Monday - November Closes with Questions for December

Vence, France

At the end of the month I like to check my lists, and the calendar.
Where did the time go
What happened?

Told stories of course
New senior clients which is fun.
Spent time in PA and even told stories there
Second Hand Rose - stories I enjoy re-visiting.
Betsy's retreat
and, a really good week-end at a storytelling festival in Brandywine.

Jim and Jimmy had a great day at the Redskins game
Wonderful weather and a win.

We shared a good Thanksgiving with Trip and Tina in Virginia
Gathered our family - East and West Coasts together - over SKYPE
I love technology.
Jim took his first guitar lesson - so he can play a tune on the Regal BJ Seranader he bought at a yard sale in Gettysburg last month.

Out of the blue we recognize an old song in the background
A familiar monster reared its head
Casting shadows and raising questions for the next weeks.
Jim's cancer has returned.

He begins a new journey December 2
Many have traveled this path, leaving nuggets of wisdom for those who follow.
We are grateful for their sharing.

And now we are
looking for jokes and funny stories to brighten the trip.


Do you have an award winner?

Ever give a George Bailey Award? Well its a long-time tradition for Travelin Oma's family. She has written a beautiful post about her family's tradition and tossed out a challenge to think of someone in your life you would want to honor.

My aunt Katherine, Koki, my Dad'd sister, immediately comes to my mind. She was a loving and caring woman who was my aunt and my dear friend. She was the family historian - keeping the stories alive. She also kept track of the members of the family as they scattered across the country.
And, she was a beacon that drew the whole family back together for several major reunions.

Koki was a creative woman - sewing, cooking, writing and performing. She was creative in the ways she reached out to help people. When I started genealogy research she was my main-stay, encouraging me on, telling me stories and sharing pictures. When I started telling stories she added tales and details to help me make the stories of the family. She called just to chat and when I called her she made me feel so special and loved - "you have made my day."

Koki was not predictable. That's one of the things I loved about her.
I still have the envelopes stuffed with clippings from the Charlotte, NC Observer she sent. They came without fanfare or warning. Sharing the things she thought I would be interested in - bits of local history, current doin's and human interest articles.

Out of the blue she sent me things - photos of me when I was a child that she had taken, a handmade skirt for our Christmas tree, a crocheted cape, recipes.

And she gave me the quilt of squares I sleep under today - Jim and me warmed by her love of life, joy in people and caring for family.

Oh, yes, she would get my George Bailey Award.


Saturday - 3BT - Warm day, Kindness of Strangers, Clean Computer

Three Beautiful Things

1. Thankful for this warm, wonderful, sunny day - knowing that the cold ones are coming.

2. Grateful for the kindness of strangers. We walked out of Micro Center Compter store into a small knot of concerned people gathered around a very elderly man who had fallen and was bleeding from a head wound. While they were waiting for an ambulance a woman was holding a cloth over the gash to stop the bleeding which had splattered his blood in a circle around him on the cement floor. Jim stepped over, took a look and asked a few questions. Then waited with them until the EMT guys arrived. I stood by - impressed and touched by the caring being shared by so many with a complete stranger in trouble.

3. Thanking Mr. Boon for cleaning my desk top computer of the viruses that appeared from nowhere several days ago and locked up the system. "Back-up. Back-up." He warned me. "look I printed that on your receipt." "I will. I will." At this Jim piped in - "tell her 100 more times." At that Mr. Boon burst out laughing. Hm. Would be funny if it did not hit so close to home.


Three Beautiful Things - Challenge

Three Beautiful Things

1. Thanks to Tina - who cooked a delicious Thanksgiving dinner yesterday - we have left-over turkey in the refrigerator - for traditional sandwiches. Yummmm.

2. A good holiday visit with people we love.

3. Our new electric blanket turns our bed into a warm, toasty cocoon.



Grateful for all the sweetness in life.


Wednesday - Barefoot in NYC

I collect pictures of shoes. Loved these when I saw them at a flea market in Nice, FR. They reminded me of a pair of red alligator sling backs my mother bought in the 1940s.

There was a time when I bought fancy heels like these. I was partial to Feragamo shoes. When I worked for the League of Women Voters in the early 1980s I was in New York City often. As part of my job I was working with high level corporate executives and accompanying celebrities to meetings and functions. Not my real world. I thought a dash of Ferragamo added style to my business suits and silk blouses.

Until a day that I walked blocks and blocks and blocks in a pair of snappy heels. My feet ached; they screamed. I ended up walking the last eight blocks to my dauther's apartment in my nylon stockinged feet, carrying the pricey shoes. And not caring one whit. Barefoot never felt so good.

Lesson learned.

Now - so much for style - I wear SAS black leather loafers and walk pain free.


Tuesday -

Last week I read a relatively new version of Homer's Ulysses and the Cyclops in a book of stories about giants. I love the image of Ulysses and his men escaping the blinded Cyclops cave by holding onto the bellies of his sheep and riding out. I remembered that we had a copy of the Odyssey recently translated by Fagels. So to further my understanding of the story I read Chapter 9 out loud to Jim. It was fantastic to hear the vigorous poetry with its vivid descriptions of the island, the cave, the boastful Ulysses and vicious Cyclops dining on the soldiers. Telling the story brings the story to life.

Samantha Smith - remember her - the young girl who wrote to the Russian Premier in the 1980s and asked why they wanted war not peace? Alan has a wonderful blogpost today that tells her story. Don't miss it.


Monday- Senior Storytelling,Remembering JFK, Bird Dynamics,

Good storytelling session with one of my Senior groups this afternoon. Really enjoy telling them a story that's new to them and to me and then hearing their reactions. Lately I have been reading stories about giants. Found one from Africa that was unusual and that I liked so decided to share it today. It went well and their responses will help me as I continue to tell the story. These seniors like to be asked and always have something to say. A win/win.

Late yesterday I realized it was the anniversary of the John F. Kennedy assignation - has it really been long enough that it slips your mind? Like most, the memory of that day is etched in my brain.
What started off as an ordinary day for me - a mother of 4 children under six years old - a busy day filled with the stuff of keeping house and taking care of young children - ended with a world changing tragedy. Life stopped and the television took over. It was the first time that the TV had shown itself for what we take for granted today - the minute by minute chronicler that can bring the broader world into our living rooms.

Jim and I were living in a small two story house in Chapel Hill, NC where he was in the first year of his Psychiatry residency at NC Memorial Hospital. I was in the upstairs bedroom, watching As The World Turns, my week-day soap-opera - when Walter Cronkite broke through. Sitting at an anchor desk in his shirt sleeves - he announced that the President had been shot - and confirmed a few minutes later that the President had been killed. My children were playing on the floor at my feet. I was folding laundry. Nothing in that room changed and yet the world had shifted.

Birds Gathering
I can see our bird feeder from where I am sitting. Jim filled it with fresh bird seed. Birds were gathering , filling the near-by bushes and then a large Blue Jay flew in - perched on the deck railing, strutted back and forth, intimidating the smaller birds, establishing his territory - until they left. He ate. He left. They came back.


Tellerbration 2009

Fine time with Tellebration last night.
Kensington Row Bookshop was filled.
Good storytelling by 7 tellers: Clockwise:
Ellouise Schoettler, Bill Mayhew, Margaret Chatham, Raplp Chatham, Laura J. Bobrow, Jane Dorfman, and Anne Sheldon. Story menu included folktales, original stories and poetry, big ole' West Viginia Liar's tale and a personal story.
Pure fun - celebrating the tradition of storytelling. Voices in the Glen, metro area storyteller organization sponored.



A tray of delicious plastic rings on the museum store counter at the Phillips Gallery. eeny - meeny- miney- mo.
For pennies - a bit of color at your fingertips. I can hardly resist.
Jim is smiling when he can buy me a ring for $3.
I am happy. Reminds me of digging for something in the Cracker Jacks box.

Telling stories at Tellebration tonight. Its a toss-up between two I have in mind. Thinking it through.

Since Jim and Jimmy are both Johns Hopkins Alums - Jimmy is coming over at noon and he and Jim are going to watch the Johns Hopkins football game from the computer through the larger screen TV. "Lets have chips and hot dogs. Make it feel real like the real thing." Well, good - as long as they don't decide to open the den door and let in the cold as well as the sunshine. That's too authentic


Friday - Three Beautiful Things

1. Today was one of those wonderful Fall days here in Washington with blue skies and enough leaves clinging to the tree branches to add unexpected touches of color.

2. Jim and I stopped by the Phillips Gallery today for a sandwich and an art-feast. This time we stayed with familiar color painters from the permanent collection: Cezanne, Matisse, Sam Gilliam, and Gene Davis. It does not take a long visit to the Phillips to feel filled.

3. On our way back home we stopped at Politics and Prose - my favorite independent bookstore that seems to flourish despite the tough battles with the mega chains. I found exactly what I was looking for - my favorite 5" x 8" Moleskin plain notebook which is perfect for collages. And a plus - an inexpensive soft-cover French journal - which has blank paper with a "tooth" that will fight the pen a bit. That makes writing notes, lists, sometimes thoughts a good feeling. I also like the cover - with its art-deco design - a yellow background, with a peacock standing on a black branch - surrounded by little orange blossoms. All very 1920s Japanese influenced.

I am one of those people who carries a blank book with them everywhere. I start a new one each month. So - the size, the kind, the feel of the paper - choice of pages - lined, grid-ruled or blank makes a difference to me. Also the color and type of cover. Is this something I want to carry and write in for 30 or 31 days?

My journal is my brain - lists, telephone numbers, notes, sometimes poems, journal entries, ideas - you get the idea - in the brain - onto the paper. This is a habit of long standing and I have the boxes of these journals to prove it. Occasionally I re-read random books - and sometimes I find story-bits. But mostly I catch the essence of the days. I try to hang on to them.


Listening - Playing with video

Jim and I really enjoy books on tape. Sometimes we drive into the driveway and sit tight - listening to a sequence that is winding down.

And I like playing with the video setting on my camera.

This day I caught the a bit of the wind in the leaves outside the car window. Liked the background for the story.



Piecing Things Together
collage - 2009
e. schoettler


The Daily Orange, Social Media, A Dream - 3 BT

The Daily Orange

Did you by any chance wonder what this link was all about - besides Ira Glass?

Well - I discovered today that I can send a
link directly to this blog - as well as to Twitter and Facebook. So I tried it out and then never got back to the blog to say why The Daily Orange was sitting there.

Yes, I am over-eating on Social Media and finding out how many places there are where I can say practically nothing at all.

Linking things I find by roaming the internet is a good way of least keepng in touch - using interesting things others are saying - without having to say anything myself.

This morning I woke from a strange and interesting dream. I tried to tell it to Jim but the more I tried to tell him the more the dream disintegrated. I remember thinking "this would be a great way to tell a story." And then it was gone. Slipping through my fingers like mercury as I tried to pick it up.

Does that happen to you? Do you get those wonderful ideas that bubble up from the unconscious when your "editor" is off-guard. I hope I am working on something while I sleep and that one morning it will be there for me, a sudden inspiration -ready to go.


Monday - Hither, Thither and Yon

Hither, thither and yon to do what I had to do.

Taping a new story for my TV show. It was a first time telling of a story I found recently that I really like - that's always fun.

A new group of Seniors this afternoon. I told the new story from this morning and they gave it a thumbs up. At one point during the story when I said, "it is a fairy tale after all." one of the women shot back. "No kidding." but she and the rest loved the story. Ahhhhhhhhh!


Sunday - Surprise for Jim

Jimmy called Jim at the Festival yesterday asking him if he wanted to go to the Redskins game today. "Yes."
So we shifted gears. No Wintertur this trip. We slept in Delaware with stories dancing in our heads and then headed back home at dawn. Jim had to meet our son at 9:45 am - a bit early - because Jimmy was hosting a tail-gate lunch at the stadium. Significant man-time ahead.

It was a winner of a day Not only was today sunny and unseasonably warm - a great day for football - the Redskins WON!!!!


Saturday - Delaware and Lower Brandywine Storytellng Festival

Wish it were a brighter day for travel. Jim and I are off to Wilmington, DE for the 4th Annual Lower Brandywine Storytelling Festival. Going to listen and laugh. With Willy Claflin, Bil Lepp and Andy Offut Irwin leading the line-up I know we can count on fun and good laughs. It will feel GOOD!!!!!

More about it later and I hope some decent pictures.

Later - the pictures aren't great - but considering that Jim and I were sitting in the balcony - a great view by the way - I was asking a lot of my camera.

This was quite a rich storytelling day. Imagine it, Williy Claflin, Bil Lepp, Andy Offut Irwin, Bill Harley, Ed Stivender and Kim Weitkamp - all in one day - in solo sets and shared sets and in some instances some shenanigans as well.

When storytellers have a fine audience who respond to the stories, get the jokes and just send out love - the stories shine. And there was a lot of shining at the Lower Brandywine Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, DE today. And can you imagine it - it was all free to the community.

The setting also influences how things go. This church is old - historic. It was first organized in 1720 - 56 years before the American Revolution - we are talking deep roots. The present sanctuary was built in 1860. The Storytelling Festival is part of their annual series of cultural and entertainment programs and is offered to the community as a GIFT.

Members of the congregation volunteer through out the Festival and create a warm and inviting presence.

The small church lends an intimacy to the gathering that is often lost in larger venues. The warm, friendly, story-loving audience welcomes spontaneous shenanigans - - like Willy Claflin, Bill Harley and Bil Lepp sparking some improv by sharing a set and other kidding around. The audience really positively responded to - you could say encouraged - these three colleagues and friends playing together on stage.

Ed Stivender will always be a personal favorite for me because he was the featured teller at the West Virginia Storytelling Festival ten years ago when we experienced a festival of storytelling for the first time. We got bit!!!!! And I am always grateful to Ed Sitvender for spreading so much of the magic that week-end - and every other he is part of.

My take-aways:

Bill Harley's set where he shared his love of Mo Town music and taught the audience to be his back-up for the Foundations hit song "Build Me Up Buttercup" was wonderful. He gave it humor, adolescent memory and emotion and let his love of the music carry the story and tie it all together.

Kim Weitkamp telling new stories which step away from the comedic and move to touching your heart instead of tickling your funny bone.

The stories are a big draw for storytellers when they attend festivals with the PLUS of meeting up with colleagues from all over the place. So other highlights for me were:

Visiting with storyteller Charles Kiernan, Mark Twain of Bethlehem, PA, over a hot dog in the church social hall. I was sorry to miss his set Friday night but having seen him portray Twain at the Lehigh Valley Festival a couple of years ago - I know it was a classy act. He deftly introduces you to Twain himself and his material. Cool.

Chatting with Slash Coleman during supper and talking about the DC Fringe - Slash is a seasoned veteran of the Fringe circuit and NEON MAN was very successful in DC last year. He will be back this year with a new show. He convinced me to get my application in the mail - that the DC fringe would be a good venue for my ERA story.

Slash and I both told at the Exchange Place at the National Storytelling Festival in October so it was fun to tell with him again in the Open Mic line-up. Its fun to use the Open Mic to try out different spaces or test stories in new locations. I told the Tattooed Man - and in the telling experienced first hand what an inviting and comfortable space the church is for storytelling.


Friday - Chance Encounter, Reviving an Old Tone,

A Chance Encounter

About noon Jim and I exited Hwy 15 at Gettysburg, PA toward our house. We pulled into an old-style ice cream and sandwich drive-in before we headed into town. For a cool day, like today, there is an inside dining room with eight tables. While Jim ordered I glanced around the room - and stopped - at a far corner worktable set up with a table lamp and a portable sewing machine. On a near-by chair hung a half finished Union Army uniform jacket with two rows of shiny brass buttons on the front panel. On the table pieces of Confederate grey wool sleeves with gold braid coiled in a decorative pattern where laid out for assembly. Out fits for Civil War re-enactors.

I asked the woman behind the counter, "Are you the seamstress." She nodded." yes, people bring me their fabrics and patterns and I make the uniforms. I have been doing it for 25 years."
"Are you a re-enactor too."
"Yes, as a Gettysburg civilian. We dress in costume for events, we have even been to the White House in Washington, DC. I can't dress with them right now because I have sold all my garments except for my under-garments."
"You mean you sold the clothes off your back?" She laughed and nodded.

We went on talking about the group she belonged to and their monthly meetings and gathering.
"When we meet in costume at period places its like being back there to those days.That's what I love about it. You are living in the period. That's what makes it so great."

I bet it is. Like living in a story. No wonder the huge attraction that brings people to all kinds of "re-enacting".

Reviving an Old Tone

Later - Jim took his new old guitar to a music shop off the Circle in Gettysburg and they restrung itand cleaned it up. He also bought a "How to Play A Guitar" book. Just strumming the strings - it has a nice sound. So, more will be revealed as Jim starts his lessons.


Thursday - Stories for Seniors

Very satisfying storytelling program today with a new group of Seniors. They were wonderful, attentive listeners and really enjoyed the stories. I wove folktales and personal stories together
to prompt the group to tell some of their stories.

After I told my memory-story of how my grandmother baked a cake, one woman called out to the group,

"The kitchen she described was just like my mother's kitchen. I have not thought about that in years."

How great is that? Its what storytellers hope will happen - that we will take the audience some place they have never been or that they have forgotten. Now I hope they will go back on their own and remember more of their stories. I will check on that when I go back. There may be stories brewing.

It was good memory traveling - for me through my telling and for them through their listening.

Over the past five years I tell stories more and more for Seniors because I enjoy being with them and sharing stories. Check out my Stories for Seniors HERE.

My clients are Retirement Residences and Senior Centers in MD, VA, DC and I have recently begun to book program dates in PA as well. I am scheduling 2010 now so if you know anyone who might want to have Stories for Seniors please pass along my website.


Wednesday - Veterans Day and Memories

Last year on Veterans Day I posted a Roll Call of the members of our family who have served in the military. I thank them again.

Today a few things have come together that have me thinking about some story-weaving.

In August we visited the National Museum of Medicine where we saw RESOLVED - - a fascinating exhibit about medical forensics and the process of recovering lost military personnel.

Today I happened on a blog that told a story about the recent finding of a pilot who has been missing since his WWII plane was shot down January 1944. The plane went down in China - "flying over the HUMP." a very treacherous flight pattern.

The connection:

During WWII my father served in the US Army Air Corps. He was stationed at n air base in India -(now Pakistan ) which was the last fuel and repair stop for US planes flying the HUMP. He was a Sgt and a Crew Chief. He worked on those planes. He would still have been there January 1944 when that plane went down.

I remember Daddy talking about those planes and THE HUMP. But not the stories. And I cannot call him.


Isn't that part of the story? There are letters. And a few pictures. The search is on.


The Dalmatian Dog

In July I told The Dalmatian Dog at Speakeasydc.
In October I told another version of it on the Exchange Place Stage at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN.

NOTE: Did you notice the bumpy ending as the video closes? I was the first performer on a portable stage. Beware a platform with pop-up legs. As I walked off one of the legs buckled, sending me sliding off. Fortunately I did not lose my balance or fall - so no harm done. Just lost the graceful exit. I did not keep that in the Jonesborough version.


Of our four children only one was a true Tar Heel.
Gretchen Marie Schoettler - b. November 10, 1961, Chapel Hill, NC

Gretchen was the wee one
her red-hair and blue eyes connected her to her Irish roots
she was the birth-wounded hatchling
who warmed the nest only a few years
- - - - but never flew.


Monday -

Another Schoettler steps forward.
Last Wednesday night at the Kensington Story Salon Jim (r) joined Steve Morissey in a short funny piece to open the show.
Is there more to come?????

This was a day to "tape" the TV show, run errands, and meet with Cricket. Jim and I did work in a sandwich at Einstein's. The weather even allowed us to sit outside and that was a definite plus.

Talking with Robin and a really good telephone call with my sister Kathy in Georgia.
All good uses for technology. Talk about technology - Wednesday I am going to be interviewed by a class of Italian English conversation students in Brescia, Italy. Over Skype. Sounds like fun.
I hate to admit it - but I can't remember any of my Italian. Language slips away when it isn't used.

Of course there are the downers - learning more about the heart-breaking and frightening tragedy at Fort Hood -
and around here -
the bulletins about the scheduled execution of John Allen Muhammed. I have hard time wishing for a "stay" of execution for him. I vividly remember the terrify days of the Washington Sniper - one woman was shot at one of our local gas stations. Fear had everyone here by the throat. It was a reign of terror - across the entire Metro area. Just thinking about it I can feel it again. I cannot imagine the shock and pain and grief of the families. This calls for prayers for all, including John Allen Muhammed.


Sunday - Great day - good conversations with a friend.

Our Shih Tzu, Princess Leia, is a good traveler. Shih Tzu's are not noisey dogs - they keep their thoughts themselves. She nestles patiently on the back seat of the van and sleeps or watches. She loves coming to the country. When we open the car she hops out and races from one edge of the yard to another bursting with energy and excitement that she's here. Ofcourse finally getting out of the car has something to do with her enthusiasm - but she does the same once inside the house. Checking things out. Making sure we brought her to the right place. Reassured, she flops down in a sunny spot and goes to sleep.

What a great day today - sunny and unseasonably warm. We talk about the weather and keep tabs on it. We rejoice in this balmy weather because we know that its going to change - it is going to get cold. But today is not the day. When our friend Ann stopped by, just off the highway from a two day drive from Paducah, Ky - we sit outside on the porch and drink tea. Enjoying it all.

Jim and I always enjoy being with Ann. We talk and talk and talk. And we pick up threads of conversations as though we had seen each other yesterday.

Today our conversation starts with Abraham Lincoln and the book Ann is sharing - a book of 55 poems about Lincoln by a Kentucky Poet Laureate, Richard Taylor. History reinterpreted as poetry and story. The words are luscious and the book feels precious in your hand. The words are printed with hand-set letter presss type on heavy, serious paper. Its illustrated with black and white wood engravings. This is a real book, an art book. You can feel it. The book was printed by Larkspur Press in Monterey, KY.

We keep talking - - about the world, ourselves, and finally about the quilt top I bought at the Rescue Mission on Saturday.

The un-quilted top is an over-long checkerboard of royal blue and white squares - with a name hand embroidered in each square - white stitching in the blue squares and blue stitching in the white squares. It has marks that suggest it was a wall hanging .

When I bought it I thought I would back it and alter the pattern for a new quilt - and I could do that - but as Ann and I talked we asked each other questions about it - such as who were these people, why were the names embroidered on the squares - was it a fundraising quilt top or a roll-call, or a memorial quilt. Then we played with ideas of how to find the answers - -- and the more we talked the more I realized I have a story in my hands.

This quilt is a prompt and it is going to tell me a atory. Stay tuned - more will be revealed.

This is one way storytellers find new stories.



Sun shining on this frosted morning. More later.

Well, I am back. Its been a good day. We filled the day with practically nothing on the list and really enjoyed it. I spent the morning on my cell phone talking with a friend, my sister and then a Looooooog conversation with our daughter Robin that helped us catch up and then just play with ideas. It was a very good way to spend some time on a Saturday morning. I find that often the "LIST" takes the time away from connecting with folks.

Jim puttered with Mr. Fixit chores - which is always a good thing to do. And, he fixed the GPS - the Slavic speaking woman is gone and Mandy, the English speaker is back. GREAT! We are ready for next week-end and our trek to the Lower Brandywine Storytelling Festival near Wilmington, DE. I am going to listen - and hopefully for a visit to Winterthur which is close by.

The real balm for us in being here on Guernsey Road is the blessed quiet. No radio, no television, only occasional traffic sounds when a car passes or a blast when the train rolls by. I tell you it is a healing soporific.

I am still reading the James Rosenquist bio. I enjoy it most when he talks about his painting and how he works them out. The gossipy descriptions of late nights out drinking with artist buddies are less interesting - or maybe its me not being able to appreciate or care about their male bonding. Or maybe its that he and I lived through the same years and history from different perspectives and I am less reverent about it than if I had been part of his scene or was younger and impressed by those times. Or maybe its too much conversation over the kitchen table that has not been digested and sifted for storytelling. There is a difference. Just talking about your famous life is not necessarily good story. You'd think he would know that since he distills his images for paintings that are story-like.

Oops - some nerve from me who writes this blog about absolutely nothing. And certainly it a prime example of undigested kitchen table chatter.


Friday - In PA - A Tom-Tom glitch, Retreat storytelling and lots of driving

Our house in PA sits across the road from the train tracks and we feel the earth begin to vibrate when the train is coming from Gettysburg - then there is a blast on the whistle that confirms its passing. I love it.

Its a bright, sunny, windy day.
The trees are bowing and the tall beige grasses
are bending in the fields outside the kitchen window.
The trees are dark skeletons now --
their once golden leaves are brown and scattered on the green grass.
Its turning from Fall to Winter.

This evening I am telling stories for a Women's Retreat in West Chester, PA so there is a long drive ahead up HWY 30 which I am told will be heavily congested with Friday afternoon traffic. So- more will be revealed.

We had Map Quest directions to the Retreat Center in West Chester. Betsy told me it was tricky at some points so we stopped at Wal Mart and replaced our ailing Tom-Tom GPS . We would be driving back late and did not relish the idea of getting lost.

We drove out of the Wal Mart parking lot to Hwy 30 and off toward York. Jim began to set-up the GPS. Pictures of the roads are bigger and brighter. That's good - but somehow our new Tom-Tom was determined to remain set to several Slavic languages and we could not figure out how to move it to English. We made the three hour trip on a strange heavily congested highway with a woman telling us where to go in an unknown tongue and measuring our progress in "Cli Kilometers. "Clicks as they say in Europe. This would have part of the experience if we were traveling in Eastern Europe - but you know something, we were at "home" - and wanted the comfort of English. Finally we relaxed with it and it was funny. Today we will go back to Wal Mart and hope the guy who sold it can find the English channel.

I won't belabor the traffic issue . It was a lovely ride up Hwy 30 in golden afternoon sunlight through rolling farm lands and Amish country. There are stretches that are like any urban road - wall to wall strip malls, fast food stops, various car dealerships and mega gas stations like Sheetz and WaWa on both sides of the road. Slow traffic and frequent stops means time to take pictures out the car window - and I hope to add a few later. This area is also a tourist destination so there are also a lot of emporiums where you can buy gobs of tacky junk.

The retreat center was lovely - settled and comfortable. This morning the women there will be looking into a colorful wooded area through a wall of ceiling high windows in the "great room".
Quite a setting for their week-end. This is a grand group of women from a church in Atglen, PA. I have told stories for them before and very glad to be with them again. You feel their friendship and caring in the way they kid with each other. They are fun to be around. And, they are story-lovers - sharing their stories with each other and as real listeners for each other and for a storyteller. What's not to love? The extra plus for me is that the retreat leader is my best friend since Girl Scouts.

Just before I started telling stories they lit a fire in the huge stone fireplace in the Great Room thinking it would be cozy and add to the atmosphere. Believe me it did. They thought the dampers were open. They weren't and as the fire began to blaze the room glazed with smoke.
Doors opened - cold air blasted in. Someone checked the dampers ----and opened them . Ahh,
But the room was too polluted and needed to clear. The group moved into a small office where we shoe-horned in. Some in chairs, some on the floor. Fortunately I brought a stool = and it was handy.

Storytelling is an intimate art form - it worked out just FINE. We all felt fed by story - certainly I did after hearing all of their stories in the circle of introductions. That was a really effective warm-up for my stories. Ahhhhhhhh! The good feeling carried us all the way back to Biglerville - and thankfully Highway 30 had cleared a bit and the traffic moved steadily home.

The bed was a welcome sight after this good day!


Thursday and Friday



Happy Birthday, Robin.
We remember the day - November 5
Fort Sam Houston Army Hospital, San Antonio, Texas

Robin catches some winks during the break at the East Bay Storytelling Festival, San Francisco, CA. a few years ago.

Told Second Hand Rose at the Thomas-Harbaugh Library in Biglerville, PA tonight. Enjoyed the telling and meeting new people, many who were having their first-time experience of personal stories told for adults. It is always a pleasure to open that door for people.

Thursday - Adam Booth in Kensington

Oops. I forgot to save the date and post yesterday. And it was a good storytelling day.

West Virginia Storyteller Adam Booth came from Shepherdstown to join me on the Stories in Focus TV show as my guest and to tell as the featured teller at the Kensington Row Story Salon in the evening. Adam was a delightful and lively guest and I know folks will enjoy the program when it airs in December (every Wednesday at 9:15 PM.) on Channel 16.

For the Kensington performance I changed the format a bit and I liked the way it worked.
Steve Morissey, assisted by Jim Schoettler, opened with a short, funny Open Mic piece which was a good ice breaker. I followed with a fifteen minute rendition of my personal story Good Will Mourning. By that time the audience was warmed up and ready for Adam to take the floor. Adam tells warm, friendly and higly plausible personal stories with just the right detail touches so you are not absolutely sure when you have veered off the path of truth and into a LIARS trap. That's why he is a two time Champion Liar in West Virginia. The audience loved it. It was a good evening of storytelling.

Yesterday the computers that control the traffic signals in Montgomery County went haywire or just plain out. Traffic was a disaster. Imagine rush hour traffic in the Metro Washington area without any stop and go guides. Adam was caught in the middle of it coming down in the afternoon. I bet there will be a story out of his trip.



Today I am trying to see over the top of my list.

Why do we allow lists to become the tyrants over our days?

When we were waiting to collect our baggage at Shannon Airport in Ireland I saw this woman wearing her adorable red and white polka dot shoes. I followed her shamelessly to take photos - not of her - of the shoes. Imagining what a lively spirit she must be to wear these cute shoes.

I am sandwiching in reading the bio by James Rosenquist and enjoying his "insider" talk about the guys who became the POP ART icons of the 1960s. This morning I particularly enjoyed his recounting of his memories of visiting Joseph Cornell in his studio. He describes Joseph Cornell in the 1960s as "the old man". Cornell was making art in his basement in Queens which he called his "Habitat." That was before his magical collage boxes were enshrined in museums.

Rosenquist also talks about how, in his opinion, collage is a good medium to express the reality of modern life. The juxtaposition of disparate images comes close to the way we are bombarded by so much visual stimulation. I am noodling on what he is saying and how this relates to storytelling - interesting possibilities.


Tuesday - Happy Birthday, Jimmy - Food memory mis-fire

Happy Birthday, Jimmy!

Seems just yesterday that your Dad and I held you for the first time at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD. And the stories began. And continue! Sending hugs and love for today and everyday!

Food memory mis-fire.
Yesterday I told my sister in GA about our LaChoy Chicken Chow Mein trip dow memory lane.
"Do you remember that Daddy used to tell us that soy sauce was "pigeon blood." " Unfortunately I did. Daddy left a lot of those tid bits with his kids. Anyway, that led to our talking about food.

At one point Kathy said she thought she would have Creamed Chipped Beef on toast for supper.
We loved that when we were kids and Mama made it often. In fact she liked it as long as she was still eating much food. "I made it for her a few months before she died." Kathy told me.

Thinking about that started me tasting it and wanting some. I asked Jim to pick up several packages of chipped beef this afternoon planning to make it for supper. He came home instead with pre-made creamed chipped beef in a boilable-microwaveable pouch. "This will be easier."
Well it was easier. All you do is boil water and then simmer the pouch for 8 - 12 minutes.
But eat it?
The creamed part is very plasticy. And the taste is artificial. I am not even guessing about the beef bits.
Forget any memories tonight. This was a mis-fire.
Next time I will plan ahead so that I have time to make it from scratch. You know, real cooking.



Loved this sign.
At the drive way of an apple ranch.
A whole new take on Chaucer's stories.



When we are in PA Jim and I unpack our laptops and sit at the kitchen table and WORK! In the quiet we get stuff done.

So Sunday morning we were in our kitchen-office
until -

looking out the kitchen window to the nearest house - which is further away than this looks like - we saw that the dreary day had turned sunny and golden. So we closed the laptops and rode out to explore the roads near our house.

Even found a once-a-month garage sale permanently installed in a near-by garage. Love it.

But this is the best. A real memory.

Cruising the aisles at the Wal-Mart this can caught my eye and as I lifted it off the shelf I could taste it.
Mama bought La Choy Chicken Chow Mein at the Big Star on Central Avenue in the 1940s. For years this was the only Chinese food I knew - paired with the bagged skinny, hard and crispy noodles.
Once I was the head-cook for our family I often bought LaChoy. Jim says he remembers my serving it more often in San Antonio - when I could buy it even cheaper at the Base commisary.

I cooked it up and spooned it over steamed white rice with a side of the crispy noodles. Sitting at our PA kitchen table = I will tell you - it tastes exactly the same as it did when Mama cooked and we ate at the pull down kitchen table at 814 Hawthorne Lane in Charlotte, NC.

I noticed that Jim stirred his crispy noodles into the rice just like he was supposed to.

No, it is not Asian cuisine. It does not claim to be
Look at the can - it says "Asian inspired".

For me it is the food of memories.