Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Christmas Album -- II

Imagine our surprise on Wednesday evening to find the big Christmas tree leaning against the beams in the great room at Cedar Bluff. We took a big breath, got a stepladder and some wire, and propped it back up.

When the tree fell it bent one of the rebar legs on the tree stand that holds the tree. A pile of newspaper now holds up that side of the tree.

Ed mislaid his new hat that I knit him for Christmas. We think it got mixed in with coats and hats and stuff from our big Tuesday supper night together. Hey, family and friends, if you find it, let us know! He only got to wear it once that afternoon when we went out for a walk in the snow.

Kaleigh enjoys a fun moment with her mom, Kelly, and Aunt Liesl. What an engaging smile this little girl can give to the camera.

I put on the new necklace and earring set that Max picked out for me for Christmas. It was just after my shower and my hair needed to be styled, but I asked Max to take my picture anyway. Great choice, Max. I like the new jewelry. I really think you can see the "Hayes" jaw that I have in this photo!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Singing For Peace

The Swords Into Plowshare Peace Gallery in Detroit just finished a show called "Speak Peace" that featured American voices responding to Vietnamese children's paintings of peace and war. The image on today's blog post is from the promotional card that announced the show.

Co-sponsored by the Veterans for Peace, Chapter 74, Detroit Area, the show ran from November 19 through December 17 this year. It is worth noting that U.S. troops finally pulled out of Iraq during the time frame of this gallery show.

The singers and guitarist in this painting by a thirteen year old Vietnamese youth gather around one table under an umbrella decorated with the flags of many countries. You can hear soft tunes floating through blue skies, thanks to the musical notes that the artist painted.

The Peace Gallery is one place that receives my check every year. Located across from Grand Circus Park on East Adams, Swords Into Plowshares is next to Central United Methodist Church and very close to Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers. The juxtaposition of a peace gallery and a baseball stadium is one of those happenstances of urban life.

Having two beautiful nieces whose homeland is Vietnam caused me admire this youthful expression of world peace. I also admire and affirm the work of Swords Into Plowshare which stands as testament to the goodness of those who pray and work for peace, not only in Detroit and the United States, but in places like Vietnam and Iraq and Afghanistan and Washington.

One of my wishes for 2012 is less war and more peace. Then more people can enjoy things like peace galleries and baseball games and kids singing for peace under umbrellas everywhere.

Credits: Painting titled "Singing for Peace Among the Peoples"
By Le huu Duc Duy, Viet Nam, Age 13

Swords Into Plowshare Peace Gallery
33 East Adams Avenue
Detroit, Mi 48226

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Charging The Volts

Here's a sight you won't see very often! Liesl's red 2011 Volt is plugged in right next to my viridian green 2012 Volt that's already charged. Lee has 7,000 plus miles on her car which she has been driving since March.

And here are the Volt mamas -- like daughter, like mother (Liesl bought her Volt first).

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cinnamon Roll Time

Miss Hannah perched upon a step stool and watched the cinnamon roll process yesterday before brunch with the family. Her daddy took this photo while Grandma Wanda (just off camera) and Hannah Lee shaped and rolled and cut the dough.

Hannah's Grandma Linda, meanwhile, posted this poem on her Facebook page.

Christmas is over
Grandma's getting fat
Time to get the body
on the treadmill mat.

Grandma Wanda, realizing the wisdom of sister grandmothers, took a walk yesterday afternoon and enjoyed the big snowflakes. She also enjoyed the cinnamon rolls.

Photo by William Eichler
Copyright 2011

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Christmas Stollen

This year's Christmas stollen looks so good. Filled with dried cherries and cranberries and currants soaked in rum, the dough is scented with cardamon and vanilla. Ground pecans and plenty of butter round out this holiday bread's goodness.

I can't wait to cut into the first loaf and try a slice with a hot cup of strong coffee. Mmmm. That will be one of this week's treats. Stollen and coffee.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, December 26, 2011

2011 Christmas Album -- I

Eichler In-Laws -- Annie Eichler and John Crapo

Happy together -- Katie and Jason

Big smiles -- Pauline Eichler with Neal Eichler

With grandparents -- Max with Ed; Hannah with WJ

Finn and Hannah, intently watching the Chrismas train

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Wondrous Day, Wondrous Tree

Our Christmas tree is a wondrous reminder of the Word that underlines all of life. From the celebrations of Hanukkah to Solstice Day to Christmas, faiths everywhere define this time of the year as a holy and honored season.

Here at Cedar Bluff we fussed and fussed to bring a 15 foot Balsam spruce into the house. Adorned with 600 lights, accented with red bead strands and red glass balls, and finished with the legacy ornaments that remind us of Christmas Past, this tree stands as testimony to every Christmas in our future.

A big thank you to Scott McPherson and Ed for bringing the tree home. Thank you to Doug Guza of Hilltop Nursery for growing and cutting our Christmas tree. Thank you to the rich soils of Huron County for producing evergreens and more.

And, most of all, thank you to my Dad and Mom for bringing me into this wondrous world and raising me up in the Midwest. It's a good place to be from and a good place to be. 

Merry Christmas, Dad! And Merry Christmas from under the Willow that shades us all to the many readers of this blog.

Now, if you have read this far, here is a Decorating The Tree 2011, a short video. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Enough Said

I pumped gas into my Chevy Volt at the Village Qwik Stop in Pigeon for the first time last night. Ed handled the camera and documented the occasion. Premium gas cost $3.559 per gallon. Yes, the Volt takes premium. The first tank cost $23.33 and measured 6.5 gallons. The odometer read 509 miles.

The last tank of gas that I put in my Buick Rainier was on November 28, also at the Qwik Stop. Regular gas cost $3.359. I put in 17.25 gallons for a total cost of $57.96. The Ranier had travelled 333 miles on one tank.

Enough said.

Photo by Ed Eichler

Friday, December 23, 2011

Grandma, I'm Playing

The Sweet Scene: Under the tree, Christmas 2010. A three year old little boy and a train. The grandmother appears with a camera. The boy looks up.

Finn: "Grandma, I'm playing Thomas train."

Me: "But Finny, let me take your picture. Just for a minute."

Finn: "Okay, but just a minute."

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Airport Karaoke

We could hear some sort of music at McNamara Terminal at Detroit Metropolitan Airport last night.

"Holiday music. Live holiday music. How cool," I thought as we headed toward the fountain to make the big turn toward the escalators that carry passengers to the baggage claim area.

The music was karaoke for charity. As a benefit for Salvation Army, Sing Because You Care gives passengers and airport employees the opportunity to donate and sing. I've always thought that karaoke is kind of hokey, but the sound of vocalists doing their best for charity warmed my heart as we headed out of the airport into the cold Michigan night.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

ATCs: In The Meadow

From a series of Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) that I call "In The Meadow" come these two ATCs. I used a rubber stamp alphabet (Legacy by Hero Arts) and stamped the word "snow." The little snowmen are formed using the letter O and adding details like a stocking cap, facial features, and buttons or nine patch quilt blocks.The white snowman was stamped, detailed, cut out of watercolor paper and glued in place.

I used a 1" x 3" strip of bubble wrap to stamp the backgrounds with muted polkdot pattern using both red and brown ink. I added bows to some of the cards. Music notes and the line from "Winter Wonderland" complete the ATCs. 

So far, I've made 13 of these little cards. I sign the backs and include them with Christmas cards for friends.

Links to last December's ATCs:

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Desert Jim's Lights

Desert Jim has been detained in Michigan this December. He will soon be making the trip from the Midwest cold to the desert warmth. I'm sure that he is missing his desert home this December.

So, for our friend, Desert Jim, here's a photo of what his Christmas lights looked like last year. Jim bravely surrounds saguaros with lights, strings accent lighting along the roof line, sets out light up boxes for presents, and floods the rocks in the landscaping with rivers of blue.

Well done, Desert Jim!

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, December 19, 2011

High Scores, Beautiful Skies

Looking south toward Twin Peaks, Hole 10, Heritage Highlands, Tucson, AZ

The incredible cloud formations that spread out over the Tucson Valley, the distant mountains touched with sun streaks, the outline of Twin Peaks etched against the horizon -- these are all reasons why my golf scores have been so high. I look down the fairway to plan my next shot and my mind just drifts to the grandeur of the scenery.

It's pretty hard to concentrate on the little white ball when the world around is stunningly beautiful. Ah, excuses for poor golf, thy name is legion!

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Find The Bunny

Oblivious to holiday cookies and Christmas carols, a desert bunny paused long enough for a photo early one December day. I pack my camera when I walk, so coming upon this little rabbit brought the camera out from my pocket. The bunny and I played hide-and-seek while I tried out different camera angles and settings. 

