Christmas Stories and Memories

Merry Christmas!  I have some bits of decoration out, enough to make me happy,  and I’m thinking of baking a little, maybe for Monday’s Story Swap at McClay Library.  In my teaching days, everything waited for the start of Christmas break — my cards were more accurately New Year’s cards.  The calendar really doesn’t matter as much as the sharing love.

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“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”  ― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

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When we were little, my parents put up the tree after we went to bed on Christmas Eve, for a magical Christmas morning surprise.  When we got older, we helped put it up, earlier in the season, but not TOO early.  Dried out trees are dangerous, and in that little house, the tree also made things crowded, but so very festive, in the front window greeting all who went by.  My favorite ornaments were the handmade ones and the glass icicles.  I remember one made at school, a little scene inside half an eggshell, with cut-outs from Christmas cards, a twig, and sparkles.

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Never underestimate creativity — and fie on those who say things like “You have too much time on your hands.”  We all have the same 24 hours per day and some use it to make beauty! . . . or at least attempt it . . .

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One year the gingerbread house would NOT stay up and the great-nephews were impatient to eat, so we declared it a FEMA site, decorated the ruins, and consumed the delicious wreckage.  Tasted good, but for eye-candy how about these . . .

http://www.cakewrecks.com/home/2016/12/11/sunday-sweets-a-gingerbread-jam.html

May all your holidays be bright!

Here are two stories from my dad and also some more from Chuck Larkin, who helped me put my dad’s stories together in little books.

http://www.chucklarkin.com/stories/Christmas_1.pdf

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Big Shot and Bingo Go Coasting

by “Daddy John” Fussner, collected by daughter Mary Garrett

One fine, cold day, Santa’s factory was running full speed.  Nothing went wrong, and the toys were coming into the packing room very fast.  The packers were working as fast as they could and were able to keep the supply wagons rolling.  Big Shot and Bingo were  pulling four or five wagons at a time behind their toy tractors.

The wagons were stacked high with bright packages for Santa’s sleigh, but before loading, they had to be stored in the big warehouse.  Every package had to placed just right so it would get put on the right load in the right place for Santa to get it when he came to  a certain boy or girl’s house.  How would you like it if your toys were put on the wrong load and ended up in some far-away land, halfway around the world?  It hasn’t happened yet, but only because Santa’s helpers know their job and try hard to do everything right.

With the toys piling up faster than they could move them, Big Shot and Bingo got a little careless.  They didn’t know that the Head Man Brownie had help coming.  Big Shot and Bingo started down the hill from the factory to the warehouse, each pulling four wagons.  Faster and faster they went, until they were going so fast that their feet flew off the pedals, and they were coasting.  When you coast down a hill with a toy tractor, and four loaded wagons are pushing you, you move fast!  The hill got steeper, and the speed got faster until Big Shot and Bingo thought they were riding jet-powered tractors.

Arriving at the warehouse, they zoomed in the open front door and zoomed out the back door just as fast.  They picked up more and more speed as they went further down the hill.  Most roads going down steep hills have a turn at the bottom.  This road had to turn to miss the big lake.  Big Shot and Bingo came to the turn in the road and went straight ahead, out across the frozen lake.  Spinning like a top, they scattered Christmas gifts far and wide over the slick ice.

About halfway across, they finally stopped.  Big Shot and Bingo looked at each other.  Without saying a word, they got off their tractors, and slipping and sliding, they started picking up the packages.  When they tried to move the tractors on the slick ice, the rear wheel turned, but the tractors didn’t move.

“Well,” said Bingo, “looks like we have to do it the hard way.”

Do it the hard way they did.  Eight wagons had to be loaded and pushed back up the long hill, one at a time.  Then the two tractors had to be pushed up the hill.  After that was done, the Head Man Brownie made Big Shot and Bingo unpack and repack all the packages without any help.  It was late, late at night when two tired but wiser brownies at last lay down to sleep.

Grumpy and his stable hands pulled the rest of the wagons with reindeer, and kept well ahead of the packers.  There was no package left in the packing room overnight.  Big Shot and Bingo learned their lesson well and are very careful at the jobs now.  Santa and the Head Man Brownie know that accidents will happen, and they are still well pleased with the work of their little tractor drivers.

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Big Shot and Bingo’s Tractors

by “Daddy John” Fussner, collected by daughter Mary Garrett

One day little Bingo and Big Shot, two of Santa’s little brownie helpers, were busy driving their tractors, pulling wagons loaded with toys.  Their job was to haul toys from the packing house to the big warehouse.  Little Bingo started to grumble about how hard it was to push the pedals on his tractor.  Soon Big Shot was mumbling, too.  The trouble was that little Bingo had seen a working model of a new tractor the Head Man Brownie was thinking about building.  It had a gasoline engine for use outside and an electric motor for use inside the factory and warehouse.

Big Shot and Bingo kept complaining until the Head Man Brownie just plain got fed up with listening to them.  “That does it!” he shouted.  “I’ve had about all of this complaining I can take.  You two go up and tell old Santa what your trouble is.”

Well, Bingo and Big Shot didn’t want to do that.  It’s one thing to complain to the Head Man Brownie, but it’s lots different telling Santa you don’t like something.  That’s sorta like telling your teacher something and having her tell you to go see the principal.  Well, Bingo and Big Shot kept stallin’ around like you do when you’re told to do something you don’t want to do.  But the Head Man Brownie is a lot like your daddy, and when he tells you to do something, you’d better do it, but fast.

Bingo and Big Shot went up to Santa’s big, big desk.  Old Santa looked up, and seeing Bingo and Big Shot, he said, “Is there something I can do for you?”  Well, Bingo and Big Shot stood there, first on one foot and then on the other foot, each waiting for the other to tell Santa.  Finally, Bingo told Santa what was wrong.

Old Santa has been around a long time, and he can pretty near tell what is wrong without being told.  “Well, well,” he said, “I thought your tractors were still in pretty good shape when I saw them yesterday.  Are they broken or worn out?”

“No,”  said Bingo, “we’ve taken good care of them.  Why, they are as good as new.”

Old Santa laughed and said, “Well, if there is nothing wrong with the tractors, then perhaps the drivers are getting old and worn out.  Maybe we need a couple of new drivers.  I’ll see the Head Man Brownie and ask if he has anyone we can use.”

“No! No!” said Big Shot and Bingo.  “We’re not old and worn out!  Why I’m bigger and stronger than I ever was.”

Of course, old Santa was just teasing.  He knew that Big Shot and Bingo were doing a good job, and he wanted to keep them on it.  They always took the loaded wagons to the right spot in the warehouse and always had plenty of empty wagons in the packing room.  It takes a long time for some of the brownies to learn where everything goes, and some can never learn.

“Well,” said old Santa, “I’ll tell you what I’ll do.  If you will make your tractors do until Christmas, then after the holidays, before we start up for next year, I’ll have the Head Man Brownie make some new tractors.  You two may have the first two he makes.

“What are you going to do with the old tractors?” asked Big Shot.

“Oh,” said Santa, “I suppose we can toss them in with the rest of the junk.”

“No you don’t!” shouted Bingo and Big Shot.  “You know that we don’t have nearly enough tractors to go around.  Many little boys who want tractors this year will have to take something else.”

“Yes, I know,” said Santa.  “Every year we build more factories and warehouses, but that old bird, the stork, just won’t let us catch up.  As much as I like boys and girls, it would sure help if that stork would take a six-month vacation, but that will never be.  He works twenty-four hours every day of the year.”

“Well,” said Big Shot, “why don’t you let us pick out a little boy apiece to give our tractors to.”

“O.K.,” said Santa, “if you can find two little boys that would like a tractor that’s been used in Santa’s factory, go to it, but if you don’t, into the junk pile they go.  We can’t have them sitting around in the way.”

So that’s how it is.  Do you think Bingo and Big Shot will find their two little boys?

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Father’s Day: Lessons and Love.

Verna and John Fussner002

 

Father’s Day ❤  Lessons and Love. ❤

A neighbor complimented me recently on the way I greeted his dog, back of hand presented for sniffing, and I thought of my dad, who taught us to do that and to approach new animals and new people with respect and friendship.  He and Mom also allowed us to enjoy and care for a variety of pets, including the mouse that Mom found in the bathtub and a baby bird my brothers found, and my brothers’ snakes, which did teach me not to be afraid of them.  A box turtle who spent one winter in our house would bite my mom’s toe if she hadn’t noticed it waiting by the refrigerator when it wanted to be fed.

Dad taught lessons at convenient teaching moments.  When a drunk neighbor shouted from the street for my dad to come fight him, my father told us that would be foolish, and then the man didn’t know what he was doing, and then moved us away from the front room to be safe.  Walking away from a fight as the sensible option . . . which is just what I did when dealing with a girl who was inexplicably eager to fight with me; I changed our route home, assuring my brothers that Mom would approve when I explained.  She did, and probably did “mom negotiations” to resolve the problem.

Probably the most important lessons had to do with safe driving and dealing with reckless drivers and other hazards. Dad would say, as an aggressive driver passed us, “Good.  I’d rather have him up ahead where I can keep an eye on him.”  He’d also hope that when the inevitable accident happened, they wouldn’t take some innocent family with them.  Dad never had an accident in all his years of driving.  I wish I could say the same, that we could all say the same.

It seemed nearly every year I taught at the high school we would lose a student to reckless driving, new drivers showing off new skills in new cars.  Our activities director recommended old, slow, sturdy cars for new drivers.  I shared with students that my dad had told my brothers he’d put a governor on their cars if he heard of them speeding, then wondered if that could still be done with newer cars.  “Oh yes it can,” said one young man, but didn’t share how he knew.

I remember family picnics at the Saint Louis Zoo, which has no admission charge, so everyone can afford to go. Dad used to encourage us to have fun rolling down a grassy hill, a fun memory.  When I mentioned it to Mom she told me that it helped us burn off energy while she and Dad got a little rest on a bench.  Parents have to be clever.

I don’t know if picnics are allowed inside the zoo now, but Forest Park has many open spots for gathering nearby, including the site of the outdoor Shakespeare Festival St. Louis.

** Also remembering the sweet southern wife of the Prudential manager in Minneapolis, who explained how her fastidious husband came to be a willing diaper-changer of their three girls.  “I told him that I didn’t like diapers either, but I loved my daughter and wanted her to be healthy and comfortable.  I said I thought he loved her as much as I did, but if he didn’t, that was fine and I would do it.”   ❤

 

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https://storytellermary.wordpress.com/2014/06/07/grandpas-young-uns/

Black-Eyed Susie’s Honey

One bright summer day, two pretty little flowers were standing in a field near the edge of the woods.  The flowers were Black-Eyed Susies, members of the daisy family.  They have a dark brown or black center with a single row of yellow petals around them.

One of the daisies said, “Isn’t this a lovely day, so clear and bright?  Look at the beautiful blue sky and the pretty white clouds.  It’s like a big ocean with lots of sail boats.  Oh, it’s so big and beautiful!”

“It’s nothing of the sort,” said the other daisy.  “The sun is so hot that it’s about to cook me.  I don’t like the blue sky.  I don’t like anything that’s blue.”

“Well, well,” said a little Jack-in-the-Pulpit standing nearby, “then you don’t even like yourself, because in a way you are blue except for your head.”

“That’s right,” said the shy little violet.  “The green color is made up of yellow and blue; so from your neck down, you are mostly blue.”

“Oh I don’t believe it,” said the second daisy.  “Besides, we were talking about the sky.  I don’t care for the white clouds.  I’ve seen too many white clouds turn black with rage and cry all over.  Just yesterday, I got all wet when a little baby cloud got lost from his mother and cried all over the place.”

“Now, now,” said Sweet William.  “You’ve sort of mixed things up a bit.  If it wasn’t for the crying clouds making rain and the hot sun making it warm, we couldn’t be here.”

“That’s true,” said Morning Glory, climbing a nearby tree.  “Everything and everybody is part of a big thing, and we all have our jobs to do and our rewards to receive.”

What is our so-called job?” Asked daisy number two.  “I can’t do anything with my roots buried in the ground and my head cooking in the sun.”

“Oh yes you can do something,” said the first daisy.  “You can look pretty for everyone to see, and you can make honey for the bees.”

“I’ll admit I’m the prettiest flower in the woods and I have the sweetest honey that ever was, but if you think I’ll have a dirty old bee walking on my head, you are badly mistaken.  I’ll give no honey to the bees or to anyone else.”

“Oh, that’s too bad,” said Morning Glory, climbing still higher up the tree and opening more blossoms.  “I’m climbing as high as I can and wearing dozens of honey-filled flowers for the bees so that my reward will be big.”

“Reward, reward!” shouted the second daisy.  “What reward can you hope to receive?  You know as well as I do that all summer long, the bees will run all over your head gathering honey, the bugs and worms will eat your leaves, and then old Jack Frost will paint you so Old Man Winter can freeze you.”

“That’s partly true,” answered Jack-in-the-Pulpit.  “Some of us will die, but as a reward for giving honey to the bees, we will be given the chance to make seeds which will grow next year.”

“Oh!” cried the second little daisy.  “How foolish can you be!  I suppose the bugs and worms we’ve been feeding all summer will wade around in the snow, planting the seeds we leave for next year.”

“No,” answered the Morning Glory, “the birds will eat most of them.  You see, the birds must live, too, and they live on bugs, worms, and seeds, mostly.”

“Oho,” moaned the second little daisy, “so now we have to feed our hard-earned seeds to the birds.  After they get finished, what reward do we have left?”

“Now wait up a minute,” answered the first little daisy.  “The birds don’t eat all the seed.  Most of the seed is dropped on the ground.  When the birds scratch around looking for them, they bury many more than they eat.”

“That’s right, they do us far more good than harm,” wisely stated Jack-in-the-Pulpit.

“I care not what you say, do, or think.  I’ll not give any of my honey to the bees,” angrily shouted the second little daisy.  “Look, here comes one now.”  With that, she quickly closed her petals, keeping the bee away.

The bee flew to the first little daisy and took some honey, saying, “Thank you.  I’ll be back tomorrow.”

“What about us?” asked the other flowers.

“I only take honey from Black-Eyed Susies.  There will soon be other bees along for your honey.  Bye now,” said the bee, and away he flew.

The second little daisy refused all day long to give honey to any of the many bees that came her way.  Just about sundown, a little boy came along. Seeing the two daisies, he reached down and picked the second little daisy.  Walking along, he pulled the petals off one by one, saying, “She loves me, she loves me not, she loves me, she loves me not . .  .”

The Sunshine Pump

When I taught in Jamaica, I encountered some fun language differences, moths were called bats, bats were rat bats, and moonshine was simply the light coming from the moon.  Much laughter ensued from my Missouri definitions.  A friend’s post today on Facebook reminded me of this . . .

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The Sunshine Pump

Seein’ as how Grandpa’s farm was in a narry valley ‘twixt two high mountains, he didn’t git much sunshine.  ‘Twas ’bout midmornin’ afore ole Sol could much moÊre’n peek down at the valley.

As the yars went by, they be more ‘n  more younguns to feed.  Grandpa ‘lowed as how ‘twould he’p iffin’ he’d put a windmill and pump on top of old Smokie to pump the sunshine down to his farm, which he did, and likewise which the pump did.  Things went right well for a couple or three yars, ’til one day the wind didn’t blow fer more’n a week.  Grandpa got plumb restless without the sunshine fer his crops.

Well sir, one morning he told his two fust born boys to take a couple of buckets and fetch down some sunshine.  Them mountins bein’ as high as they were, hit took a whole passel of climbin’ to git to the top.  When at long last, they stood at the very tip top, Eb cast an eye to the sky and said, “Zeb, look at that sun.  Hit’s half gone and none too bright.”

“Don’t fret ’bout that,” answered Zeb.  “We’uns is in the same fix an’ ah reckon ’tis no mind to no one nohow.”

Well sir, them two younguns filled thar pails and started down th·e mountain.  Zeb slipped and bumped Eb, and ah’m tell’n you all, they skittered down a sight faster’n they climbed up.  When at long last they rolled to a stop, thar be Grandpa lookin’ down at ’em and he twern’t smilin’ nohow.  Zeb got up and tole Grandpa the sorry fix the sun were in.

Grandpa howled, “You addle-brained young’uns, that thar sun you saw were the moon!”  With a howl and a growl, he yanked the pail outen Zeb’s paws and took a big swig.  Atter that he was smilin’ happy.  Yep, thar’s a mite bit of difference ‘twixt sunshine an’ MOONSHINE.

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Christmas Letter 2014

Happy Boxing Day (2nd Day of Christmas) and may all be well with you and yours!

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I’m learning to live as a Human Be-ing and not so much a Human Do-ing . . . enjoying a “broad margin to my life” as stated by Thoreau. I’ve taken to calling the little pond near my house Walden Pond. I can see it well in winter because the leaves are gone, one of nature’s little trade-offs. Today it’s sparkling in the sunshine. A Y friend and I agreed that our doing less now is partly because home is so very comfortable. I cook more, using the veggies from my Terripin Farms CSA. I had a great Christmas Eve with storytelling friends. enjoying raclette while telling stories and laughing and generally having fun . . . and reading Green Eggs and Ham in Latin — who knew?

My comfortable little eco-home is a bit less quiet, as builders work to “complete the subdivision.” We knew it had to come, and it has brought some very nice new neighbors, but the wildlife will miss the empty lots. There is still common ground, what a friend called “decorative woods” (I hope it’s enough), and the process of building homes is quite fascinating to watch . . . our own Bob the Builder!  Their piles of left-over wood remind me of the scrap wood blocks my dad made and this story https://storytellermary.wordpress.com/2013/12/06/santa-dreams-a-new-toy/

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A dozen or so favorite authors keep me happy by writing books I love. Students used to ask, “Is every author your favorite?” Here are just a few recent loves: Elaine Viets, Susan McBride, Louise Penney, Laurie King, *Hank Phillippi Ryan, Julia Spencer-Fleming, Margaret Maron, Nancy Martin, Brandon Mull . . . Edith Maxwell writes mysteries set on an organic farm much like this one

My wonderful library keeps me supplied with books and DVDs (all sorts of favorite shows from PBS, plus old favorites like Twilight Zone and Quantum Leap). Readers and Stitchers, book groups, and our monthly Second Monday Story Swap are all fun. I still knit apple baby hats for friends, and am currently making socks for myself with yarn from a shop called Hanks. I have to take more breaks to massage my “angry” thumbs, but it’s not a race.IMG_0114

Gateway Storytellers meets every other month, and I am in the process of handing over the newsletter responsibility to new officers in January. I’ve been doing it forever, and there should be more than one person able to carry on a task. Our Riverwinds friends meet in Illinois, and the Festival will continue, first weekend in May as it has for 30+ years.

The body requires maintenance to stay mobile. I teach tai chi twice a week, because Charlotte couldn’t keep doing it, and was very good about teaching me enough to be able to step up. I’ll be giving a short class at the New Year’s Day open house (free t-shirts and snacks for attendees). I don’t teach aqua aerobics anymore (a new rule about having to retrieve a ring from the bottom of the 5’ water which I couldn’t do), but I attend. Going over in a bit to do the old routine, which I’ve missed, with whoever shows up (no one, so I did it by myself; maybe more will be there Monday). There are no classes right now . . . doing our own thing is a good break in routine.

I used to mail holiday letters (closer to New Year’s because teaching was so all-consuming), then switched to mostly email, with only two friends needing paper copies. I’ve been neglecting email lately and do most of my (over?)sharing on “social media,”
sporadically on this blog
and daily on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/mary.garrett.37604 plus a few videos
My videos on YouTube   one more video here

Lovely surprises: warm enough weather for a sunset walk. Then when I went out to open/close the mailbox so the paint wouldn’t stick it shut, I saw a beautiful moon! Also, in addition to finding the little auto-parts bird in the “Room of Requirement,” I also found my official Certificate of Credibility, issued after a student, denied some concession, told me that was “why you have no credibility with your students.” Colleagues, including Cindy Menkhus, Sherri Pogue, Donna Wallace, signed it, and then most of that class asked to also sign — take that, ornery student! Fun times remembered . .

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Wishing you all the best in the coming year!

P.S.

On the Third Day of Christmas, I just read in Deborah Crombie’s _A Share in Death_ “. . . your life isn’t trivial or inconsequential. If the things that matter to us every day weren’t important, no one’s death . . . would be much loss.” Good reminder to savor the ordinary!

Back from the library, having put the rest of my planned errands on the mañana list AKA “not today.” Rainy and a bit dreary I could handle, but the tires slipped a bit on the road and as Dad always said, “Watch out for those other drivers.” When Stephen Michael Hahn was small, the Parents as First Teachers visitor asked what one does on rainy days, with expected answer being wearing raincoats, boots, etc. He said, “Stay home.” She wasn’t allowed to give credit for that answer; I’m saying now he should have gotten extra credit (I’ve been called the Queen of Extra Credit), and that answer should have been added as the best possible answer. Think of how many problems would be prevented if people stayed home in treacherous weather . . . . Y’all stay safe! ❤
Post Office was on my list . . . postponed by rain. I mailed Christmas letters with Harry Potter stamps. Still don’t know what happened to the stamp order I posted two weeks ago.

P.P.S. (part of my response to a friend’s email)

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I’ll put in a photo of the little bird.  It was a gift from a worker when I went to a junkyard in search of a window handle for my Pinto, rather clever work.  I had lost it in the move, half-thought I might have given it away, but I went through a bag of things in the spare bedroom (Room of Requirement is a Harry Potter reference), the same bag in which I found lost photos.

Angry thumbs might be arthritis, possibly related to the sarcoidosis, or just years of use.  My chiro says a majority of post-menopausal women have thumb issues.  As with all such problems, the key is to keep using them, but respecting the limits.  My aunt’s doctor told her to keep doing crochet so her hands wouldn’t stiffen — she made doll clothes, easier to hold and quicker to complete.  I’m making baby hats and socks for myself, though there is one sweater I should finish.

I can relate to the fear of getting lost, no sense of direction at all.  Perhaps walking a short route or taking a friend . . . Dr. Paul Lam’s tai chi DVDs are pretty easy to do.   One can also work short stretch/movement breaks into the activities of the day, and it does warm one up, too.  Hardest for me is to try to remember to do occasional stair climbing . . . the second floor condo made that automatic, but now if I want to be able to climb when I need to, I have to consciously do some stairs sometimes, down to the basement, or at the Y.  Stairs also help me relieve some of the lower back stiffness.

Father’s Day/Story Swap

Last Monday’s McClay Story Swap was full of sharing and connections, everyone participated in stories and schmoozing, so much in common, as stories often show us.  I put off writing about the Swap, which means Father’s Day has also entered my stream of consciousness . . . my father led me to stories, as Michael has done for his daughter Linda, so I’m going to write about both.

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Mike and Linda reported fun, if wet, storytelling at Renaissance Faire, an opportunity that began when Maria Romine Kantor hired me to tell at St. Charles Christmas Traditions.  I had connected with them one weekend at the Santa Parade and began by helping with crafts in the Depot.  Years after, Maria invited me to audition for Faire when she wanted to move on to her wonderful Swords and Roses productions.  Now Flavia organizes the Gateway Storytellers at Faire, and so it continues.

Linda Bennett told of her band teacher asking for a performance of the piece with which she won State . . . at the last minute, with the wrong instrument, and without her music — and she did it despite those obstacles!!

Michael Bennett shared a story of an outdoor concert broken up by a bear, which sauntered in to eat every sausage on the grill.  No musicians were harmed in either story . . . but these stories prove it takes courage to play the tuba!

Jennifer Bennett told a story of her grandparents’ courtship . . . he fell for the sweet and courageous single mother when he saw how she was with her child.

Courtship stories are wonderful.  It reminded me of a story my neighbor’s now departed mother told at Java G’s, of sending all her girl cousins off on a camping trip so she could have a clear field for attracting the man they all liked — long and happy marriage was the result.

Jeannette Seamon told name stories, long beautiful flower names, and (long Chinese name) first son has fallen in the well.  We talked about the difficulty of memorizing long works, and I remembered Jeff Miller’s advice to learn poems from the last stanza backward to the first, to allow for a stronger finish.  I vaguely remember a (Japanese?) story of a father mouse wanting to name his child after (marry his child to?) the greatest thing in the world — one of those circular stories like the stonecutter on the mountain that leads back to the beginning . . . I can’t find it now — anyone? (See below for Roger’s answer*)

Jeannette also brought a books of Politically Correct Bedtime Stories, which I had read so long ago and have enjoyed again . . . and will take to the next swap for the Bennetts to enjoy.

My own telling began with unplanned earthiness . . . A comment reminded me of Utah Phillip’s story of cooking for a railroad crew . . .  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zb1qsVqjwg&list=LLQ9fK5KQS4WdeOdVuyPIdXQ&index=6

Mike helpfully explained the difference between deer and moose scat, which led to a discussion of practical jokes one can play with chocolate covered raisins . . . and to Doug Elliot’s Scat song . . .  Couldn’t find that on YouTube, but this is even better   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PeJFbC-_KI  and another https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_b9MVR6k9o

I also told “The Farmer’s Fun-Loving Daughter” aka “Filling the House” and our friend Tony played the flute for it . . .

Here’s a link to Kathryn Tucker Windham, which popped up while searching, and will serve to elevate the tone of this post and remember a good woman. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3CVpuj-Fgk&index=3&list=LLQ9fK5KQS4WdeOdVuyPIdXQ

 

Father’s Day Musings

He was Daddy when I was little and then Dad . . . and on his stories, “Daddy John” for the bedtime stories and “Uncle John” for the tall tales in dialect.  His stories were a gift — and an even bigger gift, he believed in us . . .   When I came home from kindergarten and announced I wanted to be a teacher, Dad explained that college was expensive and “Daddy’s a working man” so I’d need good grades for a scholarship . . . and I listened. ❤

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Father stories everywhere! Barra’s blog reminded me of my dad’s workbench in the basement.  I used to love to visit the shop class at FHN because the smell of sawdust took me back.  I just watched Gnomeo & Juliet, with a loving but over-protective father.  Great fun, with so many stars in the cast and such cleverness — if I were still teaching Shakespeare, I’d find a way to use it in class, maybe a “catch the allusion” quiz . . . and yes, a much happier ending. ❤

 

I’ll share two of Dad’s “Uncle John” stories.  We kids  were allowed to keep a variety of pets, birds, mice, snakes, hamsters, but never a pig . . .

(BTW, dialect is hard to write consistently).

Nuff’s Pet Pig  by Uncle John Fussner  collected by Mary Garrett

One day little ‘Nuff were out in the woods, jest loafin’ an’ lookin’ and listenin’, not to larn ’bout nature but to hide from Grandma.  Well sir, he heard a pig squeal, and lookin’ ’round he spotted a skinny little razorback pig.  He slipped up an’ caught that thar squealin’ pig, tucked hit under his arm, an’ scooted home.

Grandpa was out back cleanin’ the barn when ‘Nuff fetched the pig to him.  Showin’ Grandpa the pig, he allowed as how he’d like to keep him fer to make a pet.  Grandpa took one good look at that thar pig and busted out haw-hawin’ so as to ‘most shake the mountains.  Grandma were gatherin’ eggs nearby an’ come runnin’ to see what were so funny.

Grandpa haw-hawed some more and said, “Look at that poor critter — body like a sausage, legs lookin’ like broomsticks, his head is longer’n his body, and his hind end is so poorly made that iffen he’d pick up an apple in that long mouth of his’n, his tail would point straight up.”

Lookin’ at little ‘Nuff he said, “Well, son, iffen that sorry little runt is what you be hankerin’ fer to make a pet out of, seein’ as how his ears hain’t notched nor marked,  I recken hit be righful fer to keep him.”

A couple of weeks later Grandpa were out near the edge of the woods when he spotted the pig’s hind end stickin’ out’n a hole.  Grandpa give the tail a couple of quick yanks sayin’, “Pig, how long you been rootin’ in that thar hole?’

“Week, week,” answered the pig.

“No wonder you’re so skinny,” laughed Grandpa.  “Been rootin’ thar a week an’ hain’t found nothin’ to eat yet?”

 

Hogs Vs. Swine   by Uncle John Fussner  collected by Mary Garrett

One day little ‘Nuff’s pet pig took bad sick.  Grandpa and Grandma tried fer mor’n a week to make him well, but it done no good.  Grandpa be jawin’ with the professor in town one day, tellin’ him ’bout ‘Nuff’s pet pig bein’ under the weather.  The professor went back to the farm with Grandpa to have a look see.  He worked on that thar pig fer mor’n an hour an’ kept callin’ hit a swine.

He finished up and said to ‘Nuff, “Son, take good care of that swine fer a day or two and he will be fine.”

Nuff turned to Grandpa and saked, “Pa, whyfor does he call my pig a swine?”

Grandpa answered by sayin, “Well son, hit’s this way.  Iffin you sit behind a big shiny desk with a lot of book larnin’ in your head, a hog or a pig is swine, but iffin you be feedin’ ’em, wadin’ in the mud, cleanin’ up after ’em, sittin’ up nights when they be ailin’, then they be pigs an’ hogs.

More stories,books, and CDs    More Daddy John stories

*Roger sent the mystery story . . .
At the Festival I heard Motoko tell (as a Japanese story) about a girl mouse and a boy mouse who wanted to get married. She asked her father’s permission but he said — No, a mouse is small and weak. You must marry the strongest person in the world. And that is the Sun. But the Sun declined, saying the cloud could cover the sun and so was stronger than he. The cloud said the wind could blow the cloud away and so was stronger than he. The wind said the wall could stop the wind and so was stronger. And the wall said a mouse could chew a hole in the wall, so the mouse was strongest. So Father Mouse married his daughter to the boy mouse, which was what she had wanted all along.

Motoko contrives to learn the names of a boy and a girl in the class earlier in the program and then introduces the boy and girl mice with those names. Of course, the kids giggle when she says — they wanted to get married! — At which point Motoko says, No, no — it was the mice who wanted to get married. They just happened to have the same names.

Roger

Grandpa’s Young ‘Uns

Father’s Day is coming, so here are two of my dad’s stories on the joys of fatherhood.

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Grandpa’s Young ‘Uns      by “Uncle” John Fussner

Grandpa and Grandma had a whole passel of young ‘uns, but were never satisfied or someth’n.  Could be they jest didn’t know what they had.  Then agin, on them long winter nights, with no newspapers to read, no radio to listen at, or boob tube to eyeball, what was left to do but to hit the shucks?  Sides that, goin’ to bed ain’t sayin’ you’re goin’ to sleep.  After ’bout a baker’s dozen or so, Grandma gave birth to a likely-lookin’ pair of twin boys.

Grandpa picked up the fust one and said, “Ma, name him what you will, but this’n I’m callin’ E.”   He put that one to Grandma’s breast and picked up th’ other one saying, “This ‘un will answer to ‘Nuff.  Together, they is E – Nuff, and best we be rememberin’ that.  So be hit.”

 

 Grandpa’s Hired Hand    by “Uncle” John Fussner

Grandpa’s homestead was ‘twixt two mountains in a narry valley.  The ground was so poor that the subsoil came up to the third rail on the fence.  The pasture was so sparse that the rabbits had to pack a lunch to cross it.  The well water was so hard that he had to break hit with a hammer to fill a cup.

Grandpa had to stay thar ’cause with land that poor, he  couldn’t find no one to foreclose on hit.  He couldn’t even get the sheriff to hold a sale.  In the early years, it bothered him some ’cause the farm were too big fer one man to work, and too poor fer to hire he’p.

Then one day a drifter come by ridin’ a flea-bitten, crowbait, rat-tailed, striped mule.  The pore critter was so small and the drifter so tall that it looked like the mule had six legs.  Well sir, the drifter rode up to Grandpa, stood up, and let his jackass walk right out from under him.

The drifter and Grandpa sat an’ jawed a spell, and the upshot was that the drifter would work fer Grandpa and take IOU’s ‘stead of cash, sein’ as how thar were no cash, nor likely to be any fer quite a spell.  Well sir, after a yar, the IOU’s were worth more’n the farm; so Grandpa gave the drifter the farm fer the IOU’s, but Grandpa didn’t hanker to leave; so he went to work fer the drifter.  After a yar he got back the farm.

This went on fer ’bout ten yars, ’til the drifter says to Grandpa one day that he had to be movin’ on.  He ‘lowed as how he jest couldn’t stay in one spot very long, and always hankered to see what was over the next hill and ’round the next bend.  By this time Grandpa had young’uns to he’p in the fields, the oldest bein’ all of eleven, and big ’nuff to skin a a pair of mules.  Grandpa was highly pleased to be rid of the stranger.

 

More of my dad’s stories at https://storytellermary.wordpress.com/daddy-john-stories/  and https://storytellermary.wordpress.com/category/stories/daddy-john-stories/

Skeeters

Warm weather, rains, green growing things, frogs singing and — mosquitos!  I am one of those who taste good to skeeters, one reason I mostly enjoy the outside from indoors . . . love the bay window view and listening to the frogs from behind a screen door.

My friend’s blog  http://storytellerscampfire.wordpress.com/2014/06/07/the-truth-about-alaska-mosquitoes/

reminded me of a couple of my dad’s stories . . . take warning and don’t get eaten.

 

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Skeeters He’p Grandpa Clear Land   by “Uncle” John Fussner

Ah recken you be thinkin’ that were a powerful lot of work fer one man in such a short span o’ time.  Ah gotta hadmit it were, but you see, he had some hep.  ‘Twere a strange sorta he’p, hit were.

When the warm weather hit, hyar come the dad-blamed skeeters.     Big, powerful critters they be!  Well sir, long ’bout sundown, Grandpa would carry a big ole blacksmith hammer down to the woods whar he be clearin’ land.

“Now, how you gonna clear land with a hammer?” you ask.

Grandpa had hit all figgered out, he did.  He stood ‘side a likely-lookin’ tree he wanted moved, and waited fer a skeeter to buzz up.  That old skeeter ‘twould smell Grandpa, take aim, and hyar he come.  Jest afore he got to him, Grandpa ducked behind the tree.  That skeeter ran his beak right through that thar tree, and Grandpa would take his hammer, and with one mighty swing, he clenched that thar skeeter’s bill.  Wharupon the skeeter ‘twould take off, tree an’ all, mostly toward whar Grandpa was buildin’.  ‘Bout time them skeeters got to the cabin, they’d be plumb tuckered out.  Down they’d come, skeeter meat fer hogs and dogs, and logs fer buildin’ an’ burnin’.

 

Skeeters Ate Grandpa’s Cow  by “Uncle” John Fussner

Grandpa made good use of the skeeters clearin’ land, but as always, hit sort of back-fired on him.  One mornin’ he went out to do the chores an’ Old Bessie the cow war gone, and so was the calf.  After a light breakfast of a half-pound slice of home-cured ham, a half dozen cackle berries, followed by a goodly stack of hot cakes, and washed down with a couple of big mugs of coffee, he allowed as how he’d best be goin’ to fetch old Bessie home.

About the time the sun was noon high, Grandpa came up through the pasture, leadin’ the calf.  Grandma went out to meet him, asking, “Whar be Old Bessie?”

Grandpa said in a sorrowful voice, “Old Bessie hain’t with us no more.  She strayed over to Moonshine Cave, up Skunk Holler, and them dat blamed skeeters done ate her up.  Hain’t nothin’ left of Old Bessie but a pile of bones.  This yare calf got fur ’nuff back inter the cave to whar hit were a leetle tight fer them thar skeeters, or they likely would of got to her, too.”

Well sir, that left Grandpa ‘thout a cow.  He and his brother went off to the sale barn to fetch home another one, but seein’ as how neither one had near ’nuff cash to come close to buyin’ one, they put all thar eggs in one basket so to speak, and bought one cow fer the both of ’em.

Grandpa’s brother havin’ put in the bigger share, he ‘lowed as how the rightful thing to do were to let him pick what half be his.  Grandpa was thinkin’ that since a cow has a right side and a left side, with a back bone markin’ whar they be jined, he ‘lowed as how ‘twould be fair ’nuff.

But as often happens when two people look at the same thing, Grandpa’s brother didn’t see right an’ left, but front an’ back halves.  You all’s seen ’nuff cows to know which end is by far the better half.  Well sir, the brother ‘lowed as how he hankered fer the back half.

Grandpa fed and watered his half fer more’n a month, and come sunup or sundown his brother took a pail of milk out’n his half.  One day Grandpa had all of hit he could take.  Instead of feedin’ his half, he killed hit and dressed out the meat.  Well sir, would you believe hit, his brother’s half up and died, too.

More of my dad’s stories at https://storytellermary.wordpress.com/daddy-john-stories/  and https://storytellermary.wordpress.com/category/stories/daddy-john-stories/

 

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