Category Archives: home improvements

Nature Abhors a Vacuum

Jack once again posts his Wednesday guest post on Thursday – sigh – – –

It’s amazing the quote I remember from a School science lesson – –

The vacuum is, of course, what our lives could have become during the pandemic for the last year and a quarter!

The most obvious thing for us in fighting that vacuum is how our house has changed. Our ceilidh room was where we entertained friends, held house concerts, and even ceilidhs (hence the name). But it became our home entertainment center, with a big screen and a projector to plug into my laptop and a good set of speakers. Wendy bought a box set of all twenty seasons of ‘Law and Order’ which we along with favorite movies on some nights. (Currently rounding toward the end of season 19!)

The library morphed into Wendy’s home office whence she somehow managed to orchestrate the supply of PPE to health centers and hospitals all over the area from March-May 2020. After that it was her writing studio as she churned out a book with colleagues on COVID conspiracy theories. And it accrued quite a lot of craft items, as she discovered decoupage. Recently a friend visited and commented, “I see you found a new hobby, Wendy.”

Our guest room continued to double as my studio where I prepare my radio show. But there was a period when I unusually had to pre-record the links out in our backyard log cabin, which was slow and tedious. That was due to some noise control efforts, since we have a sound proof box in the cabin.

But a lot of our time has been spent outside trying to learn how to grow vegetables. Last year wasn’t too successful but we have better hopes for this year. Some good friends tilled an extra section of the yard and it has carrots, beets, onions and the ‘the three sisters’ (corn, beans and squash), which all seem to be coming along fine. And Wendy has taken up foraging, which she calls lazy gardening. Why ignore nature presenting us with things like purslane and burdock—especially when we turn out to suck at gardening in the first place?

Our corn is as high as a baby elephant’s eye!

It would have been very easy for us to be ‘couch potatoes’ looking at the walls, but Wendy deliberately set her face against that and made sure, from the start, we would be occupied. We read lots of books—not to mention she had two published and has another two on the way. I took on some small construction projects and we made a fence to keep our chickens away from the back deck. Despite our failures, the garden has seen results. And we had the window visitors; people came by to drop off or pick up items (when the PPE runs ended Wendy kept going with a buy nothing list for the county, ranging from food to clothing to household detritus. I believe our neighbors might think we’re dealing drugs, the number of window packages that have been passed around here, and items left on doorsteps in mysterious lumpy packages. But she’s done some wonderful things for some community members with these free items.)

I believe this has kept us mentally and physically healthy and this seems to chime with other folks’ experiences. Once we finish season 20 of Law and Order, I’m not sure what we will do with ourselves, of course…..

Leave a comment

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

Mushroom Management – –

Good heavens – this is the latest Jack has been with his Wednesday post – –

Wendy decided that, since I like mushrooms, we should grow them. Well – –

First we got a small pre-seeded pack and got a first harvest. We waited for the second promised harvest until we realized we’d wrongly removed the first lot. So no second or third harvest!

Then we got a larger pre-seeded pack and that’s doing its thing in a dark cupboard with daily spraying of water – we await in anticipation and will be more careful.

Then a friend, who has much more experience, brought us a large tub of sheep shit so we could establish a mushroom bed under a shady tree in our yard. That would need some actual mushroom spores so onto Dr Google. I settled on a company in Maine who seem reliable.

Following the Fedex delivery progress was hilarious –

Maine to Glasgow (that’s Glasgow, Virginia which is just up the interstate 81 from us), then to Charlotte North Carolina (a long way south of us), then to Concorde NC (probably Charlotte airport), from there to Dublin (yep – in Virginia and also north of us on I-81). It finally arrived this morning and is in the fridge until I can prepare its bed.

In case you’re interested I will be using the ‘lasagna’ method – a layer of cardboard, a layer of sheep shit and sawdust, first layer of mushroom spores. Another layer of sheep shit and sawdust, another layer of spores and a final layer of clean dirt.

The only problem I see is that I have to keep watering the bed every couple of days but won’t get any mushrooms until next year!

I used to teach management programs in my old college in Scotland and I was a manager too – there’s a famous style of management called ‘mushroom management’ – – – –

Keep them in the dark and feed them shit – – – –

Leave a comment

Filed under between books, crafting, folklore and ethnography, home improvements, humor, Life reflections, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch