Monday, January 31, 2011

North Garden Study

Unbroken snow covers the Adirondack chairs in the north garden near the cedars. Brush strokes highlight the stillness of the white snow.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Studio Caution

Every quilter knows the need for caution because of dropped pins. Here's a sign that is some of my early photoshop work, back when I was using Photoshop Elements. This sign was supposed to replace the hastily lettered caution sign that I put on the stairway leading to my studio.

The quilt is a favorite of mine. It's the "Ode to Thangles" quilt from my book, Glad Yule: Quilted Goods for the Holiday Home. The Ode quilt is a great combination of reds and greens and Thangles. Backed with flannel and generously sized, Ode makes a great cuddle quilt for winter.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Dusk in the Desert

Just after sunset, looking south from Dove Mountain near Tucson, Arizona.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, January 28, 2011

Cactus Bird

Perched on the tip of a saguaro, this little bird stayed for several minutes while I photographed it. Maybe it was stuck on a cactus spine!

Near Tucson, Arizona

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Memories of Mom

MB, Val, Wanda & Liesl -- Sept. 2004

My mother has been gone for more than four years now. Today marks the fourth anniversary of her memorial service. She died on Sunday, January 21, 2007 in the early part of the day, long before the sun rose. Her long siege of being in the cloud of Alzheimer's ended before the sun rose on another Sunday. She died in the bedroom that she was born in on her home farm with family by her side.

We held a wonderful celebration of her life on the Saturday that followed. In a packed church sanctuary we remembered her as a woman full of life and love. People came for miles on that cold wintry Wisconsin day to surround our family as we said goodbye to Vallanee Rose Luedtke Hayes.

For those of us who loved her, it was the beginning of a new kind of missing her. Even now, four years later, I still can't quite describe the hole that her death left in my life. I just know that it is there.


Another blog post about my mother

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Frosty Apple Trees

Morning frost with pink skies behind the apple trees along Cedar Bluff. Looking northwest over Lake Huron on a January morning in 2006.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Agave Study I

Closeup of the immense agave plant on the southwest patio.
Evening sun in January.
Tucson, Arizona

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, January 24, 2011

What I'm Reading: January

Food Matters -- A Guide to Conscious Eating by Mark Bittman. Simon & Schuster, 2009. Paperback, $15.00.

    I'm an admirer of Mark Bittman's approach to food. His early January article in the New York Times about three basic recipes for cooking at home motivates me when I  think I just can't be in the kitchen another evening. Still, I haven't read any of his books and don't own any of his cookbooks. "Food Matters" will put an end to the Bittman drought in my reading schedule.

Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking by Michael Ruhlman. Scribner, 2009. Hardback, $27.00.

     My first introduction to this book was a short segment on the weekly Splendid Table podcast which I listen to almost religiously. Ruhlman's premise, that all cooking distills down to a set of ratios and that recipes are built from these ratios, makes for investigative thinking for me. As I read this book I'm testing out his ratio premise on many of the recipes that I have committed to memory -- my banana chocolate chip muffins, my meatloaf, my piecrust. So far, so good. The ratio thing seems to have validity.

Gardening in the Desert: A Guide to Plant Selection & Care by Mary Irish. University of Arizona Press, 2000. Paperback, $17.95.

     I've spent an enjoyable hour with Mary's Irish's book on desert plants and already I know that that this will be a valuable resource for learning about plants in Southern Arizona where we've purchased a winter home. My first reading session taught me about basic trees -- mesquite, palo verde, ironwood -- and soil structure (think alkaline in the desert). I'm sure there will be many more times that I'll read a section after a desert walk and learn something more.

Yard Full of Sun: The Story of a Gardener's Obsession That Got a Little Out of Hand, by Scott Calhoun. Rio Nuevo Publishers, Tucson, AZ, 2005. Paperback, $22.95.

     Here's a beautiful book published by Rio Nuevo Publishers in Tucson that features the story of one gardener's establishment of a home and yard in a southern desert climate. Scott Calhoun is a frequent lecturer at Tohono Chul Park, a great spot in the Tucson area to see and learn about plants and desert gardens. (The tea room at Tohono Chul serves organic slow food, too. Good for lunches!)  Artful photography and an engaging storyline make this a compelling read. Along the way you learn some botany and some practical tips. For example, the first tool on Scott's desert gardening tool list is a Mikita 42-pound electric jackhammer!


NOTE: "What I'm Reading" is a monthly blog post that highlights books of interest. While I try to keep in mind the themes of this blog -- knitting, photography, good food, family, gardens, quilts, books, lakeshore, farm -- the reading list is more eclectic. Keep in mind that I'm a lover of reading who uses a Kindle almost daily, reads the New York Times on a cellphone app but still loves to hold a book and savor the page turning and layout on paper.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Zauberball Socks

The leg of the first sock is done. I knit the leg on double pointed five inch bamboo needles while on a Delta Airlines flight this week. I really prefer knitting socks on a long circular needle but figured that if TSA at Detroit Metro Airport decided to confiscate knitting needles, I'd rather lose the less expensive bamboo needles than an Addi Turbo 40" needle.

