Author Archives: Roz Weitzman's World
Early on in my self-isolation in Toronto, beginning in mid-March after my return from Thailand, I put away my sketching and painting and my cookbook writing in favour of one of my other passions, sewing. From watching a news report about sewing groups making non-medical face masks for the benefit of our society, I felt that this was a way for ME to do my part too.
After researching on the internet, I found a different pattern, not the norm of what others were sewing. My daughter, Jennifer brought my sewing machine from the 70’s while I was in isolation. But it wasn’t able handle the many pleats of that usual surgical-style mask. Sewers were already filling the needs of medical professionals in the GTA hospitals and I felt that my masks were going to reach my ‘target market’ – the people in my community of mainly seniors amongst my family and friends who also needed protection from risk.
Then, in addition to a donation from my friend Naomi Bloom to buy fabric and other sewing stuff online, I found Suzanne Carson and Melissa Truong on a Facebook Mask Sewing group. The three of us together joined the newly formed Toronto-based group www.sewforTO.ca (Sew for TO on Facebook). Ron Tabachnick took me to find sewing supplies and the search rendered very little so I reached out to the group for donations of the fabric and supplies that all of the sudden were nowhere to be found during the lockdown. In a very short time, I realized my desire to be involved with that amazing, dedicated, smart, knowledgeable and articulate group of people who were spearheading this community-minded cause in Toronto to make it safer for people at high risk or any risk! I became a volunteer, monitoring our social media and the email requests for more information. An additional bonus was that I got a whole new bunch of very talented people to socialize with when we get back to some sense of normalcy.
My sewing was really at a snail’s pace because of my need to stay socially connected through Facebook, FaceTime, Whatsapp, Zoom, Skype, email – everything to keep me sane and not feel too lonely! But I was undeterred. Very quickly the pile of masks started growing with the help of my selfless delivery angel, Le Truong, who lives near to me and goes downtown to Melissa’s house often. She’s the one who brings me fabric every time I run out and I give her food, home cooked food, in return!!!)
After a couple of Facebook posts with photos of my face masks all lined up, close friends and relatives in my immediate neighbourhood of Thornhill/Richmond Hill/Markham began asking if I could help them. Having people I know well come to pick up masks became the highlight of my days. Of course because of with our social distancing and ‘porch’ pickups, masks and gloves, we all feel safe. And seeing friendly faces offers me a brief time to chat a bit and catch up through our isolation.
My masks have gone to 45 members of the Talbot/Tabachnick Thornhill, Willowdale and in the mail to the California, Buffalo and Wisconsin. They’ve gone to ICU doctors, Baycrest Hospital nurses, real estate agents, people suffering from cancer, asthma, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, dementia, sciatica, arthritis, you name it – for the young, for the old, for social workers, for one of my grade 2 students from Crestview PS, Post Office workers,HP employees, my condo concierges, and every other type of high risk person for getting Covid-19.
Just like the stock exchange, when the piles grew smaller, they grew up again and I committed to finding a bigger organization. I reached out to Betel Seniors Drop-In Centre because of the newsletters I get each month. I sent an offer to Betel to donate masks and sure enough, there was a need – for masks for Meals On Wheels volunteers and for masks to be put into the gift bags for the Russian Vet’s Day celebration this coming Thursday.
- Today my numbers are :
- 201 masks donated
- 230 masks sewn
My heart is proud, I am feeling my own ‘nachos’, that I could make these lovely senior’s days a little easier to handle in the lockdown by having a mask to go out for groceries or prescriptions and feel a little bit safer. And the rest, as they say, is history!
With special thanks to Irina, Anna, Julia and Mark from the Betel Centre for giving me the opportunity to do my part and feel the nachas!
A creative streak comes naturally to me. It shows itself in my home decorating, in my bright colored and stylish clothing, shoes and purses, and all the creative avenues that I’ve partaken in – such as sewing, crocheting knitting macramé, embroidery, cross stitching, cooking and cookbook writing, video blogging and for a very long time, about a lifetime ago, Dollhouseminiatures. During that period of creating I won many ribbons for my miniature projects, mostly from scratch.
Does being creative give you the right to call yourself an artist? Suddenly I have that question in my mind.
Are you a creative, do you call yourself an artist?
Over the past 3 1/2 years, I turn the corner on my creativity. I can give credit to Jennifer. It all started when my daughter fell in love with the art of Romero Brito. Spontaneously, I took out my markers (because as a teacher with experience in primary school education, you always have markers. Teaching students a language requires the use of the philosophy that using art to draw concepts cements the vocabulary). I put together a drawing, trying to emulate his work. One month later, after returning from Sri Lanka, the vision of the palm trees on the beaches of the Indian Ocean were still in my brain. So one day without forethought, I sketched a palm tree. It was lame as it was, but it started the whole ball rolling.
A few months later I went to Italy. As a lone female traveler, I decided to go the safe route and take a six-day workshop with an artist in the north of Tuscany. When a friend Peter saw my Italy sketches, he beamed, asking me if I would draw sketches of the tea making process for his book about Tea in China. Was the Pope Catholic, I thought? I jumped at the opportunity. It gave me a focus for my art because at that point when I was flitting around with Zentangle Art and Mandalas and other topics with no real focus.
Peter designed my first Chinese Chop with the characters that said “LiZhi (my name Lichee in Chinese), Artist”.
Could I call myself an artist then? Well honestly no, I couldn’t, although I continue to use the stamp to this day.
Knowing that I didn’t have enough knowledge and experience about watercolor painting, I attended a weekly Kunming art studio for over a year and got a good grip on how to paint realistic art with watercolors. Learning to see the colors, color mixing, shading, shadows, I tried to learn everything. The owner of the studio offered to do a 2-day art exhibition of all of my paintings and sketches (35 in total) — and it was a huge success. Around that time a friend bought one of my favourite Chinese paintings also.
Could I call myself an artist after that? Crazy as it sounds, no, I knew I still had a lot to learn.
Getting back to teacher art and markers, my proclivity is to small, meticulous details with paper and fine liners and pencils and markers and ink and erasers and rulers in drawings (maybe I should have been an architect, and I do love perspective, which I’m not terribly good at until now). But I still wanted to continue to stretch my skill, watching YouTube and Craftsy videos of artists teaching painting or sketching techniques. Also attending sketching workshops in Florida helped to improve my experience. (Do you see the theme here of travel and art in my life??)
Quite recently I developed an interest in having a more loose style. I spent the morning painting with an artist named Dan Whalen, who goes out with the Toronto Urban Sketchers group, because I really like his freer style of sketching and painting. I knew that if I wanted to try to go out sketching on location again, I would have to have that kind of style too. Why, because you don’t have enough time to finish when you’re out, so you need to be quick, and expressive in your sketching, representing the scene in front of you, all before the rain comes or the sun gets too hot or the shadows move.
Just two weeks ago, I met a lovely Singaporean artist, Beng Choo. She is an experienced artist and we have started the Urban Sketchers Kunming group in Kunming China. We meet every Friday morning and have sketched some wonderful ancient Chinese buildings while dodging the rain and the hot sun.
Then binge watching Ian Fennelly videos has really motivated me. Will I go to the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Hong Kong in April and take a class with Marc Taro Holmes because I’m a 1.5 hour flight away, or to Venice in May for 6 days and learn from Ian? I am considering it all. Because my art has moved away from a very detail-oriented style to towards a more expressive style.
In my quest to learn all I can, and with an art school within a 5-minute walk from my home, I just began a 10-week course, ‘Song Dynasty Chinese Painting on Silk’, which uses traditional Chinese black ink and painting techniques but with Kuretake watercolour paints. The process is very slow and detailed, with many steps so far. I have only learned how to paint the outlines on silk with ink and how to mount and stretch the silk onto a wooden frame. My teacher, Peng, says it takes 10 2-hour classes to complete, but that I am a fast learner!!!!
[Starting in 960 and ending in 1279, the Song Dynasty consisted of the Northern Song (960-1127) and the Southern Song (1127-1279). With a prosperous economy and radiant culture, this period was considered as another period of ‘golden age’ after the glorious Tang Dynasty (618 – 907).]
My first painting will be a copy of a Song Dynasty painting of crab apple flowers and my background is a soft beige colour, not this dark, boring colour.
Do I have the right to call myself an artist now? Have l earned that right yet? I guess the answer is I have to feel it in my heart, and my heart tells me that I am able to represent the feelings I have when I do art so much better than when I first embarked on my art journey a time ago. Stay tuned for more on the answer!
The people are gone and others have taken their place so it’s still the same.
BRINGING BACK THE LOST ART OF LETTER WRITING – MY GOLDEN YEARS, FORTUNE COOKIES IN MY MATZO BALL SOUP
I thought this was an original idea, so I googled it to be sure, and what do you know: someone has stolen my idea! haha!
All this info comes from this link:“But according to McQuivey’s Forrester study, How Video Will Take Over the World, “Video is worth 1.8 million words.” 1.8 million words, exactly. His reasoning is simple: if “a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video has to be worth at least 1.8 million words.”
It’s no secret that visuals—gifs, images, and video—boost engagement with social media. In 2016, Wistia and HubSpot found that “social media posts with videos in them boost views by 48%, and visual content on Facebook specifically increases engagement by 65%.” We like video a lot, and a link and thumbnail of a quick 15-second video is a great way to get around that pesky 140-character count. And that’s the real value of video.”
I can tell you that I am loving vlogging and sharing all my videos with you. Cooking, travel, social activities, art, technology and more! So many of you have been curious enough to check them out to get an idea of what a double life’s like in Toronto and China!
It’s just such an awesome feeling to know so many folks want to see what I’m up to here. The China stuff so far has been interesting. I’m learning the videoing part and can’t wait to get back to terra firma in Toronto and California in August to start videoing stuff there. So please check out all of my new videos on myYouTube Channel. And enjoy!
Love, Roz x0x0x00x0x0x
It’s so thrilling to share this good news with you. Views are gaining momentum and subscribers are increasing daily. I’m learning new stuff, like how to raise the volume when I’m making a video and how to cut out or change the audio portions. This is all having an overall effect on the quality of my videos. And I’m much more prolific than I ever thought I’d be. I take some bits for new videos almost everyday. I hope you find my stuff interesting.
Living my best life, I mostly left behind the tight knit Jewish community and my family and friends in Toronto to spend the last nearly fourteen years on and off in China – a consultant to teachers/artist/traveler/foodie and so much more – and as an expat single lady. My vlog chronicles my adventures, my life and the challenges of daily living in China.
Can’t wait to get back to Toronto, see my fam jam and friends and do some recording there.
Check out my 7 new videos on my channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1RYBBDvZOhoQ__SuMxnCkQ?
ENJOY and MUCH ❤️! Roz
#8 THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR – MY GOLDEN YEARS, FORTUNE COOKIES IN MY MATZO BALL SOUP
I’m with Ken, reading this famous children’s story, THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR together.
#9 CACTUS BUYING & PLANTING – MY GOLDEN YEARS, FORTUNE COOKIES IN MY MATZO BALL SOUP
Come with my friend Lance and I to the flower market to buy cacti and then see them in my finished arrangements.
#10 THERE’S STILL GOODNESS IN THE WORLD! – MY GOLDEN YEARS, FORTUNE COOKIES IN MY MATZO BALL SOUP
In a world where there’s so much unpleasantness around us, isn’t it nice to hear a story that has a happy ending and restores your faith in humanity…well this is just one of those stories that gives us back our faith!
new one: https://youtu.be/x1AjGgbI42A
#11 DAY TRIP TO SHENZHEN, CHINA – MY GOLDEN YEARS, FORTUNE COOKIES IN MY MATZO BALL SOUP
I share my day trip to ShenZhen and Hong Kong so you can get a glimpse into travel in developing China.
#12 STRESS-FREE PARKING – MY GOLDEN YEARS, FORTUNE COOKIES IN MY MATZO BALL SOUP
This is a video that’s been passed around over the years because of the astronomical growth of car ownership in China and is an idea who’s time has come, if the developers can ensure that a power failure won’t lock up your car in for hours or days!!!!
#13 THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR ACTIVITY – MY GOLDEN YEARS, FORTUNE COOKIES IN MY MATZO BALL SOUP
Another activity with Ken about this famous children’s storybook, THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR. Teachers love to use this book to consolidate learning in the early years of ESL & English in acquisition of numbers and counting, colours, days of the week, sequencing and story recall and the life cycle of a butterfly.
#14 BIG BOX STORE SHOPPING IN CHINA – MY GOLDEN YEARS, FORTUNE COOKIES IN MY MATZO BALL SOUP
I’ll take you along on an eye-opening trip through the big box store, METRO. Get an amazing glimpse of grocery shopping in China.
Hello dear friends,
I have always wanted to keep in touch with you regularly. Although my heart has been in the right place, it seems life does have a way of getting in the way and I have not always done so. This is my attempt to reach out to you in an interesting way, at least for me, and hopefully for you too, while giving you a glimpse into what I am up to from time to time.
I hope you subscribe to my channel, watch my videos (I am learning how to make them better, so be patient!!), get a laugh sometimes, have an ‘ahah’ moment other times and just enjoy these videos. I’d love to hear from you, so if you have comments or want to give me some suggestions for future videos, please write in the comments:
My Vlog Channel
#1 INTRODUCTION – My Golden Years, Fortune Cookies in my Matzo Ball Soup
An introduction to my video channel, showing my interests and why I am making a series of videos to chronicle my senior life in Canada and China.
#2 AT A CHINESE SUSHI RESTAURANT – My Golden Years, Fortune Cookies in my Matzo Ball Soup
Come with Hannah, Taylor and I on a visit to a local Sushi Restaurant and enjoy the delicacies of Japanese food. https://youtu.be/mqKmDMxwDtg
#3 AT THE FRESH FISH MARKET- My Golden Years: Fortune Cookies in my Matzo Ball Soup
I’ll take you on a visit to the local fresh fish market where you will see how fresh salmon and other seafood is processed and sold in Kunming, China.
#4 COOKING WITH FLOWERS – My Golden Years, Fortune Cookies in my Matzo Ball Soup
Here’s my latest episode on my Youtube channel. Meet my lovely friend Vivian and learn how to cook with Day Lilies.
Come along with my local friend, Vivian and I and we’ll introduce you to a famous food tradition in Yunnan – that of eating flowers. Today we’re cooking Day Lilies With Egg in Kunming, Yunnan, China.
#5 HIGHLIGHTS – My Golden Years, Fortune Cookies in my Matzo Ball Soup
I’ll outline the highlights of some future videos and ask you for your feedback. What is of interest to you to see and hear about in China from a Canadian, Jewish grandmother’s perspective? What suggestions do you have for me?
#6 FRIED EGG IN THE MICROWAVE – My Golden Years, Fortune Cookies in my Matzo Ball Soup
Another cooking with Roz video. I’ll show you my new dishwasher and then teach you how to make a miraculous fried egg in the microwave with easy cleanup after!
#7 HOW TO TEACH ENGLISH IN CHINA – My Golden Years, Fortune Cookies in my Matzo Ball Soup
Through a collection of photos of students from 2015, I demonstrate good ESL teaching style in China.
Bubie and Saidie Weitzman lived at 475 Major Street in Toronto, a tall 2-storey row house with a not-so-small storage place on the first floor in the hallway, under the staircase that went upstairs. Cleaning, getting rid of the Chumetz (any non-Passover foods and dirt) and changing over to Passover dishes and pots and pans was a ritual before Passover. When I was 7 or 8, it was my job to help my Bubie get out the Passover dishes from under the steps in the small storage place with my little brother. The space was too small for her to get into and besides she had a bad leg. It was always wrapped in white bandages to cover the gangrene in her leg, the scourges of untreated diabetes.
Aaron and Bubie Weitzman were devoutly orthodox and lived that way until my grandfather passed when I was 10 years old. With coal in the basement and ice in the icebox, it was a comfortable life. Bubbie always sat on a wooden box in front of the kitchen counter. She had a wooden cutting board that pulled out from under the counter and she always wore a white apron, slicing, dicing and cooking with her leg up on another wooden box.
Passover was a big event. At their house long tables were set up for all the people who would attend. They held big Passover Seders with Zaidie leading the prayers, always smiling because of his family being together and the 2 of his grandchildren who has been born by that time.. The Seders wouldn’t begin until the men had returned for synagogue and the meal wouldn’t begin until late into the evening.
The two first nights of Passover honour our escape from bondage in Egypt and the story was retold during each and every, very long Seder. At one point, I would recite the Four Questions in Hebrew. I had attended Jewish school on Sundays at the synagogue at Allan Road and Eglington Avenue for several years so could do it well…all along, my grandfather Qvelling! That was a highlight of the Seder for me. Kosher sweet Manishewitz wine would be drunk in crystal glasses and the red wine would be dropped in our plates like the blood of our forefathers. Each of the 10 drops represent the 10 plagues.
It was always so exciting for the children to steal the Afikomen (the one piece of matzo that was separated from the rest) from my grandfather when he left the table to wash his hands. We would hide it and after the meal we would auction it off so that he could finish the rest of the Seder with the promise of a new bike or a gift of money (no money could be exchanged at the time but the promise was always kept!) Throughout the Seders it such a joyful time, with all the Passover Seder songs that everyone knew the words and the melody for, singing along in unison.
Traditions Carry On:
Celebrating religious holidays with family was a must – and my grandparents passed on this tradition to my daughter and I. Every year for Passover in my Bubie’s honour, I make Egg Noodles with no Chumetz (wheat flour or leavening), the same recipe that she used all those years ago. And I honoured my grandparents with my own long tables for Seders, dressed with white table cloths, the best china and silver, welcome any friends and family who may not have a seder to go to. Including many Gentile friends to celebrate the Pesach (Passover) together.
My shopping for all the ingredients for my own Seders included boxes and boxes of Matzo, eggs for the eggs and salt water, and briskets for the main course, and egg yolks for the huge pot of chicken soup, and boiling the matzo balls, and chicken livers for chopped liver, and Charoses made with apples, walnuts, honey and red wine, carrot tsimis with knedlach, along with many other delicacies. I would joyfully commiserate with Jewish women all over the world, in their kitchens, doing the very same thing to keep the traditions of Passover for the generations to come.
History: My grandparents, Aaron and Sophie Weitzman, Orthodox Jews, came from Warsaw, Poland to escape the pogroms, and for a better life. The streets of Canada, it was said, were paved with gold! They first settled in Montreal in 1920, where an affluent and influential branch of my Zaidie Weitzman’s family still live. An uncle whose last name was Crystal was a judge and a son became a politician at that time. Then the moved onto Toronto in 1922. My father, Lou Weitzman, and my Uncle Jack were both born in Canada. My grandfather sold newspapers and magazines at the corner of Yonge and Dundas Street and after a few years, opened a Dry Goods Store at 22 Walton Street next to Yonge Street. (About 10 years ago, Walton Street closed and became a part of the Delta Chelsea Hotel).
My grandfather would take orders from the affluent neighbourhoods close to Yonge Street. Rosedale was one of them, residents were Gentile and it was my father’s job, as a handsome athletic teenager to deliver the orders by bicycle. Young boys would throw stones and racist slurs about his being Jewish.
As a little girl less than 4 years old, I would sit on the counter of my grandparents’ Dry Goods Store, looking ever so cute in one of the beautiful lacy, frilly, fancy dresses that my mother sewed for me, mixing the beans up in their bins, much to the dismay of the Zaidie, although ever so proud of his little granddaughter.
When Morley got big enough, about 3 years old, we would go outside to play on the grass in the front of the house on Major Street. Morley was always a troublemaker even when he was small. He would pick up the chestnuts that had fallen from the huge chestnut tree out front of their house and throw then at passing cars or people on bicycles and even aim for me! He and I always came home with a collection of chestnuts hidden in their outer rough cover. Inside were the smooth and shiny
There were many Sunday dinners at my Bubbie and Zaidie’s house, and after the meals, we would all sit glued to the TV set, watching the Ed Sullivan Show after dinner. On one of those nights in 1964, The Beatles performed for the first time in North America. That still is a historical moment for the music industry!
I was given 1 pound of shelled red skin peanuts. Only problem was they were 1) raw, and 2) they had the skins on.
Searching Google, the answer was to roast them. Well, I knew they would burn quickly and I am not good at roasting small things that need to be watched constantly. So I asked my Chinese friends how they cook them. The answer was: Dry fry them in a fry pan or wok, stirring constantly to prevent burning, for 5-10 minutes, or until they are cooked. (no oil/no salt) Brilliant!
The problem came: How to get the skins off without spending a lifetime rubbing each little devil between your fingers. Tried Google to no avail. No suggestion was quicker. When cooled, I put them in a large ziplock baggie and waited for another Chinese friend in the morning, who would show me what to do.
While I waited, I pushed down on the peanuts in the bag, rubbing them against one another. That worked but I was still left with a mess of skins in the bag together with the cleaned peanuts. He told me to bring the peanuts and a flat basket and meet him outside in the courtyard.
We dumped the peanuts onto the basket, rubbed the peanuts a little more. Then we shook the basket over the plants, while blowing the skins away. More than brilliant! How perfect!
Good for the plants, no fuss/no muss cleanup for me. Voila! Skinned peanuts.