wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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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?


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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.

 


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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.


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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


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Rich Without Money

Having money can help make life easier, but wealth need not always be measured in dollars.

After supper, a quick trip to the beach, just five minutes away, is a rich experience of another kind. The Sleeping Princess presides over the valley. Looking down on the bay, this glacier, unfortunately,  is melting a little more every year, but it is still unique and beautiful.

If she turned her head, the Sleeping Princess could see the beach I’m standing on. She would see the morning glory, or field bindweed, in bloom. It is invasive and tenacious and widespread. Just ask me!!  I want to hate this flower because its vines tangle up everything in my garden. But it has a beauty of its own. I imagine this bell flower holding rainwater for Tinkerbell to drink from.

Here are more of these morning glory flowers popping up among thorny blackberry vines. How tough must it be to endure the pain of those prickles?! And yet how daintily these two invasive plants complement each other.

Glory be! Look at those blackberries! They want picking. I ate a few of them. Sweet, sweet, sweet! But my arrangement with the Captain was already made. We have a lot of blackberries at the back of our own yard and the deal was that if he picked the berries (and endured the thorny scratches and spiders and wasps and stickiness), I would make jam.

I didn’t know he would be so enthusiastic. I had a challenge to use up those berries. But now we have enough blackberry jam to last the rest of our lives. So we’re rich! Rich in jam.

I think I have the sweetest pantry in town.


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Flower Favourites

Four favourites are growing in my garden (along with many other favourites that have finished blooming).

The hollyhock is amazing me this year with its flowers and the height of its stalk. It must be at least ten feet tall.

The lily doesn’t bloom for long but is so pretty.

And who doesn’t love the sunflowers which, the Captain hopes, will provide seeds to salt and toast? They are a necessity for cracking and chewing and spitting out while waiting for the fish to bite.

One of my special favourites is the snapdragon. My first experience with snapdragons was when I was a very little girl in Germany and my mother showed me how these flowers could open their mouths. They’re not called snapdragons in German but Loewenmaeulchen (little lions’ mouths), and if you press the sides of the flower together, it opens up like a mouth. As a child I was fascinated by this idea of a little lion flower opening its mouth. Of course in Canada they are dragons who open their mouths to snap.

Do you have favourite flowers in your garden?


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Over, Under, Upside Down

I wanted to show you the water lily, but I ended up studying the photo and seeing all kinds of crazy things.

I’m in the boat (you see the edge of the aluminium skiff at the bottom of the photo), and over the water. The lily is over, on, under, and above the water.  But what is that big hill doing, hanging upside down from the top of the photo?

Once I started looking at the way the lily was growing, I was quite fascinated by the roots on the lake floor, the stems reaching for the surface of the water (some unsuccessfully, so far), and the leaves floating on the surface, some of them half sunk, others lifting up, yet others lying flat on the bottom of the lake.

And then there are the two flowers that are really only one plus a reflection.

The longer I looked the more I could see.

And to think that at first glance I thought it was just a boring weed in bloom.


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The Tulip’s Story

Before any other tulips open up in my yard, still among weeds that I haven’t dealt with, here is the first of the season, just “born” today.

I’m surprised at how happy it makes me, after such a long dreary winter.

The name of the tulip is thought to have come from some connection to the turban, or to the fact that a tulip was sometimes worn on a turban as decoration.

Thought to be originally from Persia, the tulip arrived in northwestern Europe in the 16th century.

*****

A Tulip’s Story

It’s not because I have two lips that I received my name,

A sultan wore me on his hat so it would not look lame.

He put a turban on his head and wrapped it good and tight,

And then he looked into the glass, but something wasn’t right.

He said, “It needs a pick-me-up, a tad of fashion flair,

This tulip bright would do the trick, but oh dear, do I dare

To wear a flower on my head, what kind of man am I?

But I will show the world out there, I’m brave without  a lie,

The ladies will all flock to me, admiring my good taste,

And this is such a perfect chance, I simply cannot waste.”

And so he put me on his hat and strolled along the street,

Smiling at approving looks from ladies he did meet.

Perhaps this fashion disappeared, no longer quite the thing,

But I am famous everywhere, for brightening up the spring.

 

 


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Exotics, Large and Small

Every January the orchids in our local stores come on sale. Every January I HAVE TO buy a new one. When they finish blooming, I keep them and hope they’ll bloom again, and although it sometimes takes months, they do reward me eventually.

Last week, my friends were going on a holiday and very kindly left their amaryllis plants with me to enjoy while they were away.

I was amazed at the size of the flowers. I’ve learned that they originated in South Africa, and some types came from South America.

My little orchids did their best to keep up with the blooming show, and it took a whole army of blossoms to compete with the huge visitors. But each did their best and I’ve had the benefit of all their efforts.

I’m happy to see a bit of colour in the middle of winter.

By the way, I’m not the only one to have an orchid obsession. One of my characters in The Wind Weeps is fascinated by them, but in a sick way. He thinks he can win the girl by bringing her orchids, but after a while, the orchid becomes a terrifying symbol of his stalking and abuse.

Set on the west coast of British Columbia, you’ll get a sense of the remote and beautiful, yet raw place my characters live in.

You can download The Wind Weeps for free on amazon.com and on smashwords.com (for e-readers other than Kindle). Just don’t forget that if you want to know what happens, you need to spend about $3 to buy the sequel, Reckoning Tide, also on amazon.com. Best $3 you’ll ever spend. Just click on the book cover images at the side of this blog page, or on the amazon links in this paragraph.


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Mom’s Mums

These chrysanthemums haven’t had the benefit of any fertilizers for all of their life. I guess I should have paid more attention. But every time I looked at them, I felt a bit sad and walked away. Why?

Over 36 years ago, these mums were in a hanging basket in my mother’s back porch. In 1982, when she died, I brought the hanging basket home to my house. I didn’t expect them to come back the next year and bloom, and when they did, the feeling was always bittersweet.

I took more care the next winter to cover them with a patio chair or some kind of loose plastic to keep the worst of the cold off them. It didn’t occur to me to add fertilizer even after I repotted them when they got too big for the hanging basket.

Now, after blooming for the 36th time since they came to live with me, I have finally come to my senses and have decided to give them some fertilizer next spring.

I am grateful for this plant’s tribute to my mother each year, and have been shamed into taking better care of it. Do you think it’s too late for me to get it together?