Too many balls
That are all in the air.

I am taking a bit of a time out.
To catch up.

Before I drop one on my head.

Two collages from the 2009 Series
e. schoettler


Wednesday - Collage, Birds are Back

e. schoettler

They are BACK. And the three babies are growing up. Will we get to see them fly away?


Tuesday - Collage, Birds, Elephants

From a Book of Hours

The live blue bird nest cam has gone off. I wish there was a notice to let us know what happened to the three little birdies. Did they fly the nest? They were certainly getting big and the nest was full. When I saw the notice for the live cam in the Gettysburg paper and added it to the blog I never expected to have such a rich touch with nature up-close. Seeing the mother, then her three eggs - she laid one egg a day for three days, the hatching, and the growth of those strange looking beings into feathered birds. It was wonderful to watch them. I looked forward to checking in with them everyday. And, then - they are gone. I will miss them. But I am very grateful for the experience.

Another Look at Nature.

Its been fun having a touch with nature everyday. I am not ready to give that up.

This morning I checked around for other live cams. and decided to link to Africa cams. It reminds me of my experience in Kenya and going to Kilimanjaro to see the animals in the wild.

I took this picture on my birthday. Our group was standing on a higher rise so that we could look across the expanse and a line of elephants lumbered slowly across the field. It was a memorable sight.

So I have linked to a live cam in Africa - - I will be watching the Tempe Elephants.


Monday - Gift from the East and Watch Out

Gift from the East

When our son Jim was in Japan recently he bought this interesting vase for me as a birthday gift. He gave it to me yesterday - a handsome package wrapped in blue and white fabric.

And the delightful surprise inside - two lacquer rectangles that I can arrange to my heart's content - making new compositions on my whim. I love it.

Be Careful

We have to watch out for ourselves. The world is a dirty germ infested place. Really.

It used to be your mother that told you to wash your hands before you eat - now its doctors - on tv. They recommend that the best way to protect yourself is to wash your hands. Are you carrying hand sanitizer? I am - and when I see someone rubbing their hands together in a restaurant when the food is served - I know they have it too.

And - don't forget - wipe off your cell phone. Chlorox wipes are good.


Sunday - Harry Potter, Mail Boxes, and Birds


Our local family went to see Harry Potter Saturday Night.
Magic run amuck. Loved it! Loved it!
I am re-reading the book at the moment so can see where the screen writers made their choices and insights into their process is always interesting even when I don't agree with them. I know I will see the film again - and maybe again after that. Won't you?

Are local on-the-corner mailboxes disappearing in your neighborhoods?
They are around here.
Trucks come and pick them up and it has nothing to do with magic - its a budget cut. Although the Washington Post article reports that the party-line says its because of the change in the way our society communicates. People use email.

Pretty soon your convenient box on the corner will be a misty memory.


Wow - they are really growing so fast. I am beginning to think they will soon crowd each other out of the nest. Better to jump and fly than to be squished.


Saturday - Sewing, Health Care and Baby Birds

Airlie, textile, e. schoettler

Thinking about sewing. The peace and meditation of playing with colors and putting bits of fabric - together . I work "on the high wire". No pre-planning. The risks are fun.

The Health Care Debate

Travelin Oma is a woman in Salt Lake City I have met only through her blog where I have come to admire and appreciate her wisdom and clarity of thinking. Recently she has been writing about her personal situation regarding health insurance and also her thoughts on health care issues. Her posts have stirred a town hall discussion that is a valuable forum.

The Health Care debate swirls around us and I hope when it is settled we find that our futures have been in wise hands . The hands of people who have reasoned through the issues and considered all sides. I can't say that I understand it all but I am coming closer to understanding through reading the very thoughtful and enlightening posts at Travelin Oma. If you want to see what's being said this link takes you to the last of the series - for all of it read back to get the full picture of the discussion.)

They are growing. Full feathered, moving around in the nest and tweeting today.


Three Beautiful Things - for Friday

1. Clear, sunny, warm day. sat outside at Einsteins - enjoying a traditional bagel and lox sandwich. UMMMM. My favorite.

2. Telling stories to a great new audience who enjoyed some of my favorites - a mix of personal stories and folk tales.
Smiling, laughing, happy people - a great gift for the storyteller.

3. Remembering the tangy, crisp fried green tomatoes at Spanky's in Chapel Hill.


Good morning. Good morning.
Please don't give up on me.
I am off early this morning for a challenging storytelling gig.
I have pictures and ideas and a half-formed post for Thursday to share.
And will today.

Until then

Wishing you a happy day.
P.S. If you have not checked on the birdies for a couple of days you are in for a surprise!!!!


Thursday - Bits and Pieces

Still thinking about our trip last week.

Oh, Happy Day. Mother-of-the Bride.
Congratulations Diane on a fabulous wedding. All the hard work you and Elizabeth put into creating the day made it just perfect. Great job!

Whenever I visit Charlotte I straddle two worlds - then and now.

This is the Mayer House - where Carson McCullers lived
while she was writing the Heart is a Lonely Hunter.

Talk about contrasts - today the house is home to Copper a
restaurant featuring Indian Cuisine. It is decorated with a flavor of India in colors and design. Somehow it works!

Books and Art

There was a discard sale at the exit of the Charlotte Library and I was tempted by Forever Amber - because I remembered when I was not allowed to check the book out but today I could take it home for a dollar.

Another reason I enjoy a visit to the Main Charlotte Public Library.

This wall-size mosiac mural which is an interpretation of a collage by Romare Beardon is installed on the first floor of the library.

Beardon is an important influence for my collage work and I have felt quite proud that he and I share Charlotte as a home town. I saw his work for the first time in the 1960s. There was a large show of his collages at the National Collection of Fine Arts and I remember being startled and awed by them - even though at the time I had not cut my first papers to make collages. Since then I have seen much more, read about him and his artistice intentions and even made work which reflected his influence.


Wednesday -


Blue Bird Report
Its amazing how fast those three chicks are growing. Their heads are growing to fit their eyes and beaks and their bodies are dark with feathers.

ROBIN IS BACK - she's writing on 93 Words again and this morning she has an interesting take on home security. I really liked the post a few back about the Stilted Forest - fascinating video.


At Home - with Memories

Elizabeth and Jay's wedding was beautiful and joyous.
The bride was glowing.
We were happy to be there and share it with them.
I was really proud to see my brother walking her down the aisle and hear him proposing an eloquent toast to Elizabeth and Jay at the rehearsal dinner.

Of all the special moments there was one that brought tears to my eyes. My brother invited me and my sisters in turn for a dance to the tune " It Must Have Been Moonglow" - Mama and Daddy's special song.

Mama's kids - Lynda, Dena, Robert, Ellouise and Kathy.
Robert says, "you are the matriarch now, Ellouise." Wow.
Don't know what that means except that I am the oldest.

We started our trip in Charlotte and one of the high points was a visit with my Dad's sister, Loretto and her daughter Louise. It was a happy afternoon.

Saturday morning we decided on a quick sightseeing trip in Greenville before the wedding.
We love attic museums so we decided to visit the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum which is in the small brick house that was his home in Greenville. There are many wonderful things in the house and very effective wall graphics and displays that give you a sense of him and his baseball career - but this sink was a high point for me. As I stood in front of it I felt as though I had crossed back in time to Granny's house at 2308 East 7th Street and I loved being there.

And just look at this mix master. Don't you love it?


Monday - On Our Way Home

Being on the road has been great.
We have had a good time.
Seen great people
Talked and talked and talked
Visited interesting places

Loved being at the Carolina Inn again.
It is called the living room of the University of North Carolina and it is gracious and filled with history.

Robin and I stayed here when she came down to interview before being accepted as a Freshman. I have sspent nights here on my own when traveling through NC for the League of Women Voters and later when coming to town to research for story material at the North Carolina Archives - the Southern History Collection. This was a first stay for Jim.

Our room was perfect - a first floor comfortable room that looked out toward Columbia and onto the campus.

We wanted to stay at the Carolina Inn because it put us close to memories. The Carolina Inn is only one block from Franklin Street - that's the main street. It is a long walk true but walkable to North Street - where we lived in a little miniature two story colonial house when Jim was in the residency at NC Memorial.

