Wall Works - Oakland, CA
digital photo

Wandering on a sunny Spring Day
We came across the last-wall-standing of an urban ruin in Oakland, CA
Many had been there before us
And used the expanse as a canvas for a Public Art Project.

I turned it into my personal art prroject
Selecting and gathering many compositions
Testing my ability to SEE something new.

Art does that, doesn't it.
Tests you to SEE in new ways
To open up to the world and SEE it.


A Story for Memorial Day

The Tatooed Man from Ellouise Schoettler on Vimeo.
Honoring all those who have served and are serving in the defense of our country. Thank you.

Good advice

Yesterday I was led to a blog written by a young woman who is in the Armed Forces and training for deployment to Afghanistan. She is in my family.

I might have thought I knew her but after reading her open, honest, well-written posts I can see following her blog - is a chance to really KNOW her.

I am grateful for this opportunity - as a veteran of the Second Wave -  to walk along with a younger woman of the Third Wave - who is living it.

You could say its a report from the FRONT - - on many sides.

I read back through her posts - to catch up - and see right away that following her is going to be a learning experience. She is a woman - an officer - holding her own in a man's world - - WAR.

In dealing with difficult days in training she recognizes mentors and seeks advice. Good advice. She describes how one mentor told her:
"Stop trying to prove yourself and just BE yourself."

I will be thinking about that myself.


Need a Graphic?

Deadline for the poster for FINDING GUS is looming.

Robin says: "we need a graphic... something like Gus in his football photo."

Good idea.

"work your magic, mom."  She was calling on my artist side - we know a few tricks.
"like you did for your book"


Its quick and fast.
Use a sharpie - in this case I used an artist sketching pen -

Trace the image you want onto a piece of clear plastic.

I use a plastic paper sleeve - place an enlarged printed image of the target inside the sleeve to keep it in place - and get to work.

As I am drawing for an out-line image - I scanned the figure with heightened contrast to create more distinct light and dark shapes.

There you have it!

Then I scanned the completed image and emailed it.

Now it was Robin's turn for a little magic.

The poster is ready.

Printed - at Staples - glossy paper 
it looks great
and I hope will bring folks in 
to hear the story
at the Capital Fringe.


Red Orchids

Red Orchids
altered digital print


NEW VIDEO: Slash Coleman Interview and Story on Stories in Focus

In April when Slash Coleman was in the DC area as Featured Teller at Friendship Heights Village Comm. Center there was time to sit down and talk with him on camera at Channel 16. I really appreciate these these chances to have conversations with other storytellers and then share them with you.
Part One: Conversation (15 minutes)

Slash Part One from Ellouise Schoettler on Vimeo.

Part Two: Slash's Story and a bit more conversation.(15 minutes)

Slash - Part Two from Ellouise Schoettler on Vimeo.


Simpler Times

Morning Light
acrylic on paper

Simpler times.


Jacobs Ladder

Jacob's Ladder
Textile - pieced from vintage Japanese Silk.
E. Schoettler



Love honeysuckle.

It carries memories of my
childhood summers
in North Carolina.


Willa Brigham and her wooden hat!

North Carolina storyteller Willa Brigham came to town yesterday to
 tape a guest spot on Stories in Focus, my Channel 16 TV show.

 Along with her joyous outlook she brought her gorgeous wooden hat. The hat comes with an original story and song.

Two years ago I saw Willa and her hat and heard her story at a small festival in VA and never forgot it. You won't either when you hear it here as soon as I have the tape.

Willa calls herself an "Inspirational storyteller" and she is. She brings an infecticious laugh and broad smile to her stories and lessons which re-enforces her positive outlook and life lessons.
Its not suprising that she is a sought-after performer and that her NC TV show has been a six time nominee and two time winner for the coveted EMMY.

And there was a surprise. At the break Willa casually told me she had once accompanied the  Quilters of Gees Bend on a tour of colleges as their "Opener." I was thunderstruck and maybe you will be too if you love quilts, know of these exceptional women and their work, or have seen an exhibit of their incedible quilts. Ah, storytellers can turn up in some unexpected places. It was a perfect place for Willa, who, in addition to being a storyteller, is a quilter.|


Showmanship takes the day.

May 15, 2011
College of William and Mary
Williamsburg, VA

More than 1000 students leaving college - going into the world to seek their fortunes.

A major feature of every graduation is the SPEAKER - the person invited to send the graduates into the world with a helpful message.

The speaker was a VERY rich and successful William and Mary graduate - a man who started out in a  lower income neighborhood and today lives at the top of the mountain. This son of immigrant parents is today a highly successful business man and a very generous philanthropist.

He used examples from his own life experience to highlight his message to the graduates.
"You can do anything- to make a difference if you have Vision, Passion, and Integrity."

Although the message was not new; it was timely. More intriguing to me however was his delivery - part motivational speaker, part revivalist accompanied by his pacing across the stage wearing a flowing academic robe - an image that  reminded me of a Groucho Marx movie.

All in all a seasoned performance from a master showman.


Quick Start: ReStart

For five years I've held myself to a stiff standard - that I would post on this blog everyday. Somehow I have slipped the past few weeks. I miss noting the everyday - its partly journal, partly chronicle. So I will just note a few memorable events to help keep the record and to get back on track.

1. Most notable - May 15 our granddaughter Alison graduated from College of William and Mary surrounded by her proud parents, grandparents and extended family.

A wonderful occasion for her parents - and an exciting launch for Alison.

One thing about Graduation crowds - the people are smiling, laughing, happy.

2. Finding Gus. May 7 I told the story of how I have uncovered the story of thr grand-father I never knew in Anderson, SC, his home-town.

Twelve Keasler cousins - descendants of Gus' siblings met for the
 first time after the program. A gift of Genealogy and Storytelling.

3. Capital Fringe confirmed my venue assignment - grateful to be returning to the Goethe Institut - Mainstage where I performed last year. Presenting a new one woman show in July.

CHECK HERE of more information on FLESH ON OLD BONES.


Quilting a Story

Gus Keasler
My grandfather.

Here he is 20 years old when he was on the football team at Clemson College in Clemson, SC

Tomorrow I will be visiting that area where I will be telling stories about him at the Anderson County Public Library. Read about it HERE.

Only have bits about him from records, letters, family memories and hearsay - that's tough quilting to make the story. Certainly fits with my work as a collage artist.

I am excited. Looking forward to meeting Keasler cousins and walking in his footsteps.


Bridging Time

Mama died a few years ago.
During her last year I wrote this POST.
As I prepare for FLESH ON OLD BONES, my new one-woman show for the 2011 Capital Fringe - it has powerful meaning for me.
So - bringing it back. 

Especially poignant for me - as I am going to South Carolina in two days - to tell her father's story.
You can be sure I will go to the Keasler homeplace too and I will be thinking of my mother and all the others - even though I never knew them.

The Traveler and the Genealogist - Bridging Time

While I was with Mama this week I came to understand a few things about how things are for her now - and to be emensely grateful for my passion for genealogy and for storytelling.

In one of his workshops storyteller Donald Davis told us to "take me someplace I can't go if you don't take me." I understood that perfectly. I had been doing that with Mama as part of my genealogy sleuthing. Once I began collecting family information I started sitting with Mama, or talking on the phone with her and asking her to take me places with her, some I knew and some I met through her memories.

These days my mother is traveling and because of all our genealogy journeys - I see some of the same things she does.

In the middle of a conversation Friday, I forget what we had been talking about, Mama said, " I went down to South Carolina but John Henry wasn't there." Startled, I tried to grab a new gear." " You did,? How old were you?"

" My age. Ellouise, I went there a few days ago." Fortunately I was getting onto her track.

" You mean you went to Sandy Springs, to the Keasler homeplace?"

"That's right, I did. But Mama and Dad Jack and my daddy did not go."

I guess not. Her father, Gus Keasler died when Mama was 15 months old and her Mama and Dad Jack, her step father, have been resting at Elmwood Cemetary since the 1960s. But I have been to the Keasler homeplace. In fact I took Mama down there twenty years ago to see Gus' last living sister, Annie Laura.

"Was it like it used to be?"

"Oh, Ellouise, it was. I went all through the house. No one was home. I did not see my grandfather, John Henry."

No surprise. John Henry Keasler died in the 1940s when I was 5 years old. It was a hot summer day when I sat on an open window sill of the whitl clapboard Methodist Church with Granny and Mama during the funeral service. John Henry is buried in the church yard next to his second wife, the woman Mama called Grandma. HIs first wife, Narcissus Howard, Gus's mother, rests in the same church year near her mother.

" I don't know why Mama wasn't there. I looked all over for her."

"Mama, I think its great that you can take these trips."
"You do?"
"Oh, I really do. I do it all the time myself. I sometimes imagine myself right back at 2308 East 7th Street, and I can see Granny. I can be right there with her. Are you doing that?"


"Take me to 10th Street, Mama. Tell me about your grandmother. Didn't she make all your clothes."

Mama smiled back at me. " With matching panties." And for a few minutes we were back in her grandmother's house on 10th Street, with the sweet smell of baked sweet potatoes in the warming oven waiting for Louie when she came home from school.

Yes, Mama is traveling - but mostly now she is looking for her mother.

She will say, " I want to go home." and some think she means she is "ready." Ready to be in Heaven, with her mother.

That's not it. That's too easy. If you really listen to her yearning you can hear the truth. A hurting we have no salve for.

Mama wants to go home. Home to her Mama where she was safe and loved. Home where she could climb up in Grandma's lap and snuggle close.

It hurts to touch that truth.

When I do I remember crying into my pillow when I was eight years old, at boarding school, wanting to go home to my mother. Crying without a sound. Crying until my eyes were stinging. Crying until my throat felt it would close.

Heaven was on 10th Street, heaven was anywhere close to Granny.

"Ellouise, you take me home. We will go in your car."

Mama, I would if I could.



I buy and cook asparagus often. Its easy, dresses up a meal and I love it. I am so known to love asparagus - especially the slender, baby spears - that Jim's mother used to stock the refrigerator and have the bright green bundles waiting for me on our visits to California. I have eaten it for breakfast, lunch and supper. Asparagus as a side with scrambled eggs - ambrosia.

When I was a kid Mama bought canned asparagus at the Big Star on Central Avenue when she wanted to dress up a special meal - you know, the fat, muddy green, soggy spears. She would put them on a platter with a huge dollop of creamy Duke's mayonnaise - maybe some red tomato slices -as a side dish. Even then I liked them - mostly because they were supposed to be a special treat.

I don't remember the exact time or place I discovered fresh cooked asparagus but after that moment there was no going back.

It might have been about the time I discovered that green beans did not have to be cooked with fat-back until they were black - although that is the way I like them best and will feast until I am full on the memories of my grandmother's house on East Seventh Street.