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Monday, December 29, 2014

The New Doctor – Peter Capaldi

Here at the end of the old year and the beginning of the new my mind goes to the old and new last of the Time Lords of Gallafrey. I am half way through viewing last year's season of Doctor Who, Peter Capaldi's first season. Though I am slow to adapt to change, I finally accept him as the Doctor. Don't get me wrong, he's a great actor. I never questioned that. But a small part of me misses the Doctors that were easier on the eyes and had comforting smiles.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Hobbit: the Battle of the Five Armies - Movie Review

Let me start by prefacing this with the fact that the end is my least favorite part of The Hobbit book. The slow degradation of the Thorin character, that I was barely able to like anyway, into a greedy tyrant was always uncomfortable for me.

Also, I don't like battles or war. [Oddly enough I find the series I'm writing demanding a war. Does all fighting have to end in war?] A battle where people are destitute yet fighting over gold and no one is being reasonable is even more uncomfortable for me.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug; Extended Edition - Movie/DVD review

In anticipation of the final movie in the series coming out in a few short weeks, Jackson has released the Extended Edition of his Hobbit movie from last year The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

Though the movie itself suffered a bit from the effects of Jackson's team switching from doing the Hobbit movies in two volumes to doing it in three volumes on short notice at the direction of his producers, my family, being the Tolkien geeks that we are, of course were one of the first in line to get this Extended Edition.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Native American Fairies

There are a number of names for small fairy folk in the Native American mythologies. They have similarities with the small folk of other countries, actually a remarkable number of similarities. But they are not a homogeneous group by any stretch of the imagination.

 They can have personalities anywhere from brownie types to cannibals. And the appearances are not the same either. Sizes can be from four feet

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Mythological Species of Humanoid # 34 - Duende - Native American Fairy?

Duende are Latin and South American fairies. I mistook that description as Native American when I began my research. But duende are part of the Spanish heritage of Latin America not Native American part. Though there were probably echos of a similar creature among Native Americans that provided fertile ground for the expansion of the myth among Spanish and Portuguese speaking people in Latin and South America.

The word duende comes from the Portuguese word “dono” which means “owner.” This comes from the Latin word “domus” which means “house.” Sounds like a house dwelling brownie type again. But not necessarily.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mythological Humanoids - #32 Trolls and #33 Gnomes

As mentioned in the last post, trolls have some overlap with goblins: nocturnal habits, inhuman strength, bestiality and hairiness, hunger and the desire to eat humans, and the tendency to turn to stone in sunlight (Tolkein made this trait exclusive to trolls, but folklore is less precise). For this post, I'll focus on the differences between goblins and trolls (and gnomes.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mission Statement

This is the first anniversary of my first blog post. I want to share the mission statement I've been working on for myself as an author, teacher and blogger. This will get its own page a little later, but for now I want to make it accessible and easy to find.       

  K.C.Trae Becker

Self Proclaimed Ambassador for Trees and Forest Communities; Purveyor of Forest Related Myths

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Mythological Species # 30 – Goblins and #31 - Brownies

The nights are coming earlier and the dark loving creatures are more and more on my mind. The elves and fairies, creatures of twilight, came stealing along the hedgerows and at forest edges, but now there are the creatures of darkness. Creature of the pitch black mines and the midnight hours. Among the most famous denizens of the night are the more treacherous counterparts to elves, the goblins and their ilk.

There are many names for goblins and goblin-like creatures: Hobs, hobgoblins, orcs, bogie men, boggarts (boggles, bogles), bodach (Highlands), brownies, spriggans, Fenoderee (Isle of Man), redcaps (Scottish) – said to redye the caps in human blood - brags, gremlins, Puck, phookas (Irish), Pwca (Welsh), bwca (Welsh) Trows (Shetland Islands), trous (Scandinavia), knolls, knockers (Cornish and Devon), Coblynau/Koblernigh (Welsh), Kobolds (German), wichtlein (Southern Germany), dwarfs/duergar (Scandinavia, Germany, North England), Pixie/Pisgie/piskie/pigsey/puggie/(Cornwall), Will o' the Wisps.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Mythological Species #29 – Ghosts

One of the most popular Halloween ghouls are ghosts. Ghost stories are so abundant around camp fires, at sleep overs, in the movies and on TV, that I expected to claim that they had a universal presence among the cultures of the world, to find an abundance of information about them and then move right on to the different presentations they made. [WRONG!]

My first go-to reference book, The Dictionary of Celtic Mythology (MacKillop, Oxford, ISBN 0-19-869157-2), stated that the word "ghost" is a foreign word to the Celtic language, borrowed from another

Friday, September 26, 2014

Autumn and Mythological Humanoid #27 – Zombies

Seasonal Mythology – Autumnal Equinox had just passed and the post from the Vernal Equinox has some important thoughts about the balance of day and night and the opening of the gates to the other world, that I won't reiterate here.

This time starting with the Autumnal Equinox until the cross quarter day of Samhein, called Halloween in the US or All Hallow's Eve, is a time of beautiful change in the natural world.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

9/18 - Part 2 – Analysis, Conclusions, Surmised Profiles and Goals

The users of this blog have a clear preference for the mythology research.
Also popular are reviews of movies and some of my book reviews, but these are not uniformly popular. It seems to me that the book reviews where I use my characters to review the books are the most popular, but I can't be sure if the added interest I provide with my characters or if those books themselves are more interesting.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Year End Blog Review

School is back in for just about everyone, now. Stores are pulling school supplies sales displays and installing Halloween displays.

I love this time of year! I know the change in routine can be tough, but the quickening of the mind and the easing of the heat is exhilarating!

To teachers and students - once you get over the hump of getting back into the groove, the new possibilities for the year are exciting. Think of all the good things that could be starting this year.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Water - Part 4 – Mythologized Humans - Pirates (and Shipboard Stories)

Why do you think that there are so many stories about ships and pirates?

My guess is that ship stories have a nice contained little world with occasional interludes of ports, islands, meetings other ships or foul weather; perfect for the imagination to grab ahold of and run with.
The authority structure on board a ship is simple to describe, absolute by necessity and frequently overthrown. Mutiny sits easy in the rebellious hearts of most humans. On board a ship, the writer can spend less effort on setting and make things straight forward, more black and white for the reader.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Water - Part 3 – Book Review – Young Adult - Bloody Jackie series, by L.A. Meyer

[I won't use characters from my series for this review. I can't add anything to this act.]

The coming-of-age series that I highly recommend is by L.A. Meyer. It starts with Bloody Jack, a story about an orphaned street girl, Mary Faber, that gets herself taken on board a British Naval ship as a cabin boy just before the French Revolution. She signs on as Jacky Faber and by pluck, fast thinking and hard work, elevates her station in life, if under false pretenses. I'm sure you can imagine some of the difficulties she faces. After a series of wild adventures, stemming from the extremes of fortune that she rides through by the skin of her teeth, Jacky propels forth like an unstoppable cannon ball.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Water - Part 2 - People of the water (Mythological Species of Humanoids #25 - Merpeople)

As one travels from the forests through marshes, dunes and the shore line to the ocean, the land changes dramatically until it is not land at all. This dramatic shift in life forms and even the earth' composition is  mysterious and emotionally moving. The sea itself is unearthly; its creatures foreign and strange. To stand at the edge of the sea stirs the soul and the imagination. It opens us up to emotions we don't feel in other places. Is it any wonder that mythologies from around the world have peopled it with so much variety?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Water - Part 1 – Cape May Vacation

For August I'll write about water related topics, Cape May, Mer people, Pirates and a book review of a great middle grade series.

This week was a vacation. I went to Cape May, where I grew up. Its a fun place to live, if you avoid the over crowded roads that lead to the main beaches, the roads that are mostly empty in winter and in summer, bumper to bumper most days, especially weekends.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Fires of Inspiration (Part Four) – Fairy pictures link and Mythological Species of Humanoids # 25 – Muses

Inspiration is a “breathing in” of ideas and motivations that move people in a new direction.

The Burning Bush symbolizes a fire of inspiration for Moses starting the Exodus. The Tongues of Fire that came with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost on the Apostles, started the Church. The apple falling on Newton's head and making stars is the fictional inspiration for his career in science.

My initial inspiration for my SylF(ae) Saga is a

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fires of Inspiration (Part Three) - Poetry

Fire and light found in Fire Flies and Will-O-Wisps reminds me of Poetry.

The definition of poetry is nebulous. It is differentiated from prose by an attention to sound, using alliteration, rhyme, meter and assonance among other things to create consonance, and an intentional layering of the meanings of the words with symbolism and similarities, similes and metaphors, to create depth of thought.

