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May 30, 2015

Sicily Remembered

By Maryanna Gabriel

Innocents Abroad
Of course it was downright stupidity. I can see that now. We were young, but even then we must have had some inkling. Having decided of our own free will to hitchhike from the coastal port of Brindisi in Sicily to Florence proved to be near suicide. I flinch as I read in my journal how we got into a car with three boys that suddenly diverted from the highway. My stomach tensed as I heard the Italian word bano and deduced we were heading for a beach. Some semblance of intuition at long last got my attention as I cried out in alarm for the car to stop in goodness knows what language. I knew we were in trouble whereas the young blonde woman I was travelling with was quite annoyed with me. I was saving her bacon but she didn't think so. They finally let us out after heated debate and turned around honking and yelling as they headed back to the highway leaving us to shoulder our heavy packs. As we trudged back to the highway a man in a scooter appeared out of nowhere, and stopping, began a series of obscene and rather creatively suggestive gestures that I watched with incredulity and a great deal of alarm. We both responded with our own versions of what was possibly the most rudest hand signals we could muster. He was fortunately insulted (he was insulted!) and left us. My stomach a queasy morass I write..."Back on the main road we received more rides although we didn't get into cars with more than one man.... it looked finally like a night in the fields for us. We left the road and squatted down trying to make some heads and tails of a gypsy camp through the trees! I was thrilled to death. My friend and I were discussing what to do when I noticed a truck had stopped where we had left the road. The truck had seen us go, for I had remembered it, and two men were getting out and coming toward us...." 

May 23, 2015

A Grateful Return

My Garden Is My Haven
By Maryanna Gabriel

I am not kidding. I left Calgary in a snow storm trying to stay calm and nonchalant about it all (driving in the snow makes me feel ill). Coming back into British Columbia was a reprieve of green and I gratefully returned to the island to find my flowers still alive. My garden is my haven and an adventure in the wilds in itself. The more I see of the world, the more I appreciate what I have created in my own backyard for it is truly beautiful. I shall be going to the Cirque du Soleil, our famous and excellent entertainers based from Montreal. I look forward to it for it is my first time. It will be on the big island. I then begin preparation for a trip to Italy. I am sure you are feeling sorry for me. It is a family gathering and wedding. I spent a fair bit of time in Italy when I was younger and reading about it in my journal is making my hair stand on end.

May 18, 2015

My Journey Continued

By Maryanna Gabriel 

Historic Russian Doukabour Buildings Slowly Decaying
If you are on my post list for some reason the introductory email prior to the last one was not sent out even although it was published, but it is on the website. To continue my journey with you then across lower British Columbia, I stop in sunny Grand Forks at a market and buy some raspberry jam from a white-haired, extremely bent, elderly woman with a thick Russian accent. She called me a young woman which was quite gratifying. As I near the Slocan Valley I see remnants of historic settlement by the Russian Doukabours. I have heard these old building that are slowly decaying were schools. Every time I see them I feel a little sad as I can see they are beyond restoration. I rest for the night in Nelson with all its beautiful Victorian architecture as I leave the Slocan and head into the Creston Valley
Sweeping Creston Valley
admiring the hillsides dotted with wild yellow flowers. The sweeping valleys give way to Alberta and the stunning mountain formations of Pincher Creek which are so unusually arranged in the engulfing prairie vastness. There is no green at all on the trees yet the temperatures are so high I have to put on the air conditioner. I see the Frank Slide and stop. I read about a train coming through at the time, it was 1903, and one man’s successful heroism at trying to stop its advance into the disaster and of a baby found alive and intact on a rock where all around it 900 people were killed. In 100 seconds, three square kilometers were buried under 30 meters of rock. 

“I awake to the sound of a rumbling road transcending description. A terrific weight came down on us and I could not move. I tried to speak to my sister, but wet dust trickled into my mouth... I was vaguely aware that some dreadful tragedy had happened and I prayed for help.” Jessie Leitch

May 17, 2015

More Doddling & Dabbling Needed

By Maryanna Gabriel 

Rich Minerals Cause The White Circles
I stop to look at Spotted Lake, a mineralized body of water that is as it was since prehistoric times in the Okanagan, used by the First Nations people as a cure for illness and aches. It was also a place for spiritual restoration. A sign tells me that this is one of the most mineralized inland lakes in the world. Concentric circles of white demarcate the presence of Epsom salts which become more exaggerated with water evaporation in warmer weather. I pick a bundle of sage and deeply inhale the pungent scent. A flood of memories immediately assail me with this wonderful smell of earlier years working in archaeology as a university student. No wonder the smoke of this plant has been used for centuries to purify and clear energy.

Dabbling By Cool Rushing Waters
Moving on, sparkling, clear rivers flirt with the highway as the road curves and snakes with their flow. I take a creek side rest and dabble my hands in the cool rushing waters. There is nothing like this anywhere in the world. I should know. I have traveled to over 33 countries. I send a silent prayer of gratitude to my father who taught me to love and appreciate the wild beauty of nature. I wonder and applaud it is all still here. I ask myself for how much longer? My soul is soothed by the exigencies of living as I listen to the sounds, the birds, the waters. As ever when I do these trips I grit my teeth and ask why is it that I am always in such a hurry. I make a silent note to myself to add doddling and dabbling, not to be confused with doddering, to my list of things to do.  

#3 East

By Maryanna Gabriel
I have been driving. One of my most favourite places is the lower part of British Columbia, a real touchstone for me for it is an absolutely beautiful route. As I come to the Hope Slide I read that in January 1965, a minor earthquake brought down 4.6 million cubic meters of mountain, killing some folks on the highway. I am aware that the Hope Princeton area receives fairly continuous minor earth quakes as one of my obsessions is watching the earthquake reports. Munching on a sandwich, I stare at the miles of broken rock, contemplating the vagaries and precariousness of life. I think of Nepal and the recent severe quakes there and wonder at the seemingly solid earth between my feet. I continue and drive through residual snow in Manning Park and then my senses are blasted by the absolute heat of the interior plateau. I fool with the knobs of my car thinking there is something wrong until I get out and experience the gaspingly high temperatures. The road curves through charming valleys past barns like old skeletons through historic Hedley, the Kettle Valley and onto Greenwood which seems to me a town much like a living museum populated by historic buildings. Artifacts of the last two centuries abound as the entire area was mined for gold, silver, nickel, copper, and other minerals. I feel a deep quiver in my soul as a tall female moose steps out in front of me. I hold my breath and pray an oncoming car is not in the immediate future as she ambles across the highway, her long legs and impossible camel-like appearance bringing tears to my eyes. I let out a sigh of relief as she reaches the other side. I feel grateful for the wonder of seeing her. 

May 2, 2015

Owen's Grandmother And The Little Black Box

By Maryanna Gabriel 

"Making art is the only way to ran away without leaving home."
Twyla Tharp

Making my home and garden my own personal paradise is a great consolation for not being able to travel.  I love to create beauty and make my home a cosy place to be. That, and making art. I have been busy. I have just sent a new book off to the printers, always a nerve wracking process. This is the second worst part for these are the final adjustments now. The first worst part is the formatting for there is a lot of tetching and inching of things. The initial idea is always the easiest and once started the ideas seems to expand and flow easily. This book was inspired by my grandson. It is a combination of my love for him, and for my dog, along with my love of travel. There is a theme. Can Owen help his grandmother? It is called "Owen's Grandmother And The Little Black Box." At this point though, I generally lose objectivity about my drawings and I need to step away from the screen. It is a beautiful day today after a series of false promises from the weather man and I am going to head out and walk by the ocean along the north shore. Islanders are late risers and I usually have these early morning seaside ambles to myself.  

Owen's Grandmother