Jim and I are at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN - savoring the feast of stories being told by an impressive line-up of national storytellers. So, I am leaving a story in my place here until I can post some stories of what's been happening in Tennessee.

KOKI - NEW from Ellouise Schoettler on Vimeo.

This story celebrates my aunt Catherine Diggle Brown. It aired recently on Stories in Time, Channel 16, Kensington, MD.

Found Art

Found art.
Berkeley, CA

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.


Three Beautiful Things

1. Still thinking about Illumination: 4 Tellers - Saturday night. I loved telling with Adam Booth, Slash Coleman and Diane Macklin. Stories blended beautifully and we had such a good time.

2. Today I worked a V E R Y long time with the sound recording from Saturday night- and it's good. Have hope for a cd from it.

3. Beginning to pack for our trip to TN this week-end to attend the National Storytelling Festival. Annual story feast and face-to-face reunion with so many wonderful folks.


Kindness of Strangers

My sister Lynda called. "Thanks for the stuff. Your boxes arrived today."

I was relieved. I had wondered whether they were wrapped well enough to make it from Maryland to North Carolina through the US Mail - - unscathed.

"Yeah, the mailman brought them. He wouldn't get out of his car. Made Henry come out and get them - said they were too heavy for him to tote - and then he told Henry - 'If I didn't know you - you would never have gotten them - we should have sent them back."

"Why, Lynda? What's the matter."

"Because you sent it to the wrong address."

"No, I didn't. I sent it to the same address I always send things."

"I know you did, Ellouise - and its always wrong!"

" How can that be? You always get my mail, don't you."

" Yes - but that's because the woman who lives there brings it to me - one day she drove her golf cart clear across the Green to give me a letter - "here you have something from you sister again."

'Well if its not coming to you - where is it going?"

" To our old house - you know, the one we moved out of 7 years ago."

" Lynda, why didn't you tell me it was wrong."

" Oh, I don't know. You usually call and you don't send stuff that often - I thought it was funny - not worth worrying about. But now - if you are going to be sending BIG stuff - Henry says you have to send it to the right place. We can't count on the mail man always being the same and knowing who we are."

I guess its time to update my address book.


Stories in Focus: Interview with Cricket Parmelee

Cricket Parmelee from Ellouise Schoettler on Vimeo.

Maryland storyteller Cricket Parmelee talks about storytelling, her career, and tells a touching story about an unexpected legacy from her father.


Listing Stuff

Western Maryland skies last week-end.

Thinking of our son Jim in London on a fast turn-around business trip. Hope he gets outside to see something.

Finished the program for the Four Tellers storytelling concert Saturday night. I am looking forward to telling stories with Adam Booth, Slash Coleman and Diane Macklin. I have a re-newed story to tell. Have not told it in a while and have been working on it. More will be revealed.

Thinking that this time next week Jim and I will be packing the car for our annual trip to Jonesborough for the National Storytelling Festival. Better start making lists of what to do and what to take. lists lists lists - I live by lists.


Storytelling, trains and memories of NC

Michael Reno and Joan Harrell -
I heard from a friend in Charlotte that the Rock Hill, SC premiere of Michael's new solo show was a smash this past week-end.

Still thinking about the look and sounds of the Cumberland, MD steam train Jim and I saw on Friday. Reminded me of my father.
Once when he was visiting us in DC we went to the National History Museum. They have a "southern" steam engine on the basement floor - and every 15 minutes they play a recording of the conductor calling "all aboard" and then the sounds of the train starting to move, picking up steam and moving out of the station. Daddy was moved by his memories of similar engines pulling trains through Charlotte when he was a boy. Friday I found myself touched by my memories of trains and of Daddy standing beside that engine at the Smithsonian lost in his pictures of days long ago.

Today Virginia storyteller Anthony Burcher joined me as the guest on Stories in Focus. We had a grand time. He was fun to talk to about his stories, his career, and about storytelling in VA. He left us three excellent tips for storytellers. Best - using his energetic and personable style he shared one of his memorable personal stories.
All in all - a good morning. I will post his program here in a few weeks and you too can enjoy the visit with Anthony.

Loved seeing an unexpected bit of home at Chuck Levin's Music Center in Wheaton, MD


Thinking Ahead to TN

Main Street - Jonesborough, TN
In less than two weeks we will be back there for the National Storytelling Festival.
It will be a wonder-world of stories.


Winding up

The tellers gathered for lunch before our storytelling gig. Old and new friends, laughing, getting comfortable.
(left to right: Otto Ross, Katie Ross, Joanne Dadisman, Suzi Whaples, Ellouise and Jim Schoettler).
And then on to the fun of the"telling". That's what it really is all about for the tellers.

There were craft tents and music tents set up on the campus quad. Lots of sunshine - always a plus! We did not stay for the evening concert with David Holt. We love his work and have seen him a number of times. It was tempting - but we were ready to come home.

After our Fine Day on Friday Jim and I were relaxed and enjoyed the whole thing. Not at all like a woman I met at breakfast at the motel. She and her husband were on their final leg of a three day road trip from New Mexico to Virginia. "We are moving. Bringing some household stuff in a rental truck. Have you ever driven for three days in one of those things. Its shake, rattle and roll all the way. Last night when we got here my eyes would not stop shaking. I can't wait to get this done."

Oh, lordy, I do remember trips like that - one comes to mind immediately. We were moving from San Antonio to North Carolina. Jim was in the Air Force and we mapped out our trip so that we could stop where there were AF Bases, leave the kids for the day in the nursery while we slept and then drive on during the night with the three of them sleeping in the car. Nothing about that plan worked like we thought it would. In Shreveport, LA the base nursery had burned down and I kept the kids in the car playing games and spreading crumbs through-out the car during a deluge rain storm while Jim slept. We did manage to get a "days sleep" in Montgomery, Ala and next day - just by-passed Greenville, SC and rode on in to Charlotte. The whole thing was a foolish nightmare. Did I mention I was pregnant. The only thing that saves you when you do stupid things like that is that you are young and can bounce back fairly quickly!

That's what the woman at the motel told me. " Would you believe he wanted to drive that truck straight through? I said, NO. We have to stop." Smart lady.

I love the conversations on the road. Insights into other worlds. Stories to tell.


A Fine Day

Jim and I are in Frostburg, MD tonight where I will tell stories at the Appalachian Festival tomorrow.

Its been a great day - a lovely day for the two and a half hour drive from Chevy Chase. We have played all day - with easy going sightseeing in Cumberland, Maryland where we had a deli lunch a the historic train station and watched the steam train arrive back from an excursion at 3 PM. What a lovely sight - white steam against the blue sky. (I will post a picture later)

For supper we tried the Saturday Fish-Fry dinner at St. Michael and the Archangels Church across the street from the Plaza Theater downtown. The red brick church is more than 150 years old. The dinner was set-up in the church basement - which was crowded with folks of all ages - sitting at long tables, eating and talking.

Just look at my tray. I was over-whelmed by the amount of food. All tasted good. The fish was fine, macaroni and cheese better than I expected but my favorite was the scalloped tomatoes. Loved them. The meal was topped off with home baked cakes. I selected the Brownie and I tell you I was not disappointed.

We sat with a young couple, an Air Force recruiter, a darling twosome - and we had a lovely chat. It was all much better than another meal in a resturant.

The church is right across the street from the Palace Theater - a restored vintage movie house - where we were headed for the Film Festival. Bone Crusher was the headline film - a touching documentary of the loving relationship between a VA father and son, both coal miners. The film-maker really knows how to tell a story and I will never forget the scenes filmed in the dark tunnels of the coal mine -

All in all a FINE DAY.


Collecting - Gathering Family Stories

Family Album - Ellouise Schoettler from Ellouise Schoettler on Vimeo.

I made this video in 2003 for a Gallery 10 exhibition with Lucy Blankstein in which we combined family pictures and video to tell visual stories. To tell the truth I had forgotten about this little gem. It shows with a few glitches because its not a perfect size conversion for bringing onto the blog. Today I am still amazed that I made it all - story words, images, movie, adding sound - the whole bit - myself on my old computer. So its a prize to me.

