wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Blue Moon on Halloween

No, the moon is not blue. More like blurry, because of the clouds. But it is called a blue moon (and many other names) when a full moon happens twice in one month. The moon would have to be full on the first and the thirty-first of a month, and that would make it a relatively rare occurrence.

This time, it happens to be on October 31st, Halloween.

Halloween will be different this year because of the ongoing threat of the coronavirus. Trick-or-treating is being discouraged, and to be honest, I don’t want the munchkins coming to my door, no matter how sweet their costumes are. I don’t want to be picking up the virus at the door and then passing it on to my elderly family members.

The kids can have fun in other ways, just this once, until we get the virus under control. I know that missing out on trick-or-treating is survivable because I’ve done it.

So here is my story.

When I was very young, we lived in Germany. On All Saints’ Eve (what we call Hallowed Eve – or Halloween here in North America), my mother took me by the hand and we visited the town cemetery. My grandfather, who had died of cancer at the young age of 75, was buried there. I loved my grandfather and he loved me, so there was nothing spooky about going to visit his resting place. Several other village people were also visiting the graves of loved ones, and most brought candles in coloured glass containers to place on the graves. The cemetery was neat and well kept up. With the many lights glowing on the graves, the whole place was peaceful. I remember feeling close to my beloved grandfather and in awe of the pretty lights. The hushed conversation of other visitors showed their respect for their lost loved ones.

We came to Canada soon after that, when I was six years old. The following year, on Halloween, I heard about all the kids going out trick-or-treating. This would be fun! But my enthusiasm had cold water thrown on it when my mother laid down the law and said, “No child of mine is going door to door begging for candy.”

“But it’s not like that,” I whined. No amount of fussing would change her mind. For the next four years she stuck to her guns and our family became the weird ones that didn’t believe in Halloween.

By the time I was 11, she relented. She was beginning to understand that it wasn’t about begging. My younger brother and I were allowed to go out to a few houses on the block to trick-or-treat.

On the afternoon of the 31st, the radio told of a severe windstorm that was due to hit at six p.m. We didn’t really believe it. Not a breath of wind. We put on our costumes and got our goodie bags ready. As we tried to go out the door at six o’clock, we wondered why it wouldn’t open. We pushed against it and had to get our mother to help. As soon as she opened the door, it ripped out of her hand and slammed against the side of the house. The big windstorm had hit us at exactly 6 p.m. My mother yanked us back inside lest we might blow away, and pronounced, “You can’t go out in this. It’s too dangerous.”

Fast forward to the next Halloween when I was 12. I had grown into a tall skinny girl, but inside that gangly body lived a child who had yet to experience trick-or-treating. We trooped out with our goodie bags, anticipation ratcheted up into high gear. At the first house, we called “Trick or treat.” The owner came to the door and said to me, “Getting a bit old to be doing this, aren’t you? It’s supposed to be for little kids.”

I was glad I had a mask on so he couldn’t see me fighting not to cry.

I never went trick-or-treating again, and I suppose I have a warped idea of what Halloween is about. When I see scary spiders, monsters, ghosts and vampires flitting around neglected cemeteries, it is not something I find easy to relate to. My grandfather’s cemetery was clean and cared for. It had a manicured hedge and clean gravel paths between well-tended graves. It was not a scary thing to visit him. The North American version of Halloween jarred when I compared it to my first experiences of All Saints’ Eve.

Still, customs vary, and I’ve learned to accept that Halloween is not all bad. Most people love it and they are not easily scared by the horror they conjure up to celebrate this holiday.

I don’t like horror shows. They give me nightmares. I’m a wimp. I don’t begrudge others having fun, but I find it hard to get into the creepy spirit.

A tame Halloween is fine for me. Give me the pumpkin pie and a taste of that chocolate bar from the goodie bag, but keep the spiders away from me.

If you’d like to see posts on copy-editing horrors, please visit my other blog.


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Apples – A to Z

Apple time is nearly over and each type of apple has its season. Our transparent apples, tart cooking apples, are the first to ripen, followed by the Gravenstein, a delicious eating apple. Then comes the MacIntosh, thinner skinned, but also a good eating apple, and finally the best winter apple I’ve ever tasted, the Wilmuta.

The apple trees were loaded this year, probably to make up for last year’s almost non-existent crop.

I’m guilty of not pruning the trees well (or at all) last winter and the trees were so weighed down with apples that a major branch threatened to break. I stuck a piece of wood under it to prop it up. I promise to prune the trees for next year.

I had never heard of Wilmuta until I bought this one, almost 30 years ago. My favourite apple is probably the Gravenstein, but Jonagold comes a close second. Wilmuta is a cross between these two varieties. The goal of apple biologists was to produce a large apple like Jonagold, but with the rosy colour of a Gravenstein. The result was a huge mouth-watering late season apple that is as sweet as it is hardy, well into late October.

October is nearly over and these apples are still on the tree, but I think it’s time to bring them in out of the cold soon. They are really good keepers, except for getting eaten eagerly once they are ripe.

If I were to buy another apple tree, Wilmuta would be my first choice.

*****

Apples keep the doctor away. Sorry, Doc.

Baking with apples

Crunchy fruit

Delicious, dripping sweetness

Eve tempts Adam

Festive

Gravenstein

Hardy

I love apples

Juicy Jonagold

Keepers

Lovely

MacIntosh

Nutritious

Over the top

Pippins

Quantities – never enough

Ripe

Sweet apple sauce

Tart transparents

Unbelievably good

Varieties abound

Wonderful Wilmuta

X-tra good

Yes, they’re the best

Zero calories … almost.


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Relationship Security

This memoir by Kathleen Price will pull at your heartstrings and enlighten you at the same time.

Anneli's Place

Have you ever had someone say to you, “Why are you like that?” Or maybe you’ve asked yourself that question about others. There are reasons for our behaviour. Some of them we don’t understand; some we are not even aware of, and never will be.

In her book, Relationship Security, author Kathleen Price shows us that, along with some other factors, our experiences, even those we have as young children, shape us into the adults we become. They influence our responses to nearly every situation we deal with as we go through life.

Most of us seek a loving, caring relationship in which there is mutual trust. As young adults, we are optimistic about finding the right person who will fulfill that expectation. If we haven’t witnessed an example of a secure bond in our parents’ relationship, marriage may bring disillusionment when we perpetually need to protect ourselves because…

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A Change in Menu

Anneli said she’s sorry, she ran out of sunflower seeds and she hasn’t been back to the Bulk Barn to buy more yet. Would I like to try some of the walnuts she has been drying?

They are wonderful! She has a whole tree of them in the backyard, but the shells are pretty hard to crack. I would have harvested them myself, but the husk around the nuts tastes bitter.

That and the fact that the backyard supervisors are always patrolling out there have kept me away.

There’s only the little black one now, but she’s dangerous. She leaps up four or five feet if she’s after something, so I’m careful around her.

And anyway, since Anneli has cracked these walnuts for me, I don’t have to hurt my teeth trying to open the shell. She takes good care of me so I don’t have to risk my life around that crazy killer dog.

Oh, ye heavenly squirrels on high! This is delightful!

I could even use this shell as a sippy cup. Slurp, slurp!

I wondered where my breakfast was,

The seeds were not in sight.

I nearly died of shock because

The change gave me a fright.

Instead of tiny sunflower seeds,

Just walnuts could be found,

The food that would fulfill my needs,

In shells so rough and round.

I checked them out and noticed then

The nuts were cracked in chunks,

It looked like I could eat again

The meat lay there in hunks.

How sweet of her to crack these shells,

To spare my tiny teeth,

Inside the nuts were little wells,

With nutmeat underneath.

I nibbled it and pulled it out

The flavour was the best,

No need to cry or mope about,

A change is good as a rest.

*****

Please visit my other blog, Anneli’s Place, for writing tips posted in small doses so as not to be overwhelming.


74 Comments

R.I.P., Ruby

Our springer spaniel, Ruby, has gone to doggie heaven as of two days ago.

To be honest, she was the worst puppy we’ve ever had – so naughty, into everything, and not listening. She bit holes in the Captain’s prescription glasses, took off and buried his special Uncle Henry knife (in the neighbour’s yard, we think), and helped me with the gardening by digging alongside of me (in places where I did not want holes dug) and helping herself to all the tools (which I then had to retrieve). She was SO bad, but we loved her.

She always had a mischievous streak, teaching Emma, the English cocker spaniel puppy, all her bad habits (like taking apples off the trees) and barking at passersby. She continued these bad habits right up into her old age.

But she was a loving dog, who turned out beautiful and enriched our lives.

She was an excellent bird dog who had all the qualities you could ask for in a hunting dog.

The bonus for us was that she was also the perfect family dog.

Ruby was almost 14 years old and the day she was ready to leave this world she told us it was time. We hated to let her go, but it would have been cruel to keep her with us a day longer. We miss her so much.

Rest in peace, sweet Ruby.


39 Comments

Rufous-sided Towhee

I don’t know …. Looks a bit suspicious to me.
I’ll just try a nibble. Mmm … mhmm … not bad.
Hey! This is all right!
Uh-oh. Somebody got pictures of me gobbling my food. Who would have thought she’d spy on me right through the window?

What a feast these berries make,

No one says how much to take.

Guess I’ll eat them while I can,

I’m becoming quite a fan.

First I wondered ’bout the flavour,

Now I just can’t wait to savour,

All the berries growing here,

At their best this time of year.

Down the street the mountain ash

Berries fell down just like trash,

Down they fell, kerplunk, kerplunk.

Robins ate them and got drunk.

Not so good for flying straight,

Easy to become owl bait.

I will stick to pyracantha

Cuz for me it is the antha.


33 Comments

Pine Siskins and Friends

I don’t know why the pine siskins all got thirsty at once, but they seemed happy, to judge by their twittering, to find this makeshift birdbath. Siskins are tiny birds of the finch family. These days they are swarming around in large flocks, feeding as much as possible, probably building up their strength for flying farther south for the winter.

Several of them are hiding in the overgrown, neglected garden. I think I see six of them hiding.

An Oregon Junco decided that he needed a bath. Being a bit bigger (not much) he took over the whole bath. One brave siskin was left at the edge, wondering if he could get a sip.

He decided to go for it and managed to get a good slurp of water.

But that sneaky junco flexed his muscles to show who was boss. Siskin didn’t like it. Hear him shrieking, “HEY! You’re splashing me!”

“Oh you think that was a splash? Just watch this,” the junco says.

If you click on the video, you can see how brazen the junco is about having his bath. The siskin reacts just the way I would, backing up from being splashed.

Please visit my other blog, Anneli’s Place, for writing tips posted in small doses so as not to be overwhelming.


48 Comments

Paying it Forward

We have so much to be thankful for.

Even the chestnut-backed chickadee is thankful for the sunflower seeds that are left behind once the sunflowers are finished.

If only the dinner plate were not upside down.

“That’s okay,” he says, “I can be an acrobat and reach around to get the seeds on the other side.”

Out in nature, the little animals have struggles with food and shelter. But what about people? Are we struggling too? I think many of us are, and not only about food and shelter.

This has been a very trying year for us all. Hard times due to the coronavirus have touched most of us in one way or another. Politics has driven a wedge between longtime friendships. The threat of shutdowns and economic upheaval have us worried about shortages of basic supplies, especially food. Social distancing has kept family and friends apart.

Trying times, for sure.

Certainly we need to think about our welfare within our household, but as we look after our own mental and physical health, it would do us good to lift our heads and look around at the connections we have with our community and friends.

How long has it been since you did something good for your friends or neighbours who are also struggling with these same issues?

Have you asked how they are managing? Whether they need anything that you can help with? Sometimes just a friendly word or moral support goes a long way.

If social distancing keeps us apart physically, why not make an effort to be in touch by phone or email, or even across the fence?

We have been very lucky to have a good health care system, good food and plenty of it, and many modern conveniences to make our lives easier. But I feel as if the social fabric of our families, neighbourhood, community, and country is threadbare to say the least.

They say “it starts at home,” so why not hug someone in your socially distanced bubble for a start? Let’s take care of our families.

What about those close friends? Neighbours? Colleagues from work? When did you last speak to any of them and let them know you care?

Have you noticed that many drivers or pedestrians in crosswalks are selfish and rude? I have. Why not set an example with considerate behaviour ourselves? Pay it forward and hope it spreads like the virus.

We have so much to be thankful for, but on this Thanksgiving Day, I thought it would be good to consider not only our own food and comforts, but to think about doing our part to begin rebuilding the mess the world is in. We can only do this one small step at a time. Yes, it starts at home. Go pet your dog or cat or feed your backyard birds. Then look around you for the next step. You’ll know it when you see it.

Think positive thoughts and do something good. Repeat as necessary.


20 Comments

A Discerning Palate

Did you know that animals have facial expressions too? Sure we know they can screech and growl, but they have subtle facial expressions too.

Oh goodie! More sunflower seeds!
Oh, yech! Not so goodie! Stale sunflower seeds.
Nothing to do but try again. Maybe it was just the one …. I hope.
YES! It must have been just one bad one.

I don’t so much mind that it’s seeds once again,

But really, they shouldn’t taste bad.

The taste lingered on though I spat out in vain,

The worst seed I ever have had.

I looked for an alternate food I could eat,

But nothing there was to be had,

And since I am fussy, just veggies, no meat,

My choice was depressingly sad.

I tried to remember advice from my mother

What was it she always would say?

Don’t give up with one, she’d say, just try another

And do it right now, don’t delay.

It tasted so yummy inside of my tummy,

The best food I ever did eat,

From now on I’ll do well to listen to Mummy

And never miss out on a treat.


3 Comments

Warning Signs: A Story about Obsession

You may want to check out this page turner by Carol Balawyder.

Anneli's Place

Horror and gruesome killing upset me and I don’t like to read about these details. But author, Carol Balawyder, handles the murder scenes in her novel about a serial killer so deftly that I just wanted to keep turning pages – never having the urge to hide my eyes – only wanting to know more.

Once I was hooked (on the first page), she introduced the characters gradually, allowing me to get to know them as they each struggled with various dilemmas. Ms. Balawyder expertly slipped in details that would be needed later to make the culmination of the plot flow easily. Nothing happens that seems contrived, because the groundwork was laid earlier in the book.

Each of the characters had major flaws but they also had redeeming traits. Even Eugene, the serial killer, was not all bad. Imagine empathizing with a serial killer!

The tension regarding the murderer escalates…

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