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

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Storytelling Cruise to Belize 2005

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(St. Peters, Missouri)

Greece to Istanbul 2000

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

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

Mary Garrett’s Journal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

But I wasn’t telling stories then . . .

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But I wasn’t telling stories then . . .

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

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

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

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

 

A-Z Blogging

I am surmising from Mary Grace Ketner‘s post that today is the day to reveal”” our topic for April’s A-Z blogging challenge.   (See how well I keep up?)    http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com

I’m keeping my theme vague and eclectic, “Storytelling and Life” — since it is my first time, and I am in that retired “broad margin to my life” mind-set .

I did “borrow” the idea to begin compiling ideas to make it a bit easier to keep up once April 1 arrives. Wish me luck!

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Storyteller Mary, Stories Make the World Go Around

Mary Garrett, writer and storyteller, tells folk tales, humorous tales and personal stories.  She shared stories with her students at Francis Howell North High School and has since told at the Kansas City Storytelling Celebration, Texas, Timpanogos (Utah), O.O.P.S. (Ohio), and NSN (national) conferences, the St. Louis and St. Charles Storytelling Festivals, the Greater St. Louis Renaissance Faire, day care centers, parks, scout events, elementary through high schools, and retirement communities.

John Fussner, Mary’s father, was the first storyteller in her life. She credits him with instilling the love of make-believe. Mary believes in the world of story and the power of story to make this world a better place. After experiencing Mary’s stories, you can’t help but take some of that feeling with you.

Mary is located in St. Charles, Missouri  —
Second Monday Story Swap — 6:30 p.m.    McClay Library, 2760 McClay Road.

— but travels nationwide.You can contact her  via e-mail   and on Facebook

Daddy John and Uncle John books available from Mary.

Frog and Friends and Courage and Wisdom: Stories Make the World Go Around   CDs available from Mary or from iTunes or CD Baby.
From iTuneshttp://itunes.apple.com/us/album/frog-and-friends/id344525625   http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/MaryGarrett

Teaching and Storytelling  — Stealth Storytelling in the Upper Grades

I spent 26 rewarding years teaching and enjoyed middle and high school (and for one glorious summer, preschool) students! (NCLB and administrivia, not as much.) Stories helped make those hundreds of classes for thousands of students much more fun and rewarding — and helped students learn more quickly and easily as well.

I knew in kindergarten that I wanted to teach, and my father encouraged that. He warned, though, that “since Daddy is a working man,” I would need good grades and scholarships in order to go to college, and I listened. I went to college with a National Merit Scholarship.

———- (Detour from teaching) ———-

That may sound like a simple career path, but life is never simple. About a year away from graduation at the University of Minnesota, I was given the news that there would be very few teaching jobs available.  The ending of the baby-boom “bulge” meant that schools would be RIFing (Reduction in Force) teachers.

In the 70’s, help-wanted ads were divided into “male” and “female” listings, and most liberal arts female graduates ended up working as clerks or secretaries, which I did, working for Prudential for eight years and learning organizational skills from Lorraine Lonquist. When Prudential decided they needed a woman agent, I was offered training in sales (changing corporate language from “men” for agents and “girls” for secretaries).

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What does that have to do with teaching? Quite a bit — teaching definitely involves the same sort of persuasive techniques and telling stories. “Is every author your favorite, Miss Garrett?” “Well, not quite, not Hemingway.”

When I finally found my way to employment as a teacher back home in St. Louis, my substitute work turned into a full-time position at Downtown Daycare.  The director there sent me to my first storytelling class.  It was pure joy teaching those itty-bitties, but a day care teacher’s pay would not support me for long.

When I was hired to teach junior high, I thought I put aside storytelling; those students were “too old for stories,” we thought. Years later, an e-mail from a student, “I remember all those stories you told us,” let me know that I only thought I’d abandoned stories. By the time he sent that e-mail, I had consciously incorporated stories into all my classes whenever I could.  Stories helped with learning and with classroom atmosphere.

I had also begun to take stories elsewhere, to festivals, school and scouting events, retirement communities, anywhere people gathered and needed stories. Now that my schedule is more open (how did I find time to teach six classes a day for 180 days a year?) I can take stories and storytelling workshops on the road — life is good!