Sunday Lowdown #179


I was sitting here thinking, “What did I even do this week??” And then I remembered it was 4th of July weekend. Given that I hate fireworks and don’t live near any family or in-person friends (I’m working on that!), it was Nick and me staring out the window at our 88-year-old neighbor’s house as she had a huge party. I’m guessing it’s all family because even though she likes us, we were not invited. I missed my family so much that Nick suggested we just get in the car and go, and I pointed out that we’d arrive around midnight, long after Biscuit’s bedtime! It turns out Biscuit was not having a great time in her city, either, for very aggravating reasons!

Nick and I ended up watching Funny Farm, a Chevy Chase movie I don’t hate because whomever wrote the script didn’t agree to let Chase randomly, without reason, honk his female co-stars boobs. (Tiny Rant: not only does Chevy Chase touch his co-stars sexually in many movies — his buddies were writing the scripts — but he and John Belushi also refused to do skits written by women during his time on Saturday Night Live).

Let’s see, Wednesday I visited my person for hospice, and Thursday morning I met up with my new friend Kim, who has the garage sale, and also Judy, who also had a garage sale. Apparently, I take garage sales as an indicator that we should be friends. We ate muffins and drank coffee and talked about family history. I brought two coffee mugs with some of my chick and hens in them to share. It was a thrilling feeling! I’m being, like, neighborly. I’m already picturing exchanging Christmas cards and small gifts this winter.

Thursday night I joined the online horror movie club out of Huntsville, Alabama. These folks are so fun and teach me lots of things. They’re mostly mid-twenties, so while they do not understand references to Pauly Shore, Jefferson Airplane, 9/11, or Cable Guy, they are happy with their generation. They’re confident, fulfilled, compassionate. Like, wow!

On Friday I hung out on Discord (which the twenty-somethings taught me to do) with Cupcakes & Machetes as well as IgnitedMoth. We visited for two hours, and my introvert brain started fading around the 75-minute mark. I kept thinking, “Hang in there and look normal, these people are cool!” And then I had to concede and watched a bit of my Friday night horror movie before passing out with over 30 minutes left.


This week we got to meet K.B. Jensen. I’m not sure why she isn’t responding to comments, but I’ll talk to her publicist about it. I want interviews in which writers engage with the audience. Sorry about that. I’m looking into the future of the relationship with the publicist. However, if you’re into spooky, twisted short stories, Jensen’s book Love and Other Monsters sounds like a winner.


You voted for it, so I’m delivering: The Cherry Robbers by Sarai Walker. I’m so glad you guys picked your favorite books from the twenty I’m hoping to get to (in the spirit of the 20 Books of Summer Challenge). Is Walker on your TBR? Is she a must-buy for the summer? If you’re not sure, maybe my review will guide you.


Owned Books on TBR at Beginning of Year: 202
Owned Books on TBR Last Week: 180
Owned Books on TBR Today: 181 (I grabbed a few free books from the library sale!)

Thanks to Bill @ The Australian Legend for his recommendation.


  1. I love that you are enjoying feeling neighbourly, Melanie. I love feeling part of a community. We have a lovely one here on my street … it’s the thing that’s making me drag my heels about downsizing.

    I’m sorry July 4 made you feel sad but how kind was Nick to make that offer.

    And, I do love sunflowers, so congrats on your bloom. We don’t have the climate for them, I think – I never see them here in my region – but yellow and green have always been my favourite colours. I adore the cheeriness of yellow. I have always wanted a yellow car but have never had one and time is running out!


    • I didn’t realize how fighty the sunflower would be. The one bloom now has a second bloom pushing through the petals, like it’s yelling at the sun, “Pick me!”

      I’ve always, always wanted to be integrated into a community and get to know neighbors. It was hard in an apartment, though we did manage to make friends with one of our neighbors, and over the nine years we lived there, together we experienced some highs and lows, including the death of her college-age son.

      Sue, I think you need that yellow car, especially if you can get a V.W. Bug.

      Liked by 1 person

            • VW is making electric cars, but Australia is doing so little to encourage them – while continuing to accept gas guzzlers that have been banned in Europe – that they choose not to sell here (in Aust)


              • Oh yes Bill, I really should have said “not in Australia”. I do know that we are seeing such a small percentage of what’s actually out there. And why? When the waitng lists for electric and hybrid cars are immense here. People are waiting a year or more in some cases. I know these cars have their own environmental challenges but they are still the way forward.

                Liked by 1 person

              • I didn’t know gas-guzzling vehicles were banned in Europe. That’s fantastic. The most I hear is out of California, which appears to function like a tiny Europe. The biggest news recently is that the California government is now putting millions of dollars into producing its own insulin, which currently costs Americans $300-$500 per month, with insurance. Stories of people conserving insulin or going to the hospital because they’re almost dead because they can’t afford insulin abound, which is surprising because there is no patent on insule.


  2. We had so much fun chit chatting with you! Don’t worry about introvert brain fading out. Moth is also an introvert, (me being the extrovert friend who does NOT pressure people into doing things they are not comfortable doing) so we understand. We will never be offended if you don’t want to keep going to the 3-hour marker because like we said, we don’t usually make it much longer anyway. 😛
    You ARE all neighborly. It’s cute. I like the neighbors two doors down but dislike one set of direct neighbors. The other direct neighbor is perfectly fine other than she lets her dog bark relentlessly at 6:30 in the morning sometimes. My dog barks once and I’m telling her to shut up and get inside. I will NOT be one of THOSE owners.
    Thank you for all your sympathy and information about anxiety and depression. I think Rob felt heard in a way that he hadn’t before. While I also have anxiety and some depression, it works in different ways and so I understand what he’s telling me, but I don’t experience it the way he does. I think it help him feel less like he was going crazy.


    • We drove around aimlessly — well, looking for garage sales — yesterday and today, and I was amazed at how many anti-Biden and pro-Trump flags and signs were around. I mean, just huge displays in yards. I just can’t with politics. I mean, I vote and I am a conscientious voter, but blathering with other people is not helping right now. We have a few people in our lives who ask questions or disagree with us, but then revise their opinion slightly and come to a new one, as do we. This is especially true of people we know who own guns. I’m cool with that.

      I forgot to ask Rob if he’s randomly started choking yet and explained what to do when that happens.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Those books on anxiety look intriguing, let us know if they’re helpful! And how lovely to be so neighbourly. I like one side (although they just barbecued a load of sausages under my study window but they can’t help that) and not the other side (23 months of antisocial building work will do that) but have good friends along the road. In fact I’m looking after one pair of friends’ allotment while they’re away and so obsessed by rhubarb have I become that as I scrolled down, I mistook the gun on the cover of The Cherry Robbers for a stick of rhubarb …


    • I’ll share as much as I can about the anxiety books! I need to finish the Baldwin book I’m reading for Bill’s website and then I gotta get into my brain books.

      Your neighbors BBQ’d sausages under your window? Oh, man, don’t threaten me with a good time!

      I do love that comment about the rhubarb. I know folks love it, and I have some at my house, but I do hate how in order to make it palatable you have to add about 3 cups of sugar to any recipe.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sunflowers, daylilies, and garage sales, discord chats too. Yay! Sorry the 4th was blah. We were grateful here that people setting off fireworks pretty much quit by 10 instead of going into the wee hours like they usually do.


    • I don’t even know if Indiana has laws regarding fireworks here, because your average neighbor is able to buy the kind of stuff they use for huge shows. Ack! The entire yard was covered in smoke at one point, and I’ve watched The Fog recently enough to wonder if there was something in that smoke that would kill me.

      Also, is anyone else feeling like celebrating the 4th feels a bit . . . eh? After the overturn of Roe?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I had some lonely feeling last week too, and I’m sorry. It’s not fun. But you’re doing lots of things to alleviate that! Great job!

    Beautiful sunflower and lilies!

    I certainly didn’t feel like celebrating the 4th after all the events of the last month or so in America. No thanks. Our neighbors had fireworks but they didn’t do them past 11:00, so I am grateful for that.


    • Hahahha, while your typos were hilarious, I fixed them for you. I know that feeling of being unable to fix a comment that I just sent out into the world. When will WordPress change that, I wonder? Or Twitter, for those who still use it?

      What happened with you last week that made you feel lonely? Also, I can’t remember — do you live nearby family?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for fixing those!

        Well, it was a case where an old friend (local) had a 4th of July party and didn’t invite me – saw a picture of three of my friends there. I had assumed that she had heard my husband had covid so she didn’t bother to invite me because of that, but it turned out that she didn’t know he had covid. So it made me feel left out. And like I wanted to invest more in my friendships.


  6. I’m glad you are starting to get to know people in your neighbourhood! One of the side effects of moving church at the start of the year was that I have started to have friends (or at least friendly acquaintances) within walking distance, which is just a joy. I haven’t had that for years, and it makes such a difference to feeling connected to my community.


    • It really does! And the neighborhood we live in doesn’t have any obvious political signs in the yards that I’ve noticed (I think this is an American thing anyway), and so it’s easy to be friendly without getting into politics. Everyone is so fighty here about it. I’ve been wondering how Brits feel after Boris Johnson said he’s leaving but not really/not yet.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Beyond the occasional “Vote Labour/Tory/Lib Dem” signs that go up in windows in the run up to an election, political signs aren’t really a thing (at least in my neighbourhood). They don’t really cause problems except for very politically active people.

        It’s common in the UK for a PM to stay on as a caretaker PM until a new leader is elected. Cameron and May both did. I’ve noticed some non-UK news sources getting very overexcited about this, but there’s no suggestion that he won’t go once a new leader has been found. General consensus among my friends is that he should clear out sooner rather than later because he now can’t pass any policies, but there’s nothing remarkable in his behaviour (except that he’s being unusually bitter and whiny about it).

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m not sure I’ve ever met a neighbour except very briefly. So good on you for making the effort. I’m looking forward to your Baldwin review, my site is a bit bare at the moment as other stuff takes precedence. So horror has expanded from Friday nights to Thurs and Fri, next you’ll be overrun.


    • After reading Lantana Lane, I was thinking all Australians hung out with their neighbors. Perhaps something has shifted since the days of Dark.

      Ack, I read 150 pages of the Baldwin and decided to put it aside. With the way my brain is racing around right now, I couldn’t keep my focus on a character-driven novel. Sorry, Bill. I feel that I’ve let you down. Again.

      The Thursday night horror group was a way to make people connections over the summer. I’m home alone most of the time and have no reason to go driving around (nor a wish to), so meeting them online is really fun. The Friday night horror movie is what I do while Nick plays poker via Zoom and a poker app.


  8. Sometimes, it’s good when you can’t remember what you did, but it sounds like you did a lot! We had a serious emergency situation on Wednesday, which is why I was MIA from the comments until Monday. I’m subscribed to them now, so I should see them, too. Sorry about that. No one was hurt, but it’s not a fun situation to deal with. Definitely a cause for writing bad, angsty poetry. Thanks for featuring me on Grab the Lapels and for everyone who left comments.


  9. I’m glad you’re getting to know some of your neighbours! We’ve had friends in our neighbourhood for a while but only in the last year have I really felt like I’m part of a community within just a few blocks and it feels pretty good!

    We just got back from a week away and were camping with family and visiting friends and it was lovely but also a little overwhelming at times because we were around other people so much and I am definitely an introvert and was lacking downtime!


    • I’m doing my introvert time right now, ha. Nick and I are at my parents’ house, and they live next door to my brother, his wife, and their four children. And a big dog. And a tiny, old sickly dog that runs into things. It’s a lot sometimes, but fun while it lasts.

      Both you and Anne were on vacation this past week! My Spidey senses told me Canada was awfully quiet the past week on WordPress but I never fully put two and two together.

      Liked by 1 person

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