Magic Cottage Creations

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July 22, 2020

Plums With Fresh Thyme

By Maryanna Gabriel

There is a plum tree I love that is producing wonderful amber coloured plums right now which I have just picked.

I tried this recipe. You halve the plums and place fresh thyme, walnuts, brown sugar or honey, on top and broil. Serve on Greek yogurt with whipping cream. Is it ever good.

July 19, 2020

Linguine Cacio E Pepe

By Maryanna Gabriel

The rolling words cacio and pepe caught my eye and I looked them up. It turns out to be an Italian pasta with the rather splendid ingredients of black pepper, parmigiano and pecorino - complete ambrosia (except there is no garlic). 

Sundays always make me think of my mother for she prided herself in not serving a roast - rather she made spaghetti. We kids loved it. I continue the tradition, a form of ballast and connection to the past. As it is summer, I try to be lighter. I am making the linguine with chopped garlic scapes and snow peas from the garden and anything else that looks good along with the cacio and pepe. Yum. 

July 18, 2020

Needing More Unpacking

By Maryanna Gabriel

It was all very promising. An email from a journal arrived, written by the editor. I read the rejection note and felt elated. He said that my story was a "promising piece" but that it needed more unpacking, therefore they would not be publishing it.

I was pretty excited. You'd think I wouldn't be, but it means I am getting close. If I can ever get through the massive assignments for the MFA I will take another look at my writing and this unpacking business.

Unpacking. Interviewers seem to be saying, "Can you unpack that a bit more for me?" It's the word of the year.

July 9, 2020

Tiger Tiger

By Maryanna Gabriel

"Tiger, tiger burning bright
In the forests of the night."

- William Blake

Last night I dreamed a tiger was stalking me. I pulled children into my studio to protect them but the tiger followed us, interested in going right for me. The tiger held out its two front paws and a nail from each went against my shoulders and held me. I was frozen. Then the tiger let me go. It was as if the tiger wanted to show me how powerful it was, but it wasn't going to harm me.

Stunned by the dream, I thought about tigers all day. Their power. Their beauty. What did it mean, I wondered, to have such a dream? In the end I decided the tiger is a symbol of courage and royalty and that it was a tremendous honour to have one come to me, even if it was in my sleep. They are so magnificent, aren't they?

July 8, 2020

Blue Peas

By Maryanna Gabriel

I have the loveliest blue peas bursting forth in crunchy tastiness in the garden. It is so pretty as we pass midsummer, trying to store light from the sun in our bones for the winter ahead. I will have to remember to save some of the seeds.

As I shoo away the rabbits and plant beans for the third time (this time under a blanket of remay) I am noticing that the potatoes planted upright are doing so much better than those planted in the garden bed. Maybe it is the soil, but it is also a question of taking less space. I am guessing there will be more potatoes as well. Years and years of gardening and I am still learning....

July 7, 2020


By Maryanna Gabriel

"...there is a time to take back the years you lost 
in high school. The time is now."
-Natalie Goldberg

    Sometimes the message we get in childhood affect us our entire lives and it takes a bit of sorting to reframe beliefs that we might have of ourselves that are simply not true. When I was in grade twelve I had an English teacher I was very excited to learn from. He brought in a student teacher. I remember working on a paper for a long time, the table I worked at, the colour of the yellow paper I was writing on. The opening paragraph was quite splendid and I was proud of it, for I had I crafted it for a long time.

    The student teacher failed me. Why? She said I plagiarized. She decided the writing couldn't possibly be mine. It was too good. I mentioned it to my father who told me to speak to the teacher. I didn't at first. I thought how can I prove it is mine, if she says it isn't? When I realized it was affecting my transcript for university, I did go and speak to him. By then it was too late, he said, the marks were official. He seemed to accept what I had to say- the student teacher had long gone. I continued on at university and studied archaeology but I avoided literature, my first love, for I felt hollowed out by what I had experienced. One inexperienced teacher had redirected my life with her mistake.

    This week I got my writing portfolio returned from Simon Fraser University's, The Writer's Studio. It said 100/100. While there were comments on how I could improve my writing, this dear teacher, a published author who has worked for publishing houses, had encouraging praise. This is the stuff that fuels one; it makes me want to go forward. I thought of that student teacher of long ago, and the English teacher who has since died, and the damage done and wanted to blanket the old scar with care.

    When we are very young we make decisions about ourselves based on the feedback given. Much of it is complete rubbish. How many of these do we carry? We each do, don't we?