weekend open thread — June 29-30, 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: Same As It Ever Was, by Claire Lombardo. A woman with a rocky history with her mom tries to navigate a life very different from her own upbringing. It’s about family, friendship, self-sabotage, and overcoming the way you grew up. It’s long — at times, I thought too long — but ultimately satisfying.

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

{ 1,114 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 will be removed. We also can’t do medical advice here.

    Please give the full rules a re-read.

  2. Liminality*

    Anyone ever bought a house that was on a ‘short sale’? I’ve heardthey take longer to close and I do have the time to wait for contract details, but I’ve been told that negotiations on repairs or pricing changes are unlikely cause the bank is not a motivated seller. Looking at a short sale property tomorrow and hoping for tips/ suggestions.

    1. Kay*

      Ask the listing agent – they should be able to give you the best idea. It is going to depend on the specific property, the bank, where it is at in the process, etc. They have gotten better, so I wouldn’t expect more than a few months although it can also be much shorter. There is usually less flexibility on repairs or pricing, though there is sometimes room for it. Plan for the worst and you could be pleasantly surprised.

    2. Sitting Pretty*

      I bought a condo on a short sale. Mine took 7 months from when I put down the earnest money to when I signed the mortgage. Our situation involved some pretty massive (unrelated) repairs that needed to be made to the common areas, including delayed county inspections, which gave my bank pause on approving the mortgage and slowed everything down.

      Anyway it’s a pretty stressful process. There were several times when the seller’s bank almost decided to just foreclose/auction the property because honestly they make very little money on these sales and they just want the problem off their hands. They didn’t feel like waiting for my bank. They can forclose at anytime and you could have to start the home search all over again. But I had a firecracker real estate agent who moved
      quickly when these things happened and managed to get them to stay in the process.

      Also, there was absolutely no movement on the price even after we found some issues with the home inspection. They required the buyer to absorb all of that mystery expense. So that’s a little dicey too because my bank (the buyer bank) was nervous about those possible extra costs.

      In the end it was totally worth the wait. I had another place to live (my parents’ house) so could chill and ride it out. Patience paid off. And in the end I got a great price on my condo in a neighborhood that I wanted to live in.

    3. TJ Morrison*

      I also did a short sale, but it was 10 years ago, so I don’t know how much things would have changed. The process wasn’t too bad for me, but after the inspection there was a problem that would have prevented my loan from going through. (It required the house to be livable upon sale) I just asked that they fix it and upped my offer by an estimate of the cost of repair. They accepted and it was quickly fixed and the sale closed shortly after that.

    4. Short sale*

      I did this, and it worked out well. It was about 10 years ago when there were a lot of short sales happening. I’m not sure if that made the process take longer, but it wasn’t until 6 months after my offer was accepted that things were finalized. I could wait, so it was okay.

      I was a bit uncertain during that time, because at least in my state, the bank could back out and accept another offer if they chose – I don’t know how often that happens, but it didn’t happen in my case. Oh, one thing to ask would be if there are other lenders involved. There was a second bank involved in my case, so they both had to agree.

      As you said, there wasn’t much room for negotiating for repairs – it was pretty much as-is, but the price was lower than I would have paid otherwise, so that wasn’t a problem for me. Overall, other than the uncertainty during the wait, it was a good experience.

    5. Agnes Grey*

      To echo what others have said, the timeline to closing may be longer, and there will be no flexibility on price – it’s based on what the bank has determined is an acceptable loss on a debt that they know won’t be fully repaid. Our short sale worked out fine for us but we were lucky in that we were moving out of a month-to-month rental with accommodating landlords and didn’t have time pressure to be out.

  3. Liminality*

    Philosophical Question:
    What makes a person an adult? Are there certain, required indicators?
    Do some social markers of adulthood make a person an “adultier-adult” than others?
    If one lacks all markers of adulthood through no real fault of their own can one claim that status merely by the fact of age?

    1. I didn't say banana*

      I think you’re an adult when you can make hard decisions, when you do things for the greater good even though they don’t feel good right now, when you can manage your feelings and behaviour and communication well enough to navigate complex situations, when you can understand perspectives other than your own, when you have some long term plans and goals. Some people get there as a teenager, some people never get there. I don’t think it has anything to do with milestones like degrees, jobs, marriage, kids, home ownership or anything – being an adult is a mental thing.

      1. HannahS*

        My view is that adulthood is a socially constructed stage of life–like childhood, which has changed vastly in its definition over the last few hundred years, and is ultimately arbitrary.

        I am comfortable with age being an arbitrary marker, and I think the inverse of your question makes clear why. Should someone who never achieves financial independence be denied adulthood? Should someone who never has children be denied adulthood? Should someone who never has their own dwelling be denied adulthood?

        On a personal, emotional level, yeah I didn’t feel like an adult until I was a doctor, even though I was well into my 20s when I started medical school. The responsibility, hard decisions, and self-discipline made me into an adult. But I don’t think that I should have been denied the right to vote until then!

    2. LionRead*

      I think that the thing about status markers of adulthood is that they are a sign that your ‘adultiness’ has been put to the test – they show that you’re capable of making decisions on your own, thinking through them to a certain extent, and dealing with the consequences when they go awry. Children [should be] protected from the results of their own worst mistakes, and lose autonomy because of it.

      And I would struggle to take someone seriously who claimed to be an adult who hadn’t proved their ability to make those choices, regardless of the reason. But there are lots of different ways to do that.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I’m fine with setting an age (18 is good) rather than having government administered tests. I point to Arlo Givens on Justified (terrible father) as an example of how you really do need a relatively low age at which you let young people start making decisions independent of their parents. Because the parents most ardent in their belief that they know best and should be left in control forever are the ones who most need to be escaped.

      I would say a marker of adulthood is that the outcome of your decisions falls on you. You don’t outsource fixing your mess.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I think it was Miss Manners who laid out the general feeling of parents toward appropriate toys:
          • Anything the parent had as a child.
          • The really cool electric train set they wanted but were denied as a child.

      1. Tech Support Drone 512*

        Can’t relate. I live being able to drive away from other people’s problems

    4. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Yes, age IS the marker, whether you like it or not. Nothing philosophical about that.
      Sincerely, someone who claimed her adulthood as soon as legally possible to escape controlling parents who did everything in their power to keep me submissive and childlike.
      Did I have a hard couple of years learning things the hard way? Yep.
      Should I have been denied my escape because I hadn’t learned those things (through no fault of my own) before I reached the age of adulthood? Nope Nope Nope.
      I shudder to think where I would be if I hadn’t “claimed that status merely by the fact of age” – and you say that like it’s a bad thing.

      1. Liminality*

        Sorry if that phrasing came across as a bad thing. I definitely didn’t mean it that way.
        Well done on claiming your adulthood. That’s definitely not an easy path. I’m still trying to figure one out myself.

      2. allathian*

        Yes, I agree. Even if I was raised by supportive parents who said when I was still years from legal adulthood that the main job of parents is to make themselves unnecessary by teaching their kids to stand on their own two feet. Lots of otherwise decent parents fail at this.

        The only marker of adulthood that I count is age, even immature adults are still adults. I guess for me it’s partly a question of semantics, you can get philosophical about what the markers of maturity are.

        Even people with diminished mental capacity who have legal guardians to act in their interest are adults based on age.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Even immature adults are still adults.
          Yes. The baseline is that people under 18 get more leeway, and people over 18 don’t. Even if I would trust a specific 15 year old to be in charge of closing, and a specific 45 year old not at all, due to their demonstrated responsibility, maturity, etc.

      3. Sloanicota*

        I think I agree, sometimes we need to hold the line. Just like we have an age of consent because we believe some ages are too young to make some decisions, we have to commit to the belief that at some cutoff you become an adult no matter what anyone else thinks.

    5. Valancy Stirling*

      Honestly? I think it’s about age, primarily. I wouldn’t call an 18 year old an adult, regardless of the legal definition, but once you’re in your early twenties you’re an adult. As someone who used to be one, immature adults are still adults.

      1. Ingrid*

        I remember as an 18 year old being surprised at my classmates that they felt they were adults. We were all kids, just with more agency and consequences for our actions. I think experience and introspection make us adults.

    6. just here for the scripts*

      My psych prof in college (1979-1983) said that in the past people thought that it was age-related (ie 18, 21, etc), but the (then) current thinking had evolved to link adulting to tasks and expectations—paying their own bills (or applying for loans/scholarships on their own), responsible for their own actions (or accepting the consequences of said actions), being independent of their parents, extended family, etc.

      Not sure where he would say the line is now…but I’ve relied on his original rule-of-thumb ever since.

    7. Old plant woman*

      I heard a girl tell her Dad “I want to be a grown up so no one can make me do stuff” He said “When you’re grown up, you have to make yourself do things you don’t want to.”

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        And, as an adult, plenty of people will ‘make you do stuff,’ like work tasks, following the speed limit, paying taxes. And the stakes are higher than being grounded for disobeying.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        The converse of that being that adults have more power to change their circumstances, and more responsibility for just accepting the circumstances as unchangeable.

        It’s why shows like Buffy struggled when everyone finished high school–When you’re fifteen, if your parents move to the Hellmouth, well, you’re stuck living there. If you choose to stay and go to college on the Hellmouth because vague reasons, well, that’s on you. (This isn’t a sudden flip from no power to all power, but a sharp and significant broadening out of the choices you have.)

        1. Past Lurker*

          I thought Buffy stayed because Dawn was still in high school. It’s been years so don’t remember. In any case, I agree.

    8. Forrest Rhodes*

      People keep telling me I’m getting older and wiser. I’ve got the “older” part down pretty good; am still waiting for “wiser” to kick in.
      It’s all a learning process, right? :)

    9. Part time lab tech*

      Sometime between 16 and 25, when you are capable of taking responsibility and and the consequences of your decisions. The exact age of emotional maturity where you are capable of thinking through consequences at the expense of short time relief varies hugely according to upbringing and experience.
      Being responsible for meeting your needs (housing, food, clothing, bills, dependents).

    10. RagingADHD*

      You’re an adult when you are of legal age to act on your own behalf, to control your own earnings, and undertake legal obligations like contracts. That’s 18 in most places.

      If someone over 18 is disabled to the point that they require guardianship or conservatorship, they are still an adult, not a child.

      How you or other people feel about your personal level of maturity is irrelevant to whether or not you are, in fact, an adult or not.

    11. Isabel Archer*

      Thank you, Liminality, for this delightful question. I agree with I Didn’t Say Banana 100%.

    12. Mitchell Hundred*

      I don’t have an answer, but this did remind me of something I heard in one of the podcasts I listen to at work. It’s about Irish folklore, and in one of the episodes the host mentioned that any unmarried Irish man, regardless of age, will be referred to as a boy. He even cited some politician in the country’s national legislative body talking about “the crisis of unmarried boys.”

    13. Unkempt Flatware*

      The first time I really realized I was an adult was when I bought my current home. I moved in next door to a family with three teenage daughters. We made friendly fast and I started getting phone calls from the parents asking me to go help the girls with homework or chase away an interloper or find out what the scary noise is in the kitchen. So my answer is when someone else says you are.

    14. AGD*

      I don’t know, honestly. In my teens I was starting to follow the news, make a bit of money in the summers and open a bank account, read novels that weren’t “YA,” etc. By 15 or 16 I was beginning to feel warmly welcomed into the adult world in general. At 18 I went off and did that college thing, somewhere in there rented an apartment for the first time, and by 21 figured I basically had the hang of independence.

      Then, in my early twenties, the 2008 recession hit and there was a huge outpouring of rhetoric about how my generation was supposedly useless and unable to get anywhere. This didn’t turn out to be well-founded criticism, and I rolled my eyes at it – but it was also the reason why I stopped feeling like I belonged in the adult world for a long time. The generation that will “win” this awful game is the one that breaks the cycle.

      1. amylynn*

        Yeah, sorry about that. I think in the US we assume that adults should be able to live independently – but that’s not a universal assumption in the rest of the world. I don’t even know that the nuclear family is desirable in all cases, but I also know that we don’t really know how to do the multi-generational family well as a culture.

        Stephanie Coontz talks about this in “The Way We Never Were”. Much of what we in the US consider the “traditional family” dates from the 1950s and was in part a reaction to the Great Depression. In short, the Greatest Generation associated the multi-generational family with poverty and found it stifling (or worse). The nuclear family was a way for them to escape the influence and control of their parents. So it doesn’t really surprise me that the nuclear family couldn’t deal well with the Great Recession.

        1. Irish Teacher.*

          I also think people determine “live independently” in a rather idiosyncratic way sometimes. Like if somebody live with a partner who pays all their bills and organises everything and heck, even hires a nanny and housekeeper to care for the children and house, the person may be mocked for “living off their partner” but they aren’t considered less of an adult. Or if their parent buys them a house, they are considered to be living independently.

          But if somebody lives with parents or sometimes with a sibling, then they are not considered to be independent.

          Moving into a house your partner owns and paying no part of the bills = still independent. Moving into a house your sibling owns and paying no part of the bills = dependent.

          And yeah, I know the relationships are different, but it’s still a rather arbitrary line to draw.

    15. English Rose*

      In terms of brain development, biological females reach full development of the prefrontal cortex (adult decision making) slightly earlier than males. 21 (I think) for females, 25 for males.
      But we all have that stroppy arms-folded teenager inside us mouthing “whatever”.

        1. Ah Ha*

          I’m glad someone wrote this because I’ve been suspicious of the conclusions people were drawing from that research from the beginning. What does it mean to say a brain is “still developing” when our brains are constantly changing? And people used that idea to say that teenagers weren’t capable of complex thought and of making decisions that affect themselves, and plenty are. Also, for most of human history, people have been working, having children, emigrating to new nations, writing novels, doing all kinds of things before 25, so in a practical sense, this concept has not seemed very useful to me.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            My recollection is that teenagers tend to come to the same decisions as adults when posed moral quandaries. It just takes them a little longer. Which could be as simple as practice.

          2. Sloanicota*

            I agree, I’m suspicious of the dialogue around 25 because it seems like another opportunity to disenfranchise young people at a higher cutoff. And nobody seems t be suggesting the military stop recruiting people at 18. I appreciate that it’s often discussed in the case of criminal culpability, since I do have sympathy for young adults making poor choices early on in life and never being able to get on the right track afterwards. But we should have grace when we can because they are humans, not because they are children.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I never like tying this stuff to white matter in the brain–the structure-to-action relationship is messier than that. I agree with the observation upthread about 16-25ish, with how much responsibility you take on a key determinant.

        I am really glad I didn’t have to live with my parents and follow their wise counsel for all my actions up through age 25. (Or 29, or older, since it’s a range and your brain doesn’t stop developing after the peak white matter.)

        A research finding that really resonated with me–people change throughout their lives. There is not an age where your permanent unchangeable adult persona locks in. (And consider how often people cite their spouse or children as formative in making them who they are today.)

    16. Irish Teacher.*

      I always say that the moment I became an adult was the end of my 1st week at college, two or three weeks before I turned 18.

      I was heading home for the weekend. Our lecturer’s watch was broken and he let us out a few minutes earlier than we were meant to finish, so I decided to take an earlier train home. I felt really grown up, making my own travel plans, until I was about 10 minutes into the journey and suddenly thought, “what if my dad came up to meet me?” He was a bit overprotective, I was the oldest and the first to go away to college, so it was a thing he might do. And this was the time before mobile phones were common.

      He hadn’t. It was all fine. But it made me realise that being an adult and being independent wasn’t about “I can do whatever I like now.” It was about having to be the person to think through the possible consequences and the impact not just on yourself, but on others.

      I think that is what makes a person an adult. A child thinks, “I have to do well in school or Mammy and Daddy will tell me off/ground me/won’t buy me a new phone” or “the teacher will get cross.” A lot of the motivation is external. It’s all somebody else’s responsibility. If the teacher doesn’t “check” to see if they have done their homework, it’s fine not to do it. If mammy or daddy doesn’t ask them to do a chore, there is no reason to do it.

      An adult should be able to do things like see a chore that needs doing and do it, not because their parents or spouse or whoever they live with will tell them off if it’s not done but just because it needs to be done and it’s their responsibility as much as anybody’s else. If they are at college, their motivation for good grades should not be “so my mum and dad don’t get cross.” It should be because of the benefits to their future career or because they take pride in their work.

      I don’t think the “social markers” of adulthood mean much.

      Having a job? One of my colleagues told us she started working at 11. Doesn’t mean she was more adult at 11 than a 40 year old on disability or who is a stay-at-home parent.

      Having a child? Again, teens can get pregnant. Doesn’t make them adults. And there are plenty of immature, irresponsible parents out there. I don’t think a parent who neglects their child to go partying is more “adult” than a childless adult who cares for their elderly parents or who is a successful doctor.

      Getting married? I’ve known of people for whom getting married allowed them not to grow up as their husband or wife pretty much took over from their parents in organising their life and it went from “I must do my chores/get good grades because my parents will be cross if I don’t” to “I must do my chores and keep my job because my spouse will be cross if I don’t.”

      Buying a house? If we use markers like that, then being an adult just depends on money, not anything innate.

      Learning to drive? Again, there are 16 year olds who drive and 60 year olds who don’t. I am pretty sure, for the most part, the latter are more adult.

      The only one that strikes me as in any way relevant is having a child. Not that parents are “more adult” than childless adults, but I do think some people become “more adult” after having a child, due to the added responsibility. But of course, having to care for an elderly or disabled person or getting a very responsible job could have the same impact, so even that doesn’t make you an “adultier-adult” than others.

      If a 16 year old gets pregnant/gets a girl pregnant and they get married (in Ireland, that would probably mean running away up north) and the boy gets a job, that…doesn’t make them adults.

      On the other hand, if a 40 year old is disabled and unable to work or live alone and is single and childless, that doesn’t mean they are any less of an adult, not if they behave like an adult.

      Some of the markers do possibly show you “got it together” enough to get a job/raise a child/learn to drive/finish college, but then I know people who did all these things extremely badly or had somebody – maybe a parent or spouse who arranged a lot of it for them.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Having to be the person to think through the possible consequences and the impact not just on yourself, but on others.
        This really resonates for me, and reminds me of the stages of moral reasoning:

        1) Tommy spilled the milk! That’s bad!
        2) Tommy spilled the milk, but it wasn’t on purpose. It’s okay.
        3) Tommy spilled the milk. It wasn’t on purpose, which is good. But someone needs to clean up the milk. And someone needs to figure out what else we can have for breakfast.

        Adults are operating at the third level. They’re figuring out what has to happen, and making it happen.

        1. Irish Teacher.*

          That reminds me of some study I read about somewhere, where they asked about what to do if your wife or whoever had a serious illness and was about to die if she didn’t get a certain medicine but the chemist would only sell the medication for some ridiculous amount of money. What should you do?

          And it said that small children generally say “well, you can’t take it, Stealing is wrong.” (Though now I wonder how much of that is because little kids often think they have to give adults the “right” answer and prove they are “good” rather than it necessarily being what they actually believe, but however.)

          And that teenagers, especially younger teens, said “of course you should steal it. Life trumps property.”

          But that it wasn’t until about 17 that people start suggesting “could you try bargaining with the chemist?” “could you pay in installments?” etc.

      2. allathian*

        I was 19 or 20 when I had a “hey, I’m an adult” moment. I’d moved out with my sister to an apartment owned by our parents. They didn’t charge any rent but we paid for utilities, a “HOA fee” and running costs like food. It was a great way to learn things like household budgeting. We lived in the same apartment complex as our parents, but we used to have dinner with them once a week and we were allowed to use their washer & dryer to do our laundry. I worked about 20 hours a week in a grocery store as well as going to college. Anyway, one day my mom’s favorite laundry detergent was on sale and I bought some and took it to my parents the next day. They hadn’t asked us to pay for the use of their machines, but I figured it was the least I could do to thank them for the privilege.

        My mom was pleasantly surprised and at some point I realized that she treated me like a responsible adult, and she stopped giving me advice unless I asked for it.

        1. Irish Teacher.*

          That sounds like an amazing way to “learn to be an adult,” having your parents in the apartment complex and presumably there to help you out if something went wrong, but still having responsibility for your own lives.

          1. allathian*

            Yes, it was. The apartment originally belonged to my paternal grandparents. My parents originally bought our apartment to live near them as they aged and became frail. My sister and I spent many afternoons after school with them, especially my grandmother after she was widowed. We did crosswords and jigsaw puzzles together and she taught me to knit.

            My father was an only child and his mother’s executor, so when my grandma had to move to a care home for people with dementia, he took possession of the apartment, we fixed it up and moved in.

            Our parents were happy for us to move, one big reason was that we lived in a tiny one bedroom apartment. My sister and I shared the bedroom and our parents slept in the living-room. The lack of privacy made life occasionally unnecessarily difficult and I went on a lot of long walks, either alone or with a friend.

    17. Nervous Nellie*

      What a fascinating conversation – thanks for this! I would add that maturity is the overriding variable here. My 60-year old sister is a brat who is still being spoiled by my parents. Her refusal to pay her own way in life, and their overinvolvement in it has created a time machine where, even though she has a job and to her colleagues may appear adult, she reacts like a child to any obstacle in her way that she doesn’t want to handle herself. So, to me, a social marker of adulthood would be the ability to handle one’s own issues/problems/crises/day to day to-do list items without needing a parent to rescue them from the imagined stress it would cause.

    18. Excel Gardener*

      I feel like there’s a distinction between being an adult versus maturity, and the question (and many of the other comments) are conflating between them.

      Adulthood to me is mostly about age. If you are a certain age, you are an adult and are entitled to the rights of an adult and also are expected to fulfill adult responsibilities.

      Maturity, on the other hand, may be correlated to age to some extent, but is more about things like self awareness, impulse control, empathy for others, and so on.

    19. Tradd*

      I’m a female in my mid 50s, never married, no kids, currently single, I’ve always rented. I have been told many times over the years that I’m not an adult because I’m not married/with a steady partner, don’t have kids, don’t have a mortgage. Mind you, I’m an educated, capable female who has supported myself for decades. I have a very interesting job, I’m active in my community, have a wide circle of friends, and things I’m passionate about. Yet, I’m not considered to be an adult because I didn’t permanently attach myself to someone and chose not to reproduce. Chaps my ass. Yet the people who insist you have to have a mortgage have been in trouble multiple times due the Great Recession and then the stuff surrounding Covid.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I agree, at some point I had to confront the fact that, within my family at least, I’d never be considered / fully treated as an adult if I didn’t marry or have children. One or the other but not neither. However, I do consider myself an adult and just have to brush off their efforts to make me feel otherwise.

    20. Bulu Babi*

      I know someone who did a PhD in sociology on precisely this question. Part of it was interviewing hundreds of adults (in Europe) and asking what it meant for them to be an adult. The most common answers came down to financial independence, freedom of choice and responsibility.

  4. chocolate muffins*

    A few open threads ago I asked for wisdom you all had about parenting, and many people said many wise things – thank you! I am back to ask for wisdom you have gained about being married/long term partnered. People have such different experiences and I am curious to learn from you all. I love my partner and being married to him, and we still (hopefully) have a lot of life left ahead of us, so I’d love to listen to whatever you all feel like sharing.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      From the perspective of someone who was divorced twice before their 30th birthday and is now in early 40s on spouse the third (and final, no matter what :-P ) — I have learned that if I am not happy with myself, if I cannot trust myself, if I cannot recognize when I need to prioritize myself, then I cannot be successfully happy with someone else and will in fact do serious harm to myself (mental, not physical).

      Corollary: a good reliable partner will encourage and support me to be happy with myself, to trust myself, and to prioritize myself, AND I will be able to trust that they sincerely mean it and it’s not just lip service.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Since you have kids: One of the things I really admire in my husband is how he is with our kids. The oldest was into the same hobby he was, and they could share that. The youngest never liked that hobby, and got into a sport my husband had never done, and so my husband learned the sport so they could practice together.

    3. just here for the scripts*

      Every couple goes through bumpy times—navigating them will either bring you closer together or break you up. Interestingly, a decade or so ago a study came out that said that people in second marriages were more (generous? Forgiving? Or less caring?) about things than specific issues than they were in their first marriages…

      Also, a lot of things you’ve heard—like “never go to bed angry”—are garbage. No one ever solved their problems when exhausted, upset, and denied of sleep. That doesn’t mean sweep it under the rug—it means wait until you’ve both cooled off to discuss the issues that are of concern. Like much of the advice here at AAM, use your words, and focus on solutions rather than blame .

      When things were bumpy, we always had dinner together—I might have had soup and a glass of wine with friends or family earlier in the evening (before a show, after work, etc.), but I always had my main meal with him. And I always kissed him goodbye when we left for work and hello when we both got home.

      Finally, I’m a true believer in shared experiences building relationships. Sweetie loves something you don’t know a lot about? Try it and see what you think, rather than dismiss it out of hand and then go (this from a “I hate baseball” person who learned to love it because my sweetie does—added bonus is that it’s been a language/culture I can use to build relationships with others that I couldn’t do beforehand). And build time to do things together—left to myself I’d be a divide and conquer re shopping and chores. But my sweetie always prefers that we do them together—and if that means I get to walk hand-in-hand with him, then that’s fine with me. It also gives us down time to discuss stuff we’re each thinking about. We do the following things together: weekly date nights, going to museums, seeing shows, riding our bikes, walking to get our steps, and planning /taking trips together.

      Together we have buried our parents with the other’s support, bought our apartment (and just paid off the mortgage), supported each other through job changes/professional and financial challenges, and supported our extended families. It’s approaching 40 years together…

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Re go to bed angry: The flip side of letting things fester is that sometimes the solution is to let the world revolve a few times. It takes practice to figure out which one you are doing. And which one works with your spouse, or whatever other person you have to coordinate your life with.

      2. Jay (no, the other one)*

        We’ll celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary in December and January will mark 43 years together. Cosign pretty much everything you said and what Red Reader said about being happy with yourself. Communication is the whole ball of wax. Even in the roughest times (and we’ve had them) we tried to listen to each other, and when we worked directly on our communication skills things got so.much.better.

        John Gottman’s work has shown that the real relationship-killer is contempt. There have been days when I’ve been blazingly angry with my husband and even then I know I have a core of fundamental respect and regard for who he is as a person.

      3. The OG Sleepless*

        Any time I’m at a wedding where they have you write down “advice for the happy couple” and put it in a box, I write, “It’s totally ok to go to bed mad.” My husband and I had a number of huge fights that dragged on and on as we were more and more sleep deprived and emotional. If you just drop it and go to sleep, as we learned to do as we got older, almost every time you can’t even remember what the big deal was by the next day. And if it’s still a big deal, you’re calmer and your brain is working better to deal with it.

    4. ThatGirl*

      I’ve been with my husband 21 years and married for 17. In some ways we got lucky – we both had growing up to do, but we did it together.

      Some things that may sound cliche, but are true for us:
      Have individual interests and hobbies, but also activities you enjoy together. Be open to trying new things together. It gives you something to do and something new to talk about.

      Be silly together. Laugh, have fun.

      It’s normal to be annoyed with each other sometimes. Remember you love this person, too.

      Besides the big stuff like lying or infidelity, relationship killers are disdain, distrust, resentment. If you let resentment fester it will poison things.

      Be your spouse’s biggest fan, they should be yours too – hyping each other up. Compliments and encouragement.

      Arguments happen, but you should remember you’re on each other’s team.

    5. Double A*

      Fights over seemingly stupid stuff (e.g. the dishes) are symbolic. The faster you can get at what the issue represents (respect, being seen, demonstrating care, listening) the less damaging and more productive the fight will be.

      Also some of the same advice works for little kids as for marriages: do a physiological check first when you’re feeling emotionally heightened and see if there isn’t some under-met biological need making things worse (hungry, tired, lack of exercise).

    6. The Prettiest Curse*

      I have been married for 21 years.
      – Marry someone who shares your sense of humour. Making my husband laugh is my favourite thing.
      – Don’t let anything fester. Don’t just leave long-standing issues unresolved and hope they will be okay. Try not to bear grudges.
      – A lot of marriage, especially in the early years, involves making many decisions together. Make sure that you can make good decisions and that you can compromise. Don’t fight to the death over relatively minor stuff.
      – If you want to share household duties equitably, you’ll need to accept that the other person won’t necessarily do things the way that you would do them yourself. Don’t accept weaponised incompetence, but don’t micro-manage and accept that there might be a learning curve. If one partner is really good at or really likes doing, they can take primary responsibility for it, but this needs to be balanced by the other partner doing something equally time-consuming. (Make sure to re-evaluate occasionally so the person who likes the task doesn’t end up continuing to do it if they start to hate it or get fed up of it.) And just because you’re not the greatest at doing a task doesn’t mean that you can’t do it at all. There are no performance evaluations for cleaning your own house!

    7. run mad; don't faint*

      I’ve been married thirty-five years for whatever that’s worth. I would say…be less concerned with winning or losing arguments and a lot more concerned with hearing and understanding each other. That’s harder than it sounds when you’re angry or irritated. But it’s worth it.

      Respect the other person’s “no” when they say it, but at the same time, you should both be open to hearing the other person’s concerns and pov before saying “no”.

      Carve some time for each other, daily if you can, weekly if you can’t. It can be a date or a trip to a coffeeshop, a walk or a regular time spent chatting on the sofa with screens turned off. There have been times where we declared certain conversational topics out of bounds during our talk time together. These weren’t things we couldn’t talk about, but things we could talk about far too easily: our children or elderly parents, for instance. Those were well-trodden conversational routes and forbidding them meant we actually had to work to communicate on other topics. And that was good for us. We weren’t hiding behind easy topics.

      I find that frequently making sure to say “thank you” and “I appreciate you [doing X]” go a long way towards greasing the wheels of a relationship. It makes it harder for you to take each other for granted when you put appreciation of the other person in the forefront of your mind.

      I could keep going, but others have said many of the same things I would, and said it more eloquently too.

    8. Chauncy Gardener*

      We’ve been married for 35 years and have been through so much together. Being kind and polite to each other is key. Assuming good intent on the other’s part! Being each other’s biggest fan. Bragging on them to your friends (just within earshot :) ) A hug and a kiss when you leave and come home. Showing affection and saying I love yous often. Really LOOKING at each other when you’re having a conversation. And, really having a conversation. Showing them how much you trust their judgement. Asking their opinion about current events, work situations, anything. I was so afraid we’d run out of things to talk about, but we could still talk for hours and miss each other if we haven’t had much one on one time.

    9. eeek*

      I’m really enjoying the wisdom in this thread, and I agree with a lot of it. My husband and I have been married 34 years (together 37 or so) and the main thing that holds true is that good relationships take some effort…and the nature of that work changes over time. In our early years we had to unlearn all of the toxic stuff we’d had instilled in us by our parents and the cultural mythos around “happy marriage”. (#1 on my list was getting over my mother’s messaging that “if you really loved me, you’d know why I’m upset”. Newsflash: marriage does not confer psychic abilities.) We had to learn together how to be married to each other, and how to defend against strong (and clashing) family cultures about how we were doing it wrong. (Gee, we forgot to have kids, don’t go to church/temple, respect each other’s individuality, don’t boss or nag or wheedle or manipulate each other to serve the families’ interests…oopsie.)
      These days, the work is different than it was, because growing old together is different from growing up together. Communication and loving kindness are the tools that still seem to work.

    10. PhyllisB*

      Married nearly 48 years here, and two things I’ve learned: know what hills you’re willing to die on, because not everything is worthy of TAKING A STAND on. Also, kind of a two parter: learn when to present your issues. If your partner comes home all upset from a bad day if you throw something at them the minute they walk in the door I can assure you things will not go well. Also learn how to walk away and let things simmer for a while. My husband is the type to immediately be negative about some things. if I just say OK and let it drop 9 times out of 10 he will think about it and come back to me later and tell me he’s thought it over and he either agrees with me or we can discuss it and reach a compromise. Of course sometimes he still doesn’t agree, (this isn’t a sitcom) but at least he is presenting his side in a calm and rational manner, and then what hills to die on comes into play. I wish I had learned all this about 20 years before I did, our life would have been a lot easier.

    11. Mostly Managing*

      Married for 27 years – ups and downs, but still hanging in there!

      Things that help make it work:
      – No starting important conversations after 9pm. We’re both tired, we’re not going to make good decisions, it will keep til the morning.
      – No major decisions in February. Every year, like clockwork, Feb comes along and I want to move to the tropics or start a Masters degree or sell everything and live in a van or … If I still want to in March, we can talk. But my hatred of everything in February is NOT going to upend our lives! (has seriously saved our marriage more years than not!)
      – You will grow and change. Your partner will grow and change. Make a conscious decision to keep falling in love with the same person over and over, and be as curious about each new iteration as you were in the early days of dating.

      1. run mad; don't faint*

        I knew a couple and neither of them were morning people. Their particular rule which I loved, was that they never started any serious conversation before 8:30-9 am. They even gave each other an automatic pass for any morning snappishness that might occur before 8:30.

        1. Mostly Managing*

          Oh yes!!
          9pm is a number that works for us. For my sister and her husband, who are night owls, they don’t start important conversations after midnight!
          One of my kids is NOT a morning person, and nobody tries to say anything (including “good morning”) to them until they’ve had coffee – which on weekends could be after noon!

          The key is to be honest with yourselves about when is the “no good can come of this” cut off, and respect it

    12. Can't believe it's been so many years already*

      My biggest piece of advice is to remember that, in addition to this person being a partner, they’re also your friend. Many people feel like they can treat their partner in ways they would never treat a friend – being demanding, impatient, unforgiving – keep treating them like you would a good friend.

      The most important thing I learned is that we don’t have to talk out every issue. In the beginning, I was afraid of letting things fester, so I would start a big conversation about things. Now I ask myself… is this thing a part of a larger/recurring problem, is this something that will cause resentment, or is this something I can just let go? If I can let it go, I do – I’m much happier this way. Save the discussions for stuff that really matters.

    13. RLC*

      My husband and I have been friends for 40 years, married for 12 years, and the best advise I could give is “this too shall pass” when the road of life is rough.
      Growing up my mom sometimes observed that most marriage vows include “for better or for worse” for a reason. When life was rough (accidents, job loss, health crises) she said “this is that ‘worse’ part we agreed to”. My parents were married for 68 years until separated by death, my husband’s parents for 65 years, so we were fortunate to have good examples of enduring life’s storms as partners.

    14. Brevity*

      Married for almost 28 years. In sum:

      Love is not enough to sustain a marriage. You need two other things: respect, and trust.

      Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

    15. Rain*

      I did a quick scam of what everyone else suggested, which I agree with, but there’s a couple things I didn’t see that might seem small but really make a difference.

      According to a study I read that I can’t find now, the three most important things to have in common in a successful relationship are – coming to standards, approach to finances, and approach to punctuality.

      The theory being that these are things that will imbue every aspect of your life. If you stress about running late, but your partner is always 20 minutes behind. you’re going to have low-level tension constantly.

      Same with the other two – If you are a saver and your partner is a frivolous spender or if you need things tidy. but your partner doesn’t consider the carpet dirty if you can still see it, it’s just a constant low level stress.

      The other big thing I would suggest is if you can’t have/don’t want separate bedrooms, at least have separate duvets.

      (Friends vous 17 years, together for 12, married for 10.)

      1. Rain*

        Quick scan, not scam.
        Cleaning standards, not coming standards.

        Alison, I would pay a non-small amount of money for the ability to edit comments for 5 minutes after they’re posted.

      2. Goldfeesh*

        I totally agree with tidiness/cleanliness. Fortunately my husband and I are at compatible cleanliness levels. I have said that to people before that you need to be the same level of neatness/slob to be able to get along easily with each other.

    16. Nat20*

      A lighthearted but genuine one, from being with my husband for 11 years:

      Separate blankets on the bed. You always have your own preference on what type/amount to use, you never have to worry about either person hogging it in the middle of the night, and it doesn’t get in the way of intimacy at all while still allowing a similar autonomy as separate beds. It’s a small thing that can prevent a lot of resentment. We tried it early on when we were dating and never looked back.

      1. not my usual self*

        I’ve been with my husband since 2001 (and the nights we sleep apart are few and far between) and have never wished for separate blankets! To each his/her own though!

    17. Treena*

      There are a few things I share often with people seeking similar advice.

      Marriage should not be hard. I know, hear me out first! Life WILL be hard, no doubt. But a life partner should be the person who helps make life easier, even in the hard times. When things are terrible, is your partner helping make them better or making it worse? So many people expect marriage to be hard and put up with a lot but it’s not necessary!

      This brings up my general advice to people who aren’t sure if they should marry their partner: Never marry for love. If it’s important for you, you can certainly BE in love, but that’s not why you marry them. Marry someone who wants a similar kind of life. Do they want to buy a house in the suburbs? Move to a new country every few years? Kids/no kids, etc. This is much more important than how deep you think your feelings are. With enough big-ticket sacrifices, most couples won’t survive on love.

      As far as making it last: do new things together. There are obvious things like travel and big adventures, but trying a new hobby together, doing day trips, anything that shakes things up. Our brains associate the new novelty with the person we’re doing it with.

      Married 10+ years

  5. New to the city*

    What’s some of your go-tos when you’re feeling lonely on the weekend? I just moved to a new city with my partner and while it’s nice to have each other, we’ve been fighting due to the stress. He’s also a lot more shy than me. We moved into a big high rise and met nice people across the hall who gave the nicety of “We should hang out!” But of course, I haven’t seen them in the hall since.

    But tonight I hear them across the hall having a large party and I’m thinking man, I’m feeling lonely and sad in my new city. I also feel too exhausted from unpacking (which is not done!!) to be on top of my social game. Is there anything low key I can do to help with my loneliness this weekend?

    1. Jay*

      Well, since they said they want to hang out, you could try and head over tomorrow afternoon and knock on your neighbors door.
      Maybe throw a house warming party, if it’s something you and your SO can handle?

      1. Just another anon*

        Who do you invite to your housewarming party in a new city where you don’t know anyone?

          1. Jay*

            Also, you can ask them to spread the word around the building, if they don’t mind, as they seem to be very sociable people.

        1. Jay*

          You could put up a couple of flyers in the lobby, if that’s allowed in your building, and you think it’s safe and it’s something you can handle if a bunch of people decide to show up? I did that, but I live in a smaller building with fewer people, and I waited a month or so to get the temperature of the building first.

    2. Cabbagepants*

      I think going somewhere where there is no expectation that you will already know someone or need to make friends in order to enjoy yourself that night. Art Gallery night, live music, things like that.

    3. Maggie*

      Work up the courage to knock on the door and ask if you can join the party. Bring some drinks or food to offer? You totally can do it!

    4. Morning Reading*

      When I don’t have a close friend to hang with but I feel like being with people, I go do an acquaintance level something that gets me out of the house. Just a brief chat with the cashier, the waitress, the library clerk, is enough to satisfy my low level need for connection. (It helps that I’ve lived here long enough that those people recognize me.) Maybe look for a place to be your regular “spot” and you develop that superficial familiarity that will tide you over until you make friends in your new location.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Third spaces are so important. Mine is a local deli where the server brings me decaf coffee before I’ve said a word. I’ve been going there for 30 years and I see the same patrons most days. When my husband’s out of town I tuck my crossword in my bag, walk to the deli, and have a lovely breakfast that both is and isn’t by myself.

      2. NetClari*

        I LOVE this idea, the librarians are so friendly and kind! You could go make a library card, and while you’re there, check out the bulletin board and/or ask about upcoming clubs or community events. Maybe there will be something that interests you and you can make friends with the Sunday knitters circle or Arabic class or bake sale, etc etc.

        1. Charley*

          Came here to suggest just this!

          If you’re in a walkable area and don’t have mobility issues that would preclude it, I also find going for walks a nice way to explore and feel grounded. Even brief greetings from neighbors along the way take the edge off the loneliness and make me feel more like a person who exists in the world.

    5. NotBatman*

      Is there a way you can frame a small gift for your neighbors as them doing you a favor? This is a trick I learned from a gardening friend. She’ll approach people as “I’ve ended up with more zucchini than I can eat, and I’d be grateful if you could take some!” I now approach people with a bottle of wine from my cousin’s winery and say “My cousin is trying to get this business off the ground — take some and let people know if you like it?” There’s also the friend who deliberately knits more than she needs and then offers around. Etc.

    6. ecnaseener*

      I go sit in a nearby park to just be surrounded by people. And I seek out little interactions like greeting a stranger’s dog or admiring a weird squirrel together.

      Seeing a live show, any kind, also makes me feel connected to people.

    7. Chauncy Gardener*

      Art gallery, comedy club (laughter is the best medicine!), museum, explore a new area to get excited about your new city
      Good luck!

    8. RagingADHD*

      YMMV but for me, visiting houses of worship in a new city has always been a great way to get out of my own head and feel connected.

      Also, sometimes you get invited to lunch.

    9. Excel Gardener*

      Regular hobby classes or meetup groups have helped me. Even if I don’t become good friends with anyone, seeing the same people every week is comforting.

      I have a pretty strong friend group in my city but I still feel really lonely and exhausted when I have weekends with no social plans whatsoever.

    10. BikeWalkBarb*

      How about taking a book to a coffee shop and sitting there a while? The surrounding social buzz gives you the sense of being with people without the workload of connecting with them, you get to sit and relax without being surrounded by unpacking chaos, and maybe this becomes your third place where you hang out on a regular basis and start recognizing the baristas and other regulars. And treat yourself to something delicious.

      1. Past Lurker*

        Seconded! I’m at a coffeehouse right now! Will read a magazine after I peruse the weekend thread before heading home.

    11. Frankie Bergstein*

      If the city is by chance Washington DC, join City Girls who Walk! It’s an organized, large group designed for exactly this

    12. Le le lemon*

      Pretend you’re a tourist or travelling for work in this new town. (That’ll help if you feel awkward eating along!). Given you & your husband need a little space from each other, what if you both go out for the day/night separately, and meet up later to discuss?
      Places that feel ok on your own: a museum, an aquarium, walking through a park on a photography quest (“all the yellow things”), (multiple) coffee/books shops to read/do puzzles/people watch at, walking on the esplanade/foreshore of the river/lake/ocean. (Also, tons more if you’re not self conscious about being solo).

      I also like asking people I come across – the cashier, the barista, friendly-looking people – what their favourite things are to do, places to go, etc. Especially if you had a favourite X in previous town, and want to find a new place for it.

    13. Ms. Murchison*

      Sorry I’m getting to this late but for next weekend:
      Learn your new city on foot; go “urban backpacking” (assuming the weather allows).
      Find local public art (murals, sculptures and so forth).
      Look for local festivals or public events to attend.

      It’ll distract you from your loneliness, it’ll get you acquainted with your new surroundings, and you might discover places or organizations that fit your interests where you can meet people.

  6. MissGirl*

    I’m planning a road trip to Washington. We want to for sure do Olympic and the San Juan islands. Then either Cascades or Rainier. Any suggestions for where to stay and must-dos. I love hiking but my isn’t super mobile so suggestions for both. I also want to do whale watching and kayaking. Thinking around 7 or 8 days.

    1. Kay*

      That is a pretty ambitious schedule! Make sure to hit Hoh, maybe kayaking on Lake Quinault (Lake Quinault Inn) if your mom isn’t mobile, Kalaloch Lodge is another good spot (get a cabin on the edge). Rainier is kinda a haul if you aren’t going to be hiking. Deception Pass in the San Juans is beautiful… I would plan out where you want to go, maybe what beaches you want to stop at, or places you want to eat, and look into lodging. It can be a lot of driving without much in the way of services – so often you have to plan around that depending on what you want/are willing to do.

      1. Kay*

        Obviously Olympic National Park, but since you said Olympic I assumed that was already on your list. They have some short/easy/paved trails with great views so your mom should get to enjoy plenty (and there are usually very mild mannered deer not caring about what the humans are up to).

      2. Jackalope*

        Yes, that’s a thing to keep in mind. If you’re spending time in the wilderness, you may end up on a lot of forest service roads that are slower than you think, or small highways rather than interstate. All of which is fine, but you want to know about it up front so you can plan in the right amount of driving time.

        Also for hiking, check out wta dot org, the WA Trails Assn. not only can it help you find hikes in the areas you want to go, but it will also give you the status of those hikes, and people can post about recent trail conditions. I recommend checking any trails you want to hike on this site because it will give you up to date info like if a bridge just went out or a trail is closed for maintenance, if it’s still got snow, etc.

    2. Jackalope*

      It sounds like you’re wanting to do more nature stuff, is that correct? Or do you also want to do some city stuff?

      Rainier is incredibly impressive and I 100% recommend it. If you go to Sunrise it’s the highest place you can drive to on the mountain and is breathtaking. The one thing to know is that they’re having people buy timed entry tickets because it’s so popular, so if you want to go then make sure you look into it beforehand. I haven’t tried their new system yet but it looks like some tickets are available earlier in the year and some aren’t released until the night before. If you want to camp there, White River Campground is amazing (and is right by the path up to Sunrise so you can make it there early the next day). They have amenities like running water and flush toilets. It’s first come, first served, and if you go on a Friday or Saturday night you prob won’t get a site but the rest of the week you prob will. I’ve heard that Ohanapecosh is also a great campground but I haven’t stayed there in many years so can’t vouch for it myself. It’s also first come, first served, and the bit about Fri/Sat is prob also true there.

      1. Jackalope*

        I forgot to add that both Sunrise and Paradise have visitor centers at the top with stuff to see, and trails in the area. If I remember correctly, Sunrise has more trails and Paradise has a more in-depth visitor center, but both are good. And if you want to hike but your mom doesn’t, that might be a way to facilitate that by giving both of you something to do.

        1. Retired Accountant*

          The Paradise visitor center is gorgeous and would be a great place for mom to hang while OP hikes.

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        We booked entry tickets two months in advance for an August trip and Sunrise wasn’t available at all, so definitely look into your times entry now before booking anything else in that area!

    3. Silent E*

      I agree that this is a pretty ambitious schedule for 7-8 days! Do check mountain road conditions beforehand: some open later due to wintry conditions, and some close due to wildfires in the summer and fall. If you want to visit the San Juan islands, check the ferry schedule – they have had quite a few mechanical issues and some aren’t running (or running as often). If you are going in the summer, it’s advisable to reserve spots on the ferries to/from the San Juans if you are bringing your car. I’ll link to more info in a reply to this comment.
      The North Cascades are beautiful but rugged and the services there are pretty basic in many places, so that may be something easy to drop for this trip and return to when you are alone or with companions who are more mobile. Though there are a couple of places you can drive to and have a picnic with your mom! Diablo Lake is doable by car, and has a great lookout with plenty of parking and picnic tables. It can get busy on the weekends, though.
      Mt. Rainier NP is beautiful, but as Jackelope mentioned, you now have to buy tickets for timed entry: they are required between May 24 and September 2 from 7 am to 3 pm at Paradise and Sunset. More info is on the NPS website. So you could go later and dodge the ticket requirement, but please take my word for it that you do not want to drive down that mountain in the dark.
      Since the San Juans are definitely on your list, consider looking around the area on the mainland, too – there are quite a few charming towns with museums and things to see and do (like Bellingham, Anacortes, Mount Vernon, Oak Harbor).

        1. Warrior Princess Xena*

          Do also know that the ferry system right now is kinda a hot mess. It’s not uncommon for ferries to be running 10 minutes late and lines to be 2.5 hrs long.

      1. MissGirl*

        Further details. We’re going early September. I was thinking Olympic, San Juan islands, and a day in Cascade. Is that too ambitious? Would Rainier be better than Cascade? Is that still too ambitious?

        1. BikeWalkBarb*

          Do you mean “a day in the North Cascade Mountains”? Do you want to stop somewhere in the mountains and hike, or just drive through for the scenery?

          Are you looking for places where your mom will have something to do in town while you go hiking, or a place with gentle hikes/walks she can do with you?

          Do you want to change where you’re staying every night and cover lots of ground, or stay somewhere a day or two and get to know it better?

          What’s your starting point? That will affect what makes for a logical loop so you don’t spend time backtracking.

          I live in Olympia now, lived in Seattle for a while, have a sister in Friday Harbor so I’ve gone to the San Juans a lot, have been to various places on the Olympic Peninsula and did a bike tour loop from Seattle that includes some of what you want to do; I’ll drop a link to my blog posts on the trip in case they’re useful.

          Without having answers to any of my questions, a few thoughts–

          Since the San Juans are north it’s quite a trek to get to or from Mt. Rainier. If you’re flying into SeaTac and then driving you might go south to Rainier, then double back to go to the Olympic Peninsula and end up at the San Juans. Or you go straight to the Olympic Peninsula, then to the San Juans, then the North Cascades. Or San Juans first, then Olympic Peninsula, then whichever mountains. With the ferries linking some towns and not others there isn’t really a tidy loop option to cover all of these without some backtracking so you have to factor in that drive time. It’s beautiful and scenic, at least.

          If you’re flying into Everett (a newer airport north of Seattle so you don’t have to deal with as much traffic) you’re in a good starting point to go to the San Juans first with the ferry from Anacortes (where you could walk or bike on the Tommy Thompson Trail, which has a long railroad trestle–not out in nature but would be pleasant and easy for your mom), or you can take the Mukilteo ferry to Whidbey Island (which has some cute little towns, like Langley, and some parks and hiking so you might add it to the list), then the Coupeville ferry to Port Townsend and get to the Olympic Peninsula that way.

          You do definitely want/need to reserve spots to drive a car onto the ferry so that means committing to a schedule for the parts of the trip that involve the islands. Taking a chance on having an open spot runs the risk of not getting to your destination where you’ve booked a place to stay. They’re doing their best to keep the system running with the older boats they have; legislature funded some replacements but it takes quite a while to build a vessel like that, and the system has to deal with boats being pulled out for repairs with no back-up boats on hand.

          Port Townsend is a sweet little town on the tip of OlyPen. If you go in early September you can sign up for a puffin cruise (which I’ve been wanting to do for quite a while) to go out to Protection Island where thousands of seabirds nest.

          From Port Townsend you can drive to Port Angeles and then into Olympic National Park to Hurricane Ridge. The Olympic Discovery Trail is a paved trail that runs right through Port Angeles–gentle walking along the waterfront and beyond. It’s also in Port Townsend. It takes you through beautiful forest on a paved trail so it could work great for your mom. I’ll drop links to that in a reply.

          If it were me, I’d stick with the San Juans and Olympic Peninsula so as to see more in the places you’re in. If you love mountains you have the Olympic range to enjoy. The Olympic Peninsula has so much, from oceanfront to Lake Crescent to Lake Quinault and the rainforest. You’ll want to move here by the time the trip is over. Enjoy!

          1. BikeWalkBarb*

            Olympic Discovery Trail (referred to as the ODT by the local folks) https://olympicdiscoverytrail.org/.

            My blog posts on my bike tour are all linked at the bottom of this one http://bikestylespokane.com/2018/06/08/bike-touring-northwest-washington-state-how-our-bike-ferry-train-loop-worked-out/. Not that I wanted to do the exact things you list but you’ll get tips like where to get good pie on Whidbey Island. You may actually be interested in the general loop we used, which included taking the Black Ball Ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria, BC.

          2. Agnes Grey*

            There are puffin cruises out of Port Townsend? Washingtonian here who did not know that until today! Thank you!!

            1. ronda*

              they also do the whale watching tours. I went on that and it was good. Several whale pods live in the puget sound full time, so they are able to find them.

          3. Agnes Grey*

            Lake Crescent is a favorite of ours. The Lake Crescent Lodge is lovely but expensive, and the Log Cabin Resort at the other end of the lake is also nice and has a bigger range of accommodation options.

    4. Double A*

      I really love the Dungeness Recreation Area out on the Olympic Peninsula. Accessible and close to stuff and also on the way to the National Park. You can camp there. Easy to get down to a sandy beach.

      1. Silent E*

        I came back here to suggest this but Double A beat me to it! So: +1 to Dungeness RA! Very accessible, very pretty.

    5. Pop*

      What time of year are you planning on going? When people aren’t used to high elevation areas, they are often surprised at how long places are under snow.

    6. MissGirl*

      Further details. We’re going early September. I was thinking Olympic, San Juan islands, and a day in Cascade. Is that too ambitious? Would Rainier be better than Cascade? Is that still too ambitious?

      1. Retired Accountant*

        In my opinion, Rainier is better than North Cascades. It is stunning. North Cascades would be closer to the San Juans, if you leave from Anacortes.

      2. Silent E*

        Depends on how much driving you want to do and what you and your mom want to prioritize in your 7-8 day trip. Mt. Rainier is beautiful but it’s a chunk of a drive from the Olympic Penninsula and the northern mainland (returning from the San Juans). Maybe keep that as a backup in case the N Cascades are smoky from wildfires (as they can be in late Aug/early Sept). Mt. Rainier can also be stunning simply to look at from afar without driving there!
        If you want to get onto another big, beautiful mountain in addition to those in the Olympic NP, here’s another idea: if you do the San Juans, you’ll be closer to Mt. Baker, which is also stunning, also driveable, and closer to the San Juans and N Cascades than Mt. Rainier. As always, just keep track of wildfires that time of year.
        Another suggestion for the Olympic Penninsula: you could go from Port Townsend (good food) to the Dungeoness Spit/RA, and drive along the Hood Canal. There are 2 state parks along there (Twanoh and Potlatch) where you can stretch your legs, have a picnic and a walk, and take in the views.

  7. Meh*

    My lovely husband bought a set of garden shears and went on a weeding rampage. He invited my 7y/o to help him. Unfortunately I discovered 10min too late that my husband cannot identify poison ivy, my 7y/o was right next to a branch of it and rubbing around his eyes. Dunno if he actually touched the branch.

    Little one was marched up to the shower, soaped and scrubbed, and limbs rinsed with isopropyl. I’m HOPING he doesn’t have a reaction, or if he does it’s only on his arms/hands, not on his face. in the grand scheme of the universe it’s not the worst but good wishes or helpful tips would be welcome

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Tecnu. You could probably find it tomorrow, or order it tonight. It’s a wash designed specifically for the poison ivy oils, and you can do it after exposure. This is the standard at the family home in the deep south, where the poison ivy is feuding with the kudzu to take over everything, and I now keep a large bottle on hand just in case. (I am wildly allergic to poison ivy.)

      While you probably cannot apply this, goats are apparently really good at clearing poison ivy. And you can rent them.

      1. mreasy*

        I am seconding Technu. All the hikers I know swear by it. This is going to be your best bet.

    2. Cabbagepants*

      I’ve never heard of isopropyl alcohol for poison ivy oil. I’ve always just used dawn or similar dish soap, plus hot water. Imagine you’re cleaning off cooking oil. You have 24 hours to wash it off, so don’t panic.

      1. run mad; don't faint*

        I worked as a gardener many years ago and was always told that washing with cold water and soap is preferable to using hot water and soap. Supposedly using hot water strips the natural protective oils from your skin faster than it removes the oil from the poison ivy. I have no idea if it’s true, but I had comparatively few outbreaks of poison ivy considering how often I ran into it.
        I’m going to keep isopropyl alcohol in mind to try should I run into it again though!

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          Also, the hot water opens the pores on your skin, which gives the oil in the poison ivy an opportunity to enter your skin. Cold water tends to keep the pores closed and presents less of an opportunity.

          As for the isopropyl alcohol, I guess because it is a solvent, it’s more effective at washing away the oil in the poison ivy (urushiol) than detergent would be. When I worked in a plastics factory, we used IPA to clean the mold oil off molded parts.

            1. Shiny Penny*

              Yeah, even goats have been known to not survive if they’re downwind of a fire burning poison ivy, and they breathe the smoke. (Per my 4-H leader years ago.)

    3. just here for the scripts*

      I had it rubbed on my face in 8th grade. I looked like a character played by Lon Chaney, but I don’t think they gave me anything other than the usual anti-poison ivy stuff (calamine, etc). Godson had a bad reaction as a teenager and they gave him steroid Shot and topical cream to lessen the swelling—he was better in under 12 hours.

      Just my way of saying he may be fine—and if you have any concerns in the AM go to urgent care.

      1. o_gal*

        Seconding the urgent care or pediatrician visit. Basically, once the oils have bonded to the skin (15 minutes) they start the histamine reaction. Then those cells swell up, burst, then adjoining cells react. A doctor can give a strong antihistamine and some steroids to help strengthen the cell walls. Since this is potentially around the eye, do not hesitate to go.

      2. Meh*

        OMG. Someone was cruel enough to intentionally rub poison ivy in your face ? I’d be even more horrified, except I haven’t forgotten my own middle school experiences.

        1. just here for the scripts*

          No I did it myself—didn’t know it was on my hands and then started rubbing my eyes when I thought I had was “allergies”

          1. Meh*

            Marginally better I suppose, but must’ve still been an uncomfortable/painful experience.

    4. GoryDetails*

      Eep! Hope the child’s OK (and you and Dad too). My experiences with poison ivy include points already mentioned: do the first washing with cool-to-room-temperature water and soap, use Tecnu or equivalent as a post-exposure scrub (this can’t be used near the eyes, but is great on arms and legs), and watch for reactions.

      Also, sequester all clothing, including shoes, for a thorough washing/wipe-down.

      If he doesn’t have a reaction, that’s great, but it doesn’t mean he’ll always be immune/resistant. I was able to romp through poison ivy as a kid with no reaction, but when I had a heavy exposure to it as an adult I had a really awful rash that lasted a long time, and since then the slightest contact will raise itchy blisters. I found that I could ease the itch by flooding the area with very hot water (this is after the initial washings, btw) and then by very cold water; the contrast/shock seemed to turn off the itch-process for a while.

      Good luck!

    5. Doctor is*

      Zander, over the counter cream that works well for most people to remove the resin from the skin.

    6. RLC*

      As long as no one has an oat allergy, a colloidal oatmeal soak may help soothe the itch. My parents got an extreme case of poison oak rash whilst clearing a home site (think limbs too swollen to bend knees or elbows). Dermatologist recommended repeated soaks in tub of cool water with colloidal oatmeal. Oatmeal lotion may also help.

    7. Autumn*

      Tecnu is the way. I keep a bottle in the shower all summer. Apply to skin and rinse off with cold water, not hot. Then shower as usual (it doesn’t smell great). If there’s a chance anyone went to bed before doing the rinse (doesn’t sound like it in this case, but in general) wash the sheets as the oil could have gotten on them.

    8. Meh*

      Thank you all for the tips and moral support. We did end up getting the Tecnu tho it was multiple hours after the fact. Hard to tell if it made an impact – but we will know for next time.
      Fortunately, little one only seems to have a tiny smidge of redness on his cheek/jaw, and doesn’t seem to be bothered otherwise.
      My husband got a few rashes / welts but otherwise is okay. He has now learned to use Google images to verify a plant before handling.

      Thanks again, everyone

  8. Falling Diphthong*

    Any recommendations for my road trippers when they hit Minneapolis/St Paul? Young fit people breaking up a cross-country drive.

      1. Missa Brevis*

        If it fits their budget, a guided tour kayaking the Mississippi in the twin cities in the summer is a treat!

        (I’m also obliged to recommend my favorite niche Minneapolis attraction: The Museum of Russian Art. Incredibly well-curated exhibits, with explanatory text good enough that a background in Russian Studies is not required.)

      2. libellulebelle*

        Also bike along (or swim in!) the Chain of Lakes. Minnehaha Falls is beautiful and also has some nice short hikes.

    1. Mobie's Mom Now*

      Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store! It’s outside the Twin Cities, on highway 169 in Jordan.

      1. Charley*

        There is a limestone mine in St. Paul that was turned into a secret gangster nightclub during Prohibition and now gives tours. One of the coolest places I’ve ever been!

  9. Great Beyond*

    My Dad passed away and I’m going through estate drama with my brother and sister-in-law. Lawyers are involved and it’s not pretty. I briefly saw my brother and sister-in-law and they were extremely hostile and were sending me nasty texts and so on. Things aren’t good between us.

    A relative is getting married in the fall and invited both myself and my brother to the wedding. I would like to go, but don’t want any drama if my brother and sister-in-law attend. The realtive getting married said that they would put us at different tables, but I’m sure my brother would start something with me or try to. What should I do? I’d feel bad declining the invite, but I would be nervous about going.

    1. Dittany*

      That’s awful. I’m sorry you have to deal with that.

      If you truly don’t feel comfortable going, then don’t, and explain to Relative Who’s Getting Married that you don’t want to potentially be a source of drama on their special day.

      (That said… how comfortable are your brother/SIL with making a huge public scene? Someone might be okay with being a dick to you in a quieter setting but not in front of the entire extended family.)

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      If you really care about the marrying couple (or their parents etc) and want to be there to share in their big day, then I would go. Maybe practice some grey rocking beforehand so if they try to start something that is extremely boring for them. Give it a chance to be a minor blip in a nice day. And of course, give your brother a chance to be the one who decides not to come.

      If you are more going out of obligation and this is the straw that pushes you into “Why am I even trying to make this work when I don’t want it to work?” then this could be a wedding where you send a nice card wishing them well.

      1. Zweisatz*

        I agree: go if it matters to you. This is their one wedding (presumably). Also if it would increase resentment towards your brother if you don’t go, I would consider that a good reason too. It’s not fun to be the one who misses out. If it doesn’t mean a lot to you, then skip.

        Your best bet is to have someone run interference/plan ahead how you want to react if something goes down. Do you have a relative/friend who could help deescalate? But also think about options for a speedy exit (your brother can’t follow you to the bathroom, I assume?) Hone your conversational “well I MUST now talk to Y over there” skills.

        Finally if you would be seated at different tables maybe the marrying couple would be happy to divulge a backstage location to you that you can disappear in for a moment if needed?

    3. ghost_cat*

      Could you go to the wedding, but not the reception? Or rope in a willing third party who can head your brother off if he comes near you & distract him, while you slip away to a different area?

      1. Chaordic One*

        This is my suggestion, too. It you are at all close to the relative getting married, you will want to go to the wedding to support your relative and celebrate their wedding. Similarly, if you don’t want to risk any kind of scene at the reception (or if you just don’t feel comfortable going) don’t go to the reception.

    4. Seashell*

      If your brother is the type to scream at you in public or get violent, then I might opt to RSVP no. Otherwise, what is he going to do? If he says something mean to you, tell him you want to spend your time celebrating the happy occasion so he can please not bother you. If he bashes you to other relatives, you can tell them the truth.

    5. NotBatman*

      Can you have your plus-one or another friend at the wedding serve as a “social bodyguard” for you? So that person will keep an eye on you and on your brother/SiL the whole evening, and jump in if needed to prevent any conversation.

      I’ve done this for my brother at events where That Cousin is in attendance – I hang out close-ish to my brother and if TC starts to approach, I either intercept TC or (if necessary) hustle my brother into another room to take an urgent fake phone call.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Don’t punish yourself or the happy couple for your brother’s potential bad behavior.

    7. Busy Middle Manager*

      There isn’t going to be a consensus, I would say not go because I’m at similar wits-ends with my family. I’ve seen relatives say such nasty things to eachother while settling estates. It’s not even “emotions are high” that’s the issue, they’re saying things they thought all along and in many cases won’t let it go.

      TBH I am more curious what the drama is. Why are they attacking you? Did you not do something that they are now harping on? I’ve told my parents to take my name off the house repeatedly because I know my middle sister is going to keep tabs on every little thing and then talk about the one thing I don’t do for the rest of her life, because it’s happened in other situations and my parents’ cousins did some of that. Some people are wired like that. It’s ridiculous.

  10. Le le lemon*

    Anyone been following their sport’s journey towards Olympic selection?
    US Track and field Trials have been thrilling, given it’s 1-2-3 that make the team. It makes for tactical, cut-throat and highly dramatic competition (and devastation). If you’re into tech, the live results portal has some pretty cool functions too! (Link below)

    USA Gymnastics trials are underway and currently for WAG it’s – at the half point of Day 1 – been an absolute disaster, with 2 injuries tonight in warmups or competition to major contenders. And flukey errors. Let’s hope that’s as bad as it gets.

      1. TackyB*

        Snoop Dogg and Kevin Hart were hilarious doing colour commentary for Dressage at the last Olympics.

    1. Missa Brevis*

      Gymnastics! The only sport more likely to give me an ulcer than figure skating. It’s really starting to feel like this USAG Trials is cursed or something.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I just love watching Simone Biles, she is amazing. So happy she was able to come back this year.

      1. run mad; don't faint*

        I turned the trials on just in time to catch her vaulting tonight. She was spectacular!

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      I don’t really follow skateboarding outside the Olympics, but I’m glad to see that the amazing Sky Brown will be back on Team GB for Paris, as she was one of the highlights of the last Olympics for me. And I will be rooting for Simone Biles even though I’m not American!

    4. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

      Katie! Ledecky! Is! Amazing! (There are so many great American swimmers but I freakin’ love watching Ledecky.)

          1. fposte*

            I’m curious—what’s the historical reason for that? Was there a big coach there and it just swelled from there? (The water park there is supposed to be epic but I’m guessing that’s not the reason.)

            1. ThatGirl*

              I’m not sure – swimming has always been a big high school sport there, my high school had a team and I know the schools around Indy do. My guess is when athletes in Carmel wanted to keep going the demand brought coaches and facilities there. It’s been big for at least 40 years.

            2. Don’t make me come over there*

              When I was a wee high school swimmer in Illinois in the 80’s, Doc Counsilman was the coach at Indiana and THE guru, at least in the Midwest. I went to swim camp there and they had great facilities. So they’ve been good historically, but I think they’re also on a hot streak lately. And Purdue seems to be a hot spot for diving these days.

    5. Nervous Nellie*

      Yes! I am closely watching the selections for the new sport ‘breaking’ which we know as breakdancing, from NY in the 80s. It’s a guest sport for the Paris Olympics, but may be added a permanent sport in future. A sport with a DJ and an MC! Nellie is very happy.

  11. Lynn*

    Looking for potholder recommendations. What I need/want:

    Can be used up to 500 degrees.
    Square in shape (not mitts).

    The past few on Amazon that advertise “up to 500 degrees” have not actually worked for that high of heat. I can only hold the item for a second or two before it transfers through uncomfortably.

    1. Annie*

      You can try ones that say they’re rated for even higher heat, but I can’t guarantee that they only mean it in the sense that it will stay in one piece at that temperature (if even that is true!) as opposed to keep enough heat away from your hands to handle the object safely for any length of time, either.

      All-Clad Premium Pot Holder & Heating Pad is the closest to what you’re looking for that I’ve found so far.

