Terripin Farms CSA

Getting fresh, healthy veggies from my CSA has made a difference in my well-being, and brought new friends as well.  I am sharing a bit with Moriah and Kelsey, because they didn’t get their share ordered in time and because I love them . . .   All shares are sold for this year, but Jessica has started a waiting list for next year.

I picked up CSA veggies from Terripin Farms CSA yesterday and gave Jessica Whiston an article from the Post-Dispatch that mentioned them, and which she had not seen!

First pick-up . . . and long conversation in the parking lot. I have kale chips in the oven right now .. . the oven because I prepared too many for the toaster oven . . . yes, I’m eagerly anticipating the first kale chips of the season. and then “greens” and salad and collard tacos . . . (new recipe) and perhaps even some juicing, in solidarity with Bob Oxford.

Going to do major cooking/eating/freezing of greens this weekend.  Spring greens, just what the doctor ordered.   We won’t have squash or eggplant for a while, but patience is a virtue.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sharing part of Jessica’s newsletter — too bad her photos won’t transfer . . .

What’s in the box

  1. Kale
  2. Kohlrabi
  3. Napa


  4. Lettuce

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  1. Spring onions
  2. Lose leaf lettuce
  3. Collard greens
  4. Rainbow swiss chard

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This week will be very GREEN ! The rains and cool weather are making very good greens. They are sweet , tasty and tender enough for salads. We have been very busy at the farm trying to catch up from the heavy rain but we are almost there! We have close to 10 acres planted already and have had a much less stressful start since we have a new guy working with us this year, for the first time we have three dedicated farmers and it has been a blessing. We are also in the process of finishing up our brand new 30 by 72foot hoop-house we hope to be able to learn how to grow year round!

We would like to finish this up by thanking everyone who has joined or re-joined our farm this year without you we would not be able to continue living our dream and growing sustainable, Clean safe produce for everyone’s family to enjoy.

Thank you from all of us, Terripin Farms

All about KOHLRABI>>>>

Kohlrabi gets its name from the German “kohl” for cabbage and the Latin “rapa” for turnip. It looks like a root, but it’s actually a tuber and cruciferous like cabbage, kale, cauliflower and broccoli.

The bulbs are about the size of an orange and come in pale green and purple varieties. Young green bulbs have a radish-cucumber flavor and young purple bulbs tend to have a spicier flavor. The leaves, which taste like kale, collards or cabbage, can be steamed, boiled or added to soups. Kohlrabi is available year-round with peak season in June and July.

If the leaves are still attached, cut them from the bulbs and refrigerate separately in plastic bags. Kohlrabi bulbs will keep up to a week or more and the leaves for several days.

To prepare, wash, cut off top and bottom and peel, removing any obvious fibers. Grate, cube or thinly slice and eat raw, boiled or steamed, or in soups or stews.

Roasted kohlrabi with parmesan cheese

4-6 kohlrabi bulbs, peeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat an oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
Cut the kohlrabi into 1/4 inch thick slices, then cut each of the slices in half. Combine olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Toss kohlrabi slices in the olive oil mixture to coat. Spread kohlrabi in a single layer on a baking sheet.
Bake in the preheated oven until browned, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally in order to brown

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evenly. Remove from oven and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Return to the oven to allow the Parmesan cheese to brown, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Kohlrabi Greens with Toasted Sesame Oil and Soy Sauce

From the Ivy Manning collection Ingredients

1 large bunch kohlrabi with greens 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil ~Good-quality soy sauce, to taste ~Shichimi, to garnish (see note)


  1. Tear the leaves away from tough ribs and stems. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the kohlrabi leaves, and boil until tender, 1 to 3 minutes, depending on the age of the leaves. Fish out a leaf and taste it after 1 minute to determine cooking time.
  2. Drain the greens in a colander and push on them with a spatula to remove as much water as possible. Roughly chop the cooked greens and place them on a serving plate. Toss with the sesame oil and soy sauce to taste. Sprinkle with shichimi and serve as a side dish with rice and steamed fish or a meat stir- fry.


Shichimi is a Japanese condiment made from sesame seeds, nori seaweed, and red chile flakes. It is available at most Asian grocery stores, or you can substitute toasted sesame seeds and a sprinkle of sea salt.

Chinese Noodle Slaw

1 bundle Napa cabbage
1 bundle green onions white and green parts used 1 pkg Ramen chicken noodles, broken up
3/4 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
2 Tbsp butter

1 cup vegetable oil 2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup white vinegar 1 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt

Combine salad dressing ingredients in resealable container (such as a jar). Shake well to combine. Store in fridge until ready to serve.

In nonstick skillet, melt 2 Tbsp butter. Lightly brown almonds, and noodles. Cool completely and add seasoning packet.

Wash cabbage and drain. Peel off outside layers and shred. Chop green onions. Combine in large bowl. Add noodle mixture and toss.

Add dressing to salad mixture just before serving and toss well to coat. The salad won’t keep very well, so only add the dressing to the portion that is likely to be consumed immediately.


1 bundle of Swiss Chard (approx. 12 oz.), with leaves and stalks SEPARATED and chopped into small pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
4 to 6 clove garlic, minced

1 cup finely chopped onions
1 14-oz. can artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed and chopped into small pieces 4 oz. cream cheese, softened

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1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 and 1/2 cup of finely grated Pecorino-Romano Cheese 2 t. Worcestershire Sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add onion and chopped chard STALKS. Saute’, stirring frequently, until stalks are soft, about 5 to 8 minutes, at medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 to 2 minutes. Do not let garlic brown.

Stir in chard leaves and chopped artichoke hearts into the olive oil mixture in pot. Cover pan with lid and cook, stirring occasionally, until chard leaves are tender. (You may want to reduce heat from medium- high to medium at this point.) It takes the chard leaves about 3 to 6 minutes to get tender, depending on how “mature” the leaves were when you picked them. If the leaves are tender but lots of liquid remains in pan, remove the lid and cook off the liquid.

Stir in the cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, cheese and Worcestershire Sauce and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until dip is thick and hot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with your favorite crackers, chips, etc.

Collard Green Tacos


1lb lean ground meat

taco seasoning

~1/2 small yellow onion, minced
~1/2 cup water
1 bunch of collard greens (1 leaf per taco)

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Optional Toppings: pico di gallo, sliced avocado or crispy crumbled bacon

*If you’re not sensitive to dairy, shredded cheese would be another great topping.


1. Brown the ground meat with the minced onions in a skillet over medium to high heat until well done.

2. Add the taco seasoning and water. Bring to a boil and then turn heat down right away. Simmer for about 5 minutes, or until thickened.

3. Scoop taco meat onto a collard green leaf and top with your favorite taco toppings.

Sesame Noodles + Mustard Greens Ingredients:

  •   8 oz spaghetti or your favorite noodle
  •   1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
  •   8 oz mustard greens, cleaned and stemmed
  •   1 clove garlic, minced
  •   1/4 cup soy sauce
  •   2 tablespoons honey
  •   2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  •   2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
  •   1/2 teaspoon garlic chili paste
  •   2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  •   1 scallion, chopped
  •   1 teaspoon sesame seeds (black if you can find them)


    To make the dressing, combine soy sauce, honey, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, garlic chili paste and 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil in a small bowl. Mix to combine; set aside. Fill a large stock pot with water and bring to a boil; cook spaghetti according to manufacturers directions. Meanwhile, heat 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add mustard greens and saute for 7-8 minutes until they begin to soften. Add minced garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. When pasta is cooked, remove from water and add drained noodles to mustard greens. Add the soy sauce mixture and toss to coat all the noodles and greens. If desired, sprinkle with chopped scallion and sesame seeds. This is great served warm or chilled.


Juice of the week:

Spring Green Juice

3 large pieces of kale
3 large pieces of swiss chard
1 cucumber (or 1/2 a large english cucumber) 1 green apple
1/2 lemon (peeled)
1/2 lime (peeled)
1/2″ piece of ginger

Smoothie of the week

Creamy Cherry Strawberry Kale Smoothie

Recipe type: smoothie Author: Paul Ahern Prep time: 5 mins Cook time: 5 mins Total time: 10 mins Serves: 1


  •   1⁄2 cup frozen cherries
  •   1⁄2 cup frozen strawberries
  •   1⁄2 cup apple juice
  •   1 very small shake of cinnamon
  •   3 leafs of kale
  •   1 large tbsp greek yogurt


  1. put all ingredients into blender
  2. blend
  3. drink
  4. enjoy!

An Unlikely Valentine’s Day Story & CD Give-away

My friend Sue is linking other blogs to hers http://grannysu.blogspot.com/    In honor of that, I’ll have another CD give-away, drawing from comments posted between now and May 1 . . . a little May Day gift . . .

Wanting to do a give-away* for Valentine’s Day, I hit upon this story by my dad, which is a love story and also an anti-bullying story . . .

My parents lived in love and loyalty all their years together — can’t wish for anything better than that.

*Give-away:  My two storytelling CDs, “Frog and Friends” and “Courage and Wisdom” — winner to be chosen at random from those who comment on this post.  Good luck!

To enter just leave a comment, using the comment button on the left.  (I’ve been told some people are having trouble posting a comment.  If you can’t make it so, let me know on Facebook and I’ll keep track).


Dumb and Bell

by Daddy John (Fussner)  edited by daughter Storyteller Mary (Fussner Garrett)

Once upon a time, there was a little brownie.  We don’t know what his given name was, because no one ever used it.  This poor little brownie always studied hard, but he could never learn anything.  He always made the lowest grades in his class.  All the other little brownies called him Dumb, just plain Dumb.  Little Dumb didn’t care.  He was a good little brownie and never got mad at anyone or anything.

Well, everything rolled along until one day a cute little fairy started to school.  Her family had just moved into the neighborhood.  Her name was Bell.  She was very quick to learn and could stay at the head of the class easily.  For some strange reason, small, smart little Bell took a liking to poor, fat, friendly Dumb.  Soon, he was carrying her books and she was carrying his lunch.  (Dumb always forgot his lunch).

It didn’t take long for the rest of the brownies to start teasing.  When they saw little Bell and Dumb coming down the road to school, they all started to shout, “Ding, dong.  Ding, dong.  Here comes Dumb Bell.”

Dumb didn’t mind, but Bell didn’t like it at all.  “Stop your teasing at once,” she ordered.  “I don’t like to see anyone teased, and it’s very rude for you to do.  Stop it this very second.”

Well, the brownies stopped, because little Bell looked like she meant it, all, that is, except one.  You guessed it, the big school yard bully kept it up.  “Ding dong.  Ding, dong.  Here comes Dumb Bell.  What ‘cha gonna do about it, huh?”

“I’ll show you soon enough,” said Bell, and before anyone knew what was happening, the bully was down on the ground with Bell sitting on his back with both hands full of the bully’s hair.   The bully didn’t like that at all.  He rolled away and jumped up to run.  Bell jumped him just as he started running and rode him piggy-back.  She pulled his ears to make him turn and tickled his ribs to make him run.  Around and around the school they went, until the bully was so tired that he couldn’t run anymore.  He promised little Bell he would behave; so she turned him loose.

Dumb and Bell had no more trouble from the other children.  Little lady Bell helped Dumb with his schoolwork every day, and soon his grades got better.  As time went on, he slowly climbed to the head of his class.  After he finished school, he went to work in the head man brownie’s office, bought a house, and married Bell.  Soon he had children of his own going to school.

As time ticked on and the years slowly passed, the head man brownie retired to go fishing and hunting.  Who took his job?  Why, Dumb, of course.  He is now the boss and tells all the other brownies what to do.  Yes, even the bully takes orders from easy-going Dumb.

Picture 1

Mom’s Pumpkin Pie

No one’s pumpkin pie can ever compare to Mom’s — what we grow up with is the “right” way.  I typed up Mom’s recipe, as insurance against loss of the scrap of paper, then decided that sharing it is the best insurance.  

I’ll add a little story . . . (surprised?)  When my niece Joy was little, I flew home for Christmas. It was the ’70’s, when airlines still fed passengers.  I was too full for dessert, so I put mine, which was well-wrapped, in my purse for later.  When my sister and I walked in Mom’s kitchen, Joy was saying to my mother, “I want some brown pie.”  Mom explained that she had developed a taste for pumpkin pie (my favorite), “but that was Thanksgiving.  We don’t have any more,” which was when I reached in my purse and produced my slice of pumpkin pie.  Joy was convinced that I had a magic purse . . . perhaps the real magic was in willingly giving away my favorite dessert. 

Merry Christmas, and may all your wishes come true!Image


Pumpkin Pie (Mom’s)

1 1/2 cups pumpkin  

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ginger

1/8 tsp. allspice

2 TBLSP molasses

3 eggs, beaten

1 cup evap. milk

(whole can & 5 eggs to fill 2 pie crusts)

Combine all but eggs and milk, mix — add e&M  (or blend it all at once in blender)

Pour into unbaked pie shells (don’t prick shells) 

Bake 425 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean . . .

CDs as Presents — Giveaway Drawing

In the spirit of the season, I will send my two CDs to one person to be chosen by random drawing on Dec. 20.  To enter, comment (click on “comments” to the left, just below the date) or  e-mail me.

I gave two CDs to the men who came to clean the gutters — I think the CDs are going to end up in their children’s stockings in a few weeks, though adults love stories, too.

I gave one to the mail carrier, too.  He likes the frogs in the mailbox almost as much as I do.

Our former mail carrier gave her copy to her daughter, and it helped ease her hospice patients.

I try to have some with me at all times, and when I see children being charming or anyone who seems to be in need of a story, I give a gift!

I hope you get surprises that put smiles on your faces!    😉

CDs– Frog and Friends     Courage and Wisdom: Stories Make the World Go Around

Prince the Frog Picture Book  (Click here to see on YouTube )  — and Books by Daddy John

CDs and Books available from  me  and from   CD Baby and iTunes.

From Aesop to Uncle Remus, stories have been a way to entertain as well as illustrate life lessons and simplify complex situations. Stories delight children and adults alike, and they enhance critical thinking and problem solving.  This CD  presents some favorite stories that both entertain and enlighten. I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I do.   More details and  links below.

•Each CD is $10.00 U.S. and $2.00 for shipping and handling to anywhere in the continental U.S.  Add $0.50 shipping for each additional CD.

•Prince the Frog Picture Book  $10   Click here to see on YouTube     and here for another Prince story.

Daddy John stories collected and edited by Mary Garrett    $10 each or all 3 for $25

To order or ask questions, please e-mail me.

Storyteller Mary Garrett  —  Stories make the world go around

Frog and Friends CD

Prince, the Eastern Grey Tree Frog who came to stay

To hear  short snippets, click on the link for CD Baby or iTunes.

Frog and Friends

by Mary Garrett

**Music by Mike Anderson!

1 Frog Prince (4:02)

2 Wide-Mouth Frog  (5:30) (Trad.)

3 Frog Songs – Prince Trilling (0:59)

4 Bill’s Iguanas (5:15)

5 One Wish (5:26) (Trad.)

6 Grandmother Spider (9:23)  (Elizabeth Ellis’ story, from a dream)

7 Princess Joy (5:26)

8 More Than a Match (13:02)  (written by Aaron Shepard )

9 C.J’s Lost Puppy &Lost Purse (9:11)

10 Daddy’s Lightning Bug Story (3:15)

11 Carnival Elation Tall Tale (10:37)

12 Prince Has Left the Building (3:57)

Mary Garrett combines folk tales, humorous tales, and personal stories in the saga of Prince, the tree frog who spent the winter.  Mary believes in the world of story and the power of story to make this world a better place.

