Showing posts from December, 2016

In which I don't complain (much) about weather and we go for a ride!

I have a policy about not complaining about weather that doesn't require a shovel. 

There wasn't enough sn*w for that.  The driveway was icy for a few days, but the roads got clear pretty promptly.

I haven't missed any days of work due to unsafe roads so far this winter, and we even made the drive up to my folks' place in Bellingham for Christmas dinner.

 But the roads, while safe enough for ordinary travel, haven't been very inviting for truck-and-trailer trips.  And when everything was thawed out yesterday and I was set to take a lesson...

(I did manage a quick scamper to Les Schwab for two new batteries, and squeaked in a lesson with Dory before work, but it wasn't the leisurely morning I had planned!)

What's really been missing--for nearly two months!--is a nice trail ride.

And today we had one.

The lesson yesterday required a lot of core strength work, and so did my physical therapy session this morning.

So my muscles were fatigued and I was feeling pr…

In which we conclude the Gift of Stories with a metaphor for all

White Wing’s Escape (India) Early one morning, a hunter wanted to catch birds.
He spread out a net near a banyan tree where the birds like to sit.  Then he scattered grains of rice on the ground near the net, and he took himself away behind the tree to wait.
Soon, the ringdoves above noticed the rice below. 
Led by White Wing, the king of the ringdoves, they swooped down to eat up the rice, but as soon as they landed and began to eat, the hunter pulled on the net, capturing all of the birds.
The ringdove king did not panic as he saw the hunter coming towards them with a club. 
Instead, he said, “Do not panic, my friends!  There is a way to escape this net, but we must all agree to work together.”
When White Wing called to them, all of the birds flapped their wings upward together at the same time, and lifted the net into the sky with their bodies.

Thus, the hunter lost all of the birds, and the net too, which flew away with them, and was never seen again.

In which the Gift of Stories continues: a flying ship, no pirates

The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship (Russia) Once upon a time, an old peasant and his wife had three sons. The two eldest were clever and their mother loved them. The youngest, whose name was Ivan, was a fool.
One day the Tsar had sent heralds to announce that he wanted a flying ship and whoever would build it would win the hand of his daughter in marriage, and half the kingdom, too.
The two eldest brothers decided to try their luck and build such a ship. Their mother baked tarts, fresh bread and roasted chicken and gave them her blessing.

The brothers went to the forest and chopped many branches, but they didn't know what to do afterwards. They suddenly noticed an old man standing nearby.
“What are you building?” asked the old man.
But the brothers answered him rudely and so they never learned how to build a flying ship.
A few days later, Ivan begged his parents for permission to try his luck too.

“You will never be able to make such a journey and will probably be eaten by wild an…

In which the Gift of Stories continues: an important tale of reeds

The Reeds of Strength (Greece)
A farmer lay on his deathbed, and worried about the future of his farm.  He had three fine sons, all good farmers, and each would inherit a good piece of land and the equipment with which to grow the crops to make the farm prosper.
And yet, the boys were so quarrelsome that the farmer feared that their disputes would interfere with the husbandry of the farm.
Thus it was that he called each son to him in turn.
To his eldest son, the farmer said, “Go to the river, and bring back to me the two strongest reeds you find growing there.”
His eldest son thought that the request was a strange one, and offered to bring his father a cup of tea, instead.  But the father insisted, and so the eldest son went to the river.
To his middle son, the farmer said “Go to the river, and bring back to me the two strongest reeds you find growing there.”
The middle son thought that the request was a strange one, and offered to read to his father from a favorite book instead.  But the fa…

In which the Gift of Stories continues: a tale of pomegranates

The Magic Pomegranate (Iran) Once there were three brothers who loved adventure.
One day they decided to go on a journey, each one to a different country, and to meet again on a certain day ten years later. Each brother was to bring back with him the most unusual magic he could find on his travels.
Ten years later, the brothers met again.  The eldest brother had a magic mirror.  The middle brother had a magic carpet.  And the youngest brother had a magic pomegranate.
The oldest brother said, “Let me look into my mirror and see what I can see.” When he held up the glass, he saw, in a far-off kingdom, a young princess lying ill in bed, near death.
“Quickly, dear brothers, get on my magic carpet and we’ll fly there!” said the second brother. In moments, the three brothers arrived at the far-off kingdom.
In the royal palace of this kingdom, the King, whose daughter lay ill, was grief-stricken. He had sent for every doctor in the country to cure the princess; but they had all failed and there w…

In which the Gift of Stories continues: what not to do for parties

Ten Jugs of Wine (Japan) Ten old men decided to celebrate the New Year with a big crock of hot sake wine.
Since none of them could provide enough wine for the entire group, they each agreed to bring one jug of wine for the large heating bowl.
However, on the day of the celebration, one of the men thought to himself, “I am not rich like my friends.  I cannot afford to buy wine to share.  Everyone else can bring the wine and I will bring a jug of water, and nobody will ever know.”
On the same day, another man in the group thought to himself, “My wine is much better than the wine that any of the others will bring.  It would be a waste to mix my good wine with inferior wine.  Everyone else can bring the wine and I will bring a jug of water, and nobody will ever know.”
A third man thought, “If I share my wine with these men, I will have none for my family.  Everyone else can bring the wine and I will bring a jug of water.  Nobody will ever know.”

And so, when the ten old men gathered with the…

In which the Gift of Stories continues with a story about gull

Seagull’s Gift  (Tlingit) When the world was new, all the creatures were given boxes with parts of the new creation inside.  The rain was given to Frog, and wind was given to Eagle, the trees were given to Chipmunk, and the mountains were given to Cougar, and fire was given to Spider. 
But the gift of light, held in a little wooden box, was given to Seagull.
Almost all of the animals opened their boxes and turned the gifts loose on the world so that everyone could enjoy the soothing rain, the cooling wind, the warming fire. 
But Seagull would not open his box.  So Raven, who is Seagull’s brother, decided to trick him.
At night, when the tide was low, Raven went down to the beach and picked up some sea urchins. A sea urchin has a hard shell with little sharp spines all over it. After he had eaten these sea urchins, Raven dropped those sharp spiny shells by Seagull’s door, and then he flew away home. 
When Seagull went outside in the morning, the spines of those sea urchin shells stuck int…

In which the Gift of Stories continues: Spider, fly, rat, anteater

Kanu Above and Kanu Below (Limba, West Africa) Kanu Above and Kanu Below were both great chiefs.
Kanu Above was known to be cruel and harsh and lived in the skies.
Kanu Below was known to be fair and good. He lived on the Earth with his beautiful daughter. He loved her very much.
But one day Kanu Above said, “I want her to come and live with me.”
So Kanu Above took her up to Sky Country, while Kanu Below sat alone. He wept for his missing daughter and began to neglect his duties.
One day his under-chief came to Kanu Below and said, “Someone  has come into our village who is making trouble. His name is Spider, and he weaves sticky webs over the doorways. People trip and hurt themselves. What shall we do?”
Kanu Below said, “Send Spider to me.”
Spider came and listened as Kanu Below explained why he should not spin webs across the doorways.
Then Kanu Below went back to his people and said, “Spider will stay with us. He has caused some difficulties, but he also has much good in him.” And it wa…

In which we interrupt the Gifts of Stories for a sn*w day video

lytha in Germany likes the Yule Log video, and last Spring she made a quiet, meditative video of her horse peacefully eating as a nod to the Yule log.  

In response, I made a quiet meditative video of Fiddle and the goats grazing in the rain, and then later I did a video of Fiddle's ears walking down a summer trail.

Today, lacking both rain and summer, I made a new video.  It's not completely quiet.  I'm not sure why people think the country is a quiet place to live.  The sn*w shushes sounds down a bit, but a dog barking, a rooster crowing, and a neighbor talking still make noise.

I thought y'all might like to see what it's like here in the Swamp with the whole scene painted white.

Of course, videography is never without out-takes.  Here's the best one:

(skip ahead to :46 right after the dog barks)

Happy Solstice, everyone.  From here it just gets lighter and lighter!

In which the gift of stories continues with a vegetable story

The Great Big Enormous Turnip (Russia)
Every spring, the dedka (grandfather) planted a big garden.  He planted kartofel, (potatoes).  He planted kapoosta, (cabbage).  He planted markov, (carrots). 
But most of all, he planted repka (turnips).  He planted the seeds, he pulled the weeds.  He watched and he watered, and he cared for the garden.
All of the vegetables grew big and strong and sweet.  But the repka grew biggest of all.
“Time to harvest the turnips!” said the babka (grandmother).
And he did.  All but one.  He let one little repka keep growing.  And growing.  And growing.
Until it was a great big enormous turnip.  “Time to harvest that one, too!” said the babka.
So the dedka took hold of the turnip leaves.  He tugged and he pulled, he pulled and he tugged.  But that great big enormous would not come up.
He called for the babka to come and help. 
The babka pulled the dedka.  The dedka pulled the repka.   They tugged and they pulled, they pulled and they tugged.  But that great big en…

In which the gift of stories begins for this year: one about mittens

The Mitten  (Ukraine) It’s been many years since an old grandmother knitted mittens for a little boy. Beautiful mittens they were, made of thick 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 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 sparrow inside it, but it was cozy…

In which I share the Gift of Stories to drive the cold winter away

I have told the origin of my "gift of stories" tradition many times on this blog.  HERE is a link, if you want to read that.  
If you live locally and you see me this week, ask for a copy of the story booklet.

But if you don't live nearby, fear not!  As I always do in December, I will post stories to the blog for the next week. And of course, you can always visit stories from earlier Decembers.
2009 stories beginHERE 2010 stories begin HERE <<--this starts with a poem  2011 stories begin HERE  <<-- this starts with a Skookum story 2012 stories begin HERE <<-- a better Skookum story (one of my faves) 2013 stories begin HERE 2014 stories begin HERE <<this starts with the "why I give stories" story, and includes the soup recipe 2015 stories begin HERE
And the 2016 stories begin...tomorrow!
Please share these stories.  Tell them to your friend, forward the page to your parents or your children, print them out for your colleagues.


In which there is sn*w, and I offer a little coping strategy

A year ago today, I posted this status on Facebook: Last night I dreamed I was rehearsing a language learning dialogue with a complete stranger, in English. Person 1 - Hello. Person 2 - Hello, how are you? Person 1 - I am well.  It is sn*wing!  Let's go into the garden! Person 2 - It is sn*wing?  Zut! I parked on a hill!  (grabs chapeau and leaves)
This morning, the yard was full of sn*w.
Zut, indeed.

I made cookies.  That took an hour.  
Looked outside.  Still sn*wing.  
I started thinking about Xmas.  The story booklets are ready at the printer (pick up tomorrow, come find me if you're local and want a copy!).  I loaded the stories onto the blog, time delayed to begin on Solstice so you will all have stories to share for the holidays.
Looked outside.  Still sn*wing.
Went down to the barn and broke up the ice in the pasture water tank, then swapped the extension cord from the paddock water tank to the pasture tank.   That took another hour.
Still sn*wing.
I threw a …