start-up’s annual retreat. If you like company gossip, even if not your own, this is very fun.

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

{ 870 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!

  2. chocolate muffins*

    The nanny thread earlier this week made me wonder about gut feelings. Have you had a time when you trusted your gut and were super glad afterwards (not necessarily about nannying/parenting but anything in life)? A time when you didn’t trust your gut and then wished you would have? On that thread some people mentioned that their gut always steers them correctly and so I’m also wondering if anyone has had experience of trusting their gut and then later regretting it. Please share your gut-trust-related stories with me, I am very curious!

    1. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Six months after I started my first job after a move I sat in a meeting while a member of leadership made some of the most sexist remarks I’ve ever heard. I’m a cis woman in a field that started to open to women in the 1970s. This was early 1990s and I was one of two women in a meeting of 15 to 20 people. I wish I had paid attention to my gut reaction and gotten the hell out of there.

    2. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      In November of 2006 I was working for a printing company that did about 75% of our business with Real Estate agents and the owner was heavily planning on leasing new presses and expanding the staff from 3 graphic designers up to 10. I’d had enough of boss but also wanted to get away from being adjacent to real estate because the bubble was HIGH at that time and people I knew and respected were saying it was going to burst any second. I got a new job at my current higher ed org in January 2007. I’m happy to say that the change of jobs saved me from really being affected by the Great Recession in 2008. My old employer didn’t go out of business, but they cut staff significantly, down to one graphic designer, and never did that expansion.

    3. RLC*

      Decades ago at a work conference I met a fellow attendee from another state and felt instant gut level attraction. A few months (and many letters and phone calls later) I wanted to see him again so normally ultra-cautious me invited him on a multi day vacation / thousand mile road trip. In my car. He said “yes”, little internal voice said “you’re nuts”, big gut feeling said “go for it!!!”, I went for it.
      Next month will mark 40 years since that life changing road trip with my now husband, the love of my life. My gut feeling was so, so very right. Forever grateful that I trusted it.

    4. RagingADHD*

      The main thing I trust my gut about is to get out of a situation or stay away from a person. So I’m unlikely to know whether I was right or wrong, because I’m not there to find out.

      The few times when I have heard about the aftermath, it was because something bad enough happened that there were police or ambulances involved, or some kind of legal action like bankruptcy. So that may be confirmation bias, but it’s impactful enough that I’m not going to FAFO when my gut tells me to nope out.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Yeah, no way to confirm that gut feelings aren’t false positives. My gut is generally a golden retriever who thinks everybody is wonderful (fortunately my brain is a cat who takes a long time to warm up to people so it all evens out), but I did have a strong gut feeling against a guy once. Was it because he was a villain so vile that even my gut could pick it up? Dunno. Never run into him again. He didn’t do anything noticeably vile in the few hours we interacted.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I think false positives are a thing. But, because the instinct is to engage, and soon, you immediately get the information that nope, nope, salted licorice ice cream is not your thing after all. So in memory it’s a brief “I tried something and didn’t care for it” rather than “my gut gave me the wrong information about salted licorice.”

            I recall people who had opposed gut instincts for job interviews. So when they thought they crashed and burned? Job offer. When they thought they hit it out of the park? Crickets.

            1. londonedit*

              That’s absolutely me. Every time I’ve thought I’ve done badly in an exam or an interview, it’s turned out I’ve actually done really well or I’ve got the job. Thought I’d failed my second driving test (failed the first one!) but I passed with only a couple of minor faults. Conversely I’ve had a couple of interviews where I felt like it went really well, and I didn’t get the job. Weird. Though I don’t know whether it’s simply that I’m harder on myself and less willing to believe I’ve done well when it’s something I really want.

        1. RLC*

          I love your Golden Retriever analogy, mine usually saw any new person as instant friend. Once had a utility worker at our home who gave me an uncomfortable vibe-but the reaction of my normally overwhelmingly cheerful Golden gave me chills. She positioned herself between me and the worker, facing him, glaring. Every time he moved closer to me, she moved closer to him. The only time in her life she went into bodyguard mode. She must have had a gut feeling about creepy worker too.

    5. ThatGirl*

      My senior year of college there was this younger guy who had a huge crush on one of my friends, but I knew she wasn’t really into him. They dated for like a week, she broke things off. I comforted him and later made out with him, but I was graduating, it was nothing serious. Except I had this feeling about him. When we hugged, I felt safe.

      Anyway, long story short we started dating six months later and have been married 17 years.

    6. Lady Danbury*

      Checked into an airbnb that got great reviews, but when I saw it my gut was like nooooooooo. I stayed because I thought, “We’ve already paid for it and it’s only for 2 nights, how bad could it be?” Turns out it was robbed at gunpoint on the very first night bad. That incident and the way airbnb handled it completely changed my opinion of airbnb, as someone who used to be a huge airbnb advocate. Needless to say, I always trust my gut, no matter how much money or hassle might be at stake.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        I don’t judge a company for something going wrong. That is life. I judge a company by how they deal with it. The thing is, most interactions with even bad companies go just fine. I was a Comcast customer for years, and never had any problem )apart from the price). Someone telling me they have used AirBnB lots of times with no problem doesn’t really tell me anything. It is the stories about how poorly it responds when things do go wrong that tell me what I need to know about whether I want to deal with the outfit. In the same way, I believe people when they tell horror stories about Comcast customer service, even though I never experienced any.

        1. Lady Danbury*

          Completely agree! My getting robbed was mostly beyond Airbnb’s control (there was a security failure, so the duty of care was not fully met), but the way that they handled it was a HUGE turnoff. In the end, I only got my money back, no additional assistance or compensation. The details of the incident (which I’m not going to go into) were such that any reputable hotel chain of Airbnb’s magnitude/international reach would have done far more to address it. My biggest takeaway was that you get what you pay for and that Airbnb only sees itself as a listing platform and acts accordingly when things go wrong. I’d much rather pay a little more (or sometimes the same price or less!) to access a full service hotel.

    7. RMNPgirl*

      I’m very big on gut feelings. I’ve bought three different places in my life (condo, townhouse, house) all off the gut feeling I got walking in and I’ve loved every place. I also listened to my gut for which college I attended, jobs I’ve taken, etc. It’s actually really hard when I don’t get the feeling because then I struggle to make a decision. In those cases, if it’s a huge decision like relocating across the country, I have to have a strong gut feeling of “yes” to do it. If it’s a more minor decision then I might decide to go for something even if I don’t have that feeling.

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      Back when I was a theater person, I was running around auditioning for all the projects going, as you do. There was one play written and being staged by a local guy.

      I just had a hinky feeling. Not in a gross or harassment way at all, but that this project was in over its creator’s head and would be a lot of time and effort for something that I probably wouldn’t want on my resume’. So for the first time I purposely avoided auditioning for that project.

      Not only did it turn out pretty bad/amateurish, as I thought, it was recorded and played several times on the local public access station, to the considerable embarrassment of the performers who did take part. It was the first time I didn’t let the fear of “not getting something” override the knowledge that not everything is worth your time.

    9. Agnes*

      I don’t think you’re going to get many responses on the “I trusted my gut and regretted it”, because confirmation bias is so strong, but I think it’s worth highlighting – when did you have a first impression/prejudice/etc., then realize you were totally wrong about a person/place/job/whatever?

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        I do some occasional independent contract work at a different company, and my first impression of one of the employees there was dead wrong. She was outspoken and impatient and sort of standoffish with me, but she seemed pretty good at her job and it seemed unwise to get on her bad side. She also seemed to command a lot of respect from the others. Again, was she the “queen bee” in a toxic workplace? Either way, I made the best of it, and over time my opinion of this person changed completely. She is outstanding at her job, and her standoffishness was likely because she wasn’t sure whether I was good at mine. Now that I’ve earned her approval, we get along great. And the respect she commands from the others is totally earned. I’m probably not going to this location for awhile and I’m truly going to miss them, especially her.

        1. Star Trek Nutcase*

          I had similar. I interviewed a woman who had outstanding skills & experience but she seemed arrogant and pushy. I only hired her because the rest of the applicants were bad and we were desperate. Turned out to be a great employee. In retrospect she wasn’t arrogant but very confident, not pushy but knew her value & boundaries. These were qualities I eventually realized I needed to work on, and my discomfort read as “her” not me. In 40+ years & dozens of hires, she was THE best hire I ever made.

      2. Jackalope*

        My first week in college I went to visit someone on my floor who had also just gone through the freshmen orientation. While I was in there she gave me a very lukewarm intro to her roommate: “This is [Roommate]; she’s very quiet.” (This person was very outgoing and loud.) Said roomie looked at me for about a second, gave an extremely unenthusiastic greeting, and went back to what she was doing. Note that Roommate also looked vaguely like someone that I had kind of tried to be friends with years before but nothing came of it (not in a painful or traumatic way, just didn’t work out). As I left the room I thought to myself, “Well, I probably won’t be seeing much of [Roommate].”

        A week or so later my original roommate left. I went to our RA and told her I knew that I couldn’t be picky at this point about who would replace her, but begged that she give me someone quiet. Meanwhile, the loud freshman went to our RA complaining that her roommate was too quiet and asked to be paired up with someone else. The RA saw beautiful possibilities here and had [Roommate] move in with me while the loud freshman got someone else.

        Well, my new roommate and I hit it off like a house on fire, roomed together for 3 years (she was a year ahead of me so graduated before me), and are still close friends. We see each other a couple of times a week these days, almost 3 decades later. So much for not seeing much of her!

      3. Grits McGee*

        Both of my closest friends from college (one of whom was my freshman year roommate) rubbed me the wrong way immediately upon meeting them. It actually sparked some major self reflection and internal change on my part to be less judgmental and mean spirited about people.

    10. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      I have one where my gut was both right and wrong. I signed up to help lead a big volunteer project. The other lead, Marie, dropped a ball early on after declining help getting it done. The excuse didn’t fully add up to me, and I got a bad feeling about Marie. I was tempted to bow out and/or share concerns with Jess, who I was going to work closely with and who had done the project before. I took the long view (looking ahead to years with this organization) and decided to keep the commitment I had made in spite of what was coming.

      Welp, I did end up doing my job and someone else’s, but it was Jess’s, not Marie’s. Marie turned out to be a rock-solid partner and Jess was the charismatic flake.

    11. Writerling*

      One story is so far removed I don’t remember anything but the bare bones (I was maybe 10ish?): my sibling invited me to join him at the skate park, I said no and went with my mom to do whatever, came home to a note taped to the door they were at the hospital after an accident. Who knows what would’ve happened if I’d said yes, but I sure was glad I wasn’t there to see the blood!

      A recent one is attending an info session for an online program and getting annoyed or getting kind of… strong impressions of a few people that I didn’t want to associate with. Well I’ve been in class with two of them, one didn’t bother to fulfill the requirement of giving feedback and the other so far tends to give unnecessary (if not unrelated) “advice” that’s borderline offensive (to a person’s skill/intent, not like, personality or otherwise). Idk if that’s gut feeling so much as… personal people preference, but for me it qualifies?? (I’ll be meeting that last one in a few weeks… I keep waiting to be proven wrong of my initial impressions, so TBD)

    12. Not your typical admin*

      College – there was a guy in our friend group that for some reason I just didn’t like. The weird thing was his looks/personality was exactly what I was typically attracted to, and I could never put my finger on what it was about him that made me stay away from him. Couple of years later I find out from other girls he was a super creep once you gave him any attention

    13. Anon for this*

      A million years ago, my husband was dropping our very young son off at a new daycare. He was leaving and got a super weird feeling and turned around. There was a very creepy looking middle aged guy going into the room where our son was. My husband went right into the room and picked up our son and went to the director. Apparently, hiring creepy looking guys in daycares was her version of the “new wave of the future.” We found a different daycare ASAP, and obviously that one had horrible child molestation issues. Awful. And thank goodness for my husband’s gut!

      1. Roland*

        Not sure I follow. Do you mean this guy walked in uninvited and then ended up hired?

        1. Ellis Bell*

          I took that to mean the boss was just hiring random people because they were interested, without proper checks. Children attract a lot of creepy types so you can’t just hire whoever.

    14. Corporetta*

      Yep. My gut has always been proven right – either because I acted on it and avoided a bad situation, or I ignored it and the bad situation occurred and I wasn’t surprised.

      I do want to extend some compassion, however, to those of us who ignore our gut feelings. In a lot of circumstances, acting on your intuition alone can look like “overreacting” to others, and if you feel like you have to justify your decision, it’s easier to go along with popular opinion.

    15. Tame Lightning*

      I think my gut reactions are usually my subconscious picking up on signals, eg subtle body language, fleeting expressions, etc. Taken with a grain of salt, it can be useful.

      But this is a story about when my gut reaction overreacted.

      When my husband and I were looking for a house, we toured one that had me jumping out of my skin. Nothing obviously wrong, but I could not get out of there fast enough.

      Likewise, I avoid a nearby hiking trail as it makes me deeply uneasy whenever I walk one section of it.

      The connection is that both places have multiple electrical lines converging near them, which I learned I don’t react well to.

      So my gut instinct was wrong – there was nothing dangerous. But I’m still glad we didn’t buy that house.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        It may not have been dangerous per se, but how comfortable would you ever have been living there? Your gut was right on!

        1. RLC*

          Given the concerns with electrical power lines (for example the massive fires in California in recent years initiated by power lines sparking during strong winds) I think Tame Lightning’s gut was spot on.

      2. Lexi Vipond*

        Love the user name :)

        I got weirdly spooked while out on the hills recently – turned off down the valley instead of heading up onto the next hill, because I just couldn’t summon up any enthusiasm, although there was nothing obviously wrong. Ten minutes later the tops were all in cloud, and as I walked out of the valley it poured, so apparently I was just reacting to the changing weather.

      3. allathian*

        Some people don’t react well to power lines, and others claim to be “allergic” to electricity. One of my friends is like that, and in their house, the master bedroom has no outlets or electric lights and it’s housed in a separate cottage next to the main house. Oh well, whatever makes her life easier…

    16. Frankie Bergstein*

      Mine are both about colleagues, but here we go:

      The first interviewed and, in their job talk, gave a lot of irrelevant detail about their own life. I think they were virtually guaranteed the job because they were friends with someone in leadership. Anyway – I thought that they would be a talker with very little substance. That’s exactly what happened – we went out for coffee; they talked about themselves the entire time. They even interrupted me to be able to do so. They did not ask me questions unless it directly pertained to their work. This person and I met with a client we were supposed to be helping… they did not prepare, they literally yawned while I spoke, and when they spoke… they said a lot of things that just weren’t true!

      The second came across to me as someone who liked to steal credit for other people’s work. She decided to work on a project with me and did absolutely nothing unless I straight-up assigned it to her. Towards the end, she stopped doing tasks I assigned to her. She never really proactively did anything related to the project except to ask why her name was left off of a communication related to it.

      But you’re right — when I follow my gut (and don’t override it) and leave situations — especially in my personal life, I’m not going to be around to know if I got it right or not.

    17. WoodswomanWrites*

      In the pre-internet days, my mom used to send me clippings from the newspaper and magazines she thought would interest me. Once she sent me an ad about a small experiential graduate school program. I thought it was weird because I had disliked college, had mediocre grades, and only managed to graduate because my last year, I was able to do internships instead of classes. Attending school again was nothing I’d consider. I stuck the clipping in a drawer and forgot about it.

      Two years later I had an experience too long to get into here, but that piece of paper popped back into my head. I had the gut feeling that I should apply to the school even though I didn’t know where it would take me afterward. The time I spent in that grad program launched me on a completely different life and career path and I’ve never looked back. Decades later, I remain grateful for that life-changing pivot.

    18. Gut Feels*

      I trusted my gut feeling about dating a guy. He was well known in our friend group as being kind, intelligent, and considerate and everyone thought us getting together was a great thing. We didn’t even last a year! Lots of ignored boundaries but the problems became impossible to ignore when I came down with pneumonia.

      Usually I have pretty good instincts, but now I feel like I can’t trust my gut feeling :(

    19. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      My gut has definitely been off when judging people – the most egregious case was when I worked in a sales role where one client had a department who were all quite prickly and standoffish, aside from a couple- one guy in particular I really got on with. He ended up committing an incredibly violent crime and was exposed as a narcissist and misogynist.

      At several other points, I have encountered people and felt “I’ll end up friends with them” immediately; it’s been wrong far more than it’s been right,.and out of all of my close friends none of them I saw coming, so to speak. I’m also rubbish at picking who I’ll work well with at work, I do try to work well with everyone of course, but instinctively pick some people over others. I’m rarely right!

    20. Sailor Susie*

      How do you distinguish a gut feeling from regular ol’ prejudice?

      “Just didn’t seem like the kind of person we could work with” — is this person brown perchance? Or speak with a non-European accent?

      Peoples gut feelings about me (female) are easily swayed by height: I get fewer condescending questions-more-of-a-comment when I wear heels to give a talk.

      Obviously not all cases are this obvious, and most people haven’t done the controlled experiments. But it’s startling how often stereotypes surface if they’re let.

      1. chocolate muffins*

        This is part of why I was asking about gut feelings that turned out to be wrong. Like, sometimes gut feelings are people picking up on something real that their brain isn’t processing yet, and sometimes gut feelings are prejudice, and I wonder how people distinguish those things. Or maybe they don’t distinguish them?

        1. Roland*

          The problem is that when you pass on hiring or dating someone, most of the time you aren’t gonna get confirmation one way or another on what it would have been like. People might have dramatic stories about following up kn someone they lassed on but it’s pretty unusual to actually follow up in these situations. Interesting andcdotes in both directions but I caution against the people who decide that their gut is “never wrong” about people because of the discriminatory situations Susie mentions.

      2. Put the Blame on Edamame*

        This is important- it’s definitely something to consider in job interviews, etc,that a feeling of “offness” isn’t correlated to a prejudice. In my case, I have worked with a whole range of backgrounds and the only ‘flag’ I have found to be reliable is that people who make pointed comments about my non-euro accent tend to be jerks.

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

      I had a student who could not accept his penalty for plagiarism. It was late afternoon, and the building was pretty deserted, and his eyes were starting to look serial-killer crazy. I de-escalated by informing him of the formal complaint process to go over my head, offering to print out the form for him to make a formal complaint against me, reminding him of the deadline, and then sending the print job down to the first floor so I could walk him out of the building. Pretty sure I dodged a bullet there.

    22. carcinization*

      I’ve trusted my gut and regretted it a few times. One that I particularly remember was in college (20+ years ago), I moved in with a room-mate that turned out to be a very bad match for various reasons. I had such a positive feeling about living with him and it was so wrong.

    23. Rara Avis*

      I’ve only had one really memorable gut reaction. Came out of my house in the evening to walk to the mailbox three houses down. There’s a car parked crooked partly in my neighbor’s driveway. The back of my neck starts to prickle as I walk. A guy had come out from behind the car and was stalking me. Two different neighbors start yelling at him; he takes off running. Two minutes later the police show up. They had been chasing him off the highway (stolen car.) I’ve never had a that visceral sense that I was in danger before or since. And I hadn’t even seen him when I started to feel afraid.

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

      It’s been mentioned before, but Gavin DeBecker’s *The Gift of Fear* is a good book about trusting your gut to increase your physical safety.

      1. Jackalope*

        I was going to recommend this, because it helps both directions. I’ve found his book helpful in giving me the tools to break down a situation that is creeping me out and to help me figure out what is triggering my creep-o-meter. It’s also helped me be less likely to give in to the prejudices that society has taught me. For example, as a white woman society basically taught me that a group of Black teens is up to no good and probably a danger to me. Once I had taken in some of the lessons from The Gift of Fear I noticed that I no longer had a nervous feeling walking by such groups. We would pass each other, I’d give them the same 1 second scan anyone else got, my instincts would tell me everything was fine, and we’d pass each other and continue with our lives. (The teens for their part would usually give me exactly the same amount of attention that any group of teens gives an adult they don’t know walking by them, which is to say none at all other than the level needed not to bump into me on the sidewalk.)

    25. Anon. Scientist*

      This is similar enough, I think:

      I’m a scientist and I’m pretty sensitive to other people’s feelings but I don’t do “vibes”. Until I walked into an interview and before I met anyone at all, I felt just… misery. They jerked me around on the salary after the interview but it was early 2009 in and industry that was consolidating everywhere I looked (read: hiring freezes if not layoffs), so I took it, but yep. That one sucked.

      More positive: we were buying a house, again, very scientifically. My spreadsheet was a marvel. We walked into one and spouse was like, yep, that’s it. I was like, shall we see the upstairs first? We did the home inspection but only to dicker with the sellers and to get an idea of what we were in for (a lot, actually) and we’ve been happy here ever since.

    26. Not YourAverageMom*

      Not me, but my mom: She retired somewhat abruptly after a long and storied career in higher education… in December of 2019!

    27. I'm*

      One area where I use gut feelings a lot is my cats. Animals can’t tell you when something is wrong, and cats will really try to hide when they’re sick or hurt. My subconscious keeps track of cat behavior or other things and will periodically tie it up in a bow and present it to my conscious brain via a gut feeling. It has never been wrong. I have not always listened to gut feelings re cats, and every time its turned out that I really should have. One time the cat died due to cancer and if I’d listened to my gut earlier, the cat would have suffered less.

    28. Spaghetti arms*

      Yes. It was a small company and I reported directly to the CEO. At one point, he said something that made my spidey senses tingle. I gave him the benefit of the doubt, *didn’t want to act impulsively*, figured I’d stick it out to the end of the year and get my bonus, etc…the experience of being there continued to devolve into chaos and, by the time I left, the job market was much more difficult for finding something than it had been when I first thought about leaving. Should have started looking the second things seemed off.

    29. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I have one where we didn’t trust my husband’s gut and it turned out badly (we are all fine now).

      My husband and I went skiing on a lovely slope, spur of the moment. He had an awful feeling about it but said we should go anyway, he didn’t want to make a big deal about it.

      Turns out many areas of the slope had hairpin turns where the snow had melted and then refrozen as ice.

      I flew off one such turn and landed in the soft powdery snow beside the ski slope area. I started trying to walk back and suddenly sank to my armpits – turns out I was standing on 10 feet or so of snow that had accumulated on top of trees and I was actually maybe 60 feet off the ground. I made my way back verrrry carefully but without incident.

      But, he hit one of those icy hairpin turns and hit a wall, tearing, breaking, and otherwise damaging every part of his knee it is possible to damage.

      And guess where we were? In the Tyrol region of Austria, in March 2020. He hobbled using me and the ski as crutches, into a medical facility, into a waiting room full of coughing sick people. Hobbled right back out. Went home. Had to quarantine for 2 weeks, wondering if this was an actual emergency and if it was worth risking COVID for. One of our healthy neighbors died suddenly of it and we were pretty scared.

      The physical therapist who saw us later said they’d never seen such a bad knee that didn’t have surgery, but by then it was too late to do it. He’s about 85% function in that knee now though!

  3. Ahoy! Landlord*

    We’re on the hunt for a new place in another state and sadly have to leave behind our lovely private landlord. I’ve been lucky to find good landlords for the most part, but I don’t have much of a pattern other than stay far away from red flags. Are there any tips or tricks with “screening” private landlords to know they’ll be an good/responsive landlord?

    1. WellRed*

      Is the property kept up or are there signs like, oh, torn screens or tenants who leave trashed piled in the yard? What does the landlord do for work? (Mine is in real estate and appraisals so knows the value of maintenance). Are there a lot of what my city calls nuisance calls for police to the property?

    2. Alex*

      See if you can talk to the current tenants. I have been able to before and it saved me from renting from crappy landlords.

    3. old curmudgeon*

      See if there is anything analogous to a “Tenant Resource Center” in your new community. It’s an org that exists to help tenants navigate the tenant/landlord relationship, and in some cases, you can get references (both good and bad) about landlords.

      If the state to which you are moving has a free online court case access website, do searches on the names of landlords and property management companies to see how often they pursue evictions or other court actions against tenants.

      WellRed’s suggestion of searching police records for calls to the property is an excellent one. You may also want to check with the local jurisdiction’s building codes bureau to see if the landlord has a pattern of code violations in their properties.

      And just for grins, check out the local media (tv, newspaper, etc.) and do searches on their websites for the name of the landlord, property management company and/or apartment complex name/address. You can find some very interesting information that way as well.

      I’d also recommend finding out which state agency in your new state is responsible for enforcing statutes pertaining to landlords, and checking with them to learn more about what landlords in that state are legally responsible to provide. It can vary a lot – some states are far more landlord-friendly than others, so informing yourself ahead of time about what you can expect can be helpful.

      Contact the city where you’ll be moving to and ask if there are any city-specific ordinances about landlords. For example, my city has an ordinance that landlords cannot require tenants to pay for routine carpet-cleaning when moving out of a rental property. Many landlords will still ASK tenants to pay for it, and many uninformed tenants will do so, so find out what your rights are before you agree to give them up.

      And then, of course, there’s good old-fashioned word of mouth. Do your new coworkers have landlords they like, or that they hate? If you are in a faith community, do any of your fellow believers have recommendations they could share?

      Good luck in your move – I hope you land in a great spot!

      1. Banana Pyjamas*

        Check the assessor website to find ownership. Then search that owner to find how much they own.

        If the ownership name is something like GC Rentals, Gotham Development etc, search the state business license, then once you have the agent name, search that on the licensing site. A lot of fly by night, lipstick on a pig types will have multiple real estate holding companies with similar names. If you see John Q. Public is the agent on multiple holding companies, that’s a red flag.

    4. Reebee*

      I tried going that route once. The deposit was three times the rent, and the leasing agent was very, very pushy. She then got audibly annoyed when I thanked her for her time. All for an, at best, modest property.

      Just…no.

    5. Stephanie*

      I’d look at the condition of the property (if you can see it in person). Also seconding to see if your city has good resources around private landlords and tenants’ rights. I’d also look around and see how in line their rent/deposit/lease term is compared to others in the area. I’d also just trust your gut and see how easy it is to deal with them when you’re looking. Are they responsive? Is the application onerous? Do they want a giant deposit? What’s the lease breaking penalty?

    6. tree frog*

      In my experience, the way they are when you’re viewing the place and initally communicating with them will tell you a lot about what they’re like to deal with. If they’re rude, flaky, highly demanding, or don’t respect your time, they will probably always be like that. (I live in an area where I usually don’t have much choice so I have rented from crappy landlords and it has sucked.)

    7. Sailor Susie*

      Not the landlord precisely but ask a local pizza place if they deliver there after dark. If the Papa Johns guy won’t risk it, you shouldn’t either.

      1. gsa*

        In the same vein, drive-by at nights. Would you go for a walk by yourself in that neighborhood at night,

  4. Jackalope*

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

    I just started a new Seanan McGuire series. It’s the story of Rose Marshall, and the first book is Sparrow Hill Road. I’m enjoying it a lot so far; fun ghost stories from the ghost’s perspective.

    1. Double A*

      I just started reading “The Cruel Prince” thinking it would be utter garbage and it’s actually very compellingly written. I’m only 50 pages in. YA fairy story, assuming it will be romance.

      I’m about halfway through “The Toll” which is the 3rd in Neil Schusterman’s Scythe series. I’m enjoying it.

      I just impulse bought a space romance because my library didn’t have it. That’ll be a report for another week.

      1. Broken scones*

        I loved THE CRUEL PRINCE when I first read it. I hope you continue to enjoy it :)

    2. word nerd*

      Just read the book Die with Zero, and while I don’t think it’ll resonate with everyone, I’m wondering if it’ll help me convince my husband to spend more money instead of always saving saving saving just to build a bigger nest egg…

      Read Adam Bede by George Eliot this week, and while I love Eliot’s writing in general, the plot was too tidy for me. It was one of the first books she wrote, and it has me thinking that I want to read Daniel Deronda for my next Eliot when her writing’s more developed.

      I also enjoyed Illuminations by T. Kingfisher, one of her children’s books that has some similarities with Defensive Baking but feels a little less dark.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I love Eliot’s Middlemarch–it was one of those books that I couldn’t wait to finish so I could read it again immediately–but Mill on the Floss just didn’t do it for me. I wonder if I should give her another go.

        1. word nerd*

          Yes, Middlemarch is my favorite book (all books, not just Eliot), but I was very disappointed by the ending of Mill on the Floss, which is supposed to have a lot of semi-autobiographical elements and yet doesn’t reflect how Eliot chose to live her life! If you’re not ready to commit to one of her bricks, you could always give Silas Marner a shot–pretty short, but more fable-y than her other books.

        2. GoryDetails*

          Another “loved Middlemarch, did NOT love Mill on the Floss” here! Of Eliot’s other works, I’d recommend Daniel Deronda and Scenes of Clerical Life – and I also enjoyed Adam Bede. [Disliked Silas Marner when it was required reading in school, but found that it improved quite a lot when I read it voluntarily as an adult. Funny how often that happens!]

          1. word nerd*

            Ha, I hear you. I hated Great Expectations so much when I had to read it in 9th grade–felt like such a slog at the time–but now I like it and mostly enjoy Dickens. I also think I have a better appreciation for characters like Miss Havisham after more life experience (she just seemed weird and creepy to me before), as well as Dickens’s sense of humor throughout his books. Funny how David Copperfield felt like much less of a slog to me as an adult even though it’s way longer than Great Expectations.

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

              I think what has always made it kind of hard for me to read Dickens is how awfully (though realistically) cruel people are, especially to kids, in those books. I made it through *Great Expectations* okay during the early pandemic and reasonably enjoyed it, but I couldn’t get through *David Copperfield*–poor kid was going from one bad situation to the next.

              They say one will like Wilkie Collins or Charles Dickens, but probably not both. I think I’m more a Wilkie Collins girl. Cartoonish, over-the-top evil doesn’t bother me, but realistic cruelty gets me.

              1. word nerd*

                Yeah, it is hard to see all the rotten stuff happening to kids in Dickens. I happened to read it the year before Demon Copperhead came out (which I loved), and while I liked that timing so I could reflect on the parallels, both books can be tough emotionally!

                But I like both Collins and Dickens! I’ve heard good things about Collins’s Armadale, so it’s sitting on my Audible wish list.

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

                  Ooh, I haven’t tried *Armadale* yet, but perhaps I will! One off-the-beaten-path Collins that I liked was *The Law and the Lady*, about a woman who discovers the man she has just married has a “not proven” verdict for when he was accused of murdering his first wife and who decides to investigate and clear his name herself.

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

            I love *Middlemarch* too! Was surprised at how much I was fine with *Silas Marner* given that it has such a bad reputation (maybe from having been required reading). I found *Romola* traumatic, though — the scene where the Classics professor can’t remember his Greek was very upsetting.

            1. word nerd*

              I can’t quite tell if you’re being serious about Romola being traumatic. I was thinking about tackling it after Daniel Deronda. Did you dislike the book overall?

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

                It’s been a really long time, but I think I didn’t enjoy it much overall. I just remember that one scene as being upsetting, though, so maybe the rest was okay? Or maybe I was expecting something more like *Middlemarch*, which I love so much, and was disappointed when that’s not what I got.

    3. old curmudgeon*

      I’ve been reading “Benny Ramirez and the Nearly Departed” by José Pablo Iriarte and getting a huge kick out of it. It’s a YA-level take on imposter syndrome in which the middle-school-level protagonist is the only person who can see and interact with the ghost of his dead grandfather, a famous Latino musician. It is honestly a hoot – I am enjoying it immensely.

    4. fallingleavesofnovember*

      I just finished Orbital by Samantha Harvey, which was very meditative and calming. A “day” in the life of six astronauts orbiting the earth, lots of reflections on our relationship to our planet, our place in the universe, and humanity’s striving for more and farther. Now I’ve started Soldier, Sailor by Claire Kilroy, which is a total contrast! A very intense perspective on early motherhood, I read a review that described it as a ‘book long panic attack’ and that seems right so far – but also very, very clever.

    5. chocolate muffins*

      I finished Beach Read this week, which I enjoyed but which also seemed to be basically the same story as Book Lovers. I liked each book individually but having read both seemed a bit … repetitive? Curious to see what other people thought about either book, or the combination if you’ve read both.

      1. Annie Edison*

        I have read all of Emily Henry’s books and loved all but one of them. Beach Read and Book Lovers are definitely my two favorites- I adore both of them, and Emily Henry is one of my “will read anything she writes as soon as possible after it comes out” authors

        I’m wondering if you read much romance aside from these two? “Basically the same story but with different characters” is kind of the whole deal. If memory serves, both of those are enemies to lovers romance, with a grumpy/sunshiny character contrast thrown in?

        The appeal for me is that because romance uses several predictable tropes, I know exactly what I’m getting into and I can just relax and escape into a fluffy happy world of witty banter where I know everything will be all right in the end.

        But also, those two books in particular did some fun things to subvert typical romance conventions while still following common tropes. Beach Read is a romance novel about defending the value of women’s fiction and calling out some of the misogyny in how those books are marketed. And Book Lovers was fun because of the way it subverted the typical trope of “big city career woman moves to small town and learns the value of prioritizing family over career”

        So I guess what I’m trying to say is- you’re not wrong, but I enjoyed them in spite of that, and partially because of it

        1. chocolate muffins*

          That makes sense. I read some romance but not a lot and appreciate your thoughts on the genre here.

    6. Sitting Pretty*

      Just finished the audiobook of Pandora’s Jar by Natalie Haynes, read by the author. she is a classicist and a damned good writer (and reader!) who tells the Greek myths with women at the center. Pandora, Medusa, Jocasta, Penelope, Medea, and a bunch of others. It was wonderful! It was a great way to learn the myths again and to think in new ways about what struggles and choices the women of legend were facing (and how their/our erasure from stories isn’t something we have to accept).

      1. BikeWalkBarb*

        I read her book A Thousand Ships 3 years ago according to my library records. Great reminder to catch up on more of her works.

