“Pride and Prejudice”

Which book would you take with you if you were exiled to a deserted island? For me, it would be “The Complete Novels” of Jane Austen. I love her ‘stories’, I love her style of writing, I love the way she puts a finger on the sore spots of love and life in the Regency Period. I love her finely sarcastic and witty way of critiquing and expose idiosyncrasies, no matter what the social standing.

During a trip to England a few years ago, we visited the house where Jane Austen wrote most of her novels and where she also died. It is now the Jane Austen Museum, run by a “Jane Fan Club”. I met and talked to several of the women who volunteer at the museum. They spoke of Jane Austen as if she were still alive. Several times I had the feeling she might just come around the corner and enter the room.

Jane Austen was born as the seventh child to her parents George and Cassandra Austen on December 16, 1775. Sadly, she died when she was only forty-one years old. She left quite a number of notebooks filled with unfinished stories. Jane Austen completed only six, now famous, novels. One, I think it was “Sense and Sensibilities”, was published without revealing her true identity when she was thirty-six years old. It was, at that time, socially unacceptable for a lady to be a writer. It was published anonymously. One publisher had exclaimed ‘this could never have been written by a woman’ after reading one of her novels. One of her brothers represented her. He has published her other works posthumously and every one of the books became a great success. He finally revealed the true author’s name. Jane’s books are translated into many languages, are read by and have millions of fans worldwide. Many movies have been made over the years and even more TV mini-series of all her novels. Sales of the Jane Austen books have forever been going up. Her critical view and witty observations of life and love of the landed gentry have become the base of romantic novels to this day. Jane Austen is one of the best known English writers.

At Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, we came across a film crew busy filming a new and more modern version of “Pride and Prejudice”. I was captivated by some scenes taken just outside the great entrance. Oh, would I have loved going inside to see this beautiful place! I looked forward to seeing the new movie starring Keira Knightly and Matthew McFadden. I did several months later – and was disappointed. Not that the movie was bad but I was in love with an old one, the 1995 version starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. I have seen it several times, and I wish I could do so again and again. I will never forget the scene in the great-room of Darcy’s friend when the eyes of Darcy and Elisabeth Bennet met in an incredibly intimate way.  I had seen it once before I even saw the movie: when my cousin Siegfried came back from a weeklong trip and looked at his wife Annemarie. The way they looked at each other went deep into my soul. I was embarrassed to witness it. The scene is part of my memoir “We Don’t Talk About That”. I remember the phrase “marriage is made in heaven” came to my mind. Theirs was.

I saw “Pride and Prejudice” again, this time on the stage at the wonderful little theatre in Chemainus on Vancouver Island, Canada. We asked ourselves, how can they ever do justice to this complicated story on stage? They did. They picked relevant scenes played by talented actors who truly captured the audience of a sold out house. It was an enjoyable performance which left me smiling all the way home. Chemainus is an intimate theatre with only a small stage but the designers have a knack to come up with ideas that let you forget where you are. It was not the first time that we marveled about their innovation. And to give credit where credit is due, every one of the actors played their part in a believable way. Several actors even portrayed two characters. We hardly noticed, and most people probably didn’t. This story was written about 200 years ago. How much has changed? Not much. We still find the same problems in love, relationships, and life – and maybe some of us recognized a familiar character or two in our own social setting.

Well done, Chemainus Theatre!

 

Books published or read in 2016

Oct 28, 2016

Looking back on 2016 I am amazed how much I actually got done. I have been busy. My collection of short stories, “Forget Me Not – A Bouquet of Stories, Thoughts, and Memories” was published in January 2016. It is a memorial to special people who have crossed my path – either in person or through their achievements. I dare to say that every single story carries some kind of message to the reader. At the very least it will make the reader think and maybe he/she feels like sharing his/her thoughts about the story with family or friends. It is about aging, adoption, blended families, babies, changing seasons, superstition, cancer, dogs, horses and other critters, escape, earthquake, flying, internet dating, island living, love and rape, roses, travels, war, and many other topics. It finishes with a beautiful fairy tale “The Weeping Angel” – for which, at one point, I received the First Prize in the form of another book: “Computers for Dummies.” Throughout the book, you find poems and pictures. A delightful book – perfect to give as a gift to YOUR special people, reminding THEM not to forget YOU. The easiest way to obtain this book is Amazon.ca.

