Why Do I Do That?


Friday July 1st was a wonder filled day. It was my 2nd brother’s birthday so I thought of him while I ate a great breakfast of scrambled eggs with cheese in them, some toast and juice. Oh and lots of coffee. I prayed for him and his family. Thought of the times we shared coffee and laughter.

Then I made my list for the day.

  1. Make the bed.
  2. Put away clean clothes
  3. Empty the suitcase of those things I always take too many of when I travel. I just got back from the Christian Storytelling Conference in Normal Illinois on Sunday and have been too busy to get that thing empty and put away. That was an awesome conference. I presented a workshop and got to tell stories too. What a great bunch of people and what a lot of fun and laughter.
  4. Practice stories
  5. Tell stories at Stonewall Farm for their day camp.
  6. Get supper.
  7. Write

Well, I got part of the list done. I made the bed and practiced stories. Worked on some of the things I needed to catch up on as the event manager for the White Mountain Storytelling Festival (not on my list). Then I went to tell stories at Stonewall Farms. It is an hour and a half drive so I got time to practice.

What happened there was the answer to my own question “Why do I do that?”

I began my storytelling to a fairly large group of kids ranging from 5 to 12 years of age by asking them how many of them had been to camp there before. I would say about half of them had been. Then I asked if they had been there when I told last year. Many of them had. “Good, then you might remember this story that I am going to tell first. You can help me with it.”

It was the story of Sun Boy taken from a Margaret Reed McDonald book. One of the oldest stories told and certainly the oldest one I know. It comes from the Mayan tradition. I tell it as a participation story.

I went on to tell a few more stories. One I wrote about a little girl who wanted to learn to fly and kept asking her mother why she couldn’t and when she could until her mother sent her out to play. She asks all the animals she encounters in the back yard and even climbs way up in a tree to ask the birds. There she finds a nest of baby birds and all they do is cheep and ask for worms. Finally the mother bird comes home and tells her to leave her babies alone. When she asks mother bird how to fly she says jump. But the girls says “I can’t I don’t have feathers or wings.” Finally the mother bird tells her “When my babies grow up they learn to fly. Perhaps you just need to grow up too. Then you will be able to do anything you want to do.” The girl climbs back down the tree and goes in for lunch. Her mother confirms what the bird told her. When you grow up you can do anything you want to do. You can be anything you want to be.

Before I started that story I asked if anyone had ever wanted to fly and a girl about 8 or 9 years old got all excited and said yes. There was a light on her face and in her eyes that told me she really wanted to learn to fly.   As I finished the story and said you too can be anything you want to be her face once again lit up and she didn’t stop smiling for a long time.

After a few more stories for about a 50 minute program, I said thank you to them for being such good listeners and everyone got ready to be picked up by parents.

One young boy perhaps 9 years old came up to me all smiles and excitement and asked me if I remembered giving him a stone last year. I said yes I did. He told me he still had it. It is in his rock collection. I asked him if it still had the story on it and if he remembered it. He said “Yes I picked the one with the yellow in it. The story is Sun Boy.” He also has other stones and some of them have stories on them as well. I would love to hear him tell them.

So why do I do this? I do this for those reasons. For the children that need to know they can do anything they want to as they grow. I do it for the ones who love the stories and keep the stones.   I do it for the ones who need to know that someone cares and they are special. I do it so the stories will continue. I do it so the Mayan tales and the Scottish Folk tales and the old and the new stories of all kinds will continue to live in the hearts of the people.

I do it for love.

Why do I only get half my list done? Or why do I do things that are not on my list? I am not sure if any of that matters at the end of the day.  It will all be right there tomorrow and one day if it is important it will get done?

Categories: children, earth, funny, grace, humor, laughter, story, storytelling, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Granite State Story Swap 2015

Granite State Story Swap 2015

doug lipman 1The 11th annual Granite State Story Swap has come and gone all too soon.  I feel the letdown of work well done and gone too swiftly.  I feel the joy of reminiscing and the sight of great friends seen only a few times each year.  I feel the happy release of something gone very well and having served many people many ways.

Breaking bread together is a tradition with Granite State Story Swap. It is what helps to make us all a family.

We started the morning with coffee from Starbucks thanks to Mark Chamberlain and bagels with cream cheese and rolls from Panera Bread. Juice and water and tea were also provided by Ruth Niven and Sharon Wood.

Lunch consisted of healthy and delicious soups, salads and sandwiches.  If anyone left hungry it wasn’t because there wasn’t enough.  We had plenty and hopefully everyone enjoyed it.  We are grateful to Hannafords, Shaws, Panera Bread, The 3 Sisters (Carol Nichols, Cora Ciampi & Lauretta Phillips)  Angela Klingler, Kim Hart, Sharon Wood, Ruth Niven, Bruce Marcus and I am sure some others I am missing for providing us with this terrific lunch.

At the end of the day everyone who wanted to, took home some of that delicious bread donated by Panera Bread.  Whatever was left after each one got what they wanted is going to the Food Pantry.

It is also our joy to be able to give back to our local organizations.

We make a donation to a charity from each event we hold.  For The 2014 White Mountain Storytelling Festival it was Whole Village Family Services in Plymouth.  We will let you know where we are sending the donation from Granite State Story Swap.

Our featured speaker, Doug Lipman, sent out a challenge about how we were going to change the story of our society through the stories we each tell.  He did this with such graciousness and care that many of us felt loved into accepting the challenge and decided to make this part of our storytelling mission.  Changing the world as we know it one story at a time.  When he finished speaking we all cheered and weren’t sure we wanted him to be done.  Tell us more Doug.  Teach us to be that kind of storyteller who has the best for the world in our hearts and minds and stories.  Stories that teach the world to care enough.

Throughout the day there were many stories told.  Our 10 minute story concert gave us Papa Joe Gaudett with Hide and Seek, Jo Radner with Shedding Skins, and Pat Spaulding with Mother of the Band.

The 5 minute story challenge show cased Mike Lang with Octopus and Raven, Libby Franck with Politically Incorrect or Why I hate Chocolate, Debra Ballou with Frog Talk and Mark Chamberlain with Holy Bread.   Which by the way Mark you went exactly 5 minutes.

Each of the stories were different and delightful.  Well thought out programing by the selection committee which was chaired by Andy Davis makes these concerts a thing many tellers would be proud to be part of.

From the stories that were told in the swaps and concerts to Doug Lipman’s ending concert of stories about his precious father which brought tears and laughter, the day was successful and joy filled for me and for many others.  It was a day that filled me up and many ways.

Thanks to all those who helped out as volunteers and all those who just stepped in and helped out.  Those who helped set up food and put it away.  Helped clean up the kitchen so the birthday party could come in that space and those who helped to clean up and get us out of the learning center as close to 5:30 as possible.  Ela Ramsey even vacuumed the floor saving us $50 for a janitor.  Thank you all for a job well done.

I have 1 lost and found item.  A purple metal water bottle.  Anyone missing one, message me and tell me how to get it to you please.

So now, the day after the day after Granite State Story Swap, I am already thinking of next year and our next featured speaker Elisa Pearmain.  But first…. White Mountain Storytelling Festival  September 25-27, 2015 where we will be wowed by Carolyn Stearns and a whole bunch of fantastic storytellers.


Papa Joe was right when he said during the annual membership meeting that we were there to serve.  That is what I feel we should be doing and are doing for our membership.  We served up a good one this time folks.  What a joy.

Peter Brodeur recognized Angela Klingler as Acting President and thanked her for the work she has done in his place while he was taking care of personal issues.

During our membership meeting it was announced that Lauretta Phillips, Andy Davis, Angela Klingler, Ruth Niven & Peter Brodeur’s board terms will be over the end of June.  Peter Brodeur and Ruth Niven elected to run for another term. Papa Joe Gaudett, Claire Chandler & John Sanders were elected to 3 year terms and Peter Brodeur and Ruth Niven were reelected for another 3 year term.  Lauretta Phillips not be on the board but will remain as a board consultant and Event Manager.  Andy Davis suggested that he would be willing to stay for a 1 year term.  At the present time our by laws do not include 1 year terms. That would take a change in our bylaws and will be discussed at our next board meeting.  It is possible that we could bring him back if someone cannot complete their term as an interim board member however.  Angela Klingler has decided to not run for another term but to stay on the Event Committee.

At present Lauretta Phillips is also the chair of the board search committee and anyone interested in serving on the board of directors or event committee should contact her.

It was also decided to have a $20 membership fee and a $10 website listing fee.

Ruth Niven our treasurer gave a report on the condition of our finances.  Papa Joe gave a report on the membership committee.  Sharon Wood gave us the Volunteer committee and introduced Joey Talbert.  I am sure I have missed some of this meeting as I write it here but we will have the minutes posted to the website soon I am sure as Sharon Wood is a very efficient secretary.

Categories: cnhsg, earth, funny, grace, Granite State Story Swap, gsss, humor, laughter, NHSA, story, storytelling, storytelling guild, writing | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Early Morning Lists

Today I woke up smiling.  My first thoughts were “it’s Monday and I have a lot of things to do and I can choose which ones I want to do when or not do them at all.”  Today I have only one obligation.  My regular Monday 10 am meeting with my staff and my business partner.

After that I am free to get the garden weeded or the canning done or clean my office or finish getting the things done for White Mountain Festival or clean house or read a book or write or work on my newest quilt or one I haven’t finished yet.  Guess I better make a list and prioritize it. 

Top of the list? Write.  I fight making lists because it ties me into doing the things on it but I make them anyway because some days like today, I would probably just go out on the deck and read or write all day.  That is not a bad thing but it is not what I really need to do today.  When I do that I want it to be because I chose to do that and did not have anything pressing down on me to make me feel guilty for enjoying the day.  I decided a long time ago to set aside time to play and relax.  When I set that time I can do anything my heart desires and feel free to do it.

So today I better make lists.  I need to be on target for the White Mountain Storytelling Festival.  I am excited about the festival this year. We have a fantastic line up of tellers with our feature being Odds Bodkin. It is going to be very good. There are letters to write, questions to ask, posters to post and lots more things to do. The festival is September 26-28, 2014 at Waterville Valley, NH starting with Ghost Stories at 7:30 pm Friday night.  There are events going on all day Saturday and Odds Bodkin is performing twice.  Some of the fantastic tellers that are joining us are Lani Peterson, Mike Lockett, Geraldine Buckley, Joey Talbert, Andy Davis, Peter Brodeur, Sharon Wood, Papa Joe Gaudet, Angela Klingler, Mike Lang, Mark Chamberlain, Shelley Hersey, Cora Ciampi Ruth Niven Simon Brooks and myself. 

That is going to be the first list.

I need to get ready for our trip to Scotland and Amsterdam September 11-21, 2014.  I am getting excited about that trip.  My daughter and my oldest Sister are going with me to Scotland and Amsterdam.  We are going to see things and be tourists and to find some of our family heritage.  We are originally from the Huntly’s of the Gordon Clan. As a matter of fact I could find us way back to 1047. Now to see some of our history and some of our family stories at the places they happened. 

Then it is off to Amsterdam to visit a friend.  We have been friends for about 30 years or more.  He was hitchhiking in America and we (my husband, daughter and myself) were visiting my sister Cora and her family in Wyoming.  We were driving in the mountains and stopped to pick him up.  Cora and Dave took him home to their house for dinner.  The same place we were staying.  We became friends then and have written to each other ever since.  I have been to visit him once when my daughter and I went to London and Amsterdam 10 years ago.  He has been here numerous times and stayed here in New Hampshire with us for a week once.

So that is the second list.

I need to work in my canning kitchen today.  Putting up Broccoli an Cauliflower in the freezer and canning green beans and doing something with baseball bat sized zucchini.  And the garden needs weeding and the beets need pulling and the greens…

Well there we have the third list

But wait.. that is really the fourth list.

I made another list today. Earlier in the quiet of the morning. Way before the sun tried to break thru the edge of night. During that space between dark and light when the earth pauses and takes a deep breath to get ready for another day. I was deep in thought and praise and you came to mind.  I made a list of you all.  All the of you in my family plus all those friends who came to mind as I was meditating this morning.  There were many.  Each one of you has a special place in my heart that no one else on the list or off can fill.  Each one has a special memory and a special joy connected with your name.  I am not sure where each of you are at this moment or am I sure where you are on this spiritual journey that we all are on.  I am sure that you each have a special place in my heart and a special place in the heart of God.

So I made the list and I called out your names and I held each of you up to God.  I asked for blessings for you and safety on your journeys.  I asked for peace and prosperity for each of you.  I called out your name to God and He listened.

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Slipping and Fuzzing or All It Takes Is A Little Faith

Slipping and Fuzzing or All It Takes Is A Little Faith

I was desperate in need of a job. I found the ad in the Sunday paper that I got from the store on Monday. They let me buy it even if it was a day late because I wanted the ads. Not just the help wanted ads either. I wanted all those flyers they stuff inside there so I could cut the coupons.

That is right, I was a coupon cutter. Not necessarily a coupon user they often expired before I found the need for what they were selling but I just knew if I cut all those coupons out I would save a lot of money. I cut them all out and carried them with me all the time. I knew I would find something in that stack of coupons that I really needed and I could save money on it.

Now I am not poking at coupon cutters. Oh no. I am serious about cutting coupons. My daughter even bought me one of those coupon organizers. But wait, I read the Side Tracked Sisters books a long time ago. I bet I still had them somewhere on the shelves. They would tell me how to organize my coupons.

I decided to go look for the books. Finally I found them among the cook books and noted that I could organize my coupons by type of food and stuff or by expiration date or both. Well enough of that, I needed to go into town and see if I can get an interview for this temporary job I found in the paper. I stuffed all the coupons in my purse along with the old ones and vowed to clean them out later.

I made sure I had an abundance of pens in there too. Pens are always running out of ink just when you need them so go prepared you never know when you are going to need one to jot down a thought or idea for a story or someone’s phone number or something. I added a couple of sharp pencils just for good measure. Go prepared. That is my moto and I am sticking to it.

I heated the water on the propane stove and filled my shower bag. I liked to hang it in the trees outside. There is nothing like an outside shower. I had a platform in a group of three trees with a nice curtain hung around about them. Makes a beautiful place to shower. But I was in a hurry so I took the shower bag to the back room where I had rigged an inside shower and showered and washed my hair. I put on my nicest skirt and blouse even tho it was a bit too warm for it and headed off on the mile and a half trek to my car.

One of my neighbors, Charlie was standing at the head of the trail waiting for his dog and he had the biggest smile on his face. I thought what a nice guy he was. Besides I loved his dog Sam. Sam was a golden retriever  and he came to visit on a daily basis.  He also came whenever there was a storm.  He hated storms.

Coming up out of the woods I looked like a crazy woman. Long skirt, flushed face and hair standing out about a foot and a half on each side of my head. Good thing I kept a comb and brush and some spray in my car. With hair like mine you needed a lot of spray. I got in my car pulling my hair in after me and started it. Then I caught sight of myself in my rearview mirror and knew why Charlie had such a big smile. I pulled out my comb and brush and started to work to get this mass of reddish brown bush under control. I could not possibly interview for a job looking like the witch of the woods. By the time I had started using the spray I had all the windows open and was not being bothered by a single black fly or mosquito.

I drove into town and found the place after a couple of stops at various stores and gas stations. Why can’t anyone just give you clear directions? They all say It’s just down the road a piece or take a right at Main street and a left at the 2nd stop on Sheppard and two blocks left on such and such. They expect you will remember all that and they forget to tell you that first you have to turn on Sheppard and there isn’t any street sign. Well I digress. I did find the place after a fashion and went in. You had to take an elevator to the 5th floor. As I waited for the elevator everyone seemed really friendly and smiling. I smiled back.

I had faith that I was going to get this job. God knew I needed it. I had been telling Him for weeks. So up to the 5th floor I went. I found the office and went in. The receptionist smiled. I loved this place. Everyone was so happy and friendly. I knew I wanted to work for these people.

I waited my turn and took the required tests. You had to take a typing test, a math test and a grammar test. I know I did pretty well on all of them. I thanked God the math test was about adding long columns and using a calculator instead of algebraic formulas or something. I hated math.

Finally I got an interview. The woman was friendly and nice. She kept smiling at me. Sometimes she looked down at her desk when she asked her questions and when she looked up I noticed a gleam in her eye like laughter held in to almost the bursting point. I couldn’t imagine working where everyone was so happy and nice. I really wanted this job and I had faith that if it was the right one for me God would see to it that I got it.

It was a temporary service organization so I knew I would only be working in their office once in a while but I could not wait to begin.

The interview was over. I said my goodbye’s with a promise to call the next afternoon. They wanted me to work for them and thought that I would fit in this one place they had in mind but needed to contact them first. I was elated. I smiled my biggest smile.

I wanted to jump and click my heels or something but I restrained myself and said my thanks and left.

When I went down the elevator we stopped and picked up people on the 3rd and 2nd floors and they all smiled at me.

As I walked out of those big doors I caught a glimpse of myself and knew why everyone had smiled so much.   The elastic in my slip had broken and it was hanging down a good 2 or 3 inches below my skirt.

I walked to the car. By the time I got there it was down about my ankles and I just stepped out of it and picked it up and threw it in the back seat. I got in and turned on the car. I rolled down the windows and took a deep breath.

Despite my fuzzy hair and my misguided undergarments, my faith had proven true once again.

I not only got the job but I went on to make a great name for myself with the company and the companies they worked with. I was requested often. My boss never did forget the interview with the sliding slip and the stiff hair. Every once in a while she would break out in laughter when I came to turn in my time slips or just to see how things were. I brought it up once after I had been with them a while and they all laughed out loud about it. She said she hired me because if I could go through an interview with that kind of thing going on and never crack a smile she knew I would be able to handle most anything the employers handed out. I never did tell her that I didn’t know about the slip till I got out of the elevator on the way to the car.

Oswald Chambers in his book Faith A Holy Walk says “Faith is not convincing ourselves that we have God’s stamp of approval on our plans, it is believing that God’s plans are better than ours. Biblical Faith is not about taking risks, it’s about taking on the identity of Jesus. It’s not about having the audacity to do what is foolish, it’s about having the courage to do what is difficult. It’s not about running in the dark, it’s about walking in the light. It’s not about believing what people say about God, it’s simply about believing what God says.”

I had faith that day that God would see me through and help me find the job I needed to live out that time in my little wooded cabin and still find the time to sit on rocks and write my stories.

Categories: cnhsg, earth, funny, grace, laughter, story, storytelling, storytelling guild, writing | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Wrong Side of the Bed

The Wrong Side of the Bed

Did you ever want to say “just let me lie here for 5 more minutes please? Or have you ever wanted to hit the snooze even if you weren’t going back to sleep but just because you did not want to get up?

When my feet hit the floor, the first thing out of my mouth was “where is the coffee?” That’s not usually the way I wake up. My day usually starts out with “Good morning Lord” and then stretches and lifts and rolls before I even set up. Sleeping has a tendency to make this old body stiff and I need to work out some of those kinks.  But not this day. This day I did not WANT to get up. I did not WANT to exercise, I did not want to open my eyes. So why bother? I had things to do.

Sometimes you just have to do what you do not want to do. I learned that lesson as a very young child when I HAD to watch brothers and sisters and help with the chores. I usually just wanted to read or play or imagine great things instead but the work must get done and the kids need to be kept safe and… Well you know the drill.

So when I got up I was ornery. My mom would have said I got up on the wrong side of the bed. She would have put me to some busy task to keep my mind and body occupied until I got a better attitude. She would say “get an attitude of gratitude young lady”

Now I know this comes as a surprise to you all but I am not always an easy person to live with. I don’t even pretend to be. But usually I can keep my attitudes to myself. Sometimes it sneaks up and bites me like a snake or yells “SURPRISE you are having one of those days”. The best thing I can do when I am having one of those days is to run into my office and shut the door and not come out till I have had time to have an attitude adjustment and that could take all day.

But sometimes contact with other human beings just can’t be helped. Okay so on this particular day, I was ornery to one of the people who is a great friend and wonderful volunteer. Darn it all. I need to keep my mouth shut when my first instinct is to shout “YEAH WHAT DO YOU WANT?” when I answer the phone. I don’t have any excuses. I apologized we talked and settled the problem we needed to solve and feeling like a complete idiot, I hung up. 5 minutes later it was my cell phone that was buzzing. Yep here I was feeling like yelling again. Must need food or more prayers or… Immediately I want to bite my own tongue off. Shoot, my big mouth gets me into trouble a lot. I can’t tell you how many times in my life I have had to say I was sorry because my quick mind and bad temper let my mouth become a garbage disposal. I know others do not need to be on the short end of that stick or take the heat of my bad behavior. How could I who was given the gifts of writing and speaking use my gifts in such a negative way?  Now I was really in a mood.  One of remorse and negativity along with an ugly temper.  Oh boy, this will never do.

Funny, I used to tell my employees that they had 5 minutes in the back room to kick themselves for screwing up and then they needed to come back out with a smile and get on with the business of business. Well I had to take that one step further and give myself time to say I was sorry and time to get forgiveness. Especially from me.

Well today is a better day. Once again I kicked myself for most of the day for being like that and then remembered it wasn’t about me but about forgiveness. God forgives me even before I know I have done wrong. I need to forgive myself and move on.

It is easy to say you’re sorry when you really mean it. Funny how difficult it is to forgive yourself. Maybe you don’t feel as though you deserve forgiveness and probably you don’t but God doesn’t see it that way. He sees with eyes that can only look at us through His Son. He forgives especially when you don’t deserve it. If I had to wait for His forgiveness until I deserved it, I would have to wait a lifetime. Strange how quick this lesson was brought home to me and on Easter weekend too. Today I know I am forgiven. By the people I was rude to, by myself and most of all by God Himself. Forgiven is a state of being, a be attitude. I want to always stand in His light, knowing I am forgiven by others, by myself and by Him who gave more than any of us possibly could HIS SON.

So why would He do that? Why would He sacrifice His Son when we are not and never can be worthy of the sacrifice? I have to remember it isn’t about me. It is about Him and His love. He created us in His own image. He breathed His own breath of life into us. He watched as we fumbled and stumbled and became arrogant and prideful. He took away our messes and gave us His forgiveness and His everlasting Love. We love Him because He loved us first. How can we accept that forgiveness and that love if we don’t first forgive ourselves and love ourselves?

His love is there for the taking we just have to reach out and declare “I WANT THAT”. Wanting and accepting His love is to know what unconditional love looks like.


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Cowboy Boots and Nightgowns

Cowboy Boots and Nightgowns

I love horses.  We used to ride horses almost every day. I was a young wife and mother living just outside of Wellington, Kansas. It was a hot dusty summer and there was not much shade in the pasture. The horses would stay in the shade of the barn during the heat of the day. They would stand first on one leg and then another resting and often leaning against the barn.  Attached to the barn was a small corral.  We brought the horses in each morning and night and fed them a bit of hay and grain even when there was enough food for them in the pasture.  That was so I could check on them and their health, exercise and handle them and keep them from returning to their wild ways. Most of those horses had come off the range down by the Oklahoma border having not been handled until they reached the age of three. The ranchers would drive in the herd, tag all the new foals, select most of the 3 year olds and take them to auction.  Having a halter put on them as they went to auction was usually the first time they had ever been touched by human hands. When you bought one you usually weren’t sure what you were getting. It took a while to get them used to being handled and talked to.  Another while to teach them to trust the lump of humanity on their backs. I was fairly good at those things.

My husband worked for the railroad. He was gone sometimes two weeks at a time. It was left up to me to run the ranch and take care of our six-year-old daughter. My daughter really liked horses. She had a Shetland pony named Julie and a white gelding named Spook. Spook was gentle as he could possibly be. He would let her do just about anything and was very careful not to step on her when she was climbing under him. She rode him in parades and around the 4 mile circuit we used for exercise. My husband’s horse was another white one named Joker. Spook and Joker were both from the range. Joker was a stallion and what I called a man’s horse.  He seemed to know when a woman or kid was on his back.  He would really dumb down when a kid was riding and just plod along like he was about 100 years old. He’d rather have a man to ride him.  He didn’t care much for women and would act out if he thought he could get away with it.  My mom came to visit once and she showed him who was boss right to start the day. They came to an understanding and whenever she wanted he gave her a wonderful ride. In fact he seemed to enjoy it.  Each day while she was there he would come to the pasture fence to say hello to her. Only woman he ever did like as far as I ever knew.

Almost every day we would select the horses that needed exercise and ride a 4 mile circuit. It was a mile to each road and we went the square.  I had a quarter horse named Babe who could stop on a dime and give you 9 cents change.  She had a foal by her side.  I often rode one of the boarded horses and led Babe and her foal down to the neighbors at the end of the first mile.  Where either the wife or one of the kids would climb up on Babe and finish the ride with us.  The board horse that really needed the exercise was a horse named Ribbon. She was an overweight bay colored Morgan mare with a white diamond blaze beneath her forelock.  She stood about 16 to 17 hands high. There is an old saying “one white sock buy them, two white socks try them, three white socks shy away, four white socks turn them away.  She had 3 white socks. She was very independent and she had a tendency to be lazy. She could really go the distance when she wanted to but she didn’t always want to. Ribbon had a sister that was the same height and color as she. Her name was Blaze. Blaze was quite a bit trimmer than Ribbon.  It was about the only way to tell them apart. Blaze had a sweet temperament and would usually run along side Ribbon and me. I often did not even need a lead rope for her.

Lesa’s pony must have been related in the way back “greats” to Ribbon because she too only did what she wanted to do when she wanted to do it.  When she was tired she would lay down and it didn’t matter if someone was on her back or not. When she didn’t want to walk she would walk over into the ditch and stop. Lesa was the only one who could get her to mind and that wasn’t often especially if Lesa was riding Spook. The pony would become jealous and give us a hard time but we did not leave her home because she would break down the gate and come after us anyways. It was easier to deal with her hard times and temper tantrums then it was to repair the gate. Eventually we would leave her standing in the ditch beside the road and go on ahead.  When she realized we were not coming back she would run and catch up with us like a petulant child.

Animals have internal clocks and horses are no exception. In the early evening all the horses would come up for grain and hay and attention.  After they had all received the attention they needed, most of the horses would go out through the gate to the large pasture. That was the one gate on the ranch that stayed open. The only reason that gate was ever closed was to keep a horse in for a vet check or a visit from their owners or because a storm was brewing.   Tornados in that part of Kansas were not unheard of and along with them usually came thunder and lightning storms.

The fenced pasture covered close to 200 acres.   There were two ponds in the pasture and the horses would gather around the ponds in the early morning and the late evening.  They would gather around the small pond first. It was closest and it was fed by a spring so it was cool water. The mothers with foals usually stayed between the small pond and the paddock.

The large pond was further away and often wild animals came to drink from it. There were many wild animals in the area. There were wild dogs, coyotes, foxes, birds of all varieties, sometimes deer and always snakes.   Most of the snakes in the area were rattlesnakes. Once in a while you would see Garter snakes or Eastern racers but mostly you would see rattlesnakes.

In the heat of the summer, schedules change and animals that usually move around and do things during the day become night creatures.  It was a summer of very hot dry days and this particular day it had reached 105° in the shade by the house. We spent the afternoon resting and playing games in the house where it was a tiny bit cooler.  We fed the horses and ate supper and Lesa went to sleep early.  I am not one to sleep long at any one stretch. Mostly I get about four hours of sleep a night. It had cooled off considerably and I decided to take my usual nightly walk and check on the horses. That was when I learned the value of boots. I stood on the porch for a while in my nightgown letting the breeze cool me. I could hear the horses milling around coming back from the pond talking to each other rubbing each other’s backs and doing horse things. I went to the small corral where some of the horses were gathering around the hay and climbed up on the fence. I let my feet dangle over and rested there for a while.  The moon was full and the stars were filling the sky as only the stars in Kansas can. I watched a shooting star and said money, money, money like mom had taught me. She always said it was good luck.

A couple of the horses came over and nudged me looking for the treats I usually brought with me.  I climbed down from the fence and walked with the horses in the corral. Manes needed scratching and noses needed rubbing and backs needed itching and everyone needed a treat. Suddenly I felt something under my barefoot that sent a chill through me much colder than any breeze could produce.  Without thinking I leapt from the ground to Ribbons back.  Of all the horses to surprise like that, Ribbon was the most unlikely. She started to jump sideways. I wrapped my legs around her belly and calmed her down with my voice. I tightened my hands in her mane and nudged her forward towards the corral fence. When we were close enough to the fence, I jumped from her back and climbed up on the fence. I looked over to where I had stepped and there on the ground was a large rattlesnake. He had coiled up and raised his tail but had not given the warning.

Horses won’t step on something if they can avoid it and the other horses had instinctively moved away. They seemed to understand that the snake just wanted to moon himself.

I sat on the fence and watched for a while as he stretched his body out again across the pasture and slowly made his way under the fence and out into the dry grass. I think he was as shaken as I was.

I am not afraid of snakes unless they startle me and that one sure did.  My grandma was terrified of snakes and always said “the only good snake is a dead snake” and to her even the tiniest garden snakes were all deadly rattlers. I guess a healthy fear of deadly snakes is not a bad thing.

Animals will teach you many lessons if you pay attention to them and that was one I didn’t need to learn twice. I never again went about the ranch without my boots day or night.

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Today I woke up smiling

Today I Woke Up Smiling

Today I woke up smiling.  My first thoughts were “it’s Monday and I have a lot of things to do and I can choose which ones I want to do when or not do them at all.”  Today I have only one obligation.  My regular Monday 10 am meeting with my staff and my business partner.

After that I am free to get the crap out of this room or finish getting my tax papers ready or clean house or read a book or write or work on my newest quilt or one I haven’t finished yet.  Guess I better make a list and prioritize it.  Top of the list? Write.  I fight making lists because it ties me into doing the things on it but I make them anyway because some days like today, I would probably just light the fireplace, make some popcorn and read or write all day.  That is not a bad thing but it is not what I really need to do today.  When I do that I want it to be because I chose to do that and did not have anything pressing down on me to make me feel guilty for enjoying the day.  I decided a long time ago to set aside time to play and relax.  When I set that time I can do anything my heart desires and feel free to do it.

So I was talking about making a list of things to do.  I just took a minute to do that. Now to prioritize.

I made another list today too. Earlier in the quiet of the morning. Way before the sun tried to break thru the edge of night. During that space between dark and light when the earth pauses and takes a deep breath to get ready for another day. I was deep in thought and praise and you came to mind.  I made a list of you all.  All the women in my family plus all those women friends who came to mind as I was meditating this morning.  There were many.  Each one of you has a special place in my heart that no one else on the list or off can fill.  Each one has a special memory and a special joy connected with your name.  I am not sure where each of you are at this moment or am I sure where you are on this spiritual journey that we all are on.  I am sure that you each have a special place in my heart and a special place in the heart of God.

So I made the list and I called out your names and I held each of you up to God.  I asked for blessings for you and safety on your journeys.  I asked for peace and prosperity for each of you.  I called out your name to God and He listened.

Categories: earth, grace, retreats, sacred stories, story, storytelling, Uncategorized, writing | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

John 3:16 or I am a Whosoever

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes on Him shall have eternal everlasting life.

This is how much God loved the world.  He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why, so that no one need be destroyed.  By believing in Him anyone can have a whole and everlasting life.

God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending His Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was.  He came to help put the world right again.

When I think about God sending His ONLY BEGOTTEN SON that WHOSOEVER believes on Him shall have eternal everlasting life, I think “Hey, that’s me!  I am a WHOSOEVER.”  My first reaction is pure joy.  I am a WHOSOEVER. I have the choice to believe in HIM and have eternal life!

My next thoughts are why me?  What did I ever do to deserve even a few of God’s blessings let alone the final blessing of eternal life? I think I am a good person but still, I am not worthy.  I cannot keep all the commandments.  I cannot always think holy thoughts nor do I always do what I know God would want me to do.  I am getting better at it but I am not there yet and I know I will never be able to be worthy. So why?  Why me Lord? Jesus said He came to full fill the law.  By His death He did that.  I cannot change the law or keep the law.  If it was up to me I would be doomed because I can never be worthy.

Wait a minute go back to the beginning.  John 3:16 doesn’t say God loved the worthy.  It doesn’t say you have to be worthy to be saved.  What is says is just that God loved the world so much that He willingly gave his son. GOD LOVED THE WORLD.  Just that.   There is nothing more powerful than that love.  (selah) Stop and think about it.

WHOSOEVER indicates human beings.  Human beings have the one thing other animals do not.  They have free will.  WHOSOEVERS have free will.  They can will to believe or not believe. GOD LOVES WHOSOEVERS.  GOD LOVES ME!   Nothing I do can change that.  Nothing I do can make HIM love me more or less.  How could He love me more?  He already loved me so much he gave up His only Son. He can’t love me more than that.  Like Joyce Meyers says “it’s time to separate the WHO from the do.  I cannot do anything to gain or lose His love.

If He loved me less it would negate the sacrifice of His Son.  He loves His Son so much that He would never negate the sacrifice of His blood for our salvation.  By His blood we are redeemed.  By His sacrifice we are saved.  Because He loves us we have become blood brothers and sisters to Christ.  We are now His children.

FOR GOD SO LOVED…. We love Him because He first loved us so much that he gave up His ONE BEGOTTEN SON so He could have many chosen or adopted sons and daughters.   All the WHOSOEVERS that WILL believe on HIM.

I am a WHOSOEVER.  Adopted into the family of God.  I am a child of God a blood sister to Christ.

Are you?

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Life above the falls or Letting Go..

Life Above the FallsChipmunk Falls

There was ice on the falls today but what a day it was. Sunshine thru bare trees warming the earth. Almost winter here. The water is rushing over the falls to keep from freezing on its way to somewhere.

21 years 4 months to the day since I became the proud caretaker of this great piece of land.

Have you ever walked into a place or stepped onto a piece of land and suddenly felt at home?  At home even when you had never been there before?  This place was like that for me.  I walked between the trees that make the entrance way to this place and stepped into a place of peace and reverence.  I walked through the break in the stone wall that surrounds the “used-to-be” garden and set down on a rock.  I love to sit on rocks.  I have been known to sit on rocks all around the United States and in a couple other countries as well but those are stories for other times.

I sat down and almost with out thinking my hand went to the notebook in my pack and I began to write impressions of this place. It was love at first sight.  It wasn’t the look of the cabin.  That looked like a shack on the outside and had special character on the inside. It wasn’t the remoteness of the place.  It was just the feeling of coming home that drew me here again and again until I found a way to purchase it.  Coming home was really important to someone who had moved from place to place and had called many places home with out ever really feeling at home.

21 years of sharing the peace of this place in stories.  21 years of knowing personally the animals who so kindly share this land with me.  21 years of writing.  21 years of accumulated joy.

Today I come to say adieu.  Sadness touches my heart as I walk the 1 and 3/10 miles to get to the property but as soon as I walk between those two sentinel trees, my breath comes easier and I can’t help but smile.  Oh it isn’t the same as it was but nothing ever is.  I had plenty of help to move the “stuff” out a couple of weeks ago.  This is the first time I have seen the cabin almost empty.  I open the big door and light comes streaming out across the floor from the big windows.  It is a small space even when it is almost empty.

A few things yet to do but wait…  I am not ready to work. I am ready to sit down and enjoy the feeling of peace that seems to come over you at this place.   I climb the half log steps that lead to the loft and look around.  You can see the tops of bare trees through the windows.   I remember the fall I panicked thinking there was a fire in the woods only to discover after much running around that it was the vibrant color of the trees and a low hanging smoke like cloud.  I felt silly and just said good morning to the place and thanked God that it was just an illusion.  Makes me smile just thinking about it.

It is past fall almost winter.  It is quiet.  Things are asleep. I come down stairs and move the metal stove pipe hanging where the wood cook stove had stood.  Suddenly I hear a familiar sound and look up.  Sitting on the beam above the place I stood so many times to make coffee or cook meals sets Mrs Pottifer.  She is a Deer Mouse.  She often set on the beam above to see what I was doing and if I was making anything she might want a taste of. She used to come out on the rug at night when I was writing and eating popcorn and wait for me to drop her a few kernels.   She once had 5 babies in the bottom of my bed! We had a long talk about that.  I told her today that someday soon she would need to find a new home.  She understands and was not the least put out about it.  She seems to accept things as all a part of the life we are living.  We can learn much from creatures such as her.  She has given me many stories.

I go out and sit down on the porch.  The chick -a -dees are in the birches.  I remember the time I set in the garden and one landed on my outstretched hand.  I brought my lunch today.  I wonder if they would like a crust of bread?

I walk around and look at the land and the woods, the trees and the creek.  I took this picture of the waterfalls on my phone.  Ice is forming. At this place you can hear the song of the water all year.  In the heat of the driest summer you can still hear it running off under rocks.  In the winter it still flows under the ice singing muffled songs of olden days.  In spring run off it is so loud you can almost hear yourself think but not quite.  This brook has sung many lullabies. Today it is running fast and singing a joyful song.  It is a fall almost winter day and ice is forming along the edges of the water even at the falls.  As I climb the path back up to the yard I feel as though I am being watched.  A doe is stepping lightly, silently across the edge of the opening. She has stopped alert to my sounds as I come into the clearing.  She does not run away.  She watches me and then slowly steps across the clearing into the woods behind the outhouse.

I walk around and touch trees and pick up rocks and place them on the stone wall.  I sit down on the porch and eat my sandwich and drink in the peace of this space.  Suddenly I notice someone who was supposed to be asleep.  He has chirped his hello to get my attention.  It is Popcorn the chipmunk.  He has popped up out of the garden wall to investigate or maybe just to check on my progress.  He used to come in and fill his cheeks with popcorn while his spouse watched from the lilac bush by the window.  When he had eaten his fill he would fill his cheeks and take some out to Mrs Popcorn and the little Kernels.   I throw him a crust of the bread and he snatches it up.  He runs back to his spot on the wall and then as though yawning he gives his sleepy adieu and disappears back into his own special place in the wall.

Well it is time to go.  I finish my lunch and the chores I came to do.  Pick up a walking stick and my bag, close the door and walk between the opening in the stone wall and sit down for a minute on that special rock.  Did I tell you I love to sit on rocks?

I know sometime I will return here and sit on this rock.  I know and this place knows it is time to let go.  To release this place to grow into what it and I can and will become.   I am no longer sad.  I am blessed.  Blessed to have been the caretaker of this place for 21 years and 4 months.

Blessed to have gotten an opportunity to know the animals who have resided here.  The mouse Mrs Pottifer, the chipmunk PopCorn, the birds who sang for their supper , Mr Rocky Raccoon, the Bobcat that I did not name and the deer.  There were others who just stopped by for a visit.  There was a giant snapping turtle who passed through on her way to lay her eggs each year. A lone  moose and the bear and the skunk who all let me know of their visits by the odors  they left behind. Oh and THE SNAKE.  There were snakes around to catch the insects but THE SNAKE left me his skin for a present every year.  I haven’t seen him in awhile.  He got really big and stopped coming in the house.  Snakes don’t like moth balls and they don’t belong in the house anyway.

I begin the long walk back to the parking place and am glad I am not in a hurry.  My heart is singing.  I stop to say hello at the fairy tree and to sit on rocks along the way.  It is a new day and there are many more rocks to sit on as I go along in this world.  Every day a new adventure. 21 years and 4 months of adventures here and I am blessed.

But wait… I get in my car and back out of the parking area and begin to drive.  I hear a noise and look in my rearview mirror.  OH!!  I am truly blessed.  The hawk is following me.  Shouting his blessing.  He follows me to the cross roads.  Lands in a tree and sits sentinel.  I smile and sing all the way home.

Categories: earth, grace, retreats, sacred stories, story, storytelling, Uncategorized, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Sittin on Rocks

I love to sit on rocks.  I started sitting on rocks when I was a little girl. As a matter of fact, I sit on rocks where ever I can find one that looks like it needs me to sit on it.  I have been known to go out of my way to find a rock to sit on.

When I was very young, all my sisters and brothers and I would spend time in a place we called fairyland. Fairyland was a place that had a small woods. There we used acorns and pieces of logs and rocks to make chairs and tables and cabinets. We set up house.  We acted out our favorite fairytales. We stood on rocks and sat on them, using them for our chairs and our stage.

As I grew up I often found places to sit that were solitary in nature. I found places to be alone and think of the things life had offer and the places life would take me in other words to daydream. I was often told by my grandmother and my mother “stop daydreaming Lauretta, it will get you nowhere. Good hard work and study, that’s what gets you where you want to go.”  But I was a daydreamer and I still am. There was a rock to sit on at the edge of the lake a Grandma’s.  It was a great fishing rock.  I could throw my bobber and line into the water and just sit and dream. Sometimes I even caught a fish.

I sat upon a rock in the desert in Arizona once.  The friends I was traveling with didn’t understand about sitting on rocks and got anxious to leave and so we did.  Only on the way down from the rock we picked up what appeared to be a bunch of small cactus that had no spines.  Oh boy was that a mistake. Thousands of invisible spines were everywhere. In our clothes, in our hands, on our arms and legs.  Everywhere you touched you spread them.  An old Indian at the truck stop where we stopped to try to wash them away and change our clothes laughed and told us to burn some wood and rub the charcoal all over where ever those unseen spines were imbedded.  We didn’t do it till we got to California.  By that time, it was almost more than we could bear and I insisted.  My friend Cherry whom we were visiting laughed and said the old Indian was right. Charcoal was the answer unless we wanted to just wait for them to eventually fall out. We burned wood and made charcoal.  I loved sitting in the quiet desert on the rock but I did not love the “spineless cactus”.

One time I was traveling in Wyoming visiting my sister and niece and nephew. We decided to go camping in the mountains. Just outside of Sheridan and Dayton there is a road called 14A. At some points the hairpin turns and lack of guardrails are frightening. You could easily slip off the mountain into deep ravines never to be found again. You can look down the side of the mountain and see where cars have gone off the side. You can’t tell if the people have been rescued or not but you do know that the cars are never recovered. As we were driving we came to a spot in the road that had a pull off. Beside the pull off was a tall solid rock. I pulled off the road and got out of the car. I decided at that point I needed to climb the rock and set upon it. I felt that I would be able to see all across the valley to Sheridan or Dayton. To this day that rock is called Lauretta’s rock.  I have a picture of it.

I began to climb. It didn’t really take very long it was a steep but easy. Once I got to the top, I found a relatively flat place to sit and looked all around the valley. I could see for miles and miles. It was like being on top of the world.  The air was clear, the sky was blue with a few clouds whispering across the horizon. Dayton looked like a small spot in the far Valley. You could see the city of Sheridan’s skyline. You could see the dust come out behind the tires of a  tractor-trailer as it came out on the road towards the mountains from Sheridan. The panoramic view was breathtaking. I sat for quite a few minutes and then I decided to turn around and see what was behind. There I discovered the ground came up almost to the top of the rock that I was sitting on. Over to the far side of the rock was what appeared to be a holy place. An altar made of stones and dressed with Sweet Grass. There was a stone bowl to hold the burning incense and the smell of burning sage and Sweet Grass still lingered. 

As I looked across the meadow I saw what appeared to be a Conestoga wagon. Off in the distance I could see a man, a dog and a flock of sheep. I wanted to know more about this man and this wagon and so I walked across the field. The dog ran to meet me. I stood still quietly waiting for the dog to approach. He sniffed of my feet and my jeans and placed his nose in my hands and then he wagged his tail. Wagging of the tail is a happy response so I reached down and patted the top of his head. Gradually I walked towards the man. He looked up from what he was carving. I could not tell what he was making and I did not ask.  I said hello and introduced myself. His name was Billy Wickens. Billy came to herd the sheep every summer. 

Billy seemed pleased to see someone other than the dog and the sheep. I asked him about his life as a sheepherder. He said it was a lonely job that he did every summer. He taught science and math. He said he enjoyed the first few weeks of the summer as a break from all the chaos of school and adolescents with their problems and dramas. But after a while the loneliness would set in and he would play his harmonica and WRI TE. We talked about writing.

Finally we talked about the altar. He said that living in the Conestoga wagon for three months and being out in the wild brought him closer to God. This was his place to worship. He said sometimes he felt closer to God here than any other place on earth. Especially at night when the stars were particularly bright and during the times of the Aurora Borealis. I knew exactly what he meant. I too feel a closeness when sitting on a rock in the middle of an open field or in the middle of a garden or beside the ocean or in a clearing in the woods. It is then that you can often feel the presence of the creator. I am in awe of the hands that created this universe and this earth and all within.

I found my place in New Hampshire by walking through the woods with my nephew Charley. We came into a clearing that had a rock wall around a garden space and what looked like an abandoned octagon building. I walked through the opening in the rock wall and found a place to sit on a rock. I sat down and immediately got the peace and gladness of the place.

There are two great sit upon rocks in the garden. One is almost covered by juniper bush. I have to trim it back to keep it from completely hiding that rock. The other rock is quite large. You have to climb up on it instead of just setting down. Whenever I enter the garden the first thing I want is a notebook and a pen for there is a story just in the edge of my vision. This place in the woods of New Hampshire on the side of a small mountain is for me the most creative place I have been. Sometimes when I am writing it feels as though I have set upon holy ground.

I think I know how this earth feels sometimes when the rains come and it opens to receive its much-needed drink or when the early morning sun touches the dew on the blades of grass or flowers and each drop holds its own secret. I am wonder filled and bow to the creator of the earth and sky. I am touched by the care and love that provides such a precious place for me to be.

I know that everything has its season and that this to will end. But until that time I will thank God for his gracious gift of place.  I breathe deeply of the presence of the animals the plants the sky and these rocks that I sit upon.

 Much travel and many days and years have brought me to some fantastic places on this earth. Almost everywhere I go I find a rock to sit upon and contemplate the gifts of the Father who has created heaven and earth and I give thanks for the ability to share this wonder filled experience.

Categories: cnhsg, earth, grace, NHSA, retreats, sacred stories, schools, story, storytelling, storytelling guild, Uncategorized, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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