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One “Frosty” Morning

I woke up this morning feeling all stuffed up in my head. My sinuses are blocked and I have a dreadful headache. I can’t stop sneezing!  Yes, you’ve guessed it…I have a head cold.

Not sure how I acquired it. Perhaps it was the lady that I met on the bus two days ago. She sounded congested and constantly took a tissue out and wiped her nose.  Perhaps it was our postal worker who handed me the mail yesterday. Well, I don’t really know who; but what I do know for sure, is that it wasn’t Betty Frost who gave me this cold.

Who is Betty Frost?  Let me explain.

As you are aware, I grew up on the Canadian prairies.  The prairies are a beautiful place really. Weather wise however you must know that the prairies alternate between dry sunny days and quite cold nights, and in Winter, the prairie provinces sometimes have fierce temperatures as low as -30C.  The first snowfall is often in the month of October.

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Growing up on the prairies I often heard…

“Bundle up now and keep warm.  Мороз is outside and you don’t want to catch a cold.”

“Don’t go out without a toque on, it’s мороз outside and you will catch cold.”

“Don’t go out with wet hair. It will get all frosty and you will catch a cold.”

Sound familiar to some of you?  Yes, when growing up,  I was frequently stopped from going outside because I could catch a cold from the cold weather. My mom used to say that the мороз would get me. Мороз is Ukrainian for frost.

Now we know as a fact that no one catches colds from being outside.  The cold temperatures of the prairie winters did not give a person a cold.  Colds are transmitted from person to person, not the cold winds of winter. But old wives tales were very prevalent back then.  Come to think about it, they still are in many ways.

On my first day of school in Grade One, I met a fellow classmate named Betty Мороз.  When I first heard the teacher call roll call and ask if Betty Мороз was present, I nearly ran out of the room.  Oh no, I was doomed.  How could I escape catching a cold if the мороз was in this classroom?  I was so happy to know that her desk wasn’t connected to mine. I was in row 2 and She was in the row 5. Whew. At recess I never went near her. If she was on the swings, I wasn’t. I couldn’t understand why the other kids played with her.

That first day of school after class was dismissed at 4:00pm, I raced home and told mom that I would probably be sick now forever and wouldn’t ever be able to go to school again.  But why my mom asked?  Did you already learn to print your name?  Could you already read a book?  No, I replied. It’s because of Betty Мороз.

My mom laughed and said that I’d be just fine and I should be her friend.  She never explained but I did as she told me.

I became friends with Betty and I still am!

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Ukrainian Beet Leaf Holubsti #2

It is the season for fresh beet leaves from our gardens.  I have just added another recipe for fresh Beet Leaf Rolls and Holubsti, Ukrainian style.

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Beet Leaf Holubsti #2  is similar to my other recipes Ukrainian Beet Rolls and  Ukrainian Beet Leaf Holubtsi.

I am providing a recipe that will produce softer buns and the rising time is shorter.

So if your mouth is watering as you read these recipes or you are feeling nostalgic for tasty days gone by….check out the Beet Leaf recipes on my pages Traditional Ukrainian recipes.

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Beet Leaf Holubsti, without sauce

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A Mother Needs a Day to Rest!

As I was driving to attend the Mother’s Day mass at my Ukrainian church this morning, I listened to a talk show about how Mother’s Day originated.

Anna Jarvis, an American, had wanted to honour her own mother and has been credited as its founder.  At her mother’s graveside in 1905, Anna was overheard saying that “all mothers need a day of rest”.  She believed that mothers were “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world”. (Engaging Families 2015 Special Editions-Mother’s Day)

The first official Mother’s Day was celebrated in 1908.

As I drove along I continued to listen…

Over the years, Anna Jarvis had become resentful that the holiday had become commercialized.  She believed that many companies had started exploiting the idea of Mother’s Day.   She had intended the holiday to be a sentimental time to express love and gratitude, not a for-profit day.

During the mass this morning, I found my mind wandering a bit (sorry, Father) and thought more about what I had heard on the car radio.  It really was so; Mother’s Day has become very commercialized.   There are massive sales of greeting cards and there are all sorts of advertisements about where to buy the best flowers, boxes of delicious chocolates or even diamonds and other jewellery for mom.  Not what Anna Jarvis intended I’m sure.

As the choir today sang Ava Maria, I got all choked up and my memories flooded back to 1963.   It is a memory of a special time I spent with my mom on that particular Mother’s Day.

