Monthly Archives: January 2015

They Left Me Laughing

Textile Collage

Today I braved the cold to keep my doctor’s check-up appointment. First time I have been out for a few days so I was enjoying the window-shopping,  people watching and just noticing things hoping for something that might be particularly interesting  or maybe spark a story.

I sat in a straight chair in the small reception room, thumbing a magazine and “noticing.”

Then I really looked at the two women who were sitting across from me. They were dressed for being “on business” and chatting about several pieces of paper they shared. Then my eyes fell on the over-sized, bulging black sample case on the floor near the feet of one of the women. I have seen drug detail sales men and women many times in doctor’s offices  but I had never seen representatives from a company that billed itself for providing, “innovative hospice care” and had that slogan embroidered in white on the side a large black canvas sample bag.

It took me back. Then I was curious. And, since I was the only other person in the doctor’s waiting room I spoke up when it was polite to ask, ” I see your sample kit. May I ask – just curious – how do you market hospice care?”

They were surprised by the question but since I was friendly and just sounded interested  – one of the women confidently responded about the quality of their service and that they like to come in to educate the doctors on what they offer. “We sometimes have to explain the Medicare benefit too.”

Now here was something I knew about, ” Oh, that should be pretty simple – they take it all – at least that was the requirement when my husband signed the forms to enter Hospice Care.”  “Well, yes.” they replied.

There was a lull in the conversation and since  I felt we were at ease with each other – so I lobbed another gambit. “Would you mind a suggestions?”

“No” They both nodded me on.

“I suggest you put something over that sign on your case.” They did not say it but I heard the “why” they were thinking so I laughed – “it struck me as being a bit out of place in a doctor’s office where patients are here hoping to get well.”

” You know you have put your finger on something. As it happens – they have changed the name of our company – to XXX Healthcare.” “Really?” I gasped.

At that moment the doctor who was seeing them arrived on the scene. They gathered their sample cases and went in for their meeting.

I just sat there and laughed.

At least I was laughing,




First Snow Day – 2015

Last night I worked out the list and plan for my work today. Good. Good. Went to sleep feeling on top of things. I was on track. Ask any solopreneur – that’s the goal.
Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.57.36 PM But instead –

I woke to a snow white world this morning although I went to sleep thinking the snow was going to fall in PA not around us. One of nature’s changes of mind and surprises.
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Listening to the weather alerts  Karen went to the PA house last night to make sure all was well up there. Neither of us expected that I would wake up on my own to handle the snow pile up. I am challenged when it comes to shoveling. Thank heavens there are two strapping boys living next door who wield a fine shovel.

Last night it occurred to me that I should move my car from the street in front of the house to the driveway. Even though I knew that’s what Jim would have done I shrugged off the  warning thought and went to bed.

So this morning after the boys cleared the walkway and the driveway I decided to make that car-move even though the streets were not completely cleared. The snow was lightweight and dry. Surely I could manage this. For years I had watched Jim manage these moves. I felt confident. And it was going well until I started slipping down the steep street entrance to my driveway and ended up turned across the middle of the street.
This was not what I intended!

Fortunately Chris, my very capable neighbor was home. He did not make it into the driveway either but he drifted the car down the street further and parked it out of the way. “I will move it for you after the snow plow comes through.”

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Fine. I am not planning on going anywhere. Cat, dog and I are sitting tight.

And  – I am listening to the news and wondering about the real possibility of losing power – so rather than just thinking about it – or leaving it to chance – I am getting out the lanterns and replacing batteries.


Where Do Stories Begin?

For me the beginning days of a New Year bring on spurts of cleaning out, letting go, reflecting and musing on the past. I have a long-time habit of making lists, sorting out, neat-en-ing-up, and day-dreaming as I prepare for an early year week-end workshop with storyteller Donald Davis.  Donald is a brilliant guide  to work with as you tip-toe into a new story.

Often I open long-closed boxes because there is no telling what you will find – – especially when there might be photos among the papers. Sometimes it takes more time than the initial finding for the possibilities to emerge. It reminds me of gathering scraps when I am thinking of a working on collage. In this instance its collecting  a bit of this and a bit of that until you can feel and form a story.

For instance: last year I found a few black and white photos of cars in the snow on North Broadway, Baltimore, MD circa probably January 1954.
Snow at JHH  March 1954

My husband Jim took the photos from the roof of his fraternity house which was across the street from Johns Hopkins Hospital. It was a few doors down from Hampton House, the Nurses Home where the student nurses lived.

Jim came to Baltimore in 1953 from Madera, CA which is located in the heart of the fertile and sunny San Joaquin Valley and in sight of the majestic snow-capped Sierra-Nevada Mountains. Snow was not  unfamiliar to him – when he went to the mountains – but not piled up on city streets.

As I looked at this picture I realized it was taken before I arrived in Baltimore in September 1954.  It is a moment before we met – – before our first date – – before our  courtship and wedding –  that led to the 57 years of our life together.  Before death “did us part”.

We don’t exist together in this moment.

Jim was 22 years old and a first year Medical Student at Johns Hopkins. I was 17 years old and a Senior in High School in Charlotte, NC with no “fixed ideas” of where I would be after Graduation.

We were poised on the edge of a story that was not known or even imagined.

Maybe this is the moment for taking  a “long-view.”


The Friendly Skies – Come Through

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 10.19.08 AM

This is my new pink iPod touch – which is exactly like the pink iPod touch I lost on my United Airlines Flight to San Francisco December 18. When I discovered  the loss I was very upset. First I could not believe I had actually lost it – so I did the suitcase and carry-on search over and over until I was SURE it was missing. In fact, I was pretty sure where it was – tucked into the wall-mounted pocket in front of the bulk-head seat I had claimed as mine when I boarded the plane at Dulles Airport.

Why upset? Well, first off the iPod is not a frivolous recreational toy for me – it is an important asset for my storytelling work.  I record everything as a “voice memo.” — then convert through Garage Band to mp3 files.  I set up practice lists and work in the car, on a plane or just walking around. It was loaded with all my playlists and a few albums of favorite songs for those times I cannot bear the sound of my own voice any longer.

Second, I had heard that Apple was discontinuing this model and in the future the iPod would not have the Voice Memo capability.  I would be out-of-luck.  Being a creature of habit who likes to keep comfort levels in place – I would be stuck working out a new system. So I jumped and ordered a replacement. Pink – exactly like the one I had just lost. I had little to no hope that I would ever see the lost one again.

My daughter Robin was more hopeful. “Mom, put in a Lost and Found form to United.” Robin was forcefully optimistic. “Mom, have you put in the Lost and Found form, yet?” she kept asking.  “Why? Its probably gone for sure.” “Just do it.” So I did.

I lost my iPod December 18. On December 30 I was back in Maryland where I picked up the new PINK one – only one difference from the lost one –  my name is engraved FREE on the back.  With the help of an Apple genius we loaded all my stories from the iTunes back-up, set passwords and it was ready to go to work. I was relieved and feeling comfortable.

January 1 my iPhone rang. “Mrs. Schoettler, this is Sharon from United Air Lines in San Francisco.” For a moment I was confused then, “you found it!”  “Yes – I think this may be your’s. please describe your item and give me the password.” I did.

It WAS my original PINK ipod. The cleaners found it tucked into the wall-mounted pocket in front of 7C bulkhead seat. With the ear phones still plugged in. She had received my Lost and Found Form. The item had been buried by other things on her desk for a week. “We have been so behind.” Laughing, I told her about my replacement. “Maybe you can return it.”  “I would. Except – Apple offers a Free engraving  option- and I had them put my name on the outside back – to protect it against loss..”

She laughed. I laughed. Sharon will Fed Ex it to me. It should be home in a few days.

Starting the New Year with a piece of good luck. Happy New Year.

P.S: I will be flying the Friendly Skies again in February  when I take The Hello Girls to CA – – believe me, I will not be tucking either one of my iPods in a seat back pocket!!!