wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Mushroom Picking

Chanterelles usually grow in a low-growing fern-like mossy cover. But yesterday when the Captain and I went picking, there were only a few in this kind of vegetation.

The salal bushes seemed to get thicker and taller (waist high) and we wanted to get out of that patch and find something more mossy. I took the easiest path through the salal bushes. But wait a minute! This was a place that no human had walked through in a long time. Why am I following a path?

The path of least resistance that I was following was most likely a game trail. Game? It had to be game big enough to clear a path waist high…. Deer? Maybe. But more likely bears. I felt the hair prickle on the back of my neck and thought about getting out of there, when I spotted something champagne coloured – a chanterelle! And then another, and another, and another. They’re not supposed to be growing under the salal like this.

 

In the photo above, you can see that we had two cans of never used bear spray with us, just in case, but I honestly wasn’t worried about bears once I found my first chanterelle. It was great exercise and fun to find the mushrooms.

As we walked back to the truck, we saw a small deposit of processed berries at the side of the road. Oregon grape and salal berries are prolific in the woods we had just walked through. Apparently a bear had enjoyed this walk while foraging for his breakfast too.

Luckily, it seemed to be a day or two old. I was relieved to see that it was not steaming hot, as these finds sometimes are.


PS Notice the well-placed flower.


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Quilted Aquarium

At last, at last, at last! I’ve finished the fish placemats after working on them for weeks. After sewing strips together to represent the pebbly ocean floor and the sea, I had to cut out shapes for seaweed, rocks, various kinds of imaginary fish, and a few turtles thrown into the mix.

These all had to be ironed on with “Heat and Bond” and then sewn into place with a small blanket stitch.

Then the batting and backing were put on and the quilting began.

Today I finished the binding around the edges.

There is a set of four, with a darker ocean floor, and a set of six with a lighter floor.

Don’t look too closely. There are mistakes all over the place, but after the first blob of gravy drops on the placemats, that won’t matter anymore.


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A Crabby Chapter from a Free Book

I know it’s a lot of reading, but I’ve put a chapter from my novel “The Wind Weeps” here, below the photo of these wonderful dungeness crabs the Captain brought home yesterday.

The chapter tells a bit about how the crabs can be caught and cooked, but it also shows the dark side of Robert’s abusive character and Andrea’s response to it.

The part about how to pick up the crabs comes directly from my own experience, but the rest is fiction.

You can find the novel “The Wind Weeps” on amazon and on smashwords.com. Just click on the book cover image at the side of the post or visit my web page at http://www.anneli-purchase.com

The e-book is still FREEEEEEEE. Sequels of this coastal novel (“Reckoning Tide” and “Marlie”) are also available.

 


Chapter 44

“I’m going to pull the crab rings. You coming?” Robert was friendly. You’d think yesterday hadn’t happened.

“No thanks. I don’t think I’d be much help. I’d only be in the way.” And I have no desire to go out in the skiff with you again. Ever!

“Well, at least put some water on to cook the crabs.”

I slammed a big pot of water on the woodstove to heat up. I grabbed the binoculars and watched him. Maybe he’d get caught in the coils and fall overboard. He stopped the boat by the farthest marker, reached for the float and started pulling the line in, coiling it in the bottom of the skiff as it came over the side. When the ring came up, he set it on the seat in front of him and gingerly grasped the two crabs that were now trying to clamber out of the netting. He tossed them into a bucket in the front of the skiff. He repeated the process with the closer ring, this time pulling up three crabs. After tossing them into the bucket as well, he pried loose a starfish that had settled on the fish-head bait and chucked it back into the water. With the second ring securely on board, Robert scooted the boat over to the dock again. I threw down the binoculars and tried to look busy as he came in the door.

“Put that pot of water on the propane stove now. Set it up on the porch or it’ll stink up the house. I’ll have those crabs ready to throw into it in a few minutes. Lots of salt in the water?”

“A good handful,” I said. “Is that enough?” He nodded and went back to the dock.

Once I had the water set up, I watched him tear the shells off the live crabs and crack their backs on the edge of the dock, breaking the bodies in two. Then he leaned over the float, swished out their guts in the water, and put the halved bodies in another pail.

“Get me another crab out of the bucket, will you?”

I reached in to pick one up, but it turned its beady black eyes on me and stood up on its back legs, front claws open, ready to do battle.

“Ah … er … how do I pick it up without losing a finger?”

“From behind. Like this.” Robert reached in and picked it up. “Fingers on top, thumb underneath. That way they can’t reach your fingers with their claws.” He tossed it back into the bucket and said, “Okay, go ahead.”

I started to reach in and again, the crab stood up tall on its back legs, holding its claws towards me. I turned my hand this way and that, trying to picture how to pick it up. Thumb on top, fingers underneath. Or was it fingers on top and thumb underneath? I made a move towards the crab and it went into action facing off with my hand whichever way I planned to grab it.

“Oh …” I wailed. “I can’t do it.”

Robert easily picked up the crab. I thought now he’d be angry again but he was trying to hide a smile. I took that as my cue to get away while I could.

“I’ll go check on that water.”

It was a brutal business, boiling a potful of live crabs even in halves, but later, when I tasted them, I forgot all about that, and how intimidating they had been when still alive. We laid the cooked crab on old newspapers on the porch to let them get a good chill. That didn’t take long in the December air.

“They’re really meaty this time of year,” Robert said, wiping at the crab juice that dripped down his chin.

“You mean they aren’t always?” I picked at the meat of a claw using the small end of one of the crab’s own legs.

“They stop eating when it’s time to molt and grow new shells in summer and early fall. While the new shell is still soft, the crab hasn’t grown enough to fit into it yet. They aren’t as meaty then as they are later.”

I let Robert tell me all about it. He liked showing off his knowledge. I had to feed that need for my own sake; keep him happy.

“I bet even millionaires don’t get to eat this much crab at once.”

“And for sure not as fresh as these.” Robert reached across and wiped my cheek. “You had a bit of crab flake there.” He smiled.

“My wrists are dripping with crab juice.” I dried my hands on some paper towel and picked up a piece of garlic bread.

“This is great bread,” Robert said with his mouth full. “Really good. I didn’t know you could bake bread.”

I almost said, “Janine taught me,” but swallowed the words quickly. Janine had baked goods for the restaurant at Hope Bay. I didn’t want to turn our thoughts back to that time. “Yup. I can,” I said lightly. “You like it?”

“Fantastic. Goes perfect with this gourmet crab feast.”

After the last crab leg was picked clean we pushed away from the table, groaning.

“That was good,” he said, “but I’m so stuffed, I never want to eat crab again.”

“Yeah, me neither.” I laughed. “Till next time.”

 


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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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Nuthatches Again

I couldn’t resist trying for more photos again this morning when the nuthatches came back for breakfast.

 

Granola with sunflower seeds is on the menu today.

 

I might have to go have some of that myself.

I do make my own granola but so far I’ve been using store bought sunflower seeds. Looks like I’ll be buying them again this year unless I want to deprive the birds of their breakfast.


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Help Yourself

This spring, a friend gave me some started sunflowers to plant in my garden. I had never had success with them, mainly because the wind often knocked them down as soon as they got more than a couple of feet tall.  This time I planted them by the fence and tied the young plants to it as they grew.

Now they are taller than I am and besides making me happy whenever I look at them, they are making the birds in my yard happy.

I had been feeling guilty about not refilling the feeder this summer, but I hadn’t wanted to attract hawks (as I’ve done other years) and inadvertently killing the very birds I wanted to feed. I decided I could always fill the feeders when the weather got cooler and food became scarce.

But the nuthatches had other ideas. They’re used to helping themselves and somehow they knew that the sunflower seeds were ready to eat.

I had a very hard time getting any pictures of them because they are so fast, but here are a couple of photos that are not as blurry as the 40+ others that I deleted.

You may have to search for the little guys. They blend right in with the greens and grays of the garden.

It gives me a headache just looking at them hanging onto the stems upside down. When was the last time you sat upside down to eat?

I guess the Captain will have to do without his toasted, salted sunflower seeds, unless he buys them in the store.


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Quilted Tote Bag

Last February at the quilting retreat, one of the ladies had made this beautiful tote bag which my friend and I admired a lot. It had two big side pockets, one on each side of the bag.

After the retreat, my friend got right to work and made a bag from the same pattern. The one pictured below is the second one she has made. I admire her for making a second one after I learned how much work it was to make the first.

She encouraged me to make one too, offering her help (which I would definitely need). We had two sewing days at her house and I was still slow-poking along, but with her help through the hard parts, I managed to finish the bag (below).

For buttons I used the ones the Captain made for me about 43 years ago from deer antlers he had found. Since they are purely decorative, it doesn’t matter that they are not uniform in size or shape.

The bag is reinforced with “Soft and Stable” and this batting lives up to its name.

I struggled with sewing this bag and swore I would not make a second one, but now that it’s done and I have more of an idea what I’m doing, I may reconsider this.

Like anything in life, “It’s easy once you know how.”