A two-in-one gift.

There are days when you really need a hug aren't there?
Today was one of those for me.

A little blue  - just in general and feeling a bit over-whelmed by all I have said I would do
and now the deadlines are riding in
like a sunami  - of get it done's.

When I heard the clanking of the mail slot in the front door and a slap as a bunch of stuff hit the floor I pushed out the air of a big sigh - "more bills probably," I thought.

Instead - a card with a surprise gift for me from my dear friend Kay.

Now this is a hug if I ever felt one.

The necklace is the hug - the message it carries as it rides around my neck is the encouragement any performer sometimes needs.

Why that sounds like a two-fer!



Looking back to look ahead

Over The Back Fence, collage, e. schoettler

Is that really true?
A month since I have written on this blog?
Hard to believe.

I used to write here every day
and if I did not write something my conscience pricked me.
I felt like I had fallen down at the switch.
Times do change, don't they?

So, I am back.
Trying again.
That is the song I sing, the story of my life.
I will see how it goes.

Catch up:

Sisters: Ellouise, Kathy and Ollie
Promo Card from Capital Fringe 2011
I did go to Georgia.  Spent a week with my sister, told Finding Gus at a local library, presented an all-day workshop at the same library and told The Hello Girls at a House Concert. That was great for the storyteller in me - making some money and telling lots of stories to very lovely people who enjoyed what I brought. Now who could ask for more?  Plus, lots of conversation with my sister. Catching up with her and sharing from my world. She has an unflinching eye on the world and her advice is good.

Jim: Pier near San Simeon, CA
Two days after I came home from Georgia I flew to California to visit my daughter and her family, friends, and to make a visit to Jim's home town and his family. All good. Rich time. Tinged with melancholy and tears without Jim there to share it.

But I realized
he is there. For more than 50 years he and I visited California together up and down Highway 99 from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Even though things have changed over time, a familiar landmark on the road is missing or a whole new development fills in the expanse of wide open space - Jim is there.

Jim loved California. As he left the hospital the last time I heard him tell someone that one thing he would like to do was "go to California". That did not work out. Instead he went further on his own.  Funny, the things I remember. So, when I go to California I feel that I am going for him too.

While I was in SF with Robin we worked research about The Hello Girls and it was so such fun to work with her although its hard to keep up. She processes stuff so fast, sees possiblities and zooms ahead. Hope we continue opportunities to explore avenues together.

On the flight home I sat with an interesting young guy who is a post-doc scientist at a CA university. We did not talk until the plane began to rock and roll and I said, "I hate this", he nodded, "I don't like it either." Then we dropped into an easy, friendly conversation that was really surprising - this guy is a genius, who along with several others like him, had invented a computer app which became a company which when sold padded their bank accounts. Shades of Facebook and other hot internet companies. But I tell you what really impressed me - when he opened his computer he took out a small folded paper and put it on the seat between us. (We were lucky - sitting in a three seat row with an empty seat). I could see it was a to do list "for the plane." with a box drawn next to each item. Once he turned on his computer he began to tackle those things one at a time and he did not waver until the flight attendant announced "prepare for landing several hours later." Total concentration.
I wish I had asked him what music he was listening to that helped his keep his train of thought.

Yesterday when I heard an interview about post-doc scientists on NPR, I thought of my seat mate on Virgin America.  The talk was about how this group is under-the-radar cheap labor in scientific labs across the country - working and doing excellent work for those who have snagged a tenured academic position - that this is the way progress takes place in their research fields. When I thought of him I was glad he had a well-padded bank account to see him through the excessively lean years ahead for him as a research scientist.

Nice to have a bit of insight into the interview -

My favorite ink pens: love the way they feel as they mark paper.

and more.....

Back home now and happy to be here.
I have lots of work lined up
so I am thinking about my seatmate last week and making a determined list
with boxes drawn next to each item .

Travel is good!!!


Launching Forth

It is Monday and I feel like I am standing at the "start gate" waiting for the gunshot to set me off.

Lots to do today to "get it together" for my trip to Atlanta Wednesday.
List is done and I am primed----

Practicing stories, preparing paper work, last minute tasks in the house,
and in the midst of all that -
I have started a new project...

Excited and hopeful.

Love that feeling at the beginning of a new venture --- all the balloons going up before you bump up against the obstacles which have to be overcome --- but that you didn't think of at the start.

That's part of it - isn't it.

Knowing that the rapids are somewhere ahead -

I will deal with those - later - and as they come up.

Right now I am going to revel in the personal excitement of

Launching forth - -

More will be revealed.


A Surprise Stop-By

Some days are filled with surprises.

Today I am refreshing and practicing the stories I will use in my Flesh on Old Bones workshop next week-end in Georgia.

I use iPod recordings to capture all my stories either in practice or during all the performances. Those recordings become the notes I keep for the record.  I like to learn or practice stories by listening not from a script. So, to prep the workshop I have pulled a group of stories into playlist on my iPod. Works for me - and its convenient because I can take the stories any where. It gives new meaning to multi-tasking.

As I listened to the "Martha Pearl" story today I remembered the exact evening I told this version  of it at the Kensington Book Store. We had a small group that night and at the end of the telling we talked about the story.

First I heard women's voices - Jolene for sure and the other was possibly my friend Cricket - and then I heard the surprise -
Jim's voice. 

I could see him sitting - like he usually did - in the comfortable over-stuffed chair near the check-out counter at the back of the room near the counter with his long legs stretched out in front of him when he chimed in with his comments about the story.

"This is a good story, Ellouise." Then he confirmed his opinion that it was also a good piece to use for teaching because the genealogy sleuthing search is part of the story.

Tears slipped down my cheeks. And - I was smililng.
That's how I use this story and why I will be telling it for the Flesh on Old Bones Workshop next Saturday.

Oh, yes, I remember his voice - but for the past few days my yearning to actually hear his voice has been acute - sharp. I was so glad to hear his voice although I had not expected it.

So grateful he was there that night - and - that he stopped by today

Thank you. Thank you. Steve Jobs.

I definitely love my Apple iPod.

Hope you are also using your iPod to catch moments and memories? 

Musing on the Telephone

OK I admit it. I am one of those people who really enjoys talking on the telephone.

Marketing calls are such an annoyance, especially at meal time. Ofcourse it makes sense to ignore the call but its hard for me to ignore a ringing phone. That ringing is a demand to me - - - it could be something important or special or just fun.

There is no getting away from it. I love the telephone - whether its a wall phone or my cell phone. I love having the ability to connect with someone - especially a special friend.  Or you can connect with someone in unexpected places. Yesterday I called Jim's sister and when she finally answered she sounded a bit different. "Where are you?" "We are on a cruise, Ellouise.  Right now we are on the ship - heading toward Alaska."

Today I appreciate unlimited minutes as one of the great advances from technology.  I remember when you paid top dollar for long distance minutes, especially day time minutes.
There were times when my hand trembled as I opened the monthly phone bill. Jim used to tease me, "We would be rich today if I could get back that phone bill money."

Yesterday my dear friend Betsy - who lives 2 hours away - and I talked for a l o n g time. Using cell phones we don't have to worry about the cost of the call because we each have unlimited minutes. We are going to pay that bill whether we talk or not.

We talked and we laughed, and laughed and laughed.  Our conversation took such a ridiculous turn that laughter rumbled up from deep inside me and echoed through the house.  One of the things I love about talking with her is that we have known each other since Girl Scouts in NC and we can say just anything to each other without turning on our "editors".  Talking with Betsy is often a priceless spirit- healing exchange, especially when we are laughing.

And, with unlimited minutes - - there is no extra charge.

My cousin sent me an email the other day detailing all the changes in the world these days.
I read in the list that people are disconnecting their wall phones. 
It explained the math for why you should
Yeah, it made sense.

True, I hardly use my landline-
but so far I can't do it.

Those digits are part of my history.
That's my number.

If I disconnect I might miss a call - -
Someone else might have my number - -

It has been mine - ours for more than 30 years -

Oh, no  - no, no, no, no no
I have to think about this.


Here Comes Gus

1905 Clemson Football Team

Gus - my grandfather - sits in the middle of the      front row.

I tell a story about him: Finding Gus.We lost him in our family and when I found him - he was a folk hero to his family of origin in SC.

Right now I am working on that story - to bring him back next week in Georgia
I will be

                                                                              Welcome back Gus.

There is a hero in every story - do you know your heroes?


VIDEO - Not Right for New York City

With the focus on preparing for the Fringe the past few months some things have slipped by. Today when I was reviewing my stories to prepare for a storytelling trip to Georgia next week
I came across a new story that I have not posted.

I remember it all so vividly - and funny how in retrospect you can see the lessons you received from what happened in the past.

For instance - now I don't dictate what a hair dresser does - I let it happen, sometimes to my sheer delight.
Rather than being embarrassed by my bee-hive hairdo and by the young girl who thought it was sophisticated- I am grateful for the stepping through the Red Door of the Elizabeth Arden Beauty Salon for the first time and having Renee sprinkle magic dust on my hair - - which fulfilled a much younger girl's wish!

And, grateful for Jim - - - who always saw me through a loving filter.


Snapshots and Stories

August is a time of remembering for me and my family.
Jim was buried in Arlington National Cemetery August 1, 2012.

Last year I told this story about that day.

Today - maybe I would tell it differently.  - that comes with the passage of days, weeks, months and years.

Why? you may wonder - Why tell the story? Why record it?

Because I remember  - - - telling the story helps me to accept it - - maybe others have ways they also remember to accept.