Saturday, September 27, 2003

Meanwhile Back at the Asian Market

My husband and stepson love canned sugar cane (pictured above).
Don't ask.
His Jamaican friend recoils in horror at the thought of canned sugar cane.

Back to the story.
I buy sugar cane by the case.
When I first started buying sugar cane, before I started purchasing cases, I used to just clean the sugar cane off of the shelf. If there were 10 cans, I'd buy them.
If there were 20 cans on the shelf, I would buy them.
It was kind of funny, because I started noticing that the Market started carrying lots of different brands of sugar cane.
And lots of it.
When I started buying it by the case, it was a huge production number, complete with language barriers and price haggling.
I always managed to find the person who didn't know what the hell I was yammering about.

Finally, after a long time of buying a case every two weeks or so...they are finally with the program.

Today, the case was too high for me to reach.
I went to the closest guy I recognized and tapped him on the shoulder.
He didn't say anything.
He went straight down the sugar cane isle and pulled down the case for me, and put it in my cart.

I started to say how wonderful it was that I don't have to go through what I used to go through to get my case...when he interrupted me with:

"yah, sometime restaurant buy like dis...buh nah like you".

Don't you just love it?

Harmony Records

Image Credit

William from Garbage Thoughts gave me a memory recently which made me think of so many more kind people on Queen Street in the west end of Toronto.

Two doors west of my uncles' store, there used to be a record store called "Harmony Records".
It was run by two aged brothers whose names escape me.
The record store was old.
It had been there a very long time.
The floors were flat hardwood that squeaked when you walked on it.
On the far wall next to the cash register counter was a wall of '45's.
The wall of '45's was always in the order of the current "Chum Chart".
I used to go into the record store, and the brothers would always play whatever record I pulled off the wall.
I spent many hours sitting in the store, chatting with the brothers.
They would send me over to the Tennessee Restaurant 4 doors east of the store to get coffee or sandwiches for them, and in return, I had company and the liberty of listening to any current hit I wanted.

My mother knew them.
My uncle knew them, and it was always ok to be there.
Occasionally, my mother would chastise me..
"leave dos poor peopl alon! I'm shur dey don vant yu der baddering dem every day!"
If it bothered them, they certainly never showed it.

What they gave me was a gift.
They gave me an early love of music.
All kinds of music.

I bought my first record from Harmony Records.
Wilson Pickett's "Soft Soul Boogie".
It wasn't even on the Chum Hit List.
It was one of the many blues albums they played for me during my visits.

I guess that it's partially because of them that I love the Blues.

Friday, September 26, 2003

He Got My Goat!

Yesterday while I was buying pork at the Asian Market, for my Garlic Pork I decided that I would buy some goat too...for curried goat this weekend.
While I was there, there was a man trying to decide which oxtail he wanted the butcher to cut up.
He kept pointing out one oxtail after another and having the butcher weigh it for him...then he would choose another and it went on like that for a while.
The other butcher came to me (finally), and I asked him for 4lbs of goat meat.
My butcher went off to get my goat meat.
In the meantime, the gentleman who was fatiguing the other butcher with his oxtail demands had finally decided upon one tail in particular and his butcher went off to cut his meat.
In the meantime, my butcher put my bag of goat meat on the counter.
The oxtail connoisseur grabbed my bag of goat meat and walked away.
The butcher looked at me and blinked.

He said "He got your goat!"

I started to laugh.
I mean really laugh.
The butcher didn't get the joke.

The moral of the story:Sometimes when you're being really picky, you still don't get what you want

How To Make Garlic Pork
(An Amerindian Recipe from Guyana)

You start with fresh pork (cut relatively thin), lots of salt, lots of vinegar, lots of sliced garlic, and lots of fresh thyme.

You need a large clean glass jar (this one was $12cdn @ IKEA and used exclusively for garlic pork).

Start with lots of salt (don't be stingy), lots of sliced garlic, and lots of thyme on the bottom of the jar.
Lay pork chops on top. Then you start to layer.

Salt, garlic, thyme. Lots of all three. Keep layering until you get to 3/4 of a full jar.

Last layer should be salt, garlic and thyme.
Fill jar with vinegar and push meat down to make sure there are no air bubbles trapped in between.

Cover top with plastic wrap to seal, and put lid on.

Leave on your counter for 4 to 5 days.
Every day open the jar and and lift pork around the outside to make sure that the vinegar is getting in between the chops. You will absolutely love the aroma.

On the 4th or 5th day, boil a few pieces (to take the salt out) with a bit of the thyme (from the jar) and garlic in water until cooked.
Pat dry and fry in olive oil.

I promise will kiss bacon for breakfast good-bye.

That's all.

Thursday, September 25, 2003


Elections Ontario has (in my opinion) put forth a brilliant and effective ad campaign to encourage non-voters to vote.

If you live in Ontario, you've seen the ads.
Large photos of people of all different ages and cultures with a ripped photo of someone else's mouth pasted on top of the persons' mouth, with the slogan:
"Don't Let Someone Else Speak for You".
It's brilliant.
The TV ads are also brilliant.
For example, one of the TV ads shows a number of people in a Board Room. The "Boss" announces that there is a new "project starting up that would require the person who takes it on to work long hours and weekends for a rather long stretch of time".
There is silence for a moment and then one of the men in the room says:
"Yes, I volunteer Miller for that job"
Miller looks stunned.
The "Boss" says:
"Great then...He can start this weekend".
Then the slogan..."Don't let someone else speak for you....Vote in the coming elections".

Well, I understand that there is a group protesting the ad campaign.
They are saying that the ads are outraging seniors groups in the province because Elections Ontario are "pitting age groups against each other" and making seniors appear "mean and miserable".

It's always easy to find things that offend.
It's easier to see things in a completely literal way, than to use the grey matter that is filling up your cranial cavity and think about what someone is trying to convey in a very interesting way.
I am soooooooo sick of assholes in this society who sit around on their haunches just waiting for something to spring up and bitch, moan and be offended about.

I've seen these ads.
In my opinion, they're clever.
I like the real peoples' faces they use.
They're the people we see on the bus and in the street, all cultures....not those fucking pasty faced, overfed politician types.
Not the model types.
Real people.
Unfortunately the site doesn't convey the ads I've seen, but with every click, you get a new face. Each and every one of them representing the population of this province.

These groups that are protesting need to ssssshhhhhaaaaaaddddaaaaappppp, and go back to their Bingo games.

On another note:
I talked to Reecie on IM today....she's so great!
Go over there and visit her.

And to Crabby, operation "Garlic Pork" is in it's beginning stages. I think I'll post the pictures here tomorrow...if anyone cares...well, tough...even if they don't.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Message on Answering Machine. 6:30pm

"Leessen,'s yur madder. I gadda letter from Tetka Ankica an Jovica. She say det she iss so heppy mid da presents yu sen to everybady bek hom.

Vat did yu sen?

Yu didn tell me yu sen samting to dem. She say dey cry bekas yu remembe dem mid so nice da presents....vat did yu sen?

Ver are yu so late?
You hev a meetink?
Ay yay yay...yu workink too mach.
Yu need to tek da tim for yuself too yu no....

Anyvay, phone me.
Tell me vat yu sen.

bye. Aye...don forget to fon. Bye"

Saturday, September 13, 2003

My Grandfather

When the summer starts to wane, my mind always drifts to my Grandfather (I called him Deda).
It is at this time in September when he passed away.
My Deda was a gentle man, at least he was as I remember him.
I am told that he was hard and tough, and had a temper unrivaled.
I never knew the man that they described in that way.
My Deda was one of the most non-judgmental people I have ever known.
I never heard him say an unkind thing about anyone.
He used to carry me around on his shoulders making clucking noises, stick his finger in sugar and then in my mouth, when I was very little.
He was gentle and silly with me.
I knew that he had suffered in his life.
He spent time in a Hungarian work camp because his brother who was a big Communist fingered him as anti.
I know that he spent time in the Dachau Concentration Camp.
Story tells that he was in the Pijaca (open market) during WWII when a snipers bullet killed a German and at that time, the Nazis took 100 for every 1 German.
My Grandfather was one of the one hundred they rounded up and took to Dachau.
He survived.
He never, ever talked about his experience in the Camp to anyone.
I know.
I’ve asked.
However, he did say that when he came home, he came home a different person.
From a man of 95kilo to a man of 44kilo, he called it the “Nazis Jewish Diet”.
He said that the Russians dropped him at the New Yugoslavian border at the end of the war, and he walked the hundreds of miles home. When he reached that same old gray house that I hold as my life touchstone, he wouldn’t enter it.
He (and Majka (Grandmother)) said that he went straight out to the field at the back of the house, Majka prepared a lye solution, he buried his clothes and shaved his body and used the lye solution to kill the lice and other things crawling over his body before he touched anyone in the household.
He said that bodies were floating in the Tisa River, coming downstream from wherever they were murdered and dumped.
I was told that the Tisa River is still considered the river of the dead.
I cannot argue with that.
My mother almost drowned in that river when she was a young girl, and I saw my first dead body on the grass by the banks of that river when I was 11 years old.
A young man had drowned when he was caught in the current.
I stood fascinated by his young blank face and blue pallor…thinking to myself over and over again “he’s dead”. I couldn’t come to grips with the idea that someone so young could die.
When I was 21 and visiting, the whole town attended the funeral of a young man who had waded into the river and shot himself in the head from sadness or depression.
People said that the river holds the memory of many suicides, because the people who chose to kill themselves preferred to go and “be with their ancestors”.
But, I digress…
When I was a young girl visiting one summer, a man came looking for my Grandfather. When he passed the window of the pantry, I thought it was Deda back from the field…it wasn’t.
It was his brother.
A brother that I didn’t know existed.
He visited for a few minutes, and said he would be back.
I hounded Deda to tell me why I never knew that this brother of his existed.
Deda told me that they (he and his brother) hadn’t spoken in over two decades.
“Why” I asked over and over….I was relentless.
Finally, he told me:
He said that his brother was in love with a Hungarian woman before the war.
He (his brother) was also in Dachau because he was one of the 100 for 1, picked up on the same day in the same market as my Grandfather.
However, over the two years that Deda and his brother were in Dachau, they were separated.
When Deda returned to Petrovo Selo, he regularly went to the Post Office to check the lists of the dead to look for his brothers name, and one day, he saw it.
After a few days, he went to the woman that his brother loved and told her.
She hung herself.
A few months after, his brother returned….and never forgave him.
Deda held that.
As irrational as it sounds, he understood that.
When I think about what the people of their generation endured, my heart swells.
Deda’s stories, and a million others.
When I hear memories and stories like these, I understand why Serbians have such a heavy spirit.
Why during the bombing of Serbia, Serbs held hands over bridges and sang while NATO bombs fell.
Why they stood up, even though they knew they didn’t have a chance.
Why there is such a word as “Inat” (meaning “whatever the consequences”).
Why people were partying in the streets while bombs fell. My Uja Lazar said, “if it’s going to be our last night on earth, let’s celebrate and not die like dogs cowering in the corners of our homes”.
I understand that.
And I miss sitting on Deda’s little bench in front of the house, with my head on his shoulder smelling the mixture of hay and rakija on his sweater, listening to him talk.
Rest in Peace.

Friday, September 12, 2003


My bank account @ 9:00am

My bank account @ 9:45am

Why can't I be rich?

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Thank Goodness!

For those of you that remember Relaxing Aromatherapy Dishwashing Liquid
If you've over done the "Relaxing Aromatherapy" while doing the dishes, I would like to introduce you to:

"Invigorating Dishwashing Liquid, with Passion Flower Scent".

Just when you thought that the original was stupid enough.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

The Long Walk Home

The summers that my mother sent me "back home" to my grandparents are some of the best memories I have.
My grandparents home was always the same.

All my life.

No matter how many times my mother and I moved, whenever I went "back home", it was thankfully always the same.
That gray house, with the walls that were three feet thick, with the outdoor hallway that led to the cold storage and the kitchen, the kapija (very large gate) that squeaked when you opened it...was my touchstone.
There have been times when I've passed a farm, and I smell the familiar smell of cornhusks shoots me back to my childhood on my grandparents farm.

My grandmother was a hardworking woman.
She was never to be seen just sitting around, and she didn't like to see anyone else just sitting around either.
They used to say that she could find something to keep every member of the Yugoslavian army busy, and I believed that it was true.
She used to wake me up at the crack of dawn (she had already been up from 4:30am) by pulling the huge feather comforter off of me and slinging it over the open window ledge, to "air" it out, and then she'd say, "you didn't still want to sleep did you?".

I know that she rose at 4:30am because I once asked if I could see her hair (she always wore a kerchief).
I had to get up at that time to watch her comb her waist length hair and pin it in a bun, and cover it with a kerchief for the day of work to come.

One afternoon, I was helping (along with a number of other family members) pick cucumbers and pepper corns.
I hadn't taken gloves, and much to my city slicker surprise.....they've got pricks sticking out of them...and they freakin' hurt!
Well, I whined about that.
I imagine a whined just about enough for my grandmother, because she sent my whiney ass home.
I walked all the way back to town from the field.
It was miles.
She didn't tolerate my whiney, sucky attitude, and showed me so.
Hmmm...I think that (and many others)experience might have something to do with my lack of tolerance for the sucky and whiney.

PS. Did you know that peppercorns grow in a pomegranite type of plant, only the texture of the surface is like the outside of a wasp's nest?

Wednesday, September 03, 2003


Telephone rings...

Job Seeker: "Hi, I'm wondering if you're hiring".

Me: "Well, not at the moment, but if you'd like to send me your resume, I can give you our fax number".

Job Seeker: "I have experience. I was a teacher in my home country".

Me: "Oh, where was that?"

Job Seeker: "You know Ethiopia?"

Me: "Yes."

Job Seeker: "Not there"