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 . .  .”

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Storytelling Cruise to Belize 2005

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Bil Lepp Cruise on Carnival Elation July 3-10 2005 Mary Garrett’s notes

Bad news/ the group was small, only 20 or so total, so it was hard to achieve
“critical mass” for story swaps and classes

Good news/ the group was small, so there was plenty of time for one-on-one
questions and work.

This report may suffer a bit from a two-week delay in writing it, but with only two days between cruise and conference, there was just time to wash and repack. (I still haven’t sorted through all the mail). I just took a look at the “Cruise Highlights” video, and I’m remembering how much I like the feel of a deck under my feet. One downside on the Elation was fewer decks going all the way around, but I did find plenty of places to stroll a bit and greet the ocean.

A highlight for me was swimming with dolphins. They seemed happy and well-cared-for as they performed their well-orchestrated tasks, swimming among us to be petted. We were told areas NOT to pet, just a matter of respect and personal space. These were all males, and I couldn’t help thinking of the dolphin subplot in Sharyn McCrumb’s If I’d Killed Him When I Met Him. The kiss and handshake at the end were very nice, but as Tom Lehrer sang, “better let it go at that.” I’m not a strong swimmer and can’t see well underwater, so this was tame enough for me, but perhaps not wild enough for some. I wore my oldest extra glasses, so if they were lost it wouldn’t be a tragedy, and did just fine — but I didn’t buy the photos, so you’ll have to take my word for it. (I keep wishing for masks that could hold glasses properly positioned within).
** Glad to report that prescription lenses in masks are now more common . . . and appreciated.

I loved the zoo in Belize, also, as natural a habitat as one could get and still keep the animals from eating animals (and people) they shouldn’t. The guide kept pointing out that they could get out of the enclosures if they wanted (I suspect the same was true of the dolphins), but with such regular meals, why would they want to? Mosquitoes were the real problem, and I kept passing my repellent on to people who hadn’t heard they should bring some — and it ˛kept coming back, not empty! It was like the loaves and fishes. I left the magic never-ending repellent in my cabin when I left, not wanting a spill in my overly full suitcase.

At Chichen Itza I discovered that I could only go a third of the way up the pyramid before a combination of fatigue and fear of heights sent me back down. I think it’s time for a fitness program. Another deeper issue is the blood sacrifice issue — perhaps because the world is filled with such destruction right now, I can’t tolerate the darkness of the history of the site (though it was so hot that I began to think fondly of the well of the maidens; at least it would be cool there).

A grand highlight for me was performing in the ship’s talent show. They were mostly looking for singers, but Sue Hinkel had already been assured that storytelling would be welcome. Unfortunately, there were 12 entries and only eight openings, so they drew names (I guess that way no one can get mad); I wish Sue had been chosen as well. It was fun, and I even bought the video, to go with my wonderful plastic trophy and medal.

I started my iguana story with Noah Lepp’s knock-knock joke. (Iguana who? Iguana eat you up!!) Noah was a kick! He’s five-going-on-eternity, bright, fun, charming! When the seas got a bit rough from tropical storm “Dennis,” the small pool became a wave pool, much to all the children’s (including Bil’s) delight. Noah wanted the captain to sail right back into the storm area; meanwhile, the captain was busy finding a course away from the storms and warning us all to use “extra preca-u-tion” while walking around the ship and especially on deck. I actually took ginger twice for a bit of queasiness.

Classes with Bil were enlightening. His crafting of stories is carefully planned, with no unnecessary details, moving from the real to the crazy idea to the completely ridiculous (that aha moment), and circling back to the beginning point, with several levels of meaning. As a lit. teacher, I admire his literary devices as well, including the puns, accidental, simple, compound, and puns of inference, to compliment the audience’s intelligence. He’s also clever enough to keep political references sufficiently non-partisan so that everyone can laugh and no one feels challenged on particular views — finding common ground. Check out http://www.buck-dog.com/ I just did, and highly recommend the Harry Potter essay. I’ve also requested (Bil’s rec.) _The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float_ from the library.

It was great to meet Paula Lepp, a super-charming woman, who told of a wonderful teaching/counseling/wilderness program she had been a part of, helping really troubled youth find their worth.

Sue and John Hinkel and sister-in-law Barbara were great fun. Kristin with the magic tiara, who is making the jump to full-time telling, was a constant energy rush! For a small group, we had a big presence.

I also admired the older couples I saw dancing together — years of love — and the large African-American extended family being photographed on the stairway, about 30 very elegant people. The photographer had to go to the balcony to frame the shot, and onlookers (including me) applauded the feat.

Food and latex — good food is part of a cruise experience, but the use of latex gloves complicated that area for me. I got to be best friends with Mandy and Katrina, who helped order meals in advance for me (like eggs Benedict most mornings) so that they would be safely prepared. The buffet was off-limits to me because there was no way of telling which gloves had been used, so when the dining room was closed, they arranged room service. Far from a deprivation, it was “ask for whatever you want,” “no, you need to order more, how about (various indulgent foods). . . . ?” I couldn’t help thinking of the Twilight Zone episode “To Serve Man,” “We wouldn’t want you to lose weight, Mr. Chambers.” They were splendid, and by the end of the cruise, like sisters (I even brought them back chocolate and strawberries from the afternoon buffet, but that’s our secret).

