Sunday - Three Beautiful Things - Brilliant moon, List, "Letters"

1. The huge brilliant moon in the black sky - lighting the way.

2. Completed the paper-work on my list. Whew!

3. Working on "Letters", one of my first hour-long programs. Pleased with how well it has aged, like a fine wine. Telling it twice this week.


Saturday - Video and A Genealogy Surprise

Genealogy Surprise - A cause for celebration.

Received an email last night from someone I have never met but knew of and a door opened.

" Hi, Ellouise, I think we are cousins."
Indeed we are.
Aunt Cora, my grandmother's older sister is her grandmother.

Tears stood in my eyes as I thought of Granny and Aunt Cora and all their loving kin and the days long ago. It was a sweet, simpler time. My mother came from a large extended family on her mother's side, good solid farm people that moved to the city to make their fortune. Some did and some didn't.

They were all descendants of Tunis Hood, an early North Carolina settler and some were still living on Hood land that had been willed to their parents.

My new-known cousin Rose Mary has taken up genealogy and found me in the Carolina Room of the Charlotte Public Library. Fifteen years ago when I found Tunis Hood there in the Tunis Hood Family book, Alice Shaffer Hall's limb of the family tree was sparsely mentioned so I made an addendum to the book and gave it to the library. Bless the library and the archiving spirit that lives in all genealogists and librarians.

"Jim, a door has opened and there they all are. They are not gone after all. I can tell Rose Mary about them. "


NEW Friday Video - Mama's New Story

Mama's New Story, is a celebration of my mother and a healing during my grief over her death. The Speakeasydc special Mother's Day program Mommie Dearest was the premiere for my story. I was grateful for such an appropriate opportunity to tell it.

Mommie Dearest was the brain child of Amy Saidman, Artistic Director. When she invited me to join the cast I was delighted. It was chance to work with outstanding tellers and with Amy as the Director. The cast was both age and culturally diverse bringing a wide range of experience to the stories.


Thursday - Music and Memory

Announcement from Speakeasy DC. If you are in the Greater Washington area:


Look for us in Washington Post Weekend this Friday and listen to WAMU 88.5 Metro Connection between 1 and 2pm for SpeakeasyDC's next story in the Our City, Our Stories Series (funded by the Humanities Council of Washington, DC). It's a short story about Daniel McCowan and his life after foster care.
(This is the third of four podcasts of Our City, Our Stories. I am happy to tell the fourth story which will be broadcast next week.)

Arthur Smith, Musician, Charlotte, NC

My cousin Louise Barr posted this video on Facebook this morning. As I listened to it memories of my childhood and my father flowed over me.

Arthur Smith was a popular local performer in Charlotte - and in the wider world, although I was never that aware of that. This song, Guitar Boogie, was played over and over on Charlotte radio stations. My daddy loved it. The song was written and recorded in 1945. I was 9 years old and Daddy returned from WWII. From the days of early TV Arthur Smith was a presence on local TV. Mama was not a fan. They never agreed about that.

More about Arthur Smith - His history and an interview.


Chat and a story with Storyteller Jon Spelman

Something New - Stories in Focus on the Internet.
Today the program is a Chat and a Story with storyteller, Jon Spelman. click here and ENJOY.
This program is shown as it is currently being aired Wednesday evenings on Montgomery Municipal Cable TV.

The Stories in Focus series began in March 2009 on Montgomery Municipal Cable (Channel 16) Kensington, MD. Each month as Host/Producer of Stories in Focus I interview a guest storyteller. We chat about storytelling, which includes the guest's career. The centerpiece for the program is a story - told by the guest teller.

Channel 16 has a narrow reach - Montgomery County, Maryland. From from outset the I wanted to share the programs with you - the wider audience. Now, having crashed through the technical problems, I can.

I will post a new story each month.

Hear more of Jon Spelman March 20 - if you are in the DC Metro area. Come to the March 20 Official Opening Concert of Telling Moments Theater for a wonderful evening of storytelling with Jon Spelman.

About Jon Spelman
: Guest Storyteller
Spelman has developed more than thirty hours of performance material, all of which he continues to present to a wide variety of audiences in a wide variety of venues throughout the U.S. and in Europe.

He performs at colleges, theatres, schools, libraries, festivals, museums, and arts centers. He was the first American to perform at the International Festival of Solo Performers in Tel Aviv, Isreal, and represented American performers at the Colloquim of the Revival of Storytelling held in Paris, France. ("Spelman's story was one of the big grand moments of this meeting," said Association Le Renoveau du Conte.)

Spelman has four times been a Featured Teller at the American National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tenn.