Often prose will employ these tools too, but not to the same degree, though prose can be described as lyrical or poetic. In fact, most good story writers are

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Fires of Inspiration (Part Two) – Mythological Species of Humanoids # 24 -Will-O-Wisps

Fire Flies always remind me of will-o'-the-wisps. These maybe considered creatures rather than humanoids, but the name and some interpretations of the phenomenon are humanoid. The latin name for this phenomenon is ignis fatuus (foolish fire.) There are will-o'-the-wisp legends (or ones with a similar glowing ball of light that shines in the dark woods and retreats when you get closer) around the globe. These ghost lights are see at night over marshes, swamps and bogs. In the stories and legends these lights are sometimes helpful, showing safe paths to follow or leading people to treasure, but mostly dangerous leading people get lost, to their deaths or to something horrific.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Fires of Inspiration (Part One) – Fire Flies

Courtesy of Keara BugSlayer
Having learned in the Writing For The Web MOOC that I should be limiting each page to one topic for ease
of scanning and shallow reading which is what most internet surfers want, I'll break my themes in to parts to do an arc or series.[I seem to think best when I think in terms of connections.] Part one of the Fires of Inspiration theme will be on Fire Flies, inspired by one of my favorite summer experiences: watching fire flies.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Change and Mythological Species of Humanoid # 23 – Werewolves

[Sorry for the delayed posting, my son's high school graduation party was this past weekend. I decorated the picnic tables with daisies from my garden, because daisies are a symbol of friendship. My best friend in high school gave me daisies seeds in a card to say we'll always be friends. I used the quote from the card for my son's party: He has power who gains wisdom from a flower. - author unknown. ]

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Summer Solstice

This weekend is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. I find the solstices, equinoxes and
the midpoints in between fascinating. They are called quarter days and cross quarter days, in some cirles and they provide grounding for people. They help us align our biological, solar, lunar and circadian rhythms with the rhythms of nature, of which the planetary movements act as the macro-beat for the song of the earth.

Understanding the quarter and cross quarter days has been essential in designing an fantasy alternative Earth based dimension that I will be using in my SylF` Tree Sagas series.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Father's Day - Super Dad and Mythological Species # 22 - Mewlips

Super Dad

I had a couple of fun paragraphs I wrote in my high school English journal for Father's Day. It was called Super Dad. I've turned my house upside down looking for it, but have failed to locate it. I'll have to save it for next year.
Father's Day

Sunday is Father's Day. This is a holiday that has always been a source of sadness for me growing up, since like many children around the world,

Saturday, June 7, 2014

New Worlds - School's out, Library reading and Other worlds, Mythological Species of Humanoid # 21 - Gods

School's Out!

Rough draft of Stacy Lynn Stimpletin, MC
School is over at our house for the summer. (As much as it's ever over with a teacher in the house. (Wah! Hah! Hah!) Now is the time to get all those project nobody had time for during the school year done. I have started a MOOC (Massive Open On-line Class) on Writing For the Web for June.

Hopefully, I'll improve this blog to make your reading experience better than ever. Also, I will be doing Camp NaNoWriMo in July. And in my down time, I will focus on finally finishing my illustrations for my picture book Who Took My Tomato? 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Crowns – May is the month of the Crowning of Mary, Queen of Heaven, Mother of God, Theotokas; Mythological Species of Humans # 20 – Royalty; Book Review (Middle Grade) – The Hero's Guide to Saving your Kingdom, by Christopher Healy

May Crowning

The Crowning of Mary as Queen of May probably started in the early 1700's in Italy.

 It varies a great deal but usually consists of adding activities to normal devotions such as singing hymns about Mary, reading scripture passages or devotional books about Mary, praying the Hail Mary, etc. May 31st devotionals usually end with crowning a statue or picture of Mary with May flowers. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Stamps Commemorate Harry Potter and Fantasy Literature; Neo-myth; Mythological Species of Humanoids # 19 - Veelas

(I've been waiting to write about this for a while, but spring sensitive posts have taken precedent.)

I was impressed by the recent Postal Stamp Catalog.

 [We have a postal worker in the family and find ordering books of stamps more fun than getting them from standing in line at the post office or from a machine.] I find the art on some stamps truly beautiful. I was intrigued to see Harry Potter stamps being offered by the US Postal Service.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mothers – Mother's Day, MSH # 17 and #18 – Ancestors and Saints, Picture Book Review – How Are You Peeling?

Sunday is Mother's Day, one of the deep days of the year. As mothers, we are celebrated and yet we
remember our own mothers and our mother's mothers and our mother's mother's mothers, back through countless ages. I find motherhood an amazing experience.

I tell my kids, motherhood is like the Marine's slogan : the toughest job you'll ever love. The image of a mother is not easily overlaid by the image of a Marine, but the truth is, mothers are the first line of defense against the chaos that each of us holds within ourselves. And fighting chaos is an endless, almost thankless job. But when mothers fail us it is a bitter setback, one that some never overcome.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Cinco De Mayo, MSH # 16 – Chupacabra, Picture Book Review : Is Your Mama A Llama?

