VITG Story Swap at the Home of Starr Kopper, January 6, 2018

In spite of frigid temperatures, eleven of us, plus Daisy the dog, gathered on Saturday, January 6, 2018, to start the New Year right: listening to and telling tales at the cozy home of Starr Kopper in Washington D.C.

Jane Dorfman began the telling with an all-time favorite, Skeleton Woman. Jane said it is “supposed” to be a Native American tale, but she is dubious and couldn’t recall her original source.



Cricket Parmalee followed with A Christmas Miracle, a personal tale about a time two “knights” arrived in a white pick-up truck to help her extricate her toddler, dressed in a puffy snowsuit and stuck in a baby swing at a cold, cold park.

Tim Livengood, who loves to adapt traditional folktales, gave us his rendition of How the Stars Fell Into the Sky. He also told us a personal tale about Efficiency in a VW Beetle. The latter included driving over a snow-covered field, mounting a snow-covered 8’ wall in said VW, and surviving the landing, all in the name of efficiency.


One good car tale requires another, and Starr shared her experience of being a new driver and backing her car into a ditch, in spite of, or perhaps because of, her mother’s remonstrances not to back into the ditch. It cost $25 to tow out the car, but that was a few years ago and $25 was worth more than it is today.

Then Starr told us 1 ½ more stories:  The “half story” was from Three Apples Fell From Heaven by Virginia A Tashjian, and was about a horsefly who tasted many animals to tell his lord, the 7-Headed Dragon, which one tasted best. The “whole story” was The Monster Who Grew Small from Eileen Colwell’s Storyteller’s Choice. The latter is a tale about courage: doing the required task even when one feels afraid.

I (eve burton) wrapped up the storytelling with the tale of Red Shield and Running Wolf, as told by the Crow, from Dee Brown’s Folktales of the Native American Retold for Our Time. It is a tale of love across enemy lines.

Stories were followed with gluten-free banana bread, panettone, strawberries, brownies, chocolate-chip cookies and more. We did start the New Year right!


And if you didn’t join us for this swap, we hope to see you soon at another VITG monthly story swap!

Submitted by eve burton

VITG Story Swap at the Home of Bill Mayhew, December 9, 2017

It was a small, but hearty group of five tellers and one additional listener that braved the first snow of the winter to tell tales at the home of Bill and Maren Mayhew.

Bill reports that these were the tellers and the tales:

Margaret Chatham:  Milne – King Hillary and  King John’s Christmas

Jane  Dorfman:  Lang, Pink Fairy BookKatherine & her Destiny

Harold   Feld:  Tamar pretends to be a prostitute

Bill Mayhew:  Santa’s Bad Day

Cricket Parmalee:  Creation & Death (Wampanoa), Our Cat has Kittens, and  Day & Night.  (Hindu)

Submitted by Bill, via eve burton

VITG Story Swap at the Home of Miriam Nadel, November 11, 2017

We had a small group but good stories.
Jennifer Hine told “The Mountain of Contentment” from The Crimson Elf by Michael Caduto,  She believes this is his retelling of an Italian folktale.
Margaret Chatham told “The Very Pretty Lady” from The Devil’s Storybook by Natalie Babbitt.
Miriam Nadel told “Tia Miseria,” a Puerto Rican folktale.
Tim Livengood told “Viola di Napoli”by a 17th century author he couldn’t remember the name of.
Rachel Livengood, Tim’s daughter, told a personal story about an encounter with a fox.
submitted by Miriam Nadel

VITG Story Swap at the Home of Marc Young, Oct. 21, 2017

After confusion about whether swap would be held on Saturday, October 14th  or Saturday, October 21, it was held on the 21st at the home of Marc Young in Columbia, MD, location never having been in question.

We started with a short discussion of Saki’s ghost stories, after which Margaret Chatham allowed us to vote between hearing The Open Window (a ghost story) or The Stalled Ox (a humorous tale). Although I tried to vote for hearing both stories, Margaret only treated us to The Stalled Ox by Saki.

Jules Metcalf-Burton obliged his mother (me) and the rest of us by telling most of the opening chapter of James Thurber’s Thirteen Clocks. Later at snack time, he also told a lovely bit about Hagga’s hut from the same book.

Cricket Parmalee recounted a Nisqually tale, The Girl Who Married a Ghost from the book of that title by Laura Simms. Then she sang a song with an Irish tune and words from Pete Seeger, but I don’t think she gave a title for it.

I, eve burton, recited e.e. cummings’ poem that begins Hist whist. . . . After which Cricket told a Pumpkin Story; she and I did the finger play 5 Little Pumpkins; and I sang There’s a Spider on the Floor, inspired by the book of that title by Raffi, but with some of my own words, accompanied by Marc tickling his 6-year old granddaughter on toe, knee, tummy, shoulder and head, as the song required.

Greer did a beautiful reading of My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss. (Normally, reading is not allowed at swaps, but as Greer is only 6 years old, we all agreed that, for her, reading was quite acceptable, indeed, delightful.)

Marc Young told a personal tale of his Jewish Wedding which was almost ruined when the orange candles were forgotten at home. Fortunately, it wasn’t ruined, and he and his wife are still married to this day, many years later.

Cricket, who was just full of stories on this evening, shared a wonderful tale about Why We Sing the National Anthem at Sports Events. Apparently, it goes back to a world series game of Sept. 5, 1918, but was not done continuously until after WWII.She also did a lovely recitation of Casey at the Bat by Ernest Lawrence Thayer, and explained that in a recent poll, the three most-recognized, recorded songs in America were, in order of recognition: The Star Spangled Banner, Happy Birthday, and Take Me Out to the Ball Game. So, led by Cricket, we all sang Take Me Out to the Ball Game.

Our storytelling was wrapped-up by Greer, reading for us once again, this time Fluffy’s School Bus Adventure by Kate McMullan.

At some point in the telling we had a long discussion about how personal tales overtook folklore at the annual National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough TN.

Storytelling was followed by lovely treats: a smoked trout spread, cheese and crackers; clementines; two apple pies, one from Margaret, the other baked by Jules Metcalfe-Burton; date cake; and chocolate-marshmallow squares. Yummmmmmm!

Thanks to Marc and Greer for hosting a wonderful evening!!!

submitted by eve burton

Twinbrook Tellers at the Montgomery County Harvest Festival, October 7, 2017

What a glorious day for telling tales at the Montgomery County Harvest Festival! The weather was sunny, breezy and warm. There were plenty of people and activities, but it never felt crowded or rushed. And best of all the storytelling was terrific!

The Twinbrook Tellers performed two sets, the first on the “Front Porch” stage, in warmer-than-we-might-have-liked full sun, and the second on the larger, shadier and better-attended “Hay Barracks” stage. At both sets we were preceded by Janice “The Griot” Curtis Greene. Janice, past president and lifetime member of The Griot’s Circle of Maryland, is a wonderful teller. We felt privileged  to enjoy her storytelling, and appreciative that she stayed to hear ours. She, like most professional storytellers, enjoys hearing the upcoming generation of tellers  developing and sharing their storytelling skills.

Our program, emceed by Noah, included:

Lily:The Kitten and the Falling Leaves by William Wordsworth and Isabel by Ogden Nash.

Peter: Calico Pie by Edward Lear

Chrissy:  How to Quarrel, a folk tale from Laos

Evelyn: Fox and Crow, an Aesop’s Fable

John: The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Clare: The Raven by Edgar Alan Po

Noah: American folktale Alfred Bellhop Stormalong

We had to deal with a couple of glitches – unexpectedly switching stages, performing in full sun, having no microphone for the first set, having a “hay play” area right behind our tellers at the second set – but the kids handled the difficulties and distractions like pros. They did us all proud today!!!

submitted by eve burton

October 7, 2017

VITG Monthly Story Swap at the Home of Jennifer Hine in Springfield VA, September 9, 2017

While Hurricane Irma approached Florida on Saturday evening, September 9, 2017, six storytellers and an additional four listeners gathered  at the home of Jennifer Hine in Springfield, VA, to share a variety of folk, fantastic and true tales. I (eve burton) started with  Sredni Vashtar, a scary story by H. H. Munro, otherwise known as Saki.

Miriam Nadel, who is working on the goal of learning a story from every country in the world, shared a very unusual tale from Albania in which there were snakes who had moved into a cathedral and wouldn’t pay their taxes. The story is called The Girl Who Turned Into a Boy and  was from the book Albanian Folktales and Legends by Robert Elsie.

Bill Mayhew followed with Frankie, the tale of how his parents met (maybe).

For a change of pace, Fred shared a personal tale about meeting an Italian World War II hero while on military exercises on Malta.

Inspired by Fred’s tale, Bill Mayhew told a joke about 3 generals, an admiral, and courage.

Jennifer Hine told Martina the Beautiful Cockroach. This is a tale that appears in many versions. Jennifer told it from Senior Cat’s Romance and Other Favorite Stories from Latin America by Lucia M Gonzalez.

Tim Livengood closed the storytelling with tales from Rocket Science Preschool.

Storytelling was followed by an excellent array of cookies, bars, brownies, banana bread, and other treats, and of course, enjoyable conversation. Thanks to all who came and shared treats and tales and, especially, to Jennifer for hosting.

submitted by eve burton

VITG Monthly Story Swap at the Home of Eve Burton and Roger Metcalf, August 19, 2017

On August 19, 2017, six tellers and an additional eight listeners enjoyed an evening filled with stories about students, apprentices, surgeons and chaos in the universe.

Linda McGivern began the telling with two apprentice-tales: The Tailor’s Apprentice, from an unnamed book of English fairy tales; and The Wizard and his Apprentices heard at a fireside telling by Shay Thomas.

Jane Dorfman followed with a story from The Wonder Clock by Thomas Pyle, The Very Clever Student and the Wizard of the Dark Arts.

Changing the pace of the evening, Bill Mayhew treated us to a shaggy dog story, defined as a long, wandering tale that goes nowhere. I’ll call it The Bakery in the Desert, and it went nowhere, left us all hanging on a hill, waiting for the flood.

Cricket Parmalee told The Three Army Surgeons by the Brothers Grimm. As she explained, it was one of the Grimms’ tales rarely-if-ever, now, told to children.

At this point, I, eve burton, felt compelled to tell my tale, How the Stars Fell Into the Sky, a Navajo folktale that I adapted from the book of that title by Jerrie Oughten. It explains why nothing in the world makes sense.

Don Schumann was persuaded to give a Little Albert recitation. He told Albert’s Return,  also called Albert Comes Back, by Marriott Edgar, and is the sequel to Albert and the Lion which Don told at a previous swap.

Rather than quit storytelling before such an excellent audience, Cricket told a second “Doctor Story”, Dohaku’s Head, in which a Samurai of the old school is treated by a Doctor of the old school. I’m not sure if she learned it from Kimmel’s book Sword of the Samurai, but I know the tale is in that book.

As it was my birthday, my wonderful son Jonathan, known to many for his tellings of The Jabberwocky, The Yarn of the Nancy Bell, and Birds of America, baked a cheesecake and decorated the top with blueberries from our garden. I was treated to both the traditional Happy Birthday song and the Viking Birthday Song.

Then we enjoyed birthday cake, another cake, cookies, a variety of nuts & trail mix, grapes and clementines, and a delightful raspberry-poppyseed roll baked by our two other equally wonderful sons, Justin & Jules, at the home of their equally wonderful sister Jesse and her husband Zach. It was a tasty evening!

submitted by eve burton