Tag Archives: bookstore cats

Bucket Lists

four leafJack and I lead contented lives. We run a bookstore, rescue cats, live amiably with occasional passionate flairs, and own our house. We don’t have to cook if we don’t want to because we have a cafe in the bookstore; when we want something to read, we amble around looking for it. I have enough money to buy most of the yarn I want and all of the yarn I need, and Jack has a little red sports car.

Yeah, we’re shallow sometimes. :]

The bucket list thing has for the most part passed us by. Jack said once he wished he could pair his black socks correctly before he left this life, and I aspire to get through a whole tube of chapstick. Other than that, go by mad world.

But my friend Cami is a go-getter and a champion back-of-the-pack marathoner, and she is in Chile with her husband. They suggested we come for a visit. Neither Jack nor I have been to the continent of South America, and I admit we used the words “bucket list” to discuss the trip. As in, “It wasn’t on our bucket list, but it seems like a nice opportunity.”

That started one of those in-the-car conversations while driving to Maryland this week. (We went to visit our friend Melissa’s bookstore The Parkville Bookworm, along with her staff cats Stan Lee and Spencer. Eight hours is a long time to listen to NPR talk shows.)

On the drive Jack and I compared bucket list items, big and small. Some of these we probably can’t get, and some we can’t get without help, but hey, it pays to dream. So here it is……

THE JACK AND WENDY BUCKET LIST

Independence for Scotland (Jack and me both)

Find a four leaf clover (I’ve never found one in my whole entire life, except once inside a book, dried and pressed.)

Visit Fiji (Neither of us have been there, and we don’t know anything about it. We just like the name, I guess.)

Tell stories at the Iranian International Storytelling Festival (It’s held every February, this was their 18th year, and they don’t invite a lot of Westerners. But someday….)

Own a Morgan sports car again (I rolled my eyes at this, and Jack informed me that every guy is allowed a secret fantasy.)

Have the bookstore completely organized in a manner that makes sense (Jack says this has to be mine alone as he won’t put something on this list that can’t happen. I pointed out the Morgan thing and he just smiled. Should I be worried?)

 

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Filed under animal rescue, between books, Big Stone Gap, humor, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, reading, Scotland, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch, writing

Should Old Acquaintance be forgot – –

Jack’s guest post this week is all about friendship

Wendy blogged about our friend Barbara Dickson and her husband Oliver last week, but I wanted to say something about their visit too.

Barbara and I sang together as a ‘folk-duo’ in Scotland back in the 1960s, and although we’ve stayed in touch over the years – – – -

It’s often the case that people we think of as good friends we don’t actually see very often and in the case of Barbara, we haven’t spent any personal time together in almost fifty years. So I imagine she was as nervous as I was at committing to two weeks of living cheek-by-jowl here in our house/bookstore. I had no idea if she and Oliver would get along with our dogs and cats or how they’d feel about sharing the floor that the guest room is on with our cafe, cafe manager or cafe manager’s frequently visiting family (also known as our second family).

Barbara is a world ranking singer and actor who’s recording and performing career far outstrips mine, so another concern was how she’d react when, inevitably, our curious local friends would ask to hear us singing again together.

In the event we needn’t have worried!

Barbara and Oliver have become surrogate aunt and uncle to the cafe kids, she carries our latest foster-kitten Small-Fry around on her shoulder, they’ve made space for themselves and we’ve shared our part of Appalachia with them, to their obvious delight.

And the singing? We ended up discovering we still had some songs in common and we were able to re-create the kind of intimate setting that neither of us had experienced for a very long time and share that with our friends here – and we had a ball!

They got to see Carter Fold, The Museum of Country Music and Dollywood, but not all the other places they might have, so already we’re making plans for the return visit, when they will see all the stuff there wasn’t time for this year.

 

 

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Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, folklore and ethnography, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, Scotland, small town USA, VA

Ah – Valkyttie!

ValkyttieJack guest blogs today on the end of an era, and the Monday book will return next Monday.

She came to us as a tiny kitten, just four weeks old. One of her earliest acts was exploring the backyard in Rosyth, Scotland, where she saw off a big bruiser of a cat six times her size. (He’d had the audacity to use the yard as a shortcut to the field beyond.) “Now would be a good time to be magnanimous,” I shouted as the confused older cat hunkered down to watch Valkyttie–all of six inches long–arch her back and hiss like a little black powder puff. But she held her ground and established her territory.

We should have known then what we were in for. Every day Valkyttie had a fish finger for supper while we ate ours. This kept her from climbing our legs to dive headfirst into our plates.

WENDY&CAT1Later she tried to teach me how to catch mice. When I failed after two or three tries, she went off and returned with a moth, mieowing, “Perhaps you should start with something simpler”?

I knew she’d brought the moth to me because Valkyttie had epicurean tastes and wouldn’t have been caught dead with such a vile supper for herself. Once she jumped onto the table, speared a curried shrimp from my plate, and flicked it over her shoulder. The thing did a perfect splashdown into my glass of white wine. She then fished it out and ate it. I expressed astonishment at her “lucky throw” and she gave me That Look and did exactly the same thing again. Her mieow said, “You should know I prefer my curried shrimp lightly marinated!”pissed off valkyttie

Valkyttie shifted house with us twice. Not content with emigrating from Scotland to England, she persuaded us that we needed to move to America, as she had heard the weather was warmer there. Her final move was to Big Stone Gap, where she oversaw the setting up of our bookstore – first inspecting the building of bookshelves, then supervising the displays of books. Thus established as the bookstore CEO, she quickly assigned ‘greeter’ duties to her arch-nemesis cat Beulah, and then recruited Owen Meany and Nike for more menial tasks.

DSCN0283In her senior years Val took on the role of elderly aunt as hordes of foster kittens paraded through the bookstore, teaching them deportment and table manners and making sure they went on into the world as exemplary citizens. She was not above cuffing them in a corrective manner.

Finally, when her time came she made her own decision, making clear her intent to leave this world Saturday morning. Our beloved vet helped ease her out with no more suffering, and we all cried our eyes out together. Valkyttie left wrapped in the pink fuzzy blanket she loved to lie on and look out the window.

We shall miss her, but we are confident that she crossed the rainbow bridge in a sedan chair with gold leaf, borne by four Corgis. Even now she is greeting other famous bookstore cats, including Anna-Boo, who left this world in April, and Hazel, of this blog fame last year. We like to think the bookshop cats cross into human heaven by day, staff bookshops there (for what would heaven be without bookstores!) and then come home to kitty heaven at night to eat salmon from diamond plates.

Enjoy, Valkyttie. We loved and love you!

WENDY&CAT4

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

She was Young, Lithe, Long-tailed…

cat romanceJack’s weekly guest blog

The other morning I idly watched our two staff kittens, Owen Meany (male) and Nike (female) rolling around in a clinch (heated embrace) in front of the paperback romances. And I was struck by a thought.

We have far too many romances and are having trouble shifting them, despite every conceivable (hah!) kind of discount or clever bundling. But my wife the author is always laughing about something known as “kitten cover theory.” Basically, the fastest way to sell a book is to put a kitten on its cover.

And we know for a fact that ‘cozy’ mysteries that involve cats or kittens fly off the shelf. . .

. . . so I wonder if paperback romances involving love-struck kittens mightn’t be a sure-fire seller? Nike tends to come off worst from her encounters with Owen – frequently with a scratch or a bruise. Hickies, in essence.

Titles began to appear in my imagination. ” Catermauling Lover,” “Kitten Canoodle,”  “My Highland Wildcat” –  –  -

Then cover art with muscular toms and shapely tabbies rolling around in each other’s paws.

The blurbs on the back of romances have always amused us and so I began to write them in my mind -

“She was young, lithe, and long-tailed. He was lean, mean, a real street tough whose whiskers quivered with desire….”

Well, that will be quite enough of that.

What makes this all a bit academic, though, is that Owen Meany isn’t quite the man he used to be and Nike is, even as I write, having a small ‘procedure’ carried out by Dr. Beth. So all future clinches will be purely platonic for both of them. Perhaps that adds to the romance?

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Filed under animal rescue, bad writing, Big Stone Gap, humor, reading, small town USA, Uncategorized

Photoblog: A Day in the Life of a Bookstore Staff Animal

stephanie

It’s not that easy, being a bookstore staff animal.

Assessing trade-ins...

Assessing trade-ins…

..getting purrrsonally involved in inventory management....

..getting purrrsonally involved in inventory management….

Patrolling the shelves requires constant vigilance.

Patrolling the shelves requires constant vigilance.

Writing ads....

Writing ads….

...training interns....

…training interns….

Answering phone inquiries is a duty only senior staff can handle.

Answering phone inquiries is a duty only senior staff can handle.

Dealing with customers calls on deep diplomacy skills.

Dealing with customers calls on deep diplomacy skills.

That's why it's important to take plenty of breaks.

That’s why it’s important to take plenty of breaks.

PLENTY of breaks...

PLENTY of breaks…

Of course, there are perks to working in the Little Bookstore....

