Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Looking ahead to 2012

I refuse to make New Years resolutions, because . . . well they never live up to the hype BUT I do have a 2012 bucket list.
A) I'd like to bring down my weight . I know, that's on almost everyone's list, but I am going to really try this time. There are a couple reasons:
#1 I want to be here for my family, ie: husband, children, brothers, sisters, father, friends and grand kids.
#2 I can't expect to successfully accomplish my backpack trip into the hinterlands of Yosemite at this weight. My sister has already warned me that I'd better not slow everyone down. OOOOOHHHH the pressure.
#3 So I can start shopping again. Going to the mall searching for clothes in XL sucks. Nothing looks good, so I just wear old stuff. Hey - it fits!
B) I would like to seriously start-up a newborn, children, maternity photography business. My son and his girlfriend suggested I do it, and I am seriously thinking of starting. I just need to perfect my lighting techniques. I shot my grand kids from the time they came into this world and love love love it. My daughter was my model for maternity as well as family shots and I think I'd be good at it.
C) I want to finish my second book. A wonderful girlfriend and sister have been helping me hone it and it should be pretty dam good when it's done.
D) I want to have a wonderful time when my sis and I go to Iceland, and hope to return with stunning shots of that wonderful place.
E) I hope to be lucky enough to land camping spots for Yosemite valley so we can share yet another fabulous summer week in my favorite National Park with family and friends.
These are the first ones to come to mind, but if and when I think of others I'll add them to this post.
Wish me luck to fulfill my 2012 bucket list!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Nachas (Sheer Bliss in yiddish)

Today my grandson gave me Nachas.
When I was a parent and watched my momila and tatinke (Mom and Dad- in Yiddish)with my children I never understood the sheer bliss and happiness they felt . . . but I did today.
My handsome, wonderful, genius of a 5 year old grandson stood on the stage and sang Chanukah songs.
He didn't do anything special, in fact he barely made eye contact with me, but it was still so wonderful.
Being a parent is a special and wondrous thing, but there are so many things to worry about. Will my son or daughter grow up and be happy? Will the select the right path?
Will the someone to share their lives with?
The concerns are endless and don't stop once they cross over into adulthood.
BUT with grandchildren it's all different.
As grandparents we've already seen it and heard it all, so we don't sweat the small stuff.
We are overflowing with boundless love for the progeny of our children.
I'm going to enjoy every minute of this time with them, because in a few years Grandma-ma won't be as interesting to them.
And this is as it should be . . . sadly.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Readying myself for the high Sierras

This summer I am going to backpack through the High Sierras. This will be my third time in the high country and I couldn't be more thrilled.
While I don't like hiking . . . at all, I love what it feels like away from the hoards of people. I love the smells and the sounds of the mountain. I love reaching your destination and sharing stories about the hike with others. I love the communal feeling and bedding down at night.
But I don't want you to get the wrong idea, getting ready for this will be a bitch. I'm not one of those people who jogs, or bikes, or exercises to feel the rush of endorphins .
I'm fifty plus and slightly over weight (hahaha), but my daughter once said that I'll hike anywhere, hang off any cliff, put myself in terrible danger to get THAT shot.
Wish me luck that I'll get myself into good enough shape so I can enjoy the journey and get THAT shot.
But even if I don't it's always been soooooo worth it before.
Today, I rode my bike with my husband and plan on seriously diving into preparations starting January 1st, so join me as I continuously post what it's like for me.
I warn you . . . I'm quite the complainer.

Monday, November 7, 2011

What happens when you love what you write?

I have this problem . . . I love what I write. Following each revision I say to myself "God that's good!" Then I read through it again and revise it again and say to myself . . . .
Will I ever say "It's perfect?"
I wonder if that term is even possible for an author to say about his/her own work.
I've finished my second book and really like it. I'm letting a friend read it and have sworn her to an honest/blunt review.
She calls me a few times a day and we chat about tweaking this and changing that.
But even with those tiny corrections, I still love the book.
Hopefully after I send it to my proof reader ABI, she'll love it also.
Then it's off to a grammar reader and hopefully she'll love it.
That's a lot of people who needs to love the book even before it goes out to reviewers, publishers and agents.
So many people need to love it before you, the general public, get a chance at loving it.
Wow . . . that's a lot of love.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

I read such a great book!

I finished The Help last night but have been contemplating how to review the wonderful wonderful book. Never has a book dazzled me as this one has. I did something I never have before . . . I saw the movie before reading the book AND STILL couldn't wait to get home and keep reading.
Each page is perfectly crafted. There isn't one word, sentence, paragraph, page that is perfectly structured. Each character is deliciously and completely developed.
She wrote from the vantage point of first person for three different characters. Seamlessly switching back and forth.
I could feel the hot humidity of Jackson Mississippi. I could taste the tension between the blacks and white and I could feel the characters angst and love for the children they cared for.
Ms Kathryn Stockett's writing is perfection and The Help should be the level to which all other authors aspire to reach.
I only wish I could award her more than 5 stars.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Fractured Finger

Two weeks ago I was walking my dog, Rudy, when I had a little accident. Rudy went to the left, and I went to the right. The problem came when I stepped up and onto the curb . . . you see the curb was at least 2 steps away. I stumbled and broke my fall with my right hand, ring finger. OUCH!
Who would think that one little finger would be such a pain in the ass. I can't carry things, I can't wash things (My face, the dishes, etc.), and working my computer is problematic. My left hand types away, while my right hand does hunt and heck.
There is one upside, whenever I drink tea instead of only holding up my pinky, I hold up two fingers . . . very snooty.
I'm hoping that the splint will come off soon. I'm tired of not being able to do things.
Next time, I'll make sure the curb is where it's supposed to be.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Stop Watch on my Shoulder

This blog is for anyone over fifty, but also those under fifty.
Before I hit the big five-O, my life was different in so many ways. Unless you are one of those women who has had a tummy tuck, face lift, eye job, under chin job, boob job and lipo-suction no matter the amount of dieting and exercise you've done, chances are pretty good that you don't look like you did a mere ten years ago. I never had any of that work done.
And even if you did take care of you, what about your hands. Does the word vein make you cringe? It does me. And what about Grey hair, hot flashes and saggy skin . . . need I continue.

Now if we get away from our physicality you arrive at my stop watch, which tenaciously resides on my shoulder.
It ticks unceasingly, reminding me of all things I will never be able to do and hastens me to hurry up or fail at doing yet more.
What kinds of things are these, you might ask. I always had visions of becoming a truly accomplished equestrian. THAT'S OVER. Fear has taken hold and that dream is gone, as well as associated aspirations. There was a ride through the forests of Hungary that told of long fast gallops - GONE, I can't do them.
My husband wants to do the entire Pacific Trail backpack trip. CAN'T DO IT, too old, too fat and unwilling to not shower for that many days.
I always wanted to join the 100 Country Club. That's a club that features travelers who have visited 100 different countries. IN THIS ECONOMY - Hell no.
If I listen hard to my stop watch I see that I probably have twenty more years to try and finish off my own Bucket list.
Since money, age and strength are important issues I figure I'll get to do something on that list every other year. But remember at the same time the stop clock tics faster, so I need to do the more difficult things sooner than later.
The words of wisdom I'd like to pass on to those of you under fifty is that you shouldn't wait until you retire, or for some abstract time in the future when things are better . . . NOW IS THE TIME. SEIZE THE DAY!!!!
It is my quest to out pace the stop watch on my shoulder.
I'll keep you abreast of my attempt.
Wish me luck!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Boo! Did I scare you?

Halloween 2011 will soon be upon us. I have to admit that of all the holidays . . . 4th of July, Passover, Xmas and even Thanksgiving, none of them get my heart racing like All Saints Day aka All Soul's Day aka Halloween. Tell me any other holiday where candy flows freely, where I can scarf down as many Almond Joys and I can get my hands on, where I can dress like a lunatic and smear my face with make-up that makes no sense at all, where my grandson tightly holds onto my hand because a bloody mouthed vampire scares him. No Halloween is like no other holiday.
But by the looks of the houses around me, I'm not alone. We have cob webs aplenty in every color of the rainbow, black widow spiders that range from one inch to five feet who drape themselves all around doors, windows and trees.
Don't even get me started on the number of ghosts, gravestone markers, pumpkins and flashing lights that will light up the night.
Soon I'll make my Costco run and I hope that ten extra large bags of candy will be enough.
Trick or Treat to all my fellow Halloween enthusiasts.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ahhh to be 35 again

My son-in-law's bday is today and he is hitting 35. Ahhh to be 35 again. I remember that age . . . I was at my best. I had finally lost all that pregnancy weight, and it only took me 11 years, but if I say so myself . . . I looked great.
Life's opportunities were still right there - just beyond my fingertips and the future still contained so many years filled with possibility.
Ahhh to be 35 again.
Don't get me wrong, being 57 is that bad. Much of life's petty problems don't seem worth the worry, but I sure would like to be 35 again.
I would do think differently. I wouldn't have put off so much. There are still so many things I'd like to do, but now I don't have the guts, time or youth to do it with. There were far away places I wanted to see . . . I'll still get to them, but not with the free abandonment of youth and bravery that comes with a 35 year old body chuck full of stamina.
I would cut myself more slack and not be as hard on myself as I was, because in hind sight it was wasted energy.
I wonder when I'm 95 if I'll say: Ahhh to be 57 again?

We'll see.

Monday, August 15, 2011

It's been 2555 days since . . . .

It has been 2555 days or 7 years since my mother passed on August 15th - today. A lot has happened since my momila died. I was blessed with two fantastic grandchildren . . . and it hurts my heart she will never meet them. I have written a book about her life and a second one is almost complete. I have crested over 50, my father has survived cancer and we've reconnected with cousins we haven't seen in 50 years. She missed so much and my world is the poorer for her absence.
I visited her grave-site today, but I didn't really need to go there, because I think about her every day in the little ways my grandchildren move and even the way my two children react to things. My daughter is a saver . . . as was her grandmother and my son reminds me of sayings she'd say. Seven years or 2555 days: it's as if she has been here all the time and gone for an eternity simultaneously. I miss you Mom!

Friday, July 29, 2011

The end of Harry Potter . . . . I'm sad

I saw the final chapter of Harry Potter this past weekend and while the movie follows the book (mostly) I am sad on two points. That my addiction to a book, to a set of characters and to their journey has come to an end. The second point was the final movie. I so enjoyed the first three. There were fabulous, igniting my imagination and causing me to salivate over the prospect of seeing the next film. Then came films 4-7. Don't get me wrong I love love them, but they could have been so much better. For a series such as this, couldn't they have figured out something other than resorting to the need to wear 3D glasses, which in my opinion weren't needed. I understand now why books sometimes outrank their movie counterparts. Think of all your favorite books that have been changed into film, they never quite catch the essence. While this one came very close . . . . it didn't hit the mark. Farewell Harry, you will be missed.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Writing isn't hard, it's good writing that's difficult.

I've re-re-re-written my second book, but I'm stuck. It's at this point of my self-editing that my lack of college education is so glaringly apparent. I wonder what skills I would have had my fingertips had I gone to school. I am reading book after book of wonderful writing, and mine doesn't sound the same. BUT is that all wrong? I don't know, maybe there are those people who want to read straight talk. I don't know. I will just keep re-writing until it is good enough. As any author can tell you . . . there is never a moment when we say "yup it's done." Wish me luck.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Faith and Begora

I am part of a Jewish survivors of the Holocaust family, so why was St. Patrick's day so important to us? I don't know, but my mom (who died 6 years ago this summer) loved the holiday. She, my father, my kids, siblings and I would join them at local Irish eateries. We'd dress up in green and partake in Irish corned beef and cabbage and green beer lunches. Now with her gone, we don't go anymore and each time I pass a pub I think of her. Miss you Mom!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My book made her cry/ her review made me cry.

