Author Archives: wordsfromanneli

About wordsfromanneli

Writing, travel, photography, nature, more writing....

Colour Changes in Poppies

My favourite poppies were always these purple ones. I have no idea why, but maybe because they were so different from all the others. Even the leaves are different.  A few years ago when my first purple poppies grew, I  only saw purple ones. Then one year there were some reddish-purple ones. Some kind of hanky-panky going on.

Then we had one of that purple sort, come out very red. By the way, if you click to enlarge this photo, below, you will see the little beetles that are eating its petals.

Here are some of these reddish ones in a group. Notice the powdery mint green leaves that differentiate them from the field poppies.

Speaking of the regular field poppies, they are usually red, but there are variations. This one has a purplish center.

The one below has a red center.

Here they are camping out together.

At last, here is my special find of the day. This is one of the purple variations (those of the minty leaves), but not only is it red, with a dark center, but it has ragged petals. These petals were not ravaged by wind or some animal eating them, but that is their natural look. Kind of like a kid with messy hair, but oh, so cute.

Every  day when I water my garden I accidentally blow a few flowers off their stems. I hope that the next day they will be replaced by new flowers. I encourage this by dead-heading the seed pods in the early part of the season.

I wonder what will be out there tomorrow.

All Spruced Up

Did you know that the Colorado Blue Spruce is the state tree of Colorado? I did not know that, but it doesn’t surprise me one bit. This tree is amazing on so many levels. It is tough and prickly, and in the plant world, that spells survival.

Have you ever tried to touch one, or pull on it? Ouch! The Latin name “Picea pungens,” means a spruce (or type of pine) that is prickly, puncturing, or stinging. Just touch one and you’ll see what I mean.

They make a great wind break when planted as a hedge and they tolerate cold temperatures. They are listed as a Zone 2 plant, which allows for very cold weather. No wonder Colorado likes it.

The Colorado spruce in this photo is actually in my neighbours’ yard. I zoomed in on it when I noticed its beautiful cones standing tall like  candles on an old-fashioned Christmas tree, or many levels of lights on a chandelier.

Just slightly off topic is the background of the photo. You are looking at the sandy bottom of Comox Bay at low tide. Only a small streak of blue crosses it and that is the river coming out into the bay. A few hours later, that whole sandy area will be covered with water when the tide comes in. If not for the river, the tide, and the gooey sand a person might be tempted to walk across to the other side.

Wear a bathing suit, as you might have to swim back.

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.

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.

 

 

 

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.

Humming and Buzzing

Who’s that humming such a happy tune? Oh! It’s my friend Humphrey.

“Thanks for planting these red hot pokers,” he says. “I love the sweet nectar in them.”

“My long beak and even longer tongue are ideal for reaching down into  these petals shaped like tubes.”

“But, look out Humphrey,” I call to him. “A dangerous character is heading right for you.”

“Eeeee! Thanks for the heads up,  Anneli. These guys usually mind their own beesness. Still, I have to be careful or I could get stung.”

“Maybe he’ll pass right over my wings.”

“Look over your shoulder, Humphrey!”

“Oh no-o-o-o! Here he comes again. Buzz off!”

(You’ll have to look hard to see what’s over Humphrey’s shoulder.)

“I know you’ll think I’m a coward, but I’m going to hide for a minute. These guys can be dangerous. Their sting can pack quite a wallop for a little guy like me.”

“You can come out now,” I tell him. “I think he’s gone.”

“Thanks for watching out for me, Anneli,”  Humphrey hums between slurps of red hot poker syrup.

“Well, take it easy on the dessert, Humphrey. You’re starting to get a little belly.”

“Ha ha, very funny.” Humphrey sips  as fast as he can, then suddenly stops and glances down to his right. “Oh no-o-o-o-o. I thought I heard him buzzing. Here he comes again!”

“Bzz-bzz-bzz,” says the little critter. “I’m just beeeeing a beeee.”

Do you see him?

 

 

Poppies Pop Up

The purple poppy from the last poppy post has cousins that have variations in colour and markings.

The common red field poppy also has cousins of many variations. This one (below) has extra petals that give it a fluffier look.

A pale friend peeps out from the undergrowth, surrounded by buds of its red relatives.

A pale pink friend looks to be a cross between the white and red.

One of my favourite oddballs is this fluffy white one.

The Oriental poppy below was given to me by my neighbour and friend, Alice, many years before she died too young. I treasure this plant. It is a perennial, and unlike other kinds of poppies, will come up from its roots in the spring. I have divided it to grow in several parts of the yard. I think of my friend every time I see these poppies. Even when the first leaves pop out of the ground in the spring, I greet her with, “Hello, Alice.”

Here is a close up of one of Alice’s poppies.

My garden is a mess of poppies and a few other flowers. I just don’t have the heart to pull them out to make room for extra vegetables. They’re very spoiled and are allowed to grow wherever they want.

 

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.