Happy Halloween

By today I had completed my ghostly gigs. Jim and I left the candy with Karen to give out and headed out for the quiet of our place outside Gettysburg. If we were to have ghost-encounters it would be with some of the spirits that hang out here not with those conjured in stories.

Gettysburg area is known for its large spirit population but to date I have not had any personal encounters.

We were told by the former owners that there is a ghost-resident in our house but we have never seen him. I think Chuchu, our late dear Shih Tzu, saw him. Chuchu was never happy here and always barked at things we could not see. Leia - the new Shih Tzu, rarely barks and loves it here.

Our neighbors have told us they have ghosts trapped in their attic. They spread salt over the thresh-hold so the ghosts can't get back down into the house. And, they described the blue orbs we should watch out for near the railway tracks across the road.

)ur closest encounter with figures from the past was the afternoon Monica and Juliana were working in the back yard and three grey-clad Confederate soldiers rode across the field, doffed their caps and galloped on to the site of their encampment. Re-enactors.


Friday - Three Beautiful Things

Happy Birthday, Jamie on your 18th birthday. That old cliche "hard to believe" is so true. Seems just yesterday your Dad called to tell us your mother and his son were doing just fine - and that they were naming you James - for Jim. What a gift!

You were not our only gift that day. We received your Dad's call at George Washington Univ. Hospital where Grandpa was in the Recovery Room - waking up from some pretty serious surgery.
You and your being his namesake were two wonderful gifts for him when he woke up.

There is more to that story - ofcourse - but the main thread is our two James were fine!

Three Beautiful Things
1. Jamie's 18th birthday, ofcourse.
2. Seeing Claudia Vess's art show at Gallery 10 - great job Claudia.
3. A rapt audience of seniors for my Stories for Seniors gig this afternoon- not wanting to leave when it over.



What story to tell and how to tell it.

I have had this little graphic for twenty years and it really holds true, doesn't it?
It fits what I have had on my mind for some time. Telling pieces of our story - Jim's and mine -
so that our family would know more about us - when we were young. It may tell them something about who they are too. Now that I am talking about it, maybe it will begin to happen.

Yesterday I read a blog about telling a story in a sort of dis-jointed time. Up a few years and then back five - like movie flash backs. I like the idea. Not sure yet how it would fit with what I am doing - but I like it. Last May when I told the Scherazade frame story - how she got into the mess of having to tell a story every night to save her life - I started in the middle. I did it because of time constraints but the more I tell it like that the more I like it.

Today I played hookey from my ever present to-do list and read a book. I am intrigued by Painting Below Zero, a new bio-memoir by painter James Rosenquist. The storytelling style is direct, conversational, and very down to earth. He says it like it is/was. He came to NYC from the flat lands of the Mid-West and he earned his way to NYC and then survived by working as a commercial sign painter. Real life not some idealized life of an artist.

Jim and I were living in Brooklyn in the mid 1950s at the same time that James Rosenquist was there - a young man, striving to find his way as an artist and earning his bread painting mammorth billboards all over Brooklyn and New York City. We
probably saw some of his work that decorated the buildings and trucks and roads of our world then. His memories of the time help me to recapture my memories of the same years.

But even more I am enjoying the down-to-earth way he talks about learning his craft as a painter - no mysteries, no muses - working at it.



Red Cascade
e. schoettler



Painting and collage

Finished recording my track for a new CD project. Very happy with the result. My sound guy has many talents. Loved that he arranged for after hours studio time at the WAMU NPR station where I sat in Diane Rheam's chair and told the story into her mic. Loved it.

Tonight Ghosts are floating in my head as I prepare an hours worth of stories for tomorrow's evening of "Haunts".

I keep feeling like the flu is near but when I take the Elderberry Elixir I sit up - brought around by the high alcohol content. This stuff reminds me of the brew concocted by the aunts in Arsenic and Old Lace - except mine seems to be a cure.


