Over the past year, our prices have doubled. This represents a week’s worth of groceries for two. I used to spend a little over $100 each week. There is an extravagance of $28.19 for 2 rib eye steaks which will be used for two meals. The bill was a tiny bit higher than usual due to the fact that I needed laundry soap, shampoo, and the makings for Easter bread; and I do have to try to feed myself organic when I can. This was two good sized bags and two medium bags (not plastic, of course). Four bags! Thank god fishing season is only three months away. The freezer is getting bare.
Since being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis my life has become one big puzzle about what, when, and how my immune system has already been and is still being impacted. Suffice it to say, it sucks. No longer included in my diet are wheat and soy. Never do I use processed foods. I make my own ghee so that I can have butter. I should eat only organic foods, but living in the Aleutian Islands makes that nearly impossible. I think holidays are probably the times when I really miss certain foods. I think the one thing that I miss the most is my mother’s Easter bread, or what we call kulich , made for our Orthodox Easter. I am honestly going to try to make it with gluten free flour one of these years. I just have to prepare myself for what may be utter failure and a waste of resources.
My daddy loved kielbaska, sauerkraut, noodles, cabbage, and perogies, albeit the perogies definitely had a native flair to them. His love of nut rolls and pastries with poppyseeds had my mother making special loaves and twists for Christmas morning breakfast that her great grandchildren expect, still, to this day. My father was born in Chicago and did not know more than a few words of English when he went to school in first grade. How is that? He was raised in a Slovakian community in the Chicago area. He soon moved to a farm in Wisconsin and finished his formative years in a very rural, close knit Slovakian community. He received The Fraternal Herald until the day he passed away, and a small insurance policy was paid out to my mother from a Slovakian insurance company policy that his parents bought when my dad was small.
And, yet, his four daughters knew very little about his Slovakian heritage. He felt it was more important that we be raised in mom’s culture, Unangax, an indigenous group from the Aleutian Islands. Once a people numbering 20,000 prior to Russian contact, within 60 years of contact the population was a shocking 1,875. And besides, he fell in love with the islands.
As time began taking a visible toll on my dad, it became so important to make sure he was comfortable and happy; that he not worry about anything. That he know that he did not have to leave the home he loved. That we do everything we could to make this happen. One night, when I made haluska for dinner, my mother looked at me like – whaaat? Well, I said, this is a Slovakian dish and I thought dad would appreciate it. He did and it was delicious. It’s funny how as we see time slipping by, we bring out the things we think will bring memories and comfort.