At the Ackland Art Museum on Columbia we found new art work that is unforgettable. A lesser known collage artist who has been "discovered".
A South Carolina woman who calls herself by one name - Aldwyth. Terrific work. I was excited to see her work and how she has reinterpreted Jospeh Cornell, Kurt Schwitters and Duchamp - three artists I admire and feel influenced by in my own work. My hands began to itch to cut and paste. I told Jim, "maybe this is what was pulling me to Chapel Hill."

We walked to North Street where we touched base with old times and memories. While Jim walked the block I sat on a stone wall and made notes. The foliage, the sandy sidewalk, so many different bird calls in the tall trees that line the street, hot and humid. Jim and I laughed - remembering how mold grew on our books in this same hot, muggy July and August weather.

We have been back here before - in the car - a nodding at the past. There is no substitute for walking it to really revive and imprint the memories. And to bring it up to date. We feel lucky. This section of old Chapel Hill is unchanged from when we lived here and I sat on this same rock wall watching Jimmy and Karen riding their pedal cars in the street with Robin in a stroller. It was a gift.

Over the five days we have been South I have found new stories and remembered old ones. It has been rich. And I have learned much about straddling two worlds.

Today we loaded the car one more time and headed back to our real world.


The road was fast and easy.

We learned that budget cuts in VA mean they are closing many highway rest stops. Does that make sense? Just passing the word along.

We made it home in time for my meeting this afternoon with storytellers Linda Fang and Noa Baum - we are planning a three woman concert October 24. Its going to be fun!

Can't hold the connections very long, can we? Four hours, fast driving, and back to your own world. I am grateful to have had even a brief visit through the door to the past. And to connect to the me of today through Art.


Sunday - Chapel Hill

Great to be here. Lots of memories. Living it not wrting it. More later.


Saturday - Greenville

Bright and sunny for Elizabeth and Jay's wedding day. Although we are still bathed in their glow from the rehearsal dinner last night. Elizabeth was absolutely radiant - both of them so happy and excited and surrounded by family and well-wishers. The party was sweet and loving and delightful. A great start for this young couple. My brother "said a few words" about Elizabeth and he did it well.

The dinner, a sumptuous buffet, was held in the Gold Room of the Westin Poinsett Hotel on South Main Street. I knew when we drove up I was going to love being there. A square classic dark brick and white building it was built in 1925 and recently renovated. It telegraphed the old-style gracious interior I first knew from the long-gone Mecklenburg Hotel in Charlotte. The hotel is named for Joel Poinsett who discovered the beautiful red flower he named for himself - the Poinsetta. I get have more time.

In the gold room we mingled and ate under the original 1925 crystal chandeliers. Lovely.

The wedding is this afternoon. So, more later.


Friday - Charlotte and Greenville

Slept right through the alarm this morning - and feel rested.

Yesterday was an excellent day - a mix of family and re-visiting my childhood haunts. Lots of story material surfacing.

Happy to hear that Jimmy is back at home from Tokyo. He and his family will arrive in Greenville this afternoon. Talked to Robin - where are you? "On the Grapevine' - and I could see that stretch of highway toward LA as she was driving Scotty to a basketball tournament in San Diego. I guess you never get over the mother-practice of touching base with your chicks.

Speaking of chicks. The blue bird nest is busy and crowded with three baby birds and their mother. Awesome.

Our first stop for the day was the Charlotte Public Library for a visit to the Carolina Room. While I was researching two new stories Jim stepped in to look up some several missing obituaries we need for the family genealogy.

Researching for stories and family history is fun.
We only had a couple of hours and they were fruitful. Although we had our doubts - with only fifteen minutes left before we had to leave for Greenville Jim was close but had not found Pauline Cobb's obituary and I could not understand why I had not see the news article about my cousin Janice. "We are going to have to wind up."
When - BINGO - both of us made the find. We left with what we had come for. That's not always the case when you are seaching old newspapers.

Easy drive to Greenville - crossing the state line to South Carolina. We did take time to stop at Abbotts Farm stand to get peaches and stuff made with peaches. I love the peach cider. This will be a sweet treat for months.

Jimmy and family already settled. Hugs all round. And time for a couple of episodes of NCIS - both new to me - before heading out for first wedding party.


Thursday in Charlotte

Frustrations this morning with my technlogies. Used time working with Verizon help - until I finally caved and signed up for the hotel internet. Irked.

They say you can't go home again. Maybe so - but I am finding for myself - it depends on how you go about it and what you are looking for. A big question is - what was your home?

Visited Mama yesterday in her new home at Evergreen Cemetary sleeping next to Daddy. Closing a loop is important.

Full schedule ahead for today - that did not include three hours messing with Verizon - so have to run to catch up.

But first - I want to see my bird babies. Now three!

What a neat day. A special visit with my Aunt Loretto and her daughter Louise. Just loved being with them. And Loretto and I walked back through the Elizabeth Neighborhood by exchanging stories. Ah, sweetness. So much so that on our way back to the hotel I drove back through those familiar streets- Sunnyside, Beaumont, Central Avenue, Louise Avenue and Hawthorne Lane. Marking out for Jim the routes I walked to Elizabeth School and my grandmothers houses. First time I have stopped at Piedmonth Junior High School in how many years. Reclaiming the me of then. Feels good to stick those bits on the collage of me.

In the midst of such dreaming there is always a bit of reality. While we were laughing and talking with Aunt Loretto and Louise our car battery died. Kaput. Fortunately we were safely parked - and the man at Carriage Club kindly gave us a jump start to get us going. We went to Pep Boys - you need a new battery. How is that? the man said. Fine, Jim said. I chimed in, I don't see any other choice here if we are going to get home. Ching! Ching!

And a big Ching when we ate dinner, Indian Cuisine, in a 100 year old house on East Boulevard where Carson McCullers lived in the 1930s when it was a boarding house. She wrote several chapters of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter when she lived there. Actually the food was quick good and artfully presented. Jim had Lava Cake for dessert - a chocolate concoction that would satisfy the most obsessed chocaholic. Copper - is a great place.


Headed South

Packed. Jim's in the car. We are heading south to NC and SC this morning. Catching up with family. I am also researching a couple of new stories I have been incubating for some time. Anytime in the Carolina Room of the Charlotte Public Library will be FUN!!!! I love that place.

Will be posting in fits and spurts.



Check it out - the second egg has cracked and there is another baby bird in the Blue Bird mom's nest. Very exciting.
(see yesterday's post on this blog for the link)

Another Birthday

Happy Birthday - Me

Mouth open - ready to talk.

My name is not only a gift from my mother it is also my first story - and a collage.

Ellouise - - El - for Ellie Hall Keasler Baer - mama's mother and Louise for Louise Cobb Diggle (of yesterday's birthday) my dad's mother. Thank you Mama for combining those names. Its quite southern to call a child by both names. I could have been Ellie Louise.

Today is also Bastille Day - so in France they are celebrating.

Thinking about my birthday -
do I focus on the years that have passed
on the start of something new?

I choose the "something new."
Born again
A fresh start
A blessing.

Thank you.


Some things don't change

Mouth open - ready to talk.

But others do.

Today I am celebrating

Many blessings.

And the start of all things new.



When I answered the phone I was surprised to hear that it was storyteller Kate Dudding calling from Albany. " Ellouise, quick, look, one of the blue birds has hatched."

I brought up the site and we kept talking about lots of other things while we both oogled the newly hatched bird and the Mom. I have never been close enough to see a mother bird hop down into a nest and place a bit of food in a wide open beak.

There are still two more eggs to hatch. Don't miss it.

Happy Birthday, Nanny

Happy Birthday Nanny

Marie Louise Cobb Diggle - my grand-mother, my father's mother.

Born: July 13, 1886 Died: July 10, 1956

Last year I made a story here from a letter Nanny wrote when she was in New York City for a visit in 1918.


Sunday Song

Sunday Song

Sending our songs to the Lord

Lifts a window
A bird trills outside

We could not
Hear the call
We opened to it.
e. schoettler



Head is busy with thinking.

Making lists and thinking about things:

1. What to take on our trip to Charlotte next week. Clothes, computers and background dates for library research. I am working on a new story, tying loose ends on a bit of family history, and following another idea - so I look forward to a few hours with my nose in old Charlotte newspapers in the Carolina Room of the downtown library.

2. Be sure and put Mama's rosary in the suitcase to loan to Elizabeth to carry down the Aisle on her BIG DAY.

3. Wrap the wedding present.

4. Make the paper piece for Patti's birthday quilt.

5. My head is filled with stories. Practice programs - and keep focused on which gig comes first: Speakeasy, Charlotte, Brighton, Rockville.

6. Put the rest of the books back on the shelves in my office. I have whittled the stacks of boxes - from 25 down to only 7 boxes left to un-pack. Why do I think I have to have a library all my own? Be strong. Let go of some of these books!

I have had help from unexpected sources. Thurday there was an all-day NCIS marathon on TV. It started at 10 am. I could not believe my good luck. What great companions for the job. If I am lucky I will find some NCIS re-runs to keep me company today. The theme music alone will keep me on-track while I shelve books.

Maybe I will use Instant Play on Netflix if there are no re-runs on TV. What's this - the NCIS 7th Season - and I have never watched that show until a month ago. Now I am over-b0ard on it - watching past episodes to catch up on the story-line. Its another one of those "learning their world" things.

I know. I know. Stupid.

But you have to understand - diversion is my way of thinking through problems when they arise. When Jim comes and stands in the doorway looking at me I tell him, "it looks like I am just watching TV - but actually I am working." He nods and walks away -

or sometimes he sits down and joins in with the thinking.


Attic Museums

I love "attic" museums.
Small places where they exhibit

the bits of peoples' lives.
Where the obscure becomes important.
Some would say

"all they have is trash."

Attics are where you find the bits of memories.
Where you stumble across the forgotten
Kept because it was precious.

Southerners have an affinity for holding on -

To things.
We want the bits of history

To tell us who our people were.
So we will know who we are.

We keep stuff - for generations.
A photograph, a piece of lace, a spoon,
Books, oh, my yes, books
Letters, pens, linens, pots and pans.
And on, and on, and on.

We guard them.

They are us.
Our roots, our connections.

How can you know yourself
Without your stuff?

That's where the stories are.

Note: Ah, here it is. I have been looking for this. First published on this blog August 21, 2005. I found a copy of it Wednesday night when I was sorting papers in my office - you know the office I have been cleaning out for days.

Robin introduced me to the title - attic museum. It is such a perfect description for all the little museums that you run across. Or for the homes of people like me who hold on to or collect memories. And then ofcourse, the Hallowed Smithsonian has been called "the Nations's Attic."

I heard an author Peter Manseau interviewed on NPR the other day day about his book, Rag and Bone, which deals with the human need to hold on to stuff - even body parts. Its about relics.

I understand it.

There is a lovely litle wooden box tied with a white lacy ribbon on a book shelf in my studio - Chu Chu's ashes.


Blue, poem, psalm

Images of Ireland
Photo collage
e. schoettler

Bird Psalm

Six thirty a.m.

The air throbs
with sparrows
rejoicing at the dawn.

The songs of the
feathered chorus
fill the sanctuary.

A creation prelude
to the sacrifice.
e. schoettler 2002


Bits of Wisdom

Chairs on the Wall
Altered Digital Photograph
e. schoettler
Bits of Wisdom
1. On dreams:
A woman said: "my dream is working out - the set is great - the only problem is the cast - they have not learned their parts."
2. On Choice
I love catching up on a whole season of episodes of NCIS in miniature on my schedule by watching on the computer.


Thinking a Collage

Things I am thinking about this morning - seems to be mostly a collage of good-byes.

1. Here's hoping this is good-bye to Sarah Palin.

2. Today is good-bye to Michael Jackson. If I were 50 years old I would probably feel more personally involved - but since I am not - I am just sorry for him, his children and his family - and wishing they would get on with it.

3. R.I.P McNamara - he is a one-word personality and that one word, McNamara, brings back a painful era.

4. Reading King Arthur again and I just cannot keep all those courteous, sword-wielding knights straight. Could Morgan Le Fay really have been such an evil witch as this book makes her out. I like Marion Zimmer Bradley's re-telling in Mists of Avalon better.

