Tag Archives: cute kittens

Erin the Shopsitter’s Guest Post

IMG_2868About a month ago I received a response to an email, which I had actually forgotten sending.  Sometime in the craziness of spring semester (probably while my 7th grade students were completing their STAR reading test) I had responded to an online blurb for a bookshop sitter in Big Stone Gap, Virginia.  I do remember thinking, Oh that would be fun but in that theoretical I will probably never hear back or my husband would never go for it way.  Yet here in my inbox was the response: asking if I were available in June.

My initial reaction was to say no.  I say no a lot when theoretical becomes reality.  Then I thought about a book gifted to me by a fellow teacher friend. The book, which I confess that I haven’t actually read, is Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. I used to be a yes girl. When had I become such a party pooper? After clearing it with my husband and making sure it was ok to bring my son Bryant with me, I said yes.

IMG_2924So here I sit, in an area of the country where I have never visited feeling occasional wafts of homesickness, but rediscovering parts of me that I had long forgotten existed.  I signed up to shop sit without actually knowing what that entailed.   No, I hadn’t read Wendy’s book The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap before arriving.  My only preconception of the town was a glamorized love story later made into a film starring Ashley Judd.

I pictured rolling green mountains and babbling brooks, which do exist and are every bit as breathtaking as I imagined.  I imagined hikes in the woods and finally starting to write again.  I imagined browsing and reading the endless titles of books available to me.  I envisioned Bryant and I going on scenic morning runs.

IMG_2894A lot of these things have happened and many have exceeded my expectations.  For example, the morning runs on the greenbelt are amazing. Bryant and I even entered a 5K to support the local football team, and for the first time in a long time I was able to beat him. Browsing titles in the bookshop and adding more and more books to my to read list is cathartic.  Tidying the kid’s room allows me to discover titles from my own youth that I had long forgotten.

The kindness and friendliness of the people of Big Stone Gap and its surrounding communities is more than I could have imagined.  The people associated with the Appalachian Feline Friends are so helpful because, let’s face it, I take care of one cat at home. Here, I take care of 1 dog (with more meds than my grandmother), 3 adult cats, and as many as 9 kittens give or take those adopted out and new arrivals.

IMG_2908The lady who cleans the shop obviously recognized my poor culinary skills, probably by the burned scrambled egg pan soaking in the sink, so brought me a delicious vegetarian meal. The patrons that visit the shop, whether to buy books or adopt a cat, stay and share so much more have taught me to value each individual’s story. Most importantly, I am learning to sit still and enjoy spending time with myself again, and who knows maybe this will lead to writing again.

 

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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, writing

Chiseling Away at Writing Time

DSCN1814For the past month, I’ve had edits waiting on my next book, Fall or Fly, about foster care and adoption in Coalfields Appalachia. And I’ve been thinking about the very astute notes from the editor and her associate reader and how they can be incorporated. In fact, I’ve been looking forward to sinking my fingers into it.

But I’m also passionately involved in Appalachian Feline Friends, a new effort coalescing individual rescuers into a formalized organization that will be more effective. And a lot of time has, of course, been spent by all of us on that. So to get a clear run at some of the edits without being surrounded by cat-work, Jack and I planned a long weekend at The Cabin.

Thursday evening there would be an event on, and Friday we would head out. Then Jack would continue on his way Sunday to the airport and head to Scotland, while I went back and did my college job and got help running the bookstore.

And God said “HA!”

Jack went down sick Thursday, a woman walked in crying with a kitten she’d found on the Greenbelt mid-event, we received five pre-arranged “adorably sweet” kittens who were not at all socialized and promptly climbed a bookshelf while emptying its contents on the floor, the author giving the talk got lost and was an hour late, etc. Fine. Maybe I could still go Friday? Nope. Friday morning Jack was not fine, so I gave up on the cabin idea until Saturday and handled stuff. Not exactly like a pro, but like a spastic woman feeling slightly sorry for herself, surrounded by kittens spewing venomous hisses and other effluvium.

And this morning Jack got up and said, “I feel well again, go to the cabin and I’ll take care of the stuff that got left and meet you there Sunday and since we’re closed Mondays, why don’t you take Monday off from the college and recover your lost writing day?”

Writing husbands are even better than cat husbands. They get it.

My friend Jane Yolen has written many advice pieces over the years urging writers to protect our writing time. She says it gets pecked to death by the many ducks of life if we’re not careful. Or in our case, nibbled away by rescue kittens. And also to value the things that distract us, because that’s where we get our writing fodder from. Sick husband care is a no-brainer game-changer, but being married to a guy who helps me protect the time is nice.

And when I get back Monday night, I’ll restock the bookshelves the feral babies have knocked down, and over the next two weeks our five fine and socialized babies will re-teach the new kids that life is not as scary or deadly as early experiences would have them believe, and they will become sweet and adoptable. It all works out.

See you Tuesday.

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Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, blue funks, bookstore management, humor, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, publishing, reading, Scotland, shopsitting, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch, writing