Tag Archives: Owen Meany

Beulah Plots Revenge

beulahGood morning. My name is Beulah, and I am the shop greeter at Tales of the Lonesome Pine Used and New Books (The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap).

No doubt news of my recent lawsuit has reached you by now, so allow me to provide the untold half of this story. People tend to side with their own species so quickly….

Yes, I am suing my employers for compensatory damages after emotional distress, and punitive damages. Owen Meany has assisted me in filing the needed legal briefs with Mr. Kallen, the lawyer across the alley.

Here are the facts of the case: On Thursday last I was taken against my will to a local animal hospital. In a carrier into which I was stuffed headfirst. Like a sack of potatoes. Despite my best efforts, which I assure you were considerable.

At said hospital I was drugged, and this was done to me.

beulah shaved IIGo ahead, laugh. I’ll add you to the lawsuit.

As I came groggily to myself, an unspeakable procedure called a “fecal exam” was performed. I added the animal “doctor” to my lawsuit. Don’t let that sweet little smile fool you; this woman is a sadist.beth More about her later.

One would think enough suffering had been inflicted, but on my return “home” I was locked in a room for three days, while vile concoctions were mixed into my food, something called “panacur.” First it was in milk. When I rejected this, they brought tinned food, again with the horrid stuff. I don’t know which was worse: having this thrust at me, or their belief that I was unintelligent enough to fall for such simple bribery.

But then they brought chicken. Lightly poached in its own juices. In tiny shreds. My willpower weakened from two days of confinement…..

I ate the chicken until I detected a foreign substance in my mouth. Ejecting the small pink pill (which they’d so “cleverly” smeared with chicken fat) via a ladylike “ptui,” I continued my meal.

The next day, a plate of tuna awaited me. As I loathe tuna, I followed protocol and covered it with cat litter. (Did I mention they’d provided me with a nasty little portapotty?) The unhygienic humans removed the pill–now looking very unappetizing indeed–and came toward me.

The phrase “fought like a wildcat” is incorrect. I fought like a calico. When three of them finally got the thing in and held me down, I waited. And waited.

I am very good at waiting. When they released me with murmurs of “good kitty, sweet kitty” I looked up at the ringleader and spat out the pill.

Their curses were as music to my ears.

By then I had been in confinement for three days, enduring the vile panacur mixed with chicken shreds. The humans, apparently satisfied with this torture, released me.

And then…. SHE came back!!!!!beth hood

As I sat at my old familiar post, greeting customers, Miss Priss trotted across the lawn, and before I knew what was happening, she had grabbed me and forced a whole new pill down my throat. I resisted, I fought, and then I waited. And waited.

But so did she. My mouth filled with saliva. I thought I would drown. And still she waited, smiling. Oh, that smile……

Finally instinct took over, and–curse all the dogs of this world and the moon–I swallowed.

The Evil One released me at once. And. Patted. Me. On. The. Head.

“Was that so hard?” she said, and as the door closed, I heard her say, “No, no problem at all. She’s a little lamb.”

I moved her name up in the lawsuit to primary defendant. You’ll get yours, Missy. Just you wait.

Owen tells me it may be next summer before my case comes to court. That’s fine. Revenge is a dish best served cold. I am very good at waiting….





Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, humor, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, reading, small town USA, VA, writing

She was Young, Lithe, Long-tailed…

cat romanceJack’s weekly guest blog

The other morning I idly watched our two staff kittens, Owen Meany (male) and Nike (female) rolling around in a clinch (heated embrace) in front of the paperback romances. And I was struck by a thought.

We have far too many romances and are having trouble shifting them, despite every conceivable (hah!) kind of discount or clever bundling. But my wife the author is always laughing about something known as “kitten cover theory.” Basically, the fastest way to sell a book is to put a kitten on its cover.

And we know for a fact that ‘cozy’ mysteries that involve cats or kittens fly off the shelf. . .

. . . so I wonder if paperback romances involving love-struck kittens mightn’t be a sure-fire seller? Nike tends to come off worst from her encounters with Owen – frequently with a scratch or a bruise. Hickies, in essence.

Titles began to appear in my imagination. ” Catermauling Lover,” “Kitten Canoodle,”  “My Highland Wildcat” –  –  –

Then cover art with muscular toms and shapely tabbies rolling around in each other’s paws.

The blurbs on the back of romances have always amused us and so I began to write them in my mind –

“She was young, lithe, and long-tailed. He was lean, mean, a real street tough whose whiskers quivered with desire….”

Well, that will be quite enough of that.

