wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Blue Moon on Halloween

No, the moon is not blue. More like blurry, because of the clouds. But it is called a blue moon (and many other names) when a full moon happens twice in one month. The moon would have to be full on the first and the thirty-first of a month, and that would make it a relatively rare occurrence.

This time, it happens to be on October 31st, Halloween.

Halloween will be different this year because of the ongoing threat of the coronavirus. Trick-or-treating is being discouraged, and to be honest, I don’t want the munchkins coming to my door, no matter how sweet their costumes are. I don’t want to be picking up the virus at the door and then passing it on to my elderly family members.

The kids can have fun in other ways, just this once, until we get the virus under control. I know that missing out on trick-or-treating is survivable because I’ve done it.

So here is my story.

When I was very young, we lived in Germany. On All Saints’ Eve (what we call Hallowed Eve – or Halloween here in North America), my mother took me by the hand and we visited the town cemetery. My grandfather, who had died of cancer at the young age of 75, was buried there. I loved my grandfather and he loved me, so there was nothing spooky about going to visit his resting place. Several other village people were also visiting the graves of loved ones, and most brought candles in coloured glass containers to place on the graves. The cemetery was neat and well kept up. With the many lights glowing on the graves, the whole place was peaceful. I remember feeling close to my beloved grandfather and in awe of the pretty lights. The hushed conversation of other visitors showed their respect for their lost loved ones.

We came to Canada soon after that, when I was six years old. The following year, on Halloween, I heard about all the kids going out trick-or-treating. This would be fun! But my enthusiasm had cold water thrown on it when my mother laid down the law and said, “No child of mine is going door to door begging for candy.”

“But it’s not like that,” I whined. No amount of fussing would change her mind. For the next four years she stuck to her guns and our family became the weird ones that didn’t believe in Halloween.

By the time I was 11, she relented. She was beginning to understand that it wasn’t about begging. My younger brother and I were allowed to go out to a few houses on the block to trick-or-treat.

On the afternoon of the 31st, the radio told of a severe windstorm that was due to hit at six p.m. We didn’t really believe it. Not a breath of wind. We put on our costumes and got our goodie bags ready. As we tried to go out the door at six o’clock, we wondered why it wouldn’t open. We pushed against it and had to get our mother to help. As soon as she opened the door, it ripped out of her hand and slammed against the side of the house. The big windstorm had hit us at exactly 6 p.m. My mother yanked us back inside lest we might blow away, and pronounced, “You can’t go out in this. It’s too dangerous.”

Fast forward to the next Halloween when I was 12. I had grown into a tall skinny girl, but inside that gangly body lived a child who had yet to experience trick-or-treating. We trooped out with our goodie bags, anticipation ratcheted up into high gear. At the first house, we called “Trick or treat.” The owner came to the door and said to me, “Getting a bit old to be doing this, aren’t you? It’s supposed to be for little kids.”

I was glad I had a mask on so he couldn’t see me fighting not to cry.

I never went trick-or-treating again, and I suppose I have a warped idea of what Halloween is about. When I see scary spiders, monsters, ghosts and vampires flitting around neglected cemeteries, it is not something I find easy to relate to. My grandfather’s cemetery was clean and cared for. It had a manicured hedge and clean gravel paths between well-tended graves. It was not a scary thing to visit him. The North American version of Halloween jarred when I compared it to my first experiences of All Saints’ Eve.

Still, customs vary, and I’ve learned to accept that Halloween is not all bad. Most people love it and they are not easily scared by the horror they conjure up to celebrate this holiday.

I don’t like horror shows. They give me nightmares. I’m a wimp. I don’t begrudge others having fun, but I find it hard to get into the creepy spirit.

A tame Halloween is fine for me. Give me the pumpkin pie and a taste of that chocolate bar from the goodie bag, but keep the spiders away from me.

If you’d like to see posts on copy-editing horrors, please visit my other blog.


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Groundhog Day

The weather gods must have heard me saying all we get is wind and rain – and okay, a little bit (a lot) of snow – so they decided to send us something different just for a bit of variety.

