"What would religion be without laughter?" - St. Thomas Aquinas

"What would religion be without laughter?" - St. Thomas Aquinas

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Wanderlust Ring-Dings

I consume houses like snack foods.

Not the houses themselves, but exteriors, interiors, landscapes, you name it. I nibble on ideas for my own humble abode as I scan magazines and the internet for homes, one nicer and more enticing than the one seen before it.

I'm crazy about places to call home and can't seem to get enough. A psychologist would have a field day. They could say I'm looking for roots, a place that would satisfy some inner urgings, maybe even yearnings for a big house like my grandmother had. I've moved 26 times and anticipate moving again at some point. My fascination has only grown with the more places I've called home.

I had to put the brakes on recently because I was all ready to move again and just had to say, for now, stop--you're just not allowed. A voice was admonishing me with a stern reminder that there are others to consider besides myself, and it wasn't my resident felines. I am a writer and as such, I have an obligation to characters waiting patiently to settle into the homes I've created for them--homes being  the Temptation of Christ Catholic Parish rectory and the school-turned-condos that sits on the parish grounds. Those people can't live with uncertainty. They can't possibly have their households on hold. I would be remiss if I had them do that, hanging my head in shame in my role as creative landlord.

Many years ago, right at the time I was supplying articles for the local paper, I took a writing workshop. One of the exercises was to create a scene with which to start a story or novel. I had a woman getting off a bus, suitcase in one hand, the other clasping at her collar--a nervous gesture as she began her walk down a country road. A young boy popped out of the trees and shrubs lining the fence. She looked over at him. He smiled and said, "Hi, I knew you was comin'!"

As far as I know, the woman is still standing on that dirt road and I feel terrible. I don't have time now to get her to her destination. She might just have to wait another thirty years to get some direction, to find those answers as to how the boy knew. It's a shame. Maybe I can get another author to adopt her and, let's not forget, the boy.

At this point, I guess I need to see to unfinished business, settle down and concentrate on the creative demands of what I have set for myself and quit dreaming. Quit lusting after homes and pining for real heart pine. I need to file those ideas away for now, promising to return.

Not leave them to gather dust on a country road.

~ Julie Ross Mackenzie

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Duck! Here Come Some Christmas Thoughts

Some thoughts on Christmas - I'll make it quick.

The holidays seem to come in all shapes and sizes depending on who's in your life at the time, your outlook, and the circumstances surrounding home and hearth. Some people are in a different home for the holidays, some don't have any home at all, yet still feel the festive spirit that is shared by all, no matter who you are.

The lights and decorations and goodwill are for everyone. They are the sparkle of the holidays that we all share and the bah-humbugs out there just haven't recognized the fact that the holiday really makes no demands (relatives might be another story), there can be welcome surprises, and there's always good food somewhere. Even the most thrifty will find festive sprigs of this or that. They might even use the occasion to indulge in chocolate truffles or once-a-year candy chicken legs (although I'd rather have the real thing).

The holidays mean kindnesses, sometimes totally unexpected and so treasured. The only way to a new year and new hopes is through the holidays and their promise.

If this Christmas isn't perfect, make the best of it. One thing you can count on. If this one isn't so good, there's always another, and you have a whole year to get your act together so you can enjoy a well-deserved happy ending.

Fr. Tom Fishworthy, S.J.

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.


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.