Lucy and I also showed the works in the exhibition at the 2004 Washington DC Artomatic - a huge exhibition of more than 500 artists. People would stop and listen through the films - pulled in by the family stories.

I am posting this for the members of my family who check out the blog and have never seen the film. The stories are from my mother. I spent many wonderful hours interviewing Mama when I was working on the family Genealogy. I especially liked her telling me about her grandmother. She did truly love Grandma.

When I made it I loved how the moving words felt like someone "telling" the story. I still think that works effectively.


Wednesday - Tracing story

Being my business manager today. Have always liked that kind of work since I first started doing that as a visual artist - its creative, gives your imagination a work-out as well as eats up lots of time.

For the same reasons I really enjoy producing storytelling events. Juggling lists, keeping track of lists of details so things will run smoothly.

I used to set up large art fairs and fund-raising dinners. Its all the same - concept art. You have to imagine the event and how its going to work out - and then make it happen. I always start with the event itself - think through it - what I want to happen and how it will look - and then I walk backwards on the face of the calendar - walk back to the day I first start it. Develop my list from there. Its works.

Here is a surprise. Writing this I started to remember one of the biggest challenges I took on - a three state campaign trip with actress Polly Bergen and a group of four. It was like tackling a major painting. At the beginning someone loaned me a White House trip plan - each step of an old presidential trip itemized minute by minute. I studied that three-ring binder for days as I worked out the plan. Over and over. Until I felt pretty sure I could plan and manage it. Then I proposed it. Once the plan was accepted I started my own notebook. It was a great challenge. There are many stories tied up in that trip - the planning process and the doing of it.

It will be fun to work on a story of that adventure.

One key moments is a crisis which resulted in my tipping our Limo driver more than $700 because I was so over-tired and then having to ask him to return the money - "or I could lose my job." I was unbelievably grateful when he did.


Tuesday at Speakeasydc

Speakeasy DC tonight! Memorable stories from all the tellers. I love going to Speakeasy - the audience is great and the room is filled with wonderful story-loving energy.

Great to see Richmond storyteller and friend Slash Coleman on the stage here - his first appearance at SpeakeasyDC and it was a WOW!

Helena Leet- Pelligrini, a MA storyteller, and her husband Bob joined us and we really enjoyed meeting them and sharing the evening together. Glad to know their daughter lives here and we are likely to enjoy their company again.



When Claudia came over yesterday our conversation roved the world. At one point, like millions of other people, we talked about "where we were on September 11." as part of the remembering.

At the time I was a member of Gallery 10. Jim and I were in Italy with a group of Gallery 10 artists who were were putting up group exhibitions of our work in five cities in Italy. After spending four days in Prato - a city near Florence - mounting two wonderful shows we had traveled on to Venice for a show at Gallery Venezia Viva. A week in Venice during the Venice Biennialle International Exhibition was magic. Pure magic. We were all on a lovely cloud.

On September 8 Jim and I took a train to Montecatini to participate with a smaller number of our group in the final two exhibitions - one at the Accademia del Arte in Montecatini and the other at the Marino Marini Museum in a near-by city. Claudia remained in Venice for a few more days before she traveled on to Berlin.

"I was in Venice with Romeo and Pat on September 11 - at their apartment. I was out all day and did not know anything about the bombing until I came back for supper. Pat and Romeo were watching television - they told me what had happened. I was numbed. We stayed in following the TV coverage from New York. Their neighbors who knew Pat and Romeo were Americans brought over bouquets of gorgeous flowers."

In Montecatini the day was perfect - bright blue sky, sunny and warm. Jim and I took the funicular to the top of the mountain to the charming old town for the view of the surrounding valley. We arrived back at the hotel for lunch and a nap. Around three we walked down the wide carpeted stairs to the lobby. When the concierge - a jolly friendly man - saw us he called out and gestured frantically for us to follow him to a large sun-room. It seemed strange behavior but we did as he wanted. Chairs were set in rows for the Elderhostel class and they were facing a large TV set at the front of the room. People were sitting - frozen - riveted toward the screen. I saw tall buildings on the screen and an announcer's voice was loud, nearly hysterical - a plane was flying directly toward the building. My first thought was that they were watching a "Bruce Willis" movie. The plane crashed into the building - I began to make out the words the announcer was saying, "the second tower, the second plane."Jim and I looked at each other disbelieving what we were hearing and seeing. We sat with the other Americans watching the terrorist attack on the NYC Twin Towers.

After a while Jim and I went back upstairs. I stopped at the landing where there were two computers and typed in my email - our daughter Karen in Washington, DC had understood that's what we would do as soon as we knew. Her email was waiting. It was quick - to the point. 'We are OK. Jimmy (our son) was not at the Pentagon today. Trip,(my cousin -a naval officer assigned to the Pentagon Navy Office - where the plane struck) was sick and had not gone to work today - he was OK.

Jim and I continued to watch CNN in our room. Until we could not watch any longer. We felt so helpless and so far from home. We decided to go to the near-by Catholic Church to do the only thing we could do - PRAY. Many other people had the same impulse. We stayed for the evening Mass. Many Americans were in the pews.

That evening in the hotel dining room at the end of dinner - an American man stood up and asked everyone to join him in singing "God Bless America" The sound of chairs scraping the wood floors filled the room as everyone present stood - Americans and Europeans. Tears streaked my cheeks as we all sang.

(There is more to the story. Jim and I were supposed to join a tour group in Nice, France in two days. We took the train to Nice. The rest of our group was coming from NYC and Dulles. The US airports closed. Our traveling companions never arrived. Because we could not fly home and dared not even try to change our airline tickets - Jim and I rented a car and wandered our itinerary through Provence for two weeks until our plane was to leave from Marseilles. It was a strange trip - to say the very least.)


NEW VIDEO - Kim Weitkamp Interview

Kim Weitkamp from Ellouise Schoettler on Vimeo.

When Kim Weitkamp was guest on Stories in Focus we had a great time. She talks about her life as a full time storyteller, her thoughts on storytelling, and offers a couple of wonderful storytelling tips.

Most importantly she tells one of her touching original stories - just for you.

The first week-end in October Kim will appear at the National Storytelling Festival, Jonesborough, TN as a NEW VOICE.


Summer's end.

The swimming pool on our street has closed.
Summer is done for another year.

Some kids are probably mourning their swim suits and pool laps
Not me.

Swimming - Edited from Ellouise Schoettler on Vimeo.

And there are other sure signs that summer has passed.

I lay in the bed this morning listening to the couple next door herding their two elementary schoolers into the car for their daily drive to a local parish school. A few minutes later I heard the sounds of the big county school bus as it labored up the hill outside our bedroom window.

Ah, yes -
school has started.
Another year has begun.

September is a special kind of New Year for me.
Time to buy books, composition books, pens and pencils. One of the best things for me when I went back to college in 1968 was a rock-solid reason for buying new supplies in the bookstore. That urge hangs on -
Staples is my favorite store.

When Robin was here last June she announced, after rummaging around for something,
"you don't need to ever buy any more office supplies.
People should shop here."

Taking her admonition to heart -
I am steering clear of school-supply displays

I am shopping at home.



Tuesday when I told stories for the Senior - group at Liberty Grove Methodist Church this sign on the front yard called out a powerful message - - one worth thinking about.



Irkology - the study of life's irks

Lately I have adopted a new word to describe those moments when things go out-of-sorts.


For some dumb reason - that I do not understand - I can't download the pictures from my camera this morning - the computer repeatedly puts up a message - wrong format - when it was perfectly fine yesterday morning. At times like this I fall out of love with technology. I am irked.

Only two people live in this house - and one of us has put the Netflix disk - a new episode of MI-5 - still sealed in its red mailing envelope "somewhere" and a search is on. We are both irked.

Irks are transient.
They hang on - only long enough to be noticed
To let off a puff of steam that could build up to explode if cooped up
You know - like "pissed off."


Stories, Laughter and a Sweet Potato

Three Beautiful Things
  • telling stories for an audience - 50 strong - energetic seniors at a Methodist Church Senior Group in Burtonsville, MD. They enjoyed my stories and I enjoyed theirs. Lovely exchange
  • seeing Jim laughing at my stories - that he has heard over and over and over.
  • a richly delicious baked sweet potato for supper.

Also "did business". Worked out details on a new storytelling concert series I am producing which will begin in January. I am excited about it and look forward to it.

After 10 years I have changed the name of my annual Halloween storytelling program to: Scary Stories: Voices from the Other Side. Feels good.

Unexpected opportunity offered today. Considering entering an art and craft show in November and selling some of my textile works along with specialty cards. Any body in the market -------


Labor Day - Three Beautiful Things

  • cool soothing cross breezes through the house felt SOOOO good.
  • playing a new (to me) game - Monopoly: the card game - with our family. I did not even mind losing because the company was such gift.
  • fresh peaches with heavy cream - ahhhhhhhhh.


Stories in Focus: Interview with Jon Spelman

Interview: Jon Spelman from Ellouise Schoettler on Vimeo.

This interview was aired earlier in 2010 on Channel 16, Kensington, MD


PA, Green Shoes, 4 Storytellers

Enjoying the quiet in PA.
90 minutes from home - gives us a break from city noise - we don't have tv hooked up in the house - the result is that you can think without commercial interruptions.
and such a comfortable bed to snuggle into

on the way here
two hawks gliding toward earth - almost colliding - saved themselves with a quick swerve upward
just outside Gettysburg - on Boyd's Rd -a masked raccoon -stilled - slain no doubt by a bigger beast on four wheels - lay pitifully by the side of the road -
well, that explains the hawks - - nature's opportunists.
(thought of the British tv series Doc Martin and the episode where a woman is gathering road-kill every day because her husband likes the "stronger taste.")
I slowed - but - no - - thought of those big salivating hawks - circling overhead -
I sped on to Jane's, the local grocery store
- where they cook delicious ready-to-eat fried chicken -

How about these crazy green shoes.
They look more for fashion than basketball - don't they?
One look at these shoes and I forgot all about the poor raccoon by the side of the road.

  • Thinking about stories - but then I always am thinking about stories - practicing those I know and trolling my brain and the world around me for new material. Its what storytellers DO.
I am looking forward to telling stories with
three friends:
Slash Coleman, Diane Macklin, and Adam Booth

September 25
7:30 PM Seekers Church
Takoma Park MD
Check: Facebook: Illumination: Four Tellers for info.

We were telling together in Hagerstown when we took this picture.
- having such a good time we decided to do it again.


Patti Digh's New Book

A reviewer copy of Patti Digh's new book arrived a few days ago and I can tell you it is a delight. Would never have thought four words could convey such wisdom. And, it is filled with wonderful art works made especially for this book. Satisfying on so many levels.

The book has been released. Its in the stores. I recommend that you look for it.

Later this month I will post an interview with Patti as part of her book launching Blog Tour.
She is booking book talks and signings already so if you see her scheduled in your area - please take my advice and "go". Patti has a gift with words and quite an ability to connect with folks. I predict you will be as glad to meet her as I have been.


5th Season for Kensignton Storytelling, Group 93 Show at AU,

Kicked off the 5th Season for Kensington Storytelling last night with Geraldine Buckley, me and Holly Range on the Open Mic. Good evening of stories. Lots of laughing. A great way to start the season.

Spent time today framing the new collage works I am showing in the Group 93 exhibition at the Katzen Art Center Rotunda, American University (DC). Show will open next week.

Watching Hurricane Earl and praying it does not damage.

The calendar has turned over - to September - Fall? Even though its still hot and muggy.
This has been quite a summer - we are grateful for the blessings.


Dancing Leia

Dancing Leia from Ellouise Schoettler on Vimeo.

We love the Shih Tzu breed.
Princess Leia is our third Shih Tzu since the 1960s. ChuChu I was stolen. Chu Chu II lived to a venerable age - 17. Leia is now five years old. She is the first with a repertoire of tricks so we think she is quite wonderful. As you see, she loves bits of ham.