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September 30, 2016darwin2

Another Season Turns


I love the turning of the seasons! As we pass through another cycle of late summer Chautauqua, fall conferences, and harvest festivals. We then turn towards cemetery tours and ghosts stories. This autumn brings the usual bountiful fall harvest with new and long-term projects: A Harvest Moon, more Ghosts Stories at the Twinflower Inn, another Springdale Cemetery Tour, an abundance of family stories, fall rendevous and the Texas Science Teachers Conference! Will you join us for the fun? Click through on the calendar below to see when I might be in a town near you! 



Imagine a walk among the beautiful tombstones and ancient trees of one of the Midwest’s largest and oldest cemeteries. As you wander along the road, costumed characters step out of the past to tell you their stories. This year we are in the oldest portion of the cemetery with some of the major players in Peoria History. It is always the first two weekends in October, Saturday and Sunday afternoons, October 1 & 2, 8 & 9, tours start promptly at 11:00 am & 2:00 pm. Plus there is a special Friday evening dusk tour that starts at 6pm, Oct 7th. Tickets are $5 per child $10 per adult, and the family friendly price of $20. Follow this link for more information: http://prairiefolkloretheatre.com

Kim as Nurse


Bishop Hill’s Harvest Moon and Ghost Stories at the Twinflower Inn

Bring a lawn chair and bring a friend, bring your courage and bring a sense of wonder as we relish the enchantment waiting to be discovered in Bishop Hill, Illinois. Last year we had more than 100 people join us for a fun evening of ghost stories around the campfire at The Twinflower Inn! This year the entire community is enthusiastic to stay open late on this Friday evening closest to the full moon. Come early to visit with the artists and craftspeople who relish this Utopia on the Prairie. Enjoy dinner at one of three restaurants before the show. Please take a moment, print the poster and share it with your friends… do a little guerrilla marketing, put it up at a local school, library or coffee shop.


From Memories to Memoirs: A Writer’s Retreat January 20-22, 2017 and A Lesson Plan!

Every winter for several years now we have hosted a writers’ retreat at The Twinflower Inn. This year our theme is turning memories into memoirs, both the process of making good ideas into great stories and the work of building the overall arch of a book-length memoir. We already have a few guests signed up so please make reservations early. Our goal is to keep this a small intimate group with a balance of time to write and time for instruction and discussion. Here is a link to a set of questions and suggestions for collecting stories and turning rough notes into a tellable tale. 



Mary Lee Ellis 1942-2016

Mary Ellis mom

My mother passed away earlier this month and I was asked to officiate at her funeral, write, and deliver her eulogy. Lots of family members who subscribe to this newsletter asked that I share the eulogy. This got me thinking that many friends and colleagues are at a point in life where we have recently lost a parent and might find solace in this eulogy and/or a model you might use when asked to write a eulogy for a family member. I do feel strongly that funerals are for the ones left behind. The primary goals include creating a space for tears, sharing grief and sharing memories, but also a place to celebrate the life lost, gleaning inspiration from the stories, ideally striking a balance of facts and stories, humor and open grief. I also highly recommend using social media to collect stories. We created a private Facebook page for family and close friends only, so we could share medical information privately, then I used that page to collect stories about my mother’s life and how she had impacted the folks around her. Reading these posts to my mother as her health failed gave her great comfort. If you wish, please click here to read the Eulogy.


Darwin, Mendel, & Audubon: Pioneers in STEM and Citizen Science

Later in October I will be a keynote speaker at the El Paso Regional Texas Science Teacher’s Conference and here is a sneak preview of my keynote:


STEM Education might seem like the latest trend, but it is so much more than a passing fad. It has deep roots in the history of science education and innovation. If you have been teaching for more than a few years then you have seen fads come and go. With 35 years in science education, writing curriculum, teacher training, and portraying historical scientists, I have seen trends wax and wane, but STEM is different. STEM is a fresh encapsulation of what real scientists have done for generations. As we have evolved in the field of science education we have gotten better at defining what it is that real scientists do. STEM is a more broadly accurate explanation of science process skills. It is also forward thinking in its emphasis on training students to be ready for whatever new technology is around the bend, integrating math and science, and using engineering to focus on real world problem solving. But one reason STEM is different is because none of these traits are new, they are simply articulated more clearly. Did you know: Charles Darwin made a technological improvement to the microscope that we still use today? Gregor Mendel was the first biologists to use statistical analysis in the natural sciences? John James Audubon engineered a method for painting birds and his great works of art used the latest technology in print making? Pick any innovative, ground breaking scientist and STEM is at the core of their work. (Read more…)



If you would like to attend or host a performance, here are a few of my upcoming programs. Please view my schedule to see when I might be near you or if you would like to host a school program, house concert, or workshop: 

October 1, 2, 8, 9, at 11:00 am & 2:00 pm. Oct 7th at 6:00 pm, Historic Springdale Cemetery Tours

October 14, 7:00 - 9:00 pm The Twinflower Inn is hosting Ghost Stories Around the Bone-Fire

October 26, Fox will give two performances of Native American Ghosts and Legends and present a teacher workshop at Wildwood Metropark, Toledo, Ohio.

November 5, Fox will perform as John James Audubon at the Knox County Public Library in Vincennes, IN. Audubon at the Muster is 10:00 - 4:00. Performance at the library begins at 7:00 pm.

November 12, at 3:00 pm Fox will perform as Jonas Olson, a founder of Bishop Hill at The Old Mill Museum in Lindsborg, KS

January 20-22, 2017, From Memories to Memoirs: A Writer’s Retreat at The Twinflower Inn.

The Twinflower Inn is planning Book Lover’s Weekends Jan 27-29,  Feb 17-19, Feb 24-26,  Mar 3-5, 2017