Posts filed under ‘storytelling’

A video for Easter week–The Resurrection Mural


A fellow parishioner sent a video link this week. I screen material that comes through my email, but I was delighted by what I found. Being the Holy Week, leading up to Easter, those who know the story of the Resurrection and what it means, as well as other biblical stories, just might appreciate it too.

The Resurrection is a large mural, oil on canvas, of Jesus emerging from the tomb.

I was only able to give you the link, so click here to see the video of  this incredible painting by renowned artist Ron DiCianni.


Incredible, isn’t it? Your thoughts?

April 16, 2014 at 2:01 pm Leave a comment

Artist in Residence Program for April 10th–Storytelling Workshop

April 10 WorkshopDSCN1216

Michele Braniff,  2014 Artist in Residence for Cambridge Centre for the Arts, getting ready for World Storytelling Day concert. She is combining art and storytelling in her program for this year.


April 8, 2014 at 1:04 am Leave a comment

A Month of Storytelling


March has been such a  full month of  storytelling. First we had Stories Aloud at the Button Factory in Waterloo, hosted by Baden Storytellers’ Guild, of which I am a member. Our guest teller was Bruce Carmody  a retired educator who I suspect has always been somewhat of a storyteller. He shared two stories that evening, one being memories of the year he wished for skates.


He’s such a warm teller, connecting quickly with his audience. I had occasion to talk with him during our break. He’d given a concert the year before at Waterloo Region Museum, and his website shows that he has much to offer, including stories of historical interest.



Image4_web                                                                                                                                                                                  Bruce Carmody, photo from his website


Midmonth our guild hosted a concert for World Storytelling Day, on the theme of Dragons and Monsters. The event, held at Waterloo Region Museum, featured members of the Baden Guild and Celia Barker Lottridge as our guest teller. Celia is a founding member of the Toronto School of Storytelling and is also a prolific author of children’s books and resources for the storyteller.


StorySave is project of Storytellers of Canada/Conteurs du Canada.  According to their website, “The project’s aim is to record the voices of elders from the Canadian storytelling community for distribution via web site and CD.”  This year, many of Celia’s stories will be preserved. Our guild decided that proceeds from our concert would go towards that project. Our concert, on Sunday March 16th, was a  resounding success.


DSCN1216  Ticket sellers, Mary-Eileen McClear and I awaiting our audience members. Guild member Michele Braniff, a teller for the concert, arranging brochures for her upcoming events in Cambridge.  Photo credit, L. Wilker


DSCN1229                                                                                                                                                                                         Our banner for the concert


Celia’s books for sale on our  Guild display table



Celia Barker Lottridge; Photo credit: Peter B., husband of our guild member, Anne.



Mary McCullum-Baldasaro, a member of our guild, telling her story at the concert. Photo credit: Peter B.


wsd2014 celia                                                                                                                                                                  A pleased Celia after the concert. Photo credit: Peter B.




As if that were not sufficient stories for the month, my husband and I attended an afternoon of storytelling, March 30, of the Toronto Storytelling Festival at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto.

DSCN1253                                                                                                                                                 The Gladstone Hotel, Queen St. W. and Gladstone in Toronto, ON.


Two  members of the Baden Storytelling Guild, Judy Caulfield and Mary McCullum-Baldasaro, were performing a set together. Family Matters consisted of women’s stories from family ancestry. The storytellers delivered a rich and well-timed set about two very different women in Canada. It was well crafted with musical cues for the next section of the women’s stories.



Mary and Judy, ready for their part in the Festival, in the Art Bar


As we intended, my husband and I stayed for the afternoon of stories for adults, hearing such other tellers as Maria Ordonez, Maryaleen Trafford, Ruth Danziger in Stories that Fly; and Pat Bisset and the Three Fisherman of Toronto. Ana Kerz delivered a stunning and well-crafted story, Gladiola, about school days and a certain student in her class.  We also heard stories from Alice Kane by Bob Sherman and High Cotton. Closing the afternoon of stories were  Goldie Spencer and June Brown, with life stories about life on the wrong side of the tracks in Cornwall and learning to skip in Val d’Or.

Our food may have been light that day, having left home before lunch to make it there in time, but we were fed richly by the stories that took us many places and entertained us too. May stories do that for you as well.


The festival continues this Thursday and through the upcoming weekend. Perhaps another year, we’ll get there again. For now, this has been a momentous month of storytelling.





March 31, 2014 at 3:16 pm Leave a comment

Coming up at Cambridge Centre of the Arts with Artist in Residence, Michele Braniff

Someone asked last week for earlier notice for events at Cambridge Centre of the Arts. That’s in Cambridge, Ontario, by the way.  The 2014 Artist in Residence, Michele Braniff, has planned a combination of storytelling and drawing workshops. I will be interviewing Michele soon, but I thought I’d give a sneak preview of the workshops.


sDSCN2809Michele, the storyteller, at World Storytelling Day concert hosted by the Baden Storytelling Guild at Waterloo Region Museum on Sunday, March 16th


map of eventsA map of  her planned events

Storyfusion Voice workshop

A workshop for storytellers





storyfusion Her brochure, if you  go looking for it


March 19, 2014 at 12:40 am Leave a comment

Remembering The Story Barn

barn-int-books-and-angel                                                                                                                                        The Story Barn  as it was, the bookshelves full of resources, the angel.  Photo credit: Mary-Eileen McClear

Last evening at Stories Aloud, my reflection was on stories, what they mean for us, what they do for us as listeners. I recalled my first night participating in the place called the Story Barn in Baden that is now closed. I honour the memory of that place and Mary-Eileen McClear who founded it and her husband, Ted Derry, who helped to create that place.

Candles lit on the window frame, books of stories lined the shelves, lights turned down so we focus on the teller and the story. Ah, and there was an old pump organ or piano (trying to remember which it was); it’s been gone awhile. It must have been quite an operation to get it up those stairs. I understand, too, that Mary-Eileen and Ted’s family hosted Christmas up there. Another operation, but likely a pleasant one. Carpet on the floor, various styles of wooden chairs with an even greater variety of cushions on them for comfortable sitting. There was a lazyboy chair too that a certain listener would choose each month. The stories put him to sleep every First Friday of the month. A pot-bellied stove that took time to get a fire going, much different that flicking a switch to start a furnace, but warmed our hot apple cider.

barn-interior-4                                                                                                                             This is how it looked with storytellers and listeners engaged at Stories Aloud.  Photographer unknown

I remembered my first night there and how I went home with stories in my head. Stories told from the heart. It was a warm and welcoming place, the tone set by the one who set the place in motion. It was a forgiving place too. If a teller lost the way in a story, there was usually someone who could help the teller get back on track. The place became a character in a bigger scene of storytelling. People learned about the Story Barn and came to experience it, came back again and again—like me.

Stories carried me home. Well, my car did, but it seemed as though the stories had a part.

Here’s a snippet of what I shared last evening:

A story starts with a “What if…?” question. There could be a thousand “What if’s” but this is the question that began the poem: What if a story barn is turned into a workshop for a woodworker?

We gather to tell, to hear stories, like a cloak that keeps us warm, protects us from the night. They remind us; they take us on adventure and bring us back again.

barn-int-double-door                                                                                                                          One last set-up to remember the place as it was, waiting for people to come.  Photo credit: Mary-Eileen McClear

Guess I’m a little lonesome for that place. It’s now a workshop for Ted, a place to create things from wood, a storyteller in a different form. And I wonder if he remembers a lot of stories told there as he creates new things in that place.


March 15, 2014 at 12:45 pm Leave a comment

Michele Braniff– 2014 Artist in Residence for Cambridge Centre for the Arts– a workshop this week!

Storyfusion March 13 workshop

I will be interviewing Michele on my blog very soon. She is a fellow storyteller with the Baden Storytellers’ Guild, but she also sketches and paints, all parts of the reason, I’m sure, why she was selected as Artist in Residence at the Cambridge Centre for the Arts  this year.

DSCF3678                                                                                                                                                                     Michele  Braniff in 2011 with her own gallery showing

March 11, 2014 at 1:53 pm 2 comments

Black History Month–Maranatha– Part 2



The chicken was delicious. Everything was good.

Over the yummy Caribbean lunch, we talked with people at our table, several who are members of Maranatha. Dana and her husband, from Toronto,  were guests of a member. Dana asked how we, who were not from one of the islands, liked the Caribbean food. I said we’d enjoyed it the year before and this year was no exception. The chicken was especially delicious.

Angie, who sat around the corner from me, said, “You can have more, if you like.”

“Thanks, I told her.  Think I’ve had enough and will save a space for dessert.”

Making my way to another table, I asked Sylma Fletcher if I might get a few of her photos for my blog and she was happy to oblige.

Dessert included a celebration cake and plenty of fresh fruit.


Celebration cake; photo credit, Sylma.


Ken Daley art

One of two pieces reproduced for the service program, and gracious permission by artist Ken Daley to  use it on my blog.

The afternoon program began back in the church sanctuary, perhaps a little later than planned, but there had been many people to accommodate in the fellowship hall and the extra time offered a good chance to meet people and chat. For me it included the mother of a child I had once taught in preschool. It’s always a treat to see Chloe and say hello.

_SYL6733Drumming  group from Cameron Heights; photo credit, Sylma

First off in the program was the Cameron Heights drumming group under the direction of their leader, Tim. He gave us some history on how these drums were made, which was fascinating. Then the group went through a drumming routine. Who would know that a drum of that size could produce such variety in sound. But then I am not a drummer.

_SYL6742                                                                                                                  Cameron Heights Concert Choir, under the direction of Mrs. Brenneman; photo credit, Sylma

After the drumming group, the concert choir filed up to the front and Mrs. Brenneman, their leader, told us about the first two African pieces they would sing. After finding their note on the piano, they began singing accapella. The third song was a piece by Bob Marley, African-American singer. The choir performed it, to our delight, and then we were given the opportunity to join them in the four parts. What a wonderful piece and so enjoyable to sing. The tune was in my head for some time after the event.

_SYL6779                                                                                                                                                                              Peter Braid, MP; photo credit, Sylma

Peter Braid, guest and Member of Parliament for Kitchener-Waterloo riding, spoke about his opportunity to attend this event. “During Black History Month, our community comes together to learn about and celebrate the achievements and contributions of Black Canadians” and how we celebrate our diversity at such an event as this. He thanked Pastor Peter Kuhnert and the Maranatha congregation “for bringing Black History Month to life.”

Braid had the opportunity to be part of the delegation to South Africa, representing Canada, for the funeral of Nelson Mandela, whose “example of courage and hope was an inspiration to many.” He said, “It was an honour for me to represent my constituents and all Canadians at Nelson Mandela’s memorial in South Africa last December… We entered the stadium to the singing and dancing of thousands of South Africans. While there was a tinge of grief in the air, the atmosphere was primarily one of celebration.  A rejoicing for what Mr. Mandela accomplished for their nation, and gratitude for his long walk.”

Braid said it rained the day of the funeral, and it was unrelenting, but “Africans consider rain a blessing, and fitting on the day of a funeral.”

“It’s as if the heavens were crying” one South African said to me. “Let freedom reign.”

Braid also brought good news about scholarships to be named after Mandela, a fitting tribute to the man. More information will be available later in the year, he said. “Education is the most important weapon you can use to change the world.”

When he had finished his greetings, Ms. Maedith Radlein, a retired school principal, shared her story of overcoming challenges when she first came to Canada and the ones her children also faced. Although she had already been a teacher, she achieved her Canadian certification and then moved on to be a principal of an elementary school. She spoke of feeling as though she was invisible at times, but after much persistence and learning she was successful. She challenged black youth to be persistent and to believe in their goals and to work toward them.

Claudette P. Smith, author of Stone Markers of Grace: A Lasting Legacy gave a short and entertaining reading from her new book. Then an audience member made an announcement about a new film, The First Grader, available in the library, and the program was complete.

Pastor Peter Kuhnert closed the service with prayer. Attendees left the sanctuary to visit with others, clean up after the meal, and go home. It was another successful event.


DSCF6839I think that Mrs. Smith’s book may be added to the book table next year. Some books of interest in their collection, ones the book club has read and discussed.


Peter Braid wrote on Twitter that day after the event: “As I do every year, I enjoyed celebrating Black History Month with the very welcoming congregation at Maranatha Lutheran Church today.”


With thanks, once more, to the artist, Ken Daley; Peter Braid, MP; and photographer Sylma Fletcher (for LINK) for permission to share  their art, photography and words on my blog.

March 5, 2014 at 4:54 pm Leave a comment

World Storytelling Day

The World Storytelling Day is a “global celebration of the art of oral storytelling.” On this day, March 20th for the northern hemisphere, as many people as possible share their stories with others. The sharing can happen around a table of friends, at a family celebration or even in a public concert. Each year presents a new theme that storytellers vote on. I didn’t vote for Monsters and Dragons, by the way, but I’m sure the stories coming out of that theme will be engaging and entertaining. Perhaps even such a tale as Puff of Magic Dragon fame will show up. And sometimes those events fall in the week leading  up to the day or sometime following it. The thing is the sharing of stories.

DSCF5977                                                                                                                                                               Tellers from our guild at last year’s concert at the museum

The Baden Storytellers’ Guild, of which I am a member, will again be putting on a concert at the Waterloo Region Museum in Kitchener on March 16th, from 2-4 pm. If you plan to come to  Waterloo Region that week, perhaps you will consider coming. Tickets are $10 each for adults and a bargain for the entertainment it provides. Sometimes there are even door prizes to lure and coax guests to try it out. If storytelling is new to you, come and give a listen, for members of our guild tell good stories, but also we will have as our special storytelling guest, Celia Lottridge.

Storytellers are artists in their own way, creating or crafting a story to bring listeners to a place of intrigue, suspense and often mystery too. Celia, I am told, is a wonderful teller, and I also know of her as a picture book author though I have not as yet read one of her books, but have recognized her name as an author

In a profile published by the Manitoba Library Association,  written by Dave Jenkinson, Celia said of her earlier life,

As a child, I didn’t ever write for fun, but I used to make up stories a lot and tell them to my sister who was seven years younger than me and a great listener. I also read stories in books and then told them to her afterwards.

After some travelling with her husband to Moscow on an exchange program and then in Ithica, New York, and working in a library there, they moved to Canada after a visit with some of her relatives in Toronto.

Libraries attracted me because I loved books, and I thought that librarianship would be a good career.” An MLS from Columbia followed in 1959. “I took children’s literature from Francis Henne, a great teacher and a true appreciator of children’s books as literature.

She also thought her son, who was eight years old, had moved around enough by the time they settled in Toronto. Through her work in a bookstore, she met Dan  Yashinsky and Joan Bodger. As they shared their love of storytelling, they discussed the need for a storytelling organization and Celia found herself on the founding board of the organization, Storyteller’s School of Toronto.


And so I will look forward to the concert and to meet this teller who fellow storytellers are speaking so highly of, and to eventually own the collection of stories that she’s putting together for this year’s StorySave project. I will likely also look for her books in the library. May the sun shine brightly and the weather cooperate for Celia’s trip to Kitchener that day.

And while I speak of storytelling and those who can teach us  so much, I want to mention someone  whom I have looked up to and who has mentored me in storytelling since joining the Baden guild.  While the Story Barn holds a place in our memories, I hope that one day Mary-Eileen McClear‘s stories will also be included in such an august and respected collection. And I hope to see her at our concert this year. Are you listening,  Mary-Eileen?

That’s March 16th, 2-4 pm, at the Waterloo Region Museum. Tellers are yet to be revealed. Get a ticket ($10 each) from me or any guild member, the Museum box office, and find how you can be transported through the spoken word, through storytelling.

February 18, 2014 at 7:03 pm Leave a comment

Lasting Friendships– a Guest Post by Alicja Pyszka-Franceschini

Today I introduce Alicja Pyszka-Franceschini,  of the UK. We’ve been enjoying each other’s writing for a while. Enjoy her reflection on friendships!

Image                                                                                                                                                                      photo by Alicja Pyszka-Franceschini

My friend is moving. To the other side of the big pond. She will take with her caring family, love of beauty and her sensitive and reflective mothering. Her sense of humour, passion for reading and timely wisdoms thrown at me just at the drop of a hat. She’ll move and from then on we will only be able to have virtual cups of tea when the time change or our owl-like natures permit.

This has been happening to me quite often ever since I settled in England. Different characters and personalities cross my life and our living room, share with us their life events, moments of joy and sadness, jokes and frustrations but eventually venture further to explore different realities and live different lives. It’s difficult to nurture those friendships, divided by space, time and daily routines. We try though, by emails, cards and messages sent now and again, occasional get-togethers, chats and phone-calls, because we miss them— those exchanges of common interests and problems—being part of their lives and their contribution to ours. It often takes to be removed from one’s reality to understand how valuable and enriching our relationships were, that and how much we’ve been learning from them and how much of a better person we became through them.

When I moved from Poland and decided to study here, I was missing my friends so so dearly. All of them… and you know what… this feeling hasn’t changed. I still miss them. They are still in my thoughts and they are still my reference points, I still see myself somehow in them and through them, starting from those in my primary school through to those I met at later stages of my education and through various other experiences. I just think that it’s impossible to forget a friend. Lose touch with, yes, that’s possible, but forgetting is not. And I think that often this is what we are afraid of, of being forgotten, or of being not loved by them as much as in the past. And perhaps they fear that too.

I once met a very eminent senior academic and had a chance to have dinner with him. Over a plate with nice hot food and glasses of wine, he told us stories… of his friends. His whole conversation was filled with friends. You very quickly realised that they were his focus and his life, and what a wonderful focus to have! I expected (and feared slightly) a conversation laden with reflections on politics, literature and history or a strong focus on his academic work, but no. As he was reminiscing with a pause to smile or laugh, it was becoming more and more apparent to me that this man is just living, breathing and enjoying his friendships… he was with those people mentally as much as he was physically with us. He loved them dearly, and that love surpassed the distances that he had travelled.

There is a term in psychology called ‘mirroring’ and it refers to us subconsciously (or consciously) copying gestures, language and emotional responses of others during our conversations. Apparently we tend to see people who mirror our emotional responses as more empathetic. [Therefore, this 'technique' of mirroring is frequently recommended to parents who want to build a good relationship with their children... not to reject or disregard the feelings but to mirror them.] I am thinking of my close and long-distance friendships, and I can see that yes, regardless of the distance, changes in our circumstance, developments, perhaps this is what we still want from our friendships and friends… to be able to ‘mirror’ us somehow. If sharing and being part of daily struggles is not possible, what else remains for us to do?

–Alicja emigrated to the UK from Poland a few years ago to study. She has recently started the blog Postcards without stamps to share her creative interests in writing and photography with the wider community. She is a mum of a toddler who occupies most of her time.

Thank you, Alicja for being willing to share your post.

February 13, 2014 at 12:08 pm Leave a comment

Writing is not a hobby


This morning I posted over at Canadian Writers Who Are Christian, with Writing is not a hobby.

Sometimes that’s what people call it, sometimes that’s how writers  or wanna-be writers treat it.

Go on over and read my post and those of other professional writers such as Peter Black, Glynis Belec, Rose McCormick Brandon and more. They will inspire, challenge and often make you laugh too.


School Supplies 3

February 11, 2014 at 1:57 pm Leave a comment

Older Posts

Top Canadian Blogs - Top Blogs

book cover

Postcards without stamps

Photography and Beyond

Threshold of Heaven

Planet Earth: Threshold of Heaven

janice l. dick

a writer's life


art and practice

SIMPLY LIFE with Kathleen Gibson

Just another weblog

Just another weblog

Whatever He Says

Just another weblog

Baden Storytellers' Guild

Continuing the Tradition of Oral Storytelling


thoughts on faith and fiction


Garden adventures and advice...

Promises of Home

Stories of British Home Children, written, compiled and edited by Rose McCormick Brandon


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 700 other followers