Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wildacres Fall Gathering

The Wildacres Conference Center, in Little Switzerland, NC is situated near the Blue Ridge Parkway. It sits atop the mountain; Pompey’s Knob, at 3300 feet elevation and is one of my favorite get-a-ways. While attending the Wildacres Fall Gathering at the end of October, I was greatly inspired by meeting and talking with various artists there– painters, potters, quilters, musicians, and writers, just to name a few. The mountain is constantly filled with lots of energy during this week. My goal was rewriting and learning several Appalachian legends for two upcoming programs I had booked. I also wrote a family story that was percolating in the back of my mind.

I can say that what I accomplished has certainly paid off in the past couple of weeks. These new stories were applied during several storytelling events. I anticipate that they will continue to be added to the list of my favorite stories to tell.

Winds blew in a big surprise the first evening and the next day at Wildacres – snow, beautiful snow. Brrrrh, but it was so cozy to sit before a huge glowing fire in the fireplace of the lodge. Though most of the snow blew further down the mountain, it was still snowing with a beautiful “dusting” on the ground, a delight to see the following morning.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Memories of Grandpa

I recently visited a man who lives in my hometown. We grew up on nearby farms. I could stand in my front yard and see his house. During this visit we were remembering old times when he told me a little story about my grandpa. As he told the story, it was as if I could see it happening.

After going to bed that night, I revisited his story.

So that you will understand the story more clearly, allow me to give a little more background. Grandpa was a retired farmer, still working on the farm. He had worked with animals all of his life, especially cows and horses. He was considered such an expert in his day that he was known as the local neighborhood veterinarian.

By the time I was born, he neither drove nor owned a car. There was a little country store exactly one mile from our house. This is where all the farmers gathered to talk about important matters and catch up on the neighborhood gossip. Grandpa usually walked to the store and back about once a day. (We always called it “The Store.”) When the day’s work was done, even more farmers tended to gather there after supper. So, often grandpa just had to go again to be sure he didn't miss anything. He’d have Daddy to take him.

Here’s where the rest of the story falls into place. Clint reminisced about the times that Grandpa would ride his horse to “The Store.” I had forgotten that he occasionally rode his horse, rather than walk.

He said, “I can remember your grandpa riding his horse, a sorrel (light reddish-brown), down to ‘The Store.’ When he got ready to go home, he came out the door where the horse was waiting. Your grandpa was probably close to 80 years old then. He'd walk over to the horse and tap him on the shoulder. The horse would kneel down beside him and wait patiently for him to get on. Then he’d get up and they’d head for home.”

I was totally blown by this little story. But - what else should I have expected from “the neighborhood veterinarian,” a man who knew all about horses!”

I have learned to keep my ears tuned in for stories. Anytime I hear little bits and pieces of a story, especially about older family members, I make a point to write them down. It’s added to my collection of story “quilt” pieces. I hope one day I will have just enough for a new story or two.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Busy Summer

I realize that I haven’t taken time to blog this summer. It has been a busy time for me – researching and developing a storytelling program I have booked this winter, keeping up with storytelling workshops and festivals, photographing nature in my own flower garden, and “working out” at the fitness center.

I attended Dianne Hackworth’s Wild Week at the Wildacres Conference Center during the first week in July. This was a fun week of meeting new storytellers, networking with one another, learning, working on our storytelling skills and videotaping. Leaders, Dianne and David Joe Miller led a fantastic workshop.

These past couple of weeks I have been busy gathering articles and calendar items for the Journal of Tar Heel Tellers. JTHT is the North Carolina Storytelling Guild’s official newsletter that I have been editor of for eight years. Editing and laying out the journal continues to be a learning process. Each issue is a new challenge. And I never know how it will look until it’s actually published.

I recently ran into six of my old high school classmates. Since visiting with them, bits and pieces of stories are jogging my memory. I hope that once my mind and fingers begin to work together, I’ll have another new story to tell.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What a Week for Storytelling!

Wow! Last week followed by this past weekend was filled with interesting storytelling adventure. April 21st was the day I had set aside to review my plans for a program I was scheduled to present in Jamestown, NC the following evening. Instead,I spent most of the morning away from home. I received a call from the Hickory Daily Record wanting to have an interview with me on this day. They were planning to write an article about a local storytelling festival in my area and wanted to interview one of the storytellers. Guess I got lucky, so of course, I said, "Yes."

It was, after all, fun talking about my "love of storytelling." We talked for over an hour. The article hasn't yet appeared and who knows what will actually end up in the newspaper. I was a bit nervous because the gracious reporter also wanted to video a short story. It's somewhat difficult for me to tell a story without having an audience in front of me, as the audience pulls on my adrenalin and helps to activate my animation.

The following evening I made my trip over to Jamestown and had a great time sharing my program; We Have Stories to Tell: Family and Personal Stories. I always look forward to hearing audience members talk about their stories; or the fact that they never realized that they were sharing stories as they interact with family, friends or co-workers. This sort of information always surfaces as my program comes to the discussion session. And often, little tidbits of wisdom and stories are shared after our discussion is "officially" over.

This past weekend (April 26-27th) was especially exciting. I spent the weekend at the Storytelling Festival of Carolina in Laurinburg, NC. This festival is in its second year and was well attended. Excitement was everywhere. Many folks came from out of town. I ran into friends from other parts of the state and even from South Carolina and Virginia. I had the occasion to serve as an Emcee. What an honor to introduce nationally traveled performers as well as regional tellers. We couldn't have asked for a more perfect audience! Even a falling tree and a downpour of hard rain couldn't have put a "damper" on the excitement of the listeners and participants!

Remember that each of us is filled with a treasure trunk of stories.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Signs of Spring

Signs of springtime are everywhere as I look outside. It’s very refreshing to see reviving fields, lawns and pastures. Even forests are alive with Bradford pear trees covered in white blossoms. The other day as I drove down the road, it appeared as though snow had selectively fallen on the pear trees alone. I found it quite breathtaking!

I am being inspired with new and fresh ideas to include in my storytelling repertoire. Last week new letters and fliers were mailed to promote my storytelling offerings. Just yesterday an idea for a new song came to mind as I reviewed plans for this year’s Summer Reading Programs. As you can see ideas are sprouting forth just like springtime.

You may go to the main page of my website, scroll down the “yellow text boxes” (left hand side of screen), and click on FREE CONSULTATION to contact me for booking your program. Once you include all pertinent information, you must go to the bottom of the page. Click on the gray “send” box in order for your message to reach me.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Start of a New Year - 2008

I begin a brand new year with much excitement, wondering what new things it will bring. I look back over the past year and cherish many fresh experiences, some through my storytelling travels and some of them personal. No matter what we do or where we go, there is always a later time to reflect upon them and discover many rich stories. Maybe you are saying, “But I’m not a storyteller.” Whether you are aware of it or not, each one of us is a storyteller. Maybe it isn't in the sense of ‘standing on a stage’ telling stories to a crowd, but we do share stories about our own experiences every day, whether it is with a family member, a co-worker, a committee member or a close friend.

In 2007 I traveled across North Carolina and into South Carolina telling stories. Several times I also traveled up and down the east coast from Atlantic City, New Jersey to Tampa, Florida. The year was filled with many interesting experiences that are too numerous to mention. I will, however, mention two of my most exciting storytelling opportunities.

I was invited to be an after-dinner speaker at The Lifelong Access Libraries Leadership Institute in August at Chapel Hill, NC and I was asked to present my We Have Stories to Tell program for the Friends of the Library at the Ashe County Public Library, West Jefferson, NC in September. It was a privilege to be invited by these two organizations to share some of my stories. As it so often happens, I think I gained more from the experience than they did. The more energy I expend in my work the more blessings I seem to receive.

I offer programs for a wide variety of ages, groups and organizations. Take a look at my website at I can adapt my programs to fit your individual need. Schedule your booking now before my calendar fills up.