Sunday, July 31, 2011

Willimantic Brewing Company and VoiceMail

Welcome to the Willimantic Brewing Company, Housed in Willimantic CT. 's former Post Office  building.
Do you want a tempting appetizer?

A full dinner?  Want to try the in house brew?

Would you like a story with your dinner?    Let Me Recommend; 

You can catch VoiceMail once a month at Willi Brew. A  special night for the open mic for storytelling. Each time we will have a featured teller  and several slots in the open mic time. Come at 6 p.m. for dinner,( I suggest a call ahead for reservations  860-423-6777 tell them for VoiceMail). At 7 the stories begin with the feature taking the mic at 7:30. We will collect a donation by "pass the hat" the proceeds of which will be split 50/50 between the nights feature teller and the CT. Storytelling Center

                              The first date is AUGUST 29, 2011 
  Our feature teller will be Carol Birch
                      Check out her website to see her connection to Lou Gehrig!         

Come back Sept. 26, and again on  Oct 31,  for spooky stories               
Did you See Willimantic Brewing Co.  during the July 4th  Boom Box Parade?

If you plan to be sampling the award winning brews we ask you to bring a designated driver!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Whale of a Tail, or is it Tale?

                       The Whale Tail Fountain in New London, CT.

New London was first a colonial port city with the river and harbor deep and safe from storms. The fishing in the area was abundant and the forest provided wood for an early shipbuilding  business. Later in New London history came the whaling industry the  third largest fleet of whalers called New London their home port. Along came the trains that run along side the dock and off into the vast network of  rails across our nation and the city became a shipping port. It was also a refuge from the summer heat and illness of New York City with a thriving hotel business at the waterfront to service those  who came to the town for relief.

Today New London, CT. is a mixture of past and present. It is still a transportation hub as ferry boats come and go to the islands on regular schedules, their huge horns blasting a signal as the slip away from the docks. The trains come and go with constant regularity, freight, passenger and high speed sliding along the platforms at the historic Union Station. Taxis and buses are lined up waiting for fares to distant locations. Walkers stroll the shops and store fronts and a noon-day traffic to the restaurants is plentiful.

Historic sites are well marked and an easy walk from the fountains central port side location. New London is a city rich in heritage and modern amenities just waiting for your next visit.

In preparation you may want to learn a few whale tales to share near the whale tail!

Whales are a part of teaching in many schools here is a teacher resource site with a whale tale:

This is a great story resource for the teller of tail tales:

The United States Coast Guard Academy is in New London, CT. ( just across the street and from the Connecticut Storytelling Center,  ( )
 Here is a true story and coloring book of Inky the Whale they provide as an educational tool:

You can try one of those types of Whaling ships from days gone by with a tour on the Mystic Whaler, it is on my list of things I want to do!  What a day-cation!

I have a couple favorite stories from the whaling era of American History, catch me at one of my events  to hear a Whale of a Tale!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Robin's Alive - Game & Story from Ages Past

Game and a Story to Share

Children's Games Played in Streets, School Yards and Camps for Centuries, often were related to events and stories of our history and peoples.
Here is  an adaptation to Robin's Alive to be played by a group of children or youth. There is also a story to correspond with the game. This would be particularly well suited at a horse camp, or a storytelling with a  activity to accompany it.
         ( free clip art image from artwork in the Public Domain )                          

Originally the game can be found in "Games and Songs of American Children" by William Wells Newell, second edition 1903 and reprinted by Dover Publications 1963.

Evening Campfire time is a special gathering at any camp. Here is the perfect game for fun and laughter at  your next camp fire. This could be done in schools and libraries as well.

The Game:
  In it's original form  the players all sit in a circle. A stick from the campfire is withdrawn with the end burning. It is passed from player to player each reciting the verse;

 "The bird is alive, and alive like to be, If it dies in my hand you may back- saddle me."

   The game may go back to the history of torch bearers from Athens who lit a torch at the alter of Prometheus and passed the torch along runner to runner. There is an English version with riders going to Whitehall. One version had the loser ( whoever held the stick when  the light went out to have the furniture stacked upon them.

    Here are my two adaptations:
1.) The firestick is passed around the campfire with each person reciting the line above. When the flame goes out the person holding the stick chooses another player and has to give them a "piggy-back" ride around the campfire area. 

2.) version 2 for small children and indoor games. A baton or other item is passed around the circle if a player drops the baton that player needs to get up and "gallop" around the circle and make neigh sounds. Once back in place the game resumes.

The Story to go along with the Game is:

How The Robin's Breast Became Red; I like the version in  the Baldwin Project collection, collected from Cook's "Nature Myths"  you can read it from the link below:

Thursday, July 21, 2011


      Ever since Chevy Chase delighted viewers with the squirrel scene in "Christmas Vacation" I've become interested in the antics of our aerial neighbors. They are often at war with the owners of bird feeders with an economic recovery quite possible through the sales of squirrel proofing devices. The flip side of that are the people who are supplying the little beggers with dining facilities complete with table, chairs and an ear of dried corn. Some people have gone to extremes and created complicated adventure parks for the squirrels that visit their feeding station.
    Yesterday I was visiting Old Sturbridge Village   when we met a well fed squirrel outside the cafeteria. He has few threats in his existence, no dogs or cats, only night security cars and school groups. Of course it is the spills of these thousands of guests that make being a museum squirrel a good deal!
I have never seen such a happy and rotund squirrel and it is still able to run up and down trees with agility!

I was introduced to the personalities of wildlife through the writings of Thornton W. Burgess, beginning with the Adventures of Whitefoot Woodmouse.
   Burgess wrote many books including a collection of Mother West Wind Tales and many personal tales of animals we all mingle with on a regular basis. The Sandwich Ma. resident was born there in 1874 and lived until 1965. His many books and wildlife friends are celebrated at the  Thorton W. Burgess Society, 6 Discovery Hill Rd. E. Sandwich , MA. 02537 508-888-6870. Find out more about what the Society has to share at its nature preserve, center and library
I think this little guy is mad I have yet to mention that you can download many of these great books from this site:

When the mac and cheese my grand - daughter spilled is all gone I'm sure our squirrel friend is....
                                                             outta here!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Artisan Breads - What's The Story Here?

Second  post in the series "What's the Story here?"

Making, baking, ovens, history and more good bread! I love the story "The Smell of Bread" a Russian folk tale in the collection by Yury Kazakov (1965).

   This blog was inspired by watching bread baker Dave Emigh at Mansfield General Store on Saturday July 16, 2011.  He set up his portable bakery in the parking lot and went to work using an incredible oven the Le Panyol.
                                             A crowd quickly gathered to see the oven

Making Bread and Pizza in a Wood Fired Oven
     Watch a video short with Dave Emigh, Bread Baker

Bead Baking Resources
Ovens   - colonial:
   1780-81 Lebanon, CT. played host to the French army during the winter. They had arrived with General Rochambeau to aide the rebellion which resulted in the birth of our nation. But...not without bread. Encamped at Lebanon the soldiers built ovens to have the comfort of good bread.
       read more about French Bread Ovens and see an illustration at this link:

To read more about the French troops and see a relic of  a camp this link will take you there:

 For a really fun website on pizza/bread ovens visit:

For more information on the copper topped oven demonstrated by Dave Emigh at Mansfield General Store look to this website:  it uses the special clay Dave told me about, Terre Blanche quarried in Larnage, France. Other Le Panyol ovens are in use at King Arthur Flour, Norwich VT. and  Stone Turtle in Maine

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Mansfield General Store - What's the Story Here?

Today is the first of a series What's the Story Here? This series will highlight interesting people, places and things I run across. Stop back for  another installment every few days. Thanks

                         Mansfield General Store - good old fashioned country charm!

They sure got it right on the business card, because this is the capitol of country charm!
         I stop often for a cold drink, a wonderful cranberry chicken salad wrap or a hot cup of coffee. Today I visited with intent to see all the happenings, this summer Saturday found a tag sale of antiques and collectibles, fresh picked flowers and artisan bread baking in the neatest copper covered oven out front. ( see an upcoming post for more on the bread).     

             As you can see the store has served the community at Mansfield Center, CT. and the many who pass through for a long, long time. The store is  set just a stones throw from the cemetery of colonial stones and the field where the militia drilled for the march to Bunker Hill. It is right at the intersection of our towns historical past and busy present. On this particular morning the Saturday traffic was whooshing by only to slow at the glint of sun on the copper bread oven and the white tents harboring classic New England collectibles.
 When was the last time a pocketful of change meant reaching into the tin covered candy jars for just the right blend of favorites?
                  My children learned how to count money buying a few selected pieces of candy from a previous owner. This a a tradition as old as candy itself! What a great lesson for kids to learn, how to be a savvy shopper with a budget of 50 cents.
Have a cup of coffee and enjoy the photos of the Mansfield General Store then come down some Sunday for brunch and live music! Find them at the Intersection of Rtes 195 & 89

Carolyn Stearns Storyteller hopes you enjoy a visit to the Mansfield General Store, if you find me there maybe I'll have time to share a story!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"Change The Story" A TedX Talk

"Change the Story"   A TedX Talk / Calgary
Is our non-profit, community group, church or civic  group stuck in a changing world? Do we need to look at things in a new fresh perspective, a new story?  I found some great advice and motivation in this Ted Talk filled with " the intersection of leadership and STORY!"

 "Carolyn,                                                                7/10/11

Thanks for the kind words - and, of course, please feel free to post to your blog - glad to hear it's meaningful to folks out there.


Nick "

               Nick Nissely Ed.D

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Signs I'm NOT in Downtown Mansfield

        Signs I'm NOT in Downtown Mansfield

                                                             contents under pressure

caution ahead

Parking Lots

water color memories

                                                Make Hay While the Sun Shines

                                                                   Oh Deer!

Hometown Pleasures


                                        Water everywhere but not a drop to drink


                                                            Girls Night Out

                                                       I Love Mansfield, CT.                   

Friday, July 8, 2011

Boom Box Parade

            What does a town do when they can't get a band to march in their parade?

