Tag Archives: happy marriages

Couples in Triplicate

couples-blogJack and I joined two other couples for a weekend in Asheville, to celebrate the end of 2016 (which has been a real mixed bag for all of us) and the wine-and-laughter-soaked start of 2017 with its blank calendar squares of hope.

It is fun to watch three couples interact with others while being their two-unit selves. You have the individual; you have the couple; and you have the team. Sometimes the difference between any of these borders is blurry; at other times they can be uncomfortably non-opaque.

One person forgot essential meds; another dropped a bag that held a bottle of hard-to-get wine, shattering it and soaking some rather delicate Christmas gifts in alcohol – sadly, not an improvement in this case. Spouses tend to be harder on internal errors than anyone else, yet protective of those who make them. It is okay for one of two to say “you idiot,” but not anyone else. Not that anyone else would, you know, because what makes us exhausted inside couples is no big deal outside. It’s all new; it’s all good.

There’s a quote about marriage that says partners are like the blades in scissors, always moving separately and even in different directions, yet always working together and quite capable of punishing anything that comes between them. I think of that quote often watching sets of two:one interact with larger numbers.

Perhaps it’s like reversing those long algebra equations where you’re meant to prioritize the relationships inside the brackets first; fail that, and your mathematical answer will be wrong. But in human interaction, outside the brackets we add up grace, empathy, and laughing first, so that the sum of the parts becomes simple and fun and gestalt. Inside the brackets where the math can be tighter and more complex, maybe you’re tired of talking it over, had it with being the spouse who looks after things. But as you walk down the street in your big group of giggling friends, your spouse reaches for your hand, or tuck yours into the crook of his arm, and the rest dissolves. It’s all right.

Because marriages, like friendship weekends at New Year’s, celebrate not just the hopes to come, but the good and bad past memories that shaped the brackets you live in and made you the happy two:one you are.

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

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—-

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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 New Bookshelf

DSCN0255I came home from a trip to Richmond with a new bookshelf. It’s one of the hazards of having a happy, quiet(ish) life. When I head back from a Power Trip, I usually cut over on the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of those glorious yet underused scenic highways that dots America. It diagonals the two worst sections of the Interstate-cum-parking lots I would otherwise have to take, and it’s just good for the soul to slow down and watch layer on layer of blue mountains unfold in front of you. Restores balance and perspective, y’know? Plus, when you get back off the Parkway at Buena Vista, there’s a really cool Habitat for Humanity Resale Store right there by the gas station.

Hey, peace comes in many forms. Don’t judge me.

At the store they had a few bookshelves. There are never very many, and most are flat pack pressed sawdust made into wood, but they had kind of a cool one, cheap stuff, yet made in squares rather than shelves, three cubbies high and four cubbies long.

My mind flew to our under-organized children’s area, and how adorable this 3×4 stack of connected boxes would look filled with board books and Little Golden Books….

Spatial orientation has never been my strong point. I liberated the shelf, then discovered it would have to be taken back to its flat pack state to travel on with me. No problem; those nice guys doing community service took it apart, but broke it in the process.

Instant discount, and I have wood glue: no problem.

Unloading it on the bookstore front porch in 12 pieces: no problem.

Explaining to husband that it was too good a deal to pass up and the fact that we truly no longer have a place in the bookstore to put it was negated by how cheap it was: slight problem. He kinda seemed stuck on that spacing issue. Guys.

All morning from the mystery room I’ve heard hammering and things falling and an electric drill whirring, plus the occasional curse word. Once our staff cats Nike and Hadley raced from that door with looks of pure terror on their faces. The children’s room is off the mystery room, plus there’s a closet in there where I store yarn sometimes. I look forward to seeing where my genius husband puts my brilliant bargain purchase, but I’m not going in there until he comes out without the drill.

Ain’t life grand? :]

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

Hame, Sweet Hame…

Jack’s back! And so is his weekly Wednesday blog post.

East, West, hame’s best! (That’s “home” fer those amang ye wha’ cannae speak Scots.)

Ah, but which hame?

Avid readers will know that I take a group of Scotophiles over to the old country every June. This year was the sixth such trip and it was as enjoyable as ever – a lovely group of seven folk (should have been eight but one had to call off at the last minute for health reasons). We were carried all round Scotland and the North East corner of Ireland in the trusty seventeen seat bus driven by our equally trusty driver and co-guide Colin Stuart, meeting such talented and interesting people as Liz Weir, Pete Clark, Jock Duncan, Doli McLennan, Robin Morton and Alison Kinnaird. (Look ’em up; you’ll be glad you did!)

I always go a few days early to stay with Colin just outside my hometown, Dunfermline, but every year when I drive through the place I find they’ve added another roundabout and another couple of traffic lights – it’s a complete nightmare. Buildings that were much loved landmarks have disappeared. In other words, it’s not my home any more.

Meanwhile, back in Big Stone Gap, Wendy waits quietly until I depart before organizing all our friends into a work-crew and completely re-organizing the bookstore. I get hints via email and blog posts, but it never really prepares me. I may not come back to new roundabouts and traffic lights, but shelves have danced ’round about to new positions, she does a lot of traffic with yard sales, chairs have descended the stairs, and half our furniture is waiting patiently in the basement until I complete the work down there.

In other words, it’s not my home any more….

But you see what I said there? I mentioned friends – on both sides of the Atlantic. Ah – now friends are a lot more important than roundabouts, traffic lights, buildings and furniture. So I still have two hames, in the East and the West, and will have as long as I have friends there.

Then there’s that special friend who waits ’til I’ve gone before re-organizing the bookstore. Wherever she is, is truly hame!

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Filed under Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, humor, Life reflections, Scotland

My Boyfriend’s Back….

Jack came home Saturday afternoon, after the usual hoopla with United flights that just can’t fly on time. He flung himself onto the bed and made up for lost time.

Oh, wait, that reads funny. What I mean to say is, he took a nap.

When the Kraken awoke, I gave him an orientation tour of the new, improved bookstore. He was actually pretty impressed. “You moved all this stuff yourself?”

We get by with a little help from our friends. Thanks, Wes, Rachael and Elizabeth, who gave me shelf screwing, board sanding, and book shifting support, respectively. And Jennifer and Leroy who offered food and electric wiring assistance. And Mark, who brought milk, and Ben, who hefted books, and the rest of the gang who did untold things so Jack wouldn’t have to when he got home.

And then we got right back into our routines. He’d been home about three hours when night fell, and we both did our usual hop onto the Net, this time tucked up in the new cozy chairs that face one another in the bookshop’s front room. Funny how, when you’re social networking with friends, the fact that your husband is sitting three feet away catching up on blogs he follows raises the quality of the talking you’re not doing. It’s just nicer. Cozier. A safe and happy place in a crazy world.

On Sunday we also we got right back into “here’s what needs to be done in the shop today,” relocating a few final shelves and cleaning the downstairs underfloor in prep for the hardwood going down, but you know, when your beloved is next to you, it really doesn’t matter if you’re saying, “I love you madly, passionately, deeply. Come here and kiss me, you romantic fool!” or “D’ya think bamboo flooring would be best here? It’s got a great consumer reports rating.”

‘Cause it’s him. And he’s here. And we’re happy.

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Filed under Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, folklore and ethnography, humor, Life reflections, small town USA, Uncategorized