Category Archives: humor

Isabella has a few Things to Say

isabellaWell h’lo there! I’m Isabella. I came from a large family of cats – fourteen or so of us – that got dispersed because Dad died and Mom was kinda fed up with the whole thing.

I’m spayed and I keep my sleeping area neat as a pin. I’m so glad to finally have one of my own to keep! Used to share with three of my sisters, and they were always sticking their feet in my eyes.

I wear a tuxedo all the time, but I’m not stuck up or dressy or anything. My foster mom here says the tuxedo is right for me ’cause I’m not very feminine. Or maybe she said feline. She says I run around so much, I’m like a lightning bug on cocaine.

I’m really good at catching lightning bugs. And flies. And dust beams. Foster Dad says I’m their tiny dancer ’cause I do the most graceful pir- piroue – flips. He says I’m more fun to watch than television.

At night when things slow down I like to wait until Mom’s asleep and then sneak down and get between her shoulder and her chin. It’s my favorite place to sleep. When she wakes up and finds me there she laughs. She says no one would ever believe I could hold still long enough to sleep.

isabellaMom asked me what I wanted in a forever home, and I’ve given it a lot of thought between runs. I want a place where it’s okay to climb up on things. I LOVE being queen of the cat castle in the mystery room here at the bookstore! It would be fun to have another cat or two around, and I don’t mind if there’s dogs. It would be nice to have some older kids to play with, but I’m not gonna get dressed up in a bonnet, ‘kay? I play; I don’t get played with. And NOBODY puts Bella in a stroller!

Other than that I don’t much mind what kind of home it is, so long as it’s forever and the people are nice and don’t expect me to ride around on their shoulders. Laps are cool; shoulders and getting carried, not so much. Why ride when you can run?

So maybe you’re looking for a good mouser inside (I’d be lonely in a barn) or a friendly cat to play with who isn’t gonna be all co-dependent and everything. That would be ME!

Come by the bookstore. Ask for Isabella. See ya!adoptables 036

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

To Caffeine or not to Caffeine? That is the question.

bean memeSo most of you know I turned in the manuscript to Fall or Fly, my journalism-storytelling book about foster care in the Coalfields, and then got sick. For a week I was down, during which I basically didn’t eat or drink much.

Two weeks later, down I went again with something viral. With the end result that no coffee has been in my body for almost a month. Nor iced tea, nor hot tea, nor other caffeinated beverages.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been monitoring how that changes anything – do I sleep better (possibly, jury is still out) feel better (the same) see any other advantages (I get out of bed ready to go as opposed to needing 30 minutes with the mug) or disadvantages (there really isn’t anything to order at a hotel for breakfast except expensive “juices” that don’t taste like real juice).

So, those of you who have kicked the habit, or who haven’t, any words of wisdom? Booksellers who don’t drink coffee are not unheard of. Booksellers who don’t drink coffee OR hot tea (Earl Gray, hot) are a bit more unusual. What will I drink at the salons? What about when out with girlfriend booksellers? Or just girlfriend posse members? There’s a whole social aspect to coffee, as there is with cigarettes. Will I miss the rituals? Will I miss the camaraderie?

Send thoughts. Send chocolate (I do still partake of that caffeine source). And thanks!

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Filed under between books, Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, folklore and ethnography, humor, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch

1/3 Piece of Dry Toast

sick dogI ate 1/3 of a piece of dry toast today. I might have eaten more, but our foster cat Butterscotch – the one who leads the charges and plots all the mischief – hopped up on the chair arm next to me as I sat in the bookstore with my meal. He spied the toast, gave me a bright smile of thanks, snatched it up in his mouth, and instigated a game of hockey with his foster brothers, Justin, Edgar, and Alfie. There was some complicated scoring mechanism by which they took bites at certain times, so the remaining toast was soon gone.

But it had done its work; it settled in and stayed put in my stomach, a place I had come to think of as similar to the Bad Marshes of Middle-Earth: gases everywhere, unsure footing leading to likely death; and an explosion could happen at any moment.

So I’m on the mend from the Virus of Voiding that seems to be making the rounds these days. Three nights of simultaneous toilet-and-sink hugging, my cheeks resting at each end on cold porcelain, hadn’t left much inside to expunge.

I am now determined to change my diet if I ever get back to eating real food. Our Good Chef Kelley has promised me vegan falafals. I may never touch caffeine again, after the withdrawal headache that exacerbated the first night of misery.

Who am I kidding? A life without Pal’s Tea wouldn’t be worth living. But speaking of misery upon misery, I really think it ought to be a law that one should not have to deal with poison ivy at the same time as the Voiding Virus. The cats have been going out in this warm weather, and apparently the favored spot of My Archenemy beneath our apple trees is going strong. I have poison ivy on my chin and neck, from where they gave me cat scans during my comatose illness state.

All the same, I’m on the mend. I am actually thinking about the future in a hopeful way: bookshelves to sort, pages to write, cats to foster. I may manage a whole piece of toast by supper–assuming I can hide it from Butters, of course. And someday soon, I will sip a cup of hot tea.

Soon. For now, though, I shall return to my bed and a book, and try to keep the cats from sleeping on my neck.

Slainte

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

Alfie Ruminates on Life, Love, and the Joys of Clean Feet

003 adoptables 033 Alfalfa 020 Alfalfa 022Hello there – I’m Alfie. I like having this name. The nice nurses at the hospital gave it to me, and some of them were REALLY cute. But it hides something that’s sad, and a little bit embarrassing. I’m only sharing here because I think it might help people understand something important about shelter cats.

I went to the shelter with a lot of sores on my feet and my tongue. I had what’s called an autoimmune disease, which really means my body was so stressed out, it couldn’t fight off something simple. Like when you get a cold, but you just had an appendectomy, so you get wind up in bed with pneumonia.

So when I showed up at the shelter, well, there’s no nice way to put this: I smelled bad. Like rotten hay. Because the sores on my feet and in my mouth had gotten infected. And those nice nurses, they took one look at me, and they knew what to do, and they fixed me right up. Plus gave me my name: Alfalfa.

Let’s face it, what chance does a cat who smells bad have in a shelter? Zippo, nada, none. That’s why I’m very grateful to the pretty nurses who got me all set with those salves and that shot (which hurt, but given the alternative I don’t mind).

I’m not gonna need any more medicine, because now that I’m not scared and hungry all the time, my body has taken care of the problem. I just needed a chance, y’know? A chance to rest up and not worry about anything and put some weight on. And I want you to know, if you had anything to do with helping me, or any cats with a little bit of damage like me, we’re very grateful. Cats aren’t famous for saying thank you, but when there are so many of us, sometimes people think they should give up on the ones with something wrong. I’m living proof that, if you’re willing to take five minutes to help us fix the problem, we will make it worth your while with a lifetime of love.

Now that I don’t smell bad, people like to hold me, and that’s my favorite thing in the world. I remember what it was like when they backed away with their faces all wrinkled, so I make sure the people know how much I’m loving being cuddled.

Oh yeah, I’m adoptable. I have fur that everybody says is really unusual and pretty – look at it one way and it’s stripes, but from the other way it’s spots. And it’s silver, changeable like mercury. So if you want to adopt me, I’m hanging out at the bookstore with some other cats who got a second chance. We’re none of us babies –  I think Izzy is the youngest, and she’s five months old. Real brat, too, if you ask me – but we’re all great purrsonalities. So come visit the bookstore and while you’re there be sure we get in a cuddle, okay? ‘Cause I wanna say thanks.

 

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

The Monday Book: THE PUG LIST by Alison Hodgson

pug listAlison Hodgson got in touch with me out of the blue to see if I’d write a back blurb for this book, then sent an advance reader copy.

Pug List deals with a heavy subject (arson) in a light way (family love and insanity exacerbated by furry love). It’s published by Zondervan, a Christian house, and it’s inspiring without being in-your-face overt. She deals with questions of love, safety, commitment, amidst sweet family stories about dogs, kids, and trying to get to work and school when you have nothing to wear–literally.

By turns sweet and terrifying, Hodgson takes us on a journey through the rebuilding of a house and a home. Regaining trust, recovering personalities, and adding a fur baby to the family on the way, she talks without sentimentality about the love of God for us, the love of mothers for families, and the love between kids and dogs. This memoir is a charmer.

In the interest of full disclosure, Little Bookstore is mentioned about 2/3 through the book, because Alison had just finished reading LB and was struck by the section recounting an encounter with a fire victim. Alison had a similar experience to the one I described while trying to replace some of things insurance had (finally) allowed her to, including several precious titles.

The Pug List comes out in April and can be pre-ordered now. We recommend asking your local bookseller to get it for you, as that gives Hodgson more points as an author than ordering online. Or order it from Powell’s if you’re not fortunate enough to have a bookstore nearby. But if you like memoirs and Christianity, you’re gonna love this sweet, surprisingly cheerful story of a family rebuilding its life, house, and confidence.

 

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Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, blue funks, book reviews, home improvements, humor, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, publishing, reading, small town USA, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch

The Monday Book: THE MOUNTAINTOP SCHOOL FOR DOGS AND OTHER SECOND CHANCES by Ellen Cooney

mountaintopschool-bookThis is kind of a stream of consciousness book, but it has three of my favorite things in it: cool characters, dogs, and a redemption theme. Evie leaves her drug rehab program without completing it and lies her way into a job at a dog rescue, run by four ex-nuns at the top of the mountain. At the bottom is Mrs. Auberchon, a basket case in her own right, who is the rescue warden and runs an Inn. She’s a hoot. You kind of wish you didn’t like her.

The dogs are their own characters, each with a story of how she or he was liberated or dropped to the rescue. What might sound like it would be predictable as a plot is written in such a quirky way, you really can’t always tell what’s going on. This is one of those edgy books that doesn’t even get close to sentimental because it’s too busy startling you.

Here’s a quote to give you an idea of Cooney’s weird, wild writing style: “Sometimes when dogs greeted a returning soldier, they’d go over the edge. They would have to take a few moments to run crazily in circles around the human, or around a room or a yard. I’d have to take a break from watching, so my brain had a chance to absorb what I was seeing: that there is such a thing as joy being bigger than the container that holds it.”

Two paws up, no opposable thumbs.

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Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, book reviews, humor, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, publishing, reading, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch, what's on your bedside table, writing, YA fiction

The Rituals of Writing – Plus a Monkey Wrench or Two

Many many thanks for your patience, gentle readers, and thanks to those of you who got in touch to see if we were okay. Yes. Better than okay because Fall or Fly: The Strangely Hopeful Story of Adoptions and Foster Care in Coalfields Appalachia has gone to the publisher on time.

We all know writing comes with a few rituals. Some people work in specific locations, others have lucky editing pens, or writing clothes. Me, I get sick as soon as the book is in. That’s how it goes. The relentless rush to the last deadline, followed by five days of lying catatonic in bed, staring at Scandal on Netflix. (How many ways are there to murder someone without getting caught in DC? Don’t answer that.)

So I pushed send on Monday, and then lay down in a stupor. But the two weeks prior to that, I had been doing nothing but type and crochet for so long, my right hand went numb. When I got on the Crochet Addict Black Sheep list (this is for people who have been kicked off Crochet Addict, a thing that is not hard to accomplish) they gave spot-on advice naming the actual muscles that needed attention by number. I went up to see the amazing TNB, aka Brandon Tester, chiropractor to cat rescuers everywhere (his wife is the local vet) with the recommendations, and he went down the list and made everything okay again.

But he did suggest, given the frenzied typing, that I cool it with the crochet for a bit, saving the muscles. For which I apologize to those waiting for their braided scarves. My crojo (mojo for crochets, ya know) is back and all orders will get filled by St. Paddy’s Day. My hand is in order, my book is in, my life is my own again, and my threads are running true.

So thank you for being patient – about the disappearance of this blog, and the crocheted stuff. And for continuing to be patient about Fall or Fly. It is in the Spring 2017 publication list from Swallow Press. I’ll be getting final edits back in May, and another month of ducking and diving will follow, and then this book full of shadows and light will be ready to roll.

It’s such a different book from Little Bookstore. And yet it’s a community story. I’m looking forward to its telling. A couple of the readers have suggested I will be getting it in the neck, because there aren’t a lot of punches pulled in it. But there it is. My hand didn’t go numb for nothing.

Meanwhile, back to the threads of a different life, and onward toward Spring of this year, with its many promises. Including snow tonight, in the Gap. Stay warm, neighbors.

(For those interested, this is the photo that got me kicked off Crochet Addict into the arms of the Black Sheep.)

DSCN0278

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Filed under animal rescue, between books, Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, crafting, humor, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, publishing, Scotland, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch, writing