Storyphile | Your life. Your story. For the people you love.

Crosswords

I’ve been a word nerd for as long as I can remember. And I’ve been a cruciverbalist—a crossword fan—since at least junior high. That’s when my big sister started buying me Dell magazines, which had crosswords of varying difficulty plus many other kinds of puzzles: logic puzzles (You solve a problem by deciphering a series … Read more

In Praise of Grandmothers

I’m a baba. Truth be told, I’m a proud-as-can-be, floating-on-air, tickled pink-and-blue baba who thinks her grandson is the cutest, brightest, smartest little boy in the whole wide world. Other babas are free to make the same claim. I don’t mind. It’s a baba’s prerogative. My babas were certainly proud of me. And I was … Read more

More Mysterious Little Birds

My recent epiphany about the folk song “Alouette” brought to mind some other bird songs from my childhood—folk songs my Baba Fill taught me in Ukrainian. One was an action song about a chyzhyk—a siskin or a finch*. Again, in the bliss of ignorance, I didn’t know what a chyzhyk was until I looked it … Read more

Funeral Customs

I was 21 when my baba died. This was my first experience with the death of someone who was really close to me, but I was not completely sheltered from death before. When we were kids, we were taken along to the funerals of extended family members. I don’t remember being traumatized—even at the funeral … Read more

Books, Rituals and Stories

I just finished The Company We Keep by Canadian writer Frances Itani. It’s about six grieving strangers who have lost or are in the process of losing loved ones. They share their stories with one another, and find comfort and support in the new friendships they forge. I’m a huge Itani fan, although I have … Read more

Lullabies

A recent study at Harvard University’s Music Lab found that babies were soothed by lullabies even when they were sung in unfamiliar languages such as Scottish Gaelic or Hopi. That’s amazing! And it got me thinking about the lullabies I know. When my son was little, one of his favourites was “Oi khodyt’ son”—“Dream Passes … Read more

Garlic

If you were stranded on a desert island and could only choose one, would it be onion or garlic? I’d opt for onion, I think. It grows bigger bulbs, so there’d be more of it to eat. But I have to say, it would be darn hard to live without garlic! Fortunately, my garlic crop … Read more