Saturday, November 29, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends and followers. It's hard to believe that I've enjoyed my 100th birthday last month and am still involved with life.

Having spent the last decade writing three memoirs about the main events of my life in the 20th century,  I'm now involved in efforts to share those stories with all the generations that have followed mine. Because those monumental events changed the world, and those stories help clarify their effect on  the people who are now creating their own histories.

Each day there are fewer people left to tell about what it was like to experience them. Soon we leftovers of those times will be gone too -- but we hope our memoirs will still be telling our tales to all the children and grandchildren who read our histories.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Well, I finally reached the long-awaited milestone. In mid-October I celebrated my 100th birthday. It was a monster celebration -- four of my five children, about half my eleven grandchildren, even two gfr

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Why is it so hard to write a blog? It seems easier for me to write a whole chapter of a book than a couple of a paragraphs for one of my memoirs. Now that I feel too old to write any more books (stiff fingers --it would take forever)  want to tell the world about my trilogy of memoirs, Sharing my experiences is the best way I can imagine to help people more aware of the ups and downs of life.

I was impelled to put my memories on paper for that very reason. I learned the hard way how much history repeats itself, and how one experience reflects so many others and so helps us understand . our own lives. Because my generation lived through such critical times -- years of war, great depression, revolution -- times which changed the whole course of our existence, my stories may help us confront and endure similar changes. As our years go by fewer of us remain available to share our common histories. Having them bound in print comforts me to know they'll still be here when I'm not.

Friday, August 29, 2014

How many of us have been hooked on the Outlander series? Most of my family has, and we're excited just now because it's become a TV series as well. I have seldom had the patience to follow a series, but this time travel author uses real history so deftly that I feel myself truly involved in her characters and their dramatic dilemmas. I am so deep in her latest tome, which takes place during the American Revolution, that I almost feel myself there with her, in the Scottish Highlands in the 18th century. Fantastic research! She must have a busy team for it.

I think inventing a "real world" as this author does, is about as exciting a challenge as a writer can have. Talk about "creating history."  

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Grandma Moses

On the TV evening news the other day I saw a great video about Grandma Moses, the remarkable woman who became a successful painter at the age of 76. She took up art when arthritis made her give  up the embroidery she enjoyed during her retirement. Because people loved her artworks  and bought them, she went on doing them until her death at 101, by which time she had produced nearly 1500 paintings, mostly from her memories of country life. 
As I listened to her story I was struck by the many similarities between her life and mine, especially when she said, “I just like to keep busy.” I too had raised five children, ran a home  and had a full-time job. Like Anna Mary Moses, I published a memoir at the age of 88, only in words instead of paint. once I saw it in print, I couldn’t stop for ten years, and produced two more books of autobiography, as well as a novel and a storybook for children.
But the works that mean the most to me are the three memoirs, because they explore a woman’s life through three of the most critical periods of the twentieth century, and  think they are contemporary accounts of those times we all lived through -- the social upheaval of the Russian Revolution, the economic crises of the Great Depression of the 1930s, and the desperate years of World War II. Those times changed our world forever, and only a few of those of us who lived through them are still here to tell what those lives were like.
I imagine that Grandma Moses, just as I do, believed that it’s never too late to tell the stories that so many have experienced but only a few have the words to share.  


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Hard Choices

I've just finished reading an extraordinary  new book, Hillary Clinton’s “Hard Choices.” It covers her four-year stint as Secretary of State, and I am in awe of the range and productivity of those years as she ranged over the world (112 countries!) lending her personal touch to tough diplomatic problems and even harder human ones.
I was particularly moved by the last chapter, in which she talks about understanding that “new technologies are reshaping how we practice diplomacy and development, just as they were changing how people everywhere communicated, worked, organized, and played. The paragraph I quote was the most moving, as it envisions the hard choices we will have to make in the complex  world of the future.
“We discussed how these tools were in and of themselves value-neutral. They could be forces for bad as easily as for good, just as steel can be used to build hospitals or tanks and nuclear power can either energize a city or destroy it. We had to act responsibly to maximize technology’s benefits – while minimizing the risks."
          This book convinces me (as if I needed convincing) that Secretary Clinton is superbly fitted to be a fabulous president. Who else has ever been trained as a governor’s wife, a First Lady, a U.S. Senator and a Secretary of State?

          I hope she’ll run! And I hope I live to vote for her.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

When watching the evening news I was amazed to discover that thousands and thousands of children were arriving in my country from Mexico -- without their parents! Crowded into an enormous space, with no visible adults to help them, how lost and confused they must feel. And a second look brought back the memory of my own childhood, when I arrived in America in a ship that had brought us across the ocean.

At least I was not alone. My mother was with me and my father was waiting to hug us when we landed. We had left my native Russia in terrible condition after enduring war, famine and revolution. But we were full of hope in the magic promise of America. And ever since then I have lived over  those dramatic days in my memory and known that some day I would write about them. Though in my busy life I only got it published in my eighties, the remarkable details were always clear in my head.

Reading about the stresses I faced in my book, 'Weather of the Heart,' gives the reader a sense of the challenges facing the poor Mexican children. Left in a strange country to cope with a new language, a different culture, my first school and new friends, I was an example of how they will fit into their new world. The sharing of  experience is  valuable in so many ways to the understanding of people's difficulties on being thrust into a new life.