Perhaps it was just the mood I was in (or perhaps storytelling at Earth Day this year), but I couldn’t shake the feeling waste and excess. The day I came home, Marilyn Vos Savant had a brainteaser — PAEWLGS — in the Parade Magazine.
Yep, the seven deadly sins, and they did seem to apply, mostly.
Pride – probably some of that
Avarice or greed – maybe so — lots of shopping going on . . . .
Envy — hard to avoid; perhaps we were also target of this one
Wrath or anger — naw, we were pretty mellow
Lust — oh yeah — lots of opportunity for that one
Gluttony — the big winner!!! I have pictures of the midnight buffet; with
the latex issue, I was saved from eating it, but I stumbled out of bed to take
a couple of photos (and had my drowsy photo taken with lovely Mandy).
Sloth — being pampered felt so good: no housework, beautiful surroundings,
and towel-animals as entertaining decorations.

Conclusion? I’ll do penance for a year and look forward to next year’s “occasion of sin” — we don’t know where yet, but it’s sure to be fun! (any hints, Marsh??)

I wrote down this line from the comedian — for Mike A’s nose flute introductions perhaps? “If I had a nose full of money, I’d blow it all on you.”

Notes from class — might make no sense to anyone else . . . .
Elements
Character — develop (grow, learn) in some way
can develop as a composite of real people
name fits character Miss Crankberry, Sheriff Hasbro
Setting — general
Theme (Donald Davis — “All stories are about two things.”)
Rising Action — Climax (falling action sometimes)
Conflict to resolution

Story is evolutionary — develops its humor/Will make a funny story
— slapstick, irony/sarcasm, puns, situational, human nature.

Wife calling husband on walky-talky “Where are you?” — “In the cabin. In bed.” — “No, you aren’t, not in OUR cabin!” Oops.

Writer’s block — use different approaches — say the opposite to clarify meaning.
graphic organizer, sketch, webbing
Research — include some facts, real numers, amid the tall tales.

Notes that turned into the Carnival Elation story on my Frogs and Friends CD
mini plane — smaller than Prius
lost luggage
lunch buffet — complimentary drink
lifeboat drill — hot, so have some ice cream
midnight buffet, still looking for clothes
breakfast from room service, waiting for clothes
breakfast in dining room, friends (and strangers) offering to lend clean clothes
Finally, clothes delivered, but somehow shrunk — so if you could lend some?

swimming pool full of waves — but fun until that one big wave flipped me over the side of the ship
grabbed rope — barefoot water-skiing — Wow!
flying fish hit me in head — off balance and fell
but grabbed a snorkle and enjoyed the underwater view for a while
until shrimp stampede — all those little pinches made me drop the rope.
Who knew I could swim so fast?

Additional thoughts:
My recurring teacher nightmare has been not being able to find the classroom
in a “these stairs don’t go there” situation which usually led through
downtown Minneapolis (where I worked when there weren’t any teaching jobs)
and finally to a park. It used to be a panicky dream, but now that I’ve
mellowed, I generally figure the kids will be fine without me, and I enjoy the
park.

While on the cruise I dreamed I was calling into school, “I won’t be there . . . . Yes I know classes have already started, so you’d better hurry and send a substitute because . . . I . . . won’t.. be . . . coming . . . in.” Hah!

Love and peace (+sunscreen & big hats),
Mary Garrett

(St. Peters, Missouri)

Greece to Istanbul 2000

Sharing, reminded by Naomi Baltuck’s wonderful post on Turkey https://naomibaltuck.wordpress.com/2015/04/25/poetry-in-motion/

Greece . . . . Istanbul July 2000 with Barbara McBride-Smith

Mary Garrett’s Journal

(This was written primarily for myself, to organize and retain my memories — it is long because we did so much and still a bit disorganized, again because we did so much. You are welcome to read as much as you enjoy . . . By the way, I didn’t send one single postcard, that’s how busy this trip was; so consider this a substitute, and you are welcome to see pictures, guide books, etc. anytime you want to come visit.)
** Photos not digital, so all I can attach here are some recent photos of toys purchased in Turkey.
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What a magical trip! Atop the Acropolis of Athens, viewing the Parthenon, I kept thinking I should pinch myself — it just didn’t seem that it could be real. Wandering the streets of Istanbul, Leigh and I pointed to minarets and views of the mosques and the Bosphorus, saying “That’s not real.” This was the most exotic, magical, and mind-boggling trip of all. Even as I sit here, reflecting back on our adventures, it is hard to believe it all — but the two-weeks’-worth of laundry, and purchases from street‚ vendors and artisans are pretty convincing evidence, as are the residual weariness that ten hours of sleep has only begun to alleviate, and the bruises and sore muscles from hauling luggage off the carousels. There was so much to do and see, and such a full schedule, that I think we all suffered a bit from the “If it’s Tuesday, it must be Belgium” syndrome — and I will allow my reflections to wander accordingly.

The trip back to St. Louis was memorable (and tiring, as is to be expected from 22 hours of travel on three hours of sleep — that seems to be be rule for travel to Europe). The most memorable part was the presence of twin Bosnian boys, nine months old, traveling home to St. Louis with their new parents. Christian and Peter were the stars of our flight, participating willingly in a game of “pass the baby” as they made many new friends. Since their daddy, Michael, sat next to me, I got to hold, feed, and even sing to each boy. The English gentleman on the aisle seat, in between work on his laptop, proved his skills as an able father, helping to entertain the boys, and helping Christian to fall asleep (actually, that accomplishment took all three members of our team, as I contributed the lullaby). At one point a whole family of traditional Arabs were entertaining Christian while his mommy had a few minutes off. It was such a lovely picture that the Englishman took a photo to send them later. As we left the Atlantic and again flew over land, I sang “This Land is Your Land” to Peter as he looked out the window at his new home. It seemed appropriate, and Jeanette (Myers, the teacher of my “Singing for People Who Have Been Asked Not To” course) will be so proud.

The boys were welcomed by new cousins and aunts at t1he airport, but I feel honored to be a part of their trip home. (I even scrounged a much-needed diaper at the Detroit airport; remembering how other mothers had helped Joy in the past, I just found a big sister of a small baby in the ladies’ room (W.C.) and asked). It was wonderful to see how many people were prepared to love and welcome these babies!

Waiting at the airport in Istanbul, I had made friends with a Turkish family in the loooong check-in line. Even though we couldn’t speak, we established that the young daughters were pretty, that their mom had sewn their matching dresses, and that we liked each other. Language is handy, but not necessary for making friends. I offered them dried fruit, then later one of the girls brought me peaches, and I gave them some pine nuts I had bought in Istanbul on the way to the bath — I had given a bag of those same nuts to one of the women at the bath, having received more than I wanted because the vendor had no change — they never do. . .

Another adventure involving singing was at the evening of folk and belly dancing in Istanbul. It was a wonderful evening, with the sultan on stage with his guards and wazir (who had to taste the food, of course) — and storyteller, a very pretty young girl, who seemed to be entertaining him with many good stories. The folk dancing was actually more interesting in its variations than the belly dancing (but the stamina of the dancers was amazing). Leigh was asked to join the folk dancing, as she had in Greece — one of her high points of the trip, I know. Ann and Leslie and I posed in “lady sultan” costumes for pictures — Leslie wanted to pose in the Sultan’s costume, but they wouldn’t let her (too scandalous!).

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At the end of the evening, the singer sang a group of international favorites, and invited us to sing along. I did, enjoying every minute, and Ann asked why I had ever needed to take that course (that seems to me a measure of success right there). Then at the very end, he sang “Yesterday” by special request, which gave me the courage to go up and ask him to sing “The St. Louis Blues” (as we had on the ship and in the fancy restaurant on the roof of our hotel, our new travel tradition). He didn’t remember it well, but gave me the microphone and had me sing the few lines I could remember (I guess my next task is to learn the whole song). The remarkable thing is that he wanted me to sing more (but under the pressure I couldn’t think of any suitable songs), the crowd of 200 or so wanted me to sing more, and the people on our bus’ wanted more (so we sang “Home on the Range” on the way back to the hotel), and the comments from people at friends’ table were good — That class has been good for me! (Actually, the cutest, and most multi-cultural happening at that dinner was the woman who stood up and belly-danced to “Havah Nagilah.” Perhaps there is hope for peace).

Other beautiful moments in Istanbul: the lovely dinner in our Hotel Marmara restaurant, 20 stories up, with the lovely view of the city as darkness fell and the lights came on — the mosques were lighted beautifully, one by one. The waiters removed the food covers simultaneously, with great flourish and drama, and the pianist produced the most sophisticated rendition of “St. Louis Blues” so far. (on the ship, at the Captain’s reception, the musicians sounded more like the Preservation Hall traditional jazz). By this stage of the trip, we were all happily sharing tastes from each other’s plates, bonding.

Our dinner out on the last evening was on a balcony overlooking the Bosphorus, where the ferries land. It was lovely, with children playing in the little park by the water, a man playing an accordion, and the ferries coming and going. We were served a pita bread as big and puffy as a beach ball, and when the waiter tore it open for us (it was too hot for me), the steam poured out. At the end of the meal, the waiters presented me with a full, cold 1.5 liter bottle of water (I guess because I asked to have my glass refilled so often), which I thought was a pretty funny present, but which we used every bit of as we waited to begin our flight a few hours later, at 3 a.m. (It is nice to be able to drink the water from the faucet again). Fitting all four of us into one little taxi, coming and going, was also hysterical! I suspect stories will be told in Istanbul for days to come.

Leigh and I had wandered Istanbul on that last day — finding the traditional Hamam, or bath, only after asking about a dozen people. It helped that the nice people at the hotel where we stopped when we realized it wasn’t really “just around the corner” wrote down the name so we could just show it to people. As promised, there was a car full of policemen by the school, and they were happy to point us in the right direction, and to give us instructions for riding the trolly back to the hotel afterward. The absolutely adorable old gentleman selling the trolly tickets had also been there to help us find our way to the bath — he refused Leigh’s dollar for a ticket, indicating that my dollar was enough for two, and he gave Leigh his stool to sit on as we waited. (We never did figure out why he was selling little strings that he had draped around his neck like a shawl, something to do with stringing beads). Two gentlemen gave us their seats on the trolly — there are still some gentlemen out there — and we enjoyed our trip back to the hotel.

The bath was quite an experience! The women attendants didn’t speak English, and we don’t know Turkish, of course; so it was like being a little child, and without my glasses, a blind little child. They managed to show us what to do, and we were scrubbed, steamed, and massaged into little relaxed puddles lying on the hot marble. Cold water tasted so good after, and the hot day seemed cool afterward. There was some discussion of tip; they wanted more, but seemed happy with what we gave (so it was probably too much). We were the only customers right then, and probably Americans were a bit rare also. It was lovely! As we waited for the trolly back, we thanked the young policemen for their help. I asked if we smelled better, and they laughed. Leigh asked if they thought we were adventurous or crazy — they said yes to crazy and then laughed more. It was just too much fun.

(I am continuing this writing on 8/3, after another 12-hour night of sleep and beginning to feel human again — only one more load of laundry to do, and I actually drove my car again, to drop off film and buy milk and fruit — I really miss having meals served to me by trained professionals. I am overcoming my sense of unreality at being back, and Bob is supposed to come this evening to finish the new door — the one that was to be completed while I was away).

After a return to the hotel, with six little bottles of water for our group, Leigh and I took a cab to the train station and the spice market. We had asked the doorman to give the driver our destination, but somehow we ended up by the ferry dock, with the driver refusing to take us to the (our imitations of train sounds) but instead pointing across a very busy street. Leigh had me call out for someone who spoke English, and a wonderful couple came to our aid (good thing, too, as he was moving the cab forward to who knows where). An English woman and her Turkish husband, who also spoke with a very British accent, explained that there was an underground cross-over for the street and promised to help us find the station, and helped to deal with the unhappy driver, who wanted even more money (we were told it would be $5; converting from the meter, I had added $3 more); our new friend told us to just walk away. They showed us where the spice market was, and had us walk with them to their streetcar stop, where we were right across the street from the train station. He indicated (as had our guide the day before) that Istanbul was being ruined by “ignorant” people who had moved in, who didn’t work and didn’t send their children to school, instead having them beg on the streets. Hearing the same complaint twice in two days made me feel there must be some basis for it, and I hope something can be done.

The train station was wonderful — stained glass and lovely masonry. We found the charming Orient Express Restaurant, decorated with photos from the movie. We sat at a table outside, so we could watch the street, and had tea and pastry, a lovely repast. We heard the call to prayer as we sat there, and were pleased with ourselves that we knew what it was.

Then we walked to the Spice Market, joking about having freed ourselves from the tyranny of the tour bus (though agreeing we needed the foundation of information provided from those tours). We asked directions halfway there, and were sent down an unpromising alley (joking that this was where they sent annoying people who asked directions too much, never to return), but we did arrive and joined a mellower crowd than at the bazaar. Several teen-age boys joked as we arrived, “Spice Market . . . Spice Girls?”

We were invited to shop in various stores, but not pressured. We enjoyed the sight of the dried vegetables hanging in the shops, to be used for stuffed peppers, etc. I bought spices for Leslie at a shop where the man complained, “You are breaking my heart,” when I negotiated the price — of course he also told Leigh that she was breaking my heart because she wouldn’t wear a hat in the sun. Another gentleman offered to be my boyfriend and even promised not to smoke. (So many people there smoke so much that the phrase “smoke like a Turk” is a common statement — I know I couldn’t live with that).

I also bought some candy “for the nieces and nephews,” but some for me, too. We had a pleasant stroll through the market, a pleasant rest in a little park nearby, and a very nice ride back to the hotel — this driver took us past the train station, one last lovely view, and thought $5 was too much . . . but we made him keep it anyway. It was a pleasant, adventurous day.

(Back now from the allergist’s — I really needed that shot! Actually, I figured out that the most difficult part for me was the tour buses, logical considering the mustiness of my car a/c. The best was Istanbul, but I can’t move there; besides the language difficulty, we were told it is the most expensive city in the world to live in).

Now, to begin at the beginning, with the world’s most awful flight, thanks in large part to my home-town airline, TWA. Our flight was delayed for maintenance, and poor cranky 2-year-old Calvin in the next row was only kept happy by the occasional gift of a sucker that Stephen and the girls had graciously shared with me after the family fun day here in St. Peters. Arriving in Detroit, I was given no assistance by TWA in making my connecting flight (I have seen other airlines do things like radio ahead to find the gate). Also, since my baggage was for some unknown reason checked only to Detroit, I had to collect it and race madly for the Alitalia (Northwest) gate, where they graciously re-opened the door to the plane and helped me, and all my luggage, aboard. What a mess! But I made it, and once on board was put back together by the flight crew, caught about three hours’ sleep, and had a wonderful time talking with a lovely Albanian woman, who had established her new life in Detroit, worked hard to learn lovely English, and was on her way to visit her son in Rome and her sister in Albania. As I was leaving the plane, the flight attendant asked how I liked the flight, once I got there. I said that it was wonderful, and that I liked Northwest much better than TWA.

In Italy I had to go through much the same run-for-the-plane routine, but with a little more time to spare, and the help of a guard who magically made the x-ray machine big enough for my illegally large bag, (to the chagrin of the gate attendant who fussed that “the police should have stopped you with that large bag” but who finally let me board — I do have to learn to pack lighter, but it’s so hard to anticipate exactly what will be needed). I have now learned to double-check the destination tag on my checked luggage, and since I shared my story with Marsh, she has now warned everyone else. It is really a miracle to travel so far so quickly, about 11 hours actually flying and 18 hours from when I left home, though at the time it seemed long. (And as Marsh pointed out before the trip, “If you don’t want adventure, stay on the porch and sort socks).

I could do without jet lag, though. In the first couple of days I seriously overspent by misunderstanding the exchange rate (and by being ethno-centric enough to think the 50 on the ATM meant $50 — why would it?) I also destroyed my air cleaner by mis-using the electricity converter (and I really could have benefitted from a working air cleaner). I don’t know how business travelers function after these flights!

The Divani Caravel Hotel in Athens was very nice (though the Marmara in
Istanbul was even more impressive), and after a little nap we had a brief meeting to organize our group. Dennis gave a little overview of the archeology, and Marsh gave us all-important conversion charts for the money, to help us deal with all the zeros (and Turkey’s money is even more impressive — we spent millions for dinner). We then took off to enjoy a Greek dinner, folk dances, and singing. It was lovely (we even saw pistachios growing on a tree by the entrance), but I hope they don’t judge Americans by the energy level we were (barely) able to muster up. Ann, Leslie, and I did have a long talk with the costumed dancer who posed for pictures with us — he teaches the traditional dances to young people, and as we saw later, does a creditable job himself. I was especially impressed with his dancing on top of a glass!

The next day we toured Athens with a lively, sweet guide, Smira(sp?). We climbed the Acropolis (quite a climb, and very hot), were awed by the Parthenon (dedicated to Athena, you know — she beat out Poseidon for the honor by giving Athens the olive tree — Barbara’s story on this was great!) Smira explained that the Nike (goddess of victory) was wingless so she couldn’t fly away . . . an especially good idea since so many treasures have found their way to the British Museum. Dennis had strongly advised a trip to the Archeological Museum, and our driver was kind enough to detour slightly to let us off at the museum. It was amazing, even with part of it closed off for repairs — but also very hot. I especially liked some older statues with horses, but I spent a very long time in a room housing a donated collection of jewelry and small statues, not because they were so significant, but because that room was actually air conditioned. I met with Lonetta and Chris well before closing time, and we agreed that it was time to taxi home.

That night we had dinner in Microlimano (Small Harbor), sitting right by the water and enjoying fresh perch and Greek appetizers — such a treat! The Sound and Light Show, seen from a small hill near the Acropolis, was pretty, but a bit dull. At first I thought it was my fault, having indulged in a bit of ouzo and a bit of wine, but then I heard others’ comments — we decided they should hire Barbara McBride-Smith and Ron Adams to make a livelier commentary tape. Harriet had decided not to climb the hill (there seem to be plenty of them to climb) and declared she had enjoyed a better spectacle from the park, sans boring commentary and with the extra pleasure of people-watching.

The next day (7/24?) I joined Marsh and Leonard for breakfast. Marsh had her first taste of Greek/Turkish coffee and called it “disgusting” so she gave me the rest — they both laughed when I made them point out directions for returning to the hotel “just around the corner.” It just wasn’t a morning on which I wanted to get lost and miss our much-anticipated trip to Delphi — which will be the source of much story-telling for the next year or more. First, the trip was not really workable in the time allotted (made worse by the late arrival of the bus). There was just too much driving and not enough time to visit the site, and Marsh’s attempts to persuade the guide to shorten our shopping stops to increase our time at Delphi were unsuccessful.

We were impressed with the ability of the bus driver to navigate the narrow streets of Delphi — at times he had to be up on the sidewalk to creep past another bus with only inches to spare. We were not impressed with the guide, poorly dressed, hard to understand (and I’m usually good with accents), impossible to hear in a large group — we decided that she had been called in as a last minute substitute. Several of us finally left her just inside the entrance at Delphi and climbed up without her, finally meeting with Dennis and Barbara and getting much better explanations. It is a beautiful site, and as Dennis said, just the sort of high and beautiful place to be attractive to the gods. Several people lined up as if to race in the arena; I was too slow to join the group, but would love a copy of the photo — hint to Marsh! (And did I mention that it was hot?)

Our guide’s one moment of glory was her dramatic argument with the gatekeeper (“the two harpies” – re Marsh) when Barbara had to run to our group for her ticket, chased by the angry woman shouting, “ticket, ticket.” We had plenty of drama, but not really time to explore or contemplate the sacred. Oh, and I refilled my water bottle from the faucet at Delphi, not realizing that the red handle meant “don’t drink.” Fortunately, Marsh warned me before I drank very much, and I took antibiotics (from my dentist — root canal two days before the trip), yogurt, and Vitamin C (and said a little prayer to Apollo, since Delphi is his spot), and I was just fine.

We were delivered directly to our ship, the Crown Odyssey (appropriate name!) — and were brought aboard swiftly (no long lines) and escorted directly to our rooms — very nice. Even the life boat drill was nice, as they had us gather in a cool inside location. We had a lovely dinner (but not dressy, no time) and then met for our first official class. Dennis showed those lovely slides and explained the lay-out of the temples and the types of columns. Barbara told the stories to go with the facts. This was a great combination, fact and story, and we even got a brand-new story of Artemis before the end of the trip. We had less time for group activities and bonding because the schedule was so hectic, but between them they prepared us well for what we were seeing, and helped us to organize what we had seen. (Of course, Dennis also invited us to keep asking people where to see the Colossus of Rhodes until someone “tells you where to go” — cute, Dennis!)

7/25 Delos — not wanting another tour, I wandered the island with others, feeling a bit like a voyeur as we explored the remnants of walls and tiles and pieces of pottery remaining on this sacred island (all the people moved away because birth and death were forbidden here, and you just don’t separate people from their families in Greece). I know I missed significant sights, like the lions inside the museum, and the most beautiful mosaics, but I liked wandering as much as I felt like and then sitting with Marsh to enjoy the waves and the breeze (and watching the young man dive for something which he placed in a box floating on empty water bottles). It was, of course, hot on Delos also.

After lunch, we were in Mykonos — Leigh, Wilma, and I left Harriet in a little cafe as we wandered around, finally finding the windmills and even getting a brief peek at the Folklore Museum. We were actually seeking a cab to take us on a brief tour of the island, but we were always told that the cab stand was a “hundred meters” further on, and so we continued to wander, and saw the town, lovely winding streets, little shops and cafes. We stopped at a lovely spot covered with an arbor of vines, with caged birds singing as we drank and rested. We only managed to find a cab when we really needed one — to take us back to the ship! We were so grateful for his timely appearance (and even looked for Harriet, but she had gotten her own cab and returned to the ship 15 minutes earlier).

That evening, we had an informal story-swap, with stories of ghosts, fire ant candy with snake-spit, unlucky sandals, “feeding an ass” at the Anglican church, loose skin as the place to keep all the stories, and my Sherazade. A couple of nights later we were treated to “Hoja stories” — I added one from Barbara Walker’s book, about a village suffering from the gift of an elephant. I bought another book, The Best Anecdotes of Nasreddin Hoca, in Turkey. (I noticed a certain similarity to Jewish stories, and a Chinese woman on the plane to St. Louis said “These are Chinese stories”).

One evening, we also had star-gazing, spotting the Big and Little Dippers, Cassiopeia, Scorpio and Sagittarius (I’ve been trying to see those two for a long time) and even the Milky Way. We did find time for some “bonding” activities, just not enough.

7/26 Santorini — Our guide for the day was Smira, who had flown from Athens (only a 30-minute flight) to do the tour. I was glad to see her and told her we could have used her in Delphi! The “Lost City of Atlantis,” the prehistoric (Cycladic?) site of Akrotiri, was very interesting — well-preserved walls and jars, and ongoing excavation work. Excavation began in the 1950’s, after mining for pumice had resulted in a donkey falling right through to the city below, which had been abandoned in 1600 B.C. because of volcanic eruption.

Wandering around Thera’s narrow, winding streets with Leslie and Ann, I found tee-shirts for gifts (fair warning, family, this is probably the last time I will lug back tee-shirts — I’ve received the lecture on supporting authentic crafts of the regions I visit). Leslie and Ann sought out embroidery — beautiful stuff! We enjoyed a lovely lunch overlooking the sea — Greek appetizers and moussaka (and Greek coffee – I like it!) and then took the cable car down to the ship. (I had thought about riding the donkeys, but it was so hot!) Someone later told me that the streets are so very narrow and winding as a way of reducing the force of the wind, which was strong but pleasant for us, but is quite fierce in the winter.

