Saturday, May 30, 2009

On the road again

I'm so glad my summer storytelling season has begun! It's nice to be back in the libraries, even with all the driving required. Yesterday I drove to Ponca City, OK for a library show, then drove home, after a nice lunch with the librarian and her daughter (thanks, Janel!). That was about 8 hours in the car. On the way back, going through the Flint Hills, I took a few pictures out the window.  

The Flint Hills cover the central part of Kansas. I know, these pictures don't show them as hills, but they are. Really. Not like the hills of Vermont, where I grew up, but long and rolling landforms, often with cattle grazing on them in the spring. Ask the Buddha.

Friday, May 22, 2009

P.S. More Tsar Saltan videos

It occurred to me that you might want to watch the entire set of videos of Tsar Saltan, even in Russian. Each is about 10 minutes long. These from an amazing Youtube channel called Velikaya Rus.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Story of Tsar Saltan

I've been thinking about this story lately. I just began condensing it to increments of 140 characters or less for Twitter and Facebook. 

I studied Russian at the University of Vermont almost 30 years ago. One summer I had some extra tutoring by a Russian woman who lived in Claremont, NH, across the river from my hometown of Springfield, VT. Galina's husband was Father Andrew Tregubov, a Russian Orthodox priest, iconographer and, as far as I understood, one of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's main guides in the US. Galina was learning English, so we spent time working on both languages.

I don't remember how I helped Galina, but I do remember very well that we read Skazka o Tsare Tsaltane, by Alexander Pushkin, a story-poem based on folk tradition. Galina gave me a cassette tape of the story. I loved the sound of the beginning, about 2:10 minutes in on this clip:

The illustrations by Ivan Bilibin show a cat in many scenes. The end of the story translates this way: 
I was there. I drank mead and beer, and barely got my whiskers damp.

The first lines have been popping into my head at odd times (in Russian), nudging me to learn the story to tell. Wonder when I'll be ready.  I'll continue the installments over on Twitter and Facebook.

Monday, May 11, 2009


I can't help it. I take pictures of my irises every year. Did you know they smell slightly of grape lollipops? 

I've expanded the bed two or three times since I moved here in 2000.  A few years ago I put in just a few yellow ones, but that summer I dug everything up and gave away at least a third of the corms (great word, huh?). No yellow flowers the next year, so I assumed I'd given those away. 


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Twittan and Iseult?

I've been experimenting with storytelling on Twitter and Facebook. I use which sends my messages to both (and to the sidebar on this blog, in case you hadn't noticed). Last week I began sending the Grimm story "Cat and Mouse" in increments of 140 characters or less. When I asked for feedback and suggestions on the next story to send out, Megan Hicks asked for Beowulf. Yikes! I did the only thing I could think of: I turned it back to her. Here's what she wrote:
Par-tee! zzzz.Tiptoe-Crunch-Snarf-Burp. I'll get you, Grendel! Splash-Rip-Roar. Mom, help! Arrgh! Glub. Die! That was close. BeoWULF BeoWULF rocks!
The gauntlet was truly thrown. Here's what I wrote for Tristan and Iseult, a story which usually takes me 95 minutes to tell:  
Hero Tristan finds Iseult for King Mark. Don't drink that love potion! Too late. Mark always betrayed, T & I in love 4ever. Uh-oh. So sad.
Megan's comment back to me on Facebook was:
You're taking the lowest common denominator to a new low. This is fantastic.
Anybody else want to play or to suggest other stories to tell, either as whole stories in under 140 characters or in serial form?