About Ellouise Schoettler: Host/Producer
Schoettler has been a professional storyteller for twenty years. She performed on the 2009 Exchange Place Stage at the National Storytelling Festival. Jonesborough, Tenn.. She will present, Pushing Boundaries, a new one-hour program at the DC Capital Fringe, July, 2010.


Tuesday -

Journaling - writing in a journal to capture the moments of the day and remember them.
I have boxes of old journals in the basement. My friend says, "get rid of them - that's then - this is now." I know, I know.
But I can't.
I want it all.

What would you do? Save or toss?

Personal Note:
For five years this blog has replaced my daily journal - sometimes more specifically personal - others more vague - but I know the context. Gradually I began including posts about storytelling, my own and that of other people.
In January 2010 I began posting videos of my stories on Friday - because I have a stash of videos to share - and because I think video and the internet are a great pair for sharing stories.
In a few weeks I will begin sharing longer videos which include other storytellers. Watch for it.


Monday - Three Beautiful Things.

Started the day at Mass and the first session of a week-long daily retreat for Lent.Excellent guest priest is the retreat-master. His talk was thought provoking and he peppered his remarks with short, memorable, funny stories.

Glad to say the TV Taping mid-day went well. Always fun to see folks at the station and to run through a new story.

Update on Jim. Our good news: Friday Jim had a PET Scan to check on the progress of the Chemo. He exercised his doctor privilege and asked that that they fax the results to him ( and all his attending physicians) as soon as they had them. Since they arrived about 5 pm we did not have to worry all week-end.

Scans show the chemo is having a positive effect. Jim is encouraged. Although he has tolerated the drugs quite well- few ill-effects to interrupt his usual patient schedule - chemo therapy is not a course one wishes for - so it means a lot on many levels to learn that its doing the job.


Sunday - Small blessings

Grateful for:

1. Delicious supper - grilled marinated portobello mushroom slices with basil. YUMMMMMMY!!!

2. Sunshine brings out the best in the day.

3. Long, soak in a hot tub. Luxurious!


Saturday - Two Storytellers

Jon Spelman at Ford's Theater
Bravo performance by Jon Spelman of his new program, Tales from the Lincoln, on stage at Ford's Theater. In this work, a 30- 40 minute story Jon masterfully uses the persona of Leo Tolstory to breathe life into the two dimensional Lincoln school-kids learn about and gives us Lincoln- a real man. By the closing moments of the story Spelman has made Lincoln so real that the audience cares and feels the tragedy when John Wilkes Booth puts the gun close to Lincoln's head and pulls the trigger. The large family audience was mesmerized by the story. A master storyteller at work.

Politics and Prose Author Talk
On our way home Jim and I stopped at Politics and Prose Bookstore for lunch. We stayed for what sounded like an interesting author-talk. Instead it was a storytelling lesson.
A retired journalist talked candidly about his forty year career as a reporter - the subject of his new book. In the 1960s he covered the Civil Rights Movement before he came to Washington for a long stint as an out-of-town bureau chief.
Oh, if only he was a Spelman-like storyteller.
He missed on telling us the stories that would have transported us to another time and powerful moment in American History.
He was in Selma, Alabama and marched with Martin Luther King. In Selma a black family took him in and gave him a room and fed him. He sat with them in their living room watching Lyndon Johnson announce that he would support the Voting Rights Act. The son was calling out AMEN and the woman was weeping. Marching in the rain a 14 year old Black kid walked beside him shielding his notebook with his cap, "don't let the words get wet."

After a deep breath he switched the subject to his days in Washington covering Congress, his days on the Ridgewell's Catering circuit. Frankly - who cares.

The storytelling lesson? How many times do we miss what's the real story?


Friday Video - The Album

The Album from Ellouise Schoettler on Vimeo.

This film will be LIVE until March 5.

People ask storytellers, "how do you find your stories?" Sometimes, like this story, they find you!

Tip: Stay open - so when a story falls in your lap you'll recognize it!


Thursday - Flesh on Old Bones, More SLD Golf.

Flesh on Old Bones - calling on Samuel Lewis Diggle, Sr.

My brother Robert, being the only son, inherited the three trophies that Daddy had. Yes, he has them - but he is wonderfully generous about sharing. Sometimes folks aren't but that's another story - and not this family.

I wrote last night and this morning he sent me pictures.

Gathering the trophies.
This is one of the pictures from Robert B. Diggle, Jr., Lawrenceville, GA.

1926 Low Scorer - awarded at the Charlotte County Club.
as you can see the prize is functional - a beautifully decorated cocktail shaker - certainly a social statement on the times -

I have written to a high school classmate, a today member of the Charlotte County Club with questions about the history of these events - and a lead to the club's archivist.

The search for the story is on and picking up steam.

This story-quest could not come at a better time. I am presenting my FLESH ON OLD BONES workshop at the WVA Mountainstate Storytelling Festival at Fairmont State University in late March. I am using this quest to demonstrate how I gather and enlarge family stories. Even if you are not members of our family - you may be interested to watch the process so you can use these methods for re-claiming your stories.

Or should I be so bold - better yet - I am open to bookings to present the workshop.

Have I ever mentioned that my passion for Genealogy forced me to become a storyteller. But that is another story.



Its going to be a full day of paper-work catch-up - - - and storytelling.
Gigs cancelled last week because of the snow are now on for this week. I am glad to be back telling stories.

Not that I minded being sequestered here at home for the week - I didn't. Its free time to drop the schedule in favor of other things. Maybe you do that too.

My quilt - - started in October - leap-frogged during the snow days - - someone might even nap under it before the cold days are finished. The piecing is completed.

In the basement I found a wonderful forgotten yardage of burgundy felt which is perfect for the quilt back. Now the quilt top is pinned to it - waiting for tweaks and decorative top stitching.

The burgundy felt has a story of its own. Its being recycled from an art piece, Lonesome Me, honoring my Dad. Lonesome Me was exhibited ten years ago at Studio Gallery. Doubt I will show it again so - the felt is moving on.

That's how it is with the stuff in the basement. Work now - or out you go.


Tuesday - Three Beautiful Things

  • Back at the Chemo lab today. I saw the woman with the blue mink coat again. "I bought it in Paris." she told me. " I have never seen another like it." I could believe that - before I could stop the words I heard myself asking, " where did you find it?." " Christian Dior." Ah, truly couture.
  • Everything was quiet in the lab when suddenly all heads turned toward the sound of music - the Pink Panther theme. Only one patient recognized it and knew that it was coming from the inside pocket of his sport coat hanging on a wall-hook. The nurse retrieved it for him. Embarrassed, sheepish even, the elegant white-haired gentleman held up the phone, "thanks to my 14 year-old grand-son."
    Everyone loved the music and the comic moment. Funny is good.
  • Taped my TV show this afternoon. My head was so filled with Papa Sam's emerging golf story that I could not focus on the story I had planned to tell. Instead I opted for a stroll on the high wire. I decided to risk telling his story. I sat in front of the camera and told as much as I know of the emerging new story about Papa Sam. As I walked into the story and it unfolded - its about Papa Sam, yes - but more than him - its about finding and
    re-claiming family stories that are lost. It works as a story now - but its gonna be a whole lot better as it grows.
I tell you something - when these quests take me over I have a feeling that Koki is pulling my strings. She so wanted the family to know the stories. That was her gift to me and to all of our family.

Photo: Sam Diggle at Charlotte County Club, circa 1945
P.S. Later - I googled Papa Sam -- there was a hit. Now I know where and when he won two of the trophies in his collection that was on display in the glass-front cabinet in my grandparent's dining room.


Monday - Three Beautiful Things and a Family Story

  • our son stopped by before he leaves for Russia on Tuesday. Lovely visit, catching up with his doings and hearing about his daughter's success performing in a play at Washington College over the week-end.
  • a coaching session with a woman who is a traveler - an adventuress - with a wonderful story to tell. Have you been to Mount Everest? She took me places I will probably never go myself. Wonderful! Really enjoyed helping her.
  • Tuned in tonight on a movie that really caught me up in its story. Stroke of Genius, Bobby Jones, Golf Legend. An idealized bio pic the movie is costumed beautifully for the 20s and 30s. The cars are worth seeing. At the close, 28 year old Bobby Jones (always an amateur), retires from golf competition after winning all four major worldwide tournaments in 1930. He buys a tract of land in Augusta, GA - saying he's going to develop a grand golf course as an homage to the fabled St. Andrews course in Scotland. Later he founds the Masters Tournament on his course in Augusta - where the famous tournament is played today.
A Bit of Family History:
Following the story of Bobby Jones opened up a flood of memories of stories I heard from my Aunt Koki about Sam Diggle, her father - my grandfather.

Sam Diggle was born and raised in Augusta, Ga before 1900. There must have been a presence of golf in the area because by the time he was 12 years old he was earning money as a caddie. And he had learned to play. The Scottish golf pro was impressed by his talent as a golfer and wanted to take the young Sam to Scotland to train and improve his golf-game.

His mother said no. "He is too young." ( thinking about this today one wonders if Katherine Frickey Diggle suspected an ulterior motive in the offer to her handsome son.)

But his promise and talent as a golfer proved out. Sam played all his life. He was an early member of the Charlotte Country Club . He set up, played and won tournaments in the South for years. Most before I was old enough to know more than stories or to admire the trophies in the glass front case in the dining room. He played well-known North Carolina courses - Pinehurst, Blowing Rock - and other courses in the South I don't know.
Photo: Sam Diggle, Charlotte Country College, Circa 1945

My aunt played golf with him. She also kept a scrap book of his clippings which I looked at before I had a context for the history of it.

The Bobby Jones film whets my imagination about Papa Sam's golfing days. I have questions - where did he play? who with? other stories.
I know where that scrap book may be. I would like to see it again. Maybe??????

Me thinks I am working on a story.


Sunday - Valentine's Day - Three Beautiful Things.

Three Beautiful Things

A simple lovely day.
  • a single red rose, Jim's signature gift , since the first one he gave me for Valentine's in 1955.
  • lunch with Jim at La Madeliene - sitting at a window table in the warm sunshine enjoying the time together. Sharing a lovely bowl of ripe strawberries for dessert.
  • a warm fire and a good movie.


High Wire

Yesterday I wrote that taping the video was was working on the high wire. Someone wrote to me asking, "what do you mean?" Maybe you wondered as well.

For thirty years I have made collages by gluing down one piece at a time without editing, relying on my eye and "happy accidents" to bring the composition together. With fabric, I sew down one scrap at a time. If a color choice isn't right - its a new problem looking for the next pieces to solve it. I don't rip or erase. I think of this as working on the high wire. No plan. No net. Hanging on while you get it right.

My stories and storytelling are the same. Like conversations; they flow. An idea; no memorizing; just talking. I am then free to respond to the audience - to talk my way through. When I feel a change is needed I go with it. Its all chance.

What is different and difficult about telling a story into a dead-space camera lens is that you have to imagine the person or people on the other side. You have to create the energy to carry the story. That's the high wire.


Friday Video - Daddy's Kites and The Green Bee

Daddy's Kites and The Green Bee from Ellouise Schoettler on Vimeo.

Daddy's Kites brings a childhood memory up-to-date as the story lives on.
The Green Bee is a Chinese folktale that I love to tell. I originally found the story in Three Minute Tales collected by Margaret Read MacDonald and have tweaked it for my own telling.

Today I am posting the complete episode of Stories in Time which is broadcast twice a week on Montgomery Municipal Cable (Channel 16), Montgomery County, MD. I tell both personal stories and folktales for the series. The program is intended for an adult audience.

Taping these stories is like a live performance in that they are not edited afterwards - you're working on a high wire except - instead of looking into the faces of your audience you're staring into the large black lens of a stand-up high-resolution professional broadcast camera. Its usually one camera head-on. We tape on a virtual set. The bookstore background is added later.

Friday - A Question to ponder

8:00 am.
Very cold. Sunny. Streets are clear. Back to dry black asphalt. But everywhere else is covered with piles and piles of white and dirty-ing snow.
Maybe if I ignore it - - it will go away.

A Question to ponder.
A friend from a continent away that I have not seen in a long time called yesterday to check on Jim and me and the snow. Her voice at the "Hello" brought back memories and warm feelings. It was great to talk with her.

We chatted about the blizzard, about her recent trip and then she asked me what I was doing, "Do you have any projects?" Funny. That question told me how little we know about each other today, even though we once were very close. And, I have wondered on it since.

How do we keep in touch with those that were once important and close - that still are so much a part of our lives and history - especially if our interests and "projects" have taken separate paths. Or, are we supposed to? Is it enough to have had those wonderful times together, then? That when we meet again we tell each other the stories, remind each other of the times we shared.

Are friends like good books, that we re-open and re-read - - and then put back on the shelf in a warm safe place. That's always a good feeling, isn't it? The later readings are different, sometimes richer, because we have changed.

In the case of a well-loved book, the book does not change. With people, be they family or friends, they too have changed - and you have to build new bridges.

With some people its so easy. I have another far-away friend and every time we see each other, we pick up like we had seen each other yesterday: not two years ago.

Is it that some books are finished - and some are still being written?


Blizzarrd 2010 II - Thursday

8:30 am

Again -
Blue skies
And WHITE everywhere
another day of shoveling.

The surprises are the drifts from shifting winds.
This is our deck furniture looking pretty strange. The deck has 7 to 9 foot drifts on it and we will have to dig out the door.

I did sew last night and my quilt is growing.

Its for sure I am not going anywhere. They have plowed our side street but the driveway is not completely clear yet.
Ah, me.


Blizzard II - 2010 - Wednesday

  • Storm's over, they say. It came and went, leaving a heck of a mess for tomorrow.
  • Decided to sew on my quilt this evening - like the women of the prairie. Sewing is good. Meditative.
  • Our dog is confused by having to change her routine and go out the back door for her "business".
  • They have plowed the street in front of our house. Unfortunately our cars are in the drive way on the side of the house - facing a street that is untouched. Drat. Our next car has to be a 4 wheel drive.
  • Weather reporters are loving talking about this as a 'historic" storm for the Washington area. The worst since the 18th century Jefferson storm.
  • A Bit of Weather History Trivia:

    January 1772

    "The Washington and Jefferson Snowstorm" is so named because it trapped both men at their homes with snow up to three feet deep throughout Maryland and Virginia.

Something for your memoir.

7:45 PM
The Mac and Cheese was delicious. Yummmmm. With fresh lima beans. Now I ask you - how good is that!!

5:55 PM
Not snowing now but strong winds are whipping the trees and scattering the snow that was held on the branches.
TV reports we have had an additional 10 inches so far and they say, "its not over."
Still no snow plows.

5:45 PM
Comfort food.
Karen asked for Mac and Cheese for supper.
Since she has been out shoveling out the driveway - I made it.
Easier than shoveling.
And, it smells so gooood.

3:20 PM

Still snowing and blowing.
When they talk about roofs I think of the snow on the roof of our den. (picture taken from second floor to show the two-storm build-up.)

Still snowing.
Wind is blowing the light snow into drifts.
Air is white.
Little visibility.

TV reporters catching people walking in the snow trying to
get to work, buy groceries, or just checking things out. Snow plows still stopped because of the white-out conditions and Pepco workers on stand-by.

Karen is watching a History Channel documentary about the existence of the Yeti - the Abominal Snow Man. Ironic scheduling.

8:30 am
Reluctantly I pushed back the covers and left my warm snug bed. First stop: the window. What happened while we slept?

Its different this morning. When we went to bed last night there was snow, yes, but it was quiet and fairly calm. Now, the wind is up. The air is so filled with light weight white snow that there is no visibility. White-Out. Drifts. It sounds threatening as the wind howls through the tall bare black trees.

This is the first email I read this morning:
Blizzard Warning
The National Weather Service has issued a BLIZZARD WARNING for Montgomery County until 7PM this Evening. Residents should prepare for very heavy snow and high winds during the next 12-18 hours. 12" of snowfall possible with this storm.

This is a dangerous and potentially life threatening situation. Whiteout
conditions are possible as visibility may be reduced to 1/4 mile or less for 3
or more hours. Blowing snow, and wind speeds over 35 miles per hour are expected
which may cause snow drifts. If traveling outdoors, hypothermia and frostbite
may occur within 30 minutes on any exposed skin

Travel may become extremely hazardous if not impossible. Residents should remain
off the roads or use extreme caution during any travel.

Well this is going to be an interesting day. These conditions are most likely to take out the power so we will start the day planning for that, heating water, warming food for later etc. etc.


Forays out and an Old Story

Forays out:
Jim's early morning appointment for his Chemo meant that we were in heavy traffic on many partially plowed streets - in the city, mind you. It took us 35 minutes to cross from Connecticutt Avenue to Wisconsin Ave over Bradley Blvd - a ride that usually takes 5 minutes. The drive in heavy traffic on the slushy unplowed street was nerve wracking.

The doctors office was packed. Some patients making up for missing treatments yesterday and others, like us, making sure treatments were not delayed by the coming snow.

The laptop is such a boon for long waits like today. Work can go on anywhere. And always there are the people.

A memorable image: a tall, slender, older blonde woman, a quite attractive French woman, standing at the receptionist counter wearing a floor length blue mink coat with a matching blue mink head band. Elegant and mythic from head to toe. I really wanted to take her picture but that would have been just too tacky. And since I was wearing my fraying and fading green Millenium Turtle sweat shirt I did not want to call any attention to myself. In fact, I wished for a cloak of invisibility.

Sitting next to a man in the chemo lab I noticed that he was exceptionally nervous and fidgety. We struck up a convesation and he told me that, "I am just afraid of needles and being in a room where everyone is getting an IV makes me really upset." I waited.
"You see, I was bitten by a dog when I was eight years old. The dog ran away and they could not test it - I had to have the treatment for rabies. 24 shots, one a day for 24 days. In my stomach. I was just eight years old. I can still see that doctor coming toward me with the needle in his hand." His story is real testimonty to the power of childhood memory. I could relate. I still carry the frights of an early experience with a bully-dentist every time I show up for a dental appointment.

Jim and I were glad to get home before the snow started. This snow - is getting old.

Old Story:

When Cathryn Wellner posted this on the Storytell Listserve today I howled over this video version of a very old folktale. I told it to one of my senior groups last month. The gist of the tale is: A man shows up at a border crossing with a heavily loaded donkey every day for ten years and the guard can never uncover anything - but he knows the guy is smuggling something. After he retires he runs into the donkey-driver in the market. "What was it. I know you were smuggling something. What?"
The man laughs. "Donkeys."

