Phyllis Entis

Award-winning mystery writer and food safety microbiologist

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Red Alert

Red maple leafThe red-breasted robin has always been my harbinger of spring.

So, too, the first fallen red maple leaf is my autumn early warning system.

Two days ago, Shalom and I found a perfect red maple leaf – first one of the season for us – on our early morning walk. As I don’t bring either a camera or my iPad on when I’m walking Shalom, I picked up the leaf and carried it home.

Shalom, of course was curious about this piece of vegetation that we had brought indoors with us.



Though she isn’t much of a vegetable lover, this looked like it might be good enough to eat.



“What do you mean, it’s just for looking at,” she asked?



Nevertheless, she sat patiently while I photographed our forerunner of fall.



For me, this is a reminder that I’ll soon be preparing my flower beds for the coming cold season. It will be a learning experience this year. I still can’t tell the difference between some of the flowering weeds and the ornamental plants.


Induction Rocks!

When we moved into our new home in Victoria, there was one thing we knew needed changing in the kitchen. The gas cooktop and its companion, a built-in deep fryer.

Neither my husband nor I enjoy using a gas range or cooktop. It’s hot, not easily modulated, and a pain to keep clean. And we have no use for a deep fryer.

We purchased our first magnetic induction cooktop eight years ago. It is by far the most convenient, energy-efficient way to cook. Safer than gas, more responsive than electric, induction has been popular in Europe for many years. For some reason, it has been slower to catch on in North America.

The only question mark haunting our project was whether we could find a matching piece of granite to fill the hole left by the deep fryer.

Fortunately, the original countertop fabricator had retained a couple of sizeable remnants in the company ‘bone yard.’ Once we resolved the countertop issue, the rest of the project went smoothly.

First, the plumber removed the old cooktop and capped the gas line.

Next, the cabinet maker removed the deep fryer, replacing it with a drawer to hold oven gloves and pot holders. And he installed wood supports to carry the weight of the new cooktop and the granite surrounding it.

After the electrician roughed in the 220V power connection for the new cooktop, the granite fabricator removed the old piece of granite and prepared the area for installation.

The new granite was set in place.

And our new Wolf induction cooktop was installed.

Thanks to my husband’s talent for logistics, the entire installation from removing the old cooktop to hooking up the new one took only three days.

Now we’re cooking! But not with gas.

Book 5 in the Damien Dickens series has been simmering alongside the kitchen project. I’m hoping to post a teaser – and maybe even a title – next weekend. Looking forward to seeing you then.


Here, there be deer

Other places warn about deer crossings. Our neighbourhood goes one step further.

Almost daily, we see deer grazing our front lawn or strolling down our street. Shalom has taken to lying in front of the floor-to-ceiling living room window, chin on the windowsill, as she waits to greet our visitors with barks and bounces.

This is what she sees.

Typically, a lone deer will wander over and check out the breakfast buffet.

Soon to be joined by one or more friends.

After a while, the deer notice Shalom’s excited barking and pause to check for any sign of danger.

The “All Clear” given, one doe takes time out for a potty break while the other one stands guard.

I took a stroll this afternoon, hoping to stumble across one of the families of deer that roam through the area. There is one foursome we often see from our window, consisting of a stag (complete with antlers), a doe and two fawns.

I didn’t have any luck with that, but did have a fairly close encounter with a lone doe as I walked the path through our local blackberry patch.

The berries are starting to ripen. I shall need to dig out my recipe for preserves before too much more time passes.

The doe was kind enough to pose for me.

As I turned for home, I spotted this magnificent tree.

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into our new neighbourhood. See you again next Sunday.


Wake up and smell the roses, etc.

What better activity for a Sunday afternoon than to take a walk around the garden.

I hope you’ll join me for a stroll as I sample just a few of the abundant variety of trees, shrubs and flowers in our private park.


No Victoria garden would be complete without roses. It seems as though each time I look, I find yet another shrub peeking out from among its neighbouring plants.


I found this beauty surrounded by a plethora of other shrubs and flowers. I’ve not yet managed to identify its neighbours, but I intend to.


Small rose

This little one was hiding under our boundary shrubs, enjoying the dappled sunlight


Patriotic Roses

I thought this was a single rose bush, until the red flowers started to blossom. Now I have a Canadian rose bush, displaying the red and white of our flag


Japanese Maple


There are several types of Japanese Maple. Our garden boasts a pair of the lace-leaf variety.


Pure Purple


Meet my Cotinus Royal Purple shrub, trying to hide behind the hydrangea.



Can’t you imagine the Cotinus flower bedecking a lady’s hat on Opening Day at the races?



The fuschia also qualifies in this category. Can you see the purple hearts in the flowers?


A Flower of a Different Nature




I hope you will tune in to my podcast interview with Don McCauley. Our 15-minute conversation about my journey as a writer will run continuously from 12:00am to 11:59pm (Eastern Daylight Time) on Tuesday, July 30th.

To access the interview, go to The Authors Show and click on the live link next to my name.