An Appreciation of the Ukrainian Suitcase

Sunshine and I had a conversation about this. “Food is love.” This took place in the car, where Sunshine carried a lap full of steaming hot Indian food: fresh rice and sabji, home made yoghurt with chick pea flour dumplings, chutneys and a generous portion of  kir. We were on our way to a traditional Ukrainian Christmas Eve meal when this conversation took place. It was a multi faith kind of event, given the participants were Catholic, Buddhist, Hindu and Buddhist/Christian sympathetic. A very congenial group and I honestly think this is the way to world peace. Sit us all down and make us eat together!

Mother and son. Elaine and Grant preparing the pyrogi, cabbage rolls, piroshki, crepes, hand picked morels in cream and the traditional starter of wheat cooked with honey and poppy seed, as gratitude for the harvest. Elaine began the meal with a blessing sung in Ukrainian. We completed the meal in the time honoured way of loosening our belts and moaning about how much we ate.

The next day, the tofu turkey was ditched in favour of Sunshine’s mom’s dishes, very nice for me as I was up for cooking that day. Again with the loosening of the belt loops.

Boxing day was an interesting combination of both Indian and Ukrainian with some greek spanakopita thrown in for good measure. Finished with little cheesecakes. A very successful meeting of cultures.

Sunshine and I have been sisters for almost four years. If we hadn’t had the chance to meet we would have missed all this! We are very lucky to know one another and by extension all the people we bring into each other’s lives. Not bad at all to think about as the new year looms.

Sunshine’s theme this Christmas has been all sorts of cooking. She is planning to get some of her recipes and successes written about so watch this space!

Gratitude for a Quiet Year

This is the Buddha that graces my altar. I love the simplicity and the quiet that radiate from this small statue.


This is the time of year that prompts a bit of reflection. I tried to come up with the “highlights for 2011” and struggled with coming up with something that wasn’t trite, or simply a travelogue of our road trips. What kept coming up was gratitude for a year, that arbitrary space of time, that was just fine. A couple of colleagues have just lost family and we are sympathetic. So far, so good for us this year. Some people are really struggling with health. So far, so good for us this year. We had some opportunities for life to be difficult this year, but have been incredibly lucky that these weren’t borne out. So far, so good.

The Christmas season has a lot of oomph attached to it, and we are no different. I tend to miss my Dad this time of year. It is not like we lived close to one another, but every once in a while I realize I won’t be able to tell him the latest bear story, (we have lots of those) or I remember how his illness progressed so quickly. It takes an effort to remember to be still and focus on what matters, especially when work is stressful, obligations rear their heads and the details stack up.

The walks in the neighbourhood are rejuvenating and clear the head. There were woodpeckers in the same tree again today, I think they have a nest somewhere, this little family because I see them there a lot. Either that or the bugs are particularly good in the thicket of aspen and willow just beside our complex.



It’s darkening and will do so for a bit more, and then the turnaround. I wonder what the winter will do this year. (This shot is from an epic snow fall three years ago. Our driveway in the snow. We are headed down the road to the golf course to do a bit of city-skiing. Not bad.)

How Can You Tell You Are on the West Coast?

We had a great weekend out in Whistler, snowshoeing in some of the prettiest conditions you can find. The sun was out, it was crisp but not too cold, and we had the trail completely to ourselves.

We stopped for a bagel and cheese out in the wilderness. We sat, just the two of us, munching happily and watching the drips of melt off the trees, warming our backs in the sun and heard this peculiar noise. Was it coyotes? Didn’t seem right. Wolves? Highly unlikely. It sounded kind of …human, but kind of odd that. OK, some things are just hard to explain.  Off we went, trudging along in our snowshoes, around a ridge and along to a bridge. An oddly named bridge we thought but hey. Then it became very clear. The name of the bridge was quite literal. Around the turn we went, and there it was, Bungee Jump Bridge. Doing a pretty good business I would say. The howling of ???. Yes, indeed, people do sound pretty funny as they leap off into the air. The picture is from a wee bit away so it may be hard to see the person as they bob along at the end of the line. Reviews are mixed about whether we would like to give this a try.

The West Coast of Canada is kind of an interesting place. (And thank you to the friends who organized the weekend. We  wouldn’t have done this without them, and it was really generous of them to sort it out, make it so easy and so enjoyable.)

The shawl is a recent completed project, made up of three different hand spun yarns I did up. It is large, falls into the category of a warm shawl for sure. Not sure where it will end up yet, but these things always find a good home.