Ruth Zavitsanos

December 17, 2015

A Christmas Tail

Filed under: Uncategorized — ruthz621 @ 4:27 pm

A Christmas Tail-based on a true story

Since I was feeling spiffy in my Santa Sweater, I wanted to share my enthusiasm for this festive time of year with my sweetheart. Don’t tell her I said that, she thinks she’s too old for this young pup. The moment I felt a cool breeze, I snuck out and trotted down the street to my best girl’s home. First, being the friendly pup I am, I greeted the woman I often encounter running toward me. We practically knock each other over, but she does stop to greet me when I’m with my humans. This time she greeted me and took hold of my collar. At first I resisted but then she took me right to my girl, Pebbles’ home. I can see her confusion since; to be honest I was near Pebbles’ driveway when we bumped into to one another.

 

I was let in by a woman smelling of Windex. They use that a lot at Pebbles’ house. It’s a unique, clean scent that I sometimes smell on Pebbles. She brings a certain Pepe Le Pew aroma to it that brings me to rolling over with excitement. Once inside, I was hoping Pebbles and her pesky little brother, Rocky, would greet me. I ran upstairs and one of Pebbles’ humans at first looked surprised then gave me a sweet hug. “Oh, it’s you Chance. I love your Santa sweater.” I barked with joy before running around the house in search of Pebbles. Instead, I discovered those wrapped gifts that go under that pine-smelling tree this time of year. Santa is coming soon. My tail wagged and I sought out something I might enjoy that the elves wrapped. Instead perfumes and sweet candles hit my nostrils. I guess Pebbles and Rocky will have to wait for Christmas morning, like me! I licked my chops at the thought of a savory treat.

 

I trotted downstairs to the tree and the kind human stopped to snap a photo of me in my spiffy Santa Sweater. I hope she shares it with my best girl, Pebbles. We can see photos, and if we don’t we can feel the joy they give. I barked and she patted my head and said, “They’ll be back soon.”

Chance Christmas

 

I waited for Pebbles and Rocky to return.

What to do? I’ve been left all alone for Christmas and it’s not my family! I began to whine. I ran to look out the door where Pebbles, Rocky and I freely play on a big field of green with a fence keeping out those not invited to our playdates. The green balls we play with lay waiting for Rocky and me to chase. Pebbles only has to leap my way and I drop the ball at her paws. I looked around and sniffed hoping they’d come trotting my way.

Silence.

My throat grew dry. I drank some water and sniffed at their empty bowls. That’s when I thought I heard my name being called. I ran to the front door. It was one of my humans. They were looking for me! My tail wagged and I barked. They rang the doorbell. I ran around the empty house. Then I ran toward the place where that woman who runs toward me dropped me off. My human came to that door, opened it and I nearly knocked her down. Though I kept looking back, hoping to see Pebbles, I never stopped from walking back home. I’ll be home for Christmas. My tail wagged non-stop.

Later, while begging for scraps during dinner, I heard my humans say Pebbles and Rocky were at the groomers all day. I dozed off. In my mind I chased Pebbles, her scent of Windex and Pine conditioner filling the air. Rocky chased after that green ball as moist soft snowflakes fell on our snouts.

“Chance is sleeping after his exciting day,” I heard one of my humans say.

“He looks pleased. I wonder what he’s thinking.”

Thanks for the White Christmas with my family and friends, Santa.

June 13, 2015

23,000 Steps

23,000 Steps

By Ruth Giachino Zavitsanos

We met in the early 80s while pledging and living in the Alpha Chi Omega Sorority House at Marshall University. After graduating, we kept in touch with phone calls and greeting cards that grew sparser and sparser over the years. The Christmas cards never faltered and with the onset of the Internet, we connected (albeit, virtually) again through emails and texts. In the passed ten years we’ve had our “mini-reunions” at a wedding, the mountains, the beach and most recently, the island of Manhattan.

When it all began!

When it all began!

Welcome at Mailbox

Welcome at Mailbox

Marco and NYC

Six of us Alpha Chi’s had put aside time from work and family to spend three laughter filled nights and four fun loving days in New York City. That’s certainly what the brochure would’ve read had I (the self-appointed hostess and tour guide since I grew up outside of NYC) printed one up during the planning stages for our getaway. After weeks of late night searching on AirBnB I found a place suitable for the six of us to rent. We’d be joined intermittently by a “sister” who has been residing in NYC for decades and another who managed to come up from Washington D.C. for the day and masterfully took us through the subway system for our Staten Island Ferry ride, featuring Lady Liberty.

Marco and Lady Libtery

We were all pleased with the charming Brownstone in the Flat Iron District of Manhattan where we met after taking planes, trains, and automobiles to get there. We privately shared the entry code with one another. On the first night back one of us shared it with the Flat Iron District, making a joke of shouting out another more historical code to remember, 1776, that never actually existed for entry. “That’ll throw them off course.”

