Tag Archives: husbands and wives

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

Half a League, Half a League – – –

jackWhen Wendy and I first met she asked me if I liked walking. “Of course!” I lied. I was smitten and would have said anything.

Ever since, when given the option, she will walk rather than take a bus or taxi when we’re out of town on book or health business. Her preferred enticement for me to join her in this activity is to find an Indian restaurant nearby, knowing I love a curry dinner above most things in life.

“It’s only half a mile” is the usual precursor – –

On pretty much every occasion, however, the ‘half a mile’ turns out to be considerably more. I have learned to ask “a Wendy half-mile or a standard half-mile?”

It’s sometimes been necessary to cross busy highways, garnering strange looks from car drivers who are obviously wondering who these idiots are clamboring over guardrails. Sometimes the Indian place is no longer there, or it’s become a Mexican eatery, or it’s not open for another two hours – or it’s not open on Sundays.

That’s not the point, though – it’s all about the walk – – –

Yesterday we went to the Kennedy Center in DC to see ‘Evita,’ which involved a forty minute walk from the hotel to the Metro station. Because we had extra time, Wendy suggested a walk to the botanic gardens, which of course started with a twenty minute walk in the wrong direction. A suggestion from me that we avail ourselves of the shuttle from the wonderfully named Foggy Bottom station to the Center was grudgingly accepted, as was my later suggestion that we do the same in reverse going back.

Wendy always wins out in the end, though; she was saving the final ‘cherry on the cake’.

We still had a forty minute walk back to the hotel from the Metro.

The view was lovely, but my feet hurt.dc sunset

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Filed under humor, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, publishing, reading, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch, writing

Of Hookers, Husbands, and Wives

I like to crochet while minding the bookstore, and joined an online crochet forum a couple of months ago. It turned out not to be much fun. A few days in, people were fussing about announcements of imminent grandchildren “disguised as crochet posts with plans to make a stupid hat or something.”

jack hat afghanWhen I posted a pic of Jack wearing a needleworker’s bag on his head after a crochet-and-knit meeting at the bookstore, the message came from a list administrator that the pic had been removed and I should review the rules.

Everybody knows it’s hard to work with wool that’s too tightly wound—stuff stretches out of shape—so I got off the list. But a few days later someone (I don’t know who or how) joined me to a much bigger group, and over time they seem to be less apt to felt their fibers into itchy knicker twists.

What’s really fun about the list I’m on is how much husband-wife adorability comes up. A few weeks ago a woman went into false labor and was sent home from the hospital to “absolute and complete” bedrest. At seven months, she figured she’d be bored out of her mind, but when she reached the bed, her hubby had stacked on it several skeins of yarn, a five-pack of assorted hooks, and a boxed set of DVDs of her favorite TV show, seasons 1-5.

Now that’ s manning up, ladies and gentlemen.

Another lady’s husband got hurt on the job and has a six months recovery to endure. Depression set in and she despaired. His second week at home, he picked up one of her hooks and some yarn (which she needed for a work in progress). She kept her mouth shut and watched him produce the world’s most lopsided dishcloth, which she told him was perfect; she then photographed it and slammed the thing up on the list with a brief backstory. List members cheered his bad edgings and suggested projects, and several posted pictures of manly men crocheting. He’s about halfway through a very nice granny square afghan, after asking his wife a few days ago, “Hey, how do you change colors?”

A woman’s husband woke her Saturday past with a “get your crap out of the living room today; I’m tired of looking at it.” She gave him a baleful stare and went to see what on earth he was talking about, since she considered the living room “his mancave”—and found he’d paid $230 at an estate sale for about a ton of yarn and several boxes of hooks.

Husbands can be very sweet. So can crochet lists, if you find one where a little humanity keeps the edges in line.chickens

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Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, blue funks, bookstore management, crafting, humor, Life reflections, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA

I Think you Owe Me ….

Jack guest blogs today!

