The Shelves his Dad Built

birch shelfSince our bookstore is in a 113-year-old house that has been a) a doctor’s office b) a boarding house c) a funeral parlor (yes, really) and d) a private home before it became e) The Little Bookstore of Big Stone, we’re used to people coming in and saying “Oh, my room was here,” or “I remember Dr. Taylor’s son” etc.

But the other day a nice couple came in for browse-and-lunch, and the husband’s eyes fell on a set of shelves we’ve had about five years, donated by someone at some point. He touched the shelves with a strange look on his face before going up to eat.

When they came back down, the guy went straight for the shelves, which hold local writers and Appalachian Fiction. He wasn’t looking at the books but touching the shelves. Nay, stroking them. There is no other word for it, like an animal lover pets a cat, he was patting the shelves.

He asked, not taking his eye from the wood, “Where’d you get these?”

I wasn’t sure, but told him all the shelves that weren’t handmade by my husband had been either donated by the local preschool director when she retired, given us by other friends, or bought in yard sales.

“These are from HeadStart,” he said. “My dad made them.” He then launched into his story: back when HeadStart was the program du jour to “save Appalachia from itself” money poured in. This man’s father, a carpenter by trade, had been given $100K to make furniture for all the local HeadStarts, to specifications required for small children. (Believe me, as a chair caner, I’ve sold a lot of antique chairs to preschool programs because they have lower seats than modern chairs.)

“He made them out of birch,” the gentleman continued, a smile made of memory on his face as he stroked the wood. “You don’t see that nowadays, shelves made out of particle board and crap. This is real craftsmanship. I’m glad to see they’re still being used. Ain’t seen any in a long time.”

There’s something so sweet about a house full of stories sliding around in time.

a close-up of the wood (plus kitten)

a close-up of the wood (plus kitten)


I always knew our books were portals for people to enter other worlds, but it’s great to know our furniture is, too.


The Monday Book: PARALLEL UNIVERSES by Fred Alan Wolf

Jack actually read this and kept tapping me in bed to share interesting bits, so I feel as though I’ve read it. Here is why Jack liked it:

The book is saying that Newtonian physics basically were accepted as the only way to see the universe until the early 1900s, but the trouble is that as it became possible to, if not observe, then imagine or understand the smallest particles that one finds even inside atoms, there were anomalies in the Newtonian system that couldn’t be explained by those rules. So a number of people independently started developing quantum physics. Although quantum did explain the anomalies within the Newtonian view, they provoked new anomalies within the quantum system!


Researchers working independently realized that the process of measuring and studying the particles actually effected the particles, changing their behavior. It’s that Schrodinger’s cat thing. So the act of measuring changes the measurement. And this has led to the theory of parallel universes. In other words, an infinite number of universes are probable, each with a slight change that takes it into an infinite number of different possibilities. (Think that original Star Trek episode where the transporter malfunctions and they wind up in a weird Enterprise that turns out to be in an alternate universe, aka where Spock has a beard. Or that movie Sliding Doors.)

Because you’re observing the universe that you’re in and only that universe, that becomes for you the one and only universe.


you are schizophrenic, or suffering from other behavioral disorders. The author suggests that what people in some conditions are experiencing is the actual observation or collision of that other universe. When people with “disorders” are seeing things other people don’t see or hearing voices or watching shadows or scared of something that hasn’t happened in history, they’re actually seeing for real what the rest of us can’t see.

Taking this a stage further, all these quantum theories suggest that there is a dimensional link between time and matter. This explains things like black holes and tesseracts and time bending. Thus in the same way that you can look back in time and see history, the future can also affect your present. You’re at a point on the continuum that has both ends all played out, but put that word predestination out of your mind, because both ends have infinite possibilities; you just can’t see the historical ones because you’re inside one of them. Got that?

So what you experience as the present is an immeasurable small piece of all the possibilities that have been and could be. And the future has an effect on the present, but we can’t see it inside the universe we’re currently riding inside.

Now keep in mind that this book was published in 1988, so there may be new stuff out there, but this book reads well. It’s a serious read, but it has lovely humor and references to pop culture and the guy writes well. So even if it’s not narrative, it flows well.