Category Archives: between books

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!

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

Time to Select Reverse

Jack finally gets a Wednesday blog post up on time – – –

Back in the 1990s I was working as a middle manager in a local Scottish community college. I was head of construction crafts, and that department was fairly low in the pecking order. So I decided to find a focus for us that would boost our profile.

I had been interested in environmental topics for a while and did some research. That resulted in a series of projects funded by the EU and with partners all over Europe. The college senior management supported me and I traveled regularly from Belgium to Denmark and Germany and Italy and even eventually to Romania and Vietnam.

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But I worried continually that I wasn’t always producing the educational outcomes that I had promised. It was many years later that I discovered that these were never the expected outcomes in the first place. It was always just about getting people from different countries and cultures to interact and talk to each other!

This brings me to the real point –

I discovered a few weeks ago that my hard-won US Citizenship can be arbitrarily taken from me at the drop of a hat and the whim of a faceless bureaucrat. This seems to mirror what’s going on in Britain right now as well. Not just there but all over the world there seems to be a resurgence of the fear of ‘the other’.

Of course I don’t expect to be deported any time soon. I’m not black or Hispanic. Not Mexican or Muslim. Not Catholic or Italian. Not Irish or Chinese. I’m a white guy from Scotland – – –

So come on folks. It’s time to put all this nonsense behind us. We inhabit a tiny dot in the universe and we need to look after each other – and that tiny dot too!

“There are some oddities in the perspective with which we see the world. The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be, but we have done various things over intellectual history to slowly correct some of our misapprehensions.” – Douglas Adams

 

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Filed under between books, Big Stone Gap, blue funks, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch

There’s Ayewis Some’hin’

Jack is very late this week with his Wednesday post – – –

Following the thorough disassembling, cleaning and rebuilding of our dishwasher yesterday I got to thinking of all the things we’ve done here since moving in just over a year ago.

The first job was to install a cat flap so our felines could access the fully enclosed porch. Then it was redecorating the library and guest room. Soon after was when we discovered Paul, everyone’s handyman and he created our extra parking area off the driveway. Then I constructed our fire pit in the back yard.

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Next was building the shed to house our riding mower –

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And then trimming the trees that were about to bring down our power line and telephone line.

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Replacing the washing machine was only thanks to good friends with muscle power!

Talking of friends reminds me that we’ve found many good ones here in Wytheville while managing to retain our existing ones in Big Stone Gap.

Two friends – one from near here and one from Big Stone – helped us replace our lovely Narnia style back yard lamp post recently.

lamp

Just before that we had two big trees taken down and another two trimmed back. They were all ominously close to either our house and garage or our neighbor’s.

I almost forgot the rebuilding of our antique and rotted benches –

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Mostly it’s been just us, but sometimes with help and occasionally with professionals.

The next job will be completely re-doing the bathroom – so definitely professionals!

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Filed under between books, Big Stone Gap, crafting, home improvements, humor, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, small town USA, Uncategorized

A Day Late and a Dollar Short

Jack fails to make it in time – again – – –

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Well the latest big surprise yesterday was an email telling me that ‘Tales of the Lonesome Pine’ was voted one of the top three bookstores in SW Virginia by readers of a Virginia wide tourism magazine.

I thought to begin with that it was some kind of scam, but after exchanging a series of emails with a nice lady it became clear that it was genuine.

This immediately raised a few questions –

The bookstore closed over a year ago and the building is now a private dwelling again, and the new owners probably wouldn’t want hordes of folk knocking on the door or even just walking straight in.

There again – who voted and how did they not know we’d closed?

To be clear, we had the best time running that bookstore for fourteen years and made it into a real community hub. We made many friends along the way. The only reasons we sold up and moved was that Wendy’s job could be handled more easily from where we are now in Wytheville, it felt like time to move on and the building needed more TLC than a seventy-eight-year-old guy could contemplate.

I tried to find out whether we would have been first, second or third, but for understandable reasons we couldn’t be told. I also asked if our votes could be transferred to our good friends at Oracle Books in Wytheville but no dice there either.

 wendy-welch.com/2012/08/28/a-virtual-tour-of-tales-of-the-lonesome-pine-used-books/

Sometimes life is just weird – – –

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Filed under between books, Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, home improvements, humor, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch

Love is all Around – – –

Jack makes it with time to spare for a change – – –

NI marriage

The first same sex marriage in Northern Ireland yesterday.