What makes this all a bit academic, though, is that Owen Meany isn’t quite the man he used to be and Nike is, even as I write, having a small ‘procedure’ carried out by Dr. Beth. So all future clinches will be purely platonic for both of them. Perhaps that adds to the romance?


Filed under animal rescue, bad writing, Big Stone Gap, humor, reading, small town USA, Uncategorized

The Chair Rests

We’re back on schedule! Jack blogs on Wednesdays.

Today I sing (well, type) of chairs and the strange mechanisms of Jack and Wendy’s mind.

No, don’t worry; this blog remains family-friendly….

We’ve been here six years now and until recently kept a set of wooden chairs in a bathroom cupboard, where they took up valuable storage space and were bloody awkward to get when we have events (and that’s often).

The other day, in a fit of “I must have this space” more than “Eureka!” I just distributed them around the odd corners of the bookstore as a temporary measure. Right after this, the “brass monkeys” weather (if you don’t know that saying, google it; this blog remains family-friendly) brought folk in whom we’d never seen before, passersby just looking to get warm. They bought a cup of coffee and obviously felt they should act appropriately in the store, so they sat down in the chairs and read books.

Eureka. Why didn’t we think of this sooner?

Many of our older customers have trouble bending to the lower shelves, and the chairs offer support. Plus, being a mishmash of thrift store finds, they just make the place look cozy and welcoming.

Having lived as husband and wife in four houses before we arrived here, I can now state with authority that neither Wendy nor I have any nesting instincts. It took until we were almost ready to move from each place before we finally got things organized to our liking—or even in a way that made any sense! We moved offices to every room, main bedrooms to every room, guest bedrooms to every room; Wendy once tried to move a kitchen into a bedroom.

In other words we’re just not good at forward planning – or any kind of planning. But we do serve a great cuppa, so come on down and browse. We have chairs out.

Young Owen tests a comfy chair

Young Owen tests a comfy chair


Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, humor, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA

Owen Meany in Love (or something like it)

We foster a lot of cats here at Tales of the Lonesome Pine, and this month we took in a teen mom and her three infants. The babies (Clyde Edgerton, Anne River Siddons, and Silas House) are thriving, and Tallulah (the mom) is putting on weight and getting a healthy shine back into her beautiful dark fur. She has russet undertones to her smoky brownness, and a very warm personality. As Jack said, “Easy to see why the boys went for her, eh?”IMG_3529

Indeed it is.

Tallulah’s a good mother, but even the Supermoms want some off-duty time. So the other day, when I opened the nursery door, she made a break for it–and ran straight into Owen Meany’s chest.

Owen Meany is our cheerful adolescent kitten. We’re not sure if he’s an eejit, or an evil genius; it’s amazing how he’s carved his place into the bookshop staff hierarchy in just six short months. For instance, he’s made friends with ValKyttie (something almost no one can do) and she lets him finish her morning snack right off her plate. Nobody else tries that, believe me.

Owen is also a big boy; think defensive lineman. So when Tallulah fell into his arms, he wasn’t even winded–but he was bowled over.

Nose to nose the pair gasped, Tallulah against Owen’s massive chest in a classic B-movie scene, gazing up at him from beneath long black lashes as he stared down in besotted amazement. Then Tallulah backed coyly into her nursery, while Owen, blinking, gazed at the closing door.

He looked up at me, golden eyes round and glassy. “Who? Was? That?

Well, it was inevitable. What did I think was going to happen when the linebacker met the homecoming queen? He’s in love. Or something very like it.

Owen now spends a lot of time passing by the nursery door in an overly casual way–“just out for a stroll, oh look, how did I happen to get here?”–listening in case his beloved wants anything. Last night I caught him sitting atop the phone directory, open to florists. We’re expecting a catnip bouquet delivery any moment.

I’ve tried to explain to him that she’s not staying, there’s no point in getting his heart broken, that she’s got kids and those relationships can be complicated for a boy just starting to date….

owen writing poetryBut he’s writing her poetry. We found him with this pen, looking pensive. I’m sure it will end in tears. There’s that little matter of Owen’s having been neutered.

Still, the course of true love never did run smooth.


Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, folklore and ethnography, humor, Uncategorized

The Bookshop’s Annual Video Christmas Card

Every year, Jack and I make some silly video for our Christmas card. This year, we decided a little dignity and gravitas would make a welcome change. Only, it didn’t. Enjoy the card. Yes, it’s like this all the time around here….





Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, folklore and ethnography, humor, publishing, small town USA, VA

Robo-Owen’s Guide to Reverse Culture Shock

We are pleased to present here the first of Andrew-the-shopsitter’s guest blogs post-shopsitting. He promises to send them now and again, and we look forward to them. For those unfamiliar with the term, Robo-Owen is a wee anamatronic kitten presented to Ali and Andrew on their departure.

