The Masked Super Heroes

Jack produces his Wednesday guest blog on Wednesday for a change –

Most of you may know that Wendy is the Director of a medical non-profit organization, and in the current emergency situation, she is working from home. In observing her, I’m amazed at how she has turned her job around into coordinating the supply of PPEs to all the folk she is connected to in hospitals and health centers around SW Virginia.

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She has crafters making masks and is contacting suppliers around the world for more. From the minute she wakes up until we go to bed she is constantly on the phone handling all this. Lot’s of times she’s batting off the inevitable bureaucratic barriers (many swear words involved). But still she battles on! Getting the supplies to where they’re most needed.

This is a difficult time for everyone, but never more so than for health workers. They are in the front line of this and are taking enormous risks to keep the rest of us safe and treated professionally. But they, perhaps more than anyone, need to be protected.

Wendy has taken on this task and I couldn’t be prouder of her!


Filed under between books, crafting, Life reflections, post-apocalypse fiction, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch

19 Ways to Kill a Virus (with apologies to Paul Simon)


This problem is not inside our heads, said the TV

The answer is easy if we self-quarantine
We must work together in our struggle to be free
There must be nineteen ways to kill a virus

She said, we must all get used to solitude
I hope this message won’t be politically misconstrued
But I’ll repeat myself at the risk of being crude
Social distance is the first way to kill a virus
Out of 19 ways to kill a virus


You stay off that beach, Cheach

Wash those hands, Stan
You don’t need a new toy, Roy
Just help us get free
Hop off that bus, Gus
You don’t need to hoard that much
Just drop that key, Lee
And help us get free

Ooh, Walmart’s no go, Mo
Make a new plan, Ann
You can cook at home, Sloan

You just listen to me

Read new a new novel, Havil

Bake some bread, Jed

Listen to rock, Brock

And help us get free…..



Filed under humor, Life reflections, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch

Folktale warnings: don’t let the old people die

when-is-grandparents-dayIn response to recent suggestions that the elders should die out and make way for the rest, please read the folktale of your choosing from this family. When an old person dies, a library burns, and if EVER we needed our libraries to rebuild…. the new world isn’t gonna run on stock markets. It will need gardens and home canning and people who have seen it all twice. In other words, our grandparents….

Folktales about why killing off elders is a bad idea – the link in case you have trouble with the above. Some people get error messages, some don’t



Filed under humor, Hunger Games, Life reflections, out of things to read, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch

With apologies to Adam Mansbach

(Before you read this, my mother would like you to know she raised me right. It’s not her fault. ‘K? Thanks.)

STAY THE F@&$ AT HOME by Wendy Welch

(Parody of GO THE F$&@ TO SLEEP by Adam Mansbach)

The cats nestle close to their kittens,
The calves in the barn cease to roam
We are cozy and warm ‘round our hearth, here.
We will stay the f$&@ at home.

The windows are dark in the town, child.
No you cannot go to the shop
I’ll order your Easter basket online this year
You will stay the f$&@ home, so stop.

Screen time restrictions are out the window
Watch it all, watch it fast, watch it hard.
If you’ve got space out back, lucky you! Plan your garden.
Stay the f$&@ home can include your yard.

All the kids are home from school now
Bouncing on beds and screaming
Fuck no, they can’t go to a sleepover
Yes it’s tempting, but you’re still f$&@ing dreaming.

There were eagles who soared through Walmart and scored
The bleach wipes, the eggs, the tp
Chad has his whisky and Karen her wine.
So stay the f$&@ home, kids, and read.

Our parents fly forth from their houses.
From pharmacy to diner they roam
What part of my phone call was unclear, Dad?
I said, “STAY THE F$&@ AT HOME.”

COVID 19 doesn’t care who you voted for.
But when Trump speaks, the stock market crashes
Do please get the f$&@ out of THAT house, dude
Before we lose what’s left of our ass-uhm our assets.

Flowers doze low in the meadows
But the national parks are closed.
So let’s get online to share jokes by Zoom
And stay the f@&$ at home.

It sucks, but we’re up to this challenge.
We crochet, paint, write, and build things.
We stay the f$&@ home and make crafts from tp rolls.
And soon, like Italy, we will sing.

It’s okay, we’ll get through these strange times
With resilience, humor and pluck.
And when the coronials asked what we did in the crisis
We will answer “We stayed home to make you, dear.”

No photo description available.


Filed under humor, Life reflections, post-apocalypse fiction, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch

The Monday Book – Americans in Paris

Jack gets to do the Monday book review this week –


Americans in Paris – Charles Glass

Some years ago I met up with a fellow Scot and close friend who was in the middle of a French adventure. We met in Vichy on Bastille Day and helped the locals celebrate into the wee small hours. The following day we took a train down through the Massif Central to Bordeaux, sharing our compartment with an elderly couple. As we passed through various small towns they pointed out walls where ‘resistantes’ had been shot, but also where immediately after the war ‘collaborateures’ had also been shot. Vichy, of course, was the Capital of the collaborating French government under Marshal Petain.

So Glass’s book which chronicles the experiences of a wide range of US citizens in the lead up to, and during world war two and who lived in Paris during that time was a fascinating read.

