The Last Supper

767 Dorchester Wpg.

767 Dorchester was an old house with a wonderful interior layout located in a quiet neighbourhood of Winnipeg. It was white with green trim and had flower boxes under all the many windows. I needed ninety-eight geraniums for planting the boxes every spring. It was a sight to behold. I would plant a hundred pots with cuttings and have those on the wide window sills indoors in preparation for the next season. Just imagine how long it took every day to water all those. In full bloom, they made the house look ‘rich’.

A bright hallway and a wide stairway leading to the second storey were the heart of the old house. Through French doors on either side of the hallway, one entered into a huge dining room on the left and on the right into a most charming living room with lots of windows and an open fireplace. A built-in breakfast nook in the kitchen was one of our favourite spots. All our family meals were served here. It was the children’s place to do their homework while I was preparing our meals. There was an ancient sink in the middle of the long counter, an old ‘rounded’ fridge and a more modern stove.

1-image0-001All of us loved this old house! Mr. Moffat had rented it to us. He not only came to collect the rent every month but occasionally stopped by to say ‘hi’ and chat. He always complimented me on the work I did in the garden. Spring flowers were followed by colorful summer flowers and big sunflowers stood guard. The tomatoes, thriving along the sunny side of the garage, still tasted like real tomatoes.

One warm July day Mr. Moffat turned up and was greated with welcoming smiles. But that day he seemed uneasy. He even sat down for tea and after a few minutes, he told us he was selling the house. He was giving us three months notice to find another home. I lost it and completely broke down. I cried and begged him to sell the house to us but, sadly, it was out of his hands. A lawyer had bought up the houses next to us. Our house was the last in the middle of all the others. Mr.Moffat said he had held on as long as he could. The houses would be demolished to make room for an apartment block. What a shame. It was heartbreaking.

We went house shopping and in the end decided to buy a bungalow from a builder in a suburb called ‘Southdale’. We were promised the house would be ready for move-in on October the first. The children started school in our new neighbourhood in September. Driving the kids to school each morning I loaded the car with ‘stuff’and brought more boxes in the afternoon when I  picked them up. Our friends Inge and Peter had offered their garage as a storage place. They had also bought and lived there already. Only our big pieces of furniture remained for the moving company.

Our last meal before the big day consisted of leftovers but I had baked an apple pie for desert. I had left the baking oven door slightly open so that the heat could dissipate but I did leave the pie in it. For the children, playing outside, the backdoor was always open. My husband and I drove out to the new house with the last boxes. When we came home I closed the baking oven door and started cooking. The family was sitting around the table in the ‘nook’and chatted excitedly about moving and sleeping here for the last time. I served dinner and switched the baking oven on to warm up the apple pie. We loved hot apple pie with vanilla ice cream! At last, I could sit down and start eating myself.

I was restless and got up again. My husband was annoyed. “Why don’t you finally sit still and eat, you drive me nuts…”

767 Dorchester entrance

Just to prove something I went to check the pie. I opened the baking oven door and stumbled back screaming as our neighbour’s cat jumped out of the hot oven and almost into my face. The cat ran like crazy for the back door, scratched the screen and meowed loudly. What if – oh my God!

The pie was half eaten. The other half went into the garbage. Luckily the cat lived and there was only vanilla ice cream for desert. I was so shaken up that I was in no condition to even eat my dinner.

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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:

Two Interviews #BookPromotion #SkinCare

I want to thank Tracy Koga and Shaw TV in Winnipeg for sharing two interviews made during my recent book promotion in Winnipeg. They appear on my YouTube page but you can also see them here:

Interview 1First interview about “We Don’t Talk About That”
https://youtu.be/jh_e43m0xyo

 

and here:

Interview 2

 

Second interview about Giselle’s Skin Care
https://youtu.be/7vk9s6VLyE4

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.

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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

Valentine’s Day

We can “TALK ABOUT…” Valentine’s Day

heartsHappy Valentine’s Day to all of you! Do you remember your most “memorable” one?
I would love to hear about it!

Valentine’s Day

“Mommy, I have thirty two cards! Look, there are five of the same and I gave out ten of this one! I wish we could buy all different ones next year.” My nine year old daughter had all her Valentine’s cards spread out on the kitchen table and had put the ones with the same pictures on top of each other like in a card game. Her older sister, by just fifteen months, looked at me, and expressed her thoughts: “Mom, I am sad that you only have cards from Dad and us. Why don’t your friends send you any?”

“Valentine’s is more for kids and teenagers or lovers and grownups don’t really need to send cards to show how much they like each other. We just know anyway”, I said.

“But Mom, I know how happy you are when you get letters or cards for your birthday or Christmas and Easter, why not Valentine’s?”

That question was hard to answer but I tried: “Valentine’s Day does not seem important enough to sit down and write to all our friends and relatives, and just imagine how much it would cost to mail them because adults don’t go to school and hand them out like you do.”

The children were quiet and thought about it. My older daughter insisted “I still think it’s sad. I’m really glad Valentine’s Day is a day when you don’t have to feel embarrassed to let your friends know that you love them or at least like them. I did not give a card to two kids in my class because I don’t like them. I gave a card to all the teachers and they are grownups. They were happy and smiled.”

Our conversation about the card giving petered out and the girls continued checking all their cards while I went on with my handiwork darning the holes in some socks. It was cozy and quiet as we sat companionably around the table.

Snow suit boy “Eric should be home by now” I commented. I started to get a bit worried because my four year old son’s kindergarten class had finished half an hour ago. The school was only five minutes away and he usually came home right away. Just then the front door was opened and closed with a crush, we heard him stomp his feet to get the snow off and then take his boots off. He came into the kitchen in his snow suit und looked like a Michelin Man or a warmly dressed snowman with a frosty red face. He came to my chair, looked at me with the clear, really blue eyes he had inherited from my father, held out a single yellow rose and said earnestly: “Mommy, I love you. You are the bestest mommy in the whole wide world.” The tears shot into my eyes. The three of us stared at the little man; I accepted the rose and hugged him to me, hardly feeling his small body through the thick, heavy snow suit. His cheeks were cold, he smelled like fresh air and snow the way only Winnipeg winters could make you smell. He gave me a wet kiss and his lips were cold too but he had this incredible warm glow in his eyes and I knew: this glow, the love for his mother and the pride that he was able to give her a rose went through his whole being.

Valentine rose“Mom, I wanted to give you a red rose but the lady in the flower shop told me those are for girlfriends.”

Almost half a century later I like to say that I am glad that he was not a snowman. The incredible warmth that enveloped us at that moment in time would have made him melt. Maybe even me in the process. I cannot remember any other declaration of love in my whole life, innocently stating a simple fact.