Sunday Lowdown #188


Hello! Does the blogosphere seem weird right now, or is that just me? I keep thinking, “Hey, I haven’t seen a post from so-and-so in a while…” or “I wonder how [blogger] is doing?” Maybe that’s just me because I’m still trying to figure out a blogging schedule with school. I’m taking classes, doing a manageable amount of homework, talking to mentors to find the right person to vibe with, and scoping out the internet for Deaf social events and interpreting workshops.

So far, I’ve been strict about not doing school stuff unless it’s on my calendar. Part of my anxiety is I’m always looking ahead and worrying. If I’m doing homework, am I neglecting Nick? If I’m hanging out with Nick, am I neglecting my blog? If I’m writing posts on my blog, should I really be reading other people’s blog posts? etc. etc. etc. Thus, sticking to the “TIME TO WORK ON SCHOOL STUFF” approach has eased some of that cyclic worrying.

This Friday was the inaugural meeting of the Huntsville Horror book club I started! We were a movie club, and then I spotted an opportunity for the bookish types to join me. There were five people total, which is a good size. I told my friend and fellow Huntsville member Morgan if there were just two of us I’d still be happy, because I’m used to that with Biscuit Book Club. We discussed They Came From the Ocean by Boris Bacic, which I enjoyed even though I felt claustrophobic because the author kept mentioning the divers 12,000 feet under the water wanting to itch their noses or move some sweaty hair out of their faces and just touching the glass of the helmet.


Thanks so much to Tara Lynn Masih for giving us some insight into her newest book, How We Disappear. I’ve known Masih’s name for years because she edited the collection The Field Guide to Flash Fiction, which I used and appreciated in the early 2010’s. And then her name cropped up again in March 2022 when so many libraries were creating lists of books to read with a Ukraine setting or Ukrainian characters after Russia attacked. Her book My Real Name is Hanna was everywhere. I also read and reviewed her early collection, Where the Dog Star Never Glows.


I guess I’m a little bit surprised by how many people were excited about my first Sweet Valley High review. I thought folks would simply indulge me. On Wednesday, I’ll share my thoughts about Who’s Who. With these SVH posts, I’m trying to avoid like/dislike, because the books can be shallow (eyes twinkle, gazes smolder, voices are husky), but they also say something about a time and place, and the fact that millions of girls identified with the SVH series so deeply says something about American culture in the Reagan era.


Owned Books on TBR at Beginning of Year: 202
Owned Books on TBR Last Week: 195
Owned Books on TBR Today: 195


  1. I’m certainly struggling to maintain my usual reading and blogging routine, and I’m not sure why. Yes. I’m busy but I don’t think more so than usual. I think it’s that my brain space is not coping so well with busy-ness at the moment. Age? Or just the sort of busy-ness? I hope the latter, so I can pick up again later. Anyhow good on you for juggling all the balls you are.

    Love your pics, including the ‘mums! Of course, they are autumn bloomers, which is why they are traditional mothers day flowers here. May is, of course, autumn here.

    I enjoyed your Masih post, as you know.

    Have a good week. I may not read you promptly next week, as l’m travelling to Perth (where I may or may not see Bill – depends on whether he will be trucking.)


    • I really hope you get to meet Bill! I believe you said you’ve missed each other many times and have never met?

      I’m glad it’s not just me overthinking bloggers; everyone seems to be scattered right now. What is going on with all of us?


      • Looks like we will get to meet today for lunch!

        Yes I think we are. I wonder whether it’s a reaction to the first two years of the pandemic. Perhaps our priorities and lifestyles are in flux?


        • Oh! Oh! Did you do a selfie?! Did you tell Bill I said hi?! What happened? What was it like? Do you guys have different accents, making it impossible to understand each other, because that happens to me when I travel from Indiana to places like North Carolina.


          • I have emailed a pic to you, but no, we had no trouble understanding each other. While there are some regional linguistic differences in Australia, they are not as pervasive or as strong as they are in the USA. I’ve never heard of an easterner not understanding a westerner, etc. This is interesting, actually, given the big distances between places which would make it easy for differences to develop.


  2. I’ve gone a bit weird with the blog and my reading since the Queen passed away, I’d been picking up old fiction from my TBR while trying to round off my TBR challenge and not reading so much because of work and then I have been hugely distracted, spending time on logistics e.g. do we run parkrun, etc. and then I’ve been feeling weird about blogging. So you might not see much from me for a bit but I’m still here!


    • Yes, I think everyone has something going on right now. There is a curious part in the back of my brain that wonders if we’ve all caught COVID at some point, perhaps didn’t have symptoms, and now are floating through life like zombies with some bonkers version of long COVID. You can see here how my anxiety works, lol.

      American news is all Queen all the time, which actually made me forget (“Never forget!”) that today is 9/11. The entire CBS morning program was devoted to the Queen and a neighborhood in New York that built affordable housing in what was once known as the murder capital of the state.


