Category Archives: VA

Sumer Is Icumen In

Jack feels guilty so the Wednesday guest post is on Wednesday – –

It’s the time of year to start thinking about planting and growing things again. We usually start with seeds inside in trays or plastic cups and that’s what we’re doing now with mostly tomatoes, but beginning to move on to peppers and other things.

We checked what needs to be started both before and after the last predicted frost and I made a ‘calendar box’ with compartments for each week. In each compartment we put the seed packets that are due for planting that week.

Since I hate gardening and have always considered it a Calvinist punishment for some past or future sinning, I have been designated management and Wendy is labor. So my job is to research what goes where in the garden and when it’s safe to transplant.

We have some black walnut trees and they produce a substance called Juglone which is toxic to particular plants, so this determines where we can plant certain things. An alternative is to construct raised beds with garden cloth and clean dirt and we will be doing that soon as well.

We had an additional corner of the backyard turned over by friends with a powered tiller a few weeks ago and that will give us more options. We need to keep our four chickens out of the growing areas so Wendy has made a fence round the tilled area and reinforced the existing fence round the inherited vegetable garden

Another job that Wendy has started is to make a chicken proof fence to keep them out of the yard area closest to our house and back deck. They are very friendly and when they hear our kitchen door open they come running and poop on the deck!

We learned a good few lessons last year and we’re hoping that things will be easier and more productive this time around.

Wish us luck – –

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

Jock, since ever I saw your Face – –

Jack is very late this week – – –

One of the good friends I made fairly late in both our lives was the wonderful Jock Duncan. He had been a singer all his life and steeped in the traditions of his native Aberdeenshire, but didn’t record anything until he was seventy years old. His repertoire of ballads and songs were very authentic and rooted in the soil of his land, but he continued to learn new songs written in traditional style

Jock had moved to Pitlochry in Perthshire, where I was hosting a monthly radio show that went out live in the 1990s. Each time I’d finish by asking Jock to put the kettle on. So, many of my radio guests were conducted down the ten minutes to Jock’s house where his wife Frances would set out an impeccable tea with biscuits.

Wendy sometimes went with me and on one occasion I did the usual ‘kettle, tea’ sign off and we headed down to Jock and Frances’ house. What we didn’t know was they’d been visiting their son in Aberfeldy and heard me on the car radio. We arrived to find them as usual with everything ready, but only found out later they’d arrived a few minutes before us! That was what they were – always thinking of others and how to make them welcome.

I remember when Duncan Williamson was my radio guest, taking him to meet Jock and they immediately respected each other as important in the folk revival, despite their very different approaches to the ballads. As usual Duncan was talking while Jock was listening.

Later, when I started doing small group tours of Scotland for Americans I’d make a point of taking them to meet Jock and Frances and though they hardly understood a word Jock said they were always charmed by him and the welcome they received.

RIP Jock – 1925-2021


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