Christmas Letter 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wishing you all the best in the coming year!

P.S.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Father’s Day/Story Swap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Father’s Day Musings

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

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

 

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

(BTW, dialect is hard to write consistently).

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Week, week,” answered the pig.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

More stories,books, and CDs    More Daddy John stories

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

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

Roger

Skeeters

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Under the Chicken House

Sam Meets the Striped Kitty Cat     by “Daddy John” Fussner

 Mary in Dog House 5030

One day in late February the sun was shining bright, and the wind was blowing from the south.  There was a promise of spring in the air.  It was warm for late February.  Several red birds could be seen around Dough Doughy’s house, along with a dozen or so robins.  The sparrows were already thinking of building nests, though it was much too early to start.  About a hundred pigeons were sunning themselves on the south side of the barn roof.  There were dark pigeons, white pigeons, old, young, all colors and ages.

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Way down in the pasture near the woods, a few deer were grazing on the green grass between the patches of snow.  Near the brier patch, old and young male and female rabbits were busy stuffing themselves with tender green grass and the young shoots of plants making an early growth.  Many little field mice were out looking for food, for they were very hungry after the last cold spell.

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Chatty the squirrel lay sunning himself on the big limb of the old oak tree near the creek.  In the creek could be seen little fish looking for food, bigger fish looking for little fish, and the biggest fish looking for all of them.  Tommy Turtle was slowly swimming around, looking for just anything at all to eat.

Turtles and other critters welcome!

Out in the barn, the mice that can always be found in barns were very busy scampering around, looking for stray bits of grain that many have been dropped and keeping an eye open for bits of paper, string, or anything else that would make a warm nest warmer.  Dough Doughy had left the door open so that the warm, fresh air could dry out the barn.

Under the chicken house lived a cute little animal.  She wasn’t very big, and her coat was black except for the white stripes down her back.  She had lived under the chicken house all her life, and she wasn’t afraid of anything in the barnyard.  She would walk under the six big horses much as if their legs were tree trunks.  Dogs worried her not.  They would only try to catch her once.  After that they stayed well away, leaving when she walked near.

She didn’t bother the chickens, except to take an egg once in a while to make her coat shine.  Dough Doughy didn’t mind, for he often fed eggs to his six big horses to make their coats shine.  The only things that tried to get away when she arrived, but didn’t often succeed, were the mice and the very few rats that lived in the barn.  Some of the wiser mice lived in the barn to a ripe old age.  The rats, however, never lasted over a week.   Rats and mice were Petunia’s main food, and with her around, Dough Doughy had few problems.

The warm weather brought Petunia out from her nice dry nest.  She was as hungry as all the other wild citizens of the farm.  She had already eaten everything around the chicken house.  The food Dough Doughy set out for her was filling, but she was a little tired of it; so she was off to the barn.

Petunia hadn’t been to the barn in three weeks; so the mice were playing all over the place.  Petunia entered the open door, stopped, and looked around.  Boy, oh boy!  What a sight for a hungry skunk!  Way, way over near the far end, fully forty feet away, was a big rat, chewing on a bag of feed.  In between Petunia and the rat were about a half dozen mice.

What should she do?  Should she catch a small mouse that she was sure of, or try for the rat, which was forty feet away, but only six feet from his hole in the wall and safety?  What do you think?  Well, sir, almost faster than the eye could follow, Petunia streaked across the forty feet.  Before the rat knew she was coming, it was too late.  Mr. Rat made a fine meal for Petunia.

After a big meal, most animals like to sleep, and Petunia was no different.  She slowly walked out to the chicken house and was soon fast asleep in the sun.  She had been napping for about an hour when she was awakened by a dog barking.  Opening her eyes and springing to her feet, she saw Sam.  He would lunge forward barking loudly and then back off.  He repeated this over and over.  Petunia couldn’t retreat to her den under the chicken house, because Sam was between her and the entrance.

Petunia didn’t want any trouble; so she backed off toward the barn.  Sam kept coming after her, barking every step of the way.  He didn’t know anything about skunks, but he was about to find out.  Petunia reached the barn, still slowly backing away from Sam, when she realized that Sam wasn’t going to stop making a pest of himself.  She turned and ran as fast as she could.  Sam was doing a good job of keeping up with her as they raced across the pasture.

Dough Doughy was out in the pasture rounding up the horses, and he saw Sam chasing Petunia.  “Well, well,” he thought, “Sam is about to learn another lesson the hard way.  He will be a mighty lonely dog before this is over.”

Petunia reached the fence and raced under it and on into the woods, where she holed up in a hollow tree.  The hole was near the ground, but too small for Sam.  Petunia knew she would be safe from harm.  Poor Sam reached the fence and rolled head over tail, unable to stop.  He then had to hunt for a hole under the fence large enough for him to go through.  He soon found the hollow tree where Petunia was holed up.  He barked, he scratched at the hole, and he stuck his head in; he did everything he could to get Petunia.

Soon, enough was enough, and any more was too much.  Petunia turned her tail toward Sam, up went the flag, and out shot the gas, hitting Sam in the face and front.  Sam let out a howl you could hear for a mile or more.  He rolled in the dirt and rubbed his head on the ground, trying to clear his eyes.  After a while, he could see well enough to go home.  Yelping every step of the way, he reached home in record time.

Dough Doughy had waited out by the barn after he drove the horses in.  He listened to Sam as he made his way to the hollow tree.  Dough Doughy knew just what was going on every minute of the time.  When Petunia threw the charge of gas from the glands under her tail,  Dough Doughy heard Sam yelp, and he knew what to do.  Going into the barn, he opened the door in a little cabinet and took out a bottle of medicine for Sam’s eyes.  He then went to the brooder house, where the baby chicks are kept, and filled a big tub with warm water.

  Soon Sam was home, his eyes were taken care of, and he had been given a hot bath, a good drying off, a warm bed in the brooder house, a hot meal, and plenty of time to think about chasing striped kitty cats.  For about a month, no one came near Sam except to bring him his food.

More of Dad’s stories at

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

Moon and Moonshine

Moon and Moonshine 

How cool that in just a few hours there will be a lunar eclipse (hope the clouds let us see it) a bit less cool that there is snow on April 14.

When I taught in Jamaica,  I learned to like curried goat and akee and Blue Mountain coffee.  I learned that “bats” meant “moths” — the ones I called bats are known as “rat bats.”  When I used everyone’s coffee cups and soda cans to demonstrate how an eclipse works, there was amazement because, “You are an English teacher, not science!”   A photo from home of a late snow on leafed-out bushes called for identification of “those white flowers” followed by, “oh, I have heard of snow.”

Then someone remarked on the pretty moonshine one evening. I told them what moonshine meant back home in Missouri, and we laughed and laughed.

 

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This is another of my father’s dialect stories.

The Sunshine Pump by “Uncle John” Fussner

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

More of Dad’s stories at

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

 

Lightning Bugs or Fireflies

Read a Story  Storyteller Mary Garrett –  Stories make the world go around

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Hearing thunder, I shut off the television, looked outside and saw . . .

                                          a lightning bug!

 

 FIREFLIES

from Bedtime Stories by Daddy John (Fussner)

(collected by his daughter, Mary Garrett)

One day, some little bugs went out to play. They were having a wonderful time. They played tag, hide-and-go-seek, follow-the-leader, and many other games that little boys and girls play. Oh, they were having such a good time, when suddenly a swarm of big mean bugs came along and chased the little bugs away. All day long, whenever the little bugs started to play, the big mean bugs would chase them away.

After the sun went down and it got dark, the little bugs thought that they would go play. The little bugs could see well at night, that is, well enough not to run into trees or anything. The big bugs, however, c ould hardly see at all. They had to find a good, safe place to spend the night. The little bugs flew around for a while, not having very much fun. The little fairies were out playing in the moonlight. They were having a wonderful time. The fairies love to run, jump, and dance in the moonlight. The Old Man in the Moon was in a happy mood, filling the woods and meadows with bright moonlight. The stars were bright and shiny, making it a wonderful, happy, carefree night.

The Fairy Queen heard a couple of little bugs talking. She stopped dancing to ask what was troubling them. They told her about the big bugs chasing them so they couldn’t play by day, and at night they couldn’t see each other well enough to have very much fun.

“Well,” said the Fairy Queen, “you do have a problem.” She thought for a while and then asked the little bugs, “Do you like to play at night?”

“Oh yes,” answered the little bugs, “it’s nice and cool, and the moon and stars are so pretty that we just love to play at night.”

“I have it,” said the Fairy Queen. “Let all these little bugs have lights in their tails so they can see each other in the dark.”

From then on, even until now, the little bugs can be seen at night, blinking their tail lights. Everywhere, children like to catch them. If you catch fireflies (or lightning bugs, as some people call them) don’t hurt them. Play with them for a while and then turn them loose again so they can have their fun.

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This story, and others like it, are in chapbooks of my father’s stories:

Bedtime Stories by Daddy John (Fussner) 35 pages  “Sweet dreams,” stories of fairies and nature

Stories from the Land of Make Believe by Daddy John (Fussner) 53 pages  Dough Doughy and friends build a church, face a blizzard, enjoy life.

Homespun Stories from Uncle John 32 pages
Old time tall tales in dialect: mosquitoes big enough to eat a car, a mixed-up hen, pet skunks

$10 each or all 3 for $25

For more information about these chapbooks, as well as my CDs of stories and Prince the Frog picture book, go to “CDs and Books” entry, or contact me.

Frog Poem/Song from my friend Lucy Grondahl in honor of Prince

Twinkle Twinkle little frog,

Sitting in your slimy bog.

Munching on a Doozle Berry.

Thinking of your MaMa Mary,

Telling all your froggy kids,

What your Mama Mary dids.

Fed you crickets, ants and grubs,

Gave you froggy tummy rubs.

Every baby froggie-poo,

Wants to visit Mary too.

 

Frogs in School_2

Terripin Farms CSA

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

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

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

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

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

What’s in the box

  1. Kale
  2. Kohlrabi
  3. Napa

    cabbage

  4. Lettuce

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

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

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

Thank you from all of us, Terripin Farms

All about KOHLRABI>>>>

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

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

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

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

Roasted kohlrabi with parmesan cheese

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

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

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

Kohlrabi Greens with Toasted Sesame Oil and Soy Sauce

From the Ivy Manning collection Ingredients

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

Steps

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

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

Chinese Noodle Slaw

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

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

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

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

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

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

HOT SWISS CHARD AND ARTICHOKE DIP

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

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

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

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

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

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

Collard Green Tacos

Ingredients:

1lb lean ground meat

taco seasoning

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

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

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

Directions:

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

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

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

Sesame Noodles + Mustard Greens Ingredients:

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

    Preparation:

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

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Juice of the week:

Spring Green Juice

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

Smoothie of the week

Creamy Cherry Strawberry Kale Smoothie

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

Ingredients

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

    Instructions

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

Critters At My House

Story Musings

Critters At My House      OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I have tried to create a healthy environment with eco-friendly materials and no-VOC paints, Better World cleaning products, and no bug sprays.  Sometimes that means I have to tolerate the occasional spider or ant, and even an odd migration of tiny little mites across the window sill, but the rewards . . . .

Lighting bugs (fireflies) abound! Right now there’s a storm making it so dark that the fireflies are lighting up!  There was an interesting beetle last summer, perhaps a stag beetle, that looked a bit like a scarab.  A turtle visited the front walk,

Turtles and other critters welcome!

and a lovely Luna moth, so otherworldly, perched on my deck door.

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I have seen rabbits, woodchucks, raccoons, fox . . . but not the deer, only deer prints in the snow (they must be shy).

** March 2014 — I have since seen the deer a few times.  They seem to know they are safe here.  I’ve just discovered they like holly bushes.  Good thing the “bunny in the bush” isn’t sleeping in the holly bush this winter.

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Prince, my resident tree frog, was quite entertaining when he spent the winter.  His cousins or offspring have been appearing in the mailbox, on the deck, and on the windows, and their songs at night are so wonderful that I sometimes turn off TV and stereo, the better to hear them.

Mailbox Frog

There will be plenty more frogs, too, judging by the quantity of little bitty frogs Kathy’s grandchildren found in her garden (and turned loose).

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 Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mailbox Frogs 2010

