Old Church Wood

MR. GREEN AND OUR BOYS are dismantling an old church building up in Tennessee. When this fell into our laps, I was ecstatic to find out what materials would be discovered. There are some longstanding projects on Eddings Hill, the sort that need beadboard, old brick, lap siding, pine flooring – the stuff of which dreams are made for those who love vintage, and we do. But we’re going to have more than enough, and that’s where you come in. Here are some pictures of what it looked like before they started. More on this later.

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An Unusual Story of Motherlove

The Mother Murre

by Dallas Lore Sharp

three murres

AS SOON AS YOU CAN, stop what you’re doing and listen to this wonderful story by the naturalist, Dallas Lore Sharp. I could not keep the tears at bay as he described his amazing experience with a mother murre. If you have experienced the strength of maternal instinct and love, this story will resonate.

Go to the story

murre colony

Mr. Green Reads Aloud

On the Back of the Stallion

by Robert Green

On the Back of the Stallion

THIS IS HANDS DOWN one of my very most favorite of Mr. Green’s stories. And I must say I’m very thankful that he was able to stay alive long enough for me to meet him . . . and everything else that followed that auspicious event. As they say, the rest is history. But still, my dream guy might have been handily eliminated by this “compact, muscle-bound, bow-necked, speckle-rumped, wild-eyed, spit-slingin’, high-velocity, jet-fuel-burnin’ locomotive engine with four legs.” ::shudder::

This story is the perfect opening for 2014. When we climb on for the ride at the beginning of a new year, we usually don’t know what sort of animal we’ve straddled. And sometimes, it’s a wild ride that threatens all our presuppositions and comfortable paradigms. Sometimes we wonder if we’ll survive it, but here we go.

Hold on, my friends, hold on.

Go to the story

Mr. Green Reads Aloud

The Tailor of Gloucester

by Beatrix Potter

The Tailor of Gloucester

CHRISTMAS DAY ON EDDINGS HILL has been a glorious delight. This morning, as I was preparing our traditional Christmas brunch, I enjoyed the thought that it doesn’t get much better than this: all six of our children are home, (we’ve added a second son-in-law and we can’t imagine our family circle without those two now), the pleasure of home cooked foods along with the joy of having our daughters in my kitchen again, and one of them at the piano playing Christmas music that wafts through the house while the guys play games or relax, working up an appetite. Nope, it doesn’t get much better than this.

It’s been a good day for reveling in the memories and traditions that we’ve shared all their lives. I hope your homes have been full to the brim with the stuff of future memories and enriching traditions today.

This dearly loved tale by Beatrix Potter could not be shared at a better time. She must have understood the selfless spirit of giving.

For all Mr. Green’s vocal skills, a British voice is not in his repertoire, so we’re sharing a different reader with this offering—perfect for this English classic. She’s the real deal. Do listen to the delightful reading by Marilyn Saklatvala as you enjoy “The Tailor of Gloucester.” Such a treat! 

Go to the story.

Miss Charles and the Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

Charlie and her sisters

CHARLIE IS COMING to our house tonight, along with her parents and two sisters, and her two cousins and their parents. Charlie is the six-year-old daughter of some dear friends of ours. I call her Miss Charles. I do it because Charlie is an unexpected name for a girl, and because I like making it even more unexpected, and because it’s a Southern thang. And we southerners are infamous for needing to do our Southern thang at every opportunity.

But mostly I do it because I’m an older woman now, and one of the perks that accompanies that status is doing things that we can get by with…because we can get by with them.

And y’know, that’s really all I have to say about that.

So our anticipation is high to see Miss Charles and her perky cousin, Lily, along with little Nora, the reigning Premises Nemesis Abi Grace, and Baby David “Sunshine.” (And, meh, their parents are fun too.) Miss Charles’ daddy was the ring bearer in our wedding when he was six. So yeah, our love and bond with these two families goes back a long way.

In 2007, Mr. Green put his You Need a Story recordings on disc. Those are the ones we’ve provided now in a new MP3 collection—all the stories at once, in two volumes.

Stories on CD

But at the time, some of our listeners wanted stories on an audio CD—a disc that could be listened to on a regular (non-MP3) CD player—like in the car or on a Walkman, etc.

Regular audio files are much larger than MP3 files and only four of the stories in that format would fit on a disc. So Mr. Green created a CD with four of our favorites:

“The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”
“The Princess and the Puma”
“Jack and the Beanstalk”
“The Elephant’s Child”

Just yesterday, Mr. Green was poking around looking for some of those CDs, remembering that there were a few of them left from those days. Not only did he find some, he found sixty!

You Need a Story audio CDs

Even after we put a few back for our own kids and their families, we’ll still have plenty to do something with, so we’re of a mind to put those up for sale too. We think they’d make great Christmas gifts for families who appreciate timeless stories, good sense of humor, and the magic of a story read aloud.

You may be wondering, then, how does Miss Charles tie in to all this?

A few months ago, when we decided to republish the collections, I told her daddy about it, thinking that she is just about the right age to begin enjoying the stories. He looked me square in the eye and told me that I was way behind. When Miss Charles was about three, Robert had given him one of the CDs and he had started playing it for her at bedtime. Night after night, she fell asleep to the voice of Simon Wheeler’s tale of the jumping frog, or the nasally whinings of the proboscisly challenged young elephant’s child, and the rest of the crew.

Long before she could follow the story line or make any sense of the humor, she could quote long passages of the stories, and over time more and more understanding fell into place. But in the meantime, as is always an inevitable benefit of stories read aloud, she was absorbing the color of language and developing that indefinable way we understand humor.

Recently, her mom told me that when they came across “The Elephant’s Child” in their homeschool readings of Kipling’s Just So Stories, Charlie reported that they could move on because she already knew that story quite well. (Next question?)

Charlie has listened to the CD so many times she’s worn it out. It now skips and has distortions. It’s a good thing we found sixty more in our closet.

If you want one, get em’ here.

We’ve got just enough time to get them to you before Christmas.


An exceptionally good sandwich: turkey pastrami, avocado, Havarti cheese . . . oh man!

AS I’VE SAID BEFORE, I take my sandwich seriously. There is immense sensory satisfaction in the eating of it—the juxtaposition of colors, flavors, and textures, and the whole process of making it is an exercise in anticipation.


Today’s sandwich: Toasted 12-grain bread, Hellman’s mayo on one side and Jack Daniel’s mustard on the other. I laid a slice of good creamy Havarti on the mayo side, and on the other I piled 4 slices of turkey pastrami, and rings of onion (enough crunch to stand up to the softer layers).

Sandwich inside

I slid both slices back into the toaster to heat till the cheese was melted and the other layers were warmed. Then I added sliced avocado sprinkled with kosher salt and restaurant pepper, and slices of campari tomatoes (which are always red and flavorful. I know, not local. So shoot me.), with a few grains more Kosher and pepper for the tomato’s sake.

Sandwich with little red peppers

My add-ons of choice were a few excellent cherry peppers and some thin, white corn tortilla chips.

Izze - Sparkling Grapefruit

. . . and of course, my Izze. Gave up sodas a long time ago, but when I really want some fizziness, an ice cold Izze hits the spot. This one’s my fave.

mmm, lunch. I don’t always eat a sandwich for lunch, but when I do . . .
I make sure I’m completely obsessive about it.