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

Quiet — Rest

Quiet — Take Your Nap, Get Your Rest

My sister’s favorite story was the one he told her about nap time and bedtime.  Mom had her own “story” at nap time, “Just lie still.  Even if you don’t fall asleep, the rest will do you just as much good.” (I’m sure our lying quietly for an hour or so did HER much good).

I sometimes told myself that same little falsehood when dealing with insomnia.  I also sometimes told myself, “No, tomorrow’s not a workday, and there will be no 5 a.m. alarm,” and I often fell for it, so gullible!

I so easily fall for good stories that when I had a sleep study done, I fell asleep despite the many wires by telling myself “Sheherazade” — “Long ago, in a kingdom far to the east . . . “

Mom, Dad, Donna025

                                                                           Mom, Dad, and Donna

Donna’s Star by “Daddy John” Fussner

Little Donna was sitting on her daddy’s lap one night.  It was just getting dark.  The sun had said good night some time ago.  the last few rays of sunshine were handing from the bottom of the clouds, as if they were trying to keep from going to bed.  Like all little ones, they at last gave up and were seen no more that night.  Soon the moon was peeking over the hill, very quietly, with a soft, soft light, as if he was afraid that he would wake someone up.  One by one, the little stars took their places in the sky, all clean, bright, and twinkly.

Little Donna said, “Daddy, what makes the stars shine so bright, and who hangs them up in the sky?”

“Well,” said Daddy, “that is quite some story; so if you will get all comfy here on my lap, I will tell you all about it.  A long, long time ago, there were very many little fairies and brownies with nothing to do.  When fairies and brownies have nothing to do, they can’t be happy.  You see, they have to help people and do good things to be happy, just as little boys and girls are happy when they help Mommy and Daddy.  The Head Man Brownie and the Fairy Queen thought and thought about how to find more good things for the idle fairies and brownies to do.

“Suddenly, the Head Man Brownie said, ‘I saw Mr. Stork today, and he said that he’s giving many babies to mammas these days.  Maybe we can think of something there.’

“ ‘Why that’s it,’ said the Fairy Queen.  ‘We can give each little baby a fairy and a brownie to watch over him or her and keep him or her from harm.’

“ ‘So be it,’ said the Head Man Brownie.

“That is why every little boy and each little girl has a little fairy and a little brownie of his very own to watch over him.  your fairy and your brownie are watching you every day while you are awake.  When you go play, they go, too.  You may not see them, but they are there.

“When you lie down to take your nap in the afternoon, your little fairy sits close by, where she can see you.  Your little brownie finds a nice, close, quiet corner nearby, opens a little box which he always carries, and takes out a nice little star.  While yo sleep, your little fairy combs her hair as she watches you, and your little brownie shines your star.

“Of course, as soon as you wake up, they must stop, and if you don’t take a nap at all, well, that’s not so good, because then your little fairy can’t comb her pretty long hair, and she doesn’t like that at all.  Your brownie can’s shine your star if you don’t take a nice long nap, and that’s bad too.  Why?  Because when you go to bed at night, the last thing your brownie does before he goes home is to hang up your star for everyone to see.  Now, you wouldn’t want your brownie to have to hang up a dull, dirty star, would you?”

Little Donna said, “No I wouldn’t, but if my brownie hangs my star after I go to sleep, how will I ever see it?”

Her daddy said, “Maybe you won’t, but I see it every night right after you go to bed, and it’s a beautiful shiny star.  Let’s tuck you in for the night, and I’ll come back out and look for it.”

More of Dad’s stories at

https://storytellermary.wordpress.com/category/stories/daddy-john-stories/

Mary, Joy, & Donna034

Mary, Joy, Donna  — bedtime stories to a new generation

But I wasn’t telling stories then . . .

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But I wasn’t telling stories then . . .

A former student found me online before it was common to search for people online.  He sent a surprise email of the kind that teachers cherish, but one phrase gave me pause, “I’ll always remember all the stories you told us.”

I didn’t think I was telling stories to classes then because I had bought into the notion that junior high (and later high school) students were “too old for stories.”  THEY ARE NOT!!

I realized that I had been slipping in anecdotes as subjects came up.  Instead of “once upon a time,” stories at the older grades begin, “That reminds me of,” and the power of story to capture attention and help learning “stick” is just as powerful.  Students would remember a story for months and sometimes repeat practically word for word.  Worksheets, not so much.  Thanks, Woody Sebastian, for letting me know 😉

More on classroom storytelling https://storytellermary.wordpress.com/programs-and-workshops/

 

Frog and other Videos

Prince the Frog Storybook — a little photo journal of Prince’s stay with me, with vocals by Prince the Frog and music by Mike Anderson.  Thanks, Mike http://www.dulcimerguy.com/

Frog Songs — Prince got so used to my presence that if I was very quiet, I could turn on my old cassette recorder while he was calling.  He never signed a release form for recording, but I think his accepting payment in crickets was de facto agreement to participate.

Frog Prince and Wild Pets
This early version of Prince’s story and that of other wild “pets” was recorded by the lovely people of Cape Girardeau in a parking lot.
http://www.capestorytelling.com/ It’s a spontaneous telling, not polished, the first telling of Prince’s visit to my house. Also featured are many frog photos (including “mailbox frogs”), family photos, my childhood home, the cabinets my father made, and Lucy Grondahl’s finger puppets.

King Solomon
In honor of my coffee house friends, good hosts for storytellers, and the “sacred brew” that keeps us going.

Northern Lights for Lucy

This story refers to Jack London’s “To Build a Fire” and a trip to Alaska with my sister Donna. I recorded it at the request of my storytelling buddy, Lucy Grondahl. It is not “polished” but was made with great love for friend Lucy and sister Donna.

My other videos on YouTube  — Frog stories and wisdom story (separated by You Tube’s mysterious ways)

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Gratitude — First Ten Days of November

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 Susanna posted this one:

A Fairy’s Child by Robert Graves

 

Every fairy child may keep

Two strong ponies and ten sheep;

All have houses, each his own, 

Built of brick or granite stone;

They live on cherries, they run wild —

I’d love to be a fairy’s child.

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Leslie recited this on a storytelling cruise:

ONE DAY WHEN WE WENT WALKING by   Valine Hobb

One day when we went walking,

    I found a dragon’s tooth,

    A dreadful dragon’s tooth.

    “A locust thorn,” said Ruth.

One day when we went walking,

    I found a brownie shoe,

    A brownie’s button shoe.

    “A dry pea pod,” said Sue.

One day when we went walking,

    I found a mermaid’s fan,

    A merry mermaid’s fan.

    “A scallop shell,” said Dan.

One day when we went walking,

    I found a fairy’s dress,

    A fairy’s flannel dress.

    “A mullein leaf,” said Bess.

Next time that I go walking,

    Unless I meet an elf,

    A funny, friendly elf,

    I’m going by myself!

 

 

Stories to Help Survive State Testing — Teaching Memories

Stories to Help Survive State Testing OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In an attempt to soften the experience of the MAP (Missouri Assessment Plan) testing in my high school classroom, I asked my friends on the Storytell international storytelling e-mail list for suggestions of positive stories. I selected stories of hope and acceptance, work for its own reward, finding good in difficulties, and working carefully. I told a story a day to my juniors, beginning the week before and saving very short ones for the testing days, since I didn’t want to cause anyone to run out of time.

I think it did help to provide a positive focus and a chance to give gentle advice. If nothing else, it gave us a chance to relax just a bit, as we all think better when relaxed, and not one student had a melt-down, screamed, or argued as had happened the previous year. (Scores did rise, but who can ever say why?)

Week before —

Debate in Sign Language — I used Syd Lieberman’s version on video. Trying to interpret the language of the test, and making the best guess you can.

A story/joke I learned long ago about a hunter who missed a short-range shot at a lion, which fortunately leapt too far and missed him. The next day he went out to practice short-range shooting, heard a noise in the brush, peeked through and saw the Lion — practicing short-range leaping.

Worry Bundles — my own version, incorporating bits of “St. Louis Blues” into it.

First day of testing — try to savor some of the good things as you read:

The Brahman finds himself caught between two hungry tigers and takes the moment to savor a perfect strawberry. (A student interpreted it as “we’re going to die” but they didn’t 😉

Before the Terra-Nova Section — work carefully

A parallel is the Jukha story where he is taking 10 mules to sell, rides on one and forgets to count it. He runs back to find the missing one, and recounts when he returns to find them all, repeated several times until a bystander says there are 11 mules, counting Jukha.

Before the writing portion — you are creating for yourself —
A great and wise man once called one of his workmen to him saying, “Go into the far country and build for me a house. The decisions of planning and of actual construction will be yours, but remember, I shall come to accept your work for a very special friend of mine.” . . . (man cuts corners) . . . My friend, you are the one I had you build it for. It is all yours.”

The travelers told to fill their pockets with stones, which in the morning were jewels.

If you are feeling pulled in too many directions, remember the boy, the man, and the donkey — you can’t please everyone, so listen to yourself.

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