Category Archives: Big Stone Gap

A Husband’s Work is Never Done….

clean-houseIt’s deja-vu all over again – –

Wendy often returns from vacation with, shall we say, bold ideas and extra energy. When she decided that half the furniture in the basement apartment needed to go three floors up to the guest room and vice-versa, I got that old sinking feeling. Combine that with the ritual culling of books from our personal stash and a chore becomes a nightmare!

We needed to reduce the number of books in our basement apartment as, despite our best efforts, they were beginning to draw dampness. No matter how often we do the book thinning thing, it never gets any easier., even though the rules don’t change: if they’re of sentimental value or are important reference sources, they stay; otherwise they go into the shop. (And of course Wendy and I each still try to sneak interlopers past the other.)

All of this reorganization has to be accomplished without messing up the cafe or the bookstore, so has to take place outside of opening hours. Meanwhile we continue to deal with incontinent kittens, ailing cats and shelter rescues that are just too far gone. (We lost two kittens this week, and the mom is in ICU with Saint Beth up the road.)

In a classic Wendy move, as we hauled bookshelves around via the back garden from the basement to the second story, we passed an old cookstove and some shelving I’d…. er, stashed out there a while back.

Okay, a year ago.

She was suitably outraged, and decided–as we walked past carrying a wooden book case, mind you–that it was also time to deal with the accumulated (and heavy) junk that had gathered at the side of the garage. But how to move it and where to take it? Wendy asked online, and five minutes later, enter Bob Pettry (the guy who got locked in the kids’ room and had to phone for rescue) with assorted young men. The stuff was gone the next day; score one for the team (and crowdsourcing on Facebook)!

In the middle of all this we paused to hold a ‘Pizza and Poetry’ event with local author and poet Rita Quillen. Working hard to appear calm, organized and relaxed to begin with, I found Rita’s poetry very quickly achieved that for me in reality. It was a great night.

And now, back to the book culling, furniture toting, and “yes dear”-ing of a husband’s life.

I wonder what Wendy is dreaming up next, and how much heavy lifting it will involve—-

2 Comments

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

The Monday Book: Death with all the Trimmings by Lucy Burdette

burdetteLucy mailed this book to me so I could blog it. I like cozy mysteries, and this one is food-based. It is set in Key West with her recurring detective Haley Snow, a food writer. Hayley has been assigned to interview Edel Waugh, chef/owner of Key West’s hottest new restaurant. But off the record, Edel reveals someone’s sabotaging her kitchen and asks Hayley to investigate.

It all goes downhill from there, with some funny bits about ex-husbands and love interests. This is a great beach read, seeing as it takes place over Christmas and at a beach. The dialogue is quick, the action straightforward and the humor cute. If you happen to be a foodie (I’m not) you will have extra special fun with some of the humor and descriptions. Since I was reading it on a plane while starving over their $8 cheese plate (two slices of cheddar and half an apple) some of the funnier bits may have been lost on me.

Context is everything.

Death with All the Trimmings is part of a series, and since there is some character development based on prior relationships, you may want to start at the beginning. Check out Lucy’s web page for the books in order: http://www.cozy-mystery.com/Lucy-Burdette.html

And have fun!

2 Comments

Filed under between books, Big Stone Gap, book reviews, bookstore management, humor, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, publishing, reading, Sarah Nelson, small town USA, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch, writing

Jack was Up Late Last Night: everything you wanted to know about Scottish politics but were afraid to ask….

In honor of the election held in the United Kingdom yesterday, Jack brings you this historic guest post…..

Scotland-independenceThere was an election yesterday in the UK (The United Kingdom – not the University of Kentucky) and many of our American friends have been asking me about it.

Although some eight parties ran, the UK parliamentary voting system pretty much ensures that elections are a ‘two horse race’. Either the Conservative Party or the Labour Party gets a majority; think Republicans and Democrats. All the seats are up for grabs; it’s as if we vote for all the state governors and the president at the same time, for a term of five years.

Scotland has 59 seats out of about 650 and historically most have gone to the Labour Party. In the early hours of this morning, however, everything changed. The Scottish National Party went from 6 seats to 56, while the Labour and Conservative parties ended up with one each, along with one for the small Liberal Democrat Party. Poor lonely souls; ♪ three is the loneliest number. ♪

Now remember, the United Kingdom is three small countries (Wales, Scotland and N. Ireland) joined at the hip to one big country: England. And England/Wales voted Conservative; if you think Scotland has it bad, Wales is actually counted as part of England even though it’s a separate country. Don’t ask; it’s confusing to those who live there too.

That forces two distinct and diametrically opposed political cultures to try and work together, the right wing Conservatives in England with most of the power plus the ability to always out-vote the Scottish members, while Scotland’s left-leaning SNP have little power at all–except the ability to call for a vote on Scottish Independence.

It’s obvious to everyone where a relationship that fraught that will lead…..

 

Last September there was a narrowly-defeated vote on Independence for Scotland. Pundits claim, and word of mouth also suggests, that the biggest reason for Scottish voters deciding to stay in the UK was a last minute promise by the party with the most Scottish seats then (Labour) of much more power for the Scottish Parliament. Which they pretty much ignored after Scotland voted to stay.

Yesterday, Scottish voters held Labour accountable for that; one pundit called it an “electoral firing squad.” So the result of yesterday’s election will, in my opinion and that of many political commentators, inevitably lead to another vote on Independence within five years. This makes me happy. And while I’ve never been a gambler, I’d put money on it passing this time!

