Category Archives: humor

Peace, Love, Cat Videos

I’m working on my book about cat rescue, and one of the recurring themes is “Why do people rescue cats?” (Or dogs, but the undercurrent is, why do people “bother” to help animals at all?)15134332_1371938282817232_41046199_n-copy

And I guess there’s a cynical answer, and a real answer – I’m just not sure which is which.

On the one hand, Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” For those who reject Eastern wisdom, from the Bible it sounds like “What you do for the least of these my brethren you do for me” except some people will tell you Jesus was only talking about humans. You can also quote Martin Luther King, Jr: “Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.” In other words, do it because the powerless need defending, and because in defending the powerless we become blessed/empowered/alive/real.

That’s one answer. The other is, when everything around you is sliding out of control, if you only have something small in front of you that you can do to alleviate suffering, you should do it. Whatever it is. I can call DC and register my concerns, but I can’t single-handedly stop anything. Most of any “social justice activism” lifestyle comes down to adding our voices to a larger pot, not being a soloist hero.

When a cat is in front of you, and it’s sick or pregnant or cold, you can pick it up and take it to the vet. (Yeah yeah, nobody has any money; there’s more than one way to pay for a cat.) And it won’t suffer needlessly.

The world is going crazy. Kids have cancer. People hate each other. So I’m rescuing cats while Rome burns. Yeah. Okay. I’ll take it. It’s what’s in front of me, and I know how to do it. It makes a difference to the cat and the cat’s new family; if that’s all the good that comes of this action, fair enough.

That said, petting a cat lowers your blood pressure (assuming you are not allergic, of course) so it’s not all about giving. Watching cats play is better than watching TV. Especially these days.

I’m not an ostrich with my head in the sand; nor am I numb. I’m making those phone calls and keeping up with relevant news. But the biggest small changes I can effect these days are fur-bearing. I’m downy with that.

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Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, blue funks, folklore and ethnography, humor, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, small town USA, Uncategorized

The Monday Book: WAFFLE STREET by James Adams

True confession: I found this book from the movie. During my recent writing retreat in Florida, I was looking for “mindless entertainment” to fall asleep by. With my trusty laptop propped on my stomach, I surfed Netflix, and found that people who liked The Big Short tended to watch Waffle Street.

Fair enough; I wasn’t looking for much. What I got was way beyond expectations. The heartwarming story of white guys finding redemption in places they wouldn’t normally hang out (a la that Starbucks saved my life book and all) turned out to be something between a financial handbook for dummies and a quirky character sketchlist for small towns. I loved the film and the book.

A lot of the really good explanations of financial stuff (using chickens and waffles) fell out of the movie, but when you find out that James’ best friend at the restaurant was an ex-con grill cook, you have all the straight man set-up you need for the best lines ever about financial misconduct.

The book is heartwarming, sadly, but it’s also that wee bit unpredictable. Adams’ wife isn’t the sweet supportive pushover the movie makes her out to be. The restaurant owner isn’t a self-made down home boy. Throw in the crazy lady who keeps counting change to buy her favorite waffle, the evil midlevel manager who turns out to be human, and a few other stock characters who don’t quite fulfill their archtypes due to a few surprise moves, and pour syrup over the top – but lite syrup. Neither movie nor book are sticky with sentiment.

I did feel a twinge or two, reading the the book, that Adams was describing without solving. He isn’t saying “fight the system.” He’s saying “wow, look how funny the system is.”

He’s probably right about not wasting energy. Two pancake turners up for Waffle Street. waffle-street

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Filed under between books, Big Stone Gap, book reviews, humor, Life reflections, publishing, small town USA, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch, what's on your bedside table, writing

Baby Worries a Little Bit

Hi, I’m Baby. No, go ahebabyad; I’ll wait while you sing the lyrics of the pop tune going through your head. Really, it’s fine; I’m used to it.

Now then, thank you for the serenade but I really don’t feel like singing right now. My whole world appears to be tilting and I’m just so concerned. My housekeeping staff are getting older, and lately she’s been very unwell. He spends a lot of time tending to her, and the other day didn’t he come out of her room, scoop me up in his arms, and cry all over me? He said something like. “Baby, we love you and we’re going to make sure you’re okay.”

Well if that doesn’t frighten a body…..

They are very nice housekeepers and I’ve grown quite fond of them over the years. I’ve never had any other staff; they brought me here when I was literally a baby, and we’ve been together ever since. They understand my little needs and habitues, such as what time second breakfast should be, and how to draw the blinds to angle that afternoon sunbeam precisely onto the sofa cushion.

We like to watch cooking shows together, and until recently she and I never missed One Life to Live. Now, though, she spends her time in the bedroom, and my personal bed has been moved next to the sofa. It’s all clear to me; I shall soon have to move. That’s what he meant.

One does what one must, but I can’t tell you the conflicting emotions running through my mind at this moment. Will they be all right without me? Who will wake them up in the morning, ensure she doesn’t miss an important episode, see that he makes their evening meal on time? (He always made theirs right after mine.)

Also, although one doesn’t wish to appear selfish, who will look after me, since I must leave here? Where am I going? Will it be quiet, will it be warm? Will they be kind to me? I realize some of my little perks may have to fall by the wayside, but if one has to contemplate hardship, there’s a difference between no sunbeams and no supper.

Really, I don’t show it to the staff, but I’m very concerned. I hope the best for them, but whatever is to become of me? Being a white cat makes me “desirable,” she said the other day. Well, yes, thank you, of course. But will that be sufficient? I just don’t know….

Baby is available for adoption through Appalachian Feline Friends. Message them or Willie Dalton for information. She is six years old, spayed, and utd on all shots. She prefers a quiet life with multiple meals and no expectations of entertaining children or controlling mice.

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Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, blue funks, humor, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, what's on your bedside table

Couples in Triplicate

couples-blogJack and I joined two other couples for a weekend in Asheville, to celebrate the end of 2016 (which has been a real mixed bag for all of us) and the wine-and-laughter-soaked start of 2017 with its blank calendar squares of hope.

It is fun to watch three couples interact with others while being their two-unit selves. You have the individual; you have the couple; and you have the team. Sometimes the difference between any of these borders is blurry; at other times they can be uncomfortably non-opaque.

One person forgot essential meds; another dropped a bag that held a bottle of hard-to-get wine, shattering it and soaking some rather delicate Christmas gifts in alcohol – sadly, not an improvement in this case. Spouses tend to be harder on internal errors than anyone else, yet protective of those who make them. It is okay for one of two to say “you idiot,” but not anyone else. Not that anyone else would, you know, because what makes us exhausted inside couples is no big deal outside. It’s all new; it’s all good.

There’s a quote about marriage that says partners are like the blades in scissors, always moving separately and even in different directions, yet always working together and quite capable of punishing anything that comes between them. I think of that quote often watching sets of two:one interact with larger numbers.

Perhaps it’s like reversing those long algebra equations where you’re meant to prioritize the relationships inside the brackets first; fail that, and your mathematical answer will be wrong. But in human interaction, outside the brackets we add up grace, empathy, and laughing first, so that the sum of the parts becomes simple and fun and gestalt. Inside the brackets where the math can be tighter and more complex, maybe you’re tired of talking it over, had it with being the spouse who looks after things. But as you walk down the street in your big group of giggling friends, your spouse reaches for your hand, or tuck yours into the crook of his arm, and the rest dissolves. It’s all right.

Because marriages, like friendship weekends at New Year’s, celebrate not just the hopes to come, but the good and bad past memories that shaped the brackets you live in and made you the happy two:one you are.

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Filed under Big Stone Gap, home improvements, humor, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, small town USA, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch

The Class Action Pawsuit

15174405_1371938066150587_670575587_n-copyAs regular readers of this blog will know, our eldest cat Owen Meany works as a paralegal at the law firm across the street from the bookstore. He’s held this post for two years now, and I have no idea how many felines he’s assisted in suing their owners for dereliction of duty or contractual negligence.

I just know he’s assisting our foster cats now. On the advice of our vet, Saint Beth of Powell Valley Animal Hospital, we have stopped giving them wet breakfast.

Wet breakfast was one can of Friskies (or whatever else was donated) per five cats, so it wasn’t a big deal…. we thought. Until we stopped.

Yesterday the cats ran to their usual breakfast location, pushing and shoving, and stood, dumbfounded, staring at me as I put away the dishes in which we normally feed them.

