Mentally overfed but feeling undernourished

Is there just too much information fed to us by the media? I think they have a dilemma too: Too much and too many serious things are going on in the world. Syria, Iran, North Korea, England, Russia and last but not least the USA keeps us breathless and, in many cases even frightened.  Hardly a day goes by when we do not get upset over a new announcement, and it hardly ever is about something we would emotionally get involved in: some good happenings in our own backyard.

I don’t want to add to it. I am just a person who, after writing the memoir “We Don’t Talk About That” – the years growing up under the Nazis, and then later under the Communist Regime in East Germany – who really is OVEFED but UNDERNOURISHED by the present political situation.  I would like to stick my head in the sand and write another book, a happy one! But that is dangerous and surely not advisable.

Talk about a happy book! It was on a flight from Hawaii to Canada when I got chatting with the stewardesses in their Business Class galley kitchen. Naturally the talk included the question “what do you do…” and my writing career came up. There was a time when “I did not talk about that” – but now, finding a willing ear to listen, I can’t shut up. One of the ladies was very keen on my title “We Don’t Talk About That”. She had serious questions.  Later, she went on to tell me about her aunt who had written a similar book, “Prague Winter” – and highly recommended I read it. I Googled it, found it, read it, and was amazed when I found out a lot of information about the writer: Madeleine Albright. I was not familiar with her name.

Madeleine Albright was the first woman ever nominated and accepted to become the Secretary of State in 1993. Wow! What a story! From the little Czech girl in “Prague Winter” to making history for women. What an intelligent person! She has written a number of books. One paragraph in the book I read resonated with me so strongly that I absolutely must share it with you:

“In the end, no one who lived through the years of 1937 to 1948 was a stranger to profound sadness. Millions of innocents did not survive, and their deaths must never be forgotten. Today, we lack the power to reclaim lives, but we have a duty to learn all that we can about what happened and why – not to judge with the benefit of hindsight but to prevent the worst of that history from playing out again.”

True words! So, my dear readers and followers, we are NOT TO STICK OUR HEADS INTO THE SAND. Let’s open our eyes; a lot of what has happened back then, what I have written about in “We Don’t Talk About That” and Madeleine Albright in “Prague Winter”,  is happening again and there are a lot of signs that worse may be to come. Madeleine Albright is working on a new book “Fascism” to be published in April 2018. “The author examines the economic, religious, racial, and cultural factors that are today dividing populations and fostering bigotry across the globe, while also looking at how demagogues from Mussolini to Duterte have attracted followers by exploiting fear, nurturing anger, and promising easy answers to complex problems,” according to HarperCollins, her publisher.

Do the people in power ever learn from history? Do they even KNOW the history or are vaguely interested in it? Do the people who elect them, have any clues? Maybe every generation has to make their own mistakes, have their own experiences, make their own history and create their own past. Will the next generation after them learn from it? Most likely, not. Maybe we resent or do not want to learn from or ‘copy’ our predecessors.

Somewhere I saw a quote, something like this: “When a boy is old enough to believe or even follow his father’s advice, he usually has kids who don’t believe him.”

Thinking is bad for you – it bruises the brain

Chilcot reportSo what is next? I keep asking myself this question and I don’t know how to answer it. There is so much going on in the world it’s almost ‘overkill’: The refugee crisis, the Syrian war, the beheadings of innocent people, mass-shootings on home soil, gun control (or lack thereof), terrorist attacks in Paris, Brussels, and Istanbul. A few days ago it was ‘Brexit’ and now it’s ‘The Chilcot Report’. Does all this digging into the past bring results? It’s shocking for sure to get to know what really happened. What if ‘they’ hadn’t invaded Iraq? Was ISIS born because of it? Was it wrong to kill Sadam Hussein who was a dictator but had “law and order” in his country before all hell broke loose? Is the Chilcot report saying, “Now look what you did! Don’t do that again…” Despite finding fault with certain people, no criminal charges are expected to be brought forward. Even if – would it change something? Doesn’t it ring a bell for what happened AFTER 1945? Churchill had warned “this war is (and later again was) the easiest to avoid…” but nobody wanted to, or did, listen to him. And history writers have a ball writing more and more books about all of it.

Iceland crowdI was talking to a friend in Germany yesterday. Soccer became the main focus of our hour-long telephone conversation. Not politics, not family dramas, not health issues. No – SOCCER! The game where 22 grown men chase a ball was, and is, the most important issue in Europe right now! The fine games the Icelanders played and how important it is now for Germany to win. ‘She’, my friend, has to watch the games because her husband couldn’t bring himself to do so, even if he is the greatest fan. Why? Because he would get a heart attack if he watched it from beginning to end. He was always waiting in the next room until she would tell him “it’s o.k. to watch now…” Discussion of other world affairs was brushed aside with “Oh when the news comes on we switch the TV off… All the politicians do is form new committees and talk and talk and have discussions but there is no end, no solution. It’s all talk…”

Bruised brainSomewhere I read “Thinking is bad for you, it bruises the brain.” So I’ll stop thinking. I’ll play with some proverbs and quotes. YOU can try to attach them to whichever news story YOU think they fit:

“…the rats are leaving the sinking ship.”
“…they want their cake and eat it too.”
“Politicians…promise to build bridges even if there are no rivers.” Nikita Khrushchev
“…talk is cheap.”
“Politic is not an exact science” (Bismarck)
“Politic ruins the character…”
“Follow the three ‘R’s’: Respect for self, respect for others, responsibility for all your actions.” Dalai Lama. (Hah! Responsibility? What’s that??)
“Most of the trouble in the world is caused by people who want to be important.” T.S.Elliot
“Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Eleanor Roosevelt
“It is better to be un-informed than ill-informed.” Keith Duckworth

Let me finish with something you should never do: Putting off till tomorrow what you can do today.

“When I consider life, it’s all a cheat;
Yet, fooled with hope, men favour the deceit;
Trust on and think tomorrow will repay.
Tomorrow is ‘falser’ than the former day. – “   John Dryden

Have a good day anyway! Enjoy it because we don’t know what tomorrow brings! Laughter is the cure for a lot of ills. Does it always reach the soul? No. But we can pretend. I remember a silly little joke:

Deep in the south of Texas, George asked his drinking buddy: “See those three guys at the bar?”
“What about them?” wondered Jack.
“I really don’t like the one of them ”
“Why? Which one?”
George draws his gun and shoots two of them. “See the one left sitting there? That’s the one I don’t like.”

There was a Scotsman, an Irishman and an Englishman –

These days there is hardly anybody who isn’t talking or at least thinking of the so-called “Brexit” Referendum in the UK. If you are still ignorant of what “Brexit” stands for: Britain’s Exit from the European Union. According to news tidbits, social media posts (on Facebook, Twitter and others) the people who voted for leaving are slowly waking up to the facts they claim they didn’t know: The good aspects of belonging. It is unbelievable how many people NOW Google ‘European Union’ to find out what it actually is and stands for. Why did they vote the way they did? One Twitter post was re-tweeted and reading it made me shake my head:
“I voted for leaving because I didn’t think we would win anyway. I thought my vote wouldn’t count.”

Brexit mapDid they vote for leaving because they believed the politicians who were yelling loudly how much better off they would be if Britain is on its own again? “The Donald” smiled and assured them: “Now Britain can be ‘great’ again.” He also reported home after his arrival in Scotland that “the Scots are ecstatic about the outcome.” Did he not know that the Scots were the smart ones and voted for ‘stay’ and now are once again talking about separating? They knew on which side their bread was buttered…and so did most of the Northern Irish. And it seems so did most of the younger and more educated English according to coloured maps on the Internet.

What was the immediate fall-out? Look at the Stock Market – affecting not only Britain. Our already weak Canadian Dollar lost more than 1.5 cents over night. The pound fell to its lowest since 1985, the forecast looks at rising prices, especially for airfares, vacation packages – and those are just the items not everyone uses anyway! What about the validity of the EU passports and the related health insurance, no free borders, no moneys from the EU to help with certain projects… Can we get back in? No, says the EU. Prime Minister Cameron resigned, wanting to stay on until October, an uncertain future as to who will lead the country. The EU saying “Finish this as soon as possible. Get it over with.” Now people have started applying for French, German, Spanish and other passports. The proud Brits do this? Yes.

The “Brexit” is a sad affair. It will affect more than just “Great Britain” and I wonder what it will take to make it “GREAT” again. It has not only destabilized the UK, it has destabilized the EU too.

On a lighter, less serious, note let me tell you a hardly known story that someone sent me by e-mail:
“His name was Fleming, and he was a poor Scottish farmer. One day, while trying to make a living for his family, he heard a cry for help coming from a nearby bog. He dropped his tools and ran to the bog. There, mired to his waist in black muck, was a terrified boy, screaming and struggling to free himself. Farmer Fleming saved the lad from what could have been a slow and terrifying death.
The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up to the Scotsman’s sparse surroundings. An elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy Farmer Fleming had saved.
‘I want to repay you,’ said the nobleman. ‘You saved my son’s life.’
‘No, I can’t accept payment for what I did,’ the Scottish farmer replied waving off the offer. At that moment, the farmer’s own son came to the door of the family hovel.
‘Is that your son?’ the nobleman asked.
‘Yes,’ the farmer replied proudly.
‘I’ll make you a deal. Let me provide him with the level of education my own son will enjoy. If the lad is anything like his father, he’ll no doubt grow to be a man we both will be proud of.’
And that he did.
Farmer Fleming’s son attended the very best schools and in time, graduated from St Mary’s Hospital Medical School in London, and went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of Penicillin.
Years afterward, the same nobleman’s son who was saved from the bog was stricken with pneumonia. What saved his life this time?
Penicillin.
The name of the nobleman? Lord Randolph Churchill … His son’s name? Sir Winston Churchill.”

Someone once said:
What goes around comes around.
Work like you don’t need the money.
Love like you’ve never been hurt.
Dance like nobody’s watching.
Sing like nobody’s listening.
Live like it’s Heaven on Earth.

And the Irish wish for us:
May there always be work for your hands to do.
May your purse always hold a coin or two;
May the sun always shine on your windowpane;
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain;
May the hand of a friend always be near you;
May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.
And may you be in heaven a half hour before the devil
knows you’re dead.

Wind on backI really like that last line!

But I remember a dear Irish friend who said “May the wind be always on your back…”

This Book Drives Me Crazy

Have you ever read a book that very “severely” took over your whole being? So much so that you were grieving for all the countries and all their people involved? That you were fighting a depression threatening to take you down, reducing you to tears at times knowing full well you are reading a history book. You lived during that time in history as a child and could not do or have done anything to change what was to become history. And worst of all, you feel you are part of that history and never knew what was going on behind the scenes.

How was it possible that the wool was so cleverly and cruelly pulled over the eyes of all the people? To only let you know what you were supposed to know? And what you heard on the ‘verboten’ radio stations was just “enemy propaganda”? And learning that for people who suspected something it was safer not to know? But, “they knew enough to know not to know”. (This is a quotation from one of Lynn Alexander’s Schellendorf- books) Ordinary people were trying to survive day by day. My memoir “We Don’t Talk About That” tells what it was like to live under the Nazis until 1945, then, after our eviction, for weeks on the “road to nowhere” with millions of other evicted people – next to the Russian war machinery on their way to victory – surviving rape, murder, starvation, and disease and leaving the sick or dead next to the road. After some kind of order was established during the following years and Germany carved up into four zones (Russian, English, American and French) I lived in the Russian part for ten years as a teenager, enjoying some kind of ‘peace’ until I was driven to escape as so many hundreds of thousands did. And life in the “Golden West” brought its own challenges, new beginnings and living as a second class citizen. And after it was all over I was thinking I had it bad and had nightmares for years.

But these last two weeks, reading the book I mentioned at the beginning gave me the feeling I was a victim. I had never thought of myself that way. Our life was living part of the war but now I see that we also were part of the extortions, concentration camps, evictions. How could a handful of men at the top wreak so much havoc? By reading this book it is hard to understand that nobody was ever able to kill Adolf Hitler, how the people around him were afraid of each other and conspired against each other to get closer to the ‘Führer’? And how Goering, who was considered the ‘second’ man in Germany, could give everything a self-effacing twist during his interrogation at the Nuremberg Trials that one almost felt for him? Gifted with an incredible memory he, for a time, dominated the proceedings and even joked about it. When admonished he burst out “Don’t you see that all this joking and horseplay is only comic relief? Do you think I enjoy sitting here and hearing accusations heaped on our heads from all sides? We’ve got to let off steam somehow.” The culmination of his extraordinary life was cheating the court and the judges by poisoning himself ten minutes before he was due to be hanged as the first of the remaining Nazi officers.

GoeringMillions of people like you and me, we are just “grains of sand” in the larger picture of the world and the people who rule it, no matter where we live. The title of the book I am talking about and that gave me high blood pressure and at times, Parkinson-like shaking that I almost gave up on it is “Goering – The Rise and Fall of the Notorious Nazi Leader”. The authors are Roger Manvel and Heinrich Fraenkel. The bibliography of the research done and the dozens and dozens of diaries, books by other writers and papers fill several pages at the end of this book. If you are a WWII history buff you ought to read it.

An eBook is Born

Forget Me Not 3D image (2)I am pleased to announce that the eBook version of my most recent book, “Forget Me Not – A Bouquet of Stories, Thoughts and Memories” is now available for purchase.

A thousand ‘Forget-me-nots’ have lined my path. From adoption, babies, cancer, dating, depression, dogs, earthquake, escape, grandmas, kayaking, love, Olympics, politics, from superstition, war to weeping angels and many surprises in-between – these stories are part of me and part of the people who touched my life. During the time we spent together – sometimes only days or hours – we shared our experiences and memories. I remember them all, some with laughter and affection, others with sadness, but they live on in my heart. Wander a mile or two with me along the winding path of life, and let me share my stories.

Each story, thought or memory in this ‘Bouquet’ carries a message and all lend themselves to reading alone or in a group. They are independent of each other and surely incite discussion.

Some folk have already commented:

Giselle Roeder broke barriers of personal pain in her memoir ‘We Don’t Talk About That’. In this ‘Bouquet of stories’ she shares her thoughts about world events and tells of people who greatly influenced her. Each story makes you think and incites discussions. It includes several not to be missed surprises! – Barbara Lange, Winnipeg, Editor of ‘Through the Window of a Train: A Canadian Railway Anthology (Borealis Press 2010)

Giselle writes compelling stories. After reading her memoir – which I would place next to ‘Anne Frank’s Diary’ – her present book is a delightful ‘bouquet’ of stories. I am still waiting for the sequel to ‘We Don’t Talk About That’ and it seems that ‘Forget Me Not’ is somehow a bridge between the two. – Bob Pickles, UK History writer (Amazon.co.uk)

I really enjoy reading Giselle’s stories. A change from her memoir – but I am waiting to see the sequel. Get on with it! – Carol Dunaway, British Columbia, a voracious reader.

You can find copies at one of the following:

Smashwords in a variety of formats
Amazon Kindle in MOBI format
Kobobooks in EPUB format

And a variety of other eBook vendors and formats.

Enjoy your reading and please let me know your opinion by commenting on this blog post. I would love to hear from you.

Party – Party – Party!

Party timeCome on, pretty girl, I know you are a party animal, put on your party dress, don your party hat, get into the party spirit, become the life of the party, get ready to join the party waiting for your birthday party to get going on the party boat and by no means be a party pooper!

Bad news: A man of the hunting party got lost, now you have to join the search party because you are part of the rescue party.

Important for your country: A governing political party calls an election. If you are a member of any party, be it the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party, the New Democratic Party or a party by any other name you have three choices: 1. become a passionate supporter and volunteer to help your party, 2. decide you couldn’t care less because the party leaders never do what they promise anyway (but in that case don’t complain if the ‘wrong’ party wins!) or 3. be adamant to use your RIGHT to vote for the party who’s platform you support.

There are so many uses of the word “PARTY”. Some sarcastic, cynical or even humorous person tried to explain how a political party consists of a means for a lot of politicians to have their own way of conducting politics. What is or are politics? Take the word apart: ‘Poli’ in Latin or Greek means ‘many’, and ‘tics…’ you know what ‘tics’ are and what they do. Tics are bloodsuckers, says Wikipedia.

I remember in the sixties I visited Ottawa, the Canadian capital, and I also toured the Parliament Building and attended the House of Commons. I was shocked when, during the question period, they were screaming at each other and some of their comments were surely insulting. But it was exciting. I came home and announced to my husband I wanted to join a party, make a difference and get really involved. He just laughed and said “You? My God, when they call you names and threw insults at you, you would just break down and cry! No, my dear, you are not made to be a politician!” I knew he was right.

Occasionally a new party forms because someone has good ideas to improve the way a governing party runs the country. This someone tries to get likeminded people together and sometimes they succeed to make a difference in party politics. Many years ago a friend invited me to a meeting of about a dozen people. We met in the living-room of her apartment. A small number of people had registered a ‘Reform Party’ in Canada. The leader, Mr. Preston Manning, was not an impressive figure but a down to earth man who honestly wanted to make things better for his countrymen. I wanted to support the movement and became a member with a very low membership number. When I was called upon to join the volunteers and man one of the recruiting tables during a public membership drive I copped out because I was too busy. I went to a Rotary meeting where Mr. Manning was the speaker and felt very sorry for him because he was not groomed to be a leader yet. He also repeated himself often and I could sense he was very uncomfortable amongst all the Rotary business people. I left the meeting during the discussion after his speech. When I came out of the meeting room door many media men with huge cameras surrounded me and started to ask questions as if I had been the speaker. They wanted to know what I thought, what the speaker had said, what the questions were during the discussion. I was very professional and answered carefully. Later that evening several friends phoned me during the “News” telling me they had seen me on TV. I waited for the next news and was shocked how they had manipulated my answers and what I seemingly had said. What I really had said was totally different. Since that experience I try to stay out of the media limelight or would answer “no comment”. The Reform Party later merged with the Progressive Conservative Party to form the Conservative Party of Canada. The word “progressive” was dropped.

I think it must be close to fifty years since I had almost become involved in party politics. I have always taken my right to vote very seriously and never missed one election. Another is coming up in my country. The female leader of the “Green” movement had captured a seat at the last election in 2011 and apparently has made quite an imprint across the country and internationally. She was going to speak in my town and introduce her local candidate for our riding, Paul Manly. With a small group of neighbors we went to a rally held in the exhibition hall, curious if the “Greens” could reach their audience goal of about 500 – 700. I have never attended any such meeting and couldn’t believe what was happening. The room filled up, hundreds of people were standing at the door until the many volunteers had removed the curtains hiding a few hundred more chairs and they streamed in. Every seat was taken. There was standing room only and many people waiting outside left because there was “no more room in the inn”.

Packed meetingOver a thousand people attended. I was awestruck by the energy emanating from the crowd. The leader, Elizabeth May, has incredible presence and knowledge and answered every single question thrown to her. She asked how many people were in the room who had not made up their mind who to vote for. A lot of arms went up. Her advice was to carefully listen to speeches, news, to every party leader and no matter what party they vote for, it is important to go and VOTE. She is aware that her party is too young to form the government but the “Greens” will support the others and work TOGETHER for the good of Canada.

Green rallyI find it is blatant discrimination that she is not invited to participate in joint party debates on radio or TV. Why is that? Are the male ‘contenders’ afraid of this smart lady who has a memory like an elephant and can answer any and all questions across the political spectrum? She remembers and quotes statements the other leaders have made at whatever meetings years ago, – with absolutely no written notes. She speaks freely; she explains and recalls, she has a platform almost too good to be true from child care to eliminating university tuition to senior care, pharmacare, climate change and the economy, nothing has been left out. She has been able to attract an incredible lineup of able candidates across the country and it will be very interesting to see what will happen when the date of the election comes around: October 19th 2015.

A Bad Hair Day, Hair is in or Hairy Politics?

Bad hair day

I couldn’t help it. I had a really good laugh when by chance I read an article in the National Post written by Canada’s ‘Queen Bee’ writer Margaret Attwood. She gets awards left, right and centre for every new book she writes. One could turn “Green with Envy” – but I have to admit as of yet I have never finished reading a whole book of hers. Oh yes, I have started several. But this column in the National Post is hilarious. I would give her another award for it!

http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/hair-is-in-the-election-season-air-but-is-it-crucial-to-your-vote

Click on it and read it for interest or read it for fun. I was surprised that it was published at all and then I read a day or two later that it had been taken off the website by the editor but then a censored version was re-published an hour or so later. I would love to see the original, – or is what I read, the original? Oh Margaret, – I congratulate you on this dare devil write up, I love how you tackled a political ‘question’ with humour!

Angela Merkel- most powerful woman? #Merkel #Germany

Angela Merkel through the years

Angela Merkel through the years

Reading this article gave me a whole new perspective looking at or listening to what this woman who doesn’t care for the “lime light” has to say on the world stage. I knew that her father was a pastor and that they lived in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. I didn’t know that they actually lived in Hamburg when her father decided to take over a post in East Germany where the churches were not favored by the Politicians. I didn’t know that her mother was an English teacher and I had forgotten that Angela graduated in Quantum Chemistry and even has a doctorate. I also didn’t know that she had something with me in common: she was bullied and teased in her young years. I remember my feelings of disbelieve when I heard years ago that she had been elected German Chancellor. She had the guts to say “no” to Obama when he requested something she felt was not appropriate and I admired her for saying the things she did to Putin and his admiration for her: “The first head of State that I can converse with in my mother tongue!” And I was surprised to learn that Putin even speaks better German than Angela Merkel speaks Russian.

The article is not just of her even if she is in the center of it. The writer provides a really good overview of the development of and Germany’s effect on Europe and how she dealt with the problems and leaders of all the powerful states. I am tempted to tell you more – but read it for yourself! It’s lengthy but incredibly interesting. I want to read it again.

George Packer, the writer did more than his homework – thank you so much. Your write-up is better than a history book – because it puts your reader directly into the story.

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/12/01/quiet-german