Of course, there are perks to working in the Little Bookstore….

Staff enjoy a certain degree of celebrity.

Staff enjoy a certain degree of celebrity.

We offer a full benefits package under Amerifur, including cone coverage and maternity care.

We offer a full benefits package under Amerifur, including cone coverage.

Reguations governing inter-staff relationships tend to be lax.

Regulations governing inter-staff relationships tend to be lax.

The staff dining room is free, and includes a full milk bar.

And finally, the staff dining room is free, and includes a full milk bar.

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Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, humor, Uncategorized, VA

ERICA SUSAN JONES: SEARCHING OUT BOOKSHOPS

So my Twitter friend Erica Susan Jones – she loves books and cats, so it was pretty much friendship at first tweet – has started a blog. About bookshops. ‘Nuff said.

Here it is, copied from her site, which is http://thebookshoparoundthecorner.blogspot.co.uk/

Books are my addiction.

If I see a bookshop I have to go inside, and walking inside means I inevitably leave with at least one book, generally two or three. From fiction to cookery, classics to sci fi, crime to chick lit, I love them all.

But it’s not just about the subject, a book is a true sensory experience. Reading the story, savouring the words, hearing the pages turn, the scent of the paper and ink and feeling its weight in my hands. Each one is unique, with its creases and imperfections, markings in the margin or name inside the cover – recording the journey the book has taken with each individual reader, a memory that no e-reader can mimic.

And the bookshop it comes from is just as important a part of the reading process. Row upon row of books lining the shelves, with central tables drawing our attention to key themes or authors as we browse, looking for inspiration, or perhaps moving with purpose on the quest for something specific.

Then there are the booksellers. Readers themselves, they can be a great source to tap when looking for your next big read – or struggling to find a gift for your Dad/friend/boss. These people help bring the personal touch that very few websites are able to claim.

But all is not well, the bookshop is in decline.

I’m not about to go into facts and figures about how many have closed and when, as I’d probably find it too depressing and that’s not what this blog is about. Instead I’m going to – mostly – ignore the e-reader and internet shopping and focus on the positives.

Just a brief search of the internet reveals a wealth of bookshops to be enjoyed by the discerning reader, all with their own character and charm, all crying out to me to visit. And so we come to the purpose of my writing.

This blog is to be a celebration of the bookshop.

Every entry will be about a bookshop of some kind or another. Generally I plan to visit the bookshops (independent or part of a chain, so long as they’re real I’ll visit) to tell you what’s special about them, or why I want to visit them, but given that time, money and geography will limit me somewhat I’m sure the odd (real) fictional bookshop will sneak in to ensure regular writing.

I hope you enjoy exploring the bookshops with me and maybe feel inspired to visit a few more yourself. Also, if anyone has a bookshop they want to recommend (preferably in the UK unless you want to pay for my travel) I’d love to hear about it with a view to hopefully visiting sometime.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

You can leave a comment for Erica here, or go directly to her blog!

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Filed under book repair, book reviews, bookstore management, folklore and ethnography, publishing, Scotland, shopsitting, small town USA, Uncategorized, writing

Who? Me??

Jack’s Wednesday guest post -

As Wendy has posted in the past, we’ve been having lots of folk dropping into the shop who’ve read ‘The Little Bookstore’ – some from quite a distance (hhmmm – that sounds odd). They range from fairly large book-clubs to family groups and individuals and from Michigan to Florida. We’ve even got someone coming from Oregon in a month or two!

IMG_3640beulahAlmost without exception they take photographs, and these usually include pictures of our cats. The cats react to this attention in a variety of ways. Val-Kittie ignores everyone and continues working on her 5 year plan, while Beulah poses on the front porch – her domain – with great pride.

But the newest bookstore staff cat, Owen Meany, is just coming to grips with stardom. We didn’t have him while Wendy was writing; he came just at the end, and is named for the book Wendy was not supposed to hate. Owen is still too kittenish to carry off ‘aloof,’ and doesn’t have a personal domain to be proud of, or a story from the book for people to react to, so he does – – – kittenish things.owen meany 026

His favorite thing right now is to try to swing Tarzan-like from the tassel on the end of the fan pull-cord, although when he is discovered doing this he will quickly pretend to be working hard at something very important. Poor Owen; perhaps when Wendy writes her next book, he’ll be in it. That will make it easier for him to find his place in the bookstore world.

Owen sizing up the distance.

Owen sizing up the distance.

I'm working - really I am!

I’m working – really I am!

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Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, book reviews, humor, small town USA, Uncategorized