Halloween - A Time for Ghost Stories!

Halloween - a perfect time for ghost stories! Here's an old favorite of my stories that I found on YouTube to share with you:


A Bit of My History

Remembering one of my essays which I called A Bit of My History. 

Years ago, I once stood at the back of a crowd pressing into the room listening to Gloria Steinem and I felt a pull to the past – the past when I was much more excited about the women’s movement.


That day Gloria Steinem was tall, very thin, and lovely. Dressed in a black long-sleeved sweater over long black wool gaucho pants, also wearing boots. An elegant silver Navaho belt is draped casually around her hips and a heavy silver Indian bracelet at her wrist reminded me of a Wonder Woman bracelet. A large, hammered silver ring accentuated her long slender fingers and her beautifully shaped nails. Along with her trademark straight hair and aviator glasses. Elegant, understated – she shows a careful image

Fascinated, I watched the way she gestured with her hands. Gloria Steinem exudes style.
But more, she looks at everyone in the guest line individually with a gaze that makes you feel special.

I had not seen Gloria in about three years. As I watched her I thought she must be a bit like fine wine – she gets better with time. 

I was moved by her talk about her book tour for her new book - Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions –how people tell her their stories. She says, “ I feel like an heiress and I have to figure out how to share the stories back with everyone.”

She graciously acknowledged all the women in the audience, “You who do the work here and in Washington – how much we all owe you.”


It is so rare, in my experiences that I heard anyone acknowledge those working in the fields.


I felt memories stirring – of the excitement in Houston for the national IWY meeting – of having the feeling it could all be done – of having heroines like Bella Abzug, Gloria Steinem, and so many others – that was all before I turned negative – when I still felt energy and enthusiasm for the Women’s Movement.


When I felt all the idealism – saw only possibilities, not difficulties – was too naive to realize the obstacles ahead for women trying to pass the ERA.


Where did that feeling go? What happened?

My idealism was kicked out of me – squashed by the failure of ERA – in 1982. 


Women across the country poured every ounce of their energy into the campaign for 10 years of trying to pass the Equal Rights Amendment were squashed by the failure to pass it. All that and we came up empty.  

In 2016, 33 years later, I found a small journal with a reflection on Gloria Steinem in it and a rush of memories.


I wrote an essay when I got home from NYC where I attended the book signing for Steinem’s book, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions.  The large open lobby at the Equitable Life Assurance Building was packed – feminists standing in line for Gloria’s signature and chatting with old friends and other ERA Campaign veterans. It was a grand reunion as well as a celebration of the book


Robin, my daughter,  had a job in NYC at that time and she came with a friend.  Afterward, we went to the NYC 21 Club for supper – some fun is always a worthy use of time  - and, of course, it calls for money.


There was a lot of hope in the air for that time when there was the November 8 election outcome.  I was so hoping there would be large and small gatherings across the country to celebrate the first woman US President.


Well, it never happened.


Now it's March 2023 and there is recognition that this time is being called Women's Year.


This is another time for HOPE for Women.


Writing for Jim

My husband Jim Schoettler (Doctor James Schoettler) died March 6th, ten years ago.

It has been a long, lonely time for me and our children miss him as well. They are all adults – with their own children – two girls and 3 boys and, now there is a new addition to the family -- our first grandchild -- a darling growing girl.

I am sorry that Jim missed her because I am sure he would have dearly loved her. That’s how he was and I knew it from the day I met him in Baltimore when he was student doctor at Hopkins Medicine School - far from his hometown in California. 

Later, he was a doctor in Brooklyn, then he was a doctor in the US Air Force in Texas and then North Carolina. After that, he moved us to Washington where he was Chief of Psychiatry at Andrews Air Force Base. 

When he left the service and moved into private practice, he kept an office for a long time in DC, before he moved to his home office in Maryland. After a long illness, he died at home, with all of us.   
Now we visit his grave at Arlington National Cemetery as often as possible. Sunday, in honor the 10th anniversary of his death, we brought beautiful flowers to his grave. 

It's not the way we want it to be because we miss him at home. But we think about him all the time, and love to share his stories. That's the way we keep him close. 




Loving Color - with an Appreciation for Kaffe Fassett

Color settles me. It has done that since my mother gave me my first box of crayons and a coloring book.

Color motivates the focus of my work as a visual artist. Colors calm me and they give me the courage to take risks.... like wearing red shoes so I can walk up in front of an audience as a storyteller performer.

When I was online recently I was reminded that the artist Kaffe Fassett is on YouTube. He is an American who lives in Great Britain and is admired worldwide. I was first introduced to his work in the early1980s when I worked in Washington, DC, for the League of Women Voters as ERA Project Director.

One afternoon I was walking back to my office from a meeting at the White House. Along the way, I saw a beautifully decorated window at a small shop. A spread of vibrant colors stopped me. 

I was wrapped in and fascinated by the colors. I wanted more views of the examples of the brilliant colors I was seeing in the display of small and larger needlework. So I went in.

What I discovered was the world of Kaffe Fassett. I learned we were the same age. His work in knitting and needlepoint looked like modern paintings made with vibrant blocks of color.

l went close and carefully examined the way he had put the colors together. As a visual artist, I have always worked with color. 

Just looking at the arrangement of the Fassett's colors made me feel stronger that day-  and still does. 

As a teenager, I had learned to knit, and as a young mother in the late 1950's, I knitted for my family.

I thought to myself, "I can do this needlepoint, too.”

That afternoon I returned to the small shop and bought a Fassett design kit and a small pair of scissors.

That was in the 1980s.….. I loved it - and still do! 

You see I was about to go on the first of many trips for my job. I would travel by car, train, and plane across the country trying very hard to convince people to support the ERA.

I needed to find a way to settle myself while away from home. And it worked.

Seeing Kaffe Fassett's work again and listening to him on YouTube I was touched by his view that we need to surround ourselves with wonderful, vibrant colors to give us energy and make us come alive. And - I also heard his plea to young women not to wear beige clothing – they are too dull - - a good laugh!

For the past two years during the Covid pandemic threat, I have been slowly resurrecting my artwork from my studio and hanging it on any bare wall space I can find in my house. 

I love it. 

In writing this, I realize now I have been wrapping myself in colors and they keep me settled in today's unsettled times.

Color is what gives me...my 86-year-young self..... the energy, motivation, and focus to be calm and keep going.

It really works for me! How about for you?



Looking at My Irish Roots

Looking at My Irish Roots Visual artists often stop and take stock and select works for a retrospective of their art work. Here is a chance to do the same with my story work. When I read the Song-catcher by Sharyn McCrumb, a novel featuring a ballad handed down through generations of her southern family, 

I was impressed by the way she incorporates family history into her story. came to storytelling through genealogy and did much more of that when I first started telling stories. She inspires me to go back in that direction, asking new questions. In the biography on her website Sharyn McCrumb talks about the two worlds of her parents. That’s true of my family too. 

 My father’s family was proud of their social position, which was based on my grandmother’s father. He was a Mecklenburg County elected official and a very popular figure. When I looked up his obituary in the Charlotte Observer a huge picture of him stared back at me from the front page of the newspaper. I remember my grandmogher as a tall, aristocratic looking woman who was not prone to spontaneous hug. She was the mother of eight children, she was a reader, a versifier, an Anglophile and an avid Bridge player. She was proud of her lineage, especially her Confederate roots, because she did not know her Revolutionary War ties. If she had looked into it she would have found her Revolutionary War roots and saved me a lot of trouble later. She would have been proud of all those deep tap roots that came through her father’s paternal family. Her father’s mother was an Irish immigrant, from Tipperary, Ireland who arrived in America in 1837. She came with an extended family before the potato famine. Maybe they were seeking religious freedom, because they had both money and a trade. She left us our Catholic faith. Her family arrived in America through Nova Scotia, went to Albany, New York for a time where they had family, and then came to North Carolina following the little known 1840s gold rush in North Carolina. She married a young doctor from Newton, NC and they had eig Surprisingly no Irish stories have been handed down through the family. I was not raised on the stories she must have told her son and that one would think he told his daughter. And, that he might have told my father, his grandson. The newspaper articles I found about him say he was known as a storyteller and a wit. I wish we had been left a legacy of Irish songs and stories like Sharyn McCrumb describes from her Appalachian family? 

Ever since I discovered my strong Irish heritage I have wondered about this. Now, Sharyn McCrumb, in describing her family, opens the question for me from another perspective. I will dig deeper. I want to find any stories about the Lonergan family of Catherine Cobb.


Blue Darling




Grand-dad with the "boys"

Wonderful days when Jim and I flew in from the East Coast to spend time in California with the Foxes we love - - our daughter, her husband and their three boys who lived close to the southern Ocean in CA. 

Jim loved being with these boys and it reminded him of his own childhood in CA.

Great fun there then- - - - - and now wonderful to have the pictures to keep the memories.I love carrying my cameras.


Remembering Yvonne Pickering Carter - '78


The Eye of Yvonne Pickering Carter -  she was invited to select works from as artists for a show at the WWAC.

When I saw an article about artist Yvonne Pickering Carter recently I was surprised and delighted to recognize her and remember how we worked together in arranging this show.  

We had fun deciding how we wanted to set the uptake for the picture - as I recall Yvonne used the mirror  to connect with the statue. 

She aded her poem - -  quite an addition.

It took time for me to find the picture in my studio- and I am very ,happy to have it out for all again to see. 

I loved working with her,