December Swap Update

teller and audienceHoliday 2015 table

Thanks to the publicity and full house turnout for Tellabration!™ last month, 19 of the 31 people at our December Do Tell Story Swap were first timers!  Welcome to everyone who came to hear stories and to tell them.

To celebrate the season and the last Swap of the year, we decorated our refreshment table with a red tablecloth, fresh greens, hot water dispenser for cocoa, cider and tea, and lots of goodies.  Folks enjoyed the festive atmosphere, mixing and mingling in a relaxed, fun atmosphere.

The Christmas and winter season brought out poignant and varied stories. Starting with Pat’s touching story on the importance of family and the love between generations, we heard other stories of love and generosity:

Cal’s story of how a man’s kindness to two brothers brightened their holiday and his, in the story, “A Brother Like That” by Don Clark.

Mary’s tale of “The Little Pagan Faun” from a 1927 short story collection by Patrick Chalmers, brought together two cultural traditions and described the beauty of the true meaning of the gift of Christmas.

Martha’s “The King and the Shoemaker” reminds us that the smallest gift, when it is your most valuable possession, is the one that brings the most reward. This story is from a collection called, “The Beautiful Blue Jay and other Tales of India.”

And Craig’s delightful story of finally getting to be Santa Claus after a childhood yearning to do so, had everyone rooting for him.  Craig happily has been a Santa Claus every December since 2005!

A Swap wouldn’t be complete, whatever the time of year, without some great stories from the teller’s real life.  Laurie’s true tale, “Hung Up” took the listeners right into the frustration of her exasperating phone call to the DMV.  Resigned sighs soon revealed the comical, universal side of her situation, especially in the “Can you believe it?!” outcome.  Chard’s story “The Train” about being a visually impaired traveler separated from his companion at a series of London train stations, was tender and told with suspense.

Neil recalled days as an altar boy, 5 cent popcorn at the movies, collecting hardwood Strombecker model kit airplanes, and hearing a libidinous librarian’s definition of packages!  Nendohwoab described his adventures raising redworms, crickets and more to sell as bait. His encounter with a ranger in Kentucky while he was collecting newts brought laughter when Nendohwoab and the ranger had differing ideas of what a “naturalist” was!

Alicia entertained us with a wonderful story from Verna Aardema’s book, “Bimwilli and the Zimwi”.  Bimwilli is a Swahili girl who outsmarts an evil, shape-shifting Zimwi.  Liz entertained us with great expressions and body language in her dramatic telling of “The Tortoise and the Hare”.  We were  reminded that, during the hectic holiday season, Slow and Steady Wins the Race!

At evening’s end, Elaine recited “The Butterfly and the Honeybee” with its fun punchline and no sting.

Come hear what the buzz is about at our monthly Do Tell Story Swaps!  Our next gathering will be on Tuesday, January 12, 2016.  We would love to hear your story, perhaps about holiday fun, food, mishaps or goofy gifts!  Any tale, tall or true, is welcome.  Feel free to post a comment here so that our storytelling community stays connected on-line as well as at our Swaps.

“People have wanted to narrate since first we banged rocks together and wondered about fire. There’ll be tellings as long as there are any of us here, until the stars disappear one by one like turned-out lights.” — China Miéville

Best wishes for the New Year!



November Swap Notes

Do Tell Story Swap had a lively group of tellers and listeners to warm a chilly evening. The group shared what November means to them, with answers everywhere from the beautiful colors of our gorgeous Sonoma County autumn, to honoring our veterans, to being thankful it’s not Christmas yet!

Reaching back a bit towards Halloween, Elaine told a harrowing story of a man being chased by a coffin. This tale is told different ways, so we won’t spoil the ending which is a surprise kicker, but it is a favorite for the scary season.

Continuing the spooky theme, Mary had an eerie true recollection about ghosts who occupied her farm neighbor’s house, while the living occupants enjoyed popcorn and read the funny papers.

Katy took us on an enchanting pumpkin tour into a land of whimsy and fun, bending the borders of what is real and what is magic.

Clare told a touching story about her brother with whom she grew close in their adult years. She relayed how, years after her brother’s death, she had an encounter with a taxi driver whose qualities, and even statements, directly paralleled those of her brother. Really beautiful, Clare!

Cal moved us toward Thanksgiving with vivid imagery in his story of a homeless woman, two themes directly in our consciousness now that it is getting colder and close to the day of thanks. His story was inspired with generosity and hope.

Laurie shared her true tale about a “perpetual” Thanksgiving greeting card, now dog-eared and held together by tape, that has traveled 40,000 miles between she and her sister, and remains in circulation after 30 years.

Martha told the much loved “No News” story with her usual bright, funny delivery. Rosemary treated us to the traditional Scottish fairy tale about Tam Linn, with mystery and magic aplenty. And Elaine finished up by reciting a lively rendition of a ballad, “The Face on the Barroom Floor” by Hugh Antoine D’Arcy.

TELLABRATION!™ is right around the corner! A performance by four stellar tellers, it will be on Saturday November 21st from 7 to 9 PM at the Glaser Center near downtown Santa Rosa. This will be the 6th year Do Tell Story Swap has brought this free evening of storytelling to Sonoma County.

This year we are partnering with the Storytelling Association of California. We have fabulous tellers and are expecting a wonderful evening of great entertainment for adults, teens, and kids age 8 and up. Check out the details on the TELLABRATION!™ section of this website. See you there!

October Swap Summary

At our October 13th  Do Tell Story Swap, an attentive audience appreciated the variety of vivid stories that brought laughter, longing, contemplation and some shudders. We had a warm connection on the balmy evening, plus freshly baked apple pie!

Clare shared a magical tale about the imagined view two roommates conjured from a nonexistent window… that opened real windows in their souls. Katy was in season with migrating geese on an animated quilt, while Laurie had us ducking to “Whoosh!” about bats flying about in her house.

Martha’s hilarious story about Old Dry Fry who loved fried chicken and was done in five times in five ways, was told with her trademark twinkle of eye and perfect timing. Brandon brandished a slapstick true story from Indonesia with plenty of mayhem and mighty sound effects.

Cal has a remarkable memory for historical facts and told about the Swamp Fox, a military officer who served in the American Revolutionary War. And Rosemary related a stubborn conversation between nymphs and goblins in a piece by Harold Monro, “Overheard on a Salt Marsh.”

Tellabration is coming on Saturday November 21 to the Glaser Center in Santa Rosa. Click on our Tellabration page on this website for information about the four great storytellers who will be performing.  Meanwhile, join us at the monthly story swap on Tuesday November 10.  See you soon at one or both of these great storytelling gatherings!



STORY SWAP NOTES – September 2015

Despite the record heat, we had a lively September Swap. It was a special occasion as we celebrated Martha Shogren’s 65th wedding anniversary with cupcakes and a lovely orchid. Martha is a remarkable storyteller and a virtual encyclopedia of stories. She is my go-to person for help in finding stories I want to tell!  One of the founding members of the Do Tell Story Swap, Martha is a true treasure. In fact, at our September Swap Martha told the Russian folk tale she told at the very first Do Tell Story Swap in 2010. In all the intervening years, Martha has never retold a story before this! Congratulations, Martha!

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The evening brought out folk tales from far away lands, personal stories of family and fate, and exciting tall tales. Brandon Spars told of meeting Loro Kidul, Goddess of the South Seas, in his harrowing tale of being shipwrecked in Indonesia. Cal Johnson’s story about the Revolutionary War entertained with a bit of history and pride in country. Meg Brown, inspired by a wonderful story told by Willy Claflin at the 2015 Sierra Storytelling Festival, told her rendition of the Buzzard and the Chicken Hawk, and Elaine Stanley followed that up by telling about the Goshawk.

Do Tell Story Swappers are an active group! We are busy bringing storytelling to the community. In August Meg Brown and Laurie Reaume participated in the “Connect Community” event put on by the Sonoma County Gazette. We had the opportunity to talk to lots of people about storytelling, the Swap and Tellabration. Katy Mangan participated in Art on the Ridge, presenting afternoon stories during the weekend of September 12-13.  Elaine, Katy and Cal brought their lively stories to an attentive and appreciative group of about 30 listeners at Brookdale Paulin Creek on September 19th.

 Cal and Audience    All Tellers

Mark your calendar to attend Tellabration on Saturday November 21, an evening of storytelling fun and magic for story lovers of all ages! See our Tellabration page on this website for all the information.

The next Swap is October 13th. We look forward to seeing you there! “The world is full of stories and from time to time they allow themselves to be told.”

By Meg Brown





Story Swap Notes – August 2015

Dog days of August were perfect for storytelling at the Do Tell Story Swap on August 11. The First Congregational United Church of Christ Friendship Hall provides a nice comfortable space. A thank you goes out to Katy Mangan, Elaine Stanley and all the helpers who prepare the space for storytelling with chairs, rug, and storyteller stool. They do this every Swap!

We had a lot of storytellers, all with great tales to take us to China, Canada, Yellowstone and our own imaginations. Sher Christian began with two poems from her book “Star Kissed Shadows”, which inspired her to take a journey to reconnect with a dear friend. Joyce Baechtel told an amusing story about receiving a mysterious package and the hilarious solution to the mystery. Several personal stories recounting vacation travels and dinner at Coppola’s (which included a marriage proposal to one of Katy’s daughters!),  brought life to our storytellers’ own perspectives on life.  As always, Martha, Cal, Pat and Rosemary shared classic stories from their bottomless repertoire of great tales!

Special note on Brandon Spars: Brandon did finish the story about listening to the river he began in June. So great!  But he told a second story Tuesday night, a “Fast Lane” story of a road trip he took with his children. Brandon told that story at a story slam competition in Berkeley recently and won! He will be featured on Moth radio. Congratulations, Brandon!Brandon 4 good

In addition, Brandon has agreed to be a teller at Tellabration here  in November!  Thanks, Brandon – we can’t wait to see what you come up with!


Our next Swap is Tuesday, September 8th! Join us for telling and listening, laughing and sighing – “the world is full of stories and sometimes they let themselves be told”.

Posted by Meg Brown

Story Swap Notes – July 2015

A warm summer night brought a nice group to the Swap on July 14th. We heard new stories and had a chance to reconnect, relax, and recharge our imaginations.

We were anticipating Brandon Spar’s second installment to his story about his unusual wedding, but since it was his actual wedding anniversary, we had to get a rain check and hope to hear it at our August Swap. You don’t want to miss it.

July’s stories were as varied and entertaining as ever. Stories told were about the Celtic festival of Lammas, folk tales from Burma, Japan and the Appalachians. Meg Brown told about the “Man with No Luck” and Cal Johnson entertained us with a paranoid fantasy. Rosemary Hayes told a magical tale of elephants, giraffes, lions and monkeys from the POV of a 6 year old child. Mary Turner’s true life story of her mother’s experience as a matron of a women’s prison in New Jersey was an inspiration in kindness and creativity. Elaine Stanley told a story of two women who were lifelong friends until an argument threatened to end their friendship. Many stories like this one help us see difficulties and solutions to life’s challenges in a new light.

With only about 15 minutes left in the Swap, Elaine led us in an improv story, inviting the audience to participate in building the tale. It was a lot of fun and the resulting story was very funny.  And that is a big part of storytelling – fun!

Join us next Swap on August 11 for a special guest who comes all the way from China! We look forward to seeing you!

Posted by Meg Brown


June Do Tell Story Swap Report

Vacation caused me to be quite late in posting this summary of the June Do Tell Story Swap but it was such a great Swap, I think better late than not at all!

There was a great crowd of tellers and listeners at the June Story Swap. Elaine Stanley’s 70th birthday was celebrated with a gift certificate to Rosso’s Restaurant, a card, orchid and balloons…not to mention lots of yummy treats for the break!

We were wonderfully entertained by lots of storytellers. Brandon Spars led off with the telling of the first of a 3 part story about listening to the voice of a river. Brandon’s expressive style draws you right in and his cliffhanger at the end invited everyone back for July’s installment! We heard folk tales about how Raven brings light to the world and how he kills Whale and tried to trick his cousin Blackbird – right on topic, given the whales washed up on the Sonoma Coast in June. Then a sweet short story about a 5 year old girl sitting on a log hoping to play with wild birds and animals. Cal entertained everyone with his  Witch Hunt story. Cal’s stories always have a fun surprise at the end. You gotta hear them!

Finally, the birthday celebrant, Elaine, gave us a gift: Back to back, she delivered a poem, song and stories with the energy and expressiveness that makes Elaine the master storyteller she is. The Bee and the Butterfly;  Mr. Coyote and the dogs (a personal favorite of mine);  Polly Von, a story about a farmer seeking Truth and its meaning;  and “The Battle” finished off the evening.  Whew! Thank you, Elaine!

Next, Tuesday, July 14 is our next Swap. Put it on your calendar and come out to share and hear stories. Fingers crossed Brandon will be back with his next installment too! Info on the Swap is on the home page of this website.

Keep on telling,

Meg Brown – Do Tell Story Swap

May Swap Notes: Special Guests

Do Tell Story Swap’s monthly storytelling evening was on Tuesday May 12. It was a treat to welcome Kenneth and Patricia Foster. Kenneth and Patricia invited Swap members to their home studio for many years before they moved to Washington State late last year. Kenneth, along with Elaine Stanley, founded the Do Tell Story Swap.

Kenneth started out the Swap with a tale of his traumatic moving experience from Santa Rosa to Washington. I believe many of we listeners are taking away what not to do if we have to hire a moving company for an interstate move.  Kenneth’s telling of this story was imbued with humor and tragedy, turning it into a very entertaining tale. Still, all of us agreed it would have been far better for this story to never have had its inspiration!

Besides catching up with Kenneth and Patricia, we also welcomed some Swappers that hadn’t been able to come since our change of day and venue last year. It was so nice to see Pam Brown and Martha Shogren, among others. An additional treat was that Katy Mangan was the winner of a beautiful story quilt square Martha made and auctioned off at the Bay Area StoryTelling Festival last month. It is a beautiful work for a worthy cause, and Katy is one lucky winner!

We enjoyed stories from nine other tellers in a wide range of subjects from a wedding that never took place and still had us all in stitches, to folk tales, a balloon phobia, marble championship and even two poems.

As summer comes on, it is lighter in the evenings, making this a perfect season to come to the Story Swap. Bring your stories and/or come as listeners. Our next Story Swap is Tuesday June 9, from 7 til 9 pm. See you there!


April Do Tell Story Swap Notes

The Story Swap on Tuesday, April 14, brought together a lively group of our local tellers to share stories that ranged from traditional African folk tales to personal stories.

To open the Swap, Elaine Stanley shared information from a great article about telling. We will try to publish this type of information on the website when possible to make it more accessible to all. I love this kind of sharing! it’s  great for helping us all as we work on crafting our stories.

Katy Mangan told one of her Shirley Ann stories, always a delight (come back soon, Shirley Ann!). And we look to Cal to bring a laugh with his short amusing stories. Laurie’s tale of family and childhood hit a nostalgic note. And more… Thanks to all our talented and sharing tellers!

Elaine promised a surprise guest teller at May’s Swap…but it was too hard a secret not to share! Do Tell Story Swap founders Kenneth and Patricia Foster will be joining us on Tuesday, May 12th for greeting, catching up with, and of course, sharing stories. See you there!

Do Tell Story Swap – March 2015

The Story Swap for March featured stories of magic and tall tales. With winter on the wane, but still on our minds, Laurie Reaume shared a real life story of a ski trip gone awry that got everyone laughing and remembering their own funny snow stories. Brandon, one of our newcomers, entertained everyone with a Missouri fish tale that was suspenseful and hilarious. Elaine is always on point with her tall tales, and the stories of Katy, Rosemary, Clare and Cal enlightened and entertained with universal themes of magical encounters.

Don’t forget to register for the Bay Area Storytelling Festival coming up next month. The dates are April 24-26 at the Orinda Community Center. This Festival is not to be missed! Fabulous storytelling to be heard! Check out the complete info at

Join us at the Do Tell Story Swap on April 14 here in Santa Rosa for fun and friendship and great stories always! Check out the details on the home page of this site.

Happy stories to all!