Story Musings
First Mailbox Frog of the Year — and More!   (from 2010 — moving posts from old website 😉Image
This morning I found a tree frog in my mailbox, the first of this summer.  I’ve been told that they seek someplace dark and enclosed as the sun is coming up, a place to safely hide.  Of course, they don’t realize how hot a brick enclosed metal mailbox can get at mid-day, so with wet hands I carry them to a tree.  Now that there’s a tree in the front yard, it’s easy to relocate the little guys, though it’s a bit harder to resist their cuteness.  I have to remind myself that they are tree frogs, not house pets. (Thanks to Conservation agents for explaining that).  This sweet little frog stayed put long enough for me to get my camera and snap a few photos. Frog and Friends CD tells of Prince, who spent the winter.   “Mailbox Frogs” — from October 2009 Missouri Conservationist (whose agents gave advice on frog care) I love the photo of the tree frog on the cover of the August issue! The contrast between the bright green back and the dark front of the frog is quite striking. I have many of these little singers by my house, lovely to hear each night. They are starting to show up in my mailbox, I’m not sure how. I take them in my wet hands and introduce them to a suitable tree, reminding them that they are tree frogs, not “mailbox frogs.”Image — Mary Garrett, St. Peters 7/24/10 Tiniest mailbox frog, as big as my baby finger nail. 8/3  Took a lovely mailbox frog to a tree this morning (It got to 100 degrees today, not good weather to be in that metal/brick oven), and then taught aqua-aerobics at the Y. Tiny frog (size of middle finger nail) has been showing up on screen door to deck August 2, 4, 6. Mailbox Frogs 2010 5/20, 6/15, 6/19, 21, & 28 (came back twice, stubborn frogs) 7/8, 7/24, 8/4, 8/5, 8/9 (biggest) 8/10, 8/14 (twice) 8/21, 8/30 (smallest), 8/31 — TWO!  9/1, 9/2 — looked like Prince! 8/14 Going out for the paper this morning, I caught a cricket just inside my front door and took him out to the grass.  Checked the mailbox, and there was today’s Eastern Gray Tree Frog.  This one was very dark brown, not as green as the others, but green underneath.  Settled him in the maple tree where he blended well with the bark.  It’s going to be in the high 90’s today, not a good day to spend in a brick-enclosed metal mailbox. — Went out to get mail — another frog in the mailbox!  This one was quicker and sneakier, and I finally left him there, hiding in a corner I couldn’t reach.  Maybe it’s a new species, a true mailbox frog. This one kept hopping beyond my grasp, and found a hiding space I couldn’t reach.  I decided that if he’s that lively, he’s probably okay with the temp.  I’ll go check on him a bit later to see how he’s doing.  If nothing else, opening the door should cool it a bit. — I just went out to check, and he was much more amenable to being caught.  The mailbox was warmer from the sun, so I suspect my hand felt cool to him (frog felt warm, and I know that’s not right).  I’ll bet the tree branch felt really good to him. Someone explained to me that they seek dark, small, safe places, and that most of those, in nature, would be relatively cool . . . . Lizards and frogs would both eat any insects, so that’s good. . . (Shelby Smith Mary, you are my new hero!) I heard from a woman who finds frogs in her bedroom every summer morning and takes them all outside.  She’s MY hero!  Really, they are so darned cute that it’s hard to give them back, but the Conservation agents assure me it’s for the best. (Laura Broader Gorton Or someone keeps mailing you frogs! ) Didn’t see a stamp . . . Last summer I did wonder if someone, perhaps on the Tom Johnson crew, might have been putting them in, but I think they really can slip through the little opening by the hinge. 8/31 TWO! mailbox frogs today! One tiny one was there first, and since it was staying below 90 d., I let him stay a while but checked on him. He was joined by a larger one, and I got some photos, but none as cute as I would have gotten on first view, both looking out at me.  By the time I got the camera, they were fleeing to the back of the mailbox. I went out at dusk to put them on a tree, and the little one was gone (hope he hopped safely away).  I got the larger one on my hand and took him toward a tree, but he hopped!! — over my shoulder and onto my back!  It was hard to be sure if he’d taken the opportunity to continue hopping to the grass or the tree (pretty lightweight frogs) and I didn’t want a reputation, so I went inside to take off my shirt and check for hitchhiking frogs.  I think he’s outside where the Conservation Department wants him to be. . . . I’ll admit, I don’t see the appeal, but I’ve been told they want small, dark places to spend the day . . . On very hot days, I evict them in the morning when I get the paper.  Lately, it’s been cooler and they seem to like the warmth. 9/1)  I just took a tiny frog to the tree at 5:00.  He may be the little one from yesterday.  If they go way to the back and don’t look out, they disappear in the dark.  He was so cute on the tree . . . looked like a tiny branch . . . 9/2 I may have to think about an auxiliary mailbox* . . . The mailbox frog this morning looks just like Prince.  I let him choose to go back in the mailbox, since temp. is staying in the 80’s (F) today.  Then I saw a cricket in the living room and instead of letting it go outside, I put it in the mailbox — it did NOT choose to stay in the mailbox, jumped right out, past me in a flash and GONE.  Smart cricket! (*Mabel Kaplan Hi Mary, Your story reminded me of a delightful picture book by Jackie French and illustrated by Dee Huxley: Hairy Charlie and the Frog. It tells how a frog took over Charlie’s letterbox and no amount of coaxing would get frog into an identical letterbox labelled ‘Frog House’. So Charlie wrote a note to the postman to put his mail in the ‘Frog House’ as a frog was living in his letterbox). More literary frogs  http://comics.com/spot_the_frog/