There are a number of intertwining stories throughout – The American Hospital, Shakespeare and Company bookstore and the political machinations of the Vichy government are the main ones. The hospital and the bookstore somehow managed to continue, even after the US declared war on Germany. They become important waystations for escaping British and American soldiers and airmen, and their directors took enormous risks.

The writing is engaging and based on well documented research.

I knew very little of the tensions within the Vichy regime or between it and the German government, far less the attitude of the US towards Petain and Laval and their rivalries. Glass’s book, therefor, filled in many gaps in my knowledge.

Although I found the many personal stories of individuals intriguing, I think it was reading them within the broader political and wartime context that really caught my attention.

I thoroughly recommend this to anyone with an interest in France, Paris or the politics of the period.

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Filed under book reviews, folklore and ethnography, Life reflections, publishing, reading, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch, what's on your bedside table, writing

Five years ago, and Today: HOW SOON UNACCOUNTABLE

A friend reposted this blog I did five years ago today. And she’s right – it still fits.

starsLast night Jack and I sang for the St. Patrick’s Day event at the Fox House, home of another author who lived in Big Stone Gap. I wandered into his study before the event, feeling for a vibe. Didn’t really get one, but the house was full of people drinking green beer, so contemplation might not have been a good goal at that moment. But it was a lovely gig, a strong community pulling together, singing harmonies to the choruses, all sweetness and Picardy Thirds.

Walking home afterward, I realized how clear the night sky was–no moon, no clouds, every star hanging as if 12 feet above our heads. Back at the bookstore I dropped off my harp and hopped into our car to make for the reservoir, where there are no city lights whatsoever.

It was a strange drive. That’s not a road I’m very familiar with and it is full of hairpin curves up a wooded mountain. In the headlights, trees, a passing deer, even the road itself, were all monochrome pale black against the dark. The headlights barely cut into the next curve, and every time I swung the car I saw another row of those ghostly grey trees, hedging me in. A bit eerie. One starts to think about motor trouble and men with knives and rabid things in the woods…..

It began to feel foolish, this solo drive up a mountain on a fool’s errand. I pulled into the reservoir, hoping for enough clear space to see the night sky, turned off the headlights, cut the motor–

–and the stars came flooding in, past the windscreen, right past my eyes as though they wanted inside of me. Thousands of them. Constellations I’ve known since a child and many more I didn’t, all dancing together the instant the lights went out. Just like that.

It’s amazing how quickly some things change. All the turns in the road, the guardians at the gate, the grey washed-out things, they disappear. And there you are with all that glorious hidden brilliance suddenly in front of you, so bold and bright and beautiful you’re amazed you didn’t see it before. That you doubted it was there.

I love watching the night sky. It gives that combined feeling of confidence in the hands of a God who knows you, and humility at being a very small part of a Big Thing. You’re not the center of the dance, but you get to be in it. And whether you see a thing–the night sky, a pattern, a plan–or not doesn’t change its being there.

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Filed under Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, out of things to read, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch

The Monday Book: THE END IS ALWAYS NEAR by Dan Carlin

The endThis week’s Monday book comes courtesy of Paul Garrett, who has a wicked sense of humor….

While the headlines of the day may have us fighting over toilet paper at the big box store and thinking of mortgaging the house for a bottle of hand sanitizer, it’s easy to assume we are facing a unique threat. The fact is throughout human history we have always been walking a knife edge between chaos and order.

Dan Carlin, famous for his long-winded (up to six hour) Hardcore History podcasts has written a relatively short-winded book about the history of the world from the perspective of disaster. Running just over 200 pages, The End is Always Near (Harper Collins, 2019) makes the point that though we may live in self-assured tranquility (up until about a month ago) from an historical perspective mankind is never far from disaster.

Much of the book’s narrative is spent on three topics: The first is the so-called Bronze Age Collapse, when civilization, after centuries of advancement suddenly and without explanation imploded and fell into a dark age. Another topic, which could have been written yesterday, covers the frequent scourge of pandemics: from the Black death to smallpox to the so-called Spanish Flu. That pandemic alone killed between fifty and one hundred million people world-wide in a period of about 24 weeks in 1918-19.

In a chapter entitled The Road to Hell he discusses the nuclear age and the deadly math of the war planners who believe the way to shorten war is to kill as many people as quickly as possible. The calculation is that many more lives will be saved by bringing the conflict to a quick end. He asserts that the threat of nuclear annihilation may have prevented many deaths as the nuclear powers have been loath to engage in large scale so-called kinetic action for fear of driving their enemies to the nuclear button. Instead we have opted for proxy wars where we encouraged various client states to do the fighting for us.

He gives barely a nod to Climate change, stating that whatever destruction it reaps will take place over decades or centuries while this book is about things that can wipe us out in weeks or milliseconds. We have only to notice how the Chinese Corona Virus has swept climate change off the front page to see his point.

The book has footnotes on almost every page, some with more text than the narrative, as if it were written by someone who forgot to take their Adderall. It is a warning to people whose most dire concern up until a month ago may have been who would “Like” their latest Facebook post. It serves as a reminder (as if the morning’s headlines weren’t enough) that no matter how secure we feel in our Mc Mansions with all the modern conveniences, there are dragons lurking out in the darkness.

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Filed under book reviews, Life reflections, out of things to read, post-apocalypse fiction, Uncategorized