Sunday Lowdown #181

THIS WEEK IN REFLECTION

For most of this week, I felt I was flying high. I attended my second meditation class and met a new adult person there. He just moved to the area with his wife and four kids and wanted to meditate to 1) not yell at his kids and 2) not have all of his friends be his wife’s work friends (He’s been a stay-at-home dad for nine years). I asked him where he’s from and what he likes to do. Interestingly, he was flabbergasted, and I wrote about why here, on my ASL blog. We both like horror, which is ironic given the topic of the class is anger.

My new Bride of Chucky shirt, which I should have worn when I got a new driver’s license picture.

I’ve been trying to meditate at home, just ten minutes a day, but I keep falling asleep, which does not have the same benefits as for realzies meditation. This definitely means I am Biscuit’s daughter, as she is prone to sleeping through both movies and audiobooks. Thankfully, she made it through Where the Crawdads Sing, which I watched with her when I visited last weekend.

As a nightly ritual, Nick and I water all the outside plants. Sometimes I get lost thinking about all the water restrictions in other parts of the country (and world), but my plants bring me happiness. I remind myself that I don’t have children using up water, and I don’t even shower every day. Finally — finally — I found two zucchini growing! I jumped up and hugged Nick, and the moment would have been 100% perfect except I learned how freaking sharp zucchini plants are.

I never thought it would happen to me!

The toad was back again, hanging out in his corner. “Hey, Toad Man!” I say, despite not knowing if the toad is male or female, nor caring. Sometimes I watch in the back-up camera on my car so carefully to avoid running him over that I forget to check my mirrors. Let’s be honest: I’d be more upset about killing the toad than smashing my expensive car mirrors. Saturday morning we were awakened by thunder, and as I headed out to visit a hospice client, I saw Toad Man bopping back and forth by my garage door (this is new behavior). Nick later saw the same thing on his side. Is Toad Man on patrol? I did accidentally let a bird in the garage, so maybe he’s sharpening his bayonets.

Toad Man says, “Hippity hoppity, get off of my property!”

Thursday I had another garage sale lady (the Kim & Judy show!) coffee date! Oh, how wondrous they are! They brought me fresh cucumbers and farm eggs and we talked and talked and talked and one cry, but talked more. Eventually, we ended up outside where they eagerly collected pine cones out of my yard for crafting projects, flipping up their shirts to use as aprons. Kim investigated my bushes and discovered I’ve been throwing downed branches and garden weeds on top of blackberries.

And then Friday I don’t know what the hell happened, but my anxiety was serious. I had trembles and was very spacey. I drove to volunteer with the Friends of the Library and made some impatient driving choices I was not proud of. Afterwards, I felt lost, so I wandered around in my car looking for garage sales and found only one, where I bought huge Christmas tree — my first as an adult.

When I got home, a dirty rotten mole had left two huge mounds in my lovely yard! I mean, this mound is the size of my head! When I went to inspect, I saw the mound was moving. I called up Nick and ordered he pick up the scariest traps. No, they are not humane. What are we to do, release the mole in a different part of the yard? Someone else’s yard? Maybe Toad Man’s sentry business should have forewarned me there was a traitor in the ground.

I tried to calm down by going inside and reading more about the group that hosts the meditation classes I am in: the New Kadampa Tradition. LOL, Google has informed me that I probably joined a cult, so yeah, Friday was a huge mental wash. Whether this is true, as many religions have problems that could be categorized as cultish, is not the point. The point is my brain is now mistrustful of my class, and full of doubt.

THIS WEEK’S BLOG POST

Alright, second strike. Last week it was The Cherry Robbers, and now it’s We Hear Voices by Evie Green. You ever get the feeling that someone who knows nothing about a certain genre went out, rented all the worst B-movies of the genre, watched them, and then wrote a book in that genre because they felt they’d done their homework? No?? Okay, maybe that’s just me and my experience with We Her Voices.

NEXT WEEK’S BLOG POST

Lindy West is not new to me, and I find her humor pretty spot on. Thanks to the 45th president screaming “witch hunt!” any time he was accused of something, we now have The Witches are Coming. But was it a great idea to write a book about a cultural moment while it was still happening? The Witches are Coming was published in 2019, and my review is Wednesday.

BOOKS ADDED TO THE TBR PILE

Owned Books on TBR at Beginning of Year: 202
Owned Books on TBR Last Week: 185
Owned Books on TBR Today: 186

*I am reading my own books, but I’ve bought a few recently.

Thanks to Laura Tisdall and Liz @ Adventures in Reading for their recommendations, and to Sue @ Whispering Gums for bringing to my attention the 2022 Miles Franklin Award winner.

42 comments

  1. I’m so happy your week was wonderful. It sounds just lovely. Friday sucked rotten eggs for me as well. I came home exhausted and overworked. Just any any little thing could’ve had me in tears in an instant. The week is just too long, and typically on Fridays we are short staffed. Everyone takes Friday off! It isn’t unusual for me to field calls for three other staff members on top of my own! It’s just too much!!! I think I need to take Fridays off and jump on my motorcycle head to my favorite daughter’s house for a fun weekend. I’m sorry your Friday was 💩. I look forward to seeing you at Biscuit Book Club tonight! Love, ~B

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    • Whenever you tell me about how you end up being responsible for so many other people’s phones, I have to wonder, “Why is Biscuit the back up for everyone??” It seems like a gap in the system. I know there are other secretaries. Maybe it’s all the other secretaries who take off?? Yeesh. There needs to be some coordination there. I think at Nick’s job you’re not really supposed to take off every Friday out of consideration for all your co-workers, even if people have enough vacation time to do so.

      Yesterday, I tried to be peaceful. It kept raining, which I like. I wandered the yard and picked up downed sticks from the wind the night before, rescued the sunflower, which had tipped over, and played with Toad Man for a while. He’s getting so fat, and I hope it means he’s eating bugs. He stays out of his hidey hole, wherever that is, when it’s raining outside.

      Just remember, I have a spot in my shed for your scoot-scoot!

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  2. Yay courgettes! The year I grew them I got one, tiny, inedible one! I will try again one day. And hope you enjoy the Kendi – have you read any of his others?

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    • I had to Google “courgettes” — I knew I’d heard the term before, but could not remember what it meant! 😀

      I have not read any Kendi books, mostly due to the reason I discussed on your blog, about his titles seeming almost too pushy.

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  3. So much to say, but first so sorry about the return of your anxiety after a good week. I hope you manage to stomp on it soon. Related to that, WHERE on Google said the meditation style has a cultish tendency? I’m sure you know, but source matters, was it an authoritative source?

    If you were an Aussie, you would call the toad, Toadie, meaning you wouldn’t have to worry about its sex. Just saying!

    I so love that you have become friends with the garage sale ladies – they sound really lovely, and I adore crumbles with blackberries. I am going to check this meditation class acquaintance out on your other blog to see why he was flabbergasted. I have some ideas about why.

    And, I’m so glad you Included Down’s book in your list this week. Thanks.

    Finally, do take care and have a great week. I’ll be in Melbourne again next Sunday but will try to stay up with my blog friends

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    • Ahhh, Toadie is a good name. I used to have a friend from Ireland who told me that they give EVERYONE fun nicknames based on certain endings. I don’t remember all the endings, but mine became Melzer.

      I talked more with Biscuit last night during our book club about the claims that the religion that hosts my meditation class are a cult, and next thing I knew we were comparing them to Catholics, Amish, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. To be honest, I’m not worried about truly joining a cult so much as my anxiety, which always has me forward-thinking, doesn’t want me to end up in a situation in the future where I feel stupid. How silly! I pointed out that the class doesn’t even ask us to pray or have faith or anything. The leader guy says, “According to our religion,” meaning his group of people. You walk into a Catholic church, and they’re going to use the word “you” to directly include/”force” you into the religious part, whether you’ve agreed to it or not.

