Category Archives: writing

The Best Laid Schemes – –

Jack is a late as usual – – –

The best laid schemes of mice and men gang aft agley –

But sometimes they gloriously surpass your hopes!

Wendy said to me a couple of weeks ago – “we’ve always held a Burns Night every year around January 25th but we can’t do it in person because of the Covid 19 lock-down. Let’s do it on-line on Zoom”. I’ve experienced a few Zoom meetings and know what can go wrong, so I was dubious.

But nothing ventured, nothing gained, so she started an event page on Facebook for Monday the 25th and sent out invitations. To my horror forty eight folk signed up and another thirty said they might!

So we set out to make a program and invited some friends to deliver the toasts and the ‘Immortal Memory’, and perform songs, stories and music. Even when we did socially un-distanced versions in previous years, we never quite knew how our invited presenters would ‘step up to the plate’. But this time was a real step into the void.

Then Wendy experienced a series of issues on FaceBook, probably based on their inability to translate her latest book on conspiracy theories being commented on so often – the book is doing very well these days– and decided to remove herself. Yikes! That meant all her instructions to people on how to log into the event disappeared!

I stepped in and posted the words of songs and traditional menus, inviting folk to prepare food for the evening and to join in the songs (muted of course) and the day got nearer. And Wendy went back to Facebook, just for the night, and had no trouble from Qadherents bombing her.

We had people joining us from the West to the East of the US, from Newfoundland, from Ireland and from Scotland. For us it started at 7pm, while for Aileen in Scotland and Liz in Ireland it was Midnight. As we approached the start my heart was in my mouth – so many things could go wrong. But our friend Liz in Ireland had been doing a similar event for months every Saturday and she agreed to help with the technicalities and Wendy was used to Zoom meetings – so –

The allotted time arrived and – – –

It was brilliant!

Very few glitches and all the invited performers were wonderful. Scot and Amy did the toast and response to the lasses, and it was ribald and raunchy and just what everyone needed, culminating in Amy’s toast “here’s to the men that we love, and here’s to the men that we—“ Ehm, we might need to draw the veil there.

John Bodner, Wendys co-author on the conspiracy theories book, gave a brilliantly sarcastic Immortal Memory, dissing the Bard “Rabbie who?” with wit and cynicism. His take on folksingers (if I had a hammer, there would be none) had people rolling in their Zoom room seats.

We had multiple appreciative notes from people the next day, saying what we all felt: It was just the stress buster we needed.

Stay tuned; we will be holding a DREADFUL DATE event in February: stories of love gone horribly wrong….. heh heh heh.


Filed under between books, Big Stone Gap, folklore and ethnography, humor, Life reflections, Scotland, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch, writing

The Monday Dog Encounter

So instead of a book to read, let me tell you the story of fetching such a book. I walked about a mile over to the house of a woman I had just interviewed for my next book. Rachel is a past or present board member of several initiatives working on poverty and affordable housing in Wytheville and environs. She offered to loan me a book called Hand to Mouth by Linda Tirado, as part of my research.

Writing is a noble profession, but it does tend to make one gain weight if not careful, so I welcomed the opportunity to stretch my legs and let my mind lie fallow a wee while. A warm coat, stout boots, and off I went.

About 2/3 of the way to Rachel’s house, a pit bull came rushing down the upper porch stairs of a big old house and charged the chain link fence between me and him, barking madly.

I turned. “Awww, sweet boy, don’t you look just like my Bruce at home?”

He looked confused.

“And who’s a good boy then, defending Mummy and Daddy’s property and all that? Aren’t you a clever sweet thing, snuffly wuffly baby?”

If there is anything more demeaning to a guard dog than being called snuffly wuffly baby, I have not yet discovered it. He sat down and gave me side-eye.

“Bye now sweet boy!” I waved and continued my slow puff up the hill.

On the way back down, book in hand, I looked for my new canine buddy. Nowhere to be seen, until I checked the high porch. One doggie eye peered between slats on the rail.

Guess he doesn’t want to play anymore. That was my first thought, and then, Oh, I get it. He’s going to wait until I am almost past and then rush the corner of the yard barking really loud to make me jump. That way he can get his dignity back.

Sure enough, two steps past the final fence post, here he came, roaring and frothing fit to burst.

“Oh doggiewoggie bowwowser snookie pookums,” I said, in my best purr. “You are so clever wever, aren’t you snooshie wooshie baby boy?”

His shoulders slumped. He turned and started for the porch. I turned back to my journey, but when I glanced over my shoulder, he was doing the same, regarding me with a kind of curious reproach in his eyes.

Lissen son, 2020 is almost over and then you can get your groove back, ‘kay? For now, accept pookie snookums good boy as the compliment it is. None of the other neighborhood dogs heard. You’ll be fine.


Filed under animal rescue, humor, Life reflections, Wendy Welch, writing