Is it ice for the birds to put in their drinks?  We could have a party for the birds! Maybe these are tiny marshmallows for their dessert?

Then so many of these icy particles came down that it was way more ice or marshmallows than we needed for the party. And all this, just a day after I noticed the “daffy dolls.”

Things got serious when the wind came up at the same time, causing chaos at the bird feeding station.

Oh, where is spring? I hear many of the Canadian groundhogs saw their shadow today and we’ll have six more weeks of winter. Others disagreed. I hope the others are right. I like to cheer for the under hog.

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

http://www.anneli-purchase.com


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Surf’s Up

After the blizzards of the last few days, the sun came out for a few minutes, just long enough to bring the whole city out to the grocery stores and create desperate parking lot jostling and unprecedented lineups at the tills.

That all changed overnight when the wind switched direction and brought strong winds (littering our yard with branches large and small) and plenty of rain to help dissolve the snow.

Notice the larger branch that came down next to the woodshed and the smaller bits all over the rest of the ground.

I looked out at the water this morning. Our usually sheltered bay is a wee bit rough today, but … “Surf’s up!”

I’ll take a wet and windy day any time over the freezing snow blizzards we’ve had.


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Skywatcher

I’m becoming a skywatcher. Who would have thought mid-winter clouds could be so pink without a real sunrise? The cloud was a blanket over the hills. The cold snow under the blanket was turning blue.

What struck me was the contrast between the pink cloud and the cool blue snow.

The picture is not touched up. These are the weird colours of the morning sky. That’s why I ran for my camera.

The day turned stormy with a complete blanket of gray clouds scooting past only to be followed by more of the same. High southeast winds did nothing to blow the clouds away and reveal blue sky. Clouds just kept coming. I was surprised the winds were not from the north, so icy were they.

It was a weird day, weatherwise.

Winds SE 52 km (32 mph), gusts of 67 km (42 mph) later in the day.


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Lunch With Lincoln

For the third day in a row, I’ve put walnuts grown in my backyard on pieces of firewood in the woodshed. I had hoped that Lincoln would help himself to the food on these very cold, windy, rainy nights.

He did!

Today I put more walnuts out and he hovered nearby, not even running far. I went back into the house to get the camera, and he ran behind the woodshed. In a moment his curiosity got the better of him and he peeked around the corner.

As I didn’t go away, he decided he might as well go ahead and eat. He’s a bit messy, with food on his arm, but that reminded me of his injury a couple of weeks back. You can see that it’s healed, but the fur is uneven at the edge near his elbow.

Since he sat so still, eating, I made a little video of him having lunch.

 


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Not Christmas

No snow for Christmas. Just wind and rain.

While it looks pretty to have snow, it’s safer for driving if the precipitation is just water, not ice or snow.

So here we have the view today.

Blustery, gray, wet! When you see whitecaps on the water, you know it’s breezy.

Since it doesn’t look like Christmas, I decided that my baking didn’t have to be Christmassy either. Just plain comfort food is good today.

Apple pies await.

 

And the staff of life, bread, is almost ready to come out of the oven. Not Christmas bread; just bread.

(The pale part of the bread is from the light in the kitchen.)

 


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Changing Skies

A southeast system of wind and rain at the lower levels and snow at higher elevations is moving up the coast and then inland. The owners of ski hills are ecstatic.

Just look at the turmoil in the sky. The uppermost clouds are dropping moisture from  those sweeping misty fingers.

A streak of heavy cloud sits like a skinny blanket, trying to decide whether to go up or down or continue north like a long train along the middle of the hillside.

Right in the middle of the picture, just above the level of the bay water, a low snaking cloud is following the Trent River to its mouth.

 

After a few minutes I go outside to take another picture as the clouds darken, and the hillside falls into shadow.

The layers of clouds have begun to separate and the lower ones seem to be churning in confusion. Where to go next?

Right now I’m happy to have the rain at sea level and the snow up higher where the skiers can enjoy it. If it keeps on raining, ask me in a week how I feel about it then.

And if it’s a rainy day, it’s perfect for reading a good book. I’ve written five of them for you. Just check out my web page at www.anneli-purchase.com to find out more about them. They make perfect Christmas gifts.


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Giving Up – Part 5

There comes a point when, no matter how badly you want something, you know that it’s wiser to give it up. Going ahead with our trip to eastern Montana, after negotiating three snowy weather systems in two short weeks, would have been pushing our luck.

So with high winds and snow still coming down on the way forward, and snow settling on the road behind us, we reluctantly turned homeward.

The tires had sat frozen and immobile for two bitter cold nights, so we eased ahead a few feet and held our breath. So far, so good. We could have cried, turning back, but it was a relief not to drive into more snow blowing sideways.

I could have cropped this photo so the antenna wouldn’t show, but the icy snow on the forward side of the antenna says something about the chilly air.

Here is one of the many views of the Clark Fork (one of my favourite rivers). It is visible flowing beside or under the highway off and on for many miles.

On our drive eastward, little snow covered these lower elevations. Now it made for scenic winter postcard material. In some areas, the water was warmer than the air, resulting in fog along the river.

You can tell where the river goes.

Snow had covered these hills that were bare when we had driven through a few days earlier.

Some snow was still on the roads. As the day warmed up, big transport trucks lost clumps of ice that had collected on them. In the stretch of road below, the eastbound lane is closed and the westbound lane is taking two-way traffic. You don’t want to catch an edge or a clump of ice. The one in the photo below is one of hundreds of clumps we had to avoid.

I wondered what these cattle were “grazing” on. Not much grass poking out from the snow. Winter is hard on many animals.

As we neared the upcoming MacDonald Pass, my knuckles gave the snow some competition for whiteness. I knew I had a good driver beside me, but with so much construction and lanes restricted by cones and ice (and I don’t mean ice cream cones), I was nervous all the way to the top of the pass.

 

And relieved to be going down to a lower elevation right afterwards. Only two passes left to negotiate before we got home.

 

 


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The Maple Leaf is not “Forever”

I went to the wharf to make sure the boat had weathered the weather. It is tougher than I am, withstanding the first system of wind and rain that marks the end of this summer.

On the way home I took a small detour to dash out onto the beach for a photo. After many wipes of the lens I got a couple of wettish pics to show what kind of day it is.

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Thoroughly dampened, I drove home, but couldn’t resist taking a picture of this very old house on the way. Too bad the upper windows and the skylight are a modern style. They don’t quite go with the rockwork, but it’s still a unique house. Not just the huge chimneys, but even the walls are made of rock.

As I pulled into my own driveway a few minutes later, I saw a pretty, bittersweet sight — a maple leaf landed on my car, marking the end of summer and proving once again that, contrary to the old Canadian motto, the maple leaf is not forever.

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But it will come again in the spring.


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A Change in the Weather

Large and many were the drops of water that fell from the sky, their countless splashes  silvery like mercury.

Outside the wheelhouse, drops cling to the window pane. But what’s wrong with this picture?

Look at the angle between the horizon and the bottom of the window frame. That will give you an idea of how much the wave action was tipping the boat back and forth. Even in this stiff breeze, it wasn’t too bad. If it had been worse, the Captain could easily have lowered the trolling poles and thrown out the stabilizers that attach to them. When the stabilizers drag through the water, one on each side of the boat, it stops the rolling. But since I wasn’t turning green yet, we kept going without the stabilizers out for the short trip home.

As we got closer to town, we  noticed that the navy cadets were practicing their sailing lessons. The (My) Captain commented on how quickly the tiny boats could turn on a dime as the sailors adjusted the sails.

No sooner had these words left his mouth than the next boat turned … right over! The occupants were tossed in for an unexpected swim. Here they are clambering up on the bottom of the sailboat, with the mother hen hovering nearby.

Now what? It seemed to take a long time for the two women to be plucked off the hull, and even longer before something was done to right the boat. We didn’t have time to watch. They had all the help they needed so we kept going and got out of their way.

Doesn’t it just make you want to learn to sail?