WISE WOMEN - Subversive storytelling

I am celebrating Women's History Month with a program of folktales about "wise women".
I have had so much fun finding the stories for several reasons.
First, I am newly in love with folktales.
Second, I am not ashamed to admit I have an agenda.

I am celebrating a certain kind of woman - the white haired, often overlooked wise woman.

This makes perfect sense to me - how about you?

My Grandmother, Ellie Hall Keasler Baer was the first wise woman I knew. This is a story I tell about her.

Granny’s Trip to the Beach
Ellouise Schoettler
When I was growing up in Charlotte, NC, I lived at 2001 East 7th Street. I could walk one block and two houses to Granny's house at 2308 East Seventh Street anytime I wanted to.
One day we were sitting on the couch in her living room and she told me this story.
It happened in 1904 and Granny was just 16.

“It was really hot in Charlotte that summer and a bunch of girls wanted to go to the beach. But in those days it was not proper for respectable young women to go on their own - and it would have been a scandal for us to stay in a hotel by ourselves.

We were all working at Ivey’s Department Store and one day we talked it over among ourselves and fixed on the idea that Miss Annie Grose would be just the right person to go with us. She was a milliner at Ivey’s - that’s a hat maker in case you don’t know - and we all liked her - and most important she was a fine up-standing, church going spinster lady - - real respectable.

Well it took some doing but we persuaded her to go with us as out chaperone. We rode the train from Charlotte to Wilmington and then we had to take another electric trolley car out to the beach. We got off at Station One and found our hotel - The Kitty Cottage.

Oh, it was fine.
There was a big porch that went all the way around it and the men and women staying there were sitting in white rocking chairs on the porch just relaxing, talking and enjoying the cool ocean breezes.

We just had the best time. We went swimming in the ocean right in front of the Kitty Cottage and then we dressed real nice for dinner in the dining room. After that we strolled down the boardwalk to the Lumina where there was dancing.

Oh, my, it was so fine.
And we were just enjoying ourselves - to tell you the truth we were having so much fun dancing one evening after dinner that we did not want to go in from dancing when Miss Annie said we should.
So after she went to her room and we went to our room - two of us got up and put our clothes back on. We climbed out the window onto the roof of the porch. It was pretty high up so we could not jump down - but there was a trellis at one end. We hiked up our skirts and climbed down the trellis and went back to the Lumina for more dancing.

We thought we were pretty smart and we had a good laugh over how we had fooled Miss Annie.
But when we came in two hours later - we were the one that got the surprise.

Miss Annie was sitting in the hall right outside our door waiting for us.
And, she was not laughing. Let me tell you she had plenty to say about what we had done.

Right then she turned to me and looked me hard in the eyes.
"So, Ellouise - you just remember this - you might think you are pulling the wool over somebody’s eyes but when you get right down to it - you’ll find out -
you are not as smart as you think you are."
(E. Schoettler, copyright, 2003)


Baby Woodpecker

Outside the Audubon Bookshop this little guy was enjoying a snack at the feeder.

Into the Tube

Today I had a close encounter with modern medicine. I have been to Healthsouth Imaging in Chevy Chase before. It hasn't changed in ten years and that familiarity is comfortable.

Recognize this tube - the MRI Imaging machine. You lie down on that platform and they roll you into the close fitting tube and take pictures of the inside of you.
I had a ride on this platform today - and, like the other times I have taken this ride, I hated it. Its close and tight and reminds me that I have strayed from my diet.

I hated it more today because they were "imaging" the inside of my head - my brain - whoa! They would be looking at the mysterious manager inside my skull. So my head was braced into that little contraption to hold it still. And then, just to be sure I would not move the technician placed an oversize football helmet-like mask over my face. " hey what's this?" And then he tucked me in with a nice cotton blanket.

He placed a little rubber ball in my hand - and assured me - " just squeeze the panic button" if I needed to get out. - I felt a lot like trying it out right that minute. " You are sure you will hear it?" "Oh, yes!" he said, and his voice grew faint as the platform slid down the track and moved me deeper into the tube. "Are you sure?" I did not hear him answer.

Well, I am happy to report - that with the help of modern pharmacology - Xanax - I toughed it out and would have probably slept right through it - - if those magnets did not make such a racket. Because they were just interested in my head they let me keep my rings on - so everytime the magnets started to roll I felt my fingers jumping. Strange.

When I told a doctor friend of ours, a neurologist, I was scheduled to have it - I joked to cover my nervousness -, "what it they find out I don't have a brain?" "Don't worry about that - just tell them not to tell you." Good idea.

The people who work with you when you come in for these tests are all nice, soft-spoken, reassuring - exuding confidence that everything will be OK. It helps you get through the testing and you hope and pray they are right.

Dennis Olsen at Gallery 10

Dennis Olsen: Prints and Porcelains

Gallery 10
1519 Connecticut Avenue
Hours: Wed - Sat 11 - 5
March 5 through the end of March

A show worth seeing. The works are complex, multi-layered, mysterious and fine.

At the opening, a man, an artist, commented to me:
"this is the best show I have seen in Washington this year - museum quality, superior work, really deep, offering you skill and more."

Dennis Olsen teaches at the University of Texas at San Antonio and is President of the Santa Reparata Art School in Florence, Italy.

Here he is explaining the process for his monotypes to photographer, Margaret Paris and sculptor, Nancy Frankel. Olsen's teaching shows through in his easy pleasure in talking with people about his work.


Three Blog Favorites - 2 storytellers and a gallerist

Lately I have been exploring the blog world - it takes time to be sure. Time I should be doing other things, true. But once I got started linking and linking and linking - - further and further out - -
I just got hooked.

For awhile I saved everything in the "favorites" but now I am winnowing and only keeping the
gold. These are at the top of my list - - take a look.

Last October I met MN storyteller Gwen Calvetti at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN. She told me she kept a blog - I did not even have to write the title down to rememeber it. "Its called bird brained stories." Would you forget that? Well - take a look and you will be glad you have: http://birdbrainedstories.blogspot.com Then check out http://musingsonstoryandlife.blogspot.com I enjoy her writing and like the storyteller she is - she opens her experience to you as a story. Then what to my wondering and wandering eye should appear? Another aspect to this woman. Not just a birder, not just a storyteller - she is also an active subversive artist. http://subversiveactsofartisticjoy.blogspot.com Is that fun or what? Is this the answer to cleaning out my studio with no regrets? Enjoy.

Storytelling brings out another incredible blog. I wrote to Storytel, an international storyteller listserve community I follow asking them:"If you were telling a program "Wise Women" (which I was) what stories would you include?

Patricia Digh wrote back leading me to a story she had included in her blog 37 Days.http://www.37days.typepad.com Don't miss this blog. She won an award as a Best Blog of 2005. She writes one essay a week - wonderful, thought provoking takes on life - beautifully written.

Closer to home and so that I can keep up with what's happening in the Washington, DC art scene I routinely check on Lenny Campello's blog Washington DC Art News. http://dcartnews.blogspot.com Campello is an artist and as co-owner of Fraser Gallery in Bethesda, calls himself a gallerist. I must have been asleep when that new title emerged but it seems to identify many on the art blogs. Reading this blog is like getting a shot of insider news, which I thoroughly enjoy - and checking out the blog links on his side bar kept me busy for a few days. Linking and linking and linking. If you are an artist or art-interested and live in the DC area I recommend reading this blog. The man seems to be "everywhere" and freely shares his info.

DADA at the National Gallery

DADA may be saying they are "nothing" -
this show is really