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Retirement, my Arse

Jack’s guest blog on the loneliness of the overworked bookseller

When I joke about there being no such thing as retirement I mostly am really just joking. Except this week…..

We’d only just got through getting Wendy’s new book into a formal proposal and out the door (a process that involves Wendy disappearing into the basement for hours on end while I cope with a list of chores not limited to but dominated by laundry, food services, bookstore management, and dog/cat care) when it was straight into the Celtic Festival with all its associated hair-tearing last minute complications. (Our favorite “least favorite” festival moment: 10:45 a.m. I go out to start my little red ’62 MG to carry Lady Big Stone in the parade, and the engine won’t turn over. Started at 11:02 for the 11:15 parade. I’m too old for that kind of excitement.)

I will add that Big Stone Celtic this year surpassed itself: lovely attendance, lovely weather, lovely performers, lovely vendors, lovely feel to the whole two days. It was delightful.

The day after that loveliness, all the signs and banners had to be taken down and stowed. One of the reasons we had such good attendance is that our friend Elissa headed up publicity; she thought of places to put those signs and banners that defy description.

On Monday we basked in the glow of photographs and comments on the Big Stone Celtic Day’s facebook page, and on the bookstore’s. We must have basked for twenty full minutes before it was time to turn our attention to the SECOND STORY CAFE–opening Oct. 8–and the health inspector’s visit to approve it. Bruce, the inspector, is coming tomorrow, but Rick, the heat and air guy, is still installing the new heat pump in the attic: estimated completion Friday.

Oh, and our friend Gayle Ross will be telling at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesboro, so she’s coming up to do a house concert on Monday, Oct. 7. Quick and intensive advertising to be done.

Surely there can’t be anything else?

Well, we decided to empty the ‘love shack’ and shift all the romances from there into the shop since it’s not a great space for retail in winter. We’re creating a couches-and-coffee room upstairs next door to the main dining room, lining its walls with shelves, and bringing up the classics and poetry; the romances will go where those used to be on the bookshop’s main floor. Unfortunately, we can’t move them yet because first the kitchen has to be ready for Bruce to inspect Thursday and then the room clear for Rick on Friday and then Saturday we’re moving the couches into the coffee shop room so I’ve got to get the shelves built soon.

Did I mention that Adrianna Trigiani’s novel about Big Stone Gap is being filmed here in town starting in two weeks? One of the film crew was in yesterday asking if the restaurant would open while they’re here. I said, “God knows, because I’ve got to put a bathroom in our basement this month or Wendy will kill me.” (We moved into our basement to clear space for the cafe, but women’s bladders are small and my wife has grown tired of making the midnight trek to the toilet one flight up.)

What was that dear? Shelves? What shelves?

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Filed under Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, crafting, folklore and ethnography, humor, Life reflections, publishing, small town USA, VA, writing

My Boyfriend’s Back….

Jack came home Saturday afternoon, after the usual hoopla with United flights that just can’t fly on time. He flung himself onto the bed and made up for lost time.

Oh, wait, that reads funny. What I mean to say is, he took a nap.

When the Kraken awoke, I gave him an orientation tour of the new, improved bookstore. He was actually pretty impressed. “You moved all this stuff yourself?”

We get by with a little help from our friends. Thanks, Wes, Rachael and Elizabeth, who gave me shelf screwing, board sanding, and book shifting support, respectively. And Jennifer and Leroy who offered food and electric wiring assistance. And Mark, who brought milk, and Ben, who hefted books, and the rest of the gang who did untold things so Jack wouldn’t have to when he got home.

And then we got right back into our routines. He’d been home about three hours when night fell, and we both did our usual hop onto the Net, this time tucked up in the new cozy chairs that face one another in the bookshop’s front room. Funny how, when you’re social networking with friends, the fact that your husband is sitting three feet away catching up on blogs he follows raises the quality of the talking you’re not doing. It’s just nicer. Cozier. A safe and happy place in a crazy world.

On Sunday we also we got right back into “here’s what needs to be done in the shop today,” relocating a few final shelves and cleaning the downstairs underfloor in prep for the hardwood going down, but you know, when your beloved is next to you, it really doesn’t matter if you’re saying, “I love you madly, passionately, deeply. Come here and kiss me, you romantic fool!” or “D’ya think bamboo flooring would be best here? It’s got a great consumer reports rating.”

‘Cause it’s him. And he’s here. And we’re happy.

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Filed under Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, folklore and ethnography, humor, Life reflections, small town USA, Uncategorized

An Arrangement

When Jack goes to Scotland, I get to rearrange the house and implement exciting new plans for the bookstore. That’s the deal.

It is “An Arrangement.”

So while Jack has been whooping it up with ten new friends along his home turf’s west coast, visiting the grave of Elvis in Rosslyn Chapel and Robert the Bruce in Dunfermline Abbey, I have, with the aid of a few trusted friends, been moving bookshelves. And tables. And chairs. And a few other things. We’re expanding our cafe to be on the bookshop’s second floor, along with an “events room.” Thus downstairs needed reconfiguring.

Behold the bookstore’s new front room:

downstairschairs 2pissed off catschairs 3

So far, it has a high approval rating for comfort and convenience:

approval

For those of you who haven’t physically visited, here’s what it looked like before:

IMG_3407IMG_3066valkyttieThat table just tended to attract clutter. In a bookstore, any horizontal cleared surface is prime real estate, and given how bad Jack and I are at tidiness, well, just be glad the leftover laundry was a sock.

Drop in and see the new place when you’re in the neighborhood. The chairs are comfy and arranged for cozy chatting. Incidentally, I have four days left before Jack returns, and could really use a sander and a backhoe, if anyone has either?

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Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, humor, shopsitting, small town USA, Uncategorized