Under the Mistletoe!

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(A reblog from 3 years ago)

Why do we kiss each other under bunches of the devious, toxic Mistletoe every Christmas?  Well, its a complicated story. Many mythical stories surround the Mistletoe. Its magical lore includes how the Norse god Baldur — second son of Odin, god of truth and light — who was so beloved by the other gods that they sought to protect him from all the dangers of the world, but forgot to include the mystical Mistletoe.  Loki, a jealous Druid citizen who sought to test the powers of Baldur, made a dart from the Mistletoe and murdered Baldur.  However, Baldur came back to life and Frigg, Baldur’s mother, kissed the Mistletoe for saving her son’s life and from that time forward a Mistletoe was hung at the threshold of each home to ward off evil spirits and for good luck. Overtime, people started kissing each other at the entrance to a room for good luck and to be gracious to the host.

The lore of the Mistletoe is thousands of years old. It was sacred to the Celts and Druids of Northern Europe and other countries around the world where Mistletoe thrives and is believed to be a magical everlasting healer. The Mistletoe has been called a symbol of virility, could cure all manner of diseases, warded off death in battle, induced omens of good or bad fortune, and used as a divining rod pointed the way to riches of gold and silver. It is said to have given life everlasting to the Druid Gods and souls within the White Oaks tree. Mistletoe, a thief among plants, chooses the Oak tree above all others as it’s natural parasitic home.

The Mistletoe’s magical lore began with the awe of nomadic tribal peoples that surrounded this parasitic plant that grew without roots, as though it had fallen from the sky as a divine gift from the Gods. The Mistletoe was likened to the soul, a disembodied spirit that had great power. It was considered the great healer and protected against witchcraft, nightmares; it evoked ghosts and caused them to answer your questions.

Then there’s the flower’s semi-parasitic nature. Mistletoe, a poisonous relative of sandalwood, attaches itself onto trees to steal its host’s water and nutrients. Unlike sandalwood, however, mistletoe seeds are dispersed by berry-eating birds, which allows the plant to grow on branches high above the shade, freeloading on other trees’ sunlight. Mistletoe should never be placed where children can reach it and accidentally be poisoned by eating the berries.

All of that said, there is still something magical and exciting about standing underneath the Mistletoe waiting for a kiss to be bestowed.  🙂

References

Durant, Mary, A Roving Dictionary of North American Wild Flowers, Congdon & Weed, Inc. New York, New York, 1976

Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs, Rodale’s Press, Inc., Emmaus, Pennsylvania, 1987

Moura, Ann, Grimoire for the Green Witch, Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd., Woodbury, Minnesota, 2016

Cunningham, Scott, Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical herbs, Llewellyn Publications, Woodbury, Minnesota, 1984

 

 

 

A Book Reading/Signing of Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society Book I by Charles F. French at the Muhlenberg College ‘Berg Bookshop

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I am very happy to announce that the next reading/signing of my horror novel Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society Book I will be Thursday 12/15/16 from Noon to 2 P.M. at the ‘Berg Bookshop at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA.

If you are in or near the Lehigh Valley, PA, please consider attending.  The campus of Muhlenberg College is beautiful, and the Valley is lovely, especially in the winter season.

wp-1476386546701-maledicusMaledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society Book I by Charles F. French is available for purchase on Amazon either as an ebook or a print book!

Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

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Raphael, The Runaway Winter Rabbit (A Short Story in Two Parts – Part Two)

standing-sniffing-aa2dce07ff93829a0d54d238921086a9Raphael, hidden at the entrance of the rabbit warren, with only his keen brown eyes and brown nose visible to the outside snowy world, realized that his dream was at hand. For so long he had been dreaming about this day. The day that he would prove to the world that he, Raphael, was the Marco Polo of the Rabbit World, a brave rabbit, a hero rabbit, for all the world to see and know.

Raphael was so anxious to set out into the unknown land before him that he threw caution to the wind and hopped out of the safety of the Warren. He was at once overwhelmed by the beauty in front of him. The lush landscape of snow covered hills, an array of wondrous vegetation that filled his senses, it was beyond his wildest dreams.

bunny-and-holly-7dfdbff7bc6fde3a8968ec6eab43fc5aRaphael hopped around in an enchanted daze, wondering which bush to nibble on first, all of them looked delicious. He hopped over to the Hawthorn bush, nibbled, and then off he was to the Willow tree, with its low hanging branches and nibbled. As he looked around he saw the flowering Witch Hazel tree in full bloom. It’s star-shaped yellow blooms held an enchanting scent that drew him, almost spell-bound, to the perfumed yellow star flowers. His full tummy made it difficult for him to even hop and he wished for a bigger tummy. Nonetheless, he began to nibble the succulent blooms until he was drowsy with the sweet yellow nectar.

scared-bunnythht324v53  Suddenly, he heard the flapping of wings and saw the shadow of them descending quickly over him. He froze. It was the hawk he had seen earlier. It grabbed him with its sharp talons around his very chubby tummy. Raphael screamed for dear life.

At that very moment, he heard his mother calling his name and he called out “Mother, help, help!”  His truly brave mother, hopped as quick as lightning to his side, without fear for her own life and bit down on the leg of the hawk still trying to carry Raphael away to its nest.  At the mouth of the warren, he heard the cries of his siblings as they hopped up and down and all were crying out his name.

hawk-winter-flying The gray hawk, seeing he was out numbered, let go of the very chubby rabbit and flew off for easier prey.  Raphael and his mother hopped quickly back to their Warren and all of them returned safely to their warm and cozy abode. Raphael, now ashamed of his dangerous behavior that put not only himself at risk, but his family too!

Raphael, his head bowed in shame and regret, said in a low and humble voice, “Mother, please forgive me and I promise never do such a foolish thing again!”a-shamed-bunny-37c67648d9d663045f7ed1f572f1619a

“Raphael”, his mother replied, “there is more to being courageous than throwing caution to the wind.  A great rabbit once said, “love, caring for others, and the spirit of self-sacrifice is the bravest and most courageous thing of all.”

Raphael now knew that true courage and bravery is found in the love you have for others, family, friends, and even strangers. A lesson, that he, Raphael, would never, ever forget!  The End.

Story by K. D. Dowdall, December 10, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

Raphael, The Runaway Winter Rabbit (A Short Story in Two Parts – Part One)

bunny-and-holly-7dfdbff7bc6fde3a8968ec6eab43fc5a Raphael was always dreaming about the world beyond the warren where he lived. Raphael’s brown nose was always sniffing the tantalizing scents and wondrous sounds coming for outside the warren. There are lots of amazing things out there, I know it, I’ve dreamed of it, he thought, “a whole world to discover.” He couldn’t understand why no one else felt the call of the wild but him.

His siblings, however, huddled and cuddled together in their warm abode, while Raphael’s brown nose was always sniffing the tantalizing scents and wondrous sounds coming for outside the warren.  Raphael thought of himself as being like Marco Polo or Columbus, out to explore and discover new lands, except not oceans, that was a bridge too far. He was not yet old enough to learn how to swim, that would happen next summer.  sleeping-bunnies

Rabbits, by nature, are surprisingly good swimmers.  Some warrens are very close to waterways, sometimes a necessary escape route when attacks happen by predators like wolves or worse, yes there are worse-the flying predators like eagles and hawks. Raphael knew about all these predators. His teacher, Mrs.  Rumple, always talked about the dangers of the outside world and taught us about snares, bear traps, wire cages and poisons – a ghastly thing, and not very rabbit like in the ethical and philosophical rabbit rule of right and wrong.

A young rabbit must weigh at least ten pounds or 14 stones, as the British Rabbits would attest too, before they are can leave the warren alone and the reason is that hawks could not possibly carry away, with their talons, a ten-pound rabbit!  Raphael considered the facts carefully. He had taken the preparatory time to eat and eat and eat and finally he knew he weighed at least ten pounds!  He was now almost ready to take the leap or hop into the wild unknown.  fat-bunny-rabbit

Raphael’s mother, knitted for her children, hats and warm vests for the winter.  Food was no problem. In the wild lands outside his warren are delicious Hawthorn, Willow and Maple twigs to nibble as well as fallen apples hidden under the early snow. Raphael reasoned that exploration into this unknown world, is worth the risk, just like his rabbit heroes.  Where would the rabbit kingdom be without Peter Rabbit, The Easter Bunny, and the sage wisdom of Brer Rabbit. One day, thought Raphael, they will write a book about me too and my explorations, just like Marco Polo!

While everyone was taking their afternoon nap, Raphael quietly made his way through the long corridor of their warren, with all its meandering, until at long last he looked out at the snow-covered ground! Well, only his eyes and nose. He had prepared well, he thought. This is amazing he thought, but also very wet and cold. Raphael, not being a dumb bunny, knew that with adventure comes danger and for a good long while, he just sniffed and listened for the dangerous sounds of unfriendly neighbors. As Raphael was contemplating his next move, a shadow fell over the opening of the warren, in the shape of hawk wings. hawk-winter-flying

It was mid-day, and a very poor choice for exploring, he knew full well. Raphael waited patiently until the danger was gone. Now is my chance, he thought, I know I can hop quickly to the hedge of those brambles and hide there until it is safe!”  Raphael was beside himself with joy. He was the smart bunny and he would have lots of adventures of his bravery to tell his siblings and friends upon his return!

