wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Pink Snow

Whoever said that snow was white

For certain didn’t get it right.

I know in shade it has some blues

And purples adding pretty hues,

It’s sad when snow shows bleeding red, 

A little bird may soon be dead,

If dusty specks turn snowflakes black,

Just turn, you’ll find a chimney stack,

Sometimes a doggie has to go,

So never eat the yellow snow,

But early sunrise glowing pink

Makes snow the prettiest, I think.

 

Please visit my other blog for writing tips and stories. Today’s post is about filter words.

Filtering

 

 


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Herring, and Egg on Your Face

So much fuss over a little fish.

But it is a very popular fish, especially on the tables of the UK and Germany. You can have it smoked or fried, or fried and served in tomato sauce, or pickled and rolled up into Rollmops. If you like fish, you probably love herring.

My mother told me that back in the days before WWII, a fishmonger was selling herring in the street, and he called out to the customers, “Herring! Herring! So fett wie der Goering.” (“Herring! Herring! As fat as Goering” [the commander-in-chief of the Nazi air force]). Since Goering’s name rhymed with the name of the fish, it caused a chuckle among the townspeople who came out of their houses to buy his fish.

But the Nazi bigwigs didn’t like to be made fun of so they arrested the fishmonger and put him in jail for two weeks.

When he was released, the fishmonger went back out onto the streets to sell his herring, calling out, “Herring! Herring! … As fat as … they were two weeks ago.”

*****

Right now the local herring fishery is winding up and the cleanup begins.

Here is a photo of the beach area below our house where you can see the herring spawn turning the water close to shore a turquoise blue colour.

The seiners have caught their allowed quotas of herring and most have gone home.  There is still a lot of herring spawn (eggs) in the water, a lot of it stuck to seaweed and being washed up on the beach.

This is what the seagulls gorge themselves on.

The one on the bottom left has “egg on his face” but doesn’t seem to mind it. See the herring roe sitting on his beak?

*****

In my other blog, you might be interested in a post about what turns readers off.

https://annelisplace.wordpress.com/2021/03/20/what-turns-readers-off/


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Leftovers?

Same tree. Different bird. Same watchful eyes.

This is a good perch. I see this from my window as I look out towards the bay. I can’t resist trying to get a photo, even though it’s quite far away. I zoom in and try not to shake the camera as I press the shutter. It’s not perfect, but he (or she) is recognizable.  He’s got a great view of the beach and any activity that may signal food.

“Any leftovers?” he asks.

The herring fishery is as good as over, most boats having caught their allowed quota, but the feast for the scavengers is just beginning. Dead herring litter the beaches here and there, and strands of kelp and other seaweed have skeins of herring roe stuck to them. It all makes a tasty and healthy snack for seagulls and eagles.

I thought I’d try some of the herring myself. A friend working on a seiner gave us a few herring mainly for bait, since it isn’t the ideal food fishery time. The fatter herring are fished for food in November. But since these were so fresh, I fried a few fillets in the pan. They have a lot of little bones, but it’s so worth it to pick them out as you eat. They were delicious.

Of course they had to be cleaned up a bit first.

I feel a bit guilty about eating them. See how they are looking at me with reproach?


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Herring Provides for All

The seiners wait in the harbour for the signal that the herring are fat enough, with a high enough roe count, to allow the roe herring fishery to proceed.

Rafts of sea lions are waiting too. They will take advantage of the herring being “rounded up” in the purse seines of the big boats. Many herring “escape,” right into the waiting jaws of these huge mammals.

Some of them like the fishy smell coming from small power boats and are trying to investigate up close.

Seagulls wheel around the seiners trying to grab any herring that swims too close to the surface.

This immature eagle is about to find out that the beach will be full of bounty as roe and herring and bycatch float ashore. These foods provide much-needed calories for the eagles especially at their nesting time, which happens very soon after the herring fishery. Healthy eagles will have healthy chicks.

And let’s not forget that as much as we scoff at seagulls and their shrieking habits, they are the janitors of the beaches, cleaning up every bit of mess.

Once the carnage has been cleaned up, the animals have to scrounge what food they can until next year’s feast.


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Six Weeks?

On February 2, Punxsutawney Phil, the official groundhog weather forecaster, dashed back into his burrow because he saw his shadow, and thus predicted six more weeks of winter.

“Ugh! You’ve got to be kidding me,” says the Steller’s jay.  “Six more WEEEEEEKS!”

I felt the same way, and have been waiting (im)patiently for spring to come, and today I realized that six weeks must soon be up.

March 16 should be the last groundhog-predicted day of winter. So I expect spring to happen the next day.

One more week!

I’ll be looking for signs of spring for my next post. Are you finding any where you are?


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Marshall

Yesterday was like a usual West Coast winter’s day. Wind and rain, followed by rain and wind.

This morning it looked like Christmas on the hills. Luckily we don’t live up in the hills.

The air is still icy and I have to keep reminding myself that it’s March, still cold, but with a promise of warmer days to come. It reminded me of the stupid “Knock, Knock” joke which I’m sure you’ve all heard.

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?

Marshall.

Marshall who?

Marshall come in like a lion and go out like a lamb.

May it be so!

There’s hope, if these daffodils are telling the truth.


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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/