New Video: A Window into the Past

 Talking about making stories from letters. Two letters from the same young woman to her husband gives us an intimate glimpse into her life - more than 150 years ago.


New Video - Two Women From the Past

Letters are important to me. I collect old letters and use them in story-making. In this video I tell a bit about how I first came to perform a letter I found in a used bookstore in Charlotte, NC.
Two women write - one in 1852 and the second in 1918 - glimpses into two lives.


New Video: The Dutch Connection

I am telling this story for my grandson who is living and working in Amsterdam - to let him know he has a Dutch connection - that is more than a hat.


Remembering on 9/11

God Bless them. RIP. We all have a story of 9/11 and we remember. I recorded this version in 2011 at the 10th anniversary.


Sometimes You Need A Back Door

Today I went out for a while for a round of close-by errands:  to take library books back and check out something new to read, to pick up cleaning so I will have freshly starched shirts for taping the tv show Monday, to dally at an outside table on the Starbuck's patio with a new Charles Todd mystery while I enjoyed a large iced tea with lemonade and then to stop at the Chevy Chase Super Market before I headed home. It was sunny and hot like I like it as I sat sipping my drink and thinking that it could be dangerous to come outside my house. And then countering to myself - you have to be brave.

The first person I stopped to talk with was a dear near-neighbor, a woman I am very fond of, who whispered, "I am sick". I thought she meant that she had a cold or the flu or something usual like that but no - "I have something serious" - and she told me what. It is a threat to her and a sadness chilled me. "I will tell you about it later." "By Monday," I said. You see what I mean, coming out of your house can be dangerous. Maybe you already know that?

I sat alone at a table and read a few pages in my new book. It gripped me but it could not hold my attention.

A little later a woman I used to work with stopped by my table. We had not seen each other in quite a long time so there was much to catch up on, even for casual acquaintances like we are. Up shot, her husband died the month after Jim. Sure enough we drifted into being two widows talking - which I have to tell you I often hate and need a back door to run through to escape. But, there was no backdoor, so I listened as she told me her story.  I sensed she told me the story because lonliness grabs her. I would like to help but as much as I understand, I am not a good person to look to when you want to fill a void that is pretty much like mine. Empty can hardly fill empty.

However when she began telling me about her recent efforts to choose a new home in a senior community I listened intently. It was like I was listening and watching a snake charmer lure a snake out of the basket and I was mesmerized by the scary snake. She has a plan. She has researched the area. She knows she will move but has not selected where yet. She is a frail octogenarian whose clear and intent eyes let you know she has a strong will. I was impressed and admired her courage when she told me, "I am making a new life." Oh, yeah, I understand that all too well.

Coming out of your house is dangerous when people you see can mirror your questions back to you especially when you might not be ready to tackle them.

But what do you do when the outside thrusts its way inside.  For instance, recently I received a letter from a person not close to me, who decided that now 16 months after Jim died, it was time to write "the glowing letter" about "what Jim had done for him" that he regretted he had not written sooner and to rid himself of this regret and complete his absolution he chose to send the letter to me. Oh, BTW, I should mention, that no where in the letter is there a "sorry for your loss."  In this amends its all about him. I hope he felt better after he licked and sticked the envelope flap but he sure did stir things up for me.

There is no back door to escape something thrust upon you. So I am a bit angry, a mite upset and wondering if there is a next move required from me. I have reached back to Jim, remembering advices from him in the past. There are many. After thinking them through  - -  I have decided he would probably tell me - "let it go.  its not your problem. don't encourage anymore correspondence with him.  this is who he is."

There it is - - that's my back-door.


Taking a Look at the Week Gone By

Friday is a good day to take stock of the week - check things off the list and add others for tomorrow and next week. Or... make a new list and burden the week-end with finishing up the left-overs. That's what happens to me.

Monday: Labor Day started off in the quiet of a back road in PA
And that was good.
You can hear  the farmer and his tractor out in a near-by field and that's about all the environmental noise we have there.  And, the real blessing was that the traffic was not too heavy driving home. The noise in the car comes from cat's whining to screaming from the insult of being in her cat-carrier for the trip.

So I turn up the volume on Sirius Radio - 50s on 5 and tune her out.

Tuesday: The highlight of this day was my 4 pm APPLE CLASS.  I was scheduled for a one-to-one session to learn more about the up-graded PAGES app
on my new computer. What a blessing! The teacher was excellent and he brought a lot more to the session because he is also a video/graphic artist. Well, he opened my eyes to the real breadth and value of this $20 App - that makes it worth much more than that. Before I have only focused on the word processing talents of Pages - let me tell you its a graphics program and makes the projects where I need graphic design skills a breeze.  - If you have never used a graphics program you might have to struggle a bit initially but PAGES is so user friendly that soon your letters and flyers and one-sheeter marketing tools will look as snappy as the reports your sixth graders is turning in to his/her teacher. I left excited and happy and went right out and scheduled my next Pages class for Friday - that's today.

Had a chat with John Fowler confirming arrangements for my being a featured storyteller at the Hagood Mill Storytelling Festival in Pickens, SC on October 19. Really looking forward to do that! Especially the chance to hear John's music and storytelling again. So enjoyed his work at the Stone Soup Storytelling Festival last April. SO - -  in the background of everything today I am thinking about and rehearsing stories for my gigs tomorrow and Thursday.

Wednesday: A 10 am gig telling stories for the Nimble Fingers Quilting Guild meeting in Rockville. If you are thinking of ten women sitting in rockers or stitching a quilt together - forget it. Revision to a large church meeting room packed with smiling, laughing and happy quilters carrying heavy bundles of their summer work to share at the SHOW AND TELL. And when it was time about 40 women lined up toward the front of the room to hold their work in the spot light. It was a glorious display of top notch works in vibrant colors in sizes from a small lap quilt to an over-size king size quilt. Impressive and I was so glad to be there to see it. I saw women I had not seen in a long time whose work was more beautiful than I remembered. Just say, I left there with fabrics and colors on my mine and my hand itching to open my fabric bins and to set up my sewing machine. And a resolve: I AM doing that this month. Add that to my list.

Made home in time for the internet chat with the participants in the Word Press Web Site Class I am taking. The class is good but I have to admit I have fallen behind. I do have a new website on line: ellouiseschoettler.com and I have made it this far but have a much longer way to go to make it look good. At this point its functional and I am happy with that for time being. My other site is too over-done, touts things I don't do or want to do anymore and sadly I can't work on the program myself. SO....... learning to do something myself.

By the way the quilters at Nimble Fingers loved my stories. I did not tell stories about quilts - I told stories that I thought would appeal to quilters and to women who love fabric from The Thrifty Tailor to several of my personal stories that celebrate "second hand clothes",  and a new story I am telling lately, " The Sock Hop" which reminds you how sometimes being 13 was an emotional roller coaster.
I had not known for sure what I would tell until I saw the crowd, enjoyed their quilts and felt the "air" in the room. Donald Davis told me that's what he does - sees who is there - and then he selects his stories. Makes sense doesn't it - you don't plan a conversation until you are sitting across from the person - well - not unless you are selling something or going to ask for a favor.

Thursday: Worked all morning on a new one-sheeter using PAGES because I needed to take it in the evening to HEARarts where I was telling stories. I love the APP and am learning how to use it faster than I expected to  - because its bringing back the stuff I learned in PageMaker classes when I was working for the Audubon and designed flyers and cards all the time. The brain is a great storage bin isn't it?  I am not saying this version is it perfect - yet- but it is OK and I used it. Printed it on Jim's great copier in his office downstairs and I was ready to go.

Shared the gig at HEARarts in Rockville with an exciting musical duo - Victoria Vox and Katie Chambers. Victoria is the lead performer - a singer, songwriter and ukele virtuoso - and Katie is a cellist who provides fabulous counterpoint with that deep-toned cello. I had not known what to expect but I loved their sets. Victoria's song are edgy, storied, and the music catches hold - - and wow - can she sing.

Our audience was forty strong in a fabulous room with a great sound system that over-looked down town Rockville through a plate glass wall. I was the first story-teller invited to the series which has been going on for several years. Usually they have poets and readers. I was a bit nervous - but why? We know people love stories - and they did. I was encouraged going in when a woman I recognized told me she had heard the NPR anouncement on WAMU this morning. "I have heard you tell before - and I came to hear you." That's a great way to calm any doubts. I looked at them and decided that its September, everybody remembers the Day They Started the First Grade - so I told my story about the day I did which includes some WWII history, a reminder how Polio once threatened children and wound up with my dog. Smiling and nodding recognition told me they loved it. Followed that with another school story of Jr. High School where adolescents suffer but sometimes the teacher really does come through, saves the day, and teaches an important growing-up lesson.

After my experience last night I know I will come back on a First Thursday to hear others at HEARarts in the stunning building which houses VisArts.

Today I am going back to Apple for another session on Pages -AFTER I clean my house and pay the bills.

So I am pleased and I smile as I look back on this week, count my blessings and feel very grateful - but I can't help it - underneath
it all 
I miss Jim and his being here to share in these good days.

I have learned this - when you see someone who is grieving and you say - looks like you are really doing well-
they have fooled you 
you are talking to a really GOOD actor
or storyteller
but that's OK - its just he way it is.


The Wedding Dress

Robin's Wedding Day

She searched all over Orange County, CA until she found the perfect dress and she looked beautiful when she walked down the aisles on Jim's arm.

Actually there is a story about that: