Saving Our Ukrainian History

Anastasia, Margaret, Rosemary and Barbara

Anastasia, Margaret, Rosemary and Barbara

As we get older it is only natural to think about what we are leaving behind, not that I have plans to leave this world anytime soon. The reality, however, that death is inevitable enters my thoughts more often now. I remember when my daughter was 5 or 6 years old and she began to question me about what happens when we die. I wanted to keep it simple and fell back on what I was told growing up. I said, “when we die, if we are very good we go to heaven.” She immediately responded, “then I am going to be bad, so I won’t die.” Of course, I had to let her know that there was no escape from eventually dying, but assured her she would be here for a very, very longtime.

I’m not sure if everyone thinks of this, but I wish I could shape my narrative now, so that when I’m not here to explain, people will at least have some understanding of who I was and what was important to me.

My father has been gone for 27 years. I search for the sound of his voice, the accent, intonation, and volume. My oldest sister says that our brother, my father’s name sake, sounds most like him. Wish I could remember. I have spent the many years since his death trying to preserve what I could of him.

Margaret, Barbara and Rosemary in Krasne, Ukraine

Margaret, Barbara and Rosemary in Krasne, Ukraine

In 1999 my two sister’s and I accompanied my niece on her trip to adopt children from Ukraine. That is a whole story unto itself. What I am grateful for is the opportunity it provided for us to reconnect with my father’s family there. I will never forget arriving at the home of our cousins Emilia, Roman and Ivana. The question from my sisters was how do we know they are really our cousins. At that moment Roman reached into a drawer and began pulling out letters and photos. We can see it then; pictures of my sister’s wedding, my nieces baptism, my nephew’s communion, my graduation. These were the correspondence between my father and Emilia’s father. For years he shared all these life events with what was left of his family in Ukraine.

Ivanna, Stephania, Rosemary, Lidia, Emilia, Margaret, Barbara and Roman

Ivanna, Stephania, Rosemary, Lidia, Emilia, Margaret, Barbara and Roman

Below is an article written by the wife of the adoption advocate working with my niece. She did a wonderful investigative report and found our family. Some of the facts in the article are confusing and I’m not sure, if my grandfather was a tailor, or a shoemaker. I was an occupational therapist working in mental health at the time, never a psychologist as stated in the article, my sister rosemary was a botanical garden docent volunteer not a botanist. There are other small details that got lost in translation, but the sense of it is so true.

Click on images to enlarge and read. The smaller ones are the English translations.

Rosemary,Margaret, Barbara 2 4

Article published in Voiceof Ukraine January 2000

Rosemary,Margaret, Barbara 2

2nd part of Article in Voice of Ukraine

Rosemary,Margaret, Barbara 3 1

English translation of the Article in Voice of Ukraine

Rosemary,Margaret, Barbara 4

2nd page of article translation

Rosemary,Margaret, Barbara 5

3rd page of article translation

I’ve volunteer with the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America for the last 15 years. Our group has raised funds and gathered clothing and supplies for humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

I also volunteer as a board director of the Ukrainian American Archives and Museum of Detroit. This is where I have the best hope of preserving our immigrant history. It’s important to tell our story, not just for our families and communities, but as a way to connecting to the world community.

I started a GoFundMe campaign to help the Ukrainian American Archives and Museum of Detroit with renovations.  Please consider making a donation.

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Re-blog movement so to speak (check it out)

Check out this blog.

All Things Steph

First of all If you reblog this post you help me, I help you and you help your readers, so everyone wins.. There are thousands of good blogs out there and think of all of that we are missing just because they are not visible to us. That’s why I want to encourage you to […]

via Share your blog! — Roberta Pimentel

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Longest Yard Sale

127 Yard Sale

127 Yard Sale

I just returned from a resale adventure. With my brother at the wheel, his wife at his side, we plunged into the self-proclaimed “World’s Longest Yard Sale” our pockets full of single bills, our heads filled with dreams of lost treasure found.

The corridor of Highway US127 runs 690 miles from Michigan to Alabama. The sale always begins the first Thursday in August and ends on Sunday. The first sale of this kind was held in 1987 and followed US127 from Covington, Kentucky to Chattanooga, Tennessee. It now includes Alabama to the South and Ohio and Michigan to the North. Don’t think bigger is always better.

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Our history with this type of sale can be traced back centuries, to the “romage” sale. Ship yards would hold sales of unclaimed cargo as far back as the 1800s. We now call community sales like this rummage sales.

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It is a mixed bag. There were certainly some unique old collectibles, but also plenty of places that looked like someone emptied their junk draw. Also there were sales in asphalt strip mall parking lots, some items wrapped like new fresh from shelves of Walmart or directly from China.


Meals can be a challenge when you are on the road.  We opted out of the typical roadside vendor fare, deciding to check out some local spots. The Motor Inn Truck Stop on US-127 in Mendon, Ohio merited two stops. I’m still thinking about the lemon squares and fresh strawberry pie we enjoyed for our desserts. The other two were enjoyable because of their history and hometown ambiance. Kissner’s on Clinton St., in Defiance, Ohio has been in business for 83 years. The staff is friendly and clientele appeared to be local. Fava’s on Main Georgetown Kentucky, was cozy and comfortable.

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I wish I could have slowed down a bit and take in the American scene better. Feel like we just had a glimpse into a micro culture. Amish preserves being sold a few feet away from guns and vendors proudly displaying confederate flags. In many of the stops, the sellers seemed to share a kinship, much like I’ve seen at art fairs. Then there was the climate which took on a whole element to itself. At one site in a field, the humidity was steaming up from the grass and cicadas screeching their courtship song, if I closed my eyes I could imagine being in Costa Rica.

I did find two great purses, a watch with bling and melting “Dali-esque” numbers, some yard art and a few found objects I will probably incorporate in an art piece. Given the chance I would go again, but this time try to cover less ground. And take some moments to observe from an anthropological perspective.

Posted in Family, Food, gratitude, Inspiration, life, Travel, vacation | Leave a comment

How long does it take to finish a sculpture

Sometimes art evolves quickly


“Escaping Thoughts” emerging from wet clay.

This piece was formed from a slab of clay in the studio in February 2016.


“Escaping Thoughts” after ceramic glazing and multiple kiln firings.

May 19, 2016  the piece is finished and ready to be entered for juried exhibition.

The process to complete this piece was much quicker than most of my sculptures. Frequently I incorporate found objects and other media to convey my intended message.  Assembling dissimilar parts takes more contemplation, planning, and sometimes actual blood, sweat and tears.

Is art less valuable if it comes easily?




Posted in art, ceramics, Inspiration, Michigan Art, studio | 2 Comments

Saturday In Detroit

This gallery contains 9 photos.

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Baking my past into my future


Rose Melnik Holy Redeemer High School Cafeteria 1973

The older I get the harder it is to remember the facts about any given event in any sequential order or specific chronology.  However, the things I do remember become qualitatively measured and then quantitatively recollected.

Remembering my mom doesn’t happen without falling into a mouth watering trance wrapped in the smells and flavors of her kitchen. I say her kitchen, because her essence undeniably possessed it.  I vividly recall the one time I allowed myself to let it invade me. This was several years after she had passed away. I was caught off guard visiting the high school kitchen she worked in for many years as a professional, “cafeteria lady”. Crossing the threshold into the room I was hit by this warm embrace, then tearful sadness. I could still feel her, but no longer engage in any tangible way.

The holidays, in particular, can bring up so many food memories. One of the pastries my mom alway made was Slovenian potica. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The sweet, steamy smell of butter, sugar and walnuts would not leave me alone. I had uncle Tony’s recipe which included raisins and apples, thanks to being Facebook friends with my cousin. My mom was notorious for not having written recipes, or if she did she would adjust them to her taste and not write down her adendums.

The only kind of baking I do on a regular basis these days, involves ceramic clay, chemical glazes and a kiln. So thoughts of making potica myself were unceremoniously pushed aside. The memories were not so easily tucked away. I decided I should pay attention and find a way to move forward. After talking to my husband, who makes puffed pastry and breads, I decided with his help we could do it.  We adjusted quantities and combined two recipes. My favorite is this one from the Slovene National Benefit Society.  Our filling required cooking the apples, raisins, butter, sugar and walnuts, until the apples were soft.


Apple, Raisin, Walnut Potica

The results were a wonderful mix of smile producing aromas and tastes. We started eating it still warm out of the oven.

So this act of reclaiming, and reinventing ma’s potica has taught me a valuable lesson. You can honor memory without living in the past. A new metaphor of how I plan to approach the year, paying attention and moving forward. More to come.

Posted in gratitude, Holiday, Inspiration, life | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

New Year’s Eve, blessing for 2016

Promises to myself for the New Year.NewYearsEve2015

I’m sitting at my desk in front of my computer listening to Beatles Radio on Pandora. What a gift it is to hear these old familiar songs streaming to me from the magic of the internet.

While Lennon’s ‘guitar gently weeps’, it’s easy to be melancholy on the last day of the year. Particularly when our region has is being smothered by a seamless blanket of clouds. Sunshine is just a faded memory.


Glimpse outside my window

Days like these we must find a way to light up from the inside out.

So I’ve decided to try and begin the New Year with some new resolve. There are always things I need to be more of; productive, organized, disciplined, thinner, fitter, smarter, kinder, and wiser.

I’d like to try a different approach this year and make myself some promises to:
1)Pay Attention
2)Practice Forgiveness
3)Smile More
4)Be Generous
5)Keep moving

I’d also like to share this blessing from Irish poet, author, priest and philosopher John O’Donohue.

“A New Year Blessing”
John O’Donohue
Benedictus (To Bless The Space Between Us)

On the day when
The weight deadens
On your shoulders
And you stumble,
May the clay dance
To balance you.

And when your eyes
Freeze behind
The grey window
And the ghost of loss
Gets into you,
May a flock of colours,
Indigo, red, green
And azure blue,
Come to awaken in you
A meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
In the currach of thought
And a stain of ocean
Blackens beneath you,
May there come across the waters
A path of yellow moonlight
To bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow
Wind work these words
Of love around you,
An invisible cloak
To mind your life.

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