Watch a funny video story

Local Point TV is also playing another one of my stories - a funny personal story.


Local Point TV is playing my story

Have you ever wondered what I might sound like?

Even though the lighting is cruel I am letting people know that Local Point TV is playing a part of my September performance at Speakeasydc. The first part of the set is this folktale, The Bride of the Lindorm King. The second part is a personal story that relates to the folktale which they cut. Sorry you won't hear the funny parts.

You can listen and watch my story here

Hope you enjoy the story.

There is an earlier video that is funny if you want to hear more. Just check out Localpointtv.com - go to performances - speakeasy and scroll through to my name.


I Am Still A Real Southerner

Two weeks ago I made the mistake of checking in at the John Blair Publishers website. They specialize in North Carolina and other things southern. I was tempted. I succumbed. Ordered this stack of books about "what it is to be a southern woman."

Its my periodic "fix" to prod my memory of stories that may be lurking right there but my brain is slow on the "search" fields.

When I order from a company I can't resist checking them out. You know "who works there" - like I might possibly know somebody. Not that it will get me a discount or anything. It just makes me feel more connected.

What do you know! The marketing guy's name was "sparrow". John Blair Pub. is in Winston-salem, NC. I know one person who lives in that town - well, my aunt lives there too, but she doesn't count, she doesn't even answer her phone. Oops, another story.

One of my high school classmates, Warren Sparrow, lives in Winston-Salem. Could it be? I shook my head. Waited a minute and then hit this "sparrow's" email.

A quick note. "Know anyone from the Class of 1954, Charlotte Central High School?"

Within the hour young sparrow wrote back. "my father."

Ah. Life is good. 6% of separation proved again. I felt connected. John H. Blair and I have a special relationship.

Southerners - real southerners - understand.

TIP: Always ask the question.


Where's the Bee

Remember Where's Waldo? well, Where's the Bee in this photo. No prize - just your satisfaction in knowing you found it.


More About Names - a story connection

Recently I wrote about the first day of school and included a memory of the year I changed my name. It did not work out.

I remember the year I was going back to Piedmont Junior High School in the eight grade. Thirteen years old. You know how you can feel desperate for a new start when you are thirteen. So, when school started - I changed my name.

The first day of class when my home room teacher asked my name I told her it was "Hester" - go figure - this was my new start?

I don't know where that came from. Since I wanted a life-change why didn't I pick something glamourous like Rita or sweet and cute like Judy. Hester calls up images of Nathanial Hawthorne - like harsh, freezing winters and tall, gaunt, and austere women. Its time for the truth - my choices have always been a little off.

Now, I was not changing schools. I was returning to the same school - under a new name. Everyone except the new teachers knew my name was Ellouise. I was Hester to two teachers and Ellouise to everybody else.

The game was blown for good on parents night when Mama explained to the those two teachers that she have never named a daughter of hers Hester.

So much for my new start. Or maybe, I should be thanking my mother for saving me from myself.

Well, at the Williamsburg Storytelling Festival storyteller, Onawuni Jean Moss told a story of how she went about changing her name when she wanted to reinvent herself as a storyteller. Her re-invention has certainly been a success. And as she told the story I saw where I had gone wrong.

She did not just pick a name from a book and tack it on. She called a colleague at Amherst College and asked him for a ceremony from the African traditon which would select the right name for her and endow her with her new name.

I was caught by the beauty of that. Not just reading a list of names but looking for a name that would speak of the gifts she had been given and those she had to give.

That's where I went wrong. At 13 year I did not know who I was much less know how to recognize gifts and blessings.

Her story also made me think about the risk and responsibility we take as parents when we assign names to our children. What if its not the right name?

Whew! I am glad I am past that - and if the names I gave my children didn't work out - they can change their names with my blessing - I won't tell a soul.

Its On the Record - I am a Liar!!

Last night Robin Moore left all contestants in the dust in the Ghost Stories Contest.

I have to admit I felt kinda sorrowful about that. Not that he won - he is a terrific storyteller - but where there is a winner there has to be a loser - and I don't like being one of those.