      1. InterPlanetJanet*

        You are not looking for Pot Holders- you are looking for industrial heat resistant gloves:

        like these: Uline HeatGard™ Gloves – Red, Medium S-25687R-M
        For hot metal handling. Heat resistant up to 932°F.

        or search for welding gloves

    2. BikeWalkBarb*

      Maybe a really basic question but have you tried using two potholders held together in each hand? Twice the thickness may do what you need. I also wonder about looking into supplies for people who do glassblowing or metalworking or something if you need to manage heat this high. I’ve never cooked anything at this temperature so this isn’t a question that comes up at my house.

    3. Monkey's Paw Manicure*

      I recently bought a pair at Ikea (“RINNIG”) and was surprised how much I like them.

    4. Not Totally Subclinical*

      I rely on the traditional potholder woven from cotton jersey loops. I don’t know how well they’d work at 500F or for very extended times; they’re fine for getting 450F pans from the oven to the cooling surface.

      The main drawback, of course, is that you either need to know someone with a potholder loom who sells them or be up for weaving them yourself. If you’re doing it yourself, Harrisville Designs is a good US source for the looms and loops.

    5. Pharmgirl*

      I really like the kitchen aid ones. I don’t have the tag so I’m not sure of the rating, but they have a full silicone backing on side and the cloth pocket on the other. They’re on the pricier side, but I got mine as a set of 2 with a pair of mitts from Costco.

    6. Tx_Trucker*

      I know you want mitts, but for a very high heat rating you are going to need gloves. Welding gloves are generally rated for 700 to 900F or up to 500C. I know many pitmasters who use them when grilling.

    7. Vote Pedro*

      Search Amazon for Heat Resistant Mats:

      15 x15 Inch Silicone Heat Press Mat Pad, 5/16” Thickest Silicone Heat Mat
      HIGH PERFORMANCE: Our heat press pad is designed to undertake long lasting and heat resistant up to 600℉

      LXLZSH Tabletop Grill Mat:The Table fireproof grill mat is 24 x 31 inches,0.6mm
      can withstand heat up to 2000 ℉

  12. Jackalope*

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

    I just finished Shipwrecked by Olivia Dade; it’s the third in what I’m assuming is a trilogy of romance novels about characters in an ongoing tv series. I didn’t like the first book, but the second and third were pretty good.

    I also finished Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Kimmerer, and it was amazing. The author is an indigenous American who is also a botanist, and so she talks a lot about plants, the way humans and plants work together, and how native peoples used to grow and live with plants. It’s so hard to describe well, but I would highly recommend.

    1. Valancy Stirling*

      I love Olivia Dade! we follow each other on Twitter, and she’s as lovely a person as she is a writer.

      I’m reading The Rose Code by Kate Quinn. A fictionalized account of Osla Benning’s life and those of other female codebreakers in WWII. It’s wonderful.

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      Due to the ball of chaos and fire that is my life at present, I’m rereading Connie Willis–To Say Nothing of the Dog. Nothing like recreating Coventry Cathedral and time travel for relaxation!

      1. Agnes Grey*

        Oh, I’ve been contemplating a comfort re-read for the weekend and this is an excellent candidate.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I can feel my stomach unknotting as I mentally cuddle Cyril and Darling Juju.

    3. costello music*

      After Suzanne Collins announced she’s doing the Haymitch book, I’m reading the whole series. I read the first one on the regular but not 2 or 3, and have yet to read Ballads and Snakes.

      Also kinda reading Mist and Fury by Maas and I’m over it. Hated the first Court book but Rhys intrigued me. Been disappointed so far with him so don’t think I’ll continue.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        I was just thinking I want to reread the trilogy! It’s been a couple years I think. I should also give the Ballad a try but just wasn’t particularly interested when it came out – I tend not to care for the spin off type stories

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      I finished Starling House by Alix E. Harrow today and it was great!

      Rereading Sabriel by Garth Nix on a whim because I needed a beach read and apparently that’s what I went with lol.

    5. word nerd*

      I was disappointed by Jhumpa Lahiri’s latest book, Roman Stories. I have to admit I haven’t been blown away by any of the books she’s written in Italian that were translated into English, even though I adored her early work when she was writing only in English. It’s too bad because I’m an Asian American woman learning Italian who has spent months in Italy, so I feel like it should be right up my alley… but it isn’t.

      I really enjoyed Middlemarch and the Imperfect Life by Pamela Erens, a short collection of essays about Middlemarch, George Eliot, bits of musings on writing and reading. It was able to express so much of what I love about Middlemarch but hadn’t been able to fully articulate in my head.

      I also read The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man this week–plus the sequel–after it was recommended here last week. Very much not my usual genre, but it was fun to dive in anyway and read something different, especially since my father-in-law lives near Kalkaska, the small town in northern Michigan where the book was set.

      Oh, and for any biology nerds, I liked Every Living Thing by Jason Roberts, about how the classification system for living organisms came about, focusing on the 18th century (my takeaway: Linnaeus was a jerk), but I imagine that most people might find the topic dry.

      1. It*

        As an Italian who read Lahiri’s first work in Italian translation and her more recent in Italian original, hard agree.

    6. Filosofickle*

      This week i really enjoyed: The Last List of Mabel Beaumont — a newly widowed octogenarian finds unexpected friends who help her search for the long-lost bestie she was in love with. And Titanic Survivors Book Club, a group of people who should have sailed on the Titanic but were saved by a twist of fate, set in a Paris bookshop before and after the Great War. Both were fairly melancholy but not downers, about the many ways we love and connect and what it means to live life more fully.

      It was such a relief to find pleasant books this week. i’ve been struggling so much lately! My feminist rage has been getting a real workout — even in benign cozy mysteries and the like, the burden of women seems so heavy. Whether it’s the sexist expectations of society (esp. in historic fiction), outlandishly unreasonable families, or even their own distorted sense of duty, stories about women have been depressing me. For a long time i favored books written by and about men and i wonder if this is why.

    7. Annie Edison*

      I’m back to romance this week because my brain is still craving safety and predictability. Just finished Alexis Hall’s “A Lady for a Duke.” It was a fun read- queer romance set in regency England.

      One main character is trans, and the other has war-related PTSD, and it was interesting to watch characters navigate very contemporary concepts like mental health and queer-ness in a world that didn’t yet have vocabulary to describe those concepts.

      The pacing felt a bit off in places- dragged on too long in some spots and rushed too quickly in others- but it was a fun read overall. Anyone else read it?

      1. Fellow Traveller*

        This is on my TBR! I loved Alexis Hall’s London Calling books. Is this book funny? I think that’s what is giving me pause because his other books are so funny.

        1. Annie Edison*

          Yes, it definitely has funny/whimsical moments! I don’t think this was my favorite book of his that I’ve read so far but it was a fun read

      1. Lemonwhirl*

        I have it on preorder and it arrives next week, I think. Looking forward to it although I hated his last book and could not finish it.

    8. BikeWalkBarb*

      City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett. I recently read and loved his trilogy that started with Foundryside, hoping for more great worldbuilding and characters I care about. I just finished Widowland by CJ Carey which I think was a recommendation I got from this space and it was great–alternative history with England living under Nazi rule. I’ve already requested the sequel, Queen Wallis, from my library.

      In nonfiction, I’m reading Your Brain at Work at the recommendation of a co-worker and it does give me insights. I’m also reading Lisa Mason Ziegler’s
      Vegetables Love Flowers: Companion Planting for Beauty and Bounty to take my vegetable gardening haphazardness to a new level.

      I also read poetry every morning to start my day. Any other poetry lovers here? I pick up some anthologies, some works by specific poets after I’ve read a few of their poems. I’m not very avant-garde in my taste. Current books in that pile include Leading from Within: Poetry That Sustains the Courage to Lead, Amanda Gorman’s Call Us What We Carry, and Jane Hirshfeld’s The Beauty.

    9. BellaStella*

      Last night at 1am I finished Empire of the Damned by Jay Kristoff and am conflicted and need to re read the last chapter. It is about 650 ish pages and took me over 6 weeks to read it. My new lighter book is by Mark Manson and is called Everything is f***** – a book about hope. A third book I have is A Year Without a Summer on the 1860 summer here in Europe.

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        I love Mark Manson! His website has some great essays you might enjoy as well. He has some very comforting ideas.

    10. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If anybody likes action thriller type books, especially folks who also like Indiana Jones, may I recommend the Jack West series by Matthew Reilly, starting with Seven Deadly Wonders. (And if you like more James Bond** and less Indiana Jones, his Scarecrow series. They also cross over in a couple of the Jack West books.) They’re seriously fast-paced actiony – I have plowed through 12 Matthew Reilly books (these two series plus a standalone, The Great Zoo of China, which is an homage to Jurassic Park) in the last 9 days, without being on vacation or anything.

      **James Bond isn’t quite right – less spy, more Marine – but I can’t think of a better comparison off the top of my head.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        The Jack West books also, for this genre, have an unusually distinct set of “chosen family” themes running through which are nice :) (and all the pets make it!!)

    11. Falling Diphthong*

      I just finished Rosewater Insurrection, the second book in the Rosewater series by Tade Thompson. Set in Nigeria, and asks what if the aliens who arrive are less little green men in a saucer, and more a blob of fungus that is not interested in discussing its needs and desires with any government. Rosewater is the town that grew up around the blob over the last 11 years (it has a yearly release of healing fungi) and the author is really good at conveying how the fantastical becomes the routine. For example the healing can get a little overzealous and raise the dead (in classic shuffling zombie mode, no apparent link to their prior selves) and this is now just an urban risk you work around.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Meant to add, thank you to everyone who contributed to the thread several weeks ago on books by African authors that stand out for having fun plots.

      2. Sitting Pretty*

        I am about halfway through Rosewater, the first one. I picked it up also because of suggestions here. I’m really enjoying it and love that it’s set in Nigeria in the near-enough future to get a real sense of place for all the weird sci-fi action.

    12. Lemonwhirl*

      Read “Margo’s Got Money Troubles” by Rufi Thorpe and it was incredible. I loved Margo and the other characters and enjoyed the narrative structure more than I thought I would. Cannot say enough good things about it.

      I started but think that I’ve abandoned “How to Bury Your Husband” by Alexia Casale. It’s fine, just not for me. So now I am reading “Sandwich” by Catherine Newman, and it’s exactly what I am in the mood for. A lovely, funny family story. I am only 1/2 way through, but I think if you enjoy Alison’s recs, you’d enjoy this book (and who knows, she might have recommended it and I missed it).

    13. Fellow Traveller*

      It took me 18 months to get through Braiding Sweetgrass, and I think about that book a lot- about how we exists with the things around us and how not to take nature for granted. It’s a dense read, but very good, I thought.
      I’m 2/3 of the way through The Ministry of Time by Kaliane Bradley- about a civil servant working for a Department that pulls people from the past into the present. It’s kind of like science fiction/speculative fiction/ veering into political thriller- not genres that I usually read so I’m surprisingly sucked in by how fun and thoughtful and propelling the book is. (I picked it up for the promise of a romance and because the author is British/Cambodian).
      Here’s a request, though- my tween and I have been listening to Lily Chiu’s The Comeback- a romance novel about a lawyer and a KPop star who fall in love. We finished that, and are looking for our next romance novel to listen to- any similar suggestions? We’re looking for something closed door (if they even get as far as the bedroom), funny, good dialogue, strong protagonists and characters, catchy plot, good on audio. I think one of the nice things about the Comeback was that the romance was the impetus for the plot, but not the main focus- the main character really had her own arc and the relationship with the women in her life was so strong.
      Thanks for recs!

      1. word nerd*

        The Monsters We Defy by Leslye Penelope: historical fantasy + romance set in 1920s DC Black community. It is fun and engaging and excellent on audio, and the protagonist is a strong, capable woman. I don’t recall anything explicit, but anyone feel free to correct me since I don’t usually pay attention to that factor.

        Since the book you mentioned is an Audible Original (I’m going to check it out, thanks!), Cara Bastone has a series of G-rated Audible Original romances done in Dolby Atmos, where you feel like you’re listening to a movie with sound effects, and it’s included in the Audible membership. However, the focus is pretty much only romance and the target audience feels more adult, which may not be what you’re looking for.

        1. Phlox*

          historical fantasy Black DC book?!?!!! that’s going to the top of the TBR. I also really want to read Creatures of Passage which is set around the Anacostia

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        This sounds pretty similar to Permanent Record by Mary HK Choi! Bodega worker meets a pop star and they start dating. It’s cute with great characters but also about more than just the relationship (focuses on the boy trying to get his life together). Her book Emergency Contact is also great – the characters fall in love mainly through texting because they’re too awkward to interact in person (I listened to this one on audiobook and it worked well despite the text-based conversations, the book isn’t all texts). They’re both YA focusing on “new adults” (late teens/early 20s) and no more than PG13 romance from what I remember.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          Oh, a couple more! Both YA with excellent audiobook narrators.

          The Sun is Also a Star – focuses on the idea of destiny, between a boy who believes in it and a girl who doesn’t.

          What If It’s Us – theater nerd from Georgia goes to NYC and keeps trying and failing to have a perfect first date with the same boy. (Adam Silvera also wrote They Both Die At The End, which has the CUTEST YA romance and somehow the 2 audio narrators manage to have great chemistry despite probably never interacting, but it skews more sci fi and also will make you cry)

      3. Fellow Traveller*

        thanks for all the recs!
        I lived Monster They Defy- I see that Leslye Penelope has a new book out so I should ehexj that out. My kid is a theatre geek so What If It’s Us sounds great!

      4. MaxKitty*

        Maybe try The Case Files of Henri Davenforth by Honor Raconteur. First book is Magic and The Shinigami Detective.

    14. Heffalump*

      Recently got The Lost Journalism of Ring Lardner, an anthology of his newspaper columns, 500+ pages. I’m a little way into, and it’s living up to my expectations. I’m a great fan of Lardner.

    15. GoryDetails*

      Re Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Kimmerer: I really enjoyed that one too. Also liked Kimmerer’s “Gathering Moss”!

      1. RC*

        You can tell that Gathering Moss was written like 10 years before Braiding Sweetgrass, she‘s a lot more polished in the latter one but I enjoyed them both.

        She also reads her own audiobooks and it‘s great.

    16. GoryDetails*

      Currently reading:

      Enter the Body by Joy McCullough, in which a number of female characters from Shakespeare’s plays meet in the space between performances, and talk over their respective stories – and then decide that they want to change those stories. [I think I heard about that one in a previous weekend thread here; if so, thanks to whoever mentioned it!]

      Recently finished:

      The Butterfly Sister by Amy Gail Hansen: It’s a kind of academic-thriller involving a woman whose life was turned upside down when the professor she had an affair with dumped her AND stole her work. And now several women at the same school have either attempted suicide or gone missing. Can our heroine pull herself together and try to do something about it? This one has some nicely twisty elements, even though I found some of the characters’ motives and choices a bit distressing. I picked up on some clues early on, but found other revelations quite surprising – all the way to the end…

    17. Voluptuousfire*

      @Jackalope, I’ve read that trilogy and my favorite book is the second one, All the Feels.

      Olivia Dade’s books are great. Try 40 Love.

    18. IT Manager*

      Read and LOVED the Ten Thousand Doors of January.

      Thank you to this group for recommending!! I was kind of “eh” on the author’s fairy tale re-writes, so wasn’t going to look at this one but I’m so glad I did. Re-read most of it already just 2 days later, I just wasn’t ready to let go :-)

    19. Agnes Grey*

      Just finished R.F. Kuang’s Babel, or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution. Fascinating and well-written speculative fiction that examines the power of language and the complicity of academia in perpetuating empire. That all sounds dark and dour but it was a very enjoyable read as well as being powerful and illuminating.

    20. Professor Plum*

      Just finished None of This Is True by Lisa Jewell. It’s a psychological thriller about podcaster who finds herself as the subject of true crime through an accidental meeting. Filled with twists and turns—even after finishing it, there’s still a very unsettled unknowing of what really was true in this story.

    21. Writerling*

      Currently reading The Power of Chowa by Akemi Tanaka which is so interesting (and makes me miss parts of Japan).

      Also reading The Buried Giant (finally) very slowly.

    22. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      Grand by Noelle McCarthy – memoir of the author dealing with her mam, a whirligig drunk, and her own drinking problem along with moving from Ireland to New Zealand. Aside from having a few too many endings I really enjoyed it.

    23. The OG Sleepless*

      Aly Ward interviewed Robin Kimmerer on the Ologies podcast! It was so interesting and I’ve been meaning to read her books.

      I just finished The Maid by Nita Prose. It was charming and satisfying.

    24. carcinization*

      Read Scalzi’s Old Man’s War for book club, all in one day even though it’s the August book, it was okay. Also picked up Newitz’ The Future of Another Timeline and finding it difficult to put down.

    25. acmx*

      Just finished The Last Murder at the End of the World. By Stuart Turton who wrote The 7 (7 1/2) Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. It was pretty good overall, got a little long.

      Just picked up the Seven Deadly Wonders from Red Reader’s suggestion.

  13. Jackalope*

    Gaming thread! Share what you’ve been playing and give or request recs. As always, all games are welcome, not just video games. Also, anyone have anything new they’ve been enjoying? I have a Switch and am getting a bit itchy for new games.

    I’ve just started Final Fantasy 9, which has been fun so far. It’s still a bit dated in terms of graphics, and ironically is more so than the earlier FF games with sprites, but I’ve been having fun with it.

    1. word nerd*

      I’m a bit addicted to the free online Merriam-Webster word game Pilfer these days, but I don’t know if that’s the sort of game people post about in this thread. I thought about my overall interest in games recently and I realized that my favorite games are usually word games. I have so many fond memories of playing Boggle and Scrabble during childhood and adolescence–now I play Squaredle online instead daily, but I do miss the tactile nature of Boggle and writing down a list of words. I don’t think anyone around me would want to play it with me, though!

      1. Missa Brevis*

        I just went and tried Pilfer … I like the idea, but I have some questions about the letter randomization. Of the first eight letters the game dropped, SIX of them were ‘i’ !

        1. word nerd*

          Haha, no, I usually don’t get that many i’s, but the vowel ratio does seem pretty high in the game generally.

    2. Missa Brevis*

      I just tore through TavernTalk in two days because I just could not walk away from it!

      It’s a very sweet, fairly cheeky visual novel (though it gets pretty emotionally real in the back half – I didn’t cry, but I definitely made some sad wibbly noises) where you play as a fantasy innkeeper sending adventurers on quests and serving them magical drinks to help them achieve their goals. Absolutely fantastic art and writing.

    3. Skates*

      Neither of us have ever played a Persona game but my husband and I decided to play Persona 5 Royal together??? He’s dungeon crawling and I’m life simming. Or, we will be when the game actually gets going.

    4. SparklingBlue*

      Working my way through the Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door remake–looking forward to the new Zelda in September!

    5. Dittany*

      If you’re looking for something spooky but relaxed, Strange Horticulture has you playing as the owner of a magical plant store. The primary game mechanic involves identifying various plants based on descriptions of… varying degrees of helpfulness, while piecing together mysteries in your small town.

    6. Mitchell Hundred*

      I’m a good chunk into ‘The Shadow Cabinet’ by Juno Dawson. It’s a sequel to her previous fantasy novel, and basically it’s a modern urban fantasy where magic works differently depending on your gender (i.e. it’s stronger in women than in men). The twist is that these books are looking at what happens when you introduce gender non-conformity into that world.

      I do like it overall, but my big issue with this book is basically the same problem I had with the previous installment in the series. The story acknowledges the existence of people who fall outside of binary gender (and sex), but all the characters who fit that description so far appear to have been AFAB and just get lumped in with the other witches. It’s really frustrating, because it puts the story’s lore in conflict with its themes when they could have reinforced each other.

    7. Accidental Itenerate Teacher*

      I’ve been playing Paleo Pines and absolutely loving it.
      Its a cozy farming sim but with dinosaurs.
      I haven’t actually played many farming sims so I can’t speak to how it stacks up against any others there, but I love dinosaurs and I think the artwork is adorable.

    8. Vio*

      I finally made time to try The Outer Worlds and thoroughly enjoyed it. The companions are well written and their personalities actually develop over the course of the game (depending on decisions made), as do side characters you meet. There’s hilarious, heart-warming and heart-breaking moments. It feels a little too short, even with the DLC, but the replay value helps with that and it’s much better to have a game that leaves you wishing for more than one where you get lost in the vast open emptiness.
      Developer budget allowed for quality or quantity and they made the right call going for the former.

    9. Jackalope*

      Thanks for the recommendations! I see that at least two of the games youall recommended are on Switch, so I will try those. Looking forward to them!

    10. Euphony*

      I’ve been enjoying Overcooked (the full All you can eat pack). It’s silly but entertaining and works well with one player as well as multiplayer.
      For retro games fans I recently found a remastered version Transport Tycoon on Steam hidden under Open TTD. One of the very rare occasions where a remaster has made it better

    11. Quinalla*

      Been playing a lot of Monster Train again (deck builder, tactical game), it’s a nice one that you can pause playing any time.

      And hopped back into Saleblazers, it’s a survival game but you are running a shop selling to people. It’s early access and it shows, but it’s a weirdly fun mix of survival and shopkeeping games :)

  14. Cabbagepants*

    Any fans of professional road cycling? The Tour de France starts this weekend and it is an exceptional matchup.

    1. Weekend Warrior*

      Yes! There were some good posts last weekend from the other TDF fans on here. We’re all looking forward to drama and scenery. :)

    2. BikeWalkBarb*

      Watching now (caught up on yesterday, now watching today) and unreasonably annoyed by the really bad text captioning! They skip entire sentences that provide context and appear not to have fed all the rider names into the system to have it recognize them. Neilson Powless isn’t Nelson Palace.

  15. EA*

    What’s your favorite children’s book you read recently? Or ones that you didn’t love that I should avoid? Looking for newer publications that might make good gifts for kids who already have the classics. Age range of 3 to 10.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      Graphic novels greatly loved by my kids between 5 and 10: Roller Girl, Katie the Catsitter, new versions of Babysitters Club (I personally love Roller Girl, the others are just eh to me but my husband enjoys the Katie ones lol)

      Middle grades novel: East by Edith Pattou

      Chapter book series: Zoey and Sassafras, Princess in Black

      I haaaaate Dog Man. There’s not even a plot, it’s just poop jokes and ugly drawings.

      You said they already have the classics but I don’t know your definition for that, so the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary! Best children’s books I’ve ever read, I loved them equally as a kid and an adult/parent.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Oh, and some picture books for the younger end of the range: anything by Jessie Sima but especially Not Quite Narwhal and Jules Vs the Ocean, Dinosaur Kisses, there’s a board book series of fairy tales called Once Upon a World that are really beautifully illustrated, Max and Ruby books by Rosemary Wells

        1. alligator allegory*

          Absolutely not newer, but great author: Margaret Mahy. The Dragon of an Ordinary Family and The Pirates’ Mixed-Up Voyage were two favourites.

      2. Meh*

        Ages 3-7 : the book with no pictures is amazing as a readaloud.
        After that ask about interests. Thing1 and Thing2 had widely different preferences and reading ability (better to err a bit older than younger)

        I find that non-fiction books have a longer shelf -life. My 18mo got some books from the “baby loves” series (baby loves quarks, baby loves structural engineering, etc) and it was surprisingly useful reference until almost age 6. Bedtime stories for rebel girls are brief biographical snippets for both genders.

        I don’t prefer the books that are a list of 1000 experiments to do at home – unless it’s part of a kit containing the required supplies.

    2. word nerd*

      The Eyes and the Impossible
      The Wild Robot
      The First Cat in Space Ate Pizza (graphic novel)

      For the younger age range you mentioned: Baby Monkey, Private Eye
      (a fantastic beginning reader book that feels more like a graphic novel)

      For nonfiction, anything by Elise Gravel. Funny, informative graphic novels usually about nature and animals.

    3. Pretty as a Princess*

      When my kids were younger critters, we were big fans of the Princeless graphic novels and the Clementine series. Clementine is around the same reading level as the Beezus and Ramona books so that should hit nicely at the top of your range.

      If you want something that is good to read and visually stunning, the D’Aulaire’s illustrated mythology books are absolutely wonderful. We kept them in the “good books for when we are grandparents” pile. There are a bunch of them: Greek, Norse, Trolls… there are also a number of history books, though I think we only have all the mythology ones. If you search “D’Aulaire” on Amazon you will find them.

      The good folk at DK publish some really great coffee table style books for youngsters on various topics. Their “Children’s Encyclopedia” (one volume) is great – lots of great photography and all the text is in small enough chunks that kids don’t get overhwhelmed by content. My kids had this and similar books (search for this on Amazon and it will also give you a number of the Smithsonian collection books) and absolutely treasured them.

      1. EA*

        The Greek and Norse mythology Du’Aulaire books were some of my absolute my favorites growing up!

    4. Not A Manager*

      Not sure what you mean by “newer.” The Book With No Pictures (2014) is a hit with most pre-readers, but especially kids who have trouble sitting still/aren’t very focused on plot- or illustration-based books.

      1. EA*

        I just meant not classics and hopefully books published more recently that I might not have seen. Any interpretation works :)

        The Book with No Pictures looks really fun, thanks!

    5. Champion of seconded words*

      (For the top end of the range.)
      Bea Wolf, by Weinersmith/Boulet (author/illustrator)

    6. run mad; don't faint*

      Not sure quite what you mean by ‘newer’ in this context.
      “Diary of a Wombat” made my younger kids howl with laughter.

      The Captain Underpants series was very popular with the slightly older ones and my husband who read them to and with the kids. I would recommend flipping through them before buying just so you know what they’re about.

    7. Love me, love my cat*

      Octopants by Suzy Senior is a totally charming book for ages 3 to 6 or so. Little octopus goes shopping because he has no underpants! The illustrations by Claire Powell were wonderful. I couldn’t put it down:) There’s even a surprise ending!
      (There is a sequel as well.)
      Press Here by Herve Tullet is for maybe a little bit younger child. You do things like press on the circle on the page, and when you turn to the next page the circle is bigger, or changes color or multiplies. Really a cute book.

      1. EA*

        My kids LOVE Press Here (although the poor book has been basically destroyed, haha). Will check out Octopants!

        1. Meh*

          Thing 1 LOVED (!!!) press here. as in 3-4 readings in one sitting and multiple request during a day. Our shredded / taped together copy is now in a box of her early year (infant/toddler) memories.

    8. Sled dog mama*

      Little Wolf’s First Howling by Laura Mcgee Kvasnosky and Kate Harvey Mcgee has been one of my daughter’s favorites. It’s about a young wolf pup who goes out with his father to howl for the first time only he can’t quite contain himself to howling “properly” and begins jazz howling.

    9. Lemonwhirl*

      I love the Mr Putter and Tabby series by Cynthia Rylant, which is about an old man and his cat and his old neighbor and her dog. Beautifully illustrated books that are sweet and kind without being cloying. (Don’t think the series is particularly new, but it’s maybe not well known enough to be considered a classic either.)

    10. Mila*

      my favorite newer kids books that my kids have liked:
      (picture books)
      – Read the Book Lemmings
      – Building Our House
      -Jabari Jumps
      (early reader-ish)
      Poppleton, Cynthia Rylant
      Mr Putter and Tabby
      Bink and Gollie
      Babysitters Club graphic novel
      Dory Fantasmagory

    11. GoryDetails*

      Ursula Vernon (aka T. Kingfisher) has some charming little-kid books (also great fun for adults): the “Hamster Princess” series about Harriet the hamster, a princess who figured out she’d rather go adventuring herself than hang around and wait to be rescued from things, and “Danny Dragonbreath”, about a young dragon and his friends as they have a variety of world-traveling adventures (courtesy of the neighborhood bus line, which has the odd ability to route them to any place/country/continent they need to reach).

      1. Missa Brevis*

        Her book Summer in Orcus is also lovely, but it’s probably more for the 10-14 year old set

    12. I only want everything*

      We’ve been doing audiobooks due to some moderate distances we currently have to travel for various activities. I second the recommendation from Dark Macadamia for Zoey and Sassafras. They’re fun books. We’ve also been enjoying:

      -the Dragon Masters series by Tracey West
      -the Magic Shop series by Bruce Coville (book 1 is The Monster’s Ring)
      -Mr. Whiskers and the Shenanigan Sister by Wendelin Van Draanen
      -the Moongobble and Me series by Bruce Coville
      -the Alien In My Pocket series by Nate Ball
      -Diary of a Mad Brownie by Bruce Coville
      -the Guinea Dog series by Patrick Jennings

      As you can see, we REALLY like books by Bruce Coville!

    13. Nervous Nellie*

      The eight books in the Moomins series by Tove Jansson! The Moomins are quiet little forest creatures. The author was Finnish, and wrote with great delicacy about these anxious, gentle creatures. The stories are soothing and imaginative. I especially love Moominsummer Madness (where the Moomins come across an abandoned floating stage and put on a play to amuse themselves), and Comet in Moominland. I still have my childhood copies and I reread them often.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Re the Moomins: I adore the books now (I first discovered them in my 60s) but I’m not sure I’d have liked them when I was a kid. Hard to say, of course, but the bits I like most are the more introspective and dark ones.

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          Sure, they’re definitely a specific taste. We are a bookish and introverted family, so they were on point for me and for my brothers and sister. The stories are quiet and Scandinavian, which I love. I also really appreciated that the little creatures talked openly about being worried about things, and that Moominmamma & Moominpappa always listened and soothed their children and everyone else’s anxieties. I can’t think of another series that speaks so productively about anxiety. That series actually gave me a lot of coping tools. In today’s much scarier world, I hope they can do the same for today’s little ones. They’re also very sweet stories, with neat role models. I have a poster of Little My in my bathroom remind me that I too can be a badass.

    14. alligator allegory*

      Oh, and Coraline by Neil Gaiman was a favourite between 3 and … later. Also The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente. Both those were read-aloud to my kids, starting at age 3 or 4. The Fairlyland book was so mesmerising that all the adults would listen to the one reading. The language is fantastic.

    15. Second Breakfast*

      Here are a suggestions that my six year old and I both love.

      Picture Books
      – Little Witch Hazel
      – Strega Nona (a classic, but still great)
      – The Brambly Hedge books (same)

      Chapter Books
      – The Birchbark House series (this is a great companion or alternative to the Little House books, about an Ojibwe family)
      – The Front Desk series
      – Kiki’s Delivery Service

    16. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      Indian No More by Charlene Willing McManis. Inspired by own childhood as an Umqua member whose family was forced to move after the US government removed the Umpqua tribal recognition in 1957.

    17. slowingaging*

      A friend wrote I May Be Little, But I Can Do A Lot
      by Ama Darkwa Holmes and her husband wrote The Incredible Mosquito Detectors by Quentin Holmes. My nieces and nephews loved them

    18. Clisby*

      I’m reading The Silver Curlew, by Eleanor Farjeon. It was published the year I was born, 1953, and I ran across it in a school library when I was in 4th or 5th grade. I *loved* it as a child, but when I got older I could not remember the name of the book. It wasn’t until about 10 years ago that I thought of it again, and Dr. Google helped me figure out what it was. It’s based on a Norfolk tale that’s similar to Rumpelstiltskin; the heroine is the princess’s younger sister, who has to brave the sinister forest to save her sister.

    19. Lbd*

      I purchased ‘How to Walk an Ant’ by Cindy Derby, and ‘Little Fox’ by Edward Van De Vendel & Marije Tolman as gifts for some of the children in my life. How to Walk an Ant is funny and quirky, Little Fox is beautifully written, illustrated and designed, and is the nicest book as a physical object that I have seen recently.
      If they are advanced readers, or enjoy being read to, ‘The Graveyard Book’ by Neil Gaimann is a book I reread a few weeks ago. It does have some frightening scenes, but nothing as intense as some of his adult stories, and there is a lot of warmth in the story as well. If the kids enjoyed the movie ‘Coraline’, this might appeal to them.

    20. RC*

      I‘ve enjoyed The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl graphic novels and I‘m told that kids do too. She‘s technically in the MCU (MU?) but it‘s very nerdy and STEM-y and a bit meta but I think it‘s one of those things like Rocko‘s Modern Life where there are levels of enjoyment based on age range.

    21. RW*

      I LOVED the Ogress and the Orphans by Kelly Barnhill which I read last month – one of the best children’s books I’ve ever read. Perhaps on the long side for some kids, but definitely read-aloudable and I think my friend’s 7yo would like it. Also enjoyed the Girl who Drank the Moon by the same author, but it’s quite a bit scarier and might be better for a 9 or 10yo. Said 7yo’s favourite series is the Penderwicks, so maybe that too, and I can never go past Diana Wynne Jones and Robin McKinley (does the fact that I grew up on them make them classics??)

    22. Tx_Trucker*

      The Chicken Squad series written by Doreen Cronin. It’s an early chapter book about a group of misadventuring sibling chickens. This has been the absolute favorite in my household. So much so, that I bought additional hardcover editions that I’m saving in case they ever go out of print. There is a TV show loosely based on the books which I have never seen.

    23. Meh*

      Classics constitute a fairly broad range. Some of them I would (in this day/age) hesitate to give my kids (Dr. Doolittle, Secret Garden) since they are incompatible with many people’s more modern sensibilities.

      That being said – Charlotte’s Web has aged *surprisingly* well both as a kids book and as an adult rereading it.

  16. dnd*

    i play dungeons and dragons biweekly online. usually this goes on for like 4-6 hours depending on everyone’s moods. while it’s definitely fun and i love it, i need things to do with my hands that don’t require brain power (like reading).

    any suggestions? i save painting my nails for that day, sometimes i do a coloring book. i could maybe cross stitch (the only crafty thing i know/want to do, so no knitting) but literally can’t think of anything else. little phone games and pinterest browsing only do so much.