Flat Iron Building

On our first day we took in all of the sights Mid-town had to offer; St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Broadway, Saks Fifth Avenue, Rockefeller Center, and Time Square. Since the others hail from the south and are used to a much slower pace, I was kindly asked to “Dial it back.” I reminded myself we had three more days and I didn’t need to jam pack everything into the first day. But, it seems every time I go to NYC I become that seventeen year old girl filled with wonder, energy and enthusiasm. Later that day when we arrived back at the Brownstone to relax before changing for dinner and a Broadway play, we all wondered, “Just how far did we walk today?” In an instant several of us pulled out our fitbits. 23,000 steps! We’d walked 23,000 steps. And, there’d be more steps to walk that evening. All of us were more flabbergasted by this revelation than anything else. We weren’t trying to set any kind of a walking record. Though we all agreed that was our personal individual best by a long shot.

Something Rotten

Something Rotten

During those 23,000 steps (give or take a few) that we did each day throughout our stay, nothing bothered us. How can that be? We all had such a positive flow of energy and were so happy to be together that even a place like New York City couldn’t drain us. Each of us caught up with one another at various times and never left anyone out. All of us had our strengths that shined throughout because just like we did in our college days, we drew on those strengths from one another creating perfect harmony.

Little Italy

Of course, we recalled with admiration those days that brought us together in the sorority house; the somewhat crazy cook, the flirtatious houseboys and the astounding housemother with her quirky poodle, Chi.

Mostly, we took each step not in stride but in pure delight, with our AXO sisters by our side. All of us realize how fortunate we are to have shared such a fabulous time together! “My expectations for my first visit to New York City were really high. And it went far beyond my expectations.” One sister said on our final day while we were walking through a sun drenched Central Park. That remark had me thinking that perhaps I should put together that brochure, after all!

Central Park

Street front of our Brownstone

Street front of our Brownstone

Returning home, our legs ache, blisters sting and there is catch up at work. Yes, reality bites. However, our texts reveal the admiration we have for one another. Bonded through AXO, we are life long friends. We are the ones who knew us when we barely knew ourselves, the ones worth walking thousands of steps with throughout this life long journey. No matter the paths our steps take us in our daily life, we’ll always have thousands of steps to take together because next up…Tuscany!

NYC Cabaret

May 3, 2015

That’s Three for My Bucket List with a Little Color Thrown In

Filed under: Travel Bucket List — ruthz621 @ 12:33 pm
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Checking ID

Checking ID

This past weekend I traveled for the first time to Tennessee to participate in an author-signing event. When I told two of my close friends about my plans they asked if they could come along. Poof, my entourage was in place. Since I always wanted to take a steamboat ride much like the ones I’d read about in Mark Twain, we planned an excursion on the General Jackson Riverboat Cruise. Now with three heads (and drivers) being better than one, we’d also added my other bucket list entry, Graceland, to our itinerary.

Nashville was nothing short of stupendous. We walked up and down Lower Broadway strolling (it’s the south, things are slow and easy down there) in and out of Honky Tonks. My first thrill came when I was carded. Yes, I’ve been legal for three decades and haven’t been carded for the past two. Evidently, in Nashville, it’s the law. One I took great pleasure in abiding in. No cover charge, reasonably priced drinks (unless you’reIMG_7485 a beer drinker then they’re down right cheap!) and extremely talented musicians kept us entertained for hours on end. Not to mention the down home country cooking. Sure I’ve had ribs and fried chicken before but not the tasty, slow cooked, very tender, dripping with tantalizing spices and sauces kind. Oh and I’ve never had VooDoo Potatoes but I’m still hankering for another serving of the not quite mashed potatoes with glazed onions and Cajun seasonings sprinkled on top.

On our second night in Nashville we boarded the General Jackson or as the locals call it, The G Jack. It’s a beautiful steamboat that exudes both Southern charm and elegance. The large paddles dipped in and out of the water at a sweet rhythmic pace as the sunset over the Cumberland River.IMG_7340 In the distance Music City lit up. The riverboat ride featured a delicious buffet and a fabulous Country artists through the decades show. Everyone on board appeared to be both amazed and pleased with this experience of an era gone by. My only regret was that I didn’t book a three-day cruise. And, that when we were told it was a three-hour cruise, I kept thinking I’d bump into Gilligan and the Skipper.

The following morning we headed southwest to Memphis. On our way we took a slight detour to visit the home of Loretta Lynn. This coal miner’s Daughter now resides in a gorgeous setting that overlooks a working gristmill. We were told that, at 83, she still tours and often says “Howdy” to her fans. “She’s real down to earth,” one of her employees at the ranch told me. Her homestead has several shops, a camping ground and a Motorcross. We had high hopes of coming up close and personal with the little lady of Country Music fame, but soon discovered her tour bus was gone and that she was indeed off performing.

Once back on the country road that took us to the main highway, wIMG_7361e stopped in Loretta Lynn’s Kitchen. Though we didn’t eat I did discover some writing on the ladies room wall that summed up our trip so far, “Girls Road Trip, 2015.” When we pulled off the highway we’d all agreed that, “we’d never be doing this impromptu hokey stop with our husbands and kids.”

Less than three hours later, we arrived at Graceland where the King of Rock and Roll once resided. It was smaller than I thought but definitelIMG_7422y held the allure of Elvis riding around the grounds on a golf cart, playing at the piano or singing in the jungle room to his receiving guests. Seeing all of his gold records line the walls and his collection of cars from an era I grew up in had my hips swaying. There’s a reason he smiled a lot and said, “Thank you, thank you very much.” He enjoyed life and appreciated his fans. To this day fans from all over the world visit Graceland. Elvis was unique. He’ll forever be the one and only King of Rock and Roll.

That night we walked the five blocks from our hotel to the famous “Beale Street” home of the Blues. It’s a few blocks of bars and restaurants that feature fabulous food and very talented musicians. “You won’t get any country music here. You got to go to Nashville for that,” our waiter, who had been at the Blues Café for thirty-seven years, told us. The vibrant locals add character they readily share with others. What we did get to listen was “Rockabilly and Blues.” Our waiter’s Memphis twang and fun loving approach had us returning for some of what he called “BeKeith Memphisst Pecan Pie Ala Mode around.” He definitely added a special dimension to our visit to Beale Street.

On our final day in Memphis the front desk clerk confirmed that the famed Peabody Hotel hosted the duck parade daily at 11 a.m. Encouraged to take in more local tradition, we quickly made our way to the highly impressive historical hotel. IMG_7482

It is more than 100 years old and has been visited by every American President since that time. The aristocratic feel prompted us to sip Mimosas while waiting for the Duck Master. He arrived in an attire much like Willie Wonka and offered fun trivia about his highly coveted position. “Watch for the middle elevator,” he said before going to get the ducks on the penthouse floor. Yes, these

ducks are living the life of luxury, well taken care of and “never, ever is duck to be found on the menu.”

As the numbers on the middle elevator moved a hush came over the crowd lined up on either side of the red velvet rope with cameras in hand. Arriving like celebrities, they waddle their way down the red carpet to the center fountain. The exuberant ducks playfully wade in the water to the delight of their admirers.

My book signing was a success and going with good friends allowed me to savor every amazing moment we experienced.

Taking time away from family and the expense of travel can be difficult but bringing home a suitcase full of memories makes it truly worthwhile. I proudly wear my t-shirt,“Keep Calm and Elvis On.”

December 31, 2014

Bring Back Suzy Homemaker, Bye Bye Housewife

Filed under: Uncategorized — ruthz621 @ 3:18 am

Bring Back Suzy Homemaker, Bye-bye Housewife

By Ruth G. Zavitsanos

I grew up with the term Suzy Homemaker and in my admirable eye my mother held that title with great esteem and competence, much like her TV counterparts Donna Reed or June Cleaver. Every morning Mom poured coffee for her husband (my father) and gave him a peck on the cheek before he went off to work to bring home “the bacon”. I can still see my mother drying her hands on her apron after rinsing the dishes. I’d come home from school and she’d be working in the garden or taking the laundry off of the clothesline.

In our home, my mother made things happen and the words of a popular television commercial from the 60s rang true. “With Suzy Homemaker you can entertain, wash dishes, clean house, launder, iron, bake… and always look lovely.”

A typical day involved music playing in the background, perhaps greeting the Avon lady and readying herself for a shopping spree for that “always look lovely” appearance. There were phone conversations with other homemakers discussing the local news, latest fashions and swapping recipes all to continue the quest for improving their lifestyle. . They auspiciously navigated the many interruptions to their day i.e. forgotten instrument, gym suit or lunchbox, perhaps a call from the school nurse, or a last minute dinner guest brought home by their husband.

With the onset of the women’s movement in the 1970s, Suzy Homemaker was no longer hailed as a role model for young girls. Evidently, housewife replaced homemaker because as the word implies, it connotes marriage and is considered to be in contrast to a “career woman” according to Wikipedia. This baffles me because I know quite a few career women (of all ages) who are, indeed married.

