Love Thy Neighbor

Neighborhood Sign for Blog

This Biblical command is sometimes hard to follow. “Love thy neighbor” is easy when your neighbors are lovable. Not so much so when they’re unlovable.

Of course by “neighbor” the Bible means any human person, not just the people on your block. But those living close by are the ones you’re going to run into and have to deal with the most.

Depending on how you look at it, the street where I grew up was either comical or downright pathetic. We lived only half a block from two bars, and the couple next door worked at one of them. Amazingly, they used to drive to and from work, but considering that they consumed far too much of the product sold at their place of employment, maybe it’s a good thing it was just half a block. Unfortunately, if the husband was too drunk to get his back door open, he tended to answer nature’s call right outside my parents’ bedroom window.  Continue reading

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Getting Rid of Garbage

Garbage Disposal picture for blog

One day our garbage disposal stopped working.

It happened when a male friend of my husband’s happened to be visiting. So the two of them decided they would fix the problem.

Because the disposal wasn’t even turning on, I suggested they check the fuse box. Maybe a fuse had blown.

That’s when I got The Look.

If you’re a woman, you’ve probably been on the receiving end of The Look at least once in your life. It’s a look that essentially says You can’t possibly know what you’re talking about. This is technical stuff, guy stuff. Hey, we’re guys, and you’re a woman! Let us guys who know what we’re doing handle it!

Well, okay. So I sat back and let them work on it for an hour or so. Finally one of them came up with a brilliant idea. The disposal wasn’t getting any power, so maybe a fuse had blown. Maybe, just maybe, they should check the fuse box.  Continue reading

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The Source Phenomenon

Source Phenomenon for blog

Sometimes teaching high school was rather daunting. Often I wished students were equipped with funnels sticking out of their heads so I could just pour the knowledge in.

On one occasion, a young lady in my freshman class was having trouble understanding an idea. I don’t remember what the topic was, but I explained things to her several times, only to be greeted by her forehead frowning in confusion. Finally, a student sitting next to her repeated what I had just said, in the exact same words. Imagine my surprise when the first girl said, “Oh! Now I get it!” Then she snapped at me, “Why didn’t you say that?”  Continue reading

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The Nap Fairy

Nap Fairy for Blog

I spent a semester in a public school kindergarten. Back then we not only prayed before we had our snack of milk and graham crackers (“God is great, God is good, and so we bless Him for this food”) but we had a nap during class time.

This entailed lying down on floor mats. My teacher, who happened to have somewhere procured a magic wand, came up with the unusual idea of a “Nap Fairy.” Continue reading

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Nearer the Dawn

Nearer the Dawn Cover for blog

Right now the Kindle version of my novel Nearer the Dawn is on sale for just 99¢. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/Nearer-Dawn-J-Avila-ebook/dp/B00J1AVQLM

As usual, all net profits go to charity.

If you don’t own a Kindle, you can download Kindle onto your computer absolutely free at https://www.amazon.com/Amazon-Digital-Services-LLC-Download/dp/B00UB76290

This is one of the top rated novels on Catholic Fiction.net, where it received a glowing review that will give you some idea what the book’s about: http://catholicfiction.net/book-review/nearer-th-dawn.php

How this book came to be: I wondered what an atheist would do if he witnessed a miracle. I figured he would try to explain it away. But what if he couldn’t explain it away? Well, I think he’d still try to explain it away, no matter how ridiculous the explanation.

Nearer the Dawn grew out of that idea.

This is my most Catholic book. Because the battle between good and evil can be violent, this book is recommended only for those age 13 and up.

Here’s the prologue:

Evil oozed up between the floorboards and glanced around. Puffs of dust, four bed legs. A throw rug nearby. Peaceful ticks from a clock.

The usual danger was nowhere in sight. Excellent.

A blob of thick oil, it crawled from under the bed, slithering along the planking, fingers of darkness gliding up the wall. It snaked along the ceiling, then paused, hovering over the four poster bed.

Below slept the loathsome creature.

Auburn hair, spread on the pillow, haloed her face. One hand rested on her stomach. The other, fingers curled upward, lay near her head.

