Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ads, time (or lack of), cooking, eating, and other consumer stuff

This rant is about useless products or ones that are too expensive.  

So how difficult is it, really, to make mashed potatoes? Peel some potatoes, drop into water to rinse, cut up, put in pot, cover with water, let come to a boil, decrease heat, let cook till tender, drain, mash, add milk/cream/whatever, butter, salt, pepper, mash some more. Serve. Whew, that exhausted me!

No, not really. But you would think that this is an onerous task, if you watch the ad for frozen peeled and cut potatoes. All you have to do is put them in the microwave, take out, mash, and add.... (repeat the above). And how much do those peeled and cut up potatoes cost in relation to those in a 10 or 20 pound bag of potatoes from the store?  Actually fresh potatoes.

Then there's grated cheese -- how much more (double or even triple) does it cost to buy a bag of ready-grated cheese!?   Most homes have a grater.  Buy the damn chunk of cheese and grate it yourself!  Save money for another chunk of different cheese.  Cheese is expensive, even in blocks or chunks.  Price the grated stuff (and who knows when it was processed!).

Another example of more money than brains. Same with so many other food items ready-made for us because we are so "busy"! 

With the many problems of e-coli and pink slime in ground meat, who would still consider buying it from a supermarket?!  I'm happy to go to my favourite butcher, who grinds the beef right in front of you.  The other products are also fresh and good.

Now about those "fragrant homes" - do our houses really stink? Have our homes always stunk?  All those smelly, oops - sorry, "fragrant" things to spray into the air -- what are we breathing in?  Not enough asthma and other respiratory ailments out there without taking in who-knows-what into our lungs?  What about the babies and children in the house?   Another creation of a perceived problem where there isn't one.  Hey, home cooking and baking smells are great.  A bowl of potpourri is fine.  Or one of those infusers for the bathroom -- through a stem or wood -- no need to plug in (a fire hazard) or spray.  Imagine, the house stinks so much you need to have it automatically sprayed every time someone walks by!  How about nothing? Just a normal house smell. 

Enough for now.  Will rant about other consumer issues later.  There, now I feel better.   ;-}

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


My good friend Marvin Marykuca wrote this after his whole clan traveled with me to Ukraine on the occasion of his and Elsie's families celebrating their Centenary of settlement in Canada.  What a group of wonderful people, what a trip!  Truly memorable.  And they were all still speaking to each other at the end of the tour!  ;-}      My thanks to Marvin for permission to use this here.

Ukraine: Return to the Source                                    by Marvin Marykuca

Our intent to visit Ukraine germinated while Elsie and I were still living in the Northwest Territories.  During our long association with the Ukrainian community in Yellowknife we were often asked whether we had ever visited Ukraine.  Our response was always, “Not yet!” This gave our northern friends and acquaintances, only some of whom were of Ukrainian extraction, the sense that we would indeed make such a visit one day.  When at long last we decided to go, twenty-four relatives…, friends and acquaintances elected to join us.  This was particularly special for us as we knew closely almost everyone on the tour with us.  It gave us a marvellous opportunity to share a great experience with a group of wonderful people, friends and relatives alike.   The entire experience was further enhanced by the fact that Orysia Tracz, a dear friend of some 35 years’ standing and a veteran traveler to Ukraine, was our tour leader and guide.  In fact it is her expression   -- “Return to the Source” -- that we have borrowed as a title for this article.  The tour was absolutely chockful of highlights of every sort, -- the restaurants, the shopping, the cultural experiences, the churches, the museums, the entertainment, the views and the vistas --- selected by Orysia leave us fully satisfied that we could hardly have squeezed more activities and adventure into our trip.  Her constant good humour and tireless efforts to maximize everyone’s enjoyment of the experience was exceeded only by her dead-sure knowledge of exactly where we would find another good, cold Ukrainian beer, an absolute must in the high heat of a Ukrainian August…..    

(read more)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

For those of you thinking about traveling to Ukraine with me, here are some "testimonials" (she said modestly....).   I am so blessed that now I have friends all over the world!

From Anna in Australia (toured in 2006):

"…Greetings from our family.  It is now a year since we joined with your group to visit Ukraine.  It was a most memorable trip, we still have many stories to share. So thank you very much for the opportunity of being part of your tour group…. You are a great wealth of knowledge. This made your tour so different and enjoyable.  And, you have so much energy. "
From Norma in Vancouver (toured in 2007):  

"It was an amazing pilgrimage and one I will never forget. Thank you again for the wealth of information with which you provided us all."

From Nancy in Yellowknife (toured in 2007):

"…It was a super tour & you helped to make it that way.  You have such a knowledge of the country. "

From Roman in Winnipeg (2010)
“I have to let you know that our trip  with you was unforgettable.  You are a patient, understanding , and a marvellous guide.  My wife and I are most pleased that we went.  I'll never forget our venture into the Karpaty.  Priceless memories… “

Sunday, March 18, 2012


A sign-post in the Carpathian Mountains... only 12500 km to Buenos Aires from Yaremche!  Kyiv is 345 km away!  
My apologies to Paul Roelofs -- this is his photo!  I forgot to credit him.
The tour is set -- details here. Please join me on a delightful, most enjoyable tour of Ukraine this fall. We have such a great time, and the serendipity is unbelievable. If you're a family or a bunch of friends, why not go together for a memorable time? We'll arrange to visit your ancestral villages -- where great-baba and dido came from. And if you have no family there, we'll find some for ya! Do contact Martha Banias at The Great Canadian Travel Company (isn't that a great name?)?

And you don't have to be Ukrainian, or speak Ukrainian. We've had folks from Japan and Australia, and all across North America. You're so well taken care of.

Please join us!  Details here

Saturday, March 17, 2012

John Demjaniuk has passed away.  Vichna Yomu Pam'iat'. 

To some, he is a "Nazi war criminal."  To others, a victim of vengeance without evidence.  

Enough that he could not have been a "Nazi" because he was not an "Aryan" -- he was a subhuman, a Ukrainian, and they were considered Untermenschen by the Nazis.  Look into the shameful totally dishonest "investigations" of the US OSI (see review below) and how they captured "war criminals."

I find it beyond chutzpah that Germany would be the country prosecuting WWII war criminals!  Other than German, because they have been exempt from these laws?  Remember the Soviet trumped up evidence against Ukrainians, so thoroughly obvious.

Shame on all involved in these prosecutions.  During WWII, Ukraine fought both the Nazis and the Soviets, and had no one aiding them at all.  Ukrainians had the most human losses during the war.  During that time, there was not even a Ukr. government -- the Nazis considered Ukraine an economic colony -- everything from Ukraine was being removed west to Germany -- people, resources, even the black soil.

Hey, there are still people to catch -- I'm a child of forced labourers -- am I next?  What about the teenagers captured and taken to Germany to work?  See Marsha Skrypuch's book Making Bombs for Hitler

I should not be giving them ideas but, hey, there are still all those who were Displaced Persons in Germany and Austria after the war, the DPs who refused to go back to Uncle Joe Stalin's "paradise."  The Soviets were our allies, weren't they?  So the DPs and their kids and grandkids are next on the lists?   Same logic.

see these sources:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Author Marsha Skrypuch is amazing. 

Marsha has covered so many brave topics in her books for young people -- history in Canada, Ukraine, Armenia, Vietnam, and many issues that need to be discussed.   Her books are great for adults and make perfect gifts for young people.

Pawlina Demchuk MacQuarrie of Nash Holos Ukrainian Roots Radio interviewed Marsha about her latest book here.

Her most recent titles are The Last Airlift and Making Bombs for Hitler.   Just check her web site to read about her award-winning books.

For St. Patrick's Day (written when the original Irish Tenors were still together):


As I watched and listened to the "Irish Tenors" singing during the Prairie Public Television membership drive this week, with each song I felt a closer kinship to them and the Irish. A long time ago I heard someone say that the Ukrainians are the Irish of the East, and the Irish are the Ukrainians of the West. Much in our histories is common: a fierce love of land, independent spirit, invasion and subjugation, intense struggles for freedom over the centuries, genocides by famine, emigration, exile, foreigners settling the land, invaders' attempts to systematically destroy the language, history and culture, loss of ethnic lands, and ultimate independence. Both our people have that ancient folk heritage, and we all sing, dance, cry, fight and love.

The three Irish Tenors are not as famous, nor as operatically gifted, as "The Three Tenors" (Pavarotti, Domingo and Carerras). The latter are professionals, who live and breathe by their enormously wonderful voices. They sing whatever is on the operatic or concert program, in whatever language, although nothing melts your heart more than Pavarotti singing his Neapolitan songs - you can see on his face that these come from his Italian soul. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Shandi Mitchell's Book Wins Kobzar Literary Award

I am so very very happy for Shandi Mitchell, who won the Kobzar Literary Award yesterday!

She writes beautifully and movingly.  Please be sure to get her book Under This Unbroken Sky.  I had the pleasure and honour of meeting her in Winnipeg during her book tour.  

More information about Shandi and her book here, and award here
and on the CBC website here.