Sunday Lowdown #170


All day last Sunday Nick and I spent on our new yard. The grass was definitely longer than all the neighbors’, who had obviously (it’s true, I’ve seen it) already mowed more than once. First, you gotta roll the lawn, apparently, so it’s not lumpy. So Nick filled the roller with water and drove the lawn mower round and round to make our yard less like mashed potatoes. Meanwhile, I was raking up some soggy pine cone sort of things, along with downed twigs and old bark. It took me an hour to finish one area, after which I prompted quit and texted Biscuit:

If you want to know which swear I used, please ask.
Fancy mower + Nick
Huge wheelbarrow full of lawn detritus and me, not happy with my situation.

I ended up inside the house reading a book, like I’m used to! But we haven’t exactly turned on the heat because it’s a solid 50 degrees (Fahrenheit, Australian friends) outside, and I’m cheap and we’re not yet living in this house. Nick reminded me that I brought over our basket of blankets, so I wrapped up like a burrito in probably five knitted blankets and sat on the floor to read the latest Biscuit Book Club Book. Because we don’t have furniture at the house, again, because we’re not yet living there.

Inside the house, the shower wall goes bap-bap-bap if you tap it at the bottom, which means the glue has come off and water (then mold) can get in there. I found a DIY video and had this great plan to fix it myself.

Come Monday, when Nick was at work, I pep talked myself and got busy on the shower project. I got a syringe with no needle from a local pharmacy, foaming Gorilla Glue, masking tape, packing tape, and found some random wood in my garage that I MacGyver-ed with some random crap to create a point of pressure. Really, all you need is some mismatched wood, a random tote, and bits of trash. I also learned that soap shelves hold so much more than soap, like my glue and tape and YouTube video that I kept pausing and playing. The only casualties in this endeavor were a screwdriver, a pair of pants, and half a can of Diet Dr. Pepper (RIP). Also, five days later and that Gorilla Glue has totally cured. On my fingernails. I mean, I haven’t gone back to check on this project yet.

Why was I running around getting stuff done on Sunday and Monday? Because Tuesday was a full day of grown up stuff: first the dentist, then voting, then groceries, and then a minor surgery. Okay, so I went to a dermatologist who didn’t like something she saw, and so she took a biopsy. The test came back with abnormal cells, which means no cancer, but could easily become cancer in the future, so I was scheduled for surgery. Now, in the past I’ve had doctors see things on my skin they “didn’t like.” It’s pretty common. Just one small shot (which is not my favorite thing), and they cut it off fast and use a little stick thingy to cauterize the area.

This was different. Next thing I know I’m in a procedure room with a lovely doctor drawing on me with a pen so he knows where to cut. OMG, what? And then I’m picking operating music. I chose Metallica. And then the nice nurse is saying “sorry” every time I get one of those horrible shots, and LOL, she said “sorry” probably a dozen times. Then the doctor comes back in and the whole procedure is the length of “Enter Sandman,” which is a much longer amount of time than anything I’ve done in the past. What a horrible experience that was also amazing.

I say amazing because the doctor was fantastic and kind and wow, he really has all the music and you can pick whatever you want, and thank goodness, because I spent the entire song picturing James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, and Jason Newsted (sorry to the new guy) just so I wouldn’t freak myself out and lose consciousness. Just me imagining: Here’s James Hetfield when he caught on fire. Here’s Lars Ulrich when he was mad at Napster. Here’s Kirk Hammett being a hippy. etc. Because by that point the surgery doesn’t hurt, but you still feel things moving without knowing what’s moving and why. Now I have about two inches of stitches on my back. Fortunately, I cannot look back there. Yay!

The nurse was also one of the most attentive people I’ve ever met in a health facility, and so I left overwhelmed and totally joyous, and that is a first for me. I also got a juice. So now I can’t move much or stretch in any fashion, nor can I lift more than 5 pounds or breathe hard or elevate my heart rate. And the stitches have to be cleaned twice per day.

Which is why on Friday I was in . . . CHICAGO! 😐😐😐 It’s Nick’s turn on the rotation to work in Chicago, so here we are. You want to know what Chicago is like? Go to your friend’s house, ask her to get in her car while you stand in front of it, and then just have her lay on the horn until you have a nervous breakdown. Also, outside was gross and rainy.

That’s the Art Institute of Chicago, which is across from the building at which Nick works.

Unfortunately, I came into contact with a full-length mirror on Friday night and saw my back.

Saturday I walked very slowly to the American Writers Museum about half a mile away. However, this Sunday Lowdown is already extremely long, so I’ll share more about the museum next week.


I hope you guys enjoy the interviews I share, but if you prefer more book conversations — ooh, or more thinky posts, which I haven’t done in ages — let me know. I try to get a feel for what readers like and match my content if I can or want to (sometimes my interests are all-encompassing). How did you feel about Sara Rauch’s interview?


