Sunday Lowdown #133


Welp, that was quite a week. Wednesday was my last day at the library. To sort of add a celebratory final note to the night, the spouse and I got Chinese take-out, which we promptly brought home, put on plates, and began to eat. And that’s when Nick found a dead hornet in his. Surprise! Guess what we’re not eating much of these days.

I started a new job on Thursday at a place called Dutch Maid Bakery. It’s 45 minutes from my house, and you may be asking, “Why the heck would you do that, Melanie?” Well, because the bakery is right by the college I’m attending this fall (we start August 31). My plan is to work early in the morning, go to my American Sign Language class, then go back to the bakery for a few hours. If I were only going to school, I’d have a lot of free time on my hands, and I don’t do well with unstructured free time.

So far, I like watching the decorators make cute cookies (example) and frost custom cake orders (example). Biscuit remains skeptical as to whether I should have a job at all while going to school, and I’ll have to wait and see if she’s right! I’m grateful I don’t need the money, so if things don’t jive with school, I have the freedom to decide what to do.

This is the first job I’ve had where I get tips. I’m not a waitress; there’s a tip jar by the cash register as a “thanks.” Counting tips later at home is unbelievably exciting. I did not know this would be a thing. It’s likely exciting because it’s not money I count on — again, I’m grateful — and it just feels like money you find in your winter jacket from last year.

I’ve been asked by a few people if I’m worried I will eat all the baked goods! There are a number of donuts, which aren’t my thing, and quite a few cream-filled sort of pastries, which would go inside my stomach and burn the place down. The cookies are tempting, but when you’re working with these items all day, they slowly become product more than food. So far, I’ve eaten one cake donut, and that’s because they decided to use me as a hand model with a donut and coffee for their social media on the first day, lol. They were like, “Pick a donut to eat!” I did not want to be rude!


I turned back time and reviewed books by women long gone from this world. On Tuesday, I shared my review of Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, annotated by Patricia Meyer Spacks. Thanks to everyone who shared their love for Austen and which books are their favorites and why. I’m definitely sold on annotated editions of classic books, especially if they have footnotes on the side of the page and include images to help me picture the time period (clothing, buildings, furniture, etc.). Thanks again to Roshni for reading with me!

Zora Neale Hurston comes to life thanks to her niece, Lucy Ann Hurston, who collected Zora’s letters, playbills, custom holiday cards, rough drafts, and audio clips/interviews into one book entitled Speak, So You Can Speak Again. It’s perfect for fans of this writing giant who deserves all the attention that comes her way that she didn’t get when she walked the Earth.


How do you go about being a stage performer if you can’t hear? What if people look at you as a leader among all disabled people when you don’t know much about disability? Is not hearing enough credential? What if your dad were a World War II spy and you learned to survive from him? These are questions Terry Galloway explores in her memoir, MEAN Little deaf Queer. In my review, I explore each of the four adjectives in the title of the book and how well Galloway conveyed them.

It’s time for the last book in the Herald Spy trilogy from Mercedes Lackey. We at #ReadingValdemar wrap up life with Mags and Amily as the main characters in Closer to the Chest. When Jackie @ Death by Tsundoku mentioned to me that this trilogy reads more like a cozy mystery, I was both surprised and immediately convinced. Closer to the Chest only proved her more right!


Owned Books on TBR at Beginning of Year: 242
Owned Books on TBR Today: 210

A note on a couple of books: I recently finished and loved Trejo: My Life of Crime, Redemption, and Hollywood, written and read by Danny Trejo. It was such a massive treat. Don’t let his slow reading style make you impatient; the man is worth listening to. And don’t skip the end story by a different reader, who was one of Trejo’s addiction sponsees.

I also started Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden on the recommendation of Bill @ The Australian Legend and encouragement of a few others. So far, I’m loving the narrator’s tone. Australian YA sounds so different from U.S. YA. I’m reading this book aloud to Nick each night.

Thanks to Anne @ I’ve Read This for her recommendation!


  1. My favourite thing from a pastry shop is apple pie (or turnover) and cream. Would I be able to resist the temptation if I worked there? Probably not. When I first went to live and work in the city I knew where all the best pastry shops were and would always have a meat pie and vanilla slice for lunch, and an apple turnover on the way home. Good thing I now work in the bush, or I probably would still (but spinach instead of meat).
    I think Tomorrow When the War Began is 60+ hours. Hope you and Nick are enjoying it.


    • See, I’m not even sure what a turnover is. There are a few things I need to learn more about, like what the heck is a fritter. I’ll learn! The funny thing is if I grab the wrong thing, the person on the other side of the counter is certain to tell me, and I like that. 1) I get it right with help and 2) this is a person who has firm boundaries about what kind of pastry they will accept, lol.

      We’re enjoying Tomorrow When the War Began so far. Depending on what the ending of book #1 is like we’ll probably keep reading! It’s not an overly complicated book to read aloud.


  2. You’ve had an exciting week! Probably could do without food hornets though. *barf* (Chinese food does sound good right now. It’s only 9 am but you know, whatever.) Those baked goods you shared are super cute! Must be a pretty good bakery. Plus, it will be handy if you are hungry, just take a snack from work with you on your way to class.


  3. Eyrie looks very good. Can’t wait to hear more. And, studies show that working 10-20 hours per week while you are in school actually improves your school performance (i.e. grades). Now, that isn’t true for everyone but like you said, you won’t know until you do. Have a great week!


  4. Congrats on the new job! I’ve worked at a couple of bakeries in my time and I agree that the items become more product and less food over time. Do you have to start quite early in the morning? That was eventually what made me switch from one job!


  5. Good luck with the new job and school! Donuts are my FAVORITE thing, but perhaps if I worked with them they would become less so. Intuitive eating has taken away the “guilt” I used to have around donuts and pastries, which is marvelous. Anyway, those are cute cookies and cakes! Enjoy the tips! (As a spouse of a bartender/server, it’s nice to have cash on hand, and to collect the change in jars!)

    I got on the waiting list for Trejo on the library’s LIbby app. I think I’ll enjoy it.


  6. Yikes. That dead hornet in the food is awful. 0_0 I’m assuming he was at least lucky enough to find it before he bit into it?
    Congrats on the new bakery job! ❤ That horse cookie is so dang cute. I used to work in a bakery a while back and I know exactly what you mean about all those tempting baked goods quickly losing their appeal when you work with them day in and day out and are smelling all that sugary sweet stuff so early in the morning. Keep us posted how you wind up enjoying things!
    – Sugar


    • This week I’m working like a tiny tornado, but I’m having fun, too. Today, I made my first ever latte and smoothie and flooded the back room by accidentally watering the wall as if it were a cement garden. :3

      I hope you’re having a nice late summer and getting lots done with your WIP. I’m still rooting for you!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. SNAP … well, not exactly, but Mr Gums is fascinated by the signing we see on TV (AUSLAN is the one Aussies use as you may know, but I wonder how different they are). Anyhow, said to him just the other day that he could learn it. He loves languages, and I reckon he’d really like it as an exercise, even if he never used it. However, I think, although retired, he feels he’s got enough on his plate. Anyhow. I hope you tell us more as you go. (As for Biscuit worrying about whether you can work and go to school, she sounds just like my Mum. “It’s too much”, she’d say! I’m still not sure whether that was a positive thing to say or not, but I know it came from love and worry for me and I loved her for it.

    You don’t know turnovers? Now I think about it, I don’t recollect seeing them there. It’s actually interesting how different our sweets are.

    Interesting comment you made about our YA sounding so different. I hope you explain why.

    And, wowee, how did I miss S&S? I’ll hop to it now. All I can think is that my locked-down life is so busy that I haven’t caught up with all of last week’s posts. It’s true, actually, though I can’t work out why. Anyhow, I will go check it out now because I was really looking forward to reading it.


    • Australian Sign Language has roots in British Sign Language, whereas American Sign Language is a combo of French Sign Language and Martha’s Vineyard Sign. I found this short video in which a person compares a few ASL and AUSLAN words:

      So, turnovers, I’ve learned, are a bit pinkish because they have fruit in them. To me, the flavor is quite yeasty/bready. In the U.S., as I’m sure you know, our desserts are really SUGAR! SUGAR! whereas lots of other countries play more with a bit of honey, that sort of thing. So I suppose I’m not used to something not very as sweet being a dessert.

      An Australian woman who no longer uses her blog to review books (she had a baby and published a novel; Margot McGovern is her name) told me that Aussie YA is much more realistic than U.S. YA, and I find that true. Teens never sound like teens to me when I read YA here. Who are these super woke, non-swearing, just-holding-hands teens?


      • That is really interesting about the sign languages Melanie. I’ll check that YouTube out and show it to Mr Gums.

        I hadn’t thought of turnovers being pinkish (but because I’m wheat free I haven’t really looked at them for decades). However, you are right that in general our sweets – with some exceptions, like Caramel Slice, or pavlova – aren’t as sugar-laden as American ones. I’m surprised about the yeasty/bready taste. That makes me think that you didn’t try real ones. Traditionally, they are made with puff pastry, should not be yeasty/bready but light and crispy.

        Hmm, re US YA. Some of your early ones were I thought fairly gritty – like The outsiders? But I don’t know what it is like now – that was a few decades ago now when I was studying librarianship! Certainly there is a strong thread of realism in Australian YA. Some of Marsden’s stand-alone books, for example, are pretty confronting. I remember being really surprised, but impressed too. (I don’t know Margot McGovern. Have you read her novel?)


  8. Congratulations on the new job! I worked at a Pizza Hut for about 18 months when I was an undergraduate and I loved it (it did put me off pizza for a while – but not permanently).


    • Why can I picture you just as easily working in a Pizza Hut as in a hospital? Perhaps you are just that versatile in my head, Dear Lou! The last time I ate pizza it reacted with me so badly that I went to the emergency room because I thought I was dying. That was in 2018.


  9. I hope you like the McMahon! And congrats on your new job, it sounds like a lot of fun. Man, those cookies look delicious. And cream filled pastries-yes please! Can you post more pictures of baked goods? haha


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