wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


29 Comments

Valor

It’s good to have a hobby. In the case of the Captain, fly fishing is no longer just a hobby, it’s … well … to use his father’s words, “an obsession.”  But when you’re obsessed with something, and you do it a lot, you get to be good at it.  Fishing from the beach in the fall when the cohos are hovering nearby, is one of the big thrills of the Captain’s life.

Photo by Ken Thorne

Here is a coho, thumbing his nose at the Cap, just after the line has been laid. Chances are good that this very salmon might swim near where the Cap has gently landed a fly he has tied. The coho won’t be able to help himself. He’ll snap at the fly and then wonder why he is being  dragged slowly towards the shore, no matter how hard he fights to swim the other way.

Photo by Ken Thorne

But things are not always so easy. Sometimes the Cap arrives at his favourite beach to find that it is already occupied. It’s a family having a picnic. Mama Bear is near the shore, easily turning over 70+-pound rocks with one flick of her wrist, to expose little rock crabs that scurry for cover after they get over the shock of the sudden daylight. Mama Bear grunts for her two cubs to come have breakfast. See the second cub way over on the right, by the big log?

This day, the Cap putters on a little farther in his skiff to find another beach. Mama Bear can get a bit tetchy over unexpected company coming near her cubs.

This photo was taken by the Cap with his point-and-click Fuji. A bit blurry, but it’s the best that tiny camera can do.

The Cap gets up very early to take his place on the beach, but apparently bears get up even earlier, and since they are bigger than he is, he abides by the well-known saying, “Discretion is the better part of valor.”


36 Comments

Saving Seeds

Five years ago when we were in Montana on our annual trip, Mick, a farmer friend gave us two buttercup squashes he’d grown. He suggested we could cook them in the microwave in our trailer. They were so good that I decided to save the seeds and bring them home. I’m glad I did. I am still growing Mick’s “Montana squashes” now, five years later, and they taste of good Montana memories.

I harvested a squash today and cut it in half. I scooped out the center and separated the soft tissue from the seeds.

Then I washed the seeds in cold water and scooped them out leaving much of the gooey protective mush behind. I dabbed them dry on a paper towel and set them outside in a warm place to dry off for a few hours before bringing them inside out of the damp night air.

I peeled the two halves of squash and cut them into wedges to pre-cook in the microwave for about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, I chopped a cooking onion and sauteed it in a frying pan.

I added the partially cooked squash pieces and cooked them slowly until they were golden brown on both sides. For spices I kept it simple: salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of some green herb (this time it was savoury, but I’ve tried others – like oregano or thyme – and found them to be quite nice too).

In the photo below the squash is not completely browned yet but one or two pieces in the center are starting to get brown and have been flipped over.  I use a generous amount of butter so the pieces don’t stick.

When the seeds are completely dry, I store them in a jar in a cool, dry place. I found out that these squashes like me a lot. When I am not diligent enough to do everything right, the bits that I’ve put into the compost over the winter will sprout in early spring if I throw shovelfuls of the composted soil around the garden.

These buttercup plants started to grow as soon as I threw the shovelful of composted soil onto the ground. It’s a bit late for them this year but I’ll keep it in mind to start some of the volunteer compost seeds early in the spring next year.

Meanwhile, today we enjoy buttercup squash and think of our generous friend, Mick, in Montana.

I save seeds from all kinds of plants and am extra happy when they grow for me. I think it could someday become a very useful bit of knowledge to be able to save seeds for future crops.

Do you save seeds? Which are your favourites?


40 Comments

A Case of Harassment All Around

It was a glorious morning, very early.

Ruined!

“Caw! Caw! Caw!” came the ugly croaking call of a crow, summoning his cohorts to make a try for the breakfast that was about to happen when Robbie, Ryan, Ross, and Roberta left their robin’s nest.

I picked up some pebbles from the yard, grabbed the slingshot and went looking for the murderers who threatened to skewer the baby robins with their sharp beaks, much like hors d’oeuvres at a cocktail party.

As I walked down the path in front of my house, the crows flew away, and I stood a moment to admire the view.

I took a few breaths of fresh sea air and turned to go back home. Just then, something burst out of the two-foot-high St. John’s wort shrubbery at the side of the road. It flew up onto a fence rail about ten feet away and stared down at me.

It stared and stared and stared, for maybe 30 seconds, and then it flew up into a nearby fir tree.

I hurried into the house and traded the slingshot for a camera.

It was much farther away now, and I had to zoom the camera. It’s a bit fuzzy, but I was still thrilled to get any kind of a picture of this great horned owl.

Later I saw what it might have been after.

Looking back, I was harassing the crows who were harassing the owl who was about to harass the rabbit who was about to harass my garden which held the worms that the robins were about to harass. And what was harassing me? The backyard supervisors, wanting their breakfast.

Sorry for the blurry picture of Emma. She can NEVER sit still.

And Ruby, patiently waiting for her breakfast.


21 Comments

Sneaky Thief

Shhh!!! The squirrels are away …  I think …

 

Quick! Quick! I’ll grab one of their sunflower seeds.

I need to crack the shell. Here’s a stick. Hurry, hurry, before they come back. Those two squirrel brothers have been doing their best not to share with me.

 

Do I dare believe my sharp brown eyes? It’s a towhee. The sneaky little thief!

 

Hey brother! We got trouble …  again!

 

Ooh! Talk about greedy! He didn’t leave much.

 

 

Holy smokes!  There’s hardly anything left. I’m really hurt. 

 

I just can’t believe he did that. He’s almost cleaned us out.

 

But wait a minute. Heh-heh-heh! He doesn’t know about the ones I have … “squirreled” away.

 

I’d better add this one to the stash.

 

On second thought, I should eat what I can before he comes back.


42 Comments

Birds at Vernon Lake

We parked our trailer and unloaded the skiff to have it ready for use at the edge of Vernon Lake.

The campsite was visited by many birds. Here are only a few of them. Many stayed hidden though they sang their hearts out all day.

This is a hairy woodpecker. I thought at first it was a downy, which looks very similar, but the hairy woodpecker has a much heavier and longer beak than the downy.

One of the birds I heard a lot, was Swainson’s thrush. I love the song he sings, “You’re pretty, you’re pretty, oh really.” But he is very elusive and I couldn’t get a photo of him.

He’s a very plain version of an immature robin but without any hint of black or red. If you click on this link you’ll see a photo on the bird site: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Swainsons_Thrush/id

Next to visit, was a Steller’s jay, but I almost mistook him for something else. He is a bit pale and scruffy, and this has me wondering if it is an immature bird.

Below, we have the red-breasted sapsucker, probably the very one I took pictures of for a previous post. He was hanging around the campsite the whole time we were there.

And no wonder! He has already made quite an investment in this tree, sipping sap and nabbing insects.

But do you see what I see? Circling the tree just below the chipped bark is a nasty looking petrified snake. I think he’s guarding the dinner table for the sapsucker.

You won’t see me trying to get near him. He looks mean. Is that blood on his lips?


32 Comments

Lupines

I hadn’t thought of these beautiful flowers as wolf plants, but the Collins Dictionary definition asserts that the word is 14th century in origin, from the Latin lupīnus, “wolfish,” as it was believed that the plant ravenously exhausted the soil (info from Wikipedia).

Seemingly contradictory is this edited quote, also from Wikipedia: Like other legumes, they are nitrogen fixing plants. This adaptation allows lupins to be tolerant of infertile soils and capable of pioneering change in barren and poor-quality soils.

My sister took these pics in her backyard. What a feast for the eyes.

I had no idea that the seeds of lupines are eaten in many parts of the world. However, when I read on, and learned about bitter tastes and that the seeds were often soaked and toasted or boiled and dried, I thought — too much work — I would probably enjoy them more just as a flower to be admired.

 


33 Comments

Are you Flagging?

With all the restrictions and isolation due to Covid-19 rules, is it any wonder my friend Iris is flagging?

She and those in her bubble have been keeping their distance from others–in fact, firmly rooted as they are, they haven’t been able to move from their living space except for a few wild waves at the wind going by.

We tried to keep our sanity by playing games in the garden, but I got worried when a friend of mine just keeled over. Must have been the heat that made her just wilt. So I called for help from the wise, bearded one.

Sorry, I may be the bearded one, but the best I can do is give you a date for a telephone appointment.

You can see I look pale. I don’t know if I can last that long, waiting for a date when you’ll call me and I still don’t know if you can help me.
Actually, it will be me who calls. I’m a nurse. I live just across the street, so I’m handy. See my blue and white uniform?
Take her up on it, Iris. You need to get your colour back so you can be vibrant like us.
Yeah, I agree. Your colour isn’t good at all. Look at me, how bright the back of my throat is. Yours is quite a yucky yellow. You should get that looked at.
That’s right. I’m a good doctor. I also have assistants to advise me. You can see that I have two distinct colours, one for each area of medicine.
I’m the assistant. I’m branching out in three fields of medicine so you’ll be in good hands.
So no more talk of flagging. You can feel better soon and be with your friends, like I am … in your own bubble of course … or at least six feet apart.
My advice, Iris, is to get that appointment and let them at least give you some suggestions, or you could end up like me with the blood vessels showing – they’re not varicose veins, are they? … but I can’t say too much because the cat(erpillar)’s got my tongue.


40 Comments

More Retreat Goodies

You would be hard-pressed to find a more idyllic setting for a quilting getaway than at a lodge situated above this view.

The truth is, most of us had little time to look up. We were so busy looking down at our sewing machines.

Here are some of the end results of the quilts made at the retreat. The challenge was to use only fabric from scraps of materials in our stash. Here is one flimsy in the works, laid out in front of the huge fireplace.

A closer look will show you the challenge that the quilter probably faced in trying to get squares and triangles into a heart shape.

Not satisfied to merely sew scraps together, this quilter found a more complicated design and used mainly blue scraps with a few other colours for highlights. The border of tiny triangles gives me a headache just thinking about the work involved in sewing it.

Strips sewn into squares, in a variation of log cabin style — lots of thought went into the design and placement of these colours and squares.

Only a little bit of material left over? Why not make a table runner?

Making up the layers of the quilt: The backing material is taped to the table. Then the batting is laid over top, always brushing it smooth to get out any wrinkles. At last the flimsy is laid over top and clamped down, starting at one end, smoothing it, and adding another clamp and another as the wrinkles are smoothed out. Then comes the job of pinning it through all three layers to keep it them in place. See the pins (like safety pins) already in place on the side of the quilt that is hanging down? Only then does the quilting begin.

Some half-finished quilts are hung up to inspire us.

More quilts, and an apron.

After four days of sewing, most of us got plenty of work done, with only a bit of finishing up to do at home. Great camaraderie among the quilters makes these trips a lot of fun.


38 Comments

The Bag Lady’s Scrap Quilt

Just back from a four-day quilting retreat, I have to show off what I accomplished.

The challenge this year was to make a quilt from old scraps. I got the top (the flimsy) done except for a bit of border trim. Once I get that done, it will be time to put some batting and backing onto it and start quilting to hold the sandwich of flimsy, batting, and backing together.

I had pre-cut fabric for making bags last year, in case I ran out of things to sew. The first bag I made this weekend was the light green one with strips of dark green. It had been a while since I made a bag and I forgot to put pockets on the inside of the lining of the green bag. So I guess it can be a book bag or something like that.

The others all have pockets in them. The smallest bag has a Japanese design in the center; the other side has a different design on it.

Here it is again, turned the other way, so you can see the back. It’s also a Japanese theme but this time a floral design. The bag is a bit narrow, but one of the quilters suggested it would be practical for bringing a bottle of wine if invited out for dinner.

The next post will have some of the work done by other quilters at the retreat.

If you’re still in a Valentine’s Day mood, it’s not too late to check out my website for more about my books. They are all about love and drama, three on the west coast of British Columbia (The Wind Weeps, Reckoning Tide, Marlie), more love and drama on the Baja Peninsula (Orion’s Gift), and a love triangle in postwar Europe (Julia’s Violinist).

As Adam Sandler said in one of his movies, “Love, love, love.”

Find out more at http://www.anneli-purchase.com


30 Comments

Daffy Dolls

After weeks and weeks of cold, sunless days of wind, rain, and even some snow, is it any wonder we get desperate as we anticipate spring weather?

I was unreasonably happy when I noticed these daffodil leaves poking through the winter’s mess.

I’m hoping that by the time it’s Easter, the daffodils will bloom and announce that our winter ordeal is over.

Daffodils are tough. They are among the first flowers to put out feelers to gauge the temperature above that layer of fall leaves.

Can I come out yet?

And is the snow gone?

Will I be frozen

While waiting for dawn?

 

Gather your courage,

My buddies all say,

Be brave together

And we’ll win the day.

 

First we may shiver,

But then you will see,

The sun will shine longer

For you and for me.

 

Set up your blossoms

To open in spring,

Yellow and cheerful

Is just the right thing.

 

We are the bravest

The gutsiest here,

Being the first to bring

Snippets of cheer.

Sooooooooon!

I cheated here and put in a photo of daffodils from another year, but they are the same ones that belong to those green stems in the previous photo.

Daffodils have a special place in my heart. My mother loved flowers and when, as a new Canadian, she learned the name of these flowers, she couldn’t help always mixing up the syllables. To this day I think of them as daffy dolls, her name for them.

Please visit my website if you need more winter reading until spring comes for keeps.

http://www.anneli-purchase.com