So- Today I entered the Liars Contest. First time I have ever competed to be a LIAR. I knew I have a story that fit the category.
It was ready because I have told it at the Speakeasydc and a couple of other places.
(you can listen to an earlier version of the story on my myspace page.)
The audience really understood a bad hair day and my story went over really well. Then a first timer stepped up, told an internet joke with such good delivery that Robin and I ended up taking 2nd and 3rd place behind her.

When they introduced the three winners we were called back in reverse order: Ellouise Schoettler - the BIG Liar, Robn Moore - the BIGGER Liar and Shirley Fetchco- the BIGGEST Liar.

One question - how do you explain those titles to your grandchlldren.

Its on the record in the York County Record - notice who in opur family gets the most space - Jim.

Gail Herman, a featured teller, on the left with Lara Ackerman from Arizona who was a strong contender in the Liars Contest and Hillary Clemens from Kensington, MD. Meeting new people and connecting with folks you've met other places makes for all the more fun. Hillary and I had met at the Kensington Story Salon and so we'll be seeing each other again. A treat to re-connect with storyteller, Kathy Long from the LeHigh Valley Storytelling Guild, Bethlemhem, PA and Jean Pitt, from Manasssas, VA.

The festival was fun! Beautiful weather, good stories and delightful people.
Great teller line-up: Ed Stivender, Bill Lepp, Carmen Deedy, Dovie Thomason, Kim Weitkamp and Gail Herman.
You know there are no stories without people to hear them and this was a grand group of rapt listeners. The featured storytellers gave them high quality performances.

Its hard to leave when the stories have been so fine. Looking forward to next year!

But as good as all that was - I keep thinking about something else. A woman I had met before came over and spoke to me. After the casual preliminaries she asked me, "are you still collecting ghost stories?" 'Oh, yes." At that she reminded me of her offer to share some of her personal ghost stories with me. " you haven't called me."

While we talked she told me of some of the encounters with spirits of the departed that have occurred in her family.

This morning I woke up thinking about her stories. I have her phone number. Not missing the chance this time.

TIP: Don't pass up an offer when someone say they will share stories. You may not be as lucky as I feel - to have your paths cross a second time.


Northeast Storytelling Festival

The second Northeast Storytelling Festival is this week-end in Gettysburg, PA.

The sun is shining and blue skies promise great weather to be outside in storytelling tents.

Great tellers in our backyard, i.e. Bill Lepp, Ed Stivender, Carmen Deedy and Dovie Thomason. Jim and I will spend the week-end in Biglerville at the house which is only 15 minutes from the grassy field with the storytelling tents are set up.

In addition to the Big Name tellers there will be regional tellers, a liars contest and a ghost story contest.

I am a bit nervous because I am entered in the ghost story contest. Since our family is a little bit haunted, I am telling a family ghost story. Its a story I first told at the Ghost Story Open Mic at the West Virginia Storytelling Festival. I hope it will bring me luck. Even so it will be fun to tell Aunt Annie's story to a new group.

There are eight tellers tonight. The three selected by the audience tonight will go on to the final round tomorrow night.


Story Connectng with Life.

On Saturday at the Williamsburg Storytelling Festival storyteller Kathryn Wyndham - at 89 looking frail but lovely, and certainly in top notch voice - told the story of how she had her coffin hand made by a hometown artisan.
No fancy decorations and trimmings for her. It is hand polished wood pegged together. The only nails are square - to tighten on the top. No viewing. The coffin is waiting in her garage - storing crystal until it is needed for storing her.

Its a wonderful story. Told simply and with humor. Placing reality gently before us. I have heard her tell the story before - to a crowded tent at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN. That day she closed by telling the assembled that she knew they would not be able to attend her funeral "when the time came" and asking everyone to sing a favorite hymn, "I'll Fly Away" with her - now.
Not a dry eye to be seen. Touching, beautiful and very sharing.

Well, I thought of Kathryn Wyndham's story the next day.

Jim was called on Saturday and told that next day, Sunday, the burial for his friend and mentor, Arnold Meyersburg, MD, would be held at 2:30 pm. We would leave Williamsburg early and reach Washington in time to be there.

Sunday was a warm and beautiful day - blue skies dotted with snowy white clouds. Very little traffic to complicate our trip. We arrived at the King David Memorial Garden on time. A few mourners were standing on the lawn at the edge of the road waiting for the hearse to arrive. Hellos, handshakes, condolences with the family, sadness at losing Arnold but grateful for his long, productive life (93 years)

I was startled when they opened the hearse and slowly lifted out the sanded,six-sided, yellow pine box with rope handles that held Arnold's body. It was stark. It was beautifully simple.

In the back of my mind, I heard Kathryn Wyndham describing her simple,dark wood, six sided coffin - the one that is waiting in Alabama.

When the family and mourners reached the grave the pine coffin was lowered into the ground. Family sat beside one edge of the open grave with mourners standing around them. On the other side of the grave was a mound of red clay with two shovels standing up in it - they had been stuck there to wait.

The Rabbi read psalms and prayers. Afterward, there were no formal eulogies. Standing beside the grave members of Arnold's family told stories, loving memories of their father and grandfather. Tribute will be paid later. This was a time of story, of remembering.

When the stories were done, first the family and then each of us, the mourners, took our turn to drop in several shovel fulls of the red earth. It dropped onto the pine box with a muffled thud as Arnold was covered with a red earth blanket.

It was right. It was beautiful. It was a sweet good-bye.

I was grateful to Kathryn Wyndham. Her story had prepared me to see and appreciate Arnold's service with an open heart.

Isn't that what story does?

Good News

Received word today that I have been awarded a "creative projects grant" by the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgormery Couty - to create a new story.

A story lurks within dusty boxes of my journals which are stored in my studio. I have been wanting to work with that material for some time and now I am ready and lo and behold I have been granted some money to do it.

Basically it will be a story of how a primpted and proper 1950s housewife morphed into an activist feminista working to pass the ERA. That's me.

It was an interesting and exciting time. I met many interesting people on the sidelines of that battle. For the next nine months I will be reliving those days and -- looking for the story.

That's how it is when you start out - you don't know what the final story will be.
I only know one thing. It's funny!


Home from Williamsburg

We returned Sunday night after a wonderful week-end in Williamsburg, VA.for the Williamsburg Storytelling Festival. The days were filled with sunny skies, warm breezes, stories and family time. The weeke-end was rich with great festival storytellers: Donald Davis, Bill Lepp, Carmen Deedy, Len Cabral, Eth No Tec, O. Jean Moss and Kathryn Wyndham.

Sounds idyllic, doesn't it?

Well, it was and it wasn't. Isn't that how life goes?

I loved being outside, in a serene and pristine setting like the green grassy area behind Bassett Hall - to listen to stories or talk with people.

Jim and I made an appointment with the Story Keepers.
We each recorded a 15 minute interview. They gave us a CD of each interview as a souvenir - a moment in our history to share with our family.

We had time with our granddaughter Alison who is a Freshman at William and Mary. She is so happy and glad to be there.
All is exciting and she is reveling in all the new friends and experiences. We all remember that - -

Jim received a call giving him the time for the Sunday burial of a long-time mentor of his so we decided to return early Sunday to be there for that.

It is funny how the stories and life came together by the end of the day. More to come.

Now my schedule has taken over. This is a stop-by to say hello.


Heading Toward Williamsburg

Jim and I are the advance guard this morning for our family's outing to Williamsburg.
Two items on our agenda: a visit with our grand-daughter Alison who is now a Freshman at the College of William and Mary and a week-end of stories at the Williamsburg Storytelling Festival.

Good weather predicted.

Unless things have changed since last year we will only have dial-up in our Time Share apartment so I may be off-line until Monday. I will be back with stories about stories.

Hope yal are having a happy time where ever you are.



Like a dog worrying a bone, I keep tinkering with my posts after I have written them.
Catching typos, thinking of something to add. Pushing a sentence this way or that way, adding a picture I could not find when I wrote it. Having fun remembering. Like stories my posts are not static but fluid and changing.

This tinkering throws my google counter all off. When the visits add up, I know it is really me sticking my head back in - tinkering.

That's OK. It's too much fun to stop it.

And isn't that the appeal of bloggig? What you write is not cast in stone, unless you want it to be. You can keep fiddling with things.

First Day of School

Remember when school started the Monday after Labor Day? These days it can start anytime toward the end of August. Whenever it does kids and Moms are ready. Summer has run its course.

My daughter told me that her sons are glad to be back in their schools- because its more convenient to see their friends when they are in class, on playgrounds or in the halls. I hope they are also glad to be back in school.

The first day of school was always so exciting for me - the beginning of a new year. Getting new books, school supplies, not knowing exactly what was ahead, maybe something wonderful. The idea of learning new stuff was an intriguing promise. Learning and school supplies.

I have never lost my urge to buy school supplies in September. Fresh pencils and paper, notebooks, crayons, markers, book covers - -you name it, if you buy it in a school supply section, I love it. Remember when you bought your first protractor. What a mysterious implement. I had no idea what it was for - but it meant something new was coming. Circles. Have you noticed that protractors today are the same as the ones I bought in Charlotte.

What about scissors - boy they have changed. My first school scissors were metal blunt tip kid scissors that really cut. Today they have made the scissors safe, brightly colored, plastic, and dull. OK, OK safety is more important , I know that - but have you tried to help a child cut something with those purple and pink plastic poor excuse for scissors? Better to tear.

Glue sticks are a major step beyond muscilage - except they don't have that purposeful gluey smell.

One of the best school year starts I ever had was in the fourth grade. Daddy was back from the war - WWII - and he was working with Uncle Carl in his print shop. Like most veterans Daddy was trying new trades and jobs as he wove himself back into civilian life. Well, there was some odd lot stock paper left overs in the shop. Daddy decided to use it for a practice type-seting job. He printed three-hole punched paper folders for me and my sister Lynda with our names printed on them. Its a wonder I did not die of happiness when he brought them home and gave them to us.

The year I was in the sixth grade at O'Donoghue School, Sister Mary Cecilia sent us out to buy our first ink pens and a bottle of Script ink. A whole new world of drips and spills and stained fingers opened up - along with new love for seeing the written word on the paper - dark black, especially with a fat tip pen.
My grandfather had a fat, orange Waterman pen with a broad tip that made smooth wide lines as it slid across the paper. Even a beginners handwriting looked important when you wrote with that pen. You filled it by dipping the point in the ink well inside of the ink bottle and pulling down a lever on the side of the pen. Swoosh - the lever was a pump and sucked up the ink into a bladder inside the pen - making it ready to write.

To this day I love writing with a real ink pen.

When we were in Munich in the 1980s and the dollar was riding high I splurged on a Mont Blanc pen. Its kept safe in my desk. I never take it out of the house for fear I will lose it. Several summers ago I stepped into Fahrney's, pen store for the famous, on F Street downtown in Washington. I was drawn to a sale table - and there it was, a fat, mottled red and black Waterman Pen with a broad tip - - a memory of Dad Jack's pen. Ofcourse - I bought it. When I have it in my hand my writing slides smoothly across the paper leaving wide dark marks on the page and it makes me feel close to another time.

When our kids were growing up I always took a picture of them on the first day of school. As they got older they were annoyed by it. "Mom, that's kid stuff. We don't hve time for that." But I insisted - parent's privilege, right. TFor me the first day of school was a marker - a start - the chance for a new beginning.

I remember the year I was going back to Piedmont Junior High School in the eight grade. Thirteen years old. You know how you can feel desperate for a new start when you are thirteen. So, when I started school I changed my name.

The first day of class when my home room teacher asked my name I told her it was "Hester" - go figure - this was my new start? I don't know where that came from. Since I wanted a life-change why didn't I pick something glamourous like Rita or sweet and cute like Judy. Hester calls up images of Nathanial Hawthorne - like harsh, freezing winters and tall, gaunt, and austere women. Its time for the truth - my choices have always been a little off.

Now, I was not changing schools. I was returning to the same school - under a new name. Everyone except the new teachers knew my name was Ellouise. I was Hester to two teachers and Ellouise to everybody else.

The game was blown for good on parents night when Mama explained to the those two teachers that she did NOT have a daughter whose name was Hester.

So much for my new start.

Or maybe, I should be thanking my mother for saving me from myself.



Some history you don't just learn, you live it.

There are days in history that are so vivid that we forever remember where we were, what we were doing on a certain day. For me a few of those are, Pearl Harbor, the day Kennedy was shot, the Challenger disaster, and 9/11.

Sunday December 7, I was five years old - out for a Sunday afternoon ride with my grandparents. There were newsboys standing on the corner of 7th Street and Hawthorne Lane, calling, Extra! Extra! and waving pink newspapers. Dad Jack stopped the car to take a newspaper. And Granny started to cry.

In the 1960s Jim and I were living in Chapel Hill, NC. I was ironing in our bedroom, watching the mid-day soap operas while the children were napping, when Walter Cronkite broke broke into the program to announce that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas.

The idea of a teacher, a young woman, going into space caught the imagination. I walked into Bobs Famous Ice Cream in Bethesda to get a coke. The radio was up loud - and they were announcing the disaster over Florida. And Christa McAuliffe's name became a sad part of history, not because she went into space; because she didn't.

On September 11, 2001 Jim and I were in Italy because Gallery 10 had five exhibits in as many cities, Prato, Venice, Montecatini, and another city whose name I have forgotten.

September 9 we took the train to the charming spa-city, Montecatini. We were staying in an old hotel where a large group of Americans on an Elderhostel were also in residence.

September 11 was bright and sunny. We did some sightseeing in the morning, ate an early lunch and then came in for a rest and to send a couple of emails from the computer on the stairway landing - the hotel's internet point.

By 2:30 we were ready to explore more of the city. I remember Jim and I were walking down the gracefully curved double wide staircase into the lobby when Giovanni, the conceirge, ran over to us. "Come, Come". He pointed toward a back corridor. His face looked like he was stricken.
We asked no questions. We followed.

When we walked into a mid-size meeting room set up for the Elderhostel classes, the first thing I saw was a large television screen at the front of the room. Excited voices were incoherent from the screen and some people in the room were screaming. My first thought was, "They are watching a Bruce Willis movie" but then I realized it was real time television and we were watching a large plane heading straight into one of the Towers in New York City.

No need to go on. We all know what was happening. We know the images. So well - we can see them when we close our eyes.

Numbed, Jim and I went back to our room to watch CNN. Then the plane hit the Pentagon. Washington. Our family. Was our son, a reserve Army officer stationed at the Pentagon, working that day? Was my cousin, a Navy officer stationed at the Pentagon, working that day? I rushed out to the computer. When I logged on I already had a short, crisp message from our daughter Karen. "We are all OK." All I needed to know. So I logged off to make way for the people lining up behind me. Wanting to know the same thing I had just found out.

We were all so far from home.

Jim ad I sat on the side of the bed and stared at one another, hardly able to comprehend what had happened, what was happening - at home. And feeling very helpless. We decided to do the next right thing - we went to 5:30 pm Mass. The church was filled. An unusual sight for a daily Mass in Italy. We recognized other Americans from the hotel. Strangers recognized us as Americans and touched us - a pat on the shoulder, a hand on our arm.

That evening there was far less conversation in the hotel dining room. The Elderhostel had about six tables reserved on one side of the room and there was usually a lot of laughing and banter coming from them. Not tonight. Quiet.

Until, a man stood up and invited everyone to stand and sing with him. The sound of chairs scraping on wood floors and then strong voices singing "God Bless America." filled the silent room. Jim and I stood with them. Tears were streaming down my cheeks, down most cheeks. All the people in the room were standing.

God Bless America.

Now six years later - its not forgetten. Rest In Peace.


Looking back

Now, six years later, it is hard not to look at the dates in September and count down to 9/11 - remembering where you were before our world - our perception of the the world - changed.