According to today’s society and definitions, I’ve spent the past two decades as a “housewife.” Though, I admit, mostly men, rather than women use this term. Most women prefer, “Stay-at-home mom.” I’ve used the latter myself in my author bio. It’s a term directly referring to my choice of not working outside of the home. Now that my children are older, driving and with part-time jobs, the term has lost it’s value. I’m no longer chauffeuring kids, assisting with homework, volunteering at the school, etc. However, I’m still very much a “homemaker” and proud of it. I’ve taught my children the tasks that they’ll need whether they join the ‘workforce’ or eventually stay-at -home to raise their own children. Therefore, my job is useful regardless of the path they choose. How many positions in life can one say that applies to? Lets face it, one rarely hears the term Househusband, but as we all know, the stay-at-home Dad, definitely exists. And, many are doing a wonderful job of it while their wife is bringing home the money needed for Stevie Homemaker to properly manage the home.

I’ve never been one to get caught up in “labels” but I admit this one causes me to cringe. Housewife is a term that needs to be abolished. There’s no shame to the position but it’s like comparing the term “janitor” to “custodian” or “gopher” to “personal assistant”. A more dignified and glowing term can be taken from the era I grew up in, Homemaker.

thCleopatra a strong, intelligent and capable woman famously said to her troops, “Make it Happen.” Isn’t that what we women do all day long and tell our kids as they go off to school everyday? We make it happen; dinner, clean clothes, homework, growing gardens, financial stability, tidy homes, warm cookies, and ‘always look lovely’.

October 12, 2014

Best Buy Doesn’t Deliver

Filed under: Uncategorized — ruthz621 @ 2:12 pm

BEST BUY DOESN’T DELIVER

On Tuesday, September 23rd, I set out to buy a refrigerator. I went to four different appliance stores and eventually found the model I wanted for the price I was willing to spend at Best Buy.

A sales manager came out to assist with the big-ticket sale and told me if I opened a Best Buy charge card I’d get an additional 10% off. While I’m not one for credit cards I am one for savings. So, I opened the card to get the more than $100 off the final sale price.

Later I shared my shopping experience with my family. I told them that I’d gone to the others stores and ended up at Best Buy for what appeared to truly be the Best Buy. Delivery was scheduled for more than a week later, but once my new refrigerator arrived in my kitchen I knew I’d feel the wait was well worth it.

As I was told by the salesperson I received both an email followed by a phone call the night before telling me the time period of delivery, 8 a.m. to 12 Noon. I got up the following morning followed their instructions for removal of the old refrigerator and rearranged my work schedule to be home.

Hours went by and it was now past 12Noon. I called the delivery number on my receipt. They said someone would get back to me. I didn’t hear from anyone until past 4 p.m. At this time I was told my refrigerator didn’t make it on the truck and would not be delivered.

And, thus begins the saga of Best Buy Doesn’t Deliver.

They informed me that my next delivery date was for nearly a week away.

This time I’d been told my refrigerator would be delivered on Wednesday October 8th. I never received any confirmation the night before so I called the delivery number, and although I used the extension given to me I spoke with yet another representative. They checked into it and said it was on their list to be delivered and someone would get back to me with a time. The following morning I’d chased this delivery time down. Several phone calls and lots of time waiting on hold, I finally was given a call that confirmed a delivery time of between 3 and 7 p.m. When it didn’t arrive, once again, I knew I had to schedule another day to prepare and be home.

I was never given a reason for the ongoing delays. Yet, I was obligated to adjust my schedule with great difficulty.

It neared the 6 p.m. hour and I hadn’t received that “thirty minute away call”.

The delivery department said they’d get back to me. Keep in mind all of these calls that I’d been making in an effort to chase down a refrigerator (is it running goes the old joke, mine isn’t even plugged in!) were very time consuming. I often waited twenty to twenty-five minutes on hold just to speak to someone. I have a slew of names ranging from Samantha at the store to Ebony, Carla, Shannon, Greg and a few others that promised to get back to me and resolve the problem. I trusted them knowing this was their job. I’d been worn down because everything was going in a direction of no follow through and no results. Finally, I was told at 6:30 p.m. in a returned phone call that the truck broke down and the delivery had to be rescheduled.

Upset, frustrated, annoyed, disappointed, all of these feelings ran through me. I did my best to remain calm and hear what BEST BUY might do next.

“We want to offer you a $100 Best Buy gift card,” the upteenth customer respresentative said.
“If it comes with my refrigerator I’ll take it.” While I appreciated and definitely had no intentions of turning down the gift card, I still wanted my refrigerator.

“We can deliver it on Friday.” Once again I entrusted them to complete the job I’d paid Best Buy to get done.

Friday, October 12, 2014 arrived. I’d had my reservations about this third attempt at a delivery because I’d never received a phone call giving me a time. I did receive the email the night before so I knew the date had been confirmed. Still, my hopes of getting the refrigerator faltered when, once again, I had to chase it down. I made the initial phone call to speak with the store manager; the delivery department and nobody seemed to know where my refrigerator had gone. Several hours later another person from another warehouse called. He could only do what the others had done before him, schedule another phantom delivery date.

I finally realized that I was given a lot of empty promises and no results. Looking back it was a very difficult, upsetting and unjustifiable time for me. I kept believing that I’d get results. It never happened.

That same day, I went to the store where I purchased it. I met with the store manager to get my money back.

I’m not waiting on another Delivery. I always had to initiate communication that resulted in a lot of different responses. Sadly, in the end, Best Buy Doesn’t Deliver.

August 14, 2014

Motionless In Mud

Filed under: Uncategorized — ruthz621 @ 2:01 pm
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Motionless in Mud

I’m trying new things these days. Some are on my “bucket list.” These are the ones that make me feel giddy all over. For instance, my recent “bucket list” adventure involved touring a Napa Valley winery. It proved to be worthy of “bucket list” status. I learned a great deal about what makes a fine wine and what I personally enjoy in a glass of wine in the beautiful surroundings of what my husband refers to as “farming for millionaires.”

Just north of Napa my family and I stayed in a modest (I’m thinking that back in the late 60s early 70s it would’ve been first rate) resort that boasted natural hot springs filled with minerals. These springs enter above ground at a temperature of 160 degrees. Of course, the pool guy said they regulated it to be about 100 to 104 degrees. There’s something to be said about floating on a noodle and knowing that the temperature along with rejuvenating minerals is nature’s gift.

I’d been suffering from a bout of poison ivy since I arrived in Northern California. It seems to find me every July and is as annoying as a fly buzzing around dinner. Only there’s a quick fix for that fly-an open door or deadly swat. Personally, poison ivy persists for a solid two weeks no matter what I do. Applying anti-itch ointments and taking Benadryl offered little relief though I walked in a blanket of menthol and quite the daze. The chilly saltwater of the northern Pacific Ocean soothed (I was the only one in the ocean without a wetsuit on and it felt so good that I went back at dusk for a final “rinse”) but a week later and my itch still managed to spread. That’s when I decided to try something new that might just prove to be a cure, too. 

The resort offered “Mud Baths” and advertised specials for “couple mud baths.” I tried to entice my husband.

“Wait, we go in a tub of mud for how long?”

“Like 15 minutes.” I replied, glancing at the brochure.

“Not for me.”

I admit I wondered if it was for me after recently being grossed out by a hug he gave me at the completion of a Mudder Run. Then I recalled the mud pies I made as a kid. I’d grab an old tin and, after a heavy rain, fill it with thick mud adding swirls with my fingers. “Mom, I made a mud pie.”

“That’s nice,” she’d say and when I showed it to her up close, she quickly added, “take it outside before it gets all over the rug.”

Surely the memories alone would be worth it. Making mud swirls with no rugs to worry about.

I showed up for my appointment and was escorted to a room where I took off  (most) of my clothes and donned a robe and flip-flops.

“Please take off any jewelry,” the young assistant said.

I followed her to a back room.

“The temperature is 100 degrees. Go in slowly. I’ll check on you in a few minutes.”

She left and I looked at the sunken tub filled with black mud. On the wall was a fan, but it did nothing to take away the vile smell. I felt like I’d invaded a party of cows that had rolled in manure before returning to a musty barn. I decided to step in fast, sit down and lean back. Once I was two feet deep in mud (I know this because I measured one foot on top of the other) I covered myself with the mud up to my neck. I’d read that Cleopatra often took mud baths consisting of mud from the Dead Sea.

After a minute, I attempted to lift my leg and instead of being relaxed my mind took me to a dark place. In it, I was buried alive. I realized the cranking fan from above, nasty sewer like smell, and heavy hot mud made me feel like I’d been in a bad western and this was my punishment for not serving grub on time. I looked at the clock and told myself I could continue down a path of torturous thoughts or try to find the benefits in this therapeutic treatment for body and mind. I lifted my hand and started to make swirls. The mud was so hot and thick that they didn’t begin to look like the ones I’d made on those youthful mud pies.

A voice, “How are you doing,” came closer and the young assistant offered a cold glass of water. I sipped through the straw to the last drop. “I’ll be back to check on you,” she said and left. I looked around and realized why they advertised a discounted couples mud bath. Though it would be nice to talk to someone. I knew my husband would’ve been long gone. “I have a stagecoach to catch.”

The assistant returned. “You can shower off and get in the mineral bath.” I went in the tub filled with lavender induced bubbles, realizing the worst was over.

Back at the hotel room, I told my family it was one of those “First and last” times for a mud bath. Later, while my husband and I were in a store I shared more details on the mud bath. “I was getting claustrophobic and the smell was horrible. And the mud was thick, heavy and hot. 

A man about our age asked, “Did you do a mud bath?”

“Yes.”

“My wife and I did a couples one when we were here last time. No way would I do one again.” We all laughed.

That night I didn’t wake up to scratch or apply cream. And the following day, I discovered all the scratch marks and irritated skin had vanished or greatly diminished. Eureka! I’d found my poison ivy cure. Obviously there are benefits to a hot spring mud bath. Have you ever had a mud bath?IMG_2810

July 6, 2014

Ruth’s Writing World

Filed under: Uncategorized — ruthz621 @ 10:10 pm

I’m participating in the world wide blog hop. Special thanks to Agnes Alexander for inviting me to take part in this blog. Agnes is the author of 22 books written under Lynn Hall Hampton. She has written in both the Mystery and Western Historical Romance genres. Currently, she is working on several Contemporary manuscripts and has set a goal of writing a total of 26 Western Historical Romances. I”m currently reading Camilla’s Daughters and very much enjoying this “sweet” romance with a page-turning plot and strong well-developed characters.

Her website is http://www.agnesalexander.com.

I’ve been requested to introduce my “writing world” to all of you. At this time, I have three children’s chapter books, two Western Historical Romances and one sensuous novella all published by small independent presses. My children’s books are set in exotic locations and told through the dog’s point of view. They’re easy reader level but all ages enjoy these heartwarming stories. I had no intention of being a children’s writer but after my family and I stayed at a Villa in Lucca, Italy I was inspired to write THE VILLA DOG. I’m pleased to say “Sole’s” story received five star reviews and was a third grade book club read in several area schools. Children, parents and teachers all asked if there would be any other “dog books”. That inspired me to write THE OLD FORTRESS DOG. The story takes place on the Greek Island of Corfu, where my family and I visit relatives every other summer. In 2010 my family and I went to Maui and YES…I was inspired to write THE KONA DOG. I’m pleased to say all three books have received great acclaim.

Prior to writing my children’s chapter books, I had written a story that took place in the early 1870s. I’d been a fan of Laura Ingall Wilder’s books, Little House On the Prairie and Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, therefore I found the time period enjoyable to write. In 2010 FLIGHT OF LITTLE DOVE was released through Whiskey Creek Press and received great reviews. I then wrote the story of two women the readers came to know in FLIGHT and that became my second novel, SISTERS INN also released by WCP. My novella, SAFE ENCOUNTER is a workplace romance with a strong and driven heroine. This story and my children’s books were published by Wild Child Publishing.

When did I start writing? Back when I was twelve-years-old I had a babysitting job that often went past midnight. Back in those pre-cable and pre-computer days, there was nothing to watch on TV but a yule log and that really did nothing to keep me up. I soon discovered that the woman I babysat for belonged to the “Book of theMonth Club. Two of my favorites, THE THORN BIRDS and ROOTS, made me look forward to Saturday nights and babysitting far more than the meager hourly rate. However, there were times when I pulled out my favorite book, a green spiral notebook. I wrote all of my stories in it. These stories ranged from tragedies to romances and mysteries. I still have the notebook as a reminder of that girl who loved to write more than anything else. In fact, though college bound people have a difficult time knowing just what they want to do in life, I knew I wanted a journalism degree. After acquiring my degree I worked off and on for various newspapers as my husband and I moved several times for his career to advance. After both my daughters were born I stayed home to raise them. Once they got on the school bus I went back to my writing.

Currently, I’m writing a memoir about the 12 times I have been to Corfu over the past 30 years. It’s MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING with a Slice of MOONSTRUCK meets EAT, PRAY, LOVE. I’m hoping to get an agent soon for both my memoir and a contemporary romance, EMBERS WILL GLOW, the story of two lovers destine to reunite and the woman who brings them together again.

Finally, for those who wonder why I keep writing, that’s an easy question to answer. I keep writing because it gives voice to my characters and allows their story to be told. And, if I’m writing about something I’ve learned or want to share, I feel (and hope) that I’ve added something to one’s day. All of my stories have happy endings.

For more on me and my books, please feel free to visit my website at http://www.ruthzonline.com.

June 24, 2014

Five years later remembering Pop Icon Michael Jackson

Filed under: Uncategorized — ruthz621 @ 1:00 pm

Michael Jackson Took the World to a New Musical Plateau
by Ruth G. Zavitsanos
Known as the King of Pop, Michael Jackson took the world to a new musical plateau. His new album, released just weeks ago, reminds us that his music, both new and old, is here to stay. It’s timeless.
I’d been vacationing on the Greek Island of Corfu when I’d first learned of his death. On our return from Glyfada Beach on this day, June 25th, we’d all decided on gyros for a late afternoon snack. Pulling off the highway and down the side street in Gouvia, the appetizing aroma of the seasoned lamb basting over a vertical spit wafted through our open windows and tantalized our taste buds. A small gyro luncheonette with no more than three tables crammed inside made the best Gyros ever at the best price ever. Ted pulled curbside (or rather taking on the trait of his Greek counterparts, he parked mostly on the curb) while I jumped out and ran inside.
A Michael Jackson tune played in the background while I ordered the Gyros. This was followed by another melody of the Prince of Rock and Roll coming from the small television hanging in the far corner. I looked up and surmised that the Greek news reporter had said something about the Pop Icon. I asked the counter man what happened as I paid. He said something in Greek and somberly open palmed his hand across the air.
“Michael Jackson died?” I asked, stunned by the news. Could he be more than 50? I looked up at the TV and read the dates. No, his lifeline revealed he’d died at 50. Finishing off the commentary, his song “Man in the Mirror” played leaving me paralyzed until the haunting tune ended. My heart fell and I realized hearing the news in Corfu added something to his passing. Certainly, I’d never forget where or when I had heard this mega performer had died.
I thought back to the first date I’d had with my husband, Ted. My brother had obtained a pair of tickets for the 1984 Michael Jackson and Jackson Five BAD reunion Tour and had offered them to me since he’d be out of town on business. I had met Ted days earlier and sought my older sister’s advice. “Should I invite my friend Terri to the Jackson 5 reunion concert or this cute guy I just met?” She said, “Ask Ted.” And, so I did.
He met me at Grand Central Station and we walked to Madison Square Garden on that balmy August night. We sat next to a few guys our age and one offered me his binoculars. Ted took hold of my hand and never let it go. Later, he told me the guy with the binoculars had been hitting on me. I still don’t see it. I think he was being nice. And, seeing Michael Jackson up close through his binoculars didn’t warrant anything more from me than a Thank You.
We had a blast. Michael Jackson and his brothers did all of the old hits that we’d grown up with bringing me back to my junior high school days of Tiger Beat and posters of teen idols. My locker sported an 8×10 glossy of dreamy eyed David Cassidy, wearing a blue collared shirt, a puka shell necklace and his famous shag hairstyle. To my left, my classmate had a picture of Donny Osmond and his big white toothy smile. To my right, another classmate had a picture of Michael Jackson with his afro, ebony eyes and sweet smile. We’d joke about who had a crush on the better-looking teen idol. And, we’d all agreed, Michael had the best moves and was the most fun to watch.
With gyros in hand, I jumped in the car and shared the news about Michael Jackson with my family. Ted immediately said, “That was our first date. The Michael Jackson reunion tour with his brothers.” I smiled and the girls bit into their gyros dripping with tzatziki. They were far more engrossed with their snack than the news I’d shared, despite my reminder that he’d attained international celebrity status.
That evening, I stopped in to borrow some olive oil from my cousin, and the news focused on everything on Michael Jackson with his songs playing in the background and his face plastered in the corner of the screen. My cousin explained the newscaster’s remarks to me. His passing had been the headline story all over the world.
A few evenings later we walked down that branched off street in Gouvia that had lengthened to the highway, offering a few more parking spots. It had sprouted gift shops, restaurants, a few hotels and Wi-Fi lounges. I stopped at the bar that advertised “Elvis, here tonight.” I peeked in and spotted, wearing one of the jumpsuits he’d made famous in the 70s, a Greek Elvis impersonator with mike in hand, his voice shaking more than his hips. He sang “Only Fools Rush In,” his words strained through a thick Greek accent. I snapped a picture, thoroughly flabbergasted by the Elvis sighting on Corfu.
Continuing down the street Greek Elvis’ voice followed and I must admit the upbeat renditions had me singing along, “Just wanna be yourrrr teddy bear.” Of course, my teenage daughters thought I’d stepped off planet Mars. “Mom, you’re so weird.” Nope, Mom’s just a fan of Elvis, the King of Rock n Roll!”
And so, I’d left Corfu after that visit feeling the loss of two musical icons. One, who had just perished with great debate, and the other who continued to live on through idol makers refusing to let go. Both will always have a playlist reserved on my iPod and I’m thrilled to have known their music and enjoyed their performances. I wish I could say I saw Elvis live in concert. Hubba, hubba. Does it count that when I was eleven he’d performed live from Hawaii, telecast straight into our den?(Yes, in January of 1973 these television rooms off the beaten path were known as dens.)
Both Elvis and Michael Jackson had so much talent, style and passion that, all over the world, their music will be forever cherished. Of course, in doing so, we’ll inspire a motley crew of impersonators.

March 5, 2014

Traces of Love

Filed under: Uncategorized — ruthz621 @ 1:17 am
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Everywhere I turned were traces of love from memories that had been tucked away in my mind. Now they were flourishing upon arriving in New York City. Like the windows on the skyscrapers found there, I have a clear view of these times spent while walking around this city’s streets.

Many shows from Man of La Mancha and Little Foxes to Jersey Boys and Kinky Boots

Many shows from Man of La Mancha and Little Foxes to Jersey Boys and Kinky Boots

For birthdays and other celebrations, growing up in a nearby suburb of NYC, my family and I often took in popular Broadway shows, famous food establishments, exciting sights, and stylish shopping adventures.

Winter skaters at the Plaza

Winter skaters at the Plaza

My mother and I would stroll along 5th Avenue, sometimes with our Easter bonnets, other times our winter coats or blazers. We always discussed our impressions of the store windows. As a young girl, I found myself thinking “Rhoda” would appear and give us the real “lowdown” on what we were looking at in the display. I’m sure “Rhoda” would’ve liked this one.

This one is a real eye catcher don't you think?

This one is a real eye catcher don’t you think?

Often we’d share one of the enormous sandwiches at Carnegie Deli and then go to Lindy’s for a slice of authentic New York cheesecake. On a chilly night, my father usually bought a bag of hot roasted chestnuts from a street vendor, a satisfying treat while walking back to the parking garage. When I worked in NYC and was on a budget nothing beat Ray’s pizza.

Can you say KNISH, Blintzes and Reuben with a side of deli pickles.

Can you say KNISH, Blintzes and Reuben with a side of Deli Pickles.

DSC06333

Still famous

Still famous

Carriage rides or a walk through Central Park adds a feeling of serenity after navigating through city streets with screaming sirens and honking taxi drivers.Central Park

Some people say it’s a dirty city. I look around and find visions of elegance.The Plaza Hotel
elegance clock
elegancenyc

Perhaps one of the best things I captured with my camera is more than just a clock, but time standing still. Or, sights that take me back in time. And, some are new. How can this be? Tell me what you see.

Currently on Broadway!

Currently on Broadway!

I found this in Penn Station. They work, too!

I found this in Penn Station. They work, too!

Looks like the 80s to me!

Looks like the 80s to me!


Classic Stage Door

Classic Stage Door

I hope you enjoyed this photo journal. I’m fortunate to still get that invigorating and warm feeling every time I emerge from Penn Station via a stress-free Amtrak ride. Lastly, I know I’m guided to all of these wonderful sights and every person I come in contact with brings me a story to consider. Mostly, I smile. And, it’s definitely easy to spread a smile. It may not last long in fast-paced NYC but it is appreciated. This last time the frigid temps made it hard to smile. But, when I told the street vendor as I paid for my scarf and hat, “It’s too cold to bargain. I hope you sellout of everything.” His runny nose, watery eyes and grateful nod said it all.DSC06278

St. Patrick's Cathedral

October 29, 2013

Skipping A Dog’s Year

Filed under: Uncategorized — ruthz621 @ 12:14 pm

 

 

 

Some people choose to skip Christmas, or perhaps are forced to skip vacation. I’m determined to skip my dog’s upcoming birthday. She doesn’t have any idea of why people keep a calendar or schedule anything beyond getting nails trimmed and hair styled. I make no bones about celebrating birthdays in such a big way Pebbles doesn’t need to look at a calendar to know it’s going to be a non-stop tail-wagging day.

 

 

Why then am I seeking to skip my sweet and kind Border Collie/Black Lab’s birthday this year? Certainly, I did not lose the silly hat I put on Pebbles’ head leaving her with an expression of “Must I really be photographed with this absurd hat!” Nor am I opposed to buying a dog-tailored birthday cookie for her to lick her chops over. In truth, I am skipping her birthday because she is entering the double digits. It saddens me to think she has a lifespan that I wish could triple or perhaps even quadruple.  Instead, given her large mixed breed, approaching ten is not something I want to celebrate because it means she only has a few years left. For that reason, I’d like her to be nine again for many years to come. 

 

 

Should I really deny her the birthday cookie treat and the silly hat along with making her feel as though she is the only one that matters in the house because it’s her special day?  To say she is aging well is easy. To say I am the one with a heavy heart knowing she is aging is not easy.

 

 

Recalling past birthdays, I’m confident that Pebbles will wear the silly hat, eat her store bought doggie birthday cookie and take in a day full of praise with such enthusiasm the puppy in her will come out. Tail wagging, wet kisses and hugs galore will keep her young and lighten my heart.

 

How do you handle your aging pets?Image

 

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