Chicago Spring


Once again, I’ve fallen behind with blogging. The year began cold and chaotic. Winter lingered and lingered. We had a few brief breaks of warmth and sunshine, but far too many grey, blustery, snowy days in March for my liking.

In Chicago: City on the Make, Nelson Algren wrote, “Chicago is an October sort of city even in spring.”

It’s true.

Chicago does seem to have a reluctant Spring–as if the season is too delicate. Chicago appears to want to go straight from the gray grit of Winter to the sunny swelter of Summer. BUT there are usually a few rare days in May when Chicago’s Spring is glorious and green.

I’m waiting.

The first few signs are appearing: pussy willows have their catkins, the magnolia buds are bright white or pink against still bare branches.

The sight of blossoms against the sky calls to mind one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets, E.E. Cummings. Here’s a part of it:

“here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart)”

I’m going to attempt to blog with greater regularity as part of my revamped writing routine–a few minutes to warm up and then leave the day behind before shifting into one of the two books I’m working on (more on that later).

I’ve got things to catch up on here, but if I write a bit each day, I should get caught up pretty quickly.

Here’s to a day of catching up. I hope that your Monday is peaceful and productive.

Spring (if only for a moment)

I know it won’t last, but at this very moment there is sunshine and warm weather in Chicago! It’s Spring!

I wrote until way too early in the morning, but I’m happy for the progress. Then I met a friend for lunch, who put up with my slightly slap-happy and sleep-deprived state.

I am feeling so grateful for this beautiful day.


I had a wonderful time at the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts in Florida, and I’ll write about it soon. I have a few blog posts to finish, comic book pages to revise, and stories to send off.


But right now, I’m enjoying the sun and warm wind on my face, and the appearance of catkins on the branches outside the house (pussy willows are always the first sign of Spring around here).



Spring stirs my heart and my imagination. It makes me feel like anything is possible, like all the ideas and emotions and stories that have been growing will be rewarded with a most beautiful blossoming.

Whatever may happen tomorrow, right at this moment, it is enough to make me happy.


Finally Spring

Some months are so full they rush by in a blur. April 2013 was like that. After ICFA, there was a Spring roadtrip, followed by C2E2 and a wonderful meeting (resulting in an exciting announcement to be made in the near future). In between, there were family obligations, book club and school visits, beloved dead to be remembered, and deadlines to be met.

Then came May and finally Spring. Warm weather arrived, and with it the joy of open windows and fresh breezes that make a morning cup of coffee taste even better.

Yesterday was Ukrainian Easter (celebrated according to the Julian calendar).  We began our day with the traditional breakfast of eggs, rich egg bread, beets mixed with horseradish, “lamb” butter, cheese, ham and sausage. All of it was blessed in baskets adorned with embroidery on the afternoon before in the church parking lot. I love this tradition, probably because it’s tied to food, and the sharing of meals is so important to me and my family.


I remember our first Spring in Frankfurt, Germany, in 2003. I was able to find a small Ukrainian community that had services out of a Roman Catholic church. That year we blessed our basket in the courtyard alongside Ukrainians born in Germany and those recently from Ukraine. Our baskets were nearly the same, adorned with varying styles of Ukrainian embroidery.

Looking around, that was my first experience of how important community must have been for my grandparents transplanted to Chicago from Ukraine after WWII.  There is comfort is celebrating beloved traditions, even on foreign soil with people you do not know.

Food also helps us to connect–an ocean between us, on different land, we can still eat the same kind of foods, the same basic recipes, passed down from grandparents to parents to children and on and on.

Recipes are a lot like stories: they can be carried and shared; they can be written down or remembered; they vary from region to region, incorporating the influence of the land and people around them. Recipes also have the ability to transcend time and space, to connect us to those who have gone and to those who are yet to come. Like stories, they’re a little bit of magic. They provide us with opportunities to remember and reconnect.

Over the last decade, I have been slowly building up my recipes. I’m not very organized and I’ve never scrapbooked, but this thing I have somehow kept up. I don’t usually print them out, choosing instead to write each recipe on a card, adding notes, crossing things out as I adapt a dish.

It’s always been important to me. My box of recipes is one of the few things that has travelled around the world with me. Maybe it’s because I see it as a sister activity to writing and storytelling? Maybe it’s because I hope that someday those recipes will provide my children and grandchildren with a window into my life–the treasured meals I have been able to share with them and other people I hold dear. Maybe it’s because writing a recipe down feels like preserving a little of the magic.

If you have ever shared a meal with me, I thank you.

If you’ve ever given me a recipe, rest assured that it is treasured.

If you’d like to share a recipe, I would be honored to add it to my collection.