Mailbox Frogs AKA Tree Frogs

Tree Frogs/ Mailbox Frogs

Prince, the Eastern gray tree frog, stayed here from December through March, but then climbed a tree and jumped to another in a leap worthy of the Olympics.  I was a little afraid for him, with “all those hungry critters out there,” but I think I can still distinguish his familiar trilling out there of an evening, and I think he’s been in the mailbox a couple of times this summer.  Their markings do vary, as well as changing depending on where they.  I’m also pretty sure he is the daddy and grand-daddy of some of the current frogs.  After all, he had a nutritional head start with all the crickets I bought for him.

Mailbox Frogs 2010

5/20, 6/15, 6/19, 21, & 28 (came back twice, stubborn frogs) 7/8, 7/24 ( Tiniest mailbox frog, as big as my baby finger nail),

8/4, 8/5, 8/9 (biggest) 8/10, 8/14 (twice)

8/21, 8/30, 8/31 — TWO!  9/1, 9/2 — looked like Prince! 9/4 (cold & went back in), 9/7, 9/10 (two), 9/12,

9/16 (green cheeks), 9/17, 9/22

8/3  Took a lovely mailbox frog to a tree this morning (It got to 100 degrees today, not good weather to be in that metal/brick oven), and then taught aqua-aerobics at the Y.

Tiny frog (size of middle finger nail) has been showing up on screen door to deck August 2, 4, 6.

8/14

Going out for the paper this morning, I caught a cricket just inside my front door and took him out to the grass.  Checked the mailbox, and there was today’s Eastern Gray Tree Frog.  This one was very dark brown, not as green as the others, but green underneath.  Settled him in the maple tree where he blended well with the bark.  It’s going to be in the high 90’s today, not a good day to spend in a brick-enclosed metal mailbox.

Went out to get mail — another frog in the mailbox!  This one was quicker and sneakier, kept hopping beyond my grasp, and found a hiding space I couldn’t reach.  I finally left him there, hiding in that safe corner.  Maybe it’s a new species, a true mailbox frog.  I decided that if he’s that lively, he’s probably okay with the temp.  I checked on him a bit later to see how he was doing.  If nothing else, opening the door should cool it a bit.

I just went out to check, and he was much more amenable to being caught.  The mailbox was warmer from the sun, so I suspect my hand felt cool to him (frog felt warm, and I know that’s not right).  I’ll bet the tree branch felt really good to him.

Someone explained to me that they seek dark, small, safe places, and that most of those, in nature, would be relatively cool . . . .

Lizards and frogs would both eat any insects, so that’s good. . .

(Karen Maslowski  “You are the human  ambassador to the amphibian kingdom!”

(Shelby Smith  “Mary, you are my new hero!”)

I heard from a woman who finds frogs in her bedroom every summer morning and takes them all outside.  She’s MY hero!  Really, they are so darned cute that it’s hard to give them back, but the Conservation agents assure me it’s for the best.

(Laura Broader Gorton Or someone keeps mailing you frogs! )

I didn’t see a stamp . . . Last summer I did wonder if someone, perhaps on the Tom Johnson crew, might have been putting them in, but I think they really can slip through the little opening by the hinge.

8/31

TWO! mailbox frogs today! One tiny one was there first, and since it was staying below 90 d., I let him stay a while but checked on him. He was joined by a larger one, and I got some photos, but none as cute as I would have gotten on first view, both looking out at me.  By the time I got the camera, they were fleeing to the back of the mailbox.

I went out at dusk to put them on a tree, and the little one was gone (hope he hopped safely away).  I got the larger one on my hand and took him toward a tree, but he hopped!! — over my shoulder and onto my back!  It was hard to be sure if he’d taken the opportunity to continue hopping to the grass or the tree (pretty lightweight frogs) and I didn’t want a reputation, so I went inside to take off my shirt and check for hitchhiking frogs.  I think he’s outside where the Conservation Department wants him to be. . . .

