England 2003 — EF trip

We aren’t traveling much these days, but we can remember the “before times.” I’m grateful to the Garretts who taught me to journal after a trip, the better to remember the experience. This is a bit wordy, a bit rambling, and photos will be scarce, but the memories are there. 😉 Nice photos on this travel blog (thanks for “liking” me) https://lovetravellingblog.com/category/united-kingdom/london/

England 2003 — EF trip Mary Garrett

“Never pass up an opportunity for a good loo stop,” words of wisdom from Penny, one of our guides to the wonders of London.  “Mind the gap” and “stand to the right” — heard frequently on the Tube.    Signs read “Caution, pickpockets and purse thieves frequent this area.”  I wondered why they weren’t told to move along elsewhere.  Then in Greenwich I saw a sign that said “Caution thieves: undercover policemen operate in this area.”  Now that’s more like it!  I also liked, “Polite warning: do not leave your bicycle in this area.”  We wondered about all the signs warning that anyone assaulting subway (or customs) workers would be prosecuted — our informants said it wasn’t a frequent problem, just a courtesy to warn people not to do it.

It’s a nice walk” meant prepare to hike to exhaustion!   The EF tour of London and surrounds was fast-paced, packed with experiences, exhausting, and wonderful.  Mary Lu and I were constantly saying, “I’d like to see . . . there isn’t time now;  next time” which means there will have to be a next time!  It was especially difficult to leave Stratford at 3:30, when I wanted to stay for days!  The next trip will be more leisurely.  At odd moments on the trip, I read appropriate books,  I Am Morgan le Fay (from my school library) and Parrot Pie for Breakfast: An Anthology of Women Pioneers (from the bookstore on “our” corner of Notting Hill).  On coming home, I’ve been listening to Amy Douglas’ Stories of Shropshire, to enjoy the feeling and sound of England a little longer.  (On the plane over I watched How to Lose a Man in 10 Days and asked the British youth seated next to me if what they said about commitment scaring a man away was true.  He said perhaps for American men, but British men weren’t so afraid of commitment.  On the way home there was no one next to me to discuss Chicago with).

One of the docents at the Field House once said, “Children see faster than adults” when Joy was trying to hurry me along as I lingered over the Victorian rooms.  Since this was a student tour, things moved fast, and the kids had a great time!  I did my best to keep up and used free time to rest, savor, and reflect.  Before I left St. Louis, Margie had suggested that I’d be better off just staying over for the two weeks before the ETSU cruise, and on the way home I vowed to remember that if I ever have two trips come so close together again.  I also have to admit that the U.S.Air flight was the most “basic” flight I’ve ever had to Europe — pampering was not on the agenda.  

The 7-day trip was really only 5 full days in England, since travel took so long, and I am writing under the influence of jet lag and exhaustion.  (By Fri. a.m., after 12 straight hours of sleep, I am feeling better.  Thursday I had naps between doctor visits — passing my annual physical even at my worst — by the time I finished all the tests and bought groceries, I was really wiped out, almost sick from exhaustion).  I had taken a cab home from the airport, wise enough not to want to drive exhausted, and the driver was an interesting man from Ethiopia, happy and grateful to be here, proud of his U.S. citizenship, providing well for his family, but filled with worry about his homeland where his parents still live.

Pam Lowy was a wonderful tour leader!  Her friendly, “perky” guidance took us through and around all “obstacles.”  We were especially impressed with her facing off cars and buses, determined to get her whole group safely across busy streets together.  The music of many horns often accompanied her performance.  She coordinated transportation and guides masterfully, and befriended everyone along the way.  We were impressed with her skill and patience, and her tattoo of the Japanese characters for patience.  We gladly followed her up-raised notebook, umbrella, or hand anywhere, and laughed at the young man on a street corner who tried to imitate her with an up-raised program.  Her mnemonic tricks for remembering the stops were fun, effective, and contagious.   I especially appreciated her efforts to secure latex-free meals for me, sometimes difficult because we would be  told that there were no latex gloves used and then find out we were misinformed.  Fortunately, kindness prevailed, and managers would find a way to prepare food without the gloves. 

The (Nottingham) Hill Gate Comfort Inn was a charming old building, with tiny rooms (our twin beds were touching, with little room for moving them apart), balky elevators, and noisy plumbing (but a full-pressure shower, not like American low-flow restrictions — it felt so good after a day on the Tube).  There was a substantial breakfast downstairs to get us started on our day, and they were accommodating enough to provide it at very odd early hours to meet our schedules for tours and airport (one group had to leave the hotel at 3 a.m. for the airport — they stayed up for it, which I had been tempted to do in Istanbul).  One of the participants said, “Everything in England is upstairs, hot, small, expensive, and not to code . . . and we love it!”  

The Tube — very interesting, complex, and complete system, overcrowded at times (we had a discussion of “accidental contact” vs. “inappropriate closeness — get an adult if you need help” after one encounter).  Efforts to reduce traffic in the center of London now include a tariff for cars traveling there, and encouragement to take buses, not the Tube, which is already so full.  Pensioners have a discounted fare, but only after morning rush hour — they will say to the driver, “Am I too early?” hence the nickname “Twirlies.”  Finding our way as a group was really easy; if I did lose sight of Pam, I just looked for the blue and orange EF backpacks several of the students carried.  The “cult of the blue and orange backpacks” is taking over the world; we saw several other groups along the way.

When I finally ventured out on my own Monday afternoon with a lovely boat ride from the Globe to Greenwich and “tubing” back to join the group for dinner, I was impressed that people were not only willing to help me find the way but actually very interested in figuring out the best way, with the fewest changes.  It is sometimes hard to find the stations, tucked away in odd spots.  When a disabled train stopped the line at Piccadilly, I was assured that Covent Garden was only a little walk (not a “nice walk”) and really not that hard to navigate, using my time-honored method of asking someone every few blocks to make sure I was still on the right track.  One man, about as confused as I was, sent me a half-block or so the wrong way — he realized that when he passed our group waiting outside the restaurant I was seeking and asked them to pass along his apologies for sending me the wrong way — how’s that for courtesy!!  

Dealing with money was interesting, too — I hadn’t realized how slow it is to make change when  I have to actually read the amounts on the coins instead of just knowing; I felt like a five-year-old just learning what money is.  After visiting the Globe, and using up most of my money (should have used the charge card), I found myself with a handful of coins, mostly “coppers,” realizing they wouldn’t be enough, and having the vendor graciously accept the handful as “close enough.”  Just a kid again, begging ice cream with my pennies.   It’s nice when people are so kind and gracious.   Of course, a trip to the ATM restored my purchasing power.

On our first day, MaryLu and I took a brief stroll of the neighborhood and came back to move in and rest while Cassie (from Arkansas?) took her kids on a long walk through Hyde Park, past Buckingham Palace, and who knows where else.  On one free morning (6/7?), I slept late, breakfasted slowly, and took a short walk to nearby  Kensington Garden where I enjoyed the children’s play area/garden, sat and read for a while, and enjoyed the conversations of ravens and starlings.  The young and energetic used the time for a trip to the Tower of London, which I will see on my next trip.  I did rather come to the conclusion that I wouldn’t really have the stamina to take a student group, unless I could feel confident enough in them to let them go some places alone.  I felt bad about my lesser energy until I did some math and realized that I had 20 years seniority on those intrepid chaperones, and that my restful free times allowed me to keep up the pace of the rest of the adventures.

So . . . adventures!  On the first day, once all groups were present, Pam took us for a tour of the area.  By the way, our bus driver in from the airport estimated that renting one room, with kitchen and bathroom shared, would cost the equivalent of $1600/ month!!  My, weren’t we posh, in our room with its own bath!  We took the Tube and walked across the Tower Bridge (? — I’m a little sketchy on notes here).  We took nice photos of London, Big Ben, the Eye (another attraction that some of those very active students managed to take in) and enjoyed nice barbecue at Sticky Fingers, to the background of Rolling Stones music.  

6/6  Liz was our guide — talked about the “Upstairs/Downstairs” history of the West End houses, built to accommodate families with servants, now broken up into expensive flats.  She showed us a “flyover”  (overpass) which I had wondered about in a short story “Billenium,” and detached houses out by Riding Court Road.  (I noticed that the owners of “attached” homes asserted their individuality by painting and roofing their units with individual style and choosing different colored doors).   We also found out that St. Matthew’s, built 1888, the burned-looking church which MaryLu and I had seen on our first day’s walk, was most likely so dark because of pollution from the days of burning soft coal. Liz remembered being sent home from school early on days when the smog was particularly bad.  Many buildings have since been cleaned; now that the air is cleaner, it makes sense to do so.

Windsor Castle was one of those “pinch me” experiences — I didn’t quite believe I was there.  We crowded around to see the changing of the guard — I loved the bagpipe music!  It took a while, as they did paperwork connected with turning over responsibility.  Jim recognized the Captain of the Guard as an Australian chum from his time in the Vietnam War, and he ended up having “tea with the Queen’s own”!  The Queen was home, according to the flag, but she didn’t come out to say hello.  I did get to see Queen Mary’s Doll House, with such intricate detail (I decided I’d like to stay in the Queen’s bedchamber, if she were ever not using it) and the King’s Closet where The Merchant of Venice was once performed.  There were most impressive displays of weapons, and the Order of the Garter was explained as well,  Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense . .   Evil to him who thinks evil.  

Nice pictures at  http://www.heraldicsculptor.com/Garters.html

My Fair Lady in England, with real English accents.  A wonderful production, with an interesting  version of “Get Me to the Church” using trash cans for rhythm, as in “Stomp,”  and chorus girls dancing to “London Bridge” and  bringing in a bit of “Moulin Rouge.”  It was wonderful and left me humming the tunes.  The million or so stairs to the balcony were almost too much for˙ us, but it was worth it!  Mary Lu and I debated whether it was a love story — I think it is, though not the usual romance, more unspoken and undemonstrative, but understood.

6/7  St. Paul’s, Christopher Wren’s tomb plain — “my monument” the church above.  I loved the plaque commemorating the masons “the men who shaped the stones.”

The guide at the British Museum was the prim, proper, intellectual one would picture for the site, a bit too dry for our youngsters, tired out as they were from their active “free morning.”  She took us from the beginnings of Cuneiform Writing, through Egyptian works, Greek (no remorse for taking the Elgin Marbles), Cornish, and the ship burial.  I have to admit to being a bit befuddled myself on some details, though they were impressive displays.  It was the 250th anniversary of the founding of the museum, and among the special events of the day, they were giving all the children . . . balloons!  I spent much of my day dodging children with balloons, and while my companions tried to “run interference” for me, they hadn’t the practice the “greats” have had.  I finally moved outside to wait for the group and go home.   Sigh!  (stupid allergies!)  I wasn’t so distracted, though, that I didn’t notice when the guide said Persephone was in Hades with her father (now that would be a whole different story, wouldn’t it?)

Medieval Dinner, was fun if a bit hokey.  Eating soup without spoons was only partially effective, and the place was a bit smoky, but the singing was good, the dancing was boisterous, the sword fight was interesting, and good will abounded.  On the bus going home, I sang the “Anne Bolyn” song and Jim sang an interesting “Circle Song” that I want to learn.  We enjoyed the lights of Harrod’s and an interesting traffic light sculpture, and we discussed the mysterious zebra crossings we had seen earlier (having to do with the zig zag lines painted on the pavement). 

6/8  Stonehenge — 2000-1500 B.C.  shrouded in mystery, and now protected by barriers.  I kept wishing we could get closer, but I suppose it has to be protected (one of the few places I saw No Smoking signs — outdoors at the Stonehenge site).  Our guide explained that the stones were erected using carpentry skills in stone, using as tools the antlers of red deer and cattle shoulder blades (this theory tested out by scientists, as Larry Kinsella has done with his atlatls).  The fact that they could spare so much of the strong male work force meant that they were relatively wealthy.  It was amazing!  We saw lots of poppies on the way — they only grow where the dirt has been dug up (as for trenches).  We saw contented sheep, too, and lovely rolling hills.

Bath — the Roman baths were much more extensive than I had imagined, and the “Bath water” wasn’t all that bad, a bit warm and some mineral taste, but nothing you’d have to hold your nose for, and it’s supposed to make you strong and healthy.  Residents can have daily doses for free.  (Of course, the story we heard of prescriptions of Guinness – Guinness is Good for You — for pregnant ladies sounds like more fun).  There are plans to build a working spa using this natural hot spring, and remembering how rejuvenating the bath was in Turkey, I’d say do it!  There was a craft show in progress, so I came away with Forget-Me-Nots preserved in a pair of earrings and a little limestone hedgehog.  Mary Lu met up with Amanda and spent the afternoon and evening with Amanda and Tom — and their baby! — instead of playing tourist.  Taking the train back to London was quite successful also.

We ended the day with Pizza in Soho, wonderful pizza and a wonderfully eclectic place — chandelier and exposed ductwork, disco balls, partially exposed brick walls.  Delightful!

6/9  Globe theater.  Exciting connection to the past — almost a pilgrimage.  The theater is lovely, but we couldn’t take pictures (though other groups were — go figure!  Right now I am wishing I had been more defiant).   It is so much more decorated than I imagined!  The workshop leader explained how different it is to perform in the Globe, with the audience so close and so much interaction between the actors and the audience.  This was echoed by one of my helpful “guides” on my afternoon adventure.  I wish we could have seen a performance (– next time!)  I loved all the exhibits of how clothing was made and dyed, woodworking, past performances.  I even indulged in a computer which allowed the recording of myself in a scene, then replay with other voices and applause!  It was fun!  I saw school children doing it later and having just as much fun!

Afterward, I took the short boat ride to Greenwich, passing the church that blessed our Pilgrim fathers (and mothers) on their way to America, and the Mayflower pub, made from some of the timber of the ship.  We also saw Cuckhold’s Row, where a row of ducking stools punished unfaithful wives once upon a time.  The guide was funny, explaining that the donation box was for “research” funds — and that they did much of their research in the pubs along the Thames.  He pointed out that the view of the river from one pub had been a favorite of many artists, then said that he had seen Van Gogh there.  The bartender asked, “Vincent, do you want another beer?”  but he answered, “No thanks, I have one ‘ere.”  (My favorite corny joke of the trip; Pam’s frayed knot story is second). 

I walked a bit in Greenwich, admiring the college quiet and the Cutty Sark, and then took the train to Canary Station, walked past six million shops to finally find the Tube station, and made my way to dinner in Covent Garden at Bistro 1 (where the waiter worked so hard to come up with a latex-free and potato-free dinner.  He brought tiramisu in place of the banana dessert; so he is of course my new best friend).

The evening’s theater was Bomb-itty of Errors, a rap version.  I tried to keep an open mind on this, and truly there was some clever rhyme and lots of energy (and too much volume — I used kleenex to make ear plugs and wished that this had been the night of the balcony seats).  Several of our group were offended, and some of the humor was far over the line.  I keep thinking of really good comedians who refuse to go for the cheap laugh.  This could have been a far better effort if they had avoided scatology and worked more on wit.  An evening at the Globe would have been far better.

6/10  Stratford!!!!   This was the best part!  Sacred ground! Avon means River — Strat (street) ford.  John Shakespeare was a glover (samples of work and materials in the Birthplace House) and a usurer (like Shylock?)  It was wonderful to walk in the houses and imagine life, relatively cozy apparently.  The garden at Anne Hathaway’s House was stunningly beautiful, and both gardens smelled wonderful, with all the fragrant herbs.  Mary Baker, the first curator of the house — no relation to my colleague Mary Baker, but I still loved it!  Pewter shown off as a sign of wealth, polished to look like silver.  Wooden trenchers for everyday, licked clean, thrown out when too greasy.  Clockwork spit to turn the meat.  Showing off the best bed in the main room — conspicuous display of wealth.  

We walked to the Avon, of course, but the graveyard was “a nice walk” so “next time.”   We had a pasty for lunch (Cornish meat pie — I had them in Jamaica).  I had refused to stop at a McDonald’s — not after going all the way to England!   I found the t-shirts at the lovely art shop Cassie told me about, and got M. Night’s Dream and The Tempest shirts, lovely shirts, designed by the owner’s son, who also designs beautiful glass.  If we had had enough people signed up, we could have stayed in Stratford for a play there . . . ah well!  

On the way, we admired all the beautiful Cotswold farms, rolling hills, hedgerows, dry stone walls — farmland as it should be, perhaps.  We learned that sheep raising was so successful because, as an island, England could eliminate the wolves.  (Rams with bag of dye to mark the ewes).  Most important crop — high protein grasses to feed the sheep and cows.  Second — wheat, bred shorter and with heavier grains on top.  Third — barley.  Also rape seed (canola).   Post office because of posts on which the mail would be hung.  He also explained why the private schools are called “public” — open to the general (paying) public, not restricted to church members or clergy.

Woodstock — Rosamund kept there.  Then Queen Elizabeth I (by Mary).  

Blenheim Palace — Churchill born there

Oxford was interesting for architecture, Christopher Wren. 

Bodleian Library — King James —  all 5 orders of columns, Tuscan, Ionic, Doric, Corinthian, and Composite.  Late Gothic — 15th C — fans, buttressed.  18th C. Baroque — Radcliffe, Camera

The students’ dining hall — very like Hogwarts’ though on a smaller scale. 

Broad St. — Martyrs’ Monument — Cranmer, Ridly, Latimer — Queen Mary’s burning of Protestants (5 years, 350? victims). 

Dinner was very nice stir-fry, once the manager provided untouched-by-latex ingredients.

Home on 6/11 — tired but full of memories.  Seatmate on the plane had been staying at a low-cost place, the Cherry Court Hotel (for future reference).

Our tour leader constantly warned us to tuck our vital stuff inside our shirts, and either it worked or we were very lucky.  It’s a shame that there have to be dishonest people (as I think to myself whenever I fumble for my keys).  My friend left her passport on the plane (she had tucked it “temporarily” into that little pocket on the back of the seat in front of her).  Fortunately, the customs guy was nice and gave her a temporary pass to the baggage area, where the USAir rep. went on the plane and rescued it.  Whew!

I am finishing this on Sunday, 6/15.  Last night I saw a powerful Macbeth in Forest Park.  Joy and Joe brought all five little ones, and toward the end I had Robin barely awake on my lap, C.J. to my right, sleeping against me, and Nikki in front of me, asleep with his head on my knees.  When Macduff was exclaiming, “all my pretty ones, dead?” I felt his sorrow more intensely, surrounded as I was by such little innocents.  That was surely the monstrous act that would turn all with a pulse against the monster Macbeth had become.  

Joneal Joplin as King Duncan was also a presence one had to respect and mourn as well.  I had been afraid that the play was too intense for such young ones, but when I pointed out everyone safe and sound at the curtain call, Robin said, “Aunt Mary, they are actors; it’s just a play.”  They fully understand so much, bless them, and the plays live on.  My Aunt Yoko and her grandson Isaac came with me.   Isaac declares himself not a reader, but loved the play, performed as it should be.

Glaciers and Tundra and Bears, Oh My

ETSU 1998 Storytelling Cruise to Alaska

Glaciers and Tundra and Bears, Oh My

ETSU 1998 Storytelling Cruise to Alaska  on the Dynasty– Denali, Seward, Cordova, Prince William Sound, Skagway, Juneau, Ketchican, Vancouver.

Reflections by Mary Garrett

Too much to do and see (and eat), not nearly enough time (or sleep) on this adventure north.  For the first time, we found ourselves asking, “Now where will we be tomorrow?” and sandwiching class time in between exciting new sights and sounds, like glaciers and whales.  As Donald said, an odd thing to be complaining about, a trip that was too interesting.  I’ve tried to fall back on Perrin’s mantra of “just enough,” and while I really think we went beyond that in many aspects, we did have “just enough” friendship, sharing, and warmth (ours, not the weather’s).  Though we didn’t want to leave, we had perhaps “just enough” time to leave everyone wanting more.  I’ve already signed up for Storytelling ‘99!  Everything proceeded smoothly, no disasters, probably due to Marsh and Leonard’s good planning, helped along by Merle’s red travel blessing envelopes.

(7/18)  Donna and I began to realize just how far we were going on the flight up.  Of course, that was accentuated by flying Southwest — a hectic way to fly.  (We decided on the way back to avoid the competition for seating, hang back, and take what we got, which turned out to be the emergency row, with three people sitting backwards and facing the other three.  We renamed it the party row and had a great time visiting with our neighbors).  We had been warned that Southwest, in addition to not assigning seats, did not feed its passengers; so we brought along a little picnic of our own, which along with Southwest’s “snack pack,” proved to be more than adequate, leaving us with left-over snacks for later, and beginning the infamous “food box” that Marsh teased us about throughout the trip, as we collected all our leftover treats in the pretty box that held our snacks in Denali.   When we got home, we shared all those treats with Joy’s children — they were excited to get food from Alaska, even if some of it had started out in St. Louis.

Alaska Airlines was a civilized respite, with their Alaskan native painted on the tail of the plane.  Then a ride to the Big Bear B&B on the Borealis Shuttle, the driver complaining that it was “barely midnight and already getting dark” and giving a mini-tour of Anchorage as he drove.  I was especially tickled by the “whaling wall,” a mural of whales, and his story of the Orthodox Israeli who liked that joke so well he asked to get out and take a photo to take back to Jerusalem.  The B&B was lovely, full of beautiful Alaskan art, but we were so tired, all I wanted was to be tucked into bed (Mary Kay said her B&B host did tuck her in). 

(7/19) Breakfast was a real treat, and our hosts drove us to the train depot early in the morning for our trip to Denali.  I love the Alaskan Railroad!   It is such a pleasant way to travel, and the high school students acting as guides on board gave wonderful commentary on the way and seemed to be really enjoying their work.  We now all know not to go out on the mud flats, which act like super quicksand, and we looked for wildlife from the train windows as we went.  Views were excellent from every car, especially the observation dome, and even the excellent dining car.   Reindeer sausage is good, if you don’t think about Rudolph.   Several members of our ETSU group were on this tour, also, adding to the pleasure.

The Knightly Tour people drove us to our cute little Sourdough Cabins, and then provided shuttle service to supper (halibut for me — good stuff!) and then back in the rain (we saw a lot of rain on this trip!)  

(7/20)  Our trip into Denali began bright and early (5:30 a.m.), and was completely perfect!  (Well, except for the grumpy guy across the aisle from us — it became apparent why his wife was less insistent on a seat together than he was).  The sky was so clear that we saw Mt. McKinley all day!  (Many people had told us that only about 20% of visitors ever see the mountain because of the clouds).  It was magnificent!

Our guide was interesting and informative, and quickly taught us to call out “stop” if we saw wildlife, and to locate them (i.e., left side, 10:00).  It worked well, we saw amazing animals:  bears (including a mother with three 3-yr-old cubs and another with one 2-yr-old in close proximity), eagles (including two fledglings in a nest on a cliff and adults in flight), a moose with a calf, caribou with a yearling, lots of cute ground squirrels, ptarmigan, a fox with several ptarmigan in its proud little hunter mouth, Dall sheep, marmots, snow shoe hare, and mew gulls.  We had to keep all our snacks in the bus so our crumbs wouldn’t corrupt the animals’ natural behavior (we watched the ground squirrels eagerly licking up spilled hot chocolate — they obviously like people food).  The guide told us of an incident when overfed ground squirrels attracted a bear to easy food, the bear was trapped and moved, but returned three times; on the third return the bear was killed as a possible danger to humans, “All because people thought it was cute to feed the squirrels.” 

After the tour of Denali, we boarded a bus back to Anchorage.  Our driver was very informative, and I enjoyed his Kodiak Island accent (much like northern Minnesota, must have the same Norwegian background).  He gave us a thorough education on the types of salmon: King or Chinook, Red or Sockeye, Pink or Humpies, Chum (keta) or Dog, and Silver or Coho, and got us so ready to have salmon for supper, but there were only hamburgers and hot dogs on the menu where we stopped.  Sigh!  He made it up to us by reciting Robert Service poems to us — the best of all the R.S. we heard on the trip! I told him to look up the Anchorage storytellers and join up.  He also pointed out Wasilla (all I saw), where the Ididarot actually begins, since the water is impassable at the time of the race.

Back to Big Bear, and up very early the next day (Tues.,7/21) to take the train to Seward.  Our hosts got us to the depot late, barely five minutes before departure, and the husband took our bags to the bus station before our B&B buddy Rick Marshall straightened him out.  It was a narrowly averted disaster!  Once on the train, we were in storytellers’ heaven, with our own storytellers’ “party car”, and lots of free coffee (decaf for me) in our Alaska RR travel mugs.  We even saw Dall sheep closer than in Denali, not white specks on the mountain, but real animals with legs and everything.

When we arrived in Seward, Marsh and Leonard kindly took charge of taking a bus load of luggage to the ship so everyone else was free to wander.  We took the Trolley to the Sea Life Center, where we enjoyed seals and puffins, starfish, octopus, and especially the writings and drawings done by school children. We even took pictures of the men in scuba gear cleaning the inside of the seal tank.  (We also shopped!  I do more of that with Donna around . . )  

We took the trolley back to the ship about 4:00, found our cute little cabin,  and had the first of many excellent dinners with Rocky and Irma Rockwell, our table mates.  The dining room was beautiful, with many large windows so we didn’t miss any of the wonderful sights.  Roderick and Milton, of course, took good care of us, also.  Donna was impressed that Milton remembered that she drank milk, even at lunch the second day when we weren’t seated in their section, and he  always gave me decaf (I decided not to mention no chocolate; so I could cheat a little).  On the last night, I said I didn’t want to go, and Roderick offered to hide me in his locker — almost a tempting offer.   I would love to have a complete set of dinner menus among my souvenirs, but it I might make me too sad, now that I am back on Budget Gourmet.  

After dinner we had a brief intro meeting of our group, interrupted by the all-important lifeboat drill (weird life jackets, but perhaps designed to do a better job of keeping the head out of water).

The Dynasty  is a smaller ship, 800 passengers, and I liked the personal atmosphere, plus the fact that it was easier to find my way around.  Our group was approximately 1/8 of the passenger list, so it was like traveling with a big family.

We fit class time and story swaps in around shore time and sightings, feeling that we had a little less time together than we wanted, but still sharing, critiquing, and most of all learning from Donald how to better put together our stories.  (Normal world, Trouble coming, Crisis event, Outside help and New knowledge, New normal).  We talked about how to change the length of the story, spending less time on each “stepping stone” or making the story a quilt square rather then a whole king-sized quilt.  He also discussed the importance of a good master of ceremonies — introducing the teller and creating energy to enhance the experience for the teller and the audience.

The Kit Kat was the best classroom we’ve had yet, large, comfortable, and blessed with excellent windows for viewing the lovely Alaska scenery.  (The card room was a little less wonderful, but gave us a chance to prove we could tell anywhere.  I told Sherazade and Grandma’s Doughnuts there, and the Old People’s Wisdom story for critiquing).  We heard many wonderful stories, and I especially want to remember Priscilla and Duncan’s stories, and Chris’ story of his shaky beginning in life.

(Wed., 7/22)  This was the only stop where we had to use tenders — it is fun to ride in to dock, but it also makes debarking slower.  We saw a field full of small airplanes.  Cordova  has more airplanes per capita than anywhere — not surprising since boats and planes are the only way in.  We had a wonderful tour, which included Child’s Glacier up close and personal (while we snacked on home-baked goodies).  Donna and I were with the last hold-outs determined to see the glacier calving.  When the bus started and the guide said that was our signal to leave, we walked backward up the path so we could keep looking.  We were discussing the possibility of lying about seeing it when we heard an especially loud crash, ran back, and saw a huge piece of ice fall right into the water.  The resulting wave was quite impressive (surfing size if it weren’t so cold).  The driver heard us cheer and came back, too.  We also saw a sign depicting how high the waves had gone a few years back when they destroyed the observation tower and hurt several people, and we were advised that if we saw a really big calving to run away fast!  (Funniest tourist question:  “Can’t you clean up the glacier and get rid of those dirty brown streaks?” — the boulders scraped up by the glacier).

Later on at the Million-Dollar Bridge, broken in the 1964 earthquake, we were again the last ones out at the end of the bridge, and we saw more calving.  Sometimes it pays to be the last.  On the bus ride, we stopped the bus and several of us got out to see some moose, but they kept hiding behind brush — a good first hand look at moose defensive behavior — they didn’t know we weren’t hunters.

In the Cordova Museum, we saw interesting relics of early residents.  I especially liked a raincoat made of bear gut, sewn with seal sinew — all that sewing and work, and it would last about three months in use.  We got pins from the Ice Worm Festival, an annual winter celebration — carnival rides at 20 below –an attempt to  keep busy so as not to go crazy in the long winter.  Ice worms are real creatures that live in the ice; children dig them up and throw them at each other.  I also got a fireweed pin — fireweed was everywhere; it’s the first plant up after a fire, and when its flowers get to the top of the stalk, it’s six weeks until first snow.

Back on ship, we dressed up for the captain’s welcome party (Captain Tor Dyrdal — very formal gentleman).  I wore the ivory necklace Dad brought back from Alaska 50 years ago.  Our group shared stories after dinner, and then I stayed up for the Chocoholic’s Buffet, but couldn’t get Donna up for it (she was so much more sensible than I was about sleeping).

(Thurs, 7/23) Prince William Sound — We scheduled lots of class time, and then took breaks when it was time to stop for glacier watching, Hubbard Glacier, among others.  It was so very cold and windy, I was glad I had gloves, and that  Donna had gone back to our cabin for all our warm clothes.  The Captain blew the ship’s horn, which echoed delightfully, and caused repeated calving.  Donna was persistent in wanting to see a “shooter”  (underwater calving) and she did!  I got too cold, and went back in the Kit Kat, where we could see, but not as well.  We had a Tlingit guide on board during this time; she declared the passengers who wrapped themselves in blankets to be unofficial members of her clan, and invited us to run 11 miles across the glacier to her village.  No thanks!

(Fri., 7/24)   Skagway was also wet and cold — I broke down and bought a warm fleece top, and immediately felt much better.  The Lands’ End rain poncho did its job splendidly.  We wandered around, shopping, taking a ranger-led walking tour (hearing all about the notorious con man Soapy Smith — one shop sold Soapy on a rope), seeing the costumed drivers of the vintage touring cars, and wondering how they kept warm.  Then we took a bus tour to Liarsville, met the madam (she was hiring, but we passed that up), saw the sled dog, heard some Robert Service (with excellent, funny pantomime), and panned for gold.  I got six little specks of gold in a plastic zip lock, “just like the original minerXs used”).  The gold, of course, was brought in from Canada, since Skagway was just the beginning of the Chilkoot trail into the Yukon. In the museum we saw an example of the 2000 pounds of supplies each miner had to carry in before being allowed to cross the Canadian border.  They had to be crazy to try!  The husky we saw was part wolf, but we were told that doesn’t  make her wild or mean; it does, however, give her a very strong need for her pack, and huskies can die of loneliness if there aren’t enough other dogs and people around to interact with. 

(Sat., 7/25)  In Juneau we were treated to the day of activities that Marsh put together for us.  We teased her a bit, because the bus, which had a confirmed time of 8:15, did not come until almost 10:00.  There seems to be some flexibility in “Alaska time,”  except for the railroad.  Many of us just walked to town and (you guessed it) shopped.  I should also mention how pretty the shopping areas were in all these towns, with beautiful flower boxes and hanging baskets, I’m sure for the benefit of “visitors” (sounds friendlier than “tourists”) but also, I think, a result of being starved for color for that long, long winter.  (We were told keeping busy is the key to staying sane, but that supplies for winter crafts have to be bought during the summer when the shops are open).

We toured Juneau, and saw a school nicknamed the “penitentiary school” — its playground is surrounded by a 20-foot-tall fence to keep bears away.  We saw lots more small planes and boats, necessary to get to this capital.

We saw the Mendenhall Glacier — cold and huge; glaciers still seem more magic than physical science to me.  The park area is well-designed; our tax dollars at work.  They even had some glacial silt (or “flour”) for us to touch, smooth and gritty at the same time.  Five baby swallows  right by the path added to the fun. 

The Salmon Bake was terrific!  Finally, fresh salmon — and lots of other food, too — a veritable feast.  We were entertained by raven stories and stories of Alaska history by a wonderful woman who captivated even the non-story-tellers who just happened to be eating then.

Some people went back to town rather than pan for gold, but I’m glad we did it.  Our guide was fun, and we panned in the river, rather than a trough.  I put my first batch, from the dirt he had already filled the pans with (dug up “just over that hill”), in one vial, and then scooped some “free range” dirt from the stream and put that gold in a separate vial.  It was an adventure, but I don’t think I’d like bending over a cold stream like that on any sort of regular basis.

(Sun., 7/26) Ketchikan — and amazingly enough, sunshine!  That only happens there about 100 days a year — rainforest, after all.   Of course, we had to have sun at the end of the trip — to make us want to come back — and I do!!!

Donna and I explored a bit on our own, had lunch on the ship with an interesting older couple from San Diego (being able to zip back on board for lunch was one advantage of being docked at the pier), and then returned to the visitor’s center for a short bus tour of the town).  We did our random act of kindness by piling our stuff on a front-of-the-bus seat for an older couple who had been left behind the mad rush to the bus — one guy looked like he was going to try to challenge us, but then thought better of it.  At Totem Park, we noticed parking spaces “Reserved for Elders” and thought perhaps that kind of respect should be a more constant part of our culture.  The totems were magnificent, and the story of Seward’s “shame totem” for not returning to host a reciprocal pot latch was especially amusing.  The carvers had stepped out when we finally got into the carving hall, so we couldn’t ask about Daddy’s totem, but maybe we weren’t meant to know.

On Creek Street, we saw Dolly’s House on Creek Street, the only creek where salmon and men go to spawn.  We also saw salmon climbing upstream, and saw the salmon ladder they can use if they are too tired to manage the waterfall.  We also saw teens who had been swimming, too cold for us, but not for them.   There’s a covered playground at one school, so the kids can get out to play a little.  The sports field is paved with cement, and games are played even in the rain (“or we’d never finish a season”).  Hot dog cookers and microwaves are used to dry balls.  She also explained that they catch rain water for household use, and divert glacier run-off (all the pretty waterfalls coming off the mountains) for good, pure drinking water.

She took us to see the rain forest (and more kids who had just been swimming) and explained why cutting the trees would make them healthier, since in the constant dampness, they are rotting and being infested with beetles.  I’m not a forestry expert, but she seemed to make sense.  She also pointed out a nearby island with cheaper real estate, but no bridges, so you would have to do everything by boat, and in the winter the winds can be 90 mph, and the water is so cold you would die in 20 minutes if you fell in.  Doesn’t sound like a bargain to me. 

(Mon., 7/27)  Inside Passage –whales!  Too far to see, except with binoculars, but real whales, just the same — Shamoo on the loose!  It was thrilling (though difficult) to spot one in the binocs.

We had a hard time convincing the cruise director, John, that he should set aside a time and place for Donald’s public concert, but our nagging finally prevailed.  (Good thing, too — I was planning a major sit-in with all of us wearing our spiffy “Alaska Invasion” shirts and singing “All we are saying is, give us a room.”) Donald’s long-awaited concert filled the large Rhapsody Lounge with a very appreciative audience. (See, John, we told you so!)  We also got a first-hand demonstration of the power of good introductions, first John’s, and then Tracy’s excellent intro.

(Tues 7/28)  The Dynasty  docked in Vancouver, and we left soon after an early breakfast.  

Jody witnessed a final example of seeing whatever we talked about (previously demonstrated by animals in Denali and calving of glaciers).  She asked if they ever dropped any of the baggage into the ocean (They move impressive mountains of luggage onto the deck and then on carts across the gangway to shore).  Just after a crew member said “Never,” a woman’s bag went right over the side, then burst open and all her stuff floated away — what a disastrous end to her trip!  We decided to be very careful what we said from then on.

Our chartered bus ride to Seattle was pleasant, once we got Donna’s suitcase back from the woman who accidentally made off with it (once again thanks to Rick M. who sent her back with it).  Our driver entertained us with information and jokes (Conus roadis constructionis), once he recovered from loading all our luggage.  When we went through Canadian customs, we all thought positive thoughts, and were waved through.  Whew!  Good night’s sleep in Seattle (unlike the movie), once we found the right  Ramada.  I know there were wonderful things to do in Seattle, but they will have to wait for another time.

(Wed., 7/29)  The Southwest flight to Salt Lake City and then home was actually pleasant in the “party row,” enjoying wonderful views and interesting people.  Jessie and Al were waiting at the airport, and  then to Joy’s to hug those sweet children and give them t-shirts and snacks, and little gold centennial coins that they loved (Donna is a clever shopper).

Two good Alaska authors:  Velma Wallis, Two Old Women (based on Athabaskan myth) and Dana Stabenow,  Breakup  (and other mysteries)

Met on the cruise:  Priscilla Cogan; her book, Winona’s Web, is the most moving, spiritual book I have ever read.

JacKaLs GHosted

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“Aunt Mary, you’ve been blocked,” my niece explained. “There’s nothing wrong with your computer.” 

“What?  How? Why?” 

 Jill had told me when she was very young, “I don’t know it all, but I know some things,” and she did.

 “Hard to know the why, but how to block is easy, even though it’s the highest level of “distancing” on social media.  If you need just a little distance, you can “unfollow” someone and go to their page to read posts only when you want to.”

I nodded. “Glass of wine in hand to prepare for my nephew’s angst-filled posts.”

“Right, and they won’t know you’ve done this, especially if you check in now and then.  Next is ‘unfriend.’ This might be noticed, as you will disappear from their list of friends.  They can still see comments and posts as “friends of friends” and you can see theirs. Blocking is the most extreme, usually reserved for scammers and trolls. If you can’t see anything at all, it means they’ve blocked you.”

At first I hadn’t realized what was happening when a “friend” disappeared on Facebook. Sometimes I’d see four comments in a row with none in between, like a person talking to herself.  Some people do set comments to “friends only” so if we don’t know that person, we won’t see her comments. Technical difficulties, glitches in the system?  Then I read about “ghosting,” blocking friends as one would the scammers who “like your pretty smile.”  It’s the electronic version of “cutting them dead” in old books on manners.  

My niece explained the process and offered consolation. She reminded me of my mother’s warning that “two girls can play nicely together, three or more will fight.”  She called it the JacKaL Effect, but never explained the odd capitals, initials perhaps?

“Really, if they are mean, you are better off without them. You’d never have done that to anyone, and you’ll never really trust them again. Move on,” and I did. Cyber-friendships were ephemeral anyway. It’s not as if it was happening in real life, until it was. 

Real-life blocking began, reasonably enough, with law enforcement enforcing  restraining orders and witness protection.  Then someone hacked the technology, and soon there were seemingly empty desks at work with work getting done, empty seats in theaters and restaurants that one couldn’t manage to sit on, involuntary weaving on sidewalks to avoid invisible obstacles.

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It all came to a head for us one Thanksgiving when the youngest niece started crying, “Grandma, make them stop! Make them stop being mean and talk to each other.  It’s rude to ignore people.”

Jill, always practical, asked, “How can we fix it? I know, let’s take roll. Raise your hands if you can see Beth.” Everyone could.

“Who can see Grandma?”  Everyone.

“Who can see Uncle Joe?” Ben’s hand stayed down. 

“Ben, could you say something positive about Uncle Joe?  Anything? Anything at all?”
“Well, Uncle Joe taught me to fish.  He was very patient, even when my hook caught on his cap.”

“Uncle Joe, tell me something you like about Ben . . . please?  Just one thing?”
“Well, Ben is very bright . . . and helpful.  When my old car wouldn’t start, he helped me fix it.”

Grandma, the patient crocheter of lace and mender of boo-boos, continued Jill’s work with each person at the table, coaxing everyone to remember good things and acknowledge loving gestures, reminding all of what family was.  When there were no more shimmering gaps around the table, she had everyone join hands to say grace again.  Then she brought out the pumpkin pie and whipped cream, the cheesecake, and the cherry pie that was Beth’s favorite.  Gaps might still exist on (anti-)social media, but Grandma love can fix everything important.

I asked Jill if it would work online.  She winked and said, “Not worth the bother. Just mentally thank them and let them go.”

Smart girl!  

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We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another. Luciano De Crescenzo

 

 

Father’s Day: Lessons and Love.

Verna and John Fussner002

 

Father’s Day ❤  Lessons and Love. ❤

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Black-Eyed Susie’s Honey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What about us?” asked the other flowers.

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

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

Steamin’ Storytellers on the Delta Queen

Steamin’ Storytellers on the Delta Queen!! July 24-30 2004

Meanderings by Mary Garrett

 

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What a wonderful step back in time!  The Delta Queen, built in 1926 (roaring ‘20’s) is quaint and charming, or as Moriah put it, cute.  The atmosphere is magical, service friendly and fine, and the river experience is so special.  We found ourselves getting up in the middle of the night if we heard the boat approaching a lock, just to watch the process — the technology at work.  This was especially tempting because the door opened right onto the outside deck, just a step out, and the river was there!  Sitting on the deck in rocking chairs or swings, just watching the world go by — and it did, a bit too fast.  At the end of the week (well, not quite a week, and was it ever a shock to realize that the fun would end on Friday, not Saturday — oops!), I found myself wanting more time to sit and talk with friends, more sunsets to watch, more classtime with Judith, more of everything!

Moriah and I dawdled on the way home, and she stayed an extra night at my condo, but it really is over . . . . sigh!  (Tuesday, 8/3 — looking at the paper I notice that part of the Ohio near Louisville is closed for lock repair and that 15 barges got loose on the Mississippi and closed two miles of the river, and I know I wouldn’t have picked up on those items before this trip.  I also note that an Underground Railroad Museum has just opened in Cincinnati, so we really should have stopped there to see it — or make a trip back sometime?)

Drive to Louisville

We began with a drive to Louisville (ˇ5.5 hours of actual driving, 7 hours total by Moriah’s calculations) — beautiful, with rolling hills, and not too eventful, except for the 30 minute delay when we exited at Sulfur, Indiana, for a rest stop which took us too far from the highway — no gas available, only a portapotty to use, and a wrong turn trying to get back to the highway — we’ll never stop there anymore (although the gift shop neighbor who gave us directions was very nice, and the response from the gentleman stopping traffic, “fixin’ the road, ma’am” was memorably short).   There was very bad traffic around Louisville (accidents on two of three major freeways).  I used my “Arlington Heights” trick, opening my window to ask the passenger in a big truck if I was right about which lane I needed for the airport.  Not only did I get the information, the driver held back to let me enter the lane in front of him.  Then a Prius merged in front of me, the only one I’ve ever seen on the road; we waved and gave each other thumbs-up.  Fun little club we belong to!

I left my Prius in long-term parking at the airport, getting wonderful advice (things to do in Louisville, directions back from Pittsburgh) from the driver of the airport shuttle.  We waited a long time for the Courtyard by Marriott shuttle, but remembering the traffic jam, we weren’t surprised.  This driver informed us of the horse statues around town, and later gave us directions to a camera shop to get help for my obstinate camera (but the shop had closed a year ago . . .)

We decided against rushing to connect with the Belle of Louisville, instead having dinner at the Spaghetti Factory and then taking a carriage ride with a woman who knew all about the architecture (maybe because she was originally from Chicago, where they do love their architecture!).  She showed us many of the horse statues, and we saw more on Saturday with Mary Hamilton — Moriah counted a total of 61, all very different and creative. (http://www.gallopaloozaderbÎy.com/)

We did walk down to the water (and again on Saturday morning, to see the Delta Queen after it docked).   We also found time for a swim before sleeping, since there wouldn’t be a pool on board.  Moriah gave up a morning swim so we could seek camera help (finally bought a disposable camera) and explore Louisville a bit.  I sampled bourbon chocolates and bought some nice postcards — Moriah sent one home with a 34 cent Kentucky stamp I’d somehow not used yet.

Visit with Mary

Mary met us at noon, and we saw a bit more of the city, which is quite nice, I could see living there.  The Mayan Gypsy was closed (but we glimpsed the decor through the windows), so we ate at Lynn’s Paradise Cafe, a visual as well as culinary feast (Mary has promised me the recipe for curried chicken salad).  Then with minimal paperwork, we went on board the Delta Queen, with Mary, who had seen it so many times but never boarded (apparently, they sometimes are quite rigid with security, so we were lucky) . . . dessert on board, some visiting, and then Mary’s name was called to collect her i.d. and go back on shore, so we waved to each other as she left, just like they do on the movies!

It was great fun meeting and visiting, and last night I finally told Moriah a brief version of Mary’s “inappropriate” “Susan Contemplates Murder” (in _Telling Stories: Fiction by Kentucky Feminists_), and made her laugh out loud.  I maintain that it has a wonderful lesson on maintaining independence, as does the curtain rod story!  It was too late and too dark when we passed the Storyteller’s Riverhouse Bed and Breakfast in Bethlehem, Indiana, so I’ll get a vision of that another time.  (Someone asked after Mary departed, “Wait, was that THE Mary Hamilton?” Yes, she was indeed).  We had listened to  “Stepping Stones” and “1000 Ideas,” so Moriah would know who she was meeting, and listened again on the way home, just for fun.

 

Saga of the Cabin (stateroom? closet?)

Get-acquainted meetings, dinner, and entertainment all went very well — we even figured out how to fit both ourselves and our stuff into the room (it helped that agile Moriah didn’t need the ladder to climb into the top bunk).  A running joke through the week was that various places, crew quarters on the historical tow boat, cells at the prison, were larger than the DQ cabins.  When we settled in for sleep, however, I found out that my allergies didn’t like our room.  I could breathe on deck, but not in my bed, and after three trips back and forth, I gave up, put on long pants and shirt, and returned to the deck.  It was too cold and windy to stay there, so the night watchman Gary found the mate, who suggested that I sleep on a couch in one of the lounges.  He brought me a blanket, turned out some of the lamps, and assured me I would be quite safe there.  One great relief to me was realizing that the problem wasn’t with the whole boat, just with the room.  I had been putting together mental scenarios to allow Moriah to enjoy the cruise even if I had to leave, and chastising myself for ignoring my allergist’s warnings about river cruises — but I really wanted to be with our great group.  Moriah postulated that our room was perhaps the one we had been told of that flooded when someone decided to hang clothing from the sprinkler head (don’t ever do that . . .).

The lounge was bright, but the sleeve of my Solumbra shirt made a nice blindfold, and I did catch some rest.  My new friends assured me that if Moriah awoke and began to look for me, all on duty would know where to find me.  Whenever I awoke, I’d stroll by the room to listen and look for any activity.  I also made friends with Susan from Africa, who was doing needlepoint in the front lounge, and saw the sun rise, surprisingly at the back of the boat, such are the twists and turns of the Ohio (heading East . . .?).   The beautiful sunrise was a nice bonus.

I also heard some interesting sounds, four knocks about every 30 seconds, as I tried to sleep in the lounge, and I saw a picture of Captain Mary Becker Greene hanging near my refuge.  She looked like someone it would be fun to know.  The ship’s info sheet the next day featured rumors that Captain Mary’s presence is still felt on the boat . . . perhaps looking out for a female passenger in distress.  Travis later helped me find more information on Captain Mary, one of the first female pilots of a riverboat.  She allowed no liquor to be served on the boat; after her death, that rule was changed, and the bar section was struck by a boat, the Mary B!

When the purser, Rebecca,  came on duty, I informed her of my troubles, and she very graciously arranged a new room.  I breathed well the rest of the trip (except perhaps during our tour of the prison) and felt much cared for as everyone involved asked almost daily if everything was all right.  Our porter, Aaron, when informed of  the reason for our room change, said that he wished they had awakened him (at 2 a.m.!) so he could have taken care of the problem then.  Bless his heart!  . . .all their hearts! ·  Everyone was gracious and wonderful, and we got to stay and enjoy a wonderful trip! (though Moriah claimed she missed the bunk bed — she had slept well there, only waking up when the alarm went off).   One other commendation for Aaron, Moriah’s little bear with the “I Love Camp” shirt disappeared.  We left a note for Aaron to keep his eyes open for it, and on the last day it showed up on her bed.  Clever Moriah decided to let the bear hold Aaron’s envelope — with thanks for finding her souvenir of camp.

The mythical 7th floor became a running joke after we distractedly gave our hotel room number to Shelby the first night at dinner.  We decided that was where all the other children were (Moriah was the only passenger younger than . . . 40?).  It featured an Olympic-sized pool, jacuzzis in very large staterooms, and any other amenity one could imagine.  We’re also inventing a story of Camp Bear’s exploits.

 

Workshops

Of course, the workshops with Judith Black were the highlight of the Storytelling Cruise, even though they had to be fitted in around other activities.  We began in the Texas Lounge — a bit distracting, with popcorn popping and drinks being prepared.  Judith demonstrated well how to cope with and incorporate interruptions, “No, there were no alcoholic beverages on the ark, drinking was one of the reasons for the flood,” and pantomiming during the announcements on the P.A.  She used biblical stories and showed how the story could stretch to include other possibilities, like Mrs. Noah, who doesn’t have a name (but now we know it’s Flo).  We storyboarded our own biblical stories, and then told the story based on the pictures, watching new elements emerge from our drawn versions.

We had the rest of our workshops on deck, with Judith performing in the hot sun and most of the audience cool in the shade.  It didn’t seem quite fair, but it was a wonderful setting.  I’ve used Judith’s Old Ironsides story “Hell for a Picnic” with my American Lit. classes, but it was so much more dramatic on the deck of a moving boat.  (I have made a personal pledge that all those wonderful stories and activities that have been eaten up by the MAP/NCLB monster will be restored to my lesson plans, and hearing Judith’s telling has strengthened that resolve).  She told us that historical stories have to engage the heart and imagination of the listener, and hers certainly do that.  We were right there with Barbara Fritchie saving the flag and spy Rose O’Neil Greenhouse outwitting Yankees with her charms (and her daughter’s warning, “Momma’s gone to jail” from the treetop).  Her story of the children pelting the British soldiers with cranberries was amusing — and we saw that stern British redcoat expression later in the Tecumseh play.  (I finished an apple hat on the cruise and gave it to Judith, but left the leaf separate, in case she wanted it to be a cranberry).  Charles shared a story of a nurse defying orders by burning unneeded forts to keep 4,000 patients from freezing in Nov. of 1863.

Bits from my notes — (better info at Judith’s site http://www.storiesalive.com)  Minorcharacters give more freedom to develop the story.  Illuminate a chosen vantage point — the audience enters the story through this window, and sees self reflected in the mirror of the character (traits we share).  The heart connects to the heart of the story.  Find a unifying theme, why you want to tell the stories (peacemakers in history perhaps?).  Dig for interesting details beyond the official records, like the fight for equality in the munitions plants.

Our final day’s workshop was on telling stories for children.  First, the journey from door (opening) to door (closing) must take the child from a safe place to a safe place, with adventure (empowerment) in between.  The character can be based on the child’s characteristics (what animal/plant/?? would you be?), with a name similar to the child’s (Solomon becomes Solhouse the Mischievous Mouse).  The day’s activities become an adventure, with the child’s talents (and suggestions) solving the problems and tasks.   Star of own story — memory and learning improve and so does confidence.  Stories to help cover curriculum —  Moth story teaches facts about butterflies and moths, plus lessons about being oneself, AND it’s fun!!  We did a group activity in which we drew a picture illustrating what we got from the week (mine was a kite — fly free — Leigh’s was a beautiful turtle) and used all the pictures to make up a story together — and it was a great story!

Moriah participated in parts of the workshops and caught most of Judith’s storytelling as well.  We listened avidly to CDs on the drive home, even enjoying the “Adult Children of Parents” — which I would have thought was too adult, but Judith, to quote a t-shirt I saw, “puts the fun in dysfunctional.”  “Glad To Be Who I Am” was labeled for ages 4-8, but we agreed that older listeners would hear the stories “on another level,” and they were fun!  We had listened to “Rosie the Riveter” “From Her Arms to His” on the way there — but they were even more fun in person.  One aspect I really liked was the use of song in the story — “Our Love Is Here to Stay” unified “From Her Arms . . .”  How did people travel before storytelling tapes?  Judith’s “Retiring the Champ” didn’t appeal to Moriah, of course, but I’ve found it a powerful, sad and funny tribute to a great woman, (and it brings sweet/sad memories of being with my mom through her final illnesses).

** 2016 addendum, wondering if Moriah, now a nurse working with elders would like Retiring the Champ.

Story Swaps

We had one official story swap, plus a small one organized at Sharon Thompson’s urging, plus telling on the bus after Tecumseh, plus I told “One Wish” on the deck to Anne and her mother — and I’m sure there were countless other unofficial tellings.  We have vowed that next time there will be more organization of swaps — it’s just so hard to organize around the ship’s activities.

Rosemary Potter had suggested a tandem telling based on the Three Pigs.  Moriah

and I had prepared by looking at some off-the-wall variations before we left St. Louis, and we organized our telling in several meetings on board.  (Rosemary, Jill, and Lisa had done a successful Cinderella story on the New England Cruise).  Rosemary’s new husband, Peter, agreed to play the wolf —  he is too funny!  We employed some piggy puns — Moriah’s violin shop was Fiddlesticks, and she did save the Pigavarious from the ruins — and allusions to other stories — the wolf came to my knitting shop dressed as a grandmother, wanting to knit a wool jumper (Peter the wolf in sheep’s clothing).  Rosemary’s ice cream shop served “The Trough” (inspired by the honeymoon ice cream pineapple served to Rosemary and Peter the first night), but the customers “pigging out” were interrupted when Peter “wolfed it down.”  The wolf found Rosemary’s documents and came on board, while Rosemary had to have Leonard’s help to get on board (as Leigh and Harriet had in real life).  Finally, Peter made a valid argument that most people present did like bacon, and since the crew had obviously been trying to fatten us up, we decided to make our getaway.  It was great fun!  (My librarian just gave me three pig puppets, one for each of us — I love my library!)

Pat Baker opened the first (and only official) session with a short story/joke about the little man with no “belly” drinking Guinness, plus the wonderful story of the emperor choosing his successor by giving all the children seeds to plant.  Marge Cleary shared memories of Baptist women and tight corsets.  Rosemary began our pig story while Moriah and I left so we could enter at the right time.  Then Craig told the story of “Slow Joe” who loved ice cream — too funny!  Harriet shared some family history around the St. Louis World’s Fair.  Peter told of his error in judgment driving his very fast car much beyond the capacity of the police to catch him . . . and remarkably getting away with it.  Charles shared another car adventure, on flooded roads, from his soon-to-be-published Never Mace a Skunk.  Sharon won my admiration with her harrowing story of riding a mule in the Grand Canyon.

When we had our unofficial gathering, I got my opportunity to share the “Worry Bundles/St. Louis Blues” story (which Leigh had never heard, even though she is the one who bought me the sheet music).  Rosemary shared the tongue-twister “Hightopper Mountain,”  and Charles followed with adventures hunting Civil War memorabilia on Rockyface Mountain, facing poison ivy and yellow jackets (and the important information that you need to bury yourself in leaves to avoid the yellow jackets . . . and a small branch of leaves, but not poison ivy,  over your head will keep away gnats).  Sharon told about staying at the Christmas tree farm with no electricity — what a trooper!    We invited all passengers to our activities, and some came.  I gave an NSN pen to one woman who wanted information on storytelling — I try to have one of those pens with me, as they have all the information and are not likely to get lost.  (Of course, I also gave out some of my cards — Dianne would be proud of me).

Food

The food, of course, was wonderful — and constant!  Moriah received extra special service, with Maurice fussing over her the morning after our late night out, “I’ll get you some hot chocolate and fix you right up.”  Shelby, the maitre d’, brought her some orange sherbet personally the last night.  It was a bit like the song from  Annie, “Please put us to the test/I think I’m going to like it here.”  Moriah became quite good at selecting and ordering, and was adventurous as well, trying frog legs, seafood chowder, fried oysters, and other delicacies.  We also found the chef to ask about the dessert she had circled in her brochure — Mississippi Mud Pie.  He said it wouldn’t look exactly like the picture (food cosmeticians, you know), but that it would taste as good as the picture looked — and on Wednesday night, the proof was served.

I made it a personal mission to sample all the bread puddings: bourbon, rum and raisin, peach & rum, raspberry & white chocolate, and chocolate chip with whiskey?  I missed the one night (apple & cinnamon?), and would be hard-pressed to name a favorite.  On the last night we picked up on the Ordis’ comment about “six-day-old bread pudding” and worked up a six-person performance adapted from the “Peas Porridge Hot” rhyme that we were very proud of . . . but which Ordis just ignored.  Moonlight snacks were welcome but not ostentatious, and included lots of yummy fresh fruit, including raspberries and blackberries!  Yum!  I do miss the luxury of those meals and that friendly service, though I’ve been compensating by visiting my favorite St. Charles places.

 

Cub Pilot Award

 

The Captain’s Dinner the last night was extra formal, so we dressed up.  Moriah wore her Captain’s hat from the river museum, offering to pose with people as the captain had at the champagne reception, no charge.  At the end of the meal, we were told to wait for special announcements, and one of those was the presentation of an official certificate designating Moriah as a Cub Pilot.  The captain shook her hand, and we started making plans to travel on Moriah’s boat one day.

Shipboard Activities

There was a wonderful variety of things to do (besides the obvious sitting and watching the river).   No one could, or should, do them all. We took a tour of the pilot house, at the same time as the daughter of a former captain, who declared Travis “the best riverlorian.”  We heard some extra inside stories, I’m sure — like the time the “can” fell from the smokestack, landing loudly over the crew quarters, and sending the captain and (a woman, but my notes don’t say who), “informally dressed” scurrying up to the deck, where they collided and started rumors of half-naked liaisons on the deck of the DQ.  We also learned that one does not want to touch the radar screen — so we didn’t.  We did go to the Engine Room, while it was quietly docked, and while it was noisily powering up to leave (but not too noisy, really a very genteel boat).   We watched the locking procedures, and got to see the smokestacks lying down to go under bridges (not as low as those in Portugal, though, so we didn’t have to lie down).

Musical entertainment was good (despite the lack of a trombonist for “Muskrat Rag”).  We especially enjoyed the Sing-along in the Texas Lounge (Marsh and crew were memorable for “Rockytop”) and playing the calliope — we have the certificates to prove it!   The calliope concert with colored steam (from left-over jello?) was exceptional.  One evening’s show managed to include salutes to every state, and of course, there was plenty of Dixieland.  One afternoon we  requested “St. Louis Blues,” which was played quite well, with plenty of solos and variations.  We decided Banjo Bob resembles Mel Torme, and “Hi, Bob” in addition to making a good Inspector Clouseau, bears a resemblance to the dance captain in “At Sea.”

Flying kites from the deck was perhaps the most fun — the calliope and the paddlewheel made short work of several kites.  Everyone was a child again for a while.  Moriah took hers onto the bank the next day, but we needed a bit more wind.  We played Bingo as well, but forgot to bring the duck call for B2 — nor did we win, oh well.  (The deal was, if Moriah won, she would give me back my $5).

The historical presentations were interesting.  Travis’ mountain man character, Ike, presented information on Lewis and Clark, as he pondered whether to go west himself.  I found it interesting, and Moriah made it a priority to hear the continuing saga.  Leigh debated his statement that Seaman belonged to Clark — I hope that issue gets resolved.  We neglected to do the Lewis & Clark crossword puzzle and were surprised to hear there was a prize — a piece of paddlewheel from the DQ — we looked for the hole, but couldn’t see it.

Mel Hankla, a very knowledgeable scholar (and collector of powder horns) presented two characters. The first was Simon Kenton Butler, who left home because he thought he had killed a man and survived on his own by claiming kin in various places and working a mill for a pretend relative.  He fought Indians and was captured and forced to run the gauntlet many times.  He allowed one old brave to stay with him, despite his bad behavior, “because I let you live.”  Leigh pointed out that he used his walking stick well as a prop.  (We saw more about Butler in the Tecumseh play).

The second was George Rogers Clark, older brother to William, embittered by war injuries and by unpaid debts owed him for the French & Indian War.  Drinking (really water and cola in that decanter) was the only way to dull the pain.  An older brother, forgotten in the glory of the younger sibling. . . .

Dark Rain Thom’s presentation was impressive.  Native American medicine “could cure our native diseases, but not the ones the whites brought.”  Indians wouldn’t sell food, as it’s a gift from the creator — holding back from others would be like feeding only some of the children in a family.  Water was clean, no need to purify it.  Justice — for murder, either kill in return, adopt to take the place of the one killed, or require a payment of wampum.  For gossip, two warnings and then death (story of feathers, to be placed on home of all to whom the gossip was told, then to collect them back to obtain forgiveness . . .  not possible — like the Jewish story of scattering feather pillow).  Living death was banishment.  She brought an amazing variety of artifacts to share, including a rock on a string, useful for hunting rabbits, but also, if a man tried to kidnap a woman, “if she didn’t want to go . . . .” (she wouldn’t).

All Ashore! (Shore Trips)

Sunday — Cincinnati (Porkopolis)

We hadn’t booked a tour, and as I was tired and we were moving, I opted for a nap and gave Moriah permission to explore the boat (or go ashore with storytellers, but I think they were all gone).  There were good reports on the outing, and Rosemary bought magnets featuring some of the pig statues, very witty.  If you want to see more,  http://www.bigpiggig.com/pigs/pigs.php

(By the way, just remembered to mention — this cruise featured the most relaxed emergency drill ever, put on a life vest and sit outside your cabin.  Leigh said she missed the whistle and light, but it was pointed out to us that if there really were a problem, they would just head for the bank — the same reason they don’t need a ship’s doctor, but they do accompany and properly fuss over a sick passenger, as one of our group found out).

Monday — Portsmouth — to Chillicothe

Resting well on Sunday was a good idea, as this was a long outing.  An hour on the bus brought us to Chillicothe for the outdoor presentation of Tecumseh!  I’m not sure about accuracy, but I can attest to energy, good will, and enthusiasm . . . and volume!   The backstage tour included basic theater terminology and some insight into special effects, like fighting, falling, blood, and shooting.  They use grass patches instead of paper, no paper mess, and during the fight scene, the female cast members, in army uniforms, fired the cannons.  (Storytell List members will be interested in the fact that loin clothes were worn, quite well, by many of the male “Indians”).

The autograph session afterward was fun — Moriah collected the autographs; I discussed the meaning of it all with cast members.  Little brother, the prophet, a crazy leader causing trouble (like now?) should have listened to his big sister — all would be better if everyone listened to the women.  We must settle matters between nations, make peace, so the young people have a chance.  Rain had threatened for a while, and we had joked around with the “Ain’t Going to Rain No More” song (from the duck on a second floor cabin door), but finally I seriously prayed for the show not to be ruined, and the rain stopped.  Hmm?  Of course, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.  The young man I told this to said, “Thanks, I’m one of the crew that has to spread the tarp.”

The bus ride home was NOT dull — someone started storytelling in the back of the bus, and the time flew.  I had bet someone at supper that we could have our dessert on board (the doubter thought it would be too late and they wouldn’t feed us).  Of course I was right.  They wouldn’t let us go to bed hungry!!  Sharon had told a story of a talking clock on the bus, and as we were saying goodnight outside her door, the gentleman in the next cabin politely informed us of the time, so we stopped talking and went to bed.  Nice day!

Wednesday — Mutiny in Marietta

In fairness, Rosemary reported that our bus guide was very good once she got to the Rufus Putnam House where she quite ably pointed out features and furnishings.  On the bus, however, not so good.  The tour of the Fenton Art Glass Factory was interesting, if rushed — in order to spend time in the shop, one had to leave the tour halfway through.  I have to admit, though, that I was not sorry to leave the tour — the heat, noise, and smells make me sure that is not a career I want to pursue, and very few women work there.  I did shop a bit, though, some glass pieces, and Moriah and I each got a magnetic bracelet/necklace/whatever you want it to be.

Our moment of truth, and parting, was when the guide told us we didn’t have time to see the old tow boat because we had spent too long in the Ohio River Museum (she had allowed 15 minutes for each!) — I took my little stand, “We will see the boat!” and Moriah and I did a quick walk-through.  By then Marsh had determined that we could easily stay and walk back to the boat when we were finished, and we did.  We thoroughly explored that interesting W.P. Snyder JR, which had electricity way before most places, and mechanized systems for putting coal in the furnace.  I liked the speaking tube to carry the sound of the bells back to the captain.  The female crew, cook and laundress, shared a cabin near the captain’s so “no one would mess with them.”  The docent there was wonderful — “We like tourists!” (so even in tourist season, I guess they don’t shoot ‘em).  He walked us to the Campus Martius Museum, where we looked at displays on our own until a docent was ready to take us through the Putnam House.  It had been purchased after the fort was closed, and marked with numbers for disassembly and rebuilding, it was quite large and comfortable, and very beautiful.  There were numerous beds, including my favorites, trundle beds, because it was a very big household.

We got back late for lunch (but noted the Dairy Queen on shore as a back-up plan — DQ by the DQ).  No fear, food was found for us as soon as I mentioned that Moriah was coming as soon as she changed shoes — it’s good to have influential friends.  The only lunch left was fried oysters and shrimp, which I thought would be a stretch, but were really quite good.  We went back out to fly the kite, stroll a bit, and see the beautiful Lafayette Hotel — but no luck finding key chains for Donna.

Thursday — Wheeling, West Virginia, Moundsville Prison

I kept thinking of Sharon McCrumb’s novels and the statement that mountain boys can’t tolerate being locked up.  Prisons are such sad institutions, and I can’t really fathom the minds of those who have to go there.  The murals were interesting, a labor of love by the artists, and an expression of what they were missing — family, the mountains . . . even a big truck going . . . somewhere.   Inside a cell, with the doors closed, was an eerie experience.  Joliet is used as a training site for guards, which explains the “student parking” right next to the razor-wire-topped exercise yard.  It is also located right next to very impressive Indian Mounds, worth seeing for themselves.  We switched buses on this trip — the guide was terrific, but we wanted to be on the bus with the other storytellers — more fun!

We were very impressed with Oglebay Park, beautifully landscaped, with large swimming pools.  It was almost tempting to take an extra day on the way back  home just to stay there.  We were late getting back to the ship again (not our fault this time), but they still fed us, bless their hearts.

Friday & Saturday — Drive Home

Good-byes at the Airport in Pittsburgh were hard, as we really didn’t want to part!  I realized that I had no paperwork on a rental car reservation, so Leonard found an outlet and powered up his laptop; not finding the reservation, he made a new one.  We ended up with a Malibu at no extra cost because they had nothing smaller; I avoided tight parking spaces and did fine, and it did hold the luggage well. (A bit of sticker shock when I refilled it, though; the Prius made the St. Louis to Louisville drive on 8.5 gallons of gas).

The drive was easy, and we didn’t get lost . . . much.  We stopped at the Kruger Street Toy & Train  Museum in Wheeling, located in an old elementary school.  It was interesting and a good chance to stretch our legs.  Afterward, we passed the entrance to the Wendy’s for lunch and had to double back.  (Why do they hide entrances?  I guess if you live there, you know where to turn).   Later we stopped at a Perkins, for a snack and because it was raining hard, but they use latex gloves, so that was a waste of time.

We made it to the Louisville airport, turned in the Malibu, and shuttled to my car (Moriah bought a keychain at the airport gift shop for Donna).  The shuttle driver was a little bitty lady, but did her best to help with my big bag, and she gave Moriah a toy dog.   She also advised us the easiest way to find a motel for the night “easy on, easy off” — too bad we got lost from the motel trying to find Cracker Barrel (why do they hide the driveways for these places?) — good thing Moriah has a good sense of direction, and we did get back to the Country Inn, where the rooms were comfortable but the pool room had too much chlorine in the air, even for motivated swimmer Moriah.

The next day’s drive was also easy.  We considered a stop at the Evansville Zoo and then at Cahokia Mounds, but lacked information on proper exits, so we made a stop at Forest Park to ride the big carousel before it goes away.  It was a refreshing break, and we saw a bridal party join the line — photo op — obviously a marriage with a sense of fun.  Joy and Joe were off celebrating their anniversary, and the other kids were with their grandparents, so Moriah spent the night at my place, getting an evening swim and another swim the next afternoon, after dropping off film and library books and having lunch.  Joy picked her up about 5:30 and said she had missed her — I’m afraid I’m going to as well.

Notes — I tried taking notes on the Palm Pilot (perhaps I need more practice).  I switched to the Storyteller’s notebook from Jackie — she used a spiral spine on the notepad design, so the pages stay put.  It worked well, a good size to carry around, and the pictures and quotes inspire.  I’m thinking this might be a good item for workshops!!

Books recommended —

True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi

Pigs Is Pigs

Wagon Wheels by Barbara Brenner

. . . and still reading The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter, and finding parallels to Dark Rain’s talk

Note from before the trip:

Nancy’s hanging fern had a nest in it.  We’ve been watching the babies.  Three of the birds flew the nest yesterday; one stayed in the nest.  Sam, Nancy’s Siamese cat (my “godcat”) almost got one.  He was a bit mad at us for not letting him “play” with them, but they were too cute!  (He does seem to have forgiven me . . .)

Chicken Salad, Lynn’s Paradise Cafe

Makes 4 cups

Whisk Together:

1 cup mayo

2 T. honey

2 T. curry powder

1/2 t. salt

Add:

2 cups cooked, diced, boneless chicken (about 1 pound)

3/4 cup finely diced celery

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/3 cup raisins, plumped in hot water for several minutes and drained.

That’s the recipe I was given several years ago, but it seems to me there

were grapes in what we ate, not raisins?  So, you may need to play with it a

bit, but the mayo, honey, curry, salt concoction will give you the curried

base we enjoyed.

Take care,

Mary Hamilton

Knitting, Crocheting, Sewing

Knitting, Crocheting, Sewing — “Lost” Arts Found Again

“My” McClay Library* has a Readers and Stitchers group that meets monthly, and my sister has Stitch-In twice a month at her library.  For a few years it seemed that needlework would become a lost art, and then there was a resurgence, thank goodness!

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Grandma made beautiful lace on handkerchiefs and pillow cases, and clever little crocheted pouches to hold our milk money for school.  She taught all of her grand-daughters to crochet, but I was left-handed, a “puzzlement” until she happened upon a book with left-handed directions.  “You’re good with books,” she said, “so this will help.”  I realized much later that she could have taught me knee-to-knee instead of side by side, but the book did help.

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A Junior Achievement friend taught me to knit in high school, and I found that knitting in class helped me relax and focus.  A few of my teachers didn’t like it, but in a rare act of rebellion, I persisted.  Knitting during political meetings in college earned me the soubriquet of “Madame Defarge.”   I’ve also taught others, because even with so many books and other conveyances of knowledge, the best way to learn is to have someone show you one-to-one. I’ve knitted many sweaters, some with storybook themes, and many, many baby hats, gifts to those I’ve met along the way.

Hats for baby Emily. blueberry2 Peterson026

 

And water bottle holders are very handy . . .

 

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When Mom was sick, I knitted sweaters for her grandchildren’s stuffed bears.  These were the perfect small and quick projects, on which we could consult and plan colors and patterns when she felt up to it.  Stephen didn’t like that his bear’s sweater was sleeveless, so I knitted two sleeves and called for him to come over (Mom was home by then) with bear and sweater.  With very little assistance, he sewed the sleeves on himself with the precision of a master craftsperson.  It runs in the family . . .

 

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Mom crocheted and sewed with great talent.  She sewed most of our clothes, better quality, better fit, and less expensive than any that could have been purchased.  I loved picking out pattern and fabric and having Mom create something just for me.  I only mastered basics, but when I first developed an allergy to latex, Mom, who wasn’t sewing much then, advised me as I made non-latex garments.  It felt very like “Little House on the Prairie” . . . “and then Mary spent the afternoon sewing undergarments.”  I managed a perfectly presentable swimsuit, too, but I was glad when Decent Exposures began making latex-free clothing.  http://decentexposures.com

I rather wish I had some of the clothes Mom made me . . . but I “wore them and wore them until I wore them out.”

Reference “The Thrifty Tailor”  http://www.story-lovers.com/listshatstories.html

Kate Dudding’s variation on that story with knitting pattern  http://www.katedudding.com/

 

* McClay also hosts our Story Swap 6:30 pm on the second Monday of the month, just a few days from now 😉

Childhood

 

Image

My favorite “land” was the Land of Make Believe, but we do have to live in the Real Land, at least some of the time (she says as she finishes taxes) . . .    (photo Larry, Dave, Bill, and me, Mary)

 

My father’s stories enriched our childhood, settling us down for a good night’s sleep, and helping with troubles and lessons.  When we got older, Dad stopped telling, but started writing down his stories, and when I got old enough to take typing lessons, he bought me a typewriter and had me practice by typing up his stories . . . and so they were saved.  This is his introduction to his stories.

 

 

The Many Lands of Childhood  by “Daddy” John Fussner

 

We all live on the planet Earth.  Earth has many lands, as you can see on a map or globe of the Earth.  We each live on one of the land masses.

Childhood also has more than one land to live in.  First is your home, on your street or road, in your town or way out in the country.

The second land of your childhood belongs to God.  It has the church,  Sunday school, church picnics and lots of fun things to do.  In the land of God we learn how to live a good life and to love our fellow man.

The third land of childhood is dreamland.   Dreamland is where we go when we go to sleep.  Some people say that the sand man is the keeper of the gates of dreamland, and when we enter, he puts a grain of and in our eyes.  It could be true because often when we awake we feel what feels like sand in the corners of our eyes.  When we remove it, it looks like sand.  So who knows?  We do know if we are good boys and girls and love and mind our Daddy and Mommy, we will have pleasant dreams.

The fourth land of childhood is the land of make believe.  It is somewhat like dreamland, but we visit it without going to sleep.  Lying on the grass on a warm summer day, watching the clouds and seeing all kinds of things, such as ships, white whales, dragons, and far too many things to name is a trip to the land of make believe that most boys and girls enjoy quite often.  Where is the land of make believe?  It’s just over the next hill.  If you go over that hill, it’s just over the next one; so you can’t really go there.

One thing we must be very careful of is not to get the two lands mixed up.  Our real land is a good place to live, with Mommy, Daddy, our school teachers, our Sunday school teachers, all our aunts and uncles, and our many playmates.  We don’t want to be thinking we are in the land of make believe when we should be in our home land, doing school work or our chores around the house, or sitting and talking about real life.  You can visit dreamland and the land of make believe, but you must live in your home land and do and learn real things.  In real life you must keep up with father time and learn day by day your school work.  If you cannot do one day’s work today, how can you do two days’ work tomorrow?

With that thought in mind, we will go visit dreamland, and maybe the sandman will give us the answer.

 

More of Dad’s stories at

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

 

Real and Make Believe https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PF9pJqoxJK8&list=OLAK5uy_nv8Ttgxj7vi4gDR4kwjZRlNOaiaBwWxEY&index=2&t=1s

 

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Mom, Dad, Donna

 

All Together Now — A-Z Blogging

All Together Now  Image

I like this April Alphabetical Challenge because of the feeling of all being in it together, writing, reading, playing with words, experimenting while facing the added challenge of writing to the alphabet.  It reminds me a bit of writing classes in which I gave my students broad guidelines and let them develop what they wanted.  Half the fun is seeing what the others do.

Csenge compiled a list of storytellers participating.  Thanks!

http://multicoloreddiary.blogspot.com/2014/03/storytellers-to-z.html

I will be interspersing some of my father’s Land of Make Believe stories with some of my personal narratives, a rather eclectic approach, much the way I deal with most of life.  I taught that way when I could, to the delight of some students and the consternation of the very sequential . . .

My all-time favorite student writing was when students interviewed older relatives and then wrote the stories they collected.  I didn’t want to give some of them back and suggested they share them at the next family gathering.  They had begun with their own first-person narratives, first telling them to a partner and then writing, as suggested in Donald Davis’ Writing as a Second Language.  I had them listen to stories from Donald, Elizabeth Ellis and Mike Anderson as a warm up.  Their level of sharing and interest was delightful to witness.