Thursday, May 25, 2017

Slogging Through!

I know I have been neglecting this space. Life is in the way of writing.

My daughter is graduating from High School on Saturday.

Fourteen people are descending on our home.

Parties, ceremonies, gatherings, cooking, cleaning, and all of that.

Deep breath before she goes off to UNC to study physics.

I am looking forward to life settling down.

Until then, I have neither the time nor the brain space to blog.

I will keep slogging through.

See You Soon!













6th grade



















4th Grade














Where on earth did the time go?


Here she is with her big brother. Somehow, this is how I remember them if I am not careful!

Happy Living!




Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day 2017


To be a mom is a wonderful, challenging, exhilarating, terrifying, joyous, frustrating, panicky, beautiful, thing.

To all the mothers who have children who are settled in their own lives...

To all the mothers who have children who are adults but in transition...



To all the mothers who have children who have flown the nest and are doing their own mothering...

To all the mothers who have children at university who are starting a new journey....

To all the mothers in the thick of trying to guide those recalcitrant teenagers towards some goal - whether hands on or hands off....

To all the mothers with pre-teens or young teens who are wondering what ever made them think they wanted to procreate....

To all the mothers with small children who are still trying to weather the ups, downs, aches, and discoveries of the emerging child...

To all the mothers with babies who only remember being well rested as a distant, happy state of being...

To all the mothers incubating...our thoughts, prayers, hopes and dreams are incubating with you...

To all the mothers who's children have special needs and special concerns such that their path in life will be unique...

To all the mothers who are raising children by choice despite not having incubated them....

To all the mothers who have lost their children to whatever agency....

I Salute You....

I thank you for being mothers. I thank you for standing as straight and strong as you can. I thank you for doing what you think is right. I thank you for being part of this sisterhood. I thank you for caring, nurturing, yelling, arguing, purchasing, making, holding, crying, hoping, believing, and persevering through the mothering.

Happy Mother's Day to all of the mothers in my life!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Eatin' in St. Louie! - A Gluten Free Journey



I am gluten free.

This is not because I wish to be gluten free.

This is not because I am on some kind of fad diet.

I am gluten free because here, 49 years into my life, I've discovered I am allergic to it.

Alas.





I miss the days when I could eat all the gluten I liked.

Anything with wheat, rye, barley and a host of other things that contain gluten are now verboten.

You might wonder, "How does a traveling storyteller deal with being gluten free?"

Good Question.

The Answer:

Best as I can!

So, while I was here in St. Louis at the Parkway Hotel, I called around and found two amazing gluten free restaurants.




On Thursday we ate at the Wild Flower.



For starters...They have a wonderful, delicious, extensive Gluten Free Menu!

I started with the Lobster Bisque. Oh my, gluten free lobster bisque. In fact, all of their soups are gluten free.

I had the Shepherd's Pie for my main meal!

Lamb braised for five hours with root vegetables on a bed of mashed potatoes.

It was divine.

I finished it off with a fabulous piece of gluten-free flourless chocolate cake.

Do not settle for some restaurant that does not think to offer we gluten free Americans nothing but some ice cream. There is a whole world where you can get the good stuff! The food is divine. You will, however, get what you pay for. A bit of an upscale eating experience...well worth it!







Tonight, Friday, May 6, 2017, we went to the BBQ Saloon which is right across the street from Wild Flower. We went in for a slightly less pricey dinner.









I was too busy eating my bunless burger with garlic greenbeans to get a pic with the pork!


David ordered the pulled pork nachos. He looked to be in heaven as he savored every bite. Alas, my gluten-free readers, we cannot have this incredibly scrumptious dish because the BBQ sauce used for this meal is not gluten free and neither are the chips....









But, have no fear, for this restaurant also offers exceptionally yummy gluten free eats.




I began my meal with the most scrumptious gluten-free cornbread. They have a BBQ sauce that is gluten free...Carolina BBQ sauce and I slathered it on the cornbread. Heaven!


The bunless burger was excellent, and the garlic green beans....there are no words lovely enough for those fresh spears, that excellent crunch, and the fresh garlic...Get to this place and get some grub!


Almost everything on their menu is gluten free with a few exceptions.








