A Review of The Bayou Fairies by Cher Levis Hunt, Illustrated by Paula Merritt Windham

A Review of The Bayou Fairies by Cher Levis Hunt, Illustrated by Paula Merritt Windham. Ally-Gator Bookbites Publishing House. 2017.

This is one of the most captivating and beautifully llustrated children’s picture books I’ve read, and certainly a unique look at the fairy world. Cher Levis Hunt leads us into the enchanted fairy world of the bayou, and there the reader experiences a series of adventures where we meet the fairy folk, their forever friends, and other creatures there.  We learn how they came together in the bayou to form a swampy family, a community bonded together by their love for nature. Artist Paula Merritt Windham has created the perfect fairy world for the author’s story.

In the pages of this wonderful book we meet fascinating fairy characters like Queen Nolia; King Oak; Ivy, the Poison Ivy Fairy; Honey, the Honeysuckle Fairy;  Vivi, the Bayou Violet Fairy; Cy, the Cypress Fairy; Lily, the Lily Pad Fairy; and Bean, the Bogbean Fairy. As we read the stories and descriptions of each of these characters, we also see interesting facts about the plants of this fairy paradise!

Cher Hunt has worked magic in this book.  It is sure to be a Louisiana classic, a book that will educate and entertain our children, and a book that will make a fine read-aloud for school programs or family events. If you’re already fascinated by the faerie folk, this book will feed that dreamworld faeries lead us to.

In her dedication, the author says: “This book is dedicated to my ‘fairy grandmother.’ You planted the seed in my imagination that grew into a lifelong love of fairies.

”In loving memory of Ruth Marie Garrett, 1925-1990.”

You may order the book HERE:

Author, Cher Levis Hunt

How to Create a Scottish/Irish School Program

Every year, I perform as a storyteller and musician (guitar /vocals) at Celtic Festivals. I also perform a Songs & Stories of Scotland and Ireland at many schools.  Usually each presentation is no more than 45 minutes.  If you are interested in creating your own program for schools to honor St. Patrick’s Day, Tartan Day, St. Andrews Day or other Celtic holidays, here are my suggestions as to how you can do that:

  1. Start with flags. Each of the seven Celtic nations has a flag with its own rich story. You can see some of these flags on the school flyer I’ve attached. Flags make a beautiful visual display. You can use flagpoles, tack or tape them to walls, or hang them easily from bookshelves. You can buy 3 x 5 foot flags cheaply on Amazon.
  2. Create your costume. I usually wear my kilt, though I may change that depending on weather, travel or other factors.
  3. Obtain some good music. There’s so many great musicians and bands to choose from. One good program often on NPR stations is Thistle and Shamrock. I generally use a CD of fiddle music, one of bagpipes and drums, and one of the ballads (including my own, The Minstrel Boy by the Bard of the South. See it HERE🙂
  4. Have a table with show-and-tell items. On my table, I have photos, toys, wooden weapons replicas (a targe, claymore, Roman sword, gallowglass sword, dirk, etc) historical items etc.
  5. Costumes for the kids (little kilts, priest robes, various hats, folding fans and parasol for girls etc. Kids liked to dress up and it gives lots of photo moments,
  6. Percussion instruments so a little band can play along wilth me on songs like “Molly Malone,” “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean etc. I have a bodhran, penny whistle, a harp (when I have room to bring it), maracas, tambourine and other percussion instruments.
  7. Some good stories and legends. For example, I use the story of William Wallace, Loch Ness Monster, the tartans, the druids, stories of the Scottish and Irish Saints, etc.
  8. I also have a dozen or so icons of Scottish, Irish, Welsh saints.

I will be happy to give more ideas or comment on yours if you’d care to share them.  Maybe this will get you started. Just write me at rickeyp at bayou.com. Good luck with your program.

Why Our Society Needs to Revive the Code of Chivalry

Any thinking, observant person realizes that this age is in great turmoil. With the exception of the Visegrád, Europe is crumbling in the face of the invasion of foreigners. These invaders (mostly Muslim) devour resources, resist assimilation, reject Western and Christian values, assault and terrorize European citizens, and openly assert their intent to impose Sharia law on their new homelands. They are not far from victory. The elite leaders of the nations under attack are weak and seemingly indifferent to the need to respect and protect their citizens and rescue their nation from certain destruction. I’m beginning now to understand the Crusades and Crusaders of the past who also faced invading hordes of savage people who wanted to pillage and conquer the civilizations of Europe and the achievements of Christianity.

There are no easy answers to our modern day dilemma. Whatever cure we choose will be costly and painful. Whatever we decide to do will require men (knights) of sound ethical values, determination, and toughness. In the movie, the Kingdom of Heaven, a priest asks, “Does making a man a knight make him a better fighter?” Bailan answers that it does.  I suggest that a look at the Medieval Code of Chivalry still has value for us today. Those who live by such a code without a doubt will be better and will make the world a better place. I think the modern day application of these principles is obvious.  I’ve studied and condensed the main points of chivalry in this list:

1. Honor, defend, and love God, the king (leaders), one’s nation, and the church.
2. Respect for women.
3. Courage in battle
4. Truthfulness and self-control
5. Generosity.
6. Defend the helpless, fight against injustice and evil.
7. Make war against the infidel without cessation and without mercy.

Hopefully, you can see how these qualities are missing today. As Crosby, Stills & Nash said in their song, let’s teach our children well.

Under the Witch’s Mark: A Novel for your Halloween Reading


About the Book:
Sheridan didn’t believe in witches, not in 1972, not until he met and fell in love with Bronwynn, a dark-haired beauty in North Dallas. Then, he learned more than he wanted about the sinister side of magic, witchcraft, and satanism hidden in the underbelly of the city. Follow Sheridan and other members of that Led Zeppelin generation as they self-destruct, create beautiful art, and crash against dark forces they don’t understand and are not ready to face.  Order the book HERE:

An Excerpt:  The Prologue

I loved a witch once. Loved her totally, uniquely—naively. I loved her before she took final decisive steps across lines that separate the twilight from darkness, and I loved her after the busy shadow-world hid her from my sight.

Bronwynn and I lived in North Dallas in an upper-middle- class neighborhood. We met not long after we graduated from high school—me from W.T. White, and she from Thomas Jefferson. We lived and looked like the rest of the emotionally charged, music-driven Led Zeppelin generation about us, killing time and brain cells with drugs, alcohol, sex and rock music almost as loud as our own inner chaos. We were tightly woven into the tapestry of that milieu. But the zeitgeist that enveloped our hedonistic generation is only the backdrop for the dark story of witchcraft I need to tell.

I’ve often wondered how Bronwynn entered the world of witchcraft. At first, I believe she was only curious—a lonely girl who wanted to see things others couldn’t see. Precocious, she had a passionate desire to know the arcane, the esoteric, the forbidden. In her early days as a novice, she must have forced herself forward until she overcame the awkwardness one feels when traveling in unfamiliar territory and her eyes grew accustomed to the darkness the curious arts require.

In a way, you must admit such excursions require much nerve—nerve most people will never have.

You probably would not recognize Bronwynn as a witch if you happened to meet her on the street. I didn’t. She practiced her sortilege as a solitary witch long before she joined a coven, preferring solitude and anonymity and the safety a lonely existence can provide. There was no show and tell of her black magic power. Even later, when others did know, she was elusive and evasive of entrapment, and possessed an uncanny ability to hide and disguise herself when she didn’t want to be found.

As she grew bolder, she began a game of chicken with the shadows in this witchy Cimmerian land, daring the specters to step out and dance. She dallied back and forth between our world and theirs, staying longer and changing more with each journey. I pulled her back to me time after time, but the dark currents we swam were too strong and I lost my grip and she slipped away in the dark undertow and never returned to me.

I came close to the edge of this netherworld myself. Closer than I should have. Close enough to know something was there. Close enough to feel the rough, iron-hard grip of its power, close enough to hear cruel whispers and echoes of emptiness flowing from its orifice. The wounds are deep from that encounter and the scars I bear on my body and soul have not faded with time. I did not want to skid to the edge of this emotional and spiritual chasm. I had no desire to tease the darkness—I came close only because I loved her. Because she led me there. Sooner or later, I always seemed to go where she led me.

Not that I didn’t try breaking off my relationship with this girl. I did, even to the point of leaving Dallas, but I found no Gilead with healing balm, no ultima Thule far enough away, nowhere I could go to heal the ache in my heart only she could soothe. “You’ll always come back to me,” she once said.

As her journey into the darkness evolved, I saw more and more of her dark side. But we would both discover that there were others involved in this complicated craft who were darker, more lost in the darkness, and more cruel than either of us could have imagined. We would encounter powerful men and women conjuring ancient forces that most moderns flippantly dismiss—a magic exuding a mind-rattling, traumatizing, and terrifying pagan force. The careless and reckless will, like I did, underestimate the danger and power such witches represent, and like me, they will pay the price. I found the knowledge I gained a most unpleasant epiphany.

Yes, I really did love a witch once. Her name was Bronwynn. This is her story—and mine.

 

Words to help any college student!

I expect my college students to memorize these words and phrases. I ask them to talk about family and friends. These are qualities, attitudes, and experiences that should be part of the college experience:

1. Ethics: moral principles that govern one’s behavior, standards of right and wrong. 

2. Self-discipline: Discipline is training, instruction, or correction that develops self-control, character or efficiency. 

3. Sacred cow: an idea, custom, or institution held, especially unreasonably, to be above criticism. College should be the place where sacred cows come to die.

4. Serendipity: The unexpected discovery. 

5. Epiphany: The light bulb moment when you suddenly realize something you had missed or not known before. Sudden insight or understanding. 

6. Eureka: Literally Greek for “I have found it!”

7. Patriotism: Love and honor for our great nation, our culture and history, and our veterans. If you are a veteran, please let me know as I have something special to share with you. I believe college can and should cause students to be better citizens. 

8. Work ethic:  Belief that hard work is intrinsically virtuous or worthy of reward. A person with strong work ethics is driven to do one’s best,  to be reliable, to be honest and fair with one’s employer and the society he or she serves.

9. Integrity: Doing the right thing in a reliable way, being honest and fair.

10. Research: Systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.

11. Objectivity: not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering, discussing, or representing facts.

12. Schedule: A plan for carrying out a process or procedure, giving lists of intended events and times.

I hope these words help you as they have helped me!

Hello, Webb County

I was delighted when a friend introduced me to the music of Bo Peña, and since I’ve often performed my songs and stories in Laredo, I was excited to find this song. I’ve posted the lyrics and chords. His website is HERE, and I encourage you to listen to and order his great music.

“Hello Webb County” by Bo Pena

G                                                            D       G
I was born in San Anton but I never did pay it no mind.
G
Cause my parents moved down to a border town
D
where they ran into some troubled times
C                                 G        C                                   C
I never could call it paradise, but it surely was one of a kind,
G                  D                                                                 
Down in the Valley where the Whitetail run on the US Mexico Line.

CHORUS:
C               G                D      G
Hello Webb County, I’m coming home to you,
C                              G
Though it may be far from heaven,

D                        G
It’s the best that I can do.

Verse 2:

I met a girl in Austin, and I followed her to New Orleans
I ended up in New York City with nothin’ but a pair of jeans,
Then I made my way to the mountains west,
through the Rockies & the evergreens,
But I couldn’t shake these homesick blues
with the Rio flowing through my dreams

CHORUS:

Verse 3
When the winters get cold and lonely, it’ll take me to another time,
Before the bust, before the war, when everyone was getting by,
It’ll never quite feel like home again, but I’ll love it to the day I die,
And the sun goes down on that border town on the US Mexico line.

CHORUS:

“Louisiana Moon” chords & lyrics by Avery Michaels

What a great song! I’ve included the chords and lyrics and the video. Be sure and purchase Avery Michaels song on iTunes!

Louisiana Moon Avery Michaels

G C, G C.

G             D                             C

There’s a ring around the Louisiana Moon

G             D                             C

And the stars are shining bright for me and you

G             D                             C

The wind is blowing memories across my mind

G             D                             C

Reminding me of all those hot nights

CHORUS:

G                                             C         G

Louisiana Moon, shine down on me tonight

G                                 C                     D

Louisiana Moon, please help us keep it right

C

You were there when we started,

G                     EM

You’ll be there until the end,

AM7                           D                                 G.

Louisiana Moon, you will always be my closest friend.

 

Short Bridge: F/C

Verse 2:

You put a passion in the night with your soft glow

Like you’ve always done on those country roads

Send a message from your light for her to see,

When it glows against her skin, she’ll think of me.