Dave’s Blog

March 27, 2008

Rector Johnson Middle School, Broken Bow, OK

Filed under: Uncategorized — storytel @ 5:08 pm

I am spending a 4 day residency here with the Oklahoma Arts Council funding. I am working with 6 classes of sixth graders each day. They are really excited about the residency. I was not able to be here last year because of a paperwork snafu. It has become a right of passage for the sixth graders here.

Broken Bow is in the most South East corner of Oklahoma. It is very poor and isolated and they do not get many special programs. They are taking good care of me by providing meals at local eateries each evening. Breakfast and lunch are at the school lunch room. Homade rolls and biscuts and all.

Each day the kids write in their journal…at least 4 sentences then we have a story and work with strings. Their brothers and sisters have taught them some things so they are prepared.

A sad note is that their regular teacher, Shawn Hutchings, lost her battle with cancer and passed away a couple of months ago. It was her vision that started the string program here and she kept it working. We will carry on without her, but she is really missed. The current sub, Mrs Hurd, is keeping things on an even keel.

Yesterday they had a field day and some of the kids were out in the morning participating. The other kids could go over for $1 for the afternoon. 6 boys decided they would rather stay and do strings so we had a string intensive for those boys during the afternoon. They learned the climbing porcupine and the beating heart. They really concentrated on what they were doing.

We took a little time out to take them outside for some basket ball practice. Just to blow the dust off them. What a nice time with just the dedicated.

After school today I drove North about 8 miles to Beaver Bend State Park. What a beautiful drive. The trees are turning green, the redbuds are in bloom and everywhere in the woods you see whisps of dogwood like little clouds floating. The tulip trees are starting to bloom also. I stopped at a restaurant in Hochatown a couple miles beyond the park and had too much catfish. It was really good.


March 25, 2008

Best of Books Bookstore, Edmond, OK

Filed under: Uncategorized — storytel @ 6:24 pm

Thursday, March 20, 2008 

Some things you do just because. Bookstores are one of those places. They don’t pay well. (Sometimes you get a gift certificate.) You don’t have many people and you don’t sell that many books. But it does keep the name out there and it is fun to have some of your groupies come out to see you.

All in all, I had a good time. Who knows, one of those parents may get me a booking at another school in the area. You never know where the bookings come from and it is a totally relaxed atmosphere to work with kids…of all ages.


Era, TX

Filed under: Uncategorized — storytel @ 6:19 pm

Well, I have not been to good about reporting in. I was in Texas last week. Sunday night I was in Valley View at the Methodist Chruch. They had invited the Baptist youth group and anyone else that wanted to come. We had about 50 people and they were very active. Had a great time telling them the “Rest of the Story” from what I presented the next day at the Era school.

The pastor, Scott Melton had said that he would provide dinner for me after the program. They had snacks out for the kids but they were wolfed down immediately. Scott said that they had had a great pot luck that day and there were some wonderful leftovers. I said that would be fine so he fixed me a plate to take with me…actually three plates. One main course, one salad and one desserts.

I then followed Candice Taylor to her home in rural Era. She had said that they have a home behind theirs that was not occupied and I could have it to myself. I took my leftovers in the big house and ate and visited and then she showed me to the back house.

She said that we should leave the porch door open so the chicken smell could excape. They had chicks in the porch in a brooder…and it was good to let the smell excape. We went into the house and to the bedroom. There was a space heater going because the gas was off at that house. (Oh yes, it is off to the shower, but you can shower in the big house.)

They had a blow up mattress for me with bedding. It needed to be pumped up some more. That should have been a sign. It needed to be pumped up in the middle of the night also. I slept on the floor the rest of the night. Candice had breakfast waiting for me when I got up and showered in the big house.

Era school is a small country school. I met with K through 6 in very small groups. The kids really got into the string and were very excited to learn something new. They did not get the notes about books being for sale so I left some for them to buy. Of course, they ordered more a couple days later. All in all, good friendly people sharing their all.


March 14, 2008

Piedmont Elementary, Yukon, OK

Filed under: Uncategorized — storytel @ 7:53 pm

I have been doing a residency for the last 12 years with the third graders at Piedmont Elementary. The kids can’t wait until they are old enough to get to have the “String Man”. Four days of just third graders that are so tuned onto string that they are almost bursting at the seams.

A few of them can already do things that they learned from big brother or sister, but a few are new to the district and have no idea what is going to happen. Boy do they get into it quickly. The 5 teachers, Ms: Lee, Bailey, Hudson, Nichols and Benedict were all great about staying with kids to encourage and help them. One class has a child that is off the charts in IQ but has very poor hand eye coordination. That was one of my challanges that worked out well.

Every morning the kids would come in with more strings that they had bought or to show me something they had learned from one of their new books or from a friend. Of course, Jacob’s ladder is a rite of passage for them. I don’t teach it…I let them teach each other. About half could do it by the time I left. Many were saying…”I can’t do it, YET!”. No one had a hissy fit. Just that “I can’t do it, YET!.”

Because I was with them 4 days for an extended time, we were able to talk about lots of things…where these come from, variations, other names, travels, etc. What a good time I had. Some of the parents stopped me to tell me how much their kids were enjoying that each year. One teacher has a senior and says that she gets her string out every once in a while to work with it.

Debbie Caywood, the librarian sold the extra strings every morning. She also sold my books for me. Thanks. That helps make up some because residencies do not pay well. She lets me camp in the library with my stuff, but I worked in the rooms.

I did have one day during my last class of the day that I knew I was having a problem. Looked around and spotted the trash can. Motioned to the teacher that I had to leave, picked up the trash can on my way out the door and used it as I was running down the hall for the restroom. That ended that day, but I was better and could come back for the next day. Just some tummy ache problems.

Home now to rest up for the next adventure.


March 10, 2008

Our Lord’s Community Chruch, Oklahoma City, OK

Filed under: Uncategorized — storytel @ 7:17 pm

Yesterday I went up to Our Lord’s Community Church and did a program for the children during Children’s Church. We had a good group of about 25 elementary age kids with a couple of middle schoolers to “help”. Linda Brisner, the Youth Pastor had heard of me and wanted me to come up. They gave me a nice “love offering” to go toward my next mission trip. That, by the way, will be to Bolivia in June. I guess I am often in “mission” wherever I am.


Stone Ridge Elementary, Piedmont, OK

Filed under: Uncategorized — storytel @ 7:09 pm

I just finished a 4 day residency working with third graders at Stone Ridge Elementary. Kathy Dickerson did all the paper work for it and Mrs Craig, the librarian helped by selling books, DVD’s and extra strings. We had a great time.

The third grade teachers, Ms. Green, Mrs Stone and Mrs Smith wanted to have it happen in the rooms so I traveled into each room. It was easier for the kids too, more on their own turf and relating to their every day life not just a special something in the library. They have the coordination now to do most things. Some of the kids were late bloomers or had never touched a string so they took a couple of days to catch on, and they did.

One boy was a special student and had one hand that he carried at his side. He really had to work to get both hands to cooperate, but he worked at it and made it. He was doing some very complicated moves by the end of the week. His teacher was excited because he usually doesn’t succeed at things. He was a great trooper.

Another boy in another class was very bright but had very poor hand eye coordination. He was used to succeeding at everything in school and this had him whipped. He dug in and worked at it and with a little special coaching, he also did some complicated things. Just a matter of being able to see in a different way. By the last day, he could see what he was doing.

Friday, mid morning,the principal Mrs Dale came over the loud speaker and said there was going to be a practice fire drill but to get their coats first and line up to go out. The firemen were going to come and check to see how they did. We went out and the firemen did come…and…put out the fire. Well it wasn’t a fire, a belt on the boiler was loose and smoking.

I thought it was very wise of her, since it was very cold with snow fluries to tell the kids to get their coats. (There were no flames and it was just the sensor that alerted them to the problem.) She also allived many fears of having the firemen come by telling them ahead of time that they were coming. Good job, Mrs Dale.


March 3, 2008

Pearl Creek Elementary, Fairbanks, AK

Filed under: Uncategorized — storytel @ 9:37 pm

-13 outside. Plugged the car in at the school parking lot. Had a great day at the school. The PTA ask me to come. The librarian was out sick and so the day just kind of flowed by it’s self. They had a schedule worked out for me to be in the art room. Thank you. That is so much easier than in the multipurpouse space.

I set up the room the way I wanted it and went looking for the strings that were sent in December. No one at the school knew anything about them. PANIC! The custodian came in and took me to the PTA room and there behind some things was the box of strings. Hooray!!!!!!!!! The books arrived and we were off and running.

A couple of the teachers already did strings and said that when they go on a field trip they take their strings. Now they have much more to do. The counsoler also does strings. All the teachers worked with the kids and said they were very happy that I had come. The PTA bought one of each book for each classroom so the kids could practice.

I had a school lunch…one of those prepackaged things…Nachos. I stopped after school for a snack. Getting ready to pack for the trip home. Not taking nearly as much as I brought. I use empty plastic water bottles to take up the extra space so my luggage will not get smashed.

Went out with a group of men this evening. One was telling about their hot tub in the middle of their back yard. Last night he and his wife were in the hot tub and watched a young moose enter the yard. It walked over to the hot tub and looked then walked around the yard. They, of course, could not move until it left. Finally it walked to the edge and went to sleep behind some bushes. They were able to hot foot…or cold foot it into the house.


March 2, 2008

First Presbyterian Church, Fairbanks, AK

Filed under: Uncategorized — storytel @ 10:57 pm

Went back to the church that I had been at on Wednesday evening. Wednesday they have a meal. They really try to be hospitible to the homeless and ones in need. Today one man was in the men’s room cleaning up. A couple were just enjoying the lobby and the hot coffee.

We stood in the lobby to notify families that usually take their kids to the church service that we were having a special program and they might like to join the other kids. We also invited all the teens to come in. What fun we had

Debra L Bush set it up and had everything ready. Many adults came down also. The music teacher from Badger Road School was there, ( She really likes the strings.) Erin Baldwin was also there…getting very excited when she could so something. These folks take people to the bush villages for vacation Bible School and other programs and were very impressed with the possibilities for the strings. They were already planning how they could use them in Newixit (Sp) and Fort Yukon.

After I left there I drove to North Pole to go to the best Chinese restaurant in the regon. It was great and worth the drive. Back to the hotel for some R&R.


CSA, Community Supported Agriculture

Filed under: Uncategorized — storytel @ 10:37 pm

Susan and Eric from Demeters Wild Rose Farm, invited me to a potluck at her sisters house…way out from Fairbanks. Their house is on the side of the mountain and overlooks the airport and Fairbanks. It was a gathering of 7 of the CSA farmers in the area that grow produce that is spoken for by the community. Members contract for a box of produce each week during the growing season. They  also take things to the farmers market.

They were meeting to order seeds, onion sprouts, fertalizer and all the rest. I wasn’t in on that part. Just the eating and playing with strings. Susan has the whole farm community turned onto string. Kids and adults alike. Tom, an outgoing member of the group was especially interested in learning more. So were some of the kids. Ema pulled a great trick on him that had the whole house laughing.

They had about 6 kinds of smoked salmon for appetizers and then the main courses. Then we had dessert and then birthday cake. What a good time of fellowship and fun. We saw moose on the way out but none on the way back.

Stayed up to see the Northern Lights but they weren’t out yet.



March 1, 2008

Alaska Library Association Convention, Fairbanks, AK

Filed under: Uncategorized — storytel @ 8:11 pm

Thursday evening, Friday and Saturday were the dates for the AKLA Convention here at the Princess Hotel. I have had a booth all three days to sell books, videos and strings and to try to get people interested in booking me, especially in the villages and the South East.

They had a reception in the exhibit hall on Thursday night with refreshments. Wow. Whole smoked salmon, salmon pate, halibut pate, egg rolls, sausages, cookies and pastries and fruit all presented in a very nice way. It did encourage the attendes to come in and look around. I enjoyed grazing but also had to be at the booth. Can’t have everything.

It is work standing up at a booth and trying to intice each person into spending some time listening to what I have. I had an easier job because every once in a while someone would come by to say, “You were just at our school and the kids are so into string”, or ” My son came home and was just beside himself trying to show me all the things he could do”.

I met one woman who said that that is all she remembers from fish camp in the summer. The elders coming from Nelson Island and doing string figures. A few other people remember doing them in the past. Not much now, though. That is where I come in.

I also gave a workshop on Friday, String 101. It was from 9:00 to 10:30 PM. It took some effort to be lively after manning the booth from 8 to 6. We had a very good turnout and had lots of fun. Many people came by on Saturday to be reminded of a step or two for one of the figures that they forgot.  

It is -13 and exhibits are done at noon. I went out for some beer batter halibut at the Family Restaurant. Back relaxing for a while and then Susan Kendt is picking me up with her family to go to a pot luck with some other truck farmers. They all raise produce which people contract for. They get a box of produce…whatever is in season that week, each week of the summer. Good price for the consumer and a steady income for the farmer.

I do talk of food a lot, don’t I?


Powered by WordPress