End of Part One – Part Two Immediately Now Following This Post!

Story by K. D. Dowdall   December 10th, 2016

 

 

BELLA THE WINTER MOUSE

Bella, The Winter MouseSome time ago, I befriended an adorable winter mouse, I named Bella, who wandered into my yard one day and became my friend for one long lonely winter.  Little Bella first caught my attention by peeking out from behind a wooden rocking chair on my back porch one cold December morning as I worked busily cleaning away cobwebs and dust from window panes and dusty corners.

I pretended to ignore this curious little field mouse. I was hoping that she would scurry away as almost all little critters do to avoid the murderous intent of larger critters.  As I continued dusting and sweeping, I kept stealing glances to see if the little  mouse with the large pink-ears was still watching me from its hiding place behind my old rocking chair.  As I furtively turned my head to get a better view, I was taken-aback to see the funny little brown mouse standing up on its hind legs with its little hands clasped in a pleading gesture as she stared at me.

My heart went out to the furry little winter mouse and I reached into my jacket pocket for the small package of peanut butter crackers I had accidentally left in my pocket the day before.  I opened the package , stepped off the porch (making sure the little mouse saw what I was doing) and placed a peanut butter cracker on the frozen winter grass.  I felt sure this would appease the determined little mouse to take the cracker and scurry back its winter nest, preferably far away from my back porch.  I then stepped back into my house and shut the door behind me allowing the little mouse to know it was now safe to scurry away with the peanut butter cracker.

The next day, as I gazed out of my backdoor window I saw my neighbor’s old Tom Cat on my back porch. He had apparently cornered something behind my old rocking chair. All at once, I knew Old Tom had cornered the little winter mouse who, no doubt, had returned for another peanut butter cracker.  I quickly stepped outside with broom in hand and shooed Old Tom away giving the frightened brown mouse with the large pink ears time to escape. It was the least I could do seeing how it was my fault the furry winter mouse had returned for more peanut butter crackers.

This time the little winter mouse scurried underneath the wooden porch and dashed away, but where to, I wondered. Surely, Old Tom would catch it now and it would be my fault.  Sadly, there was nothing I could do—this was nature, the natural cycle of life and death. I sighed deeply and bowed my head as I turned away from the window.

Little did I know Bella was quite familiar with all the hiding places around my house as I found out one chilly morning in the wee hours before dawn a few weeks later.   While snuggled up in my bed, underneath a quilted coverlet, I reached over to turn on the lamp on my nightstand.  As I did, (to my dismay) my winter mouse stood before me on my nightstand.  Her tiny hands were clasped tightly in front of her, grasping a peanut butter cracker I had left on the nightstand.  Her pink belly and soft brown fur trembled in the bright light.  We stared into each other’s eyes, nose to nose, for what seemed like a long time before she suddenly dashed, cracker in mouth, to wherever she had made a home – in my house.

Well, I thought, a friend it one thing, a Boarder is quite another.  So, early that morning, I crept, as quite as a mouse, with my flash light in hand to find the freeloader’s hideaway.  And find it I did. Apparently, my little curious winter mouse liked music, because I found her and her nest behind my credenza.  Her little brood of six pink baby mice seemed quite comfy— snuggled up in one of my missing fluffy slippers.

Well, enough is enough, I thought.  One winter mouse is tolerable for a winter, but not Bella’s brood of six baby mice.  I found myself in dilemma of what to do with Bella and her babies.  There was the mudroom, I thought, and that presented another dilemma. The mudroom already had several guests.

The injured red flying squirrel was healing well in a shoe box on the third shelf, Tabby, my 12-year-old tabby cat, somewhat incontinent and nearly blind, slept there each night on top of the filing cabinet, Fluffy, my snow white Tibetan Lhasa also preferred to sleep there where his food was kept, like wrapped around the 25 pound bag.  (You should know that Lhasa’s are very protective of their people and their food.)

I had no choice. Bella and her babies were going into the mudroom, in a covered shoe box, secured with tape and with small holes for air.  I placed the shoe box on the floor very near the mudroom backdoor that had a small bit of daylight between the door and the floor.  Every day I would leave one peanut butter cracker for Bella on the back porch. It didn’t take long before she waited for me every day at the backdoor, standing up, her little hands folded across her tummy and I would hand the peanut butter cracker to her. She would reach out with her tiny hands, and grasp it and hold it to her chest before dashing away. She was the sweetest mouse. Her cute little personality and her big brown eyes were so expressive.

