Category Archives: publishing

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…..

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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

The Monday Book: SONGS FOR THE MISSING by Stewart O’Nan

I am a sucker for great characters. This story follows a family whose oldest daughter disappears. It sounds like a thriller.

What it really is, becomes a psychological study of grief and priorities in a working class family that has to slowly, VERY slowly, come to grips with uncertainty. Their bottom line? You don’t accept uncertainty. You break yourself into pieces to end it. And it still might not end.

The writing is tight and an odd juxtaposition of almost newspaper style and lyricism. I found myself pausing at times to enjoy his construction, which is saying something when the characters are so well done. Moments like this not-all-together-flattering opinion of the landscape. The sins of the Midwest: flatness, emptiness, a necessary acceptance of the familiar. Where is the romance in being buried alive? In growing old?

Dad won’t give up; he gets in the police’s way and follows up even the most ridiculous leads – because how do you evaluate ridiculous when you’re desperate?

Mom is coping quietly, at home, and drinking way too much and trying to protect her younger daughter–including protecting the child from her, the mom. She recognizes way too many things and keeps quiet about them as her husband leaves and returns, seeking leads. And as her younger daughter tries so hard to not become the adult in the family. Their relationship is fascinating.

And Lindsay, the 15-year-old accepts that part of her life has disappeared and part of it is on hold and anything she is going to have from here out is going to be a combination of fight and negotiation, with herself as much as with the world around her that really needs her to be the dutiful grieving little sister. Except, not too much grieving, because, hope. Her older sister may yet be found.

It’s a vibrant character study hidden inside a thriller plot. I thoroughly enjoyed Songs for the Missing.

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