  3. I think this was an especially light blog week for some reason. September is a busy time in America for sure, but who knows?

    Those mums are beautiful. What a nice surprise.

    Continued good luck with your scheduling and workload!


    • Right?! I think right when we go back to school is when I’m feeling particularly vulnerable, so to have everyone disappear for a bit is disruptive. My friend Morgan called herself a delicate little butterfly the other day, and I can relate to that.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve noticed some bloggers have been more quiet of late. I’m wondering if the recent problems many of us had with commenting have played a part here. Thankfully that is now resolved.

    We’ve had 24 hour coverage of the Queen’s death for the last three days. Yesterday for the first time we found some regular programmes returned to air. I feel so sorry for the broadcast journalists having to keep talking for so long and going over the same ground over and over. You can hear how their voices have become hoarser.


    • You’re right, Karen, there was the shenanigans with the comments! That may be part of the problem.

      I noticed that even on 9/11 almost all of the news was dedicated to the Queen. Then I remembered it was 9/11. Later that night that had some coverage.

      I’ll bet your journalists were tired of going over the same thing. I can see it happening during the election season in the U.S. where we harp on the same things for months on end.


  5. Your mums are pretty! And that pup is so cute! And yes, scheduling time for things/ having a routine is the best way to keep up with all the things in my opinion. I look back on some very busy times in my life and wonder how did I ever get through it all? And then remember, oh yeah, there was a very strict schedule (that also included time for play, don’t forget to play!) For the last few years it’s been a nebulous Stef at work and Stef at home and me wondering why nothing I want to do at home ever gets done. So I’ve started making lists again and keeping track of things and I am starting to feel a bit less nebulous. Oh and also, yay for your horror book club being a success!


    • I saw the dog again today (I thought), but then I overheard that it’s a different one, and an employee at the college has puppies she’s selling. I’ll bet she’s bringing them to school so someone falls in love with them! Tricksy….

      I could just picture you giggling at me for not realize that some flowers happen in the fall, and meanwhile I thought I was doing these bushes a favor by watering them while they did not truly entertain me all summer.

      I do have fun stuff built into my schedule, including the horror movie and book club, when to watch the movies, when to watch Jeopardy, etc. So far, it’s helping me not answer school emails or peek at homework when it’s not the right time.


      • Tricksy puppy pusher! 😀

        Oh no, I would not giggle at such a thing, how would you know what the plant was since you had only recently met? I have cared for many plants before I figured out what they were and wasn’t so lucky to have them turn out to be something as nice as mums 🙂

        Yay for fun in your schedule! I am so glad it is working so well for you!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I seemed to have missed your SVH post, I’d better go back and look for it. I am struggling at the moment to produce one post a week and yet I’m actually doing less work than in previous years. None of my time off seems productive.

    Sue lands in Perth at midday, my next job starts Thurs., we’ve run out of ways not to meet (though she and Mr Gums did have to change their plans to fit in with mine).

    My 90 year old mum has had Princess and then Queen Elizabeth in her life, via the Women’s Weekly etc., all her life, and she too is totally sick of the wall to wall “mourn porn” on the national broadcaster. Ok, she don’t say mourn porn, that was someone on Twitter.


    • Bill, today was terrible, and I didn’t laugh once. That is, until I read your last two sentences, so I thank you deeply for that. Wow, so your mom remembers the person who came before Elizabeth II? I wonder what that person was like…

      I have so many questions about your meeting with Sue, and I’ve flung many of them at her via comment elsewhere, so I want the details!

      If you’re less productive, what are you doing in general? Napping is a totally acceptable answer.


      • Elizabeth’s father was George VI who was a steadying influence in Great Britain during WWII. Mum was aged 7-13 during the War, and well out of harm’s way on an Australian farm, but I suppose she remembers him in a general way.

        Not napping, visiting my daughter and grandchildren now 450 km away, pissfarting around on the computer (and getting work done on the truck). I’ve owned my new trailer since Aug 31 and the admin lady from the dealer was on the phone a short while ago hassling me to come up and finalise the paperwork.

        Meeting Sue in 3 hours. Full report tomorrow (check your emails while you stir your porridge).


        • Ahhhh, visiting family is always a great use of time, especially if they need you, either to move something or be there as a presence. I hope things go well with your new trailer. Seems like you thought about buying one and then bought it rather quickly!


  7. My blog feed has been quiet too, though I think I follow a lot of UK bloggers and it’s a bit of a weird time here, so I’m not surprised. I’m tired of the wall-to-wall coverage of the death of Her Maj, but at the same time I liked her and have never known another monarch, so it’s still sad and discombobulating.

    This time of year is a strange one at work – I know I am about to be extremely busy and wish I could get ahead on a lot of work, but most of it won’t come into my inbox for another week or so, so it’s actually a very quiet time. I am looking forward to the new students starting though – I haven’t had a first year tutor group since 2019, and I love teaching them, so that’s exciting! Hope you are enjoying the start of your academic year as well, even though it’s very busy.