We were in our village church.  It was hot and stuffy inside, but cold and windy outside of the church.  The smoke from the censer was making my eyes burn and the priest’s words droned on, and were almost putting me to sleep.

“When is it over, mom?” I asked anxiously

“Sh, soon. Here. “,  she said.

Mom handed me a soda cracker.  I happily accepted it because it was perfect for me to break into smaller pieces and eat slowly.  It wasn’t noisy to munch on and somehow, the time just seemed to pass so much more quickly.  I recall looking up at my mom and she looked back down at me and gave me her knowing smile.  I smiled back.

My mom was so wonderful, so kind and as I beamed back at her, some of the cracker crumbs fell out of my mouth onto the floor.  Oh, no! I looked around hoping that no one saw.  I was horrified that Father was going to find out that it was me who had dirtied the church floor.  Tears stung my eyes.  My mom calmly took out a kleenex and wiped my eyes.

At the end of mass, Father blessed and handed out carnations to all of the mothers.  My mom winked at me and gave me the carnation to carry home.  No one ever said anything about the crumbs.

 

Did you know that a carnation is very much like a mother’s love?

 A carnation does not drop its petals, but hugs them to its heart as it dies.  So, too, mothers hug their children to their hearts, their mother love never-dying. — Anna Jarvis

 

 

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Seasons of change

We had some unusual weather these past few months with our snowfall and unseasonable temperatures. Lots of television and Internet news stories focused on the heavy snowfalls and icy conditions.  There have been lots of complaints about our weather this year.

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In my opinion, I think we need to toughen up and take it in stride.  If the snow and cold temperatures are going to stick around for a few weeks, especially in British Columbia, we need to change our behaviours.  We need to dress appropriately in parkas, toques, mittens and wear boots on our feet.   See an older post of my cold winter days First Snow and skiing !

Believe it or not, I saw a woman walking in open-toed sandals across a parking lot when we had over 10cm of fresh snow on the ground.  She certainly is not justified to complain about the cold and wet if she isn’t  prepared.  When living anywhere in Canada, we should expect four seasons and be as prepared for it as much as possible.  Maybe we all need to toughen up a bit.

Ha, listen to me.  I don’t like the cold temperatures either.  But I grew up on the Prairies.  I had my fair share of cold winter days and I dressed for them.  It is what you get used to it and you have to adapt.  Yes, you have to change.

I love the snow as I have said many times in past blog posts. However I also love to see the change to the season that follows Winter.  It is almost Spring!

I looked out of my window this morning and saw the new buds on the rose bushes.  The tulips and daffodils are popping out everywhere as well.

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It’s a wonderful time for renewal and new life to spring out!

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And speaking of new life…I’m so happy to let you know that renewal has happened in our family as well. We welcome Kaden into the world.

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My nephew and his partner have added to their family and we are all so very happy for them.  What better way to add to the seasons of change!

Come to think of it…I better get shopping and send the new little one some warm Winter clothes!  After all, Spring is still three weeks away.

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“Manitoba at Christmas”

Greetings to all this Christmas!

I would like to share some exciting news with all of you.

Recently I was contacted by email by Wayne Chan.  This “unknown to me” person asked if I would be interested in contributing a recipe of mine to an anthology that he was putting together.  At first, I was thrilled and thought “Wow, that’s nice.  Someone had checked out my blog and was interested in adding it to his own book?”   I was feeling quite honoured.

Then I became leery.  Who was this person? Was he a legitimate writer?  Was I going to have to send him money and then get scammed?  Ha, I know…sounds silly doesn’t it?  Maybe it’s a generational thing!

Anyway, after finding out that Wayne Chan really was a writer residing in Winnipeg (my apologies to you, Wayne), I decided to trust him and gave him permission to not only reprint my Ukrainian Christmas Eve Holubtsi recipe but also to include one of my earlier Christmas posts “Oh Christmas Tree“.  Check out pages 141 and 179.

In case you are wondering, I preferred to stay fairly anonymous for this anthology and on this blog.  I use a pen name and only my family and close friends know the “real” me.  I am probably way too paranoid, but that’s just me.

I now have no doubts that this request was legitimate because I received my printed copy of “Manitoba at Christmas – Holiday Memories in the Keystone Province”  edited by Wayne Chan,  in the mail.  I am truly honoured.

As I peruse the book I see that he has gathered nearly 400 years of holiday stories and memories of how Christmas was celebrated by Manitobans, past and present.  The book is presently for sale and is available from Wayne Chan and is also being sold at McNally Robinson Booksellers (1120 Grant Avenue, Winnipeg, MB Canada R3M 2A6;   Toll Free 1-800-561-1833).

