I’ve chosen that double-dip name for my blog (Sophy-wisdom), first because Sophy is my Christened name, spelt like that, with a “y,” and then because all my life I’ve been straining and struggling to find wisdom.
You rarely come across a truly miracle—so much is called imagination or explained as some twist of quarks or physics, but here’s one that happened to me just a few days ago.
I was on the Chunnel train traveling from London to Paris. I was underground, in fact deep underneath the English Channel, with tons of fathoms of water overhead, pressing on the tunnel itself (itself a sort of miracle, to my mind, and bless those engineers and workers who built it in such a way it doesn’t collapse under the weight of water, but that’s another story).
My cellphone had been dead for days, because though I had remembered to pack the charger, I had rather stupidly forgotten that I also needed the wall attachment that allows an American apparatus to plug into a European socket, and being too busy to buy an attachment, my cellphone’s power had slowly faded and died out. (I thought I might buy one when I got to Paris, and meanwhile, the phone was, after two days, quite black and dead.)
Suddenly it rang. I looked up from my book in astonishment, picked it up. “Hello?” The call was from my cousin’s friend, who informed me that she had to go out and would leave the key under a rock in a flowerpot in the courtyard . She gave me the door code and directions to get inside.
Then the phone again went dead. But when I arrived at eleven at night on a dark and empty street, I could thankfully find my way into the apartment. Blessing the angels that watch over us
Oh god! How foolish it all sounds in light of the bombing last night in Paris, the 160 people killed, the wounded, the horror–the horror–the senseless murders and lives ripped to pieces and the fear rippling through the air. Oh god, send angels to us in our helplessness. Write to me. Write to me. We need miracles now.
Rest is not idleness, and to lie in the sun on a warm Spring day, listening to the rustle of the wind in the trees or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time. Alba, the cat.
There is a long tradition of writing from the point of view of an animal: Black Beauty, Watership Down, the Golden Ass by Apuleius—and also of writing about animals. I started considering a book about my cat Alba, when a friend at the National Geographic sent a letter to Alba from her cat Puma.
“What a great idea for a novel,” I thought and immediately started writing a cat novel in exchanged letters.
It didn’t work.
And then my beloved Alba died, and I began again. Curiously (a quality cats have plenty of), a totally new character leapt onto the page (Surprise!)– Continue reading
All over the world, there are people who cannot read or write. In the District of Columbia alone there are more than 200,000 — imagine if so many were blind and tapping their canes down Pennsylvania Avenue in a March against Illiteracy.
This is a wonderful thing to think about. If you are reading this, you are literate. What we mean is someone who cannot read a bus sign, make out the meaning of a government leaflet, health care, financial transactions. God help us all.
Here are some links to gram marly — celebrate international literacy day (week; year)
<a href=”http://www.grammarly.com/blog/2015/celebrate-international-literacy-day/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://www.grammarly.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Literacy-Day-1.jpg” width=”600″ alt=”Literacy Day” /></a>
Source: <a href=”https://www.grammarly.com/plagiarism-checker”>Grammarly </a>
Isn’t that sweet?
Well, in another ten days my novel, LOVE, ALBA will be in bookstores. (I think it’s already posted on Amazon), and I’m ready to go into a trough of depression after all these months of work. BUT I GOT MY FIRST REVIEW THIS WEEK, and I’m so pleased I could POP! It’s from Romance Foresight for the Fall issue (my novel is a love story for mature women). The review called Love, Alba “hilarious,” “unique,” and “fascinating,” and “heartfelt” and “a touching reflection on life in a conversational storyteller’s style.”
“Without question, these sage creatures [the cats] dominate the plot. Mystical, angelic, and occasionally overbearing, they contribute much more than insignificant details.”
Then Foresight quotes from my book: “Late that night I moved to the moonlit window. A bat flew past, a silent blur of black, and deep in the grass came the scurrying of mice and moles. In the distance a garbage can lid fell with a clatter—the work of an urban raccoon. The city was bathed in an amber glow, and with eyes half-closed I settled into the silent cat-space that connected me with Puma across the river, communing mind to mind.”
So here’s the deal: I’ll be asking for help in spreading the word. I hope you’ll buy Love, Alba, but also that you’ll post news on your social media sites, and ask your local bookstore to carry it, and maybe write a review for Amazon or Goodreads. If everyone buys on Amazon on the same day (August 10 or 11), it could hit the Bestseller lists! (take THAT! you New York publishers!)
For autographed copies, look on my website to place an order, and I’ll sign and mail you copies.
I just got this comment from one reader, clarifying the Amazon terms, and if anyone is interested, it’s worth reading. Link to: http://catherineryanhoward.com/blog-posts. (or look at Comments to yesterday’s rant.
Things are not as bad as I’d thought! (Because Amazon is almost the only game in town, they still have frightening and unprecedented power.)
blessings. (And, Oh yes! Yesterday, an angel appeared right after posting my blog yesterday–the phone rang, bringing hope, laughter, trust, generosity, gratitude, faith, joy. It’s all in attitude!)
For years, I have talked of angels and mysterious coincidences—those shivers of the spine that make you marvel that Something Out There is watching over us, loving, guarding, guiding, warming, healing, helping us—and that the world is essentially good and on our side. The current summer copy of the quarterly, PARABOLA Magazine, is devoted to the theme, Angels and Demons.
I need these anecdotes. Sometimes we’re all overwhelmed by the suffering and pain, the greed and malice around us, and sometimes by horror beyond comprehension (like ISIS and Boka Horan). I need all the reminders I can get that the underlying energy of the Universe is a humming of Love, that God is love, (what exactly don’t the atheists believe in?, that we are surrounded by Love. In my book A BOOK OF ANGELS, I tell story after story—true—of angels intervening in our lives. In my new novel, LOVE, ALBA, it is only the narrator, the little cat, who can see into other dimensions.
But today I feel discouraged and desolate. Writers have always been at the mercy of the take-it-or-leave-it publishers contracts, but I have just learned that Amazon, the monstrous megalith that sells everything from horse blankets to washing machines, has instituted a new policy regarding e/books which once again disfavors the struggling author. There is one thing that You, the Reader can do.
If you believe in books, and writers, if you want someday to write a book yourself, PLEASE, READ ON.
Recently I saw two movies about creativity, I’ve come away in awe of the human spirit. One is SEYMOUR about a classical pianist names Seymour Bernstein, and the other LOVE AND MERCY about the life of Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. Clearly, the artist (writer, musician, painter, sculpture), who is listening to inner voices and requires huge doses of solitude, is driven almost mad by living up to the public expectations. Seymour Bernstein gives up a career as a classical pianist, because he can’t stand on-stage performing, and Wilson has such panic attacks that he finally bows out of the big gigs and stays home, isolating and writing music. A Big Book tour sounds fabulous. Continue reading
I even praise the cat,
Its savage patience and quick paws
My mother was an intuitive, a kind of white witch, close to the earth; and, like all good seers, she always had a cat, black with one white patch – a spot on the breast, or paw.
My mother’s cat had nothing to do with other members of the family. She held allegiance only for Mummy. She was often seen (when she was seen at all, for she was a retiring, modest, rather introverted, and noise-averse animal) cleansing herself daintily beside my mother’s chair. The remarkable thing is that when one cat died of old age, my mother never replaced her. She didn’t need to. In a few weeks a little black kitten would walk, mewing out of the woods, wrap herself around my mother’s feet, and boldly enter the house, to replace the one just lost.
When Mummy died at the youthful age of 68 of lung cancer, the cat, who slept at the foot of her bed, vanished. I’ve often wondered what happened to her. It would not surprise me to discover (when I pass over myself) that she had found a way to join my mother behind that Impenetrable Wall. That’s the love of a cat.
Now here is something curious. No cat is mentioned in the Bible. No cat leapt onto Jesus’ lap. Or arched its sinuous back for the stroking fingers of King David. Continue reading