Category Archives: humor

Zora’s Advice to Human Puppies as they Graduate

image004We run Zora’s guest post each May as a tribute to all those graduating, and their families. Zora’s words are wise.

At this time every year, humans come in looking for graduation gifts. Apparently their puppies, or their sister’s puppies, or the puppies of a friend–humans have such odd kinship systems–are doing something called graduating. It is a time of great consternation for the whole human pack.

It all seems a bit artificial to me. Take that kinship system of who has to buy presents for whom: we canines have instincts for a reason, and we’re not much bothered beyond that. You either smell good or you don’t; you wag your tail and are friendly, or you’re a growler. Blood doesn’t matter, unless it’s about to get spilled.

But then, I’m a dog, so maybe I haven’t had enough of that “schooling” stuff.

Still, the “graduation” ritual strikes me as odd. I understand that the human puppies have done something that took a lot of time and was quite expensive, but we canines know that it takes a whole lifetime to absorb the learning that goes with being alive. In my experience, those that don’t keep learning get run over on the highway. Or left behind in a move. You have to stay ahead of those noises you hear in the distance: Ears up, nose into the wind.

The ritual seems to mark a day when it is acceptable for the pack to tell the human puppies how much they love them. We bitches love our babies all the time; they get licks and snuggles and we sing them lullabies. I know humans love their puppies too, so why wait for special occasions to say so? Every day alive is a special occasion for us. We call it “every dog has his day.”

Perhaps this is related to that weird thing humans do where they run around each other–or run away from each other–looking for love. In my experience, love comes when you’re sitting down minding your own business. Someone scratches you behind the ears, you look into each others’ eyes, and you got a home. Just don’t go messing it up by barking when a little kiss will do the trick.

One last thing. There are no books that will stuff into a pup’s head in one sitting all the things they haven’t got by now. In our world, we say “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” The time to tell ’em what they need to hear is all those years you’ve got ’em around the food bowl – kitchen table, I think y’all call it. Those toss-off evenings that tick by one by one, racing past ’cause you’ve got places to go: THOSE are the nights that count. Once they get old enough to go out on their own, they aren’t gonna listen any more. So get their ears full while they’re still wet behind ’em.

That’s what I’d say if humans could hear me. But y’know, they usually can’t, so never mind. And to all you puppies out there leaving the school, here’s my advice: keep your ears up, scratch when it itches, stick with the love you find, and don’t get run over.

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Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, humor, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, reading, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, writing

The Monday Book falls on a Wednesday this Week

 

We apologize for the irregular blogs of late and are trying to get back on track! Here’s Jack’s review of 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall-Smith

 

I’m a huge fan of McCall-Smith, ever since I began devouring his No1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. But he has a number of others that deserve attention, including Corduroy Gardens and the Scotland Street one.

 

I should explain right away that I lived most of my life within 30 minutes’ drive of the center of Edinburgh, where this series is set, so I’m very familiar with Scotland Street and the surrounding Georgian part of the city. McCall-Smith captures not only the geography beautifully, but its character through the residents, from the rugby following upper middle class to the quirky academics, the hard working cafe owner and the inimitable and much put-upon child of a demanding liberal-minded mother.

 

This series started as a serial in one of Scotland’s national newspapers and quickly built a devoted following. So much so that McCall-Smith was persuaded (by them) to turn it into a real book and then to publish two more follow-ups.

 

The one I’ve just finished re-reading is the second book (although I have read them all), and I was once again captivated by his ability to get right inside the mind of his characters – not just their surface characteristics, what they say and do, but what lies behind them; the professional or cultural world they inhabit. This might seem like a recipe for boredom, but he is such a wonderful observer of human nature and has such a way with words that it never is. Of course he lives in the Edinburgh Georgian ‘new town’ of which he writes and in many ways is just setting down what he lives and experiences every day.

 

Finally – just like in the Corduroy Gardens series this one has a dog as one of its main characters and I absolutely love how (in both cases) McCall Smith relates to his readers the world from the dog’s point of view. Anyone who has ever been owned by a dog will get it!

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Filed under Big Stone Gap, book reviews, bookstore management, Downton Abbey, humor, publishing, reading, Scotland, Uncategorized, writing

Of Blog Guilt and Spiders

That awkward moment when you realize you are a day overdue on your blog post but have nothing of any significance to say. You cannot be amusing, or timely, or philosophical, because you have been rearranging furniture for two days and are just plain pooped out physically.

And so I share with you the meme a friend posted on my FB page, because in the course of moving said furniture, I found a very large dark and hairy spider, dead behind one of the bookcases.

Could’ve been worse: VHDHS could’ve been alive. One of us would have wound up in intensive care.

It’s not that I have it in for spiders. As Amy, the friend who sent the meme, pointed out, they do useful work on this Earth.

Yes, but they should do this useful work outside, in the garden, not in my basement apartment. Four feet from my face while I’m sleeping. That’s not a domestic spider wearing an apron, humming as she dusts out the corner cupboard. That’s a creepy stalker spider with a knife.

It is in response to these sentiments that Amy sent the following meme:

spider meme

Ha ha.

Very funny.

No.

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Filed under animal rescue, bad writing, Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, home improvements, humor, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, Wendy Welch

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

The Monday Book: Death with all the Trimmings by Lucy Burdette

burdetteLucy mailed this book to me so I could blog it. I like cozy mysteries, and this one is food-based. It is set in Key West with her recurring detective Haley Snow, a food writer. Hayley has been assigned to interview Edel Waugh, chef/owner of Key West’s hottest new restaurant. But off the record, Edel reveals someone’s sabotaging her kitchen and asks Hayley to investigate.

It all goes downhill from there, with some funny bits about ex-husbands and love interests. This is a great beach read, seeing as it takes place over Christmas and at a beach. The dialogue is quick, the action straightforward and the humor cute. If you happen to be a foodie (I’m not) you will have extra special fun with some of the humor and descriptions. Since I was reading it on a plane while starving over their $8 cheese plate (two slices of cheddar and half an apple) some of the funnier bits may have been lost on me.

Context is everything.

Death with All the Trimmings is part of a series, and since there is some character development based on prior relationships, you may want to start at the beginning. Check out Lucy’s web page for the books in order: http://www.cozy-mystery.com/Lucy-Burdette.html

And have fun!

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Filed under between books, Big Stone Gap, book reviews, bookstore management, humor, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, publishing, reading, Sarah Nelson, small town USA, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch, writing

The Monday Book: Hot Cripple by Hogan Gorman

This book is hysterical. It’s a righteous indictment of today’s fragmented health care system AND our “buy your way out of justice” justice system. But it’s also so very, very funny.

Hogan Gorman is a model who get hit by a car. And her life goes to hell in a handbasket. And she pretty much swears her way through it. One of my favorite parts was when she lists the best eight swear phrases to deal with excruciating pain, in descending order.

Not for the faint of heart, and not a “happy ending” book, if foul language bothers you, don’t read it. But this book is so very, very funny, and her crises are so very normal that you can’t help but feel like you’re there with her as she realizes she can’t get off the toilet, is going to eat nothing but rice and ketchup for three days, and meets a succession of civic employees ranging mostly from bad to worse.

This book is hysterical. An enthusiastic two crutches up.

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Filed under Big Stone Gap, book reviews, humor, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, out of things to read, publishing, reading, Sarah Nelson, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch, what's on your bedside table, writing

Date a Girl who Reads by Rosemarie Urquico

Things have been a little pushed by deadlines this week, so I offer for the Friday blog (on this Sunday morning) some of my favorite words of wisdom by Rosemarie Urquico

girl who readsDate a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.
Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag.She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.
She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.
Buy her another cup of coffee.
Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.
It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.
She has to give it a shot somehow.
Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.
Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.
Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilightseries.
If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.
You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.
You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.
Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.
Or better yet, date a girl who writes.

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Filed under Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, humor, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, out of things to read, publishing, reading, Sarah Nelson, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch, writing