Sunday Lowdown #178


Last week I mentioned that I went to a rather challenging doctor’s appointment, and to be a bit more transparent, it was largely about anxiety. My physician recommended I listen to the 10% Happier podcast, which has topics like the science of hope — and I appreciate the combo of some posts being more woo woo and others data driven. The doctor also has me writing in a journal, which is much harder. Why reiterate what I’ve already talked about with Nick, or even worked through in my head (…this may be the problem)? But I’m trying.

I wanted to fill my week with good things, especially since Nick was leaving Tuesday morning for a conference in another state and not returning until the wee hours of Saturday. I visited the hospice patient I met, this time on my own. Being a good listener and intentionally turning the conversation away from myself to focus on someone else’s life is a humbling experience.

I also did something random: remember how I bought that new dining table with the chairs that have eagles on them from a garage sale? Turns out the owner does the sale about every three weeks with things she procures from auctions. She gave me her business card when I left. Last Sunday I texted her and invited myself over (she has a lovely farm house front yard) and said I would bring my coffee, and she agreed! We talked for over two hours and laughed and petted kittens, and she sent me home with a pot of sunflowers!

A gift of sunflowers!

Because I knew Nick would be gone so long and my mental situation has been down, I planned to head to Biscuit’s house for the week. The trip is just over three hours, all of which was spent listening to The Storyteller by Dave Grohl, whose choice to organize his memoir by stories instead of chronologically does wonders for the book.

I did all sorts of things in Michigan, including taking my brother’s kids swimming (the four-year-old boy tattled that I made him wear a life jacket), I went out to lunch with my brother to a place I haven’t been in about two decades (I said, “This burrito tastes like high school!”), and took Biscuit and my sister-in-law to the local ice cream place to get a treat I hadn’t tasted in ages: chocolate ice cream with real chocolate chip cookie dough spoonfuls mixed in. We definitely sneaked off so as not to alert those four children because the other option was to lie and say we were “just running to town.”

I had planned to meet a middle school friend at a brewery an hour north of Biscuit’s. He’s so wonderful and we talked for over three hours. You ever meet someone for whom you always, always wish the best and think about frequently despite years apart? That’s how I feel about him. Some of it was catching up (who from high school is living where and doing what), and some of it was talking about brain stuff. Another part was what his job as a special education teacher is like, and me explaining how deaf children are now more likely to be mainstreamed, and why.

At the brewery.

Friday I left Biscuit’s and drove back to the doctor’s office for a follow-up, and she was happy with what she heard about my progress. There’s more to it, but not enough space (or bravery) to share it all on this blog. I’ll see her again in two weeks in case we need to pivot.

The waiting room fish always stares at me with its most comforting non-blink.

After seeing the doctor again I finally made it home, where I found all of my flowers on the brink of death after not being watered for four days. I was so disheartened and vowed to either never leave again, or to buy a kiddie pool to fill up and leave the plants in that next time. I watered them like crazy and crossed my fingers. Just as I was feeling toad-ally bummed, guess who cropped up for a hello? (I’ll bet you can guess).


I’m glad I listened to everyone and chose to get on top of a book that you all wanted to hear about, because there was quite a lively conversation about Fat Girls Hiking by Summer Michaud-Skog. My biggest takeaway from the comments? We absolutely approach hiking as an activity differently in the U.S. than people do in other countries! Shame on me for making assumptions!


While I tackle the sizable James Baldwin novel Just Above My Head, enjoy another Meet the Writer feature on Wednesday, this time with author KB Jensen. This author used to be a crime reporter, a past she puts to use in her “artistic murder mystery” novel. Her newest collection is described as a “genre-hopping blend of contemporary fiction, noir humor, speculative fiction, and horror, with an undercurrent of love and the relationships that bind us together in the darkness.”


Owned Books on TBR at Beginning of Year: 202
Owned Books on TBR Last Week: 181
Owned Books on TBR Today: 180

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


  1. I had the (Tina Turner) single – you know, a black plastic disk – River Deep and Mountain High in the last year of high school. I think my ‘collection’ might have been 2 LPS and half a dozen singles.
    I’ll post your James Baldwin review when you’re ready and then if you want you can link to it in a later Sunday Lowdown.
    Sunflowers and pansies are my favourites. Hope they survive. The lemon tree and bougainvillea on my balcony just went two weeks without water (in winter) but they keep ongoing somehow.