Wendy and I left our hotel room in St. Louis on Friday afternoon to visit a nearby Indian restaurant she had managed to locate as a special treat for me. My wife isn’t the world’s biggest Indian food fan, but I am, and she loves me and wants me to be happy, and there aren’t a lot of Indian restaurants in Southwest Virginia, so she seeks them out when we travel.

At the room beside ours stood a slightly harassed gentleman knocking timidly on the door. A loud female voice from inside said, “I think you owe me an apology!”

As Wendy and I passed, the man mumbled, “I’m sorry, honey” with obvious embarrassment.

We managed to keep our dignity until we were safely inside the elevator. Then we lost it – eyes streaming with uncontrolled laughter as we bounced up and down like kids who had heard an adult farting. What could have produced such a display? We created increasingly hilarious scenarios as we headed off gaily toward our Indian banquet–only a few miles distant and an easy navigate courtesy of a list emailed us by fellow bookstore owner Bruce Campbell, and John Cleese’s voice on our trusty GPS.

Of course, this was St. Louis – a big city! A big American city!! Which meant Wendy driving and me navigating. (We reverse this on the other side of the road – er, pond.)

Ah, the eternal bugbear of couples everywhere: communication, or lack thereof. As we careened in Friday afternoon rush-hour traffic across unfamiliar spaghetti junctions doing 70 mph, Wendy first requested, then demanded in increasing volume, advice on directions as I frantically tried to second guess what lay ’round the next corner and Basil Fawlty bellowed insults about signposts we had passed, turns we should have made.

Finally we screeched to a halt, terrified, sweating, and ready to give the whole thing up for a bad job, at the red light marking the intersection of the two major streets where the restaurant was supposed to be.

We missed seeing it the first time. A turnaround in a shopping plaza, a second pass – and we passed Saffron’s on the opposite corner of the crossroads we’d just turned right on. A few minutes later we passed it again and missed the rather small and hidden entrance. Then we passed it for the fourth time on the other side of the divided highway, meaning we had to go back through the crossroads and start all over again.

It took us twelve minutes to reach the place, fifteen to figure out how to get into it. All the while Wendy bellowed questions about one-way systems or whether a housing subdivision had a through street, and I shouted back my stock answer: “I don’t know!”

During the meal, I drank wine. Wendy’s hands shook as she poured herself water from the carafe.

The next day we navigated a five-highway junction, practically empty at 9 a.m. on a Saturday, and Wendy said, “Hey, isn’t this the intersection where I shouted at you?”

“You shouted at all of them,” I replied.

I’m sorry, honey….. and fellow traveler outside the hotel room, I feel your pain.

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Filed under humor, publishing, small town USA, writing

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

An Arrangement

When Jack goes to Scotland, I get to rearrange the house and implement exciting new plans for the bookstore. That’s the deal.

It is “An Arrangement.”

So while Jack has been whooping it up with ten new friends along his home turf’s west coast, visiting the grave of Elvis in Rosslyn Chapel and Robert the Bruce in Dunfermline Abbey, I have, with the aid of a few trusted friends, been moving bookshelves. And tables. And chairs. And a few other things. We’re expanding our cafe to be on the bookshop’s second floor, along with an “events room.” Thus downstairs needed reconfiguring.

Behold the bookstore’s new front room:

downstairschairs 2pissed off catschairs 3

So far, it has a high approval rating for comfort and convenience:

approval

For those of you who haven’t physically visited, here’s what it looked like before:

IMG_3407IMG_3066valkyttieThat table just tended to attract clutter. In a bookstore, any horizontal cleared surface is prime real estate, and given how bad Jack and I are at tidiness, well, just be glad the leftover laundry was a sock.

Drop in and see the new place when you’re in the neighborhood. The chairs are comfy and arranged for cozy chatting. Incidentally, I have four days left before Jack returns, and could really use a sander and a backhoe, if anyone has either?

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Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, humor, shopsitting, small town USA, Uncategorized