Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Say "I do" in Múnegu

On July 1, 2011, fireworks will be flying, and not just here in Canada on Canada Day where we will have the honour of hosting the newly minted royal couple, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

On the same day in a land far, far away, Monégasques will join together and heave a collective sigh of relief that their fearless leader and long time bachelor, HRH Prince Albert II of Monaco will finally take a bride!  

In the first of two ceremonies, the happy couple will say "I do" (perhaps in negu, the traditional Monégasque language) and begin their new life together...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Auntie Under Attack or The Day I Wish I'd Stayed in Bed

Well, normally Auntie is a lucky duck and not much bad happens unless you call it bad luck to burn a batch of cookies because I couldn't hear the timer ring because I was in the garden and got distracted and forgot all about them.  I guess this is bad luck for Uncle Jim since he didn't get to eat his cookies.

Well, last Tuesday was a bit different.....
The first ominous sign of bad things to come was in the kitchen when my fruit bowl was surrounded by fruit flies.  It took some effort to eliminate those but thanks to my handy electric fly zapper, I zapped them all with a few swats and a bit of cursing.  It was an unlucky day for those fruit flies.

Then on my morning power walk, an old enemy returned:  a really mean Red-Winged Blackbird who swoops down at my head whenever I pass by.  This started last year and now I always run past the same spot with my hands waving in the air like some lunatic or like Tippy Hedren in Alfred Hitchcock's horror movie, The Birds.

Then, when I got home from my power walk, I went into the yard to stretch and there were 3 hungry squirrels, all pulling apples off of my apple tree.

After chasing them away I noticed that some racoons had arrived on the scene.  I think they were conspiring  with the squirrels, hoping for a few apples. 

The day continued to slide when that night my computer was hit by a massive virus that took it over and Uncle Jim had to bring it to a computer repair shop where they had to wipe the hard drive and reinstall it.  This left me for an entire week without a computer.  Boo Hoo!

Ah well, I've put all of that behind me and it seems my luck has returned to normal:  last night I dreamed that I won a trip for two to France!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Yabba Dabba Do! Auntie Visits Bedrock

Auntie Visits Bedrock
If a Genie rose from its bottle and granted you one wish, what would you wish for?  For me, it could only be one thing:  the ability to time travel!

Ever since I can remember, time travel has been my idea of a good time.  When I was a kid I imagined going back in time to study harder on that test that I had failed or to relive a day that was really fun and that I never wanted to end.

I imagined zipping here and there, backwards and forwards in time, being an eye witness to important historical events and learning firsthand the truth about perplexing things like how the pyramids were built or seeing what really killed all the dinosaurs.  Or maybe I'd zip into the future and see what's going to happen next in the world and look all smart and get really rich by buying successful stocks.

Well in the not too distant past, Auntie had a little time travel adventure of her own.  It all started when Wilma Flintstone called me from her shell phone.  The sound wasn't too good since shell phones are generally incompatible with my 21st century phone but I got the gist of what she said:  "come to Bedrock because there's going to be a big party to celebrate Betty's birthday."  She also said that we would surprise her and all go to the Rockadero Night Club because two of Betty's favourite performers would be on stage:  Anne Margrock and Stony Curtis. Who could resist an invitation like that?
Right after I hung up I I logged on to the Rockanet and booked a flight on Pterodactyl Airlines who were having a half-price sale to Bedrock.

We all  had a great evening at the Rockadero and everyone turned out to wish Betty a Happy Birthday and take part in the celebration.  Mr Slate, Mrs Slaghoople, Wilma, the Great Gazoo, Fred and Barney and I were all there.
The Camera Bird is Back

That little adventure to Betty's birthday party in Bedrock came flooding back to me when, in one of  the boxes in our basement, I found a drawing that my dear high school friend, Peter Emslie drew of me with Fred and Barney.  Peter just happened to be in Bedrock for a dancing competition sponsored by the Rock Astaire Studios and I asked him to join me at the Flintstones' for a pre-party cocktail.  I'm lucky he did - Fred's camera bird had flown the coop so if it hadn't been for Peter I would have no pictures of me visiting Bedrock at all and then you would not believe this story, dear readers.

Your Friendly Neighbourhood Wormhole
Well, if you'd like to time travel too, I can recommend these three excellent options:  One, board a space ship and fly around the universe until you find a worm hole, fly into it and cross your fingers.  It's probably the most unpredictable way to time travel since you may land in a different universe or a different place in time so remember to bring some sea sick pills and a toothbrush.  You can get some helpful hints by watching National Geographic's really good video explanation of worm holes and time travel.

