Looking at my calendar and not my list.
I focus
Can it be?
Our grandsons arrive from the West Coast in

I am not ready!

Put storytelling on the back burner.
Anybody trying to reach me will have to wait.
Today I have to be like the trolley at the end of the line
Turn around.

Switch lists -
Clean house
Groceries - make room for enough food to feed three teenage boys.
Borrow futons
Get out sheets and towels
Take dog to groomer - she looks awful.

And best of all
Get ready for hugs.


Tuesday - Curious cat

Introducing Karen's cat
she is private, quiet
sometimes curiously friendly.

But her curiosity is so gentle
it could hardly kill her.


Sunday- The Walmart Quilt & Under a West Virginia Moon

Jim and I are home from West Virginia - a day late - and I am glad.

Yes, we met lovely, friendly, funny people everywhere - - - that was good.

I presented Flesh on Old Bones, my storytelling with genealogy workshop to a full room of people who enjoyed it - - - that was good.
It was fun to tell the stories I use to illustrate how I combine the two - storytelling and genealogy - with a bit thrown in on gathering stories. Nice to bring out John Walter Cobb, Daddy's grandfather, and his mother Catherine Lonergan Cobb along with Mama and her story about the day "that little girl got shot. You can see an example of working on a story on Golf Improvisation, which I posted last Friday."

Another stay at a Marriott Fairfield Inn - - - also good.
We always stayed at a Fairfield Inn in Concord, NC when we visited Mama - so I was prepared to be well-treated in a nice environment - which we were.
Friday Jim and I ate supper at a Bob Evans restaurant near the hotel. I almost burst into tears when we stepped inside. It looked exactly like the Bob Evans in Concord where we often took Mama for supper.
Oh, my. It was an unexpected flood of memories and missing her - - it was also good.

Now the surprise.

Thursday evening Jim and I argued about turning up the heat in the hotel room. I was freezing cold: he was hot. I huddled under the skimpy blanket and complained. Finally he realized maybe something was off with him. He took his temperature. Damn- - 101.5. I drove to the near-by SUPER Walmart for Tylenol: he an antibiotic with him. As long as I was in the Walmart
I also picked up a pretty quilt - made in China - by machine - with occasional hand-stitching - paid a pittance for it - which would keep me warm. ( From now on I will travel with this WVA sourvenir in the car.)

Next day Jim rested, read, and worked on the taxes at the hotel while I conferenced. But - always the but - at supper Jim began to look peekity and have chills. After an exchange of my threats and his protests, he called his doctor in Bethesda and guess what? His doctor advised that I take Jim to an ER where a doctor could check him out.

I asked about hospitals at the desk. They had directions and very definite advice, "Not the local hospital. Take him to Ruby Memorial in Morgantown, its part of University of West Virginia, and an excellent hospital. Just 30 minutes away." Just then storyteller Katie Ross walked by, over-heard us and added, " he's right." I felt better about the choice at that.

One of the great things about West Virginia - where we were anyway - there is not a lot of traffic. I drove down the dark free-way under an inky sky but the world was bright - lit by a big, round, silver moon that was just glorious. The hotel directions were perfect as written; we did not even mess with the GPS. Drove directly to the Emergency Entrance of a huge hulking building.

They were not too busy but there is always a wait for triage and admission so you can see a doctor. Ushered into a very large, extensive emergency room we were assigned to a small examining room - bare-bones - - - except for a large LG flat screen TV on the wall at the foot of the rolling gurney.
And you know what else they had there?
Cable TV.
free Wi Fi through-out the hospital.
My kind of place.

Listen, I never walk out of the house on one of these adventures without my laptop - because one thing you can count on in hospitals is waiting. Endless waiting.

Jim was poked and punched, stuck for blood, chest x-rayed and talked to. The staff was great. Young, fresh, friendly and eager. A nurse who lived in Jane Lew up the road was surprised that we knew it - that's where the WVA Storytelling festival was held and we went every year for five years. A young woman resident had just been in Charlotte that morning, flying back from a visit with her sister in Gastonia --- we also had Chapel Hill in common. Small world is so much fun.

Results of Jim's tests finally came back. He needed a bigger, meaner antibiotic. And he got it and a prescription for more.