    • I’ve been learning more about hope, and one of the arguments was how does a person like Tina Turner have hope after all the abuse she’s endured. Part of it is that hope is a bridge that gets her from one place to the next. Yes, her parents abandoned her, but another relative took her in, etc.

      I am thinking the pansies are durable lil fellows. They were not worse for the wear at all. I was under the impression you can’t kill a bougainvillea if you try; they just keep growing. I’ll keep an eye out for blooming sunflowers. There are several coming.

      Sounds good re: James Baldwin.


  2. Do not let plants stop you going away unless you really don’t want to go away. Summer is tricky with pot plants but sitting them in water as you’re thinking works well for pot plants.

    I’m glad you visited Biscuit and caught up with other family and friends. It can do the soul such good.

    No need to apologise at all about the hiking. But I did enjoy the discussion.

    Hope this coming week is a good one for you.


      • Yes, I was going to say something about that – you don’t want to overdo it. One way is to get a pot or tub. Put several layers of newspapers (or other absorbent material) in it, then really soak the paper but not to the part it is floating. Put the pots on that, but don’t put them in full sun where the water will evaporate quickly. It does all depend on the plant and their water and light needs, and how long you are away for. I think it’s always best to go for plants that have low water needs, anyhow, just because water is precious, but all plants in pots need more water than those in gardens don’t they?


        • I like that newspaper idea. I’m not sure about potted vs. in the ground plants in regards to water. When I bought the plants, I wasn’t aware they would need daily watering. Biscuit has decorative plants that only need watered once per week!


          • Not all do. Succulents for example don’t. I don’t think African violets do. The thing about ground vs pot is that pots dry out faster. The other issues is that plants in pots usually become root bound after a while and need repotting into a bigger pot or into the same pot with roots trimmed. I now only have three easy care potted plants! Too much work and worry for me! I am not an expert but my Dad was. He loved his garden, potted and in ground.


            • I’m a haphazard gardener, but I think I do okay. I don’t choose any terribly challenging plants. Right now I’m (possibly) fighting mealy bugs on my cacti, though, so I put them all outside in the hopes that the ladybugs find them.

              Liked by 1 person

  3. Your doctor clearly belongs in one of the more enlightened clusters of medical practitioners – the ones who don’t believe that a tablet will solve anything. Hope the advice you’ve been given is going to be helpful to you.

    Just left a comment on your hiking book review. It was amusing to see how different the practices are across the world when really we’re just doing the same thing: putting one foot in front of the other 🙂


    • There have been times when I didn’t feel as trusting of my doctor, but I’m starting to see that I’m reading doctor horror stories online and feeling suspicious of her at any small provocation, which I know is my anxiety. She truly is a great doctor.

      You’re so right about one foot in front of the other! I responded to your comment on the hiking review, and Wales appears to be another happy hiking place compared to the U.S.


  4. Oh I think I’ve got Unwinding Anxiety, I’m not sure! Well done for talking to the doctor about your anxiety and she sounds good with it, which is a relief, I’m sure. I’ve not had my appointment for a therapist chat before my online modules come through yet but need to be patient given it’s the NHS.

    And yes, sitting the plants in water or making a friend who will come and water them is key. I’m keeping an eye on my friends’ allotment while they’re away for 3 weeks; I offered to water it but I get to harvest it, too!


    • I finally got a hold of the counseling center, and they are not taking patients until the end of August, maybe the first week of September. I’m on the waitlist. Seems that whether you’re paying out of pocket or have government insurance, it’s a wait these days. I’ve heard that not only did therapists get behind with the pandemic, but there was a huge increase in demand for therapy thanks to the pandemic.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Your visit with your middle school friend sounds awesome! I love that you have stayed in touch enough to be able to get together in person and it not be weird.

    THE TOAD!! I’m so glad he showed back up!

    Cool for making a new friend who gave you sunflowers! You’re awesome.

    I loved The Storyteller. I read the paper version but I think I should listen to the audiobook sometime. I ❤️ Dave Grohl.

    Hope your anxiety strategies continue to help. Rock on with your bad self, Melanie!


    • Andy is a total treat, and I have no clue how we’ve kept up this long. I think he added me on Goodreads at one point, and we reconnected there?? Things sure take odd turns in life.

      I was relieved to see the toad, and if I’m being honest, I could have cried upon seeing it.

