THE GIRL IN BLACK by Kathy Lauren Miller – A REVIEW

“The Girl in Black” by Kathy Lauren Miller is a hauntingly taut murder mystery as well as an awesome page-turner! The mystery begins with high school senior, Kate Mckenna who happens to live in an old Victorian manor that is also the Mckenna Memorial Funeral Home. Her father, Dr. Brendan Mckenna, happens to be the county’s Chief Medical Examiner. Shy Kate, whose social life as always been nearly non-existent until she is thrust into the limelight when the promiscuous prom queen, Ashley is found tortured and murdered.

Accusations run rampant in Kate’s High School concerning several male students that were involved with Ashley. To make matters worse, Ashley’s remains now reside at the funeral home where Kate lives. Kate and her best friend Cooper, a computer nerd, and Kate’s unattainable heartthrob, handsome Shane, all become involved in Ashley’s murder. Suddenly, Kate finds herself in the cross hairs of the sadistic killer and the vengeful ghost of Ashley, the murdered prom queen. What happens next is beyond Kate’s worse nightmare. The Girl in Black is a fascinating and terrifying murder mystery that will keep you guessing until the end. I highly recommend this book. (less)

A Review of Paul Handover’s, Learning from Dogs

 

 

 

 

 

Visit Paul Handover at https://learningfromdogs.com



If you have ever read a book that made you cried because the story was so beautiful and heartfelt, well, this is one of those memorable stories that touches your heart. The love between a dog and his/her human being is one that is unique in the animal kingdom. Paul Handover writes of the special connection humankind has had over thousands of years, how it came to be, what it means for us, and what dogs have taught us. The author explores the nature of dogs, their innate abilities that perhaps have made humans better because of our connection with dogs. The author’s story teaches and tells us the incredible ways that dogs have made Homo Sapiens more human, more civilized. This book is about learning from dogs and as the author writes, “There is a cycle of love and death that shapes the lives of those who choose to travel in the company of dogs”. It is a breath-taking journey and I highly recommend, Paul Handover’s, Learning from Dogs!

A few insights from Paul Handover’s about dogs,  https://learningfromdogs.com/dogs-and-integrity/


Dogs And Integrity

Anyone who has owned a dog or got to know a dog well will have realised something fundamental.  The relationship that a dog has with humans is very special.  Just visit this article published on the 6th January, 2011 to get a taste of this relationship.

Old Drum – 1870

Anyway, I was speaking of how special is the relationship between dogs and humans.  Special in the sense that no other animal that commonly lives close to man creates such an intimate bond, although I expect horses come a close second.  Special in the sense that this bond goes back for tens of thousands of years, well into the mysteries of time.

Dogs are part of the Canidae, a family including wolves, coyotes and foxes, thought to have evolved 60 million years ago.  There is no hard evidence about when dogs and man came together but dogs were certainly around when man developed speech and set out from Africa, about 50,000 years ago.  See an interesting article by Dr. George Johnson.

Because of this closeness between dogs and man, we (as in man!) have the ability to observe the way they live.  Now I’m sure that scientists would cringe with the idea that the way that a dog lives his life sets an example for us humans, well cringe in the scientific sense.  But man seems to be at one of those defining stages in mankind’s evolution where the forces bearing down on the species homo sapiens have the potential to cause very great harm.  If the example of dogs can provide a beacon of hope, an incentive to change at a deep cultural level, then the quicker we ‘get the message’, the better it will be.

 

Deciphering Book Descriptions

Fresh Eggs

 

 

 

I am reblogging this post for good reason. I am reading books, lately, that don’t seem to have cogent descriptions and left me wondering: what’s it all about?

How interesting and telling are most book descriptions?  Most are not at all. Maybe there should be professional book description writers.  Reading a book description should not be a word puzzle to try and figure it out. It can be daunting to write your own book description, especially if one is so subjective, the premise can be lost entirely. It is  better to have a Beta Reader or a Reviewer with a successful blog write a book description, if the author is having problems pinning down a short description that actually describes.  On WordPress, there are many experienced and talented reviewers and beta readers.

Here is a book description that does not describe the content of said novel : Fresh Eggs – a novel by Rob Levandoski. 

“Calvin Cassowary is ready to do whatever it takes to keep Cassowary Farm in the family for one more generation. Hatching a scheme to specialize in chickens, soon he’s got a million hens laying eggs for Gallinipper Foods, b…ut he’s getting deeper and deeper into debt. To make matters worse, his chicken-loving daughter Rhea starts growing feathers. Filled with as many tears and chuckles, Rob Levandoski’s Fresh Eggs is a provocative father/daughter tale guaranteed to make you ponder the realities of modern farming and think twice the next time someone asks, “white or dark meat?”

What we know about this book:  All we know so far is that raising and selling chickens will get you into debt and chicken farm daughters tend to grow feathers.  So far, so what.  Who sheds tears and why is the owner chuckling? After all, I can’t think of anything worse things than to have a child grow feathers.  Pondering the realities of modern farming?

 

Lest We Not Forget! by LeeAnna Waldrop

finger-red-ribbon

 

 

Lest we not forget, in the heat of the moment,

Our logical minds and common sense,

Lest we not embrace, in those times of

Uncertainty, our unfounded fears and

Imagine demons,

Lest we not believe, in those moments of

Vulnerability, that our passion and energy are

Wasted,

Lest we not neglect, in the face of our

Enemies, our innate compassion and

Unrivaled love.

In these times of uncertainty, it is important to look through a wider lens, understanding, that those around us, our children and our friends,  need to be reassured that their world is not unalterably changed and justice for all, will prevail. 

 

 

Under the Mistletoe!

cousin-reginald-under-the-mistletoe-norman-rockwell-400x508  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

 

 

 

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