A Bit of the Bright Side

I am just saying - its not happy news that we are expecting ice tomorrow.

Its time for me to turn off the computer -
I have been working ALL day.
Getting stuff done, true - and I feel good about that
but really ----

UPS brought my new CDs today one jump ahead of the ice-storm coming. They are already four days behind because of the snow. I guess this is whining - the better tack is to rejoice and be grateful that I have them now. But you know something - I have trouble making that switch sometimes.

Storyteller I have really wanted to book for Tales in the Village at Friendship agreed today that she will come here in May!!! See, I can be grateful - and positive!


R.I.P. Gallery 10

When the art is gone - it is just a room!


Swimming in the well

Some days just don't go the way you think they will. My meeting at 9am ended up here at home because the power is still not on at Starbucks. Actually that was better. And the meeting was fun and productive.

Afterwards I had intended to get busy busy and work on lists and the programs for North Carolina. Instead I fell into deep thinking. Do you ever do that - deep thinking that leads nowhere - just slows you down. I hope something productive will follow from today's swim in that well.

Sometimes I do that when I have reached a cross roads. Hmmm. Could that be it?

More will be revealed.


Sad Epiphany

A couple of years ago I started making collages on the pages of an early edition of Jansen' s History of Art, the sacred text of art history classes in the 1970s. I won't say these are great works but they help reconnect me with art-making, something I miss when involved with storytelling.

Storytelling is a wonderful art-form. It is very meaningful to me however I miss the tactile, productive quality of art-making - where the product is mine and I don't have to concern myself about people liking it or selecting me to be a part of their "show". I have hated that " selecting " process since the elementary school playground.

Perhaps its a part of the "diamond jubilee" ruminating but I am thinking a lot about the paths I have walked and folks I have known and valued. This week I learned that I had lost one of those. And I had not even known it until I googled her name to find how where she was - because I wanted to call her.

She died almost a year ago in another State - and none of her art colleagues here were informed. She was important to many. A teacher, a mentor, a colleague. Perhaps the family did not think we would want to know. Maybe they did not know who to call - the gallery would have been the one call they needed to make. In April on the anniversary of her death a group will gather at my house to celebrate her, her art work and contributions while we tell stories about her.
She was a very talented artist and an extremely memorable wit - a character. Well past her diamond jubilee, she was one of those "gals" - a personification of the gutsy broads you see in the 1940s movies.  She was always "perfectly coiffed" with a snappy quip on her tongue.

What happened?
She got old and sick. She moved away to be near one of her children and her "real"life dropped away.
No one knew her for who she really was.
Its not a new story.
But it is painful that I found her through a notice about a public sale of her art work - for pennies - after her death.

Maybe I am willing to learn the lessons from this.
  • Make a computer list with emails of those people I think would like to be notified when I die.
  • Clean my studio - now - and get rid of my artwork myself.
Then I can make my "bucket list" - - and have fun!

Without remembering my friend and hoping that does not happen to me.




It was misty rain.
Then it changed - big time.
All this happened in two hours.

So far we have not lost power - and that's a blessing.
Karen- who only lives eight blocks away is sitting in the dark!
She has decided to stay the night at home-
Knowing she can come over - walking over - if she needs to
Roads are impassable so far -
Trudging is the only way!

Jim has turned on the electric blanket
Why am I sitting here?
Going, going, gone!

PS: Added next day
After I closed off the computer the power went off in the house. Blink and then black.
We slept through snug and warm but by 8am it was COLD in the house. Fortunately we have a wood stove in the den. But - no coffee. Car snowed in. We were just settling down for the day - when - blessed blink - lights on all over the house, tv came on - Power is back. PTL.


Busy Monday - Closing a door: Opening another

Taping Good Will Mourning for Stories in Time was a real challenge this morning. I had to slice and dice as I went along because I could feel the story was too long. That's what I love about storytelling - the oral story is not set in stone - not fixed. Its malleable. And often a few slices will be an improvement. 

A quick run to Dupont Circle to pick up some folding chairs I am buying from Gallery 10 as they close the gallery and clear out things. After 37 years Gallery 10 is closing - bittersweet good-bye to a lot of history of the Washington, DC art world.

Members are working hard to sort and pack materials to donate to an art Archives. You can't send history to the shredder.

Hard to say good-bye to an institution. Many memories of wonderful exhibitions, artists, dear friends, and, with Gallery 10, several adventurous trips to Italy. On a personal front: my own shows including About Time, the exhibition with which Jim and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. Places become important fixtures in the landscape of our lives - so familiar we stop noticing - until they are gone. This is when Memory kicks in and holds the pictures of people and places so we can remind ourselves anytime we want to.

Jim and I loaded the metal chairs into the back of our van and they clattered against each other all the way home. Glad to have them.  Rock bottom clean out price was RIGHT. Planning ahead for a couple of house concerts.


Relaxing with Cinderella

It is quiet, deliciously quiet in our PA house. Well, why not. There are only occasional cars on our road and we do not have a TV cable hooked up. We eat casually, meaning I hardly cook. The most insistent sound is the humming refrigerator and my clicking on the computer keyboard. Not like home where you have to chase quiet down to find some.

We only have noise in the house if we are watching a movie.
Which, ofcourse, we do.

Last night we watched a fluffy little movie, The Prince and Me - my choice. Jim shrugged and was patient about it. Actually he was listening to an interesting audio book on a cd player - using earphones - so it did not bother him.

The Prince and Me is a cute take on "Cinderella" where the playboy prince comes to America - to Wisconsin - to find "wild" college girls he saw on some tv news clip. Instead he meets a "real" American farm girl with ambition to be a doctor. Trouble at first and then love. Pretty predictable. The movie does not require much of its audience. Just watch and enjoy.

The scene switches to his country in Europe where she turns down her chance for the throne and returns to America and her dreams to be a doctor. I am glad they chose the ending they did for all the teenagers watching this film. The actors are appealing and they have a good romantic chemistry on screen. And, look, who can resist a charming Cinderella story.

I particularly enjoyed the directors commentary - talking about how they settled on shooting the European scenes in Prague - because I could recognize those locations. Loved our visit to Prague when Jimmy and Monica were living there. Also liked hearing the woman director talking about why she liked the script and how she wanted the story to "Look" on the screen. Ah, you see, I was learning something.

I love fluffy chick flicks especially when I have some knitting going and don't feel the time is completely wasted. Its relaxing.

What's wrong with relaxing? Letting your mind hang-out. Recharging your batteries. NOTHING!

But today it seems people (me) feel they have to justfy "taking a break". Or is it just where we live in the DC area where people work, eat and sleep on treadmills - - - governed by lists?

No wonder there is a flight from the White House. Have you wondered about that. Those guys are running for their lives.

I am only saying - I am not pondering.  This morning. I am relaxing.


Regifting - My Barrette

Our grand-daughter Alison recently celebrated her latest birthday.

When I thought about a gift for her I decided to pass along something I have kept in my treasure box since the 1950s.

In 1953 I bought this vintage rhinestone barrette at Ivey's Department Store in Charlotte, NC.  I have kept it - long after I cut my hair and had no need for a sparkling barrette - - not because it has a dollar value but because it is loaded with sentimental value for me.
It carries memories. It has a story.

1953 Junior Senior Prom at Central High School
My first prom. I was very excited. Happy to be going with my steady boyfriend. The dance was held in the cavernous Armory - decorated for the occasion and there was a "live" band. Every couple eventually made it to this photo set-up
to record the evening.
Try as I will, I cannot recall the color of that net evening dress.

You can see that I am wearing my barrette - and a small rhinestone necklace.
Also - look at those strap marks - which remind me that
the week-end before the prom - had been the annual class trips to Myrtle Beach, SC. All the high schools in the area at some time or other made that trek every Spring.

I also remember wearing my barette to the rehearsal party the night before Jim and I got married.

Jim and I had joined Alison and her family for lunch at Clyde's to celebrate her birthday before she returned to college after her winter break. It was the moment to exchange gifts. I had written the story in a card and added the photos from the prom. She passed it around the table. I was sitting next to my son.
"Mom, that's really a nice gift." He waited a few minutes then asked, "was it hard to give it up?"
"Yes, it was. I took pictures of it before wrapping it. 
Thanks for asking."


Launching A New Storytelling Venue

For more than five years I have been telling an evening of stories at Friendship Heights Village Community Center, Chevy Chase, MD. Anne O'Neill, who directs the programs, and I had often talked about having a larger storytelling presence at Friendship. About eight months ago we decided to make that happen with Friendships sponsoring a monthly storytelling series which I would plan and produce. We launched Tales from the Village last night. And it was a grand evening.
So now - Tales in the Village, the 3rd Wednesday, every month, 7:30 PM.


The opening evening featured storytellers Noa Baum, Linda Fang and me in a program we called, Cross Currents.

Very exciting and satisfying to welcome the audience. The room was filled with smiling folks looking forward to the stories. Half the assembled people indicated they were hearing stories for adults for the first time.

Noa Baum was the first storyteller. She delighted the audience with the story of her name - as told to her by her Israeli mother at their home in Israel.
Noa is an enthusiastic and energetic teller and she brought the audience into her tale with gestures and language.

Linda Fang followed with a  lovely story of her childhood in Shanghai.
You have probably guessed that we were telling personal stories from our different cultures  - Israeli, Chinese and American.
Lynda closed her set with a short Chinese domestic fable. Very nice.

I chose to tell "Swimming" a family story which connects Jim, me, our children and grandchildren through our love - or not - of the water.

Moira Dockerty closed the evening at the Open Mic with a short story about how a son with "attitude" can really ruffle a mother's feathers.
Always great to wind-up with a good laugh.


Storytelling in the Forefront - 2 Donald Davis

Time for the annual January storytelling workshop with Donald Davis. It is held at Susan Gordon's warm and wonderful home in the Maryland countryside. This is my tenth year at Susan's with Donald and storyteller friends. For me, this is where real storytelling lives.

Donald is a master storyteller, yes, absolutely - and - he is also a masterful listener and guide into the heart of your story. I have learned over time not to waste this chance by telling a polished story - I come with a seed of an idea or a story-in progress and walk into the process of story making - that way the story benefits from Donald's insights and experience and also the feedback of the other storytellers gathered there. Its powerful!  And dynamic. After my turn as teller - I join the group as "listener" while others put out their stories.
If you want to taste the process in action watch We All Have a Story as Donald guides a group of 14 in story making. In 1999 a workshop with Donald Davis changed my life - this film could trigger a change in yours.

Saturday evening Telling Moments Theater presented Donald in a Storytelling Concert - a special concert in memory of Donald's good friend Sherry Geyelin.
A FINE evening of stories Sherry loved. He told the ever wonderful L.S.M.F.T,  a delicious story about his mother, and the deeply moving story, Joe Wheeler.
The emotional arc of the stories fit together perfectly.
Donald Davis never disappoints an audience. They expect a peak performance .... and he delivers it.

The Writers Center is located in Bethesda, MD. I talked to people from New York, far away Southern Maryland, Baltimore, West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina.
It is always worth the trip to hear Donald Davis tell stories!

In closing, Sherry Geyelin was a charming storyteller, an accomplished woman who was a passionate supporter of storytelling and storytellers. And, she was a regular at the annual workshop at Susan's and at the summer Ocracoke workshop you see in the film. She was a friend to many of us.

Storytelling in the Forefront - 1 Andy Offutt Irwin

This past week-end was packed. I will focus on the storytelling stuff and later write to remind myself of the other stuff that kept me hopping. Without Jim's help I would never have made it. 

Let me tell you what's happened. When I wrote the blog post for this - Andy Offut Irwin and Donald Davis - I realized it should be two posts - so I am splitting it. 

A Bard on the Road: Andy Offutt Irwin

Andy Offutt Irwin was in the area telling stories at five libraries in Virginia - and a house concert in Silver Spring, MD. That gave us time to schedule an interview with him on Stories in Focus at Channel 16.
I love the chance that television show gives me to sit down and chat with folks - people I have seen work on the stage but never had a chance to really talk with - more than a "Hey, how are you - loved your show "- among a crowd of people gathered around saying the same thing.

I expected the interview to be FUN and it was - after all Andy is known as a zany comic storyteller. He has a flair for improvisation and he is used to keeping crowds of thousands in stitches during his shows. We did laugh. He was funny - but we were conversing - (I strive for that) and I had a chance to meet him as a very thoughtful guy who works hard at his craft. Besides chatting with me  he told two of his Aunt Marguerite stories - the character he has created to speak his and her mind.  
Now I have to tell you - I just love Aunt Marguerite and the first time I heard him tell her stories Marguerite sounded so much like my aunt I thought she was a real person - well she is a real person - she is another voice from Andy. She is real - not just because he can DO voices - she is real because Andy has an incredible ability to observe people in their world and then have Marguerite speak from the truth of their experience. OK  I know. He, as comic performer has to "go for the joke' - he does and he gets it - but in the nuances of her character I recognize women I knew growing up in North Carolina - maybe even some of the southern woman I am today. I am really glad Aunt Marguerite travels with Andy Offutt Irwin. Maybe you are too. 

I can tell you they charmed the audience at the House Concert in Silver Spring, MD Sunday Night.

When the station has the disk ready for me I will post it here hopefully by early February.


A single rose

My Anniversary rose.
A single bud -
its a tradition.


Last Roses

Its late so I am just posting a photo tonight.

Tomorrow is filled with many lovely things.
First the annual workshop with Storyteller, Donald Davis. We will gather at Susan Gordon's house at 8:30 am. That does not sound too early on the suface but Susan's place is almost an hour away. translates to my getting my feet on the floor by 6 am. Ohhhhhhh me.

A day with friends and stories! Sounds good to me .

Tomorrow night Donald will take the stage at the Writers Center in Bethesda, MD for a concert of stories - favorites of his friend and mine, Sherry Geyelin - in a memorial concert for Sherry. Without a doubt it will be wonderful! The concert has been sold out since before Christmas. I will emcee - tomorrow I will consider what to say - as little as possible actually - so that we can hear all the stories Donald can tell.


A Friend's Gift

September 2001
While we were waiting to fly back to the States after September 11 Jim and I traveled around Provence.
Although it was a nervous and uncertain time we found moments of quiet certainty.

Like the afternoon we visited Paul Cezanne's studio outside Arles. They have preserved it so that you  feel his presence in this charming place. 
 The shelves in his studio are crowded with the familiar objects he arranged and rearranged in his paintings over the years. I recognized objects from paintings I had studied in textbooks and seen in countless museums since my first art history class in the 1970s at Dunbarton College of the Holy Cross in Washington, DC. The place felt welcomed - - connected.
Sitting in the garden on a warm afternoon was a sweet time.

These settling connections in strange places are what I love about art.

Near-by was Mt. St. Victoire - the large rock face mountain Cezanne painted over and over.
Steady as a rock.
All is well.

Art is often such a rock-certain center for me.

The blessings of Art in my life came when a neighbor in Oxon Hill, MD handed me charcoal and paper and took me to an art class in 1965. She opened a whole new world for me.  
Thank you, Pat Morgan. Where ever you are, thank you.



long-lasting color
love orchids
especially in winter


Attic Museums

Attic Museums

I love "attic" museums.
Small places where they exhibit

the bits of peoples' lives.
Where the obscure becomes important.
Some would say

"all they have is trash."

Attics are where you find the bits of memories.
Where you stumble across the forgotten
Kept because it was precious.

Southerners have an affinity for holding on -

To things.
We want the bits of history

To tell us who our people were.
So we will know who we are.

We keep stuff - for generations.
A photograph, a piece of lace, a spoon,
Books, oh, my yes, books
Letters, pens, linens, pots and pans.
And on, and on, and on.

We guard them.

They are us.
Our roots, our connections.



Iphone drawing


Close to Home

close to home
are worth keeping
and sometimes -
prompts remembering
to hold a moment.

Blending in

 even so
I captured his patterns.

Rat a tat tat
making a ruckus
like an insistent machine

nothing retiring about the wood-pecker.

Golden machine
abandoned on the curb
sadly idle
side-lined from the game

wonder who won
or lost?

Wandering through my photograph files. I like to bring out images that refresh memories. Sometimes, like this morning, I look for the small images, taken at different times, that remind me of that particular day. They are like "tickets" for a quick trip back in time.

Artists across the ages have used some form of sketch book as a journal of everyday life and to catch small glimpses of the world around them. I use the digital camera for that kind of note-taking.

My computer files are glutted with insignificant images that are treasure for me. They are the bits and pieces of daily experience - shadows on a Starbucks table, pattern on a sweater passing by, Jim's hands on the newspaper, deer wandering the near-by lawns, a pile of mail on the dining room table. You get the idea.


Mama - quilted

"Mama" - Quilted
  Altered Photos
   circa 2000

This, originally sepia, photograph is one of my favorite pictures of my mother. She had it taken by a professional photographer so Daddy could take it with him when he went over-seas in 1943.

In my childhood memories, this is the young woman I see.

Fun making this for a show at Gallery 10, Washington, DC. Scanned the photograph, altered it with a "paint" program, laminated the pictures and then assembled the quilt. The work has a history. It was exhibited at the DC Art-o-matic (circa 2004) and at Dadian Gallery, Wesley Seminary, Washington, DC. (circa 2006)  Important to know the provenance of a piece of art work,

But, of all the places I showed the work, I was happiest to hang it at Mama's 90th Birthday Party in 2005.



circa 1990 

"Splat" is a great word. It has sound and meaning that strike  just the right note on certain occasions - like when you slip on the ice and fall flat on your ass on the freezing wet sidewalk.

I know because that exact thing happened to me on a DC street last winter.


Provence Cat
digital photo

Jim and I were stranded in Provence, France for ten days  after September 11, 2001. 
One afternoon our companion suggested we drive into the countryside to visit an artist friend of hers. We drove through orchards and farmlands and past small off-the-tour type villages until we reached a picturesque farmhouse situated in the middle of orchards. 
This cat was peacefully sunning himself on the window sill in the kitchen.

The afternoon in the country felt as though we had stepped out of the "real" world where things had truly gone SPLAT and created the NEW NORMAL  we still live today.

A Diamond Jubilee Bit.


A Day

1. A "House" marathon is keeping me company as I work in my office. Dr. House is irritating and irascible - someone you would hate to be around - but I love the character, House, and the actor who plays him, Hugh Laurie.

2. Started another year of my cable tv show this morning - telling a folk tale. Fun.

3. Looking ahead. Assembling the images, quotes and pictures for a Pushing Boundaries CD to send to the media company so that I will have it ready by February 1.

Another reason to be grateful for text messaging. A member of Jim's family in California is in the hospital and its so much easier to keep in touch and receive timely updates by texting. Robin suggested that we ally with one of the younger  guys - we did - and voila - we are in the loop. Makes things so much easier! I am a new convert. Come on thumbs. You can do it.



Hello - I'm Ellouise from Ellouise Schoettler on Vimeo.
Playing around with "slicing and dicing" some of the videos of my TV shows.
Last January when I started posting my videos to the blog
I was very hesitant and unsure of myself. That practice has paid off.
Today I am fearless - almost reckless - clipping away.
Actually - the secret is patience and practice -
and don't forget the "undo" editing feature.

Our Kitchen
circa 1980
early morning light 
a study in white

we still have the white table and chairs
shutters are gone
and the nook was lost to the renovation
nice memory of how it was
when we moved into the house in 1970.
Diamond Jubilee Memory


Three Beautiful Things and stuff

Three Beautiful Things

1. Made a plan for the day and actually stayed on it so tonight I feel like I have accomplished something.

2. The Mac and Cheese casserole I made last light tasted even better as a "left-over" for lunch. For this recipe I added the grated long-horn cheese - generously - into the cream sauce along with a bit of chopped yellow onion. The onion was a delicious surprise. Jim and I agreed that Mac and Cheese is quintessential comfort food.  Not only does it taste good - it conjures up warm feelings from across your life.

3. An unexpected call from a good friend I have not talked with in a long time. Such a great way to start the New Year.


When we turned on the TV NEWS this morning the CNN reporter was focusing on the huge LOTTERY Prize.  So we started the day listening to folks dreaming about hitting it big. Like everyone else we would like to hit it so Jim bought lottery tickets this afternoon. Its cheap fun - and fantasy. We have decided how we will divide the win-fall -- if it falls on us. For our family - then sharing with others and some good deeds. Once we might have talked about frivolous stuff -not today. There is too much need in the world to think about spending frivolously - -

Then I heard the odds - millions to one - but who knows, right?



People ask about what its like to be a storyteller.  Do you just read and write stories all the time. I wish!

This has been a very busy day - getting back down to the business of storytelling - which is necessary but not nearly as fun as telling stories.

The new title for working alone and having to do everything yourself is "solo-preneur." So as a solopreneur today I sent marketing emails, made marketing calls to set up gigs and worked on planning and coordinating a storytelling trip to North Carolina in February.

Tomorrow there is still a lot to do.  At present, just like most of the storytellers I know, I am juggling at least 4 projects - - and they have simultaneous deadlines. Its just how it is.

Actually I like it!

And, I am grateful for all of it - - no matter how much I often fret and fuss about it.


TBT: Venice, the Basement, A Timer and A CA Moment.

Altered Card
circa 1985

This is a collage I made when I was visiting my daughter Robin in Hermosa Beach, CA. She was living in her first CA apartment which was the first floor of an old Spanish-type stucco house on the corner of the Strand where Manahttan Beach becomes Hermosa Beach. From where I was sitting, if I craned my neck, I could see the Pacific Ocean, sparkling in the early morning sunlight. I loved that place. At the time I was traveling for a political job. By making small collages I could work "on the road." Multi-tasking. A funny thing about making art - it holds memories - of time and space as well as of who you were and how you felt when you created it. Often, my art works are my tickets back to another time - for time traveling.

Three Beautiful Things:

1. A friend sent us a recent photo of snow in Venice! Lovely.

2. The first bag of trash being removed from the basement. Its a start.

3. The iPhone has a TIMER!!!! This is a help for my "keep focused" resolution.