Monday - Memories

Five Blue Fives
e. schoettler

California Moments

Sitting at the oak dining table
in Robin's new California apartment.
Peaceful and happy cutting and pasting.

Pacific Ocean across the way
Sun shining dancing diamonds onto the water
Quiet waves spilling across the sand.

An easy time.

Or maybe not.

Wasn't that the time I sat on the bathroom sink
to see in the medicine cabinet mirror to pluck my eyebrows?
The sink pulled away from the wall
Dumping me onto the I floor

The sink dangled but the pipe did not come apart.
I propped it up on a dining room chair to keep it together and stall a flood.

Trembling I called my daughter at her office
to report the damage.

"Mom. you broke the sink? You BROKE the sink?"

"Not exactly - well, yes, almost."

Role reversal.

Is there a life-lesson here? Is this a teaching story?


Always have a plumber's name handy before you sit on an unsupported sink.
Then, if you pull it off the wall, you don't have to tell anybody.


Thinking about Halloween

Switching gears.
Moving on to Halloween
and scary stories.
Telling Haunts Wednesday night.
Hard to believe this is my tenth year with the Haunts Program.

This year I am telling favorites.

I guess for next year I roll back and start over - collecting new stories.


Saturday-Cross Currents Storytelling Concert

Tonight the new Telling Moments Theater presented Cross Currents - a performance featuring Noa Baum, Linda Fang and me with Jon Spelman as emcee.

For Cross Currents, three women tellers, an Israeli, a Chinese and an American Southerner shared personal stories of very different backgrounds. The stories were meshed so that the underlying universal themes of family, love and loss united the program.

Jon Spelman introduced the program by telling the audience that they would meet, through their stories, three women with strong individual personalities and enjoy three different styles of telling. They did. And the audience, a full house, was satisfied.

Telling Moments Theater is a new venture in the Washington DC area. This concert was the first formal presentation by the theater. March 20, 2010 there will be a formal opening concert featuring Jon Spelman, long hailed as this area's premier Storyteller as well as being known nationally and internationlly for his theater and storytelling work. Linda Fang is the driving force behind organizing the theater which is now established as a 501-c-3 non profit entity. Joining her on the founding board are Tom Kern, Ellouise Schoettler and Jon Spelman.

It was a very rich storytelling evening and we are anticipating many more. First Jon's performance in March to be followed by a May Concert with Judith Black which will complete the 2009 - 2010 First Season.



Red with Verticals
Acrylic and fabric painting and collage

Re-visiting art works can be a life-review.
The artist's studio is another kind of album or scrap book. Just like an exhibition or museum. Except - the exhibition or museum has a curator who has figured out something to say about the works from their point of view. In the studio the artist grapples with the meaning - or not - on their own.

Questions pop up. Why did I do that? Or stop doing that? I never exhibited this work - why?
I recognize the fabrics from a kimono jacket I made for myself. I never liked the jacket, it did not fit well, but I did like the fabrics. Here they are. Preserved in paint.
The big question today: should I keep the painting or toss it?

This picture seems to have no relationship at all to the one I posted yesterday - except - - the surface space is broken with small pieces - bits and pieces is a recurrent theme in my work
and -- they are both small scale works.

It all comes down to Professor Penay's favorite question when looking at an art work:
"This is the answer. What was the question?"


Thursday - Circling

In the late 1970s I was influenced by quilting patterns when I did a series of hard edge color paintings - particularly the Nine Square. That was long before I worked in fabric - other than to make pinafores for my daughters. Today my dining room table is covered with stacks of 7 inch squares - in funky colors - and I am hand-sewing my first Nine Square quilt.


Wednesday - Three Beautiful Things

1. Wonderful Fall day in Washington, DC area today. This city is beautiful when it highlighted with colorful foliage and bathed in yellow sunlight. On a day like this I feel grateful to be surrounded by such wonder.

2. Meeting at American University for our painters' critique group with Professor Emeritus Luciano Penay. His eye is magic - and he opens our eyes to our own and each other's paintings. We are a group that has known each other and our work for a long time and that knowing is warm and comfortable - an artists' community.

