Tag Archives: writing

Writings from our participants

Writings from the Nov 24, 2015 workshop on GIFTS held at Friends House.

Everyone enjoyed this exercise.  Some wrote and some just thought about a gift they’d been given and told that story.  Some stories were very personal so will not appear here.  Emma talked about a vest she had made for her husband, how she’d put it all together and that he had enjoyed what she had made.  Carol talked about how a gift of an ornament had started a collection.  Three stories were submitted for the web.

The Gift of Moving On by Mary Stevenson

The year I turned four my brother was born; I sorely felt the loss of my parents’ attention. But for my fourth birthday, my parents gave me my heart’s desire, a very shiny, very red wagon. It was a small but real compensation. My demotion from only child to big sister still rankled but eased some as I could wheel my wagon anywhere in the yard, while my brother was caged in his playpen. The following year I was given even more wonderful birthday surprise, my very own tricycle, very, very red and very, very high. When I sat on top, I could only reach a pedal by slipping off the seat to reach the pedal with my big toe. Movement was slow, but I was in lofty motion compared to my brother’s toddling gait. Then, for my eighth Christmas, Santa brought me an even more thrilling and scary surprise—my very own bicycle. Mint green, a girl’s bike, sturdy and huge. Dad took me out for my first ride, stood beside me, I terrified: the hill was so steep; my balance so unsure. All morning, I coasted down the hill, Dad beside me. At last, I took my first solo trip, all by myself, Dad stationed at the top of the hill, grinning. I was launched, on my own. Even then, I dimly sensed my parents’ gifts of wheels were more than just toys. Later I realized they had given me the tools, the means, to explore the world, to find the courage and joy of moving on and into an independent self. That Christmas day, though, what I knew was that, while my brother might catch up, but I was the first and would always the first kid in the family to swoop down that hill and not fall off.

Gifts by Betty Brody

When I was in the seventh grade my family lived in a large old home between a fire station and a community center in Greensboro, NC.  It was Christmas Eve and my father had just returned from his usual Christmas Eve shopping for our family.  The house was full of anticipation of Christmas.  My siblings all were sliding down the bannisters and the aromas of Christmas delicacies were wafting through our home.
My dad began to have second thoughts about the bicycle he ad purchased for my older brother, Bunny.  Would Bunny be safe riding his new bike in our crowded and constantly changing neighborhood?  No, my father finally concluded.  Bunny would not be safe.  What could he do about Bunny’s bike?  He remembered his Christmases at the Eden Home for Children.  He was taken there at 10 after his father died.  The orphanage children had had few presents at Christmas.   Dad decided to take Bunny’s bike to the Children’s Home.  This was the first time he’d taken gifts there.  They were so grateful to receive the bike.  It would be shared by several children on Christmas morning.

After that my father continued to give to the Children’s Home.  It seemed to me that the more he gave the more he prospered.  Before he died he gave a million dollar cottage to the Children’s Home and an athletic field to Elon College. The lesson I learned from my father’s generosity was that the more we give, the more we receive.

The Lulu Doll by Susan Fitch Brown

LULU was a comic in the Funny Pages of the newspaper and was about a little chubby girl who knew herself and said her mind. I liked her and that year, I was about 4, there was a cloth doll, a LULU doll in all the stores. I don’t think I’d ever wanted anything quite so much. I told everyone I wanted a LULU doll, told my parents, my grandparents, everyone at nursery school and church that I wanted a LULU doll. Later we went to see Santa in San Francisco and I told him the same thing, very much believing at the time that I was talking to the man from the North Pole or one of his minions.
Oh, was I excited. Christmas Day with LULU would be wonderful. I’m not sure why it was such a big deal, but it was.
Chrismas came. I hadn’t slept much which was horrible, all those long boring hours in bed when I could have been doing something, anything. The house was all decorated. We’d received cookies from everyone and Mom had made springerlis, the cookies made with anise, for the first time, and the anise scent permeated everything along with the scent from greens and the tree in the living room. (The cookies were as hard as rocks and lasted for much of the year (tasted good but hard to eat)).

I ran down the stairs as soon as I was allowed. There was one box that seemed the right size, maybe a little big. Mom said I had to open it last. I tore through all my presents, the clothes my mother had made and other practical items that she wanted me to have and I didn’t care much about, found some beautiful books from Gramma and Grampa that I couldn’t read yet but they had pictures that I could copy and turn into paper dolls.

Finally I was done and it was time to open THE BOX. I was careful because I was told to be. I opened the box and there was an absolutely gorgeous Madame Alexander doll about a foot tall, a young girl with dark hair and a pretty pink taffeta dress. I was crestfallen but it wouldn’t do to let anyone know. I knew this was an expensive doll, much more valuable and longer lasting than the LULU doll. I was glad to have her and would have been thrilled if only I’d also gotten LULU.

Mom saw me hesitate and said I should call her Lulu, which I did and tried to be excited, but I wasn’t and I wondered how everyone, especially Santa, could have gotten it so wrong. I guess I said something, or Mom figured it out because for my birthday in the summer I got a complete set of tailored clothes made especially for Lulu, a whole shoebox full including a coat in brown wool with brass buttons, a blouse and jumper and a dress made of oilcloth in greens and whites. I changed the clothes a few times about once every few months, but she was too good to take to a friend’s house and she wasn’t something you could just toss around which is what I would have done with LULU.

I still have the doll and all her wonderful clothes. My daughter played with her about as much as I did. Perhaps one of her daughters will take her down off the shelf and enjoy playing with her. It was like an O’Henry story, good intentions, always good intentions. Sometimes good intentions are hard to bear.


Writing Together: Celebrating our Gifts 11/24/2015

Writing Together Workshop
Celebrating the Gifts in our lives

Time: Tuesday, November 24 from 1:00-2:30 PM
Location: Miller Center at Friends House


Our workshop guides are  Nancy Preuss and Mary Stevenson

Nancy Preuss taught at Sandy Spring Friends School for many years and lives at Friends House.  Her art work is displayed in the Flower Alley Gallery at Friends House.  Mary Stevenson taught English at a community college in Prince Georges County until she retired last year and lives in Hyattsville.  She is also an avid gardener.

Call Carol Cober at 240-418-4603 to register, or use sign up sheet by the Country Store.

Let us know if you need any assistance with writing, for example one might need a scribe to put ones writings down on paper.


Great Writing Workshop at Sandy Spring Museum

Melanie Griffin talked about writing sparking your creativity with exercises such as writing about found objects and letters to self. See writings from the workshop below the pictures. 9/16/2015.

Melanie teaching
Melanie teaching


Carol does intros
Carol does intros

Found objects: Pine Cone from CA
I immediately felt a kinship with the large unfolding pine cone—heavy with three noticeable sections. Towards the stem, thick and uneven—like me—each nubby seed holder possessing an inner hidden strength, some open, some tightly closed. I love how, one third of the way to the tip, the seed holders or scales, as they are called, are all different—each separately-and also look like diamonds with intense eyes looking out—pondering, staring, taking in the world around. And then, in the last third, finalizing in the pine cone’s point, the seed holders are more embedded, as if stuck together, their eyes protruding and taking everything in vigilantly—but each like a rose, guarding itself, protecting its heart until the time is right—to open to the world.   Author: Catherine H. Kerst

Found objects: Wisteria Vine:
–I am told this is, or was, a Wisteria vine. It is stiff and hard, but it looks fragile. I put my fingers on it, press it firmly, it amazes me how resilient it is. It reminds me of so many things. How nature is a gifted artist, for one. This vine, it is really pretty, the way one piece of it wraps around the other, almost like a braid. What struck me about it at first was how it took command of the table, overshadowing the pine cones and the stones, the slices of orange, the bottle of vanilla. I like things that take their place in the world, or on a table, with confidence, with authority, with ownership. I think I want to be more like this dried up Wisteria vine.
–I have been thinking a lot lately about my great-grandfather. I have been doing a lot of genealogy research. I wrote about his life and how he was a sheriff and voter registrar during Reconstruction, and how he was hanged. The twisted vine made me think of the twisted rope around his neck.
–The next thing I saw in this vine were arteries and veins and I thought of how cholesterol must look like when it clogs the arteries and leads to heart attack and stroke.
–I look at the vine again and notice it is perfect even in its imperfections.   Author: Joyce Sampson

Found objects: Writing about a tulip poplar seed pod:
For some reason it reminds me of a eucalyptus seed pod which explodes in a fire. All that eucalyptus oil must toast and form a sort of scented crust on the fire. A Eucalyptus tree is sort of like a poplar in that if it decides to, it just drops a branch. Like some crepe myrtles it peels off strings of bark and underneath is a sort of green and brown and orange. One has to watch out in the eucalyptus woods which are usually near water, at least in my experience. In California they ran along the fault which is always a creek bed. The eucalyptus seed pods are are little triangle like things with a round top, hard, and not at all resilient, in contrast to the tree which sways in the wind. As a child I always wanted to venture beyond the trees, to get to the end of the course, but there wasn’t one except in places where the Army Corp of Engineers had cemented it over to prevent floods.   Author: Susan F Brown

Creativity at Sandy Spring Museum


Sandy Spring Museum and Friends House are sponsoring a series of workshops on finding your creative spark that are open to all ages.

Explore Intergenerational Creativity!

Four New Community-based Pilot Workshops, Fall 2015

Wednesday 9/16 Writing Your Way –Instructor Melanie Griffin –A writer, environmental activist, blogger, spiritual director, pastor, Melanie will lead a workshop from 3-4:30PM at the Museum.

Thursday 9/17 Interviewing for Storytelling- Instructor Mike Clark A retired news reporter for the Baltimore Sun, and co-publisher of the Little Patuxent Review, Mike is a Quaker and a poet. Workshop from 3-4:30PM at the Museum. He will interview Beth Garrettson of Sandy Spring Quaker Meeting.

Thursday 9/24 Discover Art Journaling- Instructor Caitlin Sherwood, A Corcoran trained fine artist, Cait is a painter, printmaker, and musician who is passionate about Art Journaling. Workshop from 3-4:30PM at the Museum.

Saturday October 10/24 Intergenerational Improv with Instructor Bridget Cavaiola – Education Director for the Baltimore Improv Group (BIG), Bridget is a Maryland Teaching Artist for Young Audiences and communications professor at CCBC. She has been performing and teaching adults and children since 2005. This Saturday morning workshop is from10AM-12PM.

For more information and to register contact:
Carol Cober, ccober4@gmail.com, 240-418-5603 Joan Liversidge, jrlivers@earthlink.net, or Deborah Kahn, dmckahn@gmail.com.

Service Learning Hours (SSL) are available for youth who participate.