      I hope you have a lovely time in Melbourne. What are you doing while there? Do you ever take pictures during your travels and share them on your blog?

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      • Melzer – yes love it. Maybe we got this tradition from the Irish who were among our early settlers.

        Sounds like you had a good discussion with Biscuit. I understand the forward-thinking issue. I was good at that too and it caused me a lot of stress – but over the years I have become better (though not perfect), at letting thing go until (or if) they actually happen. Of course, that doesn’t mean you bury your head in the sand and roll through life without assessing things, either, does it? It’s all a balance, isn’t it?

        Ah, Melbourne. We are visiting family, we have also booked to see Hamilton, at last. As for photos, yes I do, but I very rarely put them on my blog. I do put some on Instagram but I don’t think you are there? (I tend to use social media that my daughter does!)

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  4. That’s cool having moles. Moles are something I only ever saw in stories – mainly the Wind in the Willows (ok, I won’t wish any rats on you. How about a badger? You already have Mr Toad. You’re going to have to buy him a car).

    Are you really going to get rid of them? How?

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    • Bill, moles are the worst! They completely decimate your lawn. It looks like a tiny bulldozer drove around just under the grass, leaving visible tunnels all over the place. Then, they pop up and leave mounds like the picture I included, and destroy the grass by ruining the root system. Here is an example: https://www.greenoasis.co/images/uploads/mole-damage.JPG
      Not only that, but remember about a month ago when I had a fall in the lawn? It’s because they’ve hollowed out the ground just under the grass, and when I walked over it, the ground collapsed.

      To get rid of them, you dig up a mound and put in a trap that kills them.

      Okay, to pivot away from your excitement about moles and my determination to murder them, I do think it’s like Wind in the Willows. Toad has been out a lot because it’s been raining, and he’s so fat! I went out in the garage and played with him yesterday, which he may or may not have appreciated.

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  5. I have been thinking a lot about small talk questions as I try to get to know people in my new church, and I like “what do you like to do?” a lot. One of the questions that I have noticed people using is “what have you been up to this week?” which gives people the space to talk about work if they want to, but they can also talk about volunteering or parenting or hobbies, or they can just talk about one fun thing they did. People also seem to use “how long have you lived in the area? -> how are you finding it?” a lot, which I like. (I have also had the flipside, where someone asked whether my family live nearby and, when I only talked about my mum and brother, did a full-on interrogation about where my dad lived and why I hadn’t mentioned him and about twenty other equally rude questions).

    That’s a lovely photo of you and Biscuit you’ve uploaded there!

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    • I like “What do you enjoy?” because people really have to think about it. In groups I join, when people ask, “What have you been up to this week?” the answer is always, “Not much.” I think the question requires more thought, so instead they fall back on what basically means “nothing of significance.”

      Those ARE rude questions, and I wonder if you could sidestep by saying about your dad, “He’s gone.” It could mean he passed away or doesn’t live in the area or he’s gone from your life.

      Thank you! It was funny that we took a selfie in the dark theater while the commercials were still running. I’ll bet it was a rather bright flash!

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      • Because I do have a relationship of sorts with my dad “he’s gone” doesn’t feel true. I find that most people can take the hint that, if you aren’t bringing up a particular family member in conversation, that’s a no-go area at least until you’re better acquainted. This women didn’t take my follow-up “I think he lives in Wales but it might be France” hint either – normally not being sure what country one of your parents lives in is an indicator that the other person should stop prying! But in this instance, I think even “he’s dead” might have triggered a series of questions about how he died and why he died and how old was I when he died? Just no social niceties on her part at all.

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  6. So I may have missed your last few posts where you talk about this, but it sounds like you’ve been making an incredible amount of friends in a very short time, and that is incredibly impressive. How was Where the Crawdads Sing? I haven’t even read the book.

