Tag Archives: creating community

A Little Help from our Friends

gutted buildingEvery year in September Jack and I trot happily off to emcee the Sycamore Shoals Celtic Festival in Tennessee. This year the chaos of getting away from a busy time at the shop and in my new book prep had us flying out the door Friday at 5 pm, shouting “and don’t forget to give Bert his pill” to Thom, the poor lad we’d sucked in at 10 that morning to shopsit the rest of the day. Since we’d be back Sunday and the animals have feeders and water jugs, and the yard is fenced, we weren’t worried. We got to our luxury hotel, bounced on the king sized sleigh bed a few times, and went out to grab an Indian meal.burning 2

When we awoke next morning to Facebook postings from home about the building downtown that had burned, you can imagine the luxuriated, lazy blood in my veins turning to jelly.

The building was a block away; no one was in it; all is as well as it can be. But I panicked, thinking about our three staff cats (one of whom resides by choice outside) two staff dogs (Bert the Terrier is terrified of loud noises) and three foster cats, sojourning with us until their forever families find them. Would Bert have dug under the fence to get away from an event so reminiscent of the dreaded thunderstorm? Would Beulah (outside greeter) be run over in the chaos of downtown fire traffic? Ernest Hemingway, our newest foster, landed with us Friday morning. He’d never even spent a night in our house; we took him straight from the shelter to have his balls cut off, thence home to abandon him for two days, and the firetrucks came. burning 1

(“Call this a rescue?” I could hear Ernie thinking. “Take me back to the shelter! I’ll take my chances!”)

So I did what any modern American woman panicking does: got on Facebook and begged our Saturday shopsitters Wes and Rachael to let me know as soon as they got there if everything was okay. And here’s what happened


Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, humor, Life reflections, Scotland, shopsitting, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA

Circles of Words

Jack and I are getting used to people making lunch reservations, or sometimes just showing up at the bookstore, saying they read the book and had to see the place live. At first, we were a little shy. Believe it or not, that outgoing Scotsman can be tongue-tied around large clumps of people. And me, I’m an introvert.

But there’s something very nice about people who want to see your place because they think it sounds “charming” or “sweet” or even “too good to be true,” or who just want to “meet those cats, Beulah and Val-Kyttie.” (Beulah likes meeting people; Val-Kyttie does not.)

So Jack and I set down a “soup, salad, shortbread and tea supper or lunch” menu and started taking reservations that include chatting, singing, browsing, help with other town attractions: whatever the visitors-to-be want. Mostly people come in book club groups, but we also get girlfriend posses.

Friday past, three couples ate with us and did some browsing, then went on to the outdoor drama of Trail of the Lonesome Pine. I never did figure how Pendy, Jill and Vernelle (and I’m sorry if I’ve butchered the name or spelling!) fit together as a reading group since they were all from different states, but they were a lot of fun. Unfortunately they were the ones taking all the pictures on the day; my new iPhone doubles as a camera, but I can never find the thing when it’s needed.

Vernelle made me a bracelet of tiny paper beads with words on them: a circle of words celebrating people brought together by words. Isn’t it pretty?

word bracelet Words bring circles of different kinds of people together. Saturday, the phone rang and a lady from Oregon made a reservation to meet us in October, when she’d be driving by on her way to the Atlantic coast.


On Sunday (when we aren’t open) I was straightening the porch when a car pulled up. It was Barbara–the lady who opened her own bookstore about 40 miles away, for those who’ve read Little Bookstore. Out with her mom and daughter for a drive, she just stopped to say hi. We chatted awhile, but as they were leaving another car pulled in.

“They open?” the woman called to Barbara, who turned to me, eyebrows raised.

“No, but come on in,” I shouted back, and the lady and her husband climbed the porch steps.

“I’m so glad you’re here,” she said. “My husband and I live in Cincinnati, and we were passing through for a family funeral, and when I saw how close we were gonna be,  I told him we had to just stop and see the place. I read your book by accident, and I just loved it. It was like you read my mind!”

Turns out she’d been trying to order a copy of the novel Big Stone Gap, but “all those things you said about small towns? Amen, sister!”

It’s fun, this people visiting thing. You just never know what’s gonna happen next.


Filed under Big Stone Gap, book reviews, bookstore management, crafting, humor, publishing, small town USA, Uncategorized, writing