Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Morning: The Tree

Here's the wonderful Christmas tree at Cedar Bluff. We pick up a tree from Hilltop Nursery in the Verona Hills each year. Doug Guza cut this fir for us and Scot McPherson helped Ed bring it into the great room and set it up. Ed and I strung lights on it; Peter and Clay hung the ornaments. This photo is from the first morning of the fully decorated tree.

Early in the morning, before first light, the tree is almost mystical. For me it is a Wondrous Light in the dark of Winter.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Windmills in the Moonlight

We're coming up to a second full moon in December on the 31st. Full moons are always a great time to be observing the eastern horizon. The moon looks large against the horizon when it first appears and its color varies according to the atmospheric conditions. Sometimes it is golden; sometimes orangey; sometimes yellow. Here in Huron County we have the wonder of the Lake Huron shoreline on the east side of the county where full moons are wondrous and huge.

Windmills now dot our landscape in two places in the county. The Ubly area has the highest towers and larger bladed windmills. Ubly is part of the rolling Verona hills area of Huron County and the 46 windmills range over several miles of hilly countryside. M-19 would be the state highway to access this windfarm. From Ubly you could drive north on M-19 to Purdy Road. Take Purdy east to Verona Road and then go south on Verona Road to Atwater Road. Finish the loop by taking Atwater west to Ubly. This drives takes in a good share of the wind farm. The drive along Atwater Road west of Ubly gives views of the windfarm, too. Here's the link to the MDOT map section  that includes Huron County.

On the western side of Huron County, the Harvest Windfarm run by John Deere is located between Pigeon and Elkton on much flatter land than the Ubly windfarm. Here 32 windmills occupy the area north of M-142. You can also see the three smaller windmills that provide power for the Laker Schools buildings when you drive along M-142 between Elkton and Pigeon. These windmills are located on the west side of the Elementary building and were the first operating windmills in Huron County. Read more about the school windmills.

Drive through the Harvest Windfarm by taking M-142 from Elkton to Gagetown Road. Turn north one mile to Richardson Road. Turn east and drive along Richardson Road to Elkton Road. Turn south on Elkton Road to return to Elkton.

Huron County has excellent county trunk lines so if you will find plenty of paved roads that crisscross both of these windfarms. I like to park my vehicle, open the window and turn off the engine. In the still evening you can hear the whoosh of the giant blades and get a sense of how the turbines "pull" the power from the wind.

About watching moonrises: Here's the link to the U.S. Naval Observatory's website that allows you to determine what time the moon will rise at any latitude/longitude coordinates that you plug into the program.

Keep in mind that a full moon rises at approximately the same time that the sun sets. The moon will rise as far to the north (in the winter) as the sun sets to the south. So, in December the sun is setting about as far south as it does all year. That means that the moon will rise as far north as it can. Think of directly east as 90 degrees and south is 180 degrees. The moon will rise at about 60 degrees. This plane is called the azimuth. You can check for the exact azimuth on the US Naval site, too. I'm showing that the moon will rise at about 58 degrees on Dec. 31st for Pigeon.

If you are watching the moonrise over Lake Huron and have the coordinates of the rise for the spot from which you are watching, the charts will be extrememely accurate. We sometimes see the moon rise at the minute that the charts indicate. Away from the shoreline you will have trees and hills and buildings that change the chart data so that the time of moonrise will vary by as much as 10-15 minutes.

If the weather is cloudy on the day of the full moon, remember that the moon rises about 45 minutes to an hour later each day. So check out the moonrise for several days either side of full moon to determine what time you might see moonrise while the moon is quite large.

Here is the data for Elkton on Thursday, Dec. 31, 2009.

Sunset: 5:05 pm EST
Moonrise: 5:05 pm EST
Latitude/longitude for Elkton: Longitude W83.2; Latitude N 43.8

The photo that accompanies this blog post is of the Harvest Windfarm and was taken on a very cold December day when the moon was but a sliver. Notice that the glow of the sun lingers after sunset. Photographers call this kind of light "magic light." It doesn't last very long, but it is a wonderful time of the day to be out among the white giant windmills that are Huron County's contribution to the green energy movement here in Michigan.

One more thing about a clear full moon night in Huron County. If there is snow on the ground, it will seem like the sun has not set as the full moon illuminates the landscape. So even if you miss the sunset and the moonrise and the magic hour, full moon nights have a resonance all of their own. It is hard to sleep because it is so bright outside. You could turn off the headlamps on your vehicle (well, this is hard to do anymore!) and drive in the moonlight. We can only imagine what it must have been like before rural electrification on full moon nights, out driving in a horse and buggy. Such a closeness to nature our grandmothers and grandfathers must have felt as they rode home under the silver skies.

I can't resist one more observation about full moon nights. I'm a native of Wisconisn so our family has travelled between Michigan and Wisconsin quite a bit. Late one December, after Christmas, we left our farm south of Pigeon around noon and were just crossing the Big Mac Bridge as the sun set to the west over the Straits and Lake Michigan. It was a full moon night so the moon was rising over Mackinac Island. The Straits were iced over and the combination of golden sunset washing from the west across the ice and the large full moon rising in the east was more than magical. Ah, what can we say! Michigan has its wonders and The Straits of Mackinac on a clear winter's night -- well, you should go there and experience it for yourself. It's, as Tim Allen would say, pure Michigan.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Doe at Sunrise

Early this morning, a doe crossed Cedar Bluff before sunrise. She grazed along the stones, pranced down the path, returned to poke under the apple trees and then headed down the bluff. Deer are such nimble creatures . . .until one crosses in front of a car on the road like a big buck did last Saturday night. My Buick is missing some lighting and the bumper is loose. Oh dear, more deer!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hannah on Halloween

Mom Wendy dressed her little girl in a happy Halloween outfit, complete with little pumpkin socks. Such a cutie! Here's Grandma Wanda Jean with Baby Hannah Lee on Halloween night. The families Mata-Clark-Eichler gathered for dinner and treats at John and Liesl's in Howell.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Scary Skelly from Van Camp House

This skelly guy greeted us as we were entering The Van Camp House in Port Sanilac for organic turkey dinner this week. Good thing that Chef Andy Fabians's food does wonder for the soul -- even puts scary thoughts at bay.

Skelly has a plastic head. Rest of him/her/she/he/it is wood. Very clever. Very spookalicious!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Two Grandpas

Out of the mouths of babes. . .come great quotes! Here's a photo of Ed with Bill Heffernan at Bill and Judy's farm near Columbia, MO. We stopped to see the Heffernans on our way home from Houston and Quilt Market last week. The horses (one is named Elvis) are some of Bill's prize livestock. He also raises sheep and cattle on their farm, Booneslick Gateway Farm.

Now, for the quote. I was showing two year old Finny my photos using the LED viewer on the little pocket Olympus and Finny got excited when he saw this photo.

"Two grandpas," he said excitedly. I looked at the viewer and could see a little boy's pleasure at two men who both looked like his grandpa! Welcome to the family, Grandpa Bill! A little Michigan boy just adopted you!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Here's Hannah!

She's here! Hannah arrived today and she's a charmer. How good it is to know that Will and Wendy's long wait is over. Now the new family can settle in and get to know each other.
We love you!

Finny and the Elmo Cake

Oh the fun of having an Elmo cake for your birthday! Here's Finny posing with his Elmo shoes by his Elmo cake. It was a wonderful week with the Grand Boyz.

Next Big DEAL! Hannah Lee Eichler is here! And today we go to see the little one whose cries could be clearly heard over the phone this morning when her dad Will called to announce her coming.

Finny, Max, Hannah. Such blessings. . .

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Golfing Again -- Second Season Report

Golfing with the Bird Creek Ladies' League ended last night with our fun night and banquet. The dinner was great. Cheryl Peyrek capped off her cooking with cream puffs for dessert. They were so good!

I've had a less than stellar year on the golf course. For family and other reasons, I missed at least five of the 16 evenings of golf. I hadn't learned the term "whiff" until this year. A whiff is when you swing and totally miss the ball. I did lots of that last year but nobody called me on it. This year I was summarily told that "those whiffs count" and added them to my scores as strokes.

So the scores didn't look like anything, I thought.

I did have my best score ever. I did make a true birdie on Hole #11. It was a great birdie (aren't they all great?)! I used my driver to hit the green and then had a medium length putt for the birdie. Too cool!

Anyway I wasn't expecting anything at last night's banquet. Still when Diane Koglin, crackerjack golfer and president of the league, looked over at me when she started announcing the "Most Improved" award for the year I knew that my name was on the list. Sure enough, I came in at the top again with a 1.8 stroke impovement in my handicap. Cool! That's enough to get me back on the course this fall and into league again next summer.

So, Bird Creek ladies, I just might play in your annual invitational next summer. That would be a brave step for this timid golfer who at least learned about whiffs this summer!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Fourth of July at Lake Auburn

What a great time we had at Patrick and Mary Beth's wonderful cottage on Lake Auburn! Everyone enjoyed the good food and even better company of a family that loves getting together. We marveled at Merlene's Fourth of July cake -- not a speck nor crumb was left once the cake was cut! Howard would be so proud of Mer's fine culinary skills.

Aunt Nieta Hayes and Grandpa Stan Hayes and Grandma Nan Mullen gave us all a lesson in how to enjoy life well into our nineties. It was so good to see each of them, especially Nan who is recovering from a nasty stroke and looks as beautiful as ever. We marvel at Nieta's spryness and were encouraged to hear that Stan's cataract surgery was successful and he is seeing better than ever.

Here's a photo of Max Clark with the famous "Cake For The Fourth" made by Merlene Hayes. Max's wet hair and his "Life is Good" smile capture some of the sweetness of the Fourth and the joy of a day spent with family and friends. How humbling it is to be U.S. citizens with the freedom to celebrate Fourth of July (and the freedom to enjoy fireworks!) God Bless the USA!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Baby Geese, Baby Birds

Now that May is half over it is time to post photos of Momma Mourning Dove and her hatchlings. I watched the dove nest from my second story office window during two weeks in April.

Then, at Cedar Bluff along Lake Huron at White Rock Shoal, Mama and Papa Canada Goose raised their family on top of the seawall at the base of the bluff.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

White Flower Monday

It's a dry, cold spring Monday in Michigan. The warm spring rains have eluded our part of the north country and it still feels cold. I'm still wearing wool turtlenecks and down vests. I unlock the door to the office early on Monday, put down my backpack and my eye catches. . .two wondrous white amaryllis blooms that unfolded over the weekend.

Wondrous flowers. Wonder of growth. How can it be that those dry, sometimes brittle bulbs that we plant bring such warmth of hope with their blooms! Here, harbingers of spring sparkling with their white petals gleaming against the glass block south windows. Spring!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Crazy Weekend Working on Book

Well, the weekend is almost over. It's been cold, but sunny on Sunday. I'm totally wrapped up in the next quilting book that we're publishing at Graywood Designs. I want to be DONE! The last photo shoot is this week and I'm ready to move on to promoting this book and other important things like gardening and golf.

The photos are VERY preliminary looks at two of the many projects in the new book. The train placemat for Max got the ball rolling for this book and the little placemats (think kids playing restaurant!) and the tea cozy are later additions.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Knitting Needles from Dad

My Dad, Stan Hayes, has been gifting his daughters who are knitters with a wonderful ongoing treasure -- Signature knitting needles. I just received another pair in February since that's my birthday month.

Signature needles are made in Kenosha, Wisconsin using aircraft aluminum and excellent machining techniques. Dad has been sending me needles with spiral ends and stiletto tips. Knitting with these needles can spoil one. They are light and smooth and a joy to handle.

Currently I have two projects going on Dad's needles -- a velvet scarf with a reversible cable that you can see in the photo with this blog entry and another scarf that is being knit with Jo Sharp silk/wool blend.

So far Dad has given me three sets -- sizes 6, 7 and 8. Dad, these are such a thoughtful gift and I think of you whenever I pick up these needles and knit!

Link to Signature's website:

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Roses From My Valentine, Ed

My sweetheart brought me a beautiful bouquet of roses and orchids for Valentine's Day. He ordered the bouquet as a replacement for the bouquet that was presented to me in Hawaii on the night that he received the OPASTCO Chairman's Award, an award that he richly deserves.

The flowers stayed behind in our hotel room when we flew home to Michigan.

How thoughtful of Ed to bring me another bouquet, just like the one we left behind. Even now, more than a week after Valentine's Day, six of the roses and several orchid sprays decorate the dining room table.

I love you, honey. Thank you for a very thoughful gift!

My Mother, Vallanee Rose

I found this lovely photo of my Mom today. It was in a directory on my laptop that's labelled "scrapbook." I must have saved it there when I was plowing through CDs of photos sometime in the last two years.

Mom died in January 2007 so the winter months always seem reminders to me of how empty the world gets when someone precious to you departs. I call it the "hole in the universe" feeling -- that feeling that there's some big void that you know used to be filled and now is a hollow, empty space that still echoes with sorrow.

Mom's middle name is "Rose" and here she is, posing with a bouquet of roses that's placed in front of one of my sister Mary Beth's quilts, this being one of her colorful cat quilts. This photo was taken at Patrick and Mary Beth's home in February of 2005 when we were visiting Wisconsin with Liesl after our first grandchild Max was born.

The roses, the cats which Mom loved, just knowing how she and Dad have been cared for lovingly by my sister and her husband, seeing Mom look so content -- well, all of this is a tender reminder of how good life really is.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Winter morning

The Thumb has been blanketed with snow again midweek. Wednesday evening's snow was soft, quiet -- almost comforting after the gale force windy snows of the holidays. Here are a few photos of Graywood Farm on Thursday morning.

The weathervane on top the machine shed has taken a beating this winter. If you click on either photo to see it larger, you'll see the Cooperative Elevator buildings just at the horizon pretty much straight up the driveway.

Robin Buschlen's crew clears our drive very early, usually in the dark. This morning they were at the Mennonite Church next door around 5 am. The sound of the tractor plowing snow woke me so I was having a first cup of coffee when our driveway was plowed.

Friday, January 2, 2009

We Can't Wait!

I'm a week late in posting any Christmas photos but this one just makes me smile every time I see it. Finny (15 months), Tessa (5 years) and Max (4 years) were asked to pose in front of the tree before we opened presents on Saturday, Dec. 27th. Just look at the delight in Finn's face, the anticipation in Tessa's eyes and consider the exuberance shown by Max's upside-down posture. Oh that we could capture the essence of this happiness on the days when life lays us low!