Monthly Archives: May 2021

Schlesien Family History Mystery


I am the daughter of German immigrants. Whenever my parents were asked what part of Germany they were from, my father answered, Bavaria; my mother, Schlesien. (The English word for Schlesien is Silesia, as Bavaria is the English word for the German Bayern.) Bavaria was recognized by most people; no one knew what Schlesien was. My mother simply explained that after World War II, it became part of Poland, and she could never return home again.

All my life I had the same experience when people asked me where my parents were from—no one had ever heard of Schlesien.

Until about ten years ago. A woman who worked in the office of the school where I taught told me her father was from Schlesien. I was the first person she’d ever met who had heard of it. We experienced an immediate kinship, like twins separated at birth who had finally been reunited.

Mom circa 1940
Mom, circa 1940. She was proud that the photographer chose to display this photo in his shop window.

My mother’s life before I knew her seems like a fairy tale to me. She was born in 1920 in Namslau, near Breslau (present day Wroclaw). She had a brother and a sister. Her mother was a homemaker; her father was a train engineer. She was proud of him; his social status was comparable to a 1960’s airline pilot.

The family’s surname was Stodolka, but my grandfather felt it didn’t sound German enough, so he legally changed it to Stold.

At one point in Mom’s childhood, her mother experienced a severe illness and could not take care of the kids, so they went to stay with their maternal grandparents for a few months on their farm. Some of their cousins were there, too, and they were all expected to help with the chores. One day the older cousins were tasked with splitting firewood. They told Mom’s brother, Joachim, to hold a log upright. You know what’s coming, don’t you? Yes. They swung the ax and cut off Joachim’s thumb.

Joachim picked up his thumb and went crying to Oma (Grandma). As he put pressure on his wound, Oma boiled an egg, picked off the shell, and carefully peeled the membrane surrounding the egg. She then lined up Joachim’s thumb with the stump, wrapped it with the egg membrane, wound spider web around it, and securely bandaged it. The thumb healed so well that in his teens, Joachim became a masterful violinist and pianist and earned a scholarship to a conservatory of music. I swear, this is what my mother told me. But when I repeat the story to other people, they tell me I’m nuts.

During my mother’s youth, Roma wagon caravans regularly stopped in her neighborhood. One of the Roma women told my grandmother that my mother had “second sight” (clairvoyance). My grandmother didn’t believe it, but my mother did. (I don’t.)

It’s fun to remember old family stories. I’ve posted some other more recent family stories too.

Now it’s your turn. Do you have a quirky family story? I dare you to share it in the comments below.

Creative Juice #243

Creative Juice #243

12 articles to marvel over:

Guest Post: Tips for Assembling a Top-Notch Kit for Art Fairs by Kelli Brewer

Photo by Eddy Klaus on Unsplash
Photo by Eddy Klaus on Unsplash

When you attend events with the intention of displaying and selling your work, you want to make the most of the experience. That means developing a functional and efficient setup, but it also means creating one that is aesthetically pleasing to your customers. This article shares how to put things together in a way that will lead to your growth and success.

Contemplate Configurations

Before you work on the aesthetics of your arrangement, there is some groundwork to lay. Address some practical issues by sorting your necessities. For instance, give some thought to your wares and what their requirements are. Maybe you need mostly tabletop surfaces, or perhaps some portable shelving is in order. Clothing and jewelry might require dress forms and mannequins, while framed work might require easels. Think through your structures, how many you’ll need, and how you want to set them up.

As you mull things over, do some sketches and mockups to sort your basic layout, and then consider how you’ll work out details beyond those displays. For instance, do you need specialized lighting, packaging for fragile materials, or lifting equipment? All those aspects should be weighed into both your transportation to and from events, as well as the booth itself.

Think Through Processes

As you brainstorm, remember that you will need to be able to function effectively in your space. This means being able to chat with customers while also keeping your eye on your goods, as well as having appropriate storage for purely functional items.

Contemplate the practical aspects of managing your business as well. For example, you need to decide where within your space you’ll make transactions, and how that will work before and after the event. CNBC notes that many Americans don’t carry cash these days, so it makes sense to enlist the services of a point-of-sale system. A POS is ultra-efficient, handling everything from tracking your inventory to safely collecting customer data, and it’ll keep you and your customers on the go with its all-in-one services.

The other portable tech device you should consider is your phone. You need reliability and power when you’re working events, so if you’re due for an upgrade, look for something that will support your venture properly.

Market Your Wares

When the bones of your setup are configured and you know how you’ll function within that framework, give some thought to your wares and how you’ll present them to customers.

Crochetpreneur points out you’ll need to select your inventory thoughtfully, looking at the performance you see at various events and evaluating what you feel is working. This will help you make decisions about what products you need to focus on, what events are your best fit, and how your market niche is trending.

It’s also time to give thought to your aesthetics. Consider specific product displays such as shelving, drapery, and easels. Think about what colors will work well for showcasing your products, and whether you need any backdrops or dividers within your booth.

Keep in mind that at events, your uniqueness can be a big selling point. Allowing customers to sample your creativity can spark their interest in your work, so consider how that could work for you. Have some handouts ready to send home with browsers so they’ll remember who you are and know how to contact you later.

Plan for Tax Season

Even if selling your art is a side hustle, you’ll still need to pay taxes on your earnings, including sales tax. It’s a good idea to put some money away so you’re not caught off guard by a hefty tax bill. Also, many small businesses choose to set themselves up as a limited liability company (LLC) for the tax advantages this entity entitles them to.

Fairs require significant effort, and you’ll likely want to tweak your setup over time. Thankfully, with careful planning, you’ll be set up for success right from the start. Ensure you put practical matters first, and then everything else will fall into place.

Kelli Brewer is proud of her military family and is passionate in supporting military families. She uses her work to offer support and resources to families experiencing the challenges of deployments. Together with her husband, they created DeployCare to offer understanding and support to our service members and their families. Their team is composed of veterans and their spouses who have experienced many of the issues that arise when there is not adequate support when needed.

Video of the Week #306: A Quick Look at a Lot of Masks


Wordless Wednesday/ Flower of the Day: Cactus Flower

Cactus flower

More FOTD.

Dvořák the Bohemian

Antonín Dvořák

Antonín Leopold Dvořák (September 8, 1841—May 1, 1904) was born in Bohemia (part of what is now the Czech Republic). He was the first Bohemian composer to achieve worldwide recognition, successfully turning folk material into 19th-century Romantic music. Among Dvořák’s works are nine symphonies, five symphonic poems, several choral works, operas, chamber music, and songs.

He was already an accomplished violinist while still a youngster, accompanying the local dances. Though his parents assumed he would become a butcher and innkeeper like his father, they recognized and encouraged his musical talent. When he was about 12 years old, he moved in with his aunt and uncle to study harmony, piano, and organ. He wrote his earliest works, polkas, during the three years he spent there. In 1857 his music teacher, knowing that young Antonín had gone beyond his own modest abilities to teach him, persuaded his father to enroll him at the Institute for Church Music in Prague. There Dvořák completed a two-year course and performed on viola at various inns and with theatre bands, augmenting his small salary with a few private pupils.

In 1875 Dvořák was awarded a state grant by the Austrian government, and this award brought him into contact with Johannes Brahms, with whom he formed a close and fruitful friendship. Brahms not only gave him valuable advice but also found him an influential publisher in Fritz Simrock, and it was with his firm’s publication of the Moravian Duets (composed 1876) for soprano and contralto and the Slavonic Dances (1878) for piano duet that Dvořák first attracted worldwide attention to himself and to his country’s music. Many of Dvořák’s compositions, such as the Slavonic Dances and his large collection of songs, were directly inspired by Czech, Moravian, and other Slavic traditional music. The admiration of the leading critics, instrumentalists, and conductors of the day continued to spread his fame abroad, which led naturally to even greater triumphs in his own country.

In 1884 he made the first of 10 visits to England, where his choral works enjoyed great success, although only the Stabat Mater (1877) and Te Deum (1892) continue to be performed regularly today.

In 1892, Dvořák temporarily moved to the United States and became the director of the National Conservatory of Music of America in New York City. The President of the National Conservatory of Music in America, Jeannette Thurber, offered Dvořák an annual salary of $15,000– twenty-five times what he was paid at the Prague Conservatory. In the winter and spring of 1893, Dvořák was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic to write Symphony No. 9, From the New World, which premiered to tumultuous applause. Certainly, in the United States, it is his most beloved work.

Dvořák’s main goal for his three-year tenure in the United States was to discover “American Music” and compose with it, much as he had used Czech folk idioms within his music. Shortly after his arrival in America in 1892, he wrote a series of newspaper articles reflecting on the state of American music. He proposed that African-American and Native American music should be used as a foundation for American composers to create their own national style of music.

I hope you will give this music a good listening. Maybe you could let it run in the background while you tidy the room. Bookmark the article so you can come back and listen to it again. These are masterpieces.

Monday Morning Wisdom #310

Monday Morning Wisdom #310

“Writing—the art of communicating thoughts to the mind, through the eye—is the great invention of the world.”
—Abraham Lincoln

From the Creator’s Heart #307


I’d Rather be Dancing Turkish Folk Dances


The Turks love to dance, and they have beautiful music to dance to. Here are some Turkish folk dances that we do with the Phoenix International Folk Dancers.

I used to teach Ali Paşa to my fifth graders:

Kirmizi Biber (means hot pepper):

Kendime (kids hear “Candy Man”):


Turkish hora, a variation on the Israeli hora:

Turkish Kiss actually originated in Israel:

There are other Turkish dances that we do at PIFD, but I couldn’t find good quality videos of them; but here are some other Turkish dances that I’ve never done.


I feel like our group has done a dance by the name of Şemmamê, but I don’t remember these steps. Apparently there are multiple variations. This is a Kurdish dance:

Arabim Fellahi (My Arabic Farmer) features stomping and a little shoulder shimmy:

Bariş Halay has some interesting jump bounces and knee circles:

Creative Juice #242

Creative Juice #242

Awesomely inspiring stuff this week.