Tag Archives: Tales of the Lonesome Pine

Memory Lane

In Jack’s guest post he re-visits his earlier profession –

In the dim and distant past, when I left high school, I began serving my five-year long apprenticeship as a painter and decorator. I went on to work in that trade for many years, eventually teaching the skills in the local college where I had attended part-time as an apprentice. I look back on those days with fond memories and I’m still occasionally reminded of the satisfaction to be had from practicing a set of specialist skills competently.

So to this past weekend; after almost ten years, it was time to re-decorate what had been our upstairs sitting room and is now the main café area. The cozy and warm chestnut colored wallpaper that suited our life-style really didn’t work for a café and the woodwork was getting grubby and worn.

As I proceeded to strip the old wallpaper and prepare everything the memories came flooding back. When it came time to paint the ceiling and woodwork I remembered teaching the students a whole variety of brush skills – knowing what made a good brush, learning to work left or right handed, knowing just how heavily to load the brush with paint, applying the paint without any spattering or misses or runs etc. All this makes it easier, very satisfying and truly rewarding!

Hanging wallpaper is a different kind of challenge and not helped by the almost universal availability of the ‘ready-pasted’ kind. I really, really hate ready-pasted papers with a vengeance. If you use them as directed, you end up with water all over the floor and there’s never enough ‘slip’ to position the paper to match the pattern. So I just paste them anyway! But now it’s hard to find regular common or garden paste any more. So, for the first time in over fifty years I mixed a bucket of flour paste and got it right first time (something I took a while to learn as an apprentice).

As I only had a two-day window of time to complete the work, our good friend David drove over from NC and once again stepped into the breach and became my ‘apprentice’ for the weekend.

Our ‘best-of-the-best’ café manager and chef, Kelley, had popped in from time to time as the work progressed and her broad smile again brought back memories of satisfied customers. I finally made a point of checking with her customers as they sat down to lunch yesterday and they looked up just long enough from the best home-cooking in Wise County to give universal approval!

Enjoy the pictures and tell me what you think –

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Filed under bookstore management, home improvements, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch

Give Peace a Chance

In this week’s guest post Jack reflects on recent events –

Back in the 1990s I used to manage transnational environmental education projects in partnership with other colleges and universities around Europe producing shared learning materials. Over the eight years or so that this work continued I visited Brussels a number of times for conferences and meetings of my various partners. So the news of the bombings at Brussels airport and metro station yesterday seemed more personal than other similar atrocities in the past.

It’s tempting in the face of such events to opt for two approaches – batten down the hatches and go nowhere, or call for an even more extreme military crackdown.

In my opinion neither of them are very sensible –

Despite the media hype (which rarely headline similar atrocities on Muslim populations by the same small minority), the chances of being caught up in this kind of attack are infinitesimally low; and the military strategy inevitably involves killing a great many innocent people and simply reinforces the perception among Muslims generally that they are subject to a new ‘crusade’. The ill-advised adventures in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Chechnya are precisely what have led to the present position.

As a Quaker I believe very strongly in non-violent and peaceful solutions to conflict. The proof that this approach can work is to be found in Northern Ireland where my good friend, storyteller Liz Weir, worked tirelessly with others to bring the two sides together through shared culture. Eventually a dialogue was initiated which resulted in the ‘Good Friday Agreement’, something which was largely satisfactory to both sides. Many hundreds of deaths over many years failed to bring about the resolution that patient discussion and openness to dialogue did achieve.

I’ve observed that most conflicts around the world have eventually had to be resolved in the end by two sides sitting down and talking. I believe this will happen in this current situation eventually as well and I’d prefer it to be sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile, my heart goes out to the folk who were caught up in the events in Brussels yesterday as well as in Istanbul, Ankara and Yemen in the last couple of weeks.


Filed under Life reflections, Uncategorized