Sunday Lowdown #146


Some weeks, events loom large and ominous in the rear view mirror, so Melanie has asked that I pen a guest reflection on the week’s events.

In our town, the seasons don’t seem to follow the familiar course. We are in a transition between “College Football” and “False Winter Start III.” Important wardrobe planning decisions are hindered by our local TV station, which still hasn’t gotten its act together after a ransomware attack back in October. I can’t choose whether to wear the fluffy socks with news reports like these:

I want to stress here that this is not Cari Peugeot’s fault. She’s doing her best.

The sequencing of events this week conjures to mind an image of a certain kind of roller coaster. Perhaps not your garden variety, permanently installed and impeccably maintained roller coaster, more like the kind of thing that was hacked together the day before the county fair by someone who was not entirely truthful on their CV about their level of experience with carnival ride operation and maintenance.

Like this, but with more popsicle sticks and glue sticks.

Melanie consulted with her advisor on classes for the next semester in her ASL journey, but she had no grades or feedback on her progress to inform which classes she should take. Then she started seeing grades pop up one after the other in the school’s online system, but she didn’t do well on her first major assignments! Melanie felt unsure as to whether she was on the right path and started to question her choices . . . maybe she isn’t cut out for this program? But then her next assignment grade popped up a solid A! Nice!

Since her classes began, I have observed a clear trajectory, from feeling out of depth to seeking out resources to catch up to . . . today.

Today, we went to a community craft show to make selections from only the finest handcrafted doodads. All the heavy hitters were there, from soy candles to reindeer made from sticks with artisanal googly eyes. Having slept in late, we arrived to see the tail end of the show. I struck up a conversation with some guy making tabletop RPG terrain — a rarity at such shows — but we had a lot of felted dog poo baggie holders and birdhouses made with bent license plate roofs to see.

Check it out, I found the perfect gift for Biscuit, today!

Near the end of the parade of goods, Melanie noticed a woman at a booth sign to someone else as she approached, so she signed “Hello.” The woman absolutely lit up and asked if Melanie could sign. Melanie responded that she was learning and they went on to have a friendly conversation. I stood by catching the occasional sign and was floored. This all started with a couple of online classes we took over the summer and a few months later — this!

I got a bit choked up in the hallway as we left because I am so stinking proud. I see Melanie working on assignments and studying, but I’ve never seen anything like it.

If that was the roller coaster, we also rode the bumper cars.

I found out this summer that some of my habits and personality traits are symptoms of ADHD. After a couple of consultations I was diagnosed, and I have been on a journey to better understand and manage these symptoms. On one hand, my brand of neurodiversity gives me some tools for making intuitive leaps others might miss. On the other hand, I occasionally do something counterintuitive or even illogical, which can cause some unnecessary stress.

I think we are both looking forward to this coming week. Booster shots are now recommended for all. There are plenty of interesting things in the news to ignore. Turkey break time is upon us. We will soon be asking ourselves the same question we did last year . . . what the hell do we do with all of these leftovers?

Be well, and next week you will be back to your regularly scheduled reflection — Nick


Very different books this week, though neither was the first in a series. With Her in Ourland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is the sequel novella to Herland. Could both books have reasonably been published together? I thought perhaps they were not due to different writing approaches (Herland was more narrative, Ourland more philosophical). However, after writing to Karissa @ Karissa Reads Books, I learned that both novellas were published in a magazine Gilman owned and edited, so she did what she wanted.

Spy, Spy Again is the third book in the Family Spies trilogy by Mercedes Lackey. Each book was a chance for one of the children of Mags, the King’s Own Spy, to have an adventure and be known. It was a fun way for this addition to the series to be organized. Jackie @ Death by Tsundoku and I thought we were done, but we’ll be reading Beyond in December. Did you leave a comment about your favorite fantasy movie on my post? Please do!


Jen Fliss is headed to Grab the Lapels with her very own Meet the Writer feature. Her forthcoming novel is titled The Predatory Animal Ball, which puts me in the mind of honey badger in a fancy dress. Honey badger don’t care, and it won’t care in a dress, either. Fliss’s interview arrives Tuesday.

You see that raggedy ol’ kitty in the photo below? That’s Kitty. She’s ours. She loves to include her hair in books. Yeesh. Yet, I thought this was a great cover photo for my post about fifty important books to me. The list will be published Thursday.


