Announcing: LifeCycle Stories & A Give-Away

Is your history a mystery to your family?

After about two years of thinking and planning, I’m launching a business as a personal historian called LifeCycle Stories. I hope to use my journalism skills to  help individuals, community organizations and businesses preserve their legacies through words and photographs, resulting in a published, professionally designed book.

I’ve completed two projects already: extensive interviews with an Auschwitz survivor  515K4RkJtlL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_ and a family cookbook  of my mother’s recipes. Cover hi res

These are examples of projects I can offer. Other services include memoir writing workshops for book or community groups, college essay coaching, tributes and cookbooks for special occasions like anniversaries, birthdays or retirement dinners, corporate bios and newsletters, and legacy wills.

I’ve revamped my website: www.lisakwinkler.com but intend to continue blogging under www.cyclingrandma.wordpress.com. I’ve ordered business cards, and joined the professional organization, Association of Personal Historians.

To help with my launch, I’m offering my blog readers a complimentary package: two hours of interviews (via email or phone), transcribed and edited into a narrative and delivered as an electronic file. Perhaps you have a relative whose story you’d like to hear or have a treasured heirloom you’d like to know about,  or your community organization or business could use its history to share with others. If you’re interested, leave me a comment and a winner will be selected randomly.

And of course, I’d love referrals!

Posted in Blogging, Books, Family, food, Grandchildren, History, interviews, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Good Bye Wool, Hello Down!

Upon arrival in New Orleans this week, I jammed my down coat into its stuff sack, and stored it in my suitcase. I needed a warm coat in New Jersey and only a light sweater there.

When I’m in cities, like New York, I observe what people wear, noting how down has taken over outerwear, from vests to jackets to long coats. While I might see a few colors, I mostly see black.

So I enjoyed seeing a pinkish-red Norma Kamali “sleeping bag” coat, circa 1980’s, that was part of French fashion icon, Countess Jacqueline De Ribes’ wardrobe, on display at the Met’s Costume Institute until February 21.

I remember when down coats like this one first came out and I had one in a rust-color. Then, I still had several wool coats. Now I have two: One long and one mid -length but I’m wearing them less and less.

I’ve become a down convert. They have zip pockets, stuff into a sac or pocket, are light yet warm, and washable. I have a mid-length black down coat I usually wear when walking in New York City. On a recent visit, I realized I needed something longer to shield me from winter winds. Finding a coat on sale, another black down, I bought it. I’m ready now for all weather.

Last year, walking with my friend Claudia in the city, and chatting about winter, she mentioned she only had the coat she was wearing—a lovely, knee-length wool. Though she grew up in Boston, known for its harsh winters, she’s spent the past five years living in Hong Kong, and forgot how cold it can get. I tactfully told her she’d need something warmer. “Really? This won’t be warm enough?” She listened and ordered a long down coat that day, and has thanked me many times since.

I’m not quite ready to get rid of my woolen coats. They are tailored and pretty. And if it’s really, really cold, I’ll don the mink I inherited from my grandmother. It’s heavy and bulky, warm as toast, perhaps politically incorrect, but sentimental and gorgeous.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in commentary, Fashion, Museums, galleries, New York City, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Book Talk at Son of A Saint, New Orleans

Monday through Thursday, from 3:30-8 pm, a group of boys, ranging in ages 10-18, find their way to the Son of A Saint clubhouse,in the Mid-City section of New Orleans.

They attend different schools; have various interests and economic backgrounds.

What they have in common is they are predominantly African- American youth, whose fathers have been murdered.

Founded by Bivian “Sonny” Lee III five years ago, the non-profit organization offers mentoring, tutoring, character building and recreation to boys in hopes of helping them become strong men, and hoping they won’t be subject to the violence that took their fathers. Unknown

Lee’s father, NFL Saints defensive back Bivian Lee Jr., died of a heart attack when Sonny was three.   Growing up fatherless, Sonny always imagines “what if” his life would have been like had his father lived. He attended school and university in New Orleans, worked for the Saints and the city’s Jazz Institute before creating Son of a Saint as a way to give back to city he loves and the boys he believes in.

I met Sonny at a wedding in September and told him about my teaching and writing, specifically my book, On the Trail of the Ancestors: A Black Cowboy’s Ride Across America.   12644810_10155963027646980_1857050428978281714_nI sent him a copy of the book and educator’s guide, and he invited me to talk to a group of the boys that will be reading the book this month. They’ll also be taking horseback-riding lessons as well.

I toured the clubhouse. It’s a typical “shotgun” house, divided into two apartments that are long, like railroad cars. On one side, the boys have a pool table, a library, a computer room, and a bedroom with bunk beds. Another room holds donated sneakers and clothing that the boys were sorting. On the other side, there’s a more formal living room and dining room with a long table. Sonny explained how it was important for him to create a “home” for the boys; complete with dinner served each night prepared by chefs who donate their time. (I sampled some fabulous gumbo.) A mentor sleeps upstairs when the boys are having a sleepover next door.

I met the boys as they arrived, trickling in from school. They were interested in the writing process and  amazed that someone rode a horse across the country. I noted how technology has changed so much since Miles Dean took his journey in 2007-2008. Cell phone service was spotty, GPS systems rudimentary, social media in its infancy. A trip of this type now would be done quite differently, I imagine.12645178_10155963026991980_3206115472453155368_n 12644921_10155963027096980_3727716472721216124_n

 

I look forward to hearing what the boys think of the book as they’re  introduced to historical heroes.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Books, Education, Friendship, History, Reading, teaching, teenagers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Read: A Man Called Ove

I’m a frequent library patron, and often spend time browsing the stacks of new titles, both fiction and non-fiction. I borrow a diverse range of books, taking comfort that as an adult; I can abandon a book if it’s not working for me, as it wasn’t assigned by a teacher or as a book club selection.

