Letters, Boxes, Words–Tomatoes

hidden roomThis time next month Jack and I should be finding places to put things in our new house. It’s 550 Tazewell St, Wytheville if you want to look up the rooms and stuff. People have already observed (correctly) that it is a half-size version of our current bookstore home.

No, we won’t be running a bookstore. Yes, the blog will continue. Yes, I’m still writing, working on my fourth book and oh glory the joy when I can stop packing boxes and start using the time for writing instead. No, I won’t be working with Appalachian Feline Friends in any significant capacity, just driving transports and running an online craft store for fundraising. I’m retiring and turning it over to younger people with more fresh ideas: no strategizing. I need the brain space.

The joys of the new house include: a hidden bedroom. Halfway up the staircase is a small hobbit-shaped door, with no stairs into it. You have to hop. This reveals a slope-sided attic space in which any self-respecting hobbit or child would delight. I revel in the prospect of filling it with my yarn, lining the sides in visible boxes, waiting for me to pluck it out and make it into things that will assist the cats or surprise and terrify friends at Christmas (2019, I hasten to add).

A small greenhouse. My heirloom tomato nerd side is already planning. If you have heirloom tomato seeds you’d like to send me, please do. Oh, the happiness of growing baby tomatoes from seeds. I’m going to pipe in classical music to help them along.

The old jail. Seriously, we inherited the 1866 Wytheville jail as part of the property. It has heat and light and it’s the perfect size for a 9-months-of-the-year writing studio. A small table, my laptop, and NOTHING ELSE! I haven’t had a designated writing room since I finished the writing residency in Fayetteville last March. Jack is the one who called it, too. As soon as he saw the room, he said, “Well, you got your studio back.” Yep.

The tiny balcony. Despite his best efforts and mine, Jack still smokes. Not in the house. It’s a deal-breaker. But on the lee side sheltered by the roof and some trees sits a small patio on the second floor, just big enough for two chairs and an ashtray. My beloved can do his bad thing out there and I won’t have to smell it and he won’t be cold in winter. Little portable heater’s chord fits under the glass door.

The big ceilidh room. The house is 1890, so it has an original and an added bit. The original has big wooden timbers framing it, exposed for aesthetic pleasure. It’s a big room, and even with two sets of double doors leading to the front and back gardens, it gets less light than the rest of the house. And it has the fireplace. This will be our music room and where we hold ceilidhs and house concerts. No furniture, just folding chairs, instruments, and the bookshelves at the far end holding our collection of rounds and songs to sing together. Already we are looking forward to meeting the Wytheville musical crowd. Debra Preese, the lady we bought the house from, knows several, and our realtor Tyler Hughes knows more. They’re rumored to be happy to have a Celtic music couple arriving.

There’s still a twinge at letting go of the bookstore, but it’s thriving and we have high hopes the next owner will continue its community service. Jack and me, we are ready for our next adventure, in a smaller house with a big heart.

36 thoughts on “Letters, Boxes, Words–Tomatoes

  1. Hello there- We are sorry to see you go but looks like you are have a lovely home to move to! We have a good friend named Kay Justice who lives in Wytheville. She’s a wonderful Old Time musician. I’m sure if you ask around you can catch up with her. We loved coming to the bookstore and will miss you. Fare thee well! Dave and Donna Stinnard and Bob the Cat (who is thriving)

  2. Congratulations! I looked at all the pictures and decided that you lucked up twice—first with the bookstore, now this perfect home.

    I know you don’t remember me, but several years ago we came to the bookstore and also visited down the street with our friend, Christy Lee. You were not there that day, Wendy; but we were privileged to meet Jack, roam around the store, and eat lunch upstairs.

    I hope that the new bookstore owner puts as much love into as y’all did!

    Happy trails on your new adventure!

    Jenny Reed Starkville, MS

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. So glad to know where you are. My moms fam is from Wytheville and I went to HS there. A friend from HS retired back there. She has a bunch of family members who are accomplished musicians and who know many more musicians. And she and her hubby end up being found by cats who need a good home all the time.
    I will encourage her to seek you out and introduce you to others… Hopefully I will make it to a music event sometime in the future. Glad you are still writing.

  4. Congrats and many good wishes for this next exciting stage of your lives! Don’t look back with sadness, look ahead with excitement and


    My husband and I visited your wonderful bookstore in Big Stone Gap – hope the new owners will continue it as a warm, welcoming place for avid readers


    Audrey Metz and Ken Seitz.

    On Wed, Nov 28, 2018 at 7:06 AM Wendy Welch, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap wrote:

    > wendywelch posted: “This time next month Jack and I should be finding > places to put things in our new house. It’s 550 Tazewell St, Wytheville if > you want to look up the rooms and stuff. People have already observed > (correctly) that it is a half-size version of our current bo” >

  5. Wendy, I wish you all the best in your new adventure. Part of me is sad because I enjoyed living vicariously through you – the bookstore, the cat rescue. But I do understand the need to move on and the house sounds wonderful! I don’t have heirloom tomato seeds but I did save some heirloom French cantaloupe seeds and if you’d like I’m happy to mail them to you!

  6. It looks wonderful! I am so envious of the jail and the greenhouse, especially. Much love to the two of you. I’m so glad I’ll still be able to live vicariously through your blog.

  7. Oh My Goodness! What a change, and it sounds like you are both welcoming it! Bravo for your embrace of the next phase of your lives.

  8. I’m in love with the pictures and excited for your new adventure! I’m loving the wood floors & I hope Sigean will get to try the acoustics out! ❤

  9. Oh Wendy, I have such mixed feelings on this! So delighted at what your new home and life sounds like; but sad that we won’t be hearing all the wonderful bookstore tales, anymore. We’ll just hear wonderful new tales, i do believe! Much love ❤️ and well wishes!

  10. Bless you in ypur new venture. Will we still see you and Jack on FB? We don’t want to lose the two of you. You will always be remembered with kindness, so stick around.


  11. Wendy,
    We are so happy for you and Jack! This house seems perfect, and I know you will be a huge asset to your new community. Please do keep writing on the blog when you can, for we want to keep in touch. May God richly bless you both in this exciting new part of your lives!
    David and Elizabeth
    P.S. Let’s swim in the lake and paddle by moonlight again when you visit. This summer?

  12. Congrats on retirement! Was a pleasure to get to know you in the Ville at beginning of year. When do you leave bookstore? I’d still love to see it. May be wishful thinking now but you never know. Have a wonderful new chapter.

  13. Big changes, but they all sound good. Best of luck with your hobbit hole writing space, and the many new adventures that await. Happy New Year to you and Jack. I’m so glad we got to meet him every so briefly.

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