      2. Helvetica*

        I read that book a few weeks ago and it is so good!
        It also inspired me to buy Euripides’s plays (as she characterises him as a Greek playwright who wrote women well), and damn, “Medea” in its original is astonishing.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        I really enjoyed that book, and hadn’t really thought about how, as ancient stories, there were many many versions of them floating around. The one you read in 9th grade is not the singular correct version.

    7. GoryDetails*

      Re Sparrow Hill Road – I really enjoyed that one! Have read a couple of the follow-on books in the “Ghost Roads” series, which features an expansive ‘verse with the different levels of life and death and reality – though I prefer the simpler stories, when we (and Rose herself) are just learning about the hitchhiking-ghost afterlife. (I loved the tie-in with one of my favorite teen-death-songs-involving-cars; neat twist on the whole thing.)

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      I just got Kate Atkinson’s latest collection of short stories, Normal Rules Don’t Apply. I’ve read two pages of the first story and am already hooked.

      My favorite of her books is Human Croquet and she’s one of my A List in general.

      1. Andromeda*

        I love Kate Atkinson! Got that from my mum, who loves her too (Behind The Scenes At The Museum might be my favourite)

    9. GoryDetails*

      Currently in progress:

      “A Nobleman’s Guide to Seducing a Scoundrel” by KJ Charles, a sequel to the charming smugglers-and-gentry “Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen”; this one takes place some 15 years later, with Luke Doomsday, a character who was a teen in the first book, now one of the two protagonists. He meets the new earl, an ex-military man who’s had to battle for his inheritance – and who learns that Luke’s own past might either clinch his claim to the earldom or might put Luke himself in that spot. The two men are clearly drawn to each other, but are each being quite reticent about it for a number of very good reasons; past experience suggests that they won’t hold out past the mid-point of the book. (I am enjoying the fleeting references to other characters from the first book; was hoping to find out how they were getting on.)

      On audiobook: “10 Things That Never Happened” by Alexis Hall, narrated by Will Watt. This one’s a modern-day gay romance, with the protagonist working at a bed-and-bath-type shop, joining his staff in their dislike of the owner of the shops – until events conspire to have the owner take him in while he recovers from his concussion and (fictional) amnesia. Yeah, it’s pretty silly, plotwise – there are touches of “I Love Lucy” in there somewhere – but the characters are endearing, the grumpy boss has hidden depths (and is surprisingly good with his new charge’s cat), and there are some very sweet and touching bits in among the wackiness. Oh, and a quip that made me laugh: protagonist Sam, fretting over how his cranky boss-turned-love-interest seems to be enjoying (in his own grumpy way) micromanaging the employees at Sam’s own branch store, muses something to the effect that Jonathan is very much a workaholic, and Sam’s staff is “very good at dispensing workahol”.

      1. Fellow Traveller*

        I thought 10 Things that Never Happened was fantastic on audio! It was as if someone took a Richard Curtis movie and converted into audiobook form.

      2. otter*

        I recently read A Nobleman’s Guide and quite enjoyed it! I’ll have to check out 10 Things That Never Happened – I’ve been trying to get into fiction audiobooks and haven’t been sold yet, but maybe this will be the one.

      3. Csethiro Ceredin*

        I loved Secret Lives and this sequel so much! So interesting seeing the Regency romance between two men who have totally different sets of social challenges. And the language was period accurate, and lots of dry humour. It helped that Secret Lives was set in the same place and time as my favourite Georgette Heyer.

    10. Excel-sior*

      with Dark Matter now streaming on Apple TV, it’s a perfect opportunity to recommend the book it’s based on, by Blake Crouch. it’s sci-fi, it’s a thriller, theres romance (of the sort that’s important to the story rather than just tacked on) and i read it in about 2 days.

      I’d also recommend Recursion by the same author.

    11. Chanel No. π*

      I have to put in a word for Ruth Rendell. British mystery author, Inspector Wexford series, plus standalones under her own name, and as Barbara Vine. Reason I bring her up is, two different letters this week made me think of scenes from her books.

      First, the one about the nanny who appears to be using her friends as references. In A Judgment in Stone, Eunice, the main character, is applying for a job as a housekeeper. She’s never been a housekeeper before, but she waits at her friend’s flat, where there’s a pay phone in the front hallway, until the prospective employer calls. Eunice answers and hands the phone to “Mrs. Chichester,” her friend, who gushes about what a gem Eunice is. The omniscient narrator points out that if Jackie, the homeowner, had called back to confirm employment, another tenant would have answered. Eunice who? Chichester who? But Jackie chooses to confirm in writing, because etiquette.

      Then the rerun, from the woman who wanted to recommend her ex for a job where she worked. Enough people said, “But is Ex *really* the only person for this position?” That calls to mind The Face of Trespass. Gray agrees to take care of someone’s dog for a week. Then he has to leave the country because his mother is dying. It’s almost twenty-four hours before he remembers that the dog is at his house, alone and destined to remain so. He tries calling various friends and neighbors, who can’t or won’t help, or can’t be reached, and finally calls his ex. Of course: she has a key, and she sure knows where his house is. But, she says a little later, “Why didn’t you call the RSPCA?” Of course: if it was only about the dog, he would have called the police, or animal welfare. But he had to try all these people first, to convince himself that he just *had* to call the ex; there was *no* other choice.

      Anyway, Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine. Check her stuff out, if you like mysteries!

      1. I take tea*

        Oh, I remember A Judgment in Stone, even if it is many years since I read it. It was pretty bleak, but so good.

    12. BikeWalkBarb*

      Reading The Locklands, third in the trilogy by Robert Jackson Bennett that starts with Foundryside. Great world-building, queer central characters, and includes at least some discussion of the kind of politics, law and economics you get when powerful people control magic and others can’t have any of its benefits. Mostly centers on characters and action, not the economic structure, but that’s so often ignored completely that I’m always happy when I see some in a book that includes magic. Turns out magic creates as many problems as it solves.

    13. Falling Diphthong*

      Funny Story by Emily Henry. Two people who have been platonic best friends since third grade realize, at his bachelor party, that it’s you, it’s been you all this time. This is the story of the two people they had to blindside with a dumping the next morning to make their love story happen.

      As with her Book Lovers, this is a spot on romantic comedy that skewers the tropes of romantic comedy. Really great at relationships–conveying how a socially awkward person figures out how much to share, conveying family relationships both supportive and hurtful. The two people who do the dumping are not mustache twirling villains… but they are really dedicated to seeing themselves as the sort of good, caring people who would not deliberately or carelessly hurt anyone else. (Also: Oh, spot on with how the person with strong feelings about how long the other person needs to mourn the relationship is usually the dumper.)

      Started Cinder by Melissa Meyer, which asks What if Cinderella was a cyborg? So far quite engaging; it’s the first in a series of four stories each based on a classic fairy tale brought into a future sci fi setting.

    14. Nervous Nellie*

      Just starting The Wealth of Shadows by Graham Moore, and am gripped by it. It’s a fictional recreation of the true story of a secret team at the Treasury Department that worked to destabilize the German economy in the late 1930s, when war was declared in Europe. Sounds dry, huh? Nope. It’s such a tight spy novel I am fully betting (and hoping) that it will be turned into a movie. Unputdowneable!

    15. Come On Eileen*

      I just finished Husbands and really loved it. Now I’m on Expiration Dates and it’s similar enough, yet different enough, where I’m enjoying it as well. Next up — I think — will be Good Material, which was highlighted on the “NYT Best of 2024 so far” list.

      1. word nerd*

        Ha, that’s funny–looking at my Goodreads shelves, I read The Husbands on May 3 and Expiration Dates on May 4. I wonder if we got the recs from the same place. Gotta admit I liked Husbands way more than Expiration Dates (4 out of 5 stars vs 2 stars, respectively).

    16. Stephanie*

      Reading the Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb. It’s about a black violinist who discovers his old fiddle is actually a Stradivarius and all the issues that arise around that. Also covers all the issues of trying to break into classical music as a black person. Really enjoying it.

      Prior to that, I was reading In the Mouth of the Wolf by Katherine Corcoran. It was about the murder of a journalist in Veracruz, Mexico and her attempts to investigate it. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t feel like it had enough material for an entire book. I think I would have liked it more as a long feature article.

      1. snacattack*

        I really liked The Violin Conspiracy! I also enjoyed his second novel, Symphony of Secrets. Recommend them both.

    17. Donkey Hotey*

      I just finished Peng Shepard’s Cartographers and I really can’t recommend it. It’s billed as “magical realism” I was intrigued by the premise (Grown-ups discover Narnia) but frustrated by the presentation (they spend 400 pages talking about their feelings.) It’s billed as “magical realism” but that seems to be a way of passing off fantasy tropes to an audience that usually looks at “genre fiction” like something stuck to their shoe. I called every plot twist a hundred pages out, except for the one I was sure they wouldn’t do. (Guess what: they did it.)

      1. Atheist Nun*

        I did not finish The Cartographers. I appreciate that you slogged through it.

        1. Donkey Hotey*

          I finished it because it came to me from someone who i respect and who also gave one of the best recommendations ever (the podcast audio drama Steal the Stars.)

      2. snacattack*

        Ha! I also did not like it–and unlike some books I don’t like, I didn’t quite understand what other people saw in it! It did seem like my kind of thing, only…it wasn’t.

    18. I come in here, I give these things to you*

      I just started Close to Death, which is the most recent Anthony Horowitz novel. (Mystery)

    19. Broken scones*

      Just finished reading FUNNY STORY by Emily Henry (my first EmHen book) and I loved it! Definitely plan on reading her backlist…I also just started I WISH YOU WOULD by Eva Des Lauriers, a contemporary YA second-chance romance :)

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        “Happy Place” is sitting on the table in front of me! My first of hers. Looking forward to it.

        1. Annie Edison*

          As a person who has read and loved all Emily Henry’s books… maybe don’t start with Happy Place? It was by far my least favorite of hers. You might feel differently and love it, but also I feel like if that had been my first introduction to her writing, I might not have picked up anything else.

          1. word nerd*

            I’ve read all of Emily Henry’s books too and agree Happy Place is my least favorite, but I may be biased because I’m a physician by training and Henry clearly didn’t really understand the medical/residency stuff that well.

          2. Csethiro Ceredin*

            It was my least favourite too. I don’t read a lot of romance and really hope for pure entertainment, but in that one I found the characters too angsty and frustrating. And I get frustrated when people in their 30s are such terrible communicators – fair enough in YA.

            But I know a lot of people love it, so YMMV.

    20. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Just started Black River by Nilanjana Roy, which is a literary mystery set in India. So far, I’m enjoying the evocative writing that creates strong sense of place and liking the main investigator.

    21. I take tea*

      I am reareding Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising series and am delighted to find that it still holds up.

      1. fallingleavesofnovember*

        I felt a bit put off by how Jane is portrayed as a little girl on rereading, but gosh do I love those books still!

    22. RedinSC*

      Just finished First Lie Wins by Ashely Elston. It was a book club book, and I really enjoyed it.

    23. carcinization*

      I just finished Throne of Glass by Maas, which is next month’s book club selection. At this month’s meeting, the host (a local librarian) was talking about the author’s books, and I was paying attention because I hadn’t read anything by her. So I was like, “oh, she writes the sex elves books people keep taking about online?” which made the host laugh. I told her that actually a less polite word was used before “elves.’ Anyhow, at the beginning I found the similarities to a different book series kind of distracting (Hodgell’s God Stalker Chronicles), but they waned somewhat as the book went on.

    24. Amory Blaine*

      Has anybody read Miranda July’s All Fours? It’s not my typical genre, but I loved her interview on the Daily Show and am intrigued!

  5. Cat Lady*

    I have the world’s most adorable foster kitten right now! Only 3.5 weeks, and very fluffy. I think she will be longhaired. Her name is Pearl. I always feel sorry for the singletons (and they’re harder to raise, too). Question: why do people always ask “are you going to keep her??” right away? Literally, I’m just not sure why this is where people go. I’ve never “foster failed” after 30-40 kittens, and I think fostering is really important work that I’m proud to do. I don’t see it as inferior to adopting a cat of my own. Can anyone explain the logic? And is there a good, kind rejoinder, especially to the people who ask me every single time?

    1. Generic Name*

      Well, I’m one of the dummies who would ask if you’re to keep them. I personally would have a hard time not getting attached to a kitten I was caring for, and it would be difficult to give them up.

    2. Pam Adams*

      “Plenty of people are good at adopting cats. I’m one of the few who’s good at hand-raising them so they live to be adopted.”

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If you can pull off a genuinely curious tone of voice rather than exasperated or snarky, could attempt to address both your questions by asking one of the repeat offenders, “You know, you ask that every time I take in a new foster. At this point I’ve fostered 40 kittens and cats, and I really enjoy doing that work and then moving them on to the next step in Cat Distribution. Why do you ask me the same question every time like you think my answer is going to change?”

    4. Double A*

      “Oh no, that’s not how the cat distribution system works.”

      In all seriousness directly choosing a cat has never worked for me so I’m leery of it.

      1. don'tbeadork*

        It’s actually worked out several times for me. It seems to work best on calicos and orange cats, but we’ve had excellent luck with a couple of siamese-ish ones as well.

    5. RagingADHD*

      This is one of those questions that is actually a statement about themselves. They are saying “I would want to keep her!”

      You don’t need a “rejoinder.” Nobody is accusing you of being bad at fostering or implying that fostering is inferior. It’s just an expression of their own immediate emotional response to how cute the kitten is.

      You can just say something like, “Aw, I know, right? But I like fostering. She’s going to make someone very happy!”

      1. Viette*

        Having been in this situation, it does kind of kill the conversation — as it would do any time a person said they were doing something, and the response from their conversational partner was, “Oh, I could never do that.”

        Whether it’s bungee jumping or working for the MTA, to tell someone you could never do what they’re currently intentionally doing does mean that either one of you has to pretend they agree with the other’s perspective (at least to some degree), or the conversation has nowhere to go.

        1. Rebecca*

          “either one of you has to pretend they agree with the other’s perspective (at least to some degree), or the conversation has nowhere to go”

          I don’t think that’s necessarily true. It’s ok for people to like different things! You can always validate that they personally don’t like it without agreeing with their assessment, and then there are a number of places the conversation could go (including to a different subject).

        2. RagingADHD*

          Of course you don’t have to agree in order for the conversation to keep going. You could talk about why you like the thing. You could tell a funny story about the activity. You could ask them what they like to do.

          There’s no reason a simple conversation has to be confrontational.

        3. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          I would add that instead of pretending to agree, you have lots of options. Like commenting on how they’re reacting to it “you look so happy when you talk about it!” Or your reaction to them “I love seeing you so focused on making the world better”.

      2. Cat Lady*

        I guess I feel like they’re asking if this kitten is so good / so special I want to keep her (people even say, “is this the one??”), and in some weird way I feel like I’m putting down the kitten when I say I don’t plan to keep her, even though she’s extremely cute and will make someone very happy! It’s not because she’s not good enough for me to keep! Anyone would be lucky to have such a kitten. But I’m a fosterer!

        1. BubbleTea*

          “She is the one for someone, I’m sure! But I’m not looking for the one, I’m looking out for the many.”

    6. Don't You Call Me Lady*

      It seems like a logical question someone would ask , not a criticism of any kind

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      I would ask because I am the type to take one glance at an adorable fluffball and lose my mind: “You are the cutest thing on earth! Do you want a car? Let me buy you a car!” So I would probably project that! But I don’t think you’re “lesser” for successfully fostering, by any means.

    8. Viette*

      You have to not take it personally, I think, even though it feels a bit like they’re either saying you have no heart or asking you explain how you maintain general emotional composure, which is not easy to explicate.

      I used to foster dogs (in my no-pet household, so I got adult dogs who were typically pretty cool, just not great with other animals) and I got this constantly. I never came up with a great response, but I focused on saying stuff like, “no, I’m just hosting her until she finds her permanent home.”

      That doesn’t stop the people who want to tell you how they could never ever give the animal up if they were fostering because they would get too attached — one time someone who was adopting a dog from me would not let up with saying how bad they felt ‘taking your dog away from you’ and I finally just said, “she’s not my dog; she was just staying with me. She’s your dog now!!”

      I had to assume people weren’t trying to make a comparison between me (happily able to let a dog live me and then move out) and them (immediately deeply emotionally attached to any dog that lives with them). When they would tell me how they could NEVER imagine not adoring and keeping any dog they fostered, I figured they’d just kinda forgotten I existed in their desire to talk about how they feel about animals.

      1. Cat Lady*

        Haha yeah, it’s not really that I’m taking it so personally, I’m just never sure of a good response that doesn’t make the conversation feel a bit weird afterwards. But I’m sure I’m too sensitive about it.

        1. tree frog*

          Depends how much energy you want to invest, but you could use this as an opportunity to talk about why you specifically like fostering. If they’re actually curious they would probably be interested to know. (I’m still mastering the art of not answering the exact question that was asked but it comes in handy sometimes.)

    9. Jessica*

      They may just be envious. You got to have forty kittens! Who gets to have forty kittens?? Not most people. You’re living the dream. :-)

      1. Cat Lady*

        Haha this is how I feel. I get **infinite kittens**, and even though I get older, they stay the same age (as the saying goes). Also, sometimes I have litters of five or six at a time. Obviously, it would not be possible for me to keep even a small fraction! I would end up with more kitties than Alison within a year!

    10. Still*

      I think it’s just small-talk. People want to engage with you and it seems like an innocent enough question; I get that it’s annoying when you hear it for the thousandth time but people probably don’t think about that. There are plenty of people who end up adopting their fosters, so it’s not unreasonable to wonder.

      It doesn’t imply that fostering is in any way inferior to adoption.

      Just take it as an expression of interest in your life and answer the question you wish they asked instead.

      Speaking of that: what are some good small-talk questions to ask instead?

      1. Dirk Gently*

        “I’m a private detective.”
        “Oh?”
        “Does that bother you?”
        “It’s just that I have a friend who plays the double bass.”
        “I see.”
        “Whenever people meet him and he’s struggling around with it, they all say the same thing, and it drives him crazy. They all say, ‘I bet you wished you played the piccolo.’ Nobody ever works out that that’s what everybody else says. I was just trying to work out if there was something that everybody would always say to a private detective so that I could avoid saying it.”
        “No. What happens is that everybody looks very shifty for a moment, and you got that very well.”

    11. Six Feldspar*

      You’re putting her through cat university do she can graduate into a permanent house!

      Hope you have fun with her in the meantime and thank you for doing the work to get kittens adoptable. Me and a friend fostered a single kitten once from about 3-9 weeks and she was adorable, no regrets, but sooooooo much work when they’re young and have to be taught everything.

      1. Cat Lady*

        People have nooooo idea. They’re so cute, but it’s not just the round-the-clock feedings – it’s the constant mess as these poopy little guys come off the streets with every kind of disease and variable digestion and no idea how to use the litter box. Even though I love them all, I’m always a little relieved to see them go so I can clean up and reset before I take on any more!

        1. BubbleTea*

          I think the fact people have no idea is completely the problem. They’re seeing fostering kittens as being a test drive for adopting a cat. The fact that foster to adopt is an actual thing for humans might feed into it (though I hate to think that there are people who see fostering as test driving before they find a suitable child to keep…). People forget that foster care is a job, and not primarily for the benefit of the carer.

          1. Zephy*

            100%. I used to work for a shelter and I would have a LOT of people ask about “fostering.” We’d get really excited until we realized what *they* meant by “fostering” was “no-strings-attached extended practice adoption for one specific critter,” and not actually fostering. You know, offering their homes and hands to care for special-needs animals that can’t have those needs met in a shelter environment, possibly also extending the reach of the shelter to find a suitable placement for those animals once those needs have become manageable (either because the neonate grows up, or because some kind of treatment stabilizes whatever special condition – surgery, medication, therapy, etc).

    12. Zephy*

      “Are you going to keep her?” – “Oh, probably not. I prefer to take care of babies like this one until they’re big enough to go to their forever homes. Somebody has to, you know!” said with a smile should move the conversation along.

      “Oh, I could never, I’d get too attached!” – “Yeah, it can be tough sometimes,” followed by a topic change.

      These people don’t Get It. They’ve never fostered and probably honestly never really thought about where pets come from – likely didn’t have any pets growing up, or if they did, those pets didn’t have babies. These people have never entered an animal shelter. It’s really easy to go your whole life without thinking about how pets work if you’ve never had them.

    13. londonedit*

      I think it’s probably just that cat fosterers like you are pretty rare – I have three separate friends who did the whole ‘I’m not sure I’m ready for a cat, but I’ve signed up to foster a cat, because that way I don’t have to commit if it doesn’t work’ and then lo and behold they fall in love with a cat and that’s the end of their fostering. That’s probably most people’s experience of cat fostering, so even though they know you’ve fostered loads, they probably still think ‘Oooh are you going to keep this one??’ The idea of not keeping any of them does seem a little strange to me (though I understand it works for you and I admire your commitment!)

    14. Blarg*

      I first foster failed (though not a bottle baby), a ~ 6 month old who was ill. I had ZERO intention of having a permanent pet as I was fresh out of college and had big plans. Eighteen years later, I said goodbye to her and that was December 2022 and I still got teary eyed when unexpectedly around kittens a couple weeks ago.

      I did also “successfully” foster litters after the adoption. I guess my point is — some fosters do fail, and for people who haven’t fostered, they cannot imagine bringing an animal home and ever giving it back.

    15. Laser99*

      “I already have seven, my landlord/spouse/whoever cut me off.” It doesn’t have to be true, it’s not like anyone is going to come over and check, right?

  6. Jackalope*

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

    Our D&D group is continuing with our long campaign but we started a bit of a new phase this week and that was fun. I also had a new idea for the D&D campaign that I’m running which I won’t get to try out for awhile but at some point….

    1. Banana Pyjamas*

      I’m playing Botany Manor. It’s a puzzle game set in 1890, and you’re a female botanist trying to publish an herbarium. It captures both the sexism women face in science and that particular late Victorian tone.

      Once you’ve done it once you can definitely speed run it pretty easily. My kids are chaos goblins so I had to restart. I can’t figure out how to grow the last flower though.

    2. DrKMnO4*

      I’ve been playing a fair bit of Destiny 2 lately. I found a guide for how to complete a dungeon (designed for 3 people) solo and without dying. I’ve already tackled four of the game’s eight dungeons solo w/o dying, so I decided to give this one a shot last night.

      I made it to the final boss w/o dying, but got killed bc I wasn’t paying close enough attention. Still, I was determined to finish it solo, and was making progress when I got hit with “error code: bee” and booted from the game. Now I have to start over from the beginning. :(

    3. Jay*

      Haven’t started yet, but I’m looking forward to sinking my teeth into the Dave The Diver Vs. Godzilla expansion.

    4. RussianInTexas*

      Not appliances, but plumbing. Backstory: we had some pipes over the garage break during the Texas Winter Apocalypse of 2021. Fixed that.
      A whole year and a half later, I accidentally discovered a leak in the ceiling over my office. I say accidentally, because it was a Saturday and I never go upstairs to my office during weekends unless I need sometimes. I needed something. Emergency plumber was called, leak fixed. So ok. On Monday the part of the ceiling that got wet came down 2 feet from where I was sitting.
      I got the contractors to fix the ceiling.
      Few months later another leak sprung up on the same line! With the Sheetrock coming down and all. The plumber thinks that the old copper lines got weakened during the freeze and were popping up.
      We ended up replacing all the horizontal lines with PEX, to the tune of $5k.

    5. fposte*

      Are there people here who could give me some startup VR tips? I’m a huge Taskmaster fan and they’re doing a VR version on Meta, so I might spring for a Quest. Will I kill myself in my own living room?

      1. Jackalope*

        I unfortunately haven’t played any VR so have no useful advice to give. But I’m interested in what others have to say.

      2. Digital Hubbub*

        Used a set a couple of times, so, safety tips – make sure someone else is with you while you’re getting used to it. Or sit down THEN put the headset on. Or both. The total immersion is really convincing, and you are very likely to flail a hand etc into furniture you cannot see, at the very least. Also very short usage sessions while you get used to it, five or ten minutes at a time. You may get headaches while your brain adjusts to this new set of input.
        It’s also possible your brain may not want to adapt and make you feel ill. Not maybe very likely, particularly for people who are regular computer users, but it’s possible so not your fault!
        Do let us know if you try it!

    6. SuprisinglyADHD*

      Playing more Hades 2 and I’m so thrilled I went for early access! My boyfriend and I both loved the first one, and so far the second is all the best parts but changed enough that it’s not stale or repetitive. The first patch came out and fixed a bunch of stuff that was bugging me, and the dev team is very open about what they’re working on.

    7. Raia*

      I’ve been loving Dredge, which is just creepy enough to not be a traditional fishing sim, but not so spooky that I don’t want to play in fear of losing sleep. The Indie game scene has been crushing it lately!

  7. Dr. Doll*

    Tell me your appliance disasters. An apparently long standing minor small gas leak suddenly morphed into having the gas turned off and having the oven pulled out. On Friday before Memorial Day.

    1. old curmudgeon*

      Decades ago, my spouse turned on the oven of an electric stove to preheat, walked into the living room to pick up a book, and returned to the kitchen to find flames shooting out of the stove.

      Spouse is not an athletic person by any stretch of the imagination, but the adrenaline rush was sufficient that he yanked that stove out of its recessed spot in the counter, dragged it across the kitchen and threw it out the back door onto the driveway in about 7 1/2 seconds. No physical damage to anything other than the stove, fortunately, and no long-term consequences to him other than having the shakes for half an hour or so afterward, but it was a bit of excitement for sure.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        I saw flames coming out of my oven after I turned it on and jumped into the shower.

        I forgot that I had put the cutting board and knife in there to keep them away from the cats.

        There’s nothing like flames + dripping plastic in your oven to make your day better.

        PS I still use the knife – it’s got depressions on the handle from melting into the oven rack.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          We once put a glass pyrex dish with its cover in the oven to keep the cats out of it–guess what we forgot to take out before preheating a day later?

          Luckily nothing caught fire but man were we scared/felt dumb.

          1. PhyllisB*

            One of the hints my mother gave me when I got my first apartment was if you have dirty dishes and company’s coming put dishes in dish drainer and slide into the oven. (This was before the days of dishwashers obviously.) Does make the kitchen look neater, BUT you must remember to remove said dishes before turning on the oven. I…didn’t and the melted plastic was a real treat to remove. (Not to mention the horrendous odor.) I’m just lucky the dishes didn’t shatter. I’ve had THAT happen too when I placed a casserole dish on a stove burner that (unknown to me) was turned on. Thankfully I wasn’t standing close by when it shattered and glass went flying in all directions.

        2. Blarg*

          I read this as you saw the fire, then jumped into the shower, and in the shower were knives.

          That would be a whole other nightmare.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Appliance-adjacent – a couple years ago we were having a coldpocalypse right before Christmas. It was Friday afternoon, I think the 23rd, and suddenly some combination of my garbage disposal, dishwasher and kitchen sink were backing up into the sink basin. I managed to get hold of a plumber who sent out his crew that same day, god bless them, and they were there for almost four hours (again, on the Friday before Christmas when I swear every pipe in the city was freezing) trying to work on it. As it turns out, sometimes (twice in 20 years, the chief plumber said) letting a faucet drip into a drain can result in an ice dam building up in the drainpipe as each slow drip going down the drain freezes to the ones before it.

      They refused to charge me for anything since they weren’t able to fix the problem, even though it was an emergency last minute call, there were three of them and they were there for four hours on the Friday before Christmas. We weren’t able to cook the Christmas ham, but the ice dam eventually thawed and the sink was usable again by Christmas evening, and we did the ham for New Years instead. (His suggestion was that if you’re letting the faucet drip and your sink is on an outside wall, put a bowl under it in the sink and manually dump it all at a go a few times a day, so we do that now during cold snaps and it hasn’t happened again.)

      1. Cat Lady*

        Terrible things always seem to happen to me at Christmas plumbing wise – I guess in part because if I’m hosting, there’s probably way more people using the shower/dishwasher/sink than at any other time. But it’s always when it will be most embarrassing, expensive, and difficult to get someone out!

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          It’s apparently a real issue, because people tend to cook a lot more food of a “fancier” variety and put stress on the appliances out of nowhere.

          Plumbers actually keep extra staff on hand on Thanksgiving just to unclog garbage disposals because so many people don’t know to NOT put potato peels in them–they never make mashed potatoes otherwise.

          1. California Dreamin’*

            A family member of mine was hosting a large family gathering as a fairly young adult/newlywed. I was helping with the potatoes and wanted to peel into a bowl or the trash. When I told her the peels shouldn’t go in the disposal, She was like oh, no, they’ll be fine in mine. Um… the predictable outcome occurred and an emergency weekend plumber visit was required. I felt a little sorry for taking her at her word, but I myself had learned that lesson the hard way and I guess she did too!

            1. An Australian In London*

              It’s a double-whammy of an issue, both mechanical and chemical.

              Mechanical: potato peels are a rare combination of fibrous, slippery, and smooth. They can slip past the grinding wheel – garbage disposals don’t cut the food waste, they fling it by centrifugal force against a grinding wheel. In theory mango cheeks would have a similar issue.

              Chemical: they are high in starch, so they expand when water is added and tend to stick to pipes (like cholesterol in arteries). Rice and pasta also shouldn’t ever go down drains or garbage disposals for the same reason.

              I can’t think of any other food waste that has both of these issues, which is why potato peels are particularly problematic.

              1. ThatGirl*

                Yet every year, I refuse to peel the potatoes into the sink and my in-laws always insist it’s fine to put them down the disposal. I guess it’s their plumbing bill, but…

    3. WellRed*

      I didn’t know gas leaks could ever be minor?
      For me, hot water heater conked out, just ahead of the four day July 4th weekend. As my roommate put it: she trained for just such a cold shower situation all her years at summer camp.

      1. Spacewoman Spiff*

        Same thought on the gas leak! Even if it smells minor, call the gas company! I’ve found FOUR gas leaks over the years that the utility had to repair, in one case it wasn’t a very strong smell but persistent enough that I kept calling them out over a month. Turned out my neighbor (rowhomes, so attached) had a MASSIVE gas leak but they didn’t know what the smell was. I know I’m sidetracking here but this stuff is scary.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I’ve read too many stories about an entire block exploding due to an unnoticed gas leak to not call the gas company pronto!

        2. Once too Often*

          I called the gas company 4 times to look at the stove. The last guy “condemned” it & put a sticker on & told the landlord – even tho he didn’t find a leak. Thank goodness he did. When they pulled out the stove they found the leak: an inch & a half long hole in the gas line TO the stove. So please look there, too, if you smell gas.

      2. I'm A Little Teapot*

        A very small gas leak that has enough ventilation so it dissipates is minor, but still needs prompt repair once discovered. I’ve had one of those, a valve or something wasn’t working right on the water heater and I had a small gas leak for probably months. It was discovered when the plumber was out for something else in the same room. I also learned that I don’t smell the gas additives as expected.

    4. Hazel*

      Years ago, bought our first house, no money to spare, thought we smelled gas, turns out the stove was leaking and only one burner was safe. In a house which had previously been rented to a tenant with a child! The nice man somehow blocked the gas to the others, so we could at least cook on one burner til we got a new stove. Current house, clogging on to a 1970s gas stove because it works without electric power (yes even the oven) and we’ve had a couple of multi day power outages. I knew the burner we most use was getting stiffer to run on and off, I should have stopped using it. As we were leaving for the weekend I thought ‘I’ll just make sure it’s off.’ Of course I turned it on couldn’t turn it off again, the sort inside must have finally broken. Panicked call to helpful neighbour who knew how to turn off the gas supply (a normal adjustable wrench as it turns out) and Amazonned an induction burner so we could get by until we could find a replacement (it’s a small size stove). Which good neighbour actually found for us. And I still like gas stoves! But I love great neighbours more.

    5. ThatGirl*

      Our water heater failed and started leaking the same day I got laid off, the night before we were supposed to leave on vacation.

        1. ThatGirl*

          It was indeed, though we literally just packed up the car, shut the water off and ran away from our problems for a week :D

          1. Cat Lady*

            Ha this is what I did when my hot water heater started to leak. I had one guy come out and quote me $6-$8K. I shut off all the water, put down a towel, and went away for a week instead. Came back fresh and de-stressed and called around until I could find someone to fix it at the price I could afford.

      1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

        That’s worse than my water heater failure which happened the Friday evening of a 3-day weekend. Got the water turned off to the heater, and since I didn’t want to pay double rates for a plumber on a holiday weekend, I just showered at my gym until Tuesday when I called the plumber.

      2. ElastiGirl*

        Same here! Leaving for a 10-day vacation, everything and everyone is loaded in the car, and we hear the faint sound of water running. We can’t find any faucet running, but we’re late and I say we’re imagining things, let’s just go.

        My nanny opens the water heater cabinet, and there’s water pouring onto the floor. Oops! We just shut off the water to the whole house and left. And that nanny got a really big year end bonus.

      3. nerdgal*

        We owned our present home for a year before we moved to it permanently. Arrived for Christmas (afternoon of Dec 23) to find that the WH had catastrophically failed and the entire house had several inches of water in it. Entire house had to be re-sheetrocked (bottom 18 inches) and repainted. We still had Christmas dinner there after sweeping and vacuuming out all the water, then we didn’t return for almost 3 months while repairs were made.

    6. Spacewoman Spiff*

      This is more of a plumbing disaster, but one day I ran the garbage disposal and dirty water started pouring out from the bottom of the dishwasher. Makes me laugh to think about it now (probably because I was renting, I didn’t have to pay to fix it!), but what a way to start the morning. Dishwasher wound up having to get replaced and there was some “interesting” plumbing that had to be fixed.

    7. Firebird*

      My wusband put a cherry pop tart in the toaster and just …left… the house. I heard a loud buzzing and went to check it out. Flames were shooting out of the toaster under the cabinet and up the wall. I was able to knock it into the sink and knock the plug out of the wall. The metal tile on the wall was the only reason it didn’t catch on fire. The cabinets were burned black underneath but the front part was ok. I’m glad my dad gave us a fire extinguisher for a housewarming gift.

