My Gido (grandfather) came to Canada as a young man from Kyiv, Ukraine. His name was Myroslaw Nalesnyk, which he later changed to Maurice to fit in better. He met my Baba (grandmother), Nelly Chomyn, in Saskatchewan and they were married and had four children. My mother, Olga was the oldest. Then there was John, William and Orlene. They’ve all passed away but one and he has been astranged from the family for so long that I don’t even know where he is. That is the historical information about my Ukrainian roots.
There is so much more I’d like to say about my grandparents. They lived in Toronto while we grew up in northern Ontario. They would come to visit and bring a trunk full of presents for us. Mostly, I remember the dark, fresh cherries and the Toronto Kovbassa (kielbassa) that you can only find in Toronto. Any other sausage just doesn’t measure up. One time, my Gido was working in textile factory and he brought a trunk full of suede scraps for my mother. She worked for weeks to sew together full length suede coats for all five of us girls. With fur around the collar and cuffs, we felt like little queens. I wish I had a picture of them because they were just so lovely.
These are the good memories I have of my grandparents and they are the reason I have a fierce connection to my Ukrainian roots and a heart full of sadness and anger for what the Russian army is doing to the Motherland and my people.
Earlier this year I raised $500 by crocheting and selling blue and yellow hearts. I still don’t feel like I ‘ve done enough and I want to continue crocheting for Ukraini. In the previous post I mentioned the sunflowers I was working on. I made 250 of them and installed them at the Ukrainian Embassy in Ottawa, Ontario. My heart filled with joy in bringing joy and sunshine to the gates of the embassy. Staff were appreciative and thanked me and I told them it was for them and my Baba and Gido and for all of Ukraine.
A week later and all of the sunflowers (save a few in a dark back corner of the fence around the embassy) have remained where I placed them. It is highly unusual for a yarnbomb to stay intact for over a week. I want to attribute it to respect for a war torn country. I won’t make it mean anything about me because, none of this is about it. It’s about solidarity and frustration over a situation that I cannot change. BUT I can stand with the people and express my camaraderie, compassion and hope for a better tomorrow.
As discussed in my previous posts I’ve been out of sorts with my studio as of late. Well this weekend my grandaughter renewed my faith in the power of paint, the power of creativity. We spent the entire day in my studio. She painted, I played with paper clay and we both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. She makes me smile and I love teaching her the techniques that I know. She sometimes teaches me something I didn’t know. For instance, she learned on you tube to glue gun crayons to a canvas and then use a blow dryer to melt them. The potential of this art form is immense. I think I will try it with her next time we are in studio together! In the meantime..here are some more pics of her hard at work on her creations and a little tease of what belongs in trees that I worked on.
I’ve actually stayed away from the studio for 2 entire weeks. In those two weeks I basically ate, slept and crocheted. Oh, had to work my day job as well. Yes, I still have the day job. I’m pretty grateful for it ….most days.
So I forced myself to hit the studio last Saturday. I had every intention of getting an early start in the morning but I stalled all the way to noon. I’m very good at stalling. But I kicked my butt into gear, packed a picnic, strapped my saddle bags to the bike and made it to the studio with only two stops along the way. One was at this wonderful new little place on Gladstone right beside Detroit Soul Food. It’s called From Seed to Sausage and if I was a little more flush with cash I would have purchased something. It was a tad pricey but it’s all hand made products. You can get anything from jam to sausage to cheese and crackers and homemade extra hot horseradish. Very cool set up, like a small deli and the smells were great too. I will be stopping in again when I have moe monay. The second stop was at Cardamom and Cloves. I promised myself after I purchased all those wonderful herbs and spices for my father on Father’s Day that I would treat myself next time I went to the studio. And I did. I bought Baharat spice blend (good for grilled veggies and lamb), Long Pepper (looks like tiny black pinecones that you crush in your pestle and mortar), Thai Spice Blend (freeking amazing on shrimp and veggies in a wok, then simmer with some coconut milk..nummmm), and finally I bought some Garlic Granules (much better than powder or salt). My saddle bags smelled heavenly for days!
At the studio I struggled with where to begin. I have this huge easel to work on but no big canvases yet. I haven’t quite figured out how to get them to the studio after I purchase them. Oh yeah, I also have to budget myself to purchase them. It’s all a bit daunting at the moment but I will get there. I found these four tiny little 6″x6″ canvases that I had already primed in black. I was going to paint something else on them but I haven’t quite figured out how to do that yet so I went with another idea I had two days ago. I started to put the canvas on my giant easel and giggled how stupid it looked. It didn’t even stay it place because it was so small. No, these paintings were going to be done sitting at my table because anything else would be ludicrous!
So here is what I came up with. It’s just the beginning but it will be built upon to create a 3-D effect. Some glow in the dark paint and yarn will be added and then I’ll share more with you! Weeeee heee….Felt good to spend the day in the studio again. I went home when it was dark out. I almost did not want to leave.
Oh and as a post script…..I purchased my domain on WordPress today so now you can find me just by hitting the ole justydennis.com! Wooooooooohoooooooo