It’s now been a few weeks since I left Big Stone Gap. And while I didn’t feel as if I had experienced any culture shock following my arrival in September, I must admit some reverse effects upon setting foot in New York again. My ability to maneuver in crowds is only now returning, after a number of shoulder bashes on busy avenues. I am very wary of cops, and have somehow convinced myself that there are a number of New York street laws I’ve somehow forgotten and am unconsciously violating. My ability to pick good pizza slices has atrophied.

There have also been positive side effects. I find myself itching to replicate some of the regular activities from the bookstore (although I don’t see many of my friends having the requisite skills for Needlework Night). I seek out company in ways I didn’t before… in small town ways. Instead of waiting to catch up at a party I’ve dropped in on friends to chat and drink tea. I cooked some recipes I learned at my family’s Thanksgiving. And I find myself back in the habit of reading.

There is a suspicious lack of animals in my apartment. Sure, there are the mice, roaches, and centipedes, but they’re not good company like cats and dogs. Speaking of, I introduced my brother’s cat Baxter to Robo-Owen. They seem to get along, but judge for yourself.


Robo-Owen is a poor doppelgänger for the possibly-evil, possibly-dumb real thing. For one, he never interferes with my cooking. But now my food-defense instincts are so strong and ingrained I’d be ready if he somehow reprogrammed himself for human food. He also doesn’t have claws, so my skin is no longer a tapestry of angry red lines. This makes him a disappointing sparring partner. Sometimes I’ll try and goad him, but unlike the real thing Robo-Owen is unflappable. Robo-Owen never falls asleep on my stomach or leaps into my arms. All in all he’s good company, and even has a mechanical purr, but he’s no replacement for the real deal Owen Meany.

Just like Robo-Owen is no real cat, I’m no longer a real shopsitter. But old habits die hard, so I may just start loitering around my local used bookstore until they kick me out for aggressive re-alphabetizing. Whatever my future away from Big Stone Gap may hold, I know that book and bookstore culture will remain a part of my life. So I look forward to sharing more of my own experiences with the book life in the near future.

Happy Holidays to all of you and to all of my friends in Big Stone Gap!

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Filed under Uncategorized

For Love of Owen Meany

owen meany 026I don’t read the reviews of my book, but Jack does. He says many have liked the book with 4 or 5 stars, and those who haven’t tend to say it’s either because I don’t like Amazon and box stores, or because I don’t like Owen Meany.

Not like Owen Meany!? I LOVE Owen Meany!! I’ve never had a cat like him.

owen yelling

Owen, for those who don’t know the story, was part of two families fostered together at the bookstore. We decided to keep him after the others were adopted—and his biological brother died in my arms, despite our best efforts to help him overcome a virus.

owen guitarLittle House kittens pt 2 008

We are still trying to decide if Owen is a criminal mastermind or a complete imbecile. He’ll curl into my arms on his back in adorable kitten pose, purring away with that curious cat smile on his face, a picture of innocence—until he reaches up with lightning speed and bites my nose. It’s his little way of saying, “I love you, Mommy.”

owen kiss Owen and leroy

His claws are like razor blades; they can rip denim. Ask our customers. And he’s allergic to milk, which he loves, so you can just imagine how much fun it is when I get out the cream pitcher to add some to my coffee. He’s a pushy little guy.

owen throne Owen’s favorite game is to push glasses—particularly antique long-stemmed wine glasses—off counters and tables. He loves the crash, and the pretty patterns of light reflecting off the broken bits. One day I raced across the room to save one, only to see him jump into the midst of the shards, pick up a large, curved piece in his mouth, and shake it like a mouse.

owen longI’m voting imbecile.

Owen wrestles with Bert, our scruffy terrier who outweighs his feline brother by double; Owen grabs Bert’s leg and pulls him to the ground, judo flipping at the last second so he winds up sitting atop Bert, chewing on his ears as Bert, looking embarrassed, tries to find a way to extricate himself while retaining canine dignity.owen books

And at night Owen comes to our bed, checks to see that we’re tucked in, and sits on Jack’s face in a loving way. Since Owen didn’t learn everything about cat hygiene that he needed to from his overworked foster mama, this can get… ugly. But, as Jack says, love comes in many forms.

owen and jack

Not love Owen Meany. REALLY!!! But, yes, I did hate the book.


Filed under Big Stone Gap, book reviews, folklore and ethnography, humor, publishing, Uncategorized, VA