Owned Books on TBR at Beginning of Year: 242
Owned Books on TBR Today: 203


  1. How great to hear from Nick after all this time (I remember when he was an anonymous pirate). Well said Nick. I hope you both enjoy Thanksgiving. That cat – didn’t it used to be feral – looks like it could manage the leftover turkey, if it waits that long.


    • Hey!

      A series of dodgy identification paperwork changes and a personal practice of “observe, but do not change” in the vast majority of my online interactions leaves me virtually anonymous even in person and in plain sight.

      If I sit still enough, I become invisible.

      Also, there is at least one occasional visitor to this comments section who can assure you that piracy remains a part of you regardless of where your boots and parrot may be. 🏴‍☠️

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, Bill, if you remember Nick as the pirate, you HAVE been around a long time! Ha!

      The cat in the picture is Kitty, and she’s never been feral. There is an orange cat (plus about four other cats) that are outside and feral, but they are not ours. They belong to the neighbor. I have included a few picture of the orange cat on the blog! Kitty will not be getting turkey. She was able to get her hands on some frosting one time, and we had to fight with her for years to get her dumb head away from food. Anyway, Kitty will be here in Indiana, and Nick and I will be in Michigan with Biscuit and others.


  2. Awwww. You’re such a good husband Nick. If I let Mr. C&M have free reign on my blog, I would probably come back to zero audience or a whole new audience that I don’t know what to do with. 😛
    Melanie’s got this! School is hard but she’s tough and smart. There is NO WAY she won’t meet her goals.
    I hope next week is better for you guys. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you ☺️ Things are getting better at home, and I have a game plan for my finals, which I’ve put on my calendar to spread things out. Some stuff I can work on ahead of time (like the essay for the Deaf Culture final and my hand-shape story for ASL), but some will be a surprise! I just gotta tell my intestines to not get goofy and make my way forward.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sounds like a good plan! My computer class finals are weird. Each section is a different exam and I think I can take them as I please over a two week period. It would be nice to have it out of the way so that I can focus on Accounting finals.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I do what I can. Lately, that mostly includes scheduling craft show appearances, gaining a begrudging appreciation for slasher cinema of the 1980’s, and pondering why it is easy for me to spend 3+ hours reading a book I enjoy but difficult for me to choose to fold the towels that I am actively aware have been waiting in the dryer for several days.

      In some ways it was simpler thinking that I was a quirky mix of diligent and lazy.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Okay so, to be honest, I do that EXACT towel and book thing! There are blankets sitting in my dryer right now from 4 days ago. I baked and read a book for a few hours last night. I think about those blankets all the time, but still there they sit. So you are 100% not alone in that!
        I have thought for long time that I have a mild ADD however that is undiagnosed. I have the weird ability however to hyper focus at work when it’s chaotic, then when it’s not, I constantly forget what I was trying to do. I don’t do audio books on my work commute because most of the time, I can hardly pay attention to my podcast. I’m off in la-la-land frequently.
        Just come to the darkside non-begrudingly. 80s slashers are amazing. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        • That’s something that makes it challenging to address because lots of people experience symptoms of ADHD from time to time. I wasn’t sure whether I needed treatment, but my doctor stressed that the last D stands for Disorder. If symptoms of ADHD have caused real problems for you over time, that is where it crosses the line.

          Melanie could tell you about a specific assignment I had when I was in school where I had to gather information about local outdoor advertising – I had weeks to drive around and snap a couple of pictures of billboards and jot out some observations for a project that was a significant part of the grade for a class that was required for my degree. I thought about it every single day for the entire time about how it would be easy to finish and was interesting, but I “couldn’t” do it. The day before it was due, somehow Melanie found out and drove me around helping me get the pictures I needed and “gently encouraged” me to get the thing done like I should have weeks before. I felt guilty about it and like I was being lazy, but even those feelings couldn’t motivate me to move. I needed last-minute panic to even talk to Melanie about it.

          Executive dysfunction (a symptom of ADHD I had never heard of before) could have substantially reduced my grade or even prevented me from graduating on time. Despite being aware of the consequences I was still unable to do what I needed to do. It sounds like a lot of people who may benefit from treatment never seek it because they either don’t recognize what symptoms are part of ADHD or don’t realize where the line is.