“Let’s look for tree frogs!” Coverdell Elementary students.

“Your stories held me captive.” Justin, Boys’ Help, Girls’ Help, St. Louis

“I don’t want to go have snacks. I want to hear more stories!” Castlio student

“I love the story, and even more I love the emotion in the teller’s voice,” Kevin Young.

Listening to Frog and Friends made me smile–I mean really big, even though I was all alone!  It is so much fun!  Both the music and the stories are artful, and I love the enthusiasm that bubbles up in your young listeners.  I’m getting ready to run another errand, and I can hardly wait to hear more “Frog and Friends.”–Mary Grace Ketner  http://talesandlegends.net/

I just spent an happy hour listening to Mary Garrett’s new CD. Mary deftly weaves the story of her “adopted” frog, Prince, throughout the CD. Listeners will learn the difficulties of frog feeding in “My Frog. Prince.” Her take on “Wide Mouth Frog” is too cute. I can just see the frog with his survey clipboard.

You just have to hear “Bill’s Iguana” to learn how this pet creates a Thanksgiving dinner dilemma and how he saved the family jewels! “One Wish,” “Grandmother Spider,” “Lost Purse,” and “Lightning Bug Story” add just the right combination of traditional and original tales with the perfect amount of imagination and wit.

“Princess Joy,” another original story, provides a very important lesson for listeners of all ages.     Way to go, Mary!

Let the Stories & Songs Begin!   Carol Connolly        WWW.TALESNTUNES.NET

Mary has given us a very rare and wonderful gift… bringing us some beautiful stories intertwined with her personal experiences with a precious friend!  She seamlessly weaves in the story of her endearing little tree frog Prince with some traditional tales … you’ll hear her adaptation of Aaron Shepard’s tale More Than a Match… with an assist from some delightful little friends.  Listen in to Story Lovers World and enjoy your journey from “here” to “there”! !! It’s a wise tale told so well!     http://thmm.com/ksvy/  Thanks, Mary, for sharing your stories with us!

Jackie Baldwin  Story Lovers World    www.story-lovers.com

Courage and Wisdom:  Stories Make the World Go Around 

Courage and Wisdom: Stories Make the World Go Around

By Mary Garrett

To hear  short snippets, click on the links for CD Baby or iTunes.

1) Real or Make Believe (5 min.)

All good stories contain truth, and this one actually happened. My father was my first storyteller, and I joyously carry his gift of story along with my kindergarten teacher’s gift of respect as I invite listeners into the world of make-believe.

2) Smell of the Bread (2 min.)

This story can be found in many variations. I have heard it as Jewish and Arabic in origin. On a flight from Istanbul, a Chinese medical student claimed it as Chinese. Stories travel light and need no passport.

3) Innkeeper’s Wise Daughter (11 min.)

Riddles within riddles, and a love story. I’ve seen it attributed as Jewish or European (and I loved it on Corinne Stavish’s tape).

4) Mary Culhane (8 min.)

I told this scary story at an Irish festival in St. Charles. Afterward, a woman asked if she could buy it on CD, which put this project on my “to do” list. Now if I could just find that woman . . .

5) King Solomon (2 min.)

Shall we live forever? Karen Chace found this story of King Solomon’s toughest judgment — a bit of perspective on life, wisdom, and coffee.

6) Scheherazade (10 min.)

The frame story of 1001 Arabian Nights. Scheherazade became my hero the first time I heard her story, and I’ve loved every version since. Could stories save the kingdom? The world? I hope so!

7) King Solomon (1 min.)

This wonderful Sufi tale is my mantra on difficult days. I first heard it as told by Doug Lipman, and it was my farewell story when I retired from teaching.

8) Minstrel Queen short (10 min.)

This story is also known as “The Lute Player.” I learned it for my friend Susan’s wedding. The tiny bit of singing in it is only possible because of the “Singing for People Who’ve Been Asked Not To” class at COCA (Center of Creative Arts).

9) Heaven and Hell (3 min.)

I used to tell this story early in the school year to set a tone of cooperation for my classes. In the Chinese story the problem is very long chopsticks.

10)Broken Fan (4 min.)

A Spanish story remembered from high school, a favorite at the Renaissance Faire.

11) Black Bubble Gum (13 min.)

Inspired by a John Steinbeck story, told with help from Brianna, Hannah, and Josiah.

Praise for Courage and Wisdom: Stories Make the World Go Around

We absolutely love your cd! The music and nature sounds add a very nice touch! Well done!

—  Annie Gross (and Hannah, Josiah, and Marc)

I really enjoyed your CD. Your voice is not pretentious, but is in the natural, conversational tone that makes good storytelling. I felt like I had sat with you for the time and just had a “talk.” Congratulations, you have a created a product to be proud of for a long time.

—  Mike Anderson

Thanks to

Mike Anderson at http://www.dulcimerguy.com for the use of his music, •”Simple Gifts” and “The Minstrel Boy.”

•Mike Ehrhard at Sidetrack Recording Studios, 314-432-0447

•Elizabeth Ellis for holding me in the light through this project and to many other storytelling friends for help and support

•My former students for listening and commenting. One young man asked, “Are all your stories about women?” Not all, but I do love strong women stories and tell them often. Not only is feminism not a dirty word, but it’s also not new. There have always been strong and capable women, and thank goodness for that!

Each CD    Courage and Wisdom     Frog & Friends   is $10.00 U.S., and $2.00 for shipping and handling to anywhere in the continental U.S.; add $0.50 shipping for each additional CD.

Also available

  1. Prince the Frog Picture Book  $10
  2. •Little chap books of father’s stories, collected and edited by Mary Garrett
    $10 each or all 3 for $25  plus $2.50 shipping
    Bedtime Stories by Daddy John (Fussner) 35 pages
    “Sweet dreams,” stories of fairies and nature
    Stories from the Land of Make Believe by Daddy John (Fussner) 53 pages
    Dough Doughy and friends build a church, face a blizzard, enjoy life.
    Homespun Stories from Uncle John 32 pages
    Old time tall tales in dialect: mosquitoes big enough to eat a car, a mixed-up hen, pet skunks

Frog Goes to High School Handouts

Frog Goes to High School – “Stealth” Storytelling in Upper Grades

Mary Garrett   http://www.storytellermary.com

From Howard Schwartz —  Keep finding cracks to leave stories in. They tend to take root.

Develop methods to use storytelling to enrich the curriculum, illustrate difficult concepts, encourage students, and improve learning in middle and high school.  History comes to life, literature and mythology become clear with story, and it’s more fun!  Students like, want, and need stories, when they are offered in context and with respect to students’ age and maturity.   Stories can reward students for hard  work, encourage positive behaviors, and provide an opportunity for introspection and creativity.  Also, stories are fun!

1) Identify where stories can enrich the curriculum.

Stories can simplify complex material, especially for auditory learners.

“The Journey of Madame Knight,”  difficult and boring to read, is exciting to tell.

Pushkin’s “The Bridegroom”  can be understood once one has heard “Mr. Fox.” (Dan Keding”s CD In a Dead Man’s Company has a good version).

Stories can supplement the curriculum. Bre’r Rabbit stories illustrate survival strategies and coordinate with biographies and spirituals in the unit on the 1800’s.

Stories can introduce a writing unit.  Personal stories and Donald Davis’s Writing as a Second Language help students write narratives.  Elizabeth Ellis’s “Freckle Cream”;  Mike Anderson’s “Raising Chickens”;  Donald Davis’s “LSMFT” help inspire students to tell their own stories.

2)  Develop a list of stories and keep track of what you tell to whom.  It’s hard to remember which class has heard what.  A list of favorites helps keep track and provides inspiration when, with a few minutes left in class, someone asks, “Would you tell us a story?”  I make notes in my copy of the text, like “The Letter – Dan K” next to Whitman’s “Reconciliation.”

3)  Share ideas with other tellers and teachers.  Before MAP tests I asked friends on the Storytell e-mail list for  short, positive stories with which to encourage my students.  Thanks to their gifts of story, the students faced those tests in a happier, more confident mood.

4)  Encourage students to tell with story boarding and partner telling, round robin telling, telling from photos, and sequencing out-of-order photos.

American Literature students present a three-minute piece in the persona of a character or author.  Students stepped into these roles with enthusiasm, and one reflected in detail my Madame Knight from four months earlier — how deeply story enters the memory!  My “drama class from hell,” amazingly transformed during the storytelling unit, became engaged and cooperative as they selected and developed stories to share.  A student retold “that frog story” to another who had been absent.

5)  State standards — If justification is needed “Comprehension of material presented orally” is on most state standards, along with  “ability to present material orally.”  In addition, many stories fit specific aspects of the curriculum.


Telling Stories

Storytelling is the oldest of the communication arts.  Stories can add understanding, interest and enjoyment for students of all ages and in all areas of the curriculum.  This workshop will help you find and develop stories to share with students, to enhance their learning and enjoyment, and perhaps to encourage them to become “tellers” as well.

1.  Choose a story you really love!  It should have values you wish to live with, characters you find interesting, a story that resonates with you.  Of the hundreds of stories you find, there will be some you love — tell those.

2.  Don’t memorize; know the story and tell it.  Read it several times.  Re-write if you wish, or draw a story-board of the action.  Visualize setting and characters.  Consider the motivations for actions and choices.  Ask yourself what is important to you in this story.   You won’t use every detail, but it will make the story real to you, and therefore real to your listeners.

3.  Tell, tell, tell!!!  Tell to yourself, tell to friends, tell until the story is part of you.   It is in these tellings that you will find your individual approach, the details that make the story yours.

If you forget to mention an important detail, just tell it when you need it.  Say, “Now you should know . . . .”   Jackie Torrence would smile that mischievous smile when she had forgotten to tell something important and say, “Now I wonder if you remember . . .” Laughing together is fun!

4.  Bring them home safely.  Scary stories have to be age-appropriate, and the ending has to restore a safety zone.  Jackie ends jump tales with “and no one ever saw that . . . . again.”

5.  Keep track of your stories — notebooks, computer lists, files to help you remember the stories when you need them.

6.  Audience etiquette — sometimes it is necessary to teach the basics of audience behavior, attentiveness, courtesy.  It helps if the teachers are involved audience members, modeling for the students.  Actually, behavior problems are rare during storytelling, since students are caught up in the story.  It does help if younger listeners have more participation opportunities.

7.  Copyright issues — telling within your own library or classrooms is generally allowed, as is telling from the folk tradition.  Using copyrighted material in festivals or other public performances or on tapes can be a problem.

Wide-Mouth Frog — One of my favorite stories (just the “bones”)

Little Wide-Mouth Frog asks his momma, “What do mother animals feed their babies?”  She sends him out to find out,take a survey, with a little clipboard and pencil.  He asks rabbit, squirrel, bear  . .  expected answers.  (I always add that squirrels like to bite the green tomatoes, and bears, if there aren’t enough berries, take the campers’ food) — then he goes into the swamp.  Momma Gator says, “I feed my babies WMF.”  Little frog purses lips tight and says, “If I see any, I’ll let you know.”

Google search — http://www.google.com/    very valuable technique — stay open to possibilities.

“important”+”second language”+cat    led to

 A Second Language

A Momma cat and her little kittens came face to face with an ole bull dog~~ Butch

The poor little ole kittens cowered when Butch starting growling at them.

The momma cat let out several series of loud barks. When you heard those barks,  I bet you thought it was Butch.  These barks scared Butch away.

Then Momma cat turned to her babies and replied,”You see how important knowing a second language is!”

Better version —  More Ready to Tell Tales by Holt and Mooney  “Barking Mouse”


The Smell of the Bread

One day a baker noticed an older man enjoying the smell of his freshly baked bread and demanded he pay for the smell of the bread.

Unsure of what to do, the local judge decided to bring the case to King Solomon.

After listening to both sides the king decided that the baker was correct and that the man owed the baker for the smell of the bread because the baker owned the bread and all of its attributes.

Knowing better than to object to the king, the older man resigned himself.

King Solomon continued, telling the old man to jingle his coin purse. “There you have been paid,” declared Solomon. “The sound of the coins paid for the smell of the bread.”

The Lost Purse

(bones) Poor man finds a purse filled with coins and returns it to the owner.  The owner, not wanting to pay reward, claims there are only half as many coins as there had been before he lost it, and has the poor man arrested.  Judge questions them and decides, “This must be a different lost purse.  We’ll keep looking for the one you lost.  This honest man may keep the one he found, until we find the rightful owner.”

The Sun and the Wind  http://www.story-lovers.com/listsconflictresolution.html

The Sun and the Wind once had a quarrel as to which was the stronger. Each believed himself to be the more powerful. While they were arguing they saw a traveler walking along the country highway, wearing a great cloak.

“Here is a chance to test our strength,” said the Wind; “let us see which of us is strong enough to make that traveler take off his cloak; the one who can do that shall be judged the more powerful.”

“Agreed,” said the Sun.

Instantly the Wind began to blow; he puffed and tugged at the man’s cloak, and raised a storm of hail and rain, to beat at it. But the colder it grew and the more it stormed, the tighter the traveler held his cloak around him. The Wind could not get it off.

Now it was the Sun’s turn. He shone with all his beams on the man’s shoulders. As it grew hotter and hotter, the man unfastened his cloak; then he threw it back; at last he took it off! The Sun had won.    —  from Stories to Tell to Children by Sara Cone Bryant

HODJA STORIES  Preaching in the mosque  –translated by Priscilla Howe.

Nastradin Khodzha said to the people who were gathered at the mosque, “Do you know what I’m going to say?” “No, we don’t.”  “Well, if you don’t know, I have nothing to say to you.”

The next time, he asked them again, “Do you know what I’m going to say?”  “Yes, we know!”

“Well, if you already know, I have nothing to say to you.”

The next time he asked again, “Do you know what I’m going to say?” Half of the congregation said “We know” and the other half said, “We don’t know.” And so Nastradin said, “Let those of you who know tell those of you who don’t!”  http://www.storyteller.net/tellers/phowe/

Sources for Stories and Information

The Storytelling Classroom by Norfolk, Stenson & Williams  http://www.lu.com  1-800-225-5800

The library, of course!!!!     398.2

Testing Miss Malarky by Judy Finchler

Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!  by Dr. Seuss with some help from Jack Prelutsky & Lane Smith

August House  http://www.augusthouse.com/    1-800-284-8784

Donald Davis — Telling Your Own Stories, Writing as a Second Language

Heather Forest — Wisdom Tales from Around the World , Wonder Tales from Around the World http://www.storyarts.org/heather.html

David Holt and Bill Mooney. The Storytellers Guide: Storytellers Share Advice  and

Ready-To-Tell Tales: Sure-Fire Stories from Americas Favorite Storytellers

Doug Lipman and Jay OCallahan. The Storytelling Coach: How to Listen, Praise, and Bring Out People’s Best. .

Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss. How and Why Stories: World Tales Kids Can Read and Tell. 

Margaret Read MacDonald The Storytellers Start-Up Book.

Web Links

Story Arts    http://www.storyarts.org/library/index.html

Karen Chace http://www.storybug.net  Teacher’s Porch, Storytelling Links

Richard Martin   http://www.tellatale.eu

Aaron Shepard http://www.aaronshep.com

Tim Sheppard  http://www.timsheppard.co.uk/story/

NCTE  on Storytelling http://www.ncte.org/positions/statements/teachingstorytelling

Judith Black (historical tellings) http://www.storiesalive.com


Storytell — international discussion list on storytelling http://lists.storynet.org/lists/info/storytell

Healing Story Alliance  http://healingstory.org

Archive of Story-Lovers compilation of stories


Stories can fit various subject areas (and your favorite stories can fit many areas)


“The King’s Chessboard” http://www.story-lovers.com/listspublicconsultationstories.html

Hoja and the Donkeys


“Little Red House”  make prints with cut apples

“Ma Lein and the Magic Paint Brush”

World Cultures



“Hell for a Picnic” (Judith Black)

Family And Consumer Science

“Butterfly Brothers” for child development

“Innkeeper’s Wise Daughter”  (“A Reason to Beat Your Wife” – wicked but fun)

Character Education (likely area for school assemblies right now)

“The Lost Purse”

“Hercules”  Odds Bodkins’ version is part of program to deal with violence

State Testing  Mary Garrett

In an attempt to soften the experience of the MAP (Missouri Assessment Plan) testing in my high school classroom, I asked my friends on an 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 (and scores did rise).

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

Brahman/Tiger/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.

Dvora Shurman

following stories around the world

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.

One way to keep track of stories told (or played) for various classes

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  Beyond the Bayou (Kate Chopin)

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  Blue Rose

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  Brer Rabbit & Tar Baby

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  Coyote Dances w/Stars

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  Dervish in the Road (Doug Lipman)

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  Ears and Tails and Common Sense (J. Lester)

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  Filling the House

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  Grandma’s Doughnuts (personal story)

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  Grandmother Spider  (Elizabeth Ellis)

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  Heaven and Hell

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  Hoja Stories – Elephant, Wife, Lost Key

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  Innkeeper’s Wise Daughter

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  Jaimie/He Is Risen

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  King Solomon (coffee story)

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  Little Red House  (Annette Harrison)

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  Ma Lien and the Magic Paintbrush

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  Magic Doubling Pot

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  One Wish

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  Pandora’s Troubles

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  ‘Possum and Snake

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  Real/make-believe (personal)

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  Rocks/Animals/People  (Johnny Moses)

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  Sherazade

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  Sir Gawain & Dame Ragnell

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  Smell of the Bread

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  Stonecutter on Mountain

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  First Strawberries (Gayle Ross)

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  Tante Tina  (Ruthilde Kronberg)

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  They’re Busy

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  Turtle Flies South/shell

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  Two Polite Babies

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  Wide-Mouthed Frog/& hands

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  Wise Tailor (feeding Coat)

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  Worry Bundles

Scary Stories

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  Black Bubble Gum

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  Golden Arm

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  Henry and Elvira

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  Hitchhiker

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  (Capt.) Mary Becker Green

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  Mr. Fox

___]___]___] ___]___]___]  Taily-po

Contact me for more bibliography — or questions.

Stories Tame the Drama Class From Hell (Trip Down Memory Lane)

By Mary Garrett

A most remarkable result of storytelling was the taming of my “drama class from hell,” a very undisciplined group for whom I had been the “bad cop” all semester as my student teacher took them through play production units. This was a very large class, very talkative and disruptive, and worst of all, the African-American students took every disciplinary action as an excuse to claim racial bias. They had convinced me that I never wanted to teach a drama class again (I had only taken this one section of drama, not my area of expertise, to balance the schedule for my department).

The student teacher conquered her impulse to give them back to me early and finished the one-act plays with them. When it was time for her to move on, they begged her to stay and not leave them with “that mean teacher,” but they didn’t get much sympathy from her, and she reminded them of why she was glad to leave.

One student told the rest, “I like Ms. Garrett. I have her in another class, where people aren’t always pissing her off. Oh, I guess I shouldn’t say ’piss’ in school.” I wished that they would let me be the nice teacher I prefer to be, but in truth I was dreading spending the last month of school with this horrible class, and I wondered how well I could discipline the whole group with no “bad cop” of my own to rely on.

I had been looking forward to doing the storytelling portion of this class, the one area in which I felt I had much to give them. The storytelling unit in my short stories class had been a high point; we had even invited a principal to join us. I had used positive short stories to help my juniors face the dreaded MAP tests, starting a week in advance of the tests with stories about persevering through tough times. The stories helped create a better atmosphere with less tension, more confidence, and much less complaining.

The first aspect that made them a little happy was when I told them NOT to memorize the stories word-for-word. They had complained that memorizing was too hard, and I knew they would be relieved.

I also began each day’s work with one of my stories, as a model of storytelling and to show them my “nice” side.  I started with very short Yiddish tales, “The Smell of the Bread” and “The Lost Purse,” recruiting students to play the characters. Laughter and comments like “She faked you out” when the greedy person received his just due were refreshing light moments. Perhaps there was some hope for us.

They fussed a bit when I told them they would be reading silently and taking notes on at least five stories to choose the one to tell, but the promise, “You’ll be able to talk once you have selected something to talk about,” and that twenty-years-of-teaching authority settled them down.

As they read and took notes on the large selection of photocopied stories, all with a focus on positive character traits, (I wasn’t trusting these guys with my books or with wide-open selections), I would pull out the occasional story that I thought might fit a particular student. “You have hidden talents like this beetle. You help others, as does ‘Tante Tina.’” I also suggested that they . . . silently . . . pass along any stories they thought would be good for a friend.

I knew that talking would degenerate into not working at all; they needed a silent room to begin working and thinking. As they read and chose, I could see them getting interested and motivated, and the quiet students who hadn’t been able to do their best in a chaotic atmosphere were relaxing and focusing in the calmer room.

When they had selected the stories they wanted to tell, they storyboarded and summarized on a 3×5 card to get them away from word-for-word repetition of the story. This made them focus on the essentials of the story, and I think high school students enjoy an opportunity to work with crayons and markers again. They were smiling and showing off their pictures by this time. Students laughed as they recognized themselves, or others, in “The Talking Skull” — “Woe is me! Misery! What I said was true. It was my mouth that brought me here, my friend. Your mouth has brought you too!”

They then told their stories to a partner — I chose the partners for them, keeping the cliques from regrouping. They were told to begin with compliments, because we all need them, and then offer any suggestions gently. This was low-stress enough that even the shy students who were still afraid to speak up were able to tell to just one person, and I could tell they were enjoying the stories. We then put together pairs to have groups of four. They asked if they could put those groups together themselves, and they had been doing so well with the project that they were allowed that privilege.

As I circulated in the room, I encouraged and offered suggestions (and made sure they were actually working), and I noticed several whose stories were coming along especially well.  Not surprisingly, some of them had been the most disruptive — that talent and desire to perform does come bursting out.  I invited them to share their in-progress stories with the class. The suggestions for improving already good stories were instructive to all, and the applause and compliments kept them from becoming “bored” and disruptive.

At one point, several students declared that they were ready to perform, but the rest were not. The “ready” students became the team leaders or coaches of a larger group of eight or so, with the assignment to get all students ready to tell. We also established rules for positive listening and talked about the importance of a good audience. “You are fighting because you only looked at my coat from your own point of view” (from “The Red and Blue Coat” — Heather Forest). As we worked together on stories, we saw a bit more clearly from each other’s point of view.

When all were ready, they volunteered for their turns to tell. My most obstreperous young man, one of the militant African-Americans, told first, with pride and enthusiasm. He had the talent, and his telling of “The Black Prince” was wonderful. An earlier phone call to his mother had established the fact that I was not treating him in a discriminatory fashion; a positive “Gold Note” postcard home afterward provided well-earned praise for his storytelling.

The real surprise, though, was his behavior after his telling. He was an attentive and generous listener, encouraging and complimenting not only the students he had coached, but every student in the class. When the final teller, an extremely shy young woman, told her story, the whole class listened as avid fans of her effort, and though her nerves did show, she told the story clearly, and their applause was sincere.

This storytelling experience was so positive that we moved smoothly through the final days of school, and on the last day of finals I was able to tell them (with misty eyes) that I was proud of them and would miss them.


Happy Watermelon Day!!

National Watermelon Day!

I enjoyed my watermelon, from Terripin Farms CSA!  See how big one week’s HALF share is!




Thanks, Karen, for the reminder!


One of the wonders of Jackie’s Story-Lovers site 


is finding one’s own words from years past . . . 

My father told us how they used to load the truck with watermelons, passing them down a line of workers, like the fire bucket brigades. The agreement was that they could eat the broken ones. They didn’t break a single one, until the first man yelled, “This is the last one.” Then each man dropped the one he was holding, and they had plenty to eat.

He also told me the sweetest watermelons were the ones stolen from a neighbor’s field. One man wasn’t amused by the pilfering and put out a sign, “Attention, thieves! One of the melons in this field is poisoned.” The next day, none of his melons were missing, but the sign had been changed to “two of the melons in this field are poisoned.”

Now daddy was a storyteller, but he said these happened just this way. Of course, we do always say not to let the truth stand in the way of a good story. . . .

One more family story — one of my uncle’s tricks. His children planted some seeds from a watermelon, and a vine grew from them. Every day they would impatiently check the vine for watermelons, but it was too late in the summer for them to ever get any. He bought a huge melon, snuck it out to the yard, and put it among the leaves and vines of their plant. Of course they believed they had grown it (kids are so great that way), and they all enjoyed their “home grown” melon.

Kevin Cordi’s “Permission to Play” Workshop!


Kevin Cordi’s “Permission to Play” Workshop!

July 21, 2010  U of MO St. Louis


— very random reflections on the experience by Mary Garrett  (Kevin will be doing this workshop at NSN later this week).

Mom always said not to play with our food, but Kevin had us all pledge, giving ourselves permission to play with stories!!  The benefits were wonderful!

Some partner work opened us up to playful possibilities —

I would never . . .  have a cat . . climb a mountain . . .

I would always . . . (the same — with grand new insights!)

Joined by a purple elephant . . . and I think we all liked our elephants very much!

Working on stories with this collaboration/elaboration technique showed us new aspects of the stories, insights and possibilities . . .

We were told to bring new stories, with less investment from previous “work” on the stories and more room to PLAY!

(I think that it would open up familiar stories as well, and add fresh insights).

We never got beyond the first few lines of my story, which was fine.  In playing with the story, we discovered why the barber had so many problems (hands shaking out of control) and explored the wonders of the wedding gifts to the princess!  (“Barber’s Clever Wife” from Fearless Girls . . . by Kathleen Ragan).

Flavia’s work with “Sody Sallyratus” was marvelous! This was a new story for her, familiar to most of the rest of us, but by the end, new for us all.  Kevin and Flavia fell into an improv bickering dialogue by the old couple about who should go look for the children — we were laughing out loud!  Flavia’s bear got funnier (and more over-fed) with each scene.  It was a riot.

Ric worked on a story of coyote flying with borrowed feathers, ending with us all soaring and (oops) falling . . .  It felt real to me, even though I had missed part of it as I went outside to call to warn Spiro’s about our delay (organizing storytellers is like herding cats) and got locked out of the building until a kind custodian let me in.

Becky and Stephen visited and helped adapt Linda’s  tripod for Kevin’s new camera.  Sue was the “scribe with the camera.”  Lynne participated in the improvs and discussions.  Rosie had to leave early . . . to help a homeless veteran find a safe place to be (that’s so very Rosie).

We had to be extra-physical to stay warm. . . the a/c works a bit too well sometimes.  I almost always have a lightweight pareo with me, which I loaned to Flavia, who was turning blue.  She would have gone outside to warm up, but there was a most dramatic storm, which cleared up by the time we left.

I had a sun precautions shirt to wear over my “Cleverly Disguised As a Responsible Adult” t-shirt, nearly worn out, but it fit the theme of the workshop well.  Now Flavia wants one, and I don’t think Signals has them any longer, but she’s clever enough to make one.  This is the closest I could find with a Google search  http://www.zazzle.com/cleverly_disguised_as_a_responsible_adult_tshirt-235673928994893514

At Spiro’s we did not play with the food, but we did enjoy it* along with great conversation and storytelling.  We shared many teaching stories, and I realized that one of the reasons I enjoyed my years of teaching was that, along with storytelling, I had given myself and my students “permission to play” at least part of the time.

*Dinner was delicious!  Spiro is a conscientious chef.  When asked to prepare shrimp with the dijon sauce offered with the salmon he said no “because I do not know that it would taste right” and suggested shrimp scampi, but provided some of the dijon sauce on the side.

Spiro made special moussaka for me, sans potatoes and untouched by latex.  In gratitude, I gave him my CDs on the way out.  He was ecstatic!  His wife collects frog items, and he’s always looking for new and different frog gifts for her.

Spiro also shared stories from his little village in Greece:

the man who wanted to hear what would be said at his funeral . . .

the brother who told the priest that if heaven is only for those with no sins, only babies must be there . . .

his grandmother reading fortunes with coffee grounds — with some advance information from young Spiro, a good listener.  . .  We turned our cups over and watched the pictures change.

We left the restaurant at closing and continued talking as staff left to go home, so much fun that we didn’t want to let the evening end . . .

(P.S. This morning, the very tiniest little frog, the size of my baby finger nail, was in my mailbox.  With temps already high and heading for the high 90’s, it did not need to be in the metal and brick oven of my mailbox.  It was so cute that it was hard for me to let it go, but it seemed happy to be on a tree, and then in true tree frog fashion, it became invisible).

NSN 2010 in L.A. Concert and Awards

Story Musings

NSN 2010 in L.A.  Concert and Awards

NSN 2010 Los Angeles — a Transcendent Experience!     Mary Garrett’s Reflections . . .

My comments will be scattered, long,  out of order, and from my own point of view (influenced by a concurrent rereading of Jane Yolen’s Briar Rose aka Sleeping Beauty).  I look forward to reading and hearing from others, to build a richer picture/collage of the experience . . .


It was only a few days ago, but it feels like “once upon a time” that some 300 storytellers from around the country (and farther) gathered in Los Angeles to share stories, friendship, and joy — powered by Michael McCarty’s energy and happy spirit, constantly inspiring and guiding the troupe.  Some of my friends made their leisurely way west by chariot, enjoying lovely experiences on the way.  I climbed aboard a magic carpet (Southwest — nice treatment and two free checked bags) and watched the green midwestern landscape magically change to desert  (like a lunar landscape) and mountains and finally ocean!!  I had sworn off planes after a torturous flight from Hawaii on American — I’m a believer in the fun of flying again.  I LOVE flying through and above the clouds and fully understand why young King Arthur, aka Wart, liked Merlin to change him into a bird.  (Odd detail noticed on the shuttle drive: motorcycles may legally weave in and out of freeway traffic, passing cars in the tiny little space between the lanes — major risky behavior, like knights going up against dragons, but for no discernible purpose . . .).

We stayed in the castle Warner Marriott, with beautiful views of the mountains and where all our needs were graciously attended to with comfort and kindness . . . a  lovely experience, beginning with the kind gentlemen opening doors and taking luggage to the room for the tired traveler (and pointing out the hidden coffee maker), just as the whole world should be.


Nice touch – the little sayings on notepads:  Leave a trail of genius.

and key cards:  You hold the power to open doors.  Get both feet in the door.

. . . and in our gift bags Friday night, besides skin products, a little book of love from Maya Thomas!

The All-Regions Concert on Friday night!!  This was the invitation that motivated me to get on a plane to attend the conference, and it was a fantastic, transcendent experience!  The blending of voices, the variety of stories, the smooth planning and organizing of the evening (thanks, Ellen Switkes and Elaine Muray!!) and the audience.  We’ve talked on Storytell about how the right audience can enhance a story (Gateway swaps are very good at this), and this was that sort of audience, sharing in the experience and building the stories with their listening (and sometimes chanting and singing).  Familiar (and new) friendly faces in the audience gave reassurance and support.  The sound was terrific also, True Thomas and John McKee worked hard on balance, not that easy to do with our variety of voices and effects (roars, whip cracking . . . )    It was altogether too much fun!!

I told third — Sheherazade, my favorite story, and I felt as if she had taken over my telling that evening.  It felt new to me, though I’ve told it many times, and the audience was immersed in the story with me.  Lovely!   (and available on my CD —  http://www.storytellermary.com/


http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/MaryGarrett   )

Other tellers were friendly and gracious, organizers took care of us magnificently, and we looked good, too.  It all came together in a most magical way!

Denise Valentine was stunning, telling a Hawaiian tale of the union of fire and water to form the continents — lovely! ** Wenlock Duane Free told a wild tale of pulling a cougar’s tale and howling with the dogs.  Karen Golden (with the golden shoes) had us almost falling off our chairs with laughter over the prizes from the big pushka  in the ladies’ room (and loving her mother’s gentle treatment of her).  Jane Hauser had us in tears of anger and sympathy in her reporting of a KKK meeting and the unmasking of evil.  Bill Parks brought a long story-poem of an amazing drover, punctuated by the cracking of his whip.  Rona Leventhal’s “Drop of Honey” reminded us that it often is “our problem.”  Mike Lockett’s King of Lions ROARED! and Mike ended with everyone singing “in the jungle . . . the lion sleeps tonight.”  (Sleep theme going on here).

There was an reporter from an LA paper (talk about a fun assignment!)  I answered some of her questions, and in reaching for my card to give her,  I noticed that the teller I had just spoken with was from the area — much better for her to get local publicity, so I connected them.  Good thing we were all properly schooled early in the conference to network and share  😉

My friend Laraine (from the TLC blog, so in a way, Elaine Viets brought us together) came to hear my Sheherazade and loved the whole concert  . . . and the food and drinks we ordered afterward by the pool.  I had been very disciplined in resting but not eating before the concert, having had a good lunch for proper fuel, so I was as hungry as Mike’s lion afterward.  Chicken satay and the lovely lava drink (coconut, rum, o.j. and I wish I knew what else*) satisfied.  Laraine’s sweet potato fries were wonderful even as leftovers the next day for my in-room breakfast with trail mix.

*from the Marriott:  Thank you Mary for the lovely comments.  We truly enjoyed your group and hope to see you back with us in a few years.  I asked our Food and Beverage Director about the Lava drink, and this is what he said

It’s basically a pina colada mix, with rum and strawberry puree mix all blended together.

Have a wonderful week!

** Denise Valentine Lovestory for Humanity: Romance of Volcano & Ocean is the story (You can find it on Youtube). And… thank you, Mary, for that beautiful telling of Scheherazade.

Kind words from well-wishers afterward felt so good.  Compliments through the rest of the weekend were a lovely reminder of a magical evening.  . . holding onto the good feelings like . . .

I was thrilled to see you perform that night. I really enjoyed your performance of the 1001 Nights to demonstrate the power of stories.


You delivered your story very well at the National Concert. I was so happy that you chose that story to tell. I hope tons of people want to buy your album now to hear it again. Best regards, your Normal buddy, Mike

from Laraine to our HMOH group:

Mary was practical in her preparations, calm and poised as the evening’s events got rolling, and beautifully engaging and flawless in telling the story of Scheherazade.  There was a nice array of colorful personalities and stories crossing the stage, Mary’s stood up splendidly amongst the group.

NSN is in a stable financial position.

(biggest news of the membership meeting)

It was a treat to see storytell buddies

at the National Storytelling Conference.

Psst…Mary Garrett did a wonderful job

in the All Regions concert.

May the Blessings Be.


Jane Crouse

I had brought with me the cute frog card that neighbor Mary Ellen made for me,

and the three pages of comments from friends arranged with pictures from Jackie Baldwin (with design help from the Apple gurus) — support and friendship

all around . . .


Oracle Awards Saturday Evening

So many terrific people received recognition — it was beautiful!  . . .  and of course, since I’m from St. Louis, the high point for me was the award to the St. Louis Festival (31 glorious years!!) and director Becky Walstrom, elegant, eloquent, and poised.  The award was presented by Roger Armstrong, he of the long white beard, a Storytelling Santa (and minister), so “yes Becky, there is a Santa Claus” . . .  in L.A. . . . in July.

I loved Willy Claflin’s comments about “listening stories into being” and Ghandi’s “consulting the silence,” and from The Tempest “Oh brave new world that has such people in it.”  It was fun that he ended the evening by sharing the stage with that verbose puppet (frog? or am I projecting my own frogs into the story?) and then Maynard the Moose.  (On Friday, Willy told the reporter that “if the Moose could travel without” him, he’d be invited to more places than Willy.  I said only in the sense of the punchline “no time for a boyfriend, but a talking frog is cool” — a self-animating moose puppet would be a sensation).

Awards were followed by desserts and dancing!!  . . . and a conversation with Joel ben Izzy — wow!http://storypage.com/


Desserts and Dancing — with Joel Ben Izzy

Life is good!

NSN L. A. Conference Swaps and Workshops

Story Musings

NSN Conference Swaps and Workshops


 August 4, 2010

Storytell Swap  Thursday 9:45  (felt like 11:45 to Central TZ people, so I was a bit foggy . . .)

I didn’t print out Padraic’s Swap Host responsibilities because I thought there would be copies in the room — didn’t matter . .  . Story-Tellers have our procedures worked out through years of practice: put name on board, gift on gift table, relax and enjoy.

Gifts: many people brought extras, so there were plenty for all, even left-overs, which as we were picking up the room, went in a bag for someone’s (Joyce’s) grandchildren on her return trip.  I brought two of my CDs and a Queensboro Storytell hat, which matched someone’s (Yvonne? — it was really LATE) Storytell shirt perfectly.  BTW, several people liked my black “jacket” — it was actually a long-sleeved shirt, extra large, in case anyone is planning to order one (they run a bit small).

Terrific Stories and Great Fun!!

I (Mary Garrett) opened with a short story combining “St. Louis Blues” and “Worry Bundles.”

Melanie the Seanachie Pratt shared editing woes and the perils of technology (always warn someone if you put them on speaker phone)

Kate Dudding  —  the connection between Feenamint and Porgie and Bess (marketing advice?)

Mary Grace Ketner — Turtle of Coca — lovely and oh-so-tricky!

Dianna Waite — her father’s adventures in farm work with an old and tricky tractor

Bobbie Japka — once had a lingerie party business.  You had to be there to fully appreciate it.  Dr. Ruth watch out!

Kate Franckle — Thurber’s moth parable, lovely!

Joyce Geary — fun with grandpa and his very entertaining bald head.

Marilyn McPhie — as a young, tired mother trying to manage a dose of Triaminic for her  resourceful child

Shelby Smith — Amazon story — lovely trip, but that poor, poor monkey!  (This seems a good place to write down a new favorite phrase, “Stretching the truth”).

Nick Smith  — Jack the Thief (and wife and baby!)

Yvonne Young — liars’ contest with golden apple for prize — ending with a lovely blessing, the perfect final note! *

*so perfect that I completely forgot that I had intended to end with Elizabeth Ellis’ shortest story: bird, boy, stone, threw, flew(and my students added, “poo” because they felt the bird should have revenge) — I came home to news that a band had ended a performance because of pigeons in the rafters, alas.  Elizabeth did not make it to this conference . . . missed her.

— Other Story Tell-ers present at Conference!

Sue Black  Co-Presenting — Old Tales for a New Millennium

Kate Dudding

Tim Ereneta

Cathryn Fairlee  resource table (a hard job handled with grace)  and designed the Conference Logo!!

Wendy Gourley  presenting Cracking the Story Code

Mary Hamilton & Charles Wright

Sarah Hauser

Priscilla Howe  “Queen Berta and King Pippin” Fringe

Mary Grace Ketner — “Don’t be Stymied by State Standards”

Audrey Kopp  Fringe  Tales for Teens

Marilyn McPhie   panel – producing and marketing cd.

Melanie the Seanachie Pratt  hosting “Bars, Cars and

Dating Scares” swap on Saturday night

Linda King Pruitt

Jo Radner  “Art of Gathering and Performing Oral History”

Ellie Shinham Swap: Good Witches & other Wild Women Shelby Smith


Diane Ferlatte   Storytelling — The Tool of a Culture

Many cultures/many stories — collect the cares and worries.

Knowing only one story is incomplete, leads to prejudice.

Not how you listen but how well you hear.

Mary Grace Ketner — workshop “Don’t be Stymied by State Standards”

How to use state test standards, making storytelling connections to help teachers and students to reach the objectives.  Amazing how many direct connections this teller/educator found!

I ran into Gay Ducey after the Yvonne Young’s “Oregon” story — Gay said she wouldn’t mind if I had to leave her“Backstory” session early, so I got to hear about libraries and little people (our “natural peers”).  The  backstory sessions were an interesting idea, granting the freedom to just talk (or as someone said Syd defined it “gossip”).  At the Sunday morning panel, Celebrating Tellers with Disabilities, Syd said he wouldn’t be following the description because “I’m a sub!”  I had to leave that one early because I was assigned to help in the bookstore, but I heard it was wonderful!  I would love to have more details . . .

Old Tales for a New Millenium was phenomenal!  Crafting new messages with traditional tales is exciting.  I loved Sue Black’s Turkey Lurkey, standing up to bullies with his friends and related fully with Linda Garham’s “singing for myself!”  Even with the extra time allowed by an intensive, I’m going to need to invest more time with my notes and the handouts (they had to make many more!) because it’s a rich topic with much to learn.  The workshop rooms had sound systems also, and it really helped in larger workshops like this one.  Kudos to the sound crew!

Membership Meeting  — NSN in Good Shape Financially!!!

Antonio Sacre — “Honest Stories Meet the Real World”

Funny, honest, insightful — our “edgier” performances can impact on the tamer side of our life and work, especially if taken out of context and sensationalized.  (youtube “Kid Owns O’Riley”

When at a Festival or other venue, it’s their home, respect their wishes . . .

Alexander Technique for Storytellers

Fascinating stuff!  Even though they opened by telling us we would need to work a long time with a teacher to actually benefit from the techniques, I left walking taller and breathing deeper.  The concept/process of going from intention to energy to movement, allowing the body to move more naturally, makes good sense.  Breathing more deeply by exhaling completely, letting the diaphragm fully elevate (internal massage) — then letting inhalation just happen, not the muscle breathing of “take a deep breath” — interesting and effective.  Doing that and allowing relaxation to lengthen the spine and neck, my voice was deeper, and I was told louder as well.

Opposites: inhibition (let go, relax) and excitation   Tension/release = lighter

Head leads, body follows (true of all vertebrates)

Choose response to our experiences

Resonance of room is awakened by the air as we speak . . .

(Eyeless in Gaza by Aldous Huxley — need to find a copy)

Laraine had already mentioned the hunching over involved in most close work like knitting — no wonder I need to take breaks from that and sudoku and computers.  I’ve raised my desk chair so my hands are more parallel — still trying to figure out how to do computer stuff on the non-latex exercise ball.

Odds and Ends — Socks and Hats

Kate Dudding was a ray of sunshine and joy whenever I saw her.  She brought beautiful and  much-vied-for socks for the auction.

I took an apple hat for the auction, but it decided to hide  from us until after the Conference.  It will appear, with storyteller earrings, at a future fund-raiser . . .

I also made . . .

Two  blueberry hats!!  Finished amidst many good stories, modeled on one I had made for . . .

<< Mary Grace’s Emanuel<<

One hat was for TLC friend Kerry’s new grandchild,  and the other for Shelby, who has a marvelous story of her post-conference adventure . . .

I delivered my grandson in the back seat of her car on the way to the birthing center at 3 am! Mom and son are good and already home.

No rest for the weary!

Walk in Sunshine,

Shelby Smith

Marilyn McPhie brought me a stack of books (including Briar Rose) and a HUGE Folkmanis dragon, saving me shipping costs but adding the dilemma of fitting everything in the suitcase . . . thank goodness for the extra bag we were given at registration which held the oh-so-sad unsold CDs very nicely.  Of course, I could have carried Spark on my arm.  I’ll bet that would have enlivened the wait times at the airport . . . and I’ll bet he would have preferred it to being smashed in with pillowcases in the suitcase, but he made it!

(I’ll admit that I was a bit sad not to have sold any CDs, but I did trade one with Carrie Sue Ayvar (love her Spanish!!) and gave a few away.  I left two on the bed along with my tip for housekeeping, and gave some to parents of lovely children in the airport and to my traveling companion on SW, and two, with a nice tip, to the cab driver who brought me home from the airport.  He had been having a terrible day with ridiculous short trips, most of the day spent waiting his turn in line, until his last passenger, me, going all the way to St. Charles ;-).

Everyone I encountered on this trip was wonderful, at the conference, of course, but on the plane, in the airport, on the shuttles, everywhere — an enchanted journey!  I even saw a family playing cards in the airport — you know, with real cards, not on an electronic screen.  Someone had asked me when I would rehearse my story (well, I’ve been rehearsing it for 20 years), but the woman next to me on the plane asked what I would be doing, had never heard Sheherazade, so she was my rehearsal performance!

8/2  This morning I went to “my” Y to tell stories to the campers — also great fun. I told them I was still on California time, so 10 felt like 8, but once we got going with Wide Mouth Frog and tall tales and such, the energy flowed.  My sound system was being touchy, but one of the counselors stepped in as sound tech and made it work right.  I guess I have to learn more about sound because I’m not always that lucky.  (Then I came home and took a long nap . . . )

8/3  Took a lovely mailbox frog to a tree this morning (It got to 100 degrees today, not good weather to be in that metal/brick oven), taught aqua-aerobics at the Y, and did not manage to reserve/replenish enough energy to safely drive to Illinois for Lynne’s party.  I hope everyone had a wonderful time!!  I’m sure they did . . . and I’m sure Lynne understands.  If I can’t have teleportation, I’d settle for a chauffeur.

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