wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Fish Foolery

No, we don’t eat bananas with our trout, but it’s there to show the relative size of the fish.

You’d think it’s easy to be smarter than a fish, but have you ever tried to catch one that didn’t want to be caught? You might be surprised how wary they are, and if you try to lure them to bite a hook, you’ll learn that they are choosy too.

Fish basically eat insects, and each other’s babies. Nasty little critters, aren’t they? And yet, when I’m lucky enough to get one onto my dinner plate, they don’t taste nasty at all. The trick is to get them there.

So I’ll defer to the Captain, who has been trying for a lifetime to outsmart a fish. He loves the art of tying “flies” (lures made with fur and feathers and other components), to suit the mood and appetite of the fish at any particular time. Appetites change with the season, the temperature, the weather, and a few other factors.

Assuming you have a fishing rod and a boat to get out onto the lake to try fishing, here are some things the trout might look for. What we are trying to do is to create a lure (a fly) that simulates something the trout might be attracted to. We need to be a little bit mean, and hide a sharp hook in this “fly” to catch our dinner.

When flying ants are hatching, the trout love to make a meal of them near the edge of the lake where the swarms of newly hatched ants are crawling on the overhanging branches and often drop into the water. The simulated ant below has wings made of window screen mesh.

Another favourite food of the trout is the nymph dragonfly. The eggs are laid near aquatic plants in the quiet waters near shore. Sometimes in as few as five days, the eggs hatch into the nymph stage of the dragonfly. This is when they are often picked off by trout. The nymphs who survive, split their skin up to twelve times on their way to adulthood (rather than sitting in a cocoon to wait for development to be completed), and this series of molting can take up to four years. Once adulthood is reached, the dragonflies mate and the female lays eggs. Both male and female dragonflies only live about four or five months after mating.

Below is a dragonfly lure simulating the nymph stage. The nickel is placed in the photos to show the relative size.

 

Below is a shrimp “fly.”

And of course there are leeches in many of the lakes. Not nice for swimmers, but lovely for a trout’s meal.

And this nasty little critter, below, is a bloodworm, the larval stage of the midge fly. It lives in the shallow lake bottoms and can give people or animals a venomous bite that hurts like a bee sting.

When the bloodworm changes to the pupa stage of the midge fly (Chironomidae) it floats up to the surface of the water, and then in the next stage it turns into a small fly.

In the above flies, the one on the left has a white bubble that floats the pupa to the surface where it rests for a while until its wings dry and it can fly away (if a trout doesn’t snap it up first).

 

Trout have no scruples when it comes to eating other fish’s babies.  Here are some of the lures made to look like minnows used to entice them to bite.

But now comes the lure that I find the most fun. It is made from a small piece of rabbit fur. Yes, rabbit fur!  Made to look like sculpins and bullheads, fish that stay near the bottom, these lures have an amazing action that simulates that of these bottomfish.

 

Here is a short video showing the action of one of these lures.


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Bald Eagles

I saw an eagle land in a tree below my house, so I went out onto the deck to take its picture.

Then I zoomed in on it and got a close up of it, but had no place to steady the camera and just took my chances.

In a second closeup, I saw that he had his beak open and I could see its tongue, but I see that the photo is quite small on the blog, so if you want to see the eagle’s tongue, you’ll have to click on the photo to make it bigger. Even so, it will be hard to see.

These birds are much bigger than they look. If you had one sitting beside you with its wings spread out, tip to tip those wings could span 8 feet. The bird might weigh about 14 lbs., the size of a small turkey. 

Anyone walking a small dog or worse yet, letting it run around in their backyard in eagle territory, had better watch out for it. They make a nice snack. Although eagles are not water birds, they will do what they have to do to procure food. I have seen an eagle with a loon in its beak, dragging it across the surface of the water as the eagle swims with one wing paddling like a lifeguard saving a drowning person, until it got to shore where it cold devour the bird. I have seen it do the same after swooping down to pick up a coho salmon just below the surface of the water. They are incredibly strong birds.

At this time of year, the herring come close to shore to spawn. This means a bounty of food for the eagles. You can see these birds showing up in the tall trees near the beaches in greater numbers to await the arrival of the herring. 

Eagles are not totally scavengers, but they are like a cleanup crew of a different kind. They are opportunists and will eat what is already dead, but they pick off sick or injured animals, whether they be land- or sea-birds, small mammals, or fish.  A crippled duck won’t suffer long with eagles around.

This is why you will often see eagles high up in a tree. They observe a large area, watching for stragglers in a flock of birds, or any weakness in animals small enough for them to pick up.

 

This raccoon may have been sick, injured, or dead, and became an eagle’s meal.

“Hmm…. There must be a little morsel left.”

 

“He’s messed up my nice white head feathers, but it’s worth it. What’s a bit of blood when you can fill your boots like this?”

“Just a few tidbits left. I hope I can still fly up into that tree with my stomach so full.”

 

Once when I was playing with Ruby, our late springer spaniel (then a small puppy), in the backyard, two eagles had been sitting unnoticed by me, in a nearby fir tree. They swooped down low across the yard, heading for tiny Ruby. I ran for Ruby and spread out my arms to provide an “umbrella” over her, and the eagles lifted up like two jets making an aborted landing. If I hadn’t been out there with her, she would have been eagle food that day.

 

So take care if you live in eagle country and have small dogs or cats. 

 


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More Bags

I wanted to share a project I’ve been working on while we are all housebound by the coronavirus.  A few years ago I made a tote bag at a workshop. That inspired me to start looking for some more ideas online and to take those ideas and adjust them to the materials I had to work with.

These bags are meant to carry almost anything you can fit inside them: books, gadgets, cosmetics bags, wallets, and small items you shop for and don’t need a plastic bag for (as long as you have the receipt).

The inside has two side pockets for carrying things you don’t want to lose in the deep dark bottom of the purse — maybe your house keys, cell phone, shopping list — anything you want to have handy access to.

I got confident enough to make two bags at once, like in an assembly line. I would not have done that with my first few bags. I would have ended up making the same mistakes twice.

You might notice that I have chosen to use Velcro fasteners to close the bag, rather than putting in a zipper. I would have liked the zipper, but I once had a very nice leather bag that I really liked, but when the zipper went, that was the end of the bag. I’ve been using Velcro as fasteners for some time now, and it works quite well. In the photo below, you can see the Velcro sewn into the top inside edge of the bag.

I might have to come up with a new plan for bags to keep from getting bored.


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Beach Walk

After months of wind and rain, followed by at least a week of snowy blasts, the sun let us know that it’s still up there. It lit up the white hills and said to us, “Come out, come out. I’ll warm your back as you walk on the beach.”

The Captain and I took Emma to the beach on the east side of the spit, where the morning sun was warmer and much of the snow was gone.

Emma loved it, but then she saw something that stopped her in her tracks. “Whoah!” she said. “WHAT is that large woman doing out there in this icy water?”

She wasn’t swimming much — more like bobbing in the waves. She didn’t seem to mind the cold.

To her right, was a very relaxed sea lion head. I looked back at the woman and saw that what I thought was a head,  was really the sea lion’s flipper.

A whole group of them lay on their backs, enjoying the morning sun. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’d had a breakfast of kippers. It’s that time when the herring come in close to the beaches to spawn. That makes the sea lions happy, as well as the eagles and sea gulls, all of whom love to eat the herring spawn and herring bodies that wash up on the beach for a wonderful smorgasbord.

Everybody (except the herring) is happy these days.

Don’t forget to visit my other blog, https://annelisplace.wordpress.com/2021/02/12/the-trap/

Also, please visit my website to find out more about my books and my copy-editing.  http://www.anneli-purchase.com/


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Love, Love, Love

I wish I knew how to make the mouth move and dub in the words, but this is Ellie, my sister-in-law’s dog, wishing everyone a very happy Valentine’s Day. Be good to each other.

I’ve been asked what breed Ellie is, so I’ve added this bit. She’s a Coton de Tulare.  Related to Bichon. 

A word of kindness never hurt,
It costs us naught to say it,
So why not give it generously,
It's easy, don't delay it.

We never know what kind of day,
And worries others have,
A loving word, a smiling face,
Could be a healing salve.

Don't do it 'cause it's Valentine's,
We need to supersede it,
To make the world a better place,
God only knows we need it.


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The Leaner

A small fir tree has been leaning for about a month, threatening to fall on anyone walking by. The top of the tree is hung up in the branches at the top of one of the big firs.

This tree expert digs in his climbing spikes, and hangs onto the lanyard he has slung around the tree and clipped to his belt.


He climbs a few feet and prepares to loop a second lanyard around the tree. These “ropes” are also called fliplines because he flips them around the tree before fastening them to his belt.

Once he has fastened the higher flipline, he unclips the lower one and climbs a few feet higher again. Then he repeats the process, flipping the loose line higher up the trunk and clipping it onto his belt before unclipping the lower one.

Notice that he has been climbing the bigger tree next to the leaner. Now that he is near the place where the smaller tree is hung up on the bigger one, he starts his power saw and cuts away some of the branches that the leaner is hung up in. You can see parts of the faller (his right foot on the left side of the tree, just below the lanyard that circles the big fir).

Once he has cleared away the branches that are in the way, he fastens a long rope to make a pulley system that I don’t understand, but that is strong enough to hold his weight as he leans over to cut sections from the top of the leaner.  In the photo below you can see that one section is already falling, as he has just finished making the cut.

Feeling secure enough to trust the orange pulley system, he undoes the lanyards that looped the tree, and lowers himself a little farther to cut several more sections before lowering himself to the ground.

A much shorter trunk is left standing. This length is more manageable for falling in a certain direction, to avoid tangling up with other trees and especially to avoid hitting our fence.

In the short video clip, you will see how quickly and easily the rest of the tree falls.

We love to see the trees around our home, but when they are leaning precariously and become a danger to anyone passing by, sadly they have to be taken down. As it turned out, this tree had root rot, and the top of the tree was already turning brown, and I suspect that this was a contributing factor to the beginning of its fall in one of our recent windstorms.

For those of you who are not visitors to my second blog, please feel free to come read some of my writing tips and some short stories and anecdotes at https://annelisplace.wordpress.com/2021/02/12/the-trap/  The latest post is about a situation the Captain and I got ourselves into as we toured the former Yugoslavia.


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Chilly Days

With a switch from southeast, the northwest wind brought that breeze that smells like polar bears. It breathed on the local hills and shocked the birds who had thought wind and rain were hard enough to endure.

(Bird pictures taken through my dirty windows. Sorry.)

Cold and hungry, they search out any source of food. Sure I have suet out, and the birdfeeders are always topped up, but something more is needed today.

Saskia, the pine siskin, catches a few rays of sunshine, out of the wind.

“Ahh! That feels so good on my feathers.”

She sits on a fir cone and decides that she likes the one next to her better.

“It’s a stretch,” she says, “but so worth it. Yikes! Nearly fell off.”

Orson (top left) mutters, “I don’t see anything.”

Saskia calls to him (bottom right), “Come on down here, Orson. Plenty of cones over here. Great bunches of them!”

Brother Sasha’s found a good one. “But whoah! The blood is all running to my head.”

What a showoff he is! “There’s plenty of cones down here,” Saskia calls to him, “and you don’t have to be an acrobat to get at them.”

“Ooh! Yum! Kind of like sticky caramel candies. I’ve got a good one here.”

The nights have suddenly gone cold,
If we don't eat, we won't get old,
With sunny rays, though they are rare,
The cold is easier to bear.

The fir trees shelter from the breeze,
And we can find the cones with ease,
Inside them is a sticky snack,
We eat them fast and then come back.

Our squirrel, Lincoln, loves them too,
But kindly he has left a few,
The polar wind is such a beast,
We hope it switches to southeast. 

A few more days of icy toes,
And then we hope that winter goes,
Around the corner, spring awaits,
Take heart and let's hang in there, mates.


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Practical Project – Fly Rod Sleeve

When you go fly fishing, sometimes you have to walk through dense brush to get to the lake or river. Carrying a fly rod can be a challenge when shrubbery seems intent on grabbing at the rod and you walk by. If you have your rod ready to go, with the line through the guides and that special fly you tied already attached, you don’t want to get hooked up on every twig as you pass by.

Even if you have a clear launching place for a skiff and you plan to motor to your special spot on the beach some place farther along, what do you do with the rod? You don’t want your expensive Sage rod and your almost equally expensive Islander reel to smack against the aluminum sides of the skiff with every bump of the waves.

Have you ever tried to thread the fly line through the guides on the rod while you’re sitting in a boat? Not so easy. So it’s often better to have the rod ready to go. But then it is so long and unwieldy. Nine or ten feet long is not unusual.

So you separate the parts of the rod after you have it all “threaded” and now you are dealing with half the length. The reel is already fastened onto the end of the rod.

Now all you need is a safe way to carry your ready-to-go rod and reel.

That’s when you want a cloth sleeve to put your fly rod and reel in. I put my amateur sewing skills to work, looked at an old sleeve we had kicking around and made up some sleeves to fit two nine-foot rods and then, feeling encouraged, I made two more that were a bit longer to accommodate the ten-foot rods.

Now the Captain is all set to take the rods to “work.” He’s having so much fun, I may never see him again.

Photo courtesy of Ken Thorne.

If you haven’t checked out my second blog, why not give it a try. I do a lot of writing tips, but there are also stories from time to time. Today’s story is called “A Lousy Story.”

https://annelisplace.wordpress.com/


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Carving the Bird

It’s not a turkey that needs to be carved, but Fletcher the Flicker is getting creative as he dines on a snack of suet at the feeder.

“I’m going to carve you into a little duckling. Who knows? It might improve the flavour.”

“Oops! What was I thinking? I’ve eaten your bill, my little duckling.”

“Hmm! You’ve got a problem there, Fletch.”

“Well don’t just sit there and criticize, Orson. Do you have any bright ideas?”

“I guess not. Unless he’s gone to think about it….”

“Well, Fletch, I … er … let’s see …. For one thing, his bum’s too fat.”

Fletcher closes his eyes and counts to ten. “Lord give me strength.”

But then Orson has an idea.

“You pick away under his chin – that will help – and I’ll pick away at his fat tush. And by the way, it’s great working with you, Fletch. That snarky starling is not nearly as nice as you are.”

“I’m keeping my distance when he’s around. Get a load of that spearing beak and those mean, beady eyes. Not to mention that grabbing set of claws he’s got. No, Sir! I’m not doing anything to draw attention to myself. No sneaking a bite while he’s there.”

Fletcher carves a duck of suet,
Asks his friend for help to do it.
Orson's happy to oblige him
Least he knows he won't get bludgeoned.

Snarky starling, meanest birdy,
Doesn't share, and oft plays dirty.
Orson spends his time with Fletcher,
Both are happy, yep, you betcha.


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The White Stuff

“Eh? Orson? What’s that you said?” That Oregon junco knows everything that’s going on around here.

It's a chilly wind today,
My fur coat is on to stay,
I'm so happy to be warm,
With the temps below the norm.

“If you’d pay attention, Lincoln, you’d know there’s been a big change in the weather.” Him and his big fur coat. He probably hasn’t even noticed. But just look at Emma. She’s still trying to figure it out too.

Look now, Lincoln! See the ground,
See the flakes fall all around?
Food will be more precious though,
Covered as it is with snow.

“Sheesh! This is just like in the movies where Bambi says, ‘Mother, what’s all that white stuff?’ and she says, with her soft, stunned voice, like some naive housewife out of a 50s sitcom, ‘Why … it’s snow!'”

Emma snarfs in deep, long sniffs,
White stuff gives off special whiffs,
Did a raccoon pass by here?
Did a rabbit scratch his ear?

Licking, tasting flakes of snow. 
Tries to bite it, where'd it go?
Funny flakes of wetness fall,
On her head and over all.

Emma gives her coat a shake,
Leaving just one lonely flake,
Sitting on her pointy nose,
Then into the house she goes.