Mystery Writing is Murder is a new blog I stumbled across this morning. I was so taken with the first post on how oral storytelling fits into her life as a writer and as a mom that I flipped back a couple of weeks and found out that she is writing her mystery novels near my own home town - Charlotte, NC. - and get this, she was born in Anderson, SC - home of Keaslers, Elrods, Howards and Moores. Can't resist such a serendipity. For writers her blog roll is a rich resource.
This time every year I itch to buy notebooks, pens and folders for school.
Travelin Oma is offering everybody that chance with her 12 week writing seminar - which started today. I have been waiting anxiously for her to post the first "class notes". I knew it would be good - and it is.
Check it out. Join the fun - and start writing. The prompts and suggestions fit for storytellers as well. We all want to tell a story. Hope to see you sitting across from me.
First Day Assignment: Write the title of a memoir you might write.
"The Sink Drains Up".
Blinded by the title, I walked blithely into being president of a small art college having little idea of what lay ahead. I expected to meet some challenges... and I did. However the day I walked into the sculpture studio and discovered that the clogged sink drained UP I realized I had jumped into the deep-end - and remembered - I can't swim.
And don't miss the way Granny Sue turns a family story into a romantic legend and then tops it with a surprise twist - family reconnections across an ocean.
On the Road
Recently Jim and I spent some time exploring the local area near our place outside Gettysburg.
The reading room in the new Biglerville, PA Library is so inviting - large, airy, light-filled room. Completely wi-fied. Calls out to you to come and sit a spell. The library is part of the Adams County Library System.
We stopped in to watch the craftswoman demonstrating wheat-weaving. Just missed her. But will definitely make it for the Lacemaking demonstration on September 5.
The series of special Saturday events is part of the celebration of the 100th birthday of the Thomas Brothers Country Store. The Country Store has a long-interesting history which includes being a favorite of the Eisenhowers when they were in-residence at their near-by farm.
This area is in the heart of the PA apple industry. After exploring the Library we drove down the way to the National Apple Museum. Its one of the best "attic museums" I have ever investigated. We watched a very informative film produced by the Apple Growers and U. Penn about the apple industry. Let me tell you successfully growing apples is way more complicated that being Johnny Appleseed.
Hollabaugh's Orchard Store on the Carlisle Road is a must stop for us whenever we are at our place. For a long time it was my landmark so that I did not miss the next right turn - our road.
We have been eating PA peaches from Hollabaughs Orchards in Biglerville all week. And they are deeee-licious. Jim filled a large cloth bag to the brim and mixed the varieties. I partcularly love mixing white peaches with the familiar yellow.
Notre Dame Cathedral
One of my favorite photos. Talk about hot. An August sweltering day when even the usually cool interior could not protect the candles.
On the Road
Called National Media Services first thing this morning to to check on my CD delivery. Yes. Shipped on time. Scheduled for delivery this afternoon. TIP: Follow-up. Don't leave your plan to chance. A follow-up phone call can often forestall big head-aches.
On the road to Jonesborough
- - today marks 37 days until I step on a stage at the National Storytelling Festival for the first time - for real. What a serendipity - for a nod to Patti Digh of 37 Days blog.
Every year I have told stories in the Festival Story Swap Tent but my dream has been to one day step out on a stage in one of the big tents to tell one of my stories.
This year I have that opportunity. If you are in Jonesborough for the Festival you will find me at Exchange Place on Friday October 2 . If you are going to be there please let me know. I will be looking for smiling, friendly faces.
Exchange Place allots each teller time to tell one story - - 12 minutes. Not a lot of time... but it feels like an important 12 minutes to me.
Now there is a road to go before those fun 12 minutes.
All storytellers know that it takes more that stepping in front of a mic.
Last year I blogged throughout the storytelling festival. This year I thought I'd share my road to Jonesborough, too. And it starts with this post.
Meeting deadlines. Lists, Lists, Lists
Lists are always the key for me. First I think through all the prep needed and the deadlines connected with them. Then I make the plan with a calendar in hand. Starting at the end and working backwards to the start of the plan to be sure that I don't leave out anything or leave anything until the last minute.
As I look forward to going to Jonesborough, October 2 is the over-all target date - but there is lot to do between now and then. Today I am working on CD numbers.
The festival's Marketplace will sell my CDs but its up to me to provide inventory. I have to ship the CDs September 1 to meet the Festival deadline - 3 weeks ahead of the festival.How many CDs to send is up to me. Today I'm counting my CDs on hand and watching for the UPS truck. I ordered more CDs 10 days ago. With luck they will arrive tomorrow as expected.
The question is - How many CDs should I send. The festival sells on commission and the unsold inventory belongs to the tellers at the end of the Festival.
So here's what's on my mind as I count the CDs - the down economy, my up-front inventory costs and the big question - - the number of sales likely for a 12 minute teller?
What do you think? How many CDs would you send?
Did you know?
Today is Women's Equality Day
Let's Not Forget
Comments by Jennifer McCleod, National Coordinator of the ERA Network.
AFTER ALMOST 90 YEARS OF FIGHTING FOR THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT, WOMEN ARE STILL NOT INCLUDED IN THE CONSTITUTION OFTHE UNITED STATES. Under our US Constitution, the women of America continue to be denied fully equal rights with male citizens, simply because the founding fathers elected to grant full citizens' rights only to men. It took many decades of struggle for women to win, in 1920, just one right -- the right to vote -- nothing more. Many forms of sex discrimination continued, and still continue. While laws outlawing some forms of sex discrimination have been passed since then, those laws can and often are ignored, weakened, or overturned, forcing women and their advocacy organizations to spend much of their time, energy and resources simply trying to maintain past gains. This injustice will continue until our Constitution is amended to state that citizens of both sexes are guaranteed equal rights under the law. The Equal Rights Amendment, "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex," will accomplish that aim, and will remain a major goal of women's rights advocates until it is accomplished. Jennifer S. Macleod, Ph.D., ERA Campaign Network
Website http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?et=1102681183086&s=844&e=001q9sJ4MS0faIbjgW4ulDWvUWHBLDzdADDCYm7IuRqvZBbniv6uaTUSNMZ5P7fKT45f7tFvYsuGSQc_r9seucRxSfyx80ceaGqmWHEa2goihlEtRj0nY8K8g==Contact: JSMacleod@aol.com OR mailto:ERACampaign@aol.com
Grandparents. Yesterday my friend Jennie sent me a list of kids' sayings and observations about grandparents . Jim and I are long-distance grand-parents. We have logged a peck of sky miles to visit our grandsons who live on the West Coast so this one was just too true.
A 6-year-old was asked where his grandma lived. "Oh," he said, "she lives at the airport, and when we want her, we just go get her.. Then, when we're done having her visit, we take her back to the airport."
When Robin and family moved to San Francisco they lived in a furnished transit apartment while they were waiting to get into their new house. Jim and I went out to help with the children while Robin managed the move. We stayed at the Embassy Suites Hotel where we had room to have the kids over, take them for breakfast, eat fresh poppped popcorn in the lobby every afternoon and watch the fish in a huge in-door fish pond. After we flew home Scotty, the youngest , then about three, pointed out the hotel and told his mother, "I want to go and see Weezie and Grandpa at their house." How I wished it was that simple.
When I was growing up we always lived within walking distance of both grandmothers. I was closest to Granny - that's what I called my mother's mother. When I started school we lived one block and two houses from Granny and I could walk - by myself - to her house anytime I wanted to. I loved that - and so did she. Or if she didn't she never let on to me.
I loved being with her - sitting and listening to her programs on the radio, or riding to the grocery store. Going downtown to shop with her was a real adventure and it seemed to me on those occasions that my grandmother knew everybody in Charlotte because she spoke to them all on the street and in the stores. We played rummy and she let me bang on my aunt's piano. Some times she even let me explore the storage house by my self. we snapped beans and shelled peas and often I watched her make biscuits and mix up a cake - all from scratch. And, she talked to me. I don't remember what we talked about - I just remember that we talked and it was good.
Jim and I both left our home towns to make our fortunes and so our children did not live near either set of grandparents. I was disappointed for them that they did not have that close relationship with grandparents. Jim's parents in California did not travel and air fares for five were too expensive for our pocketbooks until the kids were in elementary school. We flew out when Jimmy and Karen were babies and I was pregnant with Robin. And then not again until all were in late elementary school.
My mother was just forty when my first child was born. She was excited and I think she wanted to embrace grand-parenting but before she had a chance to try it she had another baby and was back into mothering a new baby of her own. She got side-tracked from grandchildren. We lived far away and its hard to be a long distance grand parent when you have a baby on your knee.
Looking back I wish I had been wise enough to adopt grandparents for them - grandparents who lived next door or one block and two houses away. If anyone asks me that's the advice I would give them. That must be how the "old-time" settlers re-familied themselves when they moved west for better land to farm or new opportunities.
Today technology helps to bridge distances . We can talk on the cell phone from anywhere, use Skype and see the kids as we talk to them, email, or write blogs. But it cannot replace having someone who is part of your daily life, some one to share a cup of coffee or someone to hold your hand on a hard day.
So I say - - adopt. Grow your family.
Granny's Storage House
Gallery 10 , Washington, DC
Its fun to gather memories into an idea.
My grand mother had a storage house on the back end of her garage. She stored out of season items and all sorts of other stuff in that magical place.
I loved the summer day when Granny and John cleaned it out. They took everything out. It looked like a neighborhood yard sale but it was all Granny's and every bit went back in once the place was swpt and dusted and hosed out. To a five year old every bit of it was treasure. That was the start of my fascination with other people's belongings.
2. Sharing an old-time summer supper -fried chicken, corn on the cob, a platter of red luscious slices of locally grown tomatoes, black-eyed pea salad and hot biscuits - with a good friend. Ann
arrived bearing peach dumplings and ice cream for dessert. We have not seen Ann since we visited her in Paducah last October when I was telling stories at the Grand Rivers Storytelling Festival. We had LOTS to talk about.
3. A bit of time traveling.
All the pictures on my Mac are several years old because I don't upload new ones to this computer . For some reason I have trouble working with the photo files on my Mac - so this morning I decided to brave that frustrating wilderness again. Opened up in IPhoto and found lots of memories waiting for me.
We saw these singing seals on a Central California
beach near Hearst Castle two years ago when we were out for Christmas. Those were sweet days. And we are looking forward to being there again this coming December - when Jimmy and his family will be there also. A full family holiday at Avila Beach. That's 121 days from now - but who is counting?
When I mentioned Sally, someone Ann and I know, she was reminded of a time when Sally and her husband lived in Ireland. Which brought up stories of her trip to Ireland. Which led to Jim and I telling a few bits about our trip to Ireland. You know how those games of conversation go. So this morning I had fresh memories when I came upon this picture of Jim and me at Dublin Castle.
I had a particular reason for wanting to see Dublin Castle.
I have a handwritten note from my Daddy's grndfather, John Walter Cobb saying: "my mother Catherine Lonergan Cobb was born in Dublin Castle." Everyone I asked about it when we were in Ireland shook their heads doubtfully. "maybe her mother lived below-stairs" I suggested. Even that was doubted. And I did not have enough information or time to research further. That's how it goes with family history. Checking you sometimes lose the myth - but maybe digging would give me an even better story. At least now I am in the story.
I often talk about using photos as story prompts. You see me do it as I write this blog. You can read my talk about that in an article which is published on Storyteller.net.
But there are other ways to time travel - to touch base with other moments of your life.
Recovered these drawings when I was
cleaning out my studio recently.
I love to doodle with colored sharpies.
Photos are not the only way to remember a moment in time. These drawings were done in Pa. Looking at them I know when and where and a bit about how I was feeling that day.
It was hot. I was sitting in the den looking across an expanse of fields toward South Mountain where Lee led his troops into Gettysburg.
I try always to draw at least three sketches at one sitting so that I have a more complete look at the way I am selecting colors, lines and shapes. Three tells more about my mood and feelings of the moment. Is it any wonder artists hold onto sketch books and their works, finished and unfinished for years - each is a moment in time.
If I needed titles for these I would call them Landscapes, 1, 2 and 3 - but don't be fooled - I would be talking about my inner landscape.
Its a good thing to remember when you are looking at any art work - much of the meaning is private - the meaning you give it comes from you.
A good art teacher always asks the artist - what did you intend here - before they start telling them what to do - to fix it.
You know - like life!
Two happy events in the family today
Chris and Ariel
Today is their wedding day. Wishing them every happiness.
Happy Birthday, Kathy.
Hope blessings and hugs fill your day.
PS: If we ever have a doppelganger contest for Daddy my money is on this grandson.
Do you have look-alikes in your family? We surely do in our grandson Dan. He is a red-haired copy of Jim at the same age. Jim's older brother called last week. "Robin and her boys are here." I told him. "Did that other little Jimmy come? I knew he meant Danny and we laughed. I knew he was remembering Jim at the same age.
