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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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‘Twas the morning of garbage day…

‘Twas the morning of garbage day

and outside our street,

I woke to a noise

My dreams now complete!

 

I sprang out of  bed;

My brain now a-humming.

My Man lifted his head

I yelled…

“The trucks they are coming!”

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But wait, I forgot….no Christmas gifts did I buy.

So I threw on some clothes,

I needed to try.

 

I drove like a bat,

I had no time to spare;

I knew that the trucks

Would soon be right there.

 

To Walmart I drove

Searched the aisles for a treat;

Something delicious

That these great guys would eat.

 

When into my cul-de-sac the guys did appear;

I ran out of my house

with nothing to fear.

 

They smiled when they saw me

and gave me a hug,

“Your kindness really counts”

As the cans they did lug.

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So be kind to your garbage guys

and clean up your yard;

It’s not a labour of love

But they work very hard!

 

 

 

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When it snows, it snows…

photo-10We have had a blast of snow in British Columbia this past week.  In our community, temperatures plunged down to minus 10 Celsius, causing us to shiver and look for our Winter sweaters, boots, mittens and scarves.  Snow fell for several days and stayed on the ground.  Some communities had between 10 to 20 centimetres.  Although not that cold compared to many other parts of Canada and the world, it’s unusual for us out here on the West Coast.

If you had to go outside, you didn’t like this weather one little bit.  Many of the roads were slick and slippery. The sidewalks were blanketed and in some cases, impassable for pedestrians as they slogged their way through knee-deep piles.

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Frozen pond – fish swimming under the ice

Some of us however loved the snowfall.  I am not afraid to admit that I love snow.  It is winter in Canada after all and snow is a part of winter.  I guess it’s also a part of me.

As you are aware, I grew up on the prairies.  Winter came roaring in every year and we accepted it.  We dressed for it.  We played outside in it for hours.  As I wrote in earlier blog posts, we created “mountains” to ski down and spent hours tobogganing and playing soccer on the frozen fields.  As children we would challenge each other to see who could catch the most snowflakes on our mittens and count their points before they all melted way.  Our “Frosty the Snowmen” people would be built to last until the Spring thaw.

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Aw, such a sad sight

There’s just something magical about watching snowflakes fall and fill the crisp air.  They swirl around, reach out to each other before they join and land softly on the ground.  If you have witnessed these big fluffy snowflakes falling out of the sky on a crisp winter day, then you will understand what I am saying.  It’s peaceful.  You will see beyond the cold.  You will see the beauty of glistening snow on the trees, grass and even rooftops of houses.  The sun may peek out from behind the storm clouds and these snowflakes will sparkle and shine right before your eyes.

Some areas of Canada will still be digging out for a while yet.  But alas, that is not for us out here on the West Coast.  Today we are back to our seasonal temperatures.   Warmer temperatures and rainfall have melted most of our lovely snow.  It would be nice if it had stayed long enough for us to have had a white Christmas.

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Not much snow left!

I wonder what the forecast is for this coming Christmas weekend?  It’s only a few days away.  Maybe,  just maybe…….

Thank you for continuing to follow me on my blog.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

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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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Another Summer, another CNUF!

 

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When I was working out of my home, I dreaded the beginning of August because it meant that work would be starting up in just a few weeks.  So long to relaxing at home, having late night Summer barbecues and just lazing around the house.  No, August meant it was time to do everything in and around the home during the Summer that never got looked at during the busy school year.

Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival has always been a highlight in the Summer.  My Man and I had so much fun at last year’s 50th celebration.  So much to see and so much to do.

Villagers from the Selo

Villagers from the Selo

Ukrainian Old Timers band from Winnipeg

Ukrainian Old Timers band from Winnipeg

CNUF Riding & Dancing Cossacks

CNUF Riding & Dancing Cossacks

However, this year, the 51st, was just not the same.  Not sure why.  Perhaps it was the fact that there was a fire in the Mall and the festival office was destroyed last year. Lots of great displays and priceless artifacts are gone.  Is that why they had so many competitions?  Perhaps it was the lack of participants in these events like the pysanky and kolach demonstrations.  Perhaps it had something to do with the organising committees.  Lots of new faces.

Now I’m not knocking the fact that everyone tried their best and many people worked very hard at this festival.  There was something missing however.  I’m actually quite concerned that there are not enough “old timers” involved in steering the direction that the festival now seems to be taking.

Now don’t get me wrong either.  Encouraging a younger executive and board members to get involved is good if you want to keep this half century old festival going.  New blood is needed as some would say.  However, there appears that not enough people involved really understand what it was like to come to Canada so many years ago and start-up a new life.

I do hope that the Board of Directors and the City realise that pioneers and their stories of their struggles are needed at the festival to keep the spirit of the Ukrainian culture at the centre.  People travelled many miles and had to work together to clear the land, build homes and support one another through some very harsh times.  Working together and team work was essential back then.  It’s needed now for the festival as well.

Pioneer barn

I wish the people of Dauphin and especially the CNUF organization all the best because I want to be able to attend the 75th CNUF celebration.

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Spinsters!

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It is 33 years since My Man and I married!  We often comment to one another that it seems like only a few years ago that we met.  I still see My Man as a strapping young 30-year-old.  And it’s only when I stand in front of my mirror that I see that I’m not the “young thing” that he married!  Wait a minute! Young thing?  Not according to what our marriage license said.

Let me take you back to 1983.  It was a beautiful Spring morning and My Man and I went down to the local Notary to obtain our marriage license.  It was a pretty easy step.  All we needed was our identification and birth certificates.  All was pretty straight forward.  My Man was referred to as “bachelor”.  But to our surprise but mostly to my surprise was the term that was used to describe me….a “spinster”. Yes. There it was in print.  I was described as a “spinster”.

The Concise Oxford Dictionary describes a spinster as “Unmarried (especially elderly in popular use) woman” .

When I was growing up, anyone who was a spinster was well…really old.  You know like over the age of 30.  But I wasn’t anywhere near that age!  My Man and I had a good laugh over that one.

I wonder if any of that wording of spinsters and bachelors has changed over the years.  The word marriage has taken on a whole different meaning.

Now a days marriage between a man and woman is becoming a rare thing.  Many younger couples have partnerships.  There are many non-traditional arrangements and same-sex marriages.  Times have certainly changed.  Come to think of it…I think I rather prefer the old ways.  I can probably even get used to that word…spinster!

Happy Anniversary My Man!

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Spring Time Thoughts

It’s Easter weekend and I would normally write about my childhood memories as they relate to the upcoming Easter events.  However when I woke this morning, I was feeling rather melancholy.  Not too sure why but it must have to do with Easter.

Pysanky play an important part in traditional Ukrainian Easter customs.

You see yesterday I was on Skype with my family back East.  Everyone in my brother’s family was writing Ukrainian Easter eggs (Pysanky).  Now writing and colouring eggs is a very happy time and a tradition that I highly encourage everyone to participate in.  It was great to see my nieces, nephews and their partners busy heating up their kistkas, melting the beeswax and drawing on their eggs.  Great care and so much concentration was evident as their designs evolved on the eggs.  Not every egg was of a traditional Ukrainian design either.  Oh no, there were puppies and even Minions drawn on the delicate eggshells.  It was wonderful to see.

When I was growing up it was an expectation that everyone in the family set aside a couple of nights prior to Easter Sunday and make a Pysanka.  Even the child as young as two was given an opportunity to hold a kistka over a candle and then draw on an egg.   After the drawings (mostly scribbles), the eggs were immersed in the colourful dyes.  The little ones took great delight in watching the colours come to life as the wax melted away.  It wasn’t the greatest design but it was a start.

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This was a special time when family members could be together.  It was a time to pass down traditions and tell stories of the “good old days”.  I recall when families gathered around the kitchen table or beside the wood stove and had face-to-face conversations.  One person I know called it “fire talking”.  Not sure where those stories went to.  Not sure where the time has gone to.

I am making an assumption that technology today has a lot to do with the “togetherness” time.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not complaining about Facebook, Twitter or email.  I am just saying that it is the “table talk” that seems to be missing in many, many families.

So this Easter weekend, may you find a way to share time with those who are very important to you.  As I get older, I realize more and more that time is the one thing that quickly zips by in our life’s journey.

Spend time with those you love.  Maybe go to church and share in the blessing of the Easter paska.  Enjoy the paska on Easter morning and share in some family time.  Maybe you would like to decorate a Pysanky or two and pass on a tradition.   Or maybe, just sit down at your kitchen table and talk.

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Христос воскрес !  Happy Easter everyone !

 

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