Tag Archives: cats

ARE THESE INTERESTING QUESTIONS?

Finally, I have done as my wise (and patient) agent Pamela suggested, and written “Questions for book group discussions of The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap.” Since many minds make smooth sentences, if you have any suggestions, please send them along. I’d particularly like to add a couple on bookshop management, if any other store owners out there have ideas. I kinda hit a blank wall, writing stuff that was too esoteric. Thanks!

1. Have you ever tried to fit into a place you weren’t from or familiar with? What did you find were the joys, the barriers, the unexpected curve balls of doing so?

2. Is there a snake pit in your life? Do you agree with Wendy’s assessment that almost all of us face such job situations at some point?

3. Cats: what place do they have in the lives of bookstores? Have you seen the newest cats and fosters at Tales of the Lonesome Pine (online via Wendy’s blog)? What do you think about the overpopulation problem of companion animals in the United States? What responsibilities, if any, do humans have toward animals?

4. Of all the stories in Little Bookstore, the two that seem to resonate most with people are of Wee Willie, and the Kiwanis letter. People run the gamut, don’t they, from being unpleasant to one another, to being generous beyond imagination. Why do you think these two stories have been the most mentioned by readers? Do you have circumstances in your own life where you experienced something similar?

5. Fire victims replacing childhood books is a poignant expression of loss, love, and memory. What do you think this priority says about us as humans?

6. Reading Little Bookstore, do you see places where people misunderstood each other, misrepresented each other, yet overcame these miscommunications to understand each other? Do these moments have echoes in your life?

7. If you could suddenly change your life tomorrow, start a business, leave your residence or job, whatever…would you? If so, what would you do? If not, why not?

8. What’s the difference between luck and learning fast to adapt? Where did you see these differences in how Jack and Wendy survived their inept start at being bookstore owners?

9. Wendy talks a fair bit about happiness and contentment. She quotes several other authors and how they describe happiness. Does happiness disappear when you look it square in the face, or elude us when actively pursued? Is it true, as Garrison Keillor (an author not quoted in the book) says, that the realization of happiness comes moments after whatever has made us happy ends? Or can we recognize contentedness when we have it?

10. Discuss the role independent bookstores play in reading satisfaction. Is the process of acquiring the book part of the story it tells, or is cheap, fast, and easy what we want in our shopping experiences nowadays? Is it worth paying more to visit a real bookstore (and do you really pay more)?

1 Comment

Filed under animal rescue, bad writing, Big Stone Gap, book reviews, bookstore management, humor, Life reflections, out of things to read, publishing, reading, Sarah Nelson, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, what's on your bedside table, writing

Lost in Translation, Found in Humor

hyoungThis is Hyoung Eun. She translated Little Bookstore into Korean and got it a whole bunch of great publicity over there. And we really enjoyed chatting while she was working on the book and she loves cats, so of course, we became Facebook friends.

With the result that sometimes my Facebook timeline reveals lovely, inscrutable conversations like this one, which appeared below the picture of this lovely, fluffy white cat that I think is Hyoung Eun’s, and pregnant:

hyoung cat 2

원고료 받으면 얘꺼부터. 달라고 기다리고 있지만, 너 아까 간식 먹었잖아…
나는 아직 겨울옷 장만도 못했는데, 겨울 다 가버렸네.

The manuscript fee received, showed it off. Waiting for him, but if you like I ate a snack …
I still haven’t get winter clothes, winter is gone. -_- (Translated by Bing)
Okay, let’s admit that’s a beautiful haiku, but say what, Bing Translator? Hyoung Eun speaks flawless English, but of course she was talking to her other Korean friends there, people who are also friends with me but read my book in their native language and don’t use English as their primary on Facebook. Thus I offered the following.
Wendy Welch Adorable! (This seemed like appropriate and safe commentary.)
Yunjung Sung 나비다~~^^ 혹시 저 박스가 다 나비먹을꺼?The butterfly is a butterfly that is ^^ all ~ ~ have you ever eat? (Translated by Bing)
홍장근 나도사줘I give Imam (Translated by Bing)
Hyoung Eun H Wendy Welch He is, isn’t he? – a proud [cat] mother. : )
Hyoung Eun H Yunjung Sung 모래도 있어.^^ 모래랑 간식. 이제 사료는 병원에서 따로 처방사료 사서 먹여야 해 ㅠ ㅠIt’s also Sung sand Yunjung. ^^ Sandy lang snacks. Now feed in hospitals set aside to buy feed and fodder prescribed ㅠ ㅠ (Translated by Bing)
Hyoung Eun H 홍장근 뭐 사줄까? ^^Hong Chang-Geun what buy? ^^ (Translated by Bing)
Hyoung Eun and friends, I want to thank you for the fun you’ve added to my life, and I hope your pregnant male cat enjoys the coffee. (Yes, everyone, we all know that cats mustn’t have caffeine.) And I want to say that Hyoung Eun is a better translator than Bing will ever be. And that the butterfly in the winter snowstorm is beautiful – almost as beautiful as Hyoung Eun’s sweet kitty. God Bless us, every one!
Hyoung cat 1