3. Jim and I took time to sit outside in the sunshine at Starbucks and enjoy being together - always a highlight for me.

and - the example of a friend who is bravely facing chemo and not letting it stop her one whit. Hugs and prayers for all the women who take breast cancer in stride with grace and courage and show the rest of us how it can be done if you have to.


Tuesday - Storytelling is a Passport

Today Travelin Oma used this quote by Ann Lamont on her blog. I just had to have it too - so I brought it over - for me - and to share with you.

Anne Lamott wrote:

"One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore. Another is that writing motivates you to look closely at life, at life as it lurches by and tramps around."
Bird by Bird

That's how I feel about storytelling.


Monday - Balancing for Storytelling

When I made this collage in March I called it "Balancing" because that was what I felt I was doing at the time. Jim was just out of the hospital; I was tending him and keeping up with scheduled gigs as well as learning stories from 1001 Nights to tell with the NIH Philharmonia.

All of that went well. And - as I always do - I told myself and anyone else who would listen that now it would be smooth sailing. But guess what - between now and November 6 I am booked with solo programs to re-fresh and practice to perform here and in PA and a performance for Telling Moments Theater to rehearse for this coming Saturday evening. So when I ran across the "Balancing" collage tonight I decided to post it to remind me to take it slow and easy and to keep myself steadied.

Obviously I like it this way because when I swing around looking to fuss at my scheduler - I am looking in the mirror.

The good news is that Jim is doing well. --- And I am looking forward to the joy of telling these stories.


Sunday - A Storyteller's Dream

Margaret and Ralph Chatham hosted the monthly Voices in the Glen Story Swap Saturday night. (l-r. Ralph, Mohammed, Margaret, Rachel and Csenge.)
Really nice crowd and a wide variety of entertaining stories.

As I listened I thought how much more satisfying it is to listen to stories than just casual conversation.

I enjoyed the opportunity to see Csenge Zalka, a young storyteller from Hungary and particularly to hear her tell a native tale.
(l -r) Ellouise, Csenge, and Jane Dorfman.

Csenge is in the DC area with Euro Kids Festival. She is representing Hungary as one of the international performers for the event.

Jane and I were not just meeting Csenge - we three are Internet colleagues through the international community of storytellers that follow the Storytel Listserve.

Csenge joined the Storytell three of four years ago before she entered University in Hungary. She introduced herself by email and talked about her dream of becoming a professional storyteller and the problems she faced. Her family was less than enthusiastic about her goal and there was no community of tellers to join.

She was so passionate and enthusiastic that the members of the list became her supporters and from-a-distance-mentors. Two years ago she won a competitive fellowship to study at a college in the US for a year. The year was a love-in between Csenge and the storytellers in the US. When she could she traveled to other cities, met many US tellers, appeared at Storytelling conferences, attended the National Storytelling Festival and before she returned to Hungary she spent several months in Jonesborough on an internship at ETSU. Csenge was focused and open to every opportunity that crossed her path. I met her when we were both attending a storytelling workshop with Master Storyteller Elizabeth Ellis in MA.

When her scholarship year ended she returned to Hungary and the University. Now she has returned - a national storyteller - representing her country for this Festival.

Oh, by the way - she is a very talented storyteller. Saturday night she told a long and complicated folktale and her telling was all the more impressive because she had never before told it in English. This means she was translating to herself as she told the story. And she told the story well.

Csenge's own story is a lovely story of a young woman who has a dream and is making it come true.


Saturday - Lunch and Anansi on Rockvile Pike

Jimmy called and invited Jim and me to lunch with him, Monica and Juliana. He was very enthusiastic about a Thai Restaurant he had recently discovered and wanted to share it.
Benjarong - Thai Restaurant - Wintergreen Plaza on Rockville Pike.

The attractive dining room was almost deserted on a rainy Saturday afternoon so we had plenty of room and lots of time to talk. Jim ordered a Salmon dish. Monica and Juliana each picked a curry. Jimmy ordered something I could not describe that he later said was delicious. I ordered Phad Thai with Shrimp. Then Jimmy added two appetizers, Spring Rolls and Fried Dumplings. Talk about delicious!!!!! Wonderful Spring Rolls, nicely crisp and the fillings were sliced very thin. The dumplings, crisp and a lovely brown, were the star. I did not even ask for the ingredients of the filling - I just gobbled mine up.

All the entrees seemed to suit. But, I was not overly thrilled with my Phad Thai. Too much egg for my taste and the shrimp were a bit dried out. But I enjoyed the noodles. Would we go back - in a minute - and next time I plan to feast on the Spring Rolls and Dumplings.

But sometimes the best things are unexpected.

While we were eating and talking I was watching a fascinating SHOW. In my sight line a young man was decorating the restaurant for Halloween. As I watched he suspended fat strings from the ceiling and then wove a huge spider web across a corner in the back of the room.

I could not resist taking a few photos of his creation.

I kept thinking of Anansi!

I may forget the food but I know I will remember the quiet, determined way the young man carefully wove his web.

Calls for a story, don't you think?



The best thing about a cold, grey, and rainy day is a glowing fire in the fireplace. I pull up close and feel the warmth and it's good.

This time two weeks ago I was in Jonesboro waiting to go on stage at Exchange Place at the National Storytelling Festival. For storytellers telling a story on one of these stages is "being on the moountaintop." Please forgive me for indulging myself with this memory. It was great.


Thursday-A Storytelling Day

Its been a long day - filled with stories.

First I taped a new story for Stories in Time - for Channel 16.

Then reviewed my options and selected the stories for my Seniors in the afternoon. I selected a personal story about the day I started the first grade and then several ghost stories to celebrate Halloween a bit early. Many of my Halloween stories are actually family stories because our family is a little bit haunted. You can heard them here

As I was putting my Chattervox in its case a woman still sitting next to me looked as though she had something to say. "You must read a lot to know so many stories." " Well I do read a lot of stories but I have also been storytelling for nearly 20 years and so I have learned a lot of stories to tell." "oh." She still did not move. I waited. " Listening to you is like it used to be when I listened to the radio - I can see the pictures." I could have hugged her.

Finished off the day with a board meeting for Telling Moments Theater, a new storytelling theater in the Washington, DC area. Storyteller Linda Fang is leading the effort and is doing a fine job of it. Good ideas. We planned the rest of our season.

I think I will close out the day - in bed - with a book - The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown.


Wednesday- old dogs

Since I heard the dog safety tips last week at the SHOWCASE I have been approaching our dog Princess Leia a bit more carefully - trying to make-up with her in a new way - and you know what - its working. Proving that two old dogs can learn new tricks.


Tuesday - Three Beautiful Things

1. Made delicious corn bread in my new $3 cast iron skillet.

2. Paper work, paper work - and finished my list.

3. Reading the new Dan Brown novel, The Lost Symbol. Fast paced with a Washington, DC locale - nice.


Monday - A Stitch in Time

Watcing storyteller Diane Williams working on some hand quilting while she listened to stories in Jonesboro made my hands start itching to sew a bit. I have never hand-pieced a quilt. Thought I would try. All I had at hand in PA were some funky scraps but they were good enough to use for practice. I decided to try a nine patch. I love the simplicity of that pattern and the strait seams seemed to me to be pretty uncomplicated.
And they are - its the measuring that is hard for me. I am an "essence" person and true measuring is a burden for me.

But I am loving woking with the fabrics and the hand-sewing.
Another plus is that its meditative - and I can stitch while I am practicing stories. Multi-tasking is handy.



A grand Fall day. Bright sun has the colors in the leaves glowing.

Our internet was down early this morning. Karen was on it like a dog after a bone. She has to submit her UMD graduate school homework tonight. Technology is great - when its working. If they could not bring our wi fi back we would have been in the oarking lot at the library. I have heard their signal is so strong that works. Laptops and wi fi. Love it.

