Tag Archive | Growing up Ukrainian

Tap, tap, tap…

Hammering with Dad

I wish I could record the tapping that is happening outside.  No! It’s not a woodpecker.  It’s a carpenter sitting on top of our neighbour’s storage shed. He is putting up shingles and if you have ever heard the sound of a hammer, you’d understand.

He is not using a nail gun.  No, it’s just a hammer.  You are now wondering why I’m writing about such a boring topic.  If you have been following my blog for a while you will understand that something as simple as this tapping can bring on a flood of memories for me!  On this Father’s Day, this time is no exception.

Listening to the tapping outside takes me back to many years ago when I was only 4 years old and my dad was a carpenter.  Whenever my dad had a day off from work, he would often work outside in our old barn.  We didn’t have any cows or horses in this barn.  It was converted into a workshop for him.

I used to love being with him.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, dad often made me things like homemade swings in the old Maple tree and “saw-horse” ponies.  He enjoyed having me around!

This one particular day however, I recall it was just the opposite.  I remember having my own little hammer and was banging nails into a piece of old wood while dad worked away on his woodworking project.  He tapped and tapped. And, I tapped and tapped.  He’d tap once.  I’d tap once.  He would tap two times, and I would imitate his tap. This was lots of fun for me.  He continued nailing and tapping away.  I too tapped away.  He’d look at me and smile.  I’d smile back.  Oh, did my dad ever have a lot of patience with me !

But, after about twenty minutes of this, my dad stopped hammering.

“Okay, that’s enough”,  he said to me.

I didn’t really understand until he took me by the hand and walked me back to the house.

He opened the door and said to my mom, “Keep her in. I can’t concentrate when she taps along with me.”

Looking back, I am surprised that my dad even let me near him when he was trying to concentrate on his wood projects.

I prefer a quiet work place with no interruptions whenever I work on a project. I don’t get too upset whenever I am interrupted.  And, my friends tell me that I am a patient person.  Perhaps Dad passed this trait down to me?  I like to think so.

On this Father’s Day, I fondly remember my dad and I thank him for teaching me about patience.

I heard a saying recently…God gave everyone patience but unfortunately, only a few people use it!

Happy Father’s Day to all !

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Happy Easter 2018

It has been a busy Holy Week and we celebrate Easter this weekend with our family and friends.  I took the Easter basket of special foods to church today to be blessed and our family will be sharing it for our breakfast.

In addition to the traditional foods, I included eight of my newly written pysanky. Why so many?  Well, I like to give away my pysanky and I will not give them to anyone until I have taken them to church to be blessed.

For many years now, I have been trying to improve my pysanky writing skills.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I started writing pysanky with my mom at the age of two.  I was asked last week if I have made the pysanky every year.  To this I had to say no.  Like many of you I started out learning the Ukrainian traditions at home when young.  But as a teenager, it really wasn’t so cool to “be Ukrainian” so I stopped writing them with my mom.  And as the years went by, my career took over much of my time and unfortunately I didn’t make any for a number of years.  But this all changed when I became a parent myself.

When my children were old enough to hold a crayon, I knew that they could also hold a kistka.  It was time to teach them to learn about the traditional art of pysanky.  We started out hand-over-hand and as you can see, they didn’t do too bad at all.  Yes, I’m a proud mom and yes, I have saved all of my children’s eggs.  I’ve included a couple of them in this post.  Also don’t forget to check out my Pysanky photos on my Home page.

 

 

Happy Easter everyone!

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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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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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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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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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BC Blueberry Picking Time!

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It’s July and it’s time to get out there and pick some fresh farm produce.  I love to go to the local farms and pick my own fruit off the plants.

When growing up on the Prairies, my family and I used to go North of my small village and pick whichever berries were in season.  These fruits were not cultivated and cared for by berry producers.  No, the berries that we picked were growing wild.

The wild strawberries were the first of the season, and then raspberries, choke cherries and then blueberries.

Oh now that I think about it, picking these berries was not something I truly loved to do.  No, picking Manitoba berries was hard.

You see, all of these berries except for the choke cherries grew only one or two inches off the ground.   I recall the blueberries being tasty but very, very small as well.

We had to squat or kneel right down on the dirt to pick them.  And of course, there were mosquitoes to contend with and at times, even small garter snakes slithering by us.  Oh, okay so these aren’t my happiest memories!

Come to think about this, I will stay here and stand while picking blueberries at the local farms.

Check out my Blueberry Crisp recipe under Not So Traditional Foods.

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