Ballykissangel on TVO: it must be Friday night again

It’s funny, no matter how often something happens, it can still surprise me.  How did it get to be Friday night again.  Was it really 7 days ago?  Well yes it is because Ballykissangel is on the television tonight.  This series has just started up again on Knowledge and I’ve seen some of the shows before but not all of it.  I believe it was quite a long running show from the BBC.  So I’m familiar with the characters, I know some of the things that will happen in the future and so it is like reaching back into these peoples’ lives to see how it came about. 

My days follow along with the various radio programs I listen to on CBC Radio 1, familiar with the hosts and their programs.  The people in my life  come to me through the radio waves.  And there is similarity with my favourite programs on TVO, Knowledge Network or PBS.  I have a deep fondness for the dramas I see on these networks.  I prefer them to many of the shows I see from the American channels.  I find the quality of the shows and the characters almost as good as delving into a good book. 

So my day wanders from listening to the radio when I wake, more radio in the afternoon or whenever I am in the car, then I switch over to tv, first at home and then again with my Dad between 8 and 10 pm.  Then a little late night tv before I return to my bed, where I can’t help myself from turning on the radio again.  Really it’s somewhat of an addiction.  Some people prefer their pets to their family and friends, and since I don’t have any pets and live alone, I find my company in the voices that float through the air or from the brilliant images projected in high definition from the television.  Not everyone would understand this, but I’m sure there are plenty who do.  To quote a favourite poet by the name of Kenyon, “It might have been otherwise” but for me, this is how it is.


Putting my Vancouver Bio to rest

This was the bio I had posted about myself.  Unfortunately things have changed and I am in transition of moving from Vancouver, my soul city, to a small town in Southern Ontario to spend time with my Dad.  Vancouver has been such a big part of my identity for my adult life following university.  It’s not quite over as I still have one foot in Vancouver and one here in Ontario.  Soon, I will have to pack up my life there and completely move here.  Here’s what I said about myself then: 

I love living in Vancouver.  People always think it rains all the time, but it’s not true.  Our rainy season is when the rest of Canada get snow and I prefer the rain.

I recently became involved with a social enterprise called Soup Sisters.  We held our launch on September 13, 2010 at Quince.  People get together once a month on a Sunday and make 6 giant pots of soup.  The soup is made for Kate Booth House, a women and children’s shelter.  We hope that this initiative will help to remind people that domestic violence, and all violence for that matter, is a very real problem in society.  Making soup won’t stop the violence, but we hope that the soup will be a message to these women and children to let them know that we care.  What says love and kindness more than a hot bowl of nourishing soup made by caring neighbours.  We may never meet these remarkable women and children, but our hearts will be with them. 

Soup Sisters is gradually opening up throughout Canada – be sure to check our website:



Cousins! Growing up on a farm in southern Ontario, our cousins were so important to my childhood. And even though I moved away to British Columbia after University, my cousins remained a constant in my life.  Some of my cousins I know more than others, but that was mostly due to geography. The ones furthest away lived in Dartmouth Halifax, others lived up near Collingwood, Ontario,  another family lived in Windsor, Ontario.  My cousin Lynda lives in California and lived due south from me in Vancouver and for a time we saw each other quite often. I got California as a bonus and she got Vancouver, Victoria and Whistler.
Last September 2011, we cousins had a Barzo family reunion in Waterloo hosted by Uncle Jim’s kids. We looked at old family photographs and the ships’ register from Pier 21 in Halifax where the Barzo family arrived in 1930.  We talked, laughed, reminisced, met new members of the family either through marriage or babies and toddlers who recently came into this world, and caught up on each others lives. And of course there was fabulous food.  We are Hungarians and we love to eat!  It was a lovely setting in my cousin David’s big backyard, with tables set among the tall shade trees.  It couldn’t have been a more perfect late summer afternoon.  We made new memories that day.
The original Barzo kids – Julia, Mary, Simon, John and Joe are all still with us, but we lost Jim several years ago. Our parents are getting older and 3 are now living in care homes.  Unfortunately none of the older generation could make it – they just ain’t as young as they used to be!
Luckily, there was another mini-reunion and the original Barzo kids, except John, got together around Christmas time.  The room was filled again with their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren and my cousins.  More stories were told and we again looked at the old family photo albums, mostly of black and white snapshots taken by cameras on film and developed in a laboratory.  Pictures are now digital, can be instantly viewed right on the camera, sent via internet and posted on the world wide web.
These old folks have seen many changes in the “new country” and they kept up with all the changes through necessity and with the help of the younger generations.  They may not know too much about this ‘new fangled’ global digital world, but that doesn’t matter because they lived it.
They travelled half-way across the world from Hungary, first by train to Germany, then by ship to Halifax where they again boarded a train east to Toronto, changed trains and travelled north to Hunta to connect with Mihaly (Mike) Barzo, my grandfather. The last part of the trip was made by horse and wagon into the wilds of Northern Ontario to a tiny stone house.
My grandmother Ursula had four kids in tow, including my Dad Simon who was a toddler of two, carrying a few belongings and perhaps $20.00 in cash.  My grandmother had been ready to turn back to Hungary when they were still in Nova Scotia because as far as she could see, it was an empty, forested land.  She must have cursed under her breath at her husband for bringing her family here.  But stay they did and year after year their lives improved.  It wasn’t easy and it took many hard years of work including many lean years when this family of eight had to make do with very little and sometimes went hungry.
Thinking about all these things is at times unimaginable, but the group picture that hangs in my Dad’s room taken that day, shows a happy family that made a new life in Canada – true pioneers.  Here’s to Mihaly and Ursula Barzo, my family and of course my cousins.  Let’s keep the memories alive, keep making new ones and remember how we got here.
Note:  the spelling of our family name changed at some point from Barzso to Barzo.