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

It’s Not as Bad as it Sounds, Haggis…

Fair fa yir honest, sonsy face – – (beautiful is your plain but healthy face; Ode to a Haggis)

haggisEvery year around Jan. 25 we host our bookstore Burns Supper. Robert Burns is, of course Scotland’s National poet/songwriter and our bookstore is a kind of local Scottish consulate so…

Our haggis was piped in – loudly – by Randy Stanley, Wise County’s resident piper. We always wonder what the neighbors think, because despite the frigid temperatures just now, we throw open the windows to let the sound out–and because 25 people in our upstairs cafe really turns up the body heat. The sound of the Great Pipes wafted out across the snow–and every dog within earshot began howling. We love bringing these special moments of cultural celebration to the town.

Besides pipes, an absolute necessity is a haggis – the subject of an address written by Burns. Finding a haggis in the US used to be a problem, so this year ours came from New Jersey. Haggis, for those of you unfamiliar with the substance, is sheep intestines stuffed with oats, minced bits of the rest of the sheep, and spices. The more it tastes like liver, the better.

If you’d like to see the piping in of the haggis or hear Jack recite the Ode, both are on our bookstore’s FB page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tales-of-The-Lonesome-Pine-LLC/166114776736491?ref=hl

Our excellent chef, Kelley, came up with what attendees probably saw as the counterbalance to the Haggis; she made perfect champit tatties and bashed neeps. And Jack contributed his homemade scotch pies and Cranachan. (Google it; just try not to lick the screen when you see what’s in it.)

Burns Nights have presentations that must take place at them. One of these is The Immortal Memory, a brief description of Burns’ life, mostly trying to reconcile the ying and yang of his incredible poetry celebrating women, and his devious usury of them in real life. This year’s Immortal Memory was for the first time in our bookstore’s history delivered by an Englishman, Donald Leech. (And Donald said afterward it was his first Burns Supper, so kudos to him for a lovely job.)  The Toast to the Lasses (which Jack gave) was  Responded to by Susan Hamrick–those of you who are on Clan Hazel will recognize that name, and the Grande Dame sent salutations to the assembly.

And we enjoyed local singer Rita Quillen making her debut as a soloist. Rita normally accompanies other performers, but she gave a lovely rendition of Lea Rig. Rita will also debut in another way next month when her first novel, Hiding Ezra, comes out. https://www.facebook.com/ritaquillenhidingezra

The evening was a mixture of laughter and poking at the haggis and licking the Cranachan bowls clean and cracking jokes and enjoying music that would have delighted Rabbie Burns. In the packed-out cafe with the windows flung open and the sky darkening with snow outside, it was a lovely, warm night.

11 Comments

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

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?”

1 Comment

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

Tails and Tales

Jack’s weekly guest blog -

Kittens! Kittens everywhere!!

They’re in my lap, under my feet, knocking over books and chasing each other all round the shop. Then they all, as one, keel over and go to sleep in a sweet little puddle of cuddling. Until it all starts again!

jack and nikeI’m the curmudgeon of course – “no more, this is the last one, we’re a bookstore not an animal shelter!”

But then one of them sneaks onto my lap or curls up on my shoulder – and purrs – – -

It’s hard to believe these little fluffballs would have been killed if we hadn’t taken them in. It’s harder to think about the ones we didn’t have room for. Wendy’s proud of having recruited two new foster families this month, so her rescue got up to about 2 in 5 kittens getting pulled from the shelter before the inevitable happened.

Kerouac, Ferlenghetti, and Nike being very Manx!

Kerouac, Ferlenghetti, and Nike being very Manx!

We honestly would love to keep them all, but the current crop just have to find homes. Poor Valkitty is grumpy as all get out about these pesky youngsters invading her space and, besides, we can’t take any more until we find homes for these five.

There’s Nike “Bad Ass” The Moth

Nike the wonder kitten

Nike the wonder kitten

kerouac

and Kerouac

                                                                                                                        and Joan Baezjoan posing

not to mention Winston Moneybags, who is already neutered

Winston sleepingK, F and JB are siblings: F is a cuddler, K a soccer player, and JB a preener who likes to sit about striking poses. Nike is a benevolent dictator, lap sitter and “carry me about” kitten; and Winston was dumped in the ATM room of a local bank and likes to lie on the backs of chairs or in windowsills.

So come on folks! Fill your home with fuzzy love and laughter – and doing the kitten shuffle. A free kitten with every book purchased!

5 Comments

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

HAZEL’S LAST LECTURE, IF SHE COULD GIVE ONE

hazel in shelter “20-year-old cat, brought to shelter,” said the post on my Facebook timeline. I was tagged as one of six women rescuing cats in this community.

Hazel came the next day, along with a vague background story: she was jealous of the family baby, and grandma had taken her to the shelter so the son, whose cat she was, wouldn’t have to. How … compassionate.

