☼♡ HaPpY ThAnksGiVing ♡☼

☼♡ HaPpY  ThAnksGiVing or Thanukkah and may every day be glorious! ♡☼Image

(Numbers/dates should start with 11th . . . but what do numbers really matter? 🙂

  1. Storyteller friendships, and especially the wisdom of Elizabeth Ellis, who has helped me more times than I can count.
  2. Sustenance and beauty in life . . . . Reminder from Renée Tompkins — Bread and Roses  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWkVcaAGCi0    The birthday cake Lisa made for me, the first in many years! . . . and ongoing friendship, including last night’s  small but interesting story swap at McClay.   . . .  interesting date 11/12/13  . . . I read that there are many weddings scheduled for today. I’ll think of something memorable to do . . . but not that.  Maybe teaching tai chi is special enough . . .  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  3.   Coffee and chocolate!!  There were those few years when I could have no caffeine, and yet somehow I did function . . . I don’t know how.
  4. Big thank you to whoever (Marie?)  recommended _Waitress_ and _Strangers in Good Company_ (and to my library for lending them to me) — marvelous!!  . . .   Healthy living gives us more time to do the things we love.  One easy step for me, a lesson from my Aunt Yoko,  was making real, not instant oatmeal, with cinnamon and sometimes ginger and a splash of milk . . . better tasting than the over-sugared little instant packets.
  5.   Years of wonderful students, wonderful fellow teachers, and a few good administrators.  Jan Freeman, my favorite assistant principal taught me, “Choose your battles.”  Only so much energy and time . . . and taught students, “The best discipline is self-discipline.”  Wayne Gronefeld taught so much calm competence and humor, and trusted us that, even when our classes might look chaotic, our junior high students were learning in the best, most active, way.  Every spring, he gave timely warning to be extra vigilant because, “the sap is rising.”
  6.   I love ordinary, quiet days.  As I learned about some of my students‘ difficult lives, I’d thank my mother for our “boring, ordinary life.”  Chinese curse, may you live in interesting times . . .   I have learned that many of the things I worry about are actually “doesn’t matter.”
  7. Gratitude:  My nieces’ wisdom (beyond their years?) Any time there’s a techie question, young friends and relatives are the ones with answers, and they are also good with the people problems.  Jill once said to me, when a friend dropped me for not wanting to boycott _The Golden Compass_, “She wasn’t a real friend then, was she?”  Moriah put into perspective my angst over new, impossible for me, testing requirement for teaching aqua, “Why are you worrying about it?  It’s the worst-paying job in town.”    ** I learned the trick of “fake” early deadlines when Jill was little and Bill needed my help on the nights he was working.  Papers done early meant I could play without worrying about schoolwork.  Even then, she had good ideas, and once when I complimented her cleverness, Jill summed up life’s wisdom well, “I may not know it all, but I know some things.”  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  8. Grateful for the hard lessons and for the foreshadowing in books and stories to prepare me for real life lessons:  Listening again to _Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire_, Jim Dale’s wonderful reading.  As Stephen said, “The man’s a genius!”  I am enjoying revisiting parts that I had forgotten and/or that were different in the movie, and a realization of life’s lessons.  At the end, when Ministry official and others are denying Harry’s report on the return of Voldemort, I realized that I can understand that part a bit better now, thanks to someone I thought was a friend . . . My close friends know they can trust the truth of whatever I say to be true, to the extent that no one ever assigned me to bring someone to a surprise party. (“a glass face” Outlander series)  This person taught me how it feels to be told, “Shame on you.  That can’t be true” . . . a valuable lesson, just one of many that life has taught, whether I wanted it to or not.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  9.   Retirement means time to read . . .  whole series in order . . . and savor the levels. In  Laurie R King‘s _A Grave Talent_ (first of the Kate Martinelli series), I was struck by this apt and lovely metaphor for love, “getting to the end of a puzzle and finding you’d been given the wrong pieces, and then finding the right ones, and it all falls smoothly, naturally into place.”
