VITG Monthly Story Swap at the home of Bill Mayhew, April 29, 2017

Seven storytellers, six additional listeners and a couple of cats enjoyed a quiet evening of tales at the home of Bill and Maren Mayhew in Beltsville, MD, on Saturday, April 29, 2017.




Margaret Chatham, who had come from several days of celebrating Virginia’s native plants, followed by a day at the Potomac Celtic Festival in Southern MD, opened the evening with a new version of an old tale, Lutey and the Mermaid from the book North of Nowhere: Stories and Legends from Many Lands retold by Barbara Sleigh, coward-McCann, c1964, 1st American ed. 1966.



After Margaret, Bill Mayhew gave us two renditions of the same story: one a Palestinian telling, the other an Ashkenazi Jewish version.

With a charming accent, Don Schuirmann recited Marriott Edgar’s humorous poem The Battle of Hastings.

Twinbrook Teller graduate, now VITG performing member,  Elsa Sellmeyer, told Green Pea John from Three Sneezes and other Swiss Tales by Roger Duvoisin. It’s a humorous, but rather macabre tale of the conflict between a clever renter, Green Pea John, and his landlord.

After explaining that her telling was created from a compilation of Norse myths, Morganna Schuirmann treated us to her idea of what happened at Thor’s First Wedding. It was a very modern telling of an old tale.

I, eve burton, told a new-to-me tale: The Story of Rags Habakuk, the Two Blue Rats, and the Circus Man who Came with Spot Cash Money by Carl Sandburg, from the Rootabaga Stories. It is a story in which the protagonist, Rags Habakuk, is cautioned – albeit it unknowingly – that if he sells one of his blue rats, one of his daughters will marry a taxicab driver, and if he sells them both, the other daughter will marry a moving-picture hero actor. What could be worse?

Jane Dorfman gave us another old favorite The Golden Goose, a fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm.

And Bill finished the telling with a tale about the Arundel family, in which young men of that family ravished the women in a convent, kidnapped them, and finally threw them overboard to lighten the load of their ship. Not exactly a story with a happy ending.

But the dessert table, to which we retired after the storytelling, created a much-improved ending to the evening. Maren shared shortbread cookies with pecans on top which she declared were her father’s favorite cookies. The Sellmeyer/Stecher family brought chocolate truffles made by their grandparents. Eve and Roger brought “tea cakes” which were really giant cookies. And there were many other delicious treats.

submitted by eve burton, April 30, 2017

Please note, the photos included in this post were not taken at Bill’s house. They are from previous VITG storytelling events, and have only been included to refresh readers’ minds as to which tellers go with which names.

Twinbrook Tellers at Day of the Book 2017

The Kensington Park Celebration of the International Day of the Book was held Sunday, April 23, 2017, and TheTwinbrook Tellers of the Dogwood Dogs 4H Club were there!

Since we were performing on the Poetry Stage, several of our storytellers presented poetry.



Lily opened our set with a delightful telling of Custard the Dragon  by Ogden Nash.




John gave us a spooky Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll.




Chrissy shared her favorite poet Emily Dickinson, with a recitation of I’m Nobody.





Clare, ever one to enjoy a humorous rhyme, chose Be Glad Your Nose is on Your Face by Jack Prelutsky.




Celia brought us back to the Romantic era and the current season with William Wordsworth’s ever-favorite, Daffodils.



Then we had storytelling. Evelyn told a nesting tale, In the Village By the Sea by Muon Van.





Noah shared Talk, an African Folktale.



And I, eve burton, leader of the Twinbrook Tellers, wrapped up our set with The Scholar of Baghdad, a tale from Apples from Heaven: Multicultural Folktales about Stories and Storytellers by  Naomi Baltuck.

The Twinbrook Tellers were followed by a second group led by eve burton , The Summer Poetry Workshop, a group of women poets who meet twice each month in Laytonsville/Gaithersburg MD to read, write and talk about poetry. One of the women in our poetry group, Sheila Burns, is also the mother of one of the Twinbrook Tellers. Louise Capon is mother to a former Twinbrook Teller. Other poets reading from our group included Kate Berman, Raylynn Oliver; and Kim Malinowski who has a book coming out soon, Death: A Love Story, and will be a featured poet in Faerie Magazine in the fall. Each of the poets in our group read selections of her original poetry.

submitted by eve burton, April 30, 2017

VITG Monthly Story Swap at the home of Margaret Chatham, March 18, 2017

Six storytellers and a couple of additional listeners, gathered on March 18, at the home of Margaret Chatham in Falls Church VA, to hear folktales from around the world. Margaret Chatham began the telling with an Irish tale, The Fairy Spancil.

Bill Mayhew followed up with another Irish tale, How the Plow Came to Ireland.

Elsa Stecher took us to China with The Young Head of the Family.

Eve Burton told The Firebird from Mythical Birds and Beasts from Many Lands, by Margaret Mayo

Miriam Nadel told Tia Miseria.

Finally, Bill Mayhew enticed Roger Metcalf to tell his first story ever, No News. Roger even did the hard part! We’re all proud of him for it.

The storytelling was followed by delicious snacks including homemade peanut-butter cookies.

Submitted by eve burton

VITG Monthly Story Swap at the home of Cricket Parmalee, February 12, 2017

Nine or ten tellers were joined by an additional three or four listeners, depending how you count, at the home of Cricket Parmalee in Silver Spring, MD, for the February Story Swap. Jane Dorfman began the telling with Svetlana and Davit from Fearless Girls, Wise Women & Beloved Sisters: Heroines in Folktales from Around the World, edited by Kathleen Ragan.

Next up was Bill Mayhew with a tale of an acorn, a squirrel, a fish, and an explanation of why Bill never lies.

Margaret Chatham followed with The Day the Sun, in Rising, Got Caught in a Tall Tree, a story about the first bat.

Walter told a fisherman tale with frogs, a snake and a shot of Jack Daniels.

Linda McGivern told a charming story about a floating lake from The Golden Hoard: Myths and Legends of the World, by Geraldine McCaugrean and Bee Willey: The Lake Flew Away.

In keeping with the approach of Valentine’s Day, Harold Feld, after reminding us that Jews don’t celebrate Saint Valentine’s Day, told the tale of Nathan the Adulterer, about the faithfulness of Nathan’s wife Rachel, against all odds and a suspicious husband.

Cricket Parmalee shared two tales of romance: Nasruddin’s Search for the Perfect Wife, and Yonjiwa Seeks a Bride: A Folktale from the Congo, retold by Margaret Read MacDonald,  found  in The Healing Heart – Families: Storytelling to Encourage Caring and Healthy Families, edited by Allison M. Cox and David H. Albert, New Society Publishers, 2003.  (And it says it’s reprinted from The Storyteller’s Start-up Book by MRMcD, from August House, 1993.) We all loved that the bride was chosen for being strong and large.

After Bill Mayhew sneaked in a quick telling of The Clothing Merchant, I told one of my favorite romantic tales, Fortune, inspired by the book of that title by Diane Stanley. Fortune includes two romantic couples: farmer’s son and another farmer’s daughter, and prince and princess; as well as a dancing tiger, a wicked enchantress, and a tale-within-the-tale.

Jennifer Hine closed storytelling, but not the evening, with two poems: Sneezles by A.A. Milne, and The Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll.

Stories were followed by a table laden with goodies: Roger’s home-made peanut brittle, lemon custard pie, Tim’s homemade bagels with cream cheese, fresh bakery bread from Walter, and a plethora of chips, cheese, crackers and cookies. Yummm!

Tim Livengood, who had been too tired to tell a story during the first part of the evening, sustained, no doubt, by all the good things to eat, regaled us with tales of Alcibiades, Nicias and Nicaratus.

submitted by eve burton

FSGW MidWinter MiniFest February 4, 2017

Tim Livengood hosted another excellent line-up of storytellers on the Storytelling Stage at the FSGW MidWinter MiniFest again this year: Bill Mayhew, Jane Dorfman, Nick Newlin, Eve Burton and the Twinbrook Tellers, Chris Potts, Walter Jones, Cricket Parmalee, Jennifer Hine, Bob Rovinsky, and Candace Wolf.

I did not see/hear all the stories; I have still not mastered how to be in two places at once (though Jane Dorfman told a lovely Chinese folktale on that topic, Chien Nang). Some of the other highlights that I was able to enjoy:

Marren and Bill Mayhew telling No News together

Nick Newlin’s personal tales about school in Mexico,  travels in Thailand and hiking in the Himalayas


Of course, the Twinbrook Tellers were there. Celia told The Fox and the Horse. Lily told The Frog Who Became Emperor, a traditional folktale from China, learned from a Jim Henson graphic novel.


Noah told Katcha, the Shepard and the Demon, adapted from the telling by Jane Yolen. I rounded out their program with The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig, adapted from the book of that title by Eugene Trivizas.

This year, besides stories on the Storytelling Stage, there was also an hour of storytelling in the  “Family Room.” Michael Fleming, Barbara Effron, Margaret Chatham and I told stories to an appreciative audience in a room full of parents, grandparents, and children of all ages.

The storytelling day ended with  Tim Livengood regaling us with tales of the Ancient Greeks, admonishing us all to do what we know is right, even when the odds of success are against us, followed by the annual swap at which Margaret Chatham and I told the tales we’d prepared, but had not had time to tell in the Family Room show.

Thanks to FSGW for another great festival and to VITG for providing storytellers to keep up this particular folk tradition! And thanks to all the listeners who came to enjoy the telling!

submitted by eve burton


VTIG Story Swap at the home of Starr Kopper January 14, 2017

Eight storytellers and an additional four listeners, we started the New Year right  at the home of Starr Kopper in Washington D.C.

Margaret Chatham started the telling with a Japanese folktale, The Wife’s Portrait  from Folktales of Japan, Keigo Seki.

Eve Burton followed with another Japanese folktale, The Ronin and the Tea Master, from The Sword of the Samurai by Eric Kimmel.

Wishing to extend her Christmas holiday celebrations and tell this story one more time before having to tuck it away until next year, Cricket Parmalee gave a very dramatic presentation of the Mole Family’s Christmas based on the book by Russell Hoban.

Starr, who had intended to tell James Thurber’s Many Moons, instead enchanted us all with a series of personal tales about Mary Shepherd, illustrator of Mary Poppins.

Returning to the theme of “moles”, Jonathan Metcalf-Burton began a telling of the first chapter of Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. He has promised more of the story soon.

After a small amount of prompting, Jane Dorfman told a Grimm tale, The Seven Ravens.

Walter shared a personal story about cleaning out the attic of his 90-year-old father. He had found a piece of twisted metal and wondered what it was and why his father had kept it. Turns out, it was a piece of a  V rocket from WWII. Walter wondered what other objects he might find in his father’s house, thinking to toss them out without ever knowing why they’d been saved.

The final tale of the evening was told by Adam. He recounted his experiences during Tropical Storm Lee in 2011, when floodwaters burst into his basement, destroying his computer on which was the only copy of a book he was writing, and damaging years of journals.

After that, we all needed a cookie, a homemade chocolate truffle, some cranberry bread, and of course, some of Starr’s delectable chocolate cake with chocolate-sour-cream frosting. There were also healthy sweets: clementines and grapes: and crunchy veggies and dips.

submitted by eve burton