So we will see what the day holds.
Posted later:

The day held a surprise. Driving back from Gettysburg Jim and I stopped at a yard sale. I poked around and found little - just two small vases for 75 cents (total).
Jim however found some thing out-of-the-blue -- a beat-up old guitar. He bought it.

I asked the happy seller "what's the story on this guitar." "Well we bought it out of a barn about 15 years ago - it's an antique." Oh, yeah, I thought.
"It was a barn up near Shippensburg. The guy had three - I bought all three. This is the last one." I was not enthused and he reminded me . "Its an antique."

A young man standing near-by added, "oh, its old all-right. At least 40 years old. And you can replace those two missing strings."

Jim does not play the guitar but I guess he has been thinking about it because he volunteered that he knows a guy who works at the gas station who is going to teach him.

Honestly, surprises all over the place. So for $15 Jim has a guitar.

When I stood the guitar up for a photograph I noticed a label
B and J Serenader.
A Clue. And - for the first time I saw the nice 1930s style design on the front. Google told the rest. Jim has a ca 1930s B and J Seranader made by Regal - if it was in great shape it would sell for more than $700 -
however, this one is not in great shape
and it just sold for $15.

The next step - to hear it make music.


Saturday-Paperwork, buzzards and my yard sale finds

Paperwork here too - but the quiet helps it along. Writing press releases for my Second Hand Rose performance in November.

Cars are streaming through town to the annual Apple Festival in Arendtsville.

Driving down our road Jim and I saw three huge red-headed buzzards sitting on three separate poles in a road-side orchard. Before I could grab my camera they spread their long broad wings and the next thing we knew they were sailing over-head on air currents.

I have restored the cast iron skillet. Like I was told I boiled water in it for a bit to loosen the rust. Then scoured it with PLAIN steel wool - no soap. When the skillet was dry I rubbed it with olive oil and set it in a 325 degree oven to cure. I could tell it was done when it stopped smoking and it was once again respectably blackened instead of looking pitiful with orange rust spots.

My corn-bread would have been perfect except I forgot it and it burned on the edges. Next time I will set the timer. But the way the ruined corn-bread cooked in it shows this skillet is just what I wanted.

This afternoon I sat down with the Scrap Book prize from the yard sale yesterday. I am delighted. It is a prize and I will post pictures and tell you what I found in it.

Now - back to another episode of Inspector Morse.


Friday - Paperwork, Two yard sale prizes, and Inspector Morse

Paperwork. Paperwork. Paperwork. So we were not ready to leave for PA until after 1 PM. Friday afternoon on the start of a holiday week-end the traffic on Hwy 270 was heavy, stop and go in some places. This gave us a chance to enjoy the changing foliage. I love Fall when the trees begin to show their colors.

At Thurmont we noticed a huge yard sale on the other side of the divided highway. Not too hard to turn around and go back. On the flat top of a grassy knoll a dozen people had spread out their wares. My kind of place. We wandered through tables and peered down at blankets spread on the grass, searching for a find. I passed up a lot of possibilities but I came away with a surprise find - a 1930s scrapbook. The fragile yellowed pages are filled with greeting cards pasted in by someone - I am sure it was a woman or girl. They are carefully arranged and fill the air with memories of the graphics of the period. My two dollar prize. And timely, I have a collection of old scrapbooks and my interest in this has been revived recently.

And, just what I wanted - an eight inch cast iron skillet. The seller told me a method to remove the rust and restore it to fine cooking order. Its waiting for corn-bread batter. $3. An hour's worth of fun and two prizes for $5. Jim was grinning all the way back to the car.

As we came into Biglerville we stopped at the Thomas-Harbaugh Library to leave promo cards for my Second-Hand Rose program November 5. They also have a really good movie selection so last night we watched an Inspector Morse Mystery - "Greeks Bearing Gifts." We have missed John Thaw who created this wonderful characterization of Inspector Morse. Good plot and welcome to Oxford and environs.