  10.   I love the hand-made gifts I receive, socks, decorations, candles.  I used to make sweaters for the little ones, now mostly stick to easy baby hats . . . but they are all special, full of the love that went into them ❤   Two former neighbors at the condo laughed one day as they talked about throwing away “horrible” handmade gifts they’d received.  Those who don’t appreciate deserve not to get more and remind me of Walker’s “Everyday Use.”  http://faculty.weber.edu/jyoung/English%206710/Everyday%20Use.pdf
  11.   I am grateful for KDL What’s Next http://ww2.kdl.org/libcat/whatsnext.asp  It does help to read series in order, though not impossible to put facts together out of order, if one can remember long enough.  A student and I decided long ago that books were a benign addiction. ❤
  12.   Quiet . . . and company.  There is a Hoja story in which, desiring quiet, the Hoja told everyone that there were free seeds in the market.  Then, as all rushed off for the free seeds, he wondered if there might really be free seeds . . .  and went to the marketplace himself.  I’m reminded of times I opted out of excursions to catch up on grading (teachers’ particular Sisyphean task) and then wished I had gone.
  13.   Grateful for roads taken . . . and not . . .  Frost’s poem can be interpreted multiple ways: a sigh . . . of contentment?  or regret?    “What if?” seems such a useless phrase, unless one had Hermione’s time-turner to back it up.  There are some decisions or accidents I might want to redo, but on the whole, I’m happy where I am, and the journey’s side trips got me here.
  14. Gratitude for fun times singing this with my niece Joy Hahn  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAfCQ-t7xY0    and mixed-up versions of Hey Diddle Diddle with Robin and Christopher and Nicolas, and “It’s behind us now” sightings of the impossible with Moriah and Stephen.  Mom used to call me Auntie Mame when I’d return from an adventure with kids.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  15. Gratitude:  I recently found a green round tablecloth at Goodwill to add to the collection . . . I’ve started keeping a cloth on my glass table, not to be fancy but because my eyes do not like the glare off the glass . . . each birthday seems to bring a new challenge.  Grateful for all the stages and seasons of life.  Almost time to switch from the oranges of fall to red and green (Celtic/Christmas), then red for Valentine’s Day, then green for St. Pat.  A friend used to separate red/green M&Ms (half price after Christmas) to make Valentine and St. Pat’s treats later).
  16.   Grateful for pretty sunsets, ripples on the little pond (now visible since leaves have fallen), birds finding food and resting spots . . . time to notice the beauty . . .  Our family home had westward-facing windows in living room and kitchen, good planning by a father who was raised on a farm and appreciated nature.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  17. Wishing for McCoy’s medical tricorder for my own little troubles and for friends who are fighting more serious battles . . .  Meanwhile, grateful for Dr. Albers, chiropractor, and Dr. Cannon, allergist, and Dr. Siler and Janelle for breath and sleep . . .  and all the other healers out there  ❤  and for my new frog ballerina from Lucy, and catching up on frog stories http://www.youtube.com/user/storytellermary/videos     Gateway Storytellers meeting was great last night — lunch today with Janelle Shahid — life is good!  Interesting that I’m going out to lunch with friends more now that I’m not committed to teaching at noon M/W/F . . . though I do hope to make it to aqua on Friday, to make up for so much feasting.
  18. Grateful for close friends (Mary Ellen’s for Thanksgiving dinner) and for travel . . . I’ve adopted a strategy of stopping any mental negativity by recalling places I’ve been . . . where I have met so many kind and loving people.  GPS keeps me on track better now, but whenever I became “temporarily mislaid,”  I met so many nice people in so many nice places.  ❤  and grateful for  good, strong people.  This reminds me of Joseph’s Good Samaritan story.   http://www.viralnova.com/protective-bikers/
  19. Grateful to be cosy at home drinking coffee . . . and grateful for the fun of following Marisa’s thrift store makeover designs, and inspiration to try my own small projects.  Contest right now for fancy coffee maker . . . we’ve come a long way from Mom’s percolator (though I did like the sounds of the coffee perking away).  http://www.newdressaday.com/2013/11/27/holiday-giveaway-tassimo-brewing-system/
  20. and one more “to grow on”  http://www.mysteryloverskitchen.com/2013/11/Doctor-Who-Wedding-Cake-Chipotle-Cranberry-Sauce.html