Hello, Aussie friends in particular. Next week I share my thoughts on The Words in My Hands, known in Australia as Future Girl, by a Deaf writer and artist named Asphyxia. The novel is a young adult, futuristic, light sci-fi story about a deaf girl who is introduced to Auslan and growing food just when things look dire for her and her mom. Post on Wednesday.


Owned Books on TBR at Beginning of Year: 202
Owned Books on TBR Last Week: 181
Owned Books on TBR Today: 181


  1. Great handyperson work! You’re streets ahead of me.
    When I was a student I had an operation in my mouth at the dental hospital, ie. a student was practising on me (and he made some mistakes), and the dental nurse held my hand the whole time. I wonder if they would have played In the Court of the Crimson King for me if I asked (both sides of the LP in those days).
    I have written a review of an Australian crime fiction novel with a deaf PI. Might be a week or two before I post it.


    • Is this a Viskic book, Bill? I’ve ben trying to get one on audiobook but so far the library doesn’t have any. I’m not sure I want to read one but I reckon they would be a good audiobook?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Emma Viskic. I listened to it on the way home so when I sat down I thought I would write it up while it was fresh in my memory. (I know! What about The Red Witch? It’ll be done – touches wood). Good audiobook, well read, but paper version would be a waste of valuable reading time.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s weird that some boomers are happy to point out that Millennials can’t do any repair sort of work, but then we point out how they never taught us to do anything. And now that we’re using YouTube to help each other do almost any kind of projects, these same boomers are speechless. I do not think you are that sort of person by any means, but I certainly heard it a lot when I worked at the library.

      I think Nick also has some kind of mistake made during a dental procedure, and now half his tongue is numb. Nick came with me to my surgery, but I didn’t want him to say. The nurse also emphasized they did not need two patients.


  2. Such a wonderful post Melanie. First, I totally get your grumpiness about having the bummer job. Your turn on the mower next time.

    Second, isn’t YouTube great. Even engineer, super-expert handyman Mr Gums uses it a lot for tasks he wants/has to do. I laugh at myself, but once I used it when Son Gums asked me to teach him to sew on buttons. This was 10 years ago and I’d been sewing on buttons for decades, but I thought I’d better make sure there wasn’t a “better” to “proper” way I didn’t know about before I taught him. Anyhow, whenever we grumble about social media and the internet, we need to remember the positives it has brought as well (including blog friends).

    Third, poor you with the “procedure” as these things seem to be euphemistally called. They can be nerve-racking. But, again, we are so lucky these days – we can have things fixed that once weren’t, and we do have much more pain relief than before. Still, I’m waiting for pain relief that doesn’t involve injection.

    I can’t really say which sort of posts I like best, because it depends on the book. Interviews can be great or boring. Reading experience and thinky posts can be excellent with good readers and thinkers like you. So, I’m on the fence, and can’t help you make a decision.

    Oh, and next week’s post – what a great cover!


    • I’m not sure I want to do the mower just yet; I’m a bit intimidated, but I was certain Nick was not sweating!

      When I worked at the library I had older patrons come in looking for specific car manuals only to learn we don’t have it. Oftentimes, a younger patron would come up and show the older patron how to use YouTube and find specific vehicles and problems. I love that YouTube is empowering in many ways.

      Interestingly, the dermatology office called it “surgery” and I was thinking “eh, just a small thing” because that is what I had done in the past with moles. However, this wasn’t just a mole, it was abnormal skin cells, so they have to get all of them. Turns out, I was doing a euphemism on myself. Ack!

      I might do some more thinky posts coming up. Or, I may put them on my ASL blog. Some of my thoughts start with books or something I read and travel down the road to a different lesson, one that isn’t so bookish, so I suppose I need to get those ideas in the right space.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was thinking of you on Monday when I had coffee with a friend. She had two face wounds from skin cancers removed under local anaesthetic. She commented how painful it was! I thought of you.

        Hmm the dermatologist probably calls it surgery because it sounds more expensive! Seriously though, I guess any cutting is surgical.


        • Compared to everything I’ve had done in the past, this is much bigger and worse, so I can see why it was called surgery. I thought they were removing a mole, but it was a whole area of skin.

          Your poor friend! I know the face is a VERY tricky place to operate on, including skin. I learned that the eyelids and around the nose are the hardest and most painful places to have any kind of procedure.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. We had the exact same thing happen to our bathroom tub wall. But we tore out the whole bathroom instead. And here it sits, almost finished, a year later. 😀
    Nice work on the property! I still haven’t gotten the motivation to really attack my garden yet. We raked leaves out of it called it good a couple of weekends back. It’s supposed to start getting really hot here this week and maybe that will motivate me to get outside even more. We’ll see. I have so many plans for the summer that I really need to quit my job to get them done. 😉


    • Because we just bought the house and laid down quite a bit of money to fix all the holes and paint the place, I decided to leave the bathroom totally alone. I has a few nail holes, etc. and needs painted, and the shower situation is a bit sad, but none of it is important or hard to fix later. Thus, I YouTubed that shit.