“Uh, you’re doing it wrong,” one said, extending a helpful paw. “You need coffee? This is the part where you open the cans.” Another butted a can at me with his head as if to say “Here ya go, lady.”cerulean

In an effort to placate them, a whole can of kitty treats got festooned across the counter like so many ornaments on a Christmas tree. They gobbled these, then looked up.

“And…..?”

I tried to explain, I really did. I laid out the logical reasons: the cats will nose at each others’ dishes, which is bad for infection control if someone has a cold or infection; wet food messes up the, ehm, monitoring of the bowels by which any foster mom measures cat health – yes, it’s true, we examine poo.

They were unimpressed. A few minutes ago I found a delegation surrounding Owen, pushing a piece of paper forward. I’m pretty sure it was the foster agreement we have with Appalachian Feline Friends.

isabellaPoor cats. There’s nothing in there about wet breakfast. But Owen is very crafty. He’ll come up with something along the breach of contract front. Jack and I fully expect to be served with papers this week.

We just hope they’re not from the litter box.

 

 

 

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

Toilet Yarn Bombing is Da Bomb

whoville-2016-035It’s not often that one gets to yarnbomb one’s own toilet.

Now that I have your attention…. :]

Jack and I took yesterday to get into the Whoville Spirit of things for the holidays here in Big Stone. The whole town has a Who theme going – I keep waiting for someone to display an album cover of Roger Daltry, but so far, everyone is behaving.

who-bugThere were days when one could join the cutout painting brigade, but with our crazy schedules, Jack and I had to handmake our contribution. So naturally it involved yarn.whoville-2016-036

Welcome to the Bookstore Whoville 2016, ladies and gentlemen! Flash photography allowed. And Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Since I live with a Scot, it’s a somewhat mixed bag here.

horton

 

 

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Filed under Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, crafting, home improvements, humor, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch

Juanita Tries to Figure out Humans

15134332_1371938282817232_41046199_n-copyHi! I’m Juanita, and I am staying at the bookstore with my friends until my forever family arrives. We are having a very nice time. There’s Milky, she was found on the streets. And Frosty, he was from the shelter, like me, but he was later. And there’s Delight, nobody’s really sure how she got here. And Pear, her family moved and left her. And then there’s some kittens from the work farm at the prison; the warden asked if they could come live here.

We all live here together. We look really different and we’re all different ages and even purrsonalities. Delight is really shy and Pear doesn’t like to be carried. Me, you could carry me into next Christmas and I’d be okay with that. I love to snuggle and sometimes Milky and I have to share spaces when the humans sit down. There’s only so much lap space in the world, but we work on it together and we always fit. It’s not hard.

So the humans here, they’ve just had an electric-nation, I think is what Dad said, and they’re all worried. It must be hard to be a human; there’s a lot more to pay attention to than just eating and sleeping and playing for them, I guess. That wouldn’t be any fun.

Mom and Dad  say that it’s hard to just be yourself these days, because maybe some people are going to be mean to others, and you have to be nice to everybody, but if you’re nice to everybody, you’re nice to the mean people and the nice people, and that means no matter what you wind up being mean to somebody.

I don’t understand any of it. Mom and Dad are nice to cats, so I guess they’d be nice to people too, and since people are in charge of stuff–you know, like tuna, and where the sunbeams are–they have to be nice to each other, or some people won’t have enough stuff. I remember at the shelter, when cats didn’t get enough stuff, it went from friendly to mean real fast.

The world has a lot of room in it, Mom says, and some of it is for me, and some of it is for the other cats, and we’ve got enough room and stuff for everybody as long as nobody says only certain cats can have it. But why would anybody do that?

So I hope the humans can learn to get along. Mom says sometimes it has to do with what color you are. Which is like the dumbest thing ever. I’m black and white, and Pear is striped, and the kittens are all solid orange. But we don’t have any trouble. Mom says I have to think of it like one cat saying only orange cats are good, and the others have to do what he says. And I think, weird. If you don’t like a cat, you stay away from him. Mom says that it doesn’t work that way for humans, but I shouldn’t worry. And that I’m gonna get adopted soon.

I hope so. I got plans for sharing my space with other cats in a big happy family. Come see me and maybe we can talk about that.15174405_1371938066150587_670575587_n-copy

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