 

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, Scotland, Wendy Welch

Happy Families

Jack’s weekly guest blog is on a happy subject this week: family reunions!

vickiMy niece Vicki and her daughter Elle are here for a week’s vacation from Aberdeenshire in Scotland, continuing in the footsteps of Scottish friends who have availed themselves of our guest-room over the last few years.

 

It’s always good fun introducing them to our friends, to the town and to the area. This time is a bit different, though because it’s family! When you are separated by thousands of miles from your family, then a visit like this is very special (when I do my annual Scotland tour I rarely have time for family visits).

vickiSince they’re only here for a week it’s been hard to decide what try to fit in, but we are definitely including a visit to a local drive-in movie theater and the famous tour of the coal camps and mining areas conducted by our good friend Gary. Last night we took them along the riverside greenbelt walkway as far as Johnny’s enigmatic carved faces in the trees bordering his camp ground. Right now they’re out discovering the magnificent Victorian mansions on Poplar Hill and the quirkiness of ‘Vintage on Main’ (our favorite local store).

There’s something very special about re-connecting with family and especially in these circumstances. Facebook is no competition with sharing the same space!

But the highlight of their visit will probably be Saturday night when some of our closest (and craziest) friends will gather for a ‘games night’ to play Cards against Humanity. These nights are always outstandingly funny and a great way to cut across cultural boundaries.

Unsurprisingly, Vicki had read ‘The Little Bookstore’ and said yesterday that one of the stories in it had particularly grabbed her. I thought she was going to talk about one of the stories of our odder customers but I’d forgotten about a family story in there. She meant the story about the death of my mother (her Grandmother). She was unprepared for it and found it very affecting.

So the bookstore, its story and the stories of the customers and friends who support it is now joined in the most concrete way possible to my family.

 

I couldn’t be happier!

Leave a comment

Filed under Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, publishing, Scotland, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, writing

The Monday Book: Hot Cripple by Hogan Gorman

This book is hysterical. It’s a righteous indictment of today’s fragmented health care system AND our “buy your way out of justice” justice system. But it’s also so very, very funny.

Hogan Gorman is a model who get hit by a car. And her life goes to hell in a handbasket. And she pretty much swears her way through it. One of my favorite parts was when she lists the best eight swear phrases to deal with excruciating pain, in descending order.

Not for the faint of heart, and not a “happy ending” book, if foul language bothers you, don’t read it. But this book is so very, very funny, and her crises are so very normal that you can’t help but feel like you’re there with her as she realizes she can’t get off the toilet, is going to eat nothing but rice and ketchup for three days, and meets a succession of civic employees ranging mostly from bad to worse.

This book is hysterical. An enthusiastic two crutches up.

1 Comment

Filed under Big Stone Gap, book reviews, humor, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, out of things to read, publishing, reading, Sarah Nelson, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch, what's on your bedside table, writing

Date a Girl who Reads by Rosemarie Urquico

Things have been a little pushed by deadlines this week, so I offer for the Friday blog (on this Sunday morning) some of my favorite words of wisdom by Rosemarie Urquico

girl who readsDate a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.
Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag.She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.
She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.
Buy her another cup of coffee.
Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.
It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.
She has to give it a shot somehow.
Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.
Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.
Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilightseries.
If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.
You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.
You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.
Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.
Or better yet, date a girl who writes.

4 Comments

Filed under Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, humor, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, out of things to read, publishing, reading, Sarah Nelson, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch, writing

Did you Rescue Bob Yet?

Jack’s weekly guest blog on the merry chaos of the bookshop….

grandpaThere’s absolutely no telling, when we wake up in the morning what the day in the bookstore holds in store (ha!).

Once we’d dealt with the obligatory phone call at 8 am from the guy who stumbled across a stray kitten while walking his dog, things seemed calm – until – – –

Regular customer Bob and his grandson came in to exchange books and use up some of his credit. Since he always heads for the ‘mystery room’ and the kids’ room lies beyond it, I warned them to close the mystery room door as we have a couple of older foster cats in there and we didn’t want our bookstore moggies messing with them.

They were in there a long time and I’d actually forgotten about them when the phone rang. It was Bob, whose grandson had managed to lock Bob in the kids’ room while remaining unsupervised in the mystery room. Both spent some time shouting to each other through the locked door trying to get the door unlocked, but to no avail. And the wee lad couldn’t manage to open our mystery room door and toddle out for help from me. Although he had his cell phone, Bob couldn’t remember the bookstore number, so he phoned his wife to get it, then phoned me to come and let him out.

Meanwhile his wife put out a plea on FaceBook to get her husband rescued. She messaged Wendy: “Did you rescue Bob yet?” Wendy saw the message and thought Bob was a kitten that needed fostering, so sent back, “Which one is he? We adopted out four Bobs this year.”

Thus began a completely different and erroneous wild goose chase, as Sylvia is allergic to cats and couldn’t figure why Wendy was trying to foist one on her when she needed her husband out of the kids’ room! While that was going on I rescued Bob and everyone had a good laugh–including the couple from Buffalo NY who made the trip down to get Wendy’s signature in their copy of ‘The Little Bookstore’.

Hey ho. another day, another adventure.

Leave a comment

Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, humor, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, small town USA, VA, Wendy Welch