It was now 4:00 am.

We had watched three movies and I got a LOT of work done.

We collapsed when we got back to the hotel, snuggled under the warm Walmart quilt.

My workshop was at 10:30 am that morning. I slept two hours. At the college by 9:30. Wide-eyed and ready. And it went well.
Or so they said.
Fortunately I taped it on my iPod and I will listen to it later.

Back at the hotel by 12:30 pm I crawled under the Walmart quilt and slept.

We decided to stay over and sleep a full night before driving the 4 hours home. It was the right plan.

PPS: Jim drove half-way home. Hurrah for antibiotics.



The Mountain State Storytelling Institute, a two day conference, was held in the Falcon Center, Fairmont State Univ., Fairmont, WVA.

  • Meeting new interesting and friendly folks.
  • Re-Connecting with West Virginia storytellers.
  • Hearing fresh stories.
  • A presentation by Jane Gilbert that opened a book I have owned for years to me in a new way. Ruth Ann Musik the author of Green Hills of Magic, was a folklorist who collected European Folktales told by immigrants from many countries who came to West Virginia.
  • Presenting my workshop, Flesh on Old Bones, to a room of participants who welcomed the information.

New Friday Video - Golf Improvisation 1

Golf Improvisation 1 from Ellouise Schoettler on Vimeo.

Golf Improvisation 1 is a story in process that I played with during a recent taping of Stories in Time, Channel 16, Montgomery Municipal Cable. It aired just as your see it.

As I tell you in the story, I was inspired by the movie, Stroke of Genius, a bio of golf legend Bobby Jones, to finally begin working on a family story centering on my grandfather who was an amateur southern golf champion during the same period as Bobby Jones.

This is a first time talking out the story.



Friday Video will be a bit late this week.
I am in West Virginia at the Mountain State Storytelling Institute
Meeting great new folks and catching up with folks I know.
That's the best part of these conferences.
Besides talking about storytelling and family history.

Tomorrow I present my workshop,Flesh on Old Bones
Its about making stories from your family history.
Something I particularly love to do.

Storyteller Bil Lepp gave an interesting Keynote speech today
He credits his family and their habits of telling stories in the family
for his own interest, skill and success as a storyteller.
Something to think about -


Thursday -

Getting ready to leave.
Going to West Virginia for a couple of days
for the West Virginia Storytelling Institute.

Presenting Flesh on Old Bones
my workshop on making stories out of your
genealogy and family history.

Thinking about it
Going through the papers
Assembling the stuff
Brings back ideas for stories I meant to write
and haven't yet.

Thinking about that
What's best
To go back and finish up
Or leave it for the next to come along.

Except that now I am the elder
The one who has the first hand knowledge
Who was there
Or heard the story
Or knew the house before the wrecking ball
Or heard them while laughter filled their hearts.

Hmm m m m m m
How did that get to be?



I am just waking up to the treasures on You Tube.
And watering my roots.

Starting the day with Johnny Cash
and a song that is new to me.

Never heard of the Tennessee Flat Top Box.
Makes good sense though!

How's this for a simple story
and some fine singing and picking?


Tuesday -

This is a memory.
Our kitchen table on a summer day.

I remember the day I painted it.
It was a sweet time.

Since I usually work abstractly, finding this still life painting was a very nice surprise.

I am keeping it.


Monday - Spring, Movies and a Song

The trees and flowers are popping out all over.
Yellow forsythia bushes blooming at the back door.

Persephone must be back and her mama is so happy she is coloring the world.

Taped two new stories today.
Love that.

De Ja Vu
Two weeks ago Jim and I watched a 1943 black and white movie, The More the Merrier, starring Joel McCray, Jean Arthur and Charles Coburn. Its a cute film that sets up the boy and girl plot around the housing shortage in Washington, DC during WWII. It was fun and a bit of history as well.

Last night I was in bed but not sleepy and did not want to read so I decided to pick a fun Instant Play film on Netflix and watch it on the laptop. (Now that's another reason I love the laptop computer - totally portable.) I chose Gary Grant's last film, the 1966 Walk Don't Run, with adorable Jim Hutton and Samantha Eggar. Guess what, the boy meets girl plot revolves around the housing shortage in Tokyo during the 1966 Olympics with Gary Grant acting as cupid for the other two. I watched with the other film echoing in my ears and eyes. Different location, some changes in the plot but step by step hanging on the same stepping stones. I loved watching it and comparing the approaches.

