The Necklace - Mariwyn Heath

A few days ago I wrote about The Necklace - a 1997 art project - when I invited special friends, colleagues and mentors to send a bead and a story for a storyteller's necklace.

Recently I found the box filled with these treasures. The beads were still in their mailers.

Now as I complete the necklace I am writing about the women as well as their beads. This is the first in a series of posts about them.

Mariwyn Heath sent this bead and note from Dayton, Ohio.

"The "bead" is glass from the Mississippi Artists Co-op. I found it on a post-BPW Convention trip to Natchez and Vicksburg. I hope its not too big for you." Love, Mariwyn

How funny!

As if there was anything that could be big enough to represent Mariwyn Heath - -

Mariwyn died in January 2010. This is the tribute I wrote then. Its appropriate to post it again on Memorial Day when we honor those who fought for what they believed was best for our country.


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.


VIDEO story for Memorial Day

The Tatooed Man from Ellouise Schoettler on Vimeo.

I call this story "The Tatooed Man". I asked for it from a stranger the day after Memorial Day a few years ago. Along with the story he gave me permission to tell it. So, for David and all those we honor this week-end.


Treasure on a Shelf

I had forgotten about this box.

It has been sitting on a shelf in the studio since 1998. Twelve years - waiting - for me to get back to it.

Since the 1970s I have initiated collaborations with other women as part of my artwork. This was one I started in 1997 that went off track.

I wrote to women who had been a special part of my life and asked for a bead and a story. To make an "album necklace".

And many responded. They sent me a bead - and a bit of a story. I have beads from my aunts, my daughters, long-time friends, mentors, artists and special ERA partners.
All who peopled my journey with love, friendship and wisdom.

I don't remember now what came up - what got in the way so that I did not make the necklace then - you now how those things go.

I packed all the envelopes into this box and set it on a shelf.
To be done later.

Now - is the later.

As I work on Pushing Boundaries - I am going through old papers and boxes - and I found the "bead-box" again.

And - its just what I need - now - for this story.

Serendipity at work!

But there is more to do - photographing, documenting, and then stringing the beads.

As I do this work -
I am so aware of the way our life-circles keep growing -
in that twelve years new people have come into my life
enriching me and my story by their being part of it.
So, the lesson is

Add more beads

Keep the circle open.


New Image for Pushing Boundaries

Robin and I worked up a new image for Pushing Boundaries.
Working with my daughter Robin is really great - especially as she is so creative and so well versed in computer and design skills. A surprise a day!

I am sure you understand that the Fringe program, marketing and materials is my full-time focus right now. When you are "fringing" you are IT- performer, pr, marketing, designer etc. etc. etc.
Its a heck of a lot of work - but you work for yourself - and I like that.

Everytime I do this I am grateful for all the art shows - its the same process - without the heavy lifting.


Thursday - Italian surprise and stuff

A nice surprise. Our grand-daughter Alison is in Sicily - a William and Mary summer semester. Today she sent the link for her new Italy-blog Italison. No surprise that I am really delighted she has chosen to blog her Italy-stories and share them.

Did you see the gorgeous moon last night? Looked like a painting.

Loving our deck these days. Five years ago we had to have all the large shubs removed and we lost the privacy for our out-doors living. Now the replacements have grown-up enough to give us our deck-room back. The deck has been cleaned and re-stained. Jim washed the table and chairs and with Wi-Fi - its an outdoors office - near the bird feeder. Nice!

The tv pictures of the Louisiana Coast are heartbreakers. And we can't even imagine the full impact of this disaster. Leaves me breathless.


Graduation 1972

May 1972.
Dunbarton College of the Holy Cross
Washington, DC

Afterwards Jim takes this picture of me and our kids,
Karen, Robin and Jimmy. I can tell you I was the only member of the graduation class surrounded by her children.

I have been thinking about these days a lot as I work on the story I am telling at the DC Capital Fringe.

When I decided to go back to college in 1968 I chose this small Catholic girls school because I was intimidated by the larger colleges in the Washington area and did not even apply. I remember thinking it reminded me of my Catholic childhood in NC and that it would be a safe harbor as I struck out into a new world.

How could I have forseen that on this quiet campus I would be drawn into the student-protests of the era, encounter feminism in Dunbarton's first Women's Studies Class, and be introduced to the new Women's Artists Movement.
All the stepping stones that led me forward as my career progressed.

I guess its only with hindsight that we can see how the pieces fit together.


Ellouise's Dilled Shrimp

We have herbs growing in pots on our deck. I love having them handy - especially the delicate fresh dill.

I am not a particularly good cook but sometimes when I play around
it turns out to be a keeper.

That's what happened tonight when I used what we had on hand and created a new dish for supper:

Ellouise's Dilled Shrimp

Saute a sliced large sweet onion in butter.
a dozen or more large defrosted whole shrimp.
Two or three diced fresh tomatoes.
While it is simmering add cut fresh dill. (I snip it with the kitchen shears)
Add salt to taste.

Serve over steamed white rice.

Jim loved it saying,"lets serve this for a dinner."


Monday - Gratitude

Grateful for all the blessings in my life.


Girls Gotta Run

Yesterday at the WCA Networking Day I Patricia Ortman who, after being touched by an article in the Washington Post, is DOING something to help young women in Ethiopia. read the story HERE. Its such an inspiring story - I am sharing - hoping you will want to help too.

Watch the video and see for yourself.


Saturday - Women's Caucus for Art

Great to tell parts of Pushing Boundaries at the annual WCA Networking Day today. There were some veterans of the 1970s
in the audience and they shared their memories and stories which extend my story. I am hoping they will join the Second Wave Album
and add their stories there

Barbara Wolanin reminded me this was not the first time I have spoken at a DC WCA Networking Day - once about Marketing for Artists, and another time about my textile works and their story content. But - for me this time has a special importance. I am hoping my story about the 1970s history will bring out memories from others and that we can finally capture the history of those years. Because - that history has not been written.

The 1970s in Washington DC was a vibrant period for women in the arts.

Think about it: the First National Conference on Women in the Arts at the Corcoran Gallery in 1972 was the catalyst for organizing here in Washington as well as across the country. The Washington Women's Arts Center became a hub - an exhibition and education place for women artists here and a part of a national network of alternative spaces created across the country to springboard women artists into the mainstream.

During a time of political activism the Coalition of Women's Art Organizations worked from Washington to lobby Congress and Federal Agencies on issues related to creating equal opportunity for women in the arts.

And, in 1978 when WCA established the Lifetime Achievement Awards - they were presented at the White House by President Jimmy Carter - to Georgia O'Keefe, Louise Nevelson, Isabel Bishop, and two others.

You won't find these stories in the history books - and they should be recorded.

I believe that one of the reasons each generation has to re-create the history rather than build on what came before is that they don't know what happened - and they have to do it all again.


Working on the Story

Today I am looking for a different angle to enter my Fringe story.

I am having trouble with deciding where to start -

Do I go all the way back to the beginning - when this character first realized she could talk pretty good.

Or push the clock ahead to this version of the same character - now a wife, mother of three, fresh college graduate, graduate degree candidate, artist, feminist activist and wanna be rabble rouser.

or maybe - start with storyteller who is looking back at her story.

They are all the same - - facing the world -- bravely scared, too impulsive, and quick to tackle something before she knows how --- keeping things exciting and rarely boring.


Wednesday - Circling

In 1970
Nancy Cusick, my art history professor at Dunbarton College of the Holy Cross, was known to say while showing slides - "you see, nothing new under the sun."

That's how I felt when Tara Tappert posted this recent video about the current situation for women artists on Facebook.

In the 1970s women worked to right these wrongs. Hear about it in my program Pushing Boundaries at the Capital Fringe in DC in July. I guess all that work needs a re-do.



Saturday I am telling a story for the Women's Caucus for Art at their Annual Newtorking Day.

Getting ready for that for the past few days - so I have been focused on the 1970s in DC during the Hey Day of the Washington Women's Arts Center. Those vibrant years hold sweet memories for me and many others but are virtually unknown to the current members of the Women's Caucus for Art.

How does history get lost so quickly? Is it that we don't sit around talking about the good ole days?


Food Mis-fire.

I have learned an important lesson. If you are not a vegetarian and you go to dinner with a bunch of folks who are -- you are going to face many surprises and probably go home hungry.

The other night we were introduced to Korean food at a small restaurant. I seriously doubt I will ever find myself there again. My idea of a vegetarian meal is a baked potato.

When I was served thin pizza-like "pie" slices dotted with bits of squid, I took a teeny-tiny bite and then daintily pulled and tugged the crust with the square-tipped chop sticks. I ripped the slice into minute bits and busily pushed them around on the plate until someone quietly took it away. To me a squid is an enormous under-water beast that squeezes deep sea divers to death - not dinner.

One of the gourmet treats before the main course was a small dish of minute shrimp and anchovies that looked like they never had a chance to grow. Everything set before us was a mystery - and, even though I recognized the Sushi, I waved the attractively presented morsels right on by. My prefered RAW dish is a salad.

Because I love sweet and sour shrimp as prepared by the Chinese I thought ordering it was a sure thing. Well, I was wrong. Jim and I were sharing the dish. After I set my tongue on fire someone pointed out that the nine red peppers fanned out on the top should have been enough of a clue. HOT does not even come close. With beads of sweat standing on his brow, Jim cleaned his plate!
Thank goodness - we would have had to bring the left-over shrimp home.

For dessert I tried Green Tea Ice Cream. Go ahead, try it! Karen said the Red Bean Ice Cream was pretty good. Maybe next time.

Jim relished all the delights of the table. "Try everything." is his motto.

Driving home I was starving. I asked him to stop at McDonald's so I could get a vanilla milkshake.

"Didn't you eat anything?" At my "no" he asked,"why didn't you order a fried egg. I saw that all the"hot pots" were topped with a fried egg."

Now he tells me.

Another lesson -
keep your eyes open even if your mouth is closed - there may be something right under your nose you can eat.

Happy Graduation

This month scholars, students and families gather to applaud the graduates at Commencement.

Her family gathered yesterday at Washington College in Chestertown, MD to cheer Juliana
Schoettler as she accepted her diploma.

The day was perfect - warm and sunny. You could feel the happy, positive vibes from all the gathered.

Juliana's cheering section.

Jim and Monica - the proud parents.

The graduate!

Grandpa claims his hug!

It was a great day for all of us - - and one we shared with people across the nation.

Sitting on the lawn at Washington College brought back memories of other sunny days for family graduation -
1957 - Jim's graduation from Johns Hopkins University Medical School
1972 - My graduation from Dunbarton College of the Holy Cross
1978 - Jimmy's graduation from Johns Hopkins University
1980 - Karen's graduation from University of Maryland, College Park.
1981 - Robin's graduation from the University of North Carolina
1982- Jimmy's graduation from Georgetown University Law School.
and now - - - -
2010 - Juliana - a graduate in the 227th graduating class of Washington College.

Congratulations to all graduates and their families and friends!!!



This morning
we will be driving across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge
as the sun comes up.

On our way to our grand-daughter's graduation
from Washington College

Seems to me
a Graduation is like launching a new ship
fresh and full of hope and promise.



The recipe for the 2nd Annual Dinner-Tell at the Universalist Unitarian Church in Hagerstown, MD.


Four tellers who enjoy telling stories together.
Slash Coleman, Diane Macklin, Ellouise Schoettler and Adam Booth.

and storyteller - producer Fanny Crawford.

Who created a storied menu.

Here she is telling a story as she concocts the salad --

It was fun for everybody.

Saturday - On the Road

Telling stories in Hagerstown last night with Geraldine Buckley, Slash Coleman, and Diane Macklin. Great fun. We will continue this afternoon with Adam Booth replacing Geraldine.

Jim and I are staying at the PA house. Even though we have an hour commute it is more comfortable staying in familiar surroundings rather than a hotel- - besides being less expensive. Don't get me wrong. I love to travel. Hotels and meeting new people - but I also appreciate the quiet comfort of a familiar place.

Traveling for work is several shades different than being on the road for pleasure. More stress. Keeping focused on the job you came to do as well as navigating new territories.
Especially on an in and out quick stop - a meeting and then back on the road or in the air.

The other night Jim and I watched the movie, Up in the Air. I understood why George Clooney's character focused on connecting the dots with familiar services, hotels, airlines and ways of handling his baggage. Creating sameness however he could. Anything to simulate some form of belonging as you leave your real life behind -

Once I had several jobs that took me on the train or into the air. When I was hired I was excited by the prospect of being "on the go." I learned things aren't always what they seem.

Once when I was going to speak about ERA to a League of Women Voters gathering in Fort Dodge, Iowa - I cried all the way out there - my daughter was being inducted into Phi Beta Kappa at UNC - and I was on this blasted airplane - Jim went. They had a great time. But I missed it -

My father was a traveling salesman. He left on Monday and came back on Friday. This was in the days before cell phones and instant contact. In fact - he left and our home life settled back into our usual normal. He bopped back in over the week-end and stirred the pot. We knew little to nothing about his work or the people he met. And during these years he knew even less about his children. I do remember though how he prized the Frequent Flier baggage tag he earned by flying only with Eastern Air Lines.

At 6am one morning I was sitting in the Atlanta Airport waiting for a home-bound plane. I was tired, bone tired and sleepy. I looked at the other passengers waiting at my gate. All men in freshly pressed suits - reading a newspaper or thumbing papers in folders or just staring into space.

Seeing them I thought of Daddy. A realization swept over me as I pictured him here at this gate in the Atlanta Airport. I felt how hard that must have been on him as well - tiring and lonely - separated from his family. I wanted to thank him - to let him know I sort of understood. I stepped over to a line of wall pay phones and called him.
He was always up early. I knew he would be sitting at his desk in the bedroom, with a cup of coffee and the Charlotte Observer. He was. I told him where I was and why I was calling. He listened. A man of few words who did not like to talk on the phone - "Thank you, Ellouise."

I don't know what it meant to him. It meant a lot to me.


Thursday - Pat's Italian Baby Potatoes

Thinking of Venice.
My friend Pat and her husband at there now.
She wrote about enjoying the wonderful veggies - and they are wonderful.

She described experimenting with baby potatoes -
"parboiling them and then sauteing in olive oil with fresh Rosemary."

I have been imagining their taste for several days. Tonight I too experimented with baby white potatoes, olive oil and fresh Rosemary. I still have a few questions for Pat - to be sure I am doing it right - but let me tell you - try it. Delicious!!!!!!!!!


Wednesday - Speakeasy and more storytelling

Speakeasy Last Night

Great program at Speakeasydc last night. Full house for a variety of tellers and strong stories. I was happy to be in the line-up.
VA teller Kim Weitkamp started the evening with a new story - well told and received. Enthusisatic audience response for her story.

Mid-program Geraldine Buckley took the stage and brought down the house with a rousing and funny story from her childhood in Great Britain. I have already asked her to kick off the next season at Kensington in September. If you are in this area - don't miss it.

Always such fun to be at the Speakeasy and reconnect with storytellers and the wonderful folks who support Speakeasy.

More storytelling:
Tomorrow I tell Stories for Seniors and then Friday and Saturday I will be one of the tellers for a small story-fest in Hagerstown, MD. Great chance to play with stories and storytellers. Jim and I will stay at our PA place and commute over which gives us a chance to check on things at the house.

Next week I begin the intense focus on the Fringe and my Pushing Boundaries story. And I mean sole focus - serious work!



Three Beautiful Things
  • I am studying movies again - if you get my meaning. I do learn something.
  • Breathing in the perfume of the "smelly" lillies Jimmy. Monica and Juliana brought on Mother's Day - the gift that keeps on giving.
  • My friend Pat's email from Venice brings back familiar images and I imagine her working on her art work in the atelier and at her apartment with Romeo. Sweet time for them. Venice is a magic place.


Stories in Focus with Kim Weitkamp

We taped Stories in Focus today with Kim Weitkamp as the featured guest. It was as much fun as I expected it would be.

My Director stepped up to take a few informals to record the taping.

I have learned to expect the unexpected from Virginia storyteller Kim Weitkamp and so it goes.

We taped a colorful, lively conversation. Kim talks candidly about her life as a traveling national storyteller. She further shares some important tips for other storytellers.
And - a major highlight - she shares one of her touching stories in a fine telling - demonstrating why bookings are keeping her on the road.

For Montgomery County residents the show will air beginning next week: Wednesdays, 9 PM, Channel 16
For others - I will post it here on the blog in June.


Clearing my Palette

Before starting a new painting I always scraped my palette so that I could start fresh.

Why not do the same
before starting
a new week???

1st Virginia Tall Tales Contest

May 8, Salem, Va -- - The First Annual Virginia Tall Tales Contest.
Six tellers from 4 states - Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina came to enter the lists for the coveted Golden Shovel. VA - Anthony Burcher, VA Gary ------, NC - Alan Hoal,
MD - Ellouise Schoettler, VA - Mark ------, WVA - Adam Booth.

At the end of the day, Alan Hoal, (NC) carried away the golden shovel.
And a good time was had by all.

But let's not overlook Storyteller Kim Weitkamp who birthed this new and promising storytelling venue. Congratulations, Kim!.May 8 was a good show. Next year will be even better .