Miss Missy Elocutes


Jack is busy finishing the paperwork for his town council run, so we appreciate Missy stepping in to write this week’s guest blog.

Good afternoon. My name is Missy and I am Foster Cat in Residence at Tales of the Lonesome Pine Used Books. They have invited me to live in their efficiency apartment while I sort my circumstances.

Nothing sordid, mind you, but I was living with a family of six cats and one human staff member up until November of last year, when our housekeeper’s big heart finally gave out. We were all very sad; she was such a good woman.

Of course we had no idea what was in store for us, but we were quickly split up and sent to stay with relations. My companion Smudge and I wound up here. I wouldn’t say a word against Smudge, but let me assure you, we shared nothing but the bills and housekeeping chores.

missy sittingSmudge was quickly adopted, but I’ve been here at the bookstore’s Hostel for Distressed Gentlecats about a month now. My time has not been idle. I’ve run up a pair of curtains for the windows and given the hardwood floor a good scrubbing. I’ve also improved the manners of the staff, and let me tell you, they needed some work. There seem to be four cats in permanent residence, and they had let things slide considerably. I even had to put up a fuss until a clean white towel was arranged under my food service area.

They are kind people, and I know they mean well, but the heart longs for a home of its own, does it not? I would like nothing more than to pack my (clean) ramekins and fluffy pillow, put on my good hat, and go out the door to a quieter, gentler place. While I don’t mind dogs as such, they do make quite a lot of noise. Really, I think it would be ideal for me to live in a home with a couple of younger cats. I could teach them deportment, and the finer points of life, like keeping one’s sleeping area clean, and how to brew a perfect cup of catnip tea. In the afternoon, as they dozed on the verandah, I could read them stories of a morally uplifting nature.

missy walkingAnd while a lady hesitates to discuss private matters, I am of a certain age (oh, all right, seven) and have been… {ahem} seen to down there.

So really, I’m only waiting for the right home to come along: quiet, calm, and with a housekeeper who is prepared to brush my fur at least twice a day. As I say, the people here are kind, but they do seem busy, and I really cannot abide missing a brushing. If you think you could provide these simple needs, do please stop by so we can discuss room requirements and mutual expectations. Thank you for this little chat, and I look forward to getting to know you better soon.

Book Trails

You know those “where’s George” dollar bills in circulation? And the “book crossing” books released in airports and waiting rooms, with a stamp inside to show where it’s been?

Well, book trails are similar. Book trails are the marginalia, the inside cover notes, and the other writings of humans on the artifacts of gathered wisdom, left like messages in a book bottle for us to find.

Jack and I had several boxes of donated books come in from a family clearing out an old house. Think pre-WWII textbooks and reading club hardbacks from the 1960s. We regard such donations with mixed emotions, as 95 percent will be junk. BUT there will be some cool things in there – and there might even be one or two books we can actually sell.

This time, two books caught my attention. One was a 1942 Home Economics Text. In its sturdy green (grubby) linen jacket, The Book of Home Economics by Mary Learning (poor woman; her name was her destiny) stood out from the rest because of a coda inked on its cover.

Printed in such excellent penmanship that at first it looked like a continuation of the title, were the words “In Case of Fire, Please Throw In.”

Ah, anonymous fed-up student of the 1940s, we feel your pain. And we’re glad you found a way to fight back that left us howling with sudden laughter, seventy years later. I hope your grandchildren know what a hoot you were in school.

The other book was a bit more… poignant. Stolen Lives by Elissa Wall and Lisa Pulitzer was published in 2009 and is still selling briskly. It’s about young brides forced into polygamous marriages. This one was hardcover, had lost its dust jacket, and was seriously beat up.

But inside the cover, written in a large scrawl, I found: “Josh does not think I should be with Aaron. He thinks I am too good for Aaron but he doesn’t understand that Aaron is too good for me. He thinks everyone likes the people who like them. But we like who we like. I wish I didn’t like Aaron. Aaron doesn’t like me.”

I wish I could think of a better expression of empathy than “Ah, shit, kid.”

It reminds me of Dodie Smith’s wonderful book I Capture the Castle, wherein the young protagonist describes love as a game of Pass the Parcel gone horribly wrong. Everyone is in love with someone who’s in love with someone else.

Book trails: markers on our individual journeys, reminding us that many have trod similar paths–toward love, toward life, toward families, toward death.

It never hurts to look up from a book now and again, and smile at the people around you. We’re making our solo journeys together.