        Resort to good old fashioned Yankee Ingenuity! Kathy Clark did that 26 years ago in coming up with an outrageously simple solution. Everyone carry a boom box radio and the get the main St. radio station WILI to play parade march music. That is the way it has been ever since.  It is a very eclectic bring whatever, all are welcome parade ever since and it draws thousands of viewers to a Main St decked out in 4th of July finery and a willing host to  the essential American experience.
            Ten deep at the sidewalks that fall back on open space the families of the region and beyond set up their space early in the morning to await the announcement it is about to begin. The parade has attracted National press coverage and unique local coverage as well. 2011 saw 4 newspapers print stories and pictures and three televison crews were on hand to film. It was a perfect July 4 with warm but comfortable sunny skies and a slight breeze, the crowds came out in droves. They were awaiting the annual appearance of regulars like the Fishheads and the Haggerosa Fire Co a family with an antique fire apparatus and more. They line up to cheer for little league players and Karate schools, kids on bikes and social programs. There a plenty of classic and antique autos including Mountain Dairy, our family farm.

This year a new entry was the Connecticut Storytelling Center.  I have been planning increased visibility for storytelling in my hometown and vicinity.  In adding a parade entry I knew 10,000 people would see the name and get a quick intro. I have been on the local radio a couple times, this is good follow up. This past winter both neighboring colleges, Uconn and Eastern CT. State University participated in Campus Slammer story slams. We are growing our own following person by person.
The video introduces my next  local piece. "VoiceMail" a open mic for storytelling held once a month will be hosted by this well known Main Street pub The Willimantic Brewing Company. You will see the camera pan the location in the old Post Office building.  With several awards for their specialty brews and delicious food  we are sure to have a good crowd for dinner and  stories in the Postmasters office will follow.  Soon I'll be announcing the dates and getting all the social media publicity going and the local papers and of course radio. In the mean time we sure had fun with the Willimantic, CT. Boom Box Parade.  P.S. the parade puppy is a Wheaten Terrier named Lily, everyone loves a parade!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Peace Like a River

I've Got Peace Like a River......... In a 5 minute vacation, a 1 hour vacation, Daycation and weekend getaway.  I think I get through really hectic scheduling ( that earned me the nickname DERVISH recently) by being able to see the 5 minute vacation when I need one. Here is a sample:

I saw the beautiful spot and not only acknowledged it, but took time to stop, shut the car engine off and spend five minutes in the sounds of bird song and river! I drove the rest of the way home singing and humming Peace Like A River ( It Is Well With My Soul ).  If you don't know that classic old hymn here is a sample:
     The song lyrics were written by Horatio Spafford in 1873. They were written after two tragedies in his life. In 1871 he lost his wealth  to the great Chicago Fire. That was followed by the tragic death of his four daughters in a ship crash at sea. He received a telegram from his wife "saved alone". He set sail for England to meet his wife, as he sailed past the spot where the Ville De Havre was sunk he was inspired by the emotions and wrote this moving piece.
    In 1876 The words of Horatio Spafford were put to the music of Philip Bliss to become a hymn sung so often in the churches of America. Ironically  Philip Bliss died in a train wreck shortly after the piece was published.
A 1 hour vacation is stopping along the way from one event to another to take in a historic site. This is looking down at the base of Meetinghouse Rock in Norwich Ct.
 This is the incredible view settlers of Norwich had when the ascended this hill to share in church services.
   That Daycation would be a wonderful few hours by the sea, I love the sound of the creaking wooden boats at Mystic Seaport.  A strand of a sea chantey in the distance the clip clop of hooves along the cobbles and the laughter of children.
 All Aboard for some well earned vacation 5 minutes or the full blown summer escape, enjoy every moment. Then settle back and share the vacation stories!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Tales From Around the World with Mike Lockett

  I just arrived back home from the most amazing trip around the world!

 I never did pack a suitcase. I collected no stamps in my passport. I didn't get any coins from foreign lands. My travels were all done right here at my computer while I listened to the Tales From Around The World a storytelling CD from Mike Lockett the Normal Storyteller. and available for download through
             It's that time of year when libraries are kicking off Summer Reading Programs. This years theme in many libraries is "One World Many Stories". How perfect a fit the CD Tales From Around the World  is to that theme. The story adventure begins with  a classic Anansi story from Ghana, we were right there the sounds of the great river slipping past and the spirits singing. Soon I was swept away through Russia, England and Ireland. I spent time with a lizard and a deer down Mexico way and moved round the far side of the globe again before stopping for my favorite in the collection a story from France " The Wooden Shoe Christmas". I left that snowy scene and in moments was in the sunny tropics for another Anansi Spider tale.

       Mike Lockett pulled out all the stops as the saying goes, this CD storytelling collection done with sound effects, bits of music, voiced dialects, and delivered just like you were sitting in front of him made for great listening. It is a great travel CD in two ways, one for its broad sampling of world stories, the other pop Tales From Around The World, in the car CD player on the way to vacation and collect some back seat Peace!

Stop by  Mike Lockett's website maybe you can catch a live performance of Tales From Around the World  with the Normal Storyteller near you!