Monday, March 29, 2010

Remembering Liz: A Crowning Affair

 “Liz here.  I’m having a little dinner party to honor Dan Rather.  We’re going to be spinning some yarns, and I’d like for you to tell a story or two.  Now Dan will be the primary yarn spinner,” she cautioned.  “You can have three minutes.  Dan get’s thirty.”

Liz Carpenter can summon heads of states and dignitaries with a call, so who was I to decline?  I told her that I’d love to come, and I would limit my storytelling to the three minutes she had given me.  I arrived all decked out in a squaw skirt and black boots with my well-rehearsed story.

After the “opening ceremony” to welcome her guests, Liz invited everyone to eat.  Scattered all over her house, we ate delicious salmon while engaging in great conversations. As I was chewing the last bite of my salmon, I joined the guests at the “big table,” positioning myself between Liz and Lady Bird.  As I was about to say something I felt and heard a loud crunch in my mouth.  I was sure I had chomped down on a large fish bone, so I delicately spit the foreign object into my napkin, turning my head away from the table exactly as I had been taught in junior high home economics.  I quickly glanced at the object in my napkin and then swiped my tongue around my mouth.  This was no bone I was holding but a crown from my back right tooth.

After a quick trip to the bathroom where I rinsed out the crown and set it back on the stump of my tooth, I went back to the table, hoping the crown would stay put for the rest of the evening.  After all, I had three minutes of fame coming, and I didn’t want to blow it.

We gathered back in the living room for storytelling and bananas Foster.  Dan Rather took every bit of his 30 minutes, and then others piped in with their stories.  I was dying to tell my story, but each time I took a bite of banana or ice cream, that durn crown popped off.  Several times I opened my mouth, ready to spin my yarn.  Each time, I closed it abruptly as the crown fell to the floor of my mouth.

At about 10:30, the Rathers stood up to leave, and other guests followed suit.  I stood up to protest that I hadn’t had a chance to tell my story, but the moment my lips came together, that crown popped off once again.  I sat back down—my chance to speak before Dan Rather and other dignitaries had passed.

Even without my yarn, the evening was a smashing success.  I’d go so far to say that it was a crowning affair.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Autumn has a Silent N

My precious four-year-old grandson William is finally into dinosaurs. I'd been tempting him with lots of dinosaur figures and facts, but until recently, he has preferred books, gardening and play dough. In January, I took him to the Texas Memorial Museum the day before his birthday, thinking this might help him kick off his dinosaur phase. We looked at dinosaur exhibits, bones and pictures of the great prehistoric creatures. William was mildly interested, but what he liked best was the dark room where stuffed animals were illuminated. He also liked the fish room where he could sit on a boat. His eyes lit up when we reached the third floor, filled with computers. I decided right away that William's in depth research into DNA should wait until he had progressed through a few more basic phases, including dinosaurs. I gently led him downstairs after he'd had a chance to manipulate a little data in the Human Genome Project.

After exploring the stairs, restrooms, windows and the bottom two floors of the museum several times, we were ready for the gift shop. I told William he could pick out one thing for his birthday present. Predictably, he headed for the books and began to read one after another. Although I had promised myself that my only influence would be the cost of the item, I suggested other sections of the store so he could explore more options. That's when his eyes locked on a little plastic lion. William moved around the gift shop, looking at other treasures, but he always came back to the lion. What? Two hours in a dinosaur museum and this kid wants to leave with a lion? Through a process of elimination--and some manipulation by me--he finally chose a green plastic dinosaur. I heaved a sigh of relief, hoping that he and "Dino" would reach new heights of exploration together. On the way out of the museum, we once again looked at the tail bones of a dinosaur that reached across a wall and over a door frame. William pronounced that "very inturesting."

During this past month, William has fallen for dinosaurs big time, and he's embraced learning about them with the same energy and intensity he tackles learning everything else. His mother took him back to the Texas Memorial Museum with his little sister Caroline, and they are all talking and reading about dinosaurs throughout the day. Tory, the mother dinosaur, tells me that every morning, William now wakes up as a dinosaur egg, and when she comes in for a morning hug, her young son breaks through his dinosaur egg shell and emerges as a baby dinosaur.

During William's sweeopver last week, we talked lots about dinosaurs, of course. We ate supper by candlelight with three dinosaurs as the table centerpieces. He woke up Friday morning, however, as a kid. I'm thinking it was because I forgot to sit on him to get him to hatch. After breakfast and some piano playing, we got back to dinosaurs. I sat him on my lap and began a computer search of dinosaurs, hoping to print out some pictures of his favorite ones. "My favorite dinosaur is the one with wings, the Teranodon," he told me. All my searches for the Teranodon were unsuccessful, and I told him I couldn't find it. That's when William softly and emphatically announced, "But Nini, it begins with a silent P." My search success rate hit an all-time high, and I printed out lots of pictures of Pteranodons.

Five days later, William is still enthralled by dinosaurs. Today, however, he called to talk about the four seasons. After all this is the week of spring break. We confirmed that he'd come to my house on Friday, and then he wanted to know all the things we would do in the spring and then in the summer. We discussed camping, trips to Zilker Park, and of course our newly planted tomatoes.

As we were beginning to move on to fall activities, William interrupted himself to deliver some big news. "Nini," he said earnestly. "Don't forget that autumn has a silent N."

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Story Whisperer

"Something tells me I'm into something good."

Thank you, Hermans Hermits for my theme song! I listen to it often, and I've even come up with some new lyrics.

Indeed I'm into something good with the advent of an additional blog as The Story Whisperer. Follow me and we'll make beautiful music together and create powerful, engaging and compelling stories!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Statesman Commentary March 13