Monday, July 30, 2012

Birds that Gobsmack

I am gobsmacked (what they say in Australia for surprised and amazed).  Just when I thought that the summer library reading programs were all but over for this year, and nothing new would happen, I got the biggest delight of the summer!  My next to last show of the season of "Gobsmacked!" (a program of Australian folktales, accompanied by some Australian treasures I brought home from my trip there last year) was in teeny, tiny Scotland Neck, North Carolina, where everyone is happy to know each other.   The amazing, energizing librarian, Brenda, had gathered a hearty audience of diverse ages, all eager to be at the library and at my program.

Also in the audience was Mildred, an Australian Cape Barren goose.
Mildred had a great deal to say during my show.  She especially related to the story about how birds got their colors and their songs, told with shadow puppets.  When the birds in my story, one by one, got their own particular sound or song, she spoke up in her own inimitable honking that sounds suspiciously like a pig snorting.  HHHHHHHOOOOOIIIIIINK.  She was clearly mighty proud to possess this sound.

And then I got to meet Brent, who brought Mildred from Sylvan Heights Waterfowl Bird Park.  The park is situated right at the edge of teeny, tiny Scotland Neck, an enormous, gorgeous refuge for all manner of gobsmacking birds from every corner of the world.  Civilians and ornithologists flock to Scotland Neck to study what Brent and his family know about birds, especially waterfowl, which is huge.

Brent took time from his own work to show some of the Australian birds to my North Carolina friend, Gayle, and me (she's the photographer of the accompanying bird photographs).  Brent even lept into an enclosure to retrieve a gorgeous, freshly shed feather for me.

Yep, I'm gobsmacked, and I'll be returning to Scotland Neck as soon as possible.  You might want to check it out for yourself:  And while you're there, go say hi from me to Brenda at the Scotland Neck Memorial Library.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Art through the Mails

I have always been fascinated by how many professional actors and storytellers also do some form of  visual art either professionally or in their free time.  For me, since so much of my working time involves words, getting away from those words and working with my hands to create something visual feels invigorating, and often opens little secret doors in my brain.     

So recently, when I heard that an artist I don't know and have never met was arranging a postcard swap for anyone interested, I was on it.

All we had to do was sign up.  She cut and pasted all of our names so that she could send each of us ten names.  We agreed to send a postcard to each person on our list.  And each of us will receive ten postcards from ten different people. 

I drew names from Florida, California, Canada, Germany and Australia!  Oh my!  What a tantalizing way to make the world smaller and
have an excuse to do a little art at the same time.

I opted to repurpose some hideous
postcards I've had for decades by doing multimedia collages on top of the original pictures.

I put my ten finished postcards in the mail yesterday.  The photos on this post are a few of the cards I sent.  

I can't wait to mail-meet ten new artists.  I already feel as though I "know" Shannon Ganshorn, the woman who organized this swap.  You might enjoy checking out her website.
She's posted some of the postcards she's sending, and they're gorgeous! 

 My postman is going to be amazed to see real, personal letters and postcards among my bills and adverts. I will be positively delirious. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

No Tricks. Just Magic: CD Review

 No Trix Just Magic

No Tricks.  Just Magic.
A collection of fairy tales as told by Megan Hicks

Available from
$15.00 per CD; MP3 Download $9.99
There was a magical moment at The National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee,  this past year.  When Megan Hicks wrapped up the story of Davy and the Devil, the tent’s entire audience rose to their feet, roaring with satisfaction.  Megan and the stories she told had taken them to the land of magic and brought them home fulfilled.
If you didn’t have a chance to hear these stories in person, or if you’re wishing you could experience the magic again, not to worry, you can hear the stories as often as you like on her CD, No Tricks. Just Magic.  A collection of fairy tales as told by Megan Hicks.

Megan’s vocal style is graceful and smooth.  She tells the stories in a straightforward narrative style that gathers the listener straight into the each story and keeps them immersed through to the end.   No tricks, just the magic of these carefully chosen stories.
The devil in Davy and the Devil is endearingly boisterous.  We pull for Davy, though, and can’t wait to hear how he will pull off outwitting the devil.  The same with Molly Whuppie.  We know she’ll outwit the giant but we love the excitement of the journey and her cleverness.
At the beginning of the CD Megan shares the story that brought her to storytelling, The Shoemaker and the Elf, and at the end of the CD she gives us her own fractured version of the same story, The Shoemaker and the Groundhogs.  If you’re not familiar with fractured fairy tales, this is a mini-primer.  It’s the story updated, with Megan’s signature groundhogs as protagonists, full of clever wordplay and jazzed up with a twist ending.
The old soldier in Twelve Dancing Princesses wonders if it’s his imagination that he’s been to a magical kingdom, but he finds he has in fact truly experienced magic. 
As listeners and temporary residents of Megan’s fairytale world, we find these stories and this CD both magical and as true as life itself.