Category Archives: VA

The Monday Book: QUICK, BEFORE THE MUSIC STOPS by

janet-carlsonThe test of a really good book is when the author makes you interested in something you don’t particularly care about. This book was left in our cabin at some point by someone staying there, and on a writing weekend, just to have a diversion, I picked it up.

Mostly I wanted to see how Carlson would handle a subject not everyone can connect with, but the writing style and her very gentle use of dancing as a metaphor for human relationships reeled me in. Yeah, dancing couple as married/courting steps is not a far stretch, but her blunt writing with the delicacy of describing human emotions were a nice juxtaposition.

Carlson tells how her marriage dissolved, how dancing kept her busy and diverted her attention toward other men, for good or ill, and how she got her groove back. And she makes it interesting – not too much technical information, but she she needs to describe how she had a head-on on the dance floor, she gives you just enough detail to be able to see it in your mind.

And although she uses a very obvious allegory as the overall premise of the book, there aren’t many cliches in her. Dancing backwards in high heels is not recurring as “pity me” stuff. The Russian Dance Master who is slightly mysogynist is not a straw man for all men.

I really enjoyed this book, as much for the writing as what she was writing about. Jack and I ceilidh dance socially, but that’s a far cry from this world. So kudos to Carlson for bringing her readers into her world with such elegance. She made it look easy. :]

 

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Filed under Big Stone Gap, book reviews, bookstore management, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, publishing, reading, VA, Wendy Welch, writing

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

Nothing is Scarier than a Blank Page -except maybe an Untold Story

blank-page1Jack and I are holed up at the cabin this weekend so I can get back to my book. It’s been so long, it feels like starting over in some ways. And it’s true, there is nothing scarier than a blank page.

The good thing about the cabin is, no Internet. Which means I don’t fritter time “checking facts” and otherwise pretending to write when I’m really online. The only way to get online is to drive five miles down the road to the Lonesome Pine Grill, buy a cup of coffee, and piggieback on their wireless. Which we do once per weekend only.

Now is a good time to be off the Net anyway, as post-election vitriol turns into fingers that point, names that fly, and tit for tat that makes kindergarteners look mature. It’s all over but the shouting used to mean something was finished; now it’s just descriptive.

Never mind. I’ve gone back to writing. The world may or may not be going crazy. Books to sell, cats to rescue, safety pins to wear, life goes on. What’s scaring me is that damn blank page.

I’m trying not to  make it a metaphor for America. For all the people who felt they weren’t listened to before the election, for all the people who fear their voices may be drowned out after.

There’s just this blank page in front of me, one I need to write on, to tell my story. That’s what comes next. Tell my small, sweet, simple story: cats, books, Jack, life.

Because we’ve all seen the power a good story wields. And what happens when stories go untold for too long. Tell yours. Nothing is scarier than a blank page. Fill it.

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

Delight is Not Happy

delightOkay, you people, listen up because I have just about had it, do you hear me?

I came here as a kitten with my brother Oreo after my mom died, and a week later he disappeared. They told me he’d been “adopted.” Sure. They killed him and stuffed his body somewhere.

So time goes by – I don’t know how much, okay? I’m a cat; it’s not like we wear watches or anything – and they’re feeding me wet stuff and there’s lots of cats here to talk to, although none of them knows where my brother is beyond that “gone to his forever home” thing, which sounds ominous to me. Still, being here, it’s not all bad, is what I’m saying. Or it wasn’t.

They kept trying to touch me. Some weird human fetish, I guess, they wanted to “pet” me, which means they bothered me when I was eating. Although I admit that spinal swipe thing feels kinda nice.

Anyway, one day they put down the wet food like always, and I start in, and suddenly the chick is behind me – there’s two chicks and a guy do most of the cat stuff here; don’t ask me about the relationships; humans are weird – and she grabs me. Hard. Tight. Scary.

I scream and struggle but she stuffs me in this box, and then we’re moving, and then I’m in this place full of barking dogs and this other lady has this needle – like two feet long, I’m telling you – and she STICKS IT IN ME!!!!

Next thing I know they’re all dancing around saying “she tested negative” and telling me how great this is, but I’m back in the see-through box with the hard sides, and my leg is killing me, and I’m just plotting how I can take them all down in one good karate bite-kick-chop. I’ve got moves these girls haven’t seen yet.

But I let it go, because they take me back to the place with all the wet food and cats, and the other cats, some of them got stuck too, so we’re all limping around trading war stories, and I’m a little more careful after that. No more unexpected grabbing.

And then….. and then…..

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me, right? This morning when the chick puts down wet food and gets all sweet and sneaky standing nearby, I know something’s up. I don’t bite. Literally. No wet food for me. And I think that’s the end of it.

Do you know what that bi–chick did? She waited until I was IN THE LITTER BOX. Is NOTHING private any more in this hellhole?

She grabs me – mid-stream, mind you – and I’m fighting for all I’m worth but the other chick appears from nowhere, and it’s back in the hard box with the see-through sides, and we’re moving again, and I think I’m going back to the barking dogs and scary smells place but after a LONG time (and I can hear other cats as we’re moving, but none of us know where we’re going) suddenly we’re in this bright room, and it’s again with the needle, but instead of it hurting the room starts spinning, and then it’s dark…

..and I wake up on this soft mattress and this lady with red hair is saying I was “so brave” and “everything’s fine” and I’m thinking “you don’t know for fine, bitch, just put your face a little closer to those bars.”

The other girls who came here with me, they’re all waking up too, and we’re exchanging notes, and we’ve all got sore tummies and little scars, and one of ’em, she heard from her mom, this is called “spraying.” We’ve all been sprayed.

I did not sign a consent form. That said, I don’t object to the idea I’ll never have to worry about raising kids. I saw how Mom struggled with Oreo and me before she got sick, how she worried about us as she was dying. All she wanted was for us to have it better, so no, I don’t want that responsibility. Still and all, it would have been nice to be asked. And that litter box scoop? No. Just, no.

Goes to show, you can’t trust anyone. Think I’ll be letting my guard down, that human hands will ever touch me again? Ha. No. Nyet. Not this little tuxedo cat. Nope.

I’ve got my eye on you, people.

Editor’s note: it is assumed by the staff cats and humans of the Little Bookstore that Miss, ehm, “Delight” will be staying with us indefinitely. While we welcome inquiries into her adoption, we recognize that it would be difficult to catch her in pursuit of such an option. Also, her personality is… challenging. Thus she may spend her days in our basement, eating, sleeping, and coming and going as she pleases. We have been advised by Owen Meany, esquire, that she has sought his legal counsel and an injunction has been filed against further caressing, touching, or medical procedures.

Good thing we got her spayed. That’s all that matters.

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

The Monday Book: THE FRIENDLY PERSUASION by Jessamyn West

You know how you start thinking about an old friend, and then look them up, and find they were thinking of you? This book is like that.

west-persuasionWest wrote it (and its companion volume Except for Me and Thee) more than 75 years ago, but it’s still just as funny and sweet, mostly because it’s about humans. Just humans, and how they interact, living on a farm in the Midwest as Quakers.

Well, there’s that Civil War bit, and their brush with the Underground Railroad, which is somehow more intense now reading it in these troubled years. So much should have changed by now…..

Not much has changed in human courtship, either, and the stories around love affairs (would be or actual) are as hysterical as they are accurate. If you want to just escape into a world that pre-dates Jan Karon but echoes our own modern troubles, this is a good one.

The author was a woman ahead of her time. She wrote two of my all-time favorite quotes about writing: “Talent is helpful in writing but guts are absolutely essential” and “Fiction reveals truths that reality obscures.”

That kinda sums up The Friendly Persuasion. One of the reasons people will still be reading it years from now is its poignant accuracy in describing human interactions.

 

 

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

Wesley Tells His Tail – Er, Tale

Today’s guest blog is from Wesley and his foster mom Willie Dalton. Willie is the author of THREE WITCHES IN A SMALL TOWN, from which the “dumpster six” take their names: Wesley, Steven, Cerulean, Agatha, Mabry, and Maeve. (Maeve is now of blessed memory). You’d love the book as much as the names. It’s available from Mountain Girl Press.

Take it away, Wesley!!!

wesleyHi, I’m Wesley. My five siblings and I had a rough start. Someone taped us up inside a box and dropped us in a dumpster when we were only a few weeks old. Can you believe it? We didn’t do nothin’ to nobody.

Luckily, a nice lady found us and helped us get the food and medicine we really needed. One of my sisters didn’t make it, and we all miss her. But the rest of us are happy and healthy now. I’m getting bigger and stronger every day!

And I sure am happy I can eat on my own now without having to wait for my foster mom to bring me a bottle and feed all my siblings too. I’m not very patient when I’m hungry. But who is, am I right?

My foster mom is great but I think I’m ready for a furever home. There’s a lot of other cats here and I’d appreciate a little more personal attention. Every time I find a nice warm lap to curl up in, my sister Cerulean comes along and hogs all the cuddles. She’s a bit of a diva.

ceruleanI guess I wouldn’t mind another cat or two to play with if the right family comes along but one I thing I definitely need is toys with feathers, lots of feathers, they’re really great.

Everyone who sees me says how handsome I am with my little white face and pink nose but so far no one has taken me home. Maybe it’s because I snore sometimes. I don’t know what else it could be! I’m cute, playful, cuddly and I have have very tidy litter box habits. I’m a real catch.

Mom says the right family will find me soon and fall in love with me, that sounds really nice. But until then I’ll just be napping on the softy blanket on the couch, ya know, until Cerulean tries to steal it from me.

To adopt Wesley, Cerulean, or any of the “dumpster six,” message Appalachian Feline Friends via Facebook.

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Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, book reviews, humor, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, publishing, reading, small town USA, VA, Wendy Welch, writing