wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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The Dinner Table

My garden is a tangled mess this year because I’ve hurt my back and can’t bend down to pull out the weeds. (That’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it.) The flowers have been so generous about hiding the weeds until I’m feeling better. They’ve done such a good job that no self-respecting bird would think it was a place for humans only. One of my visitors recognized it immediately as “tamed gone wild” and made himself at home there.  He exuded confidence and a sense of ownership, only knocking once he was already  in the door.

What he knocked on was once a huge fir that stood too close to our house. We had to cut it down many years ago and only a low stump was left. After today, I’m glad, for the first time, that we didn’t try to auger out the stump and get rid of it. Apparently it made a good dinner table for Woody, the pileated woodpecker. The spellchecker insists on calling him a pillaged woodpecker, and it is partly true. He does have a pillaging nature.

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“Pillaging? … Me? A bird’s gotta eat!”

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“Now, hold on just a minute. I think some of my dinner fell off the table top.”

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“Do you think it would be polite to crawl under there to get it? I suppose if it fell on the floor, I should leave it … but it looks so good.”

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“Hmm … What to do … what to do???”

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“Oh, to heck with it. I think I can get it from up here. I’m gonna go for it.”

 

Stay tuned for the next installment, coming soon to a computer near you.

 

P.S.  I have just found out that the male pileated woodpecker has the red malar stripe (moustache), while the female does not have it. So this is definitely MR Woodpecker.


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Almond Bars

This is a very easy recipe (ingredients listed at the end), but I have to warn you, it is really sweet. I cut back on some of the sugar and it is still sweet.

*** You can easily use half the sugar or less and it will still be good. I’ve tried it.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

First, put into your food processor, 2 cups of white flour, 1/2 cup of icing sugar, and a cup of butter. Pulse it a few times to cut the butter into the flour mixture so it is evenly mixed and is the texture of soft sand.

Put the mixture into a 9 by 13 baking dish (I like my glass one), and gently but firmly press the mixture down to flatten it. This will be the crust which will resemble shortbread. No need to grease the pan.

While the crust is in the oven baking for 10 to 15 minutes (until it is just turning a pale golden brown), chop one cup of almonds (or you can use already sliced almonds).

Break four eggs into a measuring cup and whisk them around with a fork. Add 2 cups of sugar (I put much less and I had to substitute some brown sugar because I ran out of white), the cup of chopped almonds, 1/3 cup of corn syrup (you could probably use honey), 1/2 cup of melted butter, 2 tablespoons flour, and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (or vanilla or lemon or whatever you want).

Pour into the food processor and give it a couple of pulses. Then check on your crust to see if it is golden brown yet.

Take the baking pan out of the oven and be ready to pour the egg and almond mixture onto the hot crust.

As soon as you have the liquid mixture poured onto the crust, put the baking dish back in the oven, still on 350, and bake for another 25 to 28 minutes.

When the time is up, the topping should be a rich golden brown and be slightly puffy. This will collapse in a few minutes as it cools, and that’s fine. It’s what you want it to do.

As soon as you can no longer stand to wait, pour yourself a cup of coffee (or tea), and cut some squares from the pan of almond bars.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

Crust –

2 cups flour

1/2 cup powdered sugar (icing sugar)

1 cup butter

Topping –

2 cups sugar (I think it’s way too much…)

1 cup chopped almonds

4 eggs, slightly beaten

1/2 cup melted butter

1/3 cup corn syrup (or honey?)

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

 

The finished squares freeze well on a paper plate inside a ziploc freezer bag. Funny thing is though, they disappear quickly no matter where you store them.

 

 

 


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Bob the Cat

Bob the bobcat lives south of Tuscon, Arizona, where the skies shimmer with summer heat. He hangs out near the creek, partly for its coolness and a drink of water, but also because his potential lunch victims have the same idea.

Too late, the rabbit identifies those deadly black stripes on Bob’s legs, his bobbed tail, and the tufts of hair on his ears.

Bob loves a little rabbit lunch. On a lucky day (lucky for the rabbit), he will get away and Bob has to settle for one of the many other creatures that live in the desert.

Did you think the desert was just sand and cactus? Think again.  Small animals like lizards, snakes,  rabbits and hares,  chipmunks, quail, doves, and many more birds, mammals, rodents, reptiles, and insects live there.

Plenty of food for a bobcat. It should be an ideal life, but there are cactus spines to pull out of sore paws, and some insects to beware of. And did I mention rattlesnakes? Or ticks?

One of the local animals that gives bobcats trouble is the coyote. If there are trees around, Bob is probably safe. All he has to do is leap up into a tree and wait until the coyotes get tired.

However,  trees are not always handy. Coyotes often travel in small groups and are one of the bobcat’s main enemies.

Like the coyote, Bob has adapted to humans and doesn’t mind lurking at the edge of urban areas.  You might not think this pretty creature is dangerous, but if you are a small dog or cat, look out.

Doesn’t Bob look pettable? I’d be tempted to reach out to stroke his soft fur, but I know  he is not wanting my attentions. I’m guessing he has sharp claws and teeth.

Still … I would love to have a few tame moments with Bob purring and cuddling up close to me to be petted. Ah, well … that’s not going to happen — not in the real world.

Permission to use these photos has been kindly granted by Trisha Tubbs who took the photos near Quail Creek, Arizona.


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Tide Out, Fish In

At first glance you might think it’s a sandy beach, but your nostrils will tell you that iodine  breeze holds the smell of low tide.  That sand would be very soft to walk on and I wouldn’t advise it. When the tide comes in, all that “sand” will be under water. Meanwhile, there’s no telling how far you would sink into that sea bottom.

This is the east side of the causeway that divides the wharves where fish boats can tie up. It is what they call the new side, more recently dredged to provide more moorage and shelter for local boats.

The older side is more crowded because “the old salts” tie up there. It is busy with fishermen getting their boats ready for a summer of salmon and halibut fishing, often far enough from home that the men and their boats may be gone for many weeks.

You can see the roof and the rigging of the Captain’s boat on the bottom right-hand side of the photo below.

The new side is also busy, but is more convenient for boats that come and go more frequently.

Those who have fish for sale will want to moor on the new side. It is handier for the public to visit for dockside sales of whatever is in season. It might be prawns, shrimp, salmon, halibut  or other. Today it is halibut. The customers lined up on the dock know that they have to buy the whole fish. The price is high, but they gladly part with well over $100 for a small halibut. These flat fish have a delicate white meat which, though highly priced, is also highly prized. If you could see what the fishermen have to risk and endure to catch and bring these fish to harbour, you would say the price is a bargain for the customer.

As you can see, there is no shortage of people wanting fish for their supper.

I have removed the name and number of the boat to allow some anonymity for the boat owner.