Cinco De Mayo is Spanish for the fifth of May.
Myth Buster #1 - it is NOT the Mexican equivalent of the Fourth of July, an independence day. Mexican Independence Day is Septemeber 16th. [I must confess, I was taught and believed this myth. I'm glad I looked it up. Yeah internet for easy research!]

This day is also known as El Dia de la Batalla de Puebla, which is literally translated as "the day of the battle of Puebla". It commemorates the battle for the city of Puebla and their victory against overwhelming odds from French Occupation.

In the US, Cinco De Mayo has become a day to celebrate Mexican heritage and pride.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Fertility – May Day; MSH#15 – Vanir; Mary, the Virgin Mother of God (celebrated the month of May)

May Day is a joyful celebration of the return of fertility to the earth. [Yeah! Spring!] It is often pictured as flower bedecked girls dancing around May poles. [A pretty phallic symbol and celebration of sexuality.]

Mythological Species of Humanoids #15 – the Vanir – From Norse Mythology, The Prose Edda (the Younger Edda) and The Poetic Edda (the Elder Edda). Long ago, the war gods, the Aesir of Asgard, waged a war on the fertility gods, the Vanir of Vanaheim, known also for wisdom, prophecy and dark magic.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Arbor Day and Mythological Species of Humanoids #14 and #15 - dryad and hamadryads

Happy Arbor Day everybody! A day to celebrate and plant trees is a great day!
Here's some facts I rounded up about today. I've put the link below the facts, if you like what you see.
The first Arbor Day was on April 10, 1872 in Nebraska. Julius Sterling Morton (1832-1902), a Nebraska journalist and politician originally from Michigan started it. A second Arbor Day took place in 1884 and it was made an annual legal holiday in 1885, using April 22nd to coincide with Morton's birthday.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter Vigil Mass and Happy Earth Day

Well, I wasn't planning on writing on this topic. I've already written about Easter, but the Easter Vigil mass this year moved me. And the topic of the homily was directly related to this blog, so I decided to post an extra entry.

Let me set the stage. It was a typical busy Holy Saturday, full of grocery shopping, Easter Egg dying, taxiing kids, defending Peter Jackson's

Friday, April 18, 2014

Easter and Mythological Humanoids # 13 - Flower Fairies

Easter is amazing!

The celebration of the Resurrection of Christ from the dead is perfectly placed this time of year as the new life of spring reinvigorates everything.

I'm not sure there is much I can add to this wonderful holiday.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Holy Week and Mythological Humanoid # 12 – Centaur

First a little poesy:
Spring, my Spring, where do you hide? North Wind don't cast her aside. We ache to stroke her gentle face, to hear her color, smell her grace. Ah! There you are at last...

This is the holiest week of the year for Christians.

Palm Sunday - Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a colt, the foal of an ass, symbolizing the return of the conquering king, coming in humility and peace. The populous responds with elation. They lay palm fronds and

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Rabbits - Picture Book Review – Tops and Bottoms, by Janet Stevens and Mythological Humanoids #11 – Pookas

I'm going to continue using characters from SylFae Tree Saga, my work in progress for this picture book review, because I think it adds interest, it helps me explore my characters better and I enjoy it.

    “Hi, Caitlynn! What'd you got?” Lukas called to her as she came in his gate.
    She smiled and waved. “Hi, Lukas! I've brought your homework.”
    “What's in your hand?” Lucas pointed to the book she carried.
    “Oh this! It's one of my favorite picture books. I read it to some third graders today for hobby time.” Caitlynn crossed the grass to where Lucas was.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

April Fool's Day and Mythological Humanoid #10 - Changelings

Many countries have a day for foolery. Here in the USA, April 1st is our day for practical jokes and
Alas, poor Yorick!

According to Wikipedia, April Fools may have originated because those who celebrated New Years on January 1st made fun of those who celebrated on other dates. And the precursors to these types of days include the Roman festival of Hilaria, held March 25th, and the Medieval Feast of Fools, held December 28th. This is still a day on which pranks are played in Spanish-speaking countries. The central idea of the Feast of Fools seems to be a brief social revolution, in which power, dignity and impunity is briefly given to underlings. Most would say this makes the medieval festival a successor to the Roman Saturnalia.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Movie Review PG - Muppets Most Wanted, (also Puppets and Fairy God Mothers)

I've always enjoyed Jim Henson's Muppets and his Seasame Street Puppets. I think their jokes are usually witty and good clean fun. I worried when they were bought by Disney. Not because I dislike Disney, though that seems to be the in-thing to do among adults these days, but because new ownership often means changes and if something is good it's hard to imagine change being for the better.