    • Lou, I was thinking about emailing you to ask if you are okay since Liz II died, but then I wondered if that is a weird question to ask someone. At least on TV in the U.S. they keep showing Brits crying, hence why I wanted to ask if you are okay. On the other hand, the Queen is still a stranger, and was a 96-year-old stranger at that. I suppose I’m cold in some way, but when someone in their 90’s passes away, I’m happy for them having lived a long life that is now over (because I know aging can be rough; she constantly had doctors around the last bit here).

      What is a tutor group? And what are you teaching, leading, etc. this coming school year? I got confused because your program hasn’t started yet, and we’re on week three here.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m fine! As you say, she was old and she’d lived a long (and productive!) life. Most of the people I know who are genuinely upset are people who have either recently been bereaved or are expecting to be bereaved soon, and it’s stoking it all up. (For example, my mum – who has been a much stauncher republican than me for as long as I can remember – has been pretty upset, but as she identified herself that probably has a lot to do with the fact that my nan is unlikely to see much longer). The thing I have actually found most difficult is the internet, which has been an absolute binfire. I’ve tried to stay away from it, but some of the response has been vile (and entirely ahistorical – I saw the queen blamed for the Bengal Famine of 1873…). Most of it has come from a particular type of US commentator who doesn’t understand what a consitutional monarchy is, but still has very loud opinions about what terrible monsters we English people all are. (I saw someone non-ironically suggesting that Scotland should basically just kill us all and do the rest of the world a favour). All that stuff has upset me more than the death of Her Maj, much as I’ve tried to avoid seeing it, let alone being bothered by it. It seems to be calming down now, though.

        A tutor group is a small group of students (10-15) for whom I will have responsibility during their first year. This means I will have to meet with them regularly as a group (and occasionally 1:1), carry out their clinical supervision sessions while they are on placement, and signpost them to pastoral resources and academic support if they need it. I’ll have a final year group too.

        I teach across lots of modules, but I’m responsible partly or in full for two: our research methods module, which is for our second year students and is about understanding and using evidence in practice; and our final year child module, which is basically about all the most complex parts of children’s nursing e.g. managing conflict between parents and healthcare professionals, reducing incivility in teams, end of life decision-making, legal and ethical issues when looking after teenagers etc. I love teaching both subjects, so I’m very happy I’ve managed to make my way onto these modules! And I have various other responsibilities too, like I will probably be organising a child mental health conference this year.


        • The nursing version of teaching sounds so different from what I pictured, but what I pictured is rather silly if I consider that nursing is a profession. It’s great that these students have one person that they can turn to throughout the year as a good support. Also the model sounds somewhat similar to a regular class? For instance, I’m taking an ethics course myself this semester, so we have to look at ethics and different ways and how they may apply to interpreting. So far we’re just on the definition and like the basic history of ethics.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. What beautiful Mums you have! A love that you’ve started the horror club, that’s so cool. I feel like that sometimes too – when you focus on one thing, what else are you missing? I try to remind myself that everything happens in waves – sometimes I’m super busy with work and I neglect my blog, sometimes I’m busy with my kids and I neglect my work, etc. It’s all good…


  9. You know I’m fully guilty about not being around on the blogosphere lately. 😉
    BUT, you have my phone number, and we text consistently so I’m not neglecting you, JUST THE REST OF THE BLOGOSPHERE. D:
    That’s exciting about the mums! Sometimes I buy a pot of them for the front step, but I’ve never actually planted them. I would assume they are easy to take of??
    This is the first week that I felt like I was able to actually focus on school instead of just getting it done before I had to leave for the weekend. I know I did better, and the stress was way less. I’m going to be using my planner to sanction times just like you do. It just makes sense. This macroeconomics class has a pretty large workload since it’s only 7 weeks. I had to watch a 40-minute 20/20 special from 1998 for it this past week. :3


    • Ha! Yes, I know you are around and okay. I don’t know much about mums. I forgot the previous owner said they were mums, but I just kept watering them all summer cuz they look like thirsty bushes.I have no clue how well they take off, etc. Maybe ask your local plant nursery? They’re geeky about helping!

      Okay, what was the 20/20 special from 1998 about. I’m wicked curious.

      The planner SERIOUSLY helps. I always think of it as “sacred time” only because I can’t think of a non-religious word for it. If someone asks if I’m busy, I’m unlikely to change my calendar to develop the habit of responsibility.


      • It was slightly based on economics but mostly on bashing the rich for being greedy. Literally a guy being like, “Don’t you have enough money?! Why do you keep working?! Why aren’t you doing more to help other people?!” Usually they were helping other people to an extent. They weren’t just giving their money away (though they did some of that) but they kept creating more and more jobs for people. It’s not often I side with the extremely rich, but I did in this case.

        I can’t go to the nursery. I failed them with all my plants this year. :3
        I definitely need a greenhouse if I expect to keep some alive.

        Liked by 1 person

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