wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


28 Comments

Last Show

The maple tree overhanging the driveway is almost finished changing colour. Soon it will shed its colourful dress and stand there shivering in bare limbs. The tiny dogwood in the foreground is also getting ready to drop its leaves. One last show of colour and it too will be done.

Here is the maple closer up. A few leaves still have a bit of green but most have turned a golden yellow or orange.

The laceleaf Japanese maple is one of the first to turn reddish-orange. It is normally green, unlike some Japanese maples that are a purple colour for all of its growing season.

This black walnut is an ornamental tree (meaning that the walnuts are not meant to be eaten, like the regular walnuts we know). But the squirrels like them.

These walnuts have a thick green outer shell that peels away, revealing what looks like a regular walnut. The shell, however, is so thick that it takes a sledge hammer to crack it. And yet, that is exactly what I do for the squirrels. They don’t seem to mind the bitter taste of the meaty inside parts.

The video below shows this ornamental black walnut tree losing its leaves to the cool breezes that gust up now and then. The main whoosh of leaves is well into the video, so if you can spare 30 seconds of your life to watch, you’ll see this tree giving it up for another season.

 


37 Comments

Jay and Goldie

The town water hole has always been the meeting place. Jay the Steller’s  jay and Goldie the golden crowned sparrow meet there for a quick conversation.

“Oh, yuck! Who messed in the drinking water?”

 

“Was it you?”

“Are you talking to me?”

Wish he’d just hurry up and get his drink and leave. Nobody else gets a turn with him around.

 

Goldie wants a little sip,

Just enough to wet her lip.

Jay enjoys to dominate,

Making her procrastinate.

 

Jay is bigger and he’s mean,

Something Goldie’s never been.

She will put up with his swagger,

Though her look is like a dagger.

 

She will stand her ground below,

Quick to flee if she must go.

Jay the bully squawks a lot,

Manners are what he has not.

 

Gentle Goldie waits him out,

Has no need to screech and shout.

Jay gets bored and leaves the scene,

Goldie breathes, once more serene.


30 Comments

Easy Sandwich Buns

A bread machine can do more than just make bread. I haven’t made bread in it for ages. I’ve found that it’s quicker and easier to make flat buns. I’ll talk about the recipe at the end.

The advantages of making these buns instead of bread:

  • you can freeze the buns in ziplocs, six or eight to a bag and take out one or two as you need them
  • you don’t have half a loaf of bread that is less than fresh, sitting in the fridge
  • the buns are almost as fresh as if they were just out of the oven if you put the frozen bun in the microwave for 20+ seconds
  • they make great sandwiches
  • toast them if you want
  • you don’t use your bread machine for baking as much because you only use the dough setting, and so you prolong the life of your paddles and the “plastic” seals that seat them (you don’t bake the seals, which always seem to be the first to go in a bread machine).

 

When  the two hours of the dough setting have timed out and your dough is mixed and has risen, place the dough on a board and cut in half.

 

Press one half into a rectangle. You can use a rolling pin or just press with your hands. I just use my hands. Then cut the piece once lengthwise and then make cuts for eight pieces. Place those pieces on a buttered baking sheet. Do the same for the second piece of dough and place on a second baking sheet.

Whisk one whole egg in a small bowl. If my whisk isn’t handy I use a fork.

With a pastry brush, paint the beaten egg over the top of each bun. If you have a dog or cat, you might want to put that leftover egg in the microwave for a few seconds and after it cools, give them a treat.

After I brushed these buns with egg, I sprinkled cardamom and cumin on them, having ground some cardamom and cumin seeds in an old coffee grinder. I also sprinkled a few grains of coarse salt on the buns, but these are things that you can omit if they don’t suit your taste buds.  You can make up your own toppings to sprinkle on, or have none.

I put my oven on very low for a few minutes and then turn it off. When it is just barely warm, I place the two baking sheets in the oven to rise for about 20 minutes or so.

Then I take them out, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake the buns, one sheet at a time, for 22 minutes each. If I had a bigger oven or a convection oven I might be able to bake both baking sheets at once, but you know your own oven and will be able to figure out what works for you.

 

For these buns, you can change the basic recipe and play around with your ingredients to suit your own preferences.

Basically:

2 cups of  lukewarm liquid

2 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. honey (or sugar)

2 tsp. salt

5 cups flour

2 tsp. fast acting  (instant) yeast

*****

What I do:

I pour two cups of milk into a big measuring cup and put it in the microwave for two minutes.

Pour the milk into the bread pan in the bread machine.

Add the butter, salt, and honey.

Then, instead of using 5 cups of flour, I substitute for one of the cups of flour and use rolled oats, or Sunnyboy cereal, or cracked wheat, or whatever I feel like adding. Sometimes it’s a mixture of the above.

If I have them handy, I like to add a tablespoon of fennel seeds from my garden. I collect them in the fall and dry them, and they are so handy for baking or for adding to a mint tea.

On top of the flour, I add two teaspoons of the instant yeast.

*****

One last thing:

The buns work well for making garlic toast. Just cut a bun open as if you were making a sandwich, and then cut the two pieces in half. Spread with crushed garlic and butter. Toast under the broiler for a VERY short time. Use a timer, one minute at a time.

 

They also work really well for making paninis.

 


44 Comments

Thankful

The robins who flew down from the snowy hills a few days ago are having their Thanksgiving dinner. They may eat a few worms and bugs for meat, but the “robins’ version of cranberry sauce” for their dinner comes from these pyracantha berries by our house. Wikipedia says the berries are not poisonous although they contain miniscule amounts of a cyanide-like compound (heavy on the like, I hope). The berries are probably not harmful or I would see dead robins all over the place. They certainly gobbled down a lot of them, as they do every year at this time.

 

“Sure not much left on my plate,” he says, judging by all the emptied stems.

 

“But I think I spy a fat, juicy one down there.”

 

“Is it Anneli’s camera, or is this berry a bit fuzzy? … Never mind. It tastes pretty good just the same.”

 

“Ahh! That hit the spot.”

“And what are the rest of you Canadians having for your Thanksgiving? I hope your dinner was as good as mine. In my case, it may be just berries, but don’t we have a lot to be thankful for, even in these troubled times?”

 

 


30 Comments

A Glimpse into the Future

 

The swaths of clouds embraced the hills,

What lay between gave me the chills.

The first snowfall this season kissed

The fir trees peeking through the mist.

 

The robins fled their berry patch

For lower lands, their food to catch,

The geese and sandhills winged away

To find a warmer place to stay.

 

Yet later when the sun came out,

It said, “What’s all the fuss about?

I’ll shine my best and melt it down,

This early snow just makes me frown.

 

“I know it will return one day,

A month from now, the snow will stay.

So be prepared and fill the larder,

Soon the days will be much harder.

 

Make your shelters, line your nest,

Keeping warm will be a test,

But we will get through winter’s cold,

If we are ready and we’re bold.”


32 Comments

Lincoln is Bullied

Ooh! Look at the stash of sunflower seeds Anneli put out for me today!

Darn it all. There’s that nasty Estelle the Steller’s jay. She’s got quite a beak on her. I’ll just watch her out of the corner of my eye.

I’m being cool, having a drink of water, as if I’m not worried in the slightest. That’s the only way to keep those bullies at bay. You have to pretend they don’t scare you at all.

But oh my gosh. It’s going to be that kind of day. Look who’s hovering around. That Emma looks sweet, but she can be vicious when it comes to us squirrels. Still, I’m not scared of her … very much. I’d just bite her in that cute nose of hers.

Come down here and say that, Lincoln. I dare ya.

Oh no. I see Estelle edging closer … and that mutt is still hovering. Things are just getting a bit too hot around here. Think I’ll have to abandon lunch and come back later.

You had this all to yourself, Lincoln. Time you learned to share!

And don’t stand there gawking at me while I eat or I’ll fly up there and peck you in YOUR nose.

Yikes! It’s getting just a wee tad uncomfy around here. Think it’s time to skedaddle.

“I’ll be back … ya bullies!”


23 Comments

How Do You Choose a Book?

For those of you who follow my other blog which is mainly for readers and writers, this post is a duplicate of the one I am posting on annelisplace.com today. If you are interested in posts about writing, reading, and copy-editing, you might like to click to follow annelisplace.com.

I don’t post there as frequently as I do on wordsfromanneli, but you might find some of the posts on annelisplace interesting, so please follow if you like to read or write.

Here is today’s post with some ideas about choosing a book to read.

 

In a bookstore, I hate to admit it but I judge a book by its cover. But let me qualify that. I only let that be my first criterion. Still, for writers out there, hoping to sell a book, that first impulse of the reader to pick up a book with an intriguing cover can add a lot to your sales, so make sure you get a great cover for your book.

Next, I like to read the flap on the jacket, or the back cover if it’s a paperback. I want to be drawn into the subject of the book and have a taste of the dilemma the characters find themselves in without having the ending spoiled for me. Just a teaser is all I want.

Then, if I think this subject might be something for me, I will read the opening sentence, and maybe as much as the first page or two. That will tell me most of what I need to know.

If I’m browsing for an e-book and I’m on a site like Amazon or Smashwords, I will click on the book cover where it says “Look Inside.”

This is where I make my decision.

Does the opening sentence hook me right away? Is it relevant to the plot of the story? Beware of the amateur opening sentences that begin the scene with:

  • the alarm clock going off
  • someone waking from a dream
  • someone driving by in a vehicle and describing the scenery
  • the narrator talking about the weather and telling you “It was a dark and stormy night.”

How does the author handle dialogue? Are there too many fancy, distracting words that  replace “said” and “asked”? If I see words like “inquired,” “responded,” “explained,” “answered,” “replied,” “questioned,” and “announced,” I will reluctantly leave that book for someone else to suffer through.  Even if the author uses the standard “said” and “asked” to move the story along more efficiently, if these words are followed by adverbs, I am also turned off. Once in a while, it is acceptable, but not as a general rule. It becomes tiresome to read:

  • “How did that happen?” she asked angrily.
  • “I have no idea,” he said, innocently.

The only thing that could make it worse is to have a gerund added into the mix:

  • “How did that happen?” she asked angrily, bunching up her fists on her hips.
  • “I have no idea,” he said, innocently, rolling his eyes.

These are clues you will find easily in the first few pages of a book. If you notice these examples of poor writing, you can still flip a few pages and check to see if the pattern continues. If it does, you will probably be glad if you give that book a pass and look for something else to read.

There are many other clues you might look for to see if you might like a book, but in this post I have tried to mention a few of the main ones that I look for.

How do you decide on your next book to read?  Do you have some ideas you’d like to share? Please let us know in the comment section.

 


31 Comments

Heat, Rain, and Rainbows

After weeks of hot, dry weather, the cooler days of autumn are so welcome. The grass that was yellow and breaking off if anyone walked on it, is breathing a huge sigh of relief. With each little rainfall, it has greened up slightly. Now, it is getting a really good soaking as the skies opened up and torrents of water dumped out.


And of course, I ran for the shovel  when this rainbow appeared. I’m still looking for that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Sunny days are wonderful,

Warmth upon our skin,

All the flowers colourful,

Happy I have been.

 

But the sun shone every day,

Scorching every leaf,

Who would think we’d ever say,

Soon we’ll need relief.

 

People smiling through their sweat,

Lied and said, “How nice,”

Still they hoped that rain we’d get,

Even hail or ice.

 

Yet the sun just shone and shone,

As we watched the sky,

Secret rituals going on,

Rain dance on the sly.

 

Finally our wish came true,

Heavens opened wide,

Soaking people through and through,

As they ran to hide.

 

Rainbow glows in every shade,

Colours shining bold,

Hurry! Go and get that spade,

Dig that pot of gold.

.


30 Comments

Fall Crocuses

These crocuses don’t bloom until the autumn. In spring, they only have big green leaves which then turn yellow and wilt away. But in the autumn when everything else is dying and other blooms are finished, the flowers of this type of crocus pop up and bloom all alone without their leaves.

The Crocus family is having a meeting. They’ve seen Anneli coming along with her camera.

*****

“It’s picture time. Stand up straight, everyone!” says Ardyth. She’s the tallest crocus, the third one from the right. She likes to think she’s the boss.

They all stand up straight, noses in the air.

All except one. There’s ALWAYS one!

 

“Look at me, guys!” Mitch yells from his place on the ground. “I’m a python. I can swallow an animal whole. No teeth needed, no siree. I just open my big jaws and … GULP! Down the hatch! … Impressive, eh?”

 

If you could look into their faces, you would see the other six crocuses rolling their eyes. A breeze comes along to help them move as  they all shake their heads slowly.

So much for the family photo.

Ardyth sighs. “Oh, that Mitch and his snake fantasies.”

The row of well-behaved crocuses stretch their noses higher into the air.

“We’re being good, Ardyth,” they whisper eagerly. “But remember last year, when Gerald teetered back and forth until he finally leaned over backwards so far that he fell over and yelled, ‘Look at me! I’m a FALL crocus!'”

 


23 Comments

The Last Goodies

As the season officially changes on Sept. 22, at about 12:21 p.m. Pacific time, we say goodbye to the heat and drought of the summer from hell, and welcome the wind and rain of the shorter autumn days.

My garden was a disaster this year with a long cold spring that didn’t encourage seeds to germinate, and a dry, way-too-hot summer that threatened to toast any plants that dared to pop up. Watering barely kept things alive and below a half-inch barrier on the surface, the ground was often powder dry.

The fruit trees had a poor crop this year but a few plums (not as many as in other years) and a few (VERY few) apples managed to grow. My favourite apple tree, the Wilmuta (a cross between Jonagold and Gravenstein) wasn’t exactly loaded either but the few apples it did have were very nice. You can see the Wilmutas below.

The last of the plums. They’re so sweet and tasty, but there were not enough of them.

The walnuts look like they’re drying right on the tree instead of falling off still in their green husks. They don’t look that great this year, but I discovered today that Lincoln has found the backyard walnut tree too (after cleaning off the two hazelnut trees in the front yard).

I don’t think Lincoln will starve this year, as the nuts did all right by squirrel standards.

Digging holes to hide the nuts,

This is what I do,

Later they will fill my guts,

Very tasty too.

 

Working hard this time of year,

Just as I’ve been taught,

Later I can give a cheer,

For the food I’ve got.

 

Days are shorter, now it’s fall,

Must pick up the pace,

Hiding nuts, I have them all,

See my smiling face.

 

Come the winter, nights are chilled,

Cozy I will be,

Lying back with stomach filled,

Happiness for me.