      If you have the time, listen to The Storyteller again with the audio. It gets you so close to Grohl. I’m hoping he talks about his secret movie project, Studio 666, before the book finishes.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Toad!!! I am so glad s/he made a reappearance! And what a nice trip to Michigan. And how lovely to maybe have a new friend in the eagle table lady. Kudos to you for taking steps to address your anxiety. I know so many people who suffer with it and simply take pills, which help, but I also don’t think they get to the root of the issues, only mask them. So yay you! James has ADHD, which has anxiety at its root and we are working together on slowly addressing some of the things. He’s journaling too! It’s so not easy but don’t give up! Hugs hugs and more hugs!


    • Thank you, Stefanie, and thank you for sharing about James. We are learning that ADHD requires patience in some weird places in life, when in the past I would have gone straight to frustrated.

      My tool box does include medication, but for some reason things are really “extra” lately, so I need some other tools, too. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I believe there is mental illness and mental health, and even if a person has a mental illness, they need to care for their mental health, too.

      I have another coffee date with the sunflower lady this week, and we’re inviting the lady who sold me the oak stand at a garage sale! Apparently, I garage sale to shop for friends, lol.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m so glad you were able to fill your time with lovely things and people. It sounds like a good week – I hope it felt that way to you too.

    We’re getting a downpour of rain this week so I have the opposite worry about my flowers. I moved my zucchini and cucumber plants inside last night; they both have some tiny squashes growing and I feel so proud of them!


    • It’s going to rain all week here, too! Do you keep your zucchini in pots? I threw a bunch of seeds in the ground and just keep watering them. My old lady neighbor thought this was hilarious for reasons I do not understand. They have interesting flowers now — twisted, like they would spring open and a fairy would be inside.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have a zucchini and a cucumber that I got as starters. I moved them into bigger pots and that’s where they are now. I was going to eventually plant them in the garden but it’s been so cold that I actually kept them inside for quite a bit of the spring. Plus, I don’t actually have a lot of garden space that gets sun all day so in pots I can move them around to the best spots!


  8. I’m really enjoying seeing all your gardening updates! I’ve not been able to get to my allotment much lately as work has been so busy, but when I have I’m delighted to see my squash and tomatoes and beans doing well.


    • The university Nick works for has its own car rental system, and he borrowed one to get to Chicago this past week. Yesterday, we returned the car to the campus services building, which is when I noticed that the campus services folks have their own garden outside. It made me realize you can grow tomatoes and green peppers just about anywhere, so that is my goal for next year.


  9. Yay! He makes his triumph return! (In which, you must save him from death again. Lol.)
    I think those mystery flowers you’re watering are going to be another lily. Not 100%, but around…hmmm….80%?
    I’m sorry to hear that your anxiety has gotten worse. I hope that whatever the doc has you do, helps bunches. My own doctor’s appointment is finally within sight (the 20th). The wait has felt like forever and a day.


    • It finally bloomed and it IS a lily! Darker orange, and much larger than the yellow ones.

      I was so relieved to see the toad, which makes me feel a little silly. I did not shuffle him out of the garage this time because I saw the escape hole. Maybe he’s trying to cool off or avoid a big, scary, toad-eating bird.

      How long have you had to wait to see your doctor?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yay! I was right! lol. I love lilies.
        Toad dude could have definitely been hiding in your garage for both those reasons. You’re going to have to be extra careful pulling your cars in there now. :3
        I think it’s been about 3 months. At first, I didn’t mind because I didn’t have anything urgent going on. Or so I thought. I think I was pretending my anxiety wasn’t that bad.


        • I always look for the toad in my back-up camera and have convinced myself toads is why such cameras exist. He was definitely boinging down the driveway one time.

          Three months is forever. Are they growing the doctor??

          Liked by 1 person

  10. So glad you got to visit Biscuit! I sincerely apologize I didn’t follow up and set up a date to meet for coffee with you! Hopefully we can make it happen sooner than later 😊 Did your flowers/plants make a comeback??


    • Hey, Amanda! I saw your Marco Polo this morning. It sounds like you have a lot going on this summer, especially with the kids. The flowers eventually did make a comeback, but now that it keeps raining a bit here and there and is super humid, they look a little funky. I’ll keep an eye on them.

      Liked by 1 person

Insert 2 Cents Here:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s