Sierra Story Winds are Blowing This Way…

SierraWindsBlockPrintI_BlackBkgrnd.Clean1Our local storytelling guild is very excited!

We received the National Storytelling Network’s 2014 Pacific Regional Spotlight Award! With help from Parkhurst Brothers, Inc. Publishers, we are coordinating the very first regional storytelling retreat for the Sierra Nevada NSN region…Sierra Story Winds!


Right now the best place to look for information is at

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Kim Weitcamp to California AND Sonora…

KimWeitcampColorPosterKim Weitcamp is a major WOW in the storytelling world. I first heard her tell stories at the 2012 Sierra Storytelling Festival. Her name was new to me; I didn’t know what to expect. Well, I got a heavy dose of amazing telling! Kim Weitcamp’s personal stories cut straight to the heart by way of the funny bone. Kim’s timing is impeccable, and her honey-coated voice will sink right into you. Along with her stories, Kim has a smooth as silk singing voice, sharing original songs that compliment each tale. At the end of the festival, I marched right up to her, and said, “I am in love with you. And I am now your biggest fan in California. I sure hope you will visit my town some day.”

And here she comes to Sonora, CA! Kim will perform for the 12th Annual “For Adult Ears Only” Storytelling Concert at Stage 3 Theatre on Monday, March 10th, 2014. The show starts at 7pm, and tickets include a nice dessert. Plus, wine is available by the glass.  AND the evening will include opportunities to win two very nice gift baskets.  The event is sponsored by Delta Kappa Gamma-Iota Epsilon and The Mother Lode Storytelling Guild.  Both groups sponsor worthwhile family literacy projects in our Sierra Foothill communities. (In fact, MLSG will host a regional storytelling retreat in October 2014: “Sierra Story Winds.” Watch for more information and SAVE THE DATE!)


Come out and enjoy a great evening of unique entertainment while supporting some great community service work.  AND BTW (by the way), you can expect something wonderful!

If you’d like a preview of Kim’s telling, as well as some other amazing storytellers, travel over to the Mariposa Storytelling Festival  (hosted by the Mariposa County Arts Council)on March 7th & 8th, or up to the John Muir Theatre in Yosemite on Sunday, March 9th. Kim is on the West Coast to be one of the featured tellers for this great regional storytelling event.  I’ll be there, getting an early taste of Kim, and having a chance to hear a host of other fantastic tellers from all over the U.S.

And here’s another BTW: Kim will also perform at Sonora Elementary School while she is in town. Sponsored by the school’s dynamic “Support Sonora School” parents’ group with arrangements secured by storyteller Cynthia Restivo.
Posted in Arts Advocacy, Arts and Culture Festivals, Arts Education, Mother Lode Storytelling Guild, Musical Art, Performances & Concerts, Sierra Nevada, Storytelling | Comments Off

Yosemite’s 150th Anniversary Party…At the Sonora Opera Hall

2ndSat-MuirMy hometown, Sonora, is quite a-buzz with upcoming events for this Saturday night in our historic Gold Rush town.  We live in the shadow of Yosemite National Park. I can drive away from my home, and be in Yosemite Valley in 90 minutes, and what a gorgeous drive it is. Yesterday I met a fellow, who told me that he has a view of Half Dome from his property!  Our lives are influenced by this natural beauty each day.

So, it’s a perfect fit for us to host a huge party to celebrate our connection to this historic (and PRE-HISTORIC) place! If you’re looking for a fun get-away or even a “stay-cation” this weekend (post holiday recovery plan?), there’s no better place to be than Sonora for our January Sonora 2nd Saturday ART NIGHT where we’ll celebrate Yosemite!

We’re lucky to have the City of Sonora and the Tuolumne County Arts Alliance helping to host a big chunk of this party at our historic Sonora Opera Hall. That is where we’ll host FREE SCREENINGS of the new Ken Burns’ documentary, “Yosemite: A Gathering of Spirit.” “Movie Times” are 5pm, 6pm and 7pm with Open Seating at each viewing. There will also be an inspiring display of both historic and contemporary art of the famous national park with works by Jo Mora, Della Taylor Hoss and Patrick Karnahan. The film is about 35 minutes long, so visitors have time to check out everything else that is going on all over the historic downtown during our monthly 2nd Saturday ART NIGHT!


With Lee Stetson, an exceptional story actor who has traveled the world with his “John Muir, Live!”programs, will be at The Opera Hall. Practically a neighbor, Lee lives in Mariposa County to our south, another Yosemite Gateway community. He’ll perform at 8pm in the Sonora Opera Hall. Opening for Lee at 7:45pm will be The Black Irish Band, one of NorCal’s most popular Celtic bands.

Tickets are $8 in advance, and available at Mountain Bookshop in the Sonora Junction Plaza and at the Downtown Sonora Umpqua Bank, or $10 at the door any time that night, beginning at 5pm.

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Yosemite’s 150th Anniversary Celebration in Downtown Sonora!



















Hive-Arts.Org is very excited to be part of a dynamic production team for this incredible night of arts & entertainment!

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El Dia de los Muertos


In recent years I’ve developed a huge affection for the Mexican holiday, “El Dia de los Muertos.” In mainstream American culture we have such a strange unnatural view of death and its finality. Yet, in Mexican culture death becomes a vital celebration to remember and to reunite with our beloveds once again.
This year my grandson, Jacob, has been asked to build a “Day of the Dead” altar for someone in his sphere who has passed. He decided to make that altar in honor of my parents: Great Grandma Betty and Great Grandpa George. So, we’ve been gathering little treasures that will represent them: A toy airplane for Grandpa George, the pilot, a thimble for Grandma Betty for her sewing skills and a pin of a Rockette for her “dramatic flair” and love of The Dance.
Jake wants to put one of his great grandma’s many poems on the outside of the altar. We’ve chosen “The Naughty Little Weed,” a poem that she recited over her entire life:
A naughty little weed, one day, poked up his tiny head.
“Tomorrow I will pull you up, old naughty weed,” I said.
But I put off the doing until next I passed that way.
The ugly thing had set abroad and laughed at my dismay.
A naughty little thought, one day, popped right into my mind.
“Tomorrow I will put you out, old naught thought, you’ll find.”
But once again I put it off, then like the little weed.
The hateful thing had set a pace and grew into a deed.
So, boys and girls, mind what I say, and learn it with your Psalms.
don’t put off until tomorrow, for tomorrow never comes.
Today pull up the little weeds and hateful thoughts of do,
Or they will take the reigns themselves and someday master you!
This project will help my grandson know his GREATS in a new way. They were amazingly loving and generous, but had tough standards and expectations for their kids…and grandkids. This boy will do well to know them better. And he will help all of us remember them, celebrate them with joy-filled love. Muchos gracias, Jake.MomDad_WeddingDayGhosts_Small
Here’s my own altar for El Dia de los Muertos, dedicated to my own beloved hub, father of my daughters, who died in 1991…BZ_ElDia_Rick
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Telling Tales on the Mother Lode…

imagesLiving in this rugged part of California provides daily reminders of how tough life had to have been 150 years ago or more.

In Summer and Fall we have fierce wildfires, as we saw this year with The Rim Fire. In Winter and Spring we’re inundated with heavy rains and snows, rising creeks and icy roads.  But then we’re also protected by those modern-day comforts of heating and air-conditioning, the Road Department to get us moving again, great support from firefighting teams and the luxury of just holing up indoors during inclement weather.  But what about our Rough-and-Ready fore-bearers? Their story exemplifies the Wild West, its romance, its misery and all too often, its cruelty.

And as a storyteller, I am often called upon to tell the tale of California and its historic Gold Rush.  And of course, I do my best to tell the tales well. But I have to be as honest as I can about both the glory and the underbelly of those days.

They were wild and woolly, ’tis true! Fortunes made and lost and made again in a fortnight. Folks coming to California to escape untold bondage of slavery, starvation and subjugation. The path to the gold fields was also the path to freedom for many slaves, some who secretly came to California, or some who came with their masters to mine for freedom. (A wonderful book, Mining for Freedom by Sylvia Roberts, tells their tale). Thousands of Chinese workers fled famine and immense poverty, while also trying to help their families at home. Women ran away from abuse and overbearing control by disguising themselves, changing their identity and disappearing into the wild lands of the Sierra Nevada. Other women traveled with their husbands and children to build new lives in the Free Land, and some of them were widowed along the way but still made the harsh journey. And then let us not ever forget what was done to California’s first people by first the Spaniards and later the argonauts. In 1700, before the onslaught of the Spanish, there were over 300,000 California Natives. By 1900 that number had dwindled to 6,000. What happened to their lineage? Their languages? Their cultures? Their contribution?

So, I tell the tales, but I try to do so with a sense of balance. And joining me for these “Going Up Gold Mountain” programs is musician Peg Reza, who has a vast knowledge of California’s early music. [BTW...THIS PROGRAM IS MOST DEFINITELY RATED "PG-9 & Up--Mayhem, Murder, Madams and a glimpse of California Genocide] Together we weave a program with stories of how the gold got here, Yokut and MeWuk tales, the Legend of Joaquin Murieta, the story of Marie Pantaloons and her life in Amador County, and the tale of “Rider Chan and the Night River” (special thanks to Paul Yee for permission to share his version of this tale). We’ve performed this program for museums, school assemblies and school field trips. We’d love to do some House Concerts that feature this show. Plus, we’re hoping to do a new recording of this program for those days when we just can’t connect for a live show ;-) .

If you’d like to know more about our “Going Up Gold Mountain” program or other offerings, just hop over to the Contact Page! Hope to hear from you…


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BZ, Peggy & Preschoolers…


This weekend we’re snuggling up with some cute little doodles at the Sunnyvale Public Library. We’re going to tell stories and sing songs about Springtime! We’ll share lots of fingerplays, too.  Hope to see some of you!  11AMis our start-time.  The Sunnyvale Public Library is located at 665 W. Olive Avenue, near Matilda Ave. and Old San Francisco Rd.

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Where the Wild Things Are turns 50!…

imagesOn morning in early May, I was up with the Sun.  And just like every other morning, I turned on NPR to find out what was going on. And on that day, I heard the sad news of Maurice Sendak’s passing. My eyes welled up with tears, as they still do when I think of this Genius of the Imagination, this King of Play, this Prince of Naughty.

2013 marks the 50th anniversary of his book Where the Wild Things Are.  And what a lasting masterpiece it is! A naughty Max gets in big trouble of being too loud, too rambunctious. Then in his dream world he meets monsters and tames them. How I wish that I could tame my own monsters!

About two months ago a local school called up. “We’d like you to help us celebrate Maurice Sendak and Where the Wild Things Are,” the program coordinator said. “Could you do come tell some of his stories for our After-School Program kids?”

Me? Give a tribute to one of my most amazing heroes? I could not say, “No.” So, this week I went with my musician friend Peg Reza.  We shared Sendak books from my own collection and some borrowed from the school library. I read Outside, Over There, a favorite of my own daughters. Peg and I did a spoken word rendition, Bertold Brecht-like operatic version, of Pierre: A Cautionary Tale that included a rousing audience participation piece. Peggy wrote a very fun song inspired by Wild Things… We had fun with Chicken Soup with Rice, borrowing musical ideas from the Sendak and Carole King collaboration: The Broadway version of Really Rosie.

And I wrote a little poem to compliment naughty Max’s tale:

Monster! by B.Z.

Grandpa calls me monster

Grandma says I’m bad.

Mom says, “Stop that now, or I will feel real sad.”


Uncle calls me little twerp

Auntie says I’m cute

Dad says, “Cut that out, or I am going to puke!”


I don’t know what comes over me

When I get mad and loud.

But if I stop before I crash,

Then I feel sort of proud.


Making messes, running and screaming,

I get in trouble for all my scheming.

Maybe if I quiet down,

I’ll feel better all around!


Grandpa says I’m growing up.

Grandma says I’m sweet.

Mom and Dad are so relieved…

They got me a special treat!



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Outdoor Ed Storytelling Workshop at Camp Loma Mar…


Car loaded up to hit the road! Workshop supplies!

I can’t believe it’s already been 11 days! On March 22nd, I got up way before the Sun to hit the road for the Santa Cruz Mountains and Camp Loma Mar! So excited! My pal, singer/songwriter Steve Van Zant* from the Banana Slug String Band, invited me to teach This Little Blue Marble…Stories for a Healthy Planet, an environmental storytelling workshop, for 50 outdoor education specialists, each one committed to spread the gospel of stewardship for our beautiful home, Earth. TO LEARN DETAILS OF THIS WORKSHOP, CLICK ON THIS LINK!

These very talented and dedicated educators came from points all through the Santa Cruz Mountains to hone their skills and get tips on how to bring their storytelling to life!

For two hours I tried to fill them up with information, inspiration and fun (P.S. This is really a 3-hour workshop!)

*Steve V-Z is also the Director of Outdoor Education for San Mateo, CA. Lucky folks!

Here are some of their comments:

Impressive organization and presentation!
Fabulous, learned a lot. All activities were meaningful & relatable to the field of outdoor ed.
Wonderful! I loved the active involvement and easy-to-apply approach. Thank you for a fun, useful experience.
Thanks so much! Loved the practice exercises and hearing YOU tell!
Really enjoyed the rapid learning story activity.
Very inspirational and the most enjoyable workshop in a while. Hope to see you again!
Very good transitions throughout the program.
Appreciated the non-threatening style of story sharing one-on-one in small groups versus in front of the whole crowd.
Loved the found items in a jar activity.
Glorious! I loved the “rip off the band-aid and TELL the stories” approach. I want the 3-hour version!

Energetic, enthusiastic educators! Here they are working in pairs to learn their stories.

And there was this bonus…


Hello, Mother!


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Spring is Truly Here…Happy Easter!

Here on the Mother Lode thick rain clouds mark the skies while little windows of blue try to poke through.

In the garden pansies smile, puffy clouds of candy tuft flowers pop out and tulips stand tall getting ready to open.

Baby lambs live just around the bend in a bright green pasture. Little calves peak from under their mamas’ bellies.

Yesterday I saw a Springtime bunny hopping across our country road.  I wondered if she was hiding eggs and hurrying to fill baskets for this very morning….EASTER!

Yes, it is Spring! That wondering time of year when we all come out of our winter caves, and see that life is full of renewal, hope and beauty.

Here is a little poem that I made up on Friday morning on my way to our community’s weekly Baby Storytime & SingAlong:

Tulips in the garden, standing all around.

Purple, red, yellow, orange, covering the ground.

Two lips on my face pucker up and smack.

Then my two lips hope your lips will kiss me back!

Please join us every Friday at 11:00AM for a most special time of “Stories & Song for Little Ones” at Out of Hand & Sierra Waldorf School Store, 189 S. Washington Street, Sonora, CA. RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET FROM BANK OF AMERICA (209)533-1309. This program, sponsored by Sierra Waldorf School, is designed for babies & toddlers, but everyone else is welcome, too!
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