wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Warning Signs: A Story about Obsession

You may want to check out this page turner by Carol Balawyder.

Anneli's Place

Horror and gruesome killing upset me and I don’t like to read about these details. But author, Carol Balawyder, handles the murder scenes in her novel about a serial killer so deftly that I just wanted to keep turning pages – never having the urge to hide my eyes – only wanting to know more.

Once I was hooked (on the first page), she introduced the characters gradually, allowing me to get to know them as they each struggled with various dilemmas. Ms. Balawyder expertly slipped in details that would be needed later to make the culmination of the plot flow easily. Nothing happens that seems contrived, because the groundwork was laid earlier in the book.

Each of the characters had major flaws but they also had redeeming traits. Even Eugene, the serial killer, was not all bad. Imagine empathizing with a serial killer!

The tension regarding the murderer escalates…

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Over-achiever Upside Down Cake

My guess was right. The over-achiever’s “Big Egg” was a double yolk, and it was a perfect addition to the cake I planned to make.

I had a lot of apples to use up, so an apple upside-down cake seemed like a good idea. I peeled and cut thin slices of apple and cooked them in a bowl in the microwave for a couple of minutes. With a bit of brown sugar and cinnamon and maybe a tablespoon of flour to deal with the extra juice, I stirred up the hot apple mixture and set it aside.

On thinking it over, you could make this with most kinds of fruit. Berries might work too if you added a thickener so they aren’t so runny.

The batter was a standard white cake recipe, but to be honest, I just fudged it, putting in what I remembered from the recipe.

About 1/2 c. soft butter

2/3 c. white sugar

one over-achiever egg (or two regular eggs)

a pinch of salt

a squeeze of lemon juice

about 2 c. of flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

2 level tsp. baking powder

about 2/3 c. milk

These are all ABOUT quantities. If you’re unsure, use a standard white cake recipe from any old-fashioned cookbook.

Put a good tablespoon of butter in the glass baking dish, sprinkle with brown sugar and put in the microwave for a few seconds to melt butter.

Pour in the warm apple mixture and spread it evenly. Top with the batter which should be just barely a bit runny.

Bake 35 minutes at 350 degrees.

After it has had a few minutes to cool, flip the cake onto a plate. In this case, some of the apple stuck to the pan and I had to spoon and spread it back onto the cake, but that worked out okay.

The taste was delicious!

Would you like a piece with a cup of tea or coffee?

Also, while you’re having your cake, please visit my other blog, anneli’s place


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Dark Days, Dark Nights

I thought it was cloud cover and the potential for rain at last, but no such luck. This blanket of cloud was not made of water. Smoke from California wildfires filled our atmosphere all along the Canadian south coast, and inland through the southern half of British Columbia. The air quality rating goes to 10 but today it was 10+. It was darkish all day.

The sun tried to come out, but isn’t it supposed to be yellow? It was red! Just like it was two years ago when we had wildfires all over BC.

After a dark day, the pitch blackness of night set in, and I took the dogs outside for last call. Above me in those trees in picture one, sat Einstein, screeching to the Junior Professor who was someplace deeper in the woods. They shrieked to each other every 10 to 15 seconds.

For the video clip below, I tried to hold a flashlight in my left hand and the camera in my right, and somehow bring the camera’s lens to focus on the owl in the beam of light. Then came the challenge of turning the video button on with one hand.

Later when I looked at the video, I thought the owl was probably doing that circular motion with his head trying to follow the movement of the light and the camera, which  were casting about all over the place. As always, apologies for the blurriness, but it was pitch black and I was struggling to get a picture with both hands full. But you may be able to see the owl’s head swiveling around. Did you know they have a range of about 270 degrees? 360 makes a full circle.

Also, you can hear their shrieking, screeching call, so different from the soft hoo-hoo-hooing call they use later in the winter. Einstein must have gotten something on his bib from his last meal, or maybe it was pitch from the trees. He is pulling on it to tidy himself up for the camera.

Einstein, perched high in the tree,

Poses unafraid,

Lovely, big-eyed gorgeous me,

For the camera made.

Shrieks and screeches I can make

Scaring little mice,

Keeping nearby folks awake,

Judging by the lights.

Smoke-filled air will hide me more

When I’m on attack,

And while folks at last do snore,

I will nab my snack.


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Western Tiger Swallowtail

I wore down my camera battery with all the zooming and unzooming, hoping this guy would hold still. But he had so many flowers to visit, he couldn’t make up his mind which one to rest on for more than a second or two.  His name is Papilio Rutulus and although he’s a western tiger swallowtail butterfly, it seems that something has swallowed his tail.

Could it  be a hungry bird

Who thought he’d eat him? How absurd.

Nothing tasty on these wings,

Not a bit that nourishment brings.

Maybe branches beat his back

On the piece he now does lack.

In the wind the twigs can whip

Snapping blows, and wings can rip.

Whatsoever happened here,

I’m so sorry, my poor dear.

Glad it doesn’t change your flight

As you flutter out of sight.


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Endangered Missouri Sturgeon

In the tiny town of Fort Benton, Montana, we like to stay at an RV park that is close to the rodeo grounds beside the Missouri River. Last year, after a long day’s drive, we took a walk to the river. At this point, we are about 200 miles from its headwaters.

The sun was slowly setting, and so was the moon. See the evidence? The cliffs along the riverbank are warmed by the last rays of the sun and if you look hard, you may see the moon sinking  in the sky, amid the branches of the tree.

Geese are honking from the direction of the grassy islands in the river. Later that night we would hear the coyotes howling near the same place.

 

The Missouri is a powerful river in places. It is the longest river in the U. S. flowing for 2,341 miles before joining up with the Mississippi River just north of St. Louis, Missouri.

I had been so focused on the geese flying along the river, I hadn’t given much thought to what might be under the water. What a surprise to read on this poster, that there are sturgeon in the Missouri.

If you would like to read about the two kinds of sturgeon and how to tell them apart, you can click on the photo above and it will be easier to read.

I have to confess, I had known nothing about these sturgeon, not even their names (pallid and shovelnose). The pallid sturgeon is endangered and lives mainly in this river system. It grows to a length of five or six feet and can live to be about 40 years old.

On the picture I thought it looked a bit shark-like, but that mouth on its underside is mainly for feeding on the river bottom.  Whew! Otherwise I wouldn’t be putting my toes in that river.

Who knew that these creatures lurk in the depths of the river!?


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End of Year Thoughts

I’ve never taken a  break from blogging since I started this blog in 2011, but I think it’s time for a breather until after the new year.

At this time, I often think about people who have lost loved ones they miss even more than usual around this traditional family time. I tell myself that if it were me, I would manage to get through the hardest times by remembering the lost ones with good memories of them. If I need to have a little cry in private, so be it, but then I would pull myself together and try to focus on the joy of others.

Soon a new day will begin. It will be just another day without all the traditions that come with bittersweet memories attached, but it will be a new day and a challenge for me to make the most of it.

I like to think ahead and make plans and goals and things to look forward to – one of the reasons I love January.

I want to thank you all for being there. Blogging would not be fun without you.

I hope that, whatever form your celebrations take at this time of year, you have lots of warm, fuzzy  times with friends and family. I look forward to seeing you on your blogs and mine in the new year.


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A Honkin’ Good Time

Skies are still a bit hazy from the wildfire smoke, but somehow the geese have found their way to the estuary. Many of these birds will move on further south, but many will stay for the winter, putting up with wind and rain, and possibly a day or two of snow. The farmers’ fields will provide food for them with leftover cobs of corn and grain seeds that have missed being harvested. In case of severe frost or snow, the geese have the estuary to find food as the salt water doesn’t freeze.

The arrival of the geese always tells me that summer is ending and the northern latitudes are cooling off already, driving the birds south.

For now, life is still comfortable for them and they chat and preen and enjoy the warm days and nights. Some stretch their wings while others preen their back and neck feathers. A few are resting, some are dabbling at the water’s edge, and the farthest one has his neck stretched up tall and alert. It’s like kiddies’ day at the beach.

Just before leaving, I snapped one more quick picture. When I got home I noticed that one of the geese was flying past the camera just by the tree on the left. Or was it? I zoomed in for a closer look.  You can see it on the next photo.

Here, below, is the flying goose at the end of a skinny branch.  It’s all dressed in leaves. Sure had me fooled.

Mrs. Goose is on the loose,

Chattering, she’s quite obtuse.

“There’s a party at the beach,

And I hear it’s out of reach.

Nobody will bother us,

We can honk and spit and cuss,

Holler loudly as we wish

And the place is one big dish.

Food aplenty ‘cross the way

in the fields  where corncobs may

Still be lying on the ground,

Seeds are scattered all around.

People stop and look at us

But they’re harmless, make no fuss.

It’s just heaven being here

Even though the winter’s near.”

“Honkin’ right,” the gander said.

“Still some pleasant days ahead.”

“Watch your language, Gander Dear,

Bloggers won’t approve, I fear.”

Gander stretches out his wings,

Rolls his eyes and up he springs.

Goosey scurries, much impressed,

Goes to give her mouth a rest.

 

 

 


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A Not-so-boring Boring Beetle

Many years ago I saw one of these beetles in my yard and later wondered if it was one of those terrible Asian longhorned beetles that destroy our forests. Should I have killed it and saved our forests?

Most likely our forests were not in danger, and I’m glad I didn’t kill the poor bug. Yes, it bores into wood and lays its eggs there so its progeny will also bore into the wood, but it prefers dead wood. By eating the dead wood, it is actually doing more good than harm.

Today, I found this poor little guy already dead on the walk beside my house. I picked it up with my bare hands in spite of the horror I have of touching bugs. If it had wiggled, I would have been in trouble. But no, it didn’t move. I wanted to take its picture so I could identify it for sure.

I apologized to it for placing it in such an undignified pose, but I wanted to be sure, in case I needed to confirm its I.D. by its underside.  If you click to make the photo below bigger, you can see that it has fuzzy mitts on its front legs and tufts of “fur” on its antennae.

Here is what I found out.

It is a banded alder beetle, often confused with the Asian longhorn beetle, a
damaging exotic pest.

I found more information at this site:

https://entomology.oregonstate.edu/sites/agscid7/files/entomology/Banded_Alder%20Borer_13.pdf

They said:

The easiest way to distinguish these two species is  to look at the segment directly behind the head. On the Asian longhorn beetle the area is entirely shiny black while on the BAB the area is white with a single, large black spot that occupies 60% or more of the segment.

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On the photo above you can see that black circle on its head, a sure sign that it is a banded alder borer, and not the dreaded Asian longhorn beetle.


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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.

 


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It’s a Bitch Getting Old

Ruby was a sweet looking puppy, but her behaviour was wild during her puppy days. She grew out of her monster stage and turned into a wonderful dog.

Ruby had her 11th birthday in February this year. She’s a bit gray around the muzzle, and now sports bushy white eyebrows. Like many dogs her age, she was packing around several fatty lumps on her body. One of them was getting uncomfortably large and pressing on her throat. It was time to do something about it.

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We have great confidence in our veterinarian and admire the way he cares for our pets. He removed the worst of Ruby’s lumps, taking special care with the one that was near her carotid artery.

Since two of the lumps are near her shoulders, wearing a cone would not stop her from scratching at the itchy stitches, so a T-shirt was recommended. The trouble was to find something small enough. With some creative cutting and knot-tying, I managed to fashion a covering for Ruby.

Most of the time, it works, but this morning when I was wanting to take her outside, she didn’t move from her doggie bed. I had a closer look and saw that she had straight-jacketed herself in trying to get out of the shirt.

She hadn’t hurt herself. The material is very soft. But at least she wasn’t able to scratch herself.

She is healing well and I’m sure she’s glad to be rid of those lumps. I’m sure she’ll also be glad to get rid of her “hospital” nightgown.