Hazel can’t speak, so she can’t defend herself. She only sits with sad, big eyes, staring. She can’t eat or poop, as she either has a tumor (which maybe the family knew about before they bailed on her) or is constipated because of her trauma. She has no familiar smells, no familiar rugs about her. She had no familiar foods until we appealed on Facebook to know what she’d been eating, and someone called the family. Meow Mix wet.

Hazel can’t give a last lecture, telling us what we ought to know. We only know that she is dying in the back room of our bookstore, afraid and heartbroken. People say, “It’s so good of you and Jack to take her.” No, it isn’t. It isn’t doing a blind bit of good, because what Hazel wants is nothing we can give her.

We do know that families have other ways of handling “the problem” (of going on vacation, having a baby, the cat getting sick or pregnant, etc.) than taking a cat to a shelter. Some families just toss the cat in a dumpster, take it to the woods, shoot it–hopefully with one clean shot. This family chose a “humane” method, I am told. They took their 20-year-old cat to the shelter, where emotional blackmail kicked in for the rescue community and the cat came “home” here. Having chosen to do evil to their cat, they chose the least evil they could do. How …. considerate.

Hazel was well cared for all her life; she has shiny fur and no urinary tract infection, great feats in a cat her age. She was loved. Why did you stop? What part of you can you turn off to successfully leave her at a shelter, knowing she’d be euthanized? I haven’t stopped crying for three days, and I barely know your cat. Can you show me where that OFF switch is, please? It might come in handy.

Because we’re not running a rescue now, but a hospice, something we were never meant to be. We’re supposed to be pulling kittens and cats out of the shelter before their euth date hits. Did you know that 1 in 5 kittens makes it out of a shelter, 1 in 9 adult cats? The only animal with a higher kill rate than cats in a shelter is chihuahuas: 1 in 12 makes it out alive. And nobody, but nobody “adopts” a senior cat.

And we now know, according to my husband, that we can never do this again. He said, and I quote, “I’m not watching you bloody cry yourself to sleep for three days because some shits of a family has pulled emotional blackmail on a bunch of people trying to uphold the sanctity of life. People have to realize a pet is a lifelong commitment and take care of their own messes.”

We know that Hazel has been put through Hell for the convenience of her human family.

And Jack is right about taking care of their own messes. Yesterday a dog rescuing friend went postal on FB and explained that people who give up pets to rescues and shelters think they’re doing something good, when rescues are not there to solve your problems. We’re supposed to be catching the strays, the unhomed, not the inconvenient. We’re supposed to be uniting families who will make a LIFELONG commitment to animals who will give unconditional love, by pulling animals from shelters. 8,000 companion animals a day getting euthanized, and you want a rescue to come get your kittens because you “forgot” to spay your cat?

It feels like emptying the ocean with a sieve, rescuing cats. While we were doing our pitiful best for Hazel a family of kittens five days old were euthanized in the shelter because there was nowhere for them to go. We couldn’t take them. We had your old, heartbroken, dying cat who is longing for you.

You bastards.

16 Comments

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

Big in Korea

book cover KoreaApparently, I’m big in Korea just now.

HyoungEun is the nice lady who translated my book for a Korean publishing company (whose name in English, as near as I can tell, would be “Aladdin Books.”) She emailed me some questions a few weeks ago and we had a good time laughing about the idiosyncrasies of language. (See blog post “Found in Translation” if you’re interested.)

Apparently, things move fast in the Asian book market. About two weeks ago my agent Pamela tweeted the cover on the left, with a link to the publisher’s website, saying the book was out. That was fun (and fast!). I must say that, of all the translations so far, this cover is the most adorable.

Then late last week HyoungEun sent me a frantic email saying basically, “Can we use the pictures on your shop’s Facebook page to promote the book because a really big national newspaper here has shown interest in it?”

Umm, yes, that would be acceptable. Thanks.

**Wendy and Jack do happy dance around the bookshop front room, cats streaking away in terror as books jounce off shelves** Okay, we now return you to British decorum, already in progress. No wait… *a few more happy dance steps*

So now I have a bunch of Facebook friends whose posts I can’t read (Korean alphabet) and a small red dot forming in the middle of the night on my WordPress Stats site’s Asia map, tracking where people are reading my blog. Every day the Korean dot and its corresponding number grow.

I’m big in Korea? Oh, this is fun. And then this morning a woman married to a Korean engineer stopped by and said, “You’ll never guess. Peter was reading his hometown newspaper online last night, and what pops up but a photo of Jack? He called me out of bed, so excited! ‘Look, it’s the Little Bookstore!’ “

This is what our friends Peter and Sandy – and the Korean public – saw. One can only wonder what people are thinking now.

crazy bookstoreSo my book has found some fun people to hang with in Korea? I’m down with that. But personally, I think it’s all due to HyoungEun’s excellent translation, plus that cover the Korean publisher designed. Did you ever see anything cuter?

1 Comment

Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, book reviews, bookstore management, humor, publishing, small town USA, Uncategorized, writing