Sunday Lowdown #102


This past week, I was telling my spouse, Nick, that I can’t get a hold of a fellow book blogger, and I’m worried that something happened to her (Hannah @ Books & Bakes? Where are you?). Then I said, “Can you imagine if something happened to Bill @ The Australian Legend and I didn’t know? It should be in his will that Milly is required to contact me!!!”

Nick then suggested we go to Australia some day to visit. However, I replied, Bill drives a truck and time is money! He can’t just stop! So Nick decided that we are going to fly to Australia, ride around with Bill in his truck, pick up Bingo the Dingo, and eat gas station food like Midwesterners. But what constitutes gas station food in Australia? We don’t know, so we decided it must be Vegemite. Except neither of us know what Vegemite is; after some Googling, we decided it is clumpy beer you rub on things. So, Nick and I are all set — we’ve got our future fantasy vacation planned! And Bill did spot dear Bingo and Louise a couple of days ago. 😍😍

On a different note, my brother (the one who said “these crumpets taste British” when he ate my lemon tea cookies) sent me an interesting video called “Sleepying Betty.” It’s ten minutes long, but the interpretation of the Sleeping Beauty tale and the way the animators mix humor with anachronistic images made it an interesting, beautiful short. You should watch it!


Chavisa Woods’s name is cropping up on the blog-o-sphere right now, and I’m glad for that. Her short story collection Things To Do When You’re Goth in the Country is an imaginative, interesting addition to her body of work. It seems that most folks are leaning toward her memoir, which she never intended to write, 100 Times (A Memoir of Sexism).

Apparently, most readers have similar feelings to me about Toni Morrison’s most famous novel, Beloved. I can see why some readers love it and why it won awards, but the strained, vague sentences and unclear key moments weren’t for me.


Everyone is asking why I used the phase “L.M. Montgomery shit the bed.” Find out out Tuesday when I review A Tangled Web.

Coming up on Thursday, an interview with Kathy Barron, a poet whose work appears in three collections released by the Fat Poets’ Society. Yes! I’m hoping to get more Pearlsong Press authors on here ASAP. Barron’s interview is candid, wonderful, sex-positive — all the good stuff.


Thanks to Biscuit for her recommendation!

Also, note on In the Garden of Spite: this novel is based on the true story of a female serial killer in La Porte, Indiana, a place I’ve been to many times, as it’s not far from my abode. Between this murderous widow and The Potato Masher Murder of Mishawaka (the city in which I work), there’s a lot of violent killing going on in my area.


  1. My daughter has a document entitled “In the event of an accident” which is mainly to enable her to close down and sell up the business. But I think the blog’s in there (I’ll check) and now I’ll have to make sure you are.
    I’m sure roadhouse (gas station) food is much the same in Oz as it is in the mid-west. Tonight I’m sleeping under the golden arches so that will give you some idea, though the old fashioned truck stops still have steak and eggs (baked beans and eggs for vegos).
    Vegemite is made from the yeast left over from brewing (I think). It’s a black spread that you have on toast (when you’ve run out of marmalade). I have a jar in the truck that is 10 years old and still tastes the same, the Vegemite not the jar.
    Happy that Bingo was still at Nullarbor Station to greet me after my Xmas hols. Happy to have a couple of mid-western hitchhikers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for including me in your documents. That makes me feel better.

      Gas station food in the U.S. is largely hot dogs on these spinning grills, donuts, painfully fake Mexican food made into tube shapes so they can spin around next to the hot dogs, and dried meat (“Slim Jim’s”). It always surprises me that in other countries people eat beans at breakfast, which is decidedly a dinner food here, but it makes sense; beans are filling and get you going.

      Okay, so I think our description of Vegemite isn’t too far off from what you’re saying, but the fact that it doesn’t seem to expire makes it closer to the McDonald’s french fry that other foods!


      • Yes, I think our roadhouse food and your gas station food – from my experience – is similar in style but different in the detail!

        I know exactly what you mean about bloggers who disappear. We all need to have – what is it called – digital wills, to make sure our digital lives are wound up alongside our physical lives. Mr. Gums has access to my passwords – in the event I die – but I think I need to clarify with him what he MUST do with those passwords.

        When Kevin from Canada died many years ago, a post was written on his blog announcing it ( ). I’ve seen this happen other times too. It is important. That said, I hope Hannah has just moved onto other things, and hasn’t departed this world!


        • Oh, wow. I read the post about Kevin and got misty thinking about what a lovely idea it was to have his friend say goodbye and let a few others add their voices. I do believe most people who disappear simply stop blogging (and sometimes they tentatively reappear years later). On guy, who raced to the top of blogging and social media popularity, burned out after a couple of years and deleted his blog, and all of his social media. NO CLUE what happened to him.


          • Yes, I agree that think most do just burn out. My daughter did – and, I suppose, her life changed. I still miss her blog though. It was much more Interesting than lnstagram.

            But, you never know, and there’s the little niggling worry, isn’t it.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Vegemite on fresh white bread or on toast is delicious, here it is as ubiquitous as PB &J. We generally call truck stops ‘roadhouses’, lots of fried or frozen/reheated food.
    I hope you find a way to reach Hannah
    In The Garden of Spite is on my wishlist

    Wishing you a great reading week

    Liked by 1 person

    • As common as PB&J!?! Weeeeird. I hope you guys also have Nutella.

      I have no idea what happened to Hannah despite emailing her a couple of times at her non-blog email address…. I hope I find her too.

      Thanks for the well wishes! We have Monday off, too, because it’s Martin Luther King, Jr. day!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I tried vegemite once when I was younger. My camp counselor was Australian and she let everyone give it a go and pretty much everyone agreed that it was gross. But I also thought cheesecake was gross when I was little so obviously I was just a disturbed child.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love your Australian vacation plans!!

    I’ll be interested to see what you think of the Dolly Parton book. It’s a tiny one! I’m glad she’s having an extended “moment” – she seems like a pretty cool lady and kudos to her for her philanthropy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What’s wild is Dolly Parton has been doing amazing things for decades, but for some reason, we’re paying attention to her now. The Imagination Library started in 1990. She built Dollywood in 1961, which Parton had built to create jobs in a very poor rural area (and I’ve been there! I loved it!). I didn’t realize the book was so small, though. That’s okay. I need some shorties in my reading schedule.


  5. I hope you get your fantasy trip to Australia. Nothing happens unless we dream it up first. P.S. I’m a Pearlsong author too. Terrific and supportive publisher, highly recommended.


  6. I have yet to visit Australia but a friend told me that their gas stations all sell delicious hand pies so you could probably live off those!

    I’m excited that you are reviewing A Tangled Web. That was a childhood favourite.


  7. I’m not sure I’ve ever been as far south in the U.S. as you live, but I do know that I was sure I wouldn’t be able to find Vegemite/Marmite in the small Ontarioan city that I was living in a couple of decades ago when I started to read Australian literature and became obsessed with tasting it. But…I did find it. If you’re bound and determined to prep for your road trip, check natural foods shops and import shops and even ask at your mainstream supermarkets (which is where I first found it–who KNEW). Be warned, the cheesecake comparison is setting up all the wrong expectations! Even if you don’t care for cheesecake (Neither do I.) 🙂


  8. I for one, am excited to find out why L.M. Montgomery shit the bed. It’s been a long time since I lived in Australia (it was for a very short period of time, 6 months in fact, when I first graduated high school) and I can’t recall what their gas station food was like. I do however remember that they called sandwiches ‘salad rolls’…


  9. I hope Hannah’s okay. I’ve also been worried about Gil. I know sometimes people need breaks from blogging/interneting and aren’t required in any way to announce what’s going on or check in, but the silence can be hard to sit through.
    On the other hand, your Australian vacation plan sounds like a real trip! If that ever happens, you must share the photos! 🙂


      • Ah, that’s too bad. :/ I know sometimes life gets you down and it can be hard to keep up even with people and projects that are important to you, or you mean to send a reply but put it off and then forget… at least, those are struggles that I have experienced. I really hope it’s just one of those things.


    • I’m 20% in and so far it’s just “YOU’RE GONNA DIE. YOU’RE GONNA DIE. YOU PEOPLE ARE DUMB; YOU’RE GONNA DIE.” However, I had an uncle from Michigan who ran off to Alaska when they had the surge of folks working the pipeline up there (the 60s, I think?) and just couldn’t believe some of the stories I heard from his family. Every time they came around for a reunion I had half a dozen new “cousins,” which were essentially stray people they had picked up and sheltered in their house at the base of a mountain.

      Liked by 1 person

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