They have a big smoker on the sidewalk where they smoke the meats. My friend, Kevin Kulp, would be envious. It makes the whole area smell like...like...well, if you love a good bar-b-que you could just wander around in a circle and be just fine.


I believe intoxicating is the word I seek!








Every part of the cow is used, I'm certain.

These are the seats!


You ever get to St. Louis...I highly recommend both of these delicious places....especially for us gluten intolerant folks!!!





Happy Eating







The Earthquake Button...St. Louis Storytelling Festival.

Leeny Del Seamonds, me, Tim Lowry, Bobby Norfolk, Dovie Thomason, and Angela Lloyd.


I am here in beautiful, and no longer rainy St. Louis, Missouri where the 38th annual Storytelling Festival is happening.

I am having a wonderful time telling with some fabulous tellers. New and old friends are thick on the ground here.






I worked with some eighth graders today.

Two of the girls got bold and came over and told me they liked my stories.

I took a selfie with them.







You want to know how to get a whole bunch of eighth graders to volunteer to take a picture with you? Pick two to take a selfie. Then...






After that, take another. Then...















Voila!









But that isn't even the most fun thing that has happened on this trip.  The most fun thing happened in the elevator.

The David asked me about a button in the elevator. It was a button I had not noticed.







Perhaps you are not seeing the oddity, though I suspect you have. Let me point it out a bit better.












There is an Earthquake button in the elevator.
I have never in all of my life seen an Earthquake button in the elevator.

This brings up all sorts of things.

Who thought this up?
What does it do?
Does pushing it cause earthquakes?
How do you know when to push it?
Is there some alarm that goes off that encourages you to push it?
What would such an alarm sound like?
Does it flash in case of emergencies?

The list of quandaries multiplies the longer I stare at this tantalizing thing.

We asked the young concierge.

He didn't know.

He assures us it will most likely stop the elevator on a floor and let you out.

We asked about the alarm.

He didn't know.

He said he'd check. He still hasn't gotten back to us.


I find myself drawn to this button.

I find myself wanting to make up stories about this button.

I find myself desirous of thinking up other types of buttons one could put in an elevator that might evoke thought in the people who are riding from floor to floor.

What buttons would you put in an elevator?

Inquiring minds really, really want to know.

And how would anybody know to push this button?

Happy Vertical Travel!


***UPDATE***

The young concierge responded to the question of how do we know when to push the earthquake button.

He asked management and they told him, "You really do not want to know."

Ah.

Monday, May 1, 2017

St. Louis Storytelling Festival 2017! May 3 - 6






This is where I will be this weekend!






Brian "Fox" Ellis, Leeny Del Seamonds, Angela Lloyd, Dovie Thomason, Tim Lowry, and myself will be tellin' it at the St. Louis Festival. If you are around...drop in and say "hello!"



Here is a bit of Brian "Fox" Ellis






Here is a bit of Leeny Del Seamonds



Here is a taste of Angela Lloyd




Dovie Thomason will be telling.



Tim Lowry will be doing his thing.






There will be a number of regional tellers as well!

Ahrmantti Ambus, one of the festival’s newest regional tellers, is an imaginative storyteller and actor. Currently a student of Harris-Stowe and the president of the HSSU Players, he seeks to be an entertaining and inspiring figure. He performed in the St. Louis Storytelling Festival’s first GHOST Project concert in 2015.
Mike Anderson is one of the most versatile folk entertainers in the Midwest and is well known among central Illinois traditional music fans. He hosted a national award-winning children’s TV show, created and ran the New Salem Storytelling Festival as well as the Clayville Music and Storytelling Festival, and was recognized as an outstanding Illinois educator as a 3rd grade teacher. He was a featured teller at the St. Louis Storytelling Festival in 1991 and 2005.
Kenya Ajanaku is a dynamic storyteller and drummer who captivates audiences with lively songs, high-energy dances and spellbinding words. Formerly a percussionist with the Katherine Dunham Dance Troupe, Ajanaku weaves these talents into his storytelling. As founder and executive director of Harambee Institute, he teaches children and adults alike in the importance of African history and culture. He was a featured teller in the 2016 St. Louis Storytelling Festival.
Diann Joy Bank is recognized as a master storyteller and educator who loves telling multicultural folk tales and tales of her Jewish heritage. Her high-energy performances combine rhythm, song, movements and, most importantly, audience participation. She nurtures the soul with her stories and believes that everyone can be a storyteller. She was a St. Louis Storytelling Festival featured teller in 1995.
Larry Brown, formerly a professor of geography at the University of Missouri, has been a storyteller for more than 25 years. He co-founded the Mid-Missouri Organization for Storytelling (MOST), centered in Columbia, Mo.. He is also on the board of directors of Storytelling in Higher Education, a special interest group of the National Storytelling Network. Brown performs for all ages and is known for his original Jack Tales and ghost stories, as well as personal, Christmas and medieval stories.
Anthony Clark has shared stories and music across Missouri and beyond for more than 14 years. Songs from his Parents’ Choice Award-winning CD “Coughin’ In Your Coffin — Sing-along Songs for a Smoke-free Planet” are played on the radio in more than 30 states and in several foreign countries, including Ireland. In addition to school and library appearances, Clark has performed live on numerous radio shows, and he has been featured on the nationally syndicated Dr. Demento Radio Show. He teaches college-level courses in business, economics and sustainability, and he’s published numerous articles and short stories.
Gladys Coggswell brings to the stage a wonderful blend of tradition and performance through her stories of the African-American experience in Missouri and folk tales. In June 2009, the University of Missouri Press published her book, “Stories from the Heart — Missouri’s African-American Heritage.” She has been a long-time teller-in-residence at the Mark Twain Museum in Hannibal, Mo. A four-time master storytelling artist in the Missouri Folk Arts Apprenticeship Program, Coggswell was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 2015.
Flavia Everman has been telling stories for the past 20 years or more across the county and internationally. Her focus is on folktales and fairytales as these seem to be the stories that teach a moral or have a specific message for audiences of the past and today. She has told at area schools; festivals, including the St. Louis Renaissance Festival; senior centers; day cares; churches and libraries. She is currently orchestrating a folktale gathering project in Rwanda to help publish and preserve the stories of the country.
Heather Harlan hails from Columbia, Mo., and performs through stories and songs to audiences of all ages. Whether spinning an Irish tale, an African folk fable or an original story, she finds a common chord within listeners and plays that chord with resounding energy, insight and plain old fun. Warmth, animation and audience participation hallmark her performances. Harlan also has completed two recording projects.
Annette Harrison has been a multi-talented storyteller, performer, author and educator for 30 years. She travels throughout the U.S. performing, teaching and giving keynote addresses. Harrison has created two books on storytelling with a third waiting for publishing. She hosted KMOV-TV’s “Gator Tales,” a weekly television program that promotes literacy, personal responsibility and self-esteem through storytelling. Harrison was a St. Louis Storytelling Festival featured teller in 1980, 1988, 1999 and 2009.
Sue Hinkel is a storytelling artist who paints pictures with her words. A storyteller for 35 years, she is a member of the National Storytelling Network (NSN), Gateway Storytellers, River and Prairie Storyweavers, and Riverwind. Hinkel was a recipient of NSN’s Circle of Excellence Award and was also Missouri Art Teacher of the Year. On the faculty at St. Louis Community College–Meramec, she’s a storyteller for all ages and a workshop leader for the young and old.  
Marilyn Kinsella, known as “Taleypo,” is a full-time teller of tales from around the world. She shares her stories with the young and young-at-heart. She tells Native American stories, personal experience stories, Brer Rabbit tales and Midwest folklore. Besides performing at many Illinois and Missouri schools, she has been a featured teller at Cahokia Mounds and several libraries, museums and special events. Kinsella has been telling stories since 1981 throughout the Midwest.
Mike Lockett is a teller of traditional tales in a nontraditional manner, using audience participation, vocal sound effects, dialects, music and more to entertain audiences. An award-winning author as well as a storyteller, he has performed all over the world, most recently in Taiwan. Mike has written nine bilingual children’s books, all written under the name given to him in Taiwan: Miko Yeh Yeh — Grandpa Mike.
Kunama Mtendaji is a native St. Louisan who was influenced by the stories, poems, riddles, rhymes, songs and stories of his parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. He considers it a priority to study and promote the folklore of his surrounding environments, and the source of that folklore, which begins in Africa. These rich oral traditions are presented with the accompaniment of authentic dress, setting, music and dance that span from Africa to the Americas. He was a St. Louis Storytelling Festival featured teller in 1993.
Bobby Norfolk is a master storyteller. His extensive experience includes professional theater and television, an accumulation of 23 years in the performing arts. His distinctive voice immediately captures the listener’s attention, and his imaginative stories produce visual images in the minds of his audience. “I didn’t seek storytelling; it sought me,” he says. He is like an adventure story come to life. Norfolk was a featured storyteller at the St. Louis Storytelling Festival in 1989 and 1999. In October 2009, he received the National Circle of Excellence Oracle Award, an honor presented by the National Storytelling Network.  
Sherry Norfolk, an internationally acclaimed storyteller and teaching artist, is co-author of 2012’s “Social Studies in the Storytelling Classroom,” as well as the award-winning “The Storytelling Classroom: Applications Across the Curriculum” and “Literacy Development in the Storytelling Classroom.” She is an adjunct professor in the integrated arts in learning program at Lesley University. She was a featured teller at the St. Louis Storytelling Festival in 2000, and she just released a new book called “Science with Storytelling.”
Lynn Rubright is the author of “Mama’s Window.” She leads workshops and seminars on the art and power of storytelling in our personal and professional lives. She is the designer of Project TELL and co-founder of St. Louis’ Metro Theater Company. In 2007, she received the National Storytelling Network’s Oracle Award for Lifetime Achievement. Her book “Beyond the Beanstalk: Interdisciplinary Learning Through Storytelling” is an acclaimed resource for teachers and parents.
Dolores Santha, also known as “Grandma Coyote,” is descended from Native American heritage. She has been invited to participate in powwows and gatherings, at schools and educational centers around the country. She has been a police officer, an Indian Center director, an AARP liaison, and has also been a tireless advocate for prisoner rights, having been nominated to be a liaison with Native prisoners in the state of Missouri.  
Crom Saunders is a performer, presenter, writer and teacher. An associate professor and Director of Deaf Studies in the ASL Department at Columbia College, Saunders has also appeared at improv events, The Encyclopedia Show, on the ASL Comedy Tour circuit, and in his own one-man show, ‘Cromania’, which has toured internationally. He’s interpreted plays, theaters and musicals, and teaches ASL Linguistics and Theater classes across the nation.  
Kathy Schottel has been singing stories most of her life. Her storytelling began during her 36-year employment with the St. Louis Public Library. Not only has she been onstage storytelling, but she has also trod the boards in everything from dramas to musicals. This Renaissance woman has dabbled in directing, musical direction, puppetry and trying to play every stringed instrument ever invented. Schottel has one recording out and loves finding obscure humorous songs to sing. She was a featured teller at the St. Louis Storytelling Festival in 1994 and 2010.
Marideth Sisco is a master Missouri storyteller, veteran journalist, teacher, author, musician and student of folklore, who has participated in the Missouri Folk Arts Program Traditional Arts Apprenticeship program as a storyteller. She currently hosts the public radio show “These Ozark Hills” on KSMU-FM, and she spent 20 years as an investigative and environmental writer for the West Plains Quill. She is also well known for her gardening column “Crosspatch,” on which her new book of gardening stories is based. Some may know her best as a music consultant and featured singer in the award-winning feature film “Winter’s Bone.”
Carole Shelton is a storyteller, author and retired educator form St. Louis. She earned a Master’s Degree in Communication from Webster University, and works part-time for the Missouri Humanities Council’s “Read from the Start Program” as a discussion leader. Shelton tells a wide variety of stories and encourages audience participation. Her repertoire includes story songs, folk tales, inspirational and original stories, and she has created first-person narratives of historical women from the African American experience, presented in period costume.
Joyce Slater was born and raised in northeast Kansas City. She attended Central Missouri State University and later received a BSE in art from Emporia State University. She lives in Kansas City with her husband, Bob, and their dog, Gracie. They have two children and six grandchildren. Slater began her professional career as a high school art teacher and also as a private teacher. She has been an artist and actress for most of her life, but she became a full-time and freelance storyteller in 1996.
Perrin Stifel tells stories from the heart. A gifted storyteller known for his unique ability to fill a theater with a magical sense of connection, Stifel began telling stories during his tenure as a counselor in the Ladue Schools. He believes in the healing power of storytelling, sharing humor and tradition. In 1987, he founded and served as executive director of the MO-TELL (Missouri Storytelling) association. With his energetic and fun presentations, he blends just the right mix of warmth and sensitivity to create that wonderful concoction we call storymagic!
Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists’ Collective is a group of St. Louis-based artists from many different disciplines. They bring teens and artists together in documenting their St. Louis community through art, word, video and music. Currently, artists-in-residence at the Kranzberg Arts Center, their programs explore the dynamics of community in St. Louis through tackling issues and topics relevant to their lives. 
Chris Sutton is a talented public speaker, storyteller, actor, re-enactor, voice talent, and living history performer. He has created educational programs for the St. Louis Zoo, National Association of Interpretation, the National Park System, and the Civil War Sesquicentennial Organization. Chris has an intriguing demeanor and a magnetic personality that is unmatched, and his living history programs have been described as "intense and thought-provoking!"   
Deb Swanegan weaves the threads of history, fantasy, work songs, chants, myths and legends into her magical repertoire of traditional and nontraditional oral folklore. She combines her African-American, Cherokee, Jewish and Scots-Irish cultural heritage with her natural abilities to bring life to her stories. A performing actress in the Missouri Repertory Theater and Columbia Entertainment Company’s Chalkboard Theater, Swanegan was a featured storyteller at the St. Louis Storytelling Festival in 2002.
Sandi Sylver first started learning to be a ventriloquist from a library book at age 55. Now an Illinois Arts Council artist and a CAPS Artist of Fairfax County, Va., she has performed in more than 20 states and was a St. Louis Storytelling Festival featured teller in 2015. Although her performance style has been called “totally wacko” (thank you!), at the core of all she presents is the love of reading, of staying curious and being a kind and honorable person. All of her vent puppets are made of fabric and have soft faces – not a Chuckie-type in the bunch!
Ric Vice has been telling stories to kids for more than 19 years as an elementary librarian.  He loves telling stories that use laughter and morals to give kids a message that they can take home. He brings his background as a professional jazz musician to enliven his stories with sound and movement. Vice currently works with children, as a Springboard Artist, in both St. Louis County and City.
Jim "Two Crows" Wallen, a Missouri native, is an award-winning freelance oral historian who combines his love of history with a good story to keep audiences spellbound. As the oldest son of an oldest son, Wallen grew up in a rich heritage of storytelling. He is the fourth of six generations of storytellers, which includes his daughter, Cristi Rose, and three grandchildren. He has been sharing stories for 30 years, averaging more than 300 performances per year, to capture audiences spanning four continents. He was a featured storyteller at the St. Louis Storytelling Festival in 1998 and 2004.
Marilyn Sue Warren became aware of the power of storytelling during her nursing career, when she began incorporating stories and myths into her practice with the realization that stories can change people where facts can’t. She participated in the festival’s “New Voices” program at the 2015 St. Louis Storytelling Festival, and is a regular participant at Second Tuesdays storytelling gatherings in St. Louis. This will be her first appearance as a regional teller at the festival.
Loretta Washington is a master storyteller, multipurpose workshop presenter and author. She uses voices and animations to paint the pictures that bring her characters to life, and weaves her delightful tales in such a way that makes audiences feel like part of her story. She has traveled to Europe and several other countries and has incorporated some of the customs, lifestyles and mannerisms of these countries into her stories, and is equally at home sharing stories of her childhood in the Missouri Boot Heel. Washington has been both an apprentice and a master artist in the Missouri Folk Arts Apprenticeship Program.
Carol Watkins has more than 20 years of experience as a classroom teacher incorporating music, stories, props and puppets to captivate and interact with her audience. Her energetic and upbeat presentations connect with any age group. Watkins is dramatic and uses many character voices. She is as fun to watch as she is to hear. A writer with published articles in magazines, she has also served as a consultant and a curriculum writer. For the past twelve years, Watkins has been a professional storyteller for children and adults.
Greg Weiss tells stories and presents workshops around the Midwest and beyond. His story sources include world folklore, poetry, his large family and an overactive imagination. His performance background also includes theater and rock ‘n’ roll. In his spare time, he teaches middle school. Weiss is a contributing author to two popular books on storytelling for young people. On the board of the Northlands Storytelling Network, he received the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award from the Illinois Humanities Council for his efforts.
Angela Williams is a professional storyteller who has traveled to many schools and libraries leaving audiences spellbound. She adds drumming to her storytelling, and she is an Artist as Teacher and a Community Scholar through the Missouri Folk Arts Program. She obtained a degree in Elementary Education from Harris-Stowe State University, and believes stories serve many functions in our day-to-day lives, including serving as the key to the ability for people to think more positively about themselves and others.  
Ken Wolfe has long been telling tales, fake realities and outright prevarications to his captive audiences. His outlandishly whimsical narratives, peppered with sound effects and almost-accurate dialects, have amused middle school scholars by the thousands for nearly 23 generations of graduates. Wolfe has also performed his narrative lies for both the gullible and the skeptical in museums, camps, churches, cemeteries, caves, businesses and homes. All of his stories are completely true, by the way, at least as far as you know. Honest.
Jackie and Papa Wright tell high-energy folk tales with dynamic sound effects and music. Their stories range from multicultural and animal tales to fables and inspirational stories. Their listeners get to participate in the percussion and the stories. They were St. Louis Storytelling Festival featured tellers in 2006, and they have been regional tellers since 1998.
LaRita Wright, from University City, has worked at the University City Public Library for 20 years. For about 10 of those years, “Mrs. W” has been the library’s storyteller — known to the thousands of children who have passed through her tales. She will delight you with fanciful tales of old and new. Her storytelling features stories, songs and rhymes of animals that are appropriate for young listeners. She enjoys seeing children using their imagination while listening to a story. Wright’s stories are designed appropriately for each audience or based on themes.
Karen Young believes her storytelling appeals to the “young at heart and ancient in spirit.” Her vivid character portrayals from history and folklore, as well as stories told in the voices from many lands and times, entertain and educate all audiences anywhere. A professional storyteller since 1992, Young has been featured at storytelling events throughout Midwest and is a storytelling and writing artist with Springboard to Learning/Young Audiences of St. Louis and the Center of Contemporary Art (COCA). She was a featured storyteller at the St. Louis Storytelling Festival in 2007.


Oh, and I will be there too.




See You This Weekend!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Listening With Love: A Fun TBT Post About Communicating

This was originally posted in July of 2014.

The Casa Rosada.  Eva Peron's old home


I had a great tour through Argentina.  Though I was there for storytelling, I got a chance to see some neat stuff and learn some cool things.


The cemetery at Recoleta.  Eva Peron's current home









I saw Eva Peron's old house, The Casa Rosada, and I went to see where she was buried. 

I have been obsessed with this woman's life since my best friend, Melanie, introduced me to the Musical Evita when I was an undergrad at Northwestern. Walking these streets was so much fun!





 

Patti Lupone singing Evita from the original broadcast recording.



I spent almost an entire day at La Recoleta Cemetery where the dead are entombed in elaborate little houses, shrines, and some exotic looking little cathedrals. It was a city of the dead.







I saw my first ever Patagonian Mara.
Looks sort of like a cross between a rabbit and a small pig.  Wildest looking rodent ever.











Almost every street corner in Recoleta looks like something out of an art book!






I some amazing architecture.


















Spent about thirty minutes in a small museum completely dedicated to toilets.
















Here is one of the houses of the dead in La Recoleta. They are just fantastic!





Of course, most of my time was spent telling stories!

I spent hours with audiences who displayed various levels of English from proficient to non-existent.  Each and every show brought its own challenges and triumphs.


I enjoyed talking to the kids afterward as they attempted to be brave enough to chance a question in English.  I ventured a few words in Spanish, and I learned that the Argentines have different words than what I’d learned in other parts of the Spanish-speaking world.

All in all, it was a great learning experience and a great deal of fun.

The biggest problems I had when it came to communication did not come from the Argentines, but from my translator who was from New Zealand. 


Frank was a great tour manager


I always expect that I will understand him since we mostly speak the same language, but those New Zealanders have a very negligent relationship with consonant sounds, and they - or at least Frank - run towards the nasally. 

What this means is that occasionally Frank would say something and I would be lost as to what it was.  It was particularly bad if the word was at the end of a sentence.  I would wait a moment and try to guess what he’d said by using context.  Once, when he'd had a long morning, and I'd just finished two shows, he told me we had time to stop at a stawus if we liked.  Baffled, I turned that over in my head and requested he tell me again what we should do, (thinking he had perhaps lapsed into Spanish).  He said it again, stawus.  When I still couldn't figure it out, he put on his fake American accent and said this.




He was always overly amused at my lack of ability to work out his mutterings.


My favorite example of confusion had nothing to do with my inability to understand him.  In fact, I heard him just fine and still, communication didn’t happen.

We were having breakfast my first Friday in country, and discussing a party we’d gone to the night before.  I'd met the staff of DreamOn Storytelling Productions, the company that hired me to come to Argentina. 

Frank was talking about one of the women with whom I’d spent a good deal of the evening. 

He said, “Sylvia sells China.”

My brain latched onto that phrase and created an entire universe of images that assaulted me with their randomness as I tried to fit them into what I knew of the quiet woman I’d met eleven hours earlier.


It was a bizarre non-sequitur in the midst of our conversation about the dinner.  Why would he say such an odd thing, why do I care if she has a side job, and how does he even know this useless bit of information?  I suddenly saw Sylvia with a valise wherein she had lots of pictures of porcelain plates, saucers, and cups. 

I recalled that I'd bought a tea set when we were together in Hong Kong. Maybe that's why he told me this.  

I had a wild notion that he thought I might be in the market for more dishes.  This all took place in a matter of seconds because his next sentence was…

“Kiki sells Korea.”


Ah, then I got it.  Sylvia spends her day phoning schools in China and convincing them to book a DreamOn artist into their school.   

He means this:



Not this:




So, here I am, sitting in a Spanish speaking country in the midst of a cafĂ© where I'm not doing such a terrible job reading the menu despite it being in a different language, and the only person I can’t seem to comprehend is the fellow sitting across from me who is speaking a brand of the English language that’s not too different from my own.

Communication is hard.  Misunderstandings are common.  Patience is necessary.

Is it any wonder people who disagree can’t find common ground?  Is it any wonder people who have been traditional enemies hear insults where none exist?  Is it any wonder a fighting couple always assumes their partner is picking at them?  The list of communication problems that we build between us could go on forever!


We only hear what we think we hear, not necessarily what somebody said.

I guess it all depends on the story you find yourself in with the person at hand.  Perhaps we should try to hear with more care and listen with more love.  

Yes, that sounds good, but I'll bet it won't help me understand Frank the next time he asks me if I want some awtha.



Happy Communicating!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Stone Soup Festival - April 21 - 23rd 2017!

Once, three soldiers were coming back from the war.

They stopped in a small town. The people in the little village were quite selfish. They saw these soldiers and they came out of their homes and told them to move along because there was nothing at all to eat in the whole village.

The soldiers called all of the people to the village square and told them that they felt bad that the entire village was starving so they would make food for them.

The villagers were interested.

The soldiers dug a small pit in the ground, put wood in it and asked for a large cauldron filled with water. They lit a fire under the huge pot.

"When we didn't have enough to eat," said one of the soldiers, "our lieutenant would make stone soup."

One of the soldiers produced a large stone and dropped it into the pot. The people were very excited. They watched the water boil.

"Stone soup is delicious, but it would be better with some carrots."

"I might have some carrots," said one woman.

As she went to get the carrots another person offered potatoes.

Well, you know how this story goes. Everyone thought of something they could add to the soup, and soon a delicious fragrance filled the square.

Everyone brought bowls, and they ate until every soul was satisfied and every stomach was full.

The soldiers left after being given warm beds for the night, and an ample breakfast in payment for the delicious meal they'd prepared the night before.

As they moved away from the town they searched around until they found another large stone.

This weekend, Woodruff, SC will host the Stone Soup Festival.

Each teller will bring a little something to the feast, and hopefully, by Sunday night, every soul will be amply filled.

See you this weekend!

Happy Telling -