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July 25, 2015

Honey Flowing On Tap

By Maryanna Gabriel

"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best-" and then he had to stop and think. 
Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there 
was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than 
when you were, but he didn't know what it was called."
 A.A. Milne The House At Pooh Corner

I Remove Wax Caps
Honey House
Travelling in a different sort of way I went with my neighbour this morning on a honey hunting expedition. I put on lots of clothes and followed her into her honey house with a veil on. She opened up the hives and we examined the combs for honey and brood commenting on the state of the blackberry flowers being so much better this year than last and the fact that the honey is on the brink of seriously flowing as a result. She was most appreciative that having bees increased the vegetable and flower output on her farm. Carefully she selected the combs she wished to extract and off we traipsed to do just that. She put me to work removing the wax caps. She told me that this mixture was wonderful for healing sore throats. Bees make something called propolis which has antifungal properties which they collect from the sap of the conifers here. It helps protect them from disease so that may be why this cap mixture is so helpful. Commercial beekeepers discourage the bees from making propolis because a lighter coloured honey is commercially more viable. Antibiotics are given which is one of the many difficulties bees are encountering today. In actual fact, the darker honey is far more nutritious. After we put the combs in a centrifuge the honey flowed on tap. 

July 20, 2015

Not Like Lot's Wife

By Maranna Gabriel

A Swim To Remember

Last night was hot. The hottest I can remember. Of course I swim in the lakes here to cool down and sometimes I go as the day turns to night. Last night my body refused to move in the heat although I thought of swimming several times. This morning though, first thing, I was there. It's a maple shaded dead-end country lane that is usually quiet, my favourite spot. I passed what surely must have been an unmarked car driven by a man who was dressed kind of like a police officer. Since when did we get unmarked cars already? That seemed unusual. The swim was beautiful and I watched someone row through the rising and sparkling sunlight as I delighted in the cool of the water. As I left, the RCMP officer had red markers across the road and I stopped. Nervously I realized I was not travelling with my purse or my drivers license. Oh, oh. His mind was on other things. He asked me had I just come in for a swim. Yes, clearly as I was dripping. "You saw me come in, right?" He nods. He just said someone had suicided by the side of the road that borders the lake. "It's not a pretty picture. You had better not look." My insides squirmed. "You mean I drove right by and never even noticed? A young person?" He nods. "I'm not supposed to talk about it." He waves me on as his radio blares and a woman walking a killer pack of tiny unleashed little dogs approaches. He never asked me for my driver's license. I do drive on. I don't look. I knew if I did it would haunt me. I might give swimming a rest for a bit. 

July 18, 2015

Home To The "Insanely Fertile Wombs Of Mother Nature"

By Maryanna Gabriel

Pencil Sketch Of My Beloved Bag
Reluctant to leave the place and the subject, I hop from Florence to Amsterdam amidst a plane load of European travellers. Hurtling through space and time at a discombobulating speed, I contemplate the vagaries of the Dutch airline headset and then give up as I try to relax with the airline magazine. Startled by the cover about "pristine" Canada, I flip to the featured article on the joys of "off-roading" in the Sunshine Coast area of British Columbia, a coastline that is northeast of my island home. I suddenly felt exposed. What? Here in Europe? This is interesting? Yes, apparently it was, says the author, such an adventure. The writer waxes on about the Canadian scene where "insanely fertile wombs of mother nature are the stuff fairy tales are made of...." - er, I see, well, harumph, yes, I suppose.

If one lives in the heart of culture on cobblestone streets and where history goes back centuries, and where there is really great cheese, this must all look, well, amazing. I felt protective all of a sudden. Exposed. As if some secret were out. I envisioned an onslaught. Save the ferns. Mumbling to myself, I made a note to visit the restaurant described in the article, The Laughing Oyster in Lund, ere too much time has passed. Here apparently the whales play, the locals have hootenannies, and there are oysters to be had fresh off the beach. Amazing.

July 13, 2015

Softest Of Heavens In Tuscany

Photos by Maryanna Gabriel

Sometimes it is just better to give up on the verbal and go with the visual. Imagine the feel of a deep Tuscan heat, the sound of cicadas and swallows, the smell of rosemary and lavender, the taste of beautiful pastry and pasta, chardonnay like butter, and understand that sometimes real life can be better than our finest dreams and dearest imaginings..... then you are here with me in the softest of heavens. xoxo

July 12, 2015

Definite Quality Marry Making

By Maryanna Gabriel 

"Not tonight I am trying to quit."
 from the movie It Started In Naples starring Sophia Loren & Clark Gable

Let's just say my daughter and son-in-law really know how to throw a party. It was not only the fantastic setting, it was the wonderful and accomplished people that came from all over the globe to attend. I was fascinated. Talent, brains, looks, and glamour, most absolutely glamour. We consistently dined al fresco. My only regret was not being able to stay awake night and day. I didn't want to miss a thing. After the actual ceremony we gathered on a most beautiful castle terazzo for apertivos. Then we moved to dinner. Hours passed. The courses kept coming. There was no way I was going to get down two pasta courses for example. The wedding cake was extraordinary... a kind of milles feuilles but slightly lighter in consistency with crema and small cherries that seemed to be soaked in a liqueur. It was delicious. The stories, the speeches, the toasting.... the amazing photos, and videos. And then there was the dancing....... 

July 11, 2015

Tuo Vuo Fal Italiano

By Maryanna Gabriel

"Isn't she lovely? Isn't she beautiful!"
 from the movie It Started In Naples starring Sophia Loren & Clark Gable

Ooooo....... ahhhhhhh.... the hills of Tuscany.... the soft warm sun.... the cypresses of Lebanon like flaming green candles on a gentle landscape.... the nights of liquid moonlight and the glow of fireflies... pasta that melts like honey.... walls painted the colour of butter.....beehives around a terrace of zuchinni... terazzos of red clay pots, roses, and dolce vita... you know a person could really get into this destination wedding thing. I asked myself had I died and gone to heaven? It was all like the most beautiful and extraordinary dream. 

Definitely not like my last trip to Italy. 

As promised in my previous entry I have a photo of the shoes.... everything went off without a hitch and the
... the shoes...
wedding was lovely. The castle was the cutest, gosh a person could really do with a small castle to call one's own. Updating something built in the twelfth century must be terribly difficult. I talked with the son of the count, who manages it, this makes him the count in waiting I suppose, and he said the upkeep was very dear. Yes, it must be. It was all so beautiful, tasteful, simple, yet sophisticated, the past and the present delightfully intertwined in the most thoughtful manner. More importantly, the beautiful bride and the handsome groom were very happy and there certainly was a lot of "quality merrymaking." Below is a movie made by my son-in-law as he and his bride readied themselves before the ceremony.