Category Archives: folklore and ethnography

A Shot in the Dark – – –

Jack hits the spot a day early for the first time ever – – –

I’m scheduled for my first Covid 19 vaccine shot next Wednesday and the second twenty eight days later. I feel pretty euphoric about it! I should be safe to be around folks a week after the second shot.

It will have been about a year after going into strict hibernation when I emerge and it’s interesting to look back on how I’ve survived, how life changed and what kept me (relatively) sane during that time.

Wendy and I live in a rural area that, for various reasons, didn’t sign on to the advice and rules regarding controlling the spread of the virus; very patchy mask wearing or social distancing. So she kept me in the house throughout except to take the trash for re-cycling and filling the cars with gas – these were my luxury outings, but wearing a mask and gloves. And once we went to view Christmas lights! She did all the shopping, chose her times of day carefully and was meticulous about changing clothes, sanitizing bought stuff and getting even the floors in the house mopped with a bleach solution where she had walked in the house. 

That might seem like some kind of jail term but it wasn’t. Because she has been able to work from home I’ve been busy with lots of domestic chores – a house husband. So I mowed our yard, did most of the meal planning and cooking, did various long delayed house repairs etc. We have five recalcitrant cats and I’m the cleaner up of their litter trays and accidents (because I’ve no sense of smell), and a very lazy dog and they provide lots of diversion. I’ve also continued to record my radio programs and to interact on-line with friends and old colleagues, so I haven’t felt trapped or depressed at all. I also, like many musical friends, videoed many songs and stuck them up on YouTube for posterior (SP?).

I wonder what the world will look like post Covid 19? I suspect it will be very different, but sometimes, the more things change….

A famous British Prime Minister once described the uncertainty of political life as having far less to do with planning and policy than “events, dear friends, events” (Harold MacMillan). The same has been true for everyday life, this year. Wendy has to wait in line until she can get the vaccine shots – we may have to separate – –

Although several times during this year we looked at each other and said what is now our tag line: “We’ve been locked in here xx days/weeks/months now and I still love you.” Twenty three years and one quarantine later, that counts for something.

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

Ode to Joy – or Despair

Jack makes it over the line with time to spare for a change – –

Although I’m not directly affected very much by Brexit it saddens me to see Scotland dragged out of the EU against the will of nearly seventy percent of her population. What’s particularly annoying is that Northern Ireland (part of the UK) has been granted special status as a ‘semi-member’, continuing in the customs and trading rules of the EU, while Scotland has been denied that. One result is that young people will no longer be able to study in Europe under the ‘Erasmus’ scheme.

Back in the 1990s when I was a Head of Department in a Scottish community college, I managed three environmental education projects funded by the EU through an initiative called ADAPT. As part of that focus I set up student exchange schemes with a college in Denmark and another in Slovakia. My college was in an ex-coalmining area and most of my students had very narrow horizons. They had very limited interest in the wider world and low expectations of their likely success in being chosen to participate. In fact, out of a student population of around four hundred each year I had to twist arms to get fifteen applicants. This despite the fact that there was no cost to them.

What made me persevere, though, was that I had already been touring around Europe with my folk band and wanted my students to have a similar experience – I wanted them to feel ‘European’ and meet young people like themselves who might speak a different language and eat different food, but had much the same outlook on life, It turned out that it actually was the language and food that most scared my students. Of course most of them had never been abroad before except maybe a family vacation in Spain where everyone would speak English and they’d get fish n’ chips.

The other reason I kept at it was that from the very beginning the returning groups were completely transformed by the experience. Many of them kept in touch with the friends they made and when the reciprocal visits took place with young Danes and Slovaks coming to Scotland these ties were reinforced.

To get the funding for these exchanges I had to show that the purpose was both educational and not covering part of the regular curriculum, so the focus was on environmental issues which were just becoming a ‘hot topic’ at the time. The idea was that when they finished their studies and went into employment they would have the knowledge and enthusiasm to affect policy in their places of work.

None of this would have been possible without the support of the EU and that has now gone for students from England, Scotland and Wales. The good news is that young people from Northern Ireland will be able to continue in the Erasmus program, but that just makes me more frustrated. Scotland can’t because we were dragged out of the EU alongside England and Wales—and against our majority will.

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Filed under between books, folklore and ethnography, Life reflections, Scotland, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch