Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Roses in the office

Alert: this post has nothing to do with storytelling!

I have roses in my office right now. No, not cut flowers but three rose bushes. A few weeks ago I saw a post on the freecycle group in my town for rose bushes. The guy had 16 to give away and he wanted them gone immediately. It was one of those typical Kansas days in August: hot, hot, hot. I was only willing to dig up three (to give him credit, the fellow helped dig and put them in my car).

I brought the plants home and called my mother for advice. She's a garden writer, full of great information about plants. Following her suggestion, I potted the roses up--it would be too stressful for them (and me) to put the plants right in the ground. August is the wrong time to transplant roses. I should have taken my sister-in-law's suggestion and brought them in the house right away, but I thought they'd be fine in the shade. Despite regular watering, the leaves turned brown and curled up. After a week, I brought them inside. In the picture, you'll notice dead leaves on the floor. I'll rake soon.

The good news is that a few new leaves are coming in and the stems are still green. It will eventually cool down enough to put them in the ground. I'm not yet sure where I'll put them. I'm tempted to make an island of roses in my lawn, part of the grand plan to mow less.

What kind of roses, you ask? One is Pink Peace, one is Taboo, and the third is a mystery. The former owner kept detailed records, but I haven't been able to find a rose called Red Transcendent. It's the largest one, currently the healthiest-looking. The records say the flower is fuschia.

Hope they survive!

Monday, August 13, 2007

I had a funny thought...

That's how it begins sometimes, with that comment, "I had a funny thought..."

I was digging around in my puppet closet (yes, they have their own room) and came across a frog glove puppet, five frogs in all. It was a present from a client of my brother Thomas. Quite lovely and unlike any I'd ever seen!

Here's just one--I think she's the queen:

Then I saw another puppet, a giant bug I got in Belgium a few years ago.

Next year, the theme for the public library summer reading program is "Catch the reading bug."

Some of you might have guessed the funny thought: the finger play/song Five green and speckled frogs, with these very elegant frogs and the enormous cartoony bug. The frogs are smaller than the bug's eye. I tried it out--this is going to take some practice because I've got to remember to put the bug on first, and I have to figure out the logistics, but I'm hoping for some big laughs at the incongruity.

Five green and speckled frogs,
sat on a speckled log,
eating some most delicious bugs,
yum, yum.
One jumped into the pool,
where it was nice and cool,
now there were four green speckled frogs,
glub, glub.

Monday, August 06, 2007


Not exactly resting, just moving slowly after the 60 performances in the last two months. I only have two performances set up this month but I've got a lot on my plate. For most of the summer I neglected most of my office work. Now is the time to dig out. Last week I cleared up some of the office supply clutter and straightened up some bookshelves. It would be good to get rid of some of these books, but I find that close to impossible with my storytelling library.

Anyway, here are some of my other current projects:

It's time to work on Punch and Judy. I've got the puppet heads built and need to get the bodies finished. I have materials for a new Punch booth (a.k.a. the stage) in the garage. It it's not too hot this week, my sister-in-law Kate will help build it. Then there are props and, oh, right, the script. There's a standard story, but I'll add in lots of other business, all in keeping with Mr. Punch's insouciant attitude. As he so often says after whacking somebody in the head, "Rootitoot toot, that's the way to do it!" Did I mention that I found a cast-iron frying pan from my mother's dollhouse stuff, just the size for Judy to whack Punch back?

I've been working on a letter to the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences Institute of Folklore, in hopes of doing some research on stories in their archives in a couple of years. I'll keep you posted on that.

I'm still translating Queen Berthe and King Pippin from Old French (Berte As Grans Pies, for those of you itching to look it up). Haven't touched it for a month or so, but I'm ready to get back to it this week. I'll need to hurry up, because the books are due back at the university library soon--there's a limit to how many times I can renew them. I did find a copy online. The funny thing about it was that it was from a Russian source and they had changed the French accents into Cyrillic letters. After cutting and pasting it into a document on my computer, I had to figure out what accent each Cyrillic letter corresponded to and then change it globally. Oops, my geekitude is showing.

Speaking of that story, we've fallen down on the job of promoting Going Deep, the Long Traditional Story Festival! I set up a blog for it, but have had a few technical difficulties (I think I prefer Blogger to Wordpress).

I'll be telling stories at the Kansas City Irish Festival on Labor Day weekend--need to make sure the Celtic ghost stories in my repertoire are all dusted off and ready to go.

What else? I realize that my website calendar is out of date, so I need to update it. That leads me to think about school work--it will soon be time to send out postcards to the schools in the area, reminding them of my existence. This in turn leads me to think about my marketing materials for my booth at the International Performing Arts for Youth Showcase in January. Is it time for a new brochure? Could be.

Along the same lines, it's also time to do real study guides for my school programs. I've resisted this for years, even though I know it's useful for teachers. Thank goodness I went to an excellent workshop by Lyn Ford at the National Storytelling Conference on educational buzzwordery (that's not what she called it). I've got her handout somewhere in the top pile on my desk.

Also in that pile is the info from iTales. I've been meaning to upload stories to their site. Maybe I'll get to that this week.

Good thing it's too hot to work in the garden or I'd be tempted to use that as my procrastination tool. I'm really going to buckle down here, just as soon as I finish the Sudoku and crossword puzzle from today's paper...