The Showcase for the Public Schools in Montgomery County was this morning. I had considered taking a "bye" because I am still not feeling 100% but decided showing up was part of my job.

When I saw the line-up I shuddered and wished I was at home in bed. I was following a Mad Scientist and a 4 - dog act - both acts were quite good by the way. They use props and music and I come armed only with a wooden stool and a story. I had doubts about following those two.

The dogs - 4 rescue dogs - were well-behaved and well trained and their human handlers used a very easy patter along with the dog antics. I was sorry I had left the camera at home. The handlers opened with a good dog safety tip on petting a strange dog - ABC's - Ask the dog is you can pet he/she. Be slow - take it easy, no sudden moves. Chin and chest - the safe places to touch the dog. Patting the head is a no-no. Startles the dog and can lead to biting. I am going to try this approach with our dog, a ferocious - to me - 10 pound Shih Tzu, Princess Leia. Leia is known to be male-favoring (to Jim). This may be just what I need to coax her into a relationship with me - - along with a piece of boiled ham.

Well, watching the Mad Scientist and the dogs I was feeling a bit uncertain but there was no going back. I under-rated storytelling. I was showcasing Uncommon Threads, my piece to encourage family storytelling - in the family - in which I tell the story of my father leaving home - to WWII - the day I started the First Grade - prefaced by a touching 1895 letter of how an adult grand-son missed out on his grand-father's stories - - so had none to pass on to his own children.

Well, the children were mesmerized and the adults had tears in their eyes. Another example of the power of the spoken word. Yes!

I am so grateful I am a storyteller.



My plan was to tie up the loose ends on the trip today and to write on this blog. I have pictures too.
But, instead, I was wrapped up in afghans on the couch all day with a miserable cold and laryngitis. I can barely croak. Fortunately I got all the storytelling done before it set in.

But - I will catch up. I want the record.

Off to bed now.



Leaving Jonesborough this morning so we are up early to drive to Asheville. The clouds are hanging low and open - the combination of the mountains peeking out through the white mists - reminds me of the pictures on ancient Chinese scrolls. Beautiful.

I remember when I was a kid hearing my grandmother - who was born and raised in the flat Piedmont of North Carolina - talk about Asheville as being in the "high mountains." I have been to the Alps, the Rockies and the Sierras - but when I think of mountains these Blue Ridge are still Granny's high mountains to me. And this morning they are giving me a taste of Chinese painting.

Professor Alice Weldon scheduled Pushing Boundaries, my new personal story about my journey to the Equal Rights Amendment, in the Laurel Forum, a comfortable windowed room. I was telling this story for her Women Studies Class - and a handful of members of the local League of Women Voters joined us. I was particularly delighted to meet the new North Carolina State League President. Part of my story includes my adventures and ms-adventures as ERA Campaign Director or the League's National Staff, (1979-1982)

When Jim and I started out again toward home we decided to go a new way - up Hwy 40 to connect with Hwy 77 over Fancy Gap - then Hwy 81 to 66 to 495 to Chevy Chase, Maryland.
Fortunately our Tom Tom works it out and keeps us on track.

Then as we were cruising along we saw the signs for Hickory. "Isn't that where Fred and Shirley live?" "Wouldn't you like to see their bookstore.
Maybe they have not sold it yet." We had seen them in June at the Johns Hopkins Medical School reunion and Fred and really peaked my curiosity about his bookstore.

Who can turn down a chance to see the third largest used book store in NC - especially when you will see two friends at the same time? Not I, says the cat.

Since we could not remember the name of the bookstore
we started out in a very artsy coffee shop on a
downtown street in Hickory. A distinguished looking gentleman was enjoying his coffee and the newspaper but he smiled when I approached him - "we are looking for a friend's bookstore and we have forgotten the name." "well, what's his name? " I told him. He looked surprised. " I know him. We all know each other here in Hickory." He looked up the bookstore, gave us the phone number and directions to HWY 321. "what do you do here? " I asked. "I am a lawyer." I could not resist. We had been so so lucky in the coincidence that he knew Fred. I named my
high school classmate who practices Law in NC. No he didn't know him. Then I threw out another name. His eyes lit up. "yes. I do know him." We chatted about that for a few minutes. I love playing 6% of separation and we didn't have to even bring Kevin Bacon into it. When I laughed about it, the gentleman smiled, "This is Hickory. We all know each other here." That sounds good. And, it was certainly working for us this morning.

Jim called Fred. He and Shirley were in the store and we drove over. They laughed at our chance meeting with their friend, who was , by-the-way, a retired Judge. We enjoyed a lovely visit. Jim and Fred talked about Hopkins, their days as med students and Medicine. While they talked were showed me around the bookstore. Fascinating place. You would never guess from the outside how big it is or how many books were shelved in a maze of bookcases, rooms and aisles.

Everything was on sale. Oh. Oh.

I left with an armload of wonderful books at an amazing price. But best we had a lovely visit with people we really like.

If you are on Hwy 321 between Hickory and Lenoir do stop at the Wonderland of Books. I bet you won't regret it.


Friday to Sunday at the National Storytelling Festival

FRIDAY - October 2
Jim and I started out the day with a ten o'clock show.

I have to admit that it was hard to keep my mind focused on the storytelling sets because I was excited and looking forward to the 5:30 Exchange Place where I would finally be on a Jonesborough Stage.

While we were still setting up I stepped up on the stage so that I would have a picture of myself at that mic. (No cameras during a program.)
The tent filled up -1200 people. Some faces stood out to me: my family - Jim, Jimmy. Monica and Juliana, Karen and friends, Susan Gordon, Betsy White, Donald and Letty Nance. They were scattered so I could see them and that was great.

I led off the set and although I had been worried about taking the stage first, I loved welcoming the audience and starting the stories rolling. I told "The Dalmatian Dog" the story of a spontanteous blurt I made at an auction which cost us money - - instead of our marriage. A friend said, "its a very marital story" and it is. Anyone who has been married for more than five years "gets it." The feed-back felt like warm hugs. I had chosen a good story to tell.

Exchange Place Tellers 2009 - R-L: Baba the Storyteller, Slash Coleman, Ellouise Schoettler, Bob Resier, Tyris Jones, Bernadetter Nason. I was proud to share the stage with them.
After Exchange Place we went to supper with our family, Betsy and her friends, Beth and Joan. It was wonderfully warm to be with home folks as I came back down to earth. Then our family left - going to Roanoke for the night and returning to Chevy Chase next day. Talk about feeling loved. They were great to make such a hard trip - but they have been there with me since I started twenty years ago.

Jim and I finished the day at the John McCutcheon Cabaret which - as we expected - was well worth sitting up late.

SATURDAY - October 3

Part of being at the Storytelling Festival is enjoying the town and talking with people.

I also look forward to checking out the "found art" on the alley wall. This collection of boxes and tins is new this year.

Nice to stop and catch up with storyteller Michael Reno Harrell and his wife Joan. We met last October when we told together at the Grand Rivers Storytelling Festival in KY.

Lots of time spent in the tents. Really wonderful sets with Donald Davis, Kathryn Windham, and
others. I had to take time out to sit with my cds in the MARKETPLACE. Jim took a break and went to our van for a nap.

As an Exchange Place teller I ws given a comp ticket to the annual Yarnspinners greet and smooze party with all the storytellers and donors. It was fun. And - I got to see a rare happening - Kathryn Windham at the mic singing with the storyteller band. She was adorable and enjoying herself.

Surprise highlight - the Saturday night cabaret with Chic Street Man - a fine musician and storyteller who played the audience with ease. Charming us all with his stories, mellow voice and command of the guitar. Sitting in the cold, dampness of late evening I knew I was pushing my luck for my voice for Monday but I could not possibly leave.

Sunday Morning.
Train rumbling through town at 8 a.m. Low, mournful whistle. Its the Musak of storytelling in Jonesboro. Cold this morning.

Almost done here. It has been a grand week-end. I will be sad to leave. It has been a wonderful time for me with the thrill of telling from a Jonesboro Stage - dreams do come true.

Jim and I were out early to attend the NSN (National Storyteller Network) awards ceremony. I particularly wanted to congratulate Bob McWhorter, (WVA) who received his award in recognition of the work he has done to foster and support storytelling in WVA. He was a moving force behind the West Virginia Storytelling Festival. We first attended that festival enmasse as a family ten years ago and for four years after - going to Jackson Mill was our family tradition. I told my first stage ghost stories at the open mic at the Friday night ghost stories in the barn - and very important to our family was the warmth and support the storytellers gave our grand-daugher Juliana who also became a regular at the Friday night open mic. Jim and I were happy to be there to applaud Bob and say our thanks for his work.

Later in the morning we rode over to Johnson City for Noon Mass at St. Mary's Church.

Back in time for the final afternoon sessions. So long until next year.

The streets are quiet in Jonesborough. Restaurants are closed. Jim and I drove up the highway to the Matador Mexican restaurant where the food was quite good. Then we returned to the hotel early for the evening. We are rolling up our rugs in favor of the comfortable beds.

We have to pack to leave very early in the morning and I have to focus on the hour plus program I will be telling tomorrow at UNC-Asheville which has somehow been a bit dimmed by all the excitement of the week-end. I am looking forward to it but my head is still filled with festival images.

Favorite Donald Davis was in top form all week-end. And it is a privilege to hear legend Kathryn Windham charm huge audiences with her reminiscences of her family and days gone by.

Willie Claflin, Bil Lepp and Bill Harley hit their marks. New Voice Regi Carpenter was a treat. As was Rev. Robert Jones.

Beyond that I have to admit I spent time talking to people, old friends and new acquaintances more than I sat in the tents. Many familiar faces. My family came since I was telling at Exchange Place, and there were two friends from high school. Storyteller colleagues from MD.
Internet friends. Facebook connections and one woman in the audience, from South Bend Indiana gave me a hug sent by Patti Digh of 37 Days. Tent monitoring buddies from the last couple of years. And strangers who stopped me to tell me they liked my story. this is another aspect of being here - the networking - and reunioning - and forming new memories through the stories. It's a relationship and people high.


Jonesborough - Day 1

It was a long drive from Maryland to Jonesborough, TN but surprisingly easy. Traffic was light. Sunny weaether all the way. This was Karen's first time at the National Storytelling Festival and we were really glad to have her with us. Jim and I always stop first at the Visitors Center to pick up tickets, check new books, look around and see people.

After we settled in at the hotel and took Karen out to Bridget's where we usually stay we walked around town.

The storytellers and their guests gathered at the church for the Opening Supper at 7 PM. Jim snapped this picture and I think you can see that I was really happy to be there - but a little taken back when I saw the slide show. Up front theater sized photos of all the tellers were rolling across a screen. I tell you it startled me when mine popped on the screen. You know the feeling. It's true. It's true. I am really here.

Long tables with storytellers gather around them. Lots of conversation. Food was good. Everybody was introduced. The festival was started.

After all the eating and talking was done golf carts were waiting outside to take the Exchange Place tellers to the College Street Tent for our sound check. The tent was neatly set up, empty, large - and beautiful. I was surprised how comfortable I felt standing on the stage. The view out into the space was a WOW. I had asked for a head-set and the sound guys had it waiting for me. We all took turns with our preferred mics. It was fun. The other tellers were warm and friendly and we encouraged each other. Lovely. Looking forward to a successful set the next day.

This was a look behind the scenes in how the festival is set up and managed. This is a huge and complex operation and it runs like a well-oiled machine. Well, this was the 37th! But in my past, I organized and managed the Audubon Holiday Fair - only two tents and 5,000 people - and so I know first hand that events like this takes patience and stamina and careful logistics to run smoothly. The staff of the National Storytelling Festival has that and more. Very impressive.