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Do Tell Story Swap Summary – November 2019

Over the last several weeks Sonoma County residents again faced wildfires, power shutdowns and evacuation. We welcomed stories of those and a variety of other experiences. 

Thea Daniels told a magical tale of how Tom the Tortoise was evacuated to her house and how all the local animals and birds gathered around him in an almost “Disney” moment to welcome him.

Katy Mangan’s experience with the Kinkade fire caused her to remember the 2017 fire that took her home. It was the things like a shower not draining and having a landlord evacuated and crowds of people camping in the Target parking lot that made her grateful for all she has now.

Pat Krenke told Fanny’s Dream, a sweet tale of a farm girl asking her fairy godmother to help her marry a prince. While she is waiting for the godmother, a man come by and asks her to marry. She accepts giving up her dream. The years pass and life is up and down but filled with love. When the fairy godmother shows up and offers her the dream she once had, she replies that she already has it. 

This month of Veteran’s Day, Elaine Stanley reminded us of sacrifice with the story of two warriors who fight until exhausted then decide to take a rest through the night. They end up talking and sharing their lives and find much in common. The next morning, they pull their swords, but then sheath them and turn for home, for neither could kill the other once they knew each others’ stories.

Ken Rothman’s story told of the challenges of severe health problem
s that change one’s life. From dealing with the medical establishment to the remedy options, it is a daunting experience.

Jessie Buckley told of how a woman had a son who was in jail and when he was released he was deported to Mexico. The woman visited him many times in Mexico, but wanting to be close to him eventually moved to Mexico herself.

Alicia Bonner’s story “Philamonte” has its roots in the stepmother/daughter relationship. The stepmother loves all her children except Philamonte. When an evil troll traps all the children but Philamonte, she rescues the children and is able to gain her stepmother’s love.

Brandon Spars’ story was of how he decided which college to attend. Trying to meet a very pretty girl, he attended a philosophy class taught by an extremely eccentric professor. He was brilliant but had very bad clothing and manners. When the professor took a bite of sandwich and coughed, propelling it onto the pretty girl, she left the class. But since, in her haste she lost her shoe, Brandon was happy to return it. 

Genevieve Franklin relayed how she and her dog Chipper volunteered to visit the firefighters’ base operations so that the hard working first responders could have a dog to cuddle with. She mentioned the politeness and hard work of the inmate firefighters and of how the Fire Chief gave Chipper a badge for his sweet-tempered service. 

Evelyn Hardesty told about walking 60 miles in 3 days to raise funds for breast cancer research. During the training time and on the walk itself, she found herself challenged, grateful, and proud she could participate in such a strong show of support among 4,000 other women for those fighting this disease. 

It was wonderful to have so many storytellers tonight. See you for the next Swap, December 10th at Valley Village in Rohnert Park.

Do Tell Story Swap Summary – October 2019

At the first Swap in our new location at Valley Village in Rohnert Park we welcomed several new listeners and at least one new teller for some lively stories in October. 

Evelyn Hardesty offered a delightful telling of a man who, in a rising flood, is sent three offers of rescue and refuses them all, saying that God would save him. When he drowns and goes to heaven, he questions God and the answer is well known. Evelyn reflected on how this story has informed her own life about how to see and accept “rescue” when it is offered.

Laurie Reaume’s story is one we can all relate to – the driving nightmare. On an excursion to San Francisco with her sister, Laurie got understandably lost. Then it was all complicated by a sneeze attack. Laurie learned something that day: pressing your finger just below your nose will stop the sneeze. But whether she learned how to get out of SF that day is another story.

Brandon Spars took us to Bali where Leyaks haunt cemeteries and parents go to mysterious healers for a remedy for their sick child. In a culture where many spirits are felt by the people, the terror or the Leyak and the bravery of the father creates the drama of experience.

Then Mary Turner brought us to Russia to hear the tale of the hen, Kerushka. Kerushka just wants a family but her eggs are stolen by a giant. Luckily she has magic powers which allow her to find the giant and defeat him. The storytelling technique of this story requires repetition and recitation, adding a wonderful dimension to a beautiful folk tale.

Sean O’Connor, a student at Sonoma Academy, engaged us by beginning with a daydream of a chair with many arms stretching over him with lights and other engaging sensations. Then, a puff of antiseptic smell woke him with the thought: “I have never liked going to the dentist!”

Elaine Stanley’s “Senor Coyote and the dogs” is a favorite of the Do Tell audience. This story of Coyote’s escape from the dogs and his fatal mistake is always enhanced by Elaine’s expressive voice and movement.

Jordy Jensky’s father recently passed away and ghosts are on his mind. He knows the connection cats have with ghosts because he told us about his cats staring and responding to something he could not see. Seeing his cat relax in the seat where his father always sat reinforced his feeling of the presence of a ghost. Maybe his father’s?

Sam Peters’ tale involved a lonely man who, upon hearing music in a church, tries to join but is turned away and directed to a different church. This rebuff causes the man to question God and accept the answer given.

Debra Downer was a substitute middle school teacher and encountered a particularly disruptive class. She caught their attention with a very scary Halloween story that calmed everyone down and earned her their respect.

Nicoline Leseigneur’s real life experience was a little eerie. Having gone back to her home town in France to sell a house, she had no car. She walked a couple miles to the supermarket but didn’t want to walk back with all her packages. So she found a stranger to give her a ride. As they went along, they discovered they had unknowingly lived strangely parallel lives. Life can be stranger than fiction!

Katy Mangan closed a wonderful Swap with “Shirley Ann and the Kitchen.” Katy takes on the persona of Shirley Ann with her midland accent and funny, optimistic ways. Shirley Ann always seems to find the best way to get what she wants with her bright, go ahead attitude – in this case a newly painted kitchen in just the right colors.

Please join us on the second Tuesday of next month, November 12th. Bring your story to tell. We want to hear it!

Do Tell Story Swap - Story Summaries September 10, 2019

Evelyn Hardesty kicked off a great night of storytelling by explaining her mother’s heartfelt belief in Linda Goodman’s astrology book, Sun Signs. Evelyn learned as a child that as a Gemini woman, she would never run when she could walk, never be silent when she should speak, and never turn her back when she could help. These days, she feels a responsibility to do all she can to help the whole planet because of those early teachings.

Max Fenson told about a sports stadium in his hometown where a farm team for the New York Yankees played. It was not state of the art, like the new stadia being built in San Francisco. It had a manual scoreboard, with tin plates with numbers on them to be changed by hand. The score was always three or four minutes behind the umpire’s call because of the time it took to place the numbers. There were jobs for community members, like groundskeeping. When the infield was wet, it was exciting to see how it was dried out: gasoline was poured over the field and set alight. It would burn for several minutes. A boy who was a peanut bagger could work up to being a peanut boy, selling in the stands. The neighbors put benches on their garages, which were only 240 yards from the pitchers’ mound. The neighbors also sold concessions from their garages, with a much greater variety than those in the stadium. Eventually, the AAA team moved to a more prosperous city and today a highway runs over second base.

Sharon Elwell told about a character, Uncle Clyde, who played the role of a preacher in community theater, and then ran into a situation where he had to act like a real one.

Laurie Reaume told a story called Courtyard Corner Capers. In addition to her free library, she has a patch of wild flowers. A friend gave her some sunflowers, and she woke one day to see that one had been cut and carried off. She decided to put up a sign, quoting Edna St. Vincent Millay:

​I shall be the gladdest thing under the sun.
I shall touch 100 flowers and not pick one. 

Since then, she reports, sunflowers have flourished in her garden. Her sunflower defense system seems to have worked!
Later she reported the unsolved mystery of mysterious disappearing cucumbers, but that one has yet to be solved. She’s considering a second sign that might say, “Like a book? They are free. But the garden? Let it be!”

Mary Turner told of her grandmother, who breakfasted in bed where she could look out on a young cherry tree where a wren built her nest and laid her eggs. Grandma loved to hear the birds sing, and she was excited when the eggs hatched. But she saw a crow approach, and went for the shotgun. The crow was scared away, the baby birds survived, but the shot killed the tree.

Gerry Runz told of an embarrassing moment on a trip to Alaska with her friend, Lee. Lee had requested Gerry before they went: “Don’t tell stories about our vacation!” But when they found themselves locked out of their room in their nightclothes, Gerry just shook her head and said, “Story time!”

Deborah Downer told of three separate encounters with bears. In the first, her sister chased a bear away from the avocados in the trunk of their car by throwing sticks and yelling. Deborah said she got religion at that moment, praying that her sister would not be killed by a bear! In the second encounter, she watched rangers darting bears to take them to higher elevations to hibernate. The problem is that the bears often run up trees when they are shot, and fall asleep high in the branches. If they fall out, they can be hurt. In the third encounter, a bear with a red tag – which indicates a dangerous animal – came upon her when she was hiking alone. She learned that might doesn’t always make right. Or does it?

A newcomer to the group, Ken Rothman told of visiting his friend Abdullah Al Hamari in Ghangchou, China, where he learned that Arab people have lived for more than a thousand years. Ken was surprised to find the enormous city was clean and modern, and that his friend, who had been deported from the United States under a false charge of immigration fraud, was living well: both prosperous and generous.

Max Fenson told a story about his mother, who came to the US in 1920 from Danzig, Poland. She traveled 3rd class for 15 days on a ship. She remained quiet most of the way, since her religion and ethnicity were not acceptable to those around her. She did join in the singing, however, and even led the others in song. It was definite that she would remain in the United States because when they spotted the Statue of Liberty, she threw her laundry overboard!

John Lambert told of a visit to Yellowstone and Jackson Hole. The beauty was memorable, but what he remembers best was seeing a wolf.

Lee Daque told an old folktale of a woman who was crowded in her house and went to her rabbi for help. He advised her to move a chicken into the house with her. She went back to the rabbi to report that it didn’t help to have the chicken in the house with them. He thought, and suggested they move their goat indoors. The next week, when she said she couldn’t move for all the crowding and noise, he told her to move in the plowhorse. The next week, she said her life was unbearable. He told her to take the horse, the goat, and the chicken back outside. A week later, she came back to the rabbi to report that she had plenty of room in her house!

Brandon Spars told of visiting his grandparents in Missouri every summer as a boy. He loved the river, but was warned to stay away from Brush Creek because, his grandfather said, “There are Indians up there!” Years later, he took his own children on the same river and told them, “There are Indians up there!” His six-year-old son said, “Daddy, referring to them in that way perpetuates the imperialistic agenda!” Brandon apologized and they continued up the river. They encountered a man who had come from California to build an ashram on his property on the other side of the river. When they left, Brandon’s son said, “Now THAT was an Indian!”

Pease join us for to share stories at our new location in Rohnert Park beginning in October. See information on first page. We look forward to seeing you!

Do Tell Story Swap ~ Story Summaries August 13, 2019

August dog days didn’t keep story lovers from coming out to the Swap. 31 interested listeners were rewarded with a full spectrum of stories.

Ed Lewis, our guest teller who hails from Davis, CA, started us out with a tale of his world travels. His story drew a map that gradually culminated in self knowledge and his life’s work.

Evelyn Hardesty followed up with a sweet story about rebelling against her “no” mom and being a “yes” mom for her own daughter. But as in the tale told by Death in An Appointment in Samara, by W. Somerset Maugham, one cannot avoid one’s fate, and the consequences of a “yes” strategy are sure to catch up with you.

Rosemary Hayes brought us a creation story from the Marshall Islands. Their belief was that the Creator sung the islands, animals, vegetation, and of course, man, into being. Rosemary asked us all to imagine what being into sung into existence might be like.

Sharon Elwell’s experience teaching Mexican kids during a hot summer week included complete obliviousness of the bell, and being taught herself by a child’s astute objection to a contest on the argument that it would insure only one happy person rather than a classroom full of happy kids. 

Rick Roberts told of living on a mining claim above Big Sur he had invested in with some friends. Lacking a certain experience with primal living, one friend took his .22 rifle to go hunt up some food. When he came back with just a blue jay, he was so ridiculed he wouldn’t talk to anyone. He cooked up that bird and ate it. Was he adhering to the rule, “Only kill what you will eat?” Or was he trying to save face?

Elaine Stanley’s tale of going to boarding school in England shows the enthusiasm generated by rewards. Receiving candy because she was the only one who admitted to talking, she hoped to game the system by confessing each time. Unfortunately that did not bring the rewards she hoped for.

Meg Brown told of going to the recent Sierra Storytelling Festival near Grass Valley. Her reason to go was to ask for the retelling of a story by Tim Tingle, a Choctaw Indian she had seen at the Bay Area Storytelling Festival in 2016. Fortune and fate were with her as she did get to make the request and hear the story she had been trying to find for so long.

Hal McCown often tells tales we can all relate to. This one was about trying to move a new chair into his man cave. It was too big to fit through almost all of the doors, it was heavy, and there was only his wife and himself to get it done. Sound familiar? But success is all the sweeter when it is accomplished.

Mary Turner brought us a story from Ireland about how the harp became the symbol of the country and remains important to the Irish people. When the wife of the chief heard the wind blowing along the coast, she requested an instrument be created to make a similar beautiful sound. After much work and experimentation, the Irish harp was created to give pleasure to people ever since.

Laurie Reaume’s story, “Sousa-phobia,” described her aversion for the song “The Stars and Stripes Forever” that goes around and around in her head and drives her to distraction. We all have a dreaded ear worm tune (or two!) and nodded in empathy as she related that experience. 

We are looking forward to meeting for more stories and friendship on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 at Oakmont Gardens. Join us to listen or tell! 

Sam Peters, in Do Tell Swap's new home at Valley
Village, tells his tale.
Mary Turner tells a Russian folk tale.
Katy Mangan entertains with her Shirley Ann Story.
Hal McCown
Double click here to add text.
Elaine Stanley, Swap co-founder, at Valley Village.