Thinking about Kathy - do you have a favorite birthday? From childhood or after? I have a number that stand out for me. The most romantic surprise was on my birthday in 2003 in Venice when Jim took me to Flavins on San Marco Piazza for high tea.
Thinking about Chris and Ariel on their wedding day - I was delighted by Travelin Oma today as she tells her "love story". Isn't that lovely? Have you ever thought of your courtship, your marriage, your life with someone as your "love story." It is all in how one approaches the story isn't it?
The museum is located in a sad building on the Campus of Walter Reed Medical Center, behind the hospital. This is way out Georgia Avenue and not easily accessible so people do not flock to it. We live about 20 minutes from it so it was an easy trip for us and perfect considering our time pressures.
The exhibit would take us further in understanding the history and evolution of methods used to identify remains.
And then there is the getting it back together. I didn't write about our "surprise" sightseeing because I cannot find my camera - the good camera, mind you - so the pictures are missing. I am searching. I have called in St. Anthony and I am hoping, ala Mr. Micawber, that "the camera will turn up."
I am retracing all my steps. Yes, yes, I know when I used it last - when we dropped Robin and the boys off at Dulles. It was in front seat of the van. We came straight home. My fear is that it tumbled in with the trash. Yesterday was the pick-up.
I am sorry about the camera, yes - but I can get another one. Its a loss you can throw money at and heal. Its the pictures that I am really worried about. They cannot be replaced.
AH - Do you believe it! Jim just this minute walked in waving my camera. He found it in a plastic bag downstairs!!!!
Saint Anthony to the rescue!.
I have more stories to tell. We finished off the sightseeing with a surprise find that is quite moving. I will write about that later today. Robin is telling her stories of the trip on 93 Words.
We had a great day for our trip to Ford's Theater.
Its located on a quiet block of downtown Washington, DC where modern day high rise buildings tower over narrow historic row-houses and the reconstructed theater where Abraham Lincoln was shot April 14, 1865.
After a brief wait in line we can enter the newly re-done museum in the basement of the theater where carefully planned exhibits tell the story of the period and of the plot and day that John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Lincoln.
This is the "Show Stopper" - - the gun that John Wilkes Booth used to shoot Abraham Lincoln.
I was particularly interested in the panels which showed profiles of the members of the conspiracy as this was a new inclusion in the exhibits and widened the story.
The shop is filled with all things Lincoln. I bought inexpensive and easily packable pencils as a souvenir for each of the kids. I wanted them to remember the day and more to remember me telling them that they descend from Tunis Hood, NC pioneer, and that "all the direct descendants of Tunis Hood are kinsman of Abraham Lincoln." (page 351, The Tunis Hood Family Book) You know you have to chose your teachable moments.
A nice day for standing in line. And, standing in line is time for talking.
But the very best part
was that whatever we were doing
We were together.
We laughed and talked and talked.
We can't all be together often but when we are we make it
Marking this visit - our grand kids together. Last time Juliana towered over them all. There has been a role-reversal with Jamie topping the pyramid and Danny just behind.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT Last night while the grandkids were gathered here they were looking for a game to play. "Check the plastic tub in my studio", I offered, telling my grand-daughter where I keep my stash of precious savings. A bit later she came back, empty-handed and laughing, "that's a museum of games. Nothing worth playing." And, the others laughed too.
I did not laugh. I listened and took note. What's the message?
This morning I woke up envisoning a new art work - an assemblage which somehow incorporates the pieces of those relics - those games that have out-lived their newness. Perhaps wrapped in a heavy black plastic bag.
Doll Table at a Flea Market in Nice, France
Three Beautiful Things
1. Being at a meeting this morning with a room filled by wise women who share their wisdom.
2. Lunch with my artist friend Pat. We have been having lunch together on Tuesdays at a funky Tea Room in Kensington for more than five years. We talk about art and movies and anything else that comes up. We know each other well. Its good time.
3. After lunch I wandered the shops in Kensington for a while on my own - perusing the old treasures in the Antiques Market. Looking for prompts - things that could prod my memory for new stories. The Northlands Storytelling Journal was in the mail when I arrived at home. Proud to have my article on Using Photos as Story Prompts included in this issue.
A rose for Juliana on her birthday.