Monday, December 8, 2008


I love Christmas! The time when the whole world lights up and celebrates the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. They may not know that's what they are doing but, in my heart, that IS what they are doing! Christmas music is everywhere..."Deck the halls with balls of holly...Joy to the world the Lord is come!" The department stores are full of people scurry here and there trying to find just the right gift for that special person...spending too much money...but, somehow, it's okay. It's Christmas, the one time of the year when the world puts a little self aside and rejoices in others. I love that!
Of course, for me, I love the story of the birth, the shepherds, the Kings, the Angels and the star. I love special cantata's performed at the church around the block. Going to midnight church services on Christmas eve. Directing our church Christmas plays, making me even busier at the busiest time of the year. Going caroling from door to door at the homes of our church shut-ins. Setting aside a special offering just for missions at Christmas. I do love Christmas!
I love the whimsical side of Christmas too. The thought of Santa Claus really coming to town, whether it be by helicopter, sleigh, float or firetruck, excites me every year. I love giving presents at Christmas, choosing each and every one especially for that person I hold dear. I do not take giving presents lightly. I spend hours shopping for just the right one.
But I suppose my favorite personal thing about Christmas is decorating for the holiday. Every year taking out those decorations is like meeting an old friend again. Memories flood my soul of kinder times and a slower life. I can't tell you about a gift that I received as a child at Christmas but I can tell you about playing under the Christmas tree at my granny's house. Under Granny's tree was magical. There was a village there with horse drawn sleighs, wishing wells, tiny little snowmen, a milkmaid crossing a bridge, the mailman rushing from house to house, skiers and sledders but, my favorite, were the skaters on the mirror pond. I would lie under that tree and play for hours. Granny never objected to any of her grandchildren playing with the magic under her tree. She would watch me and smile as I skated my skaters across the pond. Now today I watch as my own dear grandchildren play with the village under the tree and, as I watch them, I am once again taken back to that slower, kinder time when I looked up to see my granny smile. That is truly my favorite thing at Christmas.


My skaters...


This is one of the most wonderful gifts I have ever received at Christmas. It was given to me by Anne Busse and Betty Ling. Betty is the most creative person I have ever known. She made the entire thing. St. Nick stands about 3 foot and holds a bag full of goodies in his hand. Each part of St. Nick is a reminder of a story connected to the Mountain Women. He is wearing a mink cape that once belonged to my granny(given to her by her oldest daughter...she was so proud when she wore it) The Teddy Bear represents me(I love Teddy's) The clown beside the bear stands for Anne, who is, not only a storyteller and animal groomer, but also a professional clown. He wears a turtle pin to remind us of the story "The Goofs". A patchwork cloak representing "The Patchwork Coat". A bag of peppermint candy sticks representing the story "Selfish". A basket with an egg in it..."Hole in the Basket". And a candle for "Twist Mouth". Now you know the rest of the story.


These elves have been a part of our Christmas for a long time. I love their whimsical little faces. I think that when we go to bed at night they come alive and play in the village under the tree. The thought of elves has always been one of my favorite Christmas things.


When my Aunt Libby was alive she collected Santa Clauses. This is her collection. Some of her Santa's were very expensive, like the White Lenox one, some where gifts from good friends and some where "cheapies" that she just liked the looks of. There were many more on the Christmas tree. She had such a good eye for decor, something I have never been much good at. Memories of her will always be one of my favorite things of Christmas.


I made this cookie jar in 1977. Every Christmas I would make Peanutbutter cookies and my mother in law would bake her famous Chocolate Chip ones and we would fill it up. My boys loved their mamaw's Chocolate Chip cookies. They always disappeared first. Is there anything better than the smell of cookies baking in the oven?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Ashland Elementary, Manassas, VIrginia

Carrie and I had a wonderful time visiting Ashland Elementary in Manassas, VA, where we performed and presented creative writing workshops. The school was beautiful, the staff lovely and the students were the BEST EVER!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tamarack Tellebration 2008

The Sat. before Thanksgiving, of each year, is earmarked as "Tellebration". All over the world Storytellers are gathered together to tell stories. The concerts are usually free and open to the public. It is a truly delightful event for the audience and the tellers. This year I was honored to participate in, not one, but two Tellebrations. The first was held at Tamarack in Beckley, WV and the second in Middleport, OH. This is a picture of the gang at Tamarck. That's The Queen of WV Storytelling, Karen Vuranch on your left (40 pounds lighter, I might add), Sara Martin (a brand spankin' new teller who did an excellent job!) my buddy and boot kicker, Danny McMillion(and she's worth every cent of it too), 'course that's me on the end, and that's Jodi French behind us. Jodi is the one who started Tellebration in WV. She and Sara are both Park Rangers. They are both delightful most of our crowd was their folks!

Middleport Tellebration 2008

Bissie Vunderink of Ashland, OH
Bizzie Vunderink started off the Middleport
Tellebrations with a Native American Spook tale.
She was followed by Mike Neeley, of Little Hocking
Oh, with a big snake tale...that was spooky to me!

Cathy Jo Smith of Grove City, OH(a pot 'o gold, fer sure)
Melanie Pratt was our MC and a storyteller. Good job on both counts, Melanie.

Larry Staats of Sandyville, WV and Columbus,'s hard to pin him down.

Okay, that's me (my grandaughter took the blurry
pictures) This is how I spent my 41st wedding

Middleport Tellebration 2008

Last but not least, Keith Maynard

and Donna Wilson. Meeting people like this are why I love storytelling.

Monday, November 10, 2008

When I was a little girl my granny would take me on trips to visit my Aunt Dollie in Seaford, Delaware. We went every year, mostly in the summer but sometimes in the spring. This is a picture of me and Granny standing on the steps of the ferry we rode across the Chesapeake Bay. It was a wonderful trip each year. First we would board a train in Charleston, at the old Depot, and ride it through the hills and valleys of our beautiful state. The clickety-clack sound of the railroad made me want to curl up against Granny and sleep. The bathrooms were an adventure for me and Granny with their pull down potties and push button sinks. I remember that we always had a stop in White Sulphur and, from the look of their depot, I was sure it was a fairyland little town.
The train would take us to Washington, DC where Granny would "Hail" a taxi to drive us to the Greyhound Bus terminal. Once there we boarded a bus for Seaford. I think the bus trip was about 3 hours so, after the first hour, the bus would make a "rest' stop at a place called "The Windmill" right before the Bay(there were no bathrooms on buses back then so rest stops were necessary). The Windmill was a roadside restaurant that was shaped like a windmill. I thought it was fascinating. Inside the Windmill there were games called Slot machines. You put a nickle in, pulled down the lever and watched as the fruit pictures spun around and finally came to a halt. You hoped that all three of your fruit matched so that you could win some money. Ah, yes, my friends, it was gambling and gambling was illegal in the state of West Virginia, but apparently, not in Virginia. My Granny loved to play those slot machines. She would try 5 times and no more. She almost always won and she would say to me, "Maybe we shouldn't tell anybody that we played these machines" and I never did.
When we got to the Bay, we would unboard the bus and, the bus and us, would board the ferryboat. It took us across the Bay. That was long before the bridge was built. Once across, we reboarded the bus and finally arrived in Seaford. It was a wonderful adventure. Oh, how I loved my Granny.

The children at Alderson Elementary were a delight to perform for. Just look at their cute faces.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Kanawha County Public Library Book Festival 2008

The West Virginia Storytelling Guild booth at the Kanawha County Library Book Festival, October 11 & 12, 2008.

Donna Wilson

The always delightful, Donna Wilson, did not disappoint us with her dramatic tales!

Granny Sue Holstein

Never to be outdone, Granny Sue told some great stories, hosted our Guild booth and worked the Used Book Sale.

Donna Washington

Donna Washington from North Carolina was our guest teller. She was excellent!

Jo Ann Dadisman

Jo Ann Dadisman did a great job of telling stories! She, also, taught writing a workshop.

Rich Knoblich

Rich Knoblich told stories and promoted his book.

Bill Hariston

Bill Hairston acted as host to welcome Festival goers. He knows everyone!

Granny Sue greets visitors at the booth.

South Charleston Public Library booth

and played!

And played...

And then they played...

The Storybook Parade makes it's rounds through the Civic Center.

Susanna's grandson, Jarrid, stoppped by for a chat. Good looking guy, huh? He's not just handsome, he is also a Bible scholar and a gentleman. Top notch kid!


Every year The West Virginia Storytelling Guild is honored to be a part of the Kanawha County Library Book Festival...thanks mostly to Susanna Holstein. This is a photo of our booth. We had a great location at the very front of the room.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Jonesborough, TN 2008

The National Storytelling Festival, Jonesborough, TN, October 3 &4, 2008
Donna Wilson tells "Talleypo" in the "Swappin'
Grounds at Jonesborough, TN.

The Swappin' Grounds

I traveled to The National Storytelling Festival with Donna Wilson, a fellow teller from Middleport, OH. My daughter-in-love, Sandy, met us there. We had a grand ole time and totally exhausted ourselves!

While all the storytelling was going on, this lovely, little lady just wanted to take a break and read a good book.


It's always fun to tell at the "Swappin' Grounds". I always like to tell a good story there out of respect for the fine folks of the Jonesborough Guild. I have made many friends in Jonesborough.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Mama's exciting new CD...Katie's Girls'

My grandmother, Katie Miller, raised 8 girls and 1 boy all alone after my grandfather was killed in a mining accident. Katie's Girl's is a compulation of true stories about their struggles, their joys, their heartaches and their love for one another. If you wish to purchase "Katie's Girl's" you may do so calling 304-768-5558 or sending $12 to Mama Whaples, 306 17th Street, Dunbar, WV 25064. Or you may just notify me in the comment section of this blog.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Mama and Carrie have fun with "Sam's Sandwich"!

Pennsylvania Storytelling

Mama and Carrie have fun creating "Sam's Sandwich"!

York County Library System, York, PA

Storytelling at York County Libraries, York, PA

Sara Mae

What a great Sara Mae!
It's fun to pretend we're someone else but it's always best just to be ourselves.

Summer 2008

A different Sara Mae wishes she had a nose just like a witch.

Summer 2008

Look out for mama's Boogie man.
Paula Gilbert introduces the Mountain Women to a small group of library goers.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008