As we approach Valentine’s Day –

Wendy and I write a regular column for Living Tradition magazine on topics common to the American and British folk music scenes. Our most recent one was about same sex relationships in the ballads and songs as well as between the performers. It got me thinking about how these relationships were viewed as I was growing up in the Presbyterian culture of Scotland in the 1950s and 60s. I found that I couldn’t remember ever hearing anything. I suppose that it was probably hidden under the cloak of ‘female companions’ or ‘good friends’. I do know that my Grandad stopped attending Church because the minister berated two women in front of the congregation and I always wondered if that was what it was about. But I never found out the reason – if that was it then kudos to Peter Ferguson!

This got me thinking about what we consider ‘normal’, and then about the different ‘normals’ I’ve encountered over the last seventy eight years.

Living now in a fairly conservative and rural part of the United States which, until relatively recently, would have also shunned same sex couples, I see a big change. It seems like there’s an attitude of ‘sure, they’re gays but they’re OUR gays’. It’s a combination of unremarkable and un-remarked upon.

Of course it may just be because we move in particular circles, but in both Big Stone Gap and now in Wytheville we count ever more such couples among our friends.

But my ‘normal’ has changed as well over the years. Not just my personal circumstances, but the world in general. I went from a naïve apprentice house-painter to a businessman, to a college professor, to a bookstore owner. Along the way I was folksinger on the side, moved from Scotland to the US and from one marriage to another.

As I changed, learned and developed so did the world. As my ignorance was challenged so has the world’s.

There’s a ways to go yet but, but we’re getting there I hope – –

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Filed under between books, Big Stone Gap, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, small town USA, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch

I Finishes my Book, I Cleans my House

f2f262695ba52a8387ccb4c57703b3daIt is as inevitable as it unexplainable. As soon as the book is finished, I clean house. Perhaps it’s because there’s a lot of build-up while one is ignoring all the little surrounding things during that last push of editing and adding things.

Whatever the reason, the day after I push send, I’m in the bathroom with a toothbrush, tackling grout-esque problems.

Perhaps this ritual marks the passage from writing to marketing; you finish the part everyone thinks is cool, and you start the part that makes people edge away from you at parties. Make lists of festivals, make a nuisance of yourself on Facebook, Vimno, Instagram, and whatever other platforms somebody invented over the weekend.

But it never fails: Push send Friday, spray every surface in the house down Saturday, rip out contents of closets and cupboards, and dusty corners, stack your t-shirts by color, alphabetize the pantry, everything.

It’s like reclaiming space, but with benefits. My spice rack is organized by genre: Indian top shelf, Italian center, and the fundamentals at the foundation. Purged packaged food  lines the counter. “This is what I couldn’t fit back in after I separated the boxes by size, so this is what we’re eating this week,” I tell Jack.

He nods and smiles and finds an outdoor project. He’s seen it before and knows how this plays out.

Call it ritual, or clearing the path for what comes next, call it what you will, because it will happen. My home will be shiny-tidy this weekend and there will be a purge of useful boxes that weren’t and squished plastic containers that didn’t survive storage.

It doesn’t last long, but it’s fun while it lasts.

HIGH HOPES: Prescribers and Therapists Explain how they Fight Substance Abuse comes out from McFarland Press this summer. The title is still in edits, so if you have a suggestion, let us know.

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Filed under between books, Life reflections, publishing, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch, writing

Freewheelin’ Doon the Brae

Jack creakily creeps over the line to get his guest post in on a Wednesday – –

So I turned seventy eight years old today (Wednesday) although it may be Thursday before this appears!

weston

As far as I know the only two members of my immediate family to get beyond that are my Mum and my sister Margaret.

So I see eighty coming over the horizon and that’s quite a sobering thought. All the folk I know around my age are ‘old’, but that’s not how I feel at all. Despite smoking and drinking most of my life I seem to continue to be fairly healthy.

When I look back I’m surprised at how my life turned out and the twists and turns. When I was a house painter I never expected to become a lecturer in management studies or to gain an MBA from one of the most prestigious Scottish Universities. When I started singing in a skiffle group I never expected to make seven albums and contribute to three others.

Today I was equally surprised to see more than a hundred birthday greetings on facebook, which reminded me of how many friends all over the world I’ve made. Some are from way back and some not so far, and some only on line.

birthday

But the odd thing is that I’m very aware of friends and family who haven’t made it this far, and they’re actually the ones I’m thinking of today more then any. Among them are Margaret, Colin, Mike, Davy, Jim, Gordeanna, Anne and Maureen.

Since I do seem to be fairly healthy, though, I guess I should just get on with it and be lucky that I continue to make new friends and have a wife that despite twenty one years of sparring, somehow sticks by me –

Onwards and upwards!

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Filed under between books, Big Stone Gap, humor, Life reflections, Scotland, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch