Tag Archives: good friends

Barn Raising, Bookshop Sitting, Oddball Friends, and All!

Jack’s weekly guest blog has a familiar musical refrain…..

i_get_by_with_a_little_help_from_my_friendsFriends and Neighbors –

We come from a region of the mountains known for its community spirit; think barn raising. And we have occasion to know that barn raisings are not dead, just mutated into other ways of helping each other. Our friend Witold, three blocks away, called Jack when he wanted to take down a tree. Elizabeth brought the baby goats over to be goatsitted for a weekend (and regular blog readers will remember the fun that produced).

Back when we started the bookstore we relied on our local oddball friends and champions to ‘mind the store’ on the odd times we had to be away. But that was usually only for a day or maybe two at any time.

That was also before ‘the Little Bookstore’ was published and turned our lives upside down. Almost immediately we had to find someone to look after the place for a month, and so the great ‘bookstore-sitter’ project began. To our great surprise it went viral – all over the internet as well as National newspapers, magazines and NPR. The wonderful Andrew Whalen was chosen out of nearly 200 applicants and was feted and fed by the aforementioned oddball friends and champions.

Since then we have continued to have occasions of being away for extended period, and continued numbers of equally wonderful and interesting folk staying in our guest room. They fall in love with our animals, our oddball friends and our town of Big Stone Gap. We look forward to Lisa Heins Vincent and her husband minding shop for a week in late April, and dissertation-writing Emily visiting this summer.

The trouble is that, amidst publicity and hoopla and longer visits from our much -appreciated longer shopsitters, the oddball friends and champions who live in town and give us a day here, a day there, tend to get overshadowed in their contribution to how this place runs.

Just yesterday our friend James spent a day looking after the bookstore, fielding phone calls, cash sales, credit card sales, book swaps for credit, inquiries about the cafe menu, etc., etc. In return he got lunch and the right to take any books he wanted off the shelf and go home with them. As I said to him “James – you know there’s no such thing as a – – – -”

So my day-late guest blog post this week (I couldn’t ask James to do that too) finishes with a belated toast: Please raise a glass to all our crazy, oddball, dedicated local friends and champions who have done even just one day’s duty in the bookstore – cheers, saludos, slainte etc. THANK YOU! When we talk about community spirit, we mean you.


Filed under Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, home improvements, humor, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, reading, shopsitting, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch

Special Ice, Special Moments, Special Friends

Some of the characters from Little Bookstore gathered last night to share birthday wishes for our friend Tony. Retired from a water-based Armed Forces career to become a Presbyterian Pastor,  Tony’s seen everything the world can throw. Twice.

But Tony and his wife Becky provided Jack and me with a new experience: artisanal ice.

Walking up to their house last night, we encountered William (of William and Isabel) who said they’d just returned from a trip to Wise (a town about 25 minutes away) to bring “the party ice” to Tony and Becky’s house.

I envisaged sculpture, perhaps a magnificent angel in pale lime sherbet, rising with outstretched wings from a punchbowl. Since it was snowing here, and the roads had that dangerous sheen of black ice, fetching “party ice” from so far away had to be a mission of intense importance.

Nah. They went to Sonic, because “Tony and Becky like the way the ice is all the same size and crushed round to fit in glasses.”

Uh…. okay. So we went to the party and had a lovely Italian meal with Sparkling Spritzers served over Specialty Ice.

And it was nice ice. But I blog about this moment because it’s how we roll, here in Big Stone. We do not question our friend’s need to have specialty ice for her husband’s birthday party; we procure it. (Isabel says they got hot dogs while waiting in line, so it was kind of a fun outing.)

Nor am I surprised that Isabel and Will braved the roads for Becky, because Becky has been there for all of us at least once. Back when Jack and I took our first vacation in five years, and a kitten got into the plumbing between our first and second floor, I called home to check progress and another friend reported, “All is well. Becky sat upstairs in your bathtub, meowing to the kitten with a tin of tuna, until it came out.”

A woman who does this for others gets party ice when she asks for it. And so the circle turns.

One of the chapter quotes in Little Bookstore is from Epicurus: “It is not so much our friends’ help that helps us as the confident knowledge that they will help us.”



Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, humor, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA