New Video: A Conversation with Storyteller-Poet, Anne Sheldon

Totally enjoyed this interview with Maryland storyteller-poet Anne Sheldon. Hope you will too. As, well as loved her telling of an old tale.


Happy Halloween.

Where has the week gone?


Setting the story

Had a fun time telling stories with the group,
Better Said Than Done. Jessica Piscitelli, storyteller and CEO, does a great job of organizing these events. And the line up was marvelous - terrific stories from Geraldine Buckley, Vijai Nathan, Meredith Maslich, Derek Hills, Adam Ruben, Jessica, Jennifer Liu and David Hallissey -and me - - all veterans of Speakeasydc.speakeasydc.org

I told a story from my adventure at the UN Conference on Women, Nairobi, Kenya in 1985.

Loved working with the memories -

Forcing a longer story into 12 minutes -
     its gets leaner and crisper.
Have to use gestures and expression
     as well as words and voice to send the action home.

Work at seeing the pictures
and giving them in

Jim took these pictures -
so that I can see myself
telling the story.

That sets the story!



e. schoettler

who stands behind
the harleqin?


Something to think about.

Makes sense doesn't it?  
From either perspective - 
sometimes my story goes on without someone - 
other times I recognize that I am no longer part of someone else's story.
The irony is 
I hardly notice when someone drops out of my life - - 
But I feel hurt when I am the dropee....

Why is it so hard to get the lesson - 
This is bound to happen
Especially with work or project related relationships

When the work or project ends
people drift away.

Its just the way it is.

Don't take it personally
Its life.


Gus was back last night.

Telling Finding Gus last evening at Tales in the Village in Chevy Chase, MD.  Bringing my grandfather Gus back through his story makes me happy. I only wish my mother could have heard it. I like to think she would have liked hearing the story and knowing he was no longer "forgotten".

To me this is the real gift from genealogy and family storytelling.

A nice article in PATCH.


Tick Tick Tick

Trying to stay on a schedule this morning to make it on time to an appointment.
Decided to turn to my smart phone to keep me on track.

Set the TIMER on my iPhone for 15 minutes and then
Hopped into a nice warm bath with a good book.

Read a few pages
Then realized it felt longer than 15 minutes

Listened- all was quiet

No - -  tick tick ticking from my phone

You guessed it.

I set the Timer but
did not turn it on.

Just saying - - -yes, the iPhone is a smart phone...
 however it does not work alone.

Made it to my appointment - on time - by the skin of my teeth.


My Ring is Back - where it belongs

Purple Circle
e. schoettler

In my collages I often work to balance disperate elements: just as in life.

My day began with a blessing.

Two weeks ago I lost my wedding band.
We have looked everywhere in this house - through clothing and pockets, purses, briefcases, as well as under rugs and furniture in every room. We vacuumed and sifted through the debris in the bag. Thought we were leaving no stone unturned.

I called on St. Anthony and St. Jude to lend a hand with the search; to help me find my ring.  I tried to remain calm while I came to accepting that, after 55 years, I had lost it.

Jim said, "we'll get you another one." "No. I don't want a replacement." Meaning - I want that one.

This morning when I sat down to neaten up my purse I reached into the zipper change section of my purse for coins to count.  When I opened my hand - my gold wedding ring gleamed in my palm along with the dimes and nickels.

Jim came running when he heard me scream. "Its my ring!" The tears I had been holding back for two weeks poured down my cheeks.

Yes, I had looked in the purse. Emptied it and checked it. Consider this - I never put my rings into that section of the purse if I am not wearing them.

Now its back on my finger. I feel whole again.


Its About Time

Its About Time
e. schoettler

If we were sitting together over a cup of coffee this is what I would be thinking and talking about.
My apologies. I just don't have any room in my wee brain for anything else than the following.

1. Enjoyed interviewing Maryland storyteller-poet Anne Sheldon today for Stories in Focus. Wide ranging conversation took off on its own. Now that's when its really fun. Her interview will air tomorrow evening at 10PM and Wednesday at 7PM - Channel 16, Montgomery County. I will post it here in a few weeks.

2. Working on Finding Gus for a performance this Wednesday evening. Tinkering with it a bit - and loving remembering my visit to Clemson U. last Spring - where he is remembered on a brick in the terrace in the Clemson Stadium. Still brings tears to my eyes.

3. Making progress on producing The New Front Porch internet radio program. Slowed by a steep learning curve! But enjoying the process of cutting and snipping audio tapes ---- into a new conversation! Collaging words.

4. Writing a new story for the "Better Said Than Done" program in Virginia next Sunday. Tweak! Tweak! Tweak!
Remembering Nairobi, a step back in time, and an adventure. All into 12 minutes! Now that is the trick.

tomorrow Jim and I are going to Baltimore - to Johns Hopkins Hospital for some deep conversations with folks who have big brains.
That's enough for one wee brain to hold.


Acorn Rat a tat tat

Dot Dot Dot

We parked under a huge oak tree
Acorns rained down
Sounded like a thunderstorm.



Leonardo's bones and a parrot. It's in process. Don't know where that's going.

Anymore than we usually know where a day is going, right?

Every day I start out with a list - some items so priority one that they actually get done - - others are bounced around and even bumped by things that come up.

Its not a great system - but its the one I worked out years ago and I am used to it.

The best thing about it is - once something is on the list - - it will be done.

The first "organizer" book I ever noticed was a blue fabric covered, smallish 3 ring binder that a student in one of my 1970s art history classes at American University had devised. She was also pursuing her Masters in Fine Art and was preparing for her Comprehensive exams. She explained how she had sectioned it for topics she thought would be covered on the exams - and added new information as she studied.  Low cost. Easy to use. I still have the faded blue fabric covered note books I bought at the American University Bookstore 37 years ago - to make a system like hers for myself.

Later in the 70s I discovered "Day Timers". That's a more expensive system which sends you a set of 12  smallish calender- books, one for each month. I chose two pages for each day style. It arrived in a black or brown plastic box - a house to keep the books in. Your life for the year. I used those until 2000. Convenient record books - when you are really using them. "Day Timers" saw me through the ERA Campaign, and several other heavy-duty administrative jobs.

Once I started full time storytelling - I switched to a cheaper system. Now I use quad-ruled composition books from Staples - as a brain - along with a cheap, small monthly calendar that fits in my purse.

I write everything in my brain- appointments, telephone numbers, conversations, ideas, plans, LISTS. I use one brain a month. Not a very organized system I admit - and its cumbersome - because I store them in large cardboard file boxes.

Lately I am keeping calendars on my iPod and iPad too.  And, I use an Apple app, Notes, to keep my lists.

But you know someting? Organization is hard. Try as I do, something always slips through. Often leaving me with egg on my face.


Video: Halloween Memories and a story

Nice Fall day here.
Blue sky, breeze rattling the colorful leaves on the trees
and sending them raining down on the ground.
Sets me to thinking about Halloween
How about you?


A Bit of Gold

    A Bit of Gold
     e. schoettler

   Every day has a bit of gold.
   Good conversations and ideas.
   Things to look forward to - -
   Even while I am missing
      a bit of gold
   My gold wedding band
   Not Found.
   I want that not to be true.

New Video - A Conversation with Suzi Whaples

Recently storyteller Suzi Whaples came to town and we had a chance for a lovely conversation on Stories in Focus.

This week Suzi is in Joneborough TN as Storyteller in Residence at the International Storytelling Center. Can't you imagine how folks are loving a matinee show every day with her stories? HERE for more information about Suzi.


VIDEO - Conversation with Megan Hicks

Hello, darlings.
Have I got a treat for you this morning.

Many people already know that this past Thursday Megan arrived at the National Storytelling Festival as a "New Voice", did herself proud on those stages for two days, and drove back to Virginia last night - a Star in the storytelling "fer ma ment". In February I invited storyteller Megan Hicks as a featured teller for Tales in the Village and as a guest on my TV show, Stories in Focus.

So - as a "Brava" to Megan here's a re-play of our conversation and she tells you a story.

For those who know her and have followed her career Megan's success in Jonesborough was no surprise. She is a seasoned professional - as those who have listened to her know. She has performed at festivals, in schools, and libraries across the country - and outside the borders for that matter. In the storytelling business however appearing on the Jonesborough stage sprinkles "fairy dust" and opens new doors for tellers who are so annointed. So, watch out world here she comes.

For those who don't know her - watch for her at a Festival near you - - and don't miss hearing her stories. Megan Hicks is a real storyteller. Her stories have humor, heart and meaning. For instance if you are in Texas -- Megan is a featured teller at the George West Storytelling Festival - where else - in George West, TX - the first week-end in November.


Ah, the joys of Radio!

Remember the joys of radio? 
My grandmother had a radio very much like this one in her living room. When I was a child we gathered around for the evening news and then for the magic of laughter and stories that followed.
With THE NEW FRONT PORCH radio show on my horizon I am thinking a lot about things I liked to listen to on the radio before television came on the scene and captured the family audiences. Programs like Arthur Godfrey and his easy down home patter, Lux Radio Theater, Let's Pretend stories, Burns and Allen, and Fibber McGee and Molly. All those people I could listen to and imagine. 
I still listen to the Big Broadcast Show of old-time radio programs whenever I have a chance - in fact I am listening to it from their internet website as I write this.
On a more modern note: Yesterday I drove to the country listening to the Splendid Table. Lynne Kasper is a warm and vivacious host who talks about a wide world of food. In particular I was entralled by her interview with the author of Salted, a Manifesto on the World's Most Essential Mineral - - as he extolled the importance of salt I was thinking of the old story "Like Meat Loves Salt." The program I listened to in the car is on the website along with a recording of Terry Thiese author of "Reading Between the Wines" who rhapsodizing about the mystical possibilities of having the right wine for the right moment. 
We all carry many references to old Folktales in our heads without really knowing how they got there. Shakespeare may have been inspired by Like Meat Loves Salt when he wrote King Lear. And this tale is well known in Appalachian culture. HERE Dave Tabler writes about those connections. Surprised? Or did you already know?
Wondering - wondering - - about The New Front Porch.



Homage to Henri Matisse

You know something darlings - I have decided that now that I have celebrated my Diamond Jubilee - I can say more of what I think - as long as its real, true and doesn't hurt anybody. Just the ramblings of an aging Southern woman sitting on her Front Porch, right?

Reading a new book about "branding" and honestly, it just confuses me. Seven syllable corporate words that disguise meaning - and leave me "in the dark."

The author did bring in the revered Joseph Campbell and his well known advice  - "follow your bliss." I get that. I got it the first time I read it in the 1970s. Follow you bliss = follow your heart, do what you love - - even when its not THE thing of the moment.

Now that's hard - nobody ever said it wasn't - because somewhere there is a pay-off, whether its money or just approval, for being the flavor of the month. It takes true grit to stay on your own path.

In today's world - with the mega highway of information - how can an artist keep up with the shiftings and maintain a true "voice" or vision --- even more than that - how do they continue to make new work - to keep their work fresh?

It is a problem - not something we talk about - but all of us who love stories and go to listen often know that twinge of disappointment when we hear the same stories as "last time." Sometimes its a good feeling. Comforting. Like when we were kids and Mom or Dad read us the same story every night - - - but other times its a bit of a stinging let down.

Hey, I do it myself - tell the same story again and again - if it fits - because its easier, because I know it will do the job and that I can do a good job with it. Because I have not had time to write something new or to preview it, or to practice it. My bad.

Why am I thinking about this? Because I heard an excellent interview with Jeanne Robertson, the North Carolina Humorist and Speaker who has become a Phenom - through You Tube. And now is covering the country - leaving them laughing and happy and often times touched. Listen to what she has to say here - about her business - but more than that --- treat yourself to watching her videos on You Tube - good, clean fun from a very funny lady who leaves you wanting more.


New Video - Grandmother Memories

Recently aired on Stories in Time, Channel 16, Kensington MD. Today home-made cakes often start with a box. In my grandmother's day making a cake was a kitchen pageant.


National Storytelling Festival

Storytellers and story lovers are gathering in Jonesorough TN today
to ccelebrate storytelling for this week-end of the National Storytelling Festival.
This is the first time in eight years that Jim and I are not among the happy throngs - and its kind of like missing a family reunion. I am missing being there - but it just could not work for us this year, drat!
I can imagine that excitement is building. The hulking big tents are empty tonight - but they are ready for tomorrow morning when the crowds drift in to fill the seats and the magic starts!


Love the iPhone

Rough and smooth
just like sailing on the seas of life.

1.  Gus is back. Telling "Finding Gus" today was very satisfying - especially to a warm and welcoming audience who embraced Gus.
2.  Appreciated the sunny blue skies today - gives me a jolt of positive energy.
3.  Having a really good time working on The New Front Porch radio show - toying with possibilities.
A new creative and challenging project is SWEET .....

Can't help myself. I love my iPhone.  Keep it near-by or in my pocket. Like being wired. Not surprising. The telephone has always been irresistible to me.

Mama gave me a dime as a safety measure so I could always call home. Long distance kept me in touch with my far away family. We even ran up a bill keeping in touch with our son when he was living in Europe. The miracle of communication. God Bless Alexander Graham Bell for his invention. Its a great connector.

But I have to admit the iPhone has limitations.

When I was reading through my contact list on my iPhone the other day - I realized - that half a dozen, maybe more  - of numbers on the phone can't be dialed on any phone. They require a celestial connection....

yet I cannot bring myself to erase them.


September Review


We will never forget the day the world changed.



I am really excited about this new project. Working out plans. Setting up the information-highway to get the word out. Hope you will "like" my new FaceBook Page, The New Front Porch - that is where I will post info about scheduling and what's happening on the radio show.

Guess what. All this takes takes time so - -one of the reasons you have not heard anything from me for a while.

The New Front Porch will be on A World of Storytelling - an internet radio station - started by Don 'Buck P' Creacy, a Kentucky storyteller and now radio "wizard".  You can listen to it on the computer, on your car radio (with a connector you can buy at Walmart and other places), on your iPhone and iPad if you down load the APP. Anybody that has read this blog knows how fascinated I am by technology so they will not be surprised that I wanted to do something with this.

No denying I have a learning curve - so far as some of the technical issues are concerned - but, you know something - those challenges just make this project more attractive to me.

My plan is to have programs on the air in November - - you will be the first to know.

National Storytelling Festival - next week-end.

 For the past eight years Jim and I have started the month of October with a wonderful story-filled week-end in Jonesborough, TN for the National Storytelling Festival. It just won't work for us this year - and its hard to give up the storytelling pilgrimmage. I will be thinking about all the happy storytellers and story-listeners crowding the tents to listen - - particularly a few friends who will be telling at the Festival for the first time - Geraldine Buckley and Adam Booth on the Exchange Place Stage - and wonderful Megan Hicks who is a featured NEW VOICE. If you are there - take my advice - don't miss them.