Thinking of My Mother

Louise Keasler Diggle
December 25, 1915 - August 30, 2008

Thinking of Mama

Here she holds one of my textile pieces which I named for her.
Sometimes I use that piece as a "stand-in" for Mama when I tell stories about her.


Hurricane Coming

Turned on CNN News this morning to the announcements of the hurricane headed toward the NC and East Coast. Been there, done that.

Hurricane from Ellouise Schoettler on Vimeo.

Hot days of summer, talk of summer storms brewing off the coasts, and naming Hurricanes always reminds me of Wrightsville Beach, NC and the summer of 1945. I was nine years old, my daddy was overseas and Mama took her three girls to her mother's house at the beach for the summer.

I told this story at the August Voices in the Glen monthly story swap. This video version ran recently on my weekly Stories in Time on Channel 16 - Montgomery Municipal Cable.


Laughing Out Loud - Times 2

Sharing two good laughs.

Blue Bird Joke

When I walked into a small gift shop this morning
I came face to face with this little guy and his sign.

Times like this I really love my digital camera

I did not want to take it home
Enough clutter in my life as it is

But definitely wanted to remember the joke - which often is not a joke - but how it is!
It's mine!

A Flat Out Funny Woman - Jeanne Robertson

Yesterday someone shared this Jeanne Robertson video on Facebook.
Listen - one little bit of this funny, funny North Carolina woman was not enough for me.
I checked her website
Sure enough - she has a line-up of videos - check the top-bar and have some fun.


Three Beautiful Things

1. An Accidental Story - Today at the hair salon I overheard a woman saying, " she was my friend and I care about her but I did not want the ashes." With that I started to listen. "Imagine my surprise when I opened the package and found the urn." She moved on. Later we were at the cashier at the same time and I asked her about it. Let me tell you its quite a story. Finally I said," I have to tell you, I am a storyteller. I don't know your name and please don't tell me. But I have to ask, "can I tell this story." "Yes - go ahead. I have a million more." Stand by.

2. Good news. I finished watching all four seasons of Doc Martin, the ITV British TV show. Learned today that eight new ones will be released in 2011. With all the original cast. Patience, Ellouise, patience.

3. Whittling my list.


A Book Note

These days when I visit a book store I don't always buy a book but I always make a note of a book I would like to read.

The Pattern in the Carpet - a Memoir by Margaret Drabble looks very interesting so I made a photo-note so I would not forget it.

The title brought back memories of a room size Oriental carpet in my cousin's bedroom. We used the blocks in the pattern around the edges as rooms when we played paper dolls. The colors and lacing of vibrant colors still influence my art work.



Finding a New World.

When she was here storyteller Bernadette Nason recommended the BBC series Doc Martin. It is available - all four years of the series - on Net Flix as an Instant Play. The first episode did not particularly capture me but by the third I was hooked. I have said before how much I like being drawn into "worlds" where you can get to know the characters, their interactions and their environment. And, when it's British - and well-acted - - all the better.

Fairy Ring
Granny Sue wrote recently about finding a fairy ring - you know, a circle of wild mushrooms, that sometimes springs up overnight. I had first heard of them when I was a little girl - but had not thought about them in years - and years. So a few days later when I saw a fairy circle in my neighbor's yard I hopped out of the car to take a picture - - "hot dog, I can show Granny Sue we have them too." Now I can't find it. My computer ate it! Simple I will take another shot. But no, in three days time those neighbors have turned over their front yard for a new planting. The circle and the fairies are gone. Oh, Oh, bad luck for them.

Old Lesson to Learn Again
When a lot of little things pile up - - - they combine to become a REAL BIG THING!!!!
Dealing with it!


Storytellers and a Hero

Storyteller Bernadette Nason has been our guest while she visited Washington and its been great fun! When the Super Shuttle collected her this morning I was very sorry to wave good-bye and look forward to hugging hello soon.

The time we spent together around the edges of her tourist-ing has been filled with laughter and good conversations - often with other storytellers on scene as well.

For instance - Saturday Slash Coleman, Geraldine Buckley, and Becca Bernard joined us for lunch. A fine reunion!

I must show you the aspic I made for lunch. I am proud - it set well - and I un-molded it perfectly!
That's always my fear - that there will be a perfect mess of splatted aspic sliding across the plate.

My Aunt Katherine's recipe is the charm. And, it is simplicity itself as well as delicious.

Koki's Tomato Aspic
2 cans petite cut tomatoes - spiced is best
2 small packages lemon jello
a dash of apple cider vinegar

Heat the tomatoes in a saucepan. Use a fork or a knife and cut the larger pieces of tomato.
When it is well-warmed pour in the jello - directly from the box.
Stir til the jello is dissolved well.
Pour in a Splash of vinegar - this is for the sweet and sour taste.
Add almost a cup of water. Mix in well.

Pour into a mold. Cover and put in the refrigerator.
It takes over night to set well.


I serve with a small bowl of Duke's mayonnaise on the side. It goes especially well with baked ham but is good with most everything.

Jim Schoettler
"My hero!"


NEW VIDEO - The Hurricane

Hurricane from Ellouise Schoettler on Vimeo.

Hot days of summer, talk of summer storms brewing off the coasts, and naming Hurricanes always reminds me of Wrightsville Beach, NC and the summer of 1945. I was nine years old, my daddy was overseas and Mama took her three girls to her mother's house at the beach for the summer.

I told this story tonight at the Voices in the Glen monthly story swap. This video version ran recently on my weekly Stories in Time on Channel 16 - Montgomery Municipal Cable.



The National Cathedral sits on top a hill overlooking Washington, DC. The light this evening was lovely after sunset and there was a cool breeze stirring.

We were attending a special Memorial Service in Satterlee Hall of St Alban's Church for our friend Pat.

St Alban's is just to the left of the Cathedral so we took a short stroll.

Although we were surrounded by the city - it was very quiet on this hill.
is it that the View overcomes the noise.

In the near-by walled Bishops Garden someone stops for a nap.



Ordinary bits

Our dishwasher went beserk.
It could not stop washing.
Until finally - we gave up and stopped it.

Did you know that the cycle is controlled by a little computer chip -
or something like that?

The repair man jump started it.

When the storms knocked out our power
they un-did the settings -
and for days I was doing all the washing.
Now we are back on track!

Remember the iron?
I rarely use one anymore
I have become a wash, hang and shake expert
to keep our clothes presentable.

Somehow that does not work with freshly washed curtains.
Its back to the old ways -
Springle and iron - with a spritz of spray starch.

and a feeling of virtue - - well-done.

The sweetness of ripe peaches
Pennsylvania White ladies

Jimmy and Monica brought us a bag of them
Rich, ripe and jucy.



More than Coffee at Caribou

Caribou Coffee in Bethesda.
Good coffee
Almost too many choices

Then I noticed I was also surrounded by wisdom
on the plate glass windows

Free for the taking.


Strawberries and Cream and Stories

Storyteller Bernadette Nason is in town,visiting DC for the first time. Last night Geraldine Buckley came over to join us for dinner and talking and talking and talking.

Geraldine came bearing wonderful gifts - luscious strawberries and whipping cream. Have you eaten real whipped cream lately. Oh, my!
Makes you realize how "fake" the new whipped creams really are.

Geraldine watches as Bernadette is "mother" and serving the berries and cream. "Just like at Wimbledon" they tell me - you see both these US storytellers are really British - with the stories to prove it.

Talking of stories - that's what we did - told hours of stories as we got to know each other better and better. It is the best way -


NEW VIDEO - Storyteller Tim Ereneta

TIM ERENETA from Ellouise Schoettler on Vimeo.

Recently when California storyteller Tim Ereneta was in Washington, DC performing as part of the Capital Fringe he was also a guest on Stories in Focus. This is the program as it was broadcaast on Channel 16, Montgomery Municipal Cable, Kensington, MD.


Tilted and Three Beautiful Things


Some days are just like that.

Three Beautiful Things
1. Grateful for the wonderful folks in our prayer group.
2. New Orchids - fuschia and white - beautiful, easy to care for, long lasting.
3. Making notes for a new story - memories stirring.


