"WHAT WOULD RELIGION BE WITHOUT MERRIMENT?" ~ St. Thomas Aquinas

Friday, January 4, 2013

My Thirteen-Year-Old Car



So many people name their cars. My aunt even had hers blessed before she went on a long trip. It's a Catholic thing--as if the St. Christopher medal didn't have enough spiritual umph to get her out of a jam in case she found herself in one.

I named my thirteen-year-old Subaru Speedy when I bought it used six years ago. Now, you're going to think I was either being derogatory or it truly can hit the high double digits. Neither. I was reading A Team of Rivals at the time I bought the car and decided I would name it after Joshua Speed, one of Lincoln's closest friends when he was a practicing lawyer.

I must admit there are times when I glance at newer means of transportation and have quick pangs of desire, but I return to the comfort of possessing one of the finest cars ever made. As someone once described another Japanese brand, "you can't kill it." This is true. Not that I would want to.

The car gets me where I want to go, a vehicular version of an old sweater, enfolding me as I turn on the ignition; at the same time, remembering the dog--my golden retriever--who loved car-car rides and the comfort of knowing with its outmoded cassette deck, no one would have any desire to covet it or, heaven forbid, steal it. The security remote has been disabled, too, so I can manually lock it when I get out of the car, another homespun adaptation to my tastes.

Oh, my word--is it possible I have lost my marbles? No, I haven't. I am happy with what I have. After all, historically, I have had a Ford that could do ninety-five and did (my first car); a firey red Firebird; an adorable robin's egg blue Renault I burned up, a baby blue VW bug which always started right up at -25 degrees in upstate Pennsylvania; and a Triumph Spitfire which I cruised in death-defying fashion.

I don't need flash now. I need dependability and camaraderie. Besides, my golden passed away in the car I'm driving and you don't think that has created further attachment to the car..

I'm attached to it on so many levels. I swear if I'm ever in a position to buy a new car, I'm not going to do it. I don't think we'll have the same rapport.

Speedy, at this moment, is sitting in the garage, housed and waiting for the next errand. I can't wait to take it out and commune with some ever-sympathetic cylinders and a little Cyndi Lauper.

Although I think Speedy would rather have a helping of Merle Haggard.

--Julie

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Christmas Up Ahead

All this time it seems as if I have been standing on a conveyor belt, having gotten on about mid-October with its cornstalks, squashes and pumpkins going by, only now to see Christmas lights up ahead.

Well, it could have happened because pending life changes are absorbing all waking moments, with preparations, packing, cleaning, stripping wallpaper and--let's see--recycling household items. I didn't even include those quotes from the good folks gracing my threshhold who would like me to consider  replacement windows, tree pruning and estimates for repairing a windowsill and shed.

It's been quite a grouping of professionals--especially when one handyman didn't show and I run into him at the local hardware chain store. Oopsie! We smile. I'm holding all the accoutrements of the job we have in common. He explains he had truck trouble. I give him an eye roll.

When something like this happens, I'm convinced we all have a spiritual audience that enjoys such serendiptions (I know that's not a word--give it time) since there must be a shortage of sitcoms on celestial cable.

Anyway, the time away from this blog should not have been this long, and for this I apologize. I do traipse in to update the reading list every so often, as I finish a book. I truly appreciate current authors, but those from years gone by need a freshening up and a little attention, so those I've been reading and loving every page.

It's a comfort knowing you're always welcome to take a break and read while a belt moves you ever so gently to a glittering holiday finale.

Enjoy the Season!



--Julie & Tom the Church Cat

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Please Stop the Days


I feel a certain antiquity seeping into my bones. Every so often I think of someone's father who is long gone. In fact, that person is long gone, too and I ask why my own edges are burnt and my script faded.

I don't like the idea of growing old at all. I don't like it for me and I don't want it for anyone else, either. And, God forbid if there is a passing on to the next life, as we so gently express, of our beloved pets, then we are slapped real hard and wake up to inevitability.

I have about ten to twenty years left, if the cursed "c" don't get me and I don't find myself in a shootout. My bones and joints ache. I'm in constant argument with my body about what it should be able to endure. I give it a lot of responsibility since my own father told me the body has a remarkable ability to heal itself. Well, then, heal away, my friend. I won't drink, smoke or eat junk food and in return, I would like things patched up and fixed and running until the last spark plug.

All I can hope is that death will be an adventure, that all of the horrific tales about hell are reserved only for those who have committed heinous crimes against man or beast and for the rest of us, we have a nice time suspended in an eternity with blue lagoons and angel wings and no need for money.

I do intend to be part of life here, if I can, to keep that inevitable threshold that has a bad habit of appearing out of nowhere, from being so scary and sad.

I don't like the subject of death and it seems so painful lately with people we know either via the internet or day-to-day who are caught off-guard by the unexpected illness and heart-breaking end to their lives. There's humor in this essay I've written, but don't be thinking I take the subject lightly. As is so often the case, I see humor when I'm hurting the most.

As I'm putting together the plot for the third book in the series, I'm challenged with the eldest character, Father Jack, a good priest and as down-to-earth as they come who is constantly facing mortality each time he dispenses the holy oils. I don't know yet where he will lead me. ~ Julie

Friday, August 10, 2012

HIGH FEATHER ~ A Young Adult Mystery of Absent-Minded Misfortune



I'm not an exceptional writer.
Steinbeck is an exceptional writer.

I am an ordinary, round doorknob, coins in the ashtray kind of writer who is still working on her craft. I have no idea how long it will take me to reach the caliber of a Steinbeck or even an (early) Lilian Jackson Braun, but I'm enjoying the process. I can't say I'm enjoying a couple of the critiques. It's not that I can't see my faults, but when you dress them in medieval spikes fresh from a kill, they're a little hard to take. No matter how I feel about an author's writing and there are so many of us out there trying to get along with words the best we can, I would never, ever say the kind of things being said. Ever. Especially when it's obvious there are not that many reviews and the author is not hell-bent on seeking them or even paying for them. (Yes, good reviews can be purchased)

There are some authors, honest to God, I can't even read, they are so bad. Yet, I will maintain creative courtesy, knowing whatever needs to be fixed will evolve to perfection as the seasoning continues and the practice, practice, practice maintained. And, I have to be honest, I rarely read someone's first book. So, I am extremely grateful to those who embraced mine, knowing I gave it all I had at last year's stage in my writing career. Thank you to the many who enjoyed my effort; and, to those with barbs, I didn't write it for you, anyway.

I am indebted to those who support me now and have supported me all along. I am fortunate to be part of a cat-loving community that has helped me keep my feet on the ground while I indulge in flights of fancy and a fertile imagination, ever-present since childhood.

It reminds me that each of us has a time and place the good Lord has set for us to shine. But, and I say this quite often, it may not be right here and right now. After all, we can't all be heralded at once.

Let's applaud those who have worked hard and seek just a little recognition for their passion, no matter what it is. It's what you say, how you say it that is so important. Not for the sake of delusion, but for easier treading on slopes that are more serendipitous than we all like to admit. After all, those friends could very well be cheering you when the footlights come on and the music really begins.

Be happy.

--Julie

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Two Friends

The first Tom and Vinny in better times, inseparable.


It's a lot easier to write a blog as a cat than as yourself. That's one of the things I've discovered. I don't know why more people don't take on the persona of another--animal or character--and have at the world, or in my case, also embrace a world created within the pages of a novel. Actually, four cats now inspire the character of Father Tom. The original cat still graces the header of his blog and is very much alive in it.

In reality, his passing and the consequent hole in my heart is something I have trouble facing. He was my first editor, the constant visitor to my quiet spot under the stairs, the four-legged love of my life (I've had a couple of two-legged) and I miss him more than words could ever express. Before they did exploratory surgery almost two years ago without much hope for medical redemption, we had a long talk, my arms cradling him as we waited in the car for the clinic to open. It was pouring rain and I told him what was going to be happening. If he had to leave this Earth, I asked him to stay with me, and help me take his story as Father Tom to readers. I begged him to be with me as my inspiration, my ever-present muse. He purred. Wouldn't stop. I took that to mean he would.

No, I haven't talked about it. Now that I am, I find comfort in the fact that his absence is part of my life, not part of his story, one that lives on in as many books or worlds as I can create for him. And, my baby, that's the least I can do, my friend. If it weren't for you, there would be no Tom, no Temptation Parish and no laughter in a place just this side of holy.

I'm glad you lived long enough to see that you have a legacy and are still going to be very much a part of it. Your spirit will be there for every scene, innuendo and suspenseful bit--and so will your roman-collared sidekicks, Fathers Jack and Will and the lovable souls that now keep me company.

And with your spirit,

Julie


Friday, May 11, 2012

Off the Cuff



I swore I would never approach a post this way, but there is much that needs to be said regarding what I have written. I have not committed any sins (at least none that I know of) in the writing of A Temptation Tale, yet, there is that hesitation on the part of the Catholic media to introduce the book.

If hesitation is the antithesis of decisiveness, then let me explain my frustration from where I stand. I am fed up with the Catholic Church's sex scandals. Every time I turn around, I am confronted with some news in that regard from some part of the world. I am trying to create a community through my books that is very human, but a far cry from the nether hell that is consuming the psyche of the church and its priests.

Before my first novel came out, I even had discussions about whether I should change the denomination of the parish from Catholic to Episcopalian, just to avoid the challenges of trying to introduce a parish to a public jaundiced by recent events. I decided to be true to my word and my world, but I'm beginning to wonder if it's worth it.

 I grew up Catholic. What I write about I have experienced. Did my pastor have an old love affair with his housekeeper "back in the day?" No, but plenty of priests have love affairs, internal passions that are sometimes the biggest hurdle of their lives, not to mention celibacy. Have there been overly-flirtatious parishioners with handsome priests? Yes, there have been and always will be. How about an unexplainable attraction between a young priest and the son of the housekeeper, in his twenties, unsure of his own sexuality? Now, we're getting into the multi-layered plot of the book with its gristle, warmth, worldliness and comic relief. My characters, including Father Tom, stand tall among these.

I wanted to write about a parish that was real. Not real, mirroring the reality of the church's dark shadows, but real in that sincere attempt to balance humanity with spirituality. It's unfair to all of us who grew up with fluttering habits, incense and mea culpas to be constantly hit with news that shames us to the core. We recover, partly because there's an undeniable faith ever present.

Methodically strewn among the rusted thumbtacks are those innocent moments at Temptation of Christ Parish, when affection and friendship rise above everything else and form the basis for comprehension in a complicated world. A very independent and affectionate community, it has no hierarchy or affiliation that would tarnish its position in the heart of those who love their religion and want to insulate themselves from outside whispers. Parishioners bask in this unique environment since it serves to nudge each and every one of them toward a comfortable salvation without interference.

If the Catholic media wants to keep controversy to a minimum, I say, good luck. The festering and poor judgment will periodically erupt and there's nothing that can be done about it.

I thought I could create a most necessary diversion.

--Julie