Saturday, December 18, 2010
Marianne Stephens: Countdown to Christmas
Marianne Stephens said:
My favorite thing about Christmas is having family together and making some traditional foods. We usually have a fish meal on Christmas Eve, lasagna on Christmas Day. We have special Italian foods that have been part of holiday celebrations for generations. “Sausage Pie” - consists of eggs, pepperoni, Genoa Salami, Capacola, and pie crusts. Talk about cholesterol levels jumping! Another favorite treat is called “Zeppole” – fried dough plain or stuffed with anchovies. Both kinds can be sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar. And then, there are the usual assorted cookies, cakes, bars, we all love!
Guilty Survivor – Memoirs of Tamerla Kendall
Tamerla Kendall is the woman you see rooting for her son at sporting practice. You might meet her in a grocery story. Perhaps you’ll see her planting a garden behind her home. Or, talk to her at school or work. She’s a student, worker, wife and mother.
Surviving a dark past is hidden by her façade of an everyday, average life. Reading her memoirs will reveal her true struggle to survive in a war zone, and is a testament to her courage.
Bosnian Croat, Tamerla Kendall, lived through the carnage and chaos in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War (1992-1995). Hers is a story of courage, fear, ingenuity, and survival. Difficult choices she made then still disturb her peace of mind and life today.
She made a few trips out of Sarajevo, only to return to keep the family restaurant business operating. One carefully planned, secretive trip was made to remove her daughter from the dangers of fighting, but this created a heartbreaking rift in their relationship. For her second trip, Tamerla masqueraded as a United Nations Protection Forces soldier and rode in a tank. A uniform and travel assistance came from a Ukrainian general.
Her hopes for a return to normalcy at war’s end diminished as corruption and religious zealots took control. She married an American, and this marked her as an outcast by some she’d trusted. When her life was threatened at gunpoint, she faced a critical decision concerning her family’s safety in her beloved country.
Guilty Survivor – Memoirs of Tamerla Kendall
My second trip to Kiseljak was more difficult and done with me masquerading as a soldier. I’d called Commander Ivicarajic of the Croatian army to ask for help in crossing the border in November of 1992. I made a deal to transport some food supplies for him. I would be allowed to cross over into Croatia this way.
I then spoke to United Nations’ officer, Vladimir Sidorenko, (from the Ukraine) and asked him for help in getting across the border lines. He came to Restaurant Meli often and was known to help the people in Sarajevo.
He told me to go to the UN barrack area at night, sleep there, get up at 4:00am and
dress like a UN soldier in a Ukrainian, UNPROFOR uniform (United Nations Protection Forces) he provided. Part of the deal was that I’d bring supplies back with me for his troops. Desperate to visit my family and encouraged by his plan, I agreed.
I arrived at the UN barrack late that night. A blue and green military uniform and boots were provided for me and I slept in a military bed but was given a room and bathroom just for me. Other soldiers knew I was a woman but keep my secret.
The uniform was big, as were the boots. I used cloth and tightly circled it around my chest to hide my breasts. I stuffed paper into the boots so my feet wouldn’t slide out. I put on the uniform and looked at myself in a mirror. Even without makeup, I was afraid I’d be noticed and discovered to be a woman.
I pushed and pinned up my hair high on my head and pulled the cap down low enough to hide my hair and almost cover my eyes. The less seen of me the better. Even without using perfume, soap, or deodorant, I still thought I smelled like a woman. I practiced lowering my voice when I spoke, although the plan was for me not to speak at all. Would I pass as a man? Sound like one? Go unnoticed among other soldiers?
For one crazy instance, I imagined myself as preparing to go on a secret mission. I thought about spy movies I’d seen or books I’d read where people had to wear disguises. Not only had I found many avenues of keeping my restaurant operating, thanks to the war, but now I found a new talent. I would have my first performance as an actress.
I did not have to walk from checkpoint to checkpoint with other soldiers, but got to ride in a tank. I remained silent, even in the tank, and the other soldiers inside with me ignored my presence. Maybe it was their way of following orders to treat me as another soldier, and keep from staring. If they didn’t look at me, I really wasn’t there.
Secret Cravings Publishing Grand Opening Contest Prizes include:
Registration for Romantic Times Booklovers Convention
Registration for Lorie Foster's Reader and Writer Get Together Weekend
Kindle, Nook, or Sony ebook reader
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