Tag Archives: old houses

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

TA-DA!

Jack created our new downstairs bedroom pretty much from scratch. This is what it looked like before he started.

IMG_3508 With two rooms downstairs, he finished the big one for me as an office and yarn storage space. (There’s a blog called “His Square, White Heart” that describes that room, back a few months ago.) But then he began casting his eye on the second space….

How it was at the beginning.

How it was at the beginning.

Well, okay, so maybe I said something like, “What will we do with that smaller room at the back?” Anyway, the point is, he decided it would make a good bedroom. And it does. You can see how smart Jack was about finding all the crevices and getting the most storage space possible. For a hanging closet, we bought an old cedar wardrobe from our friends at Vintage on Main (a secondhand store a couple blocks up). The nice lady who worked there surprised me by putting in a couple of dresses she thought I’d like as a bonus!

So… behold Jack’s handiwork! (He and Bert decided to model for us.)

We used the high shelf behind the bed for shoes and winter blanket storage.

We used the high shelf behind the bed for shoes and winter blanket storage.

In a fit of what we modestly think of as genius, I realized all my wicker baskets that had stored yarn would be useful downstairs in the various crevices. We didn't have to spend money on new ways to store things!

In a fit of what we modestly think of as genius, I realized all my wicker baskets that had stored yarn would be useful downstairs in the various crevices. We didn’t have to spend money on new ways to store things! (You can see the original brick at the back of that chest storage area.)

bedroom 4

We bought those burlap-esque white containers, but we had all the wicker laundry baskets. Those hold our clothes and the white bits serve as the “I don’t have to justify why it’s here” junk pockets. I think this set of shelves was Jack’s greatest stroke of brilliance. The basement walls sloped heavily, with a kind of cement wattle at the bottom and brick at the top. The white wall shows how far in the wattle sloped, but Jack reclaimed the space at the top by installing this shelf.

So the Bookstore goes on above us, and Jack and I have a little hideaway where we can read and relax. Jack still has his office and studio for recording his radio programs on the second floor, and I have my writing retreat downstairs. Soon the SECOND STORY CAFE will open in our former living room, and our second story storage space will turn into a proper functioning kitchen. Life is good!

The little standing lamp next to the bed is one of the finds from Vintage on Main. It really works with the limited space because it overhands my one-foot-square bedside table and leaves me room to pile on BOOKS. (And the occasional kitten)

The little standing lamp next to the bed is one of the finds from Vintage on Main. It works well with the limited space because it overhangs my one-foot-square bedside table and leaves me room to pile on BOOKS (and the occasional kitten).

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Filed under animal rescue, crafting, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, writing

Honey Do – Right Now!

Jack’s weekly guest post

Husbands of a practical turn who live in old rambling houses will be very familiar with the ongoing list of tasks to be accomplished just to keep everything ship-shape, far less the more extensive jobs needed for renovations.

Some four years ago we applied for a license to serve food in the bookstore and this turned up the need for an additional sink in the kitchen area. Assembling all the needed plumbing requirements, I practiced a few essential curses, then set to with a will. Several bashed knuckles and contortions later, it was finished – – almost – –

A drawer unit had been where the new sink was installed, so now the space where the drawer had opened out had no room for the actual drawer. The obvious answer was to take the front off the drawer and fit it as a dummy over the space. Much easier said than done! Eventually a temporary fix was accomplished that worked so long as no one tried to open it. From then on we got used to the sound of the drawer front falling on the floor fairly regularly and I got used to adjusting the not very effective method of holding it in place.

My long-suffering wife regularly asked me to do something permanent about it and just as regularly I promised I would.

Last night was our weekly Needlework Night (AKA ‘Stitch N’ Bitch’)and as I passed briefly through the all female company I heard the familiar sound of the drawer front hitting the floor. Wendy appeared with an expression of determination on her face, saying “WILL you fix that thing properly?”

“Of course dear,” I said, and continued with what I was doing.

Shortly I heard a sound – rrriiipppp, it went – rrriiipppp again, and again. The needleworkers fell silent, eyes fixed on their work. I looked toward the sink area —

–where Wendy was just finishing putting the drawer front very inelegantly but quite firmly in its place. With brown packaging tape.

Maybe you'll fix the darned thing now?

Maybe you’ll fix the darned thing now?

My mother had a favorite story she told me often in her later years:  apparently she, my dad (a house-painter with his own decorating business) and we very young children would visit his widowed mother on Sunday afternoons. On occasion she got up from the table, dipped her finger in the jam-jar, walked over to a piece of loose wallpaper she had been complaining about for ages and stuck it down with jam. Not a word did she say!

It must run in the family (although the drawer front is now firmly and permanently fixed by me, I hasten to add). Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. . . 

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Filed under Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, humor, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA