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Welcome to FoodMood blog space. Reflections on my travels, musings, favorite recipes, and the  Bunny Chronicles. Storytelling with joy, sass, self-reflection, and hope.

Birthday Wishes


Sasha and I with healing cucumber eyes in her kitchen in Zambia. She is as beautiful today as when I met her more than two decades ago.


I celebrate birthdays in absentia. It started when I lived in the Russian Far East (RFE), and I have continued this tradition ever since. From the moment I wake up I hold the birthday person in my heart. I dedicate the entire day to them. Eating and drinking what they like, doing activities they like, sending them all the loving, joyous energy possible for their day.


One year on Sasha’s birthday, ‘by chance’, friends of hers from three cities happened to be in Vladivostok where I was living at the time. They came to my flat for her birthday and together we made a cake and had a meal. With our советское шампанское/soviet champagne and freshly baked cake we Skyped Sasha and toasted ‘in person’- long before this was fashionable or “normal”.


“с днём рождения Cаша! Happy Birthday Sasha!” we sang in Russian, online in unison. There are actually three Sasha’s who have profoundly impacted my life. Two women and one man. Their names, Alexandra and Alexander, all Sasha’s, their diminutive in Russian. The one we celebrated that day, gave me my Russian nickname, Prekolka. Meaning to make fun. She and Glen featured in a previous post.


This Sasha is from Kamchatka, a volcanic peninsula in the Russian Far East. My first meeting with her was thanks to her American boyfriend, now husband, Glen. We were all living in Vladivostok at the time. She was a medical student and one of the most stunning blonds I had ever seen. Tall, athletic, and slender, she was serious and funny all at once. To this day she maintains her air of magic and mystery and is capable of great feats.


My bag of treasured memories with Sasha is full to overflowing. A few highlights include her giving me vitamin C shots during her medical studies to keep healthy one winter; eating persimmons until our tongues felt hairy and our bellies nearly burst; and the day I arrived at her wedding via MiG helicopter to be swept up in a bear hug by her amazing father and whisked away for girl talk with Sasha herself.


This birthday, I am here with Sasha in Zambia, where she and Glen are currently living. We will celebrate a birthday together. New adventures, new memories being made, and gratitude abounding. Celebrate!

Claudio and I with Glen and Sasha at Shiwa Ng’andu estate in northern Zambia, making new memories.

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