In the end, I choose Walk Don't Run - because even as the older man - you can't top Gary Grant for being himself with perfect comic timing and perfected cool.

JUST FOR FUN. Sing-a-long with Mitch Miller

Recommended by Alan.


Sunday - Retreating?

Found this old sketch-book collage
I like it.
Tells me where I was - then.

I would not make it that way today
isn't that worth knowing
about a lot of things.

Plans go awry.

We signed up for the annual retreat with our prayer group
Two days in silent prayer in a lovely environment
two blocks from the Washington Catholic Shrine.

Wouldn't you know?
It was the same week-end as the opening of Telling Moments Storytelling Theater.
I had Board responsibilities - making the punch and introducing Jon Spelman, star of the show.

We left the silence in time to go home, dress fancy, set up the food -
Planning to go back to the Retreat House after the show
Sister gave us a key so we could get in after the front door was locked.

All seemed well.


I was felled by a really bitching stomach attach - pain, pain, pain.
Called the doctor
Go to the emergency room.

OK- after
the stories are done
and the punch is drunk
and the kitchen is cleaned
and stuff loaded in the car.

Jim and others stepped in to help speed our get-away.

Fortunately the ER was not too busy
But it was freezing cold
Don't you love blankets from the warmer.
We were home by 3 AM
I evaded being admitted
They will try new antibiotics -
And see your doctor on Monday.

That is the good news.
Lets hope the new meds work.



Coming before midnight.
Running, running, running,
I think I can, I think I can,
I know I can
make this deadline.

And I did it. I did it.

La Bruha from Ellouise Schoettler on Vimeo.

I love telling this old story from Mexico. As I told it I gradually realized and added my interpretation for why the judge was so determined to prove that La Bruha was a witch and get rid of her. Made sense to me.


Old Sing-a-long Song. Have Fun

This afternoon when I was telling stories for one of my Senior groups - someone mentioned this song. We all knew the tune but not the words. We played with it for a few minutes, and together remembered a good bit. Later I googled it - here are all the words, memories of Mitch Miller's music and televison show, and those sing-a-long shorts at the movies where the white ball bounced across the screen as the audience sang. Great rousing choirs when the house was filled and faint half-hearted choirs at the afternoon shows.

Thursday - Social Media - Take Two

Screen shot of Robin Schoettler Fox’s blog post

Social Media Specialist Robin Fox and storyteller Slash Coleman have never met. They are a continent apart yet they are both skilled in using Social Media as the basis for their marketing.

In these two recent blog posts they show very different sides of possible results - with a common link.

Robin Schoettler Fox, as she works Facebook to network and expand her business reach, finds a personal story which she shares with her readers. I was caught up in the story, ofcourse, and with her expanding it by the follow-up phone call. What started out as an internet marketing exercise worked its way to being a very touching personal connection and story.

Too often, I think , its easy to gloss over the human quotient and lose the personal touch so I appreciated being on the sidelines for a lesson in how wonderfully personal and satisfying the connections can be.

Robin tells me that the internet is all about transparency so here it it - Robin is my daughter. She is a trained corporate marketer who now specializes in Social Media. She is my Social Media coach and secret weapon in the marketing game as she advises me on my business and for a year has been teaching me how to work with Social Media. I have been surprised how easy it is to work coast-to-coast on Skype.

Screen shot of Slash Coleman blog postStoryteller Slash Coleman is one of the most effective communicators with Social Media on the storytelling scene and accomplished in marketing. I "listen up" when he posts on his blog.

Today Slash Coleman, posted an excellent and comprehensive over-view article on marketing that runs the gamut of the varied Social Media tools and how to have them effectively interact as you work your marketing campaign.
Don't miss it. This article is a keeper.

Beyond the tools, Slash highly recommends remembering - it is one hand-shake at a time - even in the vast internet market. Don't lose the personal touch.

I appreciated this shared awareness between Robin and Slash on the importance of the personal touch in building business and life-relationships. There are times when the two over-lap.

Being transparent I should also tell you Slash and I met last October when we were both telling on the Exchange Place Stage at the National Storytelling Festival. I have followed his storytelling work and his marketing expertise through his blog ever since. This guy knows what he is doing - and graciously shares his know-how.


Wednesday -Storytelling, Small reunion, sweet dreams

Told stories for seniors today. Old Irish folktales to
celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Loved it.

Dinner with a small group of Jim's medical school classmates.
Walking down memory lane with companions on the journey is bittersweet and wonderful.
Storytelling tip: Listen and take notes.
I did.

Sleeping on clean, sweet-smelling sheets tonight.
How lovely!
Promises sweet dreams


Tuesday - From Spelman to Chaucer and more

Got a lot on my list these days.
  • Jon Spelman's concert - the opening of Telling Moments Storytelling Theater is Saturday night so: making the programs,
    gathering refreshments etc. You know - the behind-the-scenes business to shore things up - the glamorous work of the Board. Excellent news is - the house is almost sold out!!!!!
  • Preparing raw audio tape and graphics for a new CD, Pushing Boundaries. so the new cds will be ready for the Capital Fringe. Delighted I will be able to work with Randi - the same clever designer who did such a good job on the Air Vigilante graphics. Feeling very grateful that my friend, the talented Andrew Hiller, a genius sound guy, has time to work with me on the editing. I love working with Andrew - he is so gooood at what he does with the sound.
  • Working on stories for two programs this week. Now that's good - and my bread and butter.
  • Speaking of bread, I am casting bread on the storytelling waters and hoping cake comes back. Universe, are you listening?
Just letting you know that I am not curled up on the couch munching on bon-bons. Much as I might like to be. I have another Phillipa Gregory book on-hand, The Virgin's Lover - about Queen Elizabeth I, ofcourse.

I continue to travel with the pilgrims and stories of the Canterbury Tales. Reading the Bantam version in contemporary poetry and really like it. Letting the color of the characters sink in.
Chaucer, now there's a storyteller.



I have not disappeared
just REAL busy
on very good things.
Will be back!


New Friday Video - The Pumpkin Seed Bird

The Pumpkin Seed Bird from Ellouise Schoettler on Vimeo.

A change of pace - an old folktale.
This is a great story for youth and adult audiences. I like to tell it as an environmental story by adding descriptions of the surroundings, the birds, and how you plant pumpkins. Then comes the delicious surprise - magic.

Friday -

Pausing for lunch.
e. schoettler

Thinking of stories to tell this afternoon for a new group. Always interesting to see how favorite stories play with new listeners. Sometimes there are real surprises! Makes it all FUN.

I will be back later to post a new Friday Video. Have you seen The Tatooed Man? one of my favorites.


Thursday -

Great day.
Two phone calls with new-to-me energetic women who are doing very interesting things.

Working with Robin
She counsels me on the ways of social-media marketing.
She is so good at it.
She has a feel for marketing.
Always challenging me to keep folks in mind and follow-through.

Long catch-up phone chats with two of my sisters.
Connecting is good.

Lunch with Jim
Sitting outside in the warm sun.
Time to talk
That's the best.


Wednesday - Today is a Gift

What was the story today?
Was there a story today?

The day tripped by so fast that I did not notice.

Why did that happen?

Because I was so focused on the future -
on the what might be
that I lost the precious what was.

I mislaid the gift of today.



My Washington Post horoscope says
I am on the wrong road.
What does that mean?
I am juggling so many balls on quite a few roads
which one is the wrong one???????

Back to the old-time tried and true prophet

"mirror. mirror."

Reviewing my check list: A chorus of "nos"
  • Face book friend wrote - "how are you doing on your basement redecorating?" meaning have you cleaned it out? Well, NO. Is that one of the wrong roads?
  • No, I did not finish the taxes.
No, No, No, No, No, No !!!!!!!!

But, there are yeses - lots of Yes, Yes, Yes.

Its just that I remember the no list first!
Why do I do that???
How about you?


Monday - Tax Time Lament

Good morning sunshine.
Feels good sitting here in the bright light.
I am dressed for battle.
Wearing my lavendar sweat shirt with the turtle doves cooing on the front.
I even have my black loafers on.

Yesterday I did not dress. Just lounged around in my nightgown all day like a slug. Ever do that? Soaking in slob-i-ness while my batteries charge for the coming week.

Hatching plans for the days ahead. Making mental lists. Avoiding the real thing I know I will be doing today - the TAXES.
I hate them.
That's it, pure and simple -
I hate the taxes.

Doing the taxes intimidates me.
Reminds me that I have not kept neat and clean records
I will have to sort and search in order to complete them.

It won't be easy.
It won't be simple.
I will have made it hard.
Every year I resolve to do better.

Surely I am not the only one.

By the end of the day Jim and I will not be cooing
We will be more than cross with each other.

Look I am not an accountant.
I do not have an affinity for numbers
Making a stack of numbers come out right is not my thing
The truth is
I am math challenged.

I understand money - its for spending

And, I know you have to work for it.

Elude me.

But - - not today.



Textile collage
e. schoettler



Whirling - textile wall hanging
e. schoettler


NEW FRIDAY VIDEO - The Tatooed Man

The Tatooed Man from Ellouise Schoettler on Vimeo.

I asked an impertinent question and was given the answer and - this wonderful story along with permission to tell it. Lesson learned - always ask.

The video is posted as it was aired on Channel 16 (Montgomery Municipal Cable, Kensington, MD) two years ago when we were filming in a "real" set. Shortly after that the station converted to a "virtual set".


Sitting at the kitchen table in our house in Pennsylvania I can see stretches of broken up patches of white snow that still blanket the fields that surround us. Our place sits on the corner edge of fields that belong to others so we can enjoy watching how the seasons change them without having to do one lick of work about it.

Jim and I drove up last night in easy traffic. Once in the house we felt wrapped in the quiet. Right now I hear him gently turning his book pages and my computer typing sounds like an old upright. No cars, no television! Good brain resting time. This is our first time up here since November and we have missed it. The sleeping is so easy.

We are here now because I am telling stories today in New Oxford at a large retirement facility. They are having a volunteer appreciation day for their current volunteers and to recruit new folks. Belgian waffles and calorie laden sauce being served afterwards. YUMMMMM. I don't know what stories I will tell until I meet the folks but that's OK. Winging it is fun! Its a bit of "high wire" dancing. Good for keeping me on my toes.

I will be back later to post the New Friday Video.


Thursday - Books

Bright sunlight floods the dining room through to the kitchen. I hear the wind chimes outside the deck sliding glass door. I know I have "things to do" but the book on the white kitchen table calls out to me. "Maybe just one chapter, won't hurt."
But I know it won't stop there. I have entered another world and I like it there.
I am loving this book, The White Queen, by Phillippa Gregory. I know nothing about British history. The lines of kings and queens usually confuse me. However Gregory's storytelling in this history-novel brings the characters to life. She re-imagines the story through the eyes and life of Elizabeth Woodville who is the "white queen."

Are you like this when you dive into a book and the water is warm and inviting? Just can't put it down. The story keeps carrying you along.

What was the last book you read that captured you like that?

I am asking because I know I am going to finish The White Queen yearning for another good read.


Wednesday - Storytelling, The White Queen, Clean Sheets

Three Beautiful Things.

1. Telling Stories at the Kensington Row Book Shop. Great listeners make the stories better.

2. Picking up a book at the library that grabs me like The White Queen by Phillippa Gregory has. Gregory makes the story of Queen Elizabeth Woodville and the War of the Roses a wonderful read.

3. The feel of fresh-clean-taut bed-sheets.


Tuesday - storytelling, basil, Jim

Three Beautiful Things

1. Storytelling to a lively new group - just let the stories flow unplanned and it worked.

2. The lovely smell of fresh basil.

3. Jim


Monday- moon, Chaucer, storyteller

Three Beautiful Things:
  • Vivid moon was back in the black sky - cold, mysterious, mystic light - made me think of the paintings of Albert Pinkham Ryder.

  • Re-reading Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in prose and poetry - great storytelling and memorable characters. New appreciation for the tales.

  • Taped a new FOCUS ON STORIES with guest storyteller, Noa Baum. Rich interview, finely told story and a tip for new tellers.