Tag Archives: animal rescue

The American Way (again) -

coffee failWhen I first started coming over to the US, as an itinerant folksinger, I was weaned off tea and onto coffee as the standard/regular ‘cuppa’, but was happy to leave the brewing of this brew to friends and hosts. Later, and especially after moving over permanently, I found myself being required to make it myself from time to time.

The complexities of a filter machine evaded my sense of logic so completely – and often – that I joke that ‘I had found more ways to fail to make coffee’ than anyone in recorded history.

Too much coffee; not enough coffee; too much water; not enough water; water not going through the coffee; machine not switched on; etc., etc. Once I left the spout off the machine and didn’t notice, which resulted in a fairly spectacular “caffeine hosedown,” as Wendy dubbed it.

As the years went by and we settled into running a bookstore, we developed a routine: Wendy got up in the morning and fed the cats – and there can be quite a lot of them sometimes, given all our fosters – while I set up the coffee the night before, so that all she had to do to achieve caffeination amidst all those felines was push the button.

A couple of days ago, having congratulated myself on long ago mastering the art of making coffee successfully, I really scored a ‘bulls-eye’ for the other team.

I got up before Wendy, hit the switch, and went out for a smoke while the coffee percolated. I came back in to find coffee was flooding the counter top and down over the kitchen floor. When I organized things the night before, I’d done everything except put the jug back in its allotted place under the filter. Ours is not a pot that stops when the carafe is out.

Of course I find that most folk around here have no idea how to make a pot of tea, so I suppose we can call it (in soccer parlance) ‘a score draw’. Now look at that, I scored a World Cup reference, and I haven’t watched a single game.

 

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Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, blue funks, bookstore management, home improvements, humor, Uncategorized, VA, writing

Porthos Speaks

athos and porthosHi! I’m Porthos an’ I’m the only girl in this family. We came to live here at the bookstore ‘cos the shelter was gettin’ crowded. Mom didn’t come with us ‘cos somebody wanted to ad- uhdot- adhop- somebody wanted her to come live with them.

That’s what we’re hoping happens to us. My brothers are silly, but I’m very sensible, so I’m sure I’ll get a furever home first. People like sensible cats. Plus I’m really pretty. Everybody says that when they see me, so ‘s okay for me to say so.

My brother Athos is my twin. He’s smaller than me an’ he has a white bit on his neck. HE says it’s a cravat. I says, “What’s a cravat?” an’ he says, “I dunno but it makes me sound smart.”Porthos dances

See? They’re eejits, both of ‘em.

Athos likes to play, like me, an’ he loves to be held. D’Artagnon looks different from us. He’s stripy and he’s more scared of stuff. One time I saw him jump straight in the air ‘cos he saw the shadow of his own tail.

I dunno. Maybe I can’t go to a furever home first ‘cos they’d kill themselves doing stupid guy stuff if I wasn’t here. D’Artagnon dove headfirst off a bookshelf yesterday. Didn’t get hurt at all. He’d hafta have a brain to get hurt, right?D'Artagnon

I love my brothers, but it might be nice to live someplace that had a lap just for me, and not hafta keep saying “Don’t climb that rope; it’s not tied to the ring! Don’t stick your claws in that electric thingee! Don’t put your head UNDER the food!”

Ser’usly, the other day, Athos stuck his head IN the bowl of water. Like he was tryin’ to blow bubbles or somethin’. Then he comes up screamin’ blue murder.

porthosI didn’t touch him. I swear.

You can come visit us at the bookstore. We love feet, follow ‘em around all the time. And we like bein’ carried, even D’Artagnon, but you kinda hafta let him get used to you first. He talks to your feet, and then you sit down, and he gets in your lap, and then you pick him up. Athos an’ me, we just climb straight up to your shoulder the minute we see you. View’s better from there.

athosOur foster mom says after we get our furever homes the boys will get tutored and I’ll get played. That sounds like fun.  Come visit us so we can get started! We’re ready to go home!

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Filed under animal rescue, bad writing, Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, humor, shopsitting, small town USA, VA

FIRE! FIRE!

 Jack’s guest blog post today recounts the great fire of 2014 -

Well, that was quite an experience!

We were down in Johnson City on Monday doing radio shows and meetings and then headed home to avoid the forecast snow, arriving back in mid afternoon. Shortly afterwards I looked out the window and couldn’t see the other side of the street. Thinking it was fine snow I moved to a better position and saw clouds of dense smoke pouring out of a building only a couple of hundred yards from the bookstore. It was a NAPA auto parts store full of paint, oils, tires and other scary stuff and as I watched dumbstruck flames began to appear through the smoke. Within a short time the firefighters and police had all the surrounding streets closed and fire engines and high-lift ladders came screaming in – locals as well as from all the surrounding towns. They worked until 11 pm and then left it to burn itself out.

Next morning I walked across and saw a small fire still burning inside. Hhhmmm, I thought – that doesn’t look good! Within half an hour the whole place was blazing worse than ever and all the firefighters were back with their machines. We took a walk up to look in the evening and despite the enormous quantities of water we’d seen poured on the building for two days, there were still a number of healthy fires burning inside. Finally this morning it looks as if it has really has burned out!

Through the whole thing I was torn between disbelief that this was actually happening, the danger of the  whole place exploding in all directions, and fascination at the scale of it – a great column of smoke, enormous flames, the apparent ineffectiveness of the enormous quantities of water being poured down on it (and how quickly we could evacuate our dogs and cats).

Now that it really does seem to be over, my final thought is for two groups of people – the owners and workers in the business that has gone, and the brave men and women who battled to keep it from spreading to the adjacent buildings (including our bookstore).

Finally, pictures -

and gets worse

and gets worse

It starts

It starts

and even worse

and even worse

Then yesterday morning

Then yesterday morning

Half an hour later

Half an hour later

Last night

Last night

Meanwhile Owen is ready to go!

Meanwhile Owen is ready to go!

 

 

 

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Nike’s Christmas Letter

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all the bookstore’s cat and human friends near and far -

It’s my understanding that humans send a letter each Christmas detailing all the fun and exciting things that have happened in their lives since the last one.

I’m sure human adventures have little to compare to feline ones, but still, it’s sweet that you try. Now, to my own Christmas letter. Since I wasn’t here last year, being only six months old, we can all agree that the world is a better place now. I know you’ll want to hear about my whole life, so here it is:

ImageThe first thing I remember is being cold and hungry in a big dark place, and a sharp sting on my head. Then there was a lady saying nice things in a reassuring voice, and a car ride, and I was at the doctor’s having my head shaved. They saved me from dying of fly-strike, so I don’t fault them for laughing, but is it my fault the haircut accentuated my ears? I have a tiny body, so I did rather look like a moth.

Then I went to the bookstore, and people began cuddling me and saying how adorable I was. This part was fun, but soon I began to suspect that the bookstore people were trying to get rid of me. When people came to cuddle me, they kept saying I was “available” for “adoption.” When they said this about the other kittens at the shop with me, they began disappearing one by one.

Hmmmm….. I liked it at the bookstore. There was Owen, the muscular, attractive guy just a year older than me. We like to…. wrestle. And then there’s Valkyttie, the elder cat, fragile and brittle but she’s taken me in paw. She watches me play with Owen and then regales me with her adventures as a younger cat. Apparently she was quite the looker.

Now who would want to leave such a complete family, so I activated a cunning plan to stay. One of the humans who worked there seemed content to let me be, but I sensed resistance in the man. I set to work, rubbing my long silky fur against his ankles, leaping into his lap and purring as I nestled against his chest, gazing up with limpid hazel eyes, even emitting pathetic little mews in the mornings as he sipped his coffee, until he’d lean down and set me on his shoulder.Image

I thought it was all going well until one day I saw them packing my bowl and some favorite sparkly toys in a bag. I’d been “adoption”-ed? Well, I wasn’t having that, so I straightaway jumped into the man’s lap, lay on my back purring, and batted his mustache with my little pink paw.

So next Christmas my letter will again come from the bookstore, and meanwhile I pray for all the homeless kittens everywhere to find a safe and warm family, and for their owners to make sure they don’t have kittens themselves.Image

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Matron!

Jack’s weekly guest blog post, in which he sinks ever deeper into senility -

We sell a few books each week on the Internet through Half dot Com, an online marketplace where you can buy and sell books, videos and CDs (a branch of Evil Bay). When one of our listed books sells, we get an email saying which it is and who it has to be sent to.

A few days ago we got one of these messages and I couldn’t find the book. I asked Wendy if she’d seen it. As it turns out, she’d just finished reading it, so we figured it was probably down in our basement apartment. No luck! Finally Wendy turned it up hidden in among the ordered books waiting to be picked up by local customers.

Meanwhile -

Wendy, knowing I’m a fan of Alexander McCall Smith, had picked up one of his books for me from the local library (I blogged about it last week) and, now that I’d finished it, I’d laid it aside to be returned to the library.

Yesterday morning I had two early tasks. I had to package for mailing three ‘kitty afghans’ that Wendy had crocheted to raise ‘spay and neutering money’  and I had to package the aforementioned ordered book. I then walked over to the post office and sent them both off.

Except -

When Wendy got home she picked up the now only too familiar ordered book and waved it at me – “Haven’t you mailed this yet?”

Uh, Oh – – -

Yes – that’s right! In all the kerfuffle of getting the three afghans into a compact box and getting it all taped up and addressed, I’d stuck the book into its envelope without double checking. If I had, I’d have seen that I was mailing the McCall Smith LIBRARY BOOK by mistake. So I’ve sent the buyer a crawling apology by e-mail, explaining what happened, and included a similar note with the correct book, which finally went off by parcel post this morning.