    1. The Dude Abides*

      Does it need to be “productive”?

      When I’m in my home “office,” I sometimes riff poker chips in one hand as a way to mentally check out for a few minutes.

      1. dnd*

        oh absolutely not. the only thing on my mind is murder and mayhem during sessions lol.

        hmm don’t have anything like that i cak do but thank you!

    2. Missa Brevis*

      Do you have a junk drawer, file folder of miscellaneous old documents, or basket of random stuff in the top of a closet? Not stuff that needs close attention, but stuff that could probably use sorting into trash-keep-put somewhere else piles? That’s what I’ve been doing while watching tv or chatting with family lately.

      1. dnd*

        i’ve tried origami and have no patience for it :(( the folds are too confusing lol. thanks though!

    3. BikeWalkBarb*

      Look up Zentangle: an approach to creating tiny drawings that creates really cool abstract images out of repeating patterns linked together. Truly, no artistic skill required. I got the starter kit sold by the original creators of the approach, which includes several little 2×2 cardstock cards and the pens and pencil for shading along with an instruction book. It was an early covid purchase I’m glad I made because it gives me creative satisfaction without asking me to do something I’m bad at for a long time before getting good at it. The simple repetition should work well with needing your brain space for the game.

      1. EA*

        Definitely second a fun puzzle. It’s a really low key activity but makes you feel like you’re doing something

      2. Quinalla*

        To build on this, maybe a small 3D puzzle or building set or other thing you make into shapes – there are tons of these, look for stem puzzles or fidget puzzles.

        I usually play something simple like solitaire or minesweeper in another window as I can play and listen at the same time.

    4. Other Meredith*

      I got pretty into diamond painting while I was working from home, you don’t have to have any special skills at all.

    5. note-taker*

      Does your group have a note-taker? I also need to fidget during our 4-hour online sessions, so I take notes on the plot, conversations with NPCs, and sometimes even interesting details of encounters (what we fought, an especially cool action, if someone goes down).
      It doesn’t need to be necessary or important, but it keeps me engaged! And I doodle in the margins. I personally found other forms of fidgets to be distracting and took me out of the game.

    6. Ami*

      I play solitaire in another tab during online DnD games, and it’s mindless and just focusy enough that it keeps my hands occupied while I listen to the action.
      You mentioned being tied to your desk, but you might be able to fold laundry/sort socks by having one basket full of laundry and one empty laundry basket that you just stack it into as you go, so you don’t have to get up to put it away, which I’ve also had success with.
      Not sure if you’re a petsite person, but I like neopets and flight rising as fun little time wasters I can click around on without having to think much.
      Hand shred your junk mail.
      Maybe find some recipes that require a lot of repetitive prep work? I made crock pot apple butter and it was dead easy, but peeling and chopping all the apples beforehand took a while.
      Hand and wrist stretches.
      Graph paper is nice for doodling with more direction, you can get as complex as trying mazes or celtic knotwork, or just amuse yourself filling every square with a different color or dots. Stencils are also nice for mindless but more directed doodling.
      Fold paper stars out of strips of paper.
      Braid embroidery floss bracelets, or string some beads into bracelets/necklaces. I recommend getting a tackle box to sort different types/colors of beads into for maximum convenience.
      Make bead lizards/animals.

    7. ronda*

      I haven’t done it, but a couple friends were talking about stitch meditation. google it… maybe it is something you would like.

    8. miel*

      Fidget toys might be a good fit. Silly putty/ “thinking putty” is fun.

      I also enjoy solitaire in a second window.

  17. Ginger Cat Lady*

    I have someone in my life (Someone otherwise lovely and not someone I want to cut out of my life) who is always doing the “Guess what I just….” game. And it’s getting so old.
    Things I’ve tried:
    Making three realistic guesses before saying “I give up, what did you just buy?”
    Asking questions to narrow it down. “hmmmm……what did you just find. Something you lost a while back? Something valuable? Something you bought?”
    Making ridiculous guesses “You flew to Italy and rode a unicorn to the top of the tower of Pisa?” “You scuba dove under a hurricane?”
    Telling her I don’t want to play that game and just tell me.
    Refusing to guess.
    Telling her the game isn’t fun for me and asking her to not do it.
    She literally wants the game to continue until I finally manage to guess some kid from her third grade class she ran into at the grocery store. And I wasn’t even in her third grade class!
    Any other tips for dealing with this? She starts nearly half our conversations this way lately. If it’s a text, I just ignore it.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      What happens when you say you don’t enjoy it or refuse to guess? I’d just stick with that, but maybe follow immediately with a subject change – “You know I don’t enjoy this. If you have something to share I’d love for you to just tell me.” (if she continues) “Oh, I saw the funniest dog the other day!” or whatever. Make it so if she tries to do the game she doesn’t get to share her news at all?

    2. Not A Manager*

      “Nope, not guessing. Tell me or don’t tell me!” Say it with a smile. If she keeps up, literally change the subject. She might get snitty, but then that’s a time to gently remind her that you really *don’t* like this game.

      1. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

        I think this is the best approach. If she really won’t stop, you should just say “I’m leaving now (or hanging up); I’ll talk to you later.” It sounds like you’ve already done a lot of explaining. Maybe just add that any interest you might have had in what she has to tell you disappears as soon as she starts the guessing game. I wouldn’t explain any more after that.

    3. allathian*

      I second Not A Manager’s suggestion.

      You say you don’t want to cut her out of your life and that’s great, but maybe seeing her a bit less often might lessen the frustration a bit? You can tell her that you really don’t like the guessing games and if she keeps insisting on them, she’ll see you less often.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        On the other hand, seeing her less often might make it less desirable to see her at all, sine it’ll likely mean longer stretches between seeing her and not having to play the guessing game. For me, an individual instance of seeing her would have present a higher hurdle, as in: I’ve decided to spend less time with her because of something she does that I don’t like, is this the moment I’m going to decide to spend time with her?

    4. office hobbit*

      Friend: guess who I just saw!
      You: omg who??
      Friend: guess!
      You: you know I don’t like this game lol you’d better just tell me!

      Then wait till she does. If you’ve been going along with her game up till now, I think a frank conversation about how you actually don’t like it would be a kindness to her so she’s not just wondering what’s changed.

        1. office hobbit*

          Sorry! I read the other replies after your post and forgot some of the details from your question. I hope you find a solution that works!

          1. Sloanicota*

            This. What did she say? What is she getting out of this? I would want to understand because after you’ve told her you don’t like it I can’t figure out why she won’t let it go.

        2. office hobbit*

          I (potentially) redeem myself with (potentially) better advice: have you tried an AAM style script, like “I’ve told you before I don’t like this guessing thing, but you keep doing it. What’s going on?”

    5. BikeWalkBarb*

      This sounds really hard since she’s your friend and yet she’s ignoring your direct request that she stop this.

      Have you tried just looking at her and waiting in silence? Waiting-waiting-waiting until she gives up and moves on. Basically a gray rock approach. If she asks what’s going on you might have to say “We’ve discussed this.”

      Or you respond every single time with a change of topic statement. “My garden is growing so great this year! Saw the new Planet of the Apes movie. Help me remember I need to pick up ice cream on the way home.”

      Whatever it is, you don’t give in and guess. You pick a tactic that doesn’t engage and you keep repeating it.

      Sounds as if this is going to take patience and you’re running out of it. Maybe just be texting friends for a while so you can ignore those prompts and she has interactions with you that don’t involve you guessing, then see what happens if you get together in person.

      Also, “lovely” for me doesn’t include “I annoy my friend every single time we get together with juvenile behavior she’s asked me to stop.” If she insisted on punching you in the shoulder every time you got together you’d start moving back as soon as she came toward you and she’d have to chase you down to deliver the thing you don’t want. You don’t need to cut her out of your life but you don’t need to subject yourself to this on a regular basis.

    6. Unkempt Flatware*

      I’m with the others who say to refuse and hold firm. I’d honestly start acting like you didn’t even hear her.
      “Guess WHAT?!”
      “Hey how did that presentation turn out?”
      “I said GUESS WHAT?!”
      “Did I tell you my brother is getting divorced?”

    7. fposte*

      What I think is that this game gives her a delicious, benign rush. This is her version of the husky who loves to vocalize. She loves doing this more than she dislikes your “No.”

      Not that you have to go along with it, just that you probably can’t extinguish it. So I support the ideas of redirecting, either explicitly by beginning with “Told you I’m not playing that” (nicely and neutrally, not meanly) or just obviously. And switch it to a good solid topic that she gets enjoyment out of, so it’s a genuine conversational bait, not just a rebuff.

      I realize my volunteering at the animal shelter thinking is showing here, but honestly I think it helps a lot with understanding people.

    8. Rain*

      I have a friend who does this, despite having been told numerous times that I do not enjoy it.

      My current response is to just say “No thank you!” and then wait to see if she will either tell me the answer or move on.

      It’s taken a few times but now more often than not she just tells me whatever the thing is.

      When she would keep going after I said no thank you. I would just look at her.

      That usually made her uncomfortable enough to move on.

    9. Deanna Troi*

      I agree with Rain. I have a relative who did this, and I just said no and changed the subject. For example, when she said guess what?, I responded:

      “No, thanks. You should have seen what my dog did last night! She picked up my husband’s socks and put them next to his hiking boots then just sat there. It was so cute!” (this is true!)

      I wasn’t all that interested in that relationship, but if I was like you are with your friend, I would probably try what office hobbit suggested. At some point when she’s not actually doing it, I would say:

      “I need to talk to you something. I’ve told you numerous times in numerous ways that I don’t like it when you try to make me guess things. Can you explain why you keep doing it even though you know it bothers me?”

      1. Deanna Troi*

        I should add that if after the dog story, she said “I was trying to tell you something,” I would have responded, “I told before I’m not interested in playing the guessing game. If you want to tell me, fine, but I’m not guessing.”

      2. ronda*

        I do wonder, if you asked her what she is getting out of the guessing game , if you might get an answer that makes you see it any differently. (I would leave off the you know it bothers me if you try to get an answer to the question)

      3. Unkempt Flatware*

        And if you’re not particularly interested in this relationship, OP, try, “I don’t care”. That should do it. /s (sort of)

    10. Ami*

      She’s not going to stop doing this no matter what you say. You’ve tried every reasonable thing including outright telling her and she keeps doing it, so there are no magic words that will make her stop. Either she’s getting some kind of enjoyment out of this even when you don’t play along, or it’s so ingrained in her speech patterns that she doesn’t even realize she’s doing it, but honestly I think you’re wasting your breath repeating that you don’t want to play the guessing game, because she’s made it clear she will never stop asking you to play. All you can do is decide how much you’re going to play along.

      I recommend when she does it, if you’re feeling nice about it, make one serious guess, then one silly guess, then you’ve done your part so you can feel free to go to “I don’t know, what?” If she keeps going telling you to guess again, become a broken record with “I don’t know, what? I’m out of guesses. No really, I don’t know. I’ve got no more guesses, what was it?” Do this as long as you feel like it, and end with “I have no idea, are you going to tell me?” If you don’t feel like playing along, just skip straight to this part. Since you like her, be playful and friendly about it, but give yourself permission to skip right to “I just don’t know haha! If you don’t tell me, we can’t talk about it!” and “Okay you, keep your secrets! Hey, did you hear about subject change?”

      On that note, you know your own friend better than I do. What do you think she’s getting out of this game? Is she a talker who just likes the repeated back and forth regardless of what you’re saying? Does she like having your attention focused on talking and thinking about her life? Does she feel like it’s conceited to just start talking about herself unless she plays ten minutes of back and forth guessing game with you first? Does she wish you talked more and this is the only way she can think of to start and continue conversations? If you can figure out what she finds so attractive about this kind of conversation, you might be able to think of a way to provide it in a fashion you find less annoying, like by being the one to initiate conversations more often, or asking her right off the bat what’s new/exciting in her life. I wouldn’t count on it though. Some people just are the way they are, and never really believe/absorb that it’s annoying to other people even when told outright. She might just think it’s a fun and funny game and everything you say to the contrary will bounce right off her forever.

    11. Morning Reading*

      I’ve never known someone who uses this phrasing who actually wants anyone to guess; it’s more of a way to introduce an amusing story.
      I’ve heard it as : “you’ll never guess ….” With the reply, “no I can’t guess, tell me” or “you’re right, do tell” then the person goes on to tell their story.
      There might be some way to shorten the exchange with no actual guessing if you refuse to guess or admit right away you can’t guess.
      “Guess what I …” response, “no, I can’t guess, tell me,” repeated as often as necessary, will eventually curtail the sequence so that it’s less frustrating for you. Refuse to guess ever about anything. If you could reframe her verbal habit as e.g. her “once upon a time there was a little girl who lived in the woods…” and she wants her listener to say “what happened to the little girl,” so she knows she has listener engagement, that might also make it less frustrating.
      TL:dr: aim to shorten the sequence, reframe or translate in your head to a less irritating equivalent.

  18. miel*

    Is there a guide or book about hosting parties that you would recommend?

    I am not trying to host Fancy Dinner Parties or anything, just get-togethers with friends, but the planning and execution really stresses me out! It seems like maybe there are some rules of thumb that could make my life easier once I learn them. Thank you!

    1. Vanessa*

      This is a question for “were you raised by wolves”. A fantastic manners podcast.
      But generally keep it simple. Food, beverages and entertainment. Don’t do anything so involved that you are doing more prep than enjoying. What are you aiming for?!

    2. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      Maybe goblin dot tools would be helpful for you. It’s an online tool that breaks down tasks into smaller steps for you and basically gives you a to-do list.
      You enter the task, rate how much you need it broken down (by giving 1-5 chilli peppers, basically indicating how spicy/hard it is for and if you need to have the task broken down into a few or a lot of individual steps), add the task by clicking on the little plus sign (white on blue background), and lastly click on the little magic wand symbol.

      1. English Rose*

        Thanks for the goblin recommendation, just tested it on some projects and it’s great.

    3. Helvetica*

      Make dishes you absolutely have made before and are confident in. Testing new recipes is fun but if it is a party and the dish cannot fail, the stress levels can be too much.
      Also make dishes that do not have to be timed to the minute, if your guests are not ones to arrive exactly on time. Stews, dishes in the oven or cold dishes are easier than anything which should be served absolutely fresh. Think of whether you want things to be ready when guests arrive or are you comfortable cooking while they are there.
      Think about the ambiance – tablecloth or not? Music or not? Do you want to bring in some flowers, candles?
      Something I try to achieve is that all dishes are sets, so the glasses are the same, the cutlery is the same, etc. That elevates any dinner party immediately. And it doesn’t have to be that all your dishes are Villeroy&Boch – it could just as well be that the theme is hues of blue or such.

      1. Clisby*

        Absolutely. Make dishes you’ve made a zillion times before, and pick a couple that you can make a day ahead.

    4. run mad; don't faint*

      Southern Living does a Christmas cookbook every year, “Cooking with Southern Living”. Almost invariably, they have a menu or two for party planning on them, with suggestions on how many days before the party you prep various recipes so you aren’t doing everything at once. I know you aren’t trying to do a formal meal, but the principles are the same. Looking at some might give you some help. I wouldn’t necessarily buy one just for this, but libraries might have some.

    5. Luisa in Dallas*

      Take a look at this book (and his website) for super practical advice: The 2-Hour Cocktail Party: How to Build Big Relationships with Small Gatherings Paperback by Nick Gray

    6. Sutemi*

      The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker- don’t bother to read the whole book but just the first section is enough. Good book, but you can listen to the Ted Talk and get most of what you want.

    7. Professor Plum*

      Read anything written by Priya Parker. She has a book called The Art of Gathering. She has a website with many articles. Her focus is on why you want to bring people together and how to make time spent together more meaningful. You’ll find her at priyaparker dot com.

    8. lilybeth*

      For casual get-togethers, my aim is something salty/savory, something sweet, and some fruit/veg that can be snacked on (like, a bowl of baby carrots or blueberries or some finger food like that). Beverage-wise, I make sure I’m armed with tea/coffee, sparkling water; if occasion is right, 1-2 beer or wine options, and something for the non-drinkers (a good lemonade, fizzy or not, for instance). I make sure glasses/plates/cutlery are all out so no one has to go looking for anything. Get the seating figured out ahead of time, too, so nobody’s dragging furniture around.

      If there’s time to prep, I make most of the food myself, but if it’s super spontaneous, my friends have been totally satisfied with bowls of cheez-its, M&Ms, and blueberries, haha. People just want to hang, so you can keep it easy.

      Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good, either. I tidy up when I’ve got folks coming over (put away laundry piles, give the bathroom a quick cleaning, run the roomba, make sure the couches are clear) but I don’t freak out about everything being spotless. Is there a pile of books on the coffee table, or a half-done puzzle, dishes still in the drying rack? NBD, as long as there’s still enough spots for people to put down their drinks.

    9. miel*

      Thanks for the suggestions, everyone! I am checking out several of these books & podcasts :)

  19. The Dude Abides*

    Next Friday, I will be “officially” involved in an international rugby match – USA v Romania (pun intended).

    It’s not a “major” role, but I’m jazzed for the chance to be involved at a high level. At 36, I’m too old to even get a sniff of anything higher within that context, so I’m just gonna enjoy the opportunity.

    1. Madame Arcati*

      The pun you intended is going right over my head?
      Anyway it sounds great; I love rugby.

      1. Mighty_K*

        I had to read it lots of times, but I think they mean that they will be officiating at the game? So the ref, or a touch judge, or some other official role.

        1. The Dude Abides*

          Only in my wildest dreams would I ever get to AR or referee such a game (too old).

          I will be on the sidelines as the official timekeeper. Because it’s rugby, we have official laws/regs regarding timing for
          -blood sub (15 minutes clock time, 17 if it also involves HIA)
          -yellow card (10 minutes game time)
          -HIA (12 minutes clock time)

          At the stadium where the game is taking place, I am also coordinating with the people running the stadium scoreboard and broadcast clock – if the referee stops the clock, I will hear it directly in the earpiece, and then have to radio them to stop the clock.

          1. Mighty_K*

            So “some other official role”

            Sounds awesome, great pitchside view of everything :) Hope you have a fab time!

          2. Mighty_K*

            Also, Nigel Owens didn’t retire until he was mid forties! But then, he is an all time great

            1. The Dude Abides*

              In the US, TPTB only care if you’re under 25, fit, and willing to travel. I’m 36, but 2/3 don’t cut it.

  20. MissGirl*

    I’m facing as increase in HOAs, possibly 50% or more. I’m more worried about my house value dropping than the increase. I wouldn’t mind buying a house with main floor living but the market right now is tough. I have a dog, which limits my rentals in an already limited market. I also have a 3.1% interest rate. In theory, I could increase my mortgage as I’m making a lot more. Have people sold with no idea where they’re going? Did you rent? Did things work out? I have maybe $200k in equity but with the HOA rumors that’s iffy.

    1. Jay*

      Have you looked into the validity of such high rate increases?
      There have apparently, over the last few years, been several court cases won, and even some laws with actual teeth passed, over excessive fee increases.

      1. MissGirl*

        In a nutshell, we’re screwed. The HOA sued the builders over poor workmanship who won their suit. Now the HOA is on the hook for ten years worth of buildings falling apart. We have no choice but to take out a loan that’ll be spread across the residents to fix the issues.

        1. Alex*

          That’s a real pickle, because that kind of drama might already drive away potential buyers, who (if they are smart) will ask for the financials of the condo association. As someone who is currently condo shopping, it would definitely give me a lot of pause and I doubt I would buy.

          Any chance you can just hang on until the loan is paid off? As you said, the market is already tough, renting will be hard with your dog….if I were you I would try to ride it out.

    2. Busy Middle Manager*

      IME wanting to buy or even rent somewhere else for a few years, right now, it’s all higher end stuff, or dumps being deceptively photographed or having minor cosmetic upgrades and being frames as high end when they’re firmly lower middle class housing. And everything is ridiculously priced and many sellers are sitting while listing at ridiculous prices.

      If you follow economic data, you’ll know that this week, it came out that home sales are at same level as March 2020 and 2009 but prices are up. That just shows you it’s a small volume of high priced homes selling.

      IMO you stay and pay higher HOA. Either way you’re getting a bit screwed but I would rather pay another $400 a month or whatever, than pay $20K in broker fees etc and most definitely be paying more on the mortgage (even if you kept 3.1%, I cannot overestimate how ridiculous listing prices have gotten), just to stick it to the HOA

      So to your question, no I haven’t, because I’m trying to now, and both rental and sales markets are way worse than even 2022 but with higher rates. It’s beyond ridiculous and is completely unsustainable because everyone is chasing the top 5% earners.

  21. Soft clothes for life*

    Foreign passport photos in the US – Has anyone had luck getting passport photos taken in the US for non-US passport? Specifically German. I read that the machines at Walgreens and CVS have the parameters for some foreign passport photos, but can I trust them? (Kicking myself because I was in Germany last week and I forgot about this errand!) I don’t want my application to be rejected… Thanks!

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      I was able to renew my UK passport while living in the US. There are places that specialise in passport photos and can take them to different standards. If you’re in a large-ish city, there will probably be shops located close to consulates or US immigration offices. I got mine done at a camera shop, but I would just search for German passport photo + your city and see what comes up.

    2. Roland*

      Went to Fedex and told them what country I needed. I didn’t pull out the ruler later so idk how perfect it was to the mm, though my application went through no problem. I would just do it and then measure, they should redo it if it’s noticeably wrong. Probably cheaper than someone whose only advertised services are photography.

    3. Ah passports*

      Can you go to a photographer and give them the guidelines? There are loads of resources online that describe how to do it. The big difference, if I remember correctly, is the size of the photo. US is bigger.

      Might cost more, but it’d be worth it.

    4. Zweisatz*

      Don’t know about the size thing, but for Germany look staight ahead, don’t smile, leave youe hair completely uncovered (if possible). That’s worked for me when I didn’t want to shell out for professional passport pictures in Germany but used a booth.
      Of course it’s best to look up the conditions that apply before getting your picture taken.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        In this vein, I liked the book Boards from America’s Test Kitchen. It had a lot of good recipes, but also did a good job laying out “You’re making centerpiece X, so here’s a couple of recipes for coordinating sides, and some stuff you could get premade, that would all go together well.”

    5. Cordelia*

      I got an India visa photo done at a camera store that advertised passport photos. They had a list of requirements for official photos for visas and passports from different countries, and could adjust their settings accordingly. Is that worth trying?

    6. Collaterlie Sisters*

      There are apps these days. Otherwise ask the consulate or expat Facebook groups in your city. Given that EU passports all take the same size, you are bound to find someone.

      1. RC*

        When I renewed earlier this year I used an app, then went to Walgreens and printed out a set of 2×2 photos on a 4“x4“ sheet (to meet the required 2“ guideline) that I manually assembled and submitted. If you know what size you need, you may be able to do that (I think they had 2“, 4“, 6“ photo sizes, and it cost <$1 versus however much the “official” ones cost).

    7. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      a friend managed to get one for Zimbabwe which has very strange sizing. he ended up at Walgreens. but he had to call around a lot before he found a place that would do it. however we are in Maryland. when he went to Walgreens in North Carolina they wouldn’t do it.

      1. Midwesterner*

        I’ve used http://www.IDphoto4you.com for USA passport photos and for transit pass photos abroad. A friend used it for her kids’ Canadian passports.
        You upload a photo, specify the dimensions, save the image and print at the drugstore. It’s pretty easy to use.

      2. Midwesterner*

        I’ve had good luck with http://www.IDPhoto4You.com
        You upload a photo and choose the dimensions you need. You save a file and print it at a drugstore, ending up with a 4×6” print with multiple images. The website has hints and if I remember right, links to official sites.
        I have used it for a USA passport, transit pass and a friend used it for her kids’ Canadian passports.

  22. Mommy Issues*

    I am struggling with people in my life being envious of the relationship between my mother and I (35 year old female). My parents divorced when I was 2 and, after raising me as a single mom, I have been very close to my mom ever since. She is my best friend, my favorite person to spend time with. It’s very likely to co-dependent levels that a therapist would have a field day with but we share many likes/hobbies in common and so spend a lot of time together. I know others have been envious of our relationship; my mother said her sister and a friend have separately made comments about wishing they had relationships with their daughters like we have. It’s never been directed at me specifically so I’ve mostly ignored it.

    Last week I was on vacation with some friends where I fell and broke my ankle. In the midst of a panic attack, I called my mom, who pulled over while she was driving to calm me down. After urgent care and scheduling an earlier flight home, I talked to my mom to arrange her picking me up at the airport and staying with her for a few days, driving me to medical appointments and figuring out my timeline for healing.

    At dinner that evening, one of my friends suddenly broke down sobbing that she doesn’t have that relationship with her mother and if she’d called her mom in the same circumstances, her mom just would have said “What do you want me to do about it?” and would not have offered any assistance. She acknowledged that it was ridiculous she was envious of me when I was leaving our girls trip early with a broken ankle but she couldn’t deny she felt that way.

    It’s the first time anyone has said this point blank to me. This is a dear friend who I know has been struggling with her relationship with her mother for things that have nothing to do with me but I’m feeling guilty (even with a broken ankle) to have had her be an audience to my supportive relationship with my mom. Now I’m suddenly worried that I’ll have to carefully monitor anything I say to this friend when I see her next to not say anything about my mother. My friend is not a toxic person who usually makes things about her; she’s been going through stuff so I’m not terribly surprised she had a breakdown on our girls trip when she was among friends, I just didn’t expect it to be directly focused at me. What should I do for my friend?

    1. BikeWalkBarb*

      You say you’re struggling with multiple people being envious but then you mentioned only a couple of people who’ve talked to your mom and one incident with your friend. Is there a lot more than you’re describing here so it really is something you’re struggling with, or is your concern primarily for your friend and her problems?

      I’m getting the latter from what you wrote. It’s great that you’re concerned about her and what’s going on for her but she presumably wouldn’t want you to have a bad relationship with your mom just because she doesn’t have a good relationship with hers.

      This feels like a time to have a conversation with her about exactly the point you raise here: Do you need to monitor your conversational topics to avoid your mom? With all the sympathy and understanding for what’s going on for her you can still ask this question. Then you do what a good friend would do which is if she says yes, that’s really painful for me right now, you try to calibrate for a while.

      I’m thinking of it as being somewhat analogous to being the pregnant friend of someone who had a miscarriage. One of you has something great, the other one has something painful in the same category of life. You wouldn’t keep gushing about baby stuff all over that friend, you both might find it easier to not spend as much time together for a while, and that’s a reflection of real friendship, not the end of it. Having the conversation is important for the friendship rather than withdrawing or ghosting out of discomfort but never being clear about your caring and concerns and leaving her to feel bad for having opened up.

      1. Still*

        This is a great comment. I agree that, from what you said, you have a “how to talk to my friend who’s going through a hard time” problem, not a “struggling with multiple envious people” problem.

        I think the comparison to a pregnancy is a good one; you’re not doing anything wrong but you might want to be extra considerate around your friend.

        I also want to point out that your friend did not break down crying because you had been gushing about your relationship with your mum. She broke down because she’d witnessed you getting support from your mum when you were in a medical emergency and having a panic attack. In that situation, you getting help was the priority. You did not have the emergency or call your mum AT your friend, she could have excused herself if she needed to. You should absolutely not feel guilty for getting support when you needed it, just because not everybody else would have had access to it in a similar situation.

        In general, I think it’s great to see other people have strong, loving relationships, whether it’s with their parents, children, partners, friends, or whomever. It might occasionally make me envious, but it’s also beautiful and encouraging.

        All those people who have made comments before? They probably meant them as compliments. I know it can be difficult to respond to such a comment, because it reveals some unhappiness on the part of the speaker. But, really, just take it as the compliment that it is. “Yeah, we’re very lucky to be so close!”. “Yes, mum is amazing, I’m so lucky to have her”. “Yes, we’re regular Gilmore Girls!” Then either change the subject, or ask them about their own relationship, if you sense that they want to talk about it and if you’re up for it.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I think you should treat her exactly the same as before, because there is no way to police yourself from talking about your mom (who is such a big part of your life) without withdrawing from your friend. That’s just going to make her feel more isolated.

      The security of a good strong friendship is being able to be vulnerable without people pulling away from you. Obviously, if you had done something hurtful and wrong, and she told you so, you should stop doing that thing. But you didn’t do anything wrong. She is sad because she doesn’t have what you have. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t want you to have it either.

      Just let her feel her feelings and don’t internalize them. They aren’t actually about you. They are about her and her own mom.

    3. Not a parent*

      Assuming you value this friend and are willing to do some emotional work on her behalf (now or after you’re done healing), I think there is a lot you can offer her without having to change who you are or your relationship with your mom, which sounds warm.

      First, you should know it’s not about you. It’s about your friend having a shitty parent, and especially a shitty mom. Your friend may be having the very painful realization for the first time that her mom wouldn’t be there for her when she needed her. This is a hard realization to have. Most societies default to the assumption that parents sacrifice everything for their kids, especially moms. If you don’t have a parent like that, it’s really hard. People doubt you or accuse you of exaggerating and often show more sympathy to your parent than to you, the child. Just making your friend seen and heard by acknowledging that she deserves better can be a huge thing for her.

      I can’t say for certain based on your limited response, but I’d also caution you against describing your relationship with your mom, which by appearances seems warm and healthy, as co-dependent. People with co-dependency have enough time getting their dysfunctional relationships recognized as a problem by society.

    4. Maggie*

      I don’t think you need to do anything specific. She shared something, you’re friends, you supported each other in your respective situations and that’s that.

    5. WorkingRachel*

      This doesn’t sound like you need to change your behavior. It sounds like she had a somewhat intense and ill-timed reaction, but it also sounds like you both handled it just fine. Your friend might just need a listening ear about her own relationship with her mom, or for you to make sure you’re making space for the fact that not everyone has as good a relationship with their families as you do (there’s nothing to suggest that you don’t already do that, so it might just be “continue to”). I am envious of some friends who have good romantic partnerships, and I think I’ve even expressed that on occasion, but I don’t need or want them to not tell me about the good things in their lives just because I’m a little jealous. As long as you’re not gushing about your mom all the time to the point of being thoughtless, I think you’re probably fine.

  23. Jackalope*

    Clothes shopping question: I have to go get some dressy clothes (going to a wedding which won’t be super formal but I want moderately nice clothing). Unfortunately I’ve gained a lot of weight during the pandemic and none of my previous dressy clothes still fit, PLUS my body shape has changed and I have no idea what works anymore. Per the internet my new body type is round, which is… surprisingly hard to get any suggestions for (I guess I just shouldn’t wear clothes anymore?). Any suggestions on a) style of clothes (like a specific cut to look for) and b) stores that might have what I’m looking for? I’m in the US in a reasonably large metro area so a lot of chains are in my area. No internet shopping though; I have no idea what to buy since I’ve never shopped for my body at this size. Also, c) a store to get dressy sandals that would be comfortable rather than just dressy? I know this is kind of vague, but I’m hoping to get some ideas to narrow things down for my shopping trip.

    1. BikeWalkBarb*

      Not a style suggestion but a style blog suggestion: Unflattering by Dacy Gillespie. I’m taking a course from her right now called Making Space. She’s a style consultant with a company called Mindful Closet. Her work is explicitly about celebrating style for any body size or type and also being authentic about what you really like and what you feel good in and wearing it without regard for any voices in your head telling you you should or shouldn’t wear something specific.

      I found Dacy through Virginia Sole-Smith, who has a great newsletter called Burnt Toast with a welcoming online community aimed at getting over fatphobia and diet culture. She wrote the best selling book Fat Talk among others. Her site has a number of pieces about finding clothes that fit and what she’s been wearing on her book tours and you might find some inspiration there.

    2. Chiper Chip*

      For style of clothes, look for styles that are good for an “apple” shape – another word for round, I think. I’ve always been this shape and dresses that have a higher waist are usually good for me because my narrowest point is right under my boobs. Of course, this might be different if you’re not a woman or person who wants to dress in a femme style. But if you are, for tops, the same pretty much goes – tops that have a little bit of a pleat or something right at my boobs, so that part is narrower and the bottom is roomier tend to look the most flattering. And t-shirts/other shirts with a curved hem. I don’t know why, exactly, but those lot a hell of a lot better on me than regular straight hem shirts.

    3. Jay (no, the other one)*

      If you have a Nordstrom, that’s a great place to start. They have a personal shopping service that I think is complementary and the stylists are usually lovely and incredibly helpful. I’ve found the regular floor staff also to be really helpful – they will pull things for you if you ask for their help. They do a good job walking the fine line between present and helpful and uncomfortably pushy. I don’t know if you’ve moved into plus sizes – if you have they have a good selection there as well, better than most places. And they have an awesome shoe section – I think they started as a shoe store and it’s still a core business for them.

      White House/Black Market has nice clothes but their staff, in my experience, steps far over the line into pushy.

    4. Not A Manager*

      If there are still any legacy department stores in your area – Nordstrom, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Saks – I’d start there. You’ll get some personalized help, and you can see a variety of designers and styles. Nordstrom in particular has an extensive shoe collection.

      Eileen Fisher has some clothes that are flattering on a number of body types. She has standalone boutiques and also is represented in department stores.

    5. wkfauna*

      I recommend checking out Torrid. I’m not sure about their physical stores, but online at least they have a wide selection including nice dressy clothes. I would say most clothes I’ve personally ordered from there would fit the body type you described — as other commenters said, a higher waist, a focus on the bust, and looser through the waist. Their smallest size fits a straight size 10-12, so they’re not exclusively in the plus size territory. Good luck!

    6. MCL*

      I find DSW to have a fairly good shoe selection, but I also have gotten kind of picky in my 40s about width and arch support so I go to one of the local Euro/specialty brand shoe stores (carrying not the highest priced stuff but like $100-$300 per pair) to shop for more “investment” shoes that I plan to have for years. Those are like 1 or 2 times per year treats but I get a lot of life out of that footwear, and the staff are knowledgeable about the brands and what works best for your foot and stride. You almost certainly have one or two of these in your area if you’re in a community of size.

    7. nerdgal*

      I am round and busty and I think the “coat dress” is a flattering style.

      I would look for dressy flats rather than sandals. The ones by Moving Comfort fit me well and can be worn for hours without discomfort.

    8. Dancing Otter*

      The full-service department stores have personal shoppers that could help you. You can specify your price range, within the store’s range – obviously not Target prices at Nordstrom, but you needn’t spend couture prices to use the service. And there is no obligation to buy any of the suggestions.
      How much the department stores stock in plus sizes might be a problem, though. There are specialty stores for plus sizes with somewhat more selection, though not necessarily the same quality. Lane Bryant comes to mind. Catherine’s and Torrid closed all the shops near me, but I don’t know whether the chains closed entirely or just certain branches.

      Side note: before you start, you should get fitted for the right bra size. I recently learned that my existing bras were two band sizes too large and several cup sizes too small. (I knew they didn’t fit properly, but yikes!) Same total circumference, but my clothes hang differently over the newly re-shaped me.

      I can’t advise on style, as I’m a pear shape, not an apple. Whatever style you choose, make sure it really fits in the shoulders and chest. Dropped shoulders are not our friend, especially if they weren’t designed that way on purpose. Clothes that don’t fit, whether too tight or too big, just accentuate the wearer’s size, not in a good way.

    9. Pretty as a Princess*

      I too gained weight during the pandemic and struggled with how to dress my new body. This may sound silly… but I found a few influencer types on Instagram in my size/weigh/height range. This helped me to get ideas about what kinds of shapes/styles would work for me. They will do things like ‘wedding guest dresses’ reviews and lists. That’s how I decided that yes I did have the confidence to buy a leather skirt and a great white crisp button down and pair it with a gorgeous sweater coat and voila, look great at work! Seeing people comfortable in their bodies in fun clothes when their bodies are like your body is super helpful.

      I’d encourage you to rethink “no internet shopping” though – what you want is places with free shipping and free return policies so you can maybe buy something in a couple sizes and try it on at home with accessories that you own. For sandals, check Zappos. Free shipping both ways.

      You may want to Google for “Midsize influencers” – it’s women in this category who have been super helpful for me in building the confidence to dress and style my new body rather than try to hide it!

    10. Jackalope*

      Realizing that I wasn’t specific enough on a couple of things. I’m a woman and am looking for at least one dress, although other nice dressy clothes would be good (since I spent the first two years of the pandemic working from home and my job has no dress code, I have virtually no clothes above the level of fleece hoodie that fit now). I’m fine with femme clothes although they don’t have to be super fancy, just stuff I can look polished in. The biggest need right now is for the wedding because it’s in two weeks; I’m daughter of the groom ( !! ) and while he’ll be happy to have me there however I come, he’s old-fashioned enough that me showing up in fleece and jeans to his wedding would make him a bit sad.

      Also, I’m not in plus sizes yet; I’m toward the top of “regular” sizes (that doesn’t seem like a good way to put it but it’s the only word that’s coming to me – the sizes most commonly found).

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I really feel you on how my wardrobe has devolved toward “T-shirt, soft pants I can exercise in (capri length in summer), zip-front long sweatshirt (when cold), the last two have good pockets.” I have some sundresses for the steamy summer days, but not much that works with my current body for feeling special and dressy.

    11. Brevity*

      I have gone from “regular” to plus to regular again with body-shape changes. I have always been able to rely on Talbot’s, no matter my size and shape. I am not paid to say this. Especially if you need something more dressy, Talbot’s si definitely something to try.

      1. Alex*

        I would second talbots for some “nicer” clothes, especially classics. They have both regular and plus sizes.

        Even if you aren’t *quite* in plus sizes, sometimes they are cut a little differently so like the 14 plus is worth trying if you are around a 14.

    12. ronda*

      I just shopped at Chico’s for a black pants, colorful jacket. colored top. (the black travelers pants are something I have been wearing regularly, and I learned that I dont really like their tank top type shirts)

      I hate shopping, so I told the sales clerk high level what I was looking for. Followed her around the store giving my opinions on the things she was picking out for me. She found me something I bought for the wedding I will attend in the fall. They didnt have my size in the store, so she put in a mail order for me and it arrived in a few days.

      I also asked for a discount and got it. ( I am already in their system and even tho they didnt have any coupons she gave me a discount)

      my friend who likes to shop, helped my buy many things there for my work wardrobe many years ago, so I had a few opinions about their clothes from that.

      I still need to figure out the shoes :)

    13. Jackalope*

      Follow up for all of you wonderful people who helped: I managed to find some clothes! I have a dress that works for regular stuff; I’m not convinced about it for the wedding but I may have a loaner dress for that, and it will work for a lot of my other slightly dressy occasions. I also got shoes (two pairs! Which was great because I hate show shopping!), and a couple of items for just nice clothing if I want to look a bit more polished. Thank you for your advice. I will keep some of the suggestions I didn’t try for future shopping runs; I’m not to the point I want to be yet, but I feel better about getting there.

    14. serenity by Jan*

      One other suggestion that I haven’t seen anyone make: if you carry your weight in your belly, a comfortable style of dress would be “fit and flare” (fitted in the bust and shoulders, looser at the waist and below. Honestly, fabric makes as big of a deal as silhouette in determining the “fanciness” of a dress.
      For brands, I would recommend Nina Leonard or Eliza J. Both brands have nicer looking dresses in flattering silhouettes, and they are often on Nordstrom Rack.

  24. BellaStella*

    Tell me you “funny things my pet does or did once” stories please. My kitty is 11 and sits on my apartment balcony watching and chattering at birds and will stare in wonder and track any helicopter that goes over. Do your pets have funny habits?

    1. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      My older dog pretends to sleep and fake snores when he wants to be left alone.

    2. Anonosaurus*

      my elderly kitty loves a particular hoodie I wear which has strings and tries to chase and catch the strings. she also has a fetish for licking face masks and many times I’ve caught her with her head in my purse, licking away. she looks very guilty when apprehended

      1. RC*

        …the inside or the outside of the mask :x

        Our little old man would always rub himself all over (we called it catsturbating) my clothes or backpack especially if I’d just biked home and everything was sweaty… I miss that little dude.

    3. Cookies For Breakfast*

      One of our former foster cats was obsessed with water coming from the bathroom. We have a very funny video of him figuring out how to drink from the tap (which luckily he never learned to open), and he had a habit to follow people to the bathroom until they closed the door behind them, then yell to be let in. The other foster cat we had at the same time couldn’t care less about any of this.

      It got to the point that, when I could find him around the house, I could be sure his silly little face would show up the next time I went to sit on the toilet and started peeing.

      1. Zephy*

        My sister’s roommate has two cats. One of them is similarly obsessed with the toilet – he is the flat’s self-appointed Toilet Activity Supervisor and he particularly loves watching as the toilet is flushed. My husband and I visited her recently and she warned my husband that, per her friends who pee standing up, this cat may try to…help.

      2. BikeWalkBarb*

        My cat definitely wants to drink out of the bathroom sink, either a running tap or some water in the basin if I put in the plug. I tried getting one of those bubbler water dishes to lure him away and he doesn’t give a rip about it.

        He also seems to have a tendency to use his litterbox, which is in the bathroom, when I go to the bathroom. It’s like having a toddler who won’t let you pee alone.

    4. anon24*

      Well, I still haven’t decided if this was funny or sad, but my cat has a specific toy that he likes to carry around in his mouth and howl. He does it late at night, when I’m sleeping, or anytime he’s really upset. He’s had it since he was a kitten and it’s only this toy that he does this with, and if he can’t find his toy he gets very stressed and anxious. It’s adorable and I’m careful to make sure his toy is always safe and accessible.

      I’ve been working a lot lately and haven’t been home much. This past weekend I actually had 2 days off work for the first time in awhile. He was napping in my bed and I was straightening my apartment and took the trash out to the dumpster. When I came back into my building I was coming up the stairs to my front door and I could hear him howling. I opened my door to find him sitting in my living room with his toy, howling at the ceiling. I walked in and he stopped mid-howl, looked at me like “oh, I didn’t realize you were coming right back,” dropped his toy, and turned and went back to bed. It was absolutely hilarious but also sad because now I’m worried that he does this every time I leave for work.

    5. Jill Swinburne*

      Once, and only once, my cat jumped on to the rotary washing line. I could see him on the fence considering it, so I grabbed the camera! Then he went for it from the fence, actually made it, and I managed to snap him standing atop pegged out towels. He didn’t last long and hilariously fell off, and never again attempted the feat, but it was a moment in history.

    6. Pucci*

      Every night my cat hauls shoes up the stairs to leave by my bed. Usually my gardening shoes, sometimes the shoes by the front door. Anywhere from 2 to 5 shoes a night.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Cast of characters: Angua, now gone beyond, but she was my first dog. Alannah, now 9, and Abigail, 2, are my current dogs. (Alannah grew up with Angua but Abigail never knew her.)

      When Angua was still with us, Alannah would decide that she wanted Angua’s toy. So she would run to the back door, all WUFF WUFF TROUBLE! and when Angua would get up to see what was going on, Alannah would run back around the other side of the table to the living room and steal the pillow and the toy while Angua stood at the back door looking confused. (Alannah also tried this on me for a while, like maybe I would put my food down where she could reach it. She has since given that up.)

      Fast forward a few years – now Abigail has learned the same type of trick. If she wants Alannah’s bone (because big sister’s favorite thing is always the best thing), she will first cry (which cracks me up because Abigail is 115 pounds of woofapotamus and Alannah is literally less than half her size) and then run to the door yelling about a bunny invasion.

      They all learned that they can fleece my husband for treats – he gives them treats when they come in from outside, so they will go to the door, and when he opens it, take three steps out, turn around and come back in, and go directly over to expectantly sit in front of the fridge to wait for their carrot bits. (Will be back with more stories. I have TONS :) )

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        My dog connected “Daddy is home!” and “I gaze out the window and bark and run around excitedly” and apparently drew the wrong cause and effect, so she would do the “Daddy is home!” routine shortly before he was due to arrive. I learned to always check the driveway before opening the door to let her greet him.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Alannah reacts to every car door that closes on our cul-de-sac. However, she somehow knows which ones are my husband (and reacts excitedly by running to the door with a bone to show him) and which ones are not (to which she jumps up on the arm of the couch and barks directly and grumpily into the wall next to the front window, which is covered with closed blinds).

          He and I share our locations on our phones, and he has an alert set up to let him know when I am entering our subdivision (so that he can put down whatever he’s doing and be ready to help me carry in groceries or whatever), and both dogs recognize the “mama’s home” sound from his phone and will ALSO meet me at the garage door. (Because they have also learned that I come in through the garage and he comes in through the front door.)

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I name with intent, haha.
          Angua was from Pratchett (I didn’t name her originally, I adopted her from my now-husband when he was still with his previous wife and told her he could crash on my couch when he got divorced but he couldn’t have my dog back, and he just never left, we joke that he married me for the dog). Her full name was Angua Grace Puppinsky-Rompanopolis, Lieutenant General of the Red Hound Army and High Ambassador to the Kitten Kingdom.

          Alannah (Alannah Jane Sleepyface Corporal Radar Wigglebottom the Froshus, Queen of the Carrot Mafia and Bane of All Flossiraptors Errywhere) was named from the Lioness Quartet. (Amusingly, Angua was a red dog and Alannah is blonde, despite their namesakes being the other way around.)

          Abigail was named for Abigail Adams the historical First Lady, Abigail Bartlett the fictional First Lady, and Mother Abigail from The Stand (because I had to shoehorn a literary reference in there somewhere) :) Her full name is still under construction, it won’t settle for sure until she’s about 3, but current iteration is Abigail Rose Sleepyface Goofin’ Gorilla-Paws Sinatra, Wuffleberry Princess and Boss of the Boo Rhimoceros Gang. She has since grown into her paws and no longer has blue eyes, so those two references will probably change. :)

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            *told HIM he could crash on my couch. His ex wouldn’t be welcome to crash on my couch at any point. :P Though I guess I probably told Angua he would be staying with us for a while. Trouble with pronouns. :P

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Alannah sometimes tries to sneak up on bunnies in the backyard. Most of the time if she sees one, she goes nuts and hoots and hollers and bolts after it, but sometimes, we open the door for her and she will literally take like five solid minutes to Mission Impossible across the deck, one step at a time – and we can SEE her literally vibrating. But as soon as bunny hops a step in any direction, she throws caution to the wind and books it. (The bunnies always get away. In nine years of living here, Alannah is the only one who has never brought us a bunny, and the other two never caught their bunnies, they just found them in the backyard already having shuffled loose the mortal coil.)

        We joke that she is a solar-powered puppy. When it’s sunny outside and even a little warm, she will go around the house and gather us up – she goes down to my husband’s office and grumbles at him til he comes upstairs, then she comes into my office and runs a couple laps around my feet – and take us all outside with her for fresh air and vitamins, while she lays on the deck and soaks up the sun. About five minutes at a time, every couple hours. Recharging her batteries. :) (And everyone who’s home has to go outside with her, because somehow the tagline has become “Vitamins are for family.” Aloha!)

        Abigail has recently developed this mildly annoying (but somehow also still funny) habit of going to the back door from the outside to come in and knocking on it with her paws, but then when someone comes to open it, just standing there and looking at us. I encourage her to come in, she looks at me, I close the door again, she knocks on it. I open it, and she stands there staring at me. So I close it. And she knocks on it. After the third cycle, I walk away from the door (and she knocks behind me again) and ignore her for a couple minutes (assuming decent weather of course, I wouldn’t leave her out in the pouring rain or anything). If I reach out the door toward her, she jumps back out of reach. If I step out the door, she runs off the deck back into the yard. I pretty much just have to wait her out until a few rounds of open-and-close-the-door and she finally decides she’s ready to come in. :P

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I thought about that, but if I do step outside she runs away from me :)

      3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Abigail recently learned how to open lever-style doorknobs. Not by jumping up and accidentally pushing them with her paws, oh no. At daycare she has outgrown their largest kennels, so she gets her quiet time in an empty playroom, and she apparently learned that she can take the lever in her mouth, pull it down, and push the door to open it, so she let herself out of her playroom and into her trainer’s office, where she plopped her ginormous. noggin into trainer’s lap (as trainer immediately typed into her chart “lock playroom door and consider bitter apple spray on the doorknob during quiet time”) and made adorable “snuggle me” eyes (which trainer of course complied with as soon as typing was complete).

        She developed a URI the other night, so I had to take her to the vet (she has a history of developing pneumonia so I tend to err on the side of caution, but not this time, she’s on meds and already doing much better) and she does not like going to the vet, so while we were in the exam room waiting for the vet, she kept carefully grabbing hold of the door handle, pushing it down, push the door, and then huff because it wouldn’t open. Luckily the vet showed up before she realized it was a PULL door. (I also let them know that even if it’s not a standard part of their process they should probably sterilize the doorknob when they were turning over the exam room, and when I explained why the tech was HOWLING.)

      4. Frieda*

        This reminds me of my partner giving a compensatory cat treat to the littlest kitty after she heard me opening a non-cat-related package and getting all excited for cat treats. (Many packages sound alike, in her defense.)

        I came into the kitchen and he was just talking quietly with her and explaining what had happened and putting treats down for her.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I swear to god, my husband becomes the CLUMSIEST MAN ON EARTH when shredded cheese is involved. He cannot open the bag without dropping some of it. On the floor. In front of each dog. While dramatically yelling OOPS!

      5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Angua stories from days of old:
        *Before I adopted her from my now-husband, the household included now-husband and his then-wife and also his brother, brother’s wife and their two kids, both toddlers. The kids would sit in their tray chairs to eat, and Angua would lay under them and wait for them to drop their broccoli through the cup hole in the tray. She always loved vegetables.

        *At one point, Angua lived with a baby kitten. The kitten would flop over on his back and wave his paws in the air. Angua would stick her nose in his belly and zoom him around on the hardwood flooring. They played like that for HOURS.

        *She was the worst counter-surfer of all three of my dogs. (Alannah would NEVER, except for the one time my brother left a plate of taquitos on the coffee table unattended, which he still talks about, and Abigail’s head is taller than the counter but she’s mostly really well behaved about it, plus after Angua we are miles better about not leaving stuff on the counters :P ) I came home one evening to find that she had somehow reached up to a bar-height counter and knocked down a Tupperware box of chocolate chip cookies. When I opened the door, she was laying there with her chin down on her paws, looking guilty as hell, with the empty box on one side of her and the chewed-up lid on the other side, absolutely motionless, except for her tail that was wagging so fast it was practically a blur. :P (She was fine – she was a big dog with an iron tummy, so none of the nonsense she got into ever caused her any harm.)

        One November, I had just made a half dozen pumpkin pies and left them on the counter to cool. I had to pop out to the grocery for a sec – I was literally gone for maybe 15 minutes – and when I got home, one pie tin was on the floor. It contained a crust. That she had licked COMPLETELY CLEAN of the custard. Not even a tooth scratch in the pastry. But the pumpkin was ENTIRELY GONE from it.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      The Spanish Inquisition (a cat) warmed up to family members very gradually. e.g. She eventually decided that she could sit on my son’s lap when he played video games, and would occasionally ride on his shoulders, and would express fondness for the rest of us by sitting near our ankles where we couldn’t get carried away and pet her. When son left for college, she concluded that she needed to groom my husband and would greet him after his shower, where she would ride on his shoulder to visit either the towels (top of closet in hall), the high shelf with the many bippable objects, or the sweaters (top of closet in bedroom). He bought a thicker robe for this, rather than try to argue with her about the correct way to start his morning.

      She also has recently established a little tradition where he sits on the couch, she sits on his left side, and he rubs her tummy while she chirps at him.

    9. The Dude Abides*

      Growing up, we had several cats. Two used to chase each other at weird hours.

      One time, the chaser got bamboozled by the other and ran headfirst into a door not once, but twice. The sound was loud enough to wake my mom.

      One year, on her birthday, she’d left the bedroom door cracked, and there was a windowsill next to her bed. The chasee jumped from bed to windowsill, the chaser kept going and scratched my mom’s cornea.

    10. MassChick*

      My 6 year old boy kisses back..when I approach for a smooch he tilts up his head. Also when he sees me headed that way, he likes to race ahead to the bath mat, crouch down and stick his butt up..it’s a demand for scritches, esp. of the area where his tail attaches to his lower back.

    11. run mad; don't faint*

      Our cat will meow at you and walk you to a particular chair so that he can sit in your lap…in that particular chair. Also, his claws would hurt us when he was kneading so we took to lifting his feet and tucking a throw blanket under them. Now once you’ve been led to the chair, you have to put the blanket on your lap before he will hop up to cuddle with you.

    12. RussianInTexas*

      My Big Boi Orange will personally inspect and then “murder” any new blanket, comforter, or a throw. Once. He will also occasionally walk through the two-sided fireplace and leave sooty paw prints on things.
      My Middle Boi Orange is the most conversationalist cat I’ve ever met. He makes noses non stop. While walking, running, sleeping, playing, eating, etc. Chirping, thrilling, meowing, purring, he has the whole range.

    13. Falling Diphthong*

      Our dog enjoys chasing the red dot more than any cat we’ve ever owned.

      As a young dog she once caught a squirrel (she was on a leash at the time–it was a very over-confident squirrel). And then she had a mouth full of dirty and annoyed rodent, which never happens with the red dot. Recently she has expanded this abstraction to bunnies: If the bunnies are hopping around the yard she sits on the deck with me and ignores them. A few hours later, she goes out to very carefully sniff every inch of the bunny trail.

    14. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Our first two dogs were a golden retriever and a black lab. The golden was sweet as pie and not an independent thinker. The lab was a different story. One day my husband threw a toy down the hall and both dogs started to run after it. The lab caught up to the golden, grabbed his collar with her teeth, forced him to sit, and then ran by him to get the toy. Hubs and I looked at each other with a “did that just happen?” expression. The lab brought the toy back (because retriever) and hubs threw it again. Same result – she made him sit and got the prize.

    15. Lore*

      My dearly departed cat was not a lap sitter but a leg-leaner and needed to sit next to whoever was on the couch. If it was one person, she’d shove them into a corner, lean her back and head on them, and occupy most of the couch with her limbs. If it was two people, she had to be between them, touching both. Even if I was snuggling with my partner she would either jump up and wiggle between us or wait till one of us went to the bathroom or kitchen and take her rightful spot. She also got herself banned from the bedroom for licking eyelids when she decided it was breakfast o’clock at 5 am.

      1. BellaStella*

        She sounds like she was a real darling, and insistent too on having things her way. 5 am is very early tho!

      2. Train rider*

        Oh my god I had an eyelid licker too! He had a bag of tricks to try to get me up when he wanted breakfast and the two most effective were eyelid licking and pulling my hair! (The sound of his teeth sliding down my hair was what woke me up)

      3. Don’t make me come over there*

        I might take eyelid licking over what my Arbor used to do, which was to stick his cold wet nose in my ear.

    16. ecnaseener*

      My dog will only eat her kibble if her humans are sitting on the floor with her to watch. She’ll dance around whining at people (and jumping on their legs when she was younger) until enough of us sit down, then she’ll keep prancing around the kitchen in between bites of kibble.

      She’s seventeen now but still has fun with her dinner parties!

    17. GoryDetails*

      One of my first adult-on-my-own cats, Chiun (named after the Master of Sinanju in the “Destroyer” novels) was a lovely sealpoint Himalayan (got him from a shelter – who knows how such a lovely cat wound up there?) with a fondness for earlobes. Whenever I picked him up he’d wrap his paws around my neck and suckle my earlobe, which tickled amazingly, but was so adorable that I’d put up with it for as long as I could stand it.

      I forgot to mention this trait to the vet techs at one appointment, and when I came to collect him after whatever-the-treatment-was they told me how he’d done the same thing to them – quite startling if you weren’t expecting it. (I imagine it was his version of comfort-seeking, and possibly of having been weaned too soon, but the shelter had no info about his early life and he was an adult when I got him.)

    18. Animal worker*

      When I was a kid we had a dachshund – she would chase airplanes and run down the street trying to catch up with them. And we lived in central FL and more than once were out in the intracoastal waterway on a small island and she’d swim after a boat that had a dog on it to try to catch them, and we had to grab out boat and go get her.

      But she was a great dog, very protective, could chase the biggest and baddest breeds out of our yard with her strength of personality.

    19. BikeWalkBarb*

      My 4-year-old “COVID kitten” Tiggs (short for Tigger–he was very bouncy as a kitten) has a terrible woolsucking habit. This means he eats holes in my clothes and scarves like a giant striped moth. He especially loves merino wool and I’ve had to replace several nice SmartWool base layers. If I’m not careful and set a scarf on the back of a chair, I’ll soon hear sort of a smacking sound as he noshes on the edge. I’m going to be doing some mending one of these days….

      He makes up for this with cuteness. His usual meow is a really beautiful purrlike trill (“purrrrr-OW”). When we turn on the gas fireplace in winter he curls into a backwards C (a sign of comfort), looks at us with his head upside down, and talks to us. He’ll do a particular funny little mew, we respond, he chirps again. A few times lately this summer he’s been extra talkative without the fireplace being on: Sits and looks at me and mews, I respond, he mews again, and this goes on for quite a while. He uses a particular tone for these that isn’t his usual I-want-food mew. I don’t know what we’re discussing but I’m here for it when my furry friend wants to talk.

    20. Irish Teacher.*

      This dog died some years ago, but…he once started sniffing behind a chair my sister was sitting on. She got up to see what he was sniffing at, whereupon he hopped up and stole the chair from her.

      He also used to pretend he couldn’t see any cats who came into the garden. He seemed to feel he was obliged to chase them, but he didn’t want to, so he would turn his back and resolutely look away from them or if there was a cat at one side of the garden, he would go sniffing in a bush at the other side. It was so funny once, when there was a cat right behind him and he was resolutely looking forward.

    21. slowingaging*

      My dog would limp down the hall. If I held out a pc of cheese, suddenly a miracle happened and the limp was gone.

    22. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      I was hosting a games night and one of my guests (a friend of a friend there for the first time) put his plate of cheese & crackers on the floor next to his seat. Of course my Westie immediately raced over to eat the cheese. Guest was absolutely gobsmacked that a dog would eat his cheese. I got him a fresh plate so he could get more snacks and warned him that yes, dogs think anything on the floor is fair game.

    23. Falling Diphthong*

      Kittens: A situation has arisen with the dry food!
      Me: There is dry food in this bowl.
      Kittens: But no one had checked!

    24. Rara Avis*

      My cat adores bag handles. Will head-butt/rub on/roll over on the handles of purses, straps of backpacks, etc.

    25. MissGirl*

      My monster doodle steals socks and buries them in the backyard. I have quite the spring harvest although I still can’t find my good hiking socks.

    26. Pam Adams*

      It’s hot lately. Bandit, a dog, made an “I need to go out” noise. When I got up to grab his leash, he jumped on my spot in the bed, and lay down in front of the fan.

    27. Chaordic One*

      When my westie was thirsty, when I gave him some water he would get so excited that he lapped it up very quickly and he would manage to gulp a lot of air when drinking it down. He would give himself a tummy ache and then run around the room whining in pain. I would have to pick him up and gently pat him on his back and burp him like a baby. And sometimes he would burp up a whole bunch of water back on me. I learned to give him water only a little bit at a time.

    28. Might Be Spam*

      My mini housebunny named Dust Bunny, had 10 pounds of attitude in a 3 pound body. When my 6ft husband would move him away from the begonia (he liked pulling off the leaves) he would try to dominate him by kicking him with both back feet.
      He recognized the sound of Daddy’s car and would wait at the door like a dog to greet him and follow him around for awhile.
      It didn’t work like I expected when I taught him to come when called. When anyone tried to call him, he would go look for me instead. His “sit pretty” to ask for treats, was adorable and I was a sucker for it and carried treats around. Unfortunately, he kept doing it where I couldn’t see him. The kids would help him out by telling me he was sitting pretty behind me. So he got his treats anyway. I’m not sure who got trained.
      He was pretty bold for a prey animal. During “mammal week” at school he would visit various classrooms. The kids sat in a circle while he walked around and let everyone pet him while learning about rabbit facts.
      He was pretty patient with pet care. He had bad eyes and teeth that I learned how to deal with. He also couldn’t groom himself very much and he cooperated pretty well with the various Indignities I infllicted upon him. He lived pretty long for a mini bunny.
      My landlord only allows cats. I wonder if I can convince him that a new bunny is really a cat.

    29. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      My doggo farts while going up the stairs. She is the ultimate Stair Farter!

    30. Chuffing along like Mr. Pancks (new name for Reasons)*

      That is cute!

      My cat is about 12, still shy and quiet but letting his fur down a bit as he ages. He is not as stealthy as he thinks he is: when he crouches at the screen door to watch and chatter (we have squirrels and chipmunks that like to bring their seeds over and watch him while they munch away) my cat will lash his tail wildly back and forth while he does the whole I’m-about-to-pounce-from-my-hidden-vantage-point butt wiggle thing.

      The trouble is that there’s a bookshelf next to the door, facing the other way, so every single tail thrash thumps against it, which results in a hollow, booming sound. The critters seem to take this in stride, and I’m not sure my cat even notices. He is smart, but not always self-aware!

    31. Makare*

      Our younger cat, Zula (indoor cat), is obsessed with leaving the apartment. At night, when we’re in the bathroom brushing our teeth, she will stretch up on the front door (next to the bathroom), reach as high as she can go, look at us beseechingly, and make these tiny, urgent high-pitched “mews!” It is the Most Dramatic, and probably the most expressive I’ve ever seen a cat—she looks at the door, then at us, then mews urgently. She is the picture of true desperation, no cat has ever wanted to go out this badly! Occasionally we will relent and let her out, because it’s so cute, upon which she just goes and sits on the stair landing just outside the door, maybe venturing occasionally as far as the next step up or so. Talk about much ado about very little. Meanwhile our older cat, Maz, will watch this performance staidly from the end of the hall—but the second the door is opened she is out like a shot and goes to the windowsill on the upper landing one flight up. The two of them don’t get along, but we joke that Maz has convinced Zula to do the undignified work of convincing us to open the door on her behalf so she can have her adventure.

      1. I take tea*

        We have an apartment cat who also sneaks out. She runs up to the half stair plateau (as on half way up to the next floor) and lies there rolling happily around and purring loudly.

        Sometimes she will then proceed to the next floor and mew in panic because the door is closed! I don’t understand why she can’t understand that if she went up, she has to go down to get home.

    32. GoosieLou*

      We had a Himalayan/Ragdoll mix (a little Romeo and Juliet action at the home of someone who bred both Himalayans and Ragdolls) named Desdemona and she was the sweetest and least intelligent cat in the world.

      We called her “carb kitty” because she LOVED bread, especially biscuits (American version). She wasn’t interested in human food generally aside from cheese, but if she found a biscuit she’d lick it indefinitely.

      She firmly believed that toilets were cat-petting stations and if you didn’t hop to it would get on the counter and wait, then gently poke your head with her paw, then stick out her claws and pull your hair, because clearly the only reason you weren’t petting her was that you didn’t know she was there.

      She was a BIG cat, but several times a night she would leave my mom’s room, then return and hop directly on my mom’s stomach and purr and rub all over her in absolute delight that she’d found her Person who had disappeared…except mom had never moved, Desdemona had just wandered away and forgotten her.

      She didn’t learn she could make noise until she was like 10 and noticed that our other cat got attention when she meowed incessantly (they’d lived together all her life, it just took Desdemona ten years to gather the brain cells and notice), but she still didn’t quite get making the “meow” sound, so on the occasions when she decided to try to make noise it was more just an “ah!” yelling at you.

    33. Meh*

      I had a budgie had her wings clipped before we got her so she couldn’t fly. She was TERRIFIED of everything.

      Once her flight feathers grew back in, her personality changed 180. She was obsessed with screens – the first time I left her cage door open (so she could get supervised exercise) I sat in the same room with my laptop and within 5 minutes I had a feathered friend perched on the top of my computer pecking at the screen. She would fly to my hand if I had my phone out too.

      I know birds dont see light like we do – I wonder if there is something about screens that attracts them, or if it was just her quirk.

  25. Helvetica*

    How to deal with a sweaty face?
    My face sweats very easily and not just with hot weather but basically any kind of slightest exertion – walking uphill – and I have a sheen. The rest of me will be fine but my face will be glistening, and it is very annoying to arrive at work looking like I’ve been running.
    I bought a makeup fixator spray in the hopes that it would set things – even though I don’t use foundation – but it doesn’t seem to be doing much of anything.
    Is there anything you’ve used that has actually made an impact?

    1. Spacewoman Spiff*

      Not exactly, but I started waiting until I’m at the office to put on makeup. I’m not sure if this will be as helpful for you—I use a light foundation and always felt like I was sweating it right off my face while commuting, especially with a mask on—but I’ve felt like things have really improved since I started doing this.

      1. Not A Manager*

        Similarly, especially since you don’t use foundation, could you do your eyes at home, and then when you arrive at your destination, finish up your blush and lipstick?

    2. ThatGirl*

      Use a primer – I like ELF- and a finishing powder. They won’t add color unless you buy tinted ones but they should keep shine to a minimum.

    3. Might Be Spam*

      I started using a clinical strength liquid antiperspirant on my forehead a couple of times a week and it really helps. Perspiration really stings when it gets in your eyes.

    4. Kay*

      For post sheen – a tissue or something similar handy, use a press then relocate movement instead of swiping, and a powder – my favorite was a loose translucent one specifically marketed for sheen/oil management.

    5. allathian*

      My face gets sweaty so easily that I’ve completely given up the idea of ever wearing makeup again. Thankfully I don’t get any flak for that at the office.

  26. sagewhiz*

    Update: Unpopular Opinions

    A while back, after the topic of unpopular opinions arose organically, I posted here that a client-friend was collecting them for a book, and asked for yours. And did you respond! This week, after cleaning them up and removing all screen names, I sent them to him. I worried a bit that maybe I’d overstepped, as he didn’t know I had done this.

    His reply: “Wow, this is terrific, and proves that Unpopular Opinions are a great conversation starter! And the commenters are obviously an intelligent, educated, and worldly bunch. Thanks so much!”

    So, thank YOU all! And if you have more unpopular opinions to contribute, feel free to chime in!

    1. Emily of New Moon*

      Unpopular opinion: It’s bizarre how much Americans are fascinated with the royal family of England; especially considering that our country was founded by a revolutionary war against them!

        1. Emily of New Moon*

          Ugh, that was supposed to say “character,” not “chu.” I don’t even know if “chu” is a word.

    2. Ali + Nino*

      OK I’ll bite. I don’t think people living in cities/suburbs should keep dogs as pets. Only exceptions are people living on farms/rural areas or those who need legit service dogs.

