Saturday, August 18, 2007

Never a Farewell

Though there have not been posts for a few days, I still intend to read the messages and reply sometimes. I do always post on my own blog every 1st and 15th of the month so I would be honored to hear from you that way, too.

I am officially in Utah back with Casey so I am getting back to the rhythm of things. In 12 days will be the 18th Annual Timpanogos Storytelling Festival in Orem, UT. I noticed that for the 2nd Annual Timpanogos Storytelling Conference, our professor--David Novak--will be one of the two national tellers presenting.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
(801) 870-5799

Last Post

Well team tellers, I have check thissite for several days and there have been no new posts or comments. Consequently, I will not be back. I will keep all of you on my list and wish each of you well. Sooooooooo Longggggggg.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Back in ND

Hi, Ya'All,
It is Tuesday afternoon and I had a chance to sit down and write a quick note to let everyone know I am back home. I am going through that readustment phase, that is hard to explain to anyone who has not ever left their state for a summer. Aaron had kept up everything on the home front. The garden looks great and the house was clean, even the laundry was done. I am all unpacked, tonight when Aaron gets off work we will spend some quality time together freezing corn. Tomorrow I am off to meet with the other 1st grade teachers to sort out our new school supplies and reading books. i will find out if my boxes have been moved and if I can get into my new room to set up for the school year. I had a relaxing day at home, after our return from Fargo. Kyle had his wisdom teeth removed. He is doing great! Although he is a tough patient, he argued with the nurse when she needed to use the wheel chair to take him down to the car, and he argues with me about taking the pain medication and antibiotics. He said, after playing hockey this is nothing. Just makes you want to play hockey, Right!!!! We had a fun trip back with a little time to see a few things on the way back, like Opryland, The arches in St. Louis, and the KC Royals stadium and the KC Chiefs Arrowhead stadium. We got to Vermillion, SD by about 5:00 Tues, night. We were pleased that we were making such good time. Then our quick stop at our daughter, AJ's turned into aout a 4 hour stop, so we didn't get home until after 1:30 a.m. It made for a short night with Aaron working on Wed. and me taking sister-in-law Sarah back to Fargo for her to get her car and start across the state to her home in western ND. I have one story to tell on them...we were on our way to Jonesborough to hear Barbara at the ISC, I had let Sarah sit in front so she could see the mountains and Aaron was driving. Sarah wanted to stop at the used book store to check on the Dr. Seuss books, When we got to Market Street I told them, " When you go over a hill, watch for a yellow van that says book store." They went over the first hill and slowed way down. I asked them what they were doing. They were looking for the yellow van. A hill would mean one hill to them and one hill was more than they would see in the Red River Valley. So I found out I needed to be more explicit in my directions. FYI: On the way home Kyle Charles ( thus the KC) called us to tell us the football coach had called and asked him to come out for football. They needed him. We already had the surgery scheduled, so he will have to decide what he wants to do after he heals up. I wish everyone the best in all their projects coming up this fall. Thanks for all you gave to the class, it was a great experience to work with everyone. Take care! Brenda

Coffee, Tea, Cappuchino and Me

Tuesday, my Practicum Mentor has invited me to attend her Panama City Storytelling Guild meeting to tell and meet. Also, provided me some sound advice to set up some giggs.

Of Course, Panama City is 65 to 70 miles away, but the Journey of the Storyteller takes good shoes, a big smile, and a lean thumb. I will be there even if I must hitch hile. After all, if Saundra can fire-up a locomotive, and Josh can walk 2601 miles to a vermontster, I can carry the cappuchino on my back for 65 miles.

Have a great day,

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

We are in full swing with the first institute. Susan O'Haloran had a medical emergency so Jon Spelman stepped in at the last minute. We have twenty students for this half of the institutes with more arriving Thursday for UMOJA.

When Rachel told me inquiry had been made about my storytelling gig on the Moultrie Dining Car, I was surprised. I guess when I made my last post I thought that was it, but here I am again and glad to be here.

The dining car experience was so cool - it's like an aluminum tube inside and all the tables and chairs are made to fit in such a way that 36 people could dine in comfort if not in privacy. All went well until the AC went out and then that slip of metal got hot - very hot. They cancelled the evening performance but by that time I had actually been on the train 3 hours and had told 2x45 minutes each earlier in the day.

Saturday I told a total of 5 full performances and by the time I was done, felt I had begun to truly inhabit the stories. I got a five-dollar tip, signed autographs on tickets and gave out contact information and hawked ETSU Storytelling!

Enjoy the rest of the summer. I think of you all frequently.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

home again, home again, jig-a-de-jig

I am getting settled back in to life in Sparta. I miss you all and it seems odd to not be packing up the truck to head East at daybreak. I keep waking up and only now realize why. I feel like I'm forgetting to do some thing - but, come morning, I will adjust to staying home. Today I returned to my Sunday school class and was overwhelmed by the warm greeting I received from my rowdy boys. I glanced through our lesson then launched into a story. It was grand! This afternoon, for the very first time, we took baby Chase swimming. As I danced around to pool with a happy 4 month old, I felt like I was rising again from the baptismal waters. How beautiful this life is, when viewed with a child.

I miss you all, but I glad to be home. My dog climbed in my suitcase as I unpacked my dirty clothes and I swear she gave me a look that said I was not leaving again without her.

I was happy to hear that Danny made it home safe. Did Brenda's family make it in safely? How did Saundra's storytelling go? Is everything still good for the institute next week???


Dear fellow story travelers,

I wanted to write and thank you all for all the wonderful stories you shared during our time together in class. These past three weeks have been wonderful and I'm happy to have had the opportunity to meet and tell with all of you.

Take care and I wish you all the best on all your upcoming projects........your friend in stories, Josh

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Bottle of Spirit and Contact Information

I brought my cork to Johnson City that David presented to me in 2004, and now wish that I had brought a bottle to bring home the spirit that I received in 2007. Regardless, I was able to find a skull cup and made it home without spilling a drop.

It will take some purification to glen the barley, but by telling I will distill and begin to serve to the hearers. Hopefully, the hearers will get drunk on tales and stories. If they do get addicted to telling I will start a TT (Taleteller's Troupe), and there will be a first-ever Storytelling Guild in NW Florida.

HP: 850-678-0617 CELL: 850-499-5970

Friday, August 3, 2007


Danny called and wanted us to let everyone know he made it home safely by 7:00 Friday evening. He sends his greetings to everyone.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Our Last Sa

I was just typing a posting and I'm not sure what happened, but it's gone! Basically all I was saying was I'm packing my stuff up, cleaning the kitchen, and listening to the Eagles Greatest Hits. Somewhere between "Take it Easy" and "Tequila Sunrise" I started missing you all so much. I have become very attached to this group, yet tomorrow is goodbye. I am around 32 pages away from the end of Schank's book. I WILL finish the book this weekend. "Peaceful, Easy Feeling" is playing and I think it is an editorial on my mood somehow - but I'm not sure why I think that. Maybe that's the effects of Schank's book making connections upon connections upon connections. In truth, I wanted to listen to a little James Taylor before I went to bed for the last time HERE as part of this family - but I left James Taylor at home so the Eagles will sing me to sleep, and tomorrow will come too soon. Thank you Danny for all the summaries and stories on the blog. Thank you Josh for the raw physical excitement you bring to storytelling - you are so much fun to watch. Thank you Rachel for all the beautiful songs, Thank you Brenda for all of the kind word and the gentle way you make us all feel loved. Thank you Saundra for the encouragement and for the magical visions you have conjured into my mind. Finally, thank you David for making me look at the life in the story from the audiences perspective and thank you for making us find the answers to our own questions as well as those you have presented us with. You are the kind of teacher I wish to be. I think I will carry a part of you into my classroom from this day on. Thank you all. I miss you already.

Being Alive in Storytelling

I wondered what story would come out of my mouth today so I could be alive in the moment. Yashinsky voiced a Portuguese proverb of "First you listen, then you talk" (p. 24) and Schank said "What story do I know that relates to the incoming story?" (p.61). My ears strained hard to find some sort of connection to stories I knew to see when I could tell.

Even before our group storytelling, I wondered if any of my geared-for-kids/family stories would work for the mood and themes of tonight's program. My eyes went big as I realized that I did not have many thought-provoking stories. Obviously, the stories I have in my repertoire caught my attention in order to tell them in the first place. Yet, I have not pondered deeply over them as we have done for our personal and myth stories in class. I went into a type of panic mode that I would not have any stories "worthy" to tell after all the intense mentoring we have received.

Then one has to wonder--is a story ever perfect? Completed?

I plan to look deeply into each story already in my repertoire and re-discover my fascination for them. Perhaps my lack to do such a thing has led me to the belief that I tend to be plastic and manufactured in my tellings. One of the most "alive" moments seemed to be when I shared Grant's story the first day we went to North Carolina. The second "alive" moment was when I shared the Hephaestus story a couple months ago. Please do not misunderstand that I have not enjoyed telling for an audience before--only that the connection was not as strong as to what I'd like it to be. To keep both the Grant and the Hephaestus story alive, I must always be adding or taking or evolving based on the new experiences I receive in life day by day.

On the drive to North Carolina with Saundra and Sandy, we talked about various stories we knew--none of which turned out to be our selection for the evening. My mind was prompted by many stories that I used to tell during my high school days like "Why the Sea Moans", a folktale, or "Goliath II", a story by Bill Peet about a 6" elephant. I barely remember the plots and the endings have long past escaped my memory. I do know that these stories call to me to revisit them. I also want to explore the Dutch tale of an old woman who burns her own home to save the villagers, though the villagers are unaware of her sacrifice.

I know plenty of stories but it is getting the courage to voice them that is most challenging to me. I will always be working on new stories, too, though I should never take for granted the stories I seem to know already.

As Schank remarked, ". . .if you don't think about something you aren't likely to remember much" (p. 223). Simply thinking about my stories makes them more alive to me.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
(801) 870-5799
Our experiences today are keeping me awake tonight. I cannot forget the thrill of using our 'intelligence' to meld our stories together in ways that eventually produced a whole unit of performance. It took careful listening, knowledge of our individual story bases and the willingness to step into the light and speak our truth. Schank on page 236 wrote about how individuals learn to 'present things in the right order and in the right way for maximum impact.' I think that same reasoning can apply to the conversational style of storytelling we did tonight. It felt playful to me and terribly alive - an organic process, that while unplanned in its format, nevertheless took on an interesting kind of order. I don't think that could have happened three weeks ago, but I am glad it happened August 2, 2007.

Many thanks to our teacher for his caring and yet determined methods of opening our eyes to the stories we have to tell and how and why we tell them, and also putting us back together again when it seemed perhaps we had fallen apart never to rise again.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Stories in Culture....

Hello everyone,

I thoroughly enjoyed class today. I'm sorry I had to rush out again and wasn't able to hang around, but I was meeting a friend to go kayaking. It was such a beautiful day!

Now, I'm back to work on my stories for tomorrow. While I was going through my story repertory I came across a traditional Mongolian legend which made me think of Chapter 7 in Schank's book titled, "Telling the Stories of your Culture." In this chapter Schank discusses how we may come to understand a culture (or subculture) by learning their stories. (In fact, he implies that it crucial to ever being accepted by a particular group of people.) When I lived in Mongolia I became fascinated by the fact that whenever Mongolians ate a marmot (considered a delicacy) they would always throw away a little part inside the body. I was interested because Mongolians never waste any part of any other animal. When I asked my host-family and neighbors why they did this, most said they didn't know, but only that it had always been done this way. Finally someone told me that the reason this one part of the marmot was not eaten was because it was once a part of a man. "What man?" I asked. This person didn't know the answer to my second question, but along my journey collecting stories around the country I finally found the answer, which was hidden in the ancient legend of Erkhii Mergen....

Once upon a time, there rose seven suns in this universe, and it, was exposed to a burning drought. The earth was heated fiercely, the streams and rivers evaporated, the plants and trees were parched. People and living beings suffered from intolerable heat, and horses and animals were tormented by painful thirst. It was dreadfully difficult to live or even survive. However, there lived a very good archer, called Erkhii Mergen. He was an excellent archer, who could shoot skillfully what he saw and he hit accurately what he aimed at. A stream of people went to him, and requested him to shoot and destroy the many suns which rose in the sky. Erkhii Mergen was very proud of his accurate shooting. Because he was born a real man among men.

His thumbs were great with strength,

His liver was bursting with health,

He was blessed with the fullness of youth,

His blood was flaming.

Then he said, "I will shoot the seven suns with one arrow each and destroy them," and he made a promise and swore an oath, "If I should not succeed, I will cut off my thumbs and be no longer a man! I will become an animal which never drinks pure water and eats the dry grass of the preceding year and lives forever in a dark hole!" From the Eastern side Erkhii Mergen began shooting the seven suns, those rose in a file from the East to the West, in the sky. He hit and destroyed six of the suns with six arrows. As he shot his seventh arrow, aiming at the seventh sun, a swallow crossed in front of his arrow, its flight screening the sun. Erkhii Mergen's arrow hit the swallow's tail and ripped it. Since then, the swallow's tail has been forked. Nevertheless, the last sun was afraid of the p archer and it disappeared to hide behind a western mountain.

When Erkhii Mergen, the archer wanted to follow on his piebald horse and kill the swallow that had impeded his shooting, his horse said, "I'll chase and catch up with the swallow from dusk to dawn," and he vowed, "If I should not succeed, my master, you may cut my legs off and throw them away in a desert. Then, I would no longer be a horse with a saddle, but would live in a hollow and shallow place!" So Erkhii Mergen chased the swallow on his piebald horse, and when the horse had almost caught up with the swallow, the swallow flew a tortuous twisting path to avoid the horse. This went on from dusk to dawn, but the horse could not catch it.

Then Erkhii Mergen got angry and he cut off his piebald horse's fore-legs and threw them away in a desert. Thus this horse changed into a jumping mouse (or jerboa) and for this reason the jerboa's front legs are snorter than his hind ones. Also the swallow still flies to and fro around a man riding a horse. The swallow flies around the man mocking,
"Can you catch up with me?
Can you catch up with me?"

According to his promise as a man, Erkhii Mergen cut off his thumbs and was no longer a man, but changed into a marmot, which never drinks pure water and eats the grass of the preceding year, and lives in a dark hole. The marmot's claws are four, because of the fact that Erkhii Mergen cut off his thumbs. The marmot comes out from its hole by the morning and evening sun. Erkhii Mergen the archer, wants to forget that he has changed into the marmot, and wants to wait and shoot the last sun at its rising or setting. However, in the marmot's flesh there is a piece of meat called 'man meat', which was Erkhii Mergen's flesh, and to this day people never eat it. People say the last sun of this world was frightened of Erkhii Mergen and went behind a mountain, and it is for this reason that the day and night appear in succession.

This legend is full of unique Mongolian cultural elements. First, the main character is an archer. Great archers are heroes in Mongolian society and have been since time immemorial. Second, the narrative explains the origin of the jerboa (jumping mouse), the marmot, the swallow’s forked tail, and why there is only one sun. Marmot is a very special animal for Mongolians, being their preferred delicacy during the summer months. There are entire rituals that have developed around killing, preparing, and eating the marmot when it’s in season. One of which is the ritual of throwing away the “man’s meat” toward the sun instead of eating it. This is believed to be the last remnants of Erkhii Mergen’s human body.

How great! By learning about this legend I was able to understand an important ritual Mongolians engage in. I also found it very interesting that many people practiced this ritual without being conscious of why! Schank states, "The stories of our culture are those stories that we hear so often that they cease to seem like stories to us. They are the stories that we take for granted." (pg. 218)

After I prepare for our storytelling performance tomorrow I want to examine some traditional prose narratives in our own culture that we either take for granted or have so fully incorporated that we don't even know we're telling them. Please let me know when you all think of some good ones. I'll see you all tomorrow....your bud, Josh

I Found Meaning

Friends and tellers, I thank you all for a very insightful three weeks. I have learned much from not only talking and blogging with each of you, but also by observing each and everyone of you tell in Warf-Pickel Hall and the North Carolina Stage.

Tomorrow will be a major moment for us as a team, but "Mission Accomplished' will not be my take on our final telling together. For me it will be MISSION STARTED!!! We will now be on a journey together and will use Chaucer's method to move happily together.

This will be my last blog and the computer will go into the bag in a few minutes. Artificial intelligence is a good thing, but as David said today it began with the creation of the alphabet. I am now more focused on a teller's way of word association.

Thanks to all for your leadership and comradery.


Psychology and sociology are two area I am endorsed to teach. You can’t study psychology (the individual) without understanding the society in which the individual functions. You can’t study sociology (the group) without understanding the individuals that compose it. Schank’s book reminds me of all of the psych classes I have taken - unfortunately, I prefer sociology. Schank’s book is analytical and a bit dry. I wish I had read it first, because I keep comparing it to the rich, warm narrative found in Suddenly They Heard Footsteps. While it is true that I prefer to eat dessert first, I find the opposite true when I study. My copy of Suddenly They Heard Footsteps is full of notes and highlights and I find myself reading sections of the book to family over the phone to explain, illustrate, and entertain. With Tell Me a Story, I bribe myself with M&Ms for each page I read. I tell you this because tonight I reached for Tell Me a Story with DESIRE rather than OBLIGATION. I had to do some re-reading in chapter 4. I was ticked at myself for not marking this book as well, but, in truth, I didn’t intend to re-read any of it - and yet, here I am. I prodded on into chapter 7 - yea, I’m still not finished with Tell Me a Story because I get sick of eating M&Ms. My inspiration to not only read but RE-READ sprang from this afternoon’s performance by Barbara Freedman. Allow me to explain.

Today Rachel and I went to see Barbara Freedman. We hung around after the show and talked with her. I found my self sliding back into my “home voice” as we spoke. Years of work on the radio cleaning up my southern accent is shot to heck two minutes after I sit down with my family. Barbara had the same effect. I felt comfortable talking to her. I realize there is something in that sound of our subculture that draws up a feeling, sort of an unspoken index that reminds a person of the old proverbs, home is where the heart is, and there’s no place like home. My reading tonight was actually more enlightening and entertaining than usual. As Schank talked about the I Ching, I was again reminded of the core principles of palmistry and tarot - people here what they need to here in epigram rich interpretations rendered. I re-evaluated my reaction to a comment Barbara made to Rachel. Rachel reminisced about the answer she had given Barbara about a blue box and confessed she had meant to write a full story but had not done that yet. Barbara told her to set a specific date for finishing the tidbits she was filing away or it would never get done. She said to quite putting it off and do it. Then she said God was a God of completion and when you finish what he has given you, you will not only be rewarded for your good work, you will also find that God will send you more inspiration. Dozens of past conversations came flooding back to me when she said this. I was also reminded of a conversation in the novel Night when an old man explains to Eli that it is an important concept in Judaism to recognize that knowing the answer is less important than knowing the right question to ask. I have been richly blessed and should work much harder in many areas. I think I heard what I needed to hear to discover what I already knew. Of course, statements like that are reason enough to read less Schank. But to give the Devil his due, Schank said it best in chapter 4 when he said, “It is likely that the bulk of what passes for intelligence is no more than a massive indexing and retrieval scheme that allows an intelligent entity to determine what information it has in its memory that is relevant to the situation at hand, to search for and find that information (84-85).” Hummmm . . . cool beans.