Showing posts from 2010

In which I share a story for the season: a winter kind of tale

Here's a nice little "pourquoi" story from the First Nations Slavey tribe of Canada.

The Living Water - a tale from the nomadic Tofalar people of Russia

This happened a long, long time ago, when the cedar, the fir, and the pine still had needles that yellowed and dropped in the fall instead of staying green all winter. Once day in late winter, a man went out into the woods to hunt. He walked and walked, and he came farther than any hunter had ever dared to go. He saw a bog so vast that no beast could have crossed it, no bird could have flown across. And the Tofalar said to himself: If our animals can't run across this bog, and our birds cannot fly across it, what kinds of animals and birds live on the other side?

The more he thought about it, the more curious he became. "I must find out," he said to himself. "Whatever happens, I must see what is over there."

And so he took a good running start, and leaped right clear across the bog. He looked around: …

In which our best-laid plans don't work out, and Fiddle becomes a tripod

"A day off! Let's go riding with Patty and Sirie and Dory!" said Maddie.

But when we got up in the morning:

The roads around the farm were in pretty good shape, but the roads leading to our favorite trailheads are in the shade, and they don't get enough traffic to warrent the salt-and-gravel treatment from our hardworking county road crews.

We started out anyhow, but hadn't got far when we got a phone call from Patty: "We just hit black ice. We don't want to keep going. Other ideas?"

Well, a motion to go out for lunch is always in order so we did that first.

Then, we went over to Fish Creek so that Dory could give us a Really Hard Lesson:But then Fiddle....stopped.

To pee.

And then took a few steps.

And then...stopped again.

To pee. Again.

Yes, it's true. At the end of freakin' December, less than 10 days from the shortest day of the entire year, my mare is in full-blown heat.

When Fiddle is in heat, she doesn't want to walk. She doesn'…

In which I share a story for the season: a long winter story

We must all hope that OUR winter won't last nearly so long!

The Long Winter – a folktale from the Slavey people of Canada

Before humans walked the earth, when the world was the land of the animals, a very long winter set in. The sun did not come out for three years. It snowed all the time. The animals were suffering very much from this long winter.

The lack of food bad enough, but the cold made it unbearable.

The animals called for a grand council to be held. Animals of all shapes and sizes were invited. When everyone gathered, the animals looked around and realized that one creature from the animal world was missing: Bear. They realized that no one had seen any bears for three years.

All the animals agreed that the most important thing to do was to find out what had happened to the heat. Without heat their sufferings would never end. They decided that heat must be found and it must be brought back again. It was decided that several quick and brave animals would go on a search mission …

In which I share a story for the season: another stable tale

I was lucky to know storyteller Chuck Larkin for several years before his death in 2003.

He maintained a toll-free number so that friends and family and just any old lonely person could call and talk to him for hours, and many a time I did just that. Chuck told me a lot of stories, each one crazier and funnier and more profound than the last.

He knew about me and my horses, so of course he told me this one, but I borrowed the text for it straight from his website. If you like this story, you might want to explore more of his tales. You will find them here.

Ms Horse, Ms Mule and Ms Cow a story from Chuck Larkin, bluegrass storyteller

Mary sure did have some problems living in that barn.

When baby Jesus was born, Joseph needed a crib, so he put some fresh hay in Ms Horse’s feeding trough. Back in the old days a horse’s feeding trough was called a manger. Nobody asked Ms Horse if they could use her manger for a crib. Then her manger was filled with fresh hay and nobody said Ms Horse wasn’t s…

In which I share a story for the season: a tale from the stable

This is another story for Lytha. Apparently, I gave her this story years and years ago, and then forgot about it--but she remembered and asked about it. I could find not hide 'ner hair of it...until about a month ago, when a storyteller was telling a story about the story. I queried Barra, and she sent me the tale. This is my version, borrowed from Barra, who heard it from her Nana.

"Bride" is pronounced "BREED-ay".

Bride (Bridget) at the Stable – a tale of Bethlehem by way of Scotland

Came one day out of the hills a young woman down to the little town of Bethlehem. She knocked on every door, and at every door she was refused, though she asked for work of the humblest sort.

Finally, at a little inn on the outskirts of town, a man called Carter hired the lass, for though his inn was small and shabby and had almost no business at all, his mother on her deathbed had made him promise never to turn anyone away. So the lass, called Bride or Bridget, came there and did th…

In which I share a poem for the season: the talking animals

Cathryn Wellner is a storyteller, poet, and farmer. She wrote this poem about an incident that happened on her farm in Alberta, Canada, and she posted the poem to a storyteller's listserv last month. As soon as I read it, I knew I wanted to share it. She kindly gave permission.

Stock Talk Christmas Eve

One wintry night the relatives
Were gathered in our barn.
They'd all come from their city homes
For Christmas at the farm.

'Twas Christmas Eve, and just before
The wassail was passed 'round,
We donned our coats and headed down
To hear the magic sound

Of animals at midnight,
For then the power of speech
Is given to all sheep and cows,
Or so I'd heard it preached.

My husband, he was skeptical,
The relatives amused.
They figured I'd gone round the bend
Since donning country shoes.

But to the barn they gamely trooped.
They'd humor me this time.
We flipped the switch and walked into
A scene that was sublime.

The sheep were calmly bedded down.
They looked, then turned away,
For we'd …

In which I share a story for the season: Bremen-Town Musicians

This story is for Lytha, who now lives in Germany (with her man the musician!) and has visited Bremen!

The Bremen Town Musicians – a story from Germany

There once was a man who had a donkey that had carried the grain sacks to the mill tirelessly for many long years. But the donkey’s strength was failing and he was growing more and more unfit for work. So his master began to consider getting rid of him. But the donkey, who became aware that his master had something wicked in mind, ran away and set out on the road to Bremen. There he thought he could surely become a town musician.

After he had walked for a while, he found a hunting hound lying on the road, howling pitifully. "Why are you howling so, old fellow?" asked the donkey.

"Ah," replied the hound, "because I am old and grow weaker each day, and can no longer hunt, my master wanted to shoot me dead. So I fled. But how am I supposed to earn my bread now?"

“Come with me," said the donkey, "I am go…

In which I share a story for the season: a tale for cold weather

The Mitten – an old Ukrainian story

It’s been many years since an old grandmother knitted mittens for a little boy. Beautiful mittens they were, made of thick blue wool, and they kept the boy’s hands very warm when he went out into the forest to gather wood for their fire.

Now, how a boy can lose a bright blue mitten in the snow on the coldest day of the year and not notice, I cannot say, but that is how the story is told. And when the boy was gone, who should find that warm woolen mitten but a little mouse, running over the top of the snow and shivering with the cold.

“That mitten is the perfect place for me to sleep through this cold winter day,” said the mouse to herself, and she crawled inside and soon was very snug and warm.

She hadn’t been there very long when a sparrow fluttered down to the ground beside the mitten and poked her head in. “It’s very cold out here,” said the sparrow. “May I come inside your mitten and get warm?”

The mitten was a little crowded with a mouse and a sparr…

In which I tell a story I have told before: Storyteller's Gifts!

This is a re-post from last December. We've had enough turnover here in the blogosphere that I think it's okay to post it again.

If you've read it before and don't want to read it again, skip to the end!

The Storyteller's Gift

One night, many years ago, I hated Christmas.

I hated malls, I hated stupid music, I hated colored lights, I hated the mall and I hated presents and I really really really hated the mall.

Oh, yes, and I wasn’t very fond of the fellow that I was divorcing, either.

That fellow celebrated holidays by buying stupid presents at the stupid mall and maxing out MY credit cards, and he had done so for a number of years, until finally I took back my poor cards, pitched the fellow out, and stepped forward on my own.

Divorcing him was a good thing to do…but it didn’t feel that great on that night many years ago.

That night was about a week before Christmas, and I only had one present. I just couldn’t face anything more, so I called my mom, blubbered ov…

In which I share a song for the season: sing along with it!

The song "Soul Cakes" was originally a song that English children would sing as they went around on All Hallows' Eve (aka Hallowe'en), asking the neighbors to give them sweets. In 1963 musician Noel Paul Stookey, known to the world as the middle guy in the group "Peter, Paul and Mary" was messing around with the tune and realized that it blended well with two other British folk tunes: a wassailing tune and "God Rest You, Merry Gentlemen."

There's a link at the bottom of the page to an awesome video of PPM singing the song.

A Soalin'

Hey ho, nobody home
Meat nor drink nor money, have I none
Yet shall we be merry
Hey ho, nobody home

Hey ho, nobody home
(Meat nor drink nor money, have I none)
Yet shall we be merry
Hey ho, nobody home
Hey ho, nobody home

Soal, a soal, a soal cake, please, good missus a soul cake
An apple, a pear, a plum, a cherry
Any good thing to make us all merry
One for Peter, two for Paul, three for Him who made us all


In which a poem is too entirely wonderful not to share

A friend sent me this poem, which I love. But it started me thinking: what would I use to illustrate such a wonderful poem?

What do you want to add to the poem?

I decided to leave it unadorned, and invite readers to illustrate it themselves.

Copy it to your website or blog, and add some pictures. Photos? Drawings?

Let me know!

"Summons" by Robert Francis
Keep me from going to sleep too soon
Or if I go to sleep too soon
Come wake me up. Come any hour
Of night. Come whistling up the road.
Stomp on the porch. Bang on the door.
Make me get out of bed and come
And let you in and light a light.
Tell me the northern lights are on
And make me look. Or tell me clouds
Are doing something to the moon
They never did before, and show me.
See that I see. Talk to me till
I’m half as wide-awake as you
And start to dress wondering why
I ever went to bed at all.
Tell me the walking is superb.
Not only tell me but persuade me.
You know I am not too hard persuaded.

In which we walk into the light (finally) and find a poem there

I would cheerfully trade all the Christmas holidays I have left for about 3 dozen extra Hallowe'ens and a Thanksgiving or two.

But I would never give away Solstice!

The Swampland sun rose this morning at 7:55. At Haiku Farm, it clears the eastern mountains and shines down on us around 8:40 am. Sunset this evening is 4:20, it will be completely dark by 4:45.

Tomorrow, we get an extra 60 seconds of light!

Here's a poem that I really like, by Oliver Herford.

I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.

"We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,"
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.

Coming soon: holiday stories!

In which we test the Ruby Slippers in mud, the creek, and the Big Thing

The sun was shining. Madeline and I had the entire day available. It was time to go test out those Ruby Slippers!

Mel sent me a link to the "cable adjustment" tutorial. I really appreciate the clear instructions and copious photos on the link, and I sat in front of the computer one night with my boots and a cup of tea and adjusted the heck out of those puppies!

Here's how they look now:

left front (above and below)
right front (wonky foot) below

front feet

both front feet--the "wonky" foot has the little garland stuck in so I could keep track in the photos!left rear (below)rear feet, side view (below)
The straps are much more manageable now, but I suspect that the left front actually needs a slightly smaller size. I will try one of the hind boots on that foot to see if it's an improvement for her.

Fiddle and her Ruby Slippers!Hana was happy to be groomed in the December sunshine.
Even with tons of Cowboy Magic on her mane, Hana gets horrible elflocks. I have to …

In which Fiddle isn't sure if her new Ruby Slippers are magic

Look what Santa's helpers brought me this week:
A pretty set bright-red of Renegade Hoof Boots! (They don't come in purple, which is a pity).
Blog-friend Mel is a Renegade Boot sales rep, and at my request she created a boot rental program. My experiences with booting last winter were mixed, and I am reluctant to spend a bunch of money on boots again.

(I want to emphasize that my bad experiences last year with EasyBoots was not the fault of the Easy Care Company. On the contrary, I found the customer support staff at Easy Care to be helpful, knowledgeable and extremely proactive in the attempts to help me fit my mare with the right kind of boots! However, the boots just would not stay on, due in part to the shape of Fiddle's feet and her gigantic stride. I finally called the farrier and asked for steel shoes to be put back on Fiddle, and that was the best decision I could have made for the circumstances).

However, I try not to be one who expunges the infant with the cleansing …