The books I chose to read during 2016 have added greatly to my knowledge about history. Some of them upset me, robbed me of sleep since it was hard to believe people can be so blinded by promises, ultimately leading to a horrible war. One recurring thought was ‘do people never learn from the past?’ At the same time, I was crying over the fate of some people and keeping my fingers crossed for others to survive. As you can see, I prefer to read mostly “true” stories or history based on truth since that is what I write as well. The following are the books I read and since there are so many I will refrain from telling you about them. All are worth reading.

“All The Light I Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr. Pulitzer Prize, New York Bestseller list.
“The Witch of Napoli” by Michael Schmicker was a fun read.
“Goering” – The Rise and Fall of the notorious Nazi leader. By Roger Mansell. Incredible.
“The Glass Castle” by Jeanette Walls. A classic I had never read, but it is a ‘must read’.
“Moonrise” by Ann Victoria Roberts. This author has touched my emotions in many ways.
“The Rise of Nazi Germany” by Charles River Editors. I wanted to know more history.
The GiftAwakening”, by J.P. McLean. Contemporary Fantasy, a new genre for me

  1. The Gift “Revelation”
  2. The Gift “Redemption”
  3. The Gift “Penance”
  4. The Gift “Betrayal

“POW # 74324” – Triumph through Adversity by Robert Stermscheg.
“Daffodils” by Alex Martin. An English love story set within WWI.
“The History of Germany From The Earliest Times by Bayard Taylor. Tough read!
“The Spy in Hitler’s Inner Circle” by Paul Pailole. The risks people took, unbelievable.
“Lunch with Charlotte” by Leon Berger. Unexpected happenings, finally talking WWII.
“How the (Bleep) Did I Get This Old” by Laverne H. Bardy. Need a good laugh? Get it!
“An Adventure on Two Continents” by Heinz H.G. Berger. A West Vancouver story.
“Journey of a Lifetime” by Trevor D. Cradduck. Not available for the general public.

There were a few other books. I remember the stories but I should have written down the titles. Plus, I read four substantial books in Germany in October (German language) and was fascinated by the content. I read several nights since I couldn’t sleep anyway. The time difference of nine hours is hard to overcome – your body is not fooled by the clock. The trouble is – when I got home to the North American Continent the same happened – in reverse! It’s said that for every ten years of your life it takes a day to re-adjust your body clock. C’est la vie!

Retirement: DoThe Golden Years Have A Silver Lining?

Since I’m into it I always wondered about it. Wondered about the praised “Golden Years” when I finally have time to do all the things I had put off ‘til later’. When I’m retired I’ll book a fitness class. When I’m retired I’ll go on a cruise through the Panama Canal. (Actually, I did that one!) When I’m retired I’d volunteer for this and that and the other to get out and meet new people. When I’m retired I’ll have time to sort out books I don’t re-read anymore. When I’m retired I’ll organize my desk drawers and get rid of the outdated files. When I’m retired I’ll finally work on my Last Will and Testament to make sure my last will is going to be done and my earthly treasures – treasures to me but maybe not to my heirs –go to people who will appreciate them. When I’m retired…

So I thought and made plans for retirement. I didn’t know that retired people never have time. Retired people get so very busy and I did as well. I wonder how I ever had time to work and do all the things I did: Run with the dog in the early morning, keep a home, do the shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, some light repairs, have the most beautiful garden on the block, was the chauffeur for my husband when we only had one car, raise three kids and make sure they had what I didn’t have, ballet and painting classes, German language school, (which they hated!) do homework with them, darn socks and fix sheets, and I even took the children to the lake and camping. How could I have done all that and more without falling apart? I bet the days had more hours back then.