Dennis pointed out that we had seen or would be seeing several of the wonders of the ancient world, and filled us in on more of the inter-relationships up on Olympus. Barbara told about that forgetful Theseus with “a few cogs without a matching ratchet.” I personally think he was “forgetful” like some of my students who “forget” the rules, their assignments, and anything else they find convenient to “forget.”

7/27 – Rhodes — Our guide, Costa, was so very sweet and poetic. When we lost track of Leigh, he went looking for her, but wouldn’t let her rush, saying, “No stress, this is a no stress tour.” He talked about meeting an Italian man who had helped to install the tiles in the Palace of the Grand Masters. He regretted not knowing Italian so he could get “the story straight from the mouth, the heart of the man. A book is cold.” We visited the Palace and the Street of the Knights first on our tour because Costa wanted us to see them when it was cooler and less crowded. Restoration of the Palace took place in 1939, under control of Italian fascists (even noted by them as the ?? year of fascism), but they lost the war and never got to see the restored palace — thank goodness. He also showed us where the Colossus had been, so long ago, and took us to where beautiful pottery is still made today — I couldn’t resist two small pieces, glazed with the master’s “secret colors.” We also saw olive trees, with olives only a few months away from harvest.

The Acropolis of Lindos was indeed spectacular with the beautiful remains of the Temple of Athena, anfld the harbor entrance only visible from one side. It was a demanding climb, and hot as Hades up top (I swear you could bake cookies on the marble). Actually, I rode part way up on a donkey, mostly for the fun of it, but when I saw how much more climbing there was to do, I was glad for the help, and glad to ride back down as well. I think the ship should offer mountain goat lessons prior to these particular tours, but even without the lessons, I climbed up and around, down to the front of the temple, and then back up to leave, feeling like a real explorer because the area was so rough. One sad thing, though, was that the picture of my donkey ride wasn’t developed because of a power failure; so you’ll just have to take my word for this adventure.

7/28 Kusadasi — Ancient Ephesus. Lovely walk through a city of marble — the theater with its terrific acoustics, the amazing bathrooms (group effort there, with musicians), the impressive library (with underground tunnels to the baths and brothels “Don’t wait up, dear, I’ll be at the library”). Such beauty and conspicuous wealth. We were told that the fountains were emptied onto the streets in the afternoon to clean and cool the marble (could have used that on Lindos). We were then taken to see how carpets are made, and shown the advantages of double-knotted (Turkish) carpets. They were beautiful, and totally wrong for my cluttered life-style, but I can still admire them. If I’d had a few more sips of raki (like ouzo), I might have bought one anyway. There was also jewelry, including the multiple rings the sultan’s favorite wife would wear, one for each wife (I guess she would share him, but could keep the rings all to herself).

Istanbul — what a treat! It really did seem like a magical land. We visited the Blue Mosque (the Mosque of Sultan Ahmet), which was truly fabulous, and the Chora Church with remarkable mosaics and frescoes, explained ably to us by our guide (so ecumenical). We saw the site of the Byzantine Hippodrome, and then went to the Grand Bazaar, to bargain for wonderful finds and fend off those with more to sell than we could ever want. It was a rather frantic scene, but some of our group went back for more on our free day. Actually, everywhere our tour bus stopped, we were mobbed by people with postcards and other things to sell. I bought two wooden musical instruments and a top I didn’t figure out how to use until Stephen’s birthday party! (In Kudasi, I bought a dress, right where the guide said not to because it was all “ticky-tacky” — I must have simple tastes!)

7/30 — our private tour — wow! The Cistern was amazing, so large, such a secure place for water, such eerie Arabic music playing, best of all, so cool! The “recycled” marble columns were beautiful, but I had to feel sorry for poor Medusa, sideways and upside-down under the water. She just can’t catch a break! The Topkapi Palace was wonderful — I couldn’t quite get my hands on that Spoonmaker Diamond for my friend Margie. I was most intrigued with the fig/cypress tree in the garden, and the wonderful embroidered robes of the sultans. A gentleman from India told us that several of the emeralds were gifts from a relative of the sultan, the Indian ruler who built the Taj Mahal, and that emeralds were very good luck when given as gifts, but terrible curses if stolen.

Lunch in the courtyard of the Suleymaniye Mosque was wonderful (though some of us noticed that the chicken pastries had fallen on the floor and were then picked up and served — the floor looked fairly clean, and we didn’t get sick. Leslie said she would have preferred not knowing, but I can’t help sharing “dirt” like that). Marsh had warned us that there would be no alcohol, since it was on mosque property, and that anyone who needed to drink would have to “swill it from a paper bag in the bus.” (Marsh is a hoot!) The Mosque was quite beautiful (perfect, as our guide said, with a better-quality carpet so it wouldn’t smell from all the bare feet). We arrived just before the call to prayer, which we heard after we left.

The Bosphorus cruise was wonderful, more of a tour boat than a yacht, but we were grateful for the cool shade of the covered section. It is too bad that the houses we passed were so expensive, but Barbara and I decided we could time-share (I can afford about a one-half-hour time-share) and we picked out a favorite, and a spare for when we need extra room for guests. I realize looking at the original description of this day that we were supposed to have tea in an authentic tea house — how were you going to ever fit that in, Marsh? Since you described it as a “must do” event, that means we have to return sometime??? I recall tea on the “yacht” and in the market, so we’re covered.