A lovely women from JD Writersblog wrote the most beautiful review of my book:

The Holocaust really did happen and we should never forget that. Many survived only to live with unseen scars and permanent memories of the atrocities that were inflicted on them by these horrific people under the command of Hitler and his regime. There are many who would tell this story differently; there are others that would hide from the truth and bury their heads in the sand. Author Jeannette Katzir will take you back in time to where it all began for her mother and describe what becomes of her family and her in a poignant and heartbreaking novel with a title that surely fits: Broken Birds: The Story of My Momila.
Twelve year old Channa Perschowski and her older brother Isaac are forced to leave all their worldly possessions, family and the safety home to flee the horrors that would befall so many at the hands of the Nazi’s who inflicted more than just pain on the Jewish people. No child should or adult should have to endure what Channa and her brother did when their mother Rachel and sister Yetta, sacrificed themselves and were forced to remain at the hands of the inhumanities endured by so many people because they were Jewish. Told through the voice of Channa’s daughter Jaclyn, you learn not just about the Holocaust and its devastating impact on this and many other displaced families, but what happens when trust and family loyalties become frail and fall apart and the priorities that prominent are anything but family based.
Returning to her home at the close of the war brings the end result in perspective as Channa comes face to face with the destruction and harsh reality of having to leave Poland and embark on a life in America along with her brother, Isaac. As the author completes Channa’s introduction to the reader she next tells us about her father, Nathan and all he endured at the hands of the Germans in the camps before coming to America. As she recounts his life with his mother Jolin an enterprising woman taken by soldiers in Uzhgorod in Hungry, as the government there decided to inflict their own rules of Anti-Semitism on the Jewish population living there. As with segregation in the South where blacks were forced to ride in the back of the bus and eat at separate counters in a restaurant, Jews were forced to walk on different sides of the streets from Gentiles and hand over their hard earned businesses to them just because they said so. As fear set in 14 year old Nathan’s life would take a horrific a family member is killed and life would become more tragic. Food became scarce, anti-Semitism was on the rise and by 1944 the Hungarian Government became just as cruel as the German. Forced to spend time in Dachau and finally escaping and hidden, Nathan and his friends hope to find safe passage to America and freedom.
Alone and with nowhere else to go he humbly asks his stepfamily for help although they really did not want to. As he became acclaimed to the country and learned much from his experiences he goes to a dance where Channa and Nathan finally meet and their life would begin together. Channa worked at many jobs, saved money and her brother had taken much gold and hidden it during the war. But, when Channa and Nathan finally marry and their family begins to grow, Isaac, her brother becomes more like a stranger to her, enlisting Nathan into helping him start a new bungalow business, taking the gold for himself and forcing her to give over her well earned money needed for her family, convincing Nathan to turn against her.
Like the feathers on a bird, which are so fragile and delicate so is the structure of this family, which has begun to crumble and fall apart. Even as the dynamics of the family changed and with Channa having five children each different and requiring different needs, the family did not always get along and what happens will teach not only our narrator but other family members some long and hard lessons. Jaclyn married Gol an ambitious man who provided well for their family. Working together with her husband they built several lucrative businesses. But, sister Shirley married to Eric found herself always in competition with her older sister and often caused much strife within the family. Added to that Eric’s business sense and acumen were not always honest and this too caused a major rift in the family along our narrator always felt that family comes first and must be trusted, little did she know that they were the ones that would ultimately betray her in the end. Channa and Nathan were drifting apart and the family was becoming as worn as a coat with a torn seam that could not longer be repaired. As Gol, tried to help many members of Jaclyn’s family make a living, he also realized that certain things would never work out and Eric and Shirley two of them. As Jaclyn enlisted the cooperation of her sister in using her address so her children could attend a better school, the stab in the back came hard and swift and the knife would forever remain.
Single minded, difficult to dissuade from her own point of view, Channa remained a force to be reckoned with and her children rarely went against her wishes or thoughts. Difficult to deal with, often blunt and too straightforward in her remarks to her children, it is amazing that she was able to keep her family together at all. Stating that family comes first and you only trust your blood, learning that from surviving during the war, our narrator soon learns through many hard lessons in life and in business that her mother’s viewpoint was not always right or true but she respected and honored it. Betrayals come in all forms and from many different places in this family. New members are not exactly what they seem and sides are taken and battle lines are drawn.
But, Jaclyn could not say no to her nephew Garth no matter what her sister had done to her and instead of common sense and saying no to his working with Gol, she managed to figure out something that he could do anyway which once again proved wrong. Channa and Nathan were two war torn individuals that would never really overcome what they endured in life nor were they ever really happy for the successes of their children. Happiness was relative to them and certain aspects of life were such as marriage and family loyalty was foremost in their minds. As the author so aptly states her parents were like two broken birds waiting for the next crisis or shoe to fall. But, the real dissent starts when Channa passes. As the will is read each family member realizes the end result of their mother’s wishes and vies for a large piece of her estate. Emails back and forth and harsh words said, one brother wanting it all and the rest fighting for their share, this family becomes more than just broken apart. As the family visits their father’s homeland they begin to understand what kind of life he weathered and relived his past right in front of his children. Many will deny and say that the Holocaust was made up but those of us who had family who lived and survived it know better. As they visited the death camps and saw the crematoriums reliving his past in the present. But, what would the end result be for the family and who would finally get what Channa left and who would be left without.
Channa Perschowski was a strong yet fearful woman who distrusted even her own husband and thought he would eventually leave her. How can a family mend itself when its branches are too broken and its backbone not able to keep it in place? Author Jeannette Katzir brings to light so many important issues in this outstanding true story of the lives of her dysfunctional family members, the greed, betrayal and distrust that ensued and one woman: Channa: Her Momila, which is what my mom calls me, that only wanted to be loved. Powerfully written, heartbreaking, events clearly depicted and described and I am honored to have been asked to read and review this outstanding book. The Holocaust did more than just take the lives of those killed, it destroyed the spirit, the joy and the souls of both Nathan and Channa who lived it, survived and created a live for their five ever so different children in a world filled with many more Broken Birds. One simple document: One Will: The Words of One Woman: What had Channa Done? Read this novel and understand what happens when the greatest war of your life is not fought on the battlefield.
After just losing my precious sister, Marcia, who was my best friend in the whole world, I cannot imagine why any family would want to drift so far apart and not fix those broken branches and make them into a tall, strong tree with many strong limbs. This is one novel that everyone needs to read and hopefully will open your eyes to the importance and love of family. A sad but true story that brought tears to my eyes and much more. My grandmother and her sisters survived the camps in Poland and told me what they went through and more. I dedicate this review to all those Holocaust Survivors to our outstanding author who had the courage to share her sister and to my grandmother late grandmother Katie Goldberg who lived it.
Fran Lewis: Reviewer

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Window of Opportunity

When I hit the big 5-0 I had no idea the changes that would ensue. I'm not only talking about sagging boobs, wrinkles and diminished energy level- I'm talking about my Window of Opportunity, which was closing in on my dreams and aspirations. This is not to say I don't have wonderful new hopes, goals and dreams, but my old dreams . . . the ones I thought I'd always be able to do, they are either fading fast or are gone altogether.
I have been riding horses since I was a teenager. When I got old enough to own my own horse, it was one of the happiest days of my life. I have visions of being in the Olympics or at least becoming a fine rider. My riding friends and I went on fabulous riding vacations, but we saved up a few special ones for later.
Later didn't come. I got older and fear took hold of my insides and robbed me of that fast fast ride through Hungary. It even robbed me of a slow ride through Italy.
Later didn't come.
My husband is hoping to do the John Muir trek and when I asked if I could do it, my husband said he didn't think so. It would be too difficult for me - physically.
Now I am in good shape, or so I think, but I've still waited too long.
I am now more determined than ever to not allow my new mid-life dreams to wait another day, because I have learned (the hard way) that later doesn't come.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Never mix Deli with Delivery

When I got the call that my daughter’s contractions were five minutes apart, I was climbing out of my skin. It was her second child, but the pregnancy had been plagued with problems. I hurried to the hospital and found myself a comfy spot in the hospital waiting room, and waited . . . and waited . . . and waited.

Amid a constant pageant of bulging bellies arriving to have their babies, and phone calls by friends and family checking in, I finished my book, and I waited.

The sliding doors opened and my daughter waddled out alongside her husband . . . still pregnant. “False alarm,” she told me. “They’re going to induce me tomorrow morning between 7 – 8 in the morning, but don’t rush over until I tell you.

I kissed her goodbye and went home for a good night's sleep.

I set the clock for 7AM and decided to meet my girlfriend, who happened to be my daughter’s delivery coach, for breakfast. I placed a slew of magazines, a pad of paper and some pens into a grocery bag and then tossed in my fully charged cell phone. It had been on my person every day for months.

“Come around 10,” my daughter told me. “Don’t rush.” My girlfriend and I leisurely munched on bagels, pancakes, eggs and cappuccinos at a nearby deli. We chatted about my daughter’s false alarm and previous delivery. We talked about art, babies . . . . everything.

At 10 o’clock I paid the check, and reached in my purse for my cell phone, but it wasn’t there. I ran back to my car, and there in the grocery bag was my cellphone.

I glanced at a text message that my son-in-law sent me stating:

“Hurry the baby is coming.”

We sped down the street, but were held up by a middle aged WOMAN, obviously in no great hurry, clogged up the entrance to the parking lot with a barrage of stupid time consuming questions. “Which way do I go to park? How long can I park? What if I can’t find a parking spot? Blah blah blah . . . .

“SOME OF US ARE HAVING BABIES!” I yelled out the window.

I rushed into the delivery room and there seated on a petit couch was my son-in-law holding a newborn baby. I looked over at my daughter, who was chuckling, and then back again at the baby. Maybe they borrowed one from the next room just to bug me! But no, I had missed the whole wonderful thing. Camera at the ready, excitement oozing out of every corpuscle I had, and I had missed it. I had failed my daughter and felt soooooo bad. They had counted on me to be there and somehow I had done the stupid thing of leaving my cellphone in the car.

When my first child was born, I was all of 21 and the entire process scared the crap out of me. The doctors arranged the mirror so I could watch her coming into the world, but I removed my glasses, rendering myself blind. I don’t want to see that!

“I want you to be in the room, when I deliver Mom,” my daughter told me when my first grandchild was born four years earlier. I was thrilled. When the moment came for my grandson to come I watched as my daughter writhed with the pain as someone, whose physicality was still a mystery to us, tried to break out of her body. The sight of his silver dollar sized brown hair electrified us when he first crowned. And I watched as one shoulder led the way, followed by another, followed by a torso and two legs spilled out.

He was out, dripping with gloppy, drippy afterbirth and it was beautiful. His cry was a combination of a screech and a scream, but it was a most magical sound.

This time my granddaughter had come and, I had MISSED IT! I was twenty-four minutes late, but I was still late. The baby was clean, swaddled and everything was over. There were no photographs of that special moment when she took her first gulp of air or of my daughter’s face when they laid the tiny body on her chest.

I had let them down, and felt like the worst kind of sh t. But this was not my moment, but my daughter and son-in-law’s moment. It was the new baby girl’s time.

I held the tiny 6 pound 9 ounce bundle in my arms and when my girlfriend hurried into the room, she too couldn’t believe her eyes.

Two days have passed and everyone has met her. She is lovely, quiet and calm. I have taken loads of photos of her and in the course of her lifetime will take many more, but the ones I missed can never be re-done.

The moral of this story is one my mother used to tell me: Don’t try and to two important things at the same time.

TRANSLATION; No delicatessen food when your grandchild is about to make his/her debut.

By Jeannette Katzir

Author of Broken Birds, The Story of My Momila

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Taking down my blue ribbons

Three pieces of twine are stretched across the wall over my computer screen. On them hang Blue, Red and Yellow ribbons. I have been horseback riding for years, and even hoped to one day get really really good.
BUT at the ripe of age of 50 plus I have come to the realization that it will never be. Worse than that my confidence has all but forsaken me and a riding trip I was planning on taking this spring is being canceled because I just can't do it.
Sad - Yes. Depressed - You bet, but I must accept that this is happening to me.
I have been hesitant to take down the ribbons, because in doing so I was admitting to failure. My time will have come and gone and I would never have reached the levels I dreamed about.
But that is life, sucky as it is and I will sadly place my small collection of ribbons into a box.
Luckily as my riding ability slid into the abyss I have joys I will reach toward and try and perfect. I write. It is something that gives me tremendous satisfaction. I photograph which is as much a part of me as anything and I am a grandmother - something that trumps everything else.
A very wise person once told me something: "When one door closes, another opens."
I'm anxious to see what's behind the next door.