Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wed. Word Wisdom - Sheepishly

Wednesday Word Wisdom highlights a different word each week. Many will have agricultural backgrounds. Can you use my word of the week during your week?

I think kids would have fun finding ways to make a movie of a definition, I sure am!

Sheepishly; This flock at The University of Connecticut, College of Agriculture is sure acting sheepishly! They tuck their head down low and behind another hoping not to be noticed.

Have a word with an agricultural root you would like me to  post?  Just leave a comment at the bottom. If it isn't on my list already I will add it.

Last week's word: Ruminate;

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wed. Word Wisdom - Ruminate

                       Wednesday Word Wisdom   from  Carolyn Stearns Storyteller

Ruminate to meditate and  ponder.... We all do it a little, but I thought the time to get back to our roots was now. The roots of our language are based in agriculture at times, especially this word!


             Don't you feel better knowing we have a staff on hand to do all the heavy thinking!

                              Come back next Wednesday for a new word of wisdom.

other blogs agricultural setting:


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Rape of the Sea - Book Review "Cod"


by Mark Kurlansky

A Cod fish, seems innocent enough, yet has created international fighting, gunshots,  territorial wars and innovations that have indeed raped the sea.

 This book is a incredible cross curriculum look at what on the surface is simple, in reality
is a complex issue stemming from centuries old fishing practices to politics of today. The pre 20th century fisherman of the Grand Banks and Georges Banks,could never have imagined the calamity
 that over fishing would create. Their system of hooks and lines,fisherman in a dory boat, was a slow and tedious task I first learned of from "Captains Courageous" by Rudyard Kipling. The new system, so efficient it stripped the sea and population of a simple fish that fed the world.

Bottom draggers became the economical way for fisherman to take a great haul of fish. So great a haul that few remain of a species. Disbelief that the Cod and a way of life was disappearing the fisherman continued to fight over the fishing grounds that lay off shore their native lands. The fish are so depleted, I feel a sense of guilt when seeing Cod listed on a menu, or offered in the market fish case.

Mark Kurlansky has  researched and gathered the history of Cod fishing into a very readable book. It's pages filled with the everyday lives of fisherman and  a timeline of world history as it relates to Cod. Kings and Queens, revolutionaries and enterprising men of the sea, all took part in the story of the Cod's demise.

A favorite quote ( there are many from history in the book) from the book Cod by Mark Kurlansky:

"Salt fish were stacked on the wharves, looking like corded wood, Maple and Yellow Birch with the bark left on. I mistook them for this at first, in one sense they were, - fuel to maintain our vital fires - an Eastern wood which grew on the Grand Banks."
                                                     Henry David Thoreau  Cape Cod 1851

Yes, Cape Cod, all of a sudden the name makes such sense, for her shores were lined with the fisheries, and her cities built on the sales of Cod. So innate to life on the Cape was Cod  that the sea chantey singers  had a tune about it!

Let me add these few words Mark Kurlansky quoted in the book to entice you to buy and read:

"The Codfish lays a thousand eggs
The homely hen lays one.
The Codfish never cackles
To tell you that she's done.
And so we scorn the Codfish
While the humble hen we prize
Which only goes to show you
That it pays to advertise.
                                        anonymous American rhyme

Mark Kurlansky has written a great book. I was so impressed with it I just had to share everyone.

Looking to buy or download Cod? Go here:

Sunday, September 9, 2012

History 300 & Coventry Farmers Market

     Adventuring in local history I find a web of connections to the state, nation and world. No historical event is singular, each is a domino, or a thread, like I found today in Coventry, CT. This web between historic headstones is an example of how the story and history of one connects to the next. I found so many pieces of Coventry history today, with so many threads to other pieces of history, and took so many photos I decided to do a blog series in honor of the town's 300th Celebration.!/coventry.connecticut

I began my day at Coventry Farmers Market - it is one of the best in New England. It is held on the grounds of  the Nathan Hale Homestead. Wouldn't the Hale family be pleased that families still look to their farm as a place to get vegetables and farm product. People came out in droves today to sample, and visit, eat and learn about food.!/CoventryFarmersMarket
I found delicious Heritage apples - a Rusted Pippin variety, not the Newton Pippin I had hoped for ( the blooms froze in spring) but a delicious variety none the less, an apple the Hale family might have enjoyed. Heritage varieties give us an idea what they favored  long ago, I also had wonderful heritage variety tomatoes. At Coventry Farmers Market you can eat history!
  My adventure led me on, stopping on the  way out to watch Cedar Knoll give wagon train rides in the Holy Grove.

Sept. 29, 2012 there will be a huge parade in Coventry to honor the 300th. Then at 1 p.m. I will perform a timeline of historical stories at the Booth and Dimock Library on Main St. That is why I am in research mode, I'm looking to find some unique voices, fitting descriptions, and unusual angles, I am hoping my stories will be the historical stories they thought they knew, delivered in a new light.
Next stop; the Green where the militia practiced, now a memorial. Come back soon or follow/subscribe to my blog to see future postings on the Coventry, CT 300th and all the stories in between.

Other blogs with a historical theme:

Friday, September 7, 2012

Act!vated Story Visiting CT.

National Touring Theatre Company to Appear at Shubert Library
The national touring theatrical troupe Act!vated Story Theatre will arrive to “Act!vate” multicultural folktales at the Bryam Shubert Library, 21 Mead Avenue in Greenwich, on Monday, Sept. 10 at 3:00 p.m . The 45-minute program is free and suitable for all ages. The troupe will perform the African tale “Hatseller and Monkey” (popularized by the book Caps for Sale ) and a legend about how the ice cream cone was invented at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. For more information, please call the library at 203.531-0426 or visit

Kids are invited to learn parts to perform on stage as “guest stars”. To get a part in the show, kids age 6 and up must attend the free pre-show theatre workshop which begins half an hour before showtime. Participation is limited to 12 children, no experience necessary. The performance itself is open to everyone.

Act!vated Story Theatre productions are high-energy dramatizations of folktales. They don’t just tell stories, they “Act!vate” them. Each show incorporates physical comedy, zany props and costumes, audience participation, music, American Sign Language and a unique set, an oversize "book" with pages that turn to reveal scenery. The Reno Gazette-Journal says, “They have reinvented the art of theatrical storytelling."

Act!vated Story Theatre was founded in San Francisco in 1988 by Dennis and Kimberly Goza. The professional touring troupe has performed in 45 states plus Washington, DC and Japan.

The Act!vated Story Theatre performers are available for media interviews. Contact at (800) 429-6576

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Simple Pleasures - Christmas Spirits

        A few years ago this story fell in my lap. I was hunting for something to share over the holidays and piece by piece this came to me. It was as if the story had been waiting to be found and  left a trail of clues for me to follow. "Christmas Spirits" is historical fiction. The two main characters are fictional, the places and people are old New York City history.

     I've shared this story in many locations from my church here in Mansfield Center CT. to the elegant Ocean House at Watch Hill RI. Each time I tell it, someone comments about loving the simple pleasures of Christmas. "Christmas Spirits" is a new classic. You can fall in love with New York City magic and a budding love story.

   This week I illustrated the story with posts on my "Christmas Spirits" Pinterest page. If you have heard the story you will love the pictures I found to relate. If you have not heard Christmas Spirits the Pinterest page will put you in the Christmas mood. Here is the link:

Who is in the story?
  • a President
  • Clement Clarke Moore
  • a blind woman
  • a baseball player
  • an organist
  • a Burgermeister
  • who else? Come listen and see

November and December are the perfect time to book a "Christmas Spirits" performance for your family event, corporate entertainment, civic group party, church, or build a party around it as house concert.  My website is: 



Sunday, September 2, 2012

Never the Twain Shall Meet

We will never meet Mark Twain ( the pen name of Samuel Clemens), but standing in his home, surrounded by possessions that were his, a glimpse. Reading his works penned in the third story "man cave", I know more. Reading what a few of our American Presidents had to say about Mark Twain, yet another piece. Mark Twain was a storyteller!  Our guide related about his stories at dinner parties, I felt at home.
This recent visit was a warm late summer day and I could imagine Twain at his desk writing and growing drowsy. The guide told us a hammock once hung on the third floor porch so he could nap out there. It is in among the tree tops and so resembled a tree house. From there the views were of the carriage house, the Park River (now underground), Harriet Beecher Stowe's house, and the greenhouse that supplied table flowers year round.
As I stood on the porch I tried to imagine the family here. One could easily imagine children playing
here even on a rainy day. Their voices drifting up to their father far above them in the hammock or at his desk. I could almost hear the crunch of the gravel as a carriage bearing guests could have come up the drive way and paused under the portico for them to disembark.

The Clemens family kept some ducks who had this view of the house from down near the river and marsh. Today cars park where they once swam, but it is not hard to imagine on a warm summer afternoon.

A unique example of Victorian architecture from top to bottom, the Twain/Clemens home was state of the art when built and yet designed for the family to enjoy. A favorite feature of mine is the curved butlers pantry that connects the service wing to the main house. Only the butler had access, it was his little kingdom. China and silver services were kept here and  he served the meals from this space.

Here are a few more pictures from my most recent visit:

                                                        details details everywhere!
a slate roof

                              Glass conservatory off the family library complete with fountain!
 In Connecticut or coming to Connecticut here is the link to the Twain Visitor Center:

         His boyhood home in Missouri is a museum as well:

Mark Twain, many of his quotes you will recognize even if you did not know they were from him.

Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.
Mark Twain