Gratitude — First Ten Days of November

Mel Davenport (thanks, Mel) brought up  the idea of posting an item of gratitude each day, in preparation for Thanksgiving.  I’ll give it a try.



  1.  Refrigerator freezer filled with tasty, healthy vegetables from Terripin Farms CSA, and all the lovely visits with Jessica when I picked up the products of her and Brad’s labors.

    2 Cleaning my snug, warm, healthy home, and the intelligent input from eco-broker Chris Andrews.   Slept late, just finished _Windsor Knot_, a classic  Sharyn McCrumb — such fun to read!  The first of McCrumb’s I read was _If I Killed Him When I Met Him_ which still makes me laugh . . . Ready to start _Knit One Pearl One_ by Gil McNeil.    Brunch = eggs and veggies from Terripin Farms CSA and bread from 4 Seasons Bakery . . . life is so good!

  2. (numbering is misbehaving, but I can live with that 😉
  3. Beautiful colorful leaves, calling attention to trees and bushes often taken for granted.  Pretty white clouds in blue sky, tinting to pink toward sunset.   A slightly different version of Utah Phillips’ “Bum on the Rod” — Miss his fire, and so glad I got to hear him years ago at the St. Louis Storytelling Festival. Those were the days . . . http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9FRFaWSS_c
  4. Marigolds on the deck are still bravely blooming, despite freezing weather . . . reminder of reading this story with students  http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/uploadedFiles/schools/clarksburghs/academics/english/Marigolds-J-Douglass.pdf
  5. Books, reading . . . traveling and adventuring in my mind. (see poems below) Thanks to McClay Library for sharing.  Imagination **  Illinois: Progress toward equality and love.
  6. Healthy enough to participate in exercise, aqua-aerobics with friends as a can-do instead of must-do . . . no need to set the alarm, which I didn’t, and slept very late, so staying home on this rainy day, watching the leaves fall . . .  On Monday I went late, but stayed after, to do the moves I’ve been missing from our old routine — thanks Phyllis Harmer Raymo for putting together so many useful exercises.
  7. Teaching tai chi, calming and balanced, and the clever way Charlotte gradually apprenticed me into being able to teach it.  . . .  As I was finishing my coffee at the Y, a little girl asked if I had a new CD for her, no, but I told her a story right there and then . . . a command performance for an audience of three. (We now have Ronnoco coffee, and little bit of trivia . . . the name is O’Connor backwards, because the O’Connor brothers thought it sounded more coffee-like 😉 . . .   Hearing the train!  I love that sound!   Loveliest crescent moon . . . only visible because of all the fallen leaves . . . so I’ll excuse all those wet, slippery leaves on the deck . . .
  8. Sleeping long and well and waking up feeling rested, in part because of the crazy CPAP machine — thanks to sleep technician Janelle Sahid and Dr. Siler, my lung doctor . . .  Breathing, one of my favorite things to do!       Aqua in a bit, for fun and health, with friends!      Elaine Viets’ book signing tomorrow!     Image
  9. The lawn service guys “get” me, letting clover flourish in the back yard because the rabbits and I like it.  They even mowed around a weed that had white flowers without  even being asked — it’s really close to the hickory tree, so easy to miss, but I suspect they’d have cut it in a more formal yard. I discovered on a walk that they’ve mowed a little path in the vacant area that allows walking quite close to my little “Walden Pond.”  . . . and the marigolds are still blooming!  . . . and Elaine Viets’ book signing at 1:00 today!!  I didn’t have much yard in the upstairs Sugarwood condo, but I did plant the “Henderson iris” in the front flowerbed, where it thrived (I should drive by and see if it’s still there)  . . . I brought some here, and it seems to like the front best.  My yard is small, but there is a ribbon of woods behind it, and many empty lots, for now . . .
  10. I have renamed my spare room “The Room of Requirement” — not any neater, but more fun . . .   This site — full of good stories!  http://www.storybee.org/15through18/15through18.html  Bright sunny day, leaves falling, like a blizzard when leaves fall en masse . . .  and I can see more of my little pond now . . . and I’ve started Elaine Viets’ _Fixing to Die_ . . . so good!

**  Books, reading . . . traveling and adventuring in my mind.  Thanks to McClay Library for sharing.  Imagination **


 Susanna posted this one:

A Fairy’s Child by Robert Graves


Every fairy child may keep

Two strong ponies and ten sheep;

All have houses, each his own, 

Built of brick or granite stone;

They live on cherries, they run wild —

I’d love to be a fairy’s child.




Leslie recited this on a storytelling cruise:


One day when we went walking,

    I found a dragon’s tooth,

    A dreadful dragon’s tooth.

    “A locust thorn,” said Ruth.

One day when we went walking,

    I found a brownie shoe,

    A brownie’s button shoe.

    “A dry pea pod,” said Sue.

One day when we went walking,

    I found a mermaid’s fan,

    A merry mermaid’s fan.

