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Friday, 18 July 2014

Cousin MARIA from Ukraine . . . Too soon

      Mom wrote thousands of letters during her lifetime.  (Long-distance telephone calls were only used for emergencies.)  She wrote to her brothers and sisters, friends, her children when they had left home, and even distant relatives in Ukraine
            Divided by thousands of miles, wars, the Iron Curtain, and many, many years, the Leschyshyns, like so many other immigrants, could have lost touch with their family in the Old Country.  That they didn’t was due, at first, only to Mom’s father, John.

            John was a well-educated man who knew 4 languages.  He taught Mom how to read and write in Ukrainian.  

            Communication between relatives in Ukraine and Mom’s family depended, at first, only on John, but, when he passed away, our link was maintained through Mom’s letters.

            In the 1990’s, Maria Kalin, one of the cousins with whom Mary corresponded, came to visit the family in Canada.

            Mom was overjoyed.

In a letter to me, dated September 7, 1990, Mom wrote: 

I thought I would write even I don’t have much to say.
I thank girls for a nice sweater and you & Bryan for a lovely picture.  Thanks very much.

On Tues Matt took Marie & me to town so she bought a nice blue dress and 10 yards of white cloth for Ukrainian blouses so she started to do Nellies on Tues she got the front done I gave her the embroidery thread and canvas.  On Wed we took Lee Nicholas and me to Mirons to Roblin. 

Katie gave me ice cream pail of home grown apples, 8 head cabbage and some onion.

I cooked the apples for pies to freeze but cooked on high to long that become mush I froze it and wondering how to use as its no good for apple sauce as it has everything in it for pie I will figure out how to use it today I shredded the cabbage for sourkraut

Today I washed 3 loads of wash.  And kraut before 11 oclock as I got up at 5 oclock.  I could not sleep so took advantage and worked

The men will be finished this week combining in this area.  They finished Matts barley and went on Lornes.  They should be in Solsgirth tomorrow

Diana brought books for you but perhaps you didn’t know.  They be till you come some times and you didn’t look at magazines. 

I started to knit again today but perhaps I will knit two pairs of slipperets the rest is short pieces so I will crochet it all in round rug.  As they don’t make that yarn any more.

We been lucky not having frost till now every body have cucumbers Marie said that cucumbers don’t grow as the acid rain kills them.
I had lot of fun with her she a jolly girl.

I tried to read the paper this morning but it was hard I guess I was to tired.

May sunshine guide you all the way Love Mother

I was very sad to hear this week that Maria passed away on July 14.  In my mind’s eye, she is wearing a pale pink blouse and smiling up at the windows of the tour bus.  When I step out, she will give me a hug and a kiss to welcome me to Ukraine.

May sunshine guide you and your family all the way, Maria.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

CREAMED SPINACH à la Julia Child

This lovely cookbook sat, never used, on my shelf for some time, but I finally prepared a Czech dinner yesterday. 

Chicken with Mushrooms (Kure dušené na houbach)
Potato Cakes (Bramborové placky z varenych brambor)
Spring Salad (Jarni michany salat)
Creamed Spinach

The book suggested serving spinach with the Potato Cakes but did not offer a recipe so, for that, I went to my MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH COOKING  by Julia Child.

The whole meal was delicious but, when we went out walking today, the recipe Diana said she really wanted was the Creamed Spinach.  So here it is:

Julia Child’s CREAMED SPINACH . . . more or less
500 g frozen spinach
1 ½ tbsp. butter
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
Small pinch of nutmeg
1 ½ tbsp. flour
1 cup half & half cream

1.    Chop spinach while it is still partially frozen.
2.   When it is completely defrosted, squeeze out the liquid.
3.   Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium low heat.
4.   Reduce heat to minimum.  Stir in the spinach, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Cover and cook for 2 minutes.
5.   Stir in flour and cook for 2 more minutes.  Keep stirring.
6.   Remove from heat and stir in the cream a bit at a time.
7.   Return to the element but turn off the heat.  Cover and leave to sit for at least 20 minutes.
8.   Reheat gently before serving.  Stir all the time as it could stick and burn.


July 4, 1964

The ceremony was in the United Church in Russell and afterwards there was a tea.  Even Karen can’t remember whether it was in the church basement or upstairs at the Legion Hall.

When asked whether he knew: “I wasn’t there,” quipped Donald.

Sadly, my only memories of that day centre on how Diana and I hated the bridesmaids’ dresses I made for us.  After studying the Eaton’s and Simpson’s catalogs, we chose peach chiffon and this awful pattern that didn’t fit right at the neck.  And I had no time for alterations – in fact, I was hemming Diana’s dress just hours before the wedding . . . and caught some of the chiffon in one of the hem stitches – that’s why the fabric is puckered.  (Interesting word.)


The Surrey Stadnyks were going to be visiting Donald and Karen at the beginning of July, but then Donald had to have an operation on the ankle that was caught years ago in the power take-off on his tractor.

 “I don’t know how you’ve walked on it all these years,” remarked the surgeon.


It would have been a bad time to travel anyway, what with all the flooding on the Prairies from rain and run-off.  Helen said it’s been really strange this year seeing flooding where there are no rivers or lakes. 

A state of emergency was declared in Hamiota where Nan and Madison live. 

David had all his crops seeded and has lost 50 acres.

Friday, 11 July 2014


 Coming back from our daily walk to McDonald’s, Bryan and I regularly stop at a greengrocery to pick up vegetables for the day.  While I go inside, Bryan and Vesper wait outside and enjoy lots of positive attention.  
Today, however, an older woman muttered, “Why don’t people leave their dogs at home?”

“Excuse me,” I said, surprising her, I guess.  “Do you have something you want to say?”

“No, I was talking to myself,” she responded, but then recovered her true self.  “But people should keep their dogs at home on a hot day.”

“They need exercise,” I said.

“Yes, but now it’s sitting outside in the heat.”

“It’s in the shade,” I pointed out.

 “It didn’t walk in the shade,” she retorted.

Hey, how do you argue with that?


Thursday, 3 July 2014



Message from Donna a while backGood to hear from you but enough with the food stuff . . . and more about you and Bryan.

Donna always makes me laugh.
I saved one of Donna’s emails from a few years back about a fabulous trip that she and Jack took.  No time wasted on food in it J

Just got back.  Left Zimbabwe at 10 am on Saturday and got home at 7 pm....went right to bed.  It was the most amazing trip from London England thru to Zimbabwe.  Did a wine tour of Stellenbosch and tasted Pinotage for the first time....and really really liked it! Our first Game Drive at Sabi Sands we saw the Big Five....up close and personal.  Were treated like kings for four days.  Had our own outdoor pool, outdoor shower and huge soaking tube that they filled every evening we came back from the late drive...with marvelous sherry poured and candles lit.  The last day a huge bull elephant came to visit while we were soaking in the pool.
Cape Town is a most beautiful city and Cape Hope is almost spiritual.  Saw the whales from our balcony in Hermanus and Zip Lined in the Tsitsikamma Mountains outside of Plettenberg.  Danced with school kids in Namibia and with the Zulus in Botswana.  Got chased by hippos on the Chobe River and did a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River....  This was an adventure and an education!


I have no doubt that  Donna, is going to have fun today.  It’s her birthday and everyone around her is going to have fun, too!

Reply from Donna:

Had a great day, spent with precious friends.  Cannot remember where this pic was taken but it was a long time ago.  Your blog takes me back to a dream trip of S Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia, yesterday I settled for the Elmvale Zoo.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014




                                are out cruising.

Lisa has just shared this picture of a Squat Lobster  and asked if anyone would be interested in Lobster Bisque.


Funny thing is, Marilyn, about the same time, sent me this email:

 I was thinking of Anastasia this morning as I read a food blog. Just one cookbook!  This American is in Japan and her kids are fishing for crawfish as apparently they are kept as pets there. As kids we used to play with these things as we chases them in  the Wilson River.  They always moved backwards and hid under rocks. I remember Anastasia coming to visit us on the farm. It must have been when Baba & Guido were still living.   To our horror, she collected a pail full and cooked them. I don't think anyone ate them. Maybe my Dad did as he was most adventurous.  Now I wish I had tried them. I remember her talking about them being eaten in Sweden for some festival. Now I wish I had tried. Another cousin picked the clams. Now that is another story.


Dad once collected a pail of crayfish, too, and boiled them.  They turned bright red but nobody knew how to eat them.  We just looked at them. 
I’ve eaten some now, though, in the southern States.  I’d like to say they were great, but, honestly, they didn’t make a big impression on me.

Lisa’s Lobster Bisque, however – now, THAT would be something!