          That leads to the really tough part. Even if that is the case, some people are told that they would be fine if only they tried harder or concentrated more. On top of that, just knowing you should talk to your doctor doesn’t make it easy. I stumbled on a post about someone experiencing executive dysfunction and fell down a research hole (thanks, hyperfocus!) and then thought about it for weeks (maybe months? don’t remember) before talking to Melanie about it, and then more time before actually talking to a doctor about it.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Could that all be interpreted as procrastination? I am a wonderful procrastinator but I don’t quite get to the point where I will just let myself not do something like turn in a project. Anything else though, if it’s not entirely important to do it now, I’ll let it go another day or sometimes weeks. (I’ve been telling myself to do this one small thing for our bathroom remodel for weeks and I still haven’t done it.)
            It’s hard to tell though what is true procrastination and what is actually being fully burnt out from work.

            Hmmmm, you’ve got me thinking more and more about this Nick! As Melanie will tell you though, our lovely work does not have insurance so doctor visits are only for things that affect our physical health. :3


  3. Wow I was just thinking what would happen if I let Mr Liz loose on my blog – probably a big rant of “all she does is run and read and she keeps sneaking books into the house and she’s winning the challenge I set her grrrr”! I love the story about signing, that’s absolutely brilliant. We have a Deaf contestant on Strictly Come Dancing this year and they had a guest judge on last night who signed her feedback unexpectedly, which was lovely! Happy reading and safe, smoother travels this week.


    • LOL! My Dad somewhat recently said to Biscuit, “That book business is stressing you out!” because she worries that she won’t have her reading done for our book club (which is just the two of us), even though she knows I wouldn’t judge her for not finishing! Life happens. Do you ever listen to audiobooks while you’re running?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Melanie can’t sneak the books in. The hidden agenda of her TBR reduction goals are to make the TBR bin light enough to be moved without assistance.

      Along with an occasional stint helping with graphic design, my primary contribution to GTL is helping to maneuver the TBR bin.

      That being said, I am usually one to err on the side of just buying the book when the TBR conversation comes up as I am happy when we can support writers regardless of bin capacity.

      Liked by 1 person

    • No, I don’t listen to anything. I don’t feel that safe running on my own, certainly not safe enough to be distracted by music or an audiobook (also audiobooks tend to make me sleepy, so not sure how that would work out!). Mr Liz loves them with his morning walk, though, in fact he started walking every morning when he started working from home so that he could carry on with his listening!


  4. Loved Nick’s round up of the week – I can see why you two are a couple.

    This – “There are plenty of interesting things in the news to ignore” – made me laugh. We watch a couple of American news programs here, ABC (with David Muir) and PBS (with Judy Woodruff), so we know what you mean, though our news isn’t any better.

    I love that you still attend craft shows! I have pretty much given up. I do hope, though, that Biscuit likes her gift!


    • Haha, we didn’t actually buy that for Biscuit. Nick is being a tease and trying to emphasize that some craft shows have truly weird DIY crafts. I’m always happy to check out artistry at craft shows. Mostly, I’m let down when I see stuff that would have been perfect at a craft show in the 1950s still appearing today. I feel guilty I don’t want a crocheted toilet seat cover that looks like a doll dress, but honestly!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Lately, most news is best experienced as low background noise while doing something more worthwhile. Deleting Facebook and working to reduce or better curate my media diet has been one of the best things for my own mental health. I went to school for broadcasting and cinema and I would say one of the most important things my academic career provided me was a good set of media criticism tools.

      If the news is making you FEEL something, you’re probably experiencing entertainment, not information. Many people both in the industry and the audience tend to confuse those.

      Liked by 1 person

      • When I was teaching rhetorical analysis to college students, we would analyze whether we could tell the reporter’s feelings on a topic. If the students could tell, it was likely this person was not doing their objective reporting duties. The one news source that always puzzled them (which is a good thing)? NPR.