      My daughter had just had a firefighter talk to her kindergarten class about fire safety. She immediately got her toddler brother down low and told him about Stop, Drop, and Roll to keep him safe.

      1. Zephy*

        I had a similar thing happen when I was a child, attempting to make toast for my mom. I don’t remember if it was Mother’s Day or her birthday or something if I just wanted to do something nice. I woke her up by very calmly stating “the toaster is on fire.” She freaked out, Dad heroically grabbed the burning appliance and ran outside with it, and then offered her two pieces of freshly-made wheat-charcoal on a plate once the situation was resolved.

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      Our fridge suddenly going to That Big Chill In The Sky out of nowhere a year or so ago. Absolutely no indication until I went to get some ice cubes and found slush instead.

      Our landlord was on top of it getting us a new one but it was still three days of ice chests, bags of ice in the fridge, spoiled food, and mopping. UGH.

      1. Spacewoman Spiff*

        Hahaha, oh god, very similar experience here…I got super lucky and it was the night before garbage pickup when I realized my groceries had been slowly going bad all week (I’d been working late a lot, so, no cooking), so at least I was able to quickly get rid of all the ruined food.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          What really sucks is not being able to eat ANYTHING normal–you can’t keep milk so no cereal for breakfast, you can’t store leftovers so no regular dinner…

          1. Spacewoman Spiff*

            I had forgotten that! I must have eaten out so much until the new fridge came…

    9. Excel-sior*

      oh have i got a story!

      late last year, my washing machine broke, a week before i was due to move house. it was under warranty but it would have taken about 3 weeks before it would be fixed so i bit the bullet and bought a new one as it could be delivered the next day and 3 weeks without fresh clothes seemed too much at the time.

      the company (rhymes with Murrays, for the Brits) delivered and installed it. unbeknownst to me, as they installed it, they crushed the waste water pipe at the back. now, in the UK, we tend to have out appliances in the kitchen, under the counter, so i didn’t spot it until moving day when i was taking the machine out.

      i had a plumber round to install the machine in the new place (there needed to be a bit of extra work which I wasn’t confident in doing myself) and he said the pipes been damaged and he can’t install it until it was fixed. ok, fine. onto the company. i bought the insurance, should be ok. oh no. i couldn’t prove that it hadn’t been damaged in the move and I should have reported the issue straight away. “how could i do that?” i asked “when the set up, which is pretty much universal throughout the UK, makes it impossible, unless I’m psychic or this very situation arises”.

      lots of understanding “i see where you’re coming from” buy no actual movement on the issue. for weeks. company telling me to go to the manufacturer, manufacturer telling me it should come through the company.

      eventually i again bite the bullet and pay for am independent plumber to come and fix it. “ah” says he, “it IS crushed, but it’s not actually broken. i can replace it, but it’ll take a few weeks for the part to arrive.” no, thats too long, it’s been 2 weeks in a new house with no clean clothes and its starting to smell.

      i call the original plumber out again. explain to him what’s happened. he’s now happy to install it as long as someone else takes the blame if it all goes wrong.

      finally, 3 weeks after i moved house, I’ve had the washing machine installed, with no changes, paying an extra £250 for the pleasure of the delay.

    10. Lemonwhirl*

      A little background – rural house, not on the mains for water or sewage. We have a septic tank/water treatment thing. Also, we have a “grease trap” in the waste water line just outside where the kitchen sink is.

      Also, this story is maybe appliance-adjacent, but it was a disaster.

      July 2022, my husband is isolating because he has Covid. The day before the disaster, I notice that the bath tub is draining slowly, but don’t think much of it. Then I notice that the dishwasher seems to be leaking. I clean up the water and am go into the bathroom to wash my hands, and there’s gunk in the sink. So something weird and wrong is going on. I ask my husband to pull out the dishwasher so we can see what’s going on.

      We both mask up, My husband pulls out the dishwasher, and a flood of gross greasy water comes out. The dishwasher hose has disconnected and sprayed gross water all under the cabinets and the fridge. It doesn’t take long to realise that no one has emptied the grease trap since the last time we had a problem with it and had a drains team out to improve the pipes and replace the trap.

      So there were two absolutely disgusting jobs to do – first, we had to empty the grease trap. Then, my husband pulled out the nearest cabinet and the fridge and I had to crawl under and get to cleaning. The gross water had sprayed in the most unlikely places. It took 3 rounds of cleaning because we kept finding more cabinets and things that had to be pulled out. (Our kitchen isn’t that big, the pressure in the pipe disconnected both the dishwasher and a loosely connect pipe near the sink.) My husband had no sense of smell because Covid, so I was responsible for sniffing down and cleaning all the problem areas. We replaced the back of one cabinet.

      It’s been almost two years, and I still swear that I can smell greasy water some days, especially when it’s been very warm and a certain drawer hasn’t been opened. Now, there’s an appointment in the family Google calendar that says “Clean the grease traps (yes really)”.

    11. Dr. Doll*

      To explain, the cabinets around our cooktop and oven have for years had a faint gas smell that got a bit worse recently. My husband said earlier this week something along the lines of, “Do you want to call someone?” I said something asking the lines of, “We probably should.”

      Friday at 4:30 pm he asked me if I’d called someone. Uh, okay, you meant that was *my* job. So I called the gas company and then the plumber. The choice is rip through a wall or remove the oven from the alcove where it’s been for sixty years. As it happens we were considering removing the oven anyway and converting it to cabinet space. Our timeline just changed, I guess.

      I actually feel bad for the plumber, really. Sorry, man, we are yet more ridiculous homeowners. Please charge the weekend premium!

    12. Six Feldspar*

      Once I lived in a house with gas cylinders powering the hot water and the stove/oven, and we managed to run out of gas on the Thursday before the Easter weekend (mid autumn down here). That was a verrrrrrry long weekend before the new cylinders arrived on the Tuesday…

    13. Frieda*

      I’ve had* I think eight dishwashers in three homes. Granted, it was over a span of 15 years, but still! (*Purchased and may or may not have used.)

      – oldish dishwasher broke; replaced it with dishwasher that broke violently and destroyed some flooring; I think maybe that one eventually needed replacing too.

      – bought a new-to-me house; dishwasher broke. Attempted to replace it after extremely careful selection because of a countertop/flooring height issue. Two different models arrived broken? Reordered from a different store that had trouble getting it in stock. Finally replaced it only to find that on the day of another identical dishwasher was headed our way with a totally separate team.

      At some point we did research on the patron saint of dishwashers (not a thing, somehow) and settled for making our own votive candles featuring the patron saint of kitchens, San Pascual. Note that we are not Catholic.

      – bought a new-to-me house. No dishwasher, no room for a dishwasher. Partner talks me into a portable model that has not yet been replaced but whose guts have been replaced with various degrees of magnitude over the last 2.5 years.

      Moral of the story: bad installation will bork your dishwasher.

    14. The OG Sleepless*

      Ugh, after 30 years of home ownership I think I’ve seen it all.

      Two water heater leaks; one was so subtle we didn’t find it until AFTER a water remediation company said we had a foundation leak and did a $9500 repair we didn’t need.

      The oven that died on Thanksgiving morning as I was cooking my first Thanksgiving dinner in my new house for my fairly new in-laws.

      The AC unit that went out in June in Atlanta. Actually, both units have done this, a few years apart from each other.

      The time I was doing something in my teenage kids’ bathroom when it started to pour rain outside, and water started coming from the top of the wall above the sink! The kids’ response: “Oh, yeah, it does that every time it rains.” Next up, a new roof (which we sort of suspected we needed anyway, at least homeowner’s insurance paid for that one).

      1. Generic Name*

        Omgggg, your teenagers sound like my teenager. I rarely go in his bathroom (he is responsible for cleaning it), and I can totally see myself making this discovery and him being like, “oh yeah, that happens. Didn’t thing it was important”. Uggghhhh lol

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Sounds like my nephew, who didn’t see “what the big deal was” when a mouse infestation was discovered in his closet. “Yeah, I kept my Halloween candy in there.”

        1. The OG Sleepless*

          It actually ended up fine! What actually happened is that the whole oven didn’t die, just the bottom element, so I still had the broiler. The turkey was almost done and I just had rolls, ham, and casseroles to bake/ heat up. I managed to bake everything under the broiler with layers of heavy duty aluminum foil.

      2. Zephy*

        Oh God, you just reminded me. We rented a house a few years ago and moved in in June. The AC promptly broke at the start of July – we were assured the HVAC system had been inspected before we moved in. The amount of lint and other detritus the repairmen pulled out of our ducts in the course of fixing it suggested that might have been a lie, seeing as the house had only been occupied for about 18 days.

    15. Grandma to three cats*

      So many disasters that I decided to proactively replace my slowly dying washing machine. Big Box store has now delivered 3 different broken washers. Sigh.

    16. RussianInTexas*

      Reposting, due to the nesting fail!
      Not appliances, but plumbing. Backstory: we had some pipes over the garage break during the Texas Winter Apocalypse of 2021. Fixed that.
      A whole year and a half later, I accidentally discovered a leak in the ceiling over my office. I say accidentally, because it was a Saturday and I never go upstairs to my office during weekends unless I need sometimes. I needed something. Emergency plumber was called, leak fixed. So ok. On Monday the part of the ceiling that got wet came down 2 feet from where I was sitting.
      I got the contractors to fix the ceiling.
      Few months later another leak sprung up on the same line! With the Sheetrock coming down and all. The plumber thinks that the old copper lines got weakened during the freeze and were popping up.
      We ended up replacing all the horizontal lines with PEX, to the tune of $5k.

    17. fposte*

      I do an annual furnace/HVAC check. It’s not universally considered necessary, but I figure it keeps me in the “regular customer” category if bad things hit the furnace fan.

      A couple of Decembers ago, the tech doing the inspection came up looking a little pale. “I’ve shut off your furnace,” he says. “Hasn’t your CO detector been alerting?” (No.) Apparently the heat shield had cracked and started melting other bits of the furnace. The manufacturer didn’t make that part any more, so I was suddenly teetering on the edge of having to buy a new furnace in the middle of winter. Fortunately, the repair guys kept all kinds of parts in their warehouse and had one heat shield for my furnace model left. In the mean time, I found out my house actually heats up fairly decently, if not economically, on a couple of freestanding electric heaters.

      So I’m pro-inspection.

    18. Damn it, Hardison!*

      One Sunday I turned on the oven to preheat, walked away for a few minutes, and came back to find the heating element on fire. Fortunately, turning off the oven solved the immediate problem, but we had no working oven. Did I mention it was the Sunday before Thanksgiving, which I was hosting and for which I had already bought all the food? I spent the rest of the day at various appliance stores trying to find an oven that would fit and be delivered by Wednesday.

    19. Texan In Exile*

      We had our furnace serviced the day before Thanksgiving, then flew to Spain the next week.
      The next Saturday, our catsitter texted us that our house felt cold and the thermostat said it was 46.
      We had him check the circuit breaker and the batteries in the thermostat.
      Both were fine.
      Our cat is 16 years old, has kidney disease, and had lost almost two of her seven pounds in the few months since our other cat died. We didn’t want her to freeze to death.
      We left a message with the furnace company. On a Saturday. From a foreign country.
      The on-call tech finally called us back late Saturday night.
      He told us he could go to our house the next day – but rates were double on Sunday – or he could wait until Monday.
      “It’s not going to get below 40 on Sunday,” he said, “and you can run the space heater for the cat.”
      He then told us that his Monday was fully booked and he couldn’t see anyone else’s schedule, but then said he would go to our house before his first appointment.
      That is, he would go to our house at 6 a.m. Monday.
      We spent the next 36 hours wondering how many thousands of dollars we were going to have to spend. (We had installed a new furnace in 2012 when the old one had suddenly failed on the coldest day that winter. Surprise appliance replacements are not fun. We were angry that this new one had already apparently failed and that the tech hadn’t noticed anything when he was servicing it just days before.)
      At noonish our time in Spain, our catsitter texted that the furnace guy had arrived and was working.
      Twenty minutes later, the furnace guy called us.
      The furnace was fine.
      The thermostat had failed.
      The display was visible, so it looked like it was working, but it was not sending a signal to the furnace.
      It cost $150 to replace.
      (And yes, I wrote a note to the head of the furnace company and gave them a great review.)

    20. Water Everywhere*

      When I was living in a basement apartment in a private home the hot water heater failed catastrophically one day. The fun part is that the heater & water shut off were located in my landlord’s part of the basement, and they were OUT OF TOWN. Water was merrily flowing across my floors as I frantically tried to get hold of them while moving my stuff up high at the same time. It took about 20 minutes to get in & shut off the water, felt like forever. Clean up and floor replacement took some time but damage was actually minimal; had I not been at home when it happened (and it was within half an hour of me leaving for work) I likely would have lost most of my belongings and who knows what damage the house itself have suffered.

    21. Zephy*

      About a month ago I came home from work, went to feed the cats as normal, and when I opened the fridge to put the open cans away, thought “Huh. It doesn’t *usually* smell like burning plastic in here,” before also realizing that the fridge seemed a lot warmer than it usually did. The light fixture was hanging askew and when I tried to push it back up into place, I burnt my fingertips. Best guess is there was some kind of electrical short. I don’t know how much longer it would have taken for the fridge itself to actually ignite, but the light fixture and surrounding area was reading 135*F on the laser thermometer and the roof of the fridge right above the lightbulb was melted. If I had not chosen to skip the gym that night, I shudder to think what I might have come home to.

      1. ampersand*

        Oh man—I don’t think I’ve heard of a fridge (nearly) catching on fire before. Glad you caught it when you did!!

    22. rita*

      Our dishwasher died, so we quit using it till we could buy a new one. Bought the new one and went to install it the week before we were hosting Thanksgiving. When we pulled the old one out, realized that whole back wall where our plumbing was had been built with fiberboard instead of cement board and so everything was moldy. My husband (who to his credit is very handy) convinced me we could rip out the wall of cabinets, rebuild the wall properly, install new cabinets, and tile the backsplash over the next three days. On Tuesday, when the fridge was still in the dining room and we were on the fourth day of washing dishes in the bathtub, we swapped Thanksgiving’s location to my friend’s house and I just cooked there instead. (We *did* wrap most of it up by the following weekend—husband is skilled, just overly optimistic about timelines sometimes.)

      1. Chaordic One*

        I’m impressed by your skilled husband, even if it took longer than expected. Well done!

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

      New Year’s Eve, 1985. My parents are downstairs in the dining room having a party with their friends. I am upstairs having a party with my friends. All of a sudden, we hear a sputtering explosion as the cappuccino maker explodes, spraying cappuccino all over the kitchen. Fortunately, no one was in there at the time, so no injuries, but I think we had some cappuccino high up on the kitchen walls till I sold the house a couple of years ago.

    24. Esprit de l'escalier*

      About 20 years ago, our fridge died the day before Thanksgiving. Yikes. Fortunately Sears was still in business, and we made an instant decision on a new one. Since it wouldn’t arrive for 7-10 days, we also bought a small floor-model fridge and took it home so we’d have some refrigeration for Thanksgiving dinner and the next week.

      The small fridge (about waist high, no freezer) has served as an auxiliary fridge in the basement for all this time, it’s been super handy, especially during Covid when I shopped less frequently and stocked up. So now I have two 20-year-old fridges and am hoping they will both keep chugging along for several more years.

    25. BikeWalkBarb*

      Moved into a new house that had been flipped so everything was shiny new. Didn’t look in the oven before the first time I turned it on so I didn’t know the installers had left a little plastic bottle of the stuff I was supposed to use to coat the surface of the stovetop inside the oven (why??). Smelled the plastic burning, turned it all off and later had the joy of scraping burned plastic out of my brand-new oven.

    26. Rara Avis*

      I was living in a rented townhouse when the water pipe leading to our washer burst. But the water was flowing into the adjoining townhouse, which was not owned by our landlord. So we didn’t know about it for a while.

    27. Nilsson Schmilsson*

      Some acquaintances headed out for a 2-week vacation, and one of their kids was coming over every other day or so to pick up their mail. About midway through the vacay, kid opens the door on the main level and can’t quite connect the dots of what is happening. There’s water running down what’s left of the walls, from the second floor, which is now running into the finished basement. The culprit? A one dollar part on an upstairs toilet failed. And the water had been running out of it for at least 2 days. Poor parents. IIRC, they spent the better part of the next 3 months in a hotel while waiting for the home to be gutted and rebuilt on the inside

    28. I'm A Little Teapot*

      This happened last year. I had a 20 year old AC and a 30 year old furnace, and I knew it. I had REGULAR checks on those units, and was planning on replacing them this year. Well, about 3 days before the last, and worst, heat wave of the year my ac died. Thoroughly. I ended up borrowing a portable a/c unit from a friend and buying a small window unit which kept me from melting.

  8. Possum's mom*

    Years ago when we had a rotation of home health care aides coming in to help with my mother’s recuperation, my sister and I came home from shopping to a strong, very strange petroleum odor when we opened the door. Only one aide remained, to our surprise, and she sheepishly told us that her coworker left as soon as they realized that our electric teapot had melted into the range top before they realized it had an electrical appliance cord attached to it. We never complained, never got reimbursed, and at least one of them stayed behind with Mother to confess!

    1. WellRed*

      Oh this reminds me. Once cooked something in the toaster oven. Forgot to remove the full plastic package of marshmallows off the top of said toaster oven.

      1. Generic Name*

        I did this same thing when I was a kid, except it was a bag of unpopped popcorn.

    2. Alex*

      We had a home health aid for my grandfather when I was young. One day I came home from school to find her microwaving a frozen bagel….she had put it in a metal cake pan and set the microwave time for THIRTY MINUTES.

      I leaped across the kitchen and stopped it but I don’t know what would have happened…

      I guess they don’t cover “home appliance usage” when training home health aides!

    3. RussianInTexas*

      A former coworker of mine managed to set her cabinets on fire doing stir-fry, by trying to extinguish the flames with water.
      She also almost set the house on fire deep frying a turkey.
      She also got 3 red light running camera tickets at the same intersection, because she just could not remember that you have to make full stop before turning right on red.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Okay, deep frying a turkey should never be attempted inside unless you’re a pro!

        1. LizB*

          It should barely be attempted outside unless you’re a pro (although the results when it goes right are very delicious).

        2. Jay (no, the other one)*

          Or anywhere else. For several years running we got Emails from our homeowner’s insurance every November about how not to burn your house down while deep-frying a turkey.

    4. Ismis*

      I was renting and had one of those toaster ovens with an integrated two plate hob on top. One of the hobs stopped working and the landlord got me a basic two plate hob that we placed on top.

      I turned the wrong hob on and melted the new one on top.

  9. Ginger Cat Lady*

    Someone gifted me a lovely large batch of loose leaf teas, designed to be made a pitcher at a time. Tried making a batch with the tea in cheesecloth bags, that was not all that easy, and definitely not reusable.
    I’ve heard you can use a french press, but the one’s I’ve seen are pretty small (2-3 cups, I’d want at least a quart at a time).
    Ideas? Products? Recommendations?

    1. Reba*

      A tea infuser or tea ball!

      I wouldn’t use a French press because you can’t remove the leaves from the brew

      1. Ginger Cat Lady*

        They all seem to be for single cups, though? Never seen a ball that could do a pitcher.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I just searched Amazon for “large tea ball” and found several designed for pitchers.

        2. Llellayena*

          Look for one designed for mulled cider. William Sonoma has one. Also, I use fillable tea bags. I think there are some out there that seal. Then you can fill as many as you need for the volume of water.

      2. Blue wall*

        I use a French press to make tea all the time. Just like with coffee grounds, you put the “presser” about the tea leaves so that in the liquid tea there are no tea leaves.

        Should be able to get a 4-cup French press or even bigger. They’re around!

    2. Lady Danbury*

      Amazon sells disposable cold brew bags (link to follow) that can be used for tea of coffee. They come in large sizes intended to make a pitcher, are easier to fill because of their size, and when you’re done you just toss the entire bag.

    3. ThatGirl*

      It’s a bit messier, but you can dump it in loose and strain it out through a mesh strainer too.

      1. Not A Manager*

        This. Line the strainer with cheesecloth, or even paper towels, if the mesh is too coarse. And sure, it’s a *little* bit more trouble, but not a lot.

      2. lbd*

        I have a small mesh strainer that I hold over the cup and pour through it, straining one cup at a time. Works great!

      3. Writerling*

        Thirding this option. I use both strainers, tea balls, and individual tea bags depending on what I’m making (tea bags can be filled for a cup or a pot), but straining over a cup is one of the easier cleaning options after bags.

        1. Generic Name*

          Yeah, I’m American, but I know the old fashioned way of making tea is boiling water, putting loose leaf tea in a ceramic teapot, pour in boiling water, steep, then pour into individual cups that have a tea strainer that sits on the opening of the cup.

          1. Cat Lady*

            And then reading the leftover tea leaves at the bottom of the cup to learn your future!

    4. Maggie*

      You need a cold brew pitcher, type “cold brew pitcher” into Amazon. It’s the easiest way and great for coffee if you or anyone you live with enjoys coffee too

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        Yes! If you have Aldi near you they often have them around this time of year or early June. They usually bring them back every year. I got a second one so I can have cold brew coffee and tea going at the same time, or a backup if one breaks. I like theirs, it’s glass, metal and a little plastic for the lid, etc. Easy to clean.

    5. Cordelia*

      I read this and thought – but that’s what a teapot is for! A teapot and a tea strainer. But I realise you must mean for iced tea, you could perhaps make that in a teapot but my English brain is unable to cope with that idea.

    6. LizB*

      We got a cold brew pitcher from Takeya and we love it. It has a filter compartment that you fill with (in our case) coffee grounds and then after 24 hours in the fridge you have concentrated cold brew! I bet it would also work for tea, although you might have to experiment with the amounts and steep time.

      1. Roland*

        I make iced tea in my 2qt Takeya pitchers all the time and they have recommended brew times and water/ice ratios right in the flyer, highly recommended.

    7. RedinSC*

      You just just brew the tea in a big pot or jug and then strain out the leaves with a fine mesh strainer when you pour it into it’s ultimate storage jug.

    8. Samwise*

      Make it in a pitcher. Pour thru a fine mesh strainer into another pitcher. Compost the used leaves.

    9. Haven’t picked a username yet*

      I brew a teapot of loose leaf tea everyday, they definitely make tea canisters to do so. I believe I bought mine on Amazon years ago. My teapot holds about 3 cups and it has room for another scoop of tea.

      I also have a box of tea sachets that I put a scoop of loose leaf in when I am traveling or heading into the office. I am not a fan of most box teas.

    10. Hazel*

      I’m a nut for loose leaf tea, but I want one cup at a time. What to do? The metal tea balls are a mess and don’t do a particularly good job.

      Solution! I got one of those one cup coffee makers that uses pods, got reusable pods (they’re about the same size as a tea ball) and I use that. The brew time is the same as optimal brew time for tea, I fill the reusable pod about 3/4 full, to leave the leaves room to expand, clean the pod after each use, brews an excellent cup of tea.

      Fair warning, I drink herbal teas (some roiboos teas) which are technically infusions. The ideal brew temp is a bit higher than for oolong or black tea. I have friends who have adopted the technique to make caffeinated tea and swear by it.

      I’m enough of a tea nut that I prewarm my cup b4 putting it under the maker to catch the brewed tea.

  10. katertot*

    My husband and I are getting serious about building an addition on our house (expanding the kitchen and primary bedroom, adding a half bath, renovating current full bath.) Do you have any advice, helpful resources, or cautionary tales to share? It’s our first home and first time embarking on a major construction process. Thank you!

    1. RMNPgirl*

      I haven’t done anything that major but my parents have. First of all, be prepared that once you start some additions/renovations you may want to keep going and do more and more rooms. Always get multiple bids from people, I would recommend working with a general contractor. It can cost a bit more, but if you don’t have to deal with all the subcontractors yourself it can save you a lot of headaches. Also, subcontractors don’t want to ruin relationships they have with people who give them jobs vs a one time home owner. Not to mention the contractor will know all the permits that need to happen. Make sure that you don’t have to pay full cost until the project is done and you’re happy with it, so like a percentage upfront and then sometimes another percentage part way through but the last bit once it’s all done and approved.

      1. anyjennywaynest*

        If you can, try to keep track of whether the contractor has actually filed for the permits. I waited patiently through a 16 week material delivery lead time only to find the contractor hadn’t bothered to pull a permit. Also, try to avoid getting stuck with winter-poured concrete if you’re in an area where it matters.

      2. fhqwhgads*

        Further to that last bit, some locales (states if you’re in the US) have explicit laws limiting the amount or percentage a deposit can be and when balances are allowed due. It can be very helpful to know what the law is where you are because if you get a proposal from a contractor blatantly violating it, it should at least be a yellow flag against them – depending on how they react to being informed they’re doing it wrong.

    2. Lady Danbury*

      My number one advice is to always have plenty of cushion in your budget, both in terms of time and money. You never know what you’ll find once you start ripping open walls, so it’s almost inevitable that there will be some overrun in at least one. A good contract with various holdbacks and/or milestone payments helps, but only goes so far.

      1. just here for the scripts*

        Rule of thumb in my location is at least 1/3 extra $$. added to the planned budget and plan 2x added to your timeline (3 mos time figure at least 6 mos;) as a baseline. And don’t forget the costs of not living in the house while the work goes on—check with insurance company as they might not cover you if you do try to live there.

        1. rita*

          This re timelines/budgets. Set your expectations now and then it will be less crushing when this happens.

    3. Firebird*

      Please check the court system for past lawsuits. We didn’t do that and it turned out that our contractor had twenty-two lawsuits filed against him and one that he filed for non-payment. He kept disappearing and never finished our work. We had to find a new contractor to finish and it ended up taking three years, instead of six weeks, to finish.

      1. Not A Manager*

        Relatedly, find out what your state’s laws are regarding contractor’s liens. They can vary, but there is always some way that subcontractors can come after you for unpaid work, *even if* you gave that money to the contractor to pay them. And there is always some system by which you are supposed to be on notice about who is working on your home and whether they’ve been paid, but again, those systems vary. Then be sure that you are adhering to that system, EVERY TIME you pay your contractor.

        In particular, if you are supposed to get a “partial lien waiver” in the amount that you are paying your contractor for his subcontractor’s work, be sure that you actually get that lien waiver at the time you make your payment, or, at worst, prior to making your next payment.

        Ask me how I know.

        1. Firebird*

          The same contractor wasn’t paying the lumberyard, who then tried to put a lien on my house, even though they delivered it to someone else. Got it fixed, but it was a nerve-wracking couple of days.

      2. Banana Pyjamas*

        This has been particularly common in NW IN & SW MI, in case that area applies to you. Doing data collection for the local assessment office, many taxpayers reported contractors abandoning jobs and going through 2-3 different general contractors. The other thing that I ran into a lot in 2023 was prices being so volatile that people were stopping at the shell stage and planning finish for future years.

    4. fallingleavesofnovember*

      Be prepared for all sorts of rules and bylaws that mean your original vision may have to change. We’re in the process of talking addition for a kitchen and powder room at our house too and so far all our contractor and architect have communicated are more restrictions on what we can do! (We’re in a semi-detached in the middle of the city, granted.)

    5. Just a name*

      We are trying to do the same, but the permit process has stopped all action. We files for a permit in January and the county required a septic test and a perc test. It took until late April to finish the tests. (Perc testing can onl be done in the spring rainy season). We passed but they want us to prove there is room in the yard for a second septic field. So now we have to hire an acceptable septic designer and pay that. All to add a garage and expand our current bath and closet 8; over the garage. Just getting someone at the county to respond to questions is a chore. This is just the environmental testing before the actual building permit can be considered.

    6. Esprit de l'escalier*

      I’ve only ever done one renovation and it was pretty major, and I remember what my contractor told me (more than once). I would ask if it would be possible to do X or Y or Z in addition to our original plan of work, and he always said you can do almost anything to a house as long as you’re willing to pay for it.

      This is kind of a cautionary tale to say you have to be very disciplined about what you’re going to do and how much you’re willing to spend on it. I found it was way too easy to ask for additional work once I knew those changes were physically do-able.

    7. BikeWalkBarb*

      We just went through a remodel that involved replacing all the flooring, taking out bearing walls and putting in a new beam, remodeling the kitchen and laundry room, enlarging one kitchen window and adding an island. We love it but a 3-month project became a 7-month project.

      Great advice from others about checking reviews and making sure your contractor with the general contractor stipulates that you’re released from liens filed by subcontractors. You can expect to pay a deposit to get on their schedule, then progress billings along the way. Don’t pay the final payment until they’ve worked through your whole punch list of items that need to be made right.

      Speaking of which: The more you can stay on top of it, check the work, and identify anything that isn’t up to your expectations the easier it will be for them to make things right during the project instead of getting to the end and having a long list of little things. Talk with the contractor to get a sense of their quality control and commitment to fixing things to your satisfaction.

      Your first challenge may be even getting a contractor. I don’t know what your area is like but in our area we contacted something like 20 contractors; so many ghosted us or gave us one call and then never followed up. One met with us, provided an estimate, then pressured us to sign a contract without accepting any of our additions to the contract–red flag that one of the things we wanted to add was the conflict resolution clause! He blew up at us for not signing by his very short deadline when he hadn’t responded to anything we asked. I had researched standard contracts and used that to identify what we wanted to see in the contract, so look for examples from your state so it covers your state law. We read BBB and other reviews and checked references with past clients.

      We had a designer get us to the general layout first. I had a lot of ideas but I’m not a designer and couldn’t get it to the point that we were ready to talk with contractors. I now wish we’d worked on the design parallel with the contractor search because it took so long to find the contractor.

      Getting all the materials in advance that you can will help with your construction timeline. We had our appliances all purchased and waiting in the garage. We ended up with cabinetry delays and some remakes for errors. Work with the cabinetry supplier and make them show you the *insides* of the things you’re ordering if you have any specialty items. They sent us the wrong butler pantry

      Read reviews on the products you think you want, too. I got this great cork plank flooring that I really love and read lots of reviews before committing to it (houzz is a good resource but full of rabbit holes). None of them told me about the potential for it to essentially *levitate* when strong sunlight warms it up. The manufacturer’s site doesn’t even talk about this. We had planned to put rugs down but I have more than I had expected to and keep certain window shades closed on the south and west sides of the house. I still love my flooring.

      Best thing we did was get a pod to hold a bunch of the stuff we had to move out for the flooring work. This way we could still have access to our stuff right in our driveway without going to a storage unit.

      I’m just typing as I think of things so this is long. We were able to afford moving into an AirBnB for a big part of the work and that was huge. It meant I could cook and eat and shower without managing a temporary setup in the garage and washing dishes in the bathroom. Given that the project went on over twice as long as expected this was big. Think through the living expenses involved in however you’re going to manage during the project as part of your budget.

      A bottom line note: We made some decisions along the way in the spirit of “10 years from now we won’t miss the couple of thousand dollars this cost; we’ll just be glad we made this change.” I don’t regret any of those. It’s a very long term investment. In our case we’re planning to live in this house the rest of our lives and I was creating the kitchen I’ll cook in for decades if I’m lucky.a

      1. Cacofonix*

        These are all excellent points. Great advice – ordering all products in advance and moving everything out including you especially. Not only is it less stressful but the project will take longer and be ultimately more expensive if contractors have to work around you and your stuff.

      2. Esprit de l'escalier*

        I can see the advantages of ordering appliances early, but then you want to make sure the appliance comes with a long enough return policy that you could replace it if it turns out to be a dud when it’s finally installed.

    8. Part time lab tech*

      Undercover Architect (Amelia Lee) has a US resource with 30×40 Design Workshop (Eric Reinholdy), a course called Welcome Home. I know her free Australian resources are very good (website and blog) although you need to mentally reverse North and South for sunlight.
      I’m currently building and my main advice is to get educated on what you want, what you can actually afford and ask around about who’s available to do the work.
      Also, don’t rush. Getting it wrong is always going to be more expensive and take longer than waiting 3 months for your best choices.
      We got recommended against a particular builder by more than one person, found 3 or 4 that I think would have built us a good house and ultimately went with the builder our designer regularly works with. Since then, when we mention the builder, we’ve heard positive gossip that confirms our solid experience.

    9. Autumn*

      Lots of good advice here. I would add, take pictures of the construction regularly. Once things are closed up again it’s easy to forget what it looks like inside the walls, etc. but having those photos for reference can be helpful years later, especially if it’s an older home and you are getting a look at the guts for the first time. Older homes can have some quirky construction. Good luck!

    10. Cacofonix*

      I’m in the late stages of a full gut renovation on our house. Never did even a small reno before. I did a thorough and precise set of requirements (hello, day job!) and a rigourous vetting first of a designer, then on their list of contractors they had success with in the past, a fully researched vetting of them. Including quality of trades they use. Checked client references etc. And I was gobsmacked that out of about a dozen homeowners I talked to that did similar renos to mine, none could tell me whether they were on time on budget compared to original estimate. That’s because not one stuck to their original design or scope. Not one. They could attest to the quality of the result, reliability, management of the project, skill of trades and contractor team, but did not manage their spend!

      My best recommendation is to pay for expert, exploratory evaluations up front (engineering, HVAC, city code experts, etc), to get a more realistic budget. Get permits issued first, don’t try to live in place during a major reno, be decisive when things crop up along the way, and don’t be precious about fancy baubles. That tile you agonized over no longer available? Pick another one that is from similar local choices. You’ll love it.

      Our reno had 2 pricey surprises anyway and resulted in a reno that was planned for nine months take ten months and 5% over budget. Because we didn’t change our minds or add scope to the original plan. Change orders were never due to a new request from us. Always from circumstances in the reno, such as product availability or some odd thing a city inspector insisted on. Also, pick everything and have your contractor order supplies while waiting for the permit so everything is ready to install exactly when required. Last thing you want is to languish for 2 months waiting for flooring or whatnot to arrive.

      I also set expectations up front:
      – we work from the same copy of the original detailed scope and estimate. Any change required had to reference the variance and why.
      – no blame allowed when issues crop up especially between contractor and designer. Stuff happens and people make mistakes sometimes. What facts led us to the issue and where do we go from here only.
      – if a design is more complicated to implement than anticipated, tell me before spending calories to do it just so. We can change to a simpler one. Not precious.
      – decisions will always be function over form. Will not sacrifice fundamental function such as airflow or electrical efficiency to get something pretty (like fancy wall vents).
      – clear communication and responsiveness is essential.

      Big renos are expensive. So protect your investment.

    11. Bluejay*

      So many thoughts! I have a very specific view on toilets: don’t get a square bowl one. Get a very classic old school style one. Why? A) they clean much better b) you can get a replacement seat for less because they are a standard size

  11. Elle Woods*

    This weekend marks the unofficial start to summer for some of us, which can more cookouts, picnics, barbecues, etc. I have my usual rotation of recipes I make but am always game for new recipes or menu ideas. Anyone got a great recipe or cooking tip they’d like to share? Or maybe an epic summer cookout story to share?

    1. Girasol*

      Homemade ice cream without an ice cream freezer! You just need a hand mixer. Chill two bowls. Whip a pint of whipping cream in one. In the other, mix a can of sweetened condensed milk with your choice of flavors. Since water makes ice crystals, the less water the better. Best are alcohol flavors like rum or vanilla, high fat flavors like nut butters, or powders like cocoa, though I’ve heard of people who tried finely cut fruits and thought it worked okay. Fold the whipped cream and flavored condensed milk together, along with with any add-ins like nuts, chocolate chips, marshmallows, or broken cookies. Freeze 4-6 hours. Scoop small portions. This is richer than store-bought ice cream.

      1. allathian*

        Sounds more like Italian gelato than standard ice cream, but yummy in any case.

    2. MM*

      I’ve been using watermelon in new ways lately, making it a savory side dish. Like a quick watermelon pickle (not the rind, but the actual flesh), and our favorite has been slices of watermelon with a tahini dressing.

      Since the start of summer is also the start of watermelon season, maybe try something different with it?

      1. Lady Danbury*

        Watermelon feta salad is one of my favs. I prefer a base of watermelon, feta and cucumber, with either fresh basil or mint leaves and a balsamic drizzle.

    3. BubbleTea*

      Peel, slice and freeze bananas. Then when they’re fully frozen, blend them and add some flavouring (berries, cocoa powder etc). Soft serve ice cream suitable for vegans, coeliacs, people avoiding processed sugar… lots of people!

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

        Delicious! You can add a few drops of vanilla too!

    4. Bluebell Brenham*

      Smitten Kitchen has an excellent summer slaw recipe on her website and it’s very adaptable too!

      1. Lady Danbury*

        I had a slaw yesterday that included grilled pineapple and it was delicious! They had grilled slices of pineapple before letting them cool and dicing them and it added such a good smoky sweet flavor.

    5. tree frog*

      I think this may be a year of experimenting with melon salads for me. I love chilled melon.

    1. Just Another Cog*

      I agree! She is very sweet. We had a kitty who looked just like her named Pebbles in the 80’s.

  12. HannahS*

    I need picnic advice. I like a picnic (and my toddler is enchanted by the idea,) but I all I can think of is sandwiches and raw produce in plastic bags and containers. It feels very “packed lunch,” which isn’t bad, but that’s the vibe of all my weekday lunches and I just want something a BIT less utilitarian. Every time I google it, I get a lot of Very Pinterest suggestions with wicker baskets and cheese boards. What food do you bring when you picnic? Any gear recommendations? We have a cooler bag, picnic blanket, and ice packs.

    1. Talia*

      Salads! We’re big fans of Smitten Kitchen’s Carrot, Feta, Harissa salad (https://smittenkitchen.com/2010/05/carrot-salad-with-harissa-feta-and-mint/) possibly bulked up with chickpeas, or she has another carrot salad with roasted chickpeas. Pasta salad and potato salad are also classic – we prefer vinaigrette over mayo but you do you. Bake something with seasonal fruit, preslice some cheese (if you don’t want to pack a cutting board) plus crackers or a baguette, consider tapenade or hummus or chips and salsa. Olives! Whatever your snacky heart desires.

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      Read Laurie Colwin’s “More Home Cooking.” She has a chapter on picnics with tons of suggestions.

      1. Blue wall*

        Also Alana Chernila in I think The Homemade Pantry. You’ll really like her style!

    3. Not A Manager*

      Well, I’m sure your toddler is happy with whatever. But things that might help are:

      Colorful melamine plates
      Colorful bento-box type containers for small portions of stuff
      Dips for the raw produce
      Unusual sandwiches/unusual sandwich shapes. Pinwheels made in soft tortillas, “tea sandwiches” like cucumber, cream cheese and jam, etc.
      Small portions of chilled soups
      Tiny tarts and eclairs
      Any fruit that you would cut up in a box is more fun if you impale it on a stick

    4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I often go for Fancy Sandwiches, unless I have time to really plan. I literally just google ‘fancy sandwich’ and get some ideas. Usually on a baguette or hoagie roll instead of sandwich bread, with nice meat and nice cheese, a fancy sauce instead of plain mayo, maybe a quirk like asparagus or apple slices. All the normal sandwich things, but the nice version and put together intentionally. Little tea sandwiches would probably go over well with the toddler.

      Another easy option is burritos or wraps, which have the advantage of not getting squished.

      If I want to be fancy, I’d probably go with some sort of hors d’oeuvres type bites. With a toddler, that would probably be pigs in a blanket and easy mini quiches or similar. Add some fruit and carrot sticks as needed.

    5. dilemma*

      We used to picnic a lot when my kid was young. We had an insulated bag to carry food and utensils, but we brought plastic grocery bags to put the dirty plates in. (this was when single use plastic grocery bags existed). So, my suggestion is to think about where the dirty plates and utensils will go. Because we went so often, it wasn’t necessarily fancy (roast chicken, bread and produce from the store, sometimes), and I have very fond memories of laying in the sun while the kid ran around.

    6. Alex*

      My family always brought cold baked chicken for a picnic. It was mostly because my dad wouldn’t eat sandwiches, but to this day I loooove cold leftover breaded chicken (usually legs).

      Deviled eggs. Any kind of cold salad you like (pasta, potato, bean, tabouli, fruit, etc.) Sliced deli cheese and cold cuts rolled up and eaten with your fingers. Marinated olives with roasted red peppers. Pickled vegetables.

    7. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Cold fried chicken is a picnic staple around here. Bring LOTS of paper towels and/or wet wipes for cleaning up after.
      We also like to do chips, fruits, yogurts, potato salad, olives, and cookies.
      We have a vinyl tablecloth for picnic tables, and clamps to hold it down!
      Water bottles or cups with lids are better, especially with kids. We don’t like to do sugary drinks as they tend to attract bugs.
      And I agree bring something to put garbage in afterwards.

    8. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Pasta salads. Picnic hors d’oeuvres meal with bread, crackers, cheeses, spreads, veggies, dip, fruit. Middle Eastern/Greek type food like hummus, tzatziki, pita pieces, black olives, cucumber, feta, and tomato salad. Cook-out picnics with hotdogs, pre-cooked bratwurst or Polish sausage – just wrap them in foil and throw on the coals. S’mores or banana boats, or the easiest dessert is to skewer a Rice Krispie bar and hold it over the fire until the outside is toasted – SOOO good! One year we pre-cooked an entire Thanksgiving meal the night before, then reheated it in a large foil pan at a picnic site. I firmly believe that just about any food can become a picnic meal.

    9. Flower*

      Sourdough loaf slices slathered in unsalted butter and topped with prosciutto or rosemary ham.

      Or….sourdough load slices slathered in unsalted butter and topped with a very liberal amount of chocolate sprinkles . OMG. You have not lived til you’ve eaten that.

      1. Csethiro Ceredin*

        Oooh, this reminds me of a few months my family spent in the Netherlands when I was a small child. Buttered bread with chocolate or sugar sprinkles was an acceptable breakfast and 5-year-old me was ENTRANCED. It was called Hagel. Now I want some.

    10. Jules the First*

      My toddler adores picnics. We tend to do a sort of charcuterie board – chunked cheese, rolled slices of deli meat or salami, thick slices of steak or chicken or other home-cooked meat, little pots of hummus or yogurt dip – with dippable veggies (carrot, cucumber, celery, zucchini sticks; snap peas; mini corns; baby tomatoes, though you need to pre-bite those for toddler), olives or pickles, chopped fruit (pack picks or forks to avoid sticky fingers), or berries/whole fruit. Then some kind of carb – crackers, pretzels, breadsticks, tortilla chips, rolls you can tear pieces off. If I’m feeling extra fancy, I’ll make egg bites in a mini muffin pan, sometimes lined with a slice of salami first in lieu of crust. I take a couple of tea towels as well – use one as a full-body apron for your toddler, pop a second under them if your picnic blanket isn’t easily washable, adults can share one for a napkin or use it under the food to define “table” space on your picnic blanket. Then you can wrap the dishes in the towels for the trip home.

    11. ghost_cat*

      Frittata. Or as it’s known in my household, ‘how to use up leftover bits and ends by pouring eggs over them and throwing in a bit of cheese’. Seriously good though. You can use all manner of meats and vegies, or vegies on their own. Add some herbs to posh it up. Even the cheese is adaptable, with cheddars, goat or feta working well. I lower the bar even further by baking mine, but if you are pan frying your onion and vegies to soften them, you can just pour the eggs over the top, bake the bottom and then finish it off under the grill. You can’t go too wrong!

    12. Courageous cat*

      Bread and cheese, my friend. Fancy triple-creme brie, jam, baguette, etc. Definitely not utilitarian if you ask me.

    13. SuprisinglyADHD*

      My family’s easiest type of a picnic is deli sandwiches. We used to have long road trips which meant a lot of lunches in interstate rest stops. We’d have a cooler full of sliced deli meats, assorted condiments, and drinks, and a cardboard box with a ziplock full of large, presliced rolls, plus paper plates, plastic utensils, and paper towels. All the major prep work was done ahead of time, and the kids LOVE being allowed to put whatever they want on their sandwiches. The other sandwich option was tupperwares of egg and chicken salad, rather than deli meat. Much cheaper but also way more messy.
      The one thing is, I’ve never had a picnic that wasn’t invaded by wasps! No matter the food, no matter what state, there’s always gonna be wasps in my face. I’m ok with it now but as a kid I did a lot of crying over it.

    14. RedinSC*

      Picnics are so fun! Cheese, crackers, lunch meats and fresh fruit.

      Dips like hummus, black bean and corn salsa, babaganoush, etc with pita, chips and veggies.

      Bruschetta, or kababs with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella

    15. BikeWalkBarb*

      I used to have this little gizmo that would let you cut a sandwich into a circle and crimp the edges. Even PBJ would be fancy if you did this.

      Wet wipes. All the wet wipes. Although my mom handled it with a wet washcloth in a ziploc bag and it worked fine.

    16. Ms. Murchison*

      Corn & black bean salad. There’s a lovely recipe somewhere out there using lime & cilantro. Very refreshing in hot weather.

    17. Lexi Vipond*

      Just arranging things differently might help – take sandwiches with two different coloured fillings in boxes but lay them out on a mixed plate to choose from at the start of the picnic, that kind of thing. Just a bit less here-is-my-lunch-in-a-box.

      Assuming you’re not going to be immediately attacked by hordes of insects, of course!

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

    Small joys thread! What made you happy this week?

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

      I got to go mini-golfing with some colleagues. It was a fun break.

    2. allathian*

      We’re enjoying July temperatures in May, and currently get very cheap electricity (variable prices on the Nordpool utility exchange) so we can run the heat pump for AC when necessary without horrible utility bills.

    3. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Our current foster cats are very unsure about human touch. We’ve had them 3 months, and they love the house and following everything we do, but won’t let us get too close.

      This week, one of them was relaxing on the cat tree and let me pet her for an entire 5 minutes. Belly rubs, head and chin scritches, and all. She didn’t tense up or make a move to run away, and was completely out in the open, rather than inside the igloo bed.

      Naturally, it hasn’t happened again since, and her sister is still untouchable. But progress!

    4. BellaStella*

      A few things. Seeing a musical with friends! Sleeping better! Donating clothes and stuff not used! Getting good photos of a heron at a pond! Paying all my bills! Seeing a red fox! And planning a picnic today with a friend!

    5. Tinamedte*

      While WFH on Thursday, I made a delicious lunch, had Nutella for dessert, and then curled up on the couch for some rest while feeling completely satisfied and taken care of.

    6. Rrrach*

      Making a Lego parrot with nice relaxing music going in the background and nice herb tea to sip.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      Tromping about the Madison Arboretum in the rain. Beautiful place which we had to ourselves.

    8. Trixie Belden was my hero*

      A charity came by this week to pick up the mobility scooter I donated to them. They accept used mobility devices, repair/refurbish them and give to people who can’t afford to buy their own.
      It makes me happy to help someone gain mobility and get out in the world.

    9. fallingleavesofnovember*

      Spontaneous outings with friends on warm evenings…I’ve been making an effort to go to bed early all winter and it has helped my physical and mental health, but sitting in a city park under the full moon with and ice cream and friends at 9:30pm felt refreshing in a whole other way.

    10. fposte*

      First kayak of the season! I’m always surprised by how much even a short outing takes out of me initially—I pretty much eat everything in the house when I get home—but it was a beautiful morning in the lake.

    11. GoryDetails*

      Warmer-than-usual weather here in southern New Hampshire, so I was able to get my container-gardens planted a bit early. Tomatoes, eggplant, sweet and hot peppers, okra, cucumbers… Now to see if my attempts at fencing the containers will keep those pesky chipmunks from sampling the seedlings!

    12. goddessoftransitory*

      Finally recovering from an upper respiratory infection that had me sounding like a sea lion that just drank six milkshakes in a row! Seriously, it was an ass-kicker of a virus and my entire job is talking on the phone, so it was a perfect storm.

    13. londonedit*

      My football team has, against all odds and anyone’s better judgement, managed to win the bloody FA Cup (the biggest and oldest and most important and revered cup competition in English football). I can’t quite believe it.

    14. The Other Sage*

      I saw some swan babies chilling and polishing themselves. They looked really fluffy and cute :3

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Oh! Didn’t happen to me, but a coworker:

        She and her partner were walking along when they spotted a gosling peeping desperately for its mom–it was all alone on the sidewalk! Naturally they were horrified but didn’t want to scare or injure it, so they kept a discreet distance and followed the little thing until–it turned a corner and spotted its mom!

        It flapped its little wing stublets and LEAPT up on the curb to run and join her and its siblings! Coworker just burst into happy tears once it was safe!

    15. chocolate muffins*

      My husband was away this week and it was just me and our toddler, and I was *extremely* relieved that he was able to go to daycare all five days with no unexpected illnesses or any of the other emergencies that come up with childcare situations. And my husband is home now which is an even bigger joy.

    16. RedinSC*

      I went to San Francsico and saw the 100 years of Fashion exhibit at the De Young Museum with a couple of friends. It was just lovely!

    17. BikeWalkBarb*

      Billy Joel concert in Seattle Friday night! First concert I’ve been to in actual decades. He was fabulous and funny and a whole stadium singing to “Movin’ Out” and “Piano Man” was amazing and moving. Could not have been better.

    18. Csethiro Ceredin*

      We had a rainy end to the week and it made me feel less obligated to go running around Doing Things. On Saturday I sat on my plant-filled balcony and read a gripping book (The Ministry of Time) and listened to the rain while drinking lattes. It was glorious.

  14. Ricotta*

    Has anyone had success with home electrolysis or home laser hair removal? If so, what brand?

    My hair has turned curly as I’ve aged, and the swirly ingrowns are painful and never grow out. I’d like a permanent solution.

    1. o_gal*

      I bought the original Tria home laser and have had very good experiences with it. I had a huge amount of chin and lip hair. It took some time but eventually it was all gone. Probably took about 2 years, using it about once a month. I know I could have used it more often but I was lazy. The bad news is that you will continue developing hair over time. But I can pull my Tria out and use it a couple of times and it’s all gone.

    2. litprof*

      I have a Braun laser hair removal device. It works quite well! You do have to stick with it – the instructions say to use it weekly for 12 weeks and then as needed after that. I noticed a reduction in hair and slowing hair growth within 3-4 weeks, and by 12 I would say that my leg hair is mostly gone. It’s a process that is better to start in the winter, since the laser can make your skin more photosensitive. It’s not perfect but I’ve been very happy with the reduction in hair growth, ingrown hairs, and time spent shaving.

      If you get one, I strongly recommend wearing sunglasses as you use it, and using it in a well-lit space during the day time, so that the contrast between the pulses of light from the machine and the ambient brightness of the room is reduced. Otherwise, the laser can hurt your eyes!

    3. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      I have a Nood. It hasn’t completely eliminated hair in my underarms or bikini line but it is less and has ended ingrown hairs. One thing to note…it doesn’t work on blond or gray hair and I’m not sure how it works on dark skin. The laser targets the dark pigment in hair so gray and blond is untouched by it.

      1. Kay*

        This. I went in professional work and it was a waste of thousands of dollars. Even though there was some treatment supposedly for blonde hair mine didn’t quite get the memo. Although some of mine did diminish at the time, it has since regrown mostly.

  15. gandalf the nude*

    I just saw the update on the nieces in the other post! So cool to hear about what they’re doing now.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        It was in the call for updates post but I will copy it here too:

        Niece M. graduated from college and has been living in Australia for the last year and a half. She’s back visiting and I just dropped her off at the train station; she’s heading for NY and then Fiji, then moving to New Zealand. She says her advice is “quit your job.”

        Niece A. just finished her sophomore year of college as a STEM major and has a lab internship this summer.

        1. UKDancer*

          Great news about the nieces. Glad they’re both doing well and getting what they want in life.

          Also Eve the cat is looking particularly good in the photo today, sitting in the window. I think she’s obviously up to something and making cunning plans.

        2. Cat Lady*

          Love Niece M’s attitude. I feel like the next generation gets it better than we do sometimes! Life is not just for working.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yes! We all thought M. was on a very academic path and was planning to go to law school after graduating and then she cast off all those expectations and announced, basically, that the goals we had for ourselves at that age are not the goals she has for herself and she’s picking a different path. It took my family a while to stop being worried (especially her mom, my sister) but I mean, Fiji — at this point I think most of us are jealous.

            A., on the other hand, was not the academically-oriented one in high school but has done a total turnabout in college and now enjoys very un-Green-family things like organic chemistry and is thinking about grad school. She writes an extremely entertaining blog about science things.

            It’s been so interesting to watch them both — such a mix of part us and part themselves.

            1. Stephanie*

              Well as someone who went back to grad school (twice!) in her 30s, law school will always be there!

              A friend lives in New Zealand now and it’s cool how she’s able to just take a three-hour flight to Fiji!

            2. goddessoftransitory*

              Can you link to A’s blog? If it’s public I’d love to take a gander!

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                When she is ready and gives permission, I am going to promote the crap out of it. For now I will just say that her writing voice is very similar to mine around that age and it’s very weird and cool to watch that coming out of her but applied to a totally different topic than I ever tackled.

        3. Stephanie*

          Just occurred to me how long I’ve been reading this blog! Your nieces are in college (or graduated)!

        4. Once too Often*

          Hurray for both nieces, sounds like they are thriving! My cousin & her hubby took a vacation to New Zealand and just never left. They are so happy there. You’ll have a fab reason to visit.

  16. The Prettiest Curse*

    It’s been a long, stressful week and I need some distraction, so let’s discuss the clunkiest attempts at rhyming in song lyrics and poetry.

    This gem from the notorious West End musical flop The Fields of Ambrosia is permanently lodged in my brain even though I never saw the show, just read it in a review:
    “The fields of Ambrosia / where everyone knows ya.”

    Rhyming is hard, so please share your favourite failures!

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      Basically all of “Summer Girls” by LFO, but the unparalleled masterpiece is:

      When you take a sip you buzz like a hornet / Billy Shakespeare wrote a whole bunch of sonnets

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Billy Shakespeare is rolling over in his grave while simultaneously composing a disdainful response in blank verse.

    2. LGP*

      I love clunky rhyming attempts! The one I immediately thought of is from Down Under by Men at Work: “I met a strange lady; she made me nervous/She took me in and gave me breakfast.”
      Quite a stretch!

      1. tree frog*

        The liner notes for that song amuse me because they put about 27 exclamation marks after the word “Oh” (as in “and he said oh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You come from a land down under”). I don’t know why this cracks me up but I just imagine a very bored graphic designer.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      The producers of Survivor have absolutely no understanding of meter in poetry. The rhyming hints as to the upcoming challenge are always head scratching.

    4. The OG Sleepless*

      It’s hard to top “acting so cute” and “the point is probably moot” in Jessie’s Girl (Rick Springfield).

      1. fposte*

        Oh, I bond with you on this! I have always trotted this out as one of the cringiest rhymes in pop. Rick, we know you’ve never used the word “moot” in your life; you just grabbed it from a rhyming dictionary.

      2. GoryDetails*

        Heh! Yeah, I love the song, but that line does make me wince.

        Another song that I like but that does unnecessarily wrong things with the lyrics: “Hungry Eyes”:

        “I’ve got hungry eyes
        I feel the magic between you and I”

        Ouch!

        1. Generic Name*

          It appears in an episode of friends where Joey thinks it’s “moo” rather than “moot” (“You, know, it’s just ‘moo’. Like a cow’s opinion…..it doesn’t matter”)

    5. SuprisinglyADHD*

      Moves Like Jagger by Maroon 5: You say I’m a kid/My ego is big/I don’t give a sh*t
      It’s impossible to describe how he says “sh*t”, it really sounds like he was trying to rhyme all 3 lines! For comparison, the next verse ends with And you wanna steer/But I’m shifting gears/I’ll take it from here. Which is a much better set of rhymes!

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        Profanity in songs doesn’t bother me in the slightest, but that use of “sh*t” really grated on me for some reason. And no, it doesn’t really rhyme.

        1. SuprisinglyADHD*

          It sounds like he was singing “shyeee” in an effort to rhyme with “kid”??? And maybe also to avoid needing a second, radio-safe version? I dunno, it always sounded so weird and jarring to me.

    6. Come On Eileen*

      My current “so bad it’s good” is this line in Holy by Justin Beiber (in the part sung by Chance the Rapper):

      I’m a believer, my heart is fleshy
      Life is short with a temper like Joe Pesci

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      The “song” at the beginning of the Rifftrax of “Fun in Balloonland,” which is a perfect riffing experience. “Piggy-Wig stands with a ring…in his nose!”

      Kevin: “Kinda lost the meter there, Dr. Seuss.”

    8. BubbleTea*

      Julia Donaldson, author of The Gruffalo, rhymes scarf and giraffe in one book (not a rhyme in my northern England accent) and it jars every time. I feel like there’s a rhyme in a different book of hers that REQUIRES a northern accent so who knows?

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        The classic 90s dance track by Snap:

        “…as serious as cancer/when I say that rhythm is a dancer”

      2. The OG Sleepless*

        When I was a kid, this line in Alice in Wonderland used to confuse me: “We called him TORTOISE because he TAUGHT US. Really, you are very dull.” Tortoise and “taught us” sound nothing alike in my accent (southeastern US), and I was almost an adult before I realized that in at least some UK accents they sound similar. Scarf and giraffe don’t sound alike to me either!

        1. Lexi Vipond*

          There’s a separate pronunciation of tortoise as ‘tortus’ – it’s probably more common in some accents, but I think you could have people with the same general accent saying ‘tort-oys’ and ‘tortus’.

          Tortoise in the cartoon Sarah and Duck always seems to be called Tortus, if you want to hunt down an example!

            1. Lexi Vipond*

              Oh, I see. It confused me as a child because I don’t – I could have coped with the missing r, because that’s just a Thing English People Do!

              1. fhqwhgads*

                Yeah I think that’s actually why the “tortoise” and “taught us” thing is supposed to work. There are a LOT of accents in English speaking countries where Rs get dropped at the end of words but inserted in the middle of others.
                So the assumption is there’s an r that isn’t literally present in “taught” but that is getting at least somewhat pronounced in certain accents. Then “tortus” and “taught us” end up sounding very similar but still not identical.

              2. The OG Sleepless*

                Ha! This is super interesting. So, you’ve probably heard a standard American accent enough to know that we pronounce an audible “r” in the middle of tortoise that wouldn’t be there in taught. The vowel sound in taught is, I don’t know, flatter than the first syllable of tortoise. To compound matters, I have a Southern (US) accent with what is called a drawl: we lean hard into our vowel sounds so that the standard American “taught” becomes more like “taw-oot.” (If the AMC show The Walking Dead made it to the UK, you’ve heard it.) I’m sure a linguist could explain it better.

    9. Square Root of Minus One*

      Mine is Mika’s Boum boum boum.
      This one is in French, but let’s just say there aren’t many words in French that rhyme with boum/boom.
      I think he used them all and beyond, including singer Oum Kalsoum and boxer Brahim Asloum. Always felt unnatural to me.

    10. Still*

      I can’t recall any terrible rhymes but what drives me up the wall is when singers stress words incorrectly in order to fit the melody. “HElo from the other side”, anyone?

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        Lady Gaga, as much as I love her, does this a lot. It makes her songs really hard to sing along to.

    11. RedinSC*

      Here’s one for you:

      Scorpions! Rock you like a hurricane

      Here I am
      Rock you like a hurricane

    12. Pocket Mouse*

      Rent, You’ll See.

      You want to produce films and write songs?
      You need somewhere to do it!
      It’s what we used to dream about
      Think twice before you pooh-pooh it

    13. Jay*

      The entire song Rapture by Blondie.
      A small snippet:
      Go out to the parking lot
      And you get in your car and drive real far
      And you drive all night and then you see a light
      And it comes right down and it lands on the ground
      And out comes a man from Mars
      And you try to run but he’s got a gun
      And he shoots you dead and he eats your head
      And then you’re in the man from Mars
      You go out at night eatin’ cars
      You eat Cadillacs, Lincolns too
      Mercurys and Subaru
      And you don’t stop, you keep on eatin’ cars
      Then, when there’s no more cars you go out at night
      And eat up bars where the people meet

    14. Roy G. Biv*

      Steve Miller Band, Abracadabra:
      Abra, abracadabra / I wanna reach out and grab ya

      I hate it so much!

    15. Dark Macadamia*

      Oh, what about Pitbull rhyming a word with itself??

      Me not working hard? Yeah right picture that with a Kodak / better yet go to Times Square and take a picture of me with a Kodak!

    16. Jackalope*

      I’m going to share my own personal rhyming… experience. When I was in middle school English I wrote a poem about animal rights – lots of passion, not a lot of skill at rhyming poetry. The rhyme that still makes me both proud and embarrassed involved rhyming “chinchilla” and “then will ya?” I don’t remember the rest of those lines (although I think the second line, referring to the chinchilla in question, was something like, “So consider its feelings, then will ya?”), and I still feel like that was about the best I could have done for something rhyming with chinchilla, but still!

      1. I take tea*

        Well, Leonard Cohen rhymed Hallelujah with “what’s it to ya”, so you are in good company.

    17. Lexi Vipond*

      ‘I’ve been meaning to phone ya/But from Minnesota…’ (Can’t remember the song, but it’s Rod Stewart).

      On the other hand, ‘Get enough germs to catch pneumonia/and after you do she’ll never phone ya’ from I’ll Never Fall in Love Again is tipping back over into so bad it’s genius – remind me to do that next week :)

    18. Flames on the Side of My Face*

      Haha, I feel like I’m going to kick a hornet nest by saying this, but I giggle every time I hear how in “Cruel Summer” Taylor rhymed “summer” with “oooooh ohh ahh.”

  17. Mother Abroad*

    I am from the US living and raising my kid abroad. He is almost six. I’m looking for ideas of how to pass on American culture to my kid while not being present in the US often. We have many many English books, we go visit regularly, and we’ve done many things already. But I bet you all can think of things that I haven’t!

    So:
    -What books or even media would you recommend to an (also) American kid growing up in a different country? (e.g. Roald Dahl books, Wizard of Oz the movie, etc.)
    -What experiences should we try to fit in to our travels back to the States? (e.g. baseball game, hotdogs, etc.)
    -What experiences can I recreate abroad? (e.g. Thanksgiving)
    -Any other thoughts or experiences? I’m all eyes! Thank you all very much.

    1. Rara Avis*

      Roald Dahl is very very British, and his books reflect that setting. At that age my kid liked Junie B. Jones and Captain Underpants.

      1. Lillian*

        Perhaps The Three Detectives books when he’s a bit older? (One of the kids are named Jupiter Jones so that reminded me) As an European kid those struck me as very American and exciting.

      2. Mother Abroad*

        Oh you’re right of course! Sorry. It was early here and those figured large in my childhood, which is why I was thinking of them.

    2. BellaStella*

      Online find episodes of Schoolhouse Rock and Sesame Street and Muppets maybe?

      1. Lemonwhirl*

        Absolutely +1 on Schoolhouse Rock. There are so many good ones about American government and history. I am a huge fan of “No More Kings”.

        1. BikeWalkBarb*

          With a huge caveat on their version of history though. That Manifest Destiny one ignores a lot of murder and tragedy for indigenous people, as one example. Be selective. Teach them adverbs, sure.

    3. Shiara*

      The Ramona books are excellent and timelessly American.

      When I was growing up abroad, my mother made sure that we had a wooden USA puzzle with all the states. We also had a Wee Sing America cd that had some nice Americana songs like the national anthem and 50 states songs. (it also had some less nice Americana songs, so I don’t recommend that particular one, just the idea.) We also had the Classical Kids “Tchaikovsky Discovers America” CD

      Some books I remember are: Alice Provenson’s “My Fellow Americans”, “From Sea to Shining Sea: a Treasury of American Folk Lore and Folk Songs”, as well as a number of different folk tale collections. Jerry Pinkney’s “John Henry” comes to mind.

    4. YesImTheAskewPolice*

      I’m not from the US, but what has always struck me in my interactions with expats and travellers from there is a certain confidence and optimism in one’s abilities, a general positivity and openness to interacting with strangers, and a much higher level of enthusiasm and excitement. Having these traits would definitely stand out where I live (Switzerland) and could even lead to being ridiculed, especially at school. So if you want to nurture these qualities, it might be even more important than usual to give them a safe haven at home.

      Having said that, my parents are not from Switzerland, and what I value much more than general knowledge about their countries of origins are specific family and regional traditions (think holiday celebrations, recipes, heirlooms, stories, jokes).

    5. EA*

      Interesting question as I’m in the same boat! Immediately came to mind visiting the public library and US national parks – obviously can vary depending on where you visit, but to me the open and free pursuit of knowledge, the Great Outdoors, camping, and generally enjoying the parks are some of the best parts of US culture.

      For recreating abroad, maybe summer BBQs and listening to old classic US music? Everything else I’d classify as family heritage (like our Christmas traditions for example).

      1. Writerling*

        Seconding visiting the national parks. I grew up abroad (half American) and I remember playing the park ranger games when visiting.

    6. kt*

      I’m not in exactly the same situation but provide lots of materials to my niece who is growing up not in the US, while my sis passes on materials for my kiddo from the country they’re in (which is a heritage country for us all).

      They do Thanksgiving and Fourth of July, in terms of holidays.

      The kinds of books I’ve been giving are a bit different I think than what you’re describing. Ada Twist & Rosie Revere, that whole series. Books like A Different Pond by Bao Phi. Chapter books like the Magnificent Makers series (I’m a sucker for STEM stories, gotta admit). I’ll add more as I think of them…

      1. Kt*

        After reflecting for a day, I realize my approach is really influenced by seeing immigrant vs expat culture here in the US in the cultural community I belong to. Say we’re French (we’re not) and part of the US community is French from 150 yrs ago, celebrating Voyageur culture and old France, while another portion is more recently arrived and up to date. They share French-ness but actually don’t connect that well because one group is faithfully carrying out modifications of rituals grandma brought over 150 yrs ago that the “modern” expats don’t even recognize.

        Given that this is all projection from my experience, do you want your kid to know American history, the America of your childhood, or America today?

        That might make a difference to whether you get The Poky Little Puppy or books by Mo Willems, whether you only do apple pie or also do taco night, buy classics or the graphic novels that my elementary school kid is devouring. History and contemporary aren’t mutually exclusive. I just remember as a kid occasionally getting to summer in my dad’s home country and feeling like I didn’t know anything about contemporary culture. This was pre -Internet, so things can be very different now.

        The canon of uniquely American food now includes hamburgers (Juicy Lucy!), pizza with regional variation, tacos (esp in the Midwest hard shells with cheddar cheese but you don’t need to inflict that on your kid), orange chicken, fortune cookies, brownies, sheet cake, fried chicken, barbecue with all its regional variations, mac and cheese (invented by a White House cook! that’s an American story with sharing!), fry bread, maple syrup, wild rice.

        1. Sharpiecollector*

          I have to say, that list of foods may have once been uniquely American, but 90% of it can be found in every town in the UK (and other countries, I just know about the UK)

    7. Emma*

      Cooking/making traditional US foods – things like apple pie, PBJs, grilled cheese, pizza, and BLTs.

    8. MissGirl*

      Less classic and more kid movies! Goonies, Sandlot, etc. Books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

    9. Cat Lady*

      I was born to American parents but grew up in the UK for the first eight years of life. The real gaps in my pop culture knowledge were American kids TV shows and music – but I can’t say it’s a huge loss, just that I don’t/didn’t have the same touchstone references as my peers when we moved back or since. I remember everyone knew that show with the slime (slime drops on people?) and I had no idea what they were talking about. Because my parents are American everything else came through just fine, particularly “American” foods like peanut butter and boxed kraft mac and cheese, which were rare, special treats for us at the time – I’m sure now you can buy them at any Tesco but I am of an age, and the place we lived was not an international type town. Oh! And I just thought of a funny one – American coins really confounded me at first. “A nickel” or “a dime” is not revealing of how much it’s worth. I recall this coming up on the placement test the year we moved back and I was totally lost.

      1. Cat Lady*

        To clarify, I mean, not classic American media as others are suggesting here – I mean the modern current shows kids of that age cohort are watching. However, I would assume such things are very easy to stream now so this probably won’t be an issue. Again – I’m old.

      2. Double A*

        I grew up in America but without cable, so I am also lacking in the slime-dropping show knowledge because those were all on Nickelodeon lol

      3. Texan In Exile*

        Same. I grew up abroad (Spain, Panama), living on US military bases. So I was surrounded by other Americans, but none of us had access to current culture. Most of my gaps are also with TV shows. I’m good with music because the AAFES radio station played American Top 40 every week, but mention most TV shows (except General Hospital, which we did get – on a three-month delay, so anytime someone new moved in, we would ask her what was happening on GH) and I am lost.

        We also got current movies, but not the craze associated with them. So I have never understood the big deal about Star Wars. It was a movie that showed one night on the base theatre.

      4. goddessoftransitory*

        Hee, that reminds me of the story:

        Two boys are playing, and one says to the other “Man, my little brother’s so dumb; watch this.”

        He calls the little brother over and offers him either a nickel or a dime. The little brother chooses the nickel and runs off. “See?” says the kid. “He falls for it every time.”

        The other kid feels bad and finds the little brother, telling him, “Okay, so even though the nickel’s bigger? The dime is actually worth more.”

        “Duh, I know that,” says the brother, “But if I pick the dime, the game’s over!”

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

      Maybe some book series like *All of a Kind Family*, *The Great Brain*, *Little House on the Prairie*? Also, maybe some kid-oriented fiction and non-fiction about the racist parts of America’s history and present, so your kid can have some background? Like, I remember that some family friend gave me Dorothy Sterling’s *Mary Jane*, which is about a young Black girl who chooses to be one of the first students integrating an all-white high school and the difficulties (to put it mildly) that she faces–it was definitely something I needed to read. Also, maybe Jason Reynolds and Ibrahim X. Kendi ‘s *Stamped (for Kids): Racism, Anti-Racism, and You*.

      1. BikeWalkBarb*

        Little House on the Prairie has some racism in it. I was reading it aloud to my daughters because I remembered it fondly and had to improv my way through scenes with Ma and her distaste for/fear of Native people. It’s also pretty unabashedly “yay we kept going west and finding fresh new land!” without ever considering the people that land was taken away from.

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

          Oy, good point! Though also maybe a teachable moment?

    11. goddessoftransitory*

      How “modern” a media experience are you looking for? Of course social media has all manner of up to date shows and such; for books, I would go to something like the NYC library’s web site and check out recommendations for various age groups.

      For experiences, I’d try to go as local as possible: for instance, when I visited my sister last year, we went to my niece’s volleyball tournament. Local as they come, and really quite a fun bonding experience for all! Otherwise I’d research stuff that’s organic to the city/state you’re going to–deep dish pizza in Chicago, say, or going to a ballgame at Wrigley field.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        There is an American Women’s Club where I live. It’s open to all nationalities, but I know that they organise regular events for US holidays, such as Trick or Treating, Thanksgiving meals and a barbecue/picnic for Independence Day.

    12. RedinSC*

      If fire works are legal where you are (like sparklers and things) get them for the 4th of July, and maybe grill some hamburgers.

      How about watching Disney movies?

      But can I just put in a request to NOT watch Wizard of Oz for a while, those flying monkeys scared me so much!

    13. RagingADHD*

      Mr Rogers’ Neighborhood!

      My daughter who babysits a lot says 6 year olds here are really into Bluey, which is Australian, but I guess that’s what’s “in”.

    14. Fellow Traveller*

      When my sister in law (who is American but living in Amsterdam) brings her kids to the US, she likes to:
      -take them to the mall and Costco
      – buy them sugary cereal
      – take them camping.
      – take them on road trip

    15. Ami*

      Media:
      A lot of kids experience media primarily online these days, so consider looking for youtubers that are popular and kid friendly, especially video game-based content. There’s been kind of a boom of popularity for horror video game content with young kids, so have a good eye for what he might like or find too scary. Obviously for a 6 year old you should curate it (and turn OFF autoplay) but resist the urge to nix something just because it’s gross or stupid. I think the skibidi toilet, mr beast, and five nights at freddy’s stuff is pretty groan-worthy, but I don’t have to like it lol. Likewise, look for current cartoons and books that are popular with kids. I think with his age it will be more cartoons than books for now, but once he’s ten or so books will start becoming a bigger shared cultural touchstone with American kids.
      Experiences in the states:
      -Museums. Industry museums with trains, maritime museums with boats, natural history museums with dinosaur bones, and science museums with fun, interactive exhibits can all make great memories, and lots of them have exhibits that tie into American history.
      -Colonial Williamsburg
      -Six might be too young for a road trip, but that’s always felt like a very American experience to me, and if you move back to the states, you’ll want to help him get used to long car trips. Maybe you could go along Route 66? Stop at lots of those wacky tourist traps, and overpay to see the world’s biggest cat statue or whatever, it’s a quintessential American experience.
      -State and county fairs! Ride the rides. Eat cotton candy, funnel cakes, candy apples, and deep fried everything. Walk through the livestock barn and look at all the animals. Emulate my parents and tell him he can play one game, and try to steer him away from the ones with the huge prizes so he doesn’t break his heart when he inevitably wins nothing. I recommend the one where you pick a duck from the pool, or the water gun game.
      -Eat American food. Burgers, pizza, regional specialties in the states you’re in, lunchables, oreos, mozzarella sticks, takeout chinese, capri sun juice boxes, fruit by the foot, chocolate chip cookies. The right foods still take me back to my childhood summers and school lunch memories.
      -Ice cream truck. I know they have those abroad too, but it feels like American summer to me to run outside when you hear the ice cream truck tune. Let him try the brands of popsicle you can’t get abroad.
      Experiences you can recreate abroad:
      -An American style barbecue is a good one! I don’t know if you can get American brands of barbecue sauce abroad, so it might be worth asking someone to mail you a bottle of sweet baby rays, or whip your own up from scratch to be fancy. Ribs, burgers, corn on the cob, potato salad, koolaid, and red white and blue popsicles are essential.
      -I expect some kids games like tag or hide-and-seek are pretty universal, but there might be some you can teach him that would be new to him and his classmates. Likewise, stuff like running around in the sprinkler or playing on a slip and slide is hardly unique to America, but he might like to hear that kids back home play the same games as he and his friends do right here.
      Other thoughts: It’s not the same as your experience, but I moved around every few years when I was a kid (dad was in the air force, and then had a job that required lots of moves.) It took me a while to realize that this was unusual and I was boggled to realize that most people stayed in one place their whole life! So weird, you really never lived anywhere else? You might likewise have to explain to your kid that his experience is relatively unique too.

    16. Hazel*

      I grew up as an expat (4 of my 5 parents worked for ALCOA, I spent my childhood in Switzerland). The most important thing to understand is that you only get one childhood (what’s it like growing up in Switzerland? I dunno, what’s it like growing up in Pittsburgh?). Rather than trying to Americanize an expat childhood, give your child the best experience you can. Maximize where you are. Media, etc, out of context isn’t very useful.

      My parents enrolled us in an expat school (Commonwealth American in Lausanne) which was great. We got a lot of exposure to US, British and Swiss culture as well as a terrific education. We also eventually returned to the US with fluent, albeit slightly accented (continental) English. We both lost that accent within a few years, although we both still speak Radio English. Never picked up an American accent.

      I second the recommendation for National Parks when visiting the US. It’s such an American thing.

      Something else that I would try, in your shoes, would be to visit the Presidential Libraries. Many of them are truly fascinating for visitors of all ages.

      I lived overseas (Germany) with my young son while I was working on my doctorate, but I was only there for a year, so I didn’t worry about what he might be missing when we got back. He made the transition seemlessly.

  18. Part time lab tech*

    How much weight do you put into reviews and interactions for trades? how many yellow vs green flags?
    I’m looking for a landscaper suitable for someone middle class, who wants a more pulled together backyard than the standard lawn, roses and paving but also simply can’t afford a high end job of imported stone and a pool. (Don’t want a pool anyway.) Our budget is in the middle of DIY and turnkey if you like and I think we can run to a mixture of paid for basics with good bones and finishing off over time.

    1. Part time lab tech*

      Longer story: I’ve looked at a few local landscapers over the past year. One was very professional but I insisted they look at my plans and basically said they would use all my budget on a third of the yard. Too high end.
      Another had good reviews but had defensive responses to lower star reviews and I decided I’m not willing to risk trouble if something went wrong. They might be alright for maintenance though.
      I had an email interaction with the third one that started off well but then got irritated when I questioned the price for what I wanted. I like his public face and work but I’m a little wary now.
      It’s a significant amount of money for us but I find the insistence on paying for a design site visit when I’m currently trying to work out what I can afford off-putting. (I have paid for one initial design site visit, but I had a coffee with her first to see if we’d suit.)

      1. Jules the First*

        Try your local landscape design school for a list of recently graduated designers?

        1. Part time lab tech*

          That’s a good idea. The main problem is that while I have networks for individual trades and basic garden maintenance, I don’t know anyone who has used a landscaper. I have contacted a company I met at a recent garden festival and they’ll probably get back to me next week.

    2. WellRed*

      This is the kind if thing that recommendations from friends and neighbors is really helpful for. If you you are on NextDoor or some other community group try there. You could also ask at your local garden center or greenhouse for recommendations. Be upfront and clear and realistic about your budget as well as what you are looking for.

    3. Ginger Cat Lady*

      One thing you’ll definitely want to do is check their professional licensing, business licensing and verify that they have insurance. The first two you can likely do online with your state/city and you can ask for a current certificate of insurance.
      I would not hire an unlicensed or uninsured contractor.

      1. Part time lab tech*

        Yes, the State Landscapers Association has got a few and I’ve listened to their podcast. I might just have to start making phone calls with follow-up emails. It’s just that I feel like I’m wasting the time of the bigger turnkey outfits when there’s a high chance they’re simply going to be too expensive. I suppose it’s marketing and education to them though.

    4. BikeWalkBarb*

      You might touch base with your local Extension office. There’s one in every county; it will be associated with county government and your state’s land grant university. They offer classes in things like landscaping and while they may not directly recommend specific firms they may have some tips or point you to examples of projects that fit your parameters if they know of them, then you can ask who those folks worked with.

    5. Part time lab tech*

      Just want to mention that I’m in Australia but there are training institutes (TAFE). I might talk to my local one. TAFE prefers lecturers with work experience. I am also after how people weigh up Internet, friend, website reviews vs own interactions with a tradesperson.

    6. MissB*

      I hired a landscape architect to draw up plans for our yard. It wasn’t overly expensive, but not cheap either.

      We narrowed down a vision over several meetings and drafts.

      Then Dh and I started saving and figuring out who to hire. From the time her final plan was submitted to us until we started work was 2 years. If we were younger, we probably would’ve attacked some of the work ourselves, but we are at that time in life where we have less energy and more of a willingness to spend some $.

      The landscape architect suggested some contractors. We went to one of those cheesy home remodeling shows where a bunch of landscape contractors have booths. We had all sorts of folks out here to quote, and then we decided which contractor to move forward with.

      Long process but it made much more sense to start with the landscape architect.

  19. Anima*

    People of AAM, I’ve got a joy to share!
    Some weeks ago (or months ago, what is time anyway) we had a delightful thread about objects one regretted buying, and I talked about some Roman earrings I saw at a museum in Bavaria – I found them!!! I found the maker, they are real gold! I am just waiting for my next paycheck to hit and then I am ordering them.
    So, what was something you regretted buying and/or what did you find later on? Tell me about your successes (or objects you could never forget)!

    1. workswitholdstuff*

      Some really lovely decorated glass items in a shop in Hexham with my parents – was always sad I didn’t get one of the wine glasses I was eyeing up.

      5 years later, holidaying nearby with a pal, went in looking. The shop in question was gone (she’s now working from her own studio), but found another one doing similar stuff – but even nicer.

      She’s since closed her shop, but still does mail order. – I bought a few things for myself on holiday, then successfully ordered some bits for my mum for Christmas – including a gorgeous starlight depiction of the Sycamore Gap tree. I have a gorgeous Gin glass decorated with a peacock feather, and a lovely framed print of a peacock too (alas, I couldn’t justify the 150 quid for the mirror hand decorated with the same peacock though!) Kelly Morgan was her name I think. SO good.

      (I do now kick myself for not doing the walk to the gap though – we were staying 15 mins drive away from the starting point for the walk there, and it was cut down the week afterwards!)

  20. Falling Diphthong*

    Thank you to everyone who made recommendations for Madison, Wisconsin. Absolutely charming place I could see us living, which I don’t often say.

    The thunderstorms knocked out Friday’s games for us (child is in an athletic tournament), so we have already eaten at Short Stacks, visited the (free!) Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (excellent exhibition on the first floor with pandas made of bullet casings, dragonflies made of pruning shears with trowel wings, etc), had the beautiful (free! 5 minutes from downtown!) Arboretum to ourselves during light rain, and gone wild with dumplings at A Touch of Ukraine.

    1. VermilionOwl*

      I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it! I actually haven’t tried the dumplings at A Touch of Ukraine, so I know what my weekend plan will be now :)

    2. Sitting Pretty*

      That’s wonderful! I lived in Madison for about a year in my early 30s before life took me elsewhere. It was an absolutely lovely place. I will say though that everyone else thinks so too. So like many great college towns, folks don’t leave. It was extraordinarily hard to find professional work because people with tons of credentials and experience were competing for even entry-level jobs in lots of fields. It was fierce and because of the competitive market, employers could offer low salaries. Pay did not keep pace with COL at all.

      It’s part of why we ended up leaving. Even with a graduate degree and lots of work experience, the only job I could find after months of searching and a hundred applications (and several interviews that didn’t pan out) was hourly at the front desk of the Y. I’ve lived in a number of places in the US and have never had so much trouble landing a job! Who knows what it’s like now, that was maybe 15 years ago. So if you ever do consider moving there, my advice is to lock down a job first!

      1. Jackalope*

        Hmm. Looking at the dates you were there and wondering if maybe that was due to the Recession rather than Madison-specific?

    3. BikeWalkBarb*

      I was there years ago on the weekend they held Art Around the Square and remember it fondly.

    4. Lives in a Shoe*

      Oh boy!! My kid’s team barely didn’t qualify for this same tournament! So exciting to hear about someone there – I spent yesterday watching the streamed games. In prior years went to watch another child over multiple years and Madison was one of my favorite venues during those years.

      Enjoy, enjoy…

  21. rr*

    I am a user of lysol products, but am increasingly uncomfortable using them, based on what I read and my own issues with them (feeling headachy and lousy after). I promised myself that when I ran out, I wouldn’t buy more, and since I’m almost out, I’m looking for suggestions for alternatives.

    I use lysol primarily in the bathrooms, with occasional use elsewhere, so I’m looking for something that works, but is also something beyond vinegar and water or baking soda, however wonderful those may be. I’m also looking for something that I don’t have to make/mix myself and that I can pretty easily buy (in the store or online if it is a product that isn’t widely available). I’d also like to not spend a fortune – ideally, it would be in the same general price range of lysol (though, for the record, I think that is a bit pricy too, particularly as the bottles drip). If they were in the types of bottles that lysol is packaged in, that would be great (minus the dripping, of course!).

    I’d like eventually also to move away from the Tide/Comet products I use, so I’d welcome suggestions on that type of item as well, though I have less interaction with those, so I’m not as concerned about them (possibly my mistake, but I can only adjust so much at once).

    If possible, I’d like to stay away from products that are part of MLM schemes, but I suppose I’d hold my nose if I have to, though I think these products also generally tend to be on the pricey side.

    Ideas, please? TIA.

    1. MissCoco*

      I love alcohol as a cleaning solution. Most commonly isopropyl is what is in stores but I have also used high concentration ethanol and that is my slight preference, both are very cheap. It does have a strong smell, but it’s an effective disinfectant and I find the smell much less assaulting than bleach, it also fades quicker. I just put it in a spray bottle to use.
      It’s not quite as effective as heavy duty cleaners, but it is my go-to for 90% of minor spills and messes around the house as well as spraying down counters/bathrooms.

      1. BikeWalkBarb*

        Do you dilute it? I’ve read a recipe for a window cleaning solution of alcohol, water, and dish soap.

        1. Manders*

          I work in a laboratory, and we use 70% isopropyl alcohol for cleaning the lab bench prior to and after work. I’m not 100% certain, but I think rubbing alcohol is 65%, so that would work. Just put it in a spray bottle and go for it.

        2. MissCoco*

          I don’t, I’m sure you could. I like that undiluted alcohol evaporates faster so there aren’t water spots on mirrors and stuff. I do sometimes scrub a spot with a bit of dish soap before spraying down with alcohol

    2. Texan In Exile*

      I use the generic (TopCare – is that Target?) version of Dr Bronner’s castile soap for my sinks and shower. It will actually remove soap scum from shower tiles, although you still have to scrub.

    3. Alex*

      I know you said you want to move away from Comet, but the Comet spray is actually quite good–it is not terrible for the environment but it does kill bacteria, and it is cheap! The active ingredient is citric acid. Not sure if you meant the powder or not.

    4. All Monkeys are French*

      I keep Seventh Generation cleaning wipes in my bathroom. They allegedly disinfect about as well as Lysol but they’re friendlier to the environment. They make a spray, too.
      For scouring powder I like Bon Ami or Barkeeper’s Friend (Barkeeper’s has oxalic acid in it – great on stainless steel, but not ideal everywhere).

      1. KarenInKansas*

        The winter before the pandemic, our vinyl tub got a crack in it. I repaired it with a special tape. the first year of the pandemic, the crack got longer, and then it branched out. Then the area between the branches started breaking off. we couldn’t get it fixed because of the pandemic. After about a year, there was a hole. I kept repairing it with tape, but we couldn’t stand on it without going through it! We straddled the hole for another year. after the pandemic emergency was over we got it replaced. It took us about a year after finally getting it fixed for us to stand normally in our new tub!

    5. Rebecca*

      I like Simple Green. The scent straight out of the bottle is too strong for me, but when it’s diluted down, I quite like it. YMMV, so take a whiff before buying.

    6. Maestra*

      If you’re talking Tide laundry – we use Tru Earth laundry strips instead of pods or liquid laundry detergent. No big plastic bottle, no paying for the water part of the liquid soap and our clothes (two adults, no children, no messy hobbies) always come out clean.

    7. Random Bystander*

      I am a big, big fan of the method brand cleaning products. There’s a pretty complete line of things–their hand soap is one of the few soaps out there that I can use without hurting myself (there are soaps that have quite literally caused me to bleed because of the tiny little fissures all over my skin, because I have ultra-sensitive skin).

      There are things for laundry (laundry soap, dryer sheets, softener, stain remover), kitchen, bathroom, floors, special surfaces (wood, granite, for example), personal care. Many of the products come with refills, too. There’s also other good things about the products (check out methodproducts (dot) com).

      I have never had an issue with things not getting clean, I feel like everything is safe enough that I don’t have to worry about my cats coming into contact (incidental, like running across a still-wet area), and there are so many scent choices!

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Seconding this recommendation. The daily shower spray by Method works really well.
        Also, you can use white vinegar as a substitute for or ingredient in cleaning products. Equal amounts of water and white vinegar plus a few drops of dish soap (washing-up liquid) make an excellent cleaner for glass. You can also use white vinegar as a substitute for fabric softener – it is more or less scent free, just don’t use a huge amount of it.

    8. SuprisinglyADHD*

      We’ve had some success using pet sprays. We have a pet odor neutralizer spray in the bathroom instead of air freshener, and the resolve carpet cleaner pet spray is good for many spills. I’ve always used some type of bleach-based foaming spray for everything in the bathroom except the toilet bowl (pee is ammonia, bad idea). And pine-sol can be used to mop pretty much everything. Shout stain remover works surprisingly well for laundry. Fels-Naptha laundry soap bars are skin safe, we use them for super greasy hands, and accidental contact with poison ivy.

    9. RagingADHD*

      What’s the issue with Lysol, Tide, etc? Ingredients or business practices?

      I became a convert to Pine Sol in the beginning of 2020 because I read that the pine oil was a good viricide. Oldie but goodie.

      For hardwood floors I use Murphy’s Oil Soap, and for scrubbing / polishing Barkeeper’s Friend.

  22. Cordelia*

    maybe a month or so ago, there was a fun thread where we talked about literal “missing stairs” in our homes – broken or faulty things that we had just got used to working around. I commented about a kitchen cupboard door that was coming off its hinges, I had to hold it up with my foot while I took plates in and out. Well it’s fixed! and yet I am still only half opening it while trying to prop it up with my foot. So I was wondering if anyone else has managed to fix their missing stair, and how long it took to actually start stepping on it?

    1. GoryDetails*

      Congrats on the repairs!

      I did get my literal missing-stair fixed – had my entire back porch replaced a few months back. It did take me a little while to stop treading cautiously on the formerly-fragile, now nicely-robust stairs.

      However, my non-functioning oven is still broken, and as I’ve been managing using the stovetop and, when baking or roasting is needed, my Breville toaster-oven, I just keep forgetting to schedule a new-oven-hunting expedition.

      And the clothes dryer is also still broken. As I only have to do laundry every two or three weeks, and (so far) have been able to air-dry things by spreading them on the furniture, I’ve let that become a missing stair.

      I suspect that if I ever do get around to replacing/repairing the appliances, it won’t take me long to get used to having them again – but it’s just so easy to forget about them entirely if I don’t need them right at the moment…

    2. KarenInKansas*

      please see the above thread for my reply. I had a really bad nesting fail! :-)

    3. fhqwhgads*

      I asked last weekend about replacing half an entry doorknob set – that was my issue that fits your category. Bought a new set, unscrewed the inside part, screwed in that half of the new one, done. Six years of “this knob is loose and we can’t really tighten it because it doesn’t really fit without hitting something and I don’t want to drill new holes in the door to make it actually fit, and I don’t want to rekey it”. I had a feeling I could do the swap I ended up doing, but it took me ages of online research to not quite find the answer, asked here a week ago and kinda sorta got an answer, finally found something similar in someone else’s online review the company replied to – which led to me being 95% certain the plan would work. $30 and 20 minutes, and it’s fixed.

      1. Sitting Pretty*

        Isn’t it funny how many hours-days-months we can spend fretting and working around what ends up being a quick fix? I keep promising myself I’ll get better at just taking the leap on stuff like this and then find myself right back there again. I’m so glad you got your door sorted!

    4. Nola*

      When we first moved into our house the overhead light in the bathroom was burnt out and we couldn‘t get the light fixture down to replace it.

      No big deal. There was a vanity light over the sink so we‘d just use that until we figured out how to get the recessed light panel open and replace the lightbulb.

      Since it wasn‘t a priority it took about six months to finally knock Replace Bathroom Lightbulb off the list of things to do.

      But, almost 15 years later, I still turn on the vanity light instead of the overhead one. My husband uses the overhead light and I‘m always a little amazed at how BRIGHT the bathroom is when he‘s in there. I could have that too! But I genuinely don‘t even think about turning it on. Doesn‘t cross my mind.

      1. Phlox*

        my parents house had the light switches swapped “wrong” in the hallway/bathroom set, when left was for the bathroom and the actual bathroom was to the right of the light switch plate. they had it corrected during a bathroom remodel a few years back, and oi 30 yrs of muscle memory, I’m now always turning on the hallway light!

  23. PhyllisB*

    Those of you who have read my posts over the years know I have a grandson in prison. I am going to visit him today. This is the first time I’ve seen him in four years. Keep us in your thoughts.

    1. Throwaway*

      Good luck with the visit.

      FYI, As someone who has been there and done that. There are often lots of rules about visiting. Read everything posted very carefully.

      Especially there are lots of rules about the attire of women visiting men’s prisons*1. I would recommend reading those rules twice and bringing some backup clothes, including shoes if you can *2. The rules are what the guard on duty says it is, not what common sense, logic or even an actual reading of the rule book says*3. Most places won’t allow clothes with metal. Check your shoes for a metal shank and your bra for underwire*4. When they say, “NO X”. They mean none at all anywhere. I’ve seen people turned away for lace trim on the hem of their jeans due to the “No lace rule.” and toddlers in leggings over diapers turned away because the rule is no leggings.

      When you get to the prison, you will probably need to check in and then wait for a while for your grandson to get to the visiting space and for it to be your turn. I suggest you take that time to ask the guard if they see anything in your clothes that might be a concern and to visit the rest room. You don’t want to wait to find out when your grandson is waiting for you that there is a problem with your top or have to end the visit early to go to the bathroom.

      Take a book, there is a lot of hurry and and wait with many places not allowing electronics or knitting needles/crochet hooks.

      Be sue you have a few quarters in case you need to pay for a locker for your purse, car keys/fod, and phone.

      Visiting a prisoner is often an emotionally difficult experience. Please try to allow yourself some time to recover afterwards.

      *
      1. I have never felt so simultaneously dehumanized and sexualized as when I go through the inspection process to visit someone in prison. (Said as a gray haired, heavy woman who’s style defalt is honestly best described as frumpy.)

      2. I have had outfits be acceptable one visit and disallowed the next. I’ve also had shoes that I was sure were okay, have metal shanks. (I was able to change into backup clothes and remove the shanks and have both visits.)

      3. Most guards are just people trying to do their jobs and get through the day without drama. But all it takes is one guard having a bad day or with a bad attitude to ruin your visit. (Yes, you can appeal to their supervisor, but I strongly recommend against it, unless it is a much more critical issue than a visit. )

      4. For everyone: If you can and have unused bras, especially ones without underwire; please donate them to someplace that gets bras in the hands of women who need them. There is a huge need. Including because many families experience significant financial hardship when the father is incarcerated and the mother having to buy a non-underwire bra in order to visit is an additional big financial burden.

      1. tea and cookies*

        Some of the rules you describe make sense – eg no metal. But the no leggings one is baffling. The most non-metal outfit I can think of is t-shirt & leggings.

        1. A313*

          It sounds like they would prefer nothing too tight and body-revealing. (But a child in diapers wearing leggings should be ok!)

          I found Throwaway’s information very interesting — a glimpse into an experience I hope I never have to have. It would be obviously hard to be in prison, hard (emotionally and logistically) to visit — and hard to be prison personnel, and I appreciate the insight, especially with regard to that they are just people doing their jobs. Like with just about any job, though, I’m sure there can be difficult personalities.

        2. BubbleTea*

          It’s to do with sexualised outfits. I don’t know whether the same sort of rules apply in women’s prisons. I did visit a couple of women’s prisons in the US but can’t recall the clothing rules.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        If you bring a book make sure it is a paperback. I used to sell books to people taking them to prisoners and hardbacks were a huge no no. I would play it safe even if you aren’t giving the book to your nephew.

      3. RedinSC*

        Seconding Throwaway’s comments.

        The prisons around here do have bra vending machines, if you only have underwire bras.

        But also watch out for specific colors the prison you’re visiting.

    2. Jean (just Jean)*

      Wishing you calm travels to the prison and back home, and a good visit without any of the problems described by Throwaway. And time and space to regroup after the visit.

    3. PhyllisB*

      Reporting back about the visit. But first I wanted to thank everyone for the kind comments, and Throwaway, thank you for your detailed advice, it’s good for those who may visit prisons in the future, but my daughter had already clued me in on what to expect, and she did mention some of what you said, but at this one they didn’t say anything about underwire bras and. y daughter said no one ever said anything to her so I don’t know if that’s not one of their rules here or if the guards were just in a good mood..I had also been told to wear close toed shoes. Do you know how hard it is to find casual close toed summer shoes that aren’t like running shoes? (I ended up with something that resembles Skechers but a bit lighter.) Got there and four women in line ahead of me were wearing sandals and slides!! No worries, these will come in handy. We lucked out on waiting times. We got there an hour after check in started and there were only five people ahead of us so we got through quickly. All the guards were very friendly and courteous and were glad to answer questions. Daughter said it would be a long wait for food and for inmate to come in. Wrong!! He was there within 10 minutes of our arrival, and food arrived quickly and was hot and fresh. And very tasty. I wasn’t sure what to expect, so was pleasantly surprised. Daughter had already said food was pretty good but wasn’t sure if it really would be. It was SO funny, she told me, “well, you must think I’m a liar because none of the things I said would happen came to pass.” I told her in this case I was glad she “lied.” One last thing about being cleared: if you’ve had something like a hip replacement or have a pacemaker, you might want to mention it. My hip replacement didn’t trigger any alarms but she thanked me for telling her.
      Visit went well but of course he’s changed a lot since I saw him last. For one thing, he’s shaved his head!! Glad his mom warned me or I would have been shocked. As it was I didn’t recognize him when he walked in and if daughter hadn’t said there he is i would have kept looking.
      They even take photos now with inmate and family so we can have one and inmate can have one. Of course there was a charge for photos but it was very reasonable, and grandson was so thrilled to have a photo to take back to his area.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I’m so glad it went so well and no problems came to pass. I especially like the photos and how you can each have one.

      2. Throwaway*

        I’m so glad that your visit went well. It sounds like your daughter was a wonderful guide for you. It also sounds like your grandson is in a facility that is trying to be supportive about visits*1. Which bodes well for forward thinking in other areas that will hopefully be good for him and everyone else.

        *1 Visits by loved ones have big impact on how well an inmate does while incarcerated. Children being able to visit an incarcerated parent has a huge impact on the child’s future wellbeing.

    4. Not A Manager*

      Thinking of you, Phillis. I know what heartache you endured with your grandson. I hope his path becomes smoother.

      I also remember some members of your community pushing you to feel or not feel certain ways. I believe that you will come to a place of genuine grace because that’s the kind of person you are. Don’t think that you have to reach that on anyone else’s timetable.

      My heart is with you.

    5. Healthcare Worker*

      Sending lots of hugs to you, PhyllisB. I’m glad your visit went well.

    6. Tea and Sympathy*

      I remember your posts from then, describing the whole saga and his bad choices, and my heart went out to you. Since then, when I read your posts, I often think of him and wonder how he’s doing. I’m glad you got to visit him, and I hope he is doing as well as possible under the circumstances. And I’m happy that you seem to have had a positive visit. Hugs.

  24. M&M Mom*

    Heading to Japan on vacation soon. Starting to think about packing. Anything you wish that you had brought but did not? I know I can buy anything I need there (and many things I don’t need but will probably buy anyway) Thanks!

    1. Writerling*

      The most important things to bring are clothes and shoes, and any specialized products (face, body, etc) if you have any restrictions, anything else you can buy there (in fact, buy your sunscreen there!).

      The one thing I recommend buying there are the cooling scarves, or whatever that’s evolved into since I last saw those 10 years ago (I wasn’t looking during my trip last year and it wasn’t summer), you get them wet and tie them around your neck to keep cool, they’re great!

      1. Writerling*

        I did buy one there (tax free!) but if you don’t want the hassle, yes, bring along :D

      2. Lady Danbury*

        This! I highly recommend the Eagle Creek packable duffels, as they’re really sturdy (no concerns about checking them on long haul flights) and come in a variety of sizes.

    2. Raia*

      I hope you have a lovely trip to Japan! I’d definitely bring a great pair of shoes, and check humidity and see if you need a neck cooling fan. Other than that, they have so many cool ingenious products that I’d go ahead and buy there. I’d even buy shoes there, since the shoes size are based on length of the foot in cm which is the only sensical precise way to size shoes imo lol

      1. Writerling*

        !!! SAME, I WISH all shoe sizes were standardized by length (and width) because I hate going “well usually I wear a 7, but sometimes it’s a 7.5 or 6.5” … actually, can we do that with clothes too? (:

        1. Raia*

          We should just make real measurements the standard for all clothing and wearables, but maybe then we’d only buy clothes that fit and solve some money and waste issues… I digress. (:

      2. Puffle*

        One thing I would say re shoes is to bear in mind sizes tend to run smaller in Japan and you may struggle to get anything above a 24.5cm (women’s shoes) or 27.5 (men’s shoes)

    3. RedinSC*

      My friend just told me that when she was traveling (Eastern Europe, not Japan) that she broke her reading glasses, thinking she could easily get new ones, and it was a big big hassle.

      So, maybe, if you use them a spare pair or two of reading glasses.

    4. Sally*

      Pack a travel size hand soap and a small hand towel and bring them with you wherever you go. I would also pack Ziploc bags to use as a trash receptacles during the day.

    5. Six Feldspar*

      I found it hard to get painkillers & general cold/flu/allergy meds (not prescription, just regular stuff) so take what you normally use.

      Seconding the bags for rubbish, there aren’t many public bins but I think the 7-11s generally have them.

      Hope you have a wonderful time! Japan in summer is too hot for me but it’s a lovely place and I really enjoyed the trips I went there.

    6. Cacofonix*

      Conservative clothes. You do you but most people, even young adults dress more elegantly than we do in North America. Even the knee length skirts and dark wash trouser jeans I brought felt out of place.

  25. MissGirl*

    Wardrobe question:

    Due to some health problems, I’ve lost significant weight, going from size 12 to 6. I usually live in a size 10. I am in desperate need of new clothes and not because of the weight. I went through a few layoffs and didn’t buy new things for the longest time. All of my jeans have holes in the seams and bottoms. My non-jeans are are safety-pinned on.

    I was waiting until my health got under control, and while I’m doing better, I’ve given up the idea this will be an overnight fix. I’m tired of wearing yoga pants, but I don’t want to buy a bunch of stuff I won’t be able to wear in six months. I also don’t want to feel internal pressure to not gain weight when that’s not realistic or healthy. I’ve stopped losing but haven’t had luck gaining although I’ve been able to finally add in a few fats over the last month.

    Does anyone know of jeans that have stretch to them? I’ve come to terms that I may have to buy something to get through temporarily, but I’d at least like them to grow a size with me. And I want something that looks good. I’m super self-conscious about my weight and I don’t want to walk around with things safety-pinned on. I don’t feel like me anymore. Any other clothing recommendations?