Wow! Eight pages, and I’ve barely scratched the surface! Leslie said at one point that it will be nice to pull out all the guide books and re-live these adventures when it is cold outside. I think this is a trip that will have to be re-visited through pictures and words to be really absorbed, so complex that it will never be completely understood — a bit like life itself.

Hurt/Helping / Tales Out of School

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Several times I would find out a bit of the background of a troublesome student and see that student in a whole new light. I’d wonder how I would be if faced with the half the hardships some students have weathered. Sometimes a bit of understanding, the offer of a helping hand, can make a difference. Understanding, help, courtesy . . . what we all would want.

I once took a very upset male student through a “secret passage” to guidance because females can be seen crying, but it’s a social disaster for males. We avoided all the busy hallways and snuck in the back way where his counselor took him in tow without passing through the front part of the office. She understood. Later I slipped a note inside his graded homework, assuring him that once everyone grew up a bit, women would see and appreciate his good qualities.

When I was reading Night with my students, I said I hoped I’d be brave enough to have offered to hide the persecuted, as their servant woman offered to do at great risk to herself. One of my students studied me carefully and then proclaimed, “Oh yes, YOU would.” I accepted her compliment, but said we really don’t know until tested.
I do hope she’s right.

One student asked, as we talked after school, if I have children. When I said no, just nieces and nephews, he said, “Maybe that’s why you have time for kids like me.” We can’t save every one, but perhaps as in the story of the starfish, we can “make a difference to that one.”

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New Year’s Change and Resolutions

Maintain health, friendships, and enjoyment of life to the best of one’s ability . . . goals for 2015.

** On New Year’s Day the Y will have an open house.  I’ll do a short tai chi class at 11, open to all who would like to come by.  Early arrivals have been known to receive free t-shirts and there will probably be snacks.

(but not probably as fancy as these cakes  ❤  http://www.cakewrecks.com/home/2014/12/28/new-year-new-sweets.html

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Change?  A rambling remembrance of change and decisions . . .

I don’t leap into change, tending to hold onto the known and comfortable until nudged toward the brink of a new decision.  Generally, after the leap I find myself in a place I like . . . and settle into a new, comfortable routine.

A story once made the rounds about a man praying vociferously, “Please, Lord, just let me win the lottery.  It would really make a difference in my life.  Please, just let me win once.”  From above, a booming voice, “Meet me halfway.  Buy a ticket.”

I bought one lottery ticket when I heard that story, just in case there was a Plan and I needed to do my half.  I didn’t win, I hadn’t really expected to, and there went my dreams of travel and hiring a chauffeur . . . I couldn’t think of much else I’d like to change.

I bought another lottery ticket when I was trying to decide whether or not to retire.  Winning would be a sure sign.  Instead, I received a much more clear sign; sarcoidosis, probably from the mold in our school, impeded my breathing and made it clear that I needed to leave.

I had also expressed a desire that year to “meet some nice men in the coming year.”  Mom used to warn us to be careful what we wished for.  I hadn’t specified “men to whom I won’t owe co-pays.”  To be fair, all the “ologists” were very nice men, and they did get my health back on track after I left that building.  I did also give myself a trip to Hawaii as a retirement present . . . no chauffeur yet, though.

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Retirement was foreshadowed if I’d paid attention.  A couple of years earlier, my doctor made me stay home for the whole month of November (pneumonia). Much as I loved my students, and teaching, I found it surprisingly easy to stay home reading and resting (and lesson planning and grading), and my students appreciated me when I decided to “come back and save (us) from this horrible sub.”  As a preview of retirement, I discovered it was rather pleasant and relaxing to have fewer responsibilities.  I’m feeling the same way now about retirement . . . once I got over the guilt of not “reinventing myself” with a new work load . . .

Lessons in dreams . . .  while still teaching, I had a recurring dream that I couldn’t find my classroom and it was time to teach a class.  I’d end up in an office building and then a park . . . as I neared retirement, my dreaming self decided to stay in the park, “They’ll be okay.”  Thanks to lovely new teachers, they really are.

A student who expressed dismay at my plans to leave was just fine once I reminded her that she would be graduating at the same time as I retired . . . graduating forever.

I recently came across 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 signed it, and then most of that class asked to also sign.  Take that, ornery student!

 

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One more memory:  I taught one of my high school students to knit during lunch.  I had brought in my knitting as a visual for our reading of “House Taken Over.” Afterward, she had wistfully shared that she hadn’t wanted to learn to knit when her grandmother offered, too young to be interested, “and now I want to learn and my grandma is gone.”  I said I could fill in for her grandma, and she learned quickly!

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May your new year be filled with love and laughter, health and happiness, the familiar and some new, all in pleasing proportions.  Hugs!

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

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