On a visit last week, nothing was jumping out at me. I asked one of the librarians who happened to be shelving books while I was searching, for a suggestion.

“Everyone seems to like this one book,” she said, but she couldn’t remember the title. “Though I didn’t like it,” she added. She offered to bring it to me, as it’s a book club selection so the library has multiple copies that are shelved elsewhere.

 A Called Ove is Swedish writer Fredrik Backman’s first novel. It became a best seller in Sweden and has been translated into 25 languages.  images

It’s about a man, though not that old by my terms (59), seems to be an elderly curmudgeon type, unhappy with everything and everyone around him. Slowly the story unfolds. His childhood, his marriage and subsequent loss of his beloved wife, and how the various neighbors in his residential community befriend him, helping him replace fear with trust, anger with peace, and hate with love.

This is one of those books that should be selected for One Town, One Book events, and should be assigned to every high school student around the globe. I mean it.

When I returned the book, I saw the librarian who gave it to me and told her how much I loved it. I suggested perhaps she give it another try. After all, she’s an adult reader; she can always abandon it.

I immediately grabbed Backman’s new book My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry. Will let you know.

Posted in Books, commentary, Reading, reviews, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments

Baby Carrots? Not for Me!

Ever wonder about baby carrots? Big carrots don’t give birth to them. Nor do they grow that way. They owe their existence to a manufacturing midwife, and account for nearly 70% of US carrot sales.

Many believe they’re perfect for lunch boxes and appetizer trays, for dipping into hummus and gripping by little hands.

The carrots are cut into uniform two inch size by an industrial cutter, allowing farmers to use otherwise perfectly good produce that grows uneven or misshapen, and are often wasted. The idea heralds back to the 1980’s when California carrot farmer Mike Yorosek, faced with both a waning market and excess produce, invented the new look.  images

I don’t like them. I’ve bought them for family parties, particularly for the grandchildren. I find that if they’re not consumed immediately, they either dry out in the bag or the reverse, become slimy and rotted.

Give me carrots that look like carrots. Long, irregular, bumpy. images-1 I like peeling them (or not,  if I’m using in cooking). I serve them as carrot sticks or use the “bumpy” knife  that my grandkids also love using to help.

If we purchase all our produce already pre-washed and bagged in plastic, we’ll certainly never know where our food comes from.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in commentary, Education, environment, Family, food, Grandchildren, health, Nature, parenting, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

An Afternoon at the Opera… in HD

When my mother drove my siblings and me to our various lessons and appointments after school, she’d have the car radio tuned to the classical station. (There was only one.) Often, we’d listen to opera, and she would sing along.

Though she took us to the ballet and concerts, I never went to an opera until I was an adult. When I got married, we bought the “nosebleed” $5 seats to the New York City Opera, in the top tier and peered at the stage through binoculars. That season we saw a popular trifecta: Carmen, La Boheme, and La Traviata.

We’ve managed to go to an opera about once a year since those early days. We’ve upgraded our seating a bit too; though fondly remember those days in the upper rings.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s shared her love of opera in a recent AARP interview, and how her passion was cultivated by obtaining discount tickets and watching rehearsals. She mentioned how she now takes advantage of the Metropolitan Opera’s high definition transmissions aired in movie theaters around the world.

Though I’d heard about these broadcasts, I’d never attended any and was intrigued. Why not? Even though I live outside New York City and can attend a Met performance, I hadn’t made any plans to do so. That requires securing tickets and planning an entire day around the event.

The  forecast was cold and gray. Perfect weather for a movie.  We brought in our own sandwiches, bought popcorn and water, and sat in a nearly sold-out movie house to watch the Met’s performance of Georges Bizet’s (1838–1875) Les Pêcheurs de Perles (The Pearl Fishers). Set in an unnamed Far East nation, the story delivers everything you’d expect from a great opera: love vs. hate, vengeance vs. forgiveness, and despair vs. hope. Combine these themes with glorious music, costumes and sets, and it’s a treat.649x486_Pearl_Fishers_Introduction

It’s different in the movies. Cameras zoom to close-ups; there’s no need for opera glasses. During intermission, while the live audience stretches its legs, the Met presents backstage tours and interviews. We heard from the conductor, the stars, and some company dancers who for this production perform as underwater divers, hanging from a complicated wiring system.

There’s something to be said however for being part of the communal experience of a live audience, bursting into applause and seeing people throw bouquets on stage during curtain calls.

Yet opera at the movies provides an excellent alternative. The HD program, in its 10th year, presents operas on more than 2,000 screens in 70 countries across the globe. Audiences include school groups, hopefully inspiring young people to sing. And music is a universal language. The production we saw featured an Italian conductor, an Argentinean director, a German soprano, a Polish baritone, an American tenor, and an enormous cast and crew representing all ethnicities. Perhaps if the world saw more operas, people would figure out how to get along.

 

 

 

 

Posted in commentary, Education, Family, Movies & TV, Music, New York City, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Dear Dorian…

From my friend Dawn’s blog:

Let’s join in making Dorian famous.

Source: Dear Dorian…

Posted in Writing | 2 Comments