      So, this week it’s supposed to be in the 80s, which had me scared because I hate being sweaty, but it is SO WINDY this year that right now it feels rather perfect.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You want to know what Chicago is like? Go to your friend’s house, ask her to get in her car while you stand in front of it, and then just have her lay on the horn until you have a nervous breakdown. I am very sorry that you had such a stressful week, but I think you should know that this made me laugh like a drain even though I am sitting in the office.

    I enjoy the interviews, but I often can’t think of anything to say to respond to them. I think my favourite posts are your reviews and thinky posts! I’m always interested to hear what you think.


    • Not only does Chicago have the crammed traffic and aggressive drivers, it has lanes that are barely wide enough for a car, so everyone is always out of a lane a bit. The horns are more prominent now than I remember from circa 2008 because people are sitting at red lights and texting on smart phones (I’m standing right there; I can see it) and so when the light turns green the horns go immediately.

      I am thinking of doing fewer interviews unless it’s someone I’ve reached out to in particular. Right now my interviews come from a woman I’ve known for ages who used to share posts for me on her blog, and now she’s an independent publicist and I wanted to help her out.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This post was fun to read! I’m impressed by your fix-it work and agree that next time you should get a turn on the mower! I hope you’re recovering well from your procedure. I’ve only been awake for one operation – when I had a c-section – and that sensation of it doesn’t hurt but I can feel you tugging and working on my body is very, very strange. I like that they let you pick your music though!


  6. You’ve got a great sense of humor about everything, Melanie! I LOL’d at the Chicago bit. Never spent time there, just drove through there once – well, I rode, but even riding was stressful. Hope you have a speedy recovery on the back stitches!


    • Oh yeah, being the passenger in Chicago is awkward. I basically promised Nick I would not talk. He’s done the drive so many times for work that now he knows which lane to be in — that’s the hard part. You can’t be four lanes over and get in the right place in time.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I was out sweating in the garden this weekend too. Loved it! Glad the surgery went well. I had a mole removed on my back many years ago and had three or four stitches and made my husband clean it. i never tried to look because I knew I’d freak out. But then I caught sight of it one morning in a mirror and gulp. So I totally relate in a smaller way to your mirror encounter! I hope it heals up quick. Are you all done with finals and classes and all the things now?


    • In the past, I had something similar — just a mole and a couple of stitches. That’s what I thought would happen this time and felt the office receptionist was being dramatic calling it a surgery. She was not.

      I finished class and am free until August. I’ve been looking around for a part-time job, which is a whole hassle I’ll write about in my next Sunday Lowdown, and I’m signing up for online clubs and volunteer work, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Your description of Chicago made me laugh. 😛 It’s so true. I love the city but hate the traffic.
    I’m glad your surgery experience was as good of one as it possibly could be after having it sprung on you like that. ❤ Hope you heal up quickly!
    I also had no idea rolling a lawn was even a thing! Very interesting. Kudos to you guys for getting so much work done out there and for you tackling the bathroom project too! 🙂


    • I think the lawn rolling is helpful especially if you have gophers making tunnels? The neighbor lady’s son-in-law has rolled yer lawn like 4-5 times now. We just did it the once. I think they said something about how if your yard is flat you get a more even mow, but holy lordy, I’m not going out there to measure the tilt scape, or whatever the hell they’re looking at, of the grass.


  9. Never been to Chicago in my life, but your description of it will probably stick with me for the rest of my life because it’s hilarious. I’m glad the surgery went well and you had such a positive experience! I had to cut a small mole off my arm last summer and they just did it in the office while I sat there and tried not to think about what’s happening. I did ask to see if once it was in the jar which was GROSS but kind of cool. Also, you should learn to drive that fancy mower so you can switch off on raking! haha


  10. I’m impressed that you identified the cause of your shower problem and fixed it yourself. I know I would have made a hash of it even with the aid of YouTube. Somehow my efforts never turn out the way they do in those videos. I followed one at Christmas to ice my cake — bought all the right tools, followed the same steps the guy on the video did, but it was a lot harder than he made it look.

    More discussion/thought pieces would be great.


    • Those baking people are tricky! They make the most complex things look so easy, and I think they forget just how practiced they are. Perhaps the video was directed toward up-and-coming baking folks instead of home bakers.


  11. Your description of Chicago did make me laugh – do that while ringing a tiny bell incessantly and you’ve got living in Covent Garden, London!

    I had to come back to this one, which I missed while having an emotional rollercoaster on the South Coast with family last weekend – sorry to hear about the procedure but good they let you choose the music (I got to have some Bon Jovi last time I had blood taken!).


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