I’ve been retired for many years. I have been busy and I never have time just like other retirees. Being “re-tired” looked good from a distance but now I feel I’m mostly “tired”.

Laverne Brady, a writer friend of mine who is also a humor writer for the Huffington Post comes up with some funny ideas. Her book “How (the bleep) did I get this old” is one of the best summer reads if you like smiling while you read about light – happy – seriously funny and insightful happenings that you hadn’t even thought were funny. She sees the bright side of any situation! Let’s see what she thinks of retirement.

Laverne BardyAuthor of “How (the Bleep) Did I Get This Old”? Syndicated Columnist, Huffington Post Blogger.

He’s Retired

He says it would make sense to move dishes to a lower shelf, so I don’t have to reach so high to get them. And, pantry items would be easier to find if they were in alphabetical order. Also, if I wash clothes with cold water I won’t have to separate darks, colored and whites.

I Growl

I like my dishes up high. I sit on my ass, at the computer, most of the day. The only exercise I get is reaching for dishes and repeatedly picking my cane up from the floor. I tell him alphabetizing pantry items is a good idea. When he’s done he should tape the list onto the pantry door. And, I’m pretty sure cold water doesn’t sanitize.

He’s Retired 

What he loves most is going out for breakfast. Every Morning. It was a treat the first 253 times but after eating eggs scrambled, eggs poached, eggs over easy, and eggs fried every day, I’m overdosing. Oatmeal makes me gag, and pancakes make me fat. I suggest we eat dinner out every evening, instead.

He’s Retired

Holy #$@%, he’s a morning person! I don’t remember him ever being a morning person. At least not in a way that affected me. It seems mornings are when his creativity, energy, and libido are strongest. It’s when he most enjoys talking – especially about his dreams. Whoever said that dreams only last a few seconds forgot to tell him. His unabridged versions last longer than most movies.

Mornings are when he enjoys everything noisy: practicing his flute, practicing his violin, listening to classical music, and hearing television. Not watching it. Just hearing it, as he wanders from project to project, whistling.

I don’t do mornings. I do everything I can to bypass mornings. Generally, I struggle to lift my head from the pillow after a sleepless night during which I staggered to the bathroom at least three times. Mornings are when I need peace, quite, and…in a perfect world…solitude. I don’t talk and I’m not remotely interested in listening. It’s the time of day when I ruminate, marinate, contemplate and speculate. My head is full of fresh ideas I can’t wait to write about, but I’m tired and lethargic, and my arthritic back and neck hurt. So, if and when I’m able to focus, I need silence…without interruptions. Do not talk to me. Do not play the television and do not even think about acting on your libido.

He’s Retired

Now that he’s home all day he likes to snack…just a little…not much…just something to tide him over until dinner. Like lunch. I don’t do lunch. Not for me. Not for him. I prepare one meal a day. Dinner. Sometimes.

He opens the refrigerator and asks, “Where’s the milk?” I point. He expected it to be behind the lemon juice, where it was yesterday. I remind him that the refrigerator isn’t alphabetized, and sometimes we have to move things to see other things.

He’s Retired

I’m working at my desk. I hear his footsteps coming down the hall. They’re getting closer. He knows I’m working. He enters the room anyway, bends over and plants an impromptu kiss on the back of my neck. Not something I’m accustomed to in the middle of the day. He sets a cup of hot tea on my desk…flavored exactly the way I like it. Lots of lemon. He hands me a bracelet that I’d asked him to repair…if he could. A stone had fallen out. He fixed it. Also, he says our washing machine no longer dances across the floor. That’s fixed, too. As well as the latch on the front screen door. He asks if I’d like to take a break — drive into town and hit Dairy Queen. I grin. Broadly.

He’s Retired

He has no one to play with. Yet. Until he finds a golf buddy and a weekly poker game, I guess I’m it. Which isn’t entirely bad. Maybe tomorrow we’ll take another break. One that involves his creativity, energy and libido.

——
Hah! See, there IS a “Silver Lining to the Golden Years”!

An unbelievable paranormal or psychic story

Imagine receiving an e-mail from a person you have never met who lives in another country about a thousand or more kilometers away from you. The e-mail starts with an apology and the suggestion that you may not believe what she is going to ask or tell you and, if it would be her, she would not believe it either.

“Is your aunt Johanna alright? You have to warn her as her life may be in danger. Her husband Robert is abusive and one day things may get out of hand. I know she is ashamed of the abuse and she hasn’t told anyone. Please don’t think I am crazy and do warn her.”

She went on to tell me that she has psychic abilities, works for a court in XYZ (I like to protect her identity) and has once been able to tell the police of the body of a child missing for three years. She has solved other cases and is not happy about this ability but if she can pass on a warning she feels she has to do it.

I was startled by the message, stared at it and thought how weird is this? My aunt Johanna is long gone. This must be a person who has read my book “We Don’t Talk About That”. Because her husband was abusive but he is also gone, having died in WWII. There is a chapter in my book when aunt Hanni, as we called her, had come running to my mother, who was her sister and I happened to witness her breakdown and heard her sorry tale.

After sleeping and mulling it over I decided to answer this strange e-mail and asked a few questions. I thanked her for the message and stated that she must have read my book “We Don’t Talk About That”. I could not imagine otherwise. I did tell her that I also had several unexplainable psychic experiences in my life and no, I did definitely not think she is crazy. But I am curious how she would know about Johanna and her husband Robert. I suggested she read my book – if she hadn’t done so already.

I received another e-mail, quite a lengthy one. And no, she had not read my book at all. It was a dream in which she was Johanna and experienced the abuse. That’s how these ‘experiences’ established themselves within her. She knew about a gorgeous wedding dress Robert had given her and explained it in detail. She also mentioned that Robert was somehow arrogant and felt he was better than the family Johanna came from. This was also true since at my parent’s wedding he had teased my father that he was able to give Johanna a horse if he wanted to and my father could only give his bride, Johanna’s sister, a horse whip. Johanna never got a horse but surely she experienced the whip. The dream had disturbed my correspondent a lot. She went on to Google with the two names she had, Johanna and Robert as a couple, and tried to guess the year of a wedding in Germany. She did not give up and finally her search brought her to my website and my picture gallery. She had found my e-mail address and the rest is history.

Recently I wrote to her again and inquired if, by now, she had read my book. I told her that I would like to keep in touch since I am fascinated with the topic of otherworldly experiences. She answered, No, she still hasn’t read my book for several reasons. She is very busy with work and she doesn’t want to invite other possible disturbing revelations. Life has a way of going on and hers is quite full.

I understand that. But in the meantime, I have been thinking a lot about paranormal and psychic happenings or abilities. I remember after my last experience years ago, this time in a hotel room in China, I begged God to please take this ‘gift’ from me. Apparently he did because I have never had another unbelievable thing happen to me. Now I wish I did have a “Crystal ball”.

Oh, you want to know what happened in China? Okay, I’ll tell you. It was the year of 9/11. I had a single room and was securely locked in. I woke up from a dream with a start and just knew there was someone in the room. I switched the light on and checked but all was quiet and I was alone. After my heartbeat had slowed down, I fell asleep again but the dream went on. The husband of a friend who was dying of cancer in Vancouver, Canada was in my room. I screamed at him “what are you doing here?”

He started to laugh and said quite clearly: “Don’t be afraid, I just came to say good bye.”

I woke up again, switched the light on – nothing. I came home to Canada a week later. I phoned my friend to tell her I was back and asked how her husband was doing. She was slow to answer.

“He died. He had a very tough time and I am glad he is at peace.”

I was almost afraid to ask her on what date he died. Yes, it was the date when I had that disturbing dream.

A Different Type of Addiction

McleanMe? Addiction? Can’t happen to me! You know I am into history, reading and writing about it, telling you about the books I read and how I learned more from reading history books than I ever did in school. One day I came across a review of a book called a fantasy-thriller, science fiction  and, because it mentioned kayaks paddling under the Burrard Bridge, I went to Amazon.com, put in the title “The Gift: Penance”, clicked on ‘Look Inside’ and read as much as was possible. After that I even wrote to the author, J.P. McLean, and the rest is history. My book reading history changed.  I read the whole thing, a genre I have never ever even given a thought to. My webmaster did too and we were both ‘hooked’. One day we met the author. Jo-Ann McLean lives on one of the Gulf Islands nearby and we exchanged books: Since I had read the fourth book of her “Gift Series” I was happy to receive the first one, “The Gift: Awakening”. After reading it I can’t wait to read number two, “The Gift: Revelation”. And you know what? I know I will then go on to book number three: “The Gift: Redemption.” I have read book number four (The Gift: Penance) already but I know there is now also a book number five. These books take me away from my own writing. I apologize for not having written a blog for several weeks, I just couldn’t! My mind was occupied with weird stuff. Sorry, folks. Forgive me.

Gift awakeningI am addicted. If this is what addiction is like: Thinking about it all the time, even a few weeks after I finished reading the book, trying to figure out how the h… anybody can come up with the ideas, the ‘invention’ of something that may even one day be possible with the way the technology is going; thinking back to the time when we didn’t have trains, planes, submarines, bikes, cars, washing machines or vacuum cleaners, radios or television, telephones, cell phones, computers, i-Pads or even self-driving cars, safer than any driver could drive.  Even more astounding was the first man on the moon and, if we have enough money, now booking a future trip to Mars. So how did Jo-Ann come up with the idea of a human being able to defy gravity, lift off and fly, doing somersaults in the air, having fun and in this particular scenario even be able to be invisible…

As a growing child I loved reading fairy tales. As a teenager I started to realize that fairy tales carry a subliminal message, not really thought for kids but for the grown-up who reads the story to the child, or later for an adult to finally understand it. One of the best books in this kind of genre is “The Little Prince” (by author A. Exupéry) – his love of his prickly rose, his travels to planet Earth, his encounters with different types of people, how could any child understand what all those stories mean? Anyway, I started to collect Fairy Tale Books from all over the world. For quite a number of years I lived in a “Fantasy World”. But now, in my senior years, I should start reading thrillers? Science Fiction-Fantasy? I remember my son writing an incredible fantasy story for his English class when he was thirteen years old. I wish, oh, do I wish he or I would still have that story! It was something similar to Star Wars…and a bit like what J.P. McLean is writing about. I remember being absolutely engrossed and fascinated by it when he read it to me. He has the mind to be able to write something like it but he is too busy living, working, and what else people in middle age do.

Let me tell you: If you want to dive, sorry, fly into another world, read J.P. McLean’s first book of the series, “The Gift: Awakening”. It starts a bit slow, at times your mind rushes faster forward than your eyes can read, but this author has a ‘gift’ herself for spinning a tale like a net and you are in it. Trapped! The setting, the characters, as during the story more and more enter the plot, the danger, the love scenes (oh my goodness, I could never write anything like it!) and as I said before, you will want to go on to the next book.

Maybe you are stronger than I am and will not become addicted.

 

Life is interesting – on the ground or in the air

After flying for three hours, landing and walking out of the arrival airport you are surprised by the different type of air you breathe, and, looking around, by the totally different colours surrounding you. It’s March, and you have just left a green landscape, blooming cherry trees, daffodils and some tulips behind. Now, with a slight little shock, even if you knew about the possibility – you look at leftover snow at the edge of the roads, icy frozen heaps at corners where the snow has been piled up and lots of puddles hiding the potholes and nothing but grey cars. You ask me “Why grey cars?” I should have told you, nobody washes their car here during the winter months because of the chance of frozen door locks. In spring, they don’t because as soon as you enter the traffic it’s covered in mud again anyway. I couldn’t believe seeing part of the residential streets looking like rivers. Why is the water not draining away? Are all the drains plugged up with leftover leaves from last fall? Or is it all the sand washed towards the drains and forming little dikes? Only three hours away from almost ‘paradise’ I was still in the same country: Canada. Several time zones across this land and variations in weather make you feel you are somewhere totally different.

Boarding to fly home

I left Vancouver Island by Harbour Air flying with a float plane. With small suitcases and seated tightly together with only a few people you are flying over beautiful little islands and in just seventeen minutes you are landing on a river not too far from Vancouver International Airport. A shuttle bus brings you there and you are lucky not to get lost among thousands of people milling around you. After passing long lineups in the international terminal, I was actually surprised to see how few people were flying to other destinations at the domestic terminal. But don’t be fooled, the planes are full. It’s just that the check-in is very well organized and orderly. There were lots of self-check-in machines, different places for baggage drop-off and other counters for people who can’t make friends with any machine. I am one of the people who prefers a live person!

Checking into the Clarion Hotel in Winnipeg they were so welcoming as if I were the proverbial ‘lost son’, sorry, daughter. The car licence plates proclaim that you are in “Friendly Manitoba” – if you can read it because of the mud covering everything. The next day I got lost in the shopping center across from the hotel. I couldn’t find my way out. I asked an elderly lady for directions. She started to explain but then decided to accompany me as it was easier. We walked through the whole shopping center and all the way across the parking lot, crossed the muddy streets and jumping over puddles. On the way she told me about, and showed me, her beautiful daughter living and working in Hollywood. We stood outside the hotel door until we shivered and I asked her inside. We exchanged e-mail addresses. That is Winnipeg, Manitoba – were the most friendly and helpful people you might ever encounter live.

Intro Forget Me NotAt my book signing at Chapters Polo Park, lots of people were standing around my table. They listened to mine and told some of their own stories and, in two hours, I laughed more than I had laughed in two years! My shopping center rescue lady, Dorothy, was among them. And Audry was there, an e-mail friend, who had written to me after she had read and was impressed by my book. The thought that it might be “healthy” for me to move back to this fair city (Oh yes, thirty-two years ago I had lived there) went through my head. What is the weather, the mud, the puddles and the snow when you are laughing? But I realized that I was the cause for the laughter that evening. Why? Because I was happy. I picked funny stories to read. I am a people person, I like to share my stories and I love the people who listen and react to me by sharing their own stories. We all became part of an extended family. It felt good.

Title slideThe absolute highlight of my trip was meeting the charming and experienced interviewer Dahlia Kurtz at the CJOB Radio Station. She is a rather small and pretty person, but a force to be reckoned with. I would like you to meet her yourself, sit back and listen to our exchange on air. Dahlia has interviewed Nobel Prize winners, world leaders, inventors and many other dignitaries but she is herself, sensitive to the expression of feelings and has a knack of keeping, or getting you back on track.

Here is the link to the YouTube video of my interview:

I Ought to Know Better

Coming home from my writing class I was somehow elated and thinking of doing a clever piece of homework for next week. I had the perfect story! My mind being on many things did not stay focused and the thought just flew out of my head when I, turning into our driveway, couldn’t overlook the many broken branches and pine needles any longer. There had been a terrible storm a few days ago and so far I hadn’t had time to clean up the mess.

“I’ll get those out of the way as long as the weather is nice” I reminded myself, “Goodness knows what it will be like tomorrow. It’s still dry and rain is in the forecast. I can do the writing in the evening. Or tomorrow. Or Wednesday. I have no appointments ‘til Friday, lots of time.”

DSC00860I ought to have done my homework as I was in a great mood for it. My spirits high, I started the outside work telling myself I did need fresh air after sitting in class for several hours and another one in the car. The workout will be good for me. Take the cobwebs out. Once involved in cleaning up I noticed other things that I ought to do before it rained, so I kept going. I like doing laundry, cleaning or garden work because it does not involve concentration. It is a good way to let your mind run free or to work off stress and even anger. I got lost in my thoughts as it was getting dark. My stomach started growling. I hadn’t even eaten or drunk anything since I started nearly four hours ago. How stupid, I should know better. You ought to feed your body and keep it hydrated. I cleaned my different types of rakes, put them away and went inside. The yard looked great. It gave me a good feeling of accomplishment.

Open bookMy back hurt. I took a painkiller pill with a big glass of water on my empty stomach and sat down in a comfy chair, resting my back. I ought to have made myself some supper before sitting down because – can you guess? No, I did not fall asleep. There was a book with 852 pages lying on the table next to me. I had picked it up at the library more than a week ago and I had to return it in less than a week. By now I ought to be almost through it. I had finished another thinner book, for which I had waited several months. Seven other people had been on the waiting list. No time to even start this humongous big book. Okay, I might as well use the time sitting and resting to read a few lines. Wow! What a book! Before I knew it I finished the first chapter, glanced at the clock and allowed myself to read another one. It happened to be a rather long one. I ought to have stopped somewhere, the book would still be there later but I simply could not put it down.

My bladder finally gave me the push I needed to move. I would have loved to go right back to the book. I wasn’t really hungry anymore. I checked the freezer and found a pack of Italian prune plums I had frozen in September. I ought to have kept them for my next famous plum cake but they turned me on to have something refreshing. I put them in a pot, added very little water because of the frost on them, placed the pot on the stove and went back to my book. Totally engrossed in another world I jumped up with a start after hearing something pop and sizzle. I had totally forgotten the pot and the Burned potwhole kitchen smelled like plum jam in the process of burning. I pulled the pot off the stove onto the white counter and let it go because it was so hot. It had enough time to burn a brown ‘ring’ into the counter. I ought not to have opened the pot to avoid what happened next. Lifting the lid, now with heavy oven gloves on my hands, a thunder cloud of burning smoking steam came out and, jumping back, I let it fall onto the floor. Everything in the pot was dark brown and burned. It caused several brown burn spots in the white linoleum, right in front of the sink. Finally, with protected hands I grabbed the pot and placed it outside, closed the screen door but the wind was blowing the smoke right back inside before I had a chance to close the sliding glass door. I was afraid of the smoke alarm sounding and opened the doors to the garage and the front door, waving a towel frantically to keep the smoke away from the alarm area.

No use. I ought to be concentrating on one thing at a time. I am a multitasker but it’s getting harder with age. Ought I to know that? Ought I to remember that?

The smoke alarm did come on. The neighbours came running but everyone was relieved things were under control. The neighbours from across the street invited me to have a little dinner with them while my house aired out. Luckily nobody had phoned the fire department. I felt like a fool for the next few days. My nice almost new white counter was ruined and the linoleum about a foot in front of the counter as well. I bought a mat to cover the area. I didn’t like the looks of it but it was the only thing I could do short of replacing the whole, also new, floor in my little galley kitchen.

We really ought to keep our minds on the tasks at hand. Right?

See you in Winnipeg:

Forget Me Not 3D image (2)Giselle readingI will be visiting Winnipeg March 10th to including 14th to do promotions for my book “We Don”t Talk About That” as well as introducing my new book, “Forget Me Not – A Bouquet of Stories, Thoughts and Memories”, telling many personal stories including several of my life in Winnipeg. You remember “Giselle’s Professional Skin Care Ltd”, right? Well, that ‘Giselle’ was me! Once upon a time…

Please note the times you will be able to hear or see me:

Thursday, March 10th between 1.30 and 3.00 PM on Radio CJOB 680. The lovely Dahlia Kurtz will interview me.

Friday, March 11th from 7.00 to 9.00 PM Chapters Polo Park for book signing, visiting or answering questions. 

I look forward to seeing all of my old friends again and meeting new ones! And please, hold off on any blizzards…

 

First Review of “Forget Me Not”

It’s interesting for me to find the first review of my short story book ‘Forget Me Not’ on Amazon UK. Even more interesting is the fact that the few stories about life in East Germany seem to hit a nerve with this reviewer. Is it because there is so little known about it? Is it because people who lived through it, or escaped, never talked much about it? And why was that? Did life seem ‘almost normal’ at the time when we lived through it? And further, was that because it was a whole lot better than during the last months of the war with the Russians roaming about to find and rape girls or young women? What on earth is ‘normal’ about parents who are afraid to have a conversation around the dinner table at home? Because they may have been of a different opinion than the daughter who studied law and she might ‘report’ her parents? Because the growing young generation was brainwashed in the youth organisation (equivalent to the Hitler Youth) in schools and universities and they truly believed in Communism. But then there were the hundreds of thousands who escaped until the Berlin Wall was built over night and the whole country was ‘enclosed’ like a ghetto. Still, people risked their lives even after that.

I have made no secret out of the fact that every story in ‘Forget Me Not’ has a valid reason to be included in this ‘Bouquet of Stories, Thoughts and Memories’ and how each one will lead to discussions or deep thoughts of your own. Be it the wisdom of a grandmother to explain the unfair portrayal of ‘stepmothers’ in fairy tales, an un-expected ‘adoption’, the desperate wish for a baby, the triumph over conquering cancer, the turmoil of wars world-wide up to this very day, superstition, internet love and marriage in old age or surprising happenings during travel.

I will not attempt to review the ‘Review’ and let you judge for yourself:

4.0 out of 5 starsTravelling through life

By Ann Victoria Roberts on 9 Feb. 2016

A lovely collection of memories from Giselle Roeder. Childhood tales from her German family, circa WW2, to recent experiences in modern-day Canada, the stories reflect on life-lessons relevant to us all. The message that comes through is to listen to your inner self, and obey prompts that could lead to better things – prompts that might even save your life!
I found her reflections on the state of East Germany during the 1950s & 60s particularly informative. All most people know of that era was filtered by the TV news, so the author’s personal view gives it a whole new dimension.

‘Hope you’re not superstitious?’ relates an other-worldly experience that will find echoes with many people, myself included. And although I’ve never visited Hawaii – a couple of stories will no doubt prompt happy (and maybe no-so-happy?) memories amongst those who know the islands well.

The travel-tale to which I related personally comes towards the end of the book: ‘Too Bad it’s Canada’ – the title a quote from some anonymous visitor which made me chuckle. I was privileged to visit Vancouver some years ago, and remember its stunning situation, the breath-taking offshore islands and the warm welcome of local people. Some years before that, I was aboard a merchant ship visiting Tasu, one of the Queen Charlotte Islands – also mentioned by the author. Happy memories!

In a long and fascinating life, Giselle Roeder has achieved success from what was surely a most inauspicious beginning. That beginning was recounted in her memoir, ‘We Don’t Talk About That,’ a book I found profoundly moving.

The short stories in ‘Forget-Me-Not’ show just how far she has travelled since – in every sense. Short stories are more difficult to master than either novel or memoir – and I gather this collection is a first for the author, hence my award of four stars rather than five. But these are a light rendition of a long and fascinating life – ideal for taking on a journey!


…or have it on your night table and just read one story before going to sleep! I am surprised a busy writer like Ann Victoria Roberts has read and reviewed my short story collection. Maybe it was because of my memoir ‘We Don’t Talk About That’, the book she found ‘profoundly moving’. And she is not the only one who seems to be expecting the sequel and happens to get ‘Forget Me Not’ – which is only the ‘bridge’ to the sequel I am working on now. No more excuses! Most stories in ‘Forget Me Not’ should be part of it – but I wanted to tell them to give my readers something NOW and there are still so many more stories to fill more pages than I am allowed to write.

Thank you, Ann Victoria Roberts.