In early spring, I went to the backdoor and there was no Bella. I hurried to the mudroom and found the shoe box empty. They were gone. Bella, my winter mouse had gone back to the corn and alfalfa fields with her young.  I hope they all survived, but I would never know. I never saw her again. I still think of her sometimes, on a chilly winter morning when I turn the lights on in my bed room.

Story by K. D. Dowdall – first posted last December 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have Yourself a Scary Little Christmas: Horror From The Good Old Days

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This fabulous, editorial/essay post by KC Redding-Gonzalez, in Zombie Salmon, is fantastically written and very scary too. Truly, it is literally eye-opening. Yet, underneath the scary is a very deep truth about life and death and what we fear most. So, readers, what do you fear most in your darkest moments?

Zombie Salmon (the Horror Continues)

It may come as a surprise, but once upon a time folks liked their Horror at Christmas. One could surmise that the increasing hours of darkness, the howling of hungry wolves, and the entrapment of inclement weather were co-conspirators to the cause; it is far too easy to become preoccupied with one’s own mortality when the temperatures send frosty ghosts to drift across candle-lit rooms and skeletal branches claw at window panes while the animals in the walls scurry ever deeper to find warmth.

In so much dark and quiet there is isolation, and the ever more loudly heard “sounds of silence” echoing in your ears. We forget how very dark and how very quiet the world once was. And maybe that is why our modern ghost stories are often found lacking the connective tissue of eerie tales of yore.

Technology changed things; we haven’t embraced so much light since…

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PAINTBOX AND ME: Author Learning to do Advertising Art?

As far as advertising a recently published book, it seems that trailers are out and twitter and Facebook photo ads are in vogue. So, trying to save money may or may not be my best option.  I reasoned, as I always do, for good or bad, that I can do this because it just takes practice. After all, I had a scholarship to college in Fine Art. However, that does not necessarily translate to advertising art. I am going to try this as I am never one to give up until I get right. This could be a very long journey!!

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GARRETT’S BONES – A Surprising Commentary from Writer’s Digest!

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Last April I decided to enter the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards. I was hesitant because there are many great writers out there and who do I think I am anyway to even try to compete with these accomplished writers.  I had no expectations of winning – heavens no. However, what I did want was to receive a totally non-biased report. I was expecting the worse.  After all, this was my second attempt at improving the first edition of Garrett’s Bones. The first edition was really riddled with mistakes.   It was my first draft, no proof reader, no editing either. I didn’t see the mistakes and I didn’t even have anyone read it before I decided to self publish the first edition.  I was  mortified when I realized I had published a book with more mistakes than I care to dwell upon.    It does have, as they say, “good bones” – no pun intended.  The truth is writing takes lots of practice and a willingness to make mistakes, never give up, and keep on writing and reading great books.  I had no idea I would be given a really good commentary and a high-grade to boot!  I am thrilled because I was in no way expecting a good review.  I urge those writers like me with little faith to consider submitting their novel(s) to Writer’s Digest.  At the very least, you will receive a non-biased commentary.

writers-digest-iconSo, here is The Writer’s Digest’s Commentary:

“In Garrett’s Bones, a genre novel by Karen DeMers Dowdall, we are presented with a historical thriller, with complex overtones of supernatural intrigue and a dash of romance. At the heart of this story are two young people who set out to clear their names the only way they know how, and in a way, that gets them more enmeshed in darkness. The narrative is tightly woven and compelling, moving at a fast pace while still allowing the reader to experience a true depth of characterization as they develop a full appreciation of the events as they take place. The title seems to this reader to be evocative and chilling, setting the reader on the right course for the overall tone of this novel. The overall design of the book is professional while the cover image for the book is striking and haunting, perfectly in sync with the ideas presented in the book. The chapters are nicely paced, with enough meat to make them satisfying but not so ponderous as to make it difficult to keep track of the narrative as it develops.

****A Commentary by Writer’s Digest, Judge 11

 

 

 

 

In silence

This Haiku is lovely and touching. 🙂  In silence Originally posted on Haiku out of africa: twirls and twists abound – in the music of the night – even when it’s still © Lize Bard @ https://wandererhaiku.wordpress.com/

 

Haiku out of Africa

twirls and twists abound

in the music of the night

even when it’s still


© Lize Bard @ https://wandererhaiku.wordpress.com/

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