    3. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      Unpopular opinion: the internet is our collective id, so attempts/pleas/demands for better behaviour and/or shock horror at the darkest corners of it are largely useless. This is not to say “no moderation no rules”, actually rules, etiquette, moderation etc are essential for non-garbage spaces, like Popper’s paradox of tolerance.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m actually going to close this thread because moderating an unpopular opinions thread calls for higher-than-normal weekend work from me :)

  27. SCSH*

    My family (12YO + fit/active grandparents) and I are heading to road-tripping to Montréal this summer (from NYC).

    We have the major sights on our itinerary (Parc du Mont-Royal, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, Basilique Notre-Dame). Other must-sees/must-dos?

    Also: vegetarian/vegan and family-friendly (no fine dining) eats?

    1. BlueCactus*

      The Montréal botanical gardens are fabulous! In particular they have a truly amazing bonsai collection.

    2. Teapot Translator*

      We have a lot of pedestrian streets this summer. The main one is avenue Mont-Royal, I would say. Just nice to along.

    3. Bluebell Brenham*

      I was there earlier this month. My best suggestion for vegan/vegetarian eats is Lola Rosa- there are 2 locations. My friend and I sat on the patio at the Quartier des Spectacles location and it was great to watch the world go by. I also recommend Le Petit Navire- an electric boat that does a 45 min tour of the harbor. We did a food tour of mile End and it was fun and had many veggie options, but not all were vegan. The Redpath Natural History Museum is on the McGill campus and might interest your 12 year old.

    4. fposte*

      We took a really cool “free” walking tour (it’s sponsored by the city or something and you pay what you like at the end). It was nice for getting past the anodyne “growth of industry” and “women had significant contributions” stuff the bus tours tend toward and getting into the more challenging aspects of history.

      Also, have a bagel.

    5. Jenny F Scientist*

      Musée des Ondes is a fantastically weird radio/TV history place. (https://moeb.ca/en/)

      The natural history place near the botanical gardens is also fantastically weird.

      Musées Montreal has a pass that’s not well publicized but often worth it. (https://museesmontreal.org/en/museums-cards) If you go to the botanical gardens and the art museum and like one more its worth it. Some of them you’re supposed to call ahead to reserve an entry time.

      Look up the Quartier des Spectacles calendar for music festival stuff. Depending what it is, a lot is free! (https://www.quartierdesspectacles.com/en/discover-the-quartier/festivals-and-events/)

  28. Chiper Chip*

    I just turned 49 and it feels like a big milestone on my next birthday – going into my 50s. What are some things I can do to make the most of this last year in my 40s? Is there anything on your bucket list?

    I don’t know that I’ll have the money, but I’d love to go to South America and/or Africa – two continents I haven’t made it to yet! But money is really tight right now, so any cheap/free ideas are appreciated!

    1. alligator allegory*

      I turned 59 last week. The best present you can give yourself is being in shape, if you aren’t already. In my 50’s I did all of the following: learning how to figure skate, aerial arts (trapeze and silks) and (because I had to give those up) I started going to the gym and pushing weights on machines a year ago. The last one is really boring (to me), but I keep a notebook of how I’m progressing, and I’ve gotten stronger, and can carry heavy things more easily.

      Also: happy birthday!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        One of the most resonant parts of the novel Recursion by Blake Crouch is that the protagonists will travel back into a memory, and one of the first things they register is how that constant low-level pain that’s with them now? Totally absent in this memory of their younger self. It winds up encouraging people toward healthy living. (The plot is not remotely about that aspect, but it’s a detail that really helped the story ring true.)

    2. BikeWalkBarb*

      Someone gave me the idea of doing XX things for an XX th birthday, so 50 things in your case. They don’t have to be expensive, don’t have to cost anything at all. I had plans to do something big for a round-number birthday but broke my wrist right when I would have started my countdown so I’d say be flexible, and maybe accomplishing them over the course of the coming year would be perfect.

      In a reply I’ll drop a link to a blog post I wrote with lots of ideas, most of them costing only time and attention. A few from the list:

      – If you journal, make lists of XX things of various types: People who have mattered in your life, memorable moments, favorite books or movies
      – Find XX treasures (rocks, driftwood, shells, beach glass, perfect pinecone, seed pods)
      – Leave XX “somethings” for people to find (in places where it’s okay to do so). Could be poems you write, rocks you paint, books in a Little Free Library, chalk messages on a path, dollar bills tucked into library books (or your own pockets! Plant some money in jacket pockets for a nice surprise later when you’ve forgotten you did that), arrangements of found objects, little game tokens
      – Try XX new recipes or taste XX new foods/dishes/sauces/seasonings
      – Pay XX compliments
      – Laugh out loud XX times in XX days (cat videos count but can’t be the dominant source)
      – Get XX flowers and put them all around the house
      – Try XX kinds of chocolate (life goal!)
      – Learn XX oddball facts about some topic or topics (did you know wombats produce square poop?)
      – Take XX pictures of the same thing, trying to make it different each time whether that’s through angles, lighting, or taking the pictures over a series of days

      Happy birthdayweekmonth! (Because why stop celebrating after 24 hours?)

      1. Heffalump*

        I knew that wombat poop is square but had forgotten–thanks for the reminder. If this ever comes up at pub trivia, I’m ready.

    3. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      For my 50th year, I visited 50 new places. This included local museums, coffee shops, and stores I’d never gone into in my area, plus a road trip along the Oregon Coast.

    4. Rara Avis*

      A friend posted a memory a week leading up to her 50th. One from each year of her life, often with pictures.

    5. MissGirl*

      I would look into South America as many places can be cheaper than the US if you can get a good flight. The boutique hotels we stayed at in Costa Rica (I know that’s Central America) were cheaper than the tourist towns in my state.

      1. EA*

        Nicaragua is much cheaper and very similar to CR if you go the Central America route.

        I am dying to get to Argentina and Brazil but it’s way out of my budget right now :(

    6. Retired Accountant*

      I’m in my 50s, and it’s not a big deal to me. I feel very good, most of the time, and rarely think about my age. My suggestion would be to take a trip with/spend some time with older people in your life. They are aging much faster than you and I are, and everyone reaches a point where they can no longer do the things they love. Make hay while the sun shines.

  29. Fellow Traveller*

    We really enjoyed going to the Jean Talon farmers market – we went there to pick up food for picnic before heading to Mont Royal.
    If you are up for walking, there is a lot of really cool street art around St. Laurent Blvd- you can find maps online (or join a tour- I wish we had done a food tour or a street art tour while in Montreal.)
    Have a good time!

  30. Peanut Hamper*

    I have a friend who is not into science fiction who would like to experience it. I’ve recommended Firefly since it is technically science fiction but also has western aspects to it (horses! cows!) and also No Word from Gurb by Eduardo Mendoza for its absurdist aspects (think Don Quixote meets Resident Alien meets Madonna).

    What would you recommend? I’m looking for some things whose Venn diagrams also overlap with other genres like those two items.

    1. BellaStella*

      A few to recommend
      Cowboys & Aliens with Daniel Craig
      Solo: A Star Wars Story
      John Carter
      Firefly is a good one yes
      Blade Runner original
      12 Monkeys
      A Scanner Darkly
      Close Encounters of the 3rd kind

    2. Llellayena*

      Oddly enough, some of the recent Star Wars might be good. Andor or The Mandalorian are both very well written with themes that are not just sci-fi epics. Andor is about building a resistance movement and The Mandalorian is following a bounty hunter, so there’s some of that “western” aspect. Neither one requires that you know the Star Wars universe to follow the story (though it can help for some of the deeper references and foreshadowing).

    3. My Brain is Exploding*

      I like vintage sci fi – Asimov short stories would be good (if they don’t like one, they can move onto the next), also Sector General series (Galactic Gourmet comes to mind).

      1. GoryDetails*

        Oh, yes, “Sector General”! The series is by James White, and features a huge space-hospital staffed by beings from nearly every sentient species that the space-faring organizations have encountered. The books involve lots of medical dramas, sometimes mixed with first-encounter diplomacy, and some delightfully inventive alien species.

        Elizabeth Bear’s novel “Machine” is a recent work that takes a lot of inspiration from the Sector General books, btw; I thoroughly enjoyed that one.

      2. My Brain is Exploding*

        Oops, reading further down…these are clearly books and you wanted TV/Videos. Sorry.

    4. GoryDetails*

      What other genres does your friend like?

      If they’re into horror, go with “Alien” and “Aliens”, both excellent.

      For more of a MacGyver-in-space feel, maybe “The Martian”?

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        And remember, there are only those two movies in the Alien franchise. They knew 2 was enough and stopped there.

    5. Water Everywhere*

      If ‘space adventure’ appeals to your friend then I can recommend two tv series: Killjoys (2015-19) and Dark Matter (2015-17; abruptly cancelled after the third season so unresolved). And Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers series in books.

    6. Defective Jedi*

      Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir, is very science-y science fiction. My whole family loved it, even the ones who don’t generally like any fiction.

      1. Defective Jedi*

        Whoops, just realized you were looking for tv/movies, not books. This one won’t be a movie until 2026. Sorry!

    7. Nicki Name*

      Anime is full of science fiction overlapping with all sorts of other genres. What other genres does you friend like?

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If your friend likes historical fiction/alternative history, the Worldwar series by Harry Turtledove is set in a world where our World War 2 was interrupted by an alien invasion, and it’s a fairly believable telling of how things might have continued (including recognizable prominent historical figures) in such an instance. The first four-book series is about the war and the immediate aftermath, then the next 3 books after that are set like 20-30 years later and show the changes and developments that resulted – it might be a little spoilery to say this, but the human/alien war ends in sort of a stalemate and they have to learn to live together in a shared society. (There’s one more book after that where one of the main characters gets to go to the aliens’ home world as part of a human delegation as well.)

    9. Jay*

      -The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy (I greatly prefer the books to the movies).
      -This might sound a bit weird, but hear me out: Mystery Science Theater 3000, Rifftrax, and Cinematic Titanic. They are a fantastic way to enjoy cheesy old sci-fi movies.
      -Killer Clowns From Outer Space.
      -Jeremy Robinson has a number of really good novels that blur the lines quite a bit. To start with I would recommend Space Force (it’s completely unrelated to and much, much better than, the TV series of the same name) and The Others to start. Or if he likes Godzilla type stuff, the Project Nemesis novels or his stand alone novel, The Apocalypse Machine.
      -The Hardluck Hank series by Stephen Campbell.

      1. BikeWalkBarb*

        Flashback moment–I know it’s a cheesy B movie but Killer Klowns from Outer Space gave me nightmares when I watched it many years ago. I your friend finds clowns scary stay away from this one.

    10. Postcards*

      Firefly was awesome!

      I would recommend Stargate SG1 (and then Stargate Atlantis if they enjoy SG1). It’s military science fiction. I’ve never been interested in stuff like Star Wars because it feels too science fiction-y (they’re in a far-off galaxy and there’s a lot of weird aliens). Stargate felt more accessible to me because it involves earth’s military and the main characters always return to earth. There’s some aliens, but alot of the species they meet on other planets are basically humans with different technology/culture. I guess it’s a more “grounded” science fiction?

    11. Excel Gardener*

      The recent Dune movies are very good, basically Game of Thrones in space (the book is good too).

      Futurama is good too, if you’re looking for goofy comedy.

      Caves of Steel by Asimov is a classic detective mystery set in a futuristic setting with lots of robots.

    12. Ricotta*

      I’d suggest working through the Hugo Award winners. There are multiple lengths of works across categories (novels, short stories, etc.) so a nice variety to choose from.

    13. BikeWalkBarb*

      You mentioned “Resident Alien” and that’s the first thing I thought of: “aliens are among us and we don’t know!” + small-town politics (battling to be a top tourist spot) + rom-com + some sweet relationships between local tribal citizens and white people (which feel a little too sweet to me–there’s no racism in this Colorado town). Like a soft, soft X-Files, which would be another recommendation as a detective + conspiracy + SF series if you think she wouldn’t mind the creepiness factor

      Second the Becky Chambers books for “misfits learning to work together” + sci-fi.

      “Stranger Things” series: coming of age + SF.

      “The Expanse” books or series: detective + (interstellar) politics + SF

      “Grimm” is more fantasy than SF, but fun as a police procedural + mythical beings + battle to save the world (and if you live anywhere in the vicinity of Portland the references are funny).

      Sarah Gailey’s “River of Teeth” novella and the sequel: Hilarious Western + alternative history + hippos + queer and gender-expansive characters. Other books by Gailey are also awesome; The Echo Wife for marital problems + mystery + robotics.

      Name some more of their interests and genres they already watch/read and I bet the commentariat will come up with more. I’ve read so much SF I can’t keep it all in memory but if you draw some of the other Venn circles that will prompt more.

    14. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      The movie Galaxy Quest is hilarious, exciting, and surprisingly touching.

    15. Falling Diphthong*

      To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis, in which time traveling historians plunge through history trying to find a really hideous vase. Draws off Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat (I love the book and have never read JKJ, so not a required prequel). Sci fi, historical fiction, comedy of manners.

      Severance. In which work life separation is enforced literally by messing with your brain. Can’t spill corporate secrets if you can’t remember what they are!

    16. Angstrom*

      “Old Man’s War” is a fun spin on the classic military sci-fi genre.
      Arthur C. Clarke’s “Tales from the White Hart” is a fun short story collection.

    17. Chaordic One*

      Seconding Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy> series. There were some really great individual episodes from the original old “The Twilight Zone” and the original old “Star Trek” TV series.

      Some random corny old movies that you might want to recommend are:
      Forbidden Planet (1956)
      Fantastic Voyage (1966)
      Planet of the Apes (1968)
      Soylent Green (1973)
      Westworld (1973)
      The Stepford Wives (1975)
      Logan’s Run (1976)
      The Martian Chronicles (1980) tv miniseries
      Blade Runner (1982)

    18. Girasol*

      The Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold, starting with Shards of Honor: the world is well constructed, the characters various and fascinating, and the plots interesting.

      1. Shiara*

        Personal opinion, but I think starting with Warrior’s Apprentice works better, and saving the Cordelia books to go back to later. But definitely second the series.

      2. ronda*

        yes. this one is my #1 sci fic series. :)

        I really enjoyed the tv show The Orville when it was on network tv. like Star Trek but funnier. I think it is on Hulu now. Only caught some episodes, so not certain they kept up the quality.

        I read the lathe of heaven as a teenager and still think about it sometimes.

      3. I take tea*

        I recommend the Vorkosigan saga too. I actually happened to start with Ethan of Athos, which has a protagonist from a very religious planet with only males, who has to venture to another planet to get more egg stocks for their offspring. It is funny and intelligent and the concept is interesting.

    19. Rick Tq*

      Play Forbidden Planet. It is a classic for a reason, not just because it is a reworking of The Tempest.

    20. Workerbee*

      -“Eureka” TV show from Syfy
      -Anne McCaffrey was adamant that her Pern book series was science fiction, and they’re so good that she can call them whatever she wants. (That said, personally I would avoid anything written by or with her son Todd in that series. Fortunately that alliance came far later.) Also try her other series.
      -“The Mote in God’s Eye” and its sequel, “The Gripping Hand,” by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.

    21. EA*

      Arrival is a just all around great film. I’d also rec the original Blade Runner – a classic and great film on its own, happens to be sci fi.

      1. Charley*

        Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman

        The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem

        Both are weird, meditative little books and VERY quick reads.

        1. Put the Blame on Edamame*

          Yes these are both great suggestions! I’d add Zamyatin’s We and Panshin’s Rite of Passage.

          1. Charley*

            Just remembered: The Demolished Man, by Alfred Bester. One of the cleverest detective stories ever written, also contains an interesting and novel response to the challenge of depicting telepathy on the page.

            1. Put the Blame on Edamame*

              That is another great idea. I’ll throw in Chocky by John Wyndham.

    22. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Project Hail Mary (on audio! Something special happens in the audio version that isn’t possible in a physical book)

      And The Martian. Same author.

  31. GoryDetails*

    What are we watching?

    I just saw “Godzilla Minus Zero” on cable – and was very impressed! I’ve seen most of the Godzilla films over the decades, and this is one of the few where I actually cared what happened to the human characters {wry grin}. It’s a Japanese film from 2023, and pays homage to the original 1954 film – even using some of the guy-in-a-rubber-suit character design, though modified to make a more believable kaiju – while delving into the post-war devastation and the main character’s significant PTSD.

    I also discovered the YouTube channel of “niall no chill”, a young Scotsman who posts movie-watching-reaction videos among other things. His reactions to the Pixar films “Brave”, “Coco”, and “Inside Out” entertained me very much – especially “Coco”, which, in his terms, “ruined me”. (Lots of crying – for both of us. I love that movie!)

    1. Jay*

      I LOVE movie reaction videos!
      They are great unwinding watches after a long day at work. I’ll have to check out Niall No Chill.
      A few of my favorite reactors:
      -Ashleigh Burton
      -Dawn Marie (another young Scott)
      -Just SUMM Reactions
      -Nice Dude Movie Night (These are the best I’ve seen. They are filmmakers themselves and their reactions are both entertaining and insightful. I actually end up learning things about movies I’ve loved for years.)
      -Shanelle Riccio (She is an actress and is another reactor with a great deal of insight on the behind the scenes goings on and small but significant details that I never would have seen.)
      -The Mirandalorian Reacts (You get to watch a young person’s entire life change as she discovers Mel Brooks for the first time. It’s just delightful.)

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      By self, rewatching the full season of Top Chef Wisconsin, which has been really good. I liked all of the chefs and would have been happy to keep everyone on my screen. (I traveled to Madison midseason, and the food there really stood out. Multiple new types of dumplings! Awesome farmers’ market, which is featured on the show!)

      With spouse, rewatching Justified Season 1. I had forgotten how much these are structured like a standalone story about the person Raylan will be interacting with this week. Incredible character work, where everyone feels like they are starring in their own series and happen to be doing a crossover with Raylan’s series this week.

      With son, rewatching Slow Horses. Just a delightful show, and I feel like I am picking up on some things that I found confusing on first watch.

    3. allathian*

      Just started season 3 of Star Trek Enterprise with the family. It’s a rewatch for my husband and me and we’re enjoying our son’s reactions to it.

      My husband and I are also nearly done with The Wire.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Enterprise was such a great series! It really does not get the appreciation it deserves.

        I was also disappointed to discover that it was cancelled because of a pissing match between Les Moonves and Rick Berman. So many people lost out because both of these men were basically just awful people in so many ways. (Insert “I don’t want to live on this planet anymore” meme.)

    4. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      Donald Sutherland movies, in his honour- I was shaken by his death and want to celebrate his astonishing body of work. So Don’t Look Now, Klute, and an odd Canuxplotation number called Blood Relatives that I found on YouTube. Planning for Invasion of the Body Snatchers next.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Re Donald Sutherland: Yes, he has an impressive body of work. “Ordinary People” features probably my favorite role of his, as the hurt, baffled father. And “MASH” is dark-humor to the nth.

  32. Banana Pyjamas*

    Our landlord sold the apartment, and the rent is going to increase about 30% and utilities will no longer be included. I currently don’t work, and our job market is abysmal. Unfortunately we aren’t in a position to move, the goal was to get to that point in the next 6-12 months, then we got this news. I’m thinking of trying negotiate increasing a quarter of the total change at a time. Has anyone negotiated something similar, or what have people successfully negotiated regarding leases/rent? We currently pay half every two weeks, but we we’re told that would also be changing. We have until September to figure something out or move.

    1. WellRed*

      I see no benefit to the landlord in agreeing to that unless the local rental market is wildly skewed in favor of tenants. I think you need to start looking for a new place.

      1. Banana Pyjamas*

        No, the market doesn’t favor tenants. We had unusually good terms because 1) my husband moved in in as-is condition and 2) his boss owned the building.

        1. WellRed*

          Yeah, my local area is a disaster for tenants. Usually when a building is bought, tenants are usually given notice to move.

          1. Banana Pyjamas*

            Tenants were actually asked to stay. My husband’s been here 11 years, and I’ve been here 8, so we’ve lived here the longest. I can’t stop regretting that we didn’t buy a house back in 2019. Curse me for not wanting to move while pregnant.

    2. TryShorterLease*

      I had some luck by signing an 11 month lease which put my lease end at a more popular move-in time here and also gave them the opportunity to give me another increase sooner.

      Maybe see if they’ll give you a 6 month lease at a better rate (Maybe you can get them to 80% of the increase they wanted; I would consider more unlikely). I wouldn’t hint at the possiblity of plans to leave, just frame it as “would you get willing to accept a lower rent increase if we only locked it in for a shorter length of time” and see what they say re: yes/no, length of time, and new amount.

      Good luck!

      1. Sloanicota*

        Conversely, if you’re willing to stay you could ask about a two or three year lease; it’s possible having someone locked in will be a positive to them (unlikely if they’re planning to raise the price, but you can try).

        1. Banana Pyjamas*

          Yeah, unfortunately the 30% is reasonable and splits the difference between where we were and market rents. Definitely worth a try, but I suspect they will want to raise us again in a year.

        2. Pam Adams*

          Try The Log of a Cowboy by Andy Adams. He wrote several Western novels and short stories about the cattle business. I enjoy them, p because it’s about the life, not the fast-gun shootouts.

          On the reverse side, J.T. Edson wrote lots of pulpy novels about the West.

      2. Banana Pyjamas*

        I think I might aim for this. We’ll be signing a new lease at the beginning of the school year, but moving usually happens over the summer.

    3. crookedglasses*

      It may be worth looking into any local tenant protections there are in your jurisdiction if you haven’t already. a group like Legal Aid could be a good starting point.

    4. Cordelia*

      Some areas/countries have laws about how much rent can be increased, but if this applied to you I’m sure you’d know already. I think it depends on the rental market in your area. If it’s a landlords market (it seems to be a landlords world, tbh) there is no reason for them to agree to this really, they’ve presumably bought the apartment expecting to make a certain amount of money. There’s no harm in trying, particularly if you have been there for a while and are very good tenants, but I wouldn’t hold out too much hope. I’m sorry, it sucks.

    5. InterPlanetJanet*

      So your lease ends in September?

      You say your husband has been there 11 years, and moved in ‘as-is’ condition. Can you maybe point out the amount of $$ the landlord will need to spend to make your apartment market-ready (don’t forget to remove any improvements you’ve made!) , and negotiate an extension, or negotiate a long-term lease at a reduced rate?

    1. Tinamedte*

      Chocolate. Rain after a heat wave. A long walk with two good friends, that ended with a short swim in a lake. Playing a drawing game with my 8yo. A walk by myself in nature earlier today.

    2. run mad; don't faint*

      Right now, I am wearing my day-glow coral overalls. I originally ordered them for my daughter, but they were a bit too bright for her. (The color looked a bit different on my monitor.) I don’t care; I kept them for myself. They’re amazingly comfortable and the color makes me smile. It’s so cheerful!

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      I finally learned how to crochet a granny square.

      I have no idea why this has been a thing for me, but I’ve always been fascinated by them. I have no idea why? Am I ever going to do anything with this? Probably not. But I finally learned how to do it (found some excellent instructions online) and now I have a new level of satisfaction because of it.

      (My brain is weird and sometimes wants to learn to do things just so I know how they work.)

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        I finally learned how to crochet granny squares about a week ago! I’ve been crocheting since I was 8 (which was MANY years ago) but since my great grandmother who taught me thought they were ugly, I never tried one until now. I saw a market bag made from granny squares that looked cute, so I decided to give it a go.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I’ve been crocheting since I was 5, now 43, and STILL cannot get a proper granny square. (But I am working on a queen-sized blanket that will be my fourth iteration of a pattern that is, functionally, granny hexagons. I don’t know why six sides work for me and four sides don’t. :) )

    4. Dancing Otter*

      Visiting my daughter, half a continent away (Portland v Chicago), for a whole week. And she’s moving back to Chicago next month!

    5. BlueWolf*

      My bee balm is in full bloom now and watching the bees go absolutely wild for it has been quite entertaining. At any given time there are probably 10 or so bumblebees enjoying the buffet. I planted it from seed last year, so this is the first year it has bloomed. I have been slowly working on reducing lawn and adding native plants to my yard and it’s so fun to see everything start to take off.

      1. Girasol*

        Mine too! I have the lavender kind that make such delicious tea. Yesterday I went around the yard flower picking and put a vase in each room so there’s a beebalm right next to me.

    6. fposte*

      I am getting a new kayak paddle (my current one came with the kayak) and I am ridiculously excited. My expectations are probably way excessive but I don’t care. And maybe I *will* be jet-powered.

    7. allathian*

      Dinner with my closest friends in a fine dining restaurant. Great food in pretty surroundings and absolutely fantastic service.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      A memory from a trip to NYC last fall, which for whatever reason came back in force today:

      I needed a break from walking and was checking store windows, spotting a little shop with Mem Tea in the window. (A good brand of tea.) I went in and ordered my tea, and oh hey they have a nutella cookie! That looks good. I ordered one, and since the tray was nearly empty she just gave me all of them for free.

      It was a whole chain of little things going right. And I realized how rare that had become in my life, that the cancer had really pushed me down into a defensive crouch I didn’t sometimes remember I was in, and could straighten out of.

    9. GoryDetails*

      I had a surprise flyover by TWO great blue herons! I was driving along a rural road near a conservation area, and the pair took off from the water nearby and flew right over my car, so low I almost feared I’d clip them. Awesome sight!

    10. StrayMom*

      I noticed my cat, Binx, limping on Wednesday; by Thursday, he wasn’t putting any weight at all on his right front paw, hopping around on the other three paws and VERY painful on the sore paw. I made an appointment with the vet immediately, and the doctor noticed a cut on one of his toe beans. He gave him a long-lasting antibiotic injection, but Binx wasn’t feeling well at all, and kitties do such a good job of hiding their injuries, so I was really worried. But today, Binx is putting weight on his foot, and lying on his back, begging for my husband to spar with him! The king is back!

    11. ecnaseener*

      Yesterday I spent an hour sitting in the park, and there were birds and squirrels everywhere, coming right up to me! (I didn’t have food, they must just be very habituated to humans.) And then I went to a stand-up comedy show with a friend and every comic was great!

    12. Filosofickle*

      I went lap swimming for the first time in 30 years. The swimming itself wasn’t super joyful — there was much gasping for air and I didn’t last long — but after months (ok years) of intending to, I finally got there! It’s hard to push through the overwhelm these days so I’m grateful for any achievements.

    13. Might Be Spam*

      I babysat my grandkitty while my daughter was moving. We thought he would feel abandoned. Instead, he was so relaxed and stretched out, that there was a distinct possibility of him oozing right off the ottoman. We had a nice day and he ate All of his food! He was happy to see my daughter and is settling into their new apartment.

    14. Jackalope*

      Dear readers, this is not a drill: we just got a new kitten today!!! She is tiny and had a really rough start to life (pretty sick when they found her and her litter, reading between the lines on her medical records they didn’t think she’d pull through [“failure to thrive” was an expression used], lost an eye to an eye infection), but she’s spunky and feisty and seems to be doing really well now! She’s also super friendly, at least to the humans in the household (not introducing her to the other cats yet), and full of purrs.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Our Captain spent a couple months in sick bay and lost an eye to infection as a kitten and is now at age 9 super friendly, absolutely fearless, and dumber than baked dirt. (I’m pretty sure they took her brain out along with her eyeball. :) ) I bet she’ll do great!!

        1. Jackalope*

          I Hope So! My thought is that chances are good that she’s past the dangerous bit and should be okay. And if she’s not and gets another infection she doesn’t pull through or something, well, at least the last bit of her life will have been in a warm and loving home rather than a shelter. (It’s a grim thought and I think she’ll be fine, but if not….)

    15. NeonFireworks*

      At least two of the London tube stations on the Elizabeth line, which opened in 2022, have lifts with glass windows that descend diagonally, alongside the escalators. (They’re still mounted vertically as normal, but they move like a funicular.) I usually get out of the way if I don’t need to use the lift, especially when things are busy. However, if it’s very quiet, I’ll sometimes take a solo ride in the diagonal lift and giggle the entire way.

    16. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      This didn’t exactly bring me joy, but it was at least funny. Yesterday (Saturday) while I was setting up my dogs’ supper, I was standing there counting out Abigail’s antibiotic pills (they’re tiny, so 4 pills twice a day for two weeks, this is relevant) and going “Should I warn (husband) not to hold the pill bottle over the food bin when he’s feeding the pups while I’m gone next week? Nah, what kind of dipstick would do that. It’ll be fine.”

      This morning, I absolutely dropped the pill bottle while I was doling out food and medicine and spilled the remaining 90-odd tiny pills into the food bin, the pullout that the food bin sits in, the drawer that’s nested in the pullout, and on the floor and counter. But mostly into the food bin. So after I finished going through the entire kitchen, including the bin full of 12 pounds of food CUP BY CUP, I found all but five of the pills and decided that they’re tiny and antibiotics, if anyone finds the pills that I still haven’t found and eats one that they shouldn’t have, they’re not going to be harmed. Then I texted my husband and told him the whole story and ended with “So apparently I am that dipstick, so don’t be me next week.”

    17. carcinization*

      A winner of one (well, actually two) of the Food Network’s baking shows has a bakery in my town. I’ve been going to the bakery for a decade at this point, so I have been familiar with it since well before they had a line around the block and an omnipresent cardboard cutout of the winning baker. Anyhow, as mentioned, over the past year they’ve always been really slammed when I went, but I had some free time Monday morning so I stopped by for coffee and a pastry (a pithivier to be exact). The baker was there and we had a nice little chat about enjoying the slow day and how much the bakery has grown.

      1. carcinization*

        I guess I forgot to say that when I stopped by on Monday the bakery was completely empty of customers. A couple of people stopped by while I was eating but there was never anything resembling a line.

  33. Peanut Hamper*

    Last weekend I made a comment about overnight pickles, and a couple of folks wanted the recipe. Here it is.

    Thinly slice one English cucumber and sprinkle with a couple of teaspoons of salt and set it aside for the salt to bring out some of the water.

    In the meantime, mix together:

    1/4 cup vinegar (I like apple cider vinegar here, but go with what you have)
    2 Tbs granulated sugar
    1/4 tsp salt
    1-2 cloves garlic, peeled
    1 dried hot pepper (optional)
    1-2 Tbs mixed pickling spice

    After ten to fifteen minutes, rinse the cucumber slices thoroughly and drain them. Mix everything together and pour into a jar. Toss it in the fridge, and it’s ready after an hour or two.

    If you make this, I’d love to hear how it went for you!

  34. I take tea*

    Some time ago there was a recommendation on this site for colourful short tights to wear under skirts to prevent rubbing. They even had an European site. I looked at then, liked them, but I actually dislike shopping, so didn’t buy any. Now that summer is here, I changed my mind – and I really don’t remember the name. I’m sure someone knows what I’m talking about. Please help me out.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I like Undersummers, but I searched and it looks like that was on the April 20-21 thread and the one you responded to was about Snag tights :)

      Other suggestions on that thread: Jockey slip shorts/skimmies, TomboyX boxers, Thigh Society, Melerio from Amazon

      1. I take tea*

        Thank you! That’s exactly the thread I was talking about. How did you search for it? I just remembered reading about them and couldn’t come up with the right search terms. I remember being happy about the colours and that they have an European site :-)

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          I remembered commenting on one like that so I just put Undersummers in the search and looked for my own comment! haha

          1. I take tea*

            Ah, ok. Undersummers look nice too, but I suspect the shipping would be a nightmare, so went with Snag.

    2. Amey*

      100% Snag Chub Rub shorts, they’re fabulous (as are their tights)! I’m in the UK and wear them every time we actually have summer weather.

      1. I take tea*

        I think that if they are good I could wear them while dancing. Now I mostly dance in trousers.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I wear them while walking around outside in Central Florida for 10+ hours in July. :)

  35. Nicki Name*

    I need to improve my hair IQ. Any resources out there for that?

    In particular:

    1) I let my hair grow all the way out the last few years, but I want to go back to having a haircut. I can visualize what I want but I’ve never had the vocabulary to describe it. It’s kind of along the lines of a female mullet… maybe it is the female mullet? I don’t know, I need to learn the jargon more.

    2) My hair is naturally curly, but the top hair winds up limp and floofy a lot. Am I getting the wrong amount of conditioner? Is it something else entirely? If I start using separate shampoo and conditioner, what can I do about dandruff control? (All the dandruff control shampoos I see are shampoo + conditioner these days.)

    1. run mad; don't faint*

      My daughter has curly hair. I think it’s okay to keep using the dandruff shampoo, but maybe use one that isn’t 2 in 1 with a built in conditioner. The conditioner she uses is Not Your Mother’s Curl Talk leave in conditioner. She sprays it on damp hair after her shower. She pairs it with Not Your Mother’s Curl Talk mousse to control frizz and give her defined curls without weight.

      It’s possible that part of the limpness is that your hair is being dragged down by its own weight. When you get it cut, they should put some layers in the top, lightening it. That will probably help a lot too.

      1. run mad; don't faint*

        To answer your question about dandruff shampoos, I don’t know where you’re looking, but plain dandruff shampoos sans conditioner are usually pretty easy to find. Maybe try a different store?

    2. Not A Manager*

      Try TGel for the dandruff. You should only need to use it about once a week, although it won’t harm you to use it more frequently. Follow up with whatever conditioner you like.

    3. Ricotta*

      Look up a “wolf cut” and see if that appeals to you. It’s kinda between a mullet and a shag, and it works well with curls.

    4. AnonymousOctopus*

      I’m also a curly hair person. The right haircut from a curly-knowledgeable stylist will make the floofy/wispy top more prone to forming curls.

      The main thing that makes my curls pop is the right routine. I only shampoo once a week (with a low/non sudsing shampoo). The rest of the time I “wash” with conditioner; I buy the cheap stuff because I use a lot of it and it doesn’t seem to make a difference, and I will scrub my scalp to loosen up oil and dead skin cells. I found that when I stopped shampooing every time, my dandruff went wayyyy down. I use a lightweight curl styling product after that and spend 5 mins blow drying with a diffuser on medium (just enough so it’s not dripping wet, which weighs down the curls) and then air dry. If I wear my bonnet to bed I can easily get 3 days of great curls on one conditioner wash/styling session.

      If your goal isn’t to make the curls pop, ignore all of this!

    5. hazel*

      The right shampoo and or conditioner apart in my case eliminated the need for a dandruff shampoo. My sister’s hair falls in ringlets, naturally, mine has always been impossible. Masses of fine, not straight, not ringlet hair.

      Now I use Ghost shampoo and conditioner by Verb and Not Your Mother’s leave in. I wash my hair every other day and rinse it every day. I’ve grown it out to the top of my thighs and currently wear it to just above my bra strap. Strangers regularly come up to me at all lengths and compliment me on my hair! It’s such a change, lol. It sort of drifts around me, so I usually corral some or all of it with hair ties, scrunchies, etc, and leave the rest to do it’s thing. Verb has lots of different products for different hair: one of my close friends looked at the change in my hair and said “what did you do?” She has hair that was a mess and is now glorious thanks to a different Verb product. Her hair is thick and black and tight curly (Korean/Chilean tall drink of water).

      I cut my own hair, learned from the net. Sister and friend both have their hair professionally cut. They say take pictures with you to the stylist. Better than words.

    6. Annie Edison*

      I usually do lots of searching on pinterest before haircuts because I also don’t have the vocabulary. I like that site because it will suggest similar search terms, so if I start with something like “long cuts for thick hair” and then page through until I find things that are close to what I want, it will then suggest “layered haircuts for thick hair” or “shag haircuts for women” or whatever. Just look at tons of pictures, and then take them into the stylist and show them a few that you like. Be prepared to tell them specifically what you like about each cut so they know what kinds of things you’re going for, and maybe also give them some info about your usual hair routine and make sure that the look you want is going to be attainable with the level of styling you’re willing to do.

      Instagram is also pretty good for building hair vocabulary- lots of stylists post reels and info on there so if you do some searches for “female mullet haircuts” or something you might be able to get more ideas for words

      I am not naturally curly so this might be the wrong advice, and you probably know this already but just in case- you aren’t putting conditioner on the roots, right? A few years ago I learned that you are supposed to do shampoo at the roots to wash your scalp, and then condition the ends that tend to dry out faster. If you’re putting conditioner at the top that could be what’s making it limp? But again- I’m not super curly so this might be the totally wrong advice

    7. miel*

      1) I agree with the suggestions to look up pics! Search terms could be “mullet woman curly” or “wavy haircuts 2024” etc!

      2) I am not an expert but I’ve done some research on curly hair. There are several philosophies out there. One of the well-known ones is the Curly Girl Method, which says (among other things) to avoid silicone in conditioner and sulfates in shampoo; apparently they tend to dry out/ damage/ weigh down curly hair. A few years ago I read a whole 50-page document on it which I tragically can’t find the link for anymore. Anyways. Perhaps read an article or two and try out a Curly Girl-compliant dandruff shampoo?
      Note – there are a lot of curly products out there that are super expensive, but you CAN find Curly Girl-compliant stuff for cheap.
      You can also definitely ask your hairstylist for recommendations, although in my experience they tend to push the $50 salon products when the $5 product from the grocery store seems to also work fine.

  36. PhyllisB*

    I was reading an article in Time magazine written by Michael Twitty titled How We Eat Now (January 22, 2024 if you wish to look it up.) He made the statement that food is not only personal, it is communal…lessons learned across his historical truths…how pastrami got put together with white bread and mayonnaise…or why raisins are now a staple of a soul -food-style potato salad.
    I’ve never heard of this, and now I’m wondering what IS the significance of adding raisins to potato salad?

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I’ve only ever heard this in the context of making fun of white people for bad food choices, lol. Ex: in one of the Black Jeopardy sketches on SNL there’s a question about your friend Karen bringing potato salad to the cookout and T’Challa is like “am I right to assume she added something unnecessary like raisins?”

      1. PhyllisB*

        LOL!! In the South we do. Of course, I add some coarse mustard, but mayo is king in this part of the country.

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          Only Duke’s, of course.

          For those who don’t know: most mayonnaise is made with eggs and oil, but Duke’s (like Kewpie) is made with egg yolks (no whites!) and oil. It’s rich and delicious.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      I have never put raisins in potato salad. But I had chicken salad with grapes in it for the first time a few years ago (a friend brought it to a K.D. Lang concert) and I thought it was weird, but I ended up liking it because it added a bit of sweetness to the salad. Maybe raisins do the same thing?

      But I can also imagine that there was a time in the 1950s when food companies were promoting the hell out of their products and coming up with recipes to use them. So it’s possible that there may have been a commercial push to just add raisins to everything. Oatmeal? Add raisins. Gelatin? Add raisins. Potato salad? Add raisins.

      This, by the way, is where green bean casserole came from. I think it was Campbell’s that was trying to promote canned food, which is why every single ingredient in that casserole can be had out of a can.

      1. Forrest Rhodes*

        I never realized that was the origin of green bean casserole, Peanut H, but it makes perfect sense. The canned-food makers in the ’40s and ’50s were always giving us ways to use more of their products!

        I’m a big fan of the G. B. casserole—and Thanksgiving isn’t the only time I make it. My version adds sauteed garlic and onions, chopped mushrooms, a larger dose of black pepper than the recipe asks for, and a bunch of chicken (either chopped-up deli-roasted chicken; or one of the large cans of white meat chicken, flaked). Rather than a side dish, it becomes a meal for a couple of days.

        When I can find it, I like Cream of Mushroom with Garlic as the base—in my world, there’s no such thing as too much garlic!

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          I’ve never been a big fan of it because everything comes out of a can and it’s always…..the same. But I like your add-ins here. I will try this as soon as the weather gets cool enough to turn the oven on again. Thank you!

          1. Forrest Rhodes*

            Happy to share it, Peanut, and I hope you like it!

            My cooking can best be described as “Yeah, there’s a recipe, but how about if we add [this], and [those]! And maybe some [that]!” Sometimes the result is meh; but more often it’s yeah, let’s do this one again.


            1. Pam Adams*

              Becky Chambers writes interesting. character-based SF. Try the first of het Wayfarers series, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, which is a spaces based series where humans ate a small part of a big galaxy. There’s also A Psalm for the Wild-Built, where humans have reshaped their society to live in balance with the planet. (there ate traveling tea monks!)

      2. Manders*

        I got rid of it, but I ended up with a Campbell’s Soup cookbook when my college roommate moved out. You literally choose one can from column A, one can from column B, one of the listed proteins and probably cheese, and then cook according to directions. I held onto it for years just because it was so ridiculous.

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          Oh my god, I would love that cookbook. I need to start looking for it.

          I’m thinking maybe rice or noodles were involved in a lot of those recipes?

    3. WhatTheWhat*

      Pastrami and mayonnaise? Raisins in potato salad? He definitely lives on a different planet than I do.

      1. Forrest Rhodes*

        Agreed. Who was it—Annie Hall, maybe?—that ordered a pastrami sandwich on white bread with mayo, lettuce, and tomatoes?
        Run away! Run away fast!

    4. Clisby*

      That’s really interesting, because I’ve only heard of raisins in potato salad when black people are making fun of white people’s food. (US South.) Not that I have ever known a single white person who put raisins in potato salad, but who knows? Maybe somebody does?

    5. Morning Reading*

      White midwesterner here and I’ve never heard of or seen raisins in potato salad. Raisins go in the slaw, obviously!

    6. Chauncy Gardener*

      Since when did pastrami get together with mayo and white bread???
      It’s supposed to go on rye with mustard.

    7. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      So, I’m not quite the whitest whitey who ever whited, but I KNOW working class Midwestern processed cuisine. Meaning, I’ve been to a whole lotta church picnics that had the green jello “salad” with crushed pineapple (in syrup!), mini marshmallows and walnuts. Or, the “mock apple pie”, being grocery-store pie crust filled with crushed Ritz crackers. I have never in my life heard of raisins in potato salad.

      1. OaDC*

        The article apparently referenced soul-food style potato salad, so I’m not sure why your degree of whiteness is relevant.

    8. HBJ*

      Pastrami on white with mayo is probably because people began viewing it as Just Another Lunch Meat. Ham, turkey, balogna, whatever goes on white with mayo. Why not pastrami, too?

    9. WorkingRachel*

      That’s weird. I’ve only heard of raisins in potato salad as a way of Black people making fun of white people, so I’d be very surprised if it was a thing in soul-food style cooking. But Black people are not a monolith, so who knows?

      I am white, spent many of my growing up years going to church potlucks populated by southern (mostly white) people, and I’ve never seen raisins in potato salad.

  37. Be the Change*

    Please, AAM commentariat, please give me permission not to have video conversations with family. I spend so much time on Zoom at work, and it’s *all on camera* that I am beginning to have a weeping reflex at the thought.

    My husband is retired (*no meetings*) and really doesn’t get that I find it crushing. Of course I want to talk to our dear friends and family and see their faces. I don’t want to sit still on the sofa tilting my head just so for 45-90 minutes at a time, with nothing in my hands to do! I don’t knit, and you have to look down to do zentangles or whatever. Once I get on, it feels so, so rude and uncaring to not follow it all the way through, meanwhile I am slowly getting more and more internally frantic.

    Was it on this comment thread or a reddit thread that some poor woman posted that her partner insisted upon 100% full face-on attention when he was talking? And he talked A LOT. I wondered how they got food on the table or anything!

    1. Postcards*

      Can you explain to your husband and family that you have Zoom fatigue? One article I found with a quick google search says Zoom Fatigue is caused by: Excessive amounts of close-up eye contact is highly intense. Seeing yourself during video chats constantly in real-time is fatiguing. Video chats dramatically reduce our usual mobility. The cognitive load is much higher in video chats because nonverbal communication/gestures are missing, you’ve got to make sure that your head is framed within the center of the video, etc. If they’re reasonable people, they should understand.

      I didn’t see it mentioned in that article, but you also have to be “presentable” and it’s stressful to suddenly have to get on a video call with someone if you’re feeling messy and weren’t expecting to be “in public” at that time.

      Can you suggest alternatives, like phone calls or meeting in person or texting photos of what you’re up to?

    2. Still*

      Sounds like your husband is the one calling them and then asking you to join? If so, it’s completely fine to just say hi, wave and say “I’ve been staring at the screen all day so I have to go rest my eyes, I’ll leave you guys to it” and leave. Don’t sit down, just do the virtual version of the George Clooney handshake (be warm and friendly, never stop moving).

      As long as you’re keeping in touch with your loved ones in other ways (texts, phone calls, visits etc), your relationship is going to be fine.

      You can also just straight up tell your husband to pretend that you’re not home when he’s on a call. He doesn’t have to understand it or feel the same way, he just needs to believe the words you say to him and respect your wishes.

    3. Hates video*

      We’ve had family zoom calls since the pandemic started, and 99.9% of the time I have my camera turned off. I’m the only one. I got protests, but my family has finally realized they get me in audio only or they don’t get me at all. Try it. Be prepared for complaints but hang in there.

    4. BikeWalkBarb*

      Would it work to suggest a “family walk”? Even if you’re the only one who actually walks–you put Zoom on your phone, put on a headset, and head out. They can’t expect you to be looking at a screen if you’re walking, you can listen to the audio, and you get some fresh air and movement. You can look at nature instead of getting frantic.

      Your description of the call sounds as if you and your husband are sharing a screen, which adds to the fatigue. Even if you stay inside, take the call separately. Put the call on your phone and turn your camera off so you can move around. Mute and you can load or unload the dishwasher, rotate laundry, whatever. My daughters and I do WhatsApp video calls and we all know at some point the camera is going to show the ceiling because one of us is setting the phone down to pull laundry out of the dryer or dust the bookcase or something. Unmute occasionally for a chirpy “Great story, Uncle Mick!” and you’re as present as you want to be. I bet if you break the ice on this others will feel freed up to move around too.

      We’re not supposed to talk about that stuff we do Monday through Friday in this thread so I’ll just mention I do this for non-family meetings as often as I can, which would help with your overall Zoom fatigue if this can work for you. It means I’m truly tuned into the discussion rather than having my eyes stray to my in-box on another screen and I make a point of telling people that’s a benefit of me doing this.

      To be aware of if you do this for your family calls, I did once accidentally bump the button for my camera turning on in one of those Monday-type meetings and got private messages letting me know it was on since I hadn’t mentioned it; guess the view from inside my hand or pocket gave me away. I generally do say “this one’s a walking meeting for me so my camera’s off but I’m here”, and people always respond with “what a good idea!” and never “what?! you’re not taking this seriously enough”.

      1. BikeWalkBarb*

        You asked for permission to not do video calls. I suggested ways of changing how they work for you–more “not doing them the same way”–than “not doing them at all”. Realized I also should have said that if you need it from an internet stranger you absolutely have permission to do what you need to do to feel connected to family and not burdened by a particular form of connection! They love you, they want you to feel loved, they’ll get over whatever changes you make.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Alternately, if you do want to join the conversations and just not be front-and-center on video, sharing the screen with husband could help – let him be front and center main focus, while you sit in the background and do whatever (craft, color in a coloring book, zentangles or whatever) and occasionally join in the conversation from the side.

    5. Sloanicota*

      Ha! The seniors of my family started a zoom tradition during Covid and have kept it up biweekly ever since. Which is … lovely, for them, but they are quite insistent that we younger generation also need to be joining in on these zooms, and I’m pretty sure that 100% of everyone under 65 is zoomed out by the end of the week. It’s particularly hard for me because I not-infrequently do zoom church, and the family zoom would be 30 minutes after that, meaning after a whole week of back-to-back zooms (I work remotely) I would also spend most of my one day off on zooms. My mother thinks me heartless for only joining occasionally.

    6. Busy Middle Manager*

      On the flip side, can you do something about the amount and duration of work calls? Despite people consistently complaining “I’m on calls all day” I’m struggling to think of a job that is 80% or so sitting on calls and talking, which then leaves little time to do actual work (you didn’t say it’s 80% but many people say they’re on back to back calls all day). Maybe there is a call that can skip weeks/months or be shortened? Family calls may not be the issue.

      Also getting mad that you’re “expected” to tilt your head a certain way (I guess to look like a listener?) is silly because they will live if you don’t have the alert look on:-/

    7. Morning Reading*

      You have my permission! (Worth at least 2 cents on the open market.)

      I have to wonder, though, do you have particularly fascinating family members? Even when all my FOO was alive and I visited in person, we spent most of our time watching television, or preparing or eating food. I can’t imagine what any if us would have to say for 45 minutes of straight conversation, without including some other activity, like playing cards or driving somewhere. And every week! Do you take turns reading each other passages from your favorite books? Or themes like tell a joke, or tell a childhood story? What on earth are they all talking about for so long, so frequently?

      The only time I remember having a conversation with my sister that long over the phone was when she was experiencing a manic period and talking non stop. I’m not known for long phone convos. The only times I’ve zoomed for that long socially have been playing a trivia game or a book discussion group. Or a funeral/memorial gathering during covid, now that I think about it. So my perspective may be skewed by my experiences. It seems a lot.

      Anyway sympathies on the zoom fatigue. Could you just say, I don’t like to zoom socially because I have to do it all day at work? (People use this reasoning to not do all kinds of things, using computers, reading books, talking on the phone, cooking, gardening… things that might be enjoyable in some contexts but are not if you do more than enough of them at work.)

      1. Mighty K*

        Some people just have a lot to say! I dated a guy whose sister had multiple phone calls with her Mum Every Single Day! Not because of needing to check in or illness or anything, they just were that close and in touch. I have no idea how they found enough content but I guess it must’ve been fairly mundane!

    8. RagingADHD*

      You have my blanket permission to:

      a) make choices about how to communicate with family and friends, entirely independently from your husband;

      b) have your own feelings and opinions regardless of whether your husband “gets it.”

      c) sit where and how you like in your own house, regardless of where / how your husband wants you to sit.

      d) to let him be sad or mad about it if he wants to.

      Does that cover it?

    9. ecnaseener*

      This is your permission!

      If you like the talking and would be happy with a phone/audio-only call, suggest that. People have heard of zoom fatigue. (Or, alternatively, you are now cooking dinner or cleaning the house or etc. during these calls, so you put the phone in your pocket with video off and treat it like a phone call even if everyone else is on video.)

    10. The OG Sleepless*

      Ugh, you certainly have my permission. My brother would communicate solely through Facetime if he could. He doesn’t much like texts or voice calls. I’ve spoken to him about it before, like when he tried to Facetime me at 2:30 AM after I made a quick middle-of-the-night Facebook post, but I finally chewed him out about it when he tried to call me via Facetime when I was on day 3 of Covid. I kept declining the call and trying to voice call him, and he kept making a Facetime call, until I finally voice called him and yelled at him that I really need the choice about whether to appear on camera. A bit rude, and he was offended, but he got the point. Argh.

    11. The teapots are on fire*

      You have my full permission. I adore my husband’s parents and I participated in about 10 minutes of about 1/4 of his weekly 1-2 hour Facetime calls. I also Facetime with a dear friend for 1-2 hours every week WHILE WE COOK. We do not just stare into the screen like we’re watching a PowerPoint. We wander around our respective kitchens, do dishes, run the blender, yap. It’s more like parallel play for toddlers. So another option if you want to be friendly but don’t want to be in Zoom jail is to add another device that’s just you and prop it up while you Do Things.

      Or just wander into frame for a few minutes while your husband is chatting and peace right on out.

  38. Ricotta*

    This is the closest weekend thread to halfway through the year (July 2). How are your New Year’s resolutions coming along?

    I have a 180-day streak in DuoLingo and my Spanish is limping along, slowly but surely. I had a very short elementary conversation with a woman in my laundromat, and was so proud of myself.

    1. WellRed*

      I had ordered a health tracking journal in January that I was so excited about. Finally started using it regularly about two weeks ago.

      1. Mighty K*

        You’re well on track for nailing the habit of using it within this year, go you! I think they say it takes 30 days to build a habit.

    2. RW*

      I completed my crafting new years resolution in March, I really underestimated myself on that one! (I tend to take resolutions as a goal/challenge rather than a “do x every day” because that works better for me – so crafting this year was a) do a 30-day iterative challenge, like draw the same thing every day or similar (I ended up throwing a different shape mug on the pottery wheel every day for the month, but when I set the resolution it was open-shaped) and b) throw a teapot, which I TRULY thought I wouldn’t be able to do until, oh, October or so and then I startled myself by just… making one
      My writing new years resolution is about 40% complete, which seems not insurmountable – especially as I’m taking something of a sabbatical shortly, will be studying but only one paper so I should be able to sit down and write a good 3-4 days a week if I want

      1. RW*

        Well done on the Spanish, by the way! As I say – I really struggle with resolutions in that shape, so I’m very impressed!

    3. The OG Sleepless*

      I had a loose New Year’s resolution to read, or at least read enough to legitimately DNF, all of my unread physical books. I’ve done ok. Not spectacular but decently well.

  39. Postcards*

    When you send mail to kids, should you expect any sort of acknowledgement?

    I sent weekly postcards to my niece and my brother (the one that isn’t the father of my niece) for 6 months a few years ago. When I visited my niece’s family, I saw the postcards all over the house, so I know she received them and assume she liked them, but there wasn’t any acknowledgement while I sent them. My brother always texted me to comment on his postcards.

    I bought a 50 pack of postcards recently, and am now sending them to my niece and my brother weekly for 6 months again. My mom had asked me if they received any of the postcards yet. I know my brother is getting them (he still texts me about them) but I haven’t heard anything from my niece’s family. My mom thinks it’s horrible/ungrateful that my niece’s parents don’t acknowledge the postcards at all. I explained that they’re probably just busy, and the whole point of sending them is just to have a small presence in my niece’s life so I’m The Aunt Who Sends Cool Postcards when I visit instead of The Aunt She Sees Once A Year. I wasn’t expecting a response/acknowledgement.

    But at the same time, I saw a pack of 30 postcards I might buy to send to just my brother when I’m done the current pack. It’s more fun to send postcards to him because there’s interaction when I send them, whereas sending them to my niece is like sending them into a void. My mom thinks I should send them to my niece too since she presumably enjoys getting mail, but I feel like the first 25 is enough until maybe sometime next year?

    1. Everyone is different*

      I have sent cards that never get acknowledged but that is not the point of the cards. I say continuing sending the cards to your niece but maybe you don’t send weekly. And have did you ask her about the cards when you visited? Even if you don’t get regular response that gives you the opportunity to talk about the cards and what she likes about them.

      1. Postcards*

        I didn’t ask about the postcards when I sent them the first time and then visited. I noticed them but just kept playing/talking about whatever we were already doing. My thought was just “oh, I remember sending that” and then I honestly didn’t give it more thought.

        I’m writing riddles on the postcards this time (felt like it was better to do that then struggling to think of something to say), so I’ll have to ask her if she solved any of the riddles and if she liked the theme of the postcards when I visit.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          When I sent postcards to people early during Covid, I had animal postcards and put relevant trivia about the animals on them :)

          1. Postcards*

            OMG, that’s so cool! I would have loved to receive those in the mail. :) One of the postcard sets I was considering was Wild Animals of The World by Dieter Braun. It’s illustrations of animals and then there’s trivia printed on the back. (I probably would have tried to find more trivia to add if I had sent them like you did.) The postcards I ended up getting had photos of something that both my niece and brother enjoy. (I feel like I can’t say what because I’m attempting to stay somewhat anonymous.)

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      It’s weird that your mom thinks they’re rude but also wants you to keep sending them, lol.

      How old is your niece? Does she have a phone? If she’s young enough to need a parent’s assistance to respond it’s not reasonable to expect acknowledgement from her.

      How often are you in contact with your niece’s parents? Do you text/call each other somewhat regularly, or would acknowledging the postcards be basically your only interaction? As a parent, I try to always let my aunt know when my kids get her cards but sometimes I honestly just forget (and this is like, 3-4 holidays a year). I would not send a weekly “got the postcard” text but would occasionally let you know “oh she really loved the panda one” or whatever.

      1. Postcards*

        My niece is nine, and she doesn’t have a phone yet. I think she has a tablet, but I don’t know what’s available on that.

        I’m not in regular contact with my niece’s parents. Her mom is not the greatest person, so I don’t text with her. I get along well with my brother, but we only text a few times a year (he’s significantly older than me, we just don’t have much in common, and I know he’s busy working, taking care of his house, making dinner, doing laundry, raising my niece, etc.).

        It would be nice to get occasional feedback about what postcards she liked (like “oh she really loved the panda one”)–it was hard to chose postcards because I don’t know her well.

        1. WellRed*

          I think most kids like mail and at age 9, it’s not something she’s going to think about acknowledging, especially as you say you aren’t in regular contact with her parents.

        2. TO person*

          I think it’s not about the postcards or the niece, it’s about a relationship where you are doing all the work. Are you ok with that bc you value family, or want to know your niece, or want her to have another secure adult in her life? If yes, then it’s like any gift or service – you don’t do it for the thank yous. Your niece is likely too young to have her own email or social awareness, and her parents don’t know or don’t care that you would like a closer connection.

          So decide what you want out of the relationship and do what may help with that and won’t annoy you. Once a month sounds great. Instead of struggling to write something, ask her a question – ‘I sent you this bc I like pandas and so does other brother. What’s your favourite animal?’ Even if she doesn’t reply she will know you are interested in her ideas. A quick scheduled FaceTime call on say long weekends if you can get your brother on board may help too? But if the postcards are up, they like them!

          1. Postcards*

            Thinking about it as a relationship where I do all the work is a good way to put it. And the problem with one-sided relationships is they aren’t really relationships. I did weekly postcards for 6 months before, and it didn’t make me feel more connected to my niece and I didn’t get to learn anything about her. (And I don’t know if she even enjoyed getting the postcards.)

            I tried a video call with her after the last time I visited, and it didn’t go well (she didn’t want to sit in front of the camera and was screeching so I couldn’t understand what she was saying). I hate phone calls/video calls, so I don’t blame her for not being into it either.

    3. Esprit de l'escalier*

      I’d be inclined to ask Niece’s parent (the one who is your sibling) how Niece feels about them. Niece might not want to hurt your feelings by saying they are just clutter to her, but the parent would probably be more candid.

      But also, depending on the kind of person your sibling is and your relationship, if the response is that they are just clutter, I would try to suss out whether that is actually how Niece feels rather than being her parent’s feeling about them.

      1. Postcards*

        I was always excited to get mail as a kid, so I honestly just assumed my niece would enjoy getting them in the mail. But you’re right, maybe she doesn’t enjoy them and they’re just clutter or like annoying junk mail to her. I’m going to be visiting them around when the 6-months worth of postcards runs out, so I’ll try to judge if she was enjoying them then and then figure out what I want to do. (Like, if she thanks me for the postcards or expresses appreciation on her own, I’d feel better about sending more. But if they’re not mentioned or she doesn’t seem enthusiastic if I ask about them, then I’ll know I shouldn’t bother getting more.)

        1. A313*

          I had sent flowers to my goddaughter/niece and another niece for their birthdays because I would have loved that as a tween/early teenager. They were rarely acknowledged, and I felt I needed to follow up with them to make sure they were received because how else would I know? It was pointed out to me that maybe the flowers (sometimes in cute animal shapes!) weren’t really something they liked, which I could sort of understand, so I stopped. I was a bit disappointed, as I did hope it provided an opportunity for connection, but it didn’t work that way.

          1. Postcards*

            Yeah, I’m kind of concerned that I might have spent all this money/time/effort just to annoy my niece now, so I’m glad you guys pointed out that the postcards might not be appreciated. (I’ll continue sending the ones I have because it would be weird to stop at this point and I don’t have anyone else to send them to, but I won’t send more without confirmation that they were appreciate before buying any more.)

            Just for the record, I never understood the whole “flowers as a gift” thing because I don’t like flowers, but when a coworker got them for me on my last day before leaving for another job, I was super touched just at the fact that they took the time/effort to do something thoughtful and I gave them fertilizer to keep them alive as long as possible. :)

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          You might also, if you get the impression she might enjoy it, give her a bundle of (stamped, if you can) postcards so she can write and send her own, either to you or to other family members.

          1. Postcards*

            I had actually considered asking my brother if my niece would be interested in doing some sort of penpal thing. But I figured having her send any letters/postcards would just end up being work for my brother (because he might need to help her write them and he’d have to mail them). :(

            1. alligator allegory*

              if they have your address, all she has to do is draw.
              9 year olds are in grade 3 or 4 where I live, and can be expected to write sentences and paragraphs. (not if developmentally delayed, of course). She can write sentences, she can draw a picture. She can scribble her feelings.

              This is really a parent issue. Kids learn thank you notes/acknowledgements from their parents making them. At 9, their parents would still be making them write the notes.
              My 20-year old is ok-ish, but not great. That’s the time scale we’re talking about.

              1. Expectations*

                Really? That’s disturbing. I was expected to write multi-page stories by that point, although the plots and characters weren’t expected to be very sophisticated. If that’s all 3rd or especially 4th graders are expected to do these days color me depressed.

            2. Knighthope*

              Maybe self-address and stamp a few for her to send you. A 9 year old typically could write a few sentences and illustrate. Or suggest a few “getting to know you better” topics.

    4. crookedglasses*

      I’ve also struggled with getting radio silence when I send cards or snail mail to my niece and nephew. In my case I know their parents can be pretty hit and miss on executive function, so consistent acknowledgements would not be realistic, but they do tell me occasionally that the kids love receiving mail from me. At the end of the day, I’ve decided that it’s more important to me that those kids know there’s another grown up out there who cares about them than it is for me to get the warm fuzzies I’d like from a more balanced exchange.

      1. Postcards*

        Yeah, the whole point was to do something nice for my niece and to try to connect with her (even though she doesn’t respond), so I’ll continue sending the postcards I already have.

        If I send more, I’ll probably use Everyone is Different’s suggestion of not sending them weekly again. Maybe once every couple of weeks? Or maybe every time I go to the library since there’s a mailbox there and I go about once a month? Last time I did this, it got a bit tiring and started feeling like a chore to send a weekly postcard with no exchange for so long, so just doing it occasionally would feel better for me.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Yes, this sounds perfect to me. This isn’t something your niece asked for or has ever given an indication of enjoying, so definitely don’t do it to the point where you are resentful and it’s not fun for you. I have this problem myself and it never plays out well. Maybe just holidays or once a month will feel fun and engaging enough to you that you don’t need feedback to feel good about it – that will be the right level.

          1. Postcards*

            I’m liking the idea of only sending them whenever I go to the library so I might just do that starting now. My brother isn’t going to be mad at me if I stop sending them every week and I’m not obligated to send them to my niece every week. If I find out she liked them, I’ll send them more often again. If I find out she thinks they’re stupid, then I can just use them as bookmarks and the stamps I bought are “forever” stamps so they don’t expire and I’ll use them eventually.

        2. Still*

          In like the library idea. Weekly does sound a bit like a chore; it might not occur to a 9yo but if I were receiving weekly postcards, I would wonder if I’m just an item on the person’s weekly to-do list.

          But in general, I think postcards are a lovely, low-key way of letting your niece know that you’re there for her.

          And consistency is important for kids, right? I’m wondering if once a month, all year round might not be better than every week and then not at all.

          1. Postcards*

            I hadn’t considered that it might be bad to send them every week and then none at all.

            When I did it the first time, it was because I had no other contact with her, and I didn’t want to her to think of me as a stranger when I showed up for my yearly visit (they live in another state and I have limited PTO). I missed visiting last year because of starting a new job, so that’s kind of what prompted the idea of doing it again. (Otherwise the only contact I have with her is that she sends me a Christmas card, and I send cards and/or gifts for the major holidays.)

            But, yeah, sending monthly all year is probably better than weekly for half the year.

    5. RagingADHD*

      How old is the niece? A relationship with a child / young teen is always going to be at least somewhat one sided. Does she have a phone or access to stationery and stamps? Snailmail is getting less common, and a lot of people don’t keep them in the house anymore.

      If you want to hear back, you could send her a pack of blank cards with postage already on them. Make it easy.

      1. Postcards*

        My niece is only nine. I wasn’t expecting acknowledgment from her, but if I’d gotten a few texts along the lines of what Dark Macadamia said (“niece really like the panda postcard”) from her parents then I’d feel better. The responses here are making me realize that weekly postcards is “too much” and might not even be appreciated, so I’m going to dial back on them.

        I like the idea of sending her stationary/cards to send back to me, but I don’t want to make any work for my brother (he might have to help her write them and then he’d have to mail them).

        1. RagingADHD*

          Is she typically developing? A typical nine year old can read and write, and put things in the mailbox. My kids loved putting mail out and flipping the collection flag up.

    6. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I’ve never heard of acknowledging postcards. It’s not a gift, it’s just basically saying “hello.” I grew up in the days of written correspondence, and a postcard was considered the most lightweight way of staying in touch. My grandmother was big on postcard sending, but only to people who had requested them – a very specific type of penpal club with agreed reciprocity by anyone who joined. You can’t demand a response if the recipient hasn’t asked you to keep sending them. How about texting with an attached picture instead?

    7. BikeWalkBarb*

      Weekly for months on end feels like…a lot. I loved getting mail as a kid but much of that was the surprise factor. If you send them weekly they’re no longer a surprise. You mentioned it feeling “weird” to stop, yet you stopped after 6 months and then started again so you’ve had pauses before. You’re the one who sets the schedule and holds yourself to it, you can give yourself permission to change it up.

      The postcards aren’t just for 9YO Niece. They’re for 14YO Niece who needs an adult who isn’t her parents, for 19YO Niece who’s unsure about someone she’s dating, for 23YO Niece moving to a new town… you know this, that’s why you’re doing it now. The payback isn’t in days or weeks, it’s in years. This is a long-term investment and it’s very loving.

      I’d keep up with postcards with some changes:

      Only send one when you can tell a story about the postcard itself. “I’m in this cool town with old buildings and wanted to send you a picture of them. I love historic architecture with all the fancy frills on the fronts.” “I went swimming in the lake on the front of this card. They have the best ice cream stand here! Maybe someday you’ll visit and we can go together.” That means they show up randomly, which makes them more of a treat, and she’s getting to know something about you and what interests her Cool Aunt.

      Send some that aren’t words, just a little sketch or a cartoon you glue to the card.

      Give HER a pack of pre-addressed stamped postcards and some fun pens so *she* can write to *you*. Her parents may not supply a 9-year-old with stationery but when I was around that age I really loved writing supplies. If you wanted to you could also address some to other relatives (any grandparents in the picture?) and tell her they’d love to get a picture or a joke from her any time she feels like writing. That’s why I suggest sending her some that aren’t words, so she doesn’t feel as if she can’t respond because she doesn’t have adult writing ability yet. This sort of contradicts my “long-term payback” comments above, but you’d be giving her the ability to respond and leaving it up to her (while managing your own expectations about whether or not she ever actually sends you anything–an opportunity, not an assignment).