Venice Memory

September 2001 Jim and I were in Venice. It was a happy and wonderful trip. Who knew what was only a few days away.


California Scrawl

In an industrial area in Berkeley there are wild murals on long expanses of concrete buildings. Its a gold field for "found art" hounds.
This is an isolated segment of a much larger painting. The artist must have been running and jumping when he painted this drawing like an urban Jackson Pollack. You can feel the energy he left behind. I am still impressed by the spray can virtuoso who made these marks.


Lynda and the Alphabet

My sister Lynda, the younger, cute one here, can be the sweetest girl in the world. She can also be very stubborn and determined.

I was reminded recently of a time when her stubbonness led her to accomplish something very unusual, very difficult and questionably useful.

This past month there has been a challenge among some bloggers to create an alphabet of posts - writing a post a day in alphabetical order. Patti Digh, 37 Days has created a wonderful set of posts and I have enjoyed every word of them. I hate to see her approach Z - knowing the project will close.

Then I thought of Lynda.

Remember when you had to memorize the alphabet? We all did, you know.

Well I remember when Lynda came home from Elizabeth School - I think it was the second grade, and announced that she had to learn the alphabet backwards. And she wanted somebody to help her. She needed spmeone to listen to her recite the letters backwards. z - y - x - w - v etc.

Try it. I had to write that down to even get started.

No amount of talking could dissuade her from her task. She was determined. She knew that is what the teacher had said. She was not going to learn it forwards. She was going to learn it backwards. And, she did. She stuck with it until she could recite it strait through from z to a.

She and her husband Henry are joining us for the Storytelling Festival in Williamsburg in a couple of weeks. I have to delve deeper into this. Have I got my facts straight? Can she still recite the alphabet backwards? How has this feat of learning served her through the rest of her life? What other things does she do backwards?

Is it possible that the teacher really told the class to memorize the alphabet backwards or could she have said - "you're going to learn the alphabet backwards and forwards?"

Hmmm. One of the imponderables; one of the mysteries of life - I have a lot of those free floating through my brain at times.

They keep me occupied.

Its better use of brain power than trying to figure out what idiot decided to announce to the world that the Air Force was grounding all our air protection on a certain day in September and then giving the date. Go figure. This is Homeland Security? (oops - a little blurt - sorry)

But, I stray from the topic. I wrote to Patti about Lynda's accomplishment - hoping that she will take up a new challenge and start again - z -y - x - w - ----

Patti wrote back: IF I ever do that, I will do it in honor of your sister.

Ah, Lynda!


Dupont Circle in September

My turn to gallery sit again.
It took two circles around three blocks before I found a two hour parking place two blocks from the gallery. I would be here six hours and have to feed the meter three times.
This would be an exercise day.
Not just walking to and from the car.

There are people who climb to the top of this flight of steps and have to stop at the top, hang on to the wall, and huffing and puffing bend over to catch their breath. I am one of those.

Every time I stand at the bottom of this 25 step flight up to the gallery I wonder why I am doing this. But I am - so I take a deep breath, lift my computer bag and the blue canvas Dementia Conference briefcase Jim picked up at a CME meeting - and I start my first cllimb of the day. More exercise. Now you can see why it is so important to me to find a two hour meter. On the days when a one hour meter is my only option I face these steps six times. Its too much.

I know. I know. The subway is the best option - but that just does not always work out.

Today the weather was hot and muggy. The air felt heavy to breathe. On my trips to and fro I dawdled to take pictures.

Isn't she a picture?

I am grateful the gallery is air conditioned.

I was not grateful when I returned to my car at five o'clock - three minutes after the meter time expired - and found a tiny pink parking ticket neatly tucked under one of the wiper blades.

300 steps and a $25 parking ticket. I have had better days at Dupont Circle.

I am wondering if I burned enough calories to even the balance?


Stories in Kensington

Telling stories tonight at the Kensington Row Bookshop. Good crowd - which always makes it that much better for the storyteller.

I told a new story - combining a folktale with a personal story - each complementing the other as a way to build a whole story that has a riskier tone - more edgy - more like a fringe performance. I am happy with the way things are going with the story, although I do still have some work to do before I tell it again at Speakeasydc on September 11.

Next Tuesday the audience will be larger and tougher. Rehearsing a story like this is such a valuable experience. Preparing before a smaller audience so that there is a chance for listeners to give informal feed back on the story afterwards.

The Kensington Row Bookshop is a comfortable place to tell stories. It has an informal, homelike feelilng which is perfect for storytelling.


Venice Scrawl II

A continuous line of these forms stretched across the concrete wall of a building on a side canal in Venice. Who knows how long they had been there - but the energy of the gesture of the drawing hand is still fresh and immediate.


Venice Scawl Pink

Have you ever noticed the art around you? The found art in graffiti or peeling billboards?

I am often drawn to walls, billboards, wooden construction walls, poles, - anything that can be marked or plastered with posters which will deteriorate in the weather. Many surfaces have deep layers - an archeology of events, elections and causes. The colors have faded, bits of words, - an ephemeral history of the place.

Fascinated by their possibilities I often linger in front of a large expanse of deteriorating posters on a wooden construction wall isolating and photographing shifting compositions. For me its visual research, testing the eye.

Or, as in this case, enjoying a vigorous drawing on a concrete wall.

All right it must look rather odd. And sometimes people stop, for a moment, and watch me as if wondering if I have gone round the bend.


Out to Lunch

Taking a day off for the Labor Day Holiday! Be back soon.


Trafficking in Books

At the top of my emails this morning was the notice that my next Amazon.com book order had been shipped. But, it was not really from Amazon itself. And now I understand more about how that works. I used to think that when the used books arrived they came from used book 'stores' in all parts of the US. Hardly.

I love books. I buy books, particularly used books - I mean if you can't get them at the library for free at leave save a little.
And some books aren't availabe. For instance, after my friend Lee Shepherd reminded me of "See Here Private Hargrove" written in 1942 by Charlottean Marion Hargrove - (see More than a TV show post if you are interested)- I wanted to read it again.

So, where else would I go - Amazon.com. When I typed the title into the search box a list of places to order and prices popped right up. I picked the cheapest, $2.98 plus$3.99 shipping. The description told me that: it was a hard back with yellowed pages, a few water stains on the hard boards, and a musty smell."
Look, its a 65 year old book. And, one that I wanted. One click and it proceeded to check-out.

Several days ago the book arrived, neatly wrapped in brown paper, and hermetically sealed in clear packing tape - from MA.
In the same mail delivery I received another book, also a used book from Amazon, a book of enviromental stories, shipped from Kansas. Someone wrapped this book quickly with a piece of bubble wrap and stuck it into a tyvek-like mailing bag. My name was scrawled across the front with a black sharpie. Both books arrived in good order.

I looked at the two laying side by side on the table - and I started to laugh. A perfect picture of how the used book business is being conducted - out of basements, bedrooms, attics, and garages across the country - one book at time. Amazon is the hub that connects the buyer to all these individuals.

One reason I am so up-to-date on this piece of the underground economy is that there are two of those book sellers in our family. Our 21 year old granddaughter Juliana has been operating her book business from her bedroom all summer. And, Jamie, our 16 year old grand-son in California has also turned his bedroom into a book profit center. Juliana lucked into a free mother-load of used college textbooks at the end of the semester and has been passing them along at a nice profit. Jamie is selling our daughter's books to help clear space in her attic. Both list their books with Amazon.

Jamie has adopted the mailing bag approach and prides himself on instant turn-around for his customers. Juliana is a more careful packer and expedites shipping of her product, in case the customer is in dire need of the book for a class.

When we were in CA Jamie gave me a short course on "how to get into the used book selling business." I am still cogitating over it. Its not hard. Its the "letting go" that has me stalled.

Jim said he would wrap and mail if I would list and sell. He is hoping to clear shelf space.

What's my problem? Why am I hesitating?

Because I make poor decisions when I give away books.

Recently I cleared a shelf in my office and took a bag of books to the library. Now - - I NEED two of the books I gave away.

Who knew.

I may have to order them from Amazon.com - used, ofcourse