wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Too Many Branches

I took this picture from my back (second storey) deck to show how long the branches of the fir trees have become. They almost reach the house now. The philadelphus (mock orange), on the right, has also grown up high and dense.

tree trimming

Our friend offered to take down some of the big lower branches. I’ve blurred his face for his privacy. He did a great job of taking those huge limbs off, but see the photo below.  Dickie, the squirrel, was extremely upset.

He’s on top of the root of one of the fir trees, and we had to shoo him away so he wouldn’t get hurt.

Some of the branches that came down are pictured above, but a couple more huge ones joined them after I took this picture. Dickie came back to check on the progress and ended up hiding under the big ground-level canopy of branches.

Something crazy’s going on,

Men with noisy saws,

Gone, our quiet neighbourhood,

Must be some big cause.

 

One guy said, “They’re way too long,

Blocking out the light.”

Then the chain saw started up,

Gave me such a fright.

 

Horrible, the noise they made,

Chewing through the wood,

Branches crashing all around,

Near to where I stood.

 

Like flash I dashed away,

Running ’round the yard,

Now my skyway highway’s gone,

Travel will be hard.

 

 

 

 


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Nut Job

If I’m not already a nut job, then after doing this nut job, I will be one.

I had thought there were no hazelnuts on the trees this year but I was wrong. They were a bit late to develop, but they were quite prolific. When I saw that the raccoons and the squirrels were harvesting them, day (squirrels) and night (raccoons), I thought I’d better get in on the action. Looks like a little black cocker is also wanting to get in on the action.

I let the nuts sit out in the sun to dry out for a couple of weeks, and then, as the nights grew cooler I had to do something with the nuts or watch them go moldy. It’s not cold enough to make a fire in the woodstove so hanging the nuts in burlap bags by the fire was not an option.

I decided to crack them and put the nutmeat in ziplocs and freeze them. This way I can take out what I need to use for baking through the winter.

I tried them out in a batch of banana/blueberry/hazelnut muffins. Turned out quite good.

 

 


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Gratitude

With Canadian Thanksgiving coming up this weekend, I decided to read some background on the origins of this holiday and found that the information was a jumble of ideas and beliefs, historical evidence, and a lot of surmise. This holiday celebrated everything from a reunion of Martin Frobisher’s scattered windblown fleet in northern Canada in 1578 to Champlain’s feasts of thanksgiving for the harvest with the Mi’kmaqs and the French in 1606 (at which time the Mi’kmaqs introduced cranberries to the pioneers’ diet and helped prevent scurvy).

The  American influence brought the North American turkey, pumpkins, and squash to the Thanksgiving feast in the 1750s.

On January 31, 1957, the annual harvest time feast became an official holiday. In Canada it was to be held on the second Monday of October. An earlier November date was changed so it would not interfere with Remembrance Day on November 11.

 

Whatever the historical reasons for dates and for celebrating, it is commonly accepted that it is a time to give thanks for our many blessings.

These blessings may differ from one person to another, but the feeling of gratitude is the same.

Some traits to consider, one for each letter of Happy Thanksgiving:

Humble

Aiding

Providing 

Patient

Yielding 

 

Thankful

Helpful

Active

Noble

Kneeling

Satisfied

Gracious

Inviting

Volunteering

Innovative

Natural

Goodness

I hope you all have a million things to be thankful for this year. I know I do.


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Snack Time

“Folks, I’ve been working really hard from first light to last, collecting hazelnuts and hiding them for later. I hope you won’t mind if I take time to have a snack. Gotta keep up my strength.”

“Watch me in this video. See how fast I twirl this hazelnut around so I can eat it evenly on all sides. Kind of the way Anneli eats an ice cream cone, except she can’t go as fast as I can. Also, she doesn’t use her teeth, but I need to use mine to cut away the nutshell when it gets in the way.

And by the way, Anneli says to say she’s sorry she fumbled the camera partway through. Doesn’t show me at my best, but she tries.”


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The Competition

It turns out that the hazelnut trees in my front yard had some nuts on them after all this year, although many fruit trees were nearly empty.

Under cover of darkness, the raccoons visit regularly, filling their boots with all they can eat. I’ve tried to lighten the photos so we can see the raccoons, but you may have to use your imagination a fair bit. The spot under the tree on the left is where the flashlight found the raccoons.

They get right up into the trees and knock down what they can.

Then they crack the nuts open with their sharp teeth. I find the shells in the morning. They don’t bother to clean up after themselves.

Over the next few days I frantically pick as many hazelnuts as I can. There is still plenty for the raccoons.  Today, two squirrels had a chattering spat in one of the nut trees just six feet away from me – probably telling me to scram.

“WHA-A-A-T?” says Dickie (Lincoln’s grandson). “Do you see what they’re doing? Get away from my hazelnuts! First the raccoons, and now the people!”

I’ve been robbed, I’m so upset.

All those nuts I’ve yet to get.

First those robbers with their masks,

Dedicated to their tasks.

 

Climbing up, they shake it all,

Causing all those nuts to fall.

Daylight comes, they run and hide,

Leaving shell bits far and wide.

 

Now it’s my turn, so I think,

But I can’t so much as blink

And the humans start to pick

Filling boxes quick, quick, quick.

 

Seems I have to pour on steam,

Get a buddy, make a team,

We can find enough for all,

Long as we work hard this fall.

 


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Planning Ahead

This is perfect. Close to my woodshed where I can sleep out of the wind and rain. Old stack of landscape ties nearby for my root cellar and temporary stash….

Fall is in the air, and I have to fill the larder. I have hazelnut trees right here in the yard, but what I’m looking forward to is the brand new hazelnut tree across the street with sweet young hazelnuts this year. They’re smaller than the ones here, but they should be tasty.

Decisions, decisions. What to do? Well, I might just have to go for both.

First a little taste test. I stashed these young nuts here this morning, but after all that running back and forth and climbing the tree, I’ve worked up quite an appetite.

Yup! They’re good. Now to stash them under the landscape ties until I have time to bury the nuts here and there for my winter snacks.

But wait! I’d better check and make sure no one sees where I’m putting the nuts temporarily.

Okay, I think it’s safe enough. It’s only that kooky old lady with her camera. She’s harmless.

 

It’s so hard to gather nuts,

Every day is precious.

Later I can fill my guts,

With a snack delicious.

 

Sleet and cold may coat the ground,

Hard times lie ahead,

I will eat what I have found,

Hazelnuts in bed.

 

All the work will be worthwhile,

Though I’m tired today,

When it’s cold I’ll live in style,

I’ll just eat and play.

 

 


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Dialect in Writing

 

Dialect 

If one or more of your characters have a dialect or accent that you feel is important to note in your novel, I would suggest that unless you are very familiar with those regional speech patterns or accents, use them sparsely so they don’t distract from the story. The safer way to do it would be to choose a few instances of the dialect and use them in dialogue. Try as much as possible to have the rest of the writing in plain English.

Falling out of character by messing up the dialect is going to do damage to your credibility as a writer and to the credibility of the character.

I’d like to give you some examples of how I have used dialect and accent of a character in my novels.

One of my secondary characters in The Wind Weeps is Monique, a French-Canadian girl. I wanted to show that she spoke with a French-Canadian accent, but I didn’t want the phonetic spelling of every word of her speech become a chore for the reader. My solution was to limit Monique’s dialect and accent to a few of the most obvious speech habits that were typical of French speakers of English.

Saying the soft sound of “th” (as in “they”) is often difficult for speakers of French origin,  so, for example, instead of saying “there,” Monique would say “dere.”  For the hard sound of “th,” she might say “somet’ing” instead of “something.”

In French the sound of “h” is not used, so in English, Monique would have a habit of dropping the sound of the letter “h.” I showed this by placing an apostrophe in its place.  If she were saying, “It’s time to have something to eat,” she would say, “It is time to ’ave somet’ing to eat.”

That reminds me of the last clue to Monique’s speech being different; she would not use contractions. Instead of “can’t,” she would say “cannot,”  or she would say “it is” instead of “it’s, and “I ’ave” instead of “I’ve.”

By using these three changes in the dialogue, the reader could instantly identify that it was Monique who was speaking.  Just to be sure, I gave Monique two more habits of her own. I added the odd case of her swearing by having her say, “Tabernac,” once in a while. I also had her use an expression that was all her own by having her conflate two common phrases she had heard used in English. When she wanted to say “For sure” or “Sure thing,” as she had heard others say, she ended up saying, “For sure t’ing.”  Whenever this came up in the book, we would always know it was Monique speaking.

If you’d like to check it out yourself, you can find The Wind Weeps and its sequel, Reckoning Tide, at all amazon   (click on amazon) outlets and at smashwords.com (Click on smashwords.com).

My books are all marked down to 99 cents US so you can load your e-reader with bargain reading.

You can find a review of The Wind Weeps, by clicking on this blog post by Diana Wallace Peach.

P.S. For those who follow both my blogs, I have copied this post for both this one time. I don’t intend to make that a habit.

 

 


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Saving Seeds

It’s that time of year when the leaves of squashes die and the squashes are lying around waiting to be picked.

I think this one is called a green egg squash.

A friend gave us several varieties of squash last autumn  when he harvested his garden. They were so good that I decided to try growing some myself the next growing season. I saved the seeds of the gift squashes and planted them this spring.

I was thrilled to see the seeds sprout and turn into little squash plants. It wasn’t long before they were big squash plants. Then squashes grew where yellow flowers had attracted some bees. I was so happy to see the babies of the gift squashes growing in my garden.

It was time to harvest them and I saved the seeds of the second generation. Next spring I’ll plant those and hope to grow a third generation of these green egg squashes.

They are so tasty. I like to cook them two different ways. One way is to cut the squashes in half and peel them. Then I slice them into one-inch pieces that look like a crescent moon. I put all the pieces in the microwave for three or four minutes while I sautee some chopped onions in butter in a frying pan. Then I place the crescent-shaped pieces of squash in the pan with the onion bits and fry them to a golden brown colour.

The other way is more traditional. No peeling necessary, but I give the squash a good wash. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, clean the seeds out of the center, and cut each half crosswise.  Paint the inside surfaces with melted butter, sprinkle on salt and pepper, and bake at 350, peel side down, until the squash is tender. Depending on the size of the squash, it may take 45 minutes to an hour. I cover mine with tin foil for the first half hour. If they need more baking time, just keep the heat to them until they are tender.

I’m looking forward to planting the next generation of these squashes.

I have another kind of squash that a friend in Montana gave us in 2015. I saved those seeds and have kept them going year after year ever since. That was a buttercup squash. Here is a picture of one of its descendants.

Not only is it fun to watch continuing generations of plants growing, but saving seeds is a good habit to get into. You never know when we may have hard times ahead.


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The Man in the Moon

When we see the shadows on the moon, we are probably looking at craters, or so we’ve been told.

Sometimes when we look, we see eyes and a mouth that looks like a big O! Last night I couldn’t see the big O but I thought I saw eyes and a nose. Maybe he was wearing a Covid mask. Moments later the man in the moon was gone. But who was that masked man?

Well, we know he arrived in the spaceship Apollo 11.

I tried to make the face a likeness of Neil Armstrong, but I’m not much of an artist.

But sometimes, when I look at the moon, I see “el conejo en la luna,” the rabbit in the moon. Aztec legends tell several versions of the story of their god, Quetzalcoatl, who was responsible for the rabbit ending up in the moon.

In one version Quetzalcoatl is still a man on Earth. He is tired and hungry from wandering and a rabbit offers himself up as food for him. Quetzalcoatl lifts him up to the moon and then brings him down again, thanking the rabbit for his noble offer and saying that for this generosity his shadow will be displayed on the moon forever to remind people of the rabbit’s goodness.

(We don’t know if he ate the rabbit.)

 


My apologies to all the bunnies out there for the lumpy, bumpy image I’ve posted. I’m sure the earthly rabbits look much better than el conejo en la luna.

 

 


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Student Teacher

I thought I’d try my hand at writing a sonnet. 14 lines in iambic pentameter (da-DAH, da-DAH, da-DAH, da-DAH, da-DAH), three stanzas of four lines and one of two. Rhyming pattern ABAB CDCD EFEF GG

It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.

A student teacher starting out anew,

Stood scared before a class of girls and boys,

She struggled to remember what to do,

And wondered how to teach with all that noise.

 

Her shaking hands, her quivering voice aside,

She took a breath and said to form a line.

“I’m happy to be teaching you,” she lied.

“It’s your first day of school, and also mine.”

 

“Please take your seats,” the bashful teacher said.

But one child called out loud, “I like your dress.”

“Why thank you dear. It seems we both like red.”

Her trepidation causing her distress.

 

And like a duck with feathers preened and neat,

Below her, hidden, paddled urgent feet.