What’s With the Bunny?

Bunnies, Bunnies everywhere! I confess I am an avid participant in the bunny decor madness this time of year. Who can blame me? Bunnies are adorable with their fluffy tails and floppy ears! Every time I see a cute image of the Easter Bunny, I can’t help but say, “Aww!” Kinda ironic since I’m seriously allergic to hare hair.

Bunnies evoke thoughts of new birth and springtime. Put a bunny, a chick, and a little lamb on a piece of paper, and you have yourself the perfect “Welcome Spring” greeting card. These images are a sure sign Easter can’t be too far away. Have you ever wondered why we celebrate the Easter Bunny? The obvious answer begins with ‘chocolate’ and ends with ‘candy egg.’

                                                                                                                            

Happy Easter – pingpao @ Stock.adobe.com

Origins of The Easter Bunny

Popular theories suggest German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania way back in the 1700s brought the Easter Bunny from the old country. Their “Osterhase” was an egg-laying hare. Little tikes used to make nests for the Osterhase to lay its eggs. However, the American Candy Industry flipped the script and promoted baskets instead for holding their Easter-themed treats.

Great. Now I’m craving a chocolate-covered marshmallow egg, but I’ll settle for some wonderful seasonal reads instead.

My Top Suggested Readings for The Season

NOTE – We’re talking bunnies here, so it may be a temptation to read to the kiddos. I’ve included a suggested rating system to help you determine if these recommendations are little bunny friendly.

My Emotions Rating

Happy Bunny – Light, Uplifting

Raw Rabbit – Dark, A Bit Disturbing

Recommended Reading About Bunnies

  • The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams (Happy Bunny)
  • Watership Down by Richard Adams (Raw Rabbit)

Recommended Reading About New Beginnings

  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (Mostly Happy Bunny, but a few darker spots)
  • Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Mostly Happy Bunny, but Adult Bunnies only in some parts)
  • Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (Happy Bunny)
  • Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach (Happy Bunny)
  • Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach (Happy Bunny)

On My Reading List

  • White Oleander by Janet Fitch
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  • The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
  • The Runaway Wife by Dee MacDonald

Have a Happy Easter and a wonderful Spring!

Move Over James Joyce – The Ladies of Ireland Are on It This Month

Each year as the calendar’s page flips to March, showers of green shamrocks and leaping loads of leprechauns spread across our social media feeds. And why not? Thanks to Saint Patrick, everybody is Irish in March.

Rock of Cashel (Irish Carraig Phadraig – St. Patrick’s Rock) – @Marek Stock.Adobe.Com

This month, however, is more than green beer and chocolate coins. March is Women’s History Month. This year’s theme is “Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.” In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day and supporting other women creatives, I’d like to encourage you to explore the works of splendid Irish Women Authors.

Three Irish Women Writers to Read This March

  • Maeve Binchy – Circle of Friends
  • Tana French – In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad Book 1)
  • Elizabeth Bowen – Death of the Heart

And Remember…

St. Patricks Day Doggie – @Williee Cole

May you have love that never ends,

Lots of money, and lots of friends.

Health be yours, whatever you do,

And may God send many blessings to you!

P.S. – may you have the wisdom and good fortune to read yarns by Irish Women Writers too.

My Top Three Favorite Messed-up Love Stories

Messed-up Love Stories juliamikhaylova – Adobe.Stock.com

Valentine’s Day honors LOVE with chocolates, flowers, and romance. Most of us celebrate in some way, whether it’s dinner with our honey, chocolate hearts for the kiddoes, or fluffy toys for the fur babies. Romance month is big business. Consumers have countless venues for indulging their sentimental side in February.

What about those of us who avoid the typical easy path to a happy ending? Hallmark movies just won’t do for us! We want tragedy, sweet suffering, and – dare I say – an unhappy ending sometimes. Here are my top three favorite tragic love stories with their film companions. Note: The book is always better than the movie!  

My Top Three Messed-up Love Stories

Cyrano de Bergerac by Emond Rostand

Brave soldier and romantic poet Cyrano has fallen in love with his beautiful cousin, Roxanne. Cyrano, a confident soldier with a keen wit, fears his large nose will stand in the way of his love for her. He remains too shy to express his feelings. Then the worst happens. Roxanne and Cyrano’s friend, the handsome Christian, fall in love with each other. Cyrano, standing aside for friendship, uses his own words to woo Roxanne on Christian’s behalf.

This story is a must-watch/read for anyone who has stepped aside for friendship’s sake.

Upcoming Film Cyrano starring Peter Dinklage (Releases February 25, 2022)

Death On the Nile by Agatha Christie

The original “Fatal Attraction” story. Boy meets girl. Boy dumps girl for her beautiful rich friend. Girl stalks boy and his new wife like a crazy person. Somebody ends up murdered. What I like best about this story is Hercule Poirot’s compassion for the crazy stalker. Having lost his own love when young, he tries to help her let go.

This story is a must-watch/read for Agatha Christie fans. I can’t wait to see Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot again.

Upcoming Film Death On the Nile starring Kenneth Branagh and Gal Gadot (Releases February 2022)

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Following Jane Eyre through her life struggles could cover so many topics. People see her as plain and ordinary, including her abusive aunt. She goes through sickness, poverty, and heartbreak. Yeah. You guessed it. The story is a real tearjerker. We finally think Jane finds her place at last when she goes to work for Edward Rochester. They fall in love, but Edward has a secret that destroys their happiness.

Classic version: Jane Eyre starring Orson Welles (Released 1943) * I realize there are newer film versions but watching Orson Welles as Edward Rochester is epic!

Try something different this Valentine’s Day. Go for the messed-up book or movie. But, don’t forget the chocolate and tissues.

Are You a Neal Page or a Del Griffith?

Enjoying the 1987 John Hughes classic Trains, Planes and Automobiles is a tradition in my house on Thanksgiving week. Uptight Neal Page (Steve Martin) is trying to get home to Chicago in time for Thanksgiving. The worst happens when his flight is rerouted to Kansas and he is forced to travel with chatty shower curtain salesman, Del Griffith (John Candy). Things go from bad to worse after the duo is robbed while sharing an awkward (but funny) night in a motel.

I belly laugh during this movie every year! Having spent over fifteen years traveling for work, I recognize both characters from my own experiences. If I’m being honest, I relate with control freak Neal. I’ve learned to travel light. The more stuff you bring, the more stuff you must carry through airports. BUT – I think all of us would like to be a little more like Del. He has a jovial charm and a kind heart.

So which kind of Holiday Traveler are you?

Your suitcase and belongings are:

A – Minimal, tidy, and individually wrapped like string cheese

B – Thrown into your bag like last week’s laundry

During the flight to your holiday destination, you:

A – Put your headphones on, lean back and pretend to be asleep like an antisocial hermit

B – Wake up headphones hermit and ask him all about his life whilst you are eating the sandwich you bought at the airport

After One Night’s Stay, your Hotel/ Motel Room looks like:

A – Nobody slept in the bed or unpacked their things. Housekeeping wonders if you’re a spy

B – A crime scene! All your stuff is scattered across every square inch of flat surface

Results:

If you chose mostly “A’s” then you are a Neal Page. Welcome to the Club, friend!

If you chose mostly “B’s” then you are a Del Griffith. I may not want to travel with you, but I want to be your friend!

If you ended up with an even “A” and “B” result, then Gobble, Gobble. Take it again because something went wrong!

Commemorating the Santa Fe Trail 200th Anniversary

Most folks living in North America learned about the Santa Fe Trail as children in school. Opened as a commercial route in 1821 by William Becknell and his party, the Santa Fe Trail grew to become a critical trading lifeline between Missouri and New Mexico. Our memories conjure images of pioneers riding across open country in covered wagons. Hollywood’s version of history also influences our perception of life on the trail. But it is the real experiences of travelers who dared journey on the Santa Fe Trail that I find the most fascinating.

Living in the Rocky Mountain West most of my life, I assumed I had a good understanding of the Santa Fe Trail and its history. I’d driven the byways in Southern Colorado and New Mexico often enough. However, while researching my upcoming historical fantasy novel, THE VENGEFUL DEAD, I came to understand how little I knew of what life was really like for the pioneers and traders.

Over the next few months leading up to the release of my book in 2022, I’ll be sharing interesting facts about the Santa Fe Trail and other locations from the setting of THE VENGEFUL DEAD.

If you’d like to learn more about the Santa Fe Trail and its 200th Anniversary (1821 to 2021), please visit https:/santafetrail200.org

Encouraging Tips for Embracing Your First Step

Life is a journey. The imagery for envisioning our individual paths varies based on the unique experiences of each person. My path embraces the natural terrain of a peaceful forest. Patches of sunlight peek through the leaves as I walk, delivering warm positive thoughts. Of course, some stretches of the path are rocky. I’ve hiked through thunderstorms. My heart has been bitten by frigid snow as well. Still – I keep going. I know storms end. I have faith the darkness of night will be expelled by a benevolent sun.

Take Your First Positive Step! © _Danoz – stock.adobe.com

Our journeys don’t stay on a single path. Life is full of byways and turns. Each decision we make takes us on a new trail. If we are wise, then we will use what we have learned from past excursions.

Encouraging Tips for The Next Leg of Your Journey

  • Reflect with an open and forgiving mind as you look back on your journey
  • Be Compassionate with yourself and others. You didn’t have the knowledge then that you do now
  • Let the past go, taking with you only the things that will aid you in future trails
  • Banish the fear. Embrace the new!

Be Positive. Be Happy. Be Well.

That’s Not a Reindeer

Christmas holds beloved traditions for many cultures around the globe. Experiencing different holiday customs is my favorite tradition of the season. A few years ago, I adopted the German tradition of the Advent Calendar. I – being a techie – went for an online animated one recommended by a fellow techie.

Artist Jacquie Lawson designs a delightful, animated advent calendar. I eagerly await her creation each December. Lawson and her team take us to a new place every year. She visited Scottish traditions in 2019 with an Advent Calendar located in Edinburgh. This year we’ve traveled to a small Nordic village.  

Lawson’s Nordic village includes Scandinavian folklore and tasty recipes. My favorite piece of folklore from this year’s Advent Calendar is the Yule Goat. It has become the symbol for Scandinavian Christmas.

The Yule goat is coming to town. © gitusik – stocke.adobe.com

Fun Facts About the Yule Goat

  • Pagan Origins: Many believe the tradition of the Yule Goat represents the Norse God Thor, who rode across the sky in a chariot pulled by two goats
  • Swedish Beliefs: The Swedes believed the Yule Goat was a Spirit who traveled to Sweden prior to Christmas Day. The goat made sure all the Yule preparations were done correctly
  • Move Over Santa: In the 19th century, the Yule Goat rather than Father Christmas brought the presents. Father Christmas eventually took over the job
  • Hay Goat: The Yule Goat was traditionally made from the last batch of hay at the end of the harvest season
  • Big Goat: Some Scandinavian cities still build a Yule Goat from wood and hay at the center of town. These goats can be over 40 feet high

Be Positive. Be Happy. Be Well. AND BE MERRY

My 2020 Book Gem Discoveries

Each year I join a multitude of other book lovers in the Goodreads.com Reading Challenge. It’s a great way to set and track reading goals. I typically list my goals at two to three books per month for a nice round total of thirty. Sometimes I exceed my goals. Other times – like this year – it’s a challenge to squeeze in thirty books.

Read and Explore the Possibilities! © Elnur – stock.adobe.com

The benefits participating in this yearly challenge make the time investment well worth it. Here are my top three benefits for folks to try the reading challenge in 2021:

  1. Encourages individuals to read when they typically don’t spend a great deal of time exploring books
  2. Free and fun way to engage with other book lovers
  3. Goodreads offers Lists for readers to discover new books and authors they may not have found otherwise
Here are my top favorite new finds from the 2020 Goodreads Reading Challenge:
  • The Felix Castor series by Mike Carey – Listed in Amazon Genre: Ghost Thrillers. Felix Castor is an exorcist barely making ends meet in a modern, but alternate version of London, UK. In this world, ghosts are a reality and zombies walk the streets.
  • The Troop by Nick Cutter – Listed in Amazon Genre: Genetic Engineering Science Fiction. A Must – Listen to the audiobook! The narrator gives a John Malkovich vibe that really sends this read over the top.
  • Harry Hole series by Jo Nesbo – Listed in Amazon Genre: International Mystery and Crime. I first discovered Harry Hole when he appeared in the 2017 movie “The Snowman” with Michael Fassbender. Harry, the lead detective in the Oslo crime squad, is such an intriguing personality. Nesbo has given us a clever but flawed main character. I can’t wait to read more in the series for 2021

Do you have book suggestions for the 2021 Reading Challenge? Let us know in the comments.

Be Positive. Be Happy. Be Well. AND sign up for the 2021 Reading Challenge!