A Good Home

The Unpredictable Jelly

The thing about making jelly is

It’s a risky thing.

The experience is unpredictable.

Blog Photo - Jelly Currants in Pot

One minute you have a spoon in your hand

Stirring the sticky liquid in the pot

Staring at the smooth surface

Wondering when it will gel


Without warning, you find yourself 

Thinking about your worries

Worrying about your thoughts

Forgetting the jelly

Blog Photo - Jelly in Pot

Frothing to the rim of the pot

Gathering strength and density

Liquid thoughts like a substance

Which may or may not gel


Next, you’re in a meditation room

Listening to a voice say:

Don’t analyze your thoughts

Let them go. Let them pass

Blog Photo - Jelly Jar Double Mint

Thoughts are thoughts, not facts

Do not stop to judge them

Or be worried by them

Let them float out of your mind


If your back or arm aches

Or someone has hurt you

Don’t dwell on those thoughts

Let them pass, and float away


I return to the liquid on the stove

Just before the jelly boils over

Because making jelly requires this much:

My total attention.

Blog Photo - Jelly pouring into jars

Making jelly is a meditation

On the liquid in the pot, swirling

As my thoughts darken and thicken

And bubble and froth their way to the top


Did I say thoughts? I meant jelly

But maybe I meant thoughts

Thoughts are not facts! the jelly says

Let them go while you stay here

Blog Photo - Jelly Jars many

Watch me boil and swirl and stir, and boil

And swirl and swell, making bubbles.

You are here, the jelly says

So be here. Be present with me


So you stir and watch and wait

For that final moment

When the liquid becomes

That thick,  sweet, slow-moving gel.

Blog - Red Current Jelly in Jars

The thing about making jelly is

It’s a strange thing

The journey is unpredictable.



A Good Home

Hide and Seek & Other Things

My sister said: “You tun drunkard!” Which is Jamaican for: “You’ve turned into a drunkard”.

All because, over the first four weeks of Russia’s war on Ukraine, I drank a total of 9 bottles of beer. Doesn’t sound like much, I know, but for me, it’s a lot – and my sister knows it.

Which is why, despite what’s happening in the world, I am trying to keep my gaze downward these days. At the small green shoots that will become blooming tulips, daffodils and crocuses later this month.

At the trout in the stream, preparing to spawn.

At my sweet grandtoddler, who is a daily marvel.

It’s been so long since my daughters were toddlers that I’d forgotten the many daily developments of two year-olds: the language and math skills that expand day to day; the flashes of humour and mischief; the endless fascination with hide-and-seek.

She used to hide while we, pretending to not know where she was, would call out all the many places we were searching for her.

“She’s not behind the door!”

“She’s not under the chair!”

“I wonder where she could be?”

And she, unable to stop herself, would giggle and call back, loudly: “No!”

Recently, the pattern changed. She loves hiding under the large dining tables at her home and ours; sooner or later, parents and grandparents are invited to hide with her there.

It led us to ask her: “But if we’re all hiding here, who’s going to find us?”

“Hmmm…” she replied, considering the problem.

She crept from under the table – to pretend to look for us, we thought. But no. Instead, she ran through the house, giggling, pausing in the dining room each time only to make sure we were still there, crouched under the table.

GrandToddler loves to run and dance, especially to Bob Marley music, (though now she has added Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” to her preferred playlist). She calls our names one by one, commands us: “Come!” We all have to dance and run behind her. Her parents are new homeowners and there’s no furniture in the living room, which makes it an ideal spot for dancing and running.

These are moments of pure joy – moments in which, like her, we live in the absolute present.

The thing with having children or grandchildren, of course, is that one minute you’re feeling pure delight at what they do, and the next you find yourself worrying about things you can’t control. You want them to never be in the danger. You want the world they inherit to be a good place. You find yourself praying more than usual.

Someone once defined the difference between liberals and conservatives this way: Liberals want to make the world a better place for both our loved ones and others; they want to fix what’s wrong with the world. Conservatives accept the world as it is and try to make the best lives for themselves and the people who matter to them within it.

I can’t help but think of all the conservatives and liberals I know who put their families first, but simply cannot accept the world as it is today.

Why is one country allowed to hold the world hostage? Why are the oligarchs of the world (not only Russian ones) allowed to have seemingly unchecked power? Why do some western societies still have monarchs? Why on earth did it take so long to get an African-American woman on the supreme court? And when do we start taking overdue action to stop the damage to the world’s environment and climate?

Luckily, I don’t stress about all these things at once – it would be too much, and all the beer in the world wouldn’t help. Plus, I need to pay attention to a fast-moving two year-old.

So I take care of my family and do what I can to contribute to the causes I support. And I think about the good in the world – especially in my small world of friends, faith community, and family. Like the giggle of a two year-old dancing and running with her family, it helps to calms an anxious mind.

A Good Home

A Winter’s Tail

A favourite from 2015

The birds are back with songs of Spring

Their tunes incite imagining

That Winter’s end will soon arrive

And living things shall haste to thrive


Via vitalxrecognition.wordpress.com/
Image Thanks to: vitalxrecognition.wordpress.com/

A Winter’s tail, how bittersweet!

Today it’s sun, tomorrow sleet

And wind to stop us in our tracks

And cold to freeze Spring-hungry backs


One day we feel a wave of hope

Warmed by our thoughts that we can cope

And then come gales of Winter still

And blizzards coat the windowsill


Blog Photo - Icy Winter evening

Hey, Winter! Do your level best

Your time is near to take a rest

For Lady Spring prepares to rule

She’ll thaw your ice and warm your cool


She’ll rout you, kick your icy tail

She’ll make you wish you’d stopped at hail

Who’s mighty now, oh Freezer Guy

Who rules the roost? Oh my, oh my!


Blog Photo - Rainy Garden with Flowering shrubs

Spring wakes the earth; the gardens flower

She turns grass green and makes you cower

She strips away your winter clothes

And sprinkles sunshine up your nose

Blog Photo - Mama's Garden2

She brings new life to garden trail

She gives new strength to plants so frail

To stand up ‘gainst your mighty storm

And so defy your freezing form


Hey! Winter’s Tail, I kid you not

Pick up your snow and off you trot

Break down your ice and melt away

See you around, when skies are grey


Blog Photo - Lilacs and forget Me Nots

See you next time, oh Frigid One

But not too soon, for Spring’s begun

And three great seasons I shall see

Before you’re back to torment me.


Thanks to Hamlin Grange for all original photos.

Dedicated to all northern gardener friends.

A Good Home

The View from Poland: Experiences of Racialized Refugees from Ukraine

Taken with permission from DiversiPro Inc LinkedIn page

As the war in Ukraine rages on – and the world watches – hundreds of lives have been lost and millions of people have fled their country to an uncertain future. Scores of ordinary people in Poland have been doing extraordinary work to help desperate people escaping the war. We wanted to hear first-hand from individuals doing work on the ground in Poland, so we interviewed Dr. Margaret Amaka Ohia-Nowak and Anna Kostecka.

Amaka is an Inclusive Language, Anti-Racism & Belonging in the Workplace Consultant. She co-created a coalition of Poland-based organizations composed of Black, Brown, members of the LGBTQ2S community, and their white allies. She is developing a complex support system for Black and Brown people who are fleeing the war in Ukraine to Poland.

 Anna is a global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) strategist based in Warsaw and an Associate of DiversiPro. She has been involved in supporting the work of NGOs and grassroots initiatives helping refugees, and works in solidarity with the Black community in Poland in responding to current refugee crises.

What you need to know

●     Since Russia launched a full-scale war on Ukraine on February 24th, more than 1.5 million refugees have fled from Ukraine to Poland (in two weeks!). This number goes up by 50-80k every day.

●     In the current crisis, almost all the help provided to the refugees arriving in Poland from Ukraine is provided by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), citizens, private businesses, and local governments. This is not sustainable.

●     Poland’s government rose to power in 2015 on an anti-refugee platform. We have an ongoing humanitarian crisis on the border with Bialorus with people still stranded in the forests. The strategy adopted by the Polish government has been to push people who have crossed the border back to Belarus, keep NGOs and journalists out of the area, and build a wall at the border. There is no well-functioning system of support for refugees.

●     Among people fleeing Ukraine to Poland, approximately 10% of them do not have Ukrainian citizenship – among them are Africans, people of African descent, Black and Brown people, who were living in Ukraine.


In the dramatic evacuation from the escalating military conflict, Black and Brown people have faced additional traumatizing experiences of discrimination and racism.

There are well-documented cases of Black and Brown people who were refused transportation to evacuate, separated from other evacuees at the border, and made to wait in long lines without shelter, in rain or freezing temperatures and snow.

When they do finally cross the border to Poland, tired, cold, and hungry, they are not entitled to many of the special forms of support that have been made available to Ukrainians: Free train transport to larger cities, free public transport in the cities, free access to healthcare. They often have a limited right to stay in Poland, so rather than rest and recoup after their evacuation, they must work quickly to ensure they do not become undocumented.


 Here in Warsaw, so many regular people are involved in helping those fleeing Ukraine. When I was taking a taxi to get a baby carrier (offered by another volunteer) for a family that stayed in my apartment, I talked to a taxi driver who was also hosting a family in his house. It is heartwarming to see so many people who rushed to help refugees and I am very grateful to see people in Poland now doing it at scale.

It breaks my heart to see that this generosity and in general access to aid and support is not extended to all equally. I saw it firsthand when I was briefly hosting a Nigerian family with a newborn or connecting African students to accommodation.

Racism plays out in emergency response and that is why 96 civil society organizations called for equal access to aid and countering any instances of personal or institutional discrimination, xenophobia or racism amidst this crisis. (Source in Polishcopy of the statement in English). 

 What you can do to help

While donations often feel impersonal, they are actually one of the most effective ways to help. They enable NGOs and people on the ground to react fast to the ever-changing situations and needs. Consider donating to:

 ●     Support Black and Brown people fleeing war in Ukraine created by a coalition of six organizations, based in Poland and created by people of African descent, Black and Brown and queer people, and their allies.

Other options to consider:

●     Real ways you can help Ukraine as a foreigner – crowdsourced information platform with the most comprehensive list: official funds, requests, materials (doc updated live, hourly). It includes local tips for helping from Canada

●     Fundraiser created by the Poland-based Foundation for Somalia. They are raising funds to help and support all people fleeing the war, regardless of their national and ethnic origin.

●     Fundraiser created by HomoFaber to enable support team working almost 24 hours a day to continue to provide direct and indirect assistance to all people fleeing Ukraine.