    “A scallop shell,” said Dan.

One day when we went walking,

    I found a fairy’s dress,

    A fairy’s flannel dress.

    “A mullein leaf,” said Bess.

Next time that I go walking,

    Unless I meet an elf,

    A funny, friendly elf,

    I’m going by myself!



Gratitude for November . . . for always!


It’s the season of thankfulness, a mind set to carry forward throughout the year.  Mel Davenport (thanks, Mel) brought up  the idea of posting an item of gratitude each day, in preparation for Thanksgiving.  I’ll give it a try, in combination with some thoughts I’ve been gathering for a while, a bit disconnected, and may take more than one blog post . . . but it’s only week one of November . . .

Being kind costs nothing and makes such a difference.

Looking up, I see the dream cards Holly Gault made for me and realize that many of those dreams have come true.

I also see the beautiful Sheherazade graphics that Jackie Baldwin sent, with the suggestion that I collect good wishes for the storytelling concert at the NSN conference in L.A.

Sheherazade wishes

When my sister was in the hospital, I was in the elevator, leaving after a reassuring visit.  I started to thoughtlessly mutter, “I hate hospitals” (face it, never anyone’s favorite place to be).  Just in time, I realized there were hard-working staff members in that elevator.  I changed my sentence to “I’m so glad there are people here to help my sister,” which was a far better message for all of us . . . and I have to say, she did get good care and is now much healthier.

A hospice nurse recently used my CD to ease a distressed patient.  I was touched to hear it.  I had given it to my mail carrier, who passed it on to her daughter.  Easing someone’s last days feels like a special gift.

Years back, I knitted little sweaters for dolls and bears while I sat in Mom’s hospital room.  When she was awake, she’d offer suggestions on them, one more loving piece of connection to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren . . . heart for Jill’s, truck for Stephen’s bear, kitty for Moriah’s . . .  It was a sweet distraction.



Teaching was a special joy to me, and giving and receiving thanks with students, parents, and other teachers made it special.  A friend encouraged me to find as many things as possible to compliment, and we made a point of passing along good comments we overheard, knowing that people are sometimes too shy to share them in person .

I tried to give students recognition of their creativity.  One of my sweetest moments was when a student told me I’d helped her see that she could express herself in writing just as she did in dance.

When I announced that I’d be retiring from teaching, a student expressed dismay until I reminded her that she was graduating, so we “graduated” together.  I told my students that year that I had to go because they couldn’t possibly be matched by any future group.

Here’s to new adventures!


You keep what you’ve shared.  A friend in college was always generous with cuttings from her houseplants, insurance against future disasters, knowing she could restart with cuttings from the transplants . . .

I’ve been giving away CDs, to every place that hires me to tell, and also to people I meet out and about.  It’s delightful fun, people are so pleased, and these days many can’t afford treats.  When I give them away, I’m also passing along the help of many other people.

At last spring’s Festival, I thought to give one CD to Lynn Rubright*, who taught the very first storytelling class I attended.  In return, I received words I will treasure.

I gave another to Michael Parent**, who started me on the CD project with his workshop on doing big projects one step at a time.  That was at the Tejas Conference in Denton, Texas, and I had been given a scholarship to attend that workshop — one more thing to be oh so grateful for.

Cynthia Changaris and Mary Hamilton’s WOW Weekend helped me with planning, and was great fun as well . . . and so very nurturing!

Elizabeth Ellis shared permission to tell one of her stories, and gentle advice when I most needed it.

Some words from my mentors:

*Mary,   I listened carefully to Courage and Wisdom CD –  (in my car, where I do all my listening)….and enjoyed each and every story.   I  very much like your forthright style –  each a story a story well told.   Good tempo  (cadence) to each story, allowing the listener to visualize the setting, characters and setting.  You allowed listeners time to internalize the tale as it was unfolding.  I can see how your high school students were drawn into story and storytelling.  They will not forget their “storytelling teacher”….or the stories you told and the “lessons” embedded within them.  I like Heaven and Hell parable  (Chinese version).  Can you lead me to some other versions of this story?    Your love for the art form,  and respect for your stories and listeners is evident.  Thank you for your gift to me of tales well told.

Lynn Rubright


** Hiya, Mary,

Finally got around to listening to your CDs, and enjoyed them both.

You seem to understand that the best gift we can give to children is to tell them stories.

All the best,

Michael Parent