Safe, Comfy Time Travel
Two, and infinitely more reliable, is to build a time machine yourself like George in the H.G. Wells novel, The Time Machine.  At least George had a comfy seat and a handy lever so he could set the time machine quite accurately to the year he wanted to visit.  George eventually lands in the year 802,701.  I guess he wasn't all that interested in the past.

The best way of all, I think,  is to do what I did:  When I discovered Peter's drawing of me visiting Bedrock I traveled into the past.  Then, in the present, Peter, Uncle Jim and I had lovely lunch where we talked about what we were planning for the future.  Now that's a nice civilized way to time travel. 

Any way you chose, just remember to pack your camera so everyone will believe you when you tell them where you've been and what you've seen.

Now if only that Genie would show up!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Red Fish, Blue Fish, Dead Fish, Icky Fish!

Well, I know I'm not hard of smelling because on Auntie's morning power walk while passing a big pond, a bad smell surrounded me.  I know it wasn't my sneakers.  They were brand new.  A little poking around by the side of the pond and there it was, the source of the stink:  a big huge dead floating fish!

Generally speaking, I'm not one of those squeamish girls so mustered up a bit of courage and went in for a closer look and double yikes!  The big dead floating fish was covered in thousands of ugly icky white wiggly maggots!

It was fascinating and gross all at the same time.  Boys would love it!

So I did what any scientifically minded Aunt would do and pulled out my camera and shot a video.  Take a look for yourself my brave ones.  But I must warn you, it's probably the ickiest thing you will ever see.

On the news lately there have been stories about the many dead fish floating in the Rideau Canal.  Parks Canada has been reassuring us that dead fish floating around, stinking everything up is a natural occurrence.
Well even though maggots feasting on a dead fish is very icky, it is after all, a natural occurrence too.   Why is it that natural occurrences are so often stinky?

I think I'll go over to the pond tomorrow and see what happens next....

Friday, June 3, 2011

I Scream You Scream for Tutti Frutti's Excellent Ice Cream

Well, I think I've done enough whining about the Grand Prix and now that it's all over for another year and all that remains is a bit of hearing loss, it's time to move on to happier things - ice cream!

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of ice cream, both making it and eating it.  My favourite being Green Tea Häagen-Dazs which for some baffling reason is available only in Asia.
In France and across the border in Italy there are more ice cream shops than you can count and most of them aren't worth a lick.
The best ice cream around here, aside from Auntie's of course, is made by Mr Richard Gaglio, Glacier or ice cream maker, who is the owner and founder of the Tutti Frutti Ice Cream Shop on the main pedestrian street in Menton.
Throughout the summer there are always long lines of tourists and locals alike, all waiting in the summer heat to devour a dish or cone of his fabulous ice cream.  My favourite is chocolate.

His passion and knowledge is obvious after the first lick.  His ice creams are smooth, delicious and creamy.  Second lick and you can tell that he uses only the best ingredients:  fresh cream and milk, high quality natural flavourings like vanilla pods instead of vanilla extract and not too much sugar which I believe should enhance the other flavours not overwhelm them.  I'm always a wee bit suspicious when I taste ice cream that is too sweet.

The flavours he prepares are traditional, not trendy, and he does them very well indeed.

Mr Gaglio put down his scoop for a few minutes and answered some questions about being a Glacier and making everyone happy, one scoop at a time.

How did you learn to be a Glacier?

I became a Glacier by chance when I began working for a master Glacier in 1988. I worked for him until 1997.  He was from a family of Glaciers who had been in the business since 1895.  He didn't have any children so he took me under his wing and taught me the business and how to make ice cream.  When he retired I created my own ice cream business with everything he taught me.    
Is Tutti Frutti a family business or are you the first one in your family to become a Glacier?  

I started the Tutti Frutti as a family business in 1998.  My two children and my wife work along side me.  I'm the first in my family to become a Glacier.

Are there any flavours that sell more than others?

The most popular flavours I sell are:  vanilla, strawberry, chocolate, hazelnut, pistachio, lemon and cookie.

What is your philosophy behind making such good ice cream?

My philosophy is simple:   The quality of the ingredients ultimately determines the quality of the end product and a quality product means satisfied customers.

What is your favourite flavour?

I have simple tastes - vanilla!

How has ice cream making technology changed over the years? 

The work methods for making ice cream basically have remained the same over the years but some new products have allowed us to improve the quality of the ice cream.

If you weren't a Glacier, what else would you be doing?

If I weren't a Glacier, I would like to work in the forest.