Category Archives: humor

On the Road Again – –

Jack’s Wednesday guest post is on Thursday again – yawn – – –

One of the highlights of the tour I organize on odd-numbered years is the visit to Ballyeman Barn in Beautiful Antrim and the home of our old friend Liz Weir. Despite the fact that she’d only just returned from the US the day before we arrived, she was the perfect host as usual.

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Liz always cooks us a superb dinner before opening up the room for an old fashioned ceilidh with stories, songs and music. She always invites some of her local friends to join us and the entertainment and ‘craic’ is mighty (as they say in Ireland).

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What I wasn’t prepared for this time was the arrival of an old colleague from my teaching career in Dunfermline. I vaguely knew that John O’Connor was Irish but I didn’t know that he was from Cushendall and that he’d returned there when he retired. Just down the road from Liz’s place.

liz 4

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Filed under between books, folklore and ethnography, humor, Life reflections, Scotland, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch

The Tuesday Book Sculptures

Sorry about yesterday, everyone. Traveling in rural areas of Scotland makes for spotty Internet. But all shall be forgiven, because I have now seen, in person, the Edinburgh Book Sculptures!

If anyone doesn’t know, I am a fanatic for these things. The backstory is best told on a different site, so I’ll just give you the basics here. In 2011, a mysterious little paper cut statue of a tree growing out of a book appeared in the Scottish Poetry Library. It was titled “Poetree” and had a tag honoring books, ideas, and words, thanking the library for existing.

Everyone thought that was nice, and then shortly a second statue appeared. And soon they were everywhere: the National Library, the Storytelling Centre, the Writer’s Museum, the Filmhouse, the Central lending library for Edinburgh, and the National Museum. Always celebrating words and ideas and thanking the institution (all of whom had free admission) for being there.

The sculptures gathered enough attention to have a book put out: GIFTED. And the best part is, once the sculptures gained international attention, it didn’t take the media long to figure out who had made the statues. And at her request, they withheld her name. So very British.

The other fun part about the sculptures is the books they are made from: the dinosaur from AC Doyle’s Lost World, the Hyde street scene from Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. And most of the rest from Ian Rankin novels (a great crime writer based in Edinburgh).

This is a random sampling of some of the statues, which I have now finally seen in person. Some of the venues were rather startled by my ardent worship, but I am a happy person.

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Filed under between books, book repair, book reviews, bookstore management, crafting, folklore and ethnography, humor, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, publishing, reading, Scotland, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch, writing

The Monday Book: FAREWELL SUMMER by Ray Bradbury

farewell-summer-ray-bradburyBradbury is one of my all-time favorite authors, even though he breaks all the rules of what I normally like to read.

He isn’t about character development or plot, and one of the reasons people have a hard time adapting his books to TV or Movies or Stage Plays (witness The Martian Chronicles and Something Wicked This Way Comes) is that not much happens. What does happen is subtle. I mean, think about it, humans land on Mars and the theme of Chronicles is how it makes humans feel and act to have done that.

When the wind blows in Bradbury’s books, it is action, event, and plot development. His winds don’t blow, they dance, sprinkle the dust of mummies into towns, awaken strangeness, extend foggy hands to pull you into graveyards and make you explore your dark side. They might even slap you off a cliff, but they never just blow. And yet, that’s all that happens for three chapters: Bradbury describes the effect of the wind on people – mostly young boys and those who would force them to return to school at the end of summer: the Evil Old Ones who battle for control of the clocks.

I don’t know any other authors who can write such mundane clichés with so much beauty and elegance, you go back and reread the sentences for the joy of them.

Farewell Summer is actually the sequel to a book I didn’t get into all that much of Bradbury’s, mostly because it was written so much from a boy’s perspective that it left no room for a girl to say “Hey, me too! I want more childhood and to be grown-up at the same time, too!”

But that’s fair enough. How can anyone stay feminist-annoyed at an author who writes such incredible openings as this one in Chapter 19:

Grandpa’s library was a fine dark place bricked with books, so anything could happen there and always did. All you had to do was pull a book from the shelf and open it and suddenly the dark was not so dark anymore.

Yes, okay, just give me some more sentences and let me slide under the spell of his poetry where nothing happens except the wind blows and school lets out for summer. It’s lovely.

 

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Filed under Big Stone Gap, book reviews, bookstore management, humor, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, publishing, reading, Scotland, Uncategorized, VA, writing, YA fiction

Checklist for going to Scotland…

stressJack and I are two days out from going to Scotland for his annual tour. This is the first year I’ve been able to go with him. So I’ve been getting my to-do-before-leaving list together, and thought you might like to see it:

  1. Crochet breast (a friend who had breast cancer discovered that a crocheted knocker could go swimming, and asked me to make her one. It’s taken a long time to get her measured for size, but I am determined this will be with her before I depart.)
  2. Sign house papers (we are selling our cabin in the Tennessee woods, and of course the papers arrived and had to be notarized)
  3. Scrub away that suspicious yellow stain behind the toilet (casting no aspersions on male bookstore guests, but if the plane goes down I don’t want people making snide comments about my housekeeping)
  4. Clean out the Prius (we were going to trade it in when we got back, and then a friend was looking for a car for his daughter, so what better time to sell your car than 48 hours before an international flight?) – Oh, and arrange transport to the airport.
  5. Make unicorn hair (my niece asked for a unicorn scarf for Christmas, and mailing it while in Scotland will be a lot cheaper, but I haven’t get the mane finished)
  6. Find a place to hold a conference for 96 doctors that includes enough hotel rooms, wifi, child-friendly activities, and gourmet level food (Oh curse you state park that lost our reservation made LAST SEPTEMBER- although it’s not all bad; they gave us a significant discount for next year. A VERY significant discount.)
  7. Tie up tomato plants (only six heirlooms remain of the 14 I planted, due to blackberry winter, dogwood spring, indian summer, tomato-killing fall–whatever you call that weather we had)
  8. Stop solving cat rescue problems (the other members of Appalachian Feline Friends have stepped forward to afford me this time away; I need to stop saying “if it were me, I’d” and thank them for the gift of awayness)
  9. Weed the front garden (oh who am I kidding? I don’t sodding care if we have crabgrass)
  10. Ignore pile of clean laundry (it will be here when I get back, and given the other stuff, it isn’t a priority. I have unicorn hair and a crocheted breast to finish.

We leave Sunday afternoon. A friend asked me “what are you looking forward to the most in Scotland” and I had to lie, because my first response was, “Not having any cell phone service.” Truth. Go by, mad world. Without me, please.

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

The Monday Hero

HH13I got Jack up early this morning, and we headed for Hazel House in order to catch the six vestal virgins (as we incorrectly call them; three of them have had litters) therein. I overturned furniture and explored new ways of stringing invectives before he cleverly used geometry to project the exact ricochet of the last capture-evading cat off the wall, straight into the waiting carrier.

I get home from a hard day’s adulting involving talks with a lawyer and other fun stuff to find that some jobs that volunteers were doing for Appalachian Feline Friends, didn’t get done. One of them not getting done has caused a rift with some very smart, very kind people. I am unhappy.

Jack reminds me that adulting is hard, and an organization made up of volunteers has to roll with the punches. He then tells me to go ahead and work on the lawyer-and-jobs things while he cleans the guest room–which is a nightmare because we’ve been storing everything we needed to get Out Of The Way for the past month up there. But now we need it because a friend is coming to town. A friend we’ve been looking forward to having with us for three months or more.

Then Jack comes downstairs and makes us supper. I rise from my computer blitzkrieg to eat, and then take leftovers out to the garage to freeze.

The garage is underwater.

Jack waded into the water, turned off the machine, got me to pull the breaker, and then found the problem. The hot water hose to the washing machine has broken. Since he was knee-deep in getting out information to those going on the Scottish trip, we agreed that tomorrow was another day. About ten minutes later, my long-suffering husband said, “I think I have the part I need for that….” left his computer and went back to the garage.

And fixed the washer by 8:30 pm.

Sod you, Monday. I have a superhero for a husband!

 

 

 

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

A Guy Walks into a Bookstore….

18921773_1618662488144809_1870777436861749913_nJack and I have often said that the best stories found at a bookstore are in the customers. This is Brandon. He came in looking for old books to decorate with. He’s renovating an old house and looking for book nook filler. Fair enough. We negotiated a cheap price for “filler books.”

But as we did, since his right hand was wrapped in bandages and looked about twice the size of the other, I commented that renovations must have taken a bad turn.

Brandon looked briefly sheepish.

“I have this motorbike,” he said.

“Biking accidents are the worst,” Jack offered in commiseration, and Brandon practically blushed.

“Here’s how it went down. I got caught in some pig gravel, and I had to lay the bike down, and I did it, textbook. So gentle, so easy, I didn’t even have road rash on my arms.”

(Translation, for those not in the biker world. Brandon unexpectedly hit loose gravel, swerved, and knew his bike was going to capsize. So he deliberately leaned over enough that the bike would fall in a semi-controlled way. Usually a falling bike will still drive forward a bit, scratching up the skin of the biker.)

“But I messed up my bike, really did a number on the body work, little dents and all, and I limped it back home and went back into the house to work on it some more. And I was so mad, I punched the wall in the basement.”

Where he’d been working to re-expose the solid oak beams that held up the old house.

“If I’d punched that stupid plaster board and paneling, everything would’ve been okay. But I went straight into a beam. Broke two of them little tarsel thingees.”

Surviving a bike accident to take it out on a wall has to be one of my new favorite customer stories. There’s just something so human about this.

 

 

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

Sansa Stark Issues a Dire Warning

rickon towelListen up, people. I am Sansa Stark, and my family and I have been treated most vilely. We came to this foster home believing they would be good to us, and at first I admit they were. Wet food, soft beds, a climbing tree, and we got lots of cuddles and shoulder rides. robb

Yes, thank you, but that doesn’t make up for what came next. One morning bright and early with no warning, that sweet-voiced lady who’s always cooing and carrying us around picked us up and deposited us without ceremony into a box. And closed us in there, and carried us off, despite our protests.

Next thing we know, we’re in this big bright space and dogs are barking and people are petting us and saying things like, “Bath time, babies!”

Bath? What is this thing you speak of? We like petting, and their hands were nice so we didn’t think anything about it until…..

rickonWATER! WATER EVERYWHERE! I watched in horror as someone picked up my baby brother Rickon and set him under a little waterfall. He yelled for help, but there was nothing we could do except watch as they cruelly applied a foul blue gel that foamed and bubbled like a witch’s spell, and then thrust him back under the waterfall, again and again.

Truth be told, I had thought Rickon was black and brown. I didn’t expect him to be so white.

Anyway, no sooner had his cries subsided when they reached for me….

I will be avenged. Do you hear me? I will wreak such havoc as has never been known in this kingdom or the next…..

sansaWe would like to be adopted now, please. Obviously this is not a place we can trust. I will reward handsomely the first person to rescue any of us. Me first, of course.

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Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, humor, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, post-apocalypse fiction, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch