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:

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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…

 

CJOB Interview

DSC06738A radio program that will interest everybody: Greg Mackling of CJOB Radio in Winnipeg asked me if I care to talk about the different types of publishing. I had told him about my experience with the “Espresso Book Machine” popping out a book every 15 minutes once it is “uploaded”. My newest book, “Forget Me Not – A Bouquet of Stories, Thoughts and Memories” was printed on the machine, just to get some copies before it is published in January. I wanted copies to use as Christmas gifts! It’s rather expensive for a limited number of copies but a perfect way for people who just write for fun, write their life story for their family and want something of lasting value and “purrrrrfect gifts” for their loved ones. So listen to the program at 10.30 AM Pacific time (12:30 p.m. CT) on Monday, Dec. 28th on CJOB – http://cjob.com and click on “Listen Live”

Interview for VIU Elder College Lecture

EscapeI was interviewed by Gregor Craigie from the On The Island program on CBC Radio One this morning. The interview is reproduced in this YouTube video: https://youtu.be/ax9-0rcdSbk

The lecture takes place at 10:00 a.m. on Nov 7th at the Nanaimo campus of VIU.and is entitled “My Escape from Germany after WWII”.For details see: https://www2.viu.ca/eldercollege/courses.asp#sss

Omar Sharif RIP

We were sitting in a small Pizza Restaurant on Stafford Street in Winnipeg just around the corner from my skin care business. It must have been either 1981 or 1982. Miss L. from CBC Radio had asked me for lunch. Ms. L. had interviewed me several times and we liked each other. Actually I admired her, – she was smart and she was a good interviewer. At one point she said ‘Giselle, I know I am not pretty but I am good at what I do. If I had a choice to be either beautiful or intelligent – next time I would choose ‘beautiful’. Right now I deal with being intelligent.’ Thinking about it I thought that it suited her but it would have been a difficult question for me. I thought ‘I am glad to have both….’ without saying it. Her next comment totally floored me:

“Giselle, tell me the truth. How, when and where did you meet Omar Sharif? Is it true you two met in Las Vegas? ”

I was flabbergasted. Omar Sharif? I did not know Omar Sharif. I told her so. She did not give up. “Come on Giselle, this affair of yours is a great news story, come on my program and let me interview you about it. And don’t deny it, – it’s all over Winnipeg. I know it from a reliable source.”

“But L., it is not true! I only know him as an actor from the movie “Dr. Zhivago” and also from the bridge section in the Free Press. Why would a famous man like him be interested in me? Besides, he is a very heavy smoker and a well-known gambler at the Monte Carlo Casino often making a fortune and at other times losing it again. Everything I know about him would not in the least fit my lifestyle.” I was trying to make light of it by telling her how I had cried when he collapsed and died of a heart attack on the sidewalk running after Lara at the ending of the movie “Dr. Zhivago” with my eight month old son on my lap.

I could not convince her. She said she thought I had more trust in her and left disappointed in me. I felt upset and said “L., I am telling you the truth. I would like to know who your ‘reliable’ source is.” Naturally she would not reveal this information. “Why don’t you phone him and then give me a call. Let me know if he is okay with you telling the story.”

A few days later I walked, as I regularly did, through my store greeting my customers in every section; first the manicure tables, then the facial and massage cabins and last the pedicure room. This was an open area with five special chairs side by side. As always, all the chairs were occupied. One of the ladies tried to keep me close by asking all kind of questions relating to my business, my frequent travels for lectures and conventions. I did not really know her but did knew of her; she was a freelance journalist and really into society gossip. I wasn’t quite sure where she was going but finally she asked me the question switching on a light in my head: “You know what, Giselle? I would love to go to Monte Carlo with you. Let’s make it a fun trip. Maybe we can meet Omar Sharif and you can introduce me to him. What do you say? I am serious!”

This was much the same as with Ms. L. from CBC. The woman laughed and just did not believe me. “Sure”, she said, “I would not admit it either!” The other three customers sat there looking at me with big eyes, none of them getting involved in the conversation. The four employees kept their eyes on the customer’s toes. When I finally walked away I was thinking about the implications, more people spreading this ridiculous rumour. I was shaken by this second time a journalist brought this up. Me, – having an affair with Omar Sharif? How ridiculous. I decided it was time to check with my lawyer. He grinned and then asked me ‘Giselle, is this true? Did you meet him in Las Vegas at the last convention you attended? Why not admit it, why should he not be a good friend to you?’ I was insistent in denying all of it and finally he advised me:

“You know what? Let them talk. The next time you are asked, smile and say ‘no comment’ and let it be. I must say I get a kick out of it and, if nothing else, it’s good for business!”

He was right. We had more business, new people booked for treatments hoping to catch a glimpse of me. For a short time I was a bit of a celebrity. My second daughter was going to get married and when she invited me, asked “but please, don’t bring Omar Sharif.” I looked at her and said, “You too? You don’t believe it, right? It’s so ridiculous…” Without looking up from the manicure she was doing, her answer was “Oh yes, I believe it.”

After a few weeks everything died down and nobody ever mentioned it again. I tried for weeks on end with little comments, statements or questions to find the ‘reliable’ source within my employees. To my surprise I succeeded several years later. It was my expression “Oh my…” when reminded of a phone call that had been on hold for ten minutes that started it all. Weird, eh? Translate that into “Omar..” and since there was only one Omar known worldwide the rumour was born and quickly escalated. Moral of the story: Be careful how clearly you pronounce your words, Giselle!

Omar SharifThis whole episode came back to me after I read the news of Omar Sharif’s passing of a heart attack in Cairo on 10th of July, a few days ago. RIP my good old friend!

This Happens When You Talk About It! #Winnipeg #BestSeller

I was on a book promotion in the prairie city of Winnipeg which owns the reputation of being one of the coldest cities in Canada. Can you believe it was 15°C above on March 13th when I arrived, 18°C two days later and reasonably warm during the whole week I was in “Friendly Manitoba”. No snow in sight but lots of sand used to sprinkle the slippery streets earlier and now the wind blew it around. Everything was muddy and grey and holy. Sorry, I mean to say “pot-hole-y”! The day after I left it snowed again. The snow makes everything look so clean. It makes a beautiful cover-up – at least for a while.

One thing the Winnipeggers still do is read a lot of books: real books, not e-books. Many told me “I like to feel a book, look at a book, leaf through it, put it down and pick it up again. I like to have it on my book shelf or on my night table.” I hardly ever saw one person walking out of one of the three enormous book stores where I was autographing my book with fewer than two, three or more books. The stores where open ‘til 10.00 PM and people walked in as late as two minutes to ten and shopped. Does the climate have something to do with this? Do the prairie people still know how to relax at home with a glass of wine and a good book? You tell me!

I was interviewed on CJOB Radio and had a lively conversation with the charming host, Greg Mackling. An hour long TV interview was taped by the Shaw crew of “go! Winnipeg” and it will soon be available on YouTube. Book readings, autographing and lots of discussions about my memoir “We Don’t Talk About That”, the story of ordinary German families before, during and after WWII filled my time. The members of a Rotary Club where I was the luncheon speaker were very attentive and another Rotary Club wanted me at their meeting as well, but my time was already totally booked.

Best sellerWhen I came home I had lost my voice. But I had lots of fun. In one of the biggest and architecturally most beautiful and largest book stores, McNally Robinson’s my book became a “Bestseller” and I hope it will remain so and be displayed on the bestseller table for a while longer. In both the very large Chapter Book stores, people were already waiting for me despite the fact that I always come half an hour earlier than expected. And they stuck around, wanting to catch every word of every discussion I had with one of them. Amazing! For seventy years I “Didn’t talk about it” and now I can hardly “shut up” with people around me.

Everybody wanted to know more. Did I open a can of worms? Is it based on real interest or is it rather the sensation “Thank God it didn’t happen to me”? After reading my book they write to me. “It reads like a Spielberg movie” said one. Another said “I look at my eleven year old granddaughter and just shiver to think…what, if, when, how can I protect her?” Still another sent me an e-mail “Are you alright? I just need to know…”

And dozens of readers of “We Don’t Talk About That” are telling me their own or their parents’ or grandparents’ stories of their life during WWII – how little they were told and now they can relate and want to hear more. “I wasn’t interested when I was younger and THEY wanted to talk about it, and now they are gone and I have nobody to ask anymore. Your book is a huge eye opener. While reading it I was with you every step of the way.” Still another says “When they talk about the probability of WWIII on the News I switch the TV off. I don’t want to hear or think about it.”

The last comment came from one of those Europeans who had experienced ‘close encounters’. To stick one’s head in the sand like an ostrich will not help to avoid or protect any one. It’s like the few of the leading Germans who knew how futile World War II was likely to be, knew what was happening all around them and still did not believe it. To save their life they did not talk about it. One of their mottos was something like “I know it’s better not to know what I think I know or might not even know.” I found this phrase in one of Lyn Alexander’s books “The Schellendorf Series,” – four books spanning the time from before WWI to the Nueremberg Trials after WWII. For us today it is not healthy to be ignorant or pretend not to know.

A WWIII with sophisticated weaponry will not be happening in just certain areas of the globe, – all continents will be affected. Don’t say “what can we do about it?” – think! You have voting power; but I’m with you. I also think that we, the ordinary people, will be caught in the middle as always, will not be able to stop the politicians if they put their minds to it. After all, we don’t go around shooting the people whom we don’t like or with whom we do not agree. Like the Texan in the bar pointing to three others and saying “I don’t like that guy.” When asked “which one” he shot two and said “See the one sitting there? That’s the one I don’t like”. Sorry. Just a joke I heard. Life isn’t like that.

 

The Amazing All Grey City #Winnipeg #Prairie #Potholes #Bookstores

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CJOB Radio interview with Greg Mackling

Once upon a time I lived in a green flower filled city alongside the sometimes peaceful, sometimes wild Pacific Ocean, deep blue with white crested, crowned waves. I was a woman living and drinking in this beauty wishing to have talent to paint until the day my mate tells me about an exciting opportunity for him to move to a city in the Canadian Prairie. He talked about Winnipeg, a city known as the Canadian Siberia with nine months of winter and the coldest corner in the whole wide world, Portage and Main and three months of hot summers with lots of mosquitos. But, – Winnipeg was also known for its “dry” cold and always blue sunny skies. Supposedly this climate was much healthier than the “wet” rainy coast and the propensity for getting rheumatism and arthritis. You can dress for the “dry” cold but the “wet” cold gets right under your skin.

We were told Winnipeg is a good place to bring up your family within the beautiful residential areas; it had large lakes for summer fun only about ninety miles away. Winnipeg was the birth place of “Winnie-the-Pooh”, the real little bear who became a mascot for the Canadian Army stationed in England before and during WWI, living out his life in the London Zoo. Millions of children still love A.A. Milne’s story about Pooh and name their teddy bears after him. Now his statue greets you at the entrance to the Winnipeg Zoo. This Prairie city of about 270.000 at that time offered lots of cultural and social life, clubs, theatre, concerts and the world renowned Winnipeg Ballet, on a par with the Moscow and the French Ballet troupes. One-hundred-and-four different ethnic groups were living peacefully together with lots of their typical eating places, loved and visited by all. Eat in a different part of the world every day! But the best: Winnipeg was well known for its friendly people! Every vehicle licence plate tells you: “Friendly Manitoba”, the Canadian province where it is located.

DSC06740

McNally Robinson Booksellers

Life has a way of interrupting your life; channel it into a different direction. I lived there for twenty years, became a corporate citizen, an employer, a Community Television Producer before the winds of change blew me back to my green country at the Pacific Ocean. No, I could not paint paintings but I could paint pictures with words. So I became a writer.

My recently published book “We Don’t Talk About That” is a memoir about my first thirty years of life. I tell the story of my first ten years during the Nazi period, the next ten years under Communist rule, and the next ten years, after my escape before the infamous Berlin Wall, trying to re-configure my life and hurt from being considered a second class citizen in the “Golden West” which was not so golden after all.

Chapters St Vital

Chapters, St Vital

This book brought me back to Winnipeg recently for a week long book promotion in March with a book launch and book signings in three big book stores: McNally Robinson, the largest bookstore I have ever seen, Chapters St. Vital with surely the friendliest staff and Chapters Polo Park in probably one of the most beautiful book store buildings. Winnipeggers still read and love the real thing: Books, physical books. Many mentioned that they don’t like eBooks. My book reading at a Rotary Club was well received and a CJOB radio interview with Greg Mackling reminded the listeners about my history within their fair city and many old friends, former customers and even former employees came to see me, say Hi and buy my book. And the Shaw TV’s Community Channel taped an hour long interview about my book and my history in Winnipeg when my first name was a household word.

Chapters Polo Park

At Chapters, Polo Park

Let me tell you what startled me most after arrival and the drive from the airport to the midtown hotel: Winnipeggers were driving only grey cars. All the busses were grey as well. One cornflower blue VW Beetle stood out as the only color spot as far as I could see down the road trying to avoid one pothole after another. You could not read any licence plates as they were covered with a thick grey coating. It dawned on me that nobody washed their car during the winter to avoid having their door locks frozen. I remembered! It was thirty-four years since I was living here! I learned that the winters are not Siberian anymore and climate change is taking its toll. That the previous week they still had 24 below Celsius but now for several days double digit degrees up to 18 above Celsius, the snow gone but the sand, used to sprinkle over the ice was coloring everything: Cars and buildings and roads and if you didn’t wear glasses, it got into your eyes, it covered your hair and it was impossible to keep your shoes clean longer than from the house door to your car.

My grandson Jack, born and raised in Winterpeg as the Winnipeggers lovingly call it, told me: At the entrance highway from the west used to have a sign:

Welcome to Winnipeg. I live here – what’s your excuse?

 For my stories from those first 30 years in Germany please read my book “We Don’t Talk About That” available from all major bookstores as well as on-line.

Book Launch – #Winnipeg

Book Promotion in Winnipeg for “We Don’t Talk About That”

March 13. to March 20, 2015

will find me negotiating the frozen, hopefully not too snowy streets, in my old hometown, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

McNallyBook reading/signing – McNally Robinson, March 15th from 2:00 p.m.

I look forward to meeting a number of you when I visit the McNally Bookstore on Sunday, March 15th to read selections from my book and sign copies. – http://www.mcnallyrobinson.com/event-14067/Giselle-Roeder—-Book-Launch/#.VOyrCi4eorg

CJOB Radio, Dahlia Kurtz will interview me on March 16th from 2.00 to 3.00

Dahlia Kurts is scheduled to interview me on her afternoon radio program “The Show With No Name” on CJOB Radio 680 AM

Dahlia KurtzShe will remind you that I was the founder of ‘Giselle’s Professional Skin Care’ years ago and also the host of the Cable TV Show “Giselle’s for Skin & Health’ which run for 9 ½ years! CJOB was also the station where I was interviewed after my “Health Books” were published.

 Chapters Polo Festival in Polo Park – hosting the book launch/signing March 19th 6-9 PM

Cahpters logo“We Don’t Talk About That” has made quite a splash internationally and dozens of readers have told me “I couldn’t put it down.”. I would like to see many of you come and help Chapters and me make this event festive and exciting.


 

Do you belong to a group who might need a speaker for a meeting during the above mentioned dates? Any other bright ideas to make my week in Winnipeg successful? Please contact me by e-mail: giselleroeder@hotmail.com  I appreciate your input.

Updates to this announcement will be posted here. Please click on “Follow” to receive updates by email.

Winnipeg

Winnipeg – Photo Credit: AJ Batac via Compfight cc