Robert Redford at the Table

 9/29/11

If I was to choose between a good story-teller and a scholar, the story-teller would win hands down.  I believe that a good story can make up for lack of preparation and deficiency in looks.  I believe that if a good story teller is invited, the dinner party will be fun.  I believe if I am seated next to that good
story-teller, the dinner party will be fabulous.  I believe that a good story-teller can take a slightly above-average story and turn it into a riveting prize-winning tale.  It’s all in the delivery. 

Good story-tellers have taken me to places I’ll never visit and to times in which I’ve never lived.  They ply me with humor or use poignant significance to draw me in.  They show me exactly what they mean to say or they lead me slowly to the prize.    They cause me to chuckle or prod me to think.  I value all.  It’s the way they tell their story that gives certainty to my adoration.

When I was in second grade, my teacher, Mrs. Hunholz, read out loud to the class each day after lunch.  Most of my classmates lie their heads on their
desks while she read.   I sat straight up, engrossed in the lives of Laura and her sister Mary, fascinated by the story that Ms. Wilder had written.   Each daily reading expanded my growing vision of the way Laura spoke, how the Ingalls family looked, what their little house was like and how they spent their days.  My vision preceded Hollywood’s by a number of years but it was not vastly different.  The stories brought life to something far away from what I knew and the written words painted for me a picture of a life far different from mine.

When I was a younger woman, I had a friend from Mississippi who told stories of the South she knew, of friends who always had three names and who were involved in circumstances that seemed unbelievable, though true.  Her words slid off of her tongue in a way that made you feel you were seated on a front porch in Mississippi on a hot, humid night listening to the sound of cicadas, although you were actually sitting in a coffee shop on a cold day in Illinois listening to her drawl.  She could drag a story out through three lattes without pause and would always end by asking, “What do you think about that?”   And we listeners would go back and forth, adding our two cents worth while we drank yet another $2 latte. 

A few years ago, I spent time with a man from a small town in Montana who could tell a story better than anybody I’ve known.   Not only did he have good material to draw from, he had a memory for great detail, an intellect and vocabulary that I’ve not seen matched, and perfect timing.  He made me laugh and he made me cry and sometimes even made me laugh and cry in receipt of a single story.  His draw on mannerisms, colloquialisms and local lore was unsurpassed.  Added to his faultless delivery was an uncanny gift of getting to the heart of the matter by the end of each story.  I never heard one of his that did not make me think twice. 

When I watch the movie Out of Africa, in the scene where Robert Redford’s character is sharing stories with those gathered round the dining table that belonged to Meryl Streep’s character, I am always enchanted by the storytelling as much as I am by his good looks and charm.  Wine and good food is shared between dear friends, but more importantly, they share stories. 

The real Karen Blixen (under pseudonym Isak Dinesen) wrote “To be a person is to have a story to tell.”  Not everybody tells their story but in some
way or another, most do.  Tellers voice their stories so as not to forget and they are heard by others to remember.  Stories are told and received to give life to dreams, to entertain, to cheer and inspire, to share or gain wisdom, to build understanding and to connect.  Stories are told everywhere in life, in libraries, in theatres, on film, on television, in galleries, through the internet and yes, around tables at dinner parties. 

The dining table remains my favorite place to hear and tell stories.  Recently, my table has expanded and new chairs have been added to include story-tellers who are friends and acquaintances I know only virtually.  Stories come to me now across oceans and miles and are sent by people by whom I will never have the opportunity to sit at a dinner party.  My stories will be read by people I do and do not know and by those who may or may not join in the conversation.   And their presence at my table, whichever way, will be felt and appreciated.

To those around my table:  I lift my glass above and toast our connection.  I will read your written words and look at your photographs for the stories they tell.   I will experience a life different from my own.  I will join in dialogue with others who enjoy or are sometimes provoked by your stories.  I will think twice about what you have said.    I will remember your stories, hear your dreams, be entertained, cheered and inspired, gain wisdom and understanding, laugh, cry and smile.   I will tell my stories and share with you who I am.  I will find things I didn’t know about myself and rediscover things about myself that I’d lost.  And whether virtual, real, participant, observer, or somebody who on occasion stops in to read, I will take pleasure in your presence.   Here’s to you–great story tellers, readers of my stories, and my perfect dinner party guests.    

Note:  I am honored to be given The Liebster Blog Award by Coming East http://comingeast.com and The Versatile Blogger Award by Life in the Boomer Lane http://lifeintheboomerlane.wordpress.com .  You are both great story-tellers and inspire me.   I am to tell seven things about myself and pass the honors on to other bloggers, inviting them to do the same, if they choose to or if they haven’t already done so.  Coming up with seven things about me and selecting a few bloggers from so many great ones is hard.  Checking out their great blogs is not. 

Me in Seven

  1. I dream of living in Paris or the Italian countryside for the year of my 60th birthday. 
  2. My favorite foods are green olives, all chocolate and my mother’s mashed potatoes.  My mother whispered the words “mashed potatoes” as she was wheeled, heavily sedated, into the delivery room where I was born.               
  3. I am blue-eyed while my 3 siblings and both parents have brown eyes.   
  4. I have never met a person my age or older who has the same first name as I.
  5. I have lived in 15 different homes in my lifetime, all but two west of the Mississippi.   
  6. I was the tallest girl in my class in junior high school and the youngest girl in my class in high school.                                                                           
  7. My first memory of writing was a neighborhood newsletter I produced on an old typewriter in the basement.  The first issue consisted solely of the full lyrics to “Hey Jude” by the Beatles.

