Book Birthday

It’s been a year since I had the thrill of spotting Tainted Amber on some of my favourite bookstore shelves, like McNally Robinson's here in Winnipeg or out in the Interlake where my mom and dad once had a cottage. I feel a special connection to the area, not least of all because the Baltic and Lake Winnipeg share similar winds, waves and shores. I’m grateful for the book's positive reception and to share that Ronsdale Press has now also made it available as an e-book. That makes it a great option for travellers, international readers, or those who've downsized and lack shelves. 
Tergerson's in Gimli, Manitoba

While talking about my books, I’m also excited to share the first review for my upcoming November release of Crow Stone, the follow-up to Tainted Amber. Thank you to Barbara Nickel, author of the heart-wrenching novel inspired by family memories, Dear Peter, Dear Ulla, set in the former city of Danzig at the outbreak of the Second World War. 

Nickel writes,  
“Packed with vivid detail, Crow Stone gives an unflinching view into the horrors and unbearable loss of the Second World War and its aftermath. A story of resilience and survival, told from the unique perspective of Katya who speaks the language of both German victim and Russian oppressor, this little-known piece of history resonates with indelible images.”

November 15, 2022

Making history come alive is such a passion for me and I know many people share this passion.  I’ll soon be able to release details of an upcoming panel discussion where a group of historical fiction authors will share their passion with a lively discussion. Stay tuned.

Can you imagine a world without books? E-books, hardcovers, or even ancient scrolls? Plus, we have so many ways now to access reading material. Online, of course, … but we also have community-minded bookstores, public libraries, quaint second-hand stores and those Little Free Libraries that line many suburban streets like fire hydrants. 

So many books, so many stories, so many lives to explore. Reading is almost like traveling (it’ll never replace the real thing) but without the expense, the line-ups, the politics or the dangers. Reading makes travel more interesting and travel leads to more reading. What a great circle to get caught up in. 

Happy Reading to all! 

Blue and Yellow Paradise

I've been working on edits for Crow Stone during July and my outside world has shrunk down to mostly just dog walks. But during those walks, the dog and I try to appreciate the little things of life.

Walking past a radiant canola field today—the big blue prairie sky stretched endless above, puffy cumulus clouds scattered haphazardly for contrast—made me feel happy—happy and grateful. The rain that was missing during last year’s drought, has been plentiful this year, and the canola fields are bursting with yellow blossoms. 

So far, we’ve been fortunate to avoid the extreme heat that blisters much of earth this summer. It’s quite idyllic here in Manitoba. 

What are a few pesky mosquitoes when you consider the dangers of global warming, a continuing pandemic and an insane war? My afternoon dog-walk felt like a stroll through a blue and yellow paradise.

Blue and yellow.  The colours of Ukraine’s flag, symbolizing their blue sky and their yellow fields. Now their blue sky is filled with angry clouds of smoke and their yellow fields are tangled up with fighting. 

As if our world didn’t have enough problems. 

Borscht News

The other day, a friend gave me a jar of pickled beets and it brought back memories of my childhood family dinners. Pickled beets were ubiquitous (alternated with pickled watermelon and pumpkin) during my growing-up years. 

As a child, I was never fond of pickled beets. I considered their juice to be like blood that would take over my plate and contaminate my white potatoes. Were you also the kid who liked to keep their food items separate and compartmentalized? 

When visiting Ukraine, I was surprised to find versions of beet decorating every restaurant dish— even breakfast —with fancy swirls. (Like we often find our entrée plates adorned with a slice of orange or twig of parsley.)

Nowadays, I prefer my beets roasted, not pickled. But my favourite way to eat beets is in soup. Borsch or borscht has many variations and I love to prepare it in a big pot, then freeze it and it always makes me feel secure knowing I have a batch of borscht in my freezer. 

I’m not sure why I should be surprised to find borscht involved in the current war in Ukraine. Of course, that stupid war is affecting everything else, so why not the common borscht? UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization) protects not only historical and cultural artifacts, along with fragile natural eco-systems, it’s also protecting borscht. 

Ukraine is, after all, the birth home of the famous soup and therefore it’s now on UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding alongside Ukraine’s Cossack songs. 

Next time I make a pot of borscht, that most satisfying of soups, I will think of Ukraine’s soul—now fighting for its right to just be itself. Ukraine and Borscht. You can't have one without the other. 

On Growing

My word for 2022 has been 'growing'. So here's my semi-annual review on how I'm incorporating growing into my year. 

I nurture straggly, old geraniums for dead people 

And for the almost-dead.

As if keeping their plants alive 

somehow keeps their spent lives alive.

Meanwhile, my daughter nurtures young seedlings, 

Shooting up towards the light, 

eager and hungry 

like her newest romance.

My plants hold on to the past, 

Hers spurt new leaves for tomorrow.

Growing old and growing up

Always growing towards the light. 

Happy 155th Birthday, Canada!

I didn’t get to choose, I was born here—in Canada—and I will forever be grateful to my parents who did choose to come to Canada. 

Mom, homeless after the war, considered Canada a miracle country until the day she died. Dad, bitter about his mis-spent youth under the Nazis, embraced the open-minded Canadian attitude . . . along with the open-sky of the Manitoba prairies. 

This is a country that welcomes diversity, offers opportunities for newcomers, tries to acknowledge and reconcile with its past errors. True, we’re far from perfect—we’ll never be—but hell, we’re trying. We’re a big country and we’re big-dreamers. Cold and warm and trying to be friends with everyone while still looking out for ourselves. It’s not impossible. 

When I volunteer with new immigrants—my way of giving back to the country that accepted my family—I’m reminded again and again of the things it’s so easy to take for granted—like freedom to speak what's on our minds.

Opportunity is real. Law, order and respect are accepted parameters that we strive to maintain. My current and former EAL students from Iran, China, South Korea and Ukraine have chosen Canada as their new home, just like my parents did sixty years ago. 

We’re all immigrants, all intruders, all foreigners in this First Nations’ land. It’s a beautiful, spacious country to raise a family and grow old. Thank you for sharing it with us, First Nations’ people. As immigrants, we’re grateful and we’re trying. Forgive us for our Putin-like invasion, for trying to crush you and thank you, thank you, thank you for your patience.

Happy Birthday, Canada.  Here's some music to celebrate. One from William Prince, hailing from the Pequis First Nation here in Manitoba. The poignant wisdom of this song always bring tears to my eyes. 

And one by Jonny Hill that my dad, who owned only two cassettes, loved to play in his old Mercury.  The joy and pride expressed in this song of Dad's chosen country also brings tears to my eyes.

Happy Day to all! 

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