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Canada’s Largest City is Now The Wettest – Toronto Storm

10 Jul
Getting ready for blackout with some coffe-flavoured Patron and sheesha

Getting ready for blackout with some coffe-flavoured Patron and sheesha

It has been a wet summer indeed but Monday storm was out of the ordinary!

I  was heading for my Hot Yoga class with a friend on Monday just as the storm was starting.   The rain was coming in Biblical proportions and I was seriously considering staying home.  My friend laughed off my concerns saying that we are going to get wet anyway.  Well, wet we got!  We walked to the studio in a gushing ankle-deep water and arrived fully soaked (even my family-sized umbrella didn’t help!).   Surprisingly, the class was full 🙂  As we got to the floor series of poses the power in the studio was out – we finished our class in complete darkness and without the heat.  Luckily my place had electricity but no hot water.  I didn’t get it back until 2 pm Tuesday – our basement became flooded and building management shut off the hot water tank as a precaution.   My friend spend the rest of her evening in a coffee shop as her place didn’t have power and she couldn’t even charge her phone.

But I can’t complain about my misadventure considering many people had it much worse.  Toronto got a record-breaking 126 mm of rain onto which flooded the city within 1 hour.  About 300,000 homes and business were without power, some of them are still without electricity even today.

There was no subway service and GO trains were stranded at some stations. Water was up to the lower deck windows, some passengers were rescued by the police Marine Unit by floating devices, then they were talking about getting the upper deck passengers out by Zip line… I am attaching some photos of the disaster taken by my friends:

Flooded subway in Toronto

Flooded subway in Toronto

This was only half the line for a shuttle bus! The line went around the corner and up the stairs outside!

Latest news – Environment Canada just issued another severe thunderstorm watch expected later this afternoon. Toronto, brace yourself one more time!




The Unannounced Blog Hiatus

26 Apr

Hello everyone,

As some of you have noticed, I haven’t been properly blogging in over a month. The reason ? Actually,  life took over.  The blogging routine was completely wiped out due to my crazy-busy schedule

As most of you know – I trained with my Team for the Toronto Salsa Festival.  Some of the weekend practices during our crunch period were 7 hours long! Was it worth it?  Absolutely!!!  Our routine deserves a separate post 🙂  I lost about 5lbs from all that dancing, and now I’m gaining the weight back… slowly but surely.

The ladies of New Skin

Then I was in Miami for work in April…

Then my cousin and her husband who live in Germany came over and stayed with us.

I’ve been rediscovering Toronto daily for over a week as there is so much to show, and now I’m here,  scrambling to get back on track.

Happy 24th Birthday to my lovely daughter!

8 Mar

No matter how old you are, to me you will always be my little girl. Have a brilliant Birthday, mommy loves you!





Your Aunt From Canada Is Here! More on stereotypes and cultural differences.

23 Jan


Back in December I wrote about stereotypes and cultural differences that I’ve experienced living in Canada.  Click here for a refresher .

Stereotypes are never one-sided!  There are just as many misconceptions about Canada and Canadian people (or rather Canadian-Ukrainians) in Ukraine.

I am very excited about our upcoming trip to Ukraine.  My trips back home never feel like a vacation as we MUST visit all  family members or we run a chance of seriously offending them.  It always means that we have to eat 20 huge lunches and repeat the same stories 20 times 🙂  We always count on hearing this:

“Aren’t you lucky you are in Canada, it’s a second Ukraine” – while there are many Ukrainian-Canadians in Canada I still have to speak English almost all the time.
“Say something in English” – as if the person who’s asking me this speaks flawless English with an Oxford accent.  However I tremendously enjoy helping my little cousins with their English homework.
“You must be so proud your daughter graduated from the University of Toronto.  Btw, does she speak English?” – No,  she was speaking Japanese all this time (she came to Canada when she was 7) 😛
“So, how much money do you make?” – I am avoiding (very politely) answering that.  I know that it’s acceptable there to ask about finances but after almost 20 years of living in Canada this question makes me uncomfortable. Yet my family just won’t give up and somehow manages to get the number from me which leads to:
“And how much would that be in US dollars / Euros?” – I still don’t know why they need this info.  It’s not like I get paid in Canadian dollars but my local grocery store accepts Euros only.  Then it leads to another classic:
“So, if Canadian money is worth less than Euros than everything is much cheaper?” – Logical, right?  People are in disbelieve when I mention the prices on wine, beer, liquor, cigarettes and housing.
“How much did you pay for your flight?” – I am avoiding to respond for as long as I can.  If they do manage to pull an answer out of me, then expect the following:
“Both ways??? That’s way too much!” – Hmmm… Should I be swimming across the Atlantic ocean so I can save some money?

“You are too thin!– a blunt assessment from the family followed by some extra generous helping of salo at lunch.

 “Well, you don’t have good food in Canada.  Look at you!”  – count on “care packages” to be taken “Do Kanady” (to Canada) with some mandatory homemade smoked meats, sausages, cheese and pickled mushrooms.  My pleads of “Please don’t pack anything for me.  I can’t bring any animal or farm products to Canada!”  are falling on deaf ears.

During my last two trips I’ve experienced these situations that made me feel like now I am a stranger at home:

In a taxi:

The driver: “Welcome to Ukraine!  Where are you from?”
Me: “We are speaking Ukrainian.  How do you know I am not from here?”
The driver“You fastened your seat belt as soon as you got in the car” (local people don’t do this)

In a clothing store:

Me: “May I please see that yellow blouse on the very top shelf?”
The salesperson: (somewhat annoyed) “Are you going to buy it?”
Me: “Well, I’d like to see it first”
The salesperson (mumbling): “Foreigners… don’t touch the merchandise if you are not going to buy it”


You Have a Lovely Accent

18 Dec

Photo Credit:

“Oh, you have a lovely accent.  Where are you from?”

I am from Ukraine and I love my accent.  Many people have told me they like my accent.  It gets me noticed and it makes me who I am.  But if I only had a penny for each time I was asked that question…

I had some interesting conversations that were triggered by my accent.  Many Canadians genuinely wanted to know more about the country, Ukrainian customs and Ukrainian people.

However, some of the questions or statements left me perpetually perplexed.  My sarcastic thoughts are in italic.

  • Are you from Ukraine? Welcome to Canada.  How do you like it here?  Thank you, I’ve been here for almost 20 years.  How do you like it here?
  • Ukraine?  That’s in Russia, right?  Ukraine is a completely separate country, we have a border to the east with Russia.
  • Are you from Kiev? Not all Ukrainian people who came to Canada are from Kiev. Ukraine is a big country (bigger than France!) and has more than one city. I am from Chernivtsy.
  • You don’t look Ukrainian… The person who said this to me had never been to Ukraine; I know this for a fact.  I am100% Ukranian but would like to find out from a non-Ukrainian person about how Ukrainian people should look like.
  • Are you from Ukraine?  Oh, wow… my wife and I just were in Prague last month??? That’s in Czech Republic. Approximate distance from Prague to my city (Chernivtsi) is 533 miles or 857.6 kilometers.  We speak completely different languages.
  • I had a Ukrainian co-worker once and she always ate pierogy.  Well… what do you say to that… hmmm… did she share?
  • You know, there are a lot of Ukrainian people out west in Saskatchewan and Alberta.  I do know that.  There are a lot of Canadian people there too.
  • How can you be cold?  You are Russian! Again, I am Ukrainian.  And Toronto is much, much colder than Chernivtsi.
  • Talk to me in Ukrainian / Say something in Ukrainian…  Why? Are you testing my knowledge of Ukrainian?  I am always happy to translate for people common phrases, i.e. “Hello”, “Thank you”, “Happy  Birthday”, etc.  But “Talk to me in Ukrainian” is a little creepy.
  • OMG, you are so pretty! Are you a mail order bride? Kind of rude, no? One day I will say that I am a mail order bride just to get a reaction.
  • Sorry, we don’t have any vodka.  We only have beer.  Not all Ukrainian people drink vodka. And not all Ukrainian people drink alcohol.

Do you have any personal experiences with stereotypes?

Take a Break and Smile

11 Dec

My sweet baby cat 🙂

Japanese researchers found that by looking at pet photos can increase your ability to concentrate by 44%!

Whenever you need a quick pick-me-up, take a minute and look at these funny pictures of cats.  It will help you lessen the stress and stay focused on your assignments.

Happy Tuesday!

‘Isn’t it Wonderful That We Are Together Again?’

6 Dec

Hedgehog in the Fog / Ёжик В Тумане

Watch this – you will love me later 🙂 This is one of my favourite childhood cartoons.  I feel like I am 8 years old again.

This cartoon brings so many memories.  I remember being a little frightened by it as a child.  Yet the story is so mysterious, dreamy and beautiful, that you can’t help it but take it all in.  There is something about the world of this little Hedgehog and his friend Bear that we seem to know so much about as children but stop detecting when we become adults.

I suppose everybody would find their personal meaning of this animation film.

Has It Been Another Year Already?

25 Nov

Yet another birthday passed by.

Last Saturday I received so many messages, emails and phone calls and it was truly a special day to remember. My last 2 birthdays were a low-key ones and I wanted a bigger celebration this year.  I thought it would be great to celebrate my birthday at home with friends.

People chatted, told stories, had some tasty eats and drinks from a bar, danced (there is always dancing with the Salsa people!) and the evening was a blast!

Yummy bites

I was reflecting on another 12 months that just had passed.  In the past year, I’ve been through some very great highs and through some dreadful lows.

Even though challenges still present in my life, I have so much to be grateful for and there are some wonderful people in my life offering their strong support.

With friends


A Very Special Cat.

20 Nov

My love for cats started when I was 7 years growing up in Ukraine.  I brought home a tiny kitten that I found on the street and begged my parents to let me keep it.  Murka, my first tuxedo cat, was with me for almost 9 years.  After we lost her I’d thought I’d never have another cat again.  She was very special to me and after so many years I still miss her.

During our first Christmas in Canada my daughter wrote a letter to Santa asking for a kitten.  I so badly wanted to make her wish come true as it was a hard time for all of us adjusting in this country. Lucky for me,  a friend of a friend was looking for a good home for kittens after somebody deposited a litter of them in their farm’s backyard.  I claimed one without seeing kittens first.  We instantly fell in love with our tiny 9-months old  tuxedo kitten.  15 years had passed, and the cat, Dina, is still with us.

Crazy Things Dina Does:

  • Dina talks – short meows, long meows, deep meows, soft half-“meh”.  She developed quite a vocabulary!
  • Dina is my personal alarm clock. Every morning she’d be quietly sitting on my bed and staring at me.  As soon as my alarm goes off she becomes vocal until I feed her. Then she’ll go back to sleep.
  • Like a concierge,  Dina is monitoring all comings and goings.  She could be sitting next to me on the sofa, purring; then she abruptly leaves my side and comes to sit by the door.  Next minute I hear my daughter or boyfriend inserting the key in the lock.  Dina somehow hears them coming much in advance.
  • Dina is also a food inspector.  As soon as someone open the fridge she’s right there, staring inside as if she’s deciding on what to eat.  When we eat at the table, she’d be standing tall on her hind legs and  lightly tapping one of us with one paw while supporting herself with other on the chair.
  • She never misses Easter basket inspection.

  • Dina is my protector.  When my marriage went sour and my ex-husband was having heating arguments with me she peed in his running shoes.  Dina was sending her message 😉

She brings us much happiness and love.  I wish I could keep her forever!

Black and White Archive / Чёрно-Белый Архив

16 Nov

Tomorrow is my birthday.  Something about this day makes me both very happy and a little sad.  My parents are no longer with us and I miss them the most  around the holidays and birthdays.

I was feeling nostalgic and ended up pouring over stacks of our family photo albums.  My daughter thinks they are relics of “The Vanished Empire”!  I grew up in the USSR in the 1970s and ’80s.   My daughter was also born in the Soviet Union but she grew up in Canada.  To her, Pravda is the bar in Toronto and New York 🙂

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