      • Thanks Nick. Though I don’t completely agree with you about the “feel something” bit. The news, visual or written, will often make me feel angry about poor policy and narrow-minded thinking about climate change, for example, or heartless treatment of those we should be being generous to.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Melanie pointed out a good distinction to me – that I am mostly referring to whether someone feels something based on the presentation of the news itself. We were also talking about the rhetoric of what is covered and when. There seem to be “news memes” where a certain type of story is popular to cover where the coverage itself inflates the apparent frequency of what the story is about.
          I remember hearing again and again (at least pre-pandemic) about how the true statistics around things like many types of crime, teen pregnancy, or even cigarette smoking have been in decline for decades, but the coverage of such things makes us feel like we’re living in the worst of everything.
          Part of my work leads me to almost reflexively start thinking of “root cause analysis” when I hear about a large problem. Hearing about climate change or the poor treatment of disadvantaged persons makes me upset because I feel powerless. Sure, I know that lower carbon emissions or better funding for social programs mean less bad stuff leading to more good in a general roundabout fashion, but it’s all so intangible. A big issue here is that the upstream problems are more difficult to cover in the same timeframe and are uncomfortable to engage with, which is counter to the monetization methods many news outlets operate with. If a news outlet is supported by advertising, the value of which is driven by the feelings and engagement of the audience, then your coverage needs to engage people and make them feel things, especially things that make them want to watch more news. I can’t trust Pavlov’s news anchor not to salivate when someone rings the juicy story bell thanks at least in part to some of the media deregulation efforts back in the 80’s.
          Then there’s a whole other conversation to be had about state-run or non-commercial media. It’s nice to compare NPR news and the BBC’s coverage of the US to commercial American news media to get at least some perspective.
          I guess I wish people would rather be bored but informed rather than entertained but ignorant, but that feels like a lot to ask these days.
          Hah, thanks for coming to my Ted Talk. I think I’ll go back to lurking now. 🤦‍♂️

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Really nice to hear from you this week Nick! I was diagnosed with autism as an adult (a few years ago now) and it’s my understanding that the process of adjusting is pretty similar to an adult diagnosis of ADHD. Though it took me a while to learn how to understand and manage my symptoms and it was a bit rocky to start with, my life is now much more straightforward post-diagnosis, and I am glad to have better insight into the way my brain works. I hope and trust you will have a similar experience.

    As for the rest – Melanie, I am really looking forward to seeing your list of fifty books that are important to you! And that is a great photo of your kitty.


    • Lou, I was recently reading about fixation foods, which is something Nick and I both have talked about in the past. Yet, I learned about it in the context of fixation foods being part of depression, anxiety, ADHD, and autism. It’s wild how we can live for so long with something going on in our brains and not even know that it’s happening. I know I have anxiety, but I didn’t realize that my desire to eat Wheaties breakfast cereal for two meals every day for 8 months was part of that. This weekend was much better, and we are getting ready to head to my mom’s house on Wednesday for Thanksgiving.


    • I appreciate your thoughts and do hope my experience is similar.

      Although some parts of the experience have been stressful thus far, overall it’s rather liberating, like an epiphany that some of the things I do have a cause based in logic and reality versus just me being me because reasons.

      I am glad to think that I may have been more successful in math (maths?) in school with the right tools and environment, so perhaps my poor marks in Algebra II weren’t simply a personal failing, lack of effort, or absence of talent. But then I think about the what-ifs. How much time was wasted feeling sad and bad about not studying or doing homework because I didn’t have the knowledge or medication? Could I be doing something better or contributing to a more comfortable living situation?

      Then I remember that I am happy. I like what I do, I like our life, and all I really want out of this is to understand myself more and smooth off some of the rough edges. Perhaps even make some difficult things easier?

      I feel very lucky in that context.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It IS hard to look back, Nick. I now know that I’ve had anxiety since I was a little bitty kid. Do they medicate children for anxiety? If we’re talking early 1990s, was that even a conversation doctors would acknowledge? Back then I remember anyone who seemed “weird” was put on Ritalin and told to get it together. I don’t think looking back is helpful unless you’re looking for context, otherwise, you may remember that we’ve been guinea pigs our whole lives, and always will be, because human knowledge and discoveries are always advancing.


  6. Nice to hear from Nick and the story he shared of you signing is lovely. I hope your week has steadily improved and that you are able to rest over the holiday this week. That picture of Kitty had me smiling big!


  7. Lately, most news is best experienced as low background noise while doing something more worthwhile. Deleting Facebook and working to reduce or better curate my media diet has been one of the best things for my own mental health. I went to school for broadcasting and cinema and I would say one of the most important things my academic career provided me was a good set of media criticism tools.

    If the news is making you FEEL something, you’re probably experiencing entertainment, not information. Many people both in the industry and the audience tend to confuse those.


  8. I love Nick’s writing style! His humour is very similar to yours Melanie, which explains why you are such a great team. I can tell you have fun together, and that’s a very sweet story about your signing conversation!


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