So, if you are still looking for a unique gift….please consider Manitoba At Christmas!

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The Banquet

Luke 14:16-24

Luke 14:16-24

I was in church on Sunday and listened intently to the Reading according to Luke (14:16-24).  I listened and sat quietly until I caught my mind wandering back to a time when I was quite little and attending Summer Catechism.

Before I tell you what nearly happened, let me familiarize you with this reading.  I’ve summed it here.  I apologize for the poor paraphrasing.

Jesus told this parable about a man who was giving a great feast and he sent his servant to invite his guests.  Unfortunately they all had other things to do and made excuses of why they could not come. One said he had bought a field; another had purchased a pair of oxen; and yet another had gotten married. When the servant told the master these excuses, the master was angry and told his servant to invite everyone that he could find who was poor, hungry and destitute.

It is a great parable and obviously one that made an impact on me when I was very young.  But it wasn’t just the words that I remembered – it was the song that the Catechism teachers (the Sisters of our parish) had taught us.  It goes a little like this…and I’m sure you will pick up the tune quite quickly.

“I can not come.

I cannot come to the banquet, don’t bother me now.

I have married a wife, I have bought me a cow.

I have fields and commitments that cost a pretty sum.

Pray hold me excused I cannot come.”

In church however, as I said earlier, my mind wandered and I actually caught myself smiling and was very close to humming and singing the song.

You see I recall not only learning this song and singing it, but I also remember hearing how the “older” boys (the 13 and 14 year olds) sang it.  They switched the words around to say “I have bought me a wife, I have married a cow”.  Yes, I can just see the eye rolls.  Hilarious for a bunch of immature kids!  However, not so for an adult sitting in a pew in church last Sunday morning.

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Canadian Thanksgiving 2016

The turkey is cooking in the oven.  img_3646

The pumpkin pies have been baked.

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The potatoes, carrots and yes, even the brussel sprouts have been washed, peeled and sliced – all ready to be cooked for dinner tonight.  Although it’s not our official day for Thanksgiving, many families including my own, enjoy a traditional turkey dinner on Sunday.  It’s just seems to be a bit easier on the cook to be able to just relax and eat left-overs on the Monday before going back to work.

Ah, yes, going back to work.  I am retired now but I remember it well.  As the sun just started to rise in the sky, I would wake up every day to the blaring sound of an alarm clock.  I would stumble my way out of bed and step under the hot spray of my morning shower, dry my hair, and hurry downstairs to brew a pot of coffee.  When the family was all awake, we would have a good breakfast before heading out the door.

From the time that our boys were school age, they learned to make their own lunches.  I’d ensure that they had healthy choices to choose from.  My youngest was easiest to accommodate because he always wanted peanut butter and jam sandwiches.  But My Man and oldest son always wanted “meat”.  It didn’t matter what kind, just as long as it was meat.  Hmm, come to think of it, that’s what I recall my mom always packing up for my dad in his metal lunch box.

I remember one frosty winter morning in particular when I was about five years old.  As I wandered into the kitchen in my pyjamas and my bare feet, I saw that it was still dark outside.  I could feel the cold drafts of air seeping in through the windows and my toes were freezing on the cold linoleum floor.  Mom and dad were sitting at the kitchen table, drinking hot coffee and eating their breakfast.  It was still so dark outside and I could not understand why my dad was going out so early.

I remember feeling sorry for my dad but he seemed happy to be going off to work.  I asked him why? He smiled at me and said “I’m lucky to have a job to go to and besides that, I’ve got a great lunch waiting for me later!”

He picked up his lunch box and opened it.  And today, right now, if I close my eyes….I can not only see inside my dad’s lunch box, but I can smell it too.  I can smell “baloney”* meat spread with yellow mustard in-between two slices of fresh homemade bread, all wrapped in wax paper.

Tears just welled up in my eyes and I’m not sure why this memory makes me feel so sad today.  Maybe I’m just being nostalgic on this Thanksgiving day.  Because I am older, I realize how hard my parents worked to take care of us.  I have these fond memories of growing up and I am very thankful for my parents.  It is amazing about the power of a smell.

And right now, I can smell our turkey roasting in the oven, and I hope that one day, my own sons’ will recall the smell of a roasting turkey and remember.

I consider myself truly blessed.  I am thankful for My Man, my two sons and all of my extended family and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

*Bologna!  (If you are from the prairies, did you or do you still call it baloney?  Yes, that’s how we said it back then).

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