Texas or Tejas Storytelling Festival!

On Sunday, March 15th, we are making an appearance at the 30th Annual Tejas Storytelling Festival which runs March 12th – 15th at the Denton Civic Center and  wanted to share our story about how we ended up not only a member of the Texas Storytelling Association, but also a regular at the Festival!

About 1990 I happened across a copy of “Storyteller” magazine. That issue just happened to have an ad for the Texas Storytelling Association which just happened to have a notice about the Tejas Storytelling Festival.

I just happened to go.
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Norma Loves Chester

Pictured on the right… is Norma Wright. She is my hero!

If you’ve never heard of her, it’s because you don’t live in Granbury, Texas where she moved in the 90s and then set about making her corner of the world a better place. She is the kindest, most loving, most genuine person I have ever known. I want to be her, except that would be really hard because to be Norma requires a level of selflessness and commitment that I don’t have.
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A Note to Myself

I began my day on Facebook.  I try not to do that too often, because it means getting sucked into the vortex of other peoples’ lives and photos plus new videos and inspirational sayings and cute dogs and on and on ad infinitum.

But today my son and his lovely wife had posted their new family photos which, of course, I had to see.  Here is one of them, because you KNEW you weren’t getting out of this post without seeing one:

Yes,  yes I know – they are a BEAUTIFUL family.  And to be clear, I take no credit for anything other than baby Margaret’s (aka Peach) chubby thighs, which she got from me.  Hers will probably fade at about age 5, mine never have.

But I digress.  I started the day on Facebook, just to see these lovely photographs, but ended up of course watching “just one”  inspirational video.  This one shared by my friend Jay Stailey, an awesome storyteller and a big liar, and I mean that in the nicest way.

Jay shared this video, which I loved and watched twice in succession before sharing it on FB myself.

The  images are from the book “Be Happy: A Little Book To Help You Live A Happy Life” by Monica Sheehan. ISBN: 0762429623  The music is “Cuore Di Sabbia” by Pasquale Catalano.  No one seems to know who made this lovely little video, even though it’s been viewed on YouTube more than 373,000 times.  The most any of my videos has been viewed is about 85.

I hope someone claims this video, even though part of me knows that it’s the creating, not the praising, that is important.

I loved this video and its message so much, that I made my own notes based on the ideas that I loved the most.  Here is what my monitor looked like when I was finished.



I am aware of course that I will have to take these down soon.  Peeking around them is getting old.  But oh how much I love them!  Today I have claimed “Follow Your Dreams” and “Create What You Desire”.  I CAN market myself – I CAN continue to make a living as a storyteller and ventriloquist, getting better as I get older and doing the things I always said I couldn’t do.

My thanks to Jay for passing along this video and to my friend Shelly Tucker storyteller and fabric artist extroidinaire for giving me the great advice:  “You can do this!”.

Excuse me a minute I have to make a note of that.  I’ll just have to figure out where to put it.

The Muppets and Dueling Desires

Trying to recuperate from an injury I didn’t know I had, I’ve spent a lot of time moving from bed to couch to chair to bed to… well, you get the idea. I have the dueling problem of torn muscles in my hip which makes it hard to stand and an injured tailbone which makes it hard to sit.  To sit… to stand… to lay?

It’s made me think about dueling desires I have as a performer to be true to myself  vs actually making a living.  Which made me think about dueling banjos, which made me remember this clip, which is an amalgam of some of the things I like the most:  accoustic stringed instruments, Steve Martin and the Muppets.  Watch:
Oh how could you not love it?  I loved The Muppets  so much during the heyday of their TV show.  If you’ve never seen it, you have missed some of the best TV ever.   It debuted in 1977 (can that be possible?) and ran until 1981, but reruns continued for some years.   Jim Henson and Frank Oz created some of the most memorable characters ever, with Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Animal, and Gonzo among others. Guests included Pearl Bailey,  Carol Burnett,  Johnny Cash,  Bob Hope, Elton John,  Liberace, Roy Rogers & Dale Evans,  Sylvester Stallone and Raquel Welch among many, many others.

The Muppets became famous on Sesame Street, of course, but muppets were seen earlier, most notably Rowlf the Dog on the Jimmy Dean Show in the 60s.  If you don’t want to watch the opening set, forward through the first minute: As a little girl I used to watch it with my fingers crossed saying “Please let Rowlf be on!”

My early and continued love of the Muppets has helped me remember through the lean times as a performer that puppets are magical.  Blogger Jill Tooley says that from Sesame Street she learned things like “don’t be afraid to be yourself”, “rely on your trusted colleagues” and “remember your manners”.  Amen to that, sister.

Most of all I like to remember, when pulled in different ways to try to market more effectively or become a little more “edgy” or add more techno-wizardry to a show that it was Jim Henson who said “Simple Is Good” .

I’ve learned to use  my ipod, to build a website, to blog and to send emails, but when it comes to my performing, I think it will always be just me and a stage and a roomful (or handful) of laughing children and a puppet.

What could be better?


I’m late… I’m late…!

“Oh dear, oh dear, I shall be late!”  So said the white rabbit just before he popped down the rabbit hole, startling Alice and beginning her amazing adventures in Wonderland.

Those were NOT the words I said this morning.  Not even close.

Let me begin at the beginning.   I had my 20-month-old grandson for the week last week.  It was  both the longest and the shortest week of my life.  I was totally exhausted by his bedtime each night at 7, but I couldn’t wait to see his beautiful, laughing face each morning.

My daughter-in-law did not get home from her trip until about 10:00 Saturday night, plus I had the lovely Emma (my adopted granddaughter) here as well.  So I didn’t get to bed too early, and I got up at 3:00 to go down to College Station to perform at Christ United Methodist.  Then I got home last night and I could have gone to bed early, but the Rangers played!  What’s a girl to do?

So it was 11:00 or so when I went to bed.  And I thought I set my alarm.  I really did.  I had planned to get up at 6 and have plenty of time to drink coffee, etc. before my 8:30 show at Baccus Elementary (my children’s alma mater and an AWESOME school).

Imagine then, my consternation when I woke up this morning at 8:37.  THAT’S EIGHT THIRTY SEVEN!  Thirty seven minutes later than I actually wanted to be at school.  Twenty three minutes before I was set to perform.  Lucky lucky lucky am I that Baccus is maybe six or seven minutes away.  Still….

I exploded out of bed saying “crap crap crap!” and other assorted things.  I put on the clothes that were ON THE BATHROOM FLOOR.  I brushed my teeth for 14 seconds, rubbed foundation on my face while stepping into my shoes, and left.  I didn’t even let the dogs out.  My poor Roxanna dog is so old and arthritic that she can’t get off the bed by herself anymore, but I couldn’t help that.  She would just have to go back to sleep.

I didn’t even have a brush in my purse.  I combed my hair with a little four-inch Ace comb that was in the glove box and put on lipstick while driving.  The fog this morning was awful.  It was not even pea soup, it was clam chowder.  I drove 6 miles an hour while chanting “crap crap crap…”

I walked in the door at 10 minutes to 9.  Do not ask me how.  Counselor Betty While, looking a little wild-eyed, let me in and said “I was getting a little worried…”  I sprinted to the stage and set up faster than I have ever set up, including the time I took a nap and nearly missed my show at the Hood County Library.  Up went the poles, up went the curtains, up went the stars.  I tossed speaker cords around like I was casting for bass and started up the ipod playing who knows what – Frank Sinatra?  Alanis Morrisette?  Pepe’s Polka Kings?  The kids would just have to deal with it.  I didn’t have time to scroll through for Justin or Selena.

At 9:02 the kindergarteners started filing in and I was smiling like I’d had a mini-stroke.  Not a drop of coffee, but I was running on pure adrenaline.  Some of this year’s show, some of last year’s show, some words I’d never said before… but we got it done!

Whew!  Never let it be said that I don’t work well under pressure.  Now excuse me – I need a nap.

The Glamour of Travel

Travel, especially air travel, is very very glamorous.  Unless you actually do it.  When I first started out as a storyteller (back when the Pony Express still rode and the plains were dark with buffalo), I couldn’t wait until someone hired me further away than I could travel in a day.

Quite early in my career I went to a school in Lewisville and had to leave about 6:00 in the morning.  I couldn’t imagine such a thing!  I remember calling my husband when I got there as if I was travelling to Tasmania or something.  Now quite often I’ll be gone three or four days and my husband will say “Where were you again?”

 Anyone who travels for a living can tell that it’s not fun.  I love to watch movies from the 49s when airline travel was really glamorous.  Everyone was dressed up and wearing hats, the stewardesses (they were all women then) looked like movie stars.  There were no latches on the overhead compartments because there was nothing in there heavier than a hatbox, and every passenger was smoking.  The windows had little curtains on them and the food came on plates with forks and knives and real glasses.  Now THATS glamorous – except for the smoking part of course.

We’re going on a little trip – my husband Terry and I, and of course Larry the Crocodile, Charlotte and Waco the Weasel.  Lili’s not going – she’s grounded AGAIN.

Waco is going to blog and post a video each day.  Please visit us here and send your friends.  Wish us bon voyage!