I am glad to report that I worried for nothing. Disney seems to have

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Spring Equinox. the Sidhe, the Banshee (the Tuath de Danaan, the Formorians and the FirBolg)

Well, we have sprung forward our daylight saving clocks, restoring the hour of daylight back to evening instead of morning that our light deprived winter needs. Now the Vernal Equinox, the spring time of equal daylight and nighttime hours, has arrived.

The ground is thawing and muddy. Spring bulbs are pushing their way through the earth and spring planting has started for spinach, kale, broccoli and carrots. We all have a little more spring ;) in our steps and the bikes have been broken out. Cabin fever is getting some relief, thank goodness. Snow Drops are starting to peep out of the ground and the hope of Easter is in the air. Green is slowly returning to replace the grey. Old Man Winter is finally releasing his death hold on the Northern Hemisphere. Though unfortunately he isn't packing up to go home yet, but a beginning is made.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

St. Patrick's Day and Leprechauns

Briefly, St. Patrick was born (c. 456-93) to a Roman family in Britain near Scotland, captured by Irish raiders at 16 and sold as a slave in Ireland to herd pigs and sheep. For 6 years, he survived solitude and weather by prayer and singing psalms and realized he had a vocation to the priesthood. Guided by a dream he escaped and traveled across Ireland to find a ship waiting to take him home to Britain, where he was trained as a priest and became a bishop. Then in another dream he heard the Irish people calling him to come back and bring them the Christian message. He returned to Ireland, where several missionaries had already died, now 'a slave for Christ', to be instrumental in the mass conversion of Ireland. There are many fun hagiographic stories about St. Patrick,

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Mythological Species of Humanoids: An Introduction

Why are they important?
Mythological races or species of humanoids (humans-like creatures) are a universal story motif, every culture has some unique humanoids populating their stories and legends. This makes sense, since it is a very useful tool to have on your story telling utility belt. The purposes these humanoids serve are:

Friday, February 28, 2014

Ash Wednesday and Lent

Ash Wednesday is in five days and starts Lent. Have you ever noticed that many people observe Ash Wednesday and Lent who aren't even regularly practicing Catholics or Lutherans. I think this is an indication of how deeply meaningful these rituals are.

Things like Ascension Thursday, the Feast of the Assumption, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, though important, haven't reached into the average human psyche to touch us deeply. There are no sacramentals, they are not closely associated with a season, so it is only the obedient or the spiritually attuned who observe those Holy Days.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Book Review - Middle Grade - Loki's Wolves by K. L. Armstrong & M. A. Marr - from SylFaen Tree Saga Characters

As Jake reached the bus stop, a little winded, four houses before Brien and a block before the bus, he said, “Hey Caitlynn! I got here early to see if you dreamed about that book I lent you.”

“You call this early, Fox?” Kelly challenged, hand on her hip.

Caitlynn laughed at Kelly's challenge. “Hi, Jake.”

Jake ignored Kelly. “So did you?”

“No. I didn't dream about Loki's Wolves.”

Monday, February 17, 2014

Movie Review - G - Lego Movie

Yes, it is a giant marketing tool. Yes, it is does draw a crowd of soda swilling, popcorn spilling, chatter boxes. Yes, it does make many juvenile jokes that keep the kids tittering for long minutes after the adult laughter has subsided.

But, it was better than I had expected. There are fortunately better jokes, too. I don't appreciate the cheap cameos paid to my favorite genres of Lego themes, but I'm a purist among Lego aficionados. Lego's hallmark of irreverence is par for the course . My fav's are not exempt.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day

Shortly after Ground Hog's Day comes another holiday, that though it feels quite different in our culture, has similar origins in Imbolc and pagan culture. Valentine's Day is said to be the time when birds pair up with a mate.

For Educators or childcare providers: To celebrate Valentine's Day, I've played a game our homeschool co-op loved. I would read a story about St. Valentine's life and death. (I have

Friday, February 7, 2014

Tree Review: -Middle Grade - The Night Fairy, by Newberry Medal Winner Laura Amy Schlitz, illustrated by Angela Barrett

“Hey, Caitlynn. Trying to dream another book report?” Brien calls over the fence to Caitlynn.

Reading on a rock, Caitlynn looks up and smiles. She waves and calls to him. “Hi, Brien!”

Brien climbs over the fence. “Jake told me you had a dream about me and a book and talking trees.” He sits on the rock beside Caitlynn.

“It wasn't about you. There was a boy in a book named Brian. Jake thought you should read the book.”
“Oh.” Brien deflates. “That's not what Jake said. Well, do you dream book reports, at least?”

“I dream trees are talking about the picture books I read here in the yard.”