    Re: the water thing – watering plants is good for the environment, we need more plants, and lots of the water is going back into the soil where the water comes from anyway, so don’t feel bad. Obviously we should be advocating for clean and easy access to water everywhere in the world, but watering plants to help them grow is a good thing for our air, and necessary, so don’t worry about that ( at least this is what i tell myself!) Plus watering at night is the best thing to conserve water b/c the sun doesn’t burn it off.

    I wouldn’t worry about the meditation thing either. Have they tried to persuade you to run off with them? Ditch all your other friends? If not, I think you’re safe from the cultish behaviour LOL

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    • I think I would have been a weepy messy if I saw Where the Crawdads Sing when I was 20, but as a 37-year-old married person, I was internally screaming, “Quit falling in love with every dude who gives you a piece of crap he finds on the beach!” What I find intriguing is this book seemed to be a big hit with older women, which makes me think of the whole phenomenon where older women LOVED the Twilight series right along with teen girls. I’m so fascinated by this trend.

      I should also try to remember regarding watering plants that I do not live in a desert. We hear a lot about conserving water in the U.S. mainly because we were silly enough to build cities in freaking deserts, reroute rivers, pipe in water, etc. all so these people can play in the desert. They’re trying to get those folks to have water-resistant landscaping, which does NOT include grass, a lot of flowers, etc.

      You know, I love your attitude about my meditation class. I think that is the same conclusion that I came to after talking to Biscuit. As soon as they ask me to run off, I’m going to alert you, and you sound the alarms, okay? 😀

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  7. Glad to hear you had such a good week, though I am sorry it didn’t end as well as it began. So awesome that you are making new friends! Heh, yes, watch out for those zucchini, they have spines. When you pick them use clippers to cut them from the plant and wear gloves! Blackberries are soooo yummy! I am sad I have not seen a toad in my garden this year, but your toad makes me so happy 🙂

    Also, it seems your Buddhist meditation place has more of an issue with a cult of personality rather than being a cult cult. As long as you aren’t planning on being ordained you won’t have to worry about all the doctrinal arguments between them and the Dalai Lama, so you should be good!

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    • I learned last night at my meditation class that the dude who leads is not the normal dude. The normal dude has been doing a retreat or something, and he’s a monk. It’s getting more religious-y. I think I’m going to try something else.

      Okay, so I need to read how to harvest my zucchini because I don’t want to damage it. Clippers sound like a good idea; I had planned to just tear it off. Good thing I did not set my heart on using my teeth.

      Every time I am outside doing gardening stuff, I think of you, and I’m so glad we met 🙂

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  8. It won’t let me reply underneath your reply to my comment! Sorry I forgot you’d said that on my review. I hope you find this less pushy than you think it’s going to be!

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  9. I’m glad you had a mostly fun week and got to spend time with nice people. I’m sorry Friday sucked and I hope you’re able to continue getting the good out of your meditation course.

    I have been trying to ask people questions about themselves other than their work too. A common question where I live is, “Where are you from?” because very few people are actually from here. Not long ago though I was chatting with a fellow at a party, asking questions and being friendly (I thought) and then he told me that he feels people on the Coast ask too many questions and he doesn’t like it. It was kind of a conversation killer.

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    • I think this individual has forgotten the cardinal rule of conversations, which is they have to function like a game of ping pong. If he’s not lobbing the ball back, of course you’re going to send it over with another question. Now I’m curious as to where he’s from and why no one where you live is from that place!

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      • Yes, if you’re not prepared for a bit of chit chat, parties are probably not for you. He was actually from the same neighbourhood in the same city where I grew up so his attitude was his own individually, not due to where he came from. When the host of the party afterward asked how the conversation was, I got the impression he was just That Kind of Guy.