Some Great Story-tellers:

Goodbye Whoopee Pie at http://mairzeebp.wordpress.com/

Woman Wielding Words  at http://lkramer14.wordpress.com/

If I Were Brave at http://ifiwerebraveblog.com

Elena’s Inspirations at  http://elenaabrams.wordpress.com/

Unfolding Your Path to Joy at http://unfoldingyourpathtojoy.com/

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch at http://veederranch.com/

Wine, Woman, Travel at http://winewomantravel.wordpress.com/

What Gives 365 at  http://whatgives365.wordpress.com/

thecvillean at http://thecvillean.wordpress.com/

Life through a Lens at http://traceycaponephotography.com/

Huffygirl’s Blog at http://huffygirl.wordpress.com/

This Time This Space at  http://thistimethisspace.com/

A Certain Simplicity at http://acertainsimplicity/

Deliriously Divine at http://deliriouslydivine.wordpress.com/

Saturday Evening Porch at http://reelingintheyears.wordpress.com/

31 thoughts on “Robert Redford at the Table

  1. Wow… I am deeply honored to be included in this mix, with such a wonderful story you’ve woven. I’ll have to work at putting more thought and dimension into my writing..
    I love your pictures and the richness they hint at and I totally agree. This weekend i think I’ll watch that movie again-thanks for that as well.
    Can’t wait to spend some time browsing through the list of other writers you’ve listed.

  2. I dearly loved this, not only because you weave your words SO well, but because I started a blog back in July based on the scene in “Out of Africa” where Karen does her own storytelling after supper! She has Robert Redford and his friend give her 3 words and she proceeds to weave a spellbinding tale with them…of course we don’t get to hear the whole thing but the idea of it has had me captivated ever since.
    Wonderful post, and congratulations on the blogging awards, I can see why you have them!

  3. I love this and completely agree with your idea that having a good story teller near you makes your life richer in experiences and imagination! Thank you for the shout out, I appreciate it. I enjoy sharing my life and adventures here and am glad I have some listening ears and open hearts to read them. Your blog is beautiful by the way!

  4. Wow! That is the best introduction to receiving and passing along this award, that I have ever seen. I got a feeling in the middle somewhere, that you were leading up to something but I didn’t know what. Nicely done!
    My neighbors is a great story teller and I love when he comes to dinner. He has lived in our town his whole life, and knows everything about the people who live here and all the exciting events of the town. Love to hear him talk.
    Congrats and I look forward to visiting the blogs you recommend.

  5. I am deeply flattered to be included in this. I shall view each & every one one the list. Thanks again for sharing your amazing stories & photos. =o)

  6. May I please join your dinner table if only from afar? I have read Out of Africa so many times and have seen the movie three times. A true favourite of mine. I agree that the ability to tell a spell binding story is without equal. 🙂

  7. Having been privileged to “dine” with you on so many occasions and becoming enraptured by your own story-telling style, I am almost embarrassed to be included in the list of those you find interesting, as they most surely pale in comparison. One thing for certain, I am challenged from this day forward to make sure that none of my “dinner guests” is ever disappointed again, as any good host should be.

    One side note. You have taken mystery story-telling to new heights with the tantalizing puzzle about your first name! Oh well, perhaps it will be revealed during another repast.

    • You are one of my favorite dinner guests Big Al. And the mystery of my first name…..it seems my parents were accidentally ahead of their times. I have met and know of many younger women with my name and there are a whole lot of younger women with a name very similar to mine, but never have I found somebody my age or older with it.

  8. You are indeed a great storyteller! I had no idea you were going to wind through Mississippi, Montana and Africa and end up at Blog awards. I am looking forward to checking out the blogs you have recommended!

  9. “Stories come to me now across oceans and miles and are sent by people by whom I will never have the opportunity to sit at a dinner party. My stories will be read by people I do and do not know and by those who may or may not join in the conversation. And their presence at my table, whichever way, will be felt and appreciated.”

    What a perfect response to the surprisingly large number of people I hear who criticize blogging as a waste of time and energy. Thank you for writing that, and for this entire post. Congratulations on the award.

  10. I have loved stories since I was a little girl and relate with so many of the things that you said about how they make you feel. Your post let my imagination wander as I began to remember some of my favorites. Writing my blog has been one of the most rewarding things because it has helped me unfold who I am, one story at a time. To have someone mention it, give it an award and do so after such a lovely post well, that’s about as good as it gets. That and the tiara I will be purchasing myself to now wear while I write. And the cake, the congratulatory cake. And maybe the shoes I’ll get too because with your post, my tiara, a slice of cake and some new fall boots I’ll be the best storyteller ever. Thank you again for the mention. It made my day.

  11. It is truly a gift to be able to spin a yarn; some people have it and some people don’t. Great post!

    I’d have to say that Robert Redford at the table would be a good thing even if he never opened his mouth.

  12. Pingback: An Award, Some Personal Tidbits and a Measure of Gratitude « deliriouslydivine

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