Leo Tales - Connecting

Hello, again. Leo here.

I tell you the people around here are really big on connecting - with each other as well as with folks who live far away.

Their son has set up the televison set so that they can talk to family members and friends from coast to coast on Skype and the iPhone talk program. I forget what they call it.  They have choices. They can dial on something called Skype, or they can use Ellouise's iPad or you know what they talk to pictures on their iPhones.

The other night they called Ellouise's sister in Indiana. She was talking on her little iPhone and they were talking at this end on the iPad.  But it matched up and they were all laughing and enjoying it. Jim held the dog up to see what was going on but they completely forgot about me. That's OK. They were a sight to watch.

This house can  be pretty noisy. Every one of the folks around here has a cell phone of some kind and the phones all play a different tune when it rings.  I have noticed that Ellouise only answers her cell phone. She has started letting what she calls the "Home phone" ring through and then she returns calls later. I heard her tell her daughter, "I am so grateful friends are calling to see how we are getting along and I do want to talk to everybody - but there is so much to do here that sometimes I can't stop what I am doing - right on the minute the phone rings - so I call back. I hope people understand."

Ellouise and Jim both text - and that's by far the quieter way.

Yea, they are settling in. Establishing a routine in a new normal.


Leo Tales 1

Hello. My name is Leo.

Ellouise and Jim's friend Susan brought me to Jim as his new mascot when he was in Sibley Hospital last week.  She told him she chose me - a lion with a red velvet heart around my neck - because he is a lion of a man with a big heart.

Jim was discharged from Sibley last Friday and is now at home with Ellouise taking care of him. Montgomery Hospice is supporting Jim's case. They say their goal is to provide care and comfort to the patient and support for the families and especially the principal care-giver - that's Ellouise.

Ellouise tells people she is learning that being under the wings of hospice means more than just end-of life care. Studies show that hospice care can actually support improvement in a patient's status.

1. Today Jim's team came for a visit - to meet Jim and Ellouise and the family. The team is comprised of a chaplin, a social worker and a nurse (RN). The members of this team are an amazingly good fit for Jim and the family. These three will guide all aspects of Jim's care as well as work with the family.

2. Ellouise, with help from family members, is the principal care-giver. It is a 24/7 all-encompassing job until Jim regains some of his strength and can ambulate more on his own as they all hope he will.

3. Fortunately having Jim's office suite on the ground floor of their home provides a comfortable setting
for Jim and Ellouise. Although you could establish a patient zone in any place they are grateful for how their space is working out.

It is late. Ellouise is tired so this has to wind up for now. There are some who have followed and supported Jim in his struggle with cancer so I want to post for them to know how things are going and toask - please keep Jim in your prayers.


Finding Quilt Scraps

Going through my photos I found this picture I took of the auditorium when Jim and I visited at Piedmont Junior High School in Charlotte, NC last February. I was on a pilgrimage to my past in observance of my 75th birthday.

People who move away from their childhood hometowns are probably the ones who make these kinds of trips to the past. For me as a storyteller its also a way to freshen the memories or find things that I have forgotten.

When I pulled open the side door to the auditorium I was transported across the years to 1949 - 1951. The room has been restored and it looks exactly as it did on the first day of the seventh grade. That felt so good! I remembered when our seventh grade home room danced the minuet for a George Washington's Birthday program. We had practiced the dance for a month and in class time folded pink crepe paper into cherry blossoms to attach to a large limb that became the fabled cherry tree.

Miss Phoebe Reynolds was my 7th grade homeroom teacher. It took me weeks to look at her first name and pronounce it correctly. Miss Reynolds was in charge of the audio-visuals - which in that time was the 16 mm movie projector. Several boys set up the projector, loaded the film and then ran the movie during the class period. I was fascinated by that movie projector. I aggravated the boys until they showed me how to set it up and load the film. When Miss Reynolds saw that I had mastered it she recruited me to their team and I showed the Kotex menstruation films for the 8th grade Home Ec classes. Finally she relented and assigned me to more than the "girl" films.

I told my first true family story in Miss Reynolds class. It was exhilarating to hear my classmates laughing at my father's antics. Never forgot that great feeling. My start as a storyteller.

More memory scraps for my "me" quilt.

How is your quilt coming along?


Today's epiphany

My cousin says her husband recently stumped her with this joke:

"how many Vietnam vets does it take to put in a light bulb?" when she finally gave up he laughed.
" How could you know. You weren't there."

I laughed.

And then the message really hit me.

How can we judge any situation we have not lived
and more to the point
give advice on how somebody who is living it
should handle things?

A bit like the old adage
you don't understand until
you walk in my shoes.

What ever -

I am going to try to remember the joke and my epiphany.


NEW Video: Conversation with storyteller Donna Ingham

When Texas storyteller Donna Ingham came to Washington last month for some sightseeing we were happy to schedule an evening of her stories at Friendship Heights Village Community Center and this interview for Stories in Focus. She tells us that she was thrust into storytelling and I for one am really glad that happened. Enjoy!