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        • Ha, so the host was checking on you because you talked to him. That’s pretty funny, actually. I just talked to a friend on the phone. We went to grad school together in 2007, and he just got a new job. He’s worried that he’ll be awkward and weird because he’s been unemployed and sheltering from the pandemic for two years. I asked, “Wait, when were you not awkward and weird?”

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  10. I love that question, what do you enjoy. Thanks for sharing that. I’m gonna try it.

    Someone else was talking about moles in their yard recently – oh, my stylist! She said she was going to try a mixture of castor oil and dish soap. Have you tried that?

    Toadie is so cute!

    And I love the goldfinch. They fly through my yard too and always bring me joy.

    That crumble looks delicious! I never turn down a crumble.

    Yeah, if the meditation class people want you to cut off contact with your relatives, run away! But I think you’re probably fine.

    Like Anne mentioned, I think you’re doing a really great job of making new friends!

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    • I read about the castor oil thing, but we’ve just started down this rabbit, er, mole hole, so we’ll see. Also, it’s a rather big yard. I’m wondering just how much castor oil I would need to get him to shove off. There are loads of worms in the yard; they are constantly birds picking around out there, so I’m wondering if it’s simply being an opportunistic carnivore.

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  11. If you have moles, it means you have a grub rich yard! Yay, you! Winning the grub lottery! 😛
    We get this stuff that we sprinkle in the yard that deters (or kills, can’t remember, have forgot to do it the last two years) and therefore, the moles find someplace new. Homeowner problems, welcome friend! ❤
    I enjoy gardening too. However, a recent windstorm took out my little greenhouse and destroyed my tomato plants and all my basil that I was about to harvest. D: Now I just have rosemary and all my little pepper plants left.
    What did you think of the Crawdads movie? I enjoyed the book, but I thought it was over hyped.
    Look at you making friends! I've lived in my house 5 years now and I've probably met around 10 people. Only two of which I talk to occasionally. My volunteering was my attempt to get out of that hole, but it doesn't resume until this Fall.
    I'm always excited when there are toad updates! I even asked about him/her in my recent email so you can ignore answering that part. I've been updated! 🙂

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    • I know we have loads of something out there, because it looks like a bird city most of the time. I assumed it was worms, but grubs are sort of wormy, too. Or are grubs and worms the same thing??

      That sucks that your green house blew away, especially since you just got it! It has been hella windy here, and I thought it was largely because we have an open field behind us instead of being boxed in by houses and trees. My laundry on the clothes line certainly does a lot of flippy-flips and gets itself tangled (but dry!).

      The Crawdads movie was done well, I think I just wasn’t interested in the story so much because I thought it was going to be more a murder mystery. The author, Delia Owens, said the movie really just follows the book with no changes, so if you liked the book and want to see it on screen, go for it! I just felt like the topic of the movie would appeal to me at age 20 more than me at 37. It was a young woman’s dream of love sort of topic.

      I’m just collecting friends from garage sales. It’s like, “Hey, can I get that night stand and you?”

      I warned Nick this morning, “You have to check for Toad Man when you leave! It rained and he loves that!”

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      • Grubs and worms are different, but you probably have both! Again, lucky you! 😛 Skunks LOVE grubs so if you like to wander about at night, be aware. My dad lives in a field, so I know your pain all too well. The snow drifts get really fun in the winter.
        It’s funny that there is a movie that sticks exactly to the book and I’m just like, “Meh.” I liked the portion about a young girl surviving on her own in the swamp more than the love aspect. The murder mystery part wasn’t all that mysterious.
        What’s the scoop? Was Toad Man in fact, dancing in the rain when Nick lefT??

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    • Okay, in all fairness, I stole that from Reddit. Someone shared a video of a hippo attacking three male lions when they tried to cross the river. People forget that a hippo is basically a mass of muscle and RUNS along the ground of the river. That’s when I saw the comment, “Hippity hoppity, get off of my property” and nearly died in glee.

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