TBT: Happy Birthday Daddy, Jim, Kindness of Neighbors

Three Beautiful Things

1. Thinking of Daddy yesterday. The first important date in August that I learned was August 13 - his birthday.

2. Love working with Jim on house projects.

3. Grateful for the kindness of neighbors - who helped remove a large heavy limb which fell in our back yard during the storm the other night. Wanted to thank them - remembered the still-wrapped CDs of Doug Elliot and Willy Claflin I found when I cleaned the book cases last week. So - killed three birds with two CDs - passed on the gift of stories, removed two objects from our house, and felt good about cleaning.

Life and the little drats.

We have Jet Blue tickets for CA next week - but, looks like we won't make that flight. The twinges in Jim's tooth turned into a nightmare toothache so he was a "dental emergency" at the dentist office Friday. He will be back early Monday morning for some oral surgery to take care of the problem. Ouch! So, we will reschedule California - - drat! drat! drat!

Now to re-group and make lemonade out of this lemon.

Some people seem to re-group easily. I don't. Its a skill I have been working on for decades - - - and it is still
slow - -



I looked closely.
"My girl friend does it for me."
Even more amazing.

"Thank you for letting me take your picture."


Lights Out - Again

Early this morning there was a rip-snorting-thunder-cracking storm
It sounded like it was right over our house
About 7 am.

We kept our lights
Karen lost hers so called, "can I come over - - with the cats?"
Well, yes - otherwise we would have the ASPCA on our doorstep.

We kept our lights - all through the day.
We were lulled into a false sense of security.
4:30PM Click - "they are gone."
And so they were - - are.

I made a cold supper - tuna salad with sliced tomatoes that was really g 0 0 d.

Natural light kept us going for a while
Then we brought the lanterns back out,
Replaced batteries.
Listened to a scratchy radio
Played Dominos -
Jim and Karen kept winning so, as a mature adult, I quit playing.

We called PEPCO
They say they will restore power to all by

And now I am using up the battery in my Mac.


Cole Slaw, MI-5 Spies, All day at home

Three Beautiful Things:

1. I love my cole slaw - old fashioned tart and tasty. In my opinion, people who add touches like carrots, special vinegars etc to spruce up cole law - - ruin it.

Use the food processor to cut the cabbage very fine. Add a finely processed onion , salt and pepper. Mix the dressing separately - mayo and plain ole apple cider vinegar.
Mix well with the cabbage and onion. Dig in. This goes with everything !!!

2. Two DVDs from Netflix - four episodes of the BBC Spy series MI-5. Such happiness. Should I admit that we watched all four in a row - love the plots, acting, environment - and the accents!

3. All day at home. A mental health day. Felt good.

PS - re:photo. Sky over London!

The DC 8th Street Poet and SpeakeasyDC

Stories are everywhere.

When I stepped out of the car two blocks from Speakeasy DC tonight I faced this poem scrawled on the wall -
and a story.

Emphatic - Euphoric - Erotic - Go for it.
Love is Melodic - Give in and adore it.

Three hours later,
filled with Speakeasy stories
Geraldine Buckley and I walked back to her car.

While we were inside the BYPO - the 8th Street poet - despite the oppressive heat - had been at work -

Love and Rage
Guilt and shame
Make me Cry
Screaming my Name.
Curiosity Killed the Cat - stories of medling and snooping.
Playing to a full house, half the tellers were first-timers and they all pulled it off well.

You expect that some of the stories will be more well-constructed than others and leave you more satisfied - but they are all real, said to be true-life - and these days that seems to the the Good Housekeeping stamp of approval. What I remember most is that the mothers in the stories tonight were the villains - intrusive, meddling women - a bevy of mommie dearests. Ouch!

That said, I love Speakeasydc. I love to tell there and I love coming, like last night, to hear stories and enjoy the energy in a large, enthusiastic audience who groove on the stories. You feel the story-temperature rise as Dance Boutique fills with a veritable cacophony of happy voices.


Stories in Focus

Weather Report: Hot. Hot. Hot. And no relief this week!

Today we taped Stories In Focus with guest storyteller, Cricket Parmelee.
Fun. Good conversation about her important storytelling work with elder vets at the VA Home. " Stories bring the patients together in community."

She also told a wonderful story of her father drawn from finding some of his memoir essays and making a new connection with him. Rich!

Have you ever wondered why politicans and other public figures wear so much red? Its probably because of the TV cameras and the way they film various colors.

TIP: Don't wear green when you tape for TV. The camera doesn't pick up green - so you come and go in the picture.

Today the taping session with Cricket was a re-do. My bad. I forgot to send Cricket the "No Green" alert before the scheduled taping several weeks ago. Fortunately she kindly came back to talk again.

We did not try to catch the earlier conversation - we just let today's conversation take its natural course and I am we glad did or her work at the VA Hospital might not have come to light - - reminding us of the important work of storytellers - done without fanfare in private gatherings.


NEW VIDEO: Leaving Home

Leaving Home from Ellouise Schoettler on Vimeo.

Like Jack we all go out into the world to seek our fortune. How did your journey begin?.

Leaving Home is a longer version of the opening of my one-woman show, Pushing Boundaries. The story begins with leaving home to start my new life.

Dedicated to my grandson who packs for college in a few weeks - and starts out on the road to his new life.


Three Beautiful Things

1. Watched and enjoyed the charming 1938 version of Robin Hood starring Errol Flynn and Olivia DeHavilland. Caught between childhood memories and appreciation of the innocence and humor of the film.

2. Orchids are the new "most popular" gift. They have been my favorites for some time - the colors, the surprises as the buds keep opening like a moving film, and that they don't ask very much of you - just some water occasionally - and they keep giving such pleasure.

3. Found a box of letters I had forgotten about. Letters from both my grandmothers, my aunt, Mama and Daddy and my grandfather. Touching. A precious gift. Seeing their handwriting makes me want to write letters again - to be sure that kind of intimate touch and connection goes on.


Three Beautiful Things

1. Delicious quiet in the house when the television is OFF.

2. Sweet bland taste of animal crackers.

3. Fresh tartness of ice waer sipped through a lemon slice.

There is joy in savoring simple things.


Love that iPod

I love my iPod!

Carry it with me everywhere - but there are only 6 songs in the 60 GB memory.
My iPod is my brain - and its chock-full-of-stories.

Thanks to a few gadgets - it is a sound-system and practice - friend that fits into my hand-bag - an indispensible resource for a storyteller.

More than three years ago my grandson steered me to the Belkin recorder for the iPod. To tell the truth I had never been interested in having the "music-player" until I saw this possibility. The recorder cost between $50-60. I bought mine at the Apple Store - but they also have a website.

The recorder is about the size of a regular lipstick tube - -

It fits into the slot at the bottom of the iPod. When you plug it in the "record" screen appears. The recordings are stored as "voice memos". When you synch your iPod to the computer the "voice memos" transfer - to be named and transferred to the "library."

I record stories to "practice" and then listen to them as I learn them or listen to a story in the library to refresh it if I have not told in some time.
I also record all my performances - for large and small gigs - by placing the recorder near-me. Later I use "Garage Band" to edit the recording into individual stories. Sometimes the recording is good enough to add to a CD.
Recently my son showed me this new $10 "toy" he found at Staples - a Speaker - to amplify the sound on his computer.
In a jiffy we tried it out on the iPod - it works perfectly!
Attach the speaker into the slot for the ear-buds.
It may be small but it is powerful - and it solved a problem for me.

When I am learning a story or "running" a program beforehand I
hate the inconvenience of being tied down by having the ear buds in or having to carry the iPod. The little speaker solves that - I can set it down and the sound carries across the room - or the car.

A few TIPS:
  • When preparing a program I use iTunes and my iPod as primary tools by sorting the stories for the program into "playlists" - listening to it - rearranging the sequence of the stories as needed or adding new stories by recording them, storing on the computer and then adding to the playlist. The revised playlists are then synched to my iPod.
  • Burn a playlist onto a CD for the car or other use -
  • If you record performances you have a source of a single story with a laugh track to use as an audition CD.
  • Recording all performances is a good way to follow how your stories change from telling to telling and to give you a sense of your energy and delivery in changing situations. I usually burn a CD of all versions of a story and then remove all but two from my iPod.
  • Record coaching sessions.
And if you are not a storyteller? Then what? Are these gadgets worth thinking about?
Try these ideas!
  • I recorded many conversations with my mother in the last few years of her life.
  • Anyone working with their family genealogy must be seeing the possibilities - wish I had had these resources to easily capture voices, bits of conversations, quick notes about locations, gravestones, newspaper clips. You now all the stuff that captures your history.
  • ideas and notes - especially when traveling - so much easier to record them later if you can play them -hands free or without the ear buds in.
  • "sound notes" - especially when traveling - I recorded the player piano tune in an old house in CA six years ago and I still enjoy listening to it -puts me right back into that parlor.
  • catch a recipe
  • better still catch a baby's first words.
Hope these ideas help you get even MORE from your iPod.



This guy comes calling to the bird feeder close to our deck. Its been so hot during July that we have not been able to sit outside to watch the birds flit in and out snapping up the seeds in the feeder - or watch them squabble over territory. " Its mine" and "me first" battles. You would think they would have learned there is enough - we always re-fill the feeder.

The folks are coming tomorrow to clean the carpets. Did you know these big strong guys don't lift anything. So Jim and I are moving everything - hefting big and small - out of the targeted rooms. Everytime we have the carpets cleaned I cuss and promise never to wear shoes in the house again. I should have thought of this moving and shoving before I chose sand colored carpet. Yes, it brightens the house - - at a price. Someday I will learn - "all things are connected."

For more than 9 years my friend Pat and I ate lunch - on Tuesday - at the Tea Room in Kensington, MD at least once a month, sometimes 2 or 3 times a month. We talkd of art and ideas, personal philosophies and just stuff.
We sat at this table and we always ordered the same thing - a BLT (bacon, lettuce tomato sandwich) Pat's on rye toast and mine on toasted white bread.

Pat died on July 24.
This week I asked Jim to go with me to the Tea Room - on Tuesday -
for a good-bye BLT for Pat. We sat at the usual table. We went about 2 PM so the Tea Room was empty and quiet. I could think - remember. Jim and I did not talk much. I cried a bit.

The sandwich tasted the same, good and crunchy with a thick layer of crisp bacon. I kept wishing Pat would walk in - but came to accept that she wouldn't.
I will miss her. But Tuesdays I can always find her here.

Private moments for good-byes are good!



Telling stories at Holiday Park Senior Center worked out really well.
The wonderful audience was interested in the stories because many want to write or tell their own stories. Now that makes it even more fun for the storyteller.

As teaching prompts I told personal stories to demonstrate how storytellers find stories. I started with childhood stories from elementary school that also had some memories of what I remember life was like on the homefront during World War II. Then I told of something that happened to me as a demonstration of recognizing when you are living a story-to-tell. Closing with the Tatooed Man a recent story - that I asked for from a stranger sitting near me in a doctor's office. It turned out to be a memorable moment and the man gave me permission to tell his story.

The real pay-off - - the comments afterwards when members of the audience thanked me, told me they learned something - "come back." It all goes to make me so grateful to be a storyteller.

And often, the gift is in the people you meet.
How about this wonderful sign to announce the program!
Carol Fuentevilla, Director of Holiday Park, gave the program a warm and enthusiastic welcome and afterward introduced me to this very special guy. Mr. Seymour Green, now lives near-by in MD but once he traveled the globe as a musician, playing in large orchestras. He was a member of the orchestra of the 1940s Irving Berlin Broadway musical "This is the Army". As well as performing in the Hollywood version of the musical in the movie of the same name. After that the show toured to Camps over-seas during the war. This man has stories!!

And Mr. Green is not sitting still today. At 90 years old he is a member of three bands playing in the Maryland area. His advice: "when you retire do not stay home. Get out. Keep doing something." He is a man who follows his own advice.



Jim and I grow herbs in pots on our deck - and its so wonderful to step outside the door and snip Basil, Dill, Parsley and Chives to spruce up a meal.

Not a big deal if you live on a farm or have a large yard to put in a vegetable patch but we are both born and bred city-dwellers and our clay pots and herbs are our garden.

Basil is my favorite - for its distinctive taste and for its pungent, delicious aroma.

Here are a few ways I use Basil leaves.
First I snip the leaves into narrow bands using kitchen scissors.

1. Toss a hand-full of fresh snipped Basil onto fresh cooked, drained spaghetti - toss with EVOO - you know, extra virgin olive oil - and grated Parmesan cheese.

2. Alternate thick slices of fresh tomatoes ( home-grown preferred) with slices of home-made mozzarella cheese - on a plate or platter. Salt and pepper. Pour on EVOO. Then sprinkle thin snips of fresh basil on top. Or, if you prefer - place whole basil leaves across the full length of the tomato-mozzarella line-up. Voila - Caprese Salad.

3. For a quick lunch I like to chop a fresh tomato into one-half a cup of cottage cheese - add sliced spring onions and sprinkle in thin strips of fresh basil. Add salt and pepper. Mix. Ummm Yummm.


Social Media CASE STUDY - For the Capital Fringe

First - let me tell you YES.

After the Capital Fringe I am convinced that using Social Media is a KEY part of the marketing for events.
Like everything - there is more to it than just saying YES.

Lessons learned:

  • Social Media is an important addition to marketing for events.
  • Include Social Media in your planning and start early
  • Widen your reach with all voices - follow on Twitter, friend on Facebook and link on Linked-in
  • Coordinate your planning: paper, social media, press, and web
  • Develop a group within your contacts or organization that can support social media efforts.
  • If possible - have a Manager for the Social Media Campaign for an event.
Above all: PLAN

IMPORTANT: Social Media is here to stay. Learn more about how to use Social Media and develop your skills.

In my case, my daughter, San Francisco-based certified Social Media and Inbound Marketing Coach and Strategist Robin Schoettler Fox, added skills I didn't have. She brought to the table not just her expertise in social media but well-honed networking instincts and marketing experience.

Robin describes our activities and lessons learned at the Fringe in a series of blog posts on her Inbound Marketimg Training blog in a Marketing Mini-Case.

So far there are four posts:
  1. Pushing Boundaries at the DC Capital Fringe: 1970s Networking in a Social Media World
  2. Event Marketing & Social Media Tools
  3. Storytelling Program, the Fringe & Twitter
  4. Schmaps: Free & Easy Landing Page with Twitter Reach

Robin and I started working together using social media when we began our on-going effort of collecting stories of the women's movement of the 1970s through our Facebook page Second Wave Album. It was natural for us to expand our work together to include the launch of Pushing Boundaries at the Capital Fringe.

Four months ahead of the opening of the fringe we developed:
  • paper tools (cards and posters) and ordered early for best prices and developed images to use on the net and other aspects of the campaign
  • Facebook Page - we created a Pushing Boundaries Story page to engage in the Pushing Boundaries chatter during the event.
  • a website for the Pushing Boundaries Program
  • expanded contacts in Facebook and Linked-in to support social media later
  • identified groups of people (beyond storytellers) who might be interested in Pushing Boundaries and sought ways to contact them
  • developed mailings for Constant Contact - and expanded the mailing lists
  • compiled press lists
  • planned and developed press materials - which we mailed cold or sent after a personal call three weeks prior to the Fringe opening.

Two weeks before the Fringe opened Robin - now the event Social Media Manager - became the primary player with Facebook and Twitter for both of us. It was seamless even though she was in California and the Fringe was occurring in DC. Once the Fringe was really in full swing it became even more fun when Tim Ereneta and Slash Coleman arrived to perform. They are both active with Twitter and Facebook and as we four supported each other's programs with comments and re-tweets our collective megaphone was stronger.

Important lesson: building audience for an event with only one voice is not effective - but it really works if you have a team or many others who will comment and re-tweet to others to widen the reach and bring people in.

One last thought: Storytellers often talk about not attracting a younger audience - Social Media is THEIR world - are we speaking to them WHERE they are listening?