I’ll admit, I don’t see the appeal of the mailbox, but I’ve been told they want small, dark places to spend the day . . .

On very hot days, I evict them in the morning when I get the paper.  Lately, it’s been cooler and they seem to like the warmth.

9/1)  I just took a tiny frog to the tree at 5:00.  He may be the little one from yesterday.  If they go way to the back and don’t look out, they disappear in the dark.  He was so cute on the tree . . . looked like a tiny branch . . .

9/2

I may have to think about an auxiliary mailbox* . . . The mailbox frog this morning looks just like Prince.  I let him choose to go back in the mailbox, since temp. is staying in the 80’s (F) today.  Then I saw a cricket in the living room and instead of letting it go outside, I put it in the mailbox — it did NOT choose to stay in the mailbox, jumped right out, past me in a flash and GONE.  Smart cricket!

9/4 Cold morning, very stiff rubbery frog, who managed to sneak back in.   Now that temps are cooler, I’m not quite so insistent that they leave.  The mailbox is no longer an oven . . .

Mailbox frogs over the last few days (more photos on photos page) . .  pretty hard to spot once they get in the tree — clever camouflage!

Today I tried to catch a little one.  It disappeared and next time I looked, there was a big one.  I think that when they really want to be left alone, they hide in the ridges at the front of the mailbox where I cannot see or easily reach them.

Tiny . . . and very persistent. The biggest are silver dollar size; the smallest are the size of my baby fingernail.

I’ve been told that it’s hard to keep the wild ones alive, one reason I let Prince go as soon as there were warm days.  This way, also, his fate is whatever I say it is — no one can say otherwise.  In my version, he has sired generations of frogs, who all tell his story . . .

(Laraine Crampton The thing that amazes me is that they keep seeking out your mailbox. I wonder what it is about the box that attracts them . . . surely there are other places to hide, stay cool, find enclosure. I’ll say it again, I think they consider you to be their personal Six Flags: climb up the chute, wait a while, and this giant being lifts you up into the sky and sails you through space to land on your favorite tree).

Mary Garrett . . . and as Mom used to say about stray cats, if you feed them, they’ll keep coming back . . . 😉

9/7, 9/10 (two frogs)

9/12  Police car and other five cars passed by as I stood in kimono and sunhat taking mailbox photo . . . I’ll bet they wondered about me as I wondered about them on an otherwise quiet Sunday morning.

9/22

I forgot to evict the mailbox frog at dusk, so I just went out with a flashlight, expecting he would already have found his way out to hunt bugs, but no . . .

I think the colder weather slows them down; they don’t sing as much at night either.  I took him to the little maple tree, and then admired the full moon.  Nice!

9/23

Too funny!  I went out to see the full moon, and a little tree frog found its way into the house. . . and he wasn’t that easy to catch, let me tell you.  I made use of a big pitcher to corral him.  He seemed happy to be on the outside of the screen door . . .

9/28, 29, 30

10/12, 13, 14, 15, 16     Mr. Green Cheeks

Since it’s cooler, I’ve been waiting until almost dark to transport him on the “froggy thrill ride” (thanks, Laraine, for that concept) of my hand to safety in the little tree.

Some chilly days, he was so cold and stiff, it was like playing with a rubber frog, and he was in no hurry to leave my warm hand for a cold tree.  I stood shivering, wondering how the frog managed to train me so well.

On the 16th it was later, very dark, he was more frisky than usual.   He jumped up my arm, over my shoulder, onto my back, and then off somewhere in the dark grass (or really clover, as the grass has not done well, between grubs and the raccoons that want them).  He hasn’t been back in the mailbox since.  I hope he found a good place to sleep the winter away.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEa3_mlCX9g

10/25 One last frog, perhaps a reminder and promise that there will be more next year.  A friend at the Y wanted me to bring it in for a visit, but it didn’t look as if it wanted to leave its safe nook.  I called the Y with a message that she could come to my house if she wanted to see the mailbox frog in its “natural environment.”

*(Mabel Kaplan Hi Mary, Your story reminded me of a delightful picture book by Jackie French and illustrated by Dee Huxley: Hairy Charlie and the Frog. It tells how a frog took over Charlie’s letterbox and no amount of coaxing would get frog into an identical letterbox labelled ‘Frog House’. So Charlie wrote a note to the postman to put his mail in the ‘Frog House’ as a frog was living in his letterbox).

More literary frogs  http://comics.com/spot_the_frog/

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