Category Archives: Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap

Two to Tango

Jack’s Wednesday guest post makes it on time for a change – –

A belated tip of the hat to my long suffering wife after our recent twenty third anniversary –

We are complete opposites – I’m a lazy bugger and she’s a workaholic!

When we first met she was a community storyteller, a swimming instructor and a strawberry picker. She had had a degree in journalism and another in German and had just completed her Masters in Education. She headed off to St Johns in Newfoundland to start her PhD in Folklore.

When that was to the thesis stage she joined me in Scotland and we married. Off she went again and started a very successful non-profit storytelling co-operative, was appointed to the board of the Scottish national storytelling forum, the board of the US National Storytelling Network and the traditional arts committee of the Scottish parliament. Shortly after to Lancashire in England where she worked for two years with refugees and asylum seekers and learned Arabic!

During all of this she was writing. Academic papers and then the first book which was a collection of newspaper columns published by Lingham House. We moved to Big Stone Gap and opened a bookstore so the next book was a memoir about that and a best seller for a big New York publisher. Since then there have been two more books and another three are in the pipeline!

But then she got another Masters Degree – in Public Health, and is now the Director of GMEC which encourages and helps newly qualified medical professionals to set up shop in Appalachia.

But enter Covid 19!

So, for the last few months she’s been sourcing PPE all over the world and getting it to clinics, medical centers and hospitals throughout SW Virginia – while finishing three books!

Just now and then she has a wee lull in her timetable and she can’t abide that, so it’s time to reorganize the cupboards or the backyard – – – or can stuff!

Did I mention the cat rescue or the chickens?

I can never keep up, but it’s been a wonderful twenty three years –

Here’s to the next twenty three!


Filed under between books, Big Stone Gap, folklore and ethnography, home improvements, humor, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, publishing, small town USA, VA, Wendy Welch

Hannah and Job

hannahSometimes you can’t cry, because once you start you will not stop.

Normally I’m a pretty natural crier, but I have not cried since COVID 19 became a reality in our lives. There’s too much to do.

The first weeks were getting protective equipment to medical people. Then it was looking at our lives and putting in a garden, getting in more supplies for clinics later, upping our game with local meat, egg, and dairy supplies, revamping what we thought was a fairly locally sustainable lifestyle to fit a harsher lockdown. Preparing, in essence, for fall to be worse than now, with more people needing help, and wanting to have that help ready.

And then one of our cats disappeared. Hannah, the tiny tortie with half a tail and twice the attitude, walked out Saturday morning and didn’t come home. We put up signs, walked the neighborhood, searched the ditches and culverts. Nada. She disappeared. Never mind, we told ourselves; life is full of so many people losing so much these days, it isn’t fair to have the luxury of tears over this smaller loss. Keep going.

Today the rain came down in buckets, and I woke this morning with a heart heavier with fear than looking for its usual hope. My devotions have been uplifting these past few weeks. I take a Christian worldview oddly informed by my many Muslim friends back in Britain; we are in God’s hands, for better or for worse (which is a very Muslim approach to God, not the Christian ideology that those who worship Him can expect preferential treatment from Him). The most important thing in life is not to come out on top but to be a living example of Jesus’ mercy on Earth. So what comes, comes; it’s how we deal with it that is most important. Job 13:15 and all that.

But this morning during my devotions I started crying. Over Hannah, our missing cat. Because sometimes everything one mourns–the sense of loss for a way of life taken for granted, the belief in my own efficacy to meet challenges–all those big things slide down into one little thing. I sobbed for my missing cat as though nothing else had ever mattered.

A few hours later, she walked in, dry and happy and not a scratch on her. Demanding lunch.

It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to mourn. We’re dealing with some heavy trauma, kids. Our times are in God’s hands, and sometimes the cat comes back.



Filed under animal rescue, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch