Left-overs, Christmas trees, and Memories

1. Thanksgiving keeps on giving - turkey, sweet potato casserole and jellied cranberry sauce.

2. The distinctive pungent odor of fresh cut Spruce trees on the church Christmas tree lot fills the air with memories.

3. Can it really be the end of November already?


An Evening at the Theater - A Review

The caption under the beautiful color picture of actress Casie Platt in the Washington Post read, " Gather Round for Story Time and Leave the Little Ones at Home." Inviting, Intriguing. Yes!

The article goes on:
" This week-end, the two-for-one musical, Cautionary Tales for Adults and the Many Adventures of Trixie Tickles" a highlight of the 2007 Capital Fringe Festival, is reprised at Round House Theatre. If you're looking for an antidote to crass commercialism and faked joy, you'll find it in this $15 show."

What's not to love? We went. It turned out there was a lot not to love.

The cast of five was energetic, engaging and very talented. Casie Platt, the featured player as the librarian in the Cautionary Tales and as Trixie Tickles in the second play, gave a fine performance, creating each role as a very distinct character. Her rendition of a five year old temper tantrum was right on even as it was like fingernails on a blackboard for any parent or teacher that's endured through those.

The blurbs about the plays say the writer took his inspiration from Edward Gorey's "Cautionary Tales for Children" and that may have been when things started to go off track. English satirist Hillaire Belloc wrote the Cautionary Tales - American artist Edward Gorey illustrated an edition of the tales with his distinctive black and white, often eerie, drawings. The book jacket for that edition describes Belloc's tales as "witty, brilliant, and strikingly irreverent."

Author Shawn Northrip did not achieve that in his writing for this work. The audience was not well led into the frame that they were grown-ups as kids for these tales. Attempts at audience participation fell flat because the clueless audience held back and the cast had to work hard to bring them in.

Laughs came not from "witty" but from language - foul language seems to be the way to tickle our funny bones these days. The writer's tales were plenty irreverent - infact one tale took irreverent to a low point when the joke revolved around Trixie Tickles being lured away by a clownish child molester.

I am sure the two plays went off well with more forgiving fringe audiences but IMHO the material has not been honed yet for a prime time stage. Where was the "moment of reflection" to add depth or give a pause to absorb the "message" if there was one. I am not talking about a preaching or teaching moment - I am talking about a moment for the audience to have a satisfying "take-away" - from an hour and a half and $15.

Black Friday

Patti Digh's post "Help the Man Up Off the Floor" on 37 Days is a powerful statement about the
man who died in a shoppers stampede on Black Friday.
I was moved by her post and by the comments.


3 Beautiful Things - Koki's Tomato Aspic, Ink Death and a Friendly Squirrel

1. There is tomato aspic left-over from Thanksgiving Dinner. I love it. It's very simple to make. My aunt Koki gave me the recipe years ago:
a can of stewed tomatoes
a box of Jell-o lemon jello
a dash of vinegar
Puree the stewed tomatoes in the food processor. Place in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour in the package of lemon jello - stir to dissolve. Add the vinegar. Remove from heat and pour into a small jello mold.
Refrigerate until it sets up firm. That's it. Enjoy.

2. Reading Ink Death, the third of Cornelia Funke's wonderful trilogy about the Inkworld.

3. This friendly squirrel who lives somewhere near the large glass doors of the Chevy Chase Library freezes when you come near but does not run away. He seems instead to be waiting for a hand-out.


Happy Birthday Karen and Happy Thanksgiving

Our daughter Karen was born on Thanksgiving Day - November 27 - at Kings County Hospital, Brooklyn, NY in 1958. So every seven years Karen's birthday circles around to fall on the actual day of Thanksgiving itself.

If you have done the math you realize this was a special birthday.

Our cousin Tina Barber made this terrific cake - delicious chocolate cake inside trimmed in lavendar to honor Karen's penchant for purple.

There is a story about Karen's Birthday and I will be adding to this off and on all day. Check back if you want to follow along with me. In between I will continue to wrestle with my turkey.
Later - well, the turkey turned out well. The cake was yummy. Now we will wrestle with dishes.
But first, back to Karen's story.
Jim completed his internship at Kings County Hospital in July 1958. He ad been drafted into the USAF as part of the 'doctors draft" but because I was pregnant he was granted a compassionate six month delay so that we could stay put until after the baby was born. That's why come November we were still in Flatbush, Brooklyn, living in our one bedroom apartment on 35th Street two blocks from the front door of Kings County Hospital. Dr. Perrin Long, Chief of Medicine, had arranged for Jim to have a six month externship at the hospital working in a research lab.
My cousin Sandra was living in Manhattan. She was working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which impressed me no end. She and I had planned to cook Thanksgiving Dinner at our apartment. At Sandra's suggestion we were going to l'orange a duck. She being the cook was tackling that job.
I shopped for all the fixings and they were ready for Sandra to arrive Thursday morning. However, about midnight I started regular labor and plans began to shift.
Sandra rallied to my hurry-up call and took a taxi out to Brooklyn at 2 am so that Jim could take me to the hospital. She would be there when our two year old son, Jimmy, woke up in the morning.
Labor is never predictable and mine kept on and on. Jim walked home in the early afternoon to help out with Jimmy and to share the duck dinner with Sandra. Although I was busy and could not eat it the kitchen sent a traditional turkey dinner to my bedside.
Jim returned about 6 pm and Karen was born about 8:30 pm.
Groggy in the delivery room I heard my baby's strong and lusty cry and then the doctor presented my lovely daughter to me. He turned to show the baby to Jim. Horrified Jim watched as our baby peeped and then turned blue to purple. They snatched the baby away. She had collapsed a lung and was having difficulty breathing. Those moments while the doctor and nurse worked on her were terrifying and it seemed an eternity until we heard another feeble cry from her. They were successful and she rallied. They placed her in an isolete for several days to be sure she was well oxygenated.
Jim and I had already agreed on a name, Karen Louise, if we had a girl. So next morning when a priest came from St. Ignatius Church and Baptised her she was offically named. I did not really hold her until Saturday.
Quite a dramatic entry into the world. Not one the parents forget. Especially on Thanksgiving Jim and I remember that night in Brooklyn and thank God for the gift of Karen.
And to remember how grateful I am to Sandra for coming to save the day and to cook the duck.
Fifty years ago. That may be - it seems vivid as though it were yesterday.


Surprise in the Mail, Red Ball and Cooking Starts

Three Beautiful Things
1. "There's a package from UPS." Inside, a lovely basket of tempting edibles from Williamsburg. My mouth is particularly watering over slices of Virginia Country Ham. What a lovely surprise.
2. The basket moved slowly hand to hand around the room which was crowded with women. Each woman reached into the basket and picked out a small red ball with a powerful symbolism. "The red ball represents your serenity, hold it close and don't give it away."
3. I started cooking "The Dinner" this evening. It takes a few days.


Pre-Thanksgiving, Safeway and UPS

3 BT

1. Feeling virtuous for shopping very early at the Safeway which is empty at 7 am. Jim and I entered the store in the dark and left with the sun up. As the doors open for the day employees outnumber shoppers at least 7 to 1. Love it. The butcher has time to talk, a manager can direct me to the coconut and we pick from the newest and freshest. I don't mind the boxes that clutter the aisles as they re-stock. I like this better than long lines and playing bumper cars with the baskets.

2. Feeling good as we stopped off at the UPS on Connecticutt Avenue to drop off a two yeaer collection of used copier cartridges. I breathe a sigh of relief and say, "we've just made space." Jim tells me, "I have to buy more." Its an endles cycle - moving stuff out to make room for more to come in.

3. Enjoying some time with our grand-daughter. Nice to have the quiet time to talk or not - just to be together.

I spent most of the day laying the foundation for our traditional Thanksgiving Dinner. There will be ten at our table so I was counting out china and silverware. Our grand-daughter came over to help with washing away the layer of dust on the dishes and shining the silverware.

Thanksgiving Dinner and all the trimmings is the annual ephmeral art work for millions of cooks. I used to say women but I know better than to be that careless these days. Many of these feasts are cooked by men.

Anyway, I am tired tonight. And I have just started. More will be revealed.



A bit of quiet and soft light soothes the spirit.

I have written about this picture before and added a bit of family history.


Baltimore and Storytelling - Tellabration 2008

Jim and I spent the first half of the day in Baltimore. He was attending a meeting and I had a chance to play in memories on a beautiful sunny day.

After I dropped Jim off I retraced my steps to park conveniently in front of Enoch Pratt Library - just across the street from the historic Catholic Basilica. As the bells rang out at 8 am I walked up the step and into the beautiful church just as red clad Cardinal Keillor completed his early morning Mass.

When I left home to seek my fortune in 1954 I came to Baltimore as a first year student at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. Baltimore was the largest city I had ever been to at that time. This Basilica was the first really large church I had ever seen. One Fall Sunday afternoon I walked over from Hopkins Hospital with several classmates for the 5:30 pm Mass - the "last chance" Mass they called it. The soaring dome ceiling took my breath away. I remembered seeing Jim, "that cute guy" I had seen at St Michael's, the Hopkins neighborhood Catholic Church.

Sitting one of the same wooden pews in the beautiful, quiet, light filled space I enjoyed revisiting memories of those earlier days.

Later I spent time in the Maryland Collection at the Enoch Pratt Library reading early City Directories looking for information on my grandfather who was born and grew up in Baltimore. Picked up one clue on a family story so I know there will be more trips to these files ahead.

Tonight Voices in the Glen sponsored the local area Tellebration. It was held in the Kensington Row Book Shop. The house was full; all seats taken with people standing in the back of the room.

Six tellers told a variety of stories which kept the audience laughing, engaged and entertained for ninety minutes.

Bill Mayhew opened the program with a well-told and very funny selection of the late Doc McConnell's stories as a tribute to Doc. It was a good opener.

Margaret and Ralph Chatham ably presented a medley of enjoyable literary tales.

Ellouise Schoettler was up third. I told two funny personal stories, Writing in My Book and Air Vigilante. Hearing the audience laughing felt good.

Anne Sheldon elegantly told a Carl Sandburg story and bought down the house with James Thurber's version of Little Red Riding Hood.

Jane Dorfman closed the evening with a beautiful rendition of a classic Irish Finn tale.

One man told me it was "the best Tellabration I have been to."

A very satisfying evening of storytelling.

A local newspaper,The Gazette, sent a reporter and photographer. Their view of the evening appears on Wednesday.

As for me, I am still smiling and enjoying a fine time


Paper work, pears and a google alert.

Three Beautiful Things

1. Having a block of time to focus and get paper work caught up. Its also a relief.
2. Olives with pimento and yellow cheese in a sandwich. Wonderful taste.
3. The sweet taste of a juicy just-right-ripe bartlett pear from Harry and David - the mail order company for divine fruit.

This morning my google alert on my name sent me a fresh link. It turned out to be an article by a young woman in South Carollina, a staff writer for a paper in Easley, SC. In her very nice article about a local Tellebration she connected it to the annual nationwide circle of gatherings to
celebrate storytelling for adults. In her background research she found this blog and a picture of me Jim took at the 2007 Tellebration in Kensington. She used it to illustrate her article and named me and mentioned that I had been telling my dalmation dog story.

Wow. What a save. Having forgotten that I told that story last year I was planning to tell it tomorrow night at the 2008 Tellebration - once again at the Kensington Row Bookshop. Time to change thath plan I wrote to her. We exchanged a few emails today.

Jess is a newbie storyteller and will be telling herself tomorrow night at the local gathering in South Carolina. Good Luck, Jess.

And thanks for running my picture and saving me from an embarrassing story repeat.


Maya Angelou, Storytelling and Twitter - 3BT

1. When I punched the on for the car radio I instantly recognized that magnificent, resonating voice. Maya Angelou . She was talking with Diane Rhem on NPR. A lucky ride. I so admire her wisdom.

2. A good day of storytelling. Stories for the younger kids at the Audubon this morning. Mid-day I taped my TV show. Then finished the afternoon telling stories at my favorite retirement home client. Yes, a good day!

3. Today I feel like I am finally getting the hang of Twitter. Now that I know how - maybe my Tweets will get better.


Switching Roles - Listener to storyteller and vice versa

Today was a beautiful Fall day in Washington, DC. Sun shining, blue sky dotted with white clouds and an occasional splash of color on the trees.

In the spirit of the times Jim and I try to bundle our trips downtown these days. That explains why I was sitting in a Subway Sandwich Shop on K Street at 7:30 am this morning sipping diet Coke from a BIG cup filled with ice while Jim was at the doctor's office on the fourth floor of the office building next door.

I plugged in my Mac and established my space.
I can understand why writers like J.K. Rowling write in coffee shops and maybe Subway Sandwich Shops. Itis not busy until lunch time and no body bothers you at all. Best, there is nothing else in that place that you have to do. No laundry near-by, or telephone calls, animals to let out, emails to write, business bits to take care of - nothing. What I can't understand is how those writers can write longhand on pads of paper. I like the tapping sound of keys under my fingers.

Later when Jim returned he had another cup of coffee and I refilled my Coke. Then we moved the car out of the very expensive K Street parking lot and found metered street parking near Dupont Circle. I was taking my turn as gallery sitter at Gallery 10 today and Jim was meeting a friend for lunch at the near-by Phillips Gallery. Sensible right?

In between we made Thanksgiving Dinner plans, shopping lists, caught up on the Washington Post, and talked. I like that last best.
From our first blind date in Baltimore 54 years ago to today I love sitting and talking to Jim, about nothing or about something. We often talk about stories. Not just my storytelling but about family stories and our stories.

Actually, storytelling is key to Jim's business. As a doctor who is also a psychiatrist-psychoanalyst he listens as people tell their life stories so they can discover themselves. I have heard him introduce himself as a professional listener. He can't tell me any of those stories - they are all confidential - but I can tell you - he is one of the best listeners I have ever known. He not only listens to the story he hears the nuances that others miss.

But things are changing. Now he wants to tell another story - his. Often he tells me stories - new stories - about himself. What happened to him in the world he created where he worked. What happened in the neighborhood, with the people, and incidents on the street - you know, everyday stuff. The color and flavor of the stories he lived outside his office.

We swap roles - he talks and I listen.

A fair exchange.



Super Hero - A New Story

First thing in the morning Jim and I stopped at Einstein's on Connecticutt near our home for a coffee after Mass. We are regulars here and I was happy to snag our favorite table near the window and next to the newspaper rack. I picked out a day-old NY Times Art Section.
An article about conceptual artist Matt Mullican was intriguiing.

I can't say that I understood all of what he is "about" but I really related to his saying,
" it's all about projection," Mr. Mullican said, (in explaining his art) " I"m sitting in front of you now, and you're seeing me. But you're also seeing lots of other things, based on your experiences."

I get that - I not only get it - I experience it all the time. Its how my stories pop through.

I wrote the quote in my journal, nodding, "I will think more about this later. " I told myself.

I did. Sooner than I thought and not in the way I expected.

Later in the afternoon we were the last to leave Jim's doctor's office at 6 pm. I could see through the fourth floor window that it was dark outside and I knew that K Street traffic, going home traffic, was going to be heavy.

I was distracted when we stepped into the crowded elevator - going down. The door slid closed quickly.

The flashing light on the back of his bicycle caught my attention first. Then I turned to see what was happening. In a split second I was alert and taking it all in. From head to toe.

I was standing next to a man and his bicycle. He was wearing a red and white sleek bicycle helmet with a red light flashing on and off - in time with the flashing light on the back of his bicycle. The lights pulsed together lighting the back corner of the elevator car. He was wearing white and red shiny biking gear with body hugging mid-thigh length pants. To top off his outfit he had on shaped reflective dark blue glasses that were contoured to his face. He seemed oblivious to my studying him until I blurted out: "You look like a super hero."

That broke everyone else's reserve and they all smiled. The man turned to me and laughed."
"Well. I have never been called that before."

The elevator bounced as it settled on the lobby floor, the doors opened and we all moved into the lobby. The man walked ahead of Jim and me and through the double glass doors into the dark night.

"I wish I had taken his picture." I said out loud to no one in particular.

The traffic was unusually heavy on New Hampshire Avenue as we wove with a line of slow moving cars toward Connecticutt Ave. Jim was quiet - lost in throught.

"I was thinking about that guy in the elevator."
"He reminded me of the afternoon I opened the door into my waiting room in the Blake Building at 1025 Connecticutte Avenue and a bicycle courier was standing on a chair taking the speakers off the wall. He was wearing his helmet. He had on a back-pack and his bicycle was propped against the sofa."
'You mean he was stealing the speeakers."
"Yeah. I suppose he was picking up a little extra at the end of the day - something he could sell."
"What did you do?"
" I walked into the room and there he was. I was startled - and he was stunned that I was still there.
I said.
Put those back.
I remember that I kept my voice low and quiet.
Put those back. And leave.
And that's what he did.
He put the speakers back, jumped off the chair he was standing on, pushed his bike into the hall and left."

"My gosh Jim, he could have jumped you. Or, what if there had been two or three in there when you walked out."

" I know. I was lucky. I was lucky I startled him so badly that he just did what I told him to and left.
I stood there and watched him so he saw that I was not going to call the police.
In a way we made a deal."

" You were the super hero that time."

" I guess - come to think of it I was pretty cool."

Passing under a street light I could see him smiling, enjoying the memory.

I was grateful to the man in the elevator who prompted Jim to remember it.


Gold and Hopeful

After three gray and rainy days the world looks beautiful with an early morning sun shining.

A great way to start the day.

Golden leaves shining.




Jump in - A Riff of Shoes, Feet and Walking

Put your foot down.

Walking on egg shells.
Walking on water.

Stepping in it.

Put your foot down.
Stand firm.

Plant your feet.

One step at a time.
Taking the first step.

Baby steps.

Walking on the moon.
One step for Mankind.

Walk tall.

Walk a mile in another man's shoes.
The long walk.

Diamonds on the soles of my feet. Paul Simon

Stand out
Stand alone

I'll never walk alone.

Step on a crack, break your mother's back.
Stepping out.

Holes in your shoes.

Walk out.
Walk off.

Walking around.

Taking a rest.

Jump in - it's fun!

What's Going On?
One day I was with a friend in downtown DC. I noticed her tapestry shoes, "Stop. I want those shoes."
She stopped, planted her feet and I took the picture.
More shoes for my collection.
Now I am playing with the image.
Sorting out all the phrases about shoes, standing and walking I have stored inside my head.

Do you have some I have missed or never heard of?


OK! OK! or is it OR

Ok. Ok. I love technology. I said that.
But I am having a hard time keeping up.
Yesterday I receivd an email - they are shutting down my My Space page - because "its prime real estate" and I have not added anything for almost a year. I would if I could. I don't know how. My grandson set it up for me. I was so pleased. But then we flew home and that was it. So now I am being closed down.
Not just that - I can't TWITTER either. Oh, I know how to post and I leave messages for a few people but this one-way conversing makes no sense to me. Its like always being late for a meeting or stepping into a conversation in mid-stream - no matter how fast I paddle I can't get into the flow of it.
They say its more fun if you use your phone but I don't want to do that. I will spend my time texting.
How are they doing it? How are they keeping up with it all?
Is this one of those generational things?
Switching gears. I picked up a prescription at CVS today and noticed something new - there is now a box on the label describing the shape and color and anything written on the pill you are getting in your bottle. I guess that's good - for the medicines you take all the time and would notice a difference. Are they doing it in your area too?
Cautionary Tale.
Last night we wanted to watch a movie and nothing on the Cable was interesting. So we went to the "PAY" movie section on Comcast and ordered a film that sounded OK - we expected a light romantic comedy. What we got was a mindless film with no plot - what more could we expect when it opened with a full frontal naked guy? Forgetting Sarah something?" is a film best forgot.


Go Figure - 3BT and Jim's Soup Recipe

Three Beautiful Things

1. Getting the hang of my new email program. I love technology - and I love it more when I figure it out.

2. Having a dear friend who understands and loves you even when you disappoint her.

3. Jim's Recipe for Yellow Split Pea Soup. Yesterday after I mentioned Jim's soup Granny Sue wrote and said - "you need to post the recipe." Last night I asked Jim. " I don't know it. I threw the bag away and that's what I use - the recipe on the bag of yellow split peas - that's it." Do you do anything special to make it so delicious? "No - I just follow their recipe - but I only make it when we have a ham bone - its not as good with just a ham slice."

That's it folks. When you have a left over ham bone buy the yellow split peas and follow what the bag says.

I will add that this time he diced the carrots, celery and onions into smaller pieces and I liked it better that way. It is always better the second day when it thickens. Its a hearty meal - and would be even more so - if you added Granny Sue's biscuits.

We discovered this soup by accident a couple of years ago when we were visiting our daughter in California. She has a large oval crock pot that calls out for soup. Jim, who has become the undisputed soup-maker in our family - decided to oblige. He drove down to the Safeway for the fixings. As he was un-bagging those he discovered that he had picked up yellow not green split peas. And voila - a new family favorite!

Another example of how a goof becomes a tasty gift - and a family story..


3 BT - Biscuits, Soup, and a rainy day.

Three Beautiful Things
1. Granny Sue's blog today set my mouth to watering. She shows how she made biscuits and then gives you the recipe. I could almost taste them.
2. Jim's Yellow Split Pea Soup. Today is the second day on Jim's latest pot of yellow split pea soup and this go around is a real winner - bits of ham, thick broth, and just the right blend of diced carrots and onions. Delicious.
3. A grey, chilly and rainy day - the kind that makes me glad to stay inside - at home. Perfect weather for Jim's soup and the thought of steaming hot biscuits.


A Quick Hello- 1940s Movies, Entering the 21st Century and a good book

Three Beautiful Things

1. Catching snatches of two 1940s British black and white spy movies that I had not seen before now. A treat to see a very young Glynis Johns. I really love these old movies - and would have liked to sit and watch every moment but I had something else going on.

2. I had a plan for today but it fell apart when I was lured into signing up for an emailing service. Entering the 21st century is going to be GREAT, I can feel it already. Every month I have been spending hours sending emails for a performance project I handle because I was riding on a square wheel. Lo-tech has been really aggravating and time consuming. So, instead of following my to do list I have been segmenting email lists - doing a chore to free myself from a chore. And, you know something - its cheap. The story of my life - keep surffering instead of checking into the possibilities. I know I am the only one who does that. right?

3. Reading Neil Gaiman's new book, The Graveyard Book and loving it.


Our Family Roll Call on Veterans Day

on Veterans Day - a salute and thanks for those in our family who have served in the Armed Forces. (Another bit of family history)

World War I
Walter Cobb - died in France during World War I

World War II
S. L. Diggle, Jr. - served in the U. S. Navy

Robert Diggle - served in the U.S. Army Air Corps
Bob Schoettler - served in the US Army Air Corps
Don Schoettler - served in the Navy
Gene Schoettler - served in the Navy
Carl Duncan - U. S. Army - (career retired)

Catherine Diggle Brown - served in the WACS

David Schoettler - served in the U.S. Air Force

1950s and Vietnam War

Jim Schoettler, Sr. - served in the US Air Force Medical Corps
Tom Hutchins - served in the U.S. Air Force
Jim Loven - served in the US Air Forces during the Vietnam War
Bob Schoettler, Jr. - served in the U.S. Army
Harry Schoettler - served in the U.S. Army inVietnam
Dick Shea, Jr. - U.S. Navy (retired)

1970s and beyond
Trip Barber - U.S. Navy (retired)
Tina Barber - served in the U.S. Navy
Robert Diggle, Jr. - served in the U. S. Navy
Jim Schoettler, Jr. - U.S. Army and U.S. Army Reserve (active)
Tim Schoettler - U. S. Army
Lisa Barber - U. S. Air Force - active duty

My apologies to anyone I have missed. Please let me know so I can add their name.


A world of ART

Some days you are just extraordiarily lucky to meet someone like Paula Bogdan and see the magic she is creating inside an old Atlas.

Paula came to Patti Digh's reading to show Patti the images in her ART JOURNAL that had been inspired by essays in Life is A Verb.

When I looked closely at the book Paula explained that she chooses old books like this Atlas because the paper is thicker and better to work with.

Then she sets out to create her magic.

The textured surfaces of the pages are created by layers of paint, collage and writing. They are lyrical and mysterious - beautiful and fascinating.

You can see more at Paula's blog.



Jim and I drove to the Barnes and Noble in Reston, VA to hear Patti Digh read from her new book, Life is a Verb.

It was great. Patti has an informal, easy, embracing style when she reads. It was fun to hear her move the words off the page. As she read selections from the essays she elaborated on back-stories of the how and why each came into being.
Jim, who has not read the book - yet - was very impressed and I noticed later he was quietly flipping pages and stopping to read.
Patti brought with her a small art work that is pictured in the book. Photographs cannot capture the full charm and delicacy of this beaded collage.
Patti talked about how when she wrote on her blog 37 Days that "if you wanted to you could send an art work for the book" art rained down on her. 135 artists sent works. She and her publishers were amazed at the beauty, diversity and quality of the art works - so they used them all. I am pleased to have two pieces as part of LIAV.
"Why," she asked, " did you send work?"
Good question.
I was intrigued by the challenge - and I wanted to be a part of it. Its as simple as that.
After following her blog, 37 Days for several years I was a fan. The essays are deep, thoughtful, and inspiring. She shared her thoughts, her ideas, her questions. They left me poised on a new train of thought. And, through her links, I followed her into wider worlds.
By sharing her quest and her intention, she enriched me and mine.
My participating is my thank you.


3BT, Storytelling, A Hot Bath, and LIAV

Three Beautiful Things
1. A day with 12 interesting women who have real- life fascinating stories and the generous spirit to share them -what more could you ask for? The storytelling/art workshop Josephne and I co-led at the NMWA today was surprising, invigorating, and very satisfying. The participants came ready and willing and open to what was offered to them. They ran with our suggestions and turned them into stories that enriched us all.

Have you heard people say, "I teach to learn." It's true and I did.

2. At lunch at Au Bon Bain Josephine introduced me to the deliciousness of cranberries covered with dark chocolate - they might knock Raisinets off my favorites list.

3. Coming home for a lovely long hot bath with a good book.

MORE. I l loved introducing new people to Patti Digh's beautiful book, Life is a Verb. If all works out - tomorrow I will hear her read from LIAV, at Barnes and Noble in either Reston or Georgetown. It will be fun to give her a big hug.

Nothing like stories and 3 beautiful things to sweeten a lament. Why do I forget that?


Re-Grouping Lament

What's happened?.

I am not interested in what's going on in the big outside world.
After weeks of following the election
I want to turn CNN OFF and
Focus on home.

I want a psychic vacation.

Its been a difficult year.
Jim's brother died.
Mama died.
Jim's been nicked.
I spent a month on the couch this summer unable to walk because of my knee.

Not that there have not been many blessings and good times.
Our lives have been filled with stories, ours and those I am telling.
We have traveled to interestingn places and met wonderful new people
As well as seeing friends we know and miss.

But there comes a time when I just want to hunker down
To digest the stories I have been living
So there will be room for more. L

Like a bear, I want to crawl into a comfy log and sleep away the winter.
To wake up in the Spring, leaner and raring to go.

This mood could be dangerous.
It could lead to tossing things out rather than sifting and sorting.
To closing up my office, hanging a sign on the door
Back Later, Much Later.

Ever have one of those days?

But I cannot stop now.
Tomorrow I am co-leading a workshop at the National Museum of Women in the Arts
with my friend Josephine Withers.
Stories and art - a tempting combination.

And there are stories to tell next week and
other marks on my calendar to meet.

Its the calendar that keeps you at it, isn't it.

But watch out
Life Happens OFF the calendar.


3 BT - Fall Gold, Hugs, and Hope for Change

Three Beautiful Things

1. Being able to see the golden archway formed by talls trees on either side of Dale Drive.

2. Receiving encouraging words and feeling hugs.

3.During the More Than Words book/story class for Pyramid Atlantic this afternoon I led 20 middle school students in a discussion of what Barack Obama's election means to them.
Usually I tell a story but I told the students, "we are living in story this week - a story to remember - so tell me where you were when you heard that Barack Obama had been elected and what it mens to you."
I was deeply touched by hearing these kids talk about recognizing that it means change - possiblities for them in their futures - "I can be anything I want to be" one boy said. A girl said, "if McCain had won it would be just like every other election - this is Special."

I was born in the segregated South and although I was young I do remember when things like black and white water fountains, Black people moving to the back of the bus, and their sitting upstairs at the movies, and not sitting to eat at the lunch-counter were accepted - not questioned. And how I had to learn to question them.

Yesterday on the way to the class I listened to a radio interview with Dorothy Height, reverred leader and icon for Civil Rights. hearing her brought back the memory of a day in 1979 - when I was working for the ERA - I was privileged to sit at a crowded cafeteria table with her during a women's issues meeting. During the conversation about various aspects of equal rights I remember her saying, " we all have a responsibilty to look around every room we enter and notice who is NOT there and ask WHY and determine what we can do about it." I have never forgotten my brief meeting with her or that charge.

Yesterday the kids made accordion books celerbating their joy over the election and their hope for CHANGE.



Life is a bit of a balancing act.
One false move
and everything will topple.

Three Beautiful Things
1. Happy Birthday, Robin. All of our children were born in different States. Robin was born in Texas. Jim was in the Air Force, part of the "doctor draft", and he was stationed at the School of AeroSpace Medicine at Randolph Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas. So Robin first saw the light of day in the delivery room at Fort Sam Houston Army Hospital.

2. It's a good day today. Barack OBama is the President - elect. The campaign is over - change is ahead.

3. Listening to storytellers Tim Livengood and Cricket Parmelee tell stories at the Kensington Row Bookshop. Full house to listen to Tim's highly imaginative versions of Jack Tales and Cricket's folktales. I particularly enjoyed Cricket's telling of The Man Whose Mother was a Pirate. It's a charming story and she enhances it with her sure and whimsical delivery. She also surprised us with a sea chanty and had everyone singing along on the chorus. Fun.


Changing History

Today Mary, my storyteller friend in Missouri, sent this wonderful article from the Christian Science Monitor. And lo and behold, its written by a man in Charlotte, NC, my hometown, who learned he was not too old to learn something new. And yes, its about the election, Barack OBama and hope.

Maryland does not have early voting.
With all the stories we had heard about the long lines at the polls in other states Jim and I decided to go very early.
It was dark outside, but thank goodness not raining, when I picked up my purse to head out to vote.

Fortunately we were able to pull into a spot across the street from the school when we saw that the parking lot was filled. People were hurrying in from many directions as we crossed the street and quickened our pace. They were lining up inside the school building so we could not tell how many were already in line. By the noise level when we entered the building we knew it was a lot even before we started walking toward the end of the line. The line snaked down the corridor toward the back door. I would guess say that where we stepped into the line there were at least 150 people ahead of us.

People of all sizes, ages, and colors - all smiling and happy. Some came carrying large coffee mugs from home, others had steaming just-purchased paper cups of coffee. And most everyone carried something to read or had iPod ear plugs lines hanging down.

Many people were nattily dressed for office jobs, others for a heavy day of outside work or for a day at home. I marveled at one woman who walked by me toward the end of the now longer line - she was stylishly dressed - wearing a longish white coat and carrying a large, shiny turquoise vinyl bag - but it was her 3 inch black patent stilleto heels that really impressed me - actually they made my feet twinge. I wondered how she would fare standing in line on those stilts.

A white haired and bent black woman limped in to vote. I wondered if she had ever dreamed she would walk into a place like this to cast her vote for another African American for President.
or am I making an assumption - she could be voting for John McCain. Naw!

I heard an elderly man about six people behind me tell someone, " I am 86 years old."
Think about it - he would have been 21 in 1944 and if he voted that year he would have chosen between FDR and Tom Dewey. Today the major choices include Barack Obama - and if this man votes for him - he is participating in not just CHANGE but the making of HISTORY.

We had only been in line, inching forward, for 45 minutes when we reached the school multi-purpose room where there were 10 voting machines set up. We have voted here since 1970. I have served as an Election Judge in this room. It was familiar. Sign in was quick. Voting was smooth and quicker. It only took 2 minutes for me to vote for Barack Obama and against
slot machines. When Jim and I were done we donned the small "I Voted" sticker.

On to Starbucks for our free coffee.

I don't usually drink coffee - but today
is special. One for the History books.


On another subject:
I am re-reading Patti's Digh's new book, Life is a Verb ( I hope you all have a copy too.) Chapter One: Write to Remember - "we all need mechanisms for storying our lives in order to remember them, and leave them behind for others." (page 3) I guess you have figured out by now that this blog is one of my mechanisms for capturing my stories. That being true I want to remind myself of something about the clothes Jim and I are wearing in these pictures.

You can barely see Jim's blue patterned sweater - the Benneton sweater he bought in their lovely small store on the Marienplatz in Munich in the 1980s. Our son was in the US Army and stationed in Munich. He and Monica lived in a very nice apartment - Army Quarters. Their daughter Juliana was born in Munich. We broke a few plastic cards going to visit and obviously to pick up a few goodies. Jim's sweater, which he has thoroughly enjoyed and taken very good care of is in tip top condition -and he intends to wear it until it falls off his back - for the memories and because "its still good." I love seeing him wear it because it prompts my memories of other times he has worn it.

Now that faded well-loved Green Milleniuim Turtle sweat shirt I have on is another story. The cuffs are frayed and it is stained but I cannot let it go and I shamelessly wear it out of the house. I bought it in Nova Scotia in 1998 when I went there to tell stories at an international storytelling conference. I was just getting my steam as a storyteller and it was a great experience. Jim and I had a good time.

I love this shirt. It is heavy with memories, not just of Nova Scotia but of all the places its been with me since then. For instance, I just wore it one cold morning in Tennessee as I was tent monitoring in Jonesborough - so there are fresh stories clinging to it.

There was a time in my life when I jumped to get new clothes at any opportunity. Today I treasure the old and worn and familiar.
And being wrapped in all the memories they carry.


Waiting, A birthday and The election

Three Beautiful Things

1. Today is our son's birthday. Its a cliche but its true - seems just yesterday that he was born at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD. Jimmy was born about 7 am so at this time I was sleeping off the delivery in the hospital and Jim was sleeping off his "waiting" back at our apartment.

2. The waiting is almost over so far as electing a new President in the United States is concerned. This has been the endless Campaign. Its taken a LONG time to get to this day. I am looking forward to tomorrow. Jim and I plan to be at the polls when they open in the hopes that will be a shorter wait-time in the line. Tomorrow is our grand-daughter's first time to vote in a national election - a memorable beginning - she will never forget being part of such an historic election.

3. Right this minute I am waiting for Jim. Stories can shorten a wait - - so can a computer - and internet access. Ah, here he comes now.!


Paradigm Shift

When I start a new month I like to look back through my book and see what I completed and what I m carrying over to this month. To add to what's already on the calendar. Not too different from the Point Game really - until - something comes along - a surprise - and shifts all the paradigms.


The Point Game

We bought a time share - and points - about ten years ago as a gathering point for a far flung family to get together. We have had some great times which has made it very worthwhile.
We gathered to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary at Greenspring in Williamsburg - December 2005
It was easier to get everybody together when the kids were small and we were not battling school schedules on two coasts and all those kid-commitments that crop up.
So lately, Jim and I have most of the points to ourselves - to use or lose. Which led me to yesterday's small drama - playing the point game.

But I won.

I did it.

With some last minute help from Robin I parceled out 15,000 points with our time share company that I was about to lose.

At the beginning of 2008 we started out with half of last year's points added to the new 2008 points. I thought that would be a good thing. We had two apartments at Greensdpring during the Williamsburg Storytelling Festival. I offered time to Jimmy et all but their schedules are very busy. Jim and I traveled a lot this year - but never to places where we were using Time Share points - - so the clock kept ticking. The points were on hold.

Until our point balance dawned on me a month ago - I saved what I could for next year - what was left were old points - this is USE or LOSE.

That got my attention.

LOSE these points we paid dues on - absolutely not.

But I tell you, getting rid of a stash of points is like dealing with the salt grinding machine that won't stop. They multiply - and perfectly wonderful resorts don't cost as many points as you hope they will.

I found out I could trade - go places outside the properties owned by our company - meaning we could use this year's points next year. Ofcourse there is a fee - that's why you can trade.

I know, I know - what will I do when next year's point kick-in if I use my 2008 points to book travel for 2009? But since those 2009 points are not really real yet - I just ignored them. Like Scarlet, I will worry about them tomorrow.

First I traded for a week at Bass Lake when we go out to CA for the Rogue Festival - A chance for a long over-due trip to Yosemite. Smart, Ellouise. I was patting myself on the back. Good job!
Then came yesterday - the day the chance to trade would slip through our fingers as the 2008 points would no longer be good for trades in 2009. And I still had 10,000 points to deal with.

At this time of the year - everything seemed booked. Until I found a ski chalet in Virginia two hours away. Ah, good - and it was available Thanksgiving week-end. Have turkey at home, drive two hours and see a sight or two. Watch other people ski.

So what that you really don't want to go anywhere, that you would rather stay home and clean your house. I had already decided that even though you have to book for a week - you don't have to stay a week - I mean, this is a found vacation, right. One that is slipping away if you don't save it.

"How many points is that?" My voice was hopeful.
"1700." She said.
"That's all." My voice sounded like I was pleading with her to up the ante. "But I have 8,000 left.

I called our daughter Robin in CA.
"Go somewhere.
Please think of somewhere you want to go in 2009 - and we have to book it before 10 pm tonight or the points will expire."

Robin has teenagers. Teenagers really complicate family scheduling - they are so busy, so socially engaged, so otherwise engaged.

But Robin is a former corporate banker. She is resourceful. Tough corporate experience is an added plus for a mother of kids of any age but when you have teenagers a mother has to be an inventive and skilled manager just to get the family together for a dinner.

Robin studied her calendars - juggling two schools and heaven knows how many sports and teams - she saw a break - an opportunity - Spring Break. It worked.

Two units at Lake Tahoe in March. What's not to love! Even teenagers love going to Tahoe.
Heavenly will be heavenly.

A special hurray for schools and teams who issue schedules a year in advance. I am sure there is a mother behind that.
I am grateful to Robin for the "bail-out."
Jim and I are happy - we are DONE with points - until Janaury 1, 2009.