My very dear friend Marushka turned 70 this year. Wanting to do something special, I knit her this shawl, the lovely (and easy as pie) feather and fan lace pattern in silk yarn from Teresa Ruch Designs. Teresa had a booth across from ours at Sock Summit. These photos do not capture the gleaming irridescent blues and greens of this hand-painted yarn.
When I was 18, Marushka hired me to be a mother's helper for the summer. I lived in their townhouse in Boston's South End and took care of her two little boys. Marushka was born in Ukraine. Her father was a Ukrainian nationalist, and during WWII he smuggled his family out of the country. Marushka remembers lying in a wagon, covered with hay, with soldiers above plunging pitch forks into it. She spent her childhood in Displaced Persons camps.
Marushka's husband was English. There were often house guests from overseas. Dinner conversation was very interesting. The food in this household was very delicious. I learned about the great cookbook writer Elizabeth David, and began reading her books cover to cover, as you would read a novel. Marushka taught me how to make pyansky, Ukrainian Easter eggs, which I make to this day. She taught me Ukrainian embroidery and gave me Traditional Ukrainian Cooking by S. Stechishim which has delicious recipes for babka, medivnyk and varenyky.
Last month one of the little boys I babysat for, who is now 40, brought his family to visit us here in Maine.
Marushka took me into her life at a time in mine when I needed a sense of home. By sharing her family stories and ethnic traditions she gave to me, really, home in the the very deepest and most satisfying sense of the word. Happy Birthday Marushka!