And, yes, I did double check this time, and triple checked, and – – -

I wonder if I’m going to have to buy a McCall Smith on Half dot Com to take back to the library?

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Tails of Dogs and Cats

Jack’s weekly guest post -

I’m a bit of a fan of Alexander McCall Smith, ever since I stumbled across the No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. I also fell for his Scotland Street series as well – particularly for his very accurate depiction of a certain element of Edinburgh society with which I’m familiar. The slightly down at heel Georgian New Town intelligencia, complete with their locked private gardens!

One of the characters in the Scotland Street series is a dog called Cyril and McCall Smith manages to get inside his mind wonderfully. In many ways Cyril became one of my favorites.

But then along came the incredible Freddie De La Hay – one of the residents of Corduroy Mansions a new series set in the Pimlico neighborhood of London. Freddy is first introduced as an ex-drugsniffing dog made redundant from Heathrow Airport as a result of a campaign against sex discrimination (all the drugsniffers were male). Once again McCall Smith gets right inside the mind of a dog as it smells its way around its world, eating expensive shoes and catching Russian spies along the way. Despite a fascinating range of humans, it’s the dog that once again does it for me!

What got me thinking about this was an experience I had yesterday. We took in an older cat a few days ago that had initially been rescued by our friend Jessica. She was going to keep her, but her existing feline co-habitee didn’t approve at all. So Jessica paid to have Sweetie Pie spayed and then she came to us until we can find her a permanent home. All well and good!

Wendy left at lunchtime yesterday for a couple of days of business in Richmond and I was left keeping an eye on the lodger. Sweetie Pie seemed quite content relaxing on a stool in the mystery room. Then Kellie, our cafe chef, came in around 5 pm from a grocery run – “Sweetie Pie’s outside”, she said. “what?” I said – -

Sure enough – she was out in the front garden and when I went to pick her up she ran down onto the sidewalk. We both tried to catch her, but she kept running further off. eventually it got too dark to see where she was and I gave up. What on earth would I say to Wendy – and Jessica – how would we tell her that the cat she recued and paid to have spayed had run away on our watch? Wendy phoned later and I broke the news. We commiserated with each other and agreed that at least she had been spayed so there wouldn’t be exponential explosion of kittens.

Feeling disconsolate, I headed down to our basement bedroom and noted both dogs and our three indoor cats all in their favorite spots. Sitting on the edge of the bed to take of my shoes, I glanced up. Owen Meany had been lying beside Zora but now he was magically up on the window sill! No – wait – he’s still beside Zora – what?

Sweetie Pie holds court

Sweetie Pie holds court

There she sat, calmly licking her paw and preening herself. “What?” she meowed – “fine neighborhood you have here. Nice cats! What’s for dinner?”

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A Cat Walks into a Bar Exam….

Shortly after 9 a.m. this morning, our staff cat Owen Meany crossed the wee lane between us and the gym and lawyer’s office. He climbed the attorney’s steps, and although my view was obstructed at that point, I’m pretty sure he knocked and was admitted.

So I would just like to say to Greg Kallen, the lead attorney (who shops at our bookstore) that unless Owen was there to start his career as a paralegal, whatever he told you should be taken with a grain of catnip.

We  don’t want to violate attorney-client privilege, but we can imagine the stories. Please know that we feed him well. He gets treats. He has his own bed. We understand that the demands of being a bookstore cat can be hefty – the fur maintenance for maximum customer effect, the constant purring as a store representative – so we try to provide regular massages and ear rubs. We know it’s a taxing life.

Sure, sometimes breakfast is late. Sometimes we run out of wet cat food. I did once forget that he prefers chicken cat treats to the tuna flavor. I have apologized for these lapses and will correct my behavior–except for that late breakfast thing. Please, Greg, see if you can explain the concept of “weekends” to him?

The reason he doesn’t get goat milk like the rest of the cats is not cruelty on our part, but allergies on his. Is this my fault? Believe me, I’ve tried all the substitutes but he doesn’t like them.

And please remind Mr. Meany that he, who now weighs 9.8 pounds and is the size of two bread boxes despite the fact that he told you we never feed him, was once a wee sick foster kitten, too. Yes, kittens bop about the place in never-ending packs, but they have nowhere else to live unless we find them homes. It’s not like he’s suffering. He has a special heavy cat flap and can go where the kittens can’t, anytime their whapping his nose, chewing his ears, and running toward him with mewls of “Unca Owen, Unca Owen, let’s play horsey!” get too much.

In closing, I hope that we will have the opportunity to settle any issues Owen has cited out of court. We feel sure that Owen will listen to reason, or at least to the sound of a can opener. Thanks, Greg.

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Filed under Big Stone Gap, humor, small town USA, Uncategorized, writing