VITG Monthly Story Swap at the Home of Jane Dorfman, June 10, 2017

On Saturday, June 10, 2017, five storytellers, one guitar player, and an additional three listeners enjoyed an evening of tales about brides, marriages, and a couple other things as well.

I, eve burton, started  with a long tale, The Silent Princess from the book Apples from Heaven by Naomi Baltuck. In it, the groom is “punished” by falling in love with the silent princess. There are three additional stories nested in the tale.

Zoe Sagalow, a former Twinbrook Teller, whom we have not heard telling tales at VITG swaps for quite some time, as she has been off at college growing up, told The Cheese Bride, a European folktale filled with good advice about listening to one’s mother and choosing a wife.

Keeping with the theme of choosing a bride, and not just any bride, but, in this case, the bride God intended the man to marry, Jane Dorfman told a Jewish folktale, The Stone Before the Door.

Our newest storyteller, Fred, shared with us the true tale of his daughter’s marriage to Owen, who now, when everyone else in the family gets the same thing for Christmas, gets whatever he wants!

Returning to folktales, Anne Sheldon told an old favorite, Tibbs Cat and the Apple Tree Man possibly from  Folktales of England by Katharine M. Briggs and Ruth L. Tongue

And for something a little different, Justin Metcalf-Burton, another Twinbrook Teller who has been off in the world for several years – at college in Indianapolis, IN, and dancing professionally in Little Rock, AR-  played guitar and sang a ballad he composed about his four years living in Arkansas.

Storytelling was followed by so many good things to eat that we never even got to open the package of chocolate-chip cookies! We had homemade brownies, custard fruit pie, nuts, popcorn, mango juice, herb tea and more!

Thank you, Jane, storytellers and listeners for a lovely evening!

submitted by eve burton


Here’s What Can Go Wrong

Here’s What Can Go Wrong

Some joker once said, “An oral contract is as good as the paper it is written on.”

Many storytelling agreements do not rely on written contracts but are based only on good faith.

And they happen well in advance. You are invited. You say you will appear. And your mutual agreement is as good as a handshake. (By the way, diamond traders still seal deals and exchange huge fortunes with a mere handshake.)

But now we are in the era of email, and the unreliability of cyberspace, and things have changed. Here’s what happened to me.

It was three months before my scheduled gig, fully three months after our handshake, when I found out that my name had been left off the schedule.

I wrote, “What happened?? You asked me to tell in August, and you even approved of the name of my session and now it appears that I am not on the program at all! I only found out when I tried to list the date in the Voices in the Glen newsletter. The editor notified me. And I’ve had it on my website all along. Oh, dear!”

She [the person who promised the gig] replied, “There must be some error. You were definitely on the list. I recall putting you on the list. I will double check. I am so, so sorry. My profound apologies. I am not sure how this happened. Please give me a day or two to rectify this. I had sent around a note to have people put their dates into a google doc to make sure I had the correct schedule. Perhaps you did not get that notice and somehow your date was given away.”


Perhaps I did not get that notice? I definitely did not get that notice. But the fault is mine for not following up sooner. I should have had suspicions about the prolonged silence.

I write this article as a caveat. Check and double check. If it seems too long since you have been in contact, be suspicious that, unlikely as it seems, something may have gone awry.

She ultimately offered to add my name to share the gig with the other tellers but, she said, they were unable to reprint the flyers that had gone into print a few days before she received my email. I replied that hers was one of my favorite places to tell and I had been so pleased when she asked me, and that I had planned my entire August around the schedule, and that it was a real calamity (I thought, but did not say, breach of contract) but to travel a distance from Virginia for a chance to tell a ten minute story and my name not even mentioned on the schedule ….It did not seem worth it.

Next year I am the first on the list and I get to choose with whom I want to share the stage. But ultimately the success of that transaction will depend on me. You may be sure

that I have already plugged an early tickle date into my computer along with her telephone number and note to myself that says, “Urgent.”

submitted by Laura J. Bobrow

Tim Livengood at the 44th MD Sheep & Wool Festival

Tim Livengood was the host for storytelling at the 44th MD Sheep & Wool Festival at the Howard County Fairgrounds, May 5th and 6th, 2017. There are empty chairs in these photos, but I’m not sure how that can be. Most of the time, every chair was filled, and there were people standing in the back. Everyone enjoyed the stories.

submitted by eve burton

Twinbrook Tellers at the Gaithersburg Book Festival

Eve Burton and The Twinbrook Tellers performed at the Gaithersburg Book Festival, Saturday, May 20, 2017. 

Their fearless leader, eve burton, (that’s me – or “I” if you’re fussy) began the telling with an Arabic folktale, The Three Liars and the Brass Farthing from the book The Fairy Tale Tree.

Eve was followed by Evelyn who told the story  In a Village by the Sea, from the book of that title by  Muon Van  and  The Moon Was but a Chin of Gold by Emily Dickinson.


Rishi made his debut with our group, telling  The Story of the King of Bright Moonlight.
He seemed as comfortable onstage as if he’d been doing it for years. Congratulations, Rishi!

Eve closed the set with a story for the parents, The Scholar of Bagdad, an approximation of the story as told in Apples from Heaven: Multicultural Folktales about Stories and Storytelling, by Naomi Baltuck.

Submitted by eve burton


VITG Monthly Story Swap at the home of Michael Fleming, May 20, 2017

Seven tellers, three dogs, a parrot, and two additional human listeners gathered at the home of Michael Fleming in Fairfax, VA, for a delightful evening of tales. After introducing us, Bill Mayhew started off with a tale of hunting bear in West Virginia with his uncle. There were also some sheep, a crib, four traps, and some intestines involved. Leave it to Bill.

Michael Fleming followed with a Coyote story, Coyote Steals a Blanket, in which Coyote doesn’t listen to the good advice of Hummingbird, gets into difficulty for not listening, is rescued by Hummingbird, and (spoiler alert) promises not to listen again. Very Coyote.

In keeping with the theme of Native American tales, Margaret Chatham told Gobbleknoll, a Sioux Legend which can be found in Alan Garner’s Collected Folk Tales.




Miriam Nadel explained to us that one of her goals was to learn a story from every country in the world. That said, she had decided to tell a tale from the U.S., and wondered what would be a representative tale. She chose to tell Manhattan is Sinking.

Since we’d gotten on the theme of lies, eve burton told The Three Liars and the Brass Farthing from The Fairy Tale Tree by Vladislav Stanovsky.

Jane Dorfman told Daddy’s on the Roof and He’s Got the Axe, a favorite tale about her neighbors Annie and George.

A new-to-Voices teller, Fred, told us about The Talk, a life-altering, coming-of-age, explanation-of-what-it-means-to-be-an-adult-in-our-family given by his father when he turned eighteen.

That inspired Bill to tell us about Tom the State Trooper, formerly King of the University of Maryland and his escorting of Jesse Jackson to a UM event. And Bill had to include one last joke: Are your Parents Home?

Miriam then told a personal tale about her father whose favorite saying was “When I was your age, I was three years older.”

Nothing could top that, so we decided to stop and eat cookies, fresh summer fruit, and a 5-layer dip that Fred’s wife kindly sent with chips. We hope she’ll join us for the fun next month! And if you’re reading this, and you weren’t there, maybe you’d like to join us too. We welcome all tellers and all good listeners, too!

Submitted by eve burton

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.