Had to pass it on.

Today I feel like hearing a funny old story because we are hearing an old story on TV that is not so funny. More Snow.


Snow, Snow, Snow

The sun is bright.
The world is sparkling.
The white packed snow just sits there.
There is no melting.
Its like a guest who has stayed too long.

10:30 pm
  • Aware of the snow all day. Its shrinking but there is still so much.
  • The streets are quiet.
  • Federal and County government offices were closed today. Not all public transportation running.
  • People within a mile of us are still without power. Warming themselves in their cars becaise their houses are too cold.
  • Jim and Karen went to the Safeway to restock foods we need because - guess what - more snow expected tomorrow - about 10 - 16 inches. AND - more predicted for Friday. Cancelled storytelling for tomorrow and rescheduled. May have to cancel PA gig on Friday.
  • Taking no chances. In case we lose power again I cooked ahead tonight - baked some chicken thighs - yummmm cold chicken is always good and baked a spiral ham. No surprise - we still have hard boiled eggs. Bought a small copper bottom kettle to heat water on the wood stove. Checked batteries in the lanterns and flashlights and changed the batteries in the radio. Always good to have an outside connection. Charging everything we can think of. Plenty of fruits and veggies on hand. Laundry caught up. You know taking care of the basics.
  • We will fill the car tanks in the morning. In case we too need a warm place or have to re-charge on the car batteries.
Be Prepared just like the Scouts teach you. All the while thinking - I really hope we don't have to use this stuff.


Blizzard 2010 - Sunday February 7

10:10pm. Have you heard. We are expecting 5-6 inches Tuesday night. Oh, brother.


  • Used the day for paper work and fooling around. More fooling around than real accomplishment I am sorry to say.
  • Two gigs tomorrow cancelled. Rescheduled. It works fine for me right now.
  • Karen, as the only resident shoveler, has done a yeoman's job moving snow for the past two days. I am back challenged and the doctor told Jim to delegate those chores. (Isn't that a lovely way to put that.) That left Karen to the heavy-lifting.
  • Federal and County governments, schools etc closed tomorrow. Many buses and subways aren't running.
  • Power is back in time for the Super Bowl. Good game tonight. Happiness reigns in New Orleans
  • That's the right note for good night
Monica called. "We have power."
The lilt in her voice said it all. 33 hours is a long time. Fortunately they cook with gas so they have had hot food, tea and coffee.

Remember the boiled eggs of yesterday? Today they tasted good for lunch - egg salad.

10:00 am Good Morning, Sunshine!!
Skies are blue and the sun is bright!
The snow plow has been down the street at least once.
To tell the truth I just got out of bed.
By bedtime, even though the power had come back on,
the house was cold Jim and I slept on the pull out couch in the rec room - near the fire.

But - our son called, they have a situation. Stuck!
  • No power since 3 am yesterday. 31 hours.
  • Warm near the wood stove in the rec room but the rest of his house is a freezer locker.
  • Can't come here because their street has not been plowed.
A few years back we lost power during an ice storm and it did not come back on for 4 days. It was as miserable as I have ever been - after two days of toughing it out we went to Karen's - who had power and a warm place.

Outside Karen was hearing stories and picking up neighborhood news:
  • We should count our blessings - near-by areas still don't have power
  • Chevy Chase Super Market 6 blocks away is dark.
  • Connecticutt Avenue is passable, carefully, on hard packed snow.
Stay Home!


Blizzard 2010 - Saturday February 6

10:12 PM Power is BACK!!!!!!
About 20 minutes ago the power came back on.
WOW! Let there be LIGHT!

* Yes, we are recharging right now in case things ice up tonight and we lose power again.
* We are OK. The house upstairs has just gotten too cold for comfort.
* Supper was hotdogs warmed in a pan on the lip of the wood stove . We'd always wondered if we could cook on that little ledge.

* We had enough computer battery to watch one Netflix movie this evening. Nice. Then the computer just quit.

This has been a day for appreciating the things we take for granted. Especially basic warmth.

5:45 Pm Is it Over?

The power is still out. We don't have the TV Weather Guys to tell us what's happening - - we have to guess by the old signs.
  • The snow has stopped.
  • There are patches of blue sky and some golden light on the snow.
  • I heard birds chirping in the trees when I stepped out on the deck to take the pictures.
This part of the 2010 Blizzard is over. Now - to deal with all the snow. We can walk to the street but we can't go anywhere. No snow plows yet

and - ofcourse we are hoping for the power to come back.

We will think about that Tomorrow.

Karen's Tunnel
Karen dug this tunnel from our front door to the street. Can you see how deep it is? I put Jim's hat on the snow for a point of reference to show the depth.

4:40 PM - Power Still Out
Nope this was not a tease - its the real thing. The house is cooling down. The wood stove is going strong but it only heats the downstairs so we are closing the doors and keeping the rec room cozy.
  • Wondering about the weight of snow on the roof. More will be revealed about that.
  • Kids are out and they are having a ball. Building snow men and sledding where they can.
  • The squirrels are fun to watch. Those that are out skitter along the branches tossing snow in all directions.
  • Our poor dog is amazed. What's happened to her world.
  • Karen came in from another stint of shoveling shaking her head and saying. "Its thigh high."
2:15 PM Power Off Again.
Hope this is a Tease and not the real thing. But looking at the build up of snow on the lines and the tree limbs outside my window I would not be surprised if lines are down.

So - - something to think about - what should I do now that I cannot do after it gets dark - when we will only have candles and lanterns.
Paper work is the obvious choice - and I have plenty of that.

Are you wondering what we did about cooking ahead?
A few things:
  • Boiled a dozen eggs. Good to eat or to make egg salad for sandwiches. - wondering now if I should have boiled 2 dozen.
  • Boiled water and stored in vacuum thermos jars.
  • Karen tested a pot of water on the shelf of the wood stove - and it does get hot, eventually
  • Jim heated the soup in the crock pot which will keep it warm for awhile.

Any suggestions? As long as the battery holds out I can check email for messages.

1:30 PM
Digging for Soup:
Last night Jim made a delicious ham and bean soup. When the crock pot dish was too hot for the refrigerator he put on a tight lid and set it on the deck. No need to worry about whether it would be cold enough over-night. This morning the soup was GONE - buried under a foot and a half of snow. Hungry people prevailed - poked the snow until they found and rescued it. A good lunch. When you bury delicious treasure in a blizzard - leave a marker.
Check out this story of OLD treasure buried under snow and ice.

Noon - the power is BACK. Looks like this is going to be the Big Tease. I am running now to charge everything I can think of, heat hot water and cook ahead.

11:30 am Jim's brother called from Los Angeles. "How are you folks doing?" "Covered with a blanket of snow." I called Jim to the phone. I had just hung up my phone when poof - our power went off! Drat. Now we regroup.
Fortunately - I charged the computers. And I have a broad band hook-up, because FIOS is now down. One of our phones is an old phone - that works even without electric power.

10:30 am.
Our son Jim called. Although he lives only 15 minutes away - it could be the other side of the world. We are all snowed in. He lost power about 3 am this morning. " we have wood and food - we're ok." he tells me.
They have powered up our snow thrower - loud and spewing gas fumes. The snow is too deep and heavy - they will have to shovel some before they can use it.
Jim is chomping at the bit to go out and help. I am the wicked witch arguing - "you can't" - one of my biggest concerns is that we have a medical emergency - no way to get out of here. So I advocate playing it safe.

9 am.
Ordinarily I would leave the decks clear this week-end - hoping folks would stop by and watch the new Friday Video - but something bigger is at hand - -. The Blizzard of 2010. Instead of watching about "catching a story" I am going to write about the story we are living. Something will emerge.

The snow started in earnest about 10 PM last evening.

This is what we found when we got up this morning.
Its safe to say we are not going anywhere.

Our yard and neighborhood are transformed into a fairyland - white, beautiful and ..... silently menacing.

Why menacing? Because change and danger lurk beneath the deceptively white, fluffy snow.
It is not white and fluffy - actually. It is damp and heavy. It is taking down limbs and trees - - and power lines. Thousands in the area are already without power. Last evening our lights flickered occasionally. I was afraid we would lose power by this morning but so-far-so-good.

And you know what - - its is still snowing.

A light, relentless falling of smallish flakes - which are expected to change about 2 PM. The TV meteorologist says - " 3 - 9 more inches from 2 - 7 PM."
Oh,yes, this story is just starting.


Friday Video Story - Catching A Story

Catching a Story was taped for my TV program Stories in Time.

This story will be LIVE until February 19.

Ever have your heart broken in a beauty shop - its not pretty.

As the story begins I pretty much tell you how I am spinning a story. It was a challenge to start and spin with the camera running.


Snow is Headed Our Way

Everyone is in a tizzy getting ready for the snow that is coming. According to the NEWS it is going to be a storm of historic proportions.

Dutifully Jim and I went to the Safeway this afternoon to prepare to be "in the house" for three to five days. Everyone else in the area was also there. There were traffic jams in the food aisles where food-filled carts jostled for spaces. Many shelves were depleted. No whole chickens to bake. I thought that was a good idea - bake a large hen when the snow starts. If we lose power and can't cook, cold chicken would be good. Only tissue thin orange outer skins littered the large Mayan onion barrel. A run on sweet onions? Who would have imagined it?

Tonight we are bringing some wood inside incase the woodpile is under a drift. That's about it.
Fortunately Sears finally came and we hope the snow thrower is really fixed this time.

We have the really important stuff - popcorn and movies. The computers are plugged in - charging the batteries so we will not lose complete touch with the outside world.

We are set.

How about you???? What do you do to prepare for a storm like this?


Kensington Row Storytelling

Storyteller Cricket Parmelee charmed the house at the Kensington Row Bookshop with her story, "Some Enchanted Evening", a one-woman abbreviated version of the 1949 musical South Pacific. She told the story and sang the songs - in a sing-a-long style which included the audience. Her performance was funny, heartfelt, and touching - well complemented by her pleasing singing voice. Rousing clapping at the close.

Afterward people told her how they had been transported back to memories of the first time they saw the musical either on stage or on the screen. Watching their faces during the show I saw their special journeys - the words and music of the haunting song Bali Hi brought tears to some .

It was a lovely evening. Extremely satisfying.

Wednesday - Memory Cabinet - a new story album

Cleaning out the basement - somethings are hard to let go. I found a large brown cardboard box filled with plastic bottles of varied sizes from large to tiny. I recognized them. During the time I was painting with acrylic paints I used these to mix and store special colors - so I saved many of the plastic bottles that crossed my palms.

The box was full to the top.
There must have been 300 bottles ready for paint.
I know. I know. They had to go.

But as I ran my hand through the box I touched memories. Times and places. Bits of history. Personal and local.

My solution - select some and install them in a small cabinet that was itself teetering on the edge of a throw away box. Voila - an art piece - a new album.

Why these?
What's their story?

An inventory:

a fat brown prescription bottle from Washington Circle Drugs - the drugstore in the 2430 Pennsylvania Avenue building where Jim had his first full-time DC office and where Shorty cooked Jim's mid-morning breakfast M-F . Jim ate it at the 1940s style soda fountain while caught up with the neighborhood gossip. Today that building is a suites hotel three blocks from George Washington University Hospital. Washington Circle Drugs is just a neighborhood memory.

two smaller brown prescription bottles from Packetts Pharmacy . Packets was at the corner of Connecticutt Avenue and Manor Road when we moved into this neighnorhood in 1970. It was a local pharmacy with a soda shop - a meeting place . My daughters have memories of sipping cokes and eating a sandwich there. Packetts was a casualty of the father's aging and the son's cancer. The building most recently housed a Smith and Hawken which closed in December - a victim of the shrinking economy.

You get the idea - the cabinet is an album - housing memories - prompting stories.

I will add more later.


Tuesday - Storytelling Lessons from the Story Videos

Do you count on hindsight to teach you what you need to know?

That's how it has been for me since I started working with the videos for the Friday Video Series. Watching myself tell the stories,
re-visiting tellings that occurred months before,
and hearing the stories over and over -
are teaching me valuable lessons.

I find myself, like Special Agent Jethro Gibbs of NCIS, naming rules to follow - based on my own mistakes.

For instance the current video, The Dalmation Dog. screams out two pretty obvious lessons which I now counter withRule3 and Rule 12.

RULE 3 - Think about what you are going to wear and opt for something that does not compete with your story.

What was I thinking to wear this loud patterned shirt that over-shadowed the story and was actually clownish. Who can take their eyes off that bold design? Cringing, I admit it, the outfit is atrocious. Since watching the video again and again I know better, I hope.

Guess where that shirt is - GONE! I put it in the Am Vets donation bag to protect myself from ever again wearing it on a stage.

Do you have a stage mistake in your wardrobe????

RULE 12 - Watch out! Check temporary stages, before you perform. Make sure the folding legs are locked. Judge how much space you have to move around in without falling off. What's behind the curtain hanging at the back of the stage? Does the curtain hide a short drop to the floor or a gaping coal shute to the basement?

What about my mysterious and graceless stage exit on this film? Let me assure you that everyone in the room watched the acrobatics when the stage-legs folded under and one side of the platform tilted down. Jim was sitting near-by and, arms flailing, I did a sort of running quick-step into his lap. People gasped. My body was in one piece. What dignity?

Until I worked with this film I had no idea the dark and light pattern in that shirt was such a stage disaster. I liked the shirt. Everything in your closet doesn't work at the front of the room when you are telling a story.

And, since I walked out of the room that night on my feet and was never on crutches or in a cast, I forgot about almost falling off that stage.

Whenever possible tape your performances - and then review them - for the lessons you will teach yourself after-the-fact.

Today the simple flip video cameras, digital cameras and telephones make it pretty easy to record our performances.

Capture the lessons - - you know, teach yourself - - with HIND-SIGHT.