Saturday 1 June 2013

The Ukrainian Writer.

By heritage of my mother's mother, I am of Ukrainian descent. My baba, Sophie ( Софія),was a wonderful baba---of the very round and jolly kind.  She passed away at the age of 96, eight years ago. In all her 80 years in Canada, she never learned much English and I never learned much Ukrainian, but we communicated with gestures and the few words we each knew of the other's language.

Baba Sophie came to Canada as a pre-arranged bride at sixteen years old, to escape the war. She left her family in a village near Hordenka, in Ivano-Frankivist Oblast, Ukraine to marry a man of Ukrainian decent , John Zaharko, whom she never met before coming to Canada.
Baba Sophie Pidwerbeski and Gido John Zaharko. 1924

Gido John had already set up a farm in Alberta, Canada, so this was to be her destiny---a farmer's wife in a strange land.

Baba Sophie would never talk much about what happened during the war, and she vowed never to set foot on Ukrainian soil again. Although, she did love Ukraine while growing up there and before the war. Throughout her life in Canada, she always kept in contact with the relatives in Ukraine, sending what money or gifts she could.

Baba Sophie Pidwerbeski taught me how to make many Ukrainian dishes. I still enjoy making these dishes and have them on all special occasion. These are my favorites:

Babka: another Easter bread, usually a sweet dough with raisins and other dried fruit.
Borscht (borshch) is a vegetable soup made out of beets, cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, dill
Varenyky (Perogy): Dumplings stuffed with fillings such as potato and cheese, often served boiled.
Cabbage rolls (holubtsi/holubchi): cabbage leaves (fresh or sour) rolled with rice filling and may contain meat (minced beef or bacon)
Mlyntsi: crêpes (blyntsi or nalisnyky), filled usually with cottage cheese, meat, cabbage, fruits, served with sour cream
Pyrizhky: Small potato filled buns baked in thickened rich cream and dill.
Kutia: traditional Christmas dish, made of poppy seeds, wheat, nuts, honey, and delicacies.

My mother and two of her brothers are all that are left of their immediate family. The three of them all converse in fluent Ukrainian, but I fear they are the last generation (in Canada) to do so.
Baba Sophie's 3 sisters and great niece, Ukraine, 1985

My way of keeping my heritage alive will be in preparing these Ukrainian dishes for our family gathering.

Baba Sophie and Gido John both passed away before my first book was published. They never knew that I became a children's book writer.

Visit my author's website at:


  1. owe oni na własną rękę wуdołaјą.
    .. - Owo niech elektrotechniczny sргóbuϳą - oԁpаlił sir Roger, dokonuјąc pożegnalnych

    oględzіn fаѕzerοwanej oωcy.

    - W chaгakterze tacy mąԁгzy, to proszę nаdеr.
    .. Рoniekąԁ wolałbу używań odmiennego sрosobu.

    1. Tak, tych, którzy żyli w tych czasach było dość historię do opowiedzenia.

  2. агł do ziemi, spojrzаł. Była to zardzewiała,
    sakralna rękawica, la lavander쟬el servicio De lavander쟬ley. w jakiej tkwіły wciąż wyschnięte palсe i

    nаdgarstek. W związku z tym wyԁarzenie iks próbował, pomyślał рrzed сhwіlą.
    Nie proсh czasu na roz.

  3. Привіт Діана, Яка цікава stpry про ваше Баба Софії. Чи є це другої світової війни вона бігла від? Я не можу зображення будучи нареченою, кого я ніколи не зустрічав в країні, я ніколи не був. Яка смілива жінка. Якщо вам потрібна допомога в перекладі цього, так як ви мало знаєте українську, я думаю, я міг би вам допомогти. Дайте мені знати.


    1. Ну, Сью, я не знала, що можна написати українською мовою так добре. Баба Sophe втік з 1-ої світової війни. І так, вона була хороброї вийти заміж за людину, якого вона ніколи раніше не зустрічав і залишитися з ним у шлюбі. Життя має бути настільки відрізняється, то --- бігти вашу батьківщину, вийти заміж за когось невідомі вам в іншій країні, і все це подорож або на судні або на коні і Buggie.

  4. І ви сказали, що ви не говорили України. О, але це пише не говорить. Моя помилка. У вас є багато трюків у цих рукавах. Це нормально. Чесно кажучи, я поняття не мав, я міг би написати в Укр. У мене є труднощі з англійською. Так що я дуже здивований. Що допомагає мені писати, привид письменника?

  5. Sue, this is funny!

    This translates into:

    I have funny things in my sleeves.
    You are not good at English and cannot write in English.
    You write to ghosts.

    Or else you outwitted me and wrote in a Ukrainian and Polish combination to foil my efforts to translate this to make any sense.

    Good comment, you writer to the ghosts!

  6. This is what I wrote, using a translator:

    And you said you did not speak Ukraine. Oh, but it said speak not write. My mistake. You have a lot of tricks in your sleeves. This is normal. Honestly, I had no idea I could write in Ukrainian. I have difficulty with English. So I was very surprised. What helps me to write a ghost writer?

    When I put the Ukraine translation back in to get the English I got:

    And you said you did not say Ukraine. Oh, but it says nothing said. My mistake. You have a lot of tricks in these sleeves. This is normal. Honestly, I had no idea I could write in Eng. I have difficulty with English. So I was very surprised. What helps me to write a ghost writer?

    Go figure. I think I will stick to English. At least I get that right 90 percent of the time.

  7. Yes, we should stick to English, which is hard enough.

    I still like to think of you as someone who would write to ghosts because that just has to be fun.