Disgusting.

Oil coagulated, drew into a rough cylinder, its tip sculpturing into a serpentine head. Eyelids sliced open, red crescent pupils burning within. Scales sprouted along a belly coiled on the ceiling.

Eyes narrowing, it spiraled down to scrutinize the creature. Repugnance rose into a groan, dark vibrations purling outward and rippling about her brain before worming into her dream.

Her eyes slipped open.

Ah, yes. Time for terror. He thrust at her and hissed.

“Oh, pheeeew.” The woman pinched her nostrils and gagged. “Your breath is rancid. You need a mouthwash.”  Continue reading

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Slamming the Door

Slamming Door for blog

BFF. Best Friends Forever.

My girlfriend in high school and I were very close. Like most teenage girls we shared lunchtimes, classes, plus our hopes and dreams. Of course we also discussed boys, what kind of man we’d like to marry, and how many kids we’d have one day.

One memorable summer my girlfriend even invited me on a short vacation water skiing with her aunt and uncle. How cool was that?

Although after graduation we attended different colleges, we kept in touch, getting together for lunch, sharing our most precious moments.

On one of those occasions I asked how the aunt and uncle we’d vacationed with were doing. A dark cloud crossed her face. “We don’t talk to them anymore,” she informed me. “They’re out of the family.” Continue reading

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Rejecting Reality

wile e coyote

Why the willingness to believe the ludicrous? I discovered one of the reasons a few years ago during a memorable April First.

It started with a family friend who is a disc jockey. For a while he was working at a local Oldies station, playing hits from the Sixties and Seventies. He’s a terrific guy with a wonderful sense of humor, and one of the things he loved doing was playing an April Fool’s Day prank on his listeners.

One year he asked my husband and me for help with this. He had decided to create a fictitious rock ‘n roll star to interview on his noon show. This fabricated man’s specialty was to be a particular musical instrument, but it had to be something so silly that folks would realize he was playing a joke on them.

I suggested the tambourine. It’s an instrument anybody with rhythm can play, and it’s used in lots of rock ‘n roll songs. Not only that, but two songs from the Sixties–“Mr. Tambournine Man” and “Green Tambourine”–are about it.

And thus was born B.B. McDonald, expert tambourine player. Continue reading

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It’s a Jungle Out There

Jungle Gym for Blog

I attended Catholic school grades 1 through 8, and this of course meant wearing a uniform. In the lower grades it was a blue plaid jumper with a skirt.

That created a problem. Our play yard had a jungle gym, and some boys in the class took advantage of the situation to look up our skirts whenever we girls were on it. A few of us complained to the teacher about this unscrupulous behavior. Well, Sister came up with a not so brilliant solution: ban the girls from the jungle gym.

I’ll never forget going out to recess that day, and hearing some boys on the jungle gym sneering, “Nyah, nyah. Girls aren’t allowed. Nyah, nyah.”

I learned a lesson that day, although I’m sure it wasn’t one Sister intended:  Continue reading

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Legalism

Swimming Cap Sign for Blog

When I was young, all girls and women were required to don swimming caps before entering a pool. How I hated those caps! They did nothing to keep my hair dry or untangled, and the ones my mother purchased were always a size too small. The rubber edges cut into my forehead, leaving swiggly red indentations after the cap was removed. Imagine your head being squeezed with pain the entire time you’re swimming.

I once asked why these instruments of torture were necessary. I was told it was because our hair might clog the pool’s drain. I asked if I could forgo the cap if my hair was as short as a boy’s. Absolutely not! I was a girl, and girls were required to wear them. In fact, it didn’t matter if I were bald. Continue reading

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The Words They Are A-Changin’

Dictionary for blog

Some time ago I was at Mass, sitting in the same pew as a couple of nuns. After the service, the two of them huddled a bit in conversation, part of which, after a glance at me, was the question “Do you think we should mention it to her?”

I got the distinct feeling they thought I had done something wrong. Sure enough, they had a bone to pick with me.

They objected to the way I had prayed the Nicene Creed. They objected because I had recited it as written. Continue reading

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