Judging from how healthy this little guy appears to be, he's probably pretty safe from bobcats and rattlesnakes when he roams the walking trail. He just has to be careful crossing the mountain road that is adjacent to the walking trail, just like the big humans who enjoy watching little bunnies in the desert.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Zoo Lights In Tucson

The animals at Tucson's Reid Park Zoo are treated to a nightly show during the month of December. For two hours just after sunset, twinkling lights and live music and visitors of all ages join the elephants and tigers and giraffes for a night under the desert stars that the zoo calls "Zoo Lights."

We walked through the zoo on Friday night with hundreds of others who were enjoying the cool night air, the music of the Tucson High School Steel Drum Band (actually, two of their five bands played), popcorn and hot chocolate, and thousands of sparkling, colorful outdoor lights that outlined the walkways, fences and trees.

The high school steel drum players danced and twirled and beat their drums in an exciting display of outdoor percussion sound. The students exchanged places between songs, moving from one set of drums to another with not a shred of music in sight. Their director moved among them, joining their animated showmanship and entertaining high stick choreography. The band showed exciting musical talent. The audience loved the rhythmic, exuberant music. 

From the roar of the tiger (who was separated from his mate -- it's that time of the year) to the parades of little kids with glow sticks to the magical outdoor sound of the steel drum band, Zoo Lights is an evening to enjoy in Tucson.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, December 16, 2011

Snow Guys

These little clip art snow guys first appeared in some of The Mercantile's newsletters way back when. They have a certain wintertime charm, with their orange carrot noses and their hats.

The little juggler is my favorite. He's oblivious to the other three. He does his thing. He doesn't look ahead and worry. He just lives life and enjoys juggling. With his warm scarf around his neck. Cautious optimist. Not bad for a snow guy.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Volt (And More) On YouTube

RKE (Remote Keyless Entry) and 2012 Volt Owner's Manual

My Volt is on You Tube! Clark Ramsey of WLEW radio in Bad Axe, Michigan did a video story about my Volt being the first one sold in Huron County. Posted on the WLEW YouTube site, the story features Dave McCormick of McCormick Motors as well as Marion Shetler and Alec McCormick, sales representatives at the dealership.

Marion is McCormick's Volt trained sales rep and he has been as enthused about this car as I have. Alec maintains the McCormick social media page (on Facebook) so he's been in on lots of conversations about the Volt and about the forums that I've been reading in preparation for driving a Volt.

Clark's story is one of the first video stories posted through WLEW's website. I keep up with WLEW's news through Twitter since Clark tweets most of the major area news both morning and night.

Now, if all of this seems like it is something new, that's because it is. WLEW has entered the digital age through both a website and Twitter. McCormick's sold the first PEV (plug in electric vehicle) in Huron County and all of this is news on social media, including YouTube and Facebook.

Pretty good for our very rural home, Huron County, population 34,000. Thanks, Clark. Thanks, Dave and Alec. Thanks, Marion. It's good to be a part of something new.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Buckystown Memories

It was eleven years ago that we gathered in Buckystown, Maryland to celebrate with MB and Patrick as they were married. MB's friend Elizabeth and Patrick's brother Chilton were the "bests." The Rev. Stanley C. F. Hayes, father of the bride, performed the ceremony. 

My photos from the wedding aren't very good by today's digital standards but, in looking back, it is good to have these images. Here's one of Mary Beth surrounded by the three little girls who were the flower girls for the wedding. The blurriness is probably due to the exuberance of the subjects and the ineptitude of the photographer.

MB chose roses and ivies for the baskets that the flower girls carried that on that memorable night. Happy anniversary, MB and Patrick, and may there be many, many more.

Copryight 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, December 12, 2011

Volt Goes Christmas Shopping

Ed and I headed down to the city to do some Christmas shopping on Sunday afternoon. Here's a glimpse of me in the driver's seat of my new Chevy Volt. The circular opening under the Volt logo just forward of the front door is where the charging cord is plugged in.

Here's what the driver's display looked like before I pulled out of the driveway. The battery had 16 miles of charge (about half) left. The gas tank range shows as 222 miles. The total range (electricity and gas) is 238 miles. My Volt had been driven 193 miles at this point.

The ball in the chute on the right guides the driver's acceleration and deceleration. Pull away from a stop sign too quickly and the ball decenters. Not a good thing as power is wasted. I'm learning to keep that magic ball centered. My Buick Ranier had an instantaneous mpg reading that served a similar function.

The "E" in the circle says that the car was facing east, so that is the compass function. The circles on the bottom "carousel" around and give more details on mileage, mpg, trip metering, tire pressures, etc. The Volt is in park; both seatbelts are fastened.

Off to the city we went with the new Chevy Volt doing an electric and eclectic variation of "over the river and through the woods."

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Stan, The Technology Man

I can remember taking apart a reel to reel tape recorder with my Dad when I was in elementary school. We confiscated the kitchen table and cupcake pans from the cupboards. Each nut and screw found a place in the cupcake pans as we took apart the player. I always think that I got my love of technology from my Dad and that crazy tape recorder that didn't work.

This media mash on my kitchen table might be a result of being a child of Stan, The Technology Man. There's the Kindle Fire (playing the video for The Muppet Christmas Carol) along with an e-ink version of Kindle. There's the newspaper (Dad reads multiple newspapers every day.) There's my cellphone which I can't get along without and a hard drive that holds my photos (three of them, so far). The Christmas CDs join the mash -- I added five new recordings to the digital mix of Christmas and holiday music that I love so much this time of the year. Yes, I download music, too.

There's even a handwritten list in the media pile. Seems like there's nothing like a good old fashioned pencil and paper to keep the day organized.

By the way, my Dad reads this blog every day using a tablet computer. He reads books on his Kindle, too. This will be his 91st Christmas and he is up on his technology, as always. I don't call him Stan, The Technology Man, for nothing.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ice On The Shoal

White Rock Shoal at sunrise -- Sunday, December 11

Ice is forming on White Rock Shoal already due to the cold temperatures of the last few days. When I stepped out on the terrace to take this photo, I could hear the snapping sounds of ice cracking and shifting as cold water and thin ice collide.

Here on the eastern side of Michigan, the sun came up at 7:54 am about 121 degrees ESE, according to the astronomy application on my Kindle Fire. Those figures are calculated for the zip code 48434 which is Forestville, about 4 miles south of White Rock Shoal.

Shortly after this photo was taken, we saw an ocean going vessel, a saltie, loaded with wind turbine towers, headed north. Ed determined from Internet sources that the vessel was the BBC Ems headed for Menominee, Michigan.

Swans, oblivious to the ice, on White Rock Shoal
Moon rise will be at 6:04 pm tonight, at 60 degrees ENE. The full moon has been spectacular over the shoal. The ice sparkles, moonlight dances on the waves and an ethereal feeling envelopes the landscape.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Intensely Rural

I love how intensely rural this scene is. Grandpa Geiger's machine shed has been wired for a five foot lighted star that matches the sliding door stars that Aunt Jannette helped paint in the late 1940's. The big old pine tree has the Huron County lean that's the result of winds sweeping across the Thumb from the west off of Saginaw Bay.

The soft pink of the setting sun, a star made of bright lights, grass in December, a shed and a gray barn on the home place -- Graywood Farm is waiting for snow and Christmas.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, December 9, 2011

Volt Day Two

Late in the day I had driven enough miles that the battery was depleted. In the last half mile before turning in the driveway at Graywood Farm the battery indicator changed into the gasoline indicator and my Chevy Volt drove on gas for the first time with me driving it.

So here's the Volt with its "tank" being topped, sitting in the driveway in the sparkling Michigan sunset, looking for all the world like the first class car that it is. My quilting friends, in seeing the car yesterday, said, "Wow, it's really sporty." And that comment come from women my age -- I'm sixty plus -- and older.

I charged it outside in 25 degree weather. This weekend I'll pull it into the garage to charge.

Today's agenda includes more work on my long arm quilting machine and a media interview with a radio station. Very cool intersection of the old and the new.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, December 8, 2011

New Era In Huron County

I took delivery of a new 2012 Chevrolet Volt yesterday afternoon at McCormick Motors in Pigeon. I drove it around the mile with Ed once so he could ride with me. Then down to the office, to Shaggy J's for supper, and to the farm. Back up town with Ed to retrieve some paperwork. Not a speck of gas used. Just 8.4 kilowatt hours of electricity!

Marion Shetler, sales rep at McCormick's, tells me this is the first Volt sold in Huron County. Pictured above is the 2007 Buck Rainier that I traded in. The Rainier took me almost 130,000 miles on lots of driving around Michigan, and on multiple trips to Wisconsin and Houston. It's been a good car. My Grandpa Carl Hayes, a Wisconsin farmer who was born in 1890, drove Buicks. Grandpa should be smiling down on a granddaughter's good fortune of almost five years of driving the now traded-in Buick.

The black Volt on the right is a dealer demo car that Dave McCormick's dealership purchased so that people can test drive the Volt. This car might have had two tanks of gas put in it in several months. Basically, it charges and runs on electricity.

The center car is my Volt. It's a soft gray green color (Viridian Joule) with almost every bell and whistle I could get and with the promise of driving adventures. I've been accustomed to the view from the driver's seat of a SUV so the cockpit type driving experience that the Volt offers will be a learning curve.

General Motors has been dealing with a Volt safety issue involving fire and the lithium ion battery. Just saying "fire" and "electric vehicle" has the media and internet naysayers up and running. Any fire situations have been induced through safety testing and GM is working to correct the present deficiency. It is safe to drive and buy a Volt.

I'm not the first in our family to drive a Volt since my daughter Liesl Eichler Clark has been cruising around in hers since March. It's great when your kids lead the way.

Other posts on this blog related to the Chevy Volt: 

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Santa Cactus

Pauline's magenta Santa cactus

For as long as I can remember there have been Christmas cactuses in our family. Both my mother and my father have always been big fans of this very seasonal plant.

This specimen came as a gift to my mother-in-law from one of the flower shops here in Pigeon. (Pigeon may be a small town, population 1200, but it has two flower shops, four banks, a dime store, two restaurants, a pizza place, a hardware, a library, post office, a grocery, three gas stations/party stores, a women's clothing store, dry cleaner, a gift shop, two drug stores, a health care complex that includes emergency services and a hospital, and more).

The plant was delivered to Pauline's house before Christmas in 2009 with a card that said it was from Santa Claus. The plant was filled with magenta blossoms and Mom Eichler really enjoyed it that year. When she moved to Country Gardens in May of 2010, Ed and I became caretakers of the Santa Cactus.

When it bloomed in December of 2010, the plant moved to Pauline's apartment at Country Gardens. After the blossoms dropped, we took the plant back to the lakehouse where it summered in the sunroom and the garage.

My grandson Finn and I counted 62 buds on the Santa Cactus just before Thanksgiving. Now it is filled with color and really is too big for Pauline's apartment. I keep it perched on top of a brown pottery bean pot so that the fronds have room to arch gracefully. The cactus likes the cool sunroom during the week; on weekends it displays its color on the dining table.

By the way, no one has stepped up to claim to be the Santa who sent this plant to Pauline. So, we can safely say, "yes, Pauline, there really is a Santa Claus."

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

In Michigan, Tennesee Weather

Planting the daffodils in the Red Bench garden

Here at Cedar Bluff -- Latitude 43.70 north, Longitude 82.61 west -- one would think that the ground would be frozen already. There have been several winter storms with snowfall. But the warming effect of the Lake Huron shore protects the ground from freezing early. The water cools slowly and we've only seen ice along the shoreline once in November. 

Yesterday I planted golden yellow daffodils and rich red tulips. I pulled out the geraniums (still growing)  and put them on the compost pile. I drained and coiled hoses and hauled them to the basement. I brought the snow shovel out and stationed it at the mudroom door.

Red bows on the fence along the Dortmund roses and cedar trees

With a hot cup of coffee and Amy Grant's "Tennessee Christmas" on the CD player I twisted and wired red velvet bows for the split rail fence the borders the cedars and driveway in front of the lakehouse. It felt like what I've always imagined December must be like in Tennessee -- a moderate day, no snow on the ground, planting and cleaning in the garden beds.

Any thoughts of the south will soon be gone. The ground will freeze. Lake Huron will ice over. Snow, glistening white, will blanket Michigan's Thumb. Yesterday's late gardening was a gift of Mother Nature's southern temperament, a chance to smell the promise of the soil and of spring before winter sets in in Michigan

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, December 5, 2011

Seventeen Days Until Solstice

At sunrise, looking east from Graywood Farm, down Geiger Road -- Huron County, Michigan
One morning last week, when this photo was taken, there had been snow during the night. The sunrise, a soft pink shadow, moved across Huron County, from east to west, and lit up the snow for a moment with the magic light of cold December in the days before Solstice.

Graywood Farm is located on Geiger Road. The road runs almost due east and west. At the times of the spring (March)and fall (September) equinox, the sun rises and sets along the line of the road You could almost set a GPS by the equinox suns. But, in December the sun rises through the woods and over the river flats, way south of the road and Pigeon River Mennonite Church. Living in Huron County you almost come to know what month it is by where the sun comes up in the morning.

I love the big skies in Huron County. The sunrises in winter, even on these days when the sun crawls across the southern sky, lift my spirits. The colors and the light bring a new day. And even if that day is cold and even if it is December and, yes, even if it is a Monday, a new day is good.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, December 4, 2011

December Blues

This cobalt blue vase with red and gold berries was supposed to be something artsy for today's blog post, but after watching Michigan State's football team lose to Wisconsin on Saturday night, maybe the blue stands for the disappointment that we Spartan fans are feeling.

Ed even turned to me during the game and asked if we should order tickets for the Rose Bowl. Not this year, I guess.

I'm proud of the team and the Spartan Marching Band. We had lots of great moments in the Saturdays of watching football and following the band this fall. Go State!

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Winter Reflection

From the south facing windows of Grandpa Geiger's big machine shed on Graywood Farm comes this image of the setting sun reflecting across the snowy landscape of Huron County's farmlands.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, December 2, 2011

Outside My Comfort Zone

Inside the Kimball -- strings, pegs, the harp, felted padding

I'm going outside my comfort zone today. I volunteered to play Christmas music on the Yamaha Clavinova (a digital instrument) at Country Gardens Assisted Living Facility for their noon meal today. I put together about twenty minutes of carols and Christmas songs. I play piano for myself at night, but haven't played in "public" for a long, long time. Maybe fifteen years.

Our Kimball grand has been vacuumed and dusted as I've prepared for this gig. I chose music that is basically four part harmony because my piano style has evolved to a choral approach; I play as if I'm singing or directing a choir. So sometimes there is two part harmony in the octave below middle C. That's the tenors and basses doing their thing. Other times I play three parts in the middle C octave. That would be the three part women's voices. And sometimes I finish a song with just the melody, played an octave above middle C. That would be a flute, accompanying my choir.

"Away In A Manger" from "The Evangelical Hymnal" (1921)

Some carols will be played in two different keys. Some keys are bright and lively while other keys are comfortable and soothing. So a carol sounds different, depending upon the key it is played in.

Since there are more than one version of lots of carols (think of Willie Nelson's rendition of "Silent Night" versus that of The Mormon Tabernacle Choir) I have looked for carols that have different tunes. "Away In A Manger" or "Luther's Cradle Hymn" is one such tune. I'll use the popular tune but will also play the J. E. Spillman version from 1834.

Hymnal title block with gold oak motif. Notice cloth binding.
I found the Spillman version of "Away In A Manger" in "The Evangelical Hymnal," dated 1921 (the year that my Dad was born). I have a copy of this hymnal that belonged to my grandparents, William and Rose Luedtke. The book is in excellent shape and was the hymnal for the Evangelical Church which is a precursor denomination of the present United Methodist Church.

The little program finishes with "Jingle Bells" and "We Wish You A Merry Christmas." Here's hoping that the audience today is tolerant of the background music for their noon dinner!

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December The Oneth

One more month to go and we bid farewell to 2011. For me, born in the mid-1900's, the twenty-0's sounded foreign and far, yet now, we are officially in the twenty-teens. I suppose we could call this decade the teenager of the century.  An adolescent decade. That might explain a lot of what is going on in the world today.

Anyway, this morning's image is of the south facing cottage at Graywood Farm yesterday morning. The swirling and howling north winds of Tuesday night brought snow and cleared the air. By morning, there was snow plastered on every north facing surface in the Thumb. I had to pry my car door open when I headed uptown to quilt.

These intense blue and bright white mornings are a gift of the Northland. For several minutes, sometimes an hour, sometimes all day, the glistening landscape sparkles. There is a sharpness to the scenes. Grays have contrast; whites gleam; blue deepens.

This morning, we have clouds again and this first morning of December 2011 is pretty dull.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Snowlady Welcomes Winter

Pigeon's first lady of winter, the Woolly Snowlady, donned her wool hat and got out her pine tree to welcome winter to Michigan's Thumb. In spite of her crafty artificiality and her three ball construction (a woman? with balls?) she can be counted on to predict the first snow of the season fairly accurately.

Here is her prediction:

1. The first snow has already been here. (Duh.)
2. The second snow will be here before January 1st. (Double duh.)

Ah, how wonderful to have her in the company of the winter warriors. We love her sheepish grin and enjoy all of the yarns that she tells. With her beady eyes and her button front, she's one of those Midwesterners who stays north in cold weather and keeps the faith during the long, bright winter to come.

As Woolly Snowlady says to all she meets, "Only 22 more days until winter!"

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler