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Papa Joe  ~  Travel Notes

PJ's Travel Notes

From: Papa Joe

To: Storytell

Subject: Tour Notes #15

Date: Monday, July 28, 1997 6:25 PM

Sunday, July 20th, 1997 Pleasant Lake, West Bloomfield, Michigan

When I went to move the Vardo, it didn't start. Argh! A traveler's nightmare. Now the most important thing to do when one finds oneself with a problem is to frame it properly. So first of all, I rename the problem. This is a challenge, not a problem. All challenges can be over come with the right attitude. Stay calm. Think logically.

Self One: "Yea right! The battery must be dead."

Self Two: "But it's only two years old. There are other possibilities."

Self One: "But it's always dead batteries and you know how badly you use them."

Self Two: "Think about this before&"

Self One: "Stop thinking and get to work!"

So I get out some tools and the jumper cables, then remove the RV battery and bring it around front to the hood (That's a bonnet for you British speaking folks.). Connect the batteries, turn the key, and& nothing!

Self One: "Two dead batteries."

Self Two: "It can't be two dead batteries. The second battery is only one year old and it's been charging all weekend."

Self One: "But it's always dead batteries and the charger probably isn't working. Besides, how would you know? You're NOT a mechanic!"

Self Two: "But.."

Self One: "But nothing! Get to work."

So I put away the RV battery and go for help. Judy's husband Manfred. (Imagine a German accent. D = th; V = w)

Manfred: "Dat's a dirty battery. Ve clean it."

We do, baking soda and a tooth brush.

Manfred: "Did you check de vater level?"

We do. It's a little low.

Self One: "See! It's a dead battery."

Self Two: "It was just a little low."

Self One: "SO! You always abuse your batteries."

Self Two: "But&"

Self One: "But nothing! Get to work."

Fill up the water level. Jump start the Vardo with Manfred's car.

Manfred: "Now let it run for awhile."

We do, but when we try to start it later, it won't start.

Self One: "The battery is no good!"

Self Two: "Those spark plugs look old."

Self One: "Yea! They probably killed the battery."

Self Two: "The battery looks fine."

Self One: "But it's always dead batteries. Besides, how would you know? You're NOT a mechanic!"

Enter Manfred's friend, Fred.

Fred: "Let's take a look. Hmmm. Let's clean the battery terminals."

Self One: "That won't work either. The Batteries are dead."

Self Two: "Be quiet and get to work."

We clean the terminals, turn the key, and the engine starts.

Self Two: "Next we'll buy new spark plugs and a new power cable. The battery is fine."


Week of July 20th, 1997 Southeast Michigan

When I left New Hampshire, I had two programs scheduled for this week. One with Judy Schmidt in Ann Arbor and one with Lois in Mount Clemens. By the time this week started, I had 2 shows scheduled in Flint and three more for the Northern Suburbs of Detroit, as well as meetings with several local tellers. Amazing what can happen when you make a wish.

Sunday evening, I had dinner with Marjorie Shaefer in Ann Arbor. She's the director of the Detroit Storytelling Festival. She has a problem. She was the Artistic director, but the festival director moved away and no one else came forward to take over the position. This Spring, she tried to do both jobs and the festival lost money. She really needs some help folks. If you are anywhere near Detroit and would like to help you can reach her at: 313-677-4582.

Monday through Wednesday I did four 30 minute shows each day for Tot Lot. It's a city run, inner city daycare program which includes free breakfast and lunch for the neighborhood children. The attendance averages children about five years old. I expected to find the kids running around in the playgrounds. I expected to have to focus their energies and have an easy half hour. Instead, I found them in rooms doing extremely structured work and under strict control. My heart bled. I ended up doing a great deal of work helping them rechannel their energies in ways that would fill their needs to play and be creative without stepping beyond their group leaders bounds. At some of the groups, I even locked horns with the leaders to get them to back off for the half hour. One didn't want them to laugh too loud.

Tuesday evening was a community show at Judy's Co-op in Ann Arbor. This was fun. I love community shows. There were some young teens trying to upstage me. I was thinking about how to disarm them when one of the adults commented on their actions. That was perfect. I stopped the show, turned to the ring leader and explained the situation. At first, he looked like I was going to hit him. lol Quickly he got the point. I basically gave him three choices. Help with the group. Move to the back and be quiet. Or leave. He chose to help with the group. We were having too much fun to leave. <smile> Funny how well folks behave when they know the options.

Wednesday, after the last Tot Lot show, I went to the Flint Library to say farewell to all my new friends there. Good timing. They were in the midst of an Arts Festival (there are several museum on the block with the library and it was much like a street fair with everyone hosting several events during the day). One of the storyteller's didn't show up, so I got to fill in. <smile> I finally got to tell stories for the library instead of just playing MC.

Thursday and Friday morning were daycares which brought the show count up to for the week by the time I got to Mount Clemens Library. This is way over my norm and I was suffering from the exhaustion. This is the reason Sues and Kerry frown on me scheduling over ten shows a week. Luckily LoiS's group was wonderful. And while I couldn't do as much of the play as I wanted, the program seemed to go fine. I'll have to wait for LoiS's critique to be sure. By that time I was running on instinct and I really don't remember. I slept twelve hours back at Pleasant Lake.

Now I have a whole weekend off to recover. :) We'll see what next week will bring.

Pax & Amicitia,

Papa Joe

In the Vardo, Still at Pleasant Lake

It's just too pleasant to leave. ;)

Papa Joe  ~  Travel Notes

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