Jim, pastel, e.schoettler, 1978
You might not recognize him - - but I do. And remember the evening I made the sketch.
Caught - an ordinary moment.

Three Workings for a bitter cold snowed-in day:
Working on Telling Moments Theater. The official opening is in March. More will be revealed.
Working on a Workshop for the Mountain State Institute, Fairmont University, Fairmont, WVA.
Looking forward to seeing great people that week-end.
Working on the stories to tell with Susanna "Granny Sue" Holstein, here in March. Am really
looking forward to that evening. I hope she is planning to sing a ballad or two.

What in the world was I thinking?
collage, e. schoettler, 1980


Saturday - Dancing

Back in the basement
Meeting old friends.
Nice to see them
They are all pieces of my self
Its like a puzzle
Finding the bits that will make the whole.


Friday Video Story - The Dalmation Dog

The Dalmation Dog
This is the Speakeasy DC version of the story I told at the 2009 Exchange Place, National Storytelling Festival, Jonesborough, TN

Let me tell you something - this story is funnier now than it was the evening Jim and I lived it.
Sometimes it takes a bit of distance before you can really savor the humor in a story from personal experience. Would you believe this true story has also won 1st prize in a Liars' Contest?

What's the story with the video, you may be asking yourself. Where does she go at the end?
That near-accident happened because the legs of the portable stage were not"locked" and folded under as I walked off. Fortunately only my dignity was damaged.

Rule 65 - watch out for temporary stages.

This film will be live until Friday February 12.



Remembering the delicious baby lima beans and baked sweet onions we had as side-dishes for supper last night. Yum. Georgia Vidalia onions aren't in right now but the Mayan sweet onions from South America are a real rival. I salt and pepper the peeled onions, pierce them and then bake them in the microwave oven until they are tender. About ten minutes for three medium-sized onions. Stick a fork in them. You can tell when they are ready. Quick, easy and scrumptious. Low calorie too, if you don't add butter

Telling stories for another Senior client this afternoon.
(artwork: collage, e.schoettler)


Wednesday - Storytelling for Seniors

Telling stories for a new Stories for Seniors client today.
That's always a challenge because I don't know anything about them and have to feel my way into a story relationship with them.

I started with old stories - folktales that are humorous and fun. I watched this one man because I could tell he was not satisfied. He kept looking at his watch and rubbing his corduroy slippers on the carpet.

When I asked it they were ready for a longer story many smiled and said, "go ahead' but he didn't. He said, "no", and shook his head. "what kind of stories do you like?" I asked.
"factual stories. stories about real things."
"OK." It took a minute for me to switch gears and when I did I was surprised to to hear myself begin to tell the story of the day I started the First Grade. "The day I started the first grade my Daddy left home - he went to the US Army Air Corps. It was World War II."

Even the skeptical man nodded his head. I could feel them reaching back to the 1940s, situating themselves in those days.

After the story was over I asked if any of the man had been in the Armed Forces. Bob nodded. "Yes, I was in the Cavalry. I served in North Africa, Italy and Germany." He paused. I asked how he came to enlist. "I was in college. It was early. We had just gotten into the war. All the young men in my college - now University of MA - went in and went where-ever they wanted us to. I signed up for the Army. We fought in North Africa and then they shipped us to Italy and later to Germany. In Italy when we were being assigned to units they made me a Medic. I didn't have any training but the Doc saw that I had some college and figured he could teach me First Aid and if that didn't work out, since I had a driver's license I could drive his Jeep. I worked out with the First Aid."

He fell silent and another man spoke up. "I was in the Cavalry too. In Germany. We came in in Southern France, not the big battles and then we took a ship to Bremerhaven. I can't say it was fun." And that is all he said.

At that the woman behind him piped in, "my husband was the first one drafted in Scranton, PA. I cried. He never did go overseas but he was the first one called."

Vera in the back row said, " I was young and we had a farm in West Virginia so we stayed home and raised food."

"Thank you for your Service" I said.

Time to go
Now I know them and I look forward to prompting some more of their stories when I go back.

It is such a privilege to be there when the stories begin to flow.

Another client tomorrow.

It will be totally different.

That's the fun of it!

(artworks: Collage, e.schoettler )


Tuesday - Delicate Balance - Remembering Mariwyn Heath

That's life, isn't it - a delicate balance.

Tonight I was having fun working on my Linked In network. Looking for people I have known or worked with. Touching base with today and yesterday. When I found out something I did not want to know.

When a woman I worked with thirty years ago was not on Linked In I was surprised. I googled her only to find her obituary. She died earlier this month on January 8. Unexpectedly there was an empty hole in my life.


Mariwyn Heath was a legend before I met her but I did not know it. She was a founder of ERAmerica and had devoted herself fully to passing the Equal Rights Amendment for seven years before I came to the League of Women Voters of the US in 1979 as their newbie ERA Campaign Director. Mariwyn took me under her wing. She taught me what I needed to know - even when I did not know I needed to know it - so that I could do the job and keep the League folded effectively into the ERAmerica national and state strategy.

She did that for me - just as she had done it for many before me and continued to do it for many more after that. I still read the newspaper by Mariwyn's rule - read between the lines, and read the back pages to see how those stories connect with what's on the front page. That's how you find out what's really going on.

Mariwyn was a born mentor. She was one of those gifted women who also helped other women find their own talents and strengths. Ask the women nationwide in Business and Professional Women (BPW) who revered her and named awards for her.

Mariwyn was a powerful woman, advising the White House and top State elected officials, but she wore her power lightly in a town that flaunts and covets power. She was not just about business. She was a wife and mother. She was an excellent cook who made time to bring delicious goodies to pot luck gatherings and staff meetings. She had busy hands - wielding knitting needles or stabbing at a needlepoint canvas.

She laughed that no matter how the campaign went she would have accomplished something with her time - sweaters, baby caps for all the pregnant staff , and a collection of needlepoint canvases covered with vibrant color. What a role model.

In 1980 the Democratic National Convention was held in NYC. I was part of an ERAmerica group that went to the convention to lobby for ERA. Mariwyn and I shared a hotel room and in our off-time one evening she taught me how to needlepoint. " Start with something small." she counseled. I bought an eye-glasses case. It was the first of four I made before the campaign ended - one for each of my daughters, one for my mother and one for Jim's mother.

A week after the ERA campaign ended and we had lost Mariwyn and I had lunch together at the Tabbard Inn on N Street. We talked over the campaign and our sense of loss. At one point she said, "You know, Ellouise, I consider you one of my successes."
"You do. Why?"
" Because when you proposed the National Business Council for ERA I thought it was a dumb idea that would never work - - but I did not discourage you."
"Discourage me - you helped me, encouraged me - I never had any idea you did not think it would work."
"And look what happened - - you did it! "

I have always remembered that conversation as a lesson in real leadership and mentoring.

I still have the eyeglasses case we started that evening. A lovely reminder of a very warm and caring woman who was the brains behind a national campaign for equal rights for women. A woman who will be remembered and missed by many.

(artworks: Collage, e.schoettler)


Monday - Storytelling and Sewing

1. Storytelling: Taped the next Stories in Focus TV show with guest, storyteller Jon Spelman. We had a good time in the interview segment talking about how he "found" storytelling on to the way he approaches collecting stories. He told a rich rendition of an old, old folktale. Jon has a marvelous voice which he uses very effectively in his telling style along with his word choices which are like brushstrokes painting the pictures of the story.

After the taping and a long visit with Jon talking about storytelling over a coke, the shank of the day was gone. When I got home I just was not in the mood to do the things on my list - so I put the list aside. Did some thinking. Stared into space. Sorted things out. Just was. And, you know something, it felt good.

A friend called and we chatted about nothing in particular - just a good connection. I called my daughter to catch up. We talked some about my list - and I know I have to get back to it. But not now. Today is my stay-cation.

2. Some sewing. Getting back to working on the quilt top I started before Christmas. Its been stop and go. Its a simple plan - working on instinct I am sewing a collection of squares together to construct the top. I started thinking about it when I saw these quilts at the Appalachian Heritage Festival in September. My colors are working out better than I expected. I did not pre-plan the colors - just used what I had at hand. Part of my reduce, reuse, recycle and get rid of it scheme. I find working with fabrics and colors very soothing. (Photo 1: Lap quilt, Appalachian Heritage Festival, September 2009. Photo 2: My quilt in process.) Karen asked me if I was working on something "to show". No. I am not turning on my critics and editors. This is "for the prairie." For us to use.

3. Surfed the web a bit after supper. Still reading King Arthur tales - my second time through a yellowed paper-back. I started the story of Tristran and Iseult this morning so I was really glad to find Priscilla Howe's blog. She talks about her telling of the epic story of Tristan and Iseult and introduced me to a larger story than is told with the Arthur tales. Wish I could hear her telling this tale.

It was a low -key ordinary day. And, sometimes I forget - how good that is.


Sunday - A peek into the past.

An unexpected delight.

Jim's quick cut barber shop was open today so I went there to neaten up for the tv taping tomorrow.

Its a friendly men's place. On the week-ends it becomes a one-stop for dads and their sons who need a cut. I could hardly watch what was happening to my own head because I was fascinated by the interactions between the dads and their fresh faced little boys. The boys eagerly hopped up into the chairs. They were ready to have their hair cut "like daddy." One two year old sat on a booster seat. He was swallowed in a barber's cape staring at himself in the mirror while his dad held up a strand of hair telling the barber to leave some hair.

It brought back memories of when Jim took Jimmy to the Air Force base barber shop and brought him home with all his hair shaved off. That cut could not have taken five minutes. I tried to do it for him myself once. But there was more of a trick to using the shaver than I thought - the poor kid looked really pathetic.

That afternoon the barber at the local shop shook his head as he tried to fix what I had done to Jimmy's hair-cut. "lady, I hope you get rid of your shaver." I did.

What about you? Any memorable hair-cuts to tell about?
(artwork: collage, e.schoettler )


Saturday - Lost and Found

We had just finished the Caprese anitpasto plate at Manoli Canoli when Jim tapped me on the shoulder. Pointing to a bright red wool scarf hanging on a hook of the coat tree by the front door, he asked.
"Does that look like a Fresno State scarf" I was a bit vague at first. "You mean the one you lost? Could be."

Jim walked over and checked for the Fresno Bull Dog emblem. Yep. The dog was sitting just where it was supposed to be.

"This is the scarf I lost." I nodded, agreeing. He asked the waiter. " Oh, that's been hanging there for a long time." Jim wrapped it around his neck and returned to the table.

Yes, a long time - since Jim lunch-time the Monday before New Years.

Nice find and a delicious Aegean Shrimp Pasta.

A lucky lunch.

I used to freak when things went missing. Rushing around. Calling out, " Have you seen it." Lately I have learned - if you just wait things do come home. Don't believe me?

A few weeks ago I left my coat in a doctors office downtown. Jim retrieved it later and when he handed it to me one silver earring fell into the floor of the car. I must have left them in my coat pocket. We found that one.

I emptied my purse - not once but several times. We cleaned out the car. "yes I looked under the seats." We even stopped by the doctor's office a week later on the chance they had found the missing earring. No Luck.

These were my favorites. A great thrift shop find at Sunflowers in Kensington.

Plain hammered Mexican silver squares with a square of black onyx in the center. Good to wear, even dressy. And I always wore them for storytelling.

Finally I shrugged and accepted it. Another orphan earring for my box of ones. I was sorry to lose that other earring. But, oh, well.

I only said something to one person - Saint Anthony.

Last week I put my hand deep into my purse searching for my cell-phone and it closed over a
small hard square of silver. I pulled out the missing earring.


Or, maybe not.

Have you lost anything lately?
(artwork: teetering, collage, e.schoettler)


Friday Video Story - Writing in My Book

Writing in My Book from Ellouise Schoettler on Vimeo.

Writing in My Book is a fun story that joins a childhood memory with something fresh that happened in the present. The story just came together for me in California Haircuts when I was visiting my daughter. It was first written as a post on this blog and hid out there until I realized it would be an amusing story to tell.

This version of the story was taped during a performance at Speakeasy, Washington, DC. May 2008.

The Wedding Dress Story is still available until Friday January 29 - HERE


The weather report this morning is predicting snow by this afternoon. Drat! Jim and I have an appointment downtown and we were thinking we might make it a field trip for something interesting - a diversion. Maybe our diversion will be driving in traffic in the snow.

I am not surprised they are predicting snow this week-end. The snow thrower repairman did not come yesterday. He re-scheduled for Monday. Wouldn't you know it?

But we have wood! Raj delivered two loads of firewood last week. Right outside our backdoor four metals wood-racks are piled high. It looks like we're thinking of building a stockade.

And, there is food in the closet.

So - Let it snow!

After we get home from downtown, please.

(artwork - A Meditation, collage, e. schoettler)


Thursday - A Bit of History

This morning we put three boxes and a bag of give-aways from the basement on the front porch. They disappeared by 10 am. Its a start.

Among the stuff - - old electronics - a Brother wide-body dot matrix printer, an HP black and white laser printer and a large and heavy flip lid "pocket" telephone - our first portable phone. To tell the truth we did not even recognize what it was at first. Its such a far cry from the light weight small cell phones we carry today. Hard to believe so much change in ten years - but here was the history in our hands.

Despite what they called it - the pocket phone - etched right on the grey front - that phone was certainly not for your pocket. It was big and clunky and must weigh nearly 2 pounds. You needed a tote bag to carry it around - - but I was thrilled to have it. I wish I knew the number - just for the record.

Jim insisted I take the "pocket" phone when I drove to North Carolina for my first out-of-town storytelling gigs and it was a good thing. I was nearing Manassas, VA at about 6 am when I was stopped because a truck had jack-knifed ahead leaving the highway slick with oil. Traffic was at a stand-still and remained so for three hours. After an hour of my creeping along in the barely moving traffic - a hose in my car popped. Steam poured out from under the hood and I pulled off to the side. Thanks to the pocket phone I called AAA for a tow and Jim to let him know how glad I was to have the phone. It was the beginning of my love-affair with technology.

About an hour later a large flat bed truck arrived to haul my car to a near-by garage where they fixed the car and sent me on my way - six hours off schedule. Fortunately I was not telling stories until the next morning.

The lone bag on the front porch this morning was crammed full of black electric cords - those mysterious anonymous connectors that you are afraid to get rid of in case you will need one of them some day.
(artwork: collage, e.schoettler)


Wednesday - Three Beautiful Things

Three Beautiful Things:

1. Sitting in my Toyota phone booth in my driveway talking to my long-time best friend.
Laughing like you can with someone you have known since way-back - - someone who really knows you and you really know them. True talk.

2. Karen, Jim and I watched Hobson's Choice, a 1953 black and white film starring Charles Laughton and John Mills that we odered from Netflix. This is an early film directed by David Lean and it promises all the other great films to come from him. "We should have this in our film library," votes Karen.

3. Fresh sheets on our bed - a good inviting feeling as I stretch out. Happy to be in my familiar bed.


Tuesday - Notes on a Brief Community

Today Jim and I were back at the Chemo Lab. Sun streamed in through the window-wall brightening the world. But the real light came through the people - the bantering back and forth between the members of today's impromptu community.

Two patients - a middle aged man and a young woman discovered they came from the same place far away, probably the same neighborhood. It was fun to listen to them walking the streets in their home-town by checking small reference points of a familiar landscape.

When I noticed a heavy gold ring on the right hand little finger of the large man sitting next to me I asked, "could that be a Super Bowl ring." He nodded, took it off his finger and held it out for me to have a closer look at the worn gold ring with two diamonds, dates, his jersey number and team name. It was heavy - it must be a daily reminder of golden days with team-mates. Within minutes the ring passed from hand to hand in the Lab. Women ah-h-h over it; men weighed it in their hand and smiled at him admiringly before passing it along - grateful for his sharing. One woman laughed, "never thought I would hold one of those."

It reminded me of the afternoon I was on a Shuttle Flight from Washington to New York. A man sitting across the aisle noticed that his seat companion was wearing a Super Bowl Ring. The same thing happened. The ring went hand to hand within three sets of seats near the owner - even across the aisle. I remember the feel of it in my hand. When I told the large man about that other day, he laughed, "well that was safe enough - the plane was closed up."

A white haired business man came in carrying his papers and cell phone. Rightfully he pre-empted me from a corner chair because the room was full. Once settled, ignoring the presence of everyone else, he continued his business-meeting-by-cell-phone in a loud voice that took over the room. Within minutes the easy friendliness was replaced by palpable tension and irritation. He did not notice. The nurse - a real take-charge lady - told him to cool it "you talk too loud."

Women talked about raising children; our mothers; our birth order and how it explains a lot. Three of us were oldest children, one an only child and one a youngest. Across generations and circumstances we touched the sameness in our lives and connected. This room is a level playing field where strangers are bound by the human condition.

One lesson I have learned since Jim began his chemotherapy is that Business-as-usual is an intruder in the Chemo Lab.

(art work: Mother, collage, e. schoettler, 2009)


Storytelling - Blogging from Haiti

Journal from Haiti
A young friend of my daughter's has gone with a group to Haiti on a humanitarian mission. Their trip was planned before the earthquake and they were delayed when the quake occurred.Knowing what they faced they went as soon afterwards as it was deemed "safe." '

Kelly is posting on her Haiti blog when she can. Its a different "eyes on the ground" view of that sad place from a group of young Americans who went to help.

Another example of the role social and personal media is playing today in connecting the world person to person.

Kelly's report of what she sees is very touching. One lone white pick-up truck with supplies - that image goes a long way to explain the growing frustration of the people in Haiti - those waiting for supplies and those trying to deliver them. And, those people around the world who helplessly watch the situation from far away.

(artwork: Zip, collage, e. schoettler )


Baby Steps

e. schoettler

In the basement
I took down a large plastic tub and found
My grandmother's laces, white pearl earrings,
The red vest I knitted for my mother 20 years ago
A hand-stitched child's dress
my mother's grandmother made for her
when she was four years old
Three faded aprons Granny made, all by hand.
My Aunt Koki's scarves
Mama's prayer book, filled with holy cards.
Just a few of the treasures to feel and fold.
I can't let these go
so - just like my basement is a museum -
I labeled them.


Getting Started

I started clearing out the basement today.
Bit by bit.
Its hard.
Every single thing I touch has a memory clinging to it.


Friday - The Wedding Dress - Video Story

Wedding Dress from Ellouise Schoettler on Vimeo.

(if the video doesn't play - click on the Title, Wedding Dress - - UNDER the video)

This is a true story that was talked about in our family from the day I purchased my dream wedding dress in a thrift shop in Fresno, CA. The story blossomed with each new life-change - my daughter's wedding to the births of her children. That's one of the joys of family stories - they grow and change with life.

My daugher Robin is a writer. She published her version of this story.

Friday - Haiti, Mundane Stuff, Videos

Book of Hours
collage book 1992
e. schoettler

1. Weeping for the people in Haiti. Grateful for the technology connections that give families some comfort.

2. Really appreciate Carolyn Stearns for the heads up about Teux Deux a free software program to use to make lists. www.teuxdeux.com. I make a long list, break down the tasks into their parts and then drop and drag into the right order. Makes me feel so productive. The next step is to stay on the list.

3. Getting the video ready to post this evening.


Thursday - Ira Glass,

Creative work takes practice, practice, practice.

I like to watch these teaching videos by Ira Glass where he talks about "process". Listen and learn. He is so natural and at ease as he talks wth the camera - you feel as though he is talking with you. That's harder than it looks.

Video is not my medium and at this stage of my career I am not jumping into a new way of telling my stories but - - that being said, I love video and I am learning so much by looking at a lot of them. For several months I have collected videos and posted them on FACEBOOK as my way of communicating with folks. Videos are everywhere and on all sorts of subjects. Its how we live in our world. We don't just read the written page anymore. We like to see what's happening. The moving picture breathes life into the images.

Take the catastrophic horror in Haiti for example - would the tragedy have the same impact if just told to you on radio or in words in the newspaper. Its the images. Seeing the pain and suffering touches our hearts. Watching CNN medical commentator Dr. Sanjay Gupta examine a 15 day old baby and bandage her head - that's human - heart-breaking - an unforgettable image.
The world is connected person to person.


Wednesday - Savoring the Todays

With all that's been going on I have not gone blog "visitin'" for a while. And I am so glad I decided to check in with TravelinOma - that's Marty - this morning. I wrote to her once telling her she is the neighbor I wish I had - a woman filled with love and wisdom.

Her post this morning sent me to her daughter on the East Coast, also a blogger - at The Gab Blog. where she was talking about a book Marty gave her for Christmas. And that's where I found this video -

Katrina Kenison reading from her book,
The Gift of the Ordinary Days. Beautiful and touching. I have to share it with you.

After her words touched me so deeply I wanted to know more about Katrina Kenison. May you will too. HERE

Her work makes the case for me - Catch the Stories in the Everyday - that's where the story is.


No Place Like Home

Clicking Dorothy's red shoes worked. We are home. Modern antibiotics work wonders.
A long relaxing shower and Jim felt even better.
No place like HOME.

Tuesday - Hospital Report

Book of Hours
collage book - 1992
e. schoettler

Jim and I are still in the teeny tiny hospital room this morning but it no longer feels like a sweat lodge. When I woke at 4 am I asked the nurse to call maintenance again. This was the third time. A familiar technician came in " still having trouble?". He turned down the heat. What a relief as the room gradually cooled. I feel like a different person. Such intense dry heat leaves you feeling drugged - stupified.

There is a good chance that Jim will be discharged today. We have our fingers crossed. We are ready to pack and get out of Dodge.

Maybe if I start clicking my heels like Dorothy we'll be home for supper.


Monday -

Book of Hours - cover
collage book - 1992
E. Schoettler

Is it really 18 years ago? I made this collage book while I was staying with Jim in George Washington Hospital after his aneurysm surgery. That same day Robin's oldes son, Jamie was born in CA. The first call we received after Jim came from recovery was Brad, calling to tell us about his son - and that he was named for Jim. A memorable day.

Three beautiful things:

1. A memory. The young man taking care of Jim today speaks with a soft beautiful accent. Jim asked him where he is from. "Kenya. Nairobi. " He has only been in the US four months and he is homesick. Ofcourse he is. We talked about the endless skies, several points in the city of Nairobi that I remembered from my trip to Kenya in 1985 and - the animals living in the wild. Our talk was good for both of us - it refreshed the images of my memories and it gave him a chance to talk about home with someone who has been there.

2. Receiving Holy Communion from a member of a local Parish. Grateful for his ministry.

3. Having WiFi in the teeny tiny hot hospital room made doing my work today so much easier while Jim's system was being washed with antibiotics and hopefully getting beyond the fevers and infection.

Book of Hours
collage book - 1992
e. schoettler


Sunday- Health Care Dilemma

Tonight Jim and I are spending the night in the hospital in a teeny tiny private room that is as hot as a sauna. I am not whining. I am grateful to be here. Jim spiked a fever this afternoon and his oncologist sent him here. They don't like it when Chemotherapy patients spike a fever of 102.

I drove him 20 minutes to the hospital where his Internist, his Urologist and his Oncologist all have privileges and he could have the care of any or all if he needed it. And that's the privilege we have - access to good health care.

The oncologist called ahead to alert the Emergency Room that Jim was coming in - preparing the way for his emergency so that he would not be over-looked in the waiting room. After a short wait he was taken into a curtained cubicle in the Emergency Room where they started a bag of IV fluid , drew blood for tests and cultures, sent him for a chest xray and started to determine what was causing the fever. Eventually he was given a potent IV antibiotic and the decision was made to admit him - "we are cautious with Chemo patients." And after a long but fruitful four hours he was admitted and taken to a room.

We asked for a private room and fortunately this teeny tiny room was available. We needed it because I stay with him. I don't ask if I can - I tell them sweetly that this is what works for us. We have learned over time that every patient needs an advocate with them in the hospital. - and like I am a watcher on airplances I am also, Nurse Ratchett, Jim's watcher.

As I sit here now, watching Jim sleeping, I am thinking about the stark contrast of this evening with the night I spent in the Emergency Room of Coney Island Hospital, a large big city hospital.

Its something to think about.


Saturday - Storytelling and Bra-Chatter


Flipping through my picture files this morning I stopped at this one. I remember the morning at the Wal-Mart in Charlotte three years ago when I snapped the photo of a full rack of red satin bras. Eye-stopping to say the least. Never dreamed I would actualy have a chance to use the picture.

It fits right in with the recent fascination with ladies lingerie on FaceBook.

So much hoopla about bras on Facebook and Twitter as people rushed to answer a question about the color of their underwear. Even though it was couched as raising awareness for breast cancer - I thought it was dumb. Did I miss something of social significance here?

And what does it say that the Washington Post gave the bra-chatter on Social Media a two page spread? Just asking?


Really wonderful day of story-work at the annual workshop with Donald Davis. Nine tellers and a master. Rich.
I started a new story on a long-time problem, my basement - and the accumulation of history jumbled together under the floor-boards.
Yeah! Yeah! I know. You have heard about it before. But, now, inspired by storyteller Michael Reno Harrell's very funny tale of cleaning out his mother's house - I am moving on it.

Workshops are story incubators and its really good to hear other storytellers working on their stories.
Learn by telling and learn by listening.


Friday - Air Vigilante - Video Story

Air Vigilante from Ellouise Schoettler on Vimeo.

Christmas Day the world saw once again how important passengers can be for airplane safety. Believe me, that's no surprise to me.

With all the talk and concern about air line safety in the news, I thought this was a good time to play Air Vigilante, one of my favorite stories. Years ago I learned that I could turn my fear of flying to good purpose as a "watcher." How about you?

In 2009 I taped this version for television and told it at Speakeasydc in Washington, DC.

Friday - technology and education

e. schoettler

Woke up to snow on the ground - soft, white, fluffy - beautiful.
More than a dusting as predicted on tv last night - "the snow will pass us by"
but not so much to tie things up.

Yesterday the Patti Digh teleseminar CHOICE POINTS gave me a lot to think about. Pattis says,
"we are always in choice no matter what the situation."

Using the web is more than just googling when you are looking for something . Its great for education experiences. I love the new names for classes:

teleseminars - meaning its on muted phone lines with 400 other people worldwide and they don't know that I am in my favorite flannel nightgown drinking a diet coke and did not comb my hair or do my face. Free - unless - it is password protected and there is a fee to the instructors. You print the hand-outs which are emailed to you.

webinars - still wearing whatever - you hear the person talking through the computer. You talk back through by typing your questions to a chat room - and a moderator speaks the questions - so only two voices. Its hands-free, so its possible you could multi-task while you listen and learn.

teleconferences - people call in a central number and you can talk together. (whoever has the barking dogs at their feet has to mute their phone lines.) The conference is usually free but you pay for your side of the call. Check the costs on that. Storyteller and coach Doug Lipman recently had a review of calling costs on his blog, Ask the Storyteller Coach.

PODcast - a recording that you can listen to from the computer or download and listen later through your computer or through your iPod. Most conferences or seminars are recorded and then posted as a Podcast so you can listen later. Or hear it if you missed being there.

TIP: If you are on a conference and they tell you its being recorded monitor your blurts. Everything lasts for a long time on the web.

SKYPE: skype is a free download you use to connect with people world wide through your computer camera or a webcam. It is easy to use.


Thursday -

We are on snow watch here again. The snow blower is still broken. Its 22 years old and they had to send away for the parts. Oh, woe. We are back to the shovel again.

Wood pile will see us through and we brought in the food we needed. So -

We will cook soup and make bread.

Let it snow.


Wednesday - Chatter, Storytelling and Timeless Chinese Warriors

Brr, Baby, its cold outside.
Williamsburg winter street scene.

There is a layer of gray clouds overhead. Hoping that does not mean more snow.
Headed out early this morning. Grabbing my gloves. The steering wheel of our van will be sooooo cold. And it takes the car a bit to warm up. This is when I wish for heated seats.

These ladies will hold the place for me until I get back.

I am finally back and will leave a few notes before I settle down to sleep. It has been a lovely and very varied day.

Three Beautiful Things.

1. Jim and I went to the National Geographic to see the ancient Chinese Terracotta Warriors. (good intro video.) The warrior figures are stunning. The exhibition setting complements the figures and their timeless serenity.
People gasp as they walk into the largest exhibit room where six of the figures stand - a memorable sight.

Not often you can stand with a 2,000 year old guy. Grateful to the woman who offered to take the picture.

FYI - if you are in the DC area - It is a 12.00 regular price ticket ($2 off for Seniors) except on Wednesdays there are 200 free tickets which they begin distributing at 5:30 PM.

2. First Stories for Seniors gig this afternoon and it was fun. I tried a few new stories and they worked well. Always feels good when people are laughing and happy and asking, "when are you coming back."

3. More stories tonight. Margaret and Ralph Chatham opened the 2010 season at the Kensington Row Storytelling Salon with a delightful evening of stories. Finely told. Everyone was charmed by their tandem telling of the Dylan Thomas, "A Child's Christmas in Wales." A perfect way to close this years Christmas Season.

A special gift for everyone - Multi-talented Margaret brought some of her exquisitely decorated cookies. They are not only beautiful - they are also delicious gingerbread - once you can bring yourself to bite into edible art.

FYI - You can still see the Video story HANDMADE.


Tuesday - Tell Your Story

When I saw this card twenty years ago I latched onto it and I have saved it ever since. It sums up what I have been doing with my art work and storytelling since the 1970s.

Before that actually.

The first time I remember telling a story I was in the 7th grade. Our assignment - write a story about your family.
I wrote about my Daddy - a crazy, funny story about some of his eccentric antics. I read it to the class and when my classmates laughed uproariously I was hooked.

I have explored telling my story in many forms.

Collage is one - but before that - I worked on albums.

In the 1970s one of the new modes of expression for women artists was autobiograpy in an effort to validate the lifes of ordinary women. Artist Miriam Schapiro used handmade articles made by anonymous women in her art work and many other women artists included photographs, bits of biography and momentos. Once when Miriam was visiting DC, she and I made a field trip to Thieves Market, a huge flea market under a tin roof which was a bit south of Alexandria on Hwy 1. That afternoon Mimi introduced me to the beauty and charm of old scrap books as examples of anonymous women's art work and I have been collecting them ever since. As well as making many of my own.

My first auto-biographical album was exhibited at the Washington Women's Art Center in 1975. I used old and new family photographs to tell a story which connected similar images of the past and the present. Something I still do in my storytelling - and in writing this blog. Connecting the threads of the story, past and present, as a way of weaving my life together.

In 1994 when my father died, I made a biographical album for his life and housed it in an old leather salesman's catalog notebook that he had used for years and given to me. My thought was - his life story within a bit of his life. The Album was exhibited at Gallery 10, Washington, DC in 1996 in Life After Life, an exhibition organized by artist Claudia Vess.

In 2003 Lucy Blankstein and I created videos from family photographs to tell a story from each of our families for Embedded Memories:Digital Recall, our two-person exhibition at Gallery 10, Washington, DC and at the DC Art-o-Matic. Family Album, below, is one of my videos from that exhibition. In it, for the first time I combine words and music with the photographs to remember my grandmother and my great-mother using my mother's words to tell a bit of their stories. I insert genealogy data to document them and leave clues for the family.

Family Album - Ellouise Schoettler from Ellouise Schoettler on Vimeo.

Today Powerpoint would give you a much smoother presentation true, but somehow I still like the primitive quality of the film which matches the simplicity of the story. Some of the quirks are because of the upload - and I will fix them as soon as I figure out how. All part of the process.

I hope you will leave a comment and share ways you are using to capture and preserve your family stories and --- most importantly TELL them.



Power Play
e. schoettler

Cold . Cold. Cold.
We cuddle under our electric blanket on these ice-cold nights.

Sunday - Bits and Pieces


3 Beautiful Things
1. Airlie is made of bits of old cloth, held in place by net and then stitched over, like free drawing lines. This gives it the look of a painting and the textures of fabric.
The movie All About Steve, is "tongue in cheek" from beginning to end. Sandra Bullock's character, Mary, is a quirky, smart woman who knows so much she can't keep quiet and who has never learned to hold still. Being a blonde she does not look like the familiar Sandra Bullock. At first its a bit difficult to like her character but Mary grows on you. Does she get the guy, like in While You Were Sleeping? All I will say is that I liked it, despite the critics who didn't.
3. Cold. Cold. Cold. A coke can I left in the car froze and would have exploded except that the liquid solidified in place before it could splatter. Thank goodness.

You can watch the video story, Handmade HERE.

Saturday - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

American Landscape e. schoettler mixed media construction

3 Beautiful Things
1. Reduce-Reuse-Recycle - American Landscape is a recycled art work. One day I sliced serveral of my collages on the paper cutter and reassembled the pieces into this work. Interestingly - the recycled work was by far the most interesting piece.
2. Watched Penelope on Netflix as an Instant Play. A modern story collaged from several fairytales that is a light weight and charming diversion.
3. Home-made macaroni and cheese is definitely better the second day. I love left-overs.


New This Year - Videos of Ellouise Telling Stories

Something new. Stories for the Week-end. I will post a new story on Friday or Saturday every week.

Handmade from Ellouise Schoettler on Vimeo.

Handmade is a story about recycling and re-creating that crosses several generations and applauds women who see the potential in what is at hand.

My mother, Louise Diggle, died about a year after I wrote and performed this story as part of my program, Second Hand Rose. I am grateful that she heard and liked the story and knew it as a "thank you" to her for the many things she taught me.

This version of Handmade was recorded for my weekly TV program, Stories in Time.

For the past few years I have been fortunate that my stories have been video taped often during performances and for my regular cable television program. The tapes are a rich resource, yes, but then once you have them - what to do with them. They have been gathering dust on my shelf. Well, that's not good. Stories are meant to be told ..... and heard.

A few months ago this started to bother me. Do you do that? Stew about it until you figure out what to do? And, now I have worked it out - by sharing my stories on the web through my blog.

Its a good thing I like working with technology because its taken me a while to get the hang of using Hand Brake and IMovie to prepare the films for Viemo and voila - here it is. One detail outstanding - for the next film I hope to learn how to close my mouth.

I am wondering how other storytellers are using video to share their stories.

Happy New Year - 2010

e. schoettler - 2009

Patti Digh opens her New Year's Eve post on 37 Days with this quote:

"We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives... not looking for flaws, but for potential.
" -Ellen Goodman

Wow. Think about it. Change the paradigm. What could happen!

Granny Sue burned all the troubles people sent her last night in her New Year's Bon Fire!
This morning those troubles and worries are just ashes left in the fire pit.
Today we start with a clean slate.

What if ,
instead of trying to fix what did not work last year -
we stepped out - stepped up - faced forward - not looking back.
And went ahead.
Scary really.
But worth trying.

Today I am cooking black-eyed peas and ham to give the New Year a traditional welcome and add some LUCK to the pot. Jim made bread yesterday and I tell you we are loving his home-made bread. Makes every meal feel a bit special.

Special is good!