      1. Postcards*

        Thinking about my niece getting older is actually depressing and discouraging. It’s hard to build a relationship with someone you only see once a year, and within the next few years it’s going to get to the point where having a new playmate for one week a year isn’t going to be fun for her anymore. (I’m not even sure she’ll even be happy to see me this year. I couldn’t visit last year because I was starting a new job, so I haven’t seen her in two years at this point.) My brother had been hoping his employer would eventually transfer him to a location closer to family, but his employer no longer does transfers because of the expense.

        People in this thread are pointing out that the postcards might not actually be appreciated and that they’re an insignificant form of mail, so I agree about not sending them as often. I’m just going to send them about once a month going forward (I go to the library about once a month and there’s a blue mail box there, so I wouldn’t have to go out of my way to mail them).

        A lot of people are suggesting that I give her stationary/postcards/stamps so she can write back, and I was thinking about that last night. I had two good friends move away in elementary school, which I was very sad about, and asked them if they wanted to keep in touch via letters. They said they did, gave me their addresses, I wrote to them, and got one response back from one of them. So I think I was weird in loving to send/receive mail when I was a kid and I can’t imagine my niece being interested in sending anything to The Aunt She Sees Once A Year.

    8. Hyaline*

      Maybe ask your niece if she’d enjoy pen-pal-ing with you and give her cards and stamps of her own as a gift? I enjoyed writing to my aunts and godparents when I was a kid! It sounds like she’s too young to be in text or online contact on her own so unless you regularly communicate with her parents, I’m afraid it’s not abnormal not to get feedback—but if you want to hear from her, maybe teach her how to write and send a postcard on your next visit.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      Because you actually do have a warm relationship with her and her parents, I would lean into the Aunt Who Sends Cool Postcards thing, especially as you saw they had been kept. I assume she is too young to have a cell phone texting relationship with you. Kids form relationships with their relatives mediated through their parents–it sounds like modeling for her how to respond to the post cards is not a thing they are doing, and that’s not her fault.

      Two suggestions: Next time you see her in person, ask if she’s into them, or would be into something different. And consider buying her a book of postcards, with stamps, so she has something to send back to you.

    10. Samwise*

      It’s a postcard, not a letter. I think you are not being reasonable in expecting…a thank you? a letter or card in response?

      1. Postcards*

        I said I wasn’t expecting a response or acknowledgement in my initial post. But my mom being aghast about it got me to thinking about how I was going to buy more postcards to send to my brother but not buy more to send to my niece after I used up this batch because sending them to someone who responds is much more fun than sending them into a void.

        I don’t get a thank you or acknowledgment when I send cards and gifts, which is why I started sending less of those over the years. I’m going to start sending less postcards and will stop if I don’t get any indication that they’re appreciated when I visit at the end of the year. (I can always just send the postcards to my brother.)

        1. TO person*

          Your mom is ‘aghast’, but apparently raised 3 kids, one son married an odd duck and only texts a few times a year bc it’s not important to him – and doesn’t see it might be important to you, or niece. Do you maybe think your mom is off base, her family is not really close and niece is not having reciprocal relationships modelled?!

          A wise friend with an odd family once said ‘match their level’ when it came to efforts to keep up a relationship. You might need to do more bc you are invested in the niece – and not the brother by the sound of it – but don’t overdo it.

          1. Postcards*

            I was thinking about my best friend telling me last week that he’s cutting back on a specific relationship because he realized he “shouldn’t put more into it then he gets out of it.” So kind of like your friend’s “match their level” advice!

            I’d try to find another way to connect with my niece, but I really don’t know much about her or have a way to contact her. At least I made an attempt.

        2. Samwise*

          Your mom is way off base.

          Send the cards when you like. Weekly is ok if you enjoy it. Less frequently is ok too. I’m sure your niece enjoys getting them. They are likely a little burst of joy for her, a hug from you. When I was a girl, I was always thrilled to get a card from my aunties.

          Message: thinking of you is fine. As are the other suggestions you’ve gotten.

          I would say, enjoy choosing the cards and writing the message. Don’t worry about it too much. Whatever you send will make your niece happy.

          Guaranteed she will think on them and on you with fondness when she’s older :)

          1. Samwise*

            And I’m probably your mom’s age, or older (I’m 64) so I had all the mail/gifts etiquette well drilled into me. Postcards were never something that had to be specially acknowledged. If they were, my mom would have been on me immediately to write a thank you. And she never once did.

        3. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

          I think it sounds like a nice project and you should just do it because it’s something you enjoy and you want your niece to know who you are. I live in another country from my niblings and even though I speak to my sister all the time, I rarely get any direct feedback from the kids when I send them stuff or write to them (even though we all have phones and they could text me if they wanted!). I think they just haven’t got the social awareness to think to write back, and truthfully I think the expectation that people write thank you notes and whatnot is dying out a bit. So I would try to let go of that expectation, or even that you will be the “cool” aunt (I know that temptation well!). Just send things off that you like and want to share, and do it when it fits with your life rather than on a specific schedule.

          Also your Mom is being wierd. Ignore her strange reaction that this is somehow rude of you and just send the cards that you like. Eventually your niece may respond; maybe she never will, but at least you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you did something you liked.

    11. Nancy*

      Weekly postcards lose their meaning pretty quickly when they aren’t from someone you are already very close to, I think. I’d probably just toss them in a drawer after a while, even as a kid. Do you ask her questions about her self or attempt to have a conversation?

      Switch to special occasions/monthly, buy ones that have meaning (where you live or vacation holidays, etc) and ask her questions about herself so she has something she can respond to if she wants. Or ask to speak to her for a few minutes when you talk to her parents.

      1. Postcards*

        That’s a really good point that postcards from someone you’re not close to won’t have much meaning. Trying to establish a bond with someone I only see once a year and only have one-way communication with is not seeming like a great idea at this point.

        The first time I sent postcards for 6 months, I wrote questions about her and talked about my own life as if I was writing mini letters (my hand writing is tiny and neat, so I could fit several sentences). But I found that awkward because I was writing to someone who was not responding, so I was just sending riddles this time (I thought kids liked riddles, but I also thought kids liked getting mail…now I realize it’s bad to assume things like that).

        I tried talking to her on the phone and over video chat after my last visit, but it didn’t go well (she kept getting up to go do other things and was kind of screechy/scream-y/rowdy, so I couldn’t understand what she was saying). I hate phone calls/video calls (they’re stressful and give me a lot of anxiety), so it’s not something I would want to try again. (I don’t speak to her parents on the phone regularly.)

    12. nnn*

      Can I be blunt? A weekly postcard is not going to build a relationship when one doesn’t already exist, unless you get an unusual kid who happens to be really into it and it doesn’t sound like this one is. She’s the kid of a sibling who you’re not close to and only text with a few times a year. She doesn’t see him modeling a connection with you and he’s not doing anything to encourage hers with you. If you only see her once a year, that’s not enough to form a relationship on unless there’s some other point of connection. I lived across the country from my niblings when they were growing up but I saw them a lot, we talked on the phone, we had a relationship based on connecting around their interests and humor at each age stage. I think it’s lovely that you’re trying but I don’t think this specific approach would work with most kids without a lot more happening to build connection.

      1. Postcards*

        Yeah, I’m realizing that trying to keep in touch with my niece is a futile endeavor after posting here. Maybe I’ll just save the postcards for my brother who likes getting them.

        1. Tiny Clay Insects*

          I sent postcards to my nephews from each city I visited when I was traveling around Europe for 2 months last year (I own a travel company). I wasn’t sure if they were excited about getting them or not (they are now 6 and 9) so this year before I left for the summer, I asked if they wanted me to send postcards this year, and they both immediately were like “yes!!”

          I do see them more than you see your niece, but I don’t see them all the time or anything. I think the idea of asking your niece directly if she likes getting them is a good idea, and also doing it when you have something especially neat to share (from vacation, or a really cool postcards, or whatever). And do it if you enjoy it; even if it doesn’t lead to you becoming really close with your niece, it’s still nice and it’s not like it will make you LESS close by doing it.

  40. Lizard*

    I’m looking for advice on making outdoor cushions for my deck. The deck benches are an awkward/unusual size, so I haven’t found any pre-made cushions that would fit well. I have a friend with a sewing machine who has offered to help with that aspect of it, so I’m mostly wondering about choosing materials.

    If I use a Sunbrella (or similar) fabric, do I also need to use a dry-fast foam? Or would the fabric protect a regular foam well enough? The deck is uncovered, and it rains here regularly and without much warning.

    Also, if anyone knows a place that has the materials for an especially good price, that would be great to know! I haven’t completed a project like this before, so really any advice would be great!

    1. Postcards*

      I don’t know what a good price in general is, but the one time I was looking for fabric for a project I found out that Joann’s Fabric has a “last chance and clearance” section. I just looked at their website, and you can use the “Product Category” filter to narrow it down to outdoor fabrics (looks like the price range is about $7-$20 per yard right now).

      1. Llellayena*

        Be careful with that though. It’s usually not large quantities of the same fabric. I looked at doing this myself and the 6 1/2 cushions I’d need to make would take about 15 yards of fabric, which is a full bolt.

    2. CatMambo*

      My mom had good results by creating new covers for existing cushions that a neighbor gave her. The original material was worn/dirty, but the padding was in better condition, so they only cost her the material & her time.

  41. storing raw potatoes*

    Today I learned something that really surprised me: The newest scientifically based advice now is to store raw potatoes in the fridge, and not in that “cool, dark place” that doesn’t exist in my house, but I do have a fridge, so I can do this!

    Has anyone else learned this new concept and changed how you store your raw spuds?

    What I’d like to know, and the articles I read do not address, is *how* to store them in the fridge — in a paper bag? in a plastic bag? or wearing little tutus but still not able to balance on one sprouted edge?

    1. Postcards*

      I’ve always stored potatoes in a paper grocery bag with the sides folded down a bunch of times to create something like a basket. They sit on a counter in my kitchen and that’s always worked out okay for me, but I only buy potatoes when I plan to use them within a few days. Now that I know I can store them in a fridge, I would still use the brown bag basket method, but add the little tutus to make them feel pretty, lol.

      1. Clisby*

        I store mine a basket in a kitchen cabinet. I’ve never seen any reason to refrigerate them – but we eat a fair amount of potatoes, so it’s not like I have them sitting around too long.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      I have always been told that too much cold will turn the starch in potatoes into sugar and they will acquire a sweet taste, so I’ve never done this. But it’s summer and that cool dark place is not nearly as cool as usual, so I will try this. (Going out to buy groceries today, in fact.)

    3. Seashell*

      I keep mine in a closet pantry. It’s usually dark and room temperature, but not burning hot because it’s outside of the kitchen. They typically get eaten before going bad.

      I have no room in my fridge, so I think I’ll be sticking with the closet for the time being.

    4. BikeWalkBarb*

      I’d honestly like to have links to the “newest scientifically based advice” because what you describe isn’t what I find in a search. I’m only turning up storage advice for cool, dark, dry, and slightly *above* refrigerator temperature. I’ve added search terms like research and searched news specifically.

      On food storage advice if it doesn’t come from a county Extension office, which is supported by extensive university research and not directly funded by the people trying to sell me special potato containers or whatever, I check the validity of the site and source nine ways from Sunday before acting on it.

        1. BikeWalkBarb*

          Thanks for the link. If anyone who commented on the sugar formation comes back to this question they should follow it. They speak directly to that and say it isn’t a food safety issue (apparently there was a belief the sugars convert to acrylamide, and worrying about acrylamide will take all the fun out of French fries) but they don’t speak to whether the potatoes actually do taste sweeter if refrigerated.

          My fridge stays pretty full so the pantry it is.

    5. Songbird121*

      I have to admit that when I store potatoes in the fridge is usually just toss them into a container and leave them open. Sometimes they just get shoved into a shelf as is with no container. Unless they are fingerlings and would roll around. I feel like the container is just to corral them. Based on my interactions at the farmers market I would probably treat them a lot like mushrooms. I would either use an open container, a paper bag, or just sit them on the shelf. I would not put them in the crisper. Too much moisture. (In reality nothing goes in the crisper anymore. It’s where produce goes to die. I keep condiments in there now. lol)

    6. allathian*

      On the top shelf of the fridge in an open plastic bag. The veggie drawer in my fridge is too cold and humid for potatoes, but it keeps lettuce fresh for a month at least.

    7. Nancy Drew*

      This surprises me, as I understood that low temperatures cause the starches to convert to sugars, resulting in sweetish tasting white potatoes. My MIL stored hers in the fridge, and they were oddly sweet when cooked. Perhaps the advice assumes a short storage period. Is it possible that this advice was given in the context of global warming? Consistently higher storage temperatures probably shorten the shelf life of fresh, unrefrigerated produce.

    8. Lexi Vipond*

      Surely a fridge is a cool dark place, once you shut the door? (Although my potatoes live in a cupboard.)

    9. mreasy*

      I have always kept mine in the fridge. As does every commercial kitchen I’ve worked in.

    10. Alex*

      I’ve always stored potatoes in the fridge! Except occasionally when I run out of room….

      I just store them in their netted bag that they come in at the store.

  42. fposte*

    Toying with a New Zealand trip. I’d like to avoid renting a car. I’d be interested in a tour approach but only if it had some hop-on hop-off type flexibility. I like museums and sightseeing but also some mild outdoorsmanship stuff, so some hiking or water activities but nothing with the word “endurance.” I’d love to hear any or all suggestions, warnings, musts, etc.

    1. BikeWalkBarb*

      Maybe a bit endurance-y, but do you bike? I’d love to ride their Otago Central Rail Trail. Rail trails are always pretty flat because train engines don’t like hills any more than I do. I researched this pre-COVID and things may have changed but maybe check it out.

      1. Janesfriend*

        I’ve done the rail trail and it was excellent, and not too hard for an averagely fit person. I wouldn’t call it endurancey, though we did take 5 days to do it, and met people who went there and back in one day.

    2. Animal worker*

      I wish I could help more because the tour I took about 20 years ago seems to be gone – it was an 8 day wildlife and glaciers tour of the South Island, with transportation/lodging/some activities included, but where you weren’t with one group – you might be with different people going from one place to the next, then you had 1-2 nights there on your own, and on the next transportation it might be with other folks. But in playing around on the internet maybe check peterpan dot com, they seem to have a bunch of on/off bus tour options throughout NZ. Highly recommend visiting there, one of the best vacations I ever had.

    3. Solo traveler*

      I spent about a month traveling solo, throughout NZ, relying almost totally on the Intercity bus route. I’m a female traveler, age 50 at the time, and it was a wonderful, easy experience. If you go to Intercity’s website, you can see the route options. At the very least, you’ll get a good perspective of the various bases for accommodation. Most travelers tend to drift either northward or southward, hitting pretty standard itineraries along the way. The more time you have, the better! For specific destinations (Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound, Hobbiton(!!!!!), etc), you can take an organized tour. I’m very much a DIY traveler, but there are some places you can only access via something that’s organized. New Zealand is extremely travel friendly, and most towns have a good travel info office. If you like walking or hiking, you can reach a lot of beautiful spots on foot from your accommodation. It was fun running into the same people at various stages of the journey (all ages), and everyone was just so at ease. NZ does that to you!

      1. Solo traveler*

        As an example, if you spend a couple of nights in Nelson, you could take a day trip to Abel Tasman National Park — which offers all kinds of things to do. Like any NZ town, just visit the TI office when you arrive. There will be a lot of different options for activities. From Nelson, I took an independent tour where the guide just literally picked me up in the morning, drove me to the water taxi, which dropped me off at the park’s shore so I could spend the day hiking whichever route I chose (the TI office will have recommendations based on your interests and fitness levee. At a designated time, I was picked up from the shore and driven back to my accommodation. It is VERY easy to arrive in a town (Queenstown, Wellington, Wanaka, etc.) and pick an option (or just a local walk or hike) when you arrive. Same with getting your onward bus ticket. Now, I did travel in the shoulder season, which I recommend for any destination. Otherwise, places are way too crowded, and accommodation can book up fast.

    4. Kaleidoscope*

      you don’t give much details so working with what little is here:
      unless coming for 4 weeks+ stick to one island. I live in NZ and would recommend the South Island (I’m based in the North Island)
      you can find so many walks and hikes (tramps) here: https://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/things-to-do/walking-and-tramping/
      the “great walks” need booking in advance https://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/things-to-do/walking-and-tramping/great-walks/

      I can’t personally recommend any type of tour company but another idea is to base yourself somewhere e.g. Christchurch and then take various tours from there – Milford Sound/Queenstown etc plus there’s the transalpine train.

    5. Improbably Bob*

      I live in Christchurch and, unusually for a New Zealander, don’t own a car.

      Travelling around without renting a car is absolutely possible but comes with the usual pitfalls (i.e. travelling on a set schedule, no/fewer spontaneous stops etc). It’s also worth bearing in mind most bus routes operate on a once-daily service (and some, depending on the time of year, might operate just 3 times a week). So an element of planning is key. The HUGE benefit of not renting a car is that you get to sit back and enjoy the epic scenery.

      There are a bunch of tour operators which offer set itineraries, ranging from the big international players to smaller, local companies like Adventure South. The latter focus on the more active, outdoorsy stuff with trips rated based on the likely level of fitness required. They are highly recommended and offer a lot of opportunity for stopping at interesting pre-determined points throughout the day.

      If you truly want to be in control of your itinerary, purchase of an Intercity pass is probably your best bet. You can buy passes based on a set route (e.g. Auckland to Wellington) and hop on and off wherever it suits you. Or, for full flexibility, passes where you purchase X hours of travel and set your own route and schedule. In my experience, some of the buses do book out a few days in advance but the passes allow you to cancel at very short notice (maybe 2 hours ahead?) so you can extend your stay in favourite spots.

      There are a tiny handful of other bus companies (e.g. East West Coaches), a handful of passenger train lines (a lovely way to travel but very pricey) and some local options (e.g. Akaroa French Connection and Hanmer Connection which can take you between Christchurch and Akaroa or Hanmer Springs respectively).

      If you have any questions you think I might be able to answer please do let me know.

      1. Improbably Bob*

        I now realise I only addressed the car-free elements. Here are a couple of extra thoughts.

        – Don’t under-estimate the flight and the time difference. Plan in a day or two on arrival of ‘easier’ travel.

        – Do allow plenty of time. We see a lot of US travellers aiming to ‘see’ New Zealand in 2 weeks and they simply spend their time driving and, at worst, adding to the road toll. (Actually one huge advantage of not hiring a car is that you can enjoy the downtime while someone else drives.)

        – If you have less than a month, which is the case for most people, focus on one island. (South Island is the best!)

        – A lot of the key tourist spots like Kaikōura, Wānaka or Milford Sound are on the tourist map for a reason – they’re beautiful and amazing places to visit.

        – If you want to be a little more off the beaten track, I highly recommend a few days in Rakiura/Stewart Island. The flight alone is extraordinary. You can see kiwis, take a water taxi to Ulva Island and just hang out in the small town for good fish and chips and a friendly local pub.

    6. Part time lab tech*

      I loved canoeing down the Whanganui River many moons ago in my mid twenties. Prepare a greeting gift song as a bonus (can be very simple and short, even a nursery rhyme) if doing Maori things. I’m sure there’s a tourist transport options and there are jet boats that don’t have paddles if I remember correctly.
      Islands in Auckland Harbour don’t need a car either.

      1. Part time lab tech*

        How could I forget! Rent a Bach (beach house) on a black sand beach. The one I went to was North of Auckland.

    7. Janesfriend*

      I live in Auckland and am happy to answer any questions (if you think of any later I read this post most weeks). Any of the Great Walks might appeal to you, but equally you can tramp (hike) or just do a beautiful short walk all over the place, for example, in Auckland you ‘should’ climb Rangitoto (a volcano in our harbour) cleverly combining both a walk and water – you get the ferry over, or you can kayak . I also love tiritiri matangi (nature reserve island I planted trees on as a child, you get a boat there too). Outside of, but nearish to , Auckland, I think the digging your own hot tub on hot water beach is fun and the glow worm caves. Lots of people enjoy hobbiton. The things you say you like doing are very NZ things. Not sure what else would be useful, but as I say, happy to answer all the questions. There is also a nz travel tips Facebook group you might find useful.

    8. Silmaril*

      Flying Kiwi tour has hop on hop off, lots of flexibility about intensity of outdoor options, and a broader age mix than most of the tours.

      A big win of a tour is being able to enjoy the scenery while someone else does all the fatiguing driving/navigating. It’s doable, but driving in NZ is significantly more tiring than in Europe/North America, so if you’ve got limited time then it’s nicer to outsource this.

      As someone has already said, you can “do it yourself” using local intercity buses, but honestly it’s kind of a faff, especially in more off the beaten track areas as services can be infrequent, so a purpose designed tour tends to be much less hassle if you’ve got a limited time window to cover lots of ground.

      STRONGLY endorse the advice to have a “light day” for your first day or two, the jet lag/post journey exhaustion tends to hit hard. (And especially no self driving immediately after arrival – lots of lives have been lost by tired, jet lagged tourists leaping in a car and heading off into winding country roads with tragic outcomes.)

      Other more specific recs – day trip (walking with drop off by water taxi, or sea kayaking) in Abel Tasman is delightful, Wellington is awesome and my personal favourite city; if you like the Lord of the Rings movies there are great tours from Queenstown of film locations (by jeep or horseback according to personal preference…!). If you like outdoor swimming there are loads of good spots. Lots of places for whitewater rafting.

      Museum wise – Te Papa Museum in Wellington is outstanding, genuinely unmissable. Depending on how long you’re going for, there are other good museums in around the country too, I like the Maritime Museum in Auckland in particular.

      Shoulder season (spring/autumn) is good, the winter can be bitterly cold especially if you’re camping/hiking/doing water sports, and lots of outdoor activities places close in winter. Summer lovely but more expensive/busy, of course.

      If you have a notion of how long you’re thinking of going for, could give more specific recommendations/advice.

    9. RW*

      Hey I live in NZ! I know there are some hop-on hop-off tours (circling the South Island is the one I’m aware of, which has LOTS of outdoors and not that much city/town/museum type activities compared with the North Island – unfortunately, I haven’t done it myself and can’t remember who the people running it were).
      The Otago Rail Trail is a great suggestion (haven’t done it myself, but I have many friends who have). If you’re looking for a lowkey multi-day hike, I’d look into Abel Tasman or Queen Charlotte Track – you can also kayak parts of the Abel Tasman and I think Queen Charlotte (I’ve done the Abel Tasman kayaking, it was beautiful, although we hit some waves too big for me really – Queen Charlotte runs along a fiord, so likely to be calmer).
      Personally I’d recommend Rotorua for some cool geothermal + fairly good museums, Northland for sun and beaches, Fiordland/Central Otago/Canterbury High Country for spectacular mountains. Wellington has good food, coffee, and Te Papa the national museum is excellent.
      General advice – in any town, hit the i-site – it’s the standard tourist point, will usually be where buses arrive/depart and will have brochures on everything to do in the area. I agree if you’re here under a month try to limit your itinerary to one island (although you’ll probably fly through Auckland so could spend a day or two there either way. Idk what to do in Auckland I generally avoid it as I’m not a big city person), and yes, the flights here are LONG so you’ll be exhausted on the first day. Personally, the things I haven’t done and am most excited to hit one day are visiting the glaciers in the South Island and the Waitomo glowworm caves (nearish Auckland)

    10. fposte*

      You guys, these are so many good suggestions for me to think about! Thank you so much. Kaleidoscope, I didn’t give details because I haven’t decided any yet, and am casting a suggestion net to put them together. It’s a lot easier than starting from completely nothing, so I really appreciate the input.

      1. Solo traveler*

        IIRC, you are retired, and I want to reiterate what others have said — the more time the better! I looked back at my trip schedule and realized that I actually spent 44 days in NZ, which was enough to do a lot on both islands. It’s a long plane ride there, and it’s a big plus to have cushion in your schedule to meander around and stay extra days (or revisit) places you really loved. Nobody’s mentioned this, but the Shotover Jet in Queenstown is a real thrill! There’s also a lovely redwood forest (and other spectacular sites) in addition to the geothermals in Rotorua. There’s so much to see. I hope you go!!!

        1. fposte*

          I am indeed retired—good memory! I’m trying to figure out how to balance my tendency to get a little depleted/homesick after a couple of weeks on my own with my desire to maximize the trip. Probably building in some do nothing days would help, but I’ll ponder. Your description sounds amazing.

      2. Kaleidoscope*

        yes it’s hard to recommend when you have no details yet (even a season and rough duration is good).

        I believe there are rail booking tours in the north island too (not just Otago). hopefully you’ve found some advice and a few folks ready to recommend further once you have some details!

  43. PhyllisB*

    Okay, here I am again with another question. My grandson in prison just called me and asked me to send him some Western novels. Of course, my first questions were: what authors and what have you read so far? His answers were he didn’t know, and nothing. He loves to read so I just he just wants to try something new. Now the only authors I know anything about (and very little at that) are Louis Lamour, Larry McMurtry, and William Johnstone. (I am aware of Max Brand and Zane Grey, but I feel like those would be too dated for a 21-year-old.) Any other suggestions? The rule for sending books is it can only be in paperback, and it has to come from Amazon.

    1. anon24*

      I’m not an avid Western reader, but I do like the genre (just don’t read it often for some reason) and as a teen in school I had to read Shane by Jack Schaefer. I loved it and have read it several times since. It was the book that made me realize maybe Westerns don’t suck.

    2. GoryDetails*

      Owen Wister’s “The Virginian” is a classic – I enjoyed it, though it might be too… old-timey?

      Alan LeMay’s “The Searchers” was quite good. It’s the inspiration for the classic 1956 film, and while there are some significant changes between the book and the film, I did enjoy the book.

      Oh, and Elmore Leonard’s “Three-ten to Yuma and Other Stories” has some dandy tales, including the title story (another one that inspired a classic Western film).

      For something with more postmodern snarkery, Thomas Berger’s “Little Big Man” is quite funny – it inspired the 1970 film starring Dustin Hoffman. (I find a lot of these books by deliberately looking for the inspirations of favorite films; not all of the books are as successful, but I can recommend all of these.)

    3. Anonymous cat*

      I’ve heard of Terry Johnston. I think his run long which is probably a plus.

      Wasn’t there a popular book called something like How the West Was Won? I think I saw ads for a miniseries long ago when networks had miniseries.

      If you have time, I’d suggest going to westerns in Amazon and seeing if they have a list of most popular westerns and maybe reading a couple samples to see if they sound interesting.

    4. Maryn*

      I’m not a big reader of westerns, but you don’t want to overlook the more modern westerns by Cormac McCarthy: Blood Meridian, All the Pretty Horses, No Country for Old Men.

      There’s also Little Big Man, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, and Appaloosa (by Robert B. Parker, who wrote those Boston-based Spenser detective novels).

    5. Clisby*

      Would he possibly like Tony Hillerman’s novels that take place in the Navaho Nation in the US southwest (mostly New Mexico and Arizona)? These are the ones featuring the characters Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee.

    6. BikeWalkBarb*

      You’re an awesome grandma.

      Are you able to talk with him again to ask what books he’s been enjoying and who wrote them? You could then plug their name and “Western” into a search engine; find out if they themselves have written any that you’d start with, and find reviews of books described as being “as if So and So had written a Western” that might at least point you to the style of writing he likes. Come back and tell us who he’s been reading and liking and we can add more suggestions–this is a well-read bunch!

      Louis Lamour is going to feel very, very dated; my dad read those and he died at age 95 a dozen years ago.

      You might include a book about the West by a Native writer, which isn’t the same thing as a Western and will show the same time period from a very different perspective. Fools Crow by James Welch is a classic.

      Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry would be a good one.

      True Grit by Charles Portis was made into a movie with John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn.

      Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx if you think he’d appreciate a gay love story Western.

      Little Big Man by Thomas Berger is sort of a Western satire that was made into a film with Dustin Hoffman. I understand it’s sort of a Western Forrest Gump–main character encounters lots of famous people and incidents in the history of the West.

      If he reads and enjoys science fiction or fantasy too, he might like Sarah Gailey’s novellas River of Teeth and American Hippo. They’re set in an alternate Western history based on the actual historical fact that at one point someone suggested importing hippos into the South to be a meat animal. In Gailey’s version they’re both food and transportation. Given that hippos kill more people than rhinoceroses (IRL), they’re a bit dangerous too. (Queer and genderexpansive characters)

    7. Pam Adams*

      Try The Log of a Cowboy by Andy Adams. He wrote several Western novels and short stories about the cattle business. I enjoy them, p because it’s about the life, not the fast-gun shootouts.

      On the reverse side, J.T. Edson wrote lots of pulpy novels about the West.

    8. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      I haven’t read a lot of westerns, but I enjoyed Bill Pronzini’s Quincannon books (the first is just titled Quincannon). I picked them because I enjoyed Pronzini’s mysteries. Quincannon is a Secret Service agent so it’s a western/detective series. The series includes a book of short stories where Quincannon has opened a detective agency with the widow of a Pinkerton agent – Carpenter and Quincannon.

      My dad read a lot of westerns – some of his favorite authors included Larry McMurtry, Louis L’Amour, Zane Grey, and Theodore V. Olsen.

    9. Invisible fish*

      The Walt Longmire series by Craig Johnson is my parents’ favorite. Not 100% western, but …

    10. Part time lab tech*

      I wouldn’t dismiss Louis L’Amour. Yes, it’s dated but it’s still a good light read if you like plot driven novels with characters that feel like people. There is also a different feel to his epic vs pulp novels, a bit like Stephen King or Nora Roberts. They are written for an audience. Yes, the women are almost entirely side characters, but they are still written as capable and intelligent people who made choices. (A bugbear of mine when Felix took over from his father Dick Francis is that while the plots were still good, the characters lost depth).

    11. PhyllisB*

      Ugh. I had a whole response written out and my phone ate it. so trying again. Thanks for all the responses, I’m going to find some of these for him and I’ll report back on what he likes. I occasionally like Westerns myself so I will probably read some of these so I can discuss them with him.
      I had forgotten Little Big Man. it was hysterical. Well, the movie was, never read the book I may do that now. I also saw Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. Not funny of course, but very good. I dated a guy in college who loved these kinds of stories so we saw a lot of movies like this. I didn’t think of them because that was over 50 years ago.
      I knew y’all would come through for me!!

      1. Tiny Clay Insects*

        For something new, Tana French’s two most recent books (The Searcher is the first one, and The Hunter is the sequel) are like modern Irish Westerns. They take place in a fictional small town in the far West of Ireland. The main character is a former cop who moved there to find peace but of course finds trouble instead. And though they are not set in the American West, they truly do have a Western vibe.

  44. Orson*

    A couple weeks ago Elitist Semicolon posted about “Llamaland Pubic Schools” keychains. I finally decided to design one that can be 3D printed so anyone who wants one can print it for themselves. (or order it printed from a service)

    Original thread: https://www.askamanager.org/2024/06/update-i-was-rejected-because-i-told-my-interviewer-i-never-make-mistakes.html#comment-4748414
    3D model: https://www.printables.com/model/927336-misspelled-keychain

    Mentioning Lizzay and pagooey who expressed interest in this.

  45. Clisby*

    I’ve embarked on a campaign to catch a wily young possum that’s figured out a way into our basement (and therefore into our kitchen). We’re pretty sure it found whatever entry point our two kittens found when they were small – they used it as an escape route.

    We’ve set up a (humane) trap in the basement, and the possum has eaten the food we put in a couple of times, but hasn’t tripped the trap gate. I’m speculating it’s too small, so now I’m experimenting with putting weights on the metal plate that trips the trap door – maybe that will help.

    If it doesn’t work soon, the neighbor who loaned it to me has offered a rat trap. (Not the kill kind). I want to relocate it to the city park across the street. (I don’t object to possums in my yard – I just draw the line at them coming into the house.)

    1. A313*

      From what I thought, they don’t spend a lot of time in one place, but I could definitely be wrong. And you seem to have quite a nice setup for him/her there! Any way you can block his/her way into your house when you’re sure they’re out? That might be easiest, and won’t involve you dealing with a live animal in a trap; besides, this might not be the last visitor.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Strong agree. Trapping and relocating him so close doesn’t seem helpful to me compared to figuring out how he’s getting in and stopping him from doing it.

    2. Doctor is In*

      You might need a smaller trap, they come in different sizes and are not expensive. And when you catch it, relocate it at least a few miles away or it is likely to come back.

  46. Anonymous cat*

    How do you tell how much caffeine is in a tea? Or how to decide how much is too much and it’s time to switch to decaf that day?

    I ask because I have a tea I like but it’s kind of strong. I think a cup in the morning is fine, but I’m never sure if a second cup would be bad for me.

    (Also, having caffeine in the afternoon doesn’t affect my sleep. It only seems to affect how I feel as I go about the day.)

    1. Decidedly Me*

      Usually the box/tin/whatever the tea comes in should give the caffeine amount or you can look it up by type of tea (black, green, etc.). As for how much is enough – that can really vary by person. Personally, I have coffee in the morning and some other form of caffeine in the afternoon, but always before 4pm.

      1. Anonymous cat*

        I’ve heard of people recovering from breast cancer being told to avoid caffeine so I’m hoping to avoid causing problems.