5. Wondering why I said I would meet a friend for lunch when I have things that need doing here.

6. Getting ready for our trip to North Carolina next week. It will be hard. This is the first time I have been back since Mama's funeral last summer. Lots of ghosts in Charlotte. I hope they will let me be.

7. Yesterday Jim and I were stopped for a red light
next to a fresh raw tree stump.
Last week , in a violent wind-storm,
a huge tree limb fell on the top of an SUV filled with kids
and killed the driver and her 7 year old daughter.
The tree, a venerable ancient oak is gone -
replaced by a wilted wreath and a few dead flowers -
felled after the damage was done.
While five little girls at home
wait for their mother.



Hats fascinate me. I love hats but on other people - not on me.

I wish I could wear hats. I still buy them hoping that "this one" will be different - that it will "suit" me - but so far no luck. So they gather dust on my closet shelf.

Now here's a hat for you.

This hat was part of the costume one of the readers wore for the Candlelight in Gettysburg the other week-end.

The hat was a wonder and reminded me of my great grand aunt and god mother, Annie Grose. Annie Grose was my daddy's great aunt and also his god-mother. Aunt Annie was 68 years old when I was born and was always the oldest person I knew.

Born in 1868 Annie would have seen many hats like this one when she was growing up. She must have loved them because she became a milliner and spent her working career making hats. She worked for Ivey's Department Store in Charlotte. NC. Funny, I don't remember ever seeing her wear at hat.

The White Plume Hat is my all-time- favorite vintage hat. It is worn by my grand-mother
Ellie Hall Keasler Baer.

Ellie Hall was probably about 18 when she stood for this picture - draped with furs and wearing the white plume hat. Since Ellie worked at Ivey's too I have often wondered if Aunt Annie had a hand in creating that hat.

Ellie Hall married Gus Keasler and they were my mother's parents.
I knew her as Granny - and she was a very important woman in my life.


Ties with Memory

The view out the kitchen window in PA looks across fields to South Mountain where General Lee's Confederate troops marched into Gettysburg. I work on the kitchen table near-by and with the window open the breezes flow over me and it feels so good. Reminds me of days before houses were sealed to keep the cool air in and to keep out breezes and bird sounds and the perfumes of nature.
I am all for throwing open the windows again.

I love watermelon. With lots of salt.
Best thing about summer and the Fourth of July - watermelon.
When I was growing up Mama would not let us eat watermelon until the fourth of July - it "wasn't ready."
These days I will eat it anytime of the year I can get it - but it doesn't taste as good as eating it when I am "supposed to."


3 BT: July 4th, Blue Bird Report, Connecting Across the Miles

1. Happy July 4th. Its early here in PA but its bright and you can feel the heat coming. A good day for celebrating - maybe a picnic and fireworks.

2. First thing I checked on the blue-bird Mom. She is in the nest - quietly warming her three eggs.

3. A long working session with Robin using the video camera on our computers. Robin looked up when Karen walked through the kitchen - "Karen, I see you" and they had a chat. Nice - feeling connected across 3000 miles.


Three Beautiful Things: Storytelling, Bird Report and Hurray for Technology

Stories at Kensington Row book Shop last night. Inspite of threatening weather and dire warnings we had a very interesting group show up to hear stories. And they were not disappointed.

Tellers Kelly Cresap and Elizabeth Wallace gave foks a fine evening. Afterwards the group mingled, and talked about the stories over a glass of wine and a cookie.

2. Bird Report
By george, now she has three eggs in that nest. Anybody know how long it takes until they hatch?

3. Hurray for Technology
Robin and I have been working together a lot as she over-hauls my website . So much so that we are burning up her cell minutes. I work on a land-line. Today we turned to the computer and worked with the video phone.

This is my first time using the camera on my MAC as a telephone. Grandson Dan suggested it and stayed to walk me through setting it up. When the camera popped on and I saw Robina nd Dan I was so surprised. How easy. How close. THIS IS GREAT!

I have to admit that next time I will check my make-up and comb my hair - before I sign on - just so I do not have to see myself as a train wreck.

I loved having the immediacy of the camera. Robin seemed so close and when her boys popped in and out of her office to bug her about something they stopped to say hello. Very at home. I want a lot more of this. A new world has opened up.

Anbody else want to conference on the video phone?