Category Archives: small town USA

Our Pets Can Teach Us

Jack is a day late and a dollar short with his guest post this week – – –

In contemplating how everyday life has changed for us and most other folks, I’ve been observing how it goes on pretty much normally for our pets.

Bruce2

Our rescue dog Bruce has always been happy to get his exercise running around our big backyard and spend the rest of his time sleeping in his favorite bed. Every now and again he gets walked up and down the alley beside our house where he can enjoy different smells and that continues normally too.

Our cats are used to going in and out at will and know to stick to the yard or close by. So no real change for them either. It’s true that our most recent cat recruit, Buddy, has some health issues and that has meant a couple of vet visits. The arrangements for attending the clinic are a bit different, but I don’t suppose Buddy notices!

Our neighborhood dogs are all being walked as usual, although their humans are observing social distancing rules, but again I don’t suppose the pets notice much difference.

Our previous canine and feline friends probably knew the contrast between work days and weekends when we had the bookstore in Big Stone Gap, but when we moved here to Wytheville our routines changed. I finally really retired and Wendy worked much more from home. So our new ‘brood’ only recognized this new regime for us which likely won’t seem to change much from day to day for them.

Oh that it was as simple for us –

We are usually pretty social and sociable types, but now there are no weekends away, no shared meals with friends, no unannounced droppings in. Days tend to be much the same regardless whether it’s a weekday or a weekend. We do pay more attention to our neighbors than before but always while observing social distancing and our careful quarantine rules. I suspect that our pets see little difference for now, while we are beginning to get a bit ‘stir crazy’. It’s beginning to dawn on me that we won’t be going back to ‘normal’ for a long time, if ever.

Perhaps we can learn something from our animal friends?

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Filed under animal rescue, between books, Big Stone Gap, Life reflections, small town USA, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch

As Others See Us

Jack hits the ground running – – –

I’ve often pondered on what we mean by ‘normal’ – normal behavior, normal lifestyle, normal ideas.

upside-down-united-kingdom-map-full

When Wendy was teaching Cultural Geography in a classroom instead of on-line she would occasionally have me in to guest lecture on Scottish culture. I would always read the textbook beforehand and was struck by something. The book was always written from a Western point of view and I got to wondering how a textbook written from an African or Oriental angle would compare.

My view of the world comes from a European perspective, whereas Wendy’s is American and although we obviously share a similar worldview, we’ve both had to make adjustments over the years.

A friend recently posted Maslow’s hierarchy of needs on Facebook and it reminded me of something I read by C S Lewis – maybe in Mere Christianity. He said, and I defer to his scholarship, that everyone in the world, regardless of religion, had the same sense of right and wrong, good and bad.

If we think of something like Maslow’s pyramid with the shared sense of good and bad at the base and a completely formed worldview at the top, then somewhere between the two is where the difference sets in.

Perhaps the answer to this conundrum is to start lower down the pyramid where the shared perspectives are more evident. That way maybe an African student can avoid seeing a European country as an ex-colonizer and a US student can question whether their form of freedom and democracy is the only kind.

There’s a very rich and varied mélange of ‘normals’ out there and I’ve been very lucky in my life to sample many more than the average person. My message? Read widely, travel widely and reach out.

The map at the top is of the British Isles viewed from the North instead of from the South – a good exercise in seeing your world from a different angle!

Interestingly – there are two countries, a Principality and a Province making up the United Kingdom – how many do you see shown?

 

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