    Please don’t make comments on how lucky I am to have this problem. I couldn’t eat anything besides a few foods for months on end. I stopped sleeping for a while as my stomach kept me up all night. I’ve lost so much time to being sick. I am working with a doctor and behavior health therapist and am making small progress. I want to be back to the healthier me.

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      I love the LLBean perfect fit pants and their comfort fit chinos. I have found they both flex about a size if you gain weight.
      Good luck!

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Seconding the LL Bean pants. I’ve had fluctuations with my weight for medical reasons and through it all these pants still fit. In addition to the ones that Chauncy Gardener mentions, I recommend the perfect fit cords if you like corduroy.

        Additionally, LL Bean pants save you money. They last for years. Also, LL Bean allows you to return things for a full year if you don’t like them, even after they’ve been worn, if you need to experiment.

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          I can’t speak specifically to jeans because I dislike them and haven’t worn them for many years.

    2. Elle*

      I’ve found Stitch Fix to be a really good way of finding things I can’t find myself. I describe exactly what I’m looking for and they often come through.

    3. Alex*

      Some brands have jeans that are meant to be 3 sizes in 1. Old navy had them for a while but they seem to have stopped (but maybe you can find them used somewhere?) but also Express, Good American, Lucky, and probably others.

    4. MissCoco*

      My sympathies, I hope you are feeling better soon. I have experienced similar for health reasons in both directions and it’s a frustrating and expensive problem (and the comments are so grating).
      I love high quality ponte leggings as they stay up when they aren’t quite snug enough at my waist but also stretch and can still be worn comfortably when I move up in size. Loft has some *really* stretchy dress pants and denim that can flex about 1 size.

      I know it’s not quite what you are looking for, but I also found Thredup really useful when I was dealing with weight changes just because it made it affordable for me to get a few good things in sizes that currently worked and then repurchase in 6 months or so.

      1. ElastiGirl*

        I second ThredUp. I have also been going through some significant weight changes, and it has been a lifesaver.

        Skinny jeans tend to have stretchy fabric, so you might want to start there

    5. Rebecca*

      Do you live in a place with second hand stores? My weight is going in the opposite direction–I’ve been gaining slowly, and I don’t want to spend money on new clothes that might not fit me in 6 mo or a year. I buy 2nd hand bc I won’t be upset when I outgrow the trousers I only spent $6 on. Could the same strategy work for you?

    6. BubbleTea*

      I wonder whether jeans intended for early pregnancy might work, in the smaller sizes? They have some stretch and sometimes a sort of expanding panel on the side. That could give you a few extra months from the same pair.

      I exclusively wear skirts, and when I was pregnant I managed to wear the same skirts throughout that I wore before (and indeed after), because they were a size or so too big at the start and could sit low when I expanded. I feel like skirts are more forgiving than trousers in that respect, at least loose fitting ones.

    7. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      Same, I lost over 40lbs and went from 12 to 6 (due to post-organ removal surgery, medical reasons, and needing to change lifestyle over time). I found that Old Navy and Kohl’s carry jeans with stretch to them (or at least they used to in last few years), and they’re inexpensive, and I’ve found they last quite a while. Target also should have them. I am short, so I appreciate the shorter lengths that Kohl’s/Old Navy carry. Good luck!

    8. Still*

      I’m sorry you’re going through such a stressful time! I hope you feel healthier and better in your own body soon.

      Because you’ve said that you don’t feel like yourself anymore, I’d be tempted to buy just a few items that fit your current body really really well, and wear them all the time. Of course, if you find something that will work when you increase in size, that’s great (maybe some dresses or tops meant to look a bit oversized?). But if you get a pair of black or blue jeans, you can wear them every day and nobody will bat an eye, so just one pair that fits you well can go a long way and make you feel more comfortable.

      I just wanted to throw it out there that buying fewer really well-fitting items might make you feel better in your skin than buying more items that will “grow” with you but not fit as well.

    9. Generic Name*

      After I had my baby, I was losing weight rapidly. I would buy one pair of jeans that fit really well, and then when I could pull them off without undoing the zipper/button, I got the next size down. Belts helped with the in between stages too.

    10. Joey*

      If they’re not too casual, I’m a huge fan of Athletic Works brand pants from Walmart. They’re knit pants with an elastic waist and drawstring so very flexible in sizing. They are athletic pants but with a looser fit than yoga pants (very breathable for summer). At around $10 per pair it maybe wouldn’t seem like too much of a financial burden if you need to replace them for a new size occasionally.

    11. OaDC*

      Old Navy has “high waisted linen pants” that I just bought 4 pairs of for $20/each and which are apparently now on sale for $14.99. They’re loose and have an elastic waist so should be forgiving, and I think they look nice.

    12. RedinSC*

      I’ve head this same problem, so I’m with you.

      The jeans I’ve found that kind of expand and contract with me are Cello and then Old Navy.

      They’ve managed to be OK through at 30 lbs weigh fluctuation.

    13. Qwerty*

      My stretchiest jeans came from Old Navy, but its been a while since I bought them. Stores like Marshalls/TJMax may also be a good place to shop for something inexpensive. Each store has different items so you may need to check a couple to find out if this is a good fit for you.

      My size fluctuates a lot even though my weight stays the same – my seems to like rearranging where it stores the fat/muscle. Amazon has been a surprisingly great resource, though fit/sizing is inconsistent so I do return a lot (thankfully I have Prime free shipping/returns).

      I have amazing summer pants in multiple colors by HeyMoments (“wide leg lounge pants with pockets high waisted adjustable tie knot loose trousers”) Elastic waist + tie belt mean that you could buy it a little larger than you need and just tie it tighter. I get so many compliments on how fancy I look and they are soooo comfortable.

      Places like Goodwill should also have cheap clothes if you only need something for a few months. Locations in suburbs usually have better quality item than downtown stores.

    14. Le le lemon*

      Commiserations, Miss Girl. I hope your health is back on track.
      I thought of the elastic waistband hack for pants…there are more “correct” ways to do this, but also, rush job ways…essentially, you use a 1″ piece of elastic on the inside of the back waistband, and it’s smaller than the garment, thus pulling the garment to the elastic’s length. There’s probably a sweet spot (maybe 2″ negative?) before the way the pants hang will start to look really odd. (Youtube videos if you’re sewing able/interested/have a friend that can help).
      Otherwise, op shops and potential some judgement-free friends might sources of second hand or borrowed clothes?

    15. BikeWalkBarb*

      Does your neighborhood have a Buy Nothing group? They’re awesome for clothing in my area.

      Good luck with your health and finding clothes that make you feel good about being you.

      Betabrand has stretchy jeans that I like, on the spendy side. Ditto Universal Standard, which has a great size range.

      How do you feel about skirts? Heading into summer and having some loose floaty clothing could feel good and they’re very size adaptable. A couple with elastic waistbands would get you through quite a lot of change.

    16. Saddesklunch*

      An option could be to see what Universal Standard has that is part of their “fit liberty” program, which lets you exchange one size for another as your size changes. You might also try one of the services that let you rent clothing (I have some friends using one that I think is called nuuly).

    17. mreasy*

      Adriano Goldschmeid aka AG makes some very stretchy jeans. They are quite pricey but I have found them often on Poshmark.

      1. Rosemary*

        Came here to suggest AG. They are not cheap but I find they fit well, and last. I always buy the kind with stretch. I’ve lost about 15 lbs and I’m still wearing the same pairs (they are just a little easier to put on post-wash than they used to be…no more squats and lunges LOL)

        I’ve also recently discovered Mother jeans. Also not cheap, but they come in petite sizes so they fit me well (because they scale down all over, not just the leg length)

        1. Rosemary*

          Oh and I have sometimes found AG at places like Nordstrom Rack / Marshall’s for much less than full price.

    18. HannahS*

      I’m sorry you’ve had such troubles.

      There’s a type of maternity jean where it just looks like normal jeans, but the pockets are replaced by a little piece of heavy elastic. They tend to have stretch in the fabric, too. They should comfortably get you across two sizes, as long as they aren’t skin-tight when you buy them.

      Other suggestions:
      If your town has a buy-nothing-group, ask for clothes in your current size
      I know thrift store mileage is different for everyone, but if you’re not picky and live in a place with decent thrift, you can get some good temporary clothes.

    19. Trawna*

      I love Uniqlo maternity trousers – super comfortable, forgiving of weight/bloat fluctuations – for obvious reasons, wash very well, and are quite reasonably priced.

    20. Jackalope*

      I too have been having weight fluctuations on the past couple of years, and my personal best experience has been with scrubs. I bought a few pairs of scrub pants that were a bit more flexible (not sure if stretchy but def flexible) and have worn those through a couple of size changes.

      1. Jackalope*

        You specifically mentioned pants, but I will add that sleeveless tops and tank tops have also become helpful for me as a bottom layer since my arms are also changing size. Sweaters and sweatshirts tend to have a bit more play in the sleeves, but bottom layers often don’t. So just removing the sleeves for the bottom layer has made it easier to make everything else work and feel comfortable.

    21. Anon for this one*

      I had similar weight loss for medical reasons (side effects of chemo, in my case) a couple years ago. I ended up buying just a few things that fit where I was then, and doing a lot of laundry for six months or so while I gained enough to fit into my old clothes. Good luck finding foods you can eat!

  26. cat food question*

    Is premium cat food worth it? My elderly cat is going through a food strike- I have been buying premium cat food, but it seems now the only thing she’ll eat is the cheapest cat food. Is it worth perservering with the premium cat food until (if) she decides to eat canned food again? Trying to push the expensive food seems to make both cat and human quite grumpy. (for comparison: cheap cat food is $1/can, premium is $3/can).

    What do you do, when your cat goes on a food strike?

    1. Generic Name*

      Maybe talk to your vet, but my non expert opinion is that eating cheap food is better than no food. My cats eat Royal Canin dental diet dry food, but they get fancy feast once a day. All my mom’s cats eat friskies and meow mix, and her cats live into their late teens, and early twenties.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        That’s what my vet has always said too, especially with elderly animals that were having health issues already – getting them to eat SOMETHING is more important than WHAT they’re eating, as long as it’s not actively harmful to them.

    2. Time for Tea*

      Tastes and desire to eat change in all animals as they get older. Eating what she likes is far better for her than not eating better quality food, keep her calorie intake up. Might be worth having a vet check as well if she hasn’t been seen recently as it could be a sign of something starting to cause an issue for her.

    3. Cat Lady*

      Eating is certainly better than not eating. If you’re worried about overall nutrition for an elderly gal, you could ask your vet about a supplement you might mix in to whatever she will eat. You could also see if she’ll do 80/20 mix of the higher quality food if you want to use it up, but I don’t assume more expensive cat food is always more nutritional, outside vet prescribed food for specific issues (kidneys, allergies etc).

      1. Cat Lady*

        Also: the cheap stuff might be smellier, which they like. Especially if the senses are starting to go in older age. I use godawful cheap fish wetfood for trapping strays and they are pretty excited by it, even though I think it stinks; it’s kinda like using gross bait for fishing haha. One trick can be to heat up wet food so it smells more; a little warm water stirred into the more expensive can, or gently microwaving the whole thing, may make it more enticing. In her final months my very senior lady also liked the gravies on top of her wet food. They’re sold in little squeeze packets. Very strong smell of fish.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Smell is a HUGE thing. We got Peanut to start eating his new diet by topping it with cheap-ass canned tuna or salmon (we switch off so he doesn’t get bored.) Works like a charm, except for the tiny dots of diced carrot–every meal he cleans his plate except for those carrots!

    4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      My (very amateur) understanding is that some of the nice wet food is worth it, but some of it has more stuff that is good for humans, like blueberries and spinach, but don’t do much for obligate carnivores like cats. The nice stuff is also less likely to have animal byproducts in it, but I think a few guts and feathers are probably good for cats.

      Link to follow for a nutritional chart that I like. It’s a bit out of date now, but the best info I could find, plus it has some good info on *why* certain food is good.

    5. North Wind*

      Oh, I went through so much of this with my elderly cat right during the covid lockdowns. I’d finally find something she would eat, then there would be shortages of it and I couldn’t buy it anywhere. So whenever I found something she would eat, I’d buy as much as I could – but then she might go off it the next week :(. I ended up donating so much food to shelters. It was expensive.

      Anyway, when she went off her food, I’d buy one can each of 10 different flavors/brands/kinds of food looking for something she’d eat. I remember at one point, there was a brand that had two very similar-sounding flavors, like “Chicken Liver”, and “Chicken Liver and Gizzards” or something like that. She loved the one and hated the other.

      1. A313*

        I went through similar after the cat food company was bought and Mars (yes, the candy people) bought the brand and discontinued Evo. My cat wouldn’t eat so many of the new foods I tried — although his sister liked most of them, so she benefitted, to a point. I took so much opened food to a woman who runs a feral community cat TNR program. I’m sure she had to wonder at all the food I donated; it was a lot. But at least it got eaten! Side note: knowing how cats can be, all cat foods should be required to provide small, sample-sized bags for purchase!

        As my vet said, the best cat food is the food the cat will eat. And I initially was too hung up on “premium” cat food (although my cat did have diagnosed IBD with restrictions on certain foods, and that made it a bit tricky).

        1. North Wind*

          “all cat foods should be required to provide small, sample-sized bags for purchase”

          That is a brilliant idea!

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          My vet offers all kinds of mini canned samples just for this–especially with expensive prescription food, we didn’t want to invest too much up front!

    6. Texan In Exile*

      Fed is better than dead.

      When our cats have gone on strike, I have gotten samples of other foods from my local Buy Nothing group. We have also been desperate enough to make tilapia for them. And put olive oil on top of the existing food. And sometimes sardine oil, although that’s not really good for them because of the salt.

      Two weeks ago, Shirley went on strike against the canned food she had been eating for months. There was nothing we could do to induce her to eat it – we tried and tried, so we got new canned food, which she has been eating happily. She was so hungry one day that we decided to try the old food again.

      And she ate it.

      As if nothing had ever happened.

    7. Can’t Sit Still*

      I had a painfully thin cat who finally started eating regularly once I tried Meow Mix. Whatever they will eat is better for them than the food they refuse. As long as it’s AAFCO approved, or the equivalent agency, it’s an appropriate diet.

    8. Rebecca*

      Your elderly cat is highly likely to be experiencing reduced kidney function, which can make them feel low-level crappy and cause them to reject food. Just focus on keeping her fed, but also look for foods with lower sodium and lower phosporus. You can read the nutritional info on the label yourself, and there is also a wonder page on Tanya’s Comprehensive Guide to Feline CKD with all the nutritional info of different brands collected for you.

    9. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      Is there a difference in texture? The cheap one may be easier to chew. We just had our 14-year-old cat’s teeth cleaned and he’s now eating much better than he had been. Crunchy food had been hard (he’s on prescription food, so we don’t have a lot of options.)

    10. goddessoftransitory*

      Talk to your vet. Peanut cat had been eating the same urinary car food for years when he suddenly developed stomach issues–for a while he was barfing every day. It took some adjusting of his diet and mealtimes to get him over the hump.

      For the unopened food I would recommend donating to a homeless shelter–lots of unhoused people with pets can’t afford the good stuff and can really use it!

    11. Double A*

      I wouldn’t pay more for general “premium” cat food because that seems like just marketing. We do pay more for prescription diet food for kidney support based on our vet’s recommendation. But I’m thinking of the pallets we just got being our last. The cats don’t seem to love it and they are well into bonus time so really I want them to eat whatever they like best.

    12. cat food question*

      Thanks for all the responses, and the chart that was posted. Turned out the premium & cheap brands I was buying had close to the same protein/fat/carb breakdown. Kitty is still quite chubby, so I’m not especially worried about her wasting away just yet.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        I believe cats are one of the species that needs to loose weight slowly, because it is very hard on their livers. Obesity is bad for them too, so loosing weight is good but it needs to be fairly gradual. So you do want to keep her fed.

        Isn’t it wonderful when you can just buy the cheap stuff?

    13. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Also, the food itself changes across the year as different fish stocks are used depending on their availability. And sometimes I have wondered how old the tinned food is, when I have bought a stash of favourites on sale and the cats have said nope. Fortunately I know several other cat owners nearby and we will offload the unopened stuff for each other’s cats to try as a novelty, sometimes successfully!

    14. Cat and dog fosterer*

      Sorry to be a bit late in the weekend, but go with Friskies wet food if your cat will eat it! My cat had health issues when he got old, and the vet said that Friskies has a relatively high protein and fat content compared to other cheap brands. Both of those are important to health. The quality of Friskies isn’t as good as the high quality options, but apparently the balance of ingredients is better compared to most other ‘junk’ foods. He lived for a couple years on it and did well.

      I would avoid Whiskas if possible, unless it’s the only option, and Fancy Feast was a good second option when he wasn’t happy with Friskies.

  27. Church Blues*

    So last Sunday I went to my childhood church for what might be the last time (my mom was preforming with the choir and asked me to come). I’m not really sure how I feel about that. On one hand, the reasons I stopped attending are good, but on the other I’m sad to let the last big portion of my childhood go and see how it turned out.

    I used to be super involved, the whole family volunteered for everything but that just ended up being a bigger and bigger time drain (“oh, we really need you at this event, how will we manage without you, I wish you could come, guilt trip, sadface”). The congregation is dying, literally and figuratively (I might be the only under-40 left and half of the remaining congregants are over 80). My generation never returned after confirmation (8th grade) and I can’t blame them at all. They refuse to change a thing, the service and hymns are like an unending funeral dirge, and the elders keep having meetings about how to bring the younger crowd in while dismissing every single suggestion about what would make it easier for parents/more interesting to teens.

    On top of all that, I’m still just as devout as ever, but the beliefs of that particular institution don’t match my understanding of the bible at all. It took me many years to see the divide between what they SAID about loving your neighbor and what they DID to their neighbor. I haven’t told my family why I haven’t been going for the last year, and I know they would just be offended if I did. I dunno why I feel so sad about it, this wasn’t a sudden decision for me. There’s gonna be a huge stink if I ever do explain to my family, and even if I don’t it’s gonna be a neverending guilt trip and “oh, how about THIS week?” Luckily for me, I likely won’t have any pressure till the events start up again after the summer, so I have some time to plan for it, but I just feel bad and not at all relieved.

    Has anyone else been through this? I could really use some advice and all the people I would normally talk to aren’t an option here.

    1. Generic Name*

      Are you attending a different church? That’s the easiest explanation to explain why you don’t go to your natal church. But honestly, you don’t owe your family any explanation as to why you stopped attending. Especially if you think they’d argue with you or if they’ll be jerks about it. Guilt tripping and manipulating is jerk behavior, by the way. Your old church doesn’t want to change, and it’s not your job to fix them. If they ask why, can you breezily say you have other plans? Again, you don’t need to convince your family your decision is the correct one and you don’t need them to agree with you. As Captain Awkward says, reasons are for reasonable people.

      1. SuprisinglyADHD*

        I’m not attending a different church, I definitely would be moving to a different (protestant) denomination but I have no idea how to choose which. And it would no doubt be a HUGE deal to my family who I still have to interact with every day. Right now I’ve been coasting on sleeping in and just saying “no thanks” but I think after I manage to move it will be much less fraught.

    2. Cat Lady*

      I feel you on this. I’m part of a very liberal church that is brutally small these days. Like, decent services for us are 20-30 people; sometimes, particularly in summer, it’s much smaller. I think maybe 5-10 more join on our zoom, which we started during the pandemic, and might be helping or might just be siphoning off people from our in person service (as it does me!). It’s clear from the size of the building and the history that it used to be a big thriving place. As one of the few younger people, there’s a lot of pressure on me to figure out how to fix it and bring in people my age, but I’m overwhelmed by the task; nobody I know in my generation goes to church weekly, and I’m an outlier in my social circle. The mainline protestant stuff might feel too mild for people who are looking for religion in their lives; I think megachurches and more hardline congregations are doing better than us, which makes me sad as we’re goodhearted hippy types who focus more on community service than strict interpretation of the Bible or whatever. I don’t think it’s anything I can solve for us, although I got dragged into the board (uggghhhh) so I’ll give it a try with some outreach. I wish we had a childcare center so we could at least be of value to the area even if they don’t want to attend religious services, but that seems like a huge thing to build from scratch.

      1. SuprisinglyADHD*

        I have the opposite problem, as one of the few younger people I will forever be regarded as a kid and my opinions (even about other “kids” my age”) will forever be discounted. My church is the dead opposite of hippies, they’re super conservative and traditional and gender roles and devotion and chanting and if they weren’t protestant they could pass for hardcore catholic. It’s very “respect your elders and attend church as an obligation” rather than actually taking joy in worshiping and spreading love and care.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          I’d be so tempted to have fun with this all-knowing, superior attitude, as grim as it no doubt is. Know everything do you? “I’m sure you’ll come up with something that will attract the young people! You’re so wise! I have no idea how you do it!” If they make out that you’re flaky/unworthy/uncaring for not doing more, that would get a very shruggy “Maybe I am!” or “I could never fill such big shoes!” and “I barely manage to organise feeding my cat!” response. If they can’t be impressed or respectful to you, why even try to impress them? They’re dying for the guilt and negging to make you conform and buckle under, but I think they’ll be waiting a long time as you see right through them.

    3. Anonymous cat*

      I have no advice, I’m afraid,but I was wondering—real question!— what conclusions do they draw in these meetings? If they refuse to change anything?

      1. SuprisinglyADHD*

        There’s no real conclusion from the meetings, just a general consensus that “the youth” (my generation, fully adult with grade-school kids) should be coming to church as an obligation because that’s the way to worship, and bringing their kids to sunday school (which isn’t even during service anymore) to raise the next generation of godly people.
        Any attempt to make this more approachable to a family with very little free time is shot down. “It’s the children who are wrong,” etc.

    4. Ellen Ripley*

      You are not alone! I have branched away from my own family’s “traditions” (they aren’t necessarily religious but similar). I can relate to the shame and sadness that comes with leaving those traditions behind, even though it’s for my own well being.

      And I can also relate to not wanting to share my own choices to my family! They won’t understand no matter how I explain it, so I often feel like what’s the point? But my parents have taught me since childhood that they are entitled to any information they want from me so it’s been hard to not feel shame keeping this from them. In therapy we’ve been working on the thought that I get to decide who gets what information about me, and getting that information about me is a privilege, not a right.

      Speaking of, I don’t really have advice for you, but I can say talking this through with a therapist has been immensely helpful! There are so many feelings wrapped up in this topic for me, from expectations of my parents and society, to my own learned behavior of not advocating for my own needs, to whether my own needs are more important than pleasing someone else. Having someone supportive that you can go over this with is really helpful.

      So if you can talk to a therapist, I would definitely recommend giving it a try! Find someone who listens, who is open minded, and who you feel comfortable with. Don’t hesitate to try someone else if you don’t click with the first therapist!

      1. SuprisinglyADHD*

        I do have a psychiatrist who has been serving some aspects of a therapist, I’m gonna talk to them next appointment. You’re right on with “they are entitled to any information they want from me” and that’s been something I’ve been working on for years. Fortunately the most intrusive obnoxious family member has moved to another state, unfortunately they’re on a speakerphone call several times a week.

      2. Jackalope*

        One thing for people who are considering therapy dealing with this: I highly recommend searching for a therapist who has experience helping people with religion. I recommend this even more for those dealing with religious trauma. (The OP in this thread didn’t mention that so this is more of a general suggestion.) A lot of therapists don’t have a background in that and don’t understand both the roles religion can play in your life and also the depth of the trauma you can experience. So look for this, ask about it, etc.

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      The congregation is dying, literally and figuratively (I might be the only under-40 left and half of the remaining congregants are over 80)

      This sadly is the case for a lot of congregations. My husband’s parents’ church basically dissolved because there were so few congregants left, and it’s left a BIG hole in their lives, because it was their go-to social outlet for so many years, and so many of their activities and hobbies stemmed from it–making, say potholders and such for the annual funding sale and such.

      I think a big problem with your congregation is that they say they want a younger generation to join/participate, but it’s become first and foremost a social club, and they actually don’t want to make any changes since the current setup is providing their interactions in the way they want. Which is fine, but they’re going to end up like Husband’s parents in the end.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Also, you might check out the book Bowling Alone, which is about the shift in American social life and the dissolution of a lot of community ties that used to be considered “permanent.”

        1. Cat Lady*

          I really can’t quite figure out how it could look for milennials and below – they are very socially connected and interested in building community, but everyone I know is not at all interested in religious organizations (which – fair enough) and probably wasn’t raised in the church tradition so they have none of the nostalgia I have for service. Most, based on the conversations I’ve had, feel over-scheduled and can’t imagine giving up their Sunday mornings. I wondered if it would shift as people my age had kids, but nope, if anything they’re more jam-packed with sports stuff so they’re even less interested. We do have a recorded zoom service so you don’t *have* to come on demand, but that’s not at all hitting on the social element.

          1. Happily Retired*

            Our church is starting to draw in younger people because we are very active in racial and gender/sexuality equity and now starting a program on climate justice. At least in the southeast, there are still people in their thirties or so who grew up attending some sort of faith institution (and weren’t actively miserable) and are sort of looking around, but they want something consistent with their secular beliefs.

            It’s a slow, slow process, though, and once the majority of the population is two generations removed, I don’t know how institutionalized religion will survive, other than the authoritarian, fear-based versions.

      2. SuprisinglyADHD*

        It’s not even a social club for most members, there’s a couple of “cliques” (for lack of a better word), but most members are of the mindset that church is an obligation and not attending is a sign of the destruction of traditional family values or something along that line. I feel like if there were more inviting social things they might have more members. But that would require CHANGE *gasp*

    6. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      Yes, I have done and felt this too, and I didn’t even go to a Jerk Church. I grew up in a really lovely Lutheran congregation in a university town, which had a nice mix of regulars like my family, plus college students who would attend until they graduated and went on with their lives. Both of my parents were quite into the activities — my father was a music professor at the university, so every now and then he’d play the organ for service — but they were always careful to let me choose my own path. I kept going to church in college and grad school, then married a man who, because of bad experiences with a Jerk Church, was deeply uncomfortable attending any service. We stopped going to church, which I knew my parents didn’t like, but didn’t question. When we had our son, we talked for a long time about whether to get him baptized. Ultimately, we decided not to; that he could make that decision for himself when he was older. I know it broke my parents’ hearts, especially my father. (Honestly, I think my mom’s disappointment was entirely because now she wouldn’t have a picture of her infant grandson in The Family Baptismal Gown, the horror, how could I do this to her, what will people think rolling my eyes so hard)

      Anyway, I get it, to some degree. I HATE disappointing people. I dislike the idea of not following family traditions that go back to the Old Country. I think you need to grieve it, for real. You can feel grief over a lot of things other than a person’s death, and this is one of them, and it SUCKS, but there is no real alternative, is there? It’s not a situation you can change.

      I’m sorry you’re sad, which is perfectly normal. I hope the sadness rises soon.

      1. SuprisinglyADHD*

        Huh, that might be part of what’s tripping me up, it’s NOT ancient family tradition. Both my parents were raised and married catholic, they changed to this protestant church for my baptism (long story). We’re definitely considered one of the “core group” after 30+ years but not there because of older generations. I’ve known everyone in the church since infancy, it’s been a pillar of my life for over 30 years. There’s a huge disconnect between my experiences there as a child and teen, and my current opinion as an adult. It’s all mixed up.

        1. Tangerina Warbleworth*

          Interesting. I’m glad to hear you’re seeing a psychiatrist, which I did for a while too, along with regular talk therapy, which can be eye-opening. Your last two sentences really jumped out at me, because that is exactly what happened to me in therapy. You believe what you’re told as a kid, right, because of course you do, you’re a child! But then, as you grow into an adult, you get these odd “that can’t be right” feelings, and pretty soon, you’re second guessing everything you think and feel. You’re right, it’s all mixed up.

          Here is what I know: if you’re already carefully applying good critical thinking skills to your situation (as you clearly are), then you are really smart, and trusting your own intelligence will help you machete through the second-guessing. Also, talking regularly to a good therapist is f*cking amazing.

          You might also want to start reading Captain Awkward. There are a lot of questions on there about coping with super-conservative religious beliefs, without condemning the idea of faith itself.

    7. Busy Middle Manager*

      I go to church sometimes and mine is popular because it has a “built it and they will come” mentality. No pressure. You want to go to the pancake breakfast? Cool. You don’t? Not going to ask twice. This ironically seems to attract more people. There is also more of a chance that people like me will randomly show up without preplanning, because we know we can come and go, going to Mass isn’t going to turn into a huge obligation.

      However, your comment reminds me of the circuit of AA meetings around here. Some do die natural deaths. Only difference is that no physical building is left after that happens, but sometimes it is inevitable. for example, as your case, one meeting near me was dominated by late silent generation types and has a stuffy way of doing things (men talk to men, women to women) and had a smoke break even though it’s only one hour, which always becomes awkward for newcomers who now need to make small talk with grumpy old people. At another location, three meetings got consolidated into one since all of the young people who used to go to the later meetings seemed to have left during covid and when some came back, they went to different meetings. We could never get momentum on those meetings again to warrant renting the space.

    8. SuprisinglyADHD*

      Just realized I forgot to switch my name back to “church blues” so I could find these easily, whoops.

  28. Invisible fish*

    Mattress pads specifically designed to keep sleepers cool- recommendations of what and where to purchase?

    1. North Wind*

      Brooklyn Bedding “Luxury Cooling Mattress Protector”.

      Last year I got a new mattress and with it, this mattress pad. The top of the mattress itself is made out of the same material as the mattress protector, so I don’t know if that is extra cooling or makes no difference.

      I will sometimes wake up hot in the night – if I have too many covers on. But if I get up to use the restroom – by the time I get back and lay down the bed feels noticeably cool again, to the point I want the covers back on. It’s been great.

    2. MissCoco*

      Very expensive, but my husband and I have had the 8 sleep pod for a few years now and it is worth the money for us, especially since we’ve lived in some poorly cooled apartments and I have a sleep disorder. It’s important to note that it does cool *relative* to the room temperature though. It uses about 1 liter of water to circulate and we’ve had no issues with leaking or performance.

  29. Lynne679*

    Are there any financial podcasts you guys recommend? I’m looking for something like “I Will Teach You to Be Rich” because it focuses on how to manage your money to help you live the life you want to live. I’ve listened to “Bad with Money” on and off. I don’t like Dave Ramsey for obvious reasons.

      1. Zona the Great*

        He’s such a blowhard. I wonder what life would be like for him without the luck and privilege.

    1. Damn it, Hardison!*

      For a very casual, conversational vibe I like The Frugal Friends podcast. It’s focused more on the everyday money things (how to save on groceries/bills, how to rein in emotional spending, etc.) than topics like investing, although it touches on that a little too.

    2. VermilionOwl*

      Try “How to Money” from Joel Larsgaard and Matt Altmix. They are informative and entertaining, and there’s an extensive back catalogue to check out if you have a specific question. I would start with episode 302 about the money gears – it’s their answer to the perennial question about what to do first with your money. They have a big focus on spending money on what you value in the here and now while also saving and investing wisely for the future.

    3. PX*

      Money Feels – less financial advice directly but talks a lot about how money shapes our lives. One of the hosts is an entrepreneur/financial influencer with actual credibility and I love many of her takes (feminism, more rich people should be socialists etc)

    4. Stephanie*

      I like Money with Katie! Not sure your age, but she’s definitely targeting millennials/Gen Z.

    5. IT Manager*

      I like Stacking Benjamins (although you have to get used to their bro-y style) and the Bigger Pockets Money podcast (not their other real estate one).

      I also now listen to Your Money Your Wealth even though frankly it’s a bit annoying – but ppl write in with specific questions and situations and they give advice , I learn something new frequesntly.

    6. Raia*

      I’m a YNABer and love short 3-10 min podcast episodes as a reminder to keep on the budgeting path, so I love the YNAB podcast

    7. Emma*

      I like So Money with Farnoosh Torabi!

      She covers a lot of different topics, with a few episodes a week.

  30. Stephanie*

    I am about to do a cross-country drive as part of a move (about 2200 miles). Any tips? Planning to break it up over 4 days.

    1. LNLN*

      When my husband and I did this 35 years ago, we found it helpful to get up, drive for a couple hours, then stop for breakfast. I don’t know why, but it made the driving seem easier.

    2. Pieforbreakfast*

      Don’t push the gas tank level- if you’re less than a quarter tank stop for a fill.
      Instead of rest areas for long breaks or a picnic lunch, try finding a park in a town on the route to stop at. This will take a bit more time since you have to leave the highway but worth it in my opinion.
      Try and get some exercise every day- walk around the neighborhood you wind up staying the night in, stop at a park/river/lake/attraction to explore, use the hotel pool. Driving that many miles is hard on the body.

    3. Donkey Hotey*

      If you’re doing 2200 miles in four days, that’s a pretty heavy pace. Be gentle with yourself. Generally speaking, your day over day mileage will decrease because it can be incredibly tiring.

      I agree with LNLN about getting on the road for a few before stopping to eat. It helps get you moving in the morning.

      Unless you already have reservations, try to get a hotel on the opposite side of town. I mean, if you’re heading west, get a place on the west side of town so you don’t have to drive through morning rush hour.

      Again, it seems like time is tight, so try to combine stops (gas and meals).

      Remember that fatigue kills critical thinking. If you can decide where or if you should stop, stop!

      1. Stephanie*

        Ok, I doubled checked. It’s closer to 2000 miles (but point taken). I have some flexibility to add a day. I’m going from the Midwest to the Southwest, so it gets less populated with potential stops as I go west (which is some of how I ended up with the four day thing).

    4. Mobie's Mom Now*

      I agree with what’s already been said! But also, have some good books to listen to! I dove 10 hours to WI from NE OH every couple months, and honestly, having a good book to listen to for a big chunk of time is super helpful to keep me engaged and helps with the monotony. Podcasts would work, and good parlays for variety, but a lot of books are 7-10 hours, so I find it works really well for me, and I hope it does for you, too! Good luck and safe driving!

