Adventures in Storytelling

The adventures of The Patchwork Players, Patti Christensen and James Nelson-Lucas, as they travel the dimensions of time and space, telling their tales

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Fires burn through the southland of CA….the impact on two
storytellers—thoughts from Patti and James

This past week has been a heart-wrenching one for all who live in San
Diego County CA…..a nightmare of wildfires have raged throughout our
region, brining terror, confusion and heartbreak. But also have
brought the community together in powerful ways.

First we should say that our home wasn't directly threatened, nor were
we among the approximately half million people who were ordered to

However, an event of such a magnitude leaves no one untouched, even if
we are so thankfully still in our homes, with all of our belongings
(precious and clutter alike) intact.

What ways did these fires impact two local storytellers? Here are a few things:

We worried. Worried about friends, family, acquaintances, colleagues,
people form work. The phone lines were abuzz (although we tired to go
along with keeping the cell phone lines available for those who were
evacuated as well as for emergency service workers. We shared news
gratefully of who has heard from whom, who were should call or try to
get a hold of, who we just had to wonder about and pray for.

We were glued to the TV set. As work was canceled for many over the
week, the TV and the Internet became a lifeline for news. We watched
with horror, hope and fascination.
What are they saying now? Anything new?

Canceled work…ah yes. There were phone calls and emails with all of
the customers and contacts for scheduled gigs. This was the full week
before Halloween. Usually one of the busiest of the year for
storytellers. We had a school program schedule for a school in a town
that was on evacuation, another two assemblies at a school which was
now on the week off…. actually all 422 public school districts in the
county canceled school for at least the week. No school, no
storytelling assemblies. Patti got a call from her contact saying that
she had been evacuated! Patti set off down the road to go to an Orange
County women's group gig, but only got two blocks down the street when
she got the phone call that this event was also canceled. The area
surrounding it was now going into evacuation. And later that night,
the highway leading there and back was closed due to fires. Patti
could have gotten stuck with no way to return home.

Also, we were schedule to be guest speakers at a university course….
also no university classes….This one was rescheduled for net week. A
couple of the others will also be scheduled again once ''the dust
settles"….this time literally. Other library programs for this
weekend and early next week called to say they were defiantly on, and
were we okay?

"Are you okay? Did you have to evacuate?" These were the opening
words of very conversation this week. And so many of those in our
lives had stories to tell of evacuation, or getting the call to be
ready. Of spending nights at church, or at the university or a
shelter. Of heading up north to LA or Orange County to be with family
or friends.

We thought through, if we had to go, where would we go. And were so
grateful that there is family and friends who we know we could have

And what would we take if we only had a few minutes? What are the
most important things? Our file of important documents, bills,
computers are "no brainers" as are medical records…. but then the wall
of photos? And how about the thousands of books that we have in every
room of our house? Oh my, to lose our books. THAT would be the
irreplaceable loss. And how about the family heirloom antiques: the
Hoosier cabinet from my husband's grandparent's farm, or the captain
ship's wheel from James's grandparents? How about all of the
treasures brought back form travels overseas, especially China? The
DVD's, the CD's ,The quilts? And the costumes and props that fill
half of the garage? What a nightmare to even contemplate. But it was
all staring us in the face.

We also spent the day at one of our regular jobs at a children's
hospital on Friday. And besides telling stories tour regular kids,
spend a chunk of times telling stories to children of medical and
support staff form the hospital who came to work with mom or dad
because no school and no other options for their safe care.

Patti is now preparing for going back to her other regular job with a
family counseling agency who will be responding to the needs of
communities, clients and students throughout the county…lots of crisis
response in the planning, and thing unfolding in a strange and
uncertain manner. Who will need help, where and when?

How did we spend out newly found "free time" this week? There was
some manic cleaning…our DVDs and CDs are now newly organized, props
and costumes have been put into order.

We also spend some time planning and getting ready for next summer's
Summer Library Reading program. We wrote copy, started fliers, filled
out applications and even spent time at Sears getting publicity photos
taken. Theme for next summer: "Catch the Reading Bug @ Your Library,"
for teens "Metamorphosis @ your Library." Work that has to happen at
some time. Why not spend some of this time getting it done?

So on Sunday we head back to LEGOLAND CA, for the last day of their
annual Brick of Treat festival…..the park was closed for several days
and reopened to not very large crowds as parents continue to worry
about the air quality and are warned to keep kids inside. The park is
open though and so we don't lose that money, too. But as we head off
for that gig, the smoke is thick in the air….how do you tell stories
for most of the hour for five hours when you can hardly breathe? The
services all say that our city has air that is unhealthy for sensitive
populations. And so, great day to bring your kids outside to a park!

When they talk about he cost of the fires, at this point estimating
over a billion dollars, do they include the amount of money that
people lost form not being able to work? We don't know.

We do know that we are thankful for the firefighters, the volunteers,
the police, and everyone who pitched in to do their parts. It takes a
village to deal with a fire, and this large village will be dealing
with this one for years to come.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Fall Has Fell...

This year we celebrated International Talk Like a Pirate Day at Sea Shanty Festival aboard the historic Star of India What with upcoming Pirate gigs, (this Thursday at the Torrence Public Library in Los Angeles) we need to stay in Pirate ship shape. Heck, we were even invited on stage to help sing It's Fun Being a Pirate. A ditty that we look to incorporate into our shows. Notice Patti's lovely new pegleg. She will start a fashion trend.

We also told some of our favorite Love and Romance tales for a very special wedding reception up in the dessert. The weather and the food was very good. The couple, parents and guests reported that they were delighted. What better way to celebrate and start out married life than by listening to the wisdom of the ages through storytelling

We rounded out the month by flying to Lodi
California to tell at an extravagant fund raising
party for the
Lodi Public Library . We love libraries. Black ties, suits and lovely dresses (plus some cool casual looks) everywhere. There were also other tellers there to tell for the
crowd; Olga Loya and a popular local Sacramento duo, Mary and Robin Aurelius. The event

featured great gourmet food, wine form local vineyards, and storytelling between the courses. The patrons stayed at their tables set up throughout the library, while the
storytellers rotated around. This is their seventh annual event featuring storytellings. . In between courses, the storytellers had our own table to chat and swap storytelling experiences. The only problem with this was stopping chatting enough to go do the next storytelling set. Hooray for The Lodi Library Foundation for creating a wonderful storytelling venue, and for the audience being so enthusiastic.

And now....we move into October with all of the scary and not so scary story programs. Happy Halloween, and don't forget to look under the bed before you turn out the light.