Friday, December 31, 2010

Tech 2011 and Not So New

Should Auld Acquaintance be forgot?

Then Now

Got a Postcard...................................... Saw that on Twitter

Kids Got a Comic Book App for animation

Newspaper.............................................Face Book

( way back Newspapers printed all the social news, guess what, its back!)

Dear Abby/Ann ................................... Oprah, Dr. Phil

Dick Tracey Watch Fossil watch

Stereoptican ..............................................slideshare

Slide show.................................................animoto

tin cans and string...................................cell phone

telegram......................................................text message

party line message



road map ...................................................GPS - recalculating

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Jim Flanagan CT History Photo Story.m4v

Ct. is full of a rich history just waiting for storytellers to embrace it and share it. Every town has a great historic house, a mill or pond with a tale associated, a Native American legend or site and museums of every kind. Our state stories are a unique collection and fit school curriculum needs. Some of the most interesting stories are not even from heroes and wars, struggle and bravery, the best stories are from families who lived in our towns. The world spun it's way through time and all the while mothers rocked babies, fathers went out to till the fields, children walked to school and the shopkeepers watched the generations grow before their eyes. Capture a legend and story today and share it. The wealth of Ct. is her hi"story"! This photo collection will give you some ideas. Come to the Ct .Storytelling Festival in April and take a workshop on historical stories with Megan Hicks, Listen to Native American Teller Tim Tingle, or check out the Ct. Historical Society or another Ct. Museum.

Socks Without Partners

Laundry Day could be more fun! We have lived through the era of Black Socks ( they never get dirty)and now have succumbed to the sock pirates for surely they made off with a lot of single socks and left us with the basket of mismatched. I think it is time that we start up a website and support services for Socks without Partners.
Have you ever tried wearing the mismatched and feel like your feet are fighting all day? Does the left, happily clad in black crew snicker over at the right foot covered only in white ankle high. Do you wait in fear all day that someone will ask you to remove your shoes and you will have to fess up to the Sock pirates in your house.
Celebrate diversity wear the mismatched! Don't let them languish away their life expectancy in a basket. Somewhere out there a ship is sailing to port and high in the rigging is the mate your sock has been yearning for.
The music of Bill Harley helps us live in peace with our sock pirates and refresh the sibling rivalry we once enjoyed. Did you ever think that something as simple as socks and underwear could be substance for storytelling and music. Look around at life it is full of stories.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

" What Was Civil About That War..." CD Review

What Was Civil About That War... a CD by Storyteller Megan Hicks, 2004 stories (un)folding

isbn: 8 2534646922 5 Stories ( Un) Folding PO Box 7994 Fredericksburg, Va 22404

The lilting tune "Gary Owen" belies the eerily haunting tale of Civil War events at the battlefield that permanently transformed the sleepy town of Frederiscksburg, Virginia into battle mayhem and subsequently a National Battlefield Park. The courage of " The Angel of Marye's Heights", a soldier long remembered after his days of service to humanity while in the Army of the Confederacy is shared in story on this poignant CD. Sgt. Richard Kirkland survived the siege at Fredericksburg and went on to serve in a later battle and die on the field of battle a young man whose promise was cut short, like so many others. His tale of courage and that of resident Martha Stevens and the soldiers of the indomitable Irish Brigade come forth in a personal telling that takes a dry lesson of history into living reality. hear Gary Owen at this site

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hearing Voices? Maybe Jay O'Callahan's

Baby it's cold outside, the weather just isn't delightful, so as long as it's gonna snow, tune in tonight ( 12/14/10) to 95.9 in Mass. or This is a much better way to pass a wintry night. Just before 8 p.m. make a cup of your favorite hot beverage. Pull on warm socks and wrap yourself and against a winter draft. Settle into a comfortable chair( OK if you tend to nod off then make it a uncomfortable chair) Tune your radio or computer to SPOKEN VOICES and listen.
This writers, book and storytellers group will bring you warm words, thoughts and some of their best mental meanderings. If the wind howls about the gables it's only jealous it can't come in and listen. You can listen though so tune in, I'll be there listening too. Jay O'Callahan and his group will be on the air waves this evening. If you have heard Jay's "Pouring the Sun" or "Forged in the Stars", you can already guess this might be some extraordinary listening.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I've Been In-Spired!

I don't know what started me taking pictures of churches but I like to. I love the different styles and the incredible architecture. I can imagine what the architect was trying to say with each design. Our town has many different churches large and small they are all unique. Not all have spires but I do like to capture a spire in the sky. This is just a photo collection of some beautiful churches. Some of these churches are from stories I tell, some I visited, some just in passing and one I sing in every Sunday. Enjoy the peace they emanate and "in- spiration". Old South Church - Boston a picture in contrast
Park St. Church -Boston steeple of tiers

Mini- First Church - Mansfield,Ct. celebrating 300 years of Faith in Action

Lebanon Green Church Ct. Revolutionaries to today

First Church Mansfield Center, Ct , home

Norlands, Maine as Maine always is

General Theological Seminary New York City, like slipping back in time

Church of the Intercession New York City statley, dominant, peaceful, European flavor

Thompson, Ct. Congregational Church, a quiet corner gem!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Peace & William Ury: The walk from "no" to "yes" | Video on

In December we all begin to think again of Peace. We remember who is not here to celebrate the holidays, the soldiers. If we can find Peace all the fathers, mothers, sons and daughters could be where they wish to be on the holiday. We send greeting cards filled with messages of Peace but I hear little dialog when we gather. We lift our voices in songs of Peace, but there is no commentary after the last refrain. It is not enough to mail it to a friend or sing it on a Sunday, we need to begin to live it every day.

Below is a link in which William Ury discusses Peace through a story we can all understand. Do you have a few minutes to give Peace a chance. The one gift that should be on our minds this season is the gift of Peace.

William Ury: The walk from "no" to "yes" Video on

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Water of Life

This is a wonderful team telling so well recorded and mixed with their own music. Bravo this is your standing ovation! Here is a standard we can all strive for in You Tube videos.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Real Version of the Story of Sadako and the Paper Crane

It all began with the folding of a single paper crane. Tightly creasing seams fold after fold and the final fold and crease, to then hold it up and say, I did it! I was teaching myself from a diagram how to fold a paper crane and the first clumsy bird was finished. It took me forever. I realized that if I was to be able to fold a paper crane without barely looking at it while telling the story of Sadako and the Paper Crane I would need quite a bit of practice. ( Sadako and the One Thousand paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr) More paper , more practice crane after crane. I folded at school subbing when I had study hall duty, I folded in church after we sang the anthem, I folded in the morning and I folded in the evening.
Tellabration time 09 rolled around and my Veteran's Salute Tellabration ( storytelling celebration) was to be the day I unveiled my talents as a origami Paper Crane folding master!
I had folded so many cranes by then and was so busy at work our naked Christmas tree stood in the family room sporting nothing but the bare bulbs. It stood that way for days and the inspiration hit, paper cranes for the tree. Then my folding concentrated on two colors gold and red foil. Crane after crane dropped into the plastic shopping bag. All the while I thought of the story of Sadako and the Paper Cranes and when occasion warranted I would share the enduring tale, the legend and the little girl who tried so hard to fulfill its prophecy as she battled cancer post her hometown Hiroshima WWII bombing.
Christmas came, and on this year my daughter was not battling cancer it was in remission. The day dawned bright and clear and the tree glowed like some department store showpiece. It developed its own aura and shimmered in the light. The collection of family ornaments never made it out of the attic in 2009, instead we honored all who fight cancer and a legend and a story.

Now it is your turn. 10 year old David Heard of Easton, Pa. Is folding paper cranes. He needs thousands of them as the legend says. He has decided to decorate the five wards of the hospitals where he has received treatment for his terminal stage 4 Neuroblastoma. David is folding cranes, his family folds, his school and yet the goal of 5000 has not been met. You can help David see the 5000 Cranes fly high over the cancer centers by sending some paper cranes to:
The Heard Family
130 W. Lafayette St.
Easton, Pa. 18042
Information on David's plan came from the newspaper feature article by Devon Lash in The Chronicle Album Section 11/20/10 distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Get Out Your Paint Brushes!

The Nov. 21 Hartford Courant Newspaper alerted me to an interesting article posted by Donna Larcen in the Arts section. ( )

There will be an art contest to reproduce a Lincoln Portrait painted in 1890 by John Denison Crocker. The painting hung for many years in City Hall at Norwich,Ct. that is until 1994 when it was cut from its frame and stolen. The image has not surfaced in the 16 years since the heist.

Funding from The Slater Memorial Museum, Norwich Historical Society, and the Sachem Fund will purchase the winning entry in the Lincoln Portrait contest for $8000.00. The winning artist will relinquish the rights to the portrait, which will then go on display in the original frame back on the walls of City Hall.

Painters are you ready? There is a whole winter ahead to perfect the war worn features of one of our most famous and influential Presidents. All submissions will be gathered by April 15, 2011 at 3 p.m. ( just a little before the infamous tax deadline) The entries will all be displayed at Norwich Arts Council Gallery 60 Broad St. Norwich, Ct. from May 1 - May 29, 2011. A judges panel will discern the winner. More info can be acquired by calling 860-425-5560.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Metro - T riders take stage to tell their MBTA tales

In Boston this past slam was all about who rides the T ! It happens daily as thousands and thousands board and recede like the tide to the other world. So unremarkable that oblivion might better be the name. Then every now and again a ride becomes so noteworthy it becomes a story. Read the metro below how the stories were shared at the most recent Mass Mouth Story Slam.

Metro - T riders take stage to tell their MBTA tales

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Christmas Spirits

Getting ready for the Holidays? Plan an evening of pure entertainment with Carolyn Stearns Storyteller performing my original epic piece "Christmas Spirits".

Marlborough Tavern will host a telling on Saturday December 18, 2010 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10.00 for the performance but call and get your dinner reservations in and come enjoy the best of New England Tavern dining before the performance. Tickets for the show are available from the tavern call 860-295-8229 , or from Carolyn at 860-690-4292.

Christmas Spirits is a historical fiction holiday tale that begins in Newport RI and travels to New York City where the main character travels in time to meet many notables from New York History. This is a classic story that will give you the spirit of Christmas and put a little tradition and simplicity back in your holiday.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Singing Breadbox

This Months feature performers Atwater -Donnelly on Nov 13, 2010

The venue St. Paul's Valley St Willimantic, Ct

Photo of Tom Callinan - A Breadbox Feature in the past

In the Community:

The Breadbox

A community showcase mic held monthly to benefit the Covenant Soup Kitchen at St. Paul's Episcopal Church on Vallety St in Willimantic, Ct. This month a special concert performance will also be held Sat Nov 13 and the regular monthly mic on Wed. Nov 17 th. Your donations go directly to help feed the hungry among us. So come out and hear some incredible music at The Breadbox.

Saturday November 13, 2010
Award-winning duo Atwater-Donnelly performs a unique and thrilling blend of traditional American and Celtic folk music and dance, along with original songs and poetry.

The highly praised husband-wife duo blends gorgeous vocals with an astonishing array of instruments including the mountain dulcimer, old-time banjo, tin whistle, guitar, limberjack, mandolin, harmonica, feet and more. They often collaborate with other musicians, Cathy Clasper-Torch, Heidi and John Cerrigione, and Uriah Donnelly; and Irish step-dancer Kevin Doyle; and can be seen performing solo, as a duo, trio, four-person band, or the six-member old-time gospel band, Jerimoth Hill.

Based in Foster, Rhode Island, Aubrey Atwater and Elwood Donnelly have traveled extensively for twenty-two years in the United States, and occasional trips to Ireland, England, and Canada, to perform as well as find their songs and dances one by one. They have produced six books, a film, and eleven recordings that receive international airplay.

Bruce John & Jim Bailey

Monday, October 25, 2010

I am working my way through a blitz of storytelling shows and it is so much fun to move from venue to venue. I have been reaching so many people in the last couple weeks with stories and have met some awesome people.

I have to remember that even when I am doing multiple shows in a week that for the audience it needs to be a special occasion. I need to bring my best program and be at the top of my game for each performance.

If this next show is the first time people hear a storyteller, is my story ready and one they will remember. I am working hard to bring together shows that have a good arc to the performance and a great tie in to the theme or the location.

A all Ct History show at Wallingford Historical Society was a lot of fun they are some of my favorite stories. Then I did 2 nights of haunted and historical at the Coventry Historical Society Enchantingly Haunted Hikes, The Tipi Telling Birthday party was about as unique a venue as you could want! What a fun collection of traditional Native American stories I was able to share, along with my personal Cows Out story when we had some bovine gate crashers. The next was a benefit performance for Heifer Project held at Willimantic Congregational Church. Tomorrow I'm at a nursing home and Thursday you will find me on top of Wolf Rock to tell Wolf Stories to 3 rd graders.

Where ever I am, I need to bring my best effort, and my camera don't want to miss these wonderful storytelling events and locations.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Importance of Livestock

The Importance of Livestock

On Sunday Oct 24, 2010 at 12 noon The Willimantic Congregational Church will host a lunch follwed by a storytelling to benefit The public is welcome at the Valley St. Willimantic Church for this program. I will share stories of animals and inspiration appropriate for all ages. Questions or email at

Monday, October 18, 2010

What Gives ?

What Gives when your plate is full?

I realized my blog was what I could let go of as I became immersed in the down to the wire prep for our church 300th anniversary. This was no ordinary event but a historic research, writing, musical, timing, editing, and scripting and performance to encompass the church history for 300 years in one hour. I did it! To say it possessed my whole mind and took over for awhile is an understatement, but well worth every ounce I put in that effort.

The morning began with the bass viol playing soft music of welcome, our guest bassist Scott Chaurette of the Hartford Symphony. The chimes rang, we started on time. The opening prelude by Organist Erik Haeger was on Harpsichord, the narrator Mark Phelps welcomed everyone to the year 1710. Through the first readings our mission to hold together a small village in the colonial wilderness became apparent and our striving for freedom and justice. The door burst open and a soldier (played by re-enactor member Stuart Lillie), of the colonial militia burst in to call the 93 volunteers to march for Bunker Hill.

It was only minutes and we were moving into the next century. The Civil War on the dark horizon. The bass played haunting music the single sound emanating as the chords of Battle Hymn of the Republic floated into the sanctuary. Second time through the congregation joins in with the organ as well. Then on the third time the trumpets from up in the loft and the organ swells the pipes giving 300 years of celebration to the tune, it was huge.

I tell the congregation how in the mid 1800's the only music in the church was provided by ancestor Capt. Shepherd Stearns on bass and after the war by his son Jared Stearns. Jared's picture is on the sanctuary wall, a media display timed to meet every song and reading.

That media display meant hours of work first going through the archives and historical society files and then by Deb Hubbell as she assembled and timed the power point to match the script and musical timing I gave her with notes for where each image goes. It was very powerful.

More music, more readings, time was slipping by and the centuries fell away. We heard from the Grace Notes our chime choir and about the 3 different buildings that served our congregation. The choir rose and opened with the celebratory notes of trumpets. The music of God of the Ages lifted First Church music to a new standard. It was an immense sound of celebration with full organ, 18 powerful voices and 2 trumpets. I had asked music director Michael Sylvestri to find me music that would raise the rafters, he did that perfectly!

The offeratory music and prayer by the Rev. Joe Blotz brought us into the home stretch. The Mayor of Mansfield, Betsy Patterson, joining us to read a Proclamation and then one of the Deacons, Steve Lane to read a Proclamation sent by the Honorable M. Jodi Rell, Governor of Connecticut.

I did the closing piece, a summary of our vision. How the 300 years of work and worship brought us to the place we are now , Open and Affirming, Just Peace and Green Church as designated by the United Church of Christ. We are a church of Faith in Action.

The Rev. Matthew J. McCaffrey led us in the Benediction for the close of the morning service. He then asked everyone to stay in their seats while some commemorative photos were taken. These will take their place in our archives to let the generations to come know how we celebrated the 300 th anniversary of the First Church of Christ in Mansfield Center.

Everyone shared a gesture of Peace and we adjourned to a cake reception in our newly refurbished fellowship hall. 300 years covered in one hour, a singular task of commemoration in a year long celebration of this milestone.

So many more people were involved, it took a huge force to bring my vision of this service into a reality. I am incredibly thankful to each and every person. Especially my co-chair Jo-Ann Wade-Wunschel and to Rev. Matt McCaffrey who were so supportive.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

" Mistakes Were Made" review or family checklist?

Mistakes Were Made, Bill Harley Live ( with adults)

The afternoon was quiet. The rain passed by and the sun was out and the orange and yellow leaves falling. I was settling a summer long office move into new quarters. The new office arrangement includes a CD player. My family left for a afternoon of work and I settled down to do a little work in my office. I slid a CD in the player and settled back at the computer, but I couldn't work. Bill Harley's voice was coming from the speaker, the familiar strum of his guitar the inflection and the dissolving to laughter.

So this might take awhile, I decide and relax to listen. The first super hero to streak by sounds like Bill Harley but the image in my mind is a small cowboy. Boots clicking on floor and plastic spurs spinning. Soon a Sailboat comes into view and I wonder how these guys can all be cut from the same cloth, as out in my backyard there is a boat. A big old Criss Craft my son brought home. It was an abandoned boat, homeless and hungry. He told me" anything free is worth saving up for" and the boat slid into our possession. The dreams of cruising the lakes, windblown hair, girls in bathing suits and a bunch of guys who saved a boat and made it whole. Or at least patched the hole! Summer of 17, the stuff of dreams and ballads.

Then comes a trio written right from the combat zone of teaching and raising teenagers. The masterful handling of life's toughest questions and the commentary ,uh-huh, yep, sure, anytime, whenever, no problem, and a duo departing saying what was that all about. Could be there, could be here ,of course Bill has taken a moment in life that is as common as a sixteen year old and made it into a masterpiece.

My next flashback is to 1963. My parents had just become the proud owners of a 1751 colonial. It was straight from the movie Money Pit with sagging, leaning gaping, rotting structures. From the large hole in the wall where a stove pipe had been thrust comes an intruder, a bat. I remember sitting on the edge of a bathtub, my mother frantically stuffing towels under the gap at the bottom of the door. It was both a little entertaining and a little scary, at 5 my judgement weighing the mix of delight and fear. The sounds of her shrieks, and the crashes as my Dad, corn broom in hand rode herd on the solitary invader. Once again the magic that is a Bill Harley works in the blur of moment, in the strum of a guitar, I am swept into memories so distant and clear.

Thanks Bill and if you don't mind I've shut off the player as the last notes of Sweet New England fade and now I will get some work done...... but I'm smiling and happy and wishing I had been there Live ( with adults)! 2002 Round River Records

Monday, September 27, 2010

Seacoast Fringe Festival

Will you be coming to Portsmouth, New Hampshire or will you miss a great event? October 8, 9, 10, 2010 is the new and exciting Seacoast Fringe Festival.
The venue list is being formulated and will be posted on the website soon. The crew aboard the Fringe Festival committee are busy matching the wide variety of acts to the perfect venue. Puppets here and dancers there, a band over here and African drummers, oh yes they will go well over here but where do we put a storyteller?
I will be in the Discover Portsmouth Center! ( the old library) The Discover Portsmouth Center is a museum and performance space. Catch my historical stories in such a perfectly chosen venue on Saturday October 9, 2010 at 1 p.m. Historical Story is my favorite so be sure to come see me
The heart of Portsmouth opens and turns up the beat to many performers over the three day Festival. Be sure to check out the website and come back for frequent updates as venues and performers are matched. If you are in the area stop on by the Festival Office at 39 Ceres St. Portsmouth, that is right near the famous Tugboats.
I'll be around town on Friday catch me as I visit some of the other venues and promote the Festival and the Saturday 1 p.m. Historical Storytelling. If you don't see me I may just be walking a New Hampshire beach or savoring some tasty New Hampshire lobster at my favorite restaurant Ray's Seafood in Rye.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Move over John Wayne, look out Clint Eastwood

( rider: Tim Stearns)

What did you accomplish over the weekend in 16 seconds?

In cowboy mounted shooting, the fast action rodeo type equine sport 16 seconds is a good run. For the Ct. Renegades State Championships Sept 18 & 19, 2010 Cowboys and Cowgirls from all over the Northeast descended on Enfield, Ct.'s Round Tuit Ranch for some high stake thrilling runs. Each competitor rides six patterns or stages in a championship and the accumulated time and penalties for missed targets settles out the placings sometimes by 1/100 of a second.

BLANKS are used for ammo and all are provided by the competition to insure the safety of the event. A Rangemaster - combined referee and safety official is in the ring to direct the riders and officiate. The guns are Colt 45 type as used in the Old West and in the Rifle Division a Revolving Carbine or Lever Action 45 Long Colt, ( remember the Rifleman TV show?)

Costume is a big part with dress requirements to be clothing of the 1880's or from the Silver Screen Stars of the West. They take the costuming serious with penalties for a ride in inappropriate dress. For this reason we always have at least one photo club on the rail taking pictures. Their lens catching the flaming end of a pistol at dusk, the flared nostril of a horse, the sweat stained brim of a cowboy's hat and the windswept manes.

Over in the announcers booth I am calling out the time each course is completed in and more importantly the next few riders. With a new rider needed in the ring every couple minutes we have to have them ready and waiting or lose audience to long boring waiting time and even worse not finish all the rides before dark comes.

Where can you catch up with this fast action sport? There are clubs in almost every state. We belong to the Connecticut Renegades There are any clubs in the Northeast and you can find all the sites on the National Association website

A favorite competition in the Northeast is called Border Wars. The two day event pits Ct. riders against our neighbors in Mass. in a fun two day cowboy weekend, at stake a red and black flag and the right to fly it at the forthcoming years events. Saturday the Mass Six Shooters host the event and Sunday the Ct. Renegades. A new venue will welcome riders this year, Goss Farm in Dunstable Mass. will be the site on Oct 30-31, 2010. I can't wait for the weekend. ( good weather only won't risk injury to horses or riders in slippery conditions) The friendly competition, campfire and BBQ, the storytelling around the fire, Cowboy Church Sunday morning and a second day of competition before we all go back to the 21 st century, shake the dust from our chaps and hang up our spurs until another weekend.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Bugle Boy

Day is done gone the sun, ...... hearing Taps takes me back to Girl Scout camp, Camp Laurel in Lebanon, Ct and my introduction to Taps as an ending to a day and a final night at camp when natural log boats were set out on the lake each bearing a candle and a wish, we watched them float away as Taps played. I was nine at the time, now in my minds eye I can see it like yesterday.

I recently read in the Ct. Boy Scout online newsletter that the Bugle Merit Badge was reinstated. The badge had been discontinued but an outpouring of comment from present and past Scouts in support of the Bugle Badge and in honor of the 100 years of Boy Scouting, saved the ill fated badge, it should be so. Taps and bugles are synonymous with our respect. The badge reinstated will hopefully urge more young people to learn to play bugle and share Taps at Scout and other functions. What a great honor for our scouts to play at Memorial Day, and other events even for lights out at camp!
Taps was born of the myriad of Bugle Calls used in the American Civil War and fitting with the 150 th anniversary of that war coming in 2011 for us to re-devote ourselves to some of the positive things that came from that bloody conflict. Around the world the 24 haunting notes of Taps are recognized as a melody of farewell and honor. It was the television coverage of the funeral for President John F. Kennedy that brought Taps to the world. I remember watching the funeral and seeing the bugler, and the caisson, and the Cavalry horse, riderless with the boots in the stirrups reversed, the symbol of a fallen soldier.
It is Military Funerals and Memorial Day functions that see the playing of Taps is still a daily event in our Nation. Unfortunately there are not enough Bugler's to play all the military funerals. How sad to serve your Nation and on the final day there is nothing more than the whir of a tape recorder playing Taps to bid a soldier his or her final farewell. An organization has sprung from that need which helps supply buglers to services. As a volunteer effort they are in need of more to help as well as resources, and they need the word spread about the volunteers who will provide that final call. Be sure to check out the work of operation Taps at
"Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B" made playing Taps a rage for a time. As songs leave the top 40 play list the impact they make grows dim, until they surface again. Call a radio station and request it on holidays or in memory of a Fallen Soldier! The military still use bugle calls as a way to keep order in camp and signal changes in the routine. In the Civil War it was used for many events of the day, the Cavalry had a few calls of their own added to the Infantry. , the Call to Boots and Saddles, To Horse and Charge being the most common.
Pick up your old trumpet, pick up an old bugle and learn the call to Safely Rest, play TAPS!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

There Must Be A Story Behind It!

No need to rub your eyes, you aren't seeing things. Truly that is a cow in harness and pulling a cart. Don't you wish you knew the who and the WHY!? It is what makes finding stories so fun. Some are right there in front of us, some shock us, and others are just so darn funny. This cow was enjoying the Fall Festival at Blue Slope Country Museum in Franklin Ct.

Never saw a button museum? Maybe there is only one. It was at Coventry ( Ct.) Historical Society a couple years ago

How many places have you gone by, seen something odd or a sign and wondered about it. How did it get that name, why is that here, you drive a little further and think,
there must be a story behind it!
Tell It!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

In Awe of Learning

I hope to be in awe of learning my whole life, how about you? There are so many things new to learn and discover. We get complacent in life so easily and miss opportunities. I hope to feel as excited as my Granddaughter is to learn something new. Seeing places through her eyes is like seeing them again for the first time. I never enjoyed the Mystic Aquarium as much as when we took her there. To see the wonder and delight at each new tank and sensation was to learn again as I did as a child.

I worry how we are turning that natural love of learning off. Why doesn't it stay with us. How do we reignite the love of learning. I got mine going again through my desire to be a storyteller. I am constantly seizing learning moments. They abound when we are open to them. The more I learn the more alive I feel!

I am a non- traditional learner and outside the box thinker, and I now know that it is a really good thing to be. It was not always accepted in school, they like everyone to do it the same way and are geared to education for the masses. We are all unique but that is hard to address in the public education scenario. I will continue to seek the off beat educational opportunity and draw my granddaughter to those unique experiences every chance I get.

I was visiting her last year and we went to a Civil War Museum. The guide looked less than thrilled when we joined a group going on a tour of the buildings because we had a baby with us. I was anxious to see and hear about this portion of the Civil War and the signing of surrender of the Army of the Confederacy at Bennett Place. I assured them I would make sure the one year old would not interfere with the groups ability to listen and would step away if she fussed. I got a look of skepticism from the guide. Off we went down the dirt road and I pointed things out to my Granddaughters along the way. I stayed to the edge ready to distract her if the need arose and yet listening intently to the guides interesting dialog of the surrender. I asked a couple of questions. My granddaughter stared into my face each time I spoke. We went into the tiny house where the actual surrender was signed. A three room cottage, quarters were cramped. A small bed chamber was roped off around the corner I could barely see but again kept the respectful distance so she not disturb any of the guests on the tour. The guide spoke at length about the time of surrender and pointed out a couple of interesting items in the room and many of the group leaned in to see. I stayed back. They all backed away and continued to listen. At that moment my Granddaughter leaned way out from my arms and craned her tiny neck to peer with interest into the small bed chamber. I answered her physical request by stepping closer to the door and telling her softly, " See then old style bed and crib. What an interesting room." She looked it all over with interest and looked back at me. "It's a nice museum and very important things happened here," I told her. She was content and listening the whole time. That was when I noticed a look on all the guests faces, awe that the baby was interested, and maybe that I took hold of the teaching moment. I hope that they all greet every tour with a baby on it in the future as a learning moment for all.
I am so glad that by age one she had been to a museum and had seen how to be interested in a historic site. I hope I can give her my love of history and all the common people's stories that make the rich fabric of historical story. Historical story is by far my favorite genre. You can see more about that at my website

I want to be sure that I introduce her to many wonderful places. I can't wait for her to be old enough to attend a storytelling festival and share all those learning moments with me. Someday I will take her to the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tn.
There together we will share some awesome learning moments through story.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Fall Begins

It is the beginning of fall, the buses are running and the parks are empty of children. All have returned to the scheduling and bells of the school year.

I do not anticipate the return of school or routine. I can't wait for the cool autumn days to walk , take photographs and enjoy the outdoors in temperatures warm by day and cool by night.

There is something special and fleeting about fall. It arrives on the tail of scorching days and the return to cooler temps signals us all to be more active and to not waste time because winter is close at hand. I don't want to miss one glorious day of the fall weather. I can't wait for the first trip to the orchard and the first pie out of the oven afterward. I'll be headed out to Horse Listener's Orchard soon.

Remember the first morning you can smell the woodsmoke on the morning air and the crunchy grass when it is white with the first frost. All these memories would make many shudder with cold just to think about them, but I love the cool weather and most of winter don't mind the cold.

There is nothing quite as special as natures last hurrah of the year as she paints her maples and sends the leaves floating by.

A lone leaf is waiting on the granite rock and reminds me of all the years we made place mats for the tables with wax paper and an iron and a few choice leaves such as this one.

One fall day I met up with the local third grade. It was their annual field trip around town as part of the know you town and state curriculum. The youth were all excited and I heard them coming long before I could see them winding through the woods on a trail . I was waiting, at the top of Wolf Rock in Mansfield. The preserve is in a land trust called Joshua's Trust. Joshua was the Native American son of the Chief Uncas. He deeded land to the settlers when they arrived. It is the goal of the land trust to preserve beautiful and distinctive pieces of that original land grant area. The holdings of Joshua's Trust have reached the 4000 acre level!

That day I was waiting on Wolf Rock looking out over the valley in the peak of color. The day was perfect! As soon as the students were settled with their lunches on the sun warmed granite I was introduced. I shared stories of wolves and colonial Mansfield

Here at the edge of the cliff is a glacial erratic, a huge stone dropped by a glacier long ago. On this Wolf Rock day I used a piece of campfire charred wood to scratch the mark of Joshua son of the sachem Uncas onto the stone.

Before they left I had a chorus of all the children's voices howl the Wolf call from the top of Wolf Rock. The Wolf voice has been gone from these hills since the colonists erradicated them, I imagine the deer in the deep valley below shuddered at the howl of a wolf in children's clothing.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Tune In and Then Go Out

This weekend you will want to be outdoors with me! Ct. Outdoors Radio with Suzanne Thompson will tell you all about it. So tune in your dial early to hear about the A-MAZE-ING Story Slam outdoors, all natural and on the air in 3 - 2- 1
Hi, This is Carolyn Stearns and Suzanne Thompson coming to you from the radio studios of WLIS and WMRD. Ct. Outdoors guest is Carolyn Stearns and she is going to tell the audience about the story slam at a corn maze.

The A-MAZE-ING Story Slam is where Arts and Agriculture Meet! Come out and listen to stories in this free program for the whole family. In fact pack a picnic and come at 12 to hear the Crustaceans a surf band play! Then at 1 the stories begin.

Where to listen as Suzanne and Carolyn bring you this interview on the radio. A large piece of Eastern Ct. fits in the listening area of the two stations. Here is where to set your dial: WLIS 1420 AM Old Saybrook and WMRD at 1150 AM - Middletown will broadcast the Ct. Outdoors Show at the following times. Tuesday Aug 31 12:30 -1 p.m. and again at 6:30-7 p.m. Sat. Sept 4 you can hear it if there is no Uconn Football being aired, the show time will be 1 p.m. and on Sunday Sept 5 tune in early from 7-7:30 a.m.

You can find more of Suzanne's work at as she urges people to get Outdoors we recommend this weekend in Thompson , Ct. Take a walk in Fort Hill Farms Corn Maze before or after the slam, enjoy the 70 gardens, savor the farm fresh ice cream flavors and pan for gem stones in the water. Under the tent stories will be told the winning storyteller to receive a hot air balloon flight from Anyone can share a story 5-7 minutes on the theme; In A Quiet Corner. Tune in your radio and listen and then come outdoors and join us at the A-MAZE-ING Story Slam!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lippitt Morgan Drill Team 2010 Debut

When is a picture NOT worth a 1000 words? When the subject is Lippitt Morgans in a debut Drill Team. Even the video could not, and does not do justice to the beauty and symmetry of the equine drill. The horses sounds, the cadenced hoof beats, the shrill whistle of the go command, the breath of the horses as they pass you on the rail. The exuberance of all the riders at the completion of the ride, all those things are missed in a video. It captures a memory but falls short on recreating that awe inspired moment when the drill flashed past and in the ride created Lippitt Morgan Club history a very first drill team.

A drill team is a study in cooperation and timing. It takes hours of practice to get the pattern memorized, and that's only the start. Horses need to find similarly gaited partners. Riders need to be able to keep the pattern in mind as they maneuver their horses. The horses need to get beyond herd instincts and work in close quarters and become tuned into their partners movements.

How many things in life are like a drill team! Co workers in an office, the morning commute of cars on the highway and the students flowing through the halls of school buildings are all drills like the horses do. There are so many. We need to practice the cooperation and timing, and study the pattern with diligence. We can learn from those we ride with and gauge our speed to accommodate those not keeping up for a bit. We will all be a little happier and get along a bit better when we take a cue from the Lippitt Morgan Drill Team!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Donkeys Just Wanna Have Fun!

Coming into the ring for your viewing pleasure the obstacle class for donkeys. Let's see how our exhibitors have trained their donkeys to work their way through the obstacles. Then there will be the riding and the driving classes. Yes, they let donkeys drive but it has to be an automatic........ well couldn't resist the joke, the driving will be donkey to a cart and a exhibitor at the reins. There are many classes in a Donkey show and again I will be delighted to be the announcer for the annual Donkey show at the Brooklyn Fair in Brooklyn Ct. this Saturday. See my schedule of shows at The show starts at 9:30 in the event arena near the cattle barns. Donkeys are such fun animals and a resurgence in interest has brought a large number to the fairs and shows held annually around New England and beyond. They are patient and thoughtful much like Eeyore from the Pooh stories. They may not pass an obstacle at first attempt but will ponder the risk involved and the value in doing as they are asked and will make a valiant attempt despite having fear issues.

The donkeys come in three sizes. There are the miniatures which are invariably cute, the standards which are the Grand Canyon type and made popular by the children's classic storybook Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry. Then there are the Mammoth Variety a rather large horse height donkey with magnificent large ears. My all time favorite donkey is a character named Jassper! He has the world's best ears! Jassper resides in Franklin Ct. on Blue Hill Farm and has many donkey friends, he is a gentle ambassador. Jassper recently starred in a video I made in a corn maze with his friend Tabassco and they will both be at the show Saturday. I will see them again next week when they come to the A-MAZE-ING Story Slam at Fort Hill Farms in Thompson Ct. The story slam is a storytelling competition and Jassper and Tabassco and possibly their friend Asster will be all ears as they listen to the tales told on the theme "In a Quiet Corner".

After their fun at the story slam they will be at the Blue Slope Country Farm Museum Fall Festival in Franklin, Ct. Here they will also have some demonstrations of how to operate donkey powered farm equipment. Dependable and steady work habits the hallmark of the donkey as a farming partner , Jassper did some corn chopping last year very economically, he works for cookies!
Come out and watch our friends in the show ring Saturday!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What is a Lippitt Morgan Horse?

A weekend of memories, reunion, celebration and horses, weekends don't get much better than that.

I was at the Lippitt Country Show in Tunbridge, Vt. After the quiet peaceful drive over roads I have not travelled in many years I passed familiar scenes, a dairy with its own covered bridge and the place where the road seems carved into the side of the mountain and the valley opened, I had arrived. The sounds of a horse show are the same everywhere but the horses have a great variety, except at this show. Here the horses were cookie cutter similar. A few variations in color but all of the classic bay, brown, black and chestnut. What was most predominant in the landscape of equine bodies was the gentle eye and the indomitable spirit. These are the descendants of great horses, a bloodline well preserved and lauded by its keepers, The Lippitt Club. The Lippitt Club motto is "Preserving Our Morgan Legacy", and truly these horses look just as their ancestors did 200 years ago. A line from the Lippitt Club brochure states; " ...a strain of Morgan that has no 20th century outcrosses to other breeds, resulting in the highest percentage of Morgan blood available today."

This mare in the picture is a Lippitt Morgan I foaled out in 1992. She was my baby and a beauty, with spirit and talent and a structure about as well balanced and correct as they come in equines. Her name is Storybook Salute Vermont ( in honor of her Dad, Horton's Vermont, her heritage and my favorite C.W. Anderson book "Salute"!) . The last time I saw her was in 1997, when I sent her along into the world to become a young ladies show horse and she has had a well decorated career. Now with a new family and back in Connecticut I still didn't manage to see her until I reached the show grounds in Vermont. She entered the ring with her young handler for a clinic in showanship. It was warm and sunny and they had been on a long trailer ride up from home. All the horses were in nap mode but I let out the whistle I always called my horses with and her head popped up in recognition. She was searching the memory bank for that sound was so distant but familiar. Her ears pricked forward and I asked the young lady to bring her to the fence. I rubbed her face and renewed an old friendship, and I know she remembered me. I thought back to the moment when her body burst into the world wet and shiny and as orange as a Halloween pumpkin. She was not the black or brown I had expected but was gorgeous, as she matured the color toned down to the liver chestnut.

Here we were on a track where the original Morgans raced and where the Morgan breed made a name for itself through its power and strength, versatility and beauty. ( grounds of the Tunbridge World's Fair) The Lippitt Show highlights all those qualities so sought after in the classic Morgans of yesteryear and the ribbons were awarded in breeding stock classes and in many disciplines, to include the regular show classes and add in log skidding, trotting races in harness and under saddle, driving and children's classes. It was a weekend to celebrate Morgans.
Morgan's are memorialized in a Disney movie "Justin Morgan Had a Horse", which in the classic Disney manner tells a tale of the start of the breed through the single stallion "Figure" who later took on his owners name. By 1861 and the outbreak of the Civil War, Vermont and the other northeast states had a generous population of Morgan horses. So generous indeed that the First Vermont Cavalry rode off to battle mounted only on the backs of Morgans! The Morgan Horse became the chosen U.S. cavalry breed with their remount breeding program located in Vermont.
Wherever they are in the country the Lippitt Morgan has its roots in the mountains of Vermont and in the traditions of the U.S. Cavalry. They are the Pride and Product of America!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A-MAZE-ING Give A Donkey an Ice Cream Cone

Summer was soooo boring for Jassper and Tabasco, just green grass .... and more green grass. Jassper and Tabasco needed a DAYCATION! Their owner understood when they told him. After work one day they were loaded in the Corn Pro Trailer to go on a Daycation trip. How Excited Jassper and Tabasco were. They were guessing where they might go.

They passed a beautiful town green when they got off the highway. It had not been a long ride, what excitement could be in this quiet country town?

A sign showed them where they would turn and pointed the way to Ct. Grown at Fort Hill Farms . Blue Hill donkeys at Fort Hill, Jassper and Tabasco hoped they had more than green grass.

Tabasco helped find a place to park their trailer.

They soon new they were welcome at Fort Hill Farms and it would be a great Daycation!
They got tickets for the Corn Maze. They had never been in a corn maze before!

Jassper and Tabasco tried all the paths, up and down the hill and to the towers and had so much delicious fun!

Winding through the green paths was fun, and relaxing and sometimes they even felt like running a little.

They found answers to the quiz and looked at the secret maps. At the end they looked at the big map again and saw all the places in the maze they had visited. They wished more friends had come to the maze with them.

Back under the big tent they were told about the
A-MAZE-ING Story Slam
coming on Sept 4, 2010 at 1 p.m. They asked if they could come too.
Of course the answer was yes! Jassper and Tabasco would be "All ears" when listening to the stories at the A-MAZE-ING Story Slam. They could be really good listeners!
Jassper whispered to Tabasco that they would look it up on the barn computer when they got home. Tabasco had to try to remember the site address.

After all the fun in the maze little Tabasco was sooo hungry he was happy to see a little grass. Jassper had a better idea. He had heard from a friend at the Farmers Cow about the new ice cream and he really wanted to try it!

Jassper looked near the fishing pond but it wasn't there.

They found the Creamery and had a hard time choosing a flavor!

Other people were in line to place an order and Jassper got in line next.

Finally it was his turn to order, Mint please! and make it all natural.

Jassper's cone was so delicious!

Got Ice Cream?

It was an exciting Daycation at Fort Hill Farms for Jassper and Tabasco!
Now they will be counting the days until
Sept 4, 2010 when they can come back.
Will they be seeing you at the A-MAZE-ING Story Slam?
Jassper may tell you a story about Scarlet the new baby donkey at Blue Hill, but he may be to busy trying a few more flavors.