    5. Rebecca*

      Take a cooler, and pack lots of snack foods for lunch. A quick pull over for noms and a walk around for lunch really saves on time. I pretty only eat snacks on road trips now–I pack instant oatmeal and tea for breakfast and cheese, cold cuts, & nuts for lunch. Oh, also pack a bowl, spoon, and cup.

    6. Ricotta*

      Time it so you’re not blinded by the sun (either coming up or going down). It’s worth it to drive a bit longer at safer times of day than to try to push through with poor visibility.

      Be aware of the wildlife behavior patterns in the places you’ll be driving; for example in the NEUS, I’m aware of when the deer are active and when they bed down.

      Don’t recirculate the air in the vehicle. This leads to less oxygen over time, and makes you drowsy and thick-headed. Always keep fresh outer air coming in.

      Apply sunscreen and cover up with clothing. Most cars have windshield protection from UV rays, but many do not have it on the side windows. You can easily burn on the left side of your face and body if you are driving all day (assuming you’re in the US, of course).

    7. Zona the Great*

      Bring tissues, toilet paper, and plastic bags for trash. Bring driving shoes or sandals. Download your favorite shows you don’t need to watch but that bring you comfort to have on in the background as noise. I also like to download comedy as it keeps my mind occupied. Bring treats that will satisfy you so you don’t have to stop for gas station junk. I’d avoid big meals as it will zap your energy to keep going. Think salads and the like. Save meals for your hotel nights. Trashy magazines you don’t normally read like People is also a nice treat for road trips.

      1. Rosemary*

        I think gas station junk (and fast food) is the best part of road trips because I don’t typically eat that stuff often otherwise :) If on a road trip – it doesn’t count :)

    8. Texan In Exile*

      Forget bladder training. Pee when you can, especially if you’re driving after dark and find a crowded, well-lit place with a bathroom. You never know when another one will appear.

    9. WoodswomanWrites*

      I’m assuming you’re doing this by yourself and not splitting driving with someone else.

      Here’s a variation on driving before breakfast. For me, going with no food at all in the morning makes me spaced out so I eat a banana for initial energy just to get something in my system. It’s quick and easy, and gets me going for a while before the full breakfast stop.

      Bring finger food you can eat while driving (on long safe stretches of course, not city driving or windy roads where you need to have both hands on the wheel). Pick items that are both easy to munch on and make you happy. My go-to items besides bananas are berries, chips of some sort–tortilla, pita, veggie–and cookies for quick energy.

      I tend to bring my own food for lunches and snacks and typically stop at restaurants only for dinner. Having my own meals gives me a lot more flexibility where I take breaks. You can stop when you need a rest rather than having to keep going.

      If you must do this trip in four days so be it, but if there’s any way you can stretch it out by a day, it would help a lot. I find that after two full days of driving it can be exhausting to add more miles. It also gives you time to visit cool places that you didn’t know about until you see them on the road. Exploration gets you out of the car and gives you more energy. For example, I discovered a park with ancient rock art in Nevada and a state historical park in Texas.

      Make sure your car is in tiptop shape. Have a mechanic do a once-over, change the oil, make sure tires are good to go and that you have enough wiper fluid, etc.

      Create a safety plan in case your car breaks down, etc. Are you driving through the desert in the summer? Bring a couple gallons of water to keep in the car. Will it be cold? Have warm blankets or a sleeping bag. Will you be in areas with minimal traffic and no cell service? New-ish cars have GPS tracking that you can set up. Because I often hike or drive in remote areas, I carry an emergency locator beacon, but that’s not necessary if you’re doing a one-off trip on major roads.

      Depending on where and when you’re traveling, sadly wildfire smoke can be an issue throughout the West in the summer and fall months. If you’re sensitive to air quality, that’s something to think about when choosing your route.

      Now I’m getting excited about doing a road trip. Fortunately I’ve got one planned in July.

      1. Once too Often*

        Oh, yes to unexpected stops. Moving from the eastern US to the Midwest & outside St Louis saw signs for a park at the confluence of the Missouri & Mississippi rivers. Wow! Go see it if you have the chance.

      2. Stephanie*

        There’s potential to add a day! I just need to figure out where. I’m going from the Midwest to the Southwest and it gets way less populated toward the end of the trip. But that’s a good point about the fatigue.

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          If that’s your route, there are so many incredible places to explore in the Southwest. I suggest avoiding the well-known national parks which tend to be jammed and require advance reservations, places like Grand Canyon, Arches, Zion, Bryce, and Canyon de Chelly. Monument Valley on the Navajo Reservation will also be packed. Smaller parks as well as sites on other federal, state, and tribal lands will be less busy and are still spectacular.

          The Bureau of Land Management has incredible places. There’s Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Call or stop in at the visitor centers for recommendations of places to go and guidance about road conditions. If you’re physically comfortable doing so, slot canyons are fun to poke around in.

          Not sure if it’s on your route, but Flagstaff is a cool town. There are beautiful walks in Coconino National Forest outside of town if you want trees and shade instead of canyons and you’ll see less people.

          If you’re open to sharing how it went afterward, it would be fun to read about your journey in a future post. I always like hearing about others’ experiences and destinations to check out for myself.

          Have a great trip!

    10. tab*

      My husband I did this last month. (Atlanta to Santa Barbara) I booked hotels and restaurants for dinner each night of the trip, so we knew exactly where we were going, and where we would stop. I made sure that we got to walk ~ 1 mile to get to dinner so we could stretch our legs. We also stopped every couple of hours to walk and stretch our legs. We also listened to a couple of audio books on the drive which was fun. We had lovely weather, which made it very nice. I hope you have a good drive too!

    11. Not A Manager*

      I agree with a lot of the previous suggestions. Yes bring your own daytime meals/car snacks, yes bring good listening materials. I would add, in addition to stopping frequently, be sure that you actually stretch whenever you stop. Not just walk around, although that’s good. Real stretch your arms, touch your toes kind of stretches. I bring an exercise band in the car.

      Also, be aware that some audiobook narrators/podcasters can be incredibly soporific. Have some backups. I usually cue up some loud obnoxious music for those last few hours.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Something I like to do is explore the airwaves when I’m near towns large enough to have public radio stations. I’ve found all kinds of cool local music, interviews, etc. That’s a good way to keep yourself alert.

        I echo the suggestions about a cooler so you can have fresh snacks like fruit, carrots, cheese, yogurt, etc.

    12. SuprisinglyADHD*

      Have luggage and hotel room supplies that are separate from the stuff you’re moving. Changes of clothes, toiletries, slippers, bathing suit, meds, and any stuff you use every day. Set up a box of stuff for eating at picnics and hotel rooms (paper towels, disposable plates and utensils, travel mugs and your favorite tea, a cutting board and knife with a cover, sponge/soap, even non-dairy condiments like mustard or lemon juice) Frozen microwave dinners pack very well in a cooler, but it’s easiest to store them in one of those “vacuum bags” they make for bulky clothing so the boxes don’t get soggy. Try some out at home ahead of time to figure out which ones you like. Keep a small cooler where you can reach it while driving. Fill it with bottled drinks, cheese sticks, ziplocs of pre-chopped fruit or veggies, crackers, cookies, nuts, candy, anything to keep you hydrated and sated between meals while you drive. Talk ahead of time about who is driving for how long, time between rest stops (for bathroom, food, or stretching), and who is in charge of navigation, and finding stops along the way for food, gas, lodging or bathrooms. Try to be extra patient with each other, it’s ridiculously easy to annoy each other in such a tight space. Passengers can put on headphones for a break, listen to music or a podcast or a show, driver has full control over the radio/infotainment system.
      For hotels, check reviews on google maps, see what people are complaining about and whether it will bother you. For instance, we didn’t mind old furniture or a grumpy front desk, but crappy showers or no microwave were deal-breakers. When you call or go to the front desk to reserve a room, ask about the things that matter most to you, sometimes things have changed since the reviews. If you’re unsure, you can ask to see a room before booking, they will usually allow you to leave your ID at the desk so you can do so. Check the mattress for bugs and firmness, the shower and sink for hot water/pressure, number and condition of towels, and behind the furniture for bug traps.
      Best of luck to you! Long driving trips can be super stressful but if you can make it feel more like a road trip it can be a little more fun. If there’s any way to add an extra day for padding, either to stop and do some touristy thing that looks cool on the way (even for an hour), or to recuperate at the end, it can help ease some of the stress.

    13. So many road trips*

      I have found I can drive all day with no problem… as long as the sun is out. Once dusk hits, I really struggle. For example, when I drove from Michigan to Atlanta, I had to stop on the way because I left later than planned and started to really struggle when it got dark. However, on the way home I was on the road around dawn, was able to do it in one go, and got home just as the sun was setting.

      Agreeing on the snacks for the drive. Having something to munch on helped break up the monotony. I usually have to stop every 2-3 hours to use the restroom (I drink a lot of water when I drive), so I calculate that into my drive time.

      If you have where you are going to stop planned out, also plan out dinner. I would always do carry out for dinner as a treat and something to look forward to on road trips and would order ahead when I got to my final stop before reaching my destination. Most websites will let you schedule what time your food should be ready. Then I’d grab dinner on the way to the hotel so once I got to the room, I wouldn’t have to worry about leaving again until morning.

  31. Curious*

    Should I get an American Express credit card?

    I saw a thread on Reddit recently where someone said American Express has fantastic customer service and they always back the customer if there are issues with a purchase. It piqued my interest, mostly because a few months ago I bought a child’s size hoodie on PoshMark, was sent an adult size, couldn’t get a refund, and my Mastercard refused to do a chargeback because it “wasn’t materially different.”

    My Mastercard has no fee and 2% cash back on all purchases, but the free American Express card has 3% back on groceries and online retailers (which is where I do most of my spending). So that’s another thing in their favor.

    I’ve only had the one credit card my whole adult life though (I do pay it off every month). Do you guys all have more than one credit card? I guess it would be good to have a backup? Does anyone like American Express?

    1. Lurker*

      I had an Amex and I canceled it because I didn’t like the customer service, and I only earned rewards in Amex points – not cash back. (Could be b/c I had the most basic card level.) I have a Discover card and they have excellent customer service. I’m a little nervous about what might happen once Capital One officially takes over.

      The Discover IT card has no fee, and offers 1% cash back on every purchase, and rotating 5% cash back every quarter on different things – like one month it might be 5% on dining, groceries, and Amazon; the next it might be 5% back on home improvement stores, etc.

      I have a second card, which is a Visa, as an alternative. Most places take Discover now, but for a long time in the earlier days (I’ve had mine since 1999?) it wasn’t accepted everywhere.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        If it helps any, I’ve been banking with Capital One for gosh, almost 20 years, including checking/savings, credit cards, and car loans, and I have no complaints!

        1. Lurker*

          It doesn’t actually help! Capitol One has a bad reputation for being very predatory towards lower income/people with bad credit so it’s also about that. I’ll probably keep my Discover card for a awhile, but shift to using my Visa as my primary card. I have no loyalty to Capitol One and no qualms about closing my account if they’re shitty about stuff/change the benefits, etc.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Huh. I was low income with terrible credit for the first ten years I banked with them and still never had issues, but fair enough. I hope it goes well for you!

            1. Lurker*

              Exactly; they targeted you because of your income/credit score. Possibly hoping to “earn” more fees from your “bad habits” – overdrafts, cash advances, not paying your bill on time/in full, interest fees, etc.

    2. YNWA*

      I used to have an AmEx and I loved the customer service and the fact that it provided insurance for rental cars; however, it’s limited in where it can be used. We rarely used it, but it was good in a crisis.

    3. Camelid coordinator*

      I like my American Express card. It was especially handy because for decades the hubs and I both got paid once a month, both towards the end of the month, and we used it to even out our cash flow. I convert the points into gift cards for holiday gifts or splurges at Athleta or Williams-Sonoma. (I feel downright thrifty buying Le Creuset with Amex points!) The couple times I have had a dispute with a merchant I’ve been happy with how quickly they took my side and worked things out.

    4. londonedit*

      Loads of places here (UK) don’t take American Express. I suppose the fees must be too high? Anyway that’s probably not a concern in the US but could be something to consider if you travel a lot.

      1. Lexi Vipond*

        Yes, I feel like the only time I ever hear of American Express it’s on signs saying that it’s not accepted. I’ve never been curious enough to remember to find out why!

        1. fhqwhgads*

          In general, AmEx has lower fees for the cardholder and higher fees for the merchant. Visa/MC generally have higher fees for the cardholder, but lower fees for the merchant. That’s one of the reasons AmEx is generally considered good for the cardholder, but also one of the reasons they’re often not accepted by (usually smaller) merchants.

    5. Morning Reading*

      Can’t speak to the AmEx card but yes, I have more than one for different uses. I know of others who do it that way. One I use for most things i buyout and about and I carry it around. Another that has all the recurring charges/subscriptions, things that don’t vary much month to month, and I don’t carry it around. (The monthly nut card.) A third one that I hardly ever use, basically backup if the first one is ever declined or frozen. I’ve had that one for the longest, decades now, and I keep it for the longevity of my credit history. I’ve also used it for those zero interest loans occasionally over the years.

    6. Kay*

      So I do have an Amex for the customer service/rental car coverage reasons, and I will say those services have really, really gone downhill (as have what your points are worth). There is a window in which you can easily dispute charges, but it is no guarantee. Businesses hate AMEX (ask me how I know) and if you go overseas it is often not accepted – this is in part due to their fees and pro customer stance, although more recently any one of the high benefit cards will charge as much as an Amex. I think the Visa Sapphire card also used to offer rental car coverage, though I heard they were getting rid of that – so definitely check if that is important for you.

      Depending on which Amex card you get, the fee is different, as are the points for different things. So you can get free TSA/Global Entry, monthly Uber credits and 5x points on groceries for one – but 5x points on travel, access to travel lounges and travel concierges on another, etc.

      I have multiple cards, pay them off every month, and simply look at them as tools that I use to do different things.

    7. don'tbeadork*

      Diversifying your credit can be helpful. I have two credit cards, one for pet related/hobby stuff and one for everything else (emergency car rentals, the water heater decided that 2 AM on a Sunday was the perfect time to spring a leak, unexpected medical expenses, that kind of thing). It helps to keep my credit scores up because with two cards I can almost always show that I have less than 20% of my available credit in use, even if I did have a sudden cat surgery to pay for. Also, with two different credit cards (Visa and MC in my case), odds are if I need to pay with credit they’ll take one or the other.

      That said, I’d be careful about which card I got and which of the two I used more heavily if I were you. If you carry a balance you’ll want to keep an eye on the interest you’re being charged.

    8. AcceptingAmex*

      Be aware there are retailers who take Visa/MC but not Amex. So if your goal is to have a single card it m.j may not get the best choice.

      Personally, I prefer to have at least two cards in case one is glitching or otherwise temporarily not working when I really need it (thus does happen periodically). In this situation, I would have no problems using an Amex as the secondary card.

    9. ElastiGirl*

      I have had an American Express card most of my adult life. I love it.

      When I was a college student backpacking through Europe, I was pickpocketed. I called AmEx to cancel my lowest-level, college-student card. They messengered a new card to my youth hostel that day, asked if I needed cash, asked if my passport was stolen and did I need help replacing it, offered to help me cancel anything else and offered me free international calling if I needed to call my parents.

      Some 10+ years later, my parents retired and took off for a year traveling through Europe. I made them get an American Express card before they left. Six months later, my dad died suddenly in Rome. My mom was, of course, devastated and paralyzed. She didn’t know what to do. I told her, call American Express.

      They did everything. They moved her to a new hotel so she wouldn’t have to stay where she’d been with my dad. They dealt with the embassy to cancel my dad’s passport. They arranged all her travel home. They found a mortuary. They handled all the transport/paperwork/customs for my dad’s dead body.

      Maybe their customer service has declined over the years, I don’t know. But they were magnificent to my mom.

      I have moved up from my original card. I now have a platinum card. I recognize it’s a luxury, but it’s worth it to me. I use the membership points for hotel upgrades. I like some of the travel services. I use the special seating and ticketing presales for shows. And I like the fact that it has no credit limit, because I know I can handle a temporary emergency immediately and figure it out later.

      An AmEx card is far from necessary for most people. But because of my family’s history, I will always carry one.

    10. Dancing Otter*

      I like my Amex blue card. They took very good care of my daughter when Chase cut off access to her accounts while she was traveling. I haven’t needed much customer service other than freezing and replacing a lost card once; they were very good with doing that quickly. (Unlike my bank, that took 10-15 business days – I joked they were sending it pony express, but the pony died.)
      Whichever card you choose, though, I think it’s important to have more than one credit card, as long as you have the self-discipline not to run up running balances on all of them. I probably don’t need eight cards, but definitely more than one.

      1) If you do need to pay something off over time, you can use another for regular charges and avoid paying interest on the combined balance.
      2) It increases your available credit, thereby reducing your credit utilization percentage. That’s good for your credit score two ways.
      3) You’re creating a relationship with more than one lender, which might help when you want a car loan or mortgage later. Most of the big finance corporations have multiple affiliates, and often M/C or Visa cards are actually offered by a regular bank that participates in those brands. (This is part of why I have accounts at more than one bank.)
      4) If there’s a problem with one, you usually still have access to the other account. Obviously not if your whole wallet is stolen, but if one gets frozen or you forget your pin or something.

  32. Me*

    I have had the American Express everyday blue cash card for decades now, and it sounds like this is the card you’re talking about? I haven’t had issues with it at all and American Express is getting accepted at more and more places now. One of the biggest benefits is that American Express offers their own rental car insurance as primary insurance. You need to call them in advance, choose which level to sign up for (I choose the highest level, which is something like $25 for the duration of your car rental) and after that, when you use your American Express card to rent a car, your rental insurance will automatically kick in and you will be charged that $25 to be covered. I’ve never had to use the car rental insurance but I read so many great things about the coverage that I’m happy to pay that amount and never use it, than worry about damaging the rental and getting charged much more if someone hit me or I got into an accident.

    I’ve only once had a fraud issue with this card, and in this case, American Express noticed and notified me and removed the charge before it even showed up on a statement for me. So no complaints here!

    1. Fibetdaay*

      I am biased since I have had the card since 1987. Customer service is unparalleled. I would not have it as my only card obviously is there are places that don’t take it, but they offer lots of bonuses not including cashback. The Car Rental is a big one, but they also offer extended warranties on large purchases as well as several other benefits. I rarely talk to customer service outside the US, and even their overseas agents are quite knowledgeable.

      They are also very good about backing up refunds on purchases if you make a dispute. I’ve disputed quality of items, non-delivery of items, etc., and only one case over the many years I’ve had the card have they backed up the seller.

      I wouldn’t leave home without it ☺️

  33. Broken scones*

    Hello! A few weeks ago, I commented asking for general advice/tips for a dental implant. I wanted to say thank you to everyone that commented and that I had my surgery yesterday; the procedure went well overall but eating has been a challenge… I am already daydreaming about when I can eat crunchy bacon, lol. I still have to wait for the crown of course but so far so good *fingers crossed*

    1. Zona the Great*

      Getting used to eating with the gap will happen quickly! The only upside I found that I still miss is being able to really clean the surfaces of the teeth next to it. Then when you get your crown, you’ll be remarked at how odd it will feel for a couple of days!

      1. fhqwhgads*

        Yes! You’ve just reminded me that when I got my crown a zillion years ago, after it went in I couldn’t stop playing with it with my tongue for like…a week at least. It wasn’t a conscious thing. I kept catching myself doing it, or my partner would be like “what’s wrong with your mouth” because she could tell I was doing something, but of course my mouth was closed so it wasn’t obvious what. I’d completely forgotten about that.

  34. Double A*

    How do you get yourself to get rid of things that aren’t completely useless but are really busted beyond true usefulness. Also that are bulky. I’m doing a clean out and I really need to get rid of some of the following:

    Pillows
    Shoes
    A suitcase

    These are not “gently used.” They are heavily used, soiled, etc. A lot of these things were secondhand in the first place. Do I just…throw them in the trash? Any other ideas?

    There is one of those shoes+clothes recycling drop offs in my area, so I’ll do that.

    1. Zona the Great*

      Ugh doesn’t it make you feel so awful to put things in a landfill? I hate the feeling. But what else can we do? I just try to reject as much as a I can and take good care of my things. But shoes especially are not designed to be able to be cobbled and used for life. I also take my things to the clothes recycler but I also wish I had the nerve to pull up to encampments and offer my nice stuff to the women there. But I live alone and the encampments are all along my City’s “blade” and is not safe for me. Maybe I’ll bring friends with me one day.

      1. Eucerin*

        People living in encampments want money. They’re not going to be super jazzed if people show up with bags of used clothes in questionable condition and depending on how strung out they are, that could get dicey.

        It’s okay to just throw stuff out sometimes, I promise.

    2. WellRed*

      Please don’t drop off unusable stuff for donation. It costs the organizations money to sort and trash. Just throw in trash. I had to do that with some decent items recently that I had been unable to rehome and that are not in season to donate. I feel better not looking at it anymore. We can only do what we can.

      1. Double A*

        Definitely wasn’t planning on that! I do have a pile to donate but that’s all in better condition.

    3. Eucerin*

      “ but are really busted beyond true usefulness”

      If that’s the case then I’m sorry but they’re actually completely useless. I know it sucks to throw things out but sometimes that’s the only option.

    4. Eucerin*

      Also things like pillows can’t necessarily be donated easily to thrift stores and such for probably the same reasons that mattresses and other bedding can’t. And that’s assuming they were in good condition to begin with. But you’ve described them
      As already being second hand and quite soiled, along with the other items (shoes, suitcases, etc) also not being in usable condition. Please just trash them.

    5. Spacewoman Spiff*

      Whatever’s really worn, just close your eyes and throw it out. I used to work at a library and we regularly had people “donate” absolutely unusable books. Water damaged, outdated, crawling with bugs, you name it. As soon as they were gone we had to do what they couldn’t, and carry the books out to the dumpsters before the bugs could infest our collection. Sometimes, unfortunately, it is just garbage, so better to save the step and toss it yourself.

    6. goddessoftransitory*

      If your local Goodwill or similar has a recycling policy, you can drop them off there and specify it’s for bulk recycling, not for regular donation. Be sure to check their website to make certain they can do that first, though!

    7. fhqwhgads*

      Your choices in this scenario are:
      post them for free on something like freecycle or buy nothing or craigslist, being honest about the condition, and if someone wants it for some reason (repurposing, for example), they’ll take it.
      If nobody does, then the trash is the appropriate place.

      1. Double A*

        Thanks! Yeah I think I will post a few of the things to my local listserv. But some things definitely just need to be tossed.

        I just need the moral support from strangers on the Internet to do it. Once I actually get going I’m sure I’ll find it hard to stop, it’s just hard to start!

        1. the cat's pajamas*

          I’m not sure about pillows but sometimes animal shelters will take things like old blankets to use for animal bedding. You could call around and ask your local ones.

    8. Morning Reading*

      I picture what will likely happen if/when I die to all the stuff I haven’t throw out yet. Which probably means it’s ultimately going to landfill anyway. If you don’t want to use it, and it’s in poor enough condition that no one else would want to use it, you’re doing your descendants or whoever cleans up after you a favor by getting rid of it now.
      So donate usable things when you can, recycle what you can, but toss unusable stuff before someone else has to do it for you.

    9. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      Regardless of condition, some women shelters will take suitcases because they are in dire need! As long as it still zips, they’ll take itñ

    10. Double A*

      Thanks for these tips everyone! I know there comes a point in every object’s life that it ends up in the landfill, it’s just hard for me to say, “Now is this moment.” But like…I have shoes that have served me well for 10 years, I can let those go right even if they’re not literally disintegrating off my feet right? (Joking…kind of).

      Also, I am definitely not considering donating any of this. I have separate bags of items to donate that I think are in good enough shape for reuse.

      1. Generic Name*

        What about following a bit of Marie Kondo’s advice? Thank the items for their service and feel gratitude for how much use you got out of the items?

    11. BikeWalkBarb*

      With the pillows you might ask an animal shelter in your area if they could use them.

      I’m always pitching participation in your local Buy Nothing group. Even when stuff doesn’t have utility someone may want to take it apart and use pieces for an art project or something.

    12. Firebird*

      Do you have anyone who will throw it out for you? When my mom moved to memory care, my sisters kept handing me stuff/trash to “put in my car.” When I came back (from the trash chute), I heard them saying that I even took long enough to make it plausible.

      I can’t throw my own stuff out though, and my family knows it. I just ask my kids if it is good enough to donate (usually it isn’t) and it soon disappears. I really have no idea what happened to the broken futon, non-functional sewing machine, and crappy charger. My kids are really good at getting rid of their stuff.

    13. mreasy*

      We have textile recycling at my farmer’s market which is wear I take old towels, sheets w holes, etc, but otherwise you’ve just gotta toss them.

    14. Cat and dog fosterer*

      If it’s a large suitcase then there’s one possible option. My neighbor goes to the Caribbean a couple times a year and brings items for animal rescues. She looks for suitcases that are dying, because she won’t bring them back. They have to be near the maximum size, not carry-on, but she’s not bothered at all by stains or heavily used provided they’ll survive one last trip. She finds them on Buy Nothing, but I’m not sure how to find someone who is making that kind of trip in your area.

    15. Csethiro Ceredin*

      I’ve never figured out what to do with pillows or old shoes either, other than throwing them out.

      But I use my two worn out (or in one case, too big for modern weight restrictions) suitcases as boxes in my condo’s storage locker. They have handles and wheels, so they’re better than most other kinds of boxes. Of course it would depend what you’re storing and where, but they were great for things like the big Christmas garland.

  35. Enough*

    These sound like they need to be thrown away. Pillows absolutely get thrown out. Shoes not easily cleanable and clearly broken in so they conform to your foot should be thrown out. Anything that can not be made reasonably clean or miss happen show be thrown out.

  36. Italy Question*

    Anyone know Milan? I am going to be in Milan for an event and already have a lot of the major stuff booked with other people (Last Supper Duomo, etc.). I have one day totally to myself. I was debating if it was worth taking a day trip somewhere (Florence seems a bit far but doable, I’m intrigued by the idea of seeing the arena in Verona). Totally by yourself, whole day, what would you do.

    1. Italy Question*

      I should note I am very comfortable doing a lot of walking and taking public transport.

    2. tab*

      I loved Verona when I went there. Plenty to see in that lovely town on the Adige River, and the locals were very friendly and helpful.

    3. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Torino should be an easy train ride away from Milan and is a lovely city to visit!

    4. OaDC*

      Lake Como is doable in a day from Milan. Or maybe one of the other lakes that are supposed to be less crowded.

      Lots of good options. Everyone likes Torino. Verona is nice, and if something there is particularly interesting to you that may be your best bet.

      1. Annie Edison*

        I loved Lake Como! It’s been years since I was there, but at the time there was a sort of day pass deal for the ferry and I had a delightful time exploring some of the smaller towns around the lake

    5. Ciao bella*

      I absolutely loved the certosa di Pavia. It’s a monastery complex with incredible marble details. This was the only religious site where I’ve ever felt something spiritual come over me and just stood there watching the sun’s reflections on the archway.

  37. Bookworm in Stitches*

    Probably posting on the late side for the weekend traffic…
    Some of the TV shows that have been discussed here are not available on the East coast of the US, like the Great British Sewing Bee and other shows from the UK. Is there anyone here from the east coast who has successfully subscribed to a VPN and been able to watch those shows? I’m wondering what is a safe, reliable VPN. About how much per month will that run? And then if I’m correct, the only thing that’s doing is blocking my location data. I still need to subscribe to something else which has those shows? For another monthly payment?

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I have NordVPN which deservedly has the highest ratings in tech blogs. It unblocks everything, even the BBC iPlayer which is notoriously hard for VPNs to fool. I use it in Germany to watch UK channels on my iPad or TV. Nord should work anywhere in the US.

      I’ve EMed their customer service with specialist questions and always found them to be very knowledgeable about which settings to use for my devices – e.g. I had to delete my Safari cache & history, reboot, set my iPad to UK region and some UK channels also required a UK time setting. I had to change DNS too.

      My last renewal was ~120 Euros prepaid for 15 months but US may be cheaper. As always longer deals are cheaper but you can pay monthly. There is a free 30-day trial.

      No additional fee to watch the UK free channels: BBC, ITV, Channel 5, Channel4, UKTVplay etc. I don’t know which channel has Sewing Bee. When I subscribed to Amazon Prime UK I could watch their TV shows too, several reruns I’d missed from UK channels.

      I now regard a good VPN as essential for online security too – I have mine on permanently, ipad & iphone.

        1. Lillian*

          Ah, but I see I didn’t do any if the stuff you described, didn’t think of asking.

          Ryan George on YouTube regularly has deals with NordVPN – try some of his recent videos for a discount.

          1. Lillian*

            Perhaps I should try buying it again, I was so bummed out about not being able to watch the old Star Trek series on Prime.

            1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

              I watched some UK Prime series & movies using NordVPN until I’d seen all their ones I liked.
              You do get ads now for non-Amz programs and you can’t buy the ad-free option from outside the UK because it requires a UK credit card – basic Prime does not.

            2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

              The complexity of what settings to change varies according to your device. Also, best to use a device you don’t use for work, because of needing to change several settings such as region and possibly time.

              Apple devices are pretty easy once you get used to what to change and these don’t vary after IOS iupdates, whereas my LG TV is much more complicated and I’ve had to redo it after the some LG sware updates or wifi outages.

              I think NordVPN or ExpressVPN should work for all tablets & laptops on wifi, but maybe not for all TV makes with routers.

        2. allathian*

          VPN can help you get past geographical restrictions, but they aren’t supposed to let you watch services you don’t subscribe to.

          1. Lillian*

            Wha- no, of course not? I was upset at being on the Amazon website, seeing all the shows and movies available on Prime, decided to buy Prime and then found out that ‘lol nope none of those shows are available in your country!’
            Then bought NordVPN, changed to another country, and nope, you can’t even open the app or any of the other steaming apps I already had!

    2. anon for this*

      You will likely not have much luck with a VPN if trying to watch things like the Great British Sewing Bee. It’s hosted on the BBC iPlayer and in the UK, you need a television license to watch the BBC/the iPlayer which you will not be able to purchase from the US as its linked to an address. In my experience, VPNs are virtually useless for iPlayer, the BBC is very good at detecting them.

      Generally, if you’re trying to use a VPN as a work around, you won’t be paying for a subscription because there won’t be much point in making an account from the US for UK streaming services – you likely won’t be allowed to do so as you’ll need a UK address.

      Sorry that’s not more helpful, but I’ve found VPNs to be less and less helpful for these things in recent years!

      1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        I watch BBC iPlayer all the time on NordVPN. I have an account on iPlayer – I just gave a random UK postcode.
        Occasionally I get asked if I have a TV licence and I just click yes.

      2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        I tried some free VPNs first though and they didn’t work – you get what you pay for

      3. GingerSheep*

        I subscribe to ExpressVPN and have had no difficulties with watching BBC or other British channels online with it – including specifically the Great British Sewing Bee. I’m in France and it works very well from there, and it also worked well in Denmark when I tried.
        However I first bought GhostVPN which was cheaper but useless for British TV.
        For the TV licence you just have to tick a box saying you have one (after all, I do pay for a TV licence in France! ;).

    3. notapirate*

      I don’t know if this is what you’re looking for, but there are some free streaming sites that I’ve used for specific shows that aren’t available through my regular rotation of services. Obviously, it’s pirated content, so you’d have to be ok with that (and if you’re streaming on a laptop you’ll need an ad blocker). I’ve used fmovieszdotto and themovies123doting but there’s others out there.

    4. Nervous Nellie*

      Is it possible to subscribe to Britbox? It’s a streaming service of UK shows, and is available in the US. Also, your local public TV station may have a subscription service called Passport that allows you to watch lots of US series. Both of these would save you needing to cloak your system to watch from UK sites. Worth a shot, eh?

      1. Bookworm in Stitches*

        I’ve been a Britbox subscriber for a number of years now. It doesn’t have Sewing Bee or some of the other shows I’d like to watch.

        And unfortunately, currently it is so super glitchy it’s impossible to watch. I might even make a separate post asking for advice on that issue. We’ve made sure that our Samsung TV has its updates, and I’ve deleted and reinstalled the Britbox app. Our other streaming services are fine.

      2. Bookworm in Stitches*

        I have Britbox, have had it for years. Probably because I like it so much is why I’d like to be able to watch other UK shows.

      3. The teapots are on fire*

        Last I checked none of the subscription services offer the Great British Sewing Bee. I suspect Love Productions (the production company) and the BBC never worked out a deal to allow licensing to other services or countries. I would happily pay them money to watch it. I have watched it in the past with NordVPN but I just don’t bother with it anymore.

  38. Frankie Bergstein*

    What do you all do when you’re resting / not working? If I’m not working, socializing, exercising, taking care of pets, or doing chores around the house — I don’t know what to do! There is only so much Netflix and reading I can do. What do you all do? I feel lost when I have downtime.

    1. BellaStella*

      I read books. I go on road trips and hike. I take photos. I cook and bake. Learned to make Irish soda bread recently. I like to do sauna in winter. Garden.

    2. Double A*

      You just named all the things I do in my downtime. Mostly I read or, to be honest, mindlessly scroll my phone. I’ve recently started writing and actual narrative but that is a very new phenomenon for me.

      Oh, and exercise! I wish I had time to exercise way more frequently.

    3. dilemma*

      I have generally less than an hour a day of not: working, exercising, doing chores. (except weekends). So spare time is spent: reading/surfing/TV+knitting. I love movies & try to do 1/week, but I do themes: eg film noir (15+ films, wrapping that up), all the Bond films in order, old film + remakes pairs/triples.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I knit and crochet, plus I took up spinning in March and would be starting my first weaving project today if I hadn’t opened the kit to find one of the colors missing. (The seller has already found the missing color for me, wound it from skein to ball, and taken it to the post office for priority shipping as soon as they’re operating again.) Basically I do pretty things with string, haha.

    5. Raia*

      I’m playing video games, board games, calling friends, watching shows or movies, planning vacations, researching house maintenance stuff. I wish I had about 6 more hours a day to do everything I needed and wanted to do!

    6. office hobbit*

      I have eight thousand hobbies that demand so much time I frequently do them instead of socializing, exercising, and chores!

    7. Generic Name*

      I faff around on the internet. Do a puzzle. Garden. Chat with my husband. Do some embroidery. Watch a tv show.

    8. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Nearly all my time is downtime :) Bliss.
      I’m retired and living in a serviced apartment, so no work and few chores. I’m never bored.

      I’m a longterm gym rat: 6 days a week – lifting, HIIT, cycling, stairclimber, flexibility – and also daily walk about 10km (15,000 steps with my short legs) along the Rhine and through the countryside. I find walking very soothing psychologically and it definitely helps maintain my executive functioning.

      I’m a bookworm, up to 500 books per year, thank goodness for Amazon Kindle Unlimited or I’d be broke!
      I stream TV shows & movies on my iPad.

    9. chocolate muffins*

      I don’t have pets but I do the other things on your list, and for me there is no such thing as enough reading, so if I’m doing something alone for just me that’s usually my go-to. Not on your list, I also spend time with my family/take care of our toddler and cook, which is some mix of chore and hobby for me.

    10. Texan In Exile*

      I volunteer with the League of Women Voters, both registering people to vote and now getting more involved in the Reproductive Rights committee. I hate committees and meetings but this cause is important enough for me to put up with the hassle.

      I volunteer for local candidates, doing anything from knocking on doors (which I hate but again – it’s important enough that I will overcome my fear of being yelled at), texting, or advising candidates on the communications strategies.

      I garden. I am converting my front yard from grass to native plants. I also have my tomatoes in the front because I got blight in the vegetable garden in the back. I have other veg and flowers in the back yard.

      I cook. I love to cook and bake. I started making sourdough bread during covid. It’s become my golf – I want to perfect it.

      I write. I used to blog almost every day, but now it’s only weekly. I don’t have so much to write about now that Mr T’s parents have died. (I mean – I could be writing about my jerk nephew, but that seems different from writing about jerk in laws.)

      Mr T and I go to a lot of talks. The Milwaukee Public Museum, the Art Museum, Marquette, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Milwaukee School of Engineering, and UW (Badger Talks) always have something interesting going on. If it’s not free, it’s close to free.

      And in the interests of a harmonious marriage, I sometimes hike with Mr T. We went for hikes with the Sierra Club and with a state park last week.

      There is still not enough time to do everything I want to do.

    11. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I play a few instruments – one is pretty new to me so I’m still in the infatuated stage and spend a lot of time with it.
      I go down whatever rabbit holes I’ve found that sound interesting, mostly obscure historical facts that make me want more details, or finding places like museums or living history sites that tie in with these interests.
      Finding recipes for future meals is fun.
      Planning future vacations is really fun!
      I love re-reading books I loved in my childhood, and also finding the ones I missed.
      Naps are seriously wonderful.

    12. BikeWalkBarb*

      I paint rocks I leave in the local park and at bus stops. I’m not much of an artist–simple flowers and geometric designs are about it along with friendly sayings or words. It’s soothing, mildly creative, I can’t do anything else while I’m painting unless I want to put on a podcast or music, and I feel good when I go back later to a spot where I left a rock and it’s gone.

      I would knit more but my cat eats yarn.

      I write sporadically on a couple of blogs, one more personal, one about bike stuff. I’ll put in a chunk of work and get several drafts together sometimes, and spread them out over time to have something like a consistent frequency of posts.

      I also research things I plan to do someday. I have a couple of broken porcelain and ceramic items and I want to learn to do kintsugi to fix them so I have the starting list of what I’d need and some videos I’ll rewatch when I finally get around to it. Keeps these future ideas and projects on the back burner and not in the freezer.

    13. allathian*

      I guess my secret is that I don’t feel lost when I have downtime.

      I do chores, go for walks, ride my bike, read paper books, read AAM and hang out at a few other favorite corners of the internet, do jigsaw puzzles, go to the movies, hang out with my family and friends, listen to music, work in the garden… I’m fairly low energy and introverted, so I need more downtime than most people.

    14. Morning Reading*

      As a retired person, I want to push back on the idea that you always have to be doing something. Yes, doing things can be worthwhile, fun, or exciting. But doing nothing can be quite relaxing and may be what you need for some of your down time. I especially love the moments when a cat jumps in my lap, and I am not too busy to just sit for a bit. Other non-activities: looking at the sky, looking at waves, looking at art. Closing your eyes and listening to all the sounds around you. Stopping to smell the flowers. Exercising your imagination. Appreciating the beauty of the world around you, more important than ever because it, or you, will be gone soon.
      I think, whether we have the puritan work ethic or have absorbed a need to always be doing from capitalist culture, many of us feel we should always be doing something. Even I with my lazy philosophy will sometimes feel guilty if I am just sitting, without a project or book in my hands. But it’s ok to doing nothing for a bit, and maybe you need a little of that in your busy life.

    15. Hoped*

      Read, play video games, do puzzles, watch TV, go for walks, go to the cinema, go to the theatre, go to the spa, get a massage, write, learn a language, paint my nails, take photos, chill on the couch watching the clouds, teach myself a new skill…. just some of what I’ve done this month.

    16. The Real Fran Fine*

      I write flash fiction and try to follow fun prompts to shake things up from time to time. Sometimes I write longer works if the mood strikes and I have a long stretch of free time.

    17. tree frog*

      I have so many hobbies this is rare, but I’m trying to make time to just relax. Just listen to music, or light a candle, or lie in the grass.

    18. Csethiro Ceredin*

      I read a lot, and listen to a bunch of podcasts (for some reason audio books don’t work well for me but podcasts do?).

      I also like to go for long walks, especially on the shore because I live on the coast. As I walk I collect things like beach glass or stones with lines through them and do decorative things with them at home. Lately I’ve also taken a lot of pleasure in prettying up my balcony (I live in a condo) with plants and lighting and a loveseat, and cloud or birdwatching out there.

      And personally I like going to a cafe, restaurant, or museum on my own and wandering and sitting with a book or whatever, but I know not everyone enjoys those things solo.

  39. Zona the Great*

    I’m obsessed with this idea and I wonder how to make it happen: I want Jason Bateman to do a Funny or Die where he portrays Marty Byrd as Michael Bluth and vice-versa. How hilarious would it be to see Jason in Arrested Development but instead of being Michael, he’s Marty’s cold and calculated self? Even funnier to image Michael Bluth in the Ozarks laundering money. Sometimes I think of this idea all day and I’d love to get a note over to the Funny or Die folks. Is that Will Farrell I need to talk to?

    1. ElastiGirl*

      Funny or Die was bought by an outside investor a few years ago. I don’t think any of the founders have any ties to the site anymore. Unfortunately for your idea, FoD doesn’t take unsolicited pitches

  40. Busy Middle Manager*

    Am I the only one giving up travelling because of inflation, cost of living increases elsewhere? I feel a bit socially isolated especially on nice holiday weekends because I’ve opted out of so much to save money, but also perplexed at how others are affording it. I feel like a tide is coming in and the available space to stand on keeps getting smaller. Food is up, car insurance is up, on top of the regular things that were already expensive like utilities and water bills, add in a few smaller dental things and a small car repair on top of saving for retirement and I feel like I am living on a smaller budget than I have since I was a broke fresh grad. My checking account just went below the low threshold I like to keep for emergencies ($2K) which is pretty scary because I didn’t do anything particularly interesting the past few months. I have been going through my bills and the only area I see to cut are the tiny areas of my budget (like almonds) but I can’t change the 90% of my budget. The difficult part budgeting after saving every receipt this year is, everything is up 20-30%, there really isn’t some smoking gun thing up 2X that I can cut out and see a big impact.

    What I don’t get is, why do I feel like the only one? I am supposedly good income. I have no hidden secret expenses or vices. I already budget-cook because I like those sort of foods (like roasted potatoes and rice/beans with some spices).

    The weird thing is, the few times I tried to talk to it with friends and family, even if I lay out every expense, in their heads, I always have some other hidden expense, or they think I “should” take home way more after tax. I agree I “should” take home more but I still don’t get why my take-home is a surprise to people. I am tired of the bootstrappy type comments “just go out less” when I gave up restaurants two years ago due to cost or “just moved somewhere cheaper” when the only available places are hundreds more a month.

    1. anon24*

      Nope, not alone. I haven’t been traveling in a couple years. I don’t even go out anymore. I worked a 13 hour OT shift last night to make some cash and as a treat picked up a nice breakfast on my way home and am still feeling guilty over the $16 I spent. Everyone I know is zipping around on one or more vacations a year, buying new cars, saving up to buy a house, and just living their best lives, and my recent divorce has left me with $1000 to my name, the tightest of budgets, and a 25 year old car that I am praying to gods I don’t believe in that it stays running so I can continue to get to my job and keep a roof over my head. I’m so tired of existing, and have zero hope that things are going to do anything other than get far worse.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        I hope you can find some friends who are living their best lives without spending up a storm, and that the divorce, as awful as the aftermath sounds, was worth it to get the ex out of your life. Wishing you a restful weekend.

      2. Busy Middle Manager*

        Alot of people I know are in a similar situation with their cars. It’s great we’re not wasting materials by going through cars like linen shirts, but what’s scary is that it’s no longer a choice. We’re all feeling the squeeze. Are we all going to be carless in 5-10 years?

        I only eat out a few times per year now. Last time it was $100 just for me at a very middle end place because I had three mocktails (aka ginger and pineapple soda). Legitimately didn’t know what I was paying so much for, besides taking up space. That’s not enjoyable. 10 years ago I used to eat out all of the time and me and my coworkers who didn’t make that much then would barely look at the prices. It was just assumed it wouldn’t be expensive and during busy times we’d go out every other week. Now that would be completely out of the question.

        I do wonder how this is all going to end or improve because it’s very much not sustainable on a large scale.

    2. Jean (just Jean)*

      Sending both of you hugs. It’s not easy getting by on a tight budget. I’m currently doing the same thing and watching every dollar. I know there’s stuff I could cut but I’m already overwhelmed by other life obligations. Amidst all this I’m grateful to have a home, food, and medical care. Sending you more hugs.

    3. Sitting Pretty*

      You’re definitely not alone. I live in a high COL area in a tiny condo I can barely afford surrounded by enormous mansions and people driving Teslas. Like, several close friends and neighbors have these things, not just random strangers. I’m having some health challenges that might mean a precipitous drop in my already small income in the next few months. It’s… a lot. To be just barely surviving surrounded by so much wealth.

      For me, having just one or two friends who are living similar to me helps immensely. We can pack PB&J sandwiches, meet at a park and sit in the grass, and agree that it’s the Best Day Ever. We talk about our hobbies, what we’re reading, how we’re muddling through. And we see these small blessings as big wins, enjoying them together and cheering each other on. Having friendships like this make it a little easier to breathe when other friends are able to summer in Sweden our put a $100K addition onto their house.

      (I mean, I try to cheer on even the more comfortable friends because everyone is doing their best and I sure don’t want to be sour grapes. Just saying it’s nice to have a couple relationships where we have a common baseline).

      1. Is it Friday yet?*

        I’m feeling similarly. I live in my means and on my budget and I’m ok with that, plus have friends to do this with. But the other day I did my first therapy appt (doesn’t take insurance) and when I made a comment about being concerned that I couldn’t afford it, she laid into me about how I didn’t value myself or think I was worth it. Ummm no, objectively you’re a LOT of money that has to come from me cutting expenses somewhere else. Not everybody makes a lot! It was frustrating and a bad start. Does everybody else you see make a million dollars and if so, good for them (insert eyeroll). But that’s not me.

    4. Generic Name*

      I have a fairly high income, but I’m feeling the pinch between increased home insurance, increased property taxes, paying auto insurance for my teenage son. I did get a raise, but it went to all those things. Our vacation this year is camping at a local national park. And visiting family. And I’m paying off legal fees from a protracted court fight with my ex

    5. BellaStella*

      I am sorry about the situations here for you and other commenters. I moved in January to a cheaper place “to give myself a raise and breathing room” but then got hit with a major needed car repair that I paid off last month. To me many of my friends are in the same space of cutting way back and still finding it hard to get by.

      Costs of food, gas, and even basics like TP etc have gone up in pricing in the last two years.

      What I have discovered is a grocery near me that is was less costly as it is the lower end shop. Like Aldi or Asda basically. This helps a lot as things like toothpaste are $1 instead of 2.75. Also I try to bulk cook. I make my own bread, sauces for pasta, salads. I keep my heat on low or off and use sweaters and blankets. I use coupons for gas and groceries where possible. I only go out to eat maybe every three months. I do not have any debt now the car repair is paid so no gathering of interest. I do things like walk that are free and that helps too.

      Good luck and I do hope things stabilise soon for you and you can be successful in rebuilding a life for you that you love.

    6. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Maybe they have partners – being single leaves much less disposable income, or parents who subsidise them, or inheritances.
      Or just put it all on credit and get ever deeper in debt.

      1. BellaStella*

        This is a great point. I got divorced 23 years ago and have never remarried or lived with anyone. Being single means all the financial burden, higher taxes, and such are on you to deal with and generally it means much less income for sure.

      2. Maryn*

        There was a Reuters article in the last week or so about one in five credit card holders being maxed out on all their cards. I suspect that’s how the people we see are traveling, dressing fashionably, dining out, and all that.

        1. Anonymous cat*

          This is what I tend to assume. Unless they’re from families with huge wealth or they have an extremely lucrative job, they’re probably living with a lot of credit card debt.

          Also, sometimes people cut costs in invisible ways. Like big houses in wealthy neighborhoods might have little furniture. If you’re never invited inside, you’d never know.

    7. mreasy*

      My husband and I make good salaries (very “middle class” for our extremely HCOL city) and while we had plans to save for a Europe vacation this summer, the tax man had other plans. (Remember how 45 set up tax increases on the middle class that go up every year? Yeah.) So we’re doing one weekend getaway for our anniversary, which I’m grateful for. I do travel for work but rarely anywhere exciting, but even the work trips make me feel like I’m getting away. Without them I would feel similarly to the way you do. I’m sorry about this. The economy is becoming less and less viable for everyone but the rich and superrich. And they wonder why people aren’t going out to the movies!!

    8. WellRed*

      Solidarity. I don’t know who all the people are that have money. I had to buy a car last summer which was the last thing I wanted to do and for the four months it took me to find something I could afford, I found myself asking “how can that person afford this car it that car?” I do think you should stop laying out your budget to people. It sounds unhelpful and upsetting.

    9. carcinization*

      I have some of the same concerns, and am confused by people I know, who I think make the same or less money than I do, but who are world travelers, etc. I used to think the difference might be student loans, but (crossing fingers that this persists) right now I pay about 1/4 of what I used to, due to some recent changes in servicing. I mean, people could just be amassing huge amounts of debt? But my husband and I will be lucky to drive to the beach that’s a couple of hours away and stay in a budget accommodation for a couple of nights as our vacation this year.

      1. carcinization*

        (Oh, and since this became a part of the discussion while I was typing, I have a compact car circa 2007 and hope it keeps running, and my husband has a slightly newer vehicle, but it’s because my mother decided to sell him her truck, still almost 10 years old, when she got a car, and he’s making monthly payments to her.)

    10. Excel Gardener*

      These conversations are so tricky because it depends so much on the particulars: what city you live in, what essential expenses you have, what you even consider essential versus discretionary, etc.? For example, for some people living alone is a non-negotiable, but others choose to live with roommates and thus pay much less in rent. Another example is savings, where people have very different ideas about how much of their income they should save each month.

      I also wonder about the CoL where you live. Even if you have a “good income”, do you have a good income *for your city*? Maybe most of your friends makes significantly more than you?

    11. Cat Lady*

      Some people have family money, that’s what I’ve realized when I can’t figure out how people at my same job level and salary are taking trips all over the world. Or their spouses are making six figures.

      1. Usedtobeunderpaid*

        I hear you. What saves us as we have a rent control department and don’t need a car. Otherwise we would be negative. Cash flow every month

    12. Ellis Bell*

      I think social media definitely encourages people to live beyond their means. I think it’s a human trait to want to do what you see other people are doing, but no one’s going to admit it’s all credit, or a stroke of financial luck, so you actually have no idea what other people can afford.

  41. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    Shoe question! My husband for pretty much the last ten years has worn nothing but Doc Martens steel-toed Wellington style pull-on leather boots (size men’s US 11, I’m not sure offhand what the European sizing is), and apparently they have discontinued them and he is crying ugly tears because his have been damaged (puppy teeth, among other things) and need replacement. He needs the steel toes for work, and one of the things he liked best about the DM Wellies is that they specifically had good ankle support. He prefers pull-on boots to lace-up, and real leather to artificial. Any suggestions for something similar?

    1. Pieforbreakfast*

      My husband wears Danner boots for his work, steel toed and ankle support. Check their website for styles.

    2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Have you already checked Poshmark, Ebay etc? I don’t like to buy clothes or shoes that I’ve never tried on from them, but they are amazing for buying something that you already know you love.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Right after I posted this yesterday, I got a Poshmark pop up about something else and checked there, and we did order him a pair of lightly used DM Wellies in his size that looked to be in good shape from the pictures at least, so hopefully ugly tears are fended off for a little while longer and he will be more careful about where he leaves this pair :-P (if it was just the soles, they can be resoled, but he left them out when the puppy was still teething and she gnawed a big chunk off the top edge, right where he grabs to pull them on. She’s also not teething anymore.)

    3. Dancing Otter*

      A good cobbler could insert a zipper or elastic gusset so that lace-up boots could be laced once and never again. We had it done to a pair of knee-high boots.

  42. theBeanMovesOn*

    Does anyone have any experience being in a rent to own situation in the US on either side – the current owner or the current renter? I’m trying to cover all my bases- For example: Who pays for repairs/remodels/improvements. My google-fu is weak lately so any resources that you know are accurate are appreciated.
    This situation also involves family (on the renting side) which is giving me a real icky feeling, but I’m not sure if there are other sources of the ick, other than I dont actually want to do this.

    1. When you know, you know*

      Then don’t do it? Hire an attorney for a consult, and then blame them. Especially since it involves family.

      1. TheBeanMovesOn*

        Wouldn’t that be great, Unfortunately it’s my spouses sibling and my spouse and the rest of their family all think it’s a great idea because they are all allergic to renting. If I really really dug in, I could say no- but maybe I was hoping for more ways to feel better about it

    2. Jean (just Jean)*

      Based on your exchange with When you know, you know this rent-to-own idea is sounding worse and worse. You may need to set boundaries with the relatives. I hope your spouse is solidly on your side. “Allergic to renting” is only a good idea if you don’t have to live in the rental with a knot in your stomach and the horrible sense of being trapped, trapped, trapped in the situation.

      You’re allowed to hire your own lawyer, who isn’t a relative. The family may take offense but it’s your life, your money, and your peace of mind!

      1. TheBeanMovesOn*

        Thanks, to be clear though- we are the owners and this was the renters idea. But I should probably lawyer up anyways.

        1. BikeWalkBarb*

          Maybe wouldn’t fly with your family but if it flies with your spouse, is this rental producing income you count on as part of your overall budget? If it is why would you let go of that? Family or no family you have your own needs and expenses that are no less legitimate than theirs. If rent to own is such a great idea maybe there’s another place with a willing seller. Doesn’t have to be you.

    3. WellRed*

      I’m feeling the ick all the way over here! Is spouses sibling reliable? Lazy? Always broke? A drama llama? What is icking you out? Or is it just a sensible view that money and family don’t mix? Do Nothing Without A Lawyer.

    4. Generic Name*

      You feel ick, and you don’t want to do it. That right there is enough reason to not do it. Please don’t let your husband’s family bully you into doing something you’re not comfortable with. I’m very curious why someone who is a lawyer cannot or will not purchase a house in the normal manner (with a down payment and mortgage). Maybe I’m just a paranoid misanthrope, but I feel like the reason likely is because they think they can get a deal out of the situation by taking advantage of you.

    5. Anono-me*

      As the seller in a rent to own, are you prepared to evict the buyer/family member for non payment? If not, what happens if they stop paying?

      Also, I am assuming the person asking to buy is doing so because a normal mortgage would be difficult for them to qualify for, so why should you risk a significant part of your family’s financial security where a bank won’t?

      A kind hearted overly trusting family member sold on a rent to own basis to someone with a touching hard luck story about why they couldn’t get a conventional bank loan. The person had young kids and the parents both had ‘health problems’ (Too poorly to work, but not too poorlyto play). The parents regularly. would get behind on the house payments until the seller’s son would threatened to take over and evict. This dragged on for years, until the son finally actually did take over.

      For my relatives, the buyer was responsible for the home, just like a buyer with a mortgage. (But it may vary by location and contract. )

    6. Dancing Otter*

      Don’t rent to family unless you’re prepared to evict them when they don’t pay. Ask me how I know.

    7. Roland*

      Please don’t. If they are in a financially sound position to buy, they can get a loan. And if they aren’t, why should you take on a risk that banks will billions of dollars won’t take on? And say your rent-to-own terms have some kind of escape clause – how do you think you and they will feel if you say “actually no, this purchase won’t work out anymore” after however many months or years of rent? Rent to own is a big Just Say No.

  43. Once too Often*

    Shout out to anyone dealing with cancer in any way. May your providers be wonderful & your support teams fantastic; best wishes to each of you.
    Much gratitude to all who step up with support; the difference you make is immense.

  44. LNLN*

    In a few weeks I am attending the wedding of a niece. Love weddings! Unfortunately, I am in the process of divorcing the eldest brother of the father of the bride. We have been married 45 years and hubby had an affair (not his first). Of course, this is about the wedding, not the divorce, but I am starting to feel a bit anxious about the wedding and the following family vacation. I have always been on good terms with my brothers in law and their wives and I hope to stay in touch with them all. Any tips on navigating this? I
    When I meet other guests, I plan to say, “I am the bride’s aunt.” If pressed, I might add, “I was married to her dad’s oldest brother for many years.” I am from a low-drama family and it’s possible I am overthinking (or under thinking) this. My soon-to-be ex will also be there for the wedding and vacation. Any tips, thoughts or advice?

    1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Yes, you are the bride’s aunt. No need to go into anything more complicated. I have an aunt who is no longer married to my parent’s brother. She is still my aunt. Since you are invited to the wedding, I assume your niece still counts you as her aunt.

      There are two steps to avoiding awkward questions: 1. Have a simple answer ready. “I’m LNLN, the bride’s aunt, lovely to meet you.” 2. Pass the attention back to your conversation partner, “And you, do you know Bride or Groom?” Then you can compliment the groom (“He seems like a lovely man, I know Bride is very happy with him”) , or make a comment on the connection to the bride (“From her basketweaving class? I know she’s really enjoyed the community there”) or whatever other small talk strikes you as appropriate. A compliment is usually a good option. Then let the conversation wend on it’s way as normal. People usually don’t circle back to old topics once the conversation has moved on.

      If the family wants to talk about the divorce, just say something about it being regrettable but not really the happiest topic for a wedding. Then *change the topic*. If you think it’ll be necessary, have a few useful topics handy (the cake, the honeymoon, the weather, what’s new in their life). Changing the topic is important, because it gives you both something else to talk about.

      Sorry if this is too simple an explanation, but I hope it helps you have a plan.

    2. ecnaseener*

      If anyone does try to push you to talk about the divorce or your ex, be ready to cheerfully refuse — practice your “Oh, no, today’s about Niece and NieceSpouse, we’re not talking about that!”

      And of course just be warm and friendly to your in-laws and hope they respond in kind. Maybe find out ahead of time who you’re going to be seated with.

      You’ve probably already thought of this yourself, but just in case — give yourself space before the wedding to feel your feelings re: attending a wedding while dealing with the end of your marriage.

    3. Generic Name*

      I have some general thoughts and advice from personal experience after divorcing a longtime husband. Don’t assume that his family will be welcoming or “on your side”. I know you’ve been part of their family for decades, but your ex is their son, brother, etc. when I divorced my ex, it didn’t take very long for my ex-MIL to go from being nice to me to calling me a “fat cow” on Facebook. Of course, be friendly and polite to him and his family, but don’t be caught off-guard by nasty behavior on their part. Focus on celebrating your niece.

      The Chump Lady blog is a great resource for people affected by infidelity. I’m so sorry you’re going through this.

    4. Rara Avis*

      We had a family friend who maintained a life-long loving relationship with her sons’ exes. She used to have them over for “outlaw” weekends. (No longer in-laws — outlaws.) It is possible.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        My cousin’s cousin (from the other side of her family) got divorced, and the ex-wife attended most family events like weddings, even sitting with the ex and his new wife – and they all got along marvelously. I think her new husband got included, too, when she remarried. They’re all such nice people!

      2. ecnaseener*

        I have a relative who actually disowned her son and legally adopted his ex-wife! An extreme case, but there are plenty of divorced in-laws who stayed in the family in general. I see other commenters suggesting LNLN just shouldn’t go, but if your niece genuinely wants you there and you want to stay part of her life, I say go.

    5. WellRed*

      Do you really want to go on vacation with your ex husband and (essentially) his family?

      1. Maggie*

        Yeah I had to read that several times. I just…. Wouldn’t go? Every family is different but I’ve never had someone’s ex spouse come to something in my family unless it was an event for a child that the couple had together and both parents then came. Can’t imagine inviting my uncles ex wives. People will generally side with their family and if they’re kind will be polite and courteous but that sounds like the vacation from hell for me.

        1. workswitholdstuff*

          Eh, depends on the family.

          My Mum’s younger brother (not the youngest brother)divorced my aunt, ooh, maybe 20 odd years ago? He was (and remains) an horrible person (yay for family drama), but my aunt?

          She was very much still part of the family – invited to various weddings (both the 1st and 2nd ones of my brother), has attended various family funerals (which is more than can be said of her ex), and she was the one that came and met me (and made sure I had her contact details), when I moved into the city she lives in for my first paid museum job. (which was more than my uncle or cousins bothered to do!).

          I’ve still got her on my facebook, which is more than can be said for her daughter (who blocked me after siding with her idiot father re: suggestions he made about my parents care of my granddad).

          Yay for complicated family dynamics. In short though – sometimes it *is* the exes that are still part of the family!

          1. Cat and dog fosterer*

            My brother is very happily in a relationship with his partner, but I’ve made the comment that if something does happen then I’m choosing the partner over him. He’s not a bad guy, but refuses to admit to himself that he has some behavioral problems that can make him difficult, whereas his partner is always the nicest person.

        2. Lady Danbury*

          My parents were married for 35 years before they also divorced due to my father’s infidelity. There was an awkward adjustment period when they first got divorced, but 15+ years later, my mom is fully a member of my dad’s family, including attending and even hosting family events that include his side (and not just for the kids/grandkids). Obviously that wouldn’t work for everyone, but in the end the genuine relationships that my mom had built with my dad’s family, separate from him, took precedence over taking sides.

    6. Ellis Bell*

      Where are these feelings of anxiety coming from first of all? Have you spoken to these relatives or your ex since the separation? Was there anything concerning in those interactions? When I was in a similar mid-divorce, post-affair situation, I knew I had the support and understanding of my in-laws, so being around them wouldn’t have been an issue, but I would definitely have balked at being around my ex. When you get that period of quiet after the end of a dramatic relationship, you’re loathe to give it up.

  45. Zillow window shopping*

    Remember that one sunny day above fifty degrees when you didn’t have to listen to a neighbor spend six hours using gas-powered lawn tools? Nor do I.

    This holiday weekend I am dreaming about buying a hundred acres of woods. What is your dream location or retirement venue, assuming price was no limit?

    1. WellRed*

      A few years back I was reading and realized I felt like I’d been listening to a leaf blower for hours (I had). I was annoyed but it drove one if the other neighbors over the brink. Next thing, I hear all this yelling. He was yelling at the lawn maintenance guy (someone hired). It was like 6 in the evening. The struggle is real.

    2. Maryn*

      We have an electric mower, and I’m pleased that people stop to ask about it when we’re mowing almost silently. We usually suggest they consider it when their gas mower dies, as they all do eventually. So far, though, all our neighbors still seem to use noisy riding mowers or hire a service that does.

      1. Cat Lady*

        Yeah this is the real crux; to make changes on the gas vs electric lawn tools, it’s the services you need to reach, not the homeowner. I would assume they’re mostly motivated by economics. A lot of homeowners by me are just looking for an affordable, reliable service and don’t have any real engagement other than that. It’s been hard for me because (we are along a river) my new neighbor hired some Tru-Green chemlawn company that dumps whatever poisons and it’s not like my neighbor is very invested, they just do what the company recommends.

      2. Dandylions*

        I love my electric mower and weed whacker but my neighbors are still incredulous.

        I was able to convert one person after I talked about the fact that the only maintenance I have to do each season is sharpen the lawn mower blade. no oil changes, spark plugs, storing noxious gas and oil etc etc.

        That said the quite factor scares me with cards. I have several blind hills I will rol the window down and listen before pulling out. Electric vehicles are very quite! So you can’t hear them this way.

    3. Dancing Otter*

      It’s not about the geography for me as much as the residence itself.

      Parking! Assigned parking that is actually respected, where I don’t have to dig out my car after it’s plowed in, and ideally with a charging point. I’d rather cold weather than scorching hot, but there are drawbacks.

      And a reliable elevator. My building has two that almost never go out at the same time, but my daughter’s has been out of order for over a month.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Elevators have, apparently, gotten really caught in the great Supply Chain Snarl that started back when the Ever Given got wedged ass-ways in that canal.

        Our building’s elevator is quite old (building used to be a motel built during the World’s Fair) and parts for it apparently are made only by one craftsman in Belize or something. Trying to get it repaired is a nightmare because trying to get even one part takes weeks to order and get shipped, and then you have to book the elevator repair guy who’s slammed for months because of all of said back orders.

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      WHAT? I can’t hear you over the guy who uses a gas powered leaf blower on the parking lot next door every damn morning!

    5. OtterB*

      I used to dream of acreage, but not so much any more that I’m not capable of managing it. I would, I think, like a large townhome in my current metropolitan area that had either a roof terrace or a private courtyard, an elevator, a garage, and good sized bedrooms. I would like the location to be within walking distance of at least a convenience store if not a grocery store/pharmacy, and also within walking/easy biking distance of a nature trail. Not far from a library is a plus.

      1. Girasol*

        We had acreage and a big old farm house. We had wildlife in the yard and gorgeous rural views. But it comes at a price: constant gopher and mouse trapping, getting snowed in, iffy phone and electric service, so much home and land maintenance, and feeling isolated because it’s too darned far to go places and see people. The grocery was a half hour each way, the doctor an hour. My dream retirement home is still a cottage deep in the woods but my real retirement home is a little house in a fairly tightly packed small town neighborhood. The noise and lights took some getting used to but there’s a lot to be said for having good neighbors, being near the things you need, and living close to friends.

    6. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      Ohhhh, man. Talk about Zillow window shopping. There is a two-floor condo that just went up for sale again that’s two blocks from my apartment. Only 1. 9 million! /sarcasm. It’s the top-floor unit of the building, designed by the building’s architect to live in himself. I don’t know what happened to him that it’s been up for sale twice in three years, but I salivate over it — or rather, FIXING it. Right now, it is hideous, all black and white with those f*cking stupid silver and black Mies van der Rohe chairs that are as uncomfortable as hell but creepy 40-year-old divorced straight dudes think are sexy, not one goddamn bookshelf (or book) to be seen in the entire place, everything is shiny metal and tile and just gives you that particular pain from chewing aluminum foil — but if I could throw money at it? MAHOGANY CURVING STAIRCASE, BABY. Dark wood bookshelves with matching ladders on wheels everywhere. No more black carpets (tf??) and cheap white Ikea shelves, right by the bedroom window???? No way. Giant teak Chinese inlaid wardrobe, motherf*ckers, take you to Narnia and The Shire and Hogwarts and anywhere else you want. Fireplaces big enough to stand in. There are two outdoor spaces up there, I’m talking REAL GRASS on the one, with huge blue canvas umbrellas and fruit trees and a platform for ALL the great bands and string ensembles I gonna hire for parties; the other one’s getting a giant pine tree with lights and sparkly ornaments all year round.

      In short, I have dreams.

    7. Grad School Attempt 2*

      It’s not just you! The lawn mowers and leaf blowers are driving me crazy. So crazy that my fiance and I are actually going to enact this dream — we can’t quite afford the full 100 acres in our dream location but it’s looking like we’ll be able to get at least 40, maybe even 60 or 70. Our realtor understands that the important thing for us is not the amount of acreage itself but the protection from road noise and lawnmower noise, and is working to help us find a property where we can’t hear anything (audible cows are ok). And hopefully it won’t have a lawn to mow either!

    8. SofiaDeo*

      A place where people are kind, thoughtful, and want to live in a cooperative way. Set up physically such that everyone gets the “space” and interaction with others they desire, whether that’s a little or a lot. Not too much rain, sun, snow, weeds, or wind.

    9. Clara Bowe*

      A retirement community in Rochester MN. Mayo is just the local hospital, and there is a bus.

    10. Csethiro Ceredin*

      I like where I live (quiet suburb of Vancouver) but if money were no object I’d find a moderately sized place here overlooking the ocean with a big covered balcony/deck, and watch the waves for hours at a time.

      Money would truly have to be no object, because this is a very expensive area. :(

  46. Invisible fish*

    We’ve got to get the siding and trim replaced on our house. (Please don’t ask how we’re going to afford it- I don’t know.). For folks who have done that, what do I need to be prepared for? Pitfalls? Things to be aware of as I get quotes and approve work?

    1. Dandylions*