The yarn is Zauberball which translates from the German as "Magic Ball." Color change is subtle, the yarn glides across the needles and into the knitting, and I'm enjoying the creating process immensely.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

It's Been Two Weeks

Memorial at Safeway, Tucson -- January 20, 2011
 There is a river whose streams make glad
the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is with her; she will not fall.
God will help her at break of day.

From President Obama's memorial address
Tucson, Arizona -- January 12, 2011

Candles flicker in the evening shadows. People come and go. They come to ponder the why, to live the question of how could this happen. They pause for a glimpse of teddy bears and hand lettered posters and the campaign signs of a beloved congresswoman.

It's been two weeks. The Safeway grocery is busy with shoppers but the memorial and the flowers and the candle flames outside are fresh with the memory of two weeks ago.

God will help at break of day.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Desert Evening

Early evening along a desert trail near Tucson. Saguaros stand like sentinels against the sunset.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ready To Quilt

For years, my mother-in-law and quilting buddy Pauline Eichler would put a new quilt into the frame right after Christmas. The Christmas tree and holiday decorations disappeared; the quilting frame appeared.

In January of 2001 Ed and I helped her put this double wedding ring quilt into a new frame that she could keep in her family room so she could listen to television and quilt at the same time. Here's the family room with the frame, the quilt, lamps for best illumination and Mom Eichler, ready to quilt.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Full Moon Throught Telescope

TAKE a small point-and-shoot digital camera.
HOLD the camera very carefully
 in the eyepiece of a simple telescope.
 Photos of the moon!

This shot was taken on Labor Day Weekend in September 2009. The moon rose clear on a warm late summer night. We pulled the telescope (which was a present to Peter one Christmas long ago) out onto the terrace. When the moon rose over Lake Huron to the east, many of us at Cedar Bluff got out our cameras and snapped photos of the gleaming orb. Those are magic nights. Family, friends, fall -- and the full moon.

More Full Moon blog posts:

Windmills in Moonlight
Full Moon Over Michigan's Thumb

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Max's Quilt

Max's teddy bear quilt.
Presented to him for his first Christmas in 2004.

Pattern from a past issue of Quiltmaker magazine. Hand appliqued, machine pieced and machine quilted by his grandmother, Wanda Hayes Eichler.

Another blog post about quilts:

A Quilt For Baby Burl

Monday, January 17, 2011

Side By Side

January 12, 2008 -- Ed with Karl & Helen

"We'll travel along,
singing a song --
side by side."

Our friends Karl and Helen would always welcome us for a meal and some conversation when we visited them in Arizona. Ed and Karl would chat business and back home. Helen and I would listen and chat about kids and grandkids.

I like this photo from several years ago. I had slipped away from the table and snapped this setting on my way back into the dining room. It gives a glimpse of Karl and Helen side by side. Helen is gone and Karl is alone now. He has many wonderful memories of years and days, meals and chats with Helen at his side.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Incredible Cat

His name is Mr. Bernie and he was the most incredible cat. He had 26 toes. Mice feared him. We loved him. He died in a haying accident. I cried. That's been quite a few years ago.

Sometimes, when I turn into the farm driveway, I think I see Mr. Bernie nosing around the machine shed, getting ready to make a beeline for the house and a warm spot on the sofa. What a cat!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Bank Pond

Step out of your car at the Pigeon office of Bay Port State Bank and you will cross a bridge over a small garden pond to get into the bank. A waterfall bubbles and gurgles most of the year. The koi in the pond dart this way and that. Water plants and perennials ring the pond. In the winter it is soothing to see the moving water and know that beneath the surface of the ice and snow there is life.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Christner Tree in Winter

We have a tree that we call the Christner tree out on the south side of Cedar Bluff lakehouse. Our friends Jim and Joanne Christner gave us this tree when we first built our house. They even had Matt Esch's crew from Esch Landscaping near Pigeon plant the tree for us.

I really don't know for sure what kind of tree it is but I would guess it to be an ornamental cherry. The Christner tree blossoms a deep warm red-pink in late May or early June. It is a late spring show stopper. Here it is on a late winter afternoon. The red berries and the bare branches trace a serene silhouette against  the cold backdrop of Lake Huron.  

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Snow Thrower

For those of you who live where snow is not, here's a January reality check. This is Ed with the snow thrower (notice, thrower -- not blower) last Sunday, January 9. He's clearing the driveway and walks at Cedar Bluff in late afternoon. The temperature was about 18 degrees above zero.

I saw a Weather Channel report where a guy was walking with a snowthrower and the guy had a little shell around him. Kind of like a personal tractor cab. That's what Ed needs when he uses the snow thrower!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Winter Gray Study I

Morning light reveals this study in gray. Adirondacks on the snow covered terrace.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Queen Anne's Lace in Snow

Queen Anne's Lace with snow caught in its "nest." Photo taken along the path at Cedar Bluff on February 3, 2010.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Christmas Swags

Christmas Swags -- 2010
 My mother, Vallanee Hayes, made a gingerbread people doorway swag for our farmhouse many years ago. The little stuffed gingerbread people are trimmed with rick rack and sewn together like a paper chain of cut out people. Christmas is kind of official when the swag comes out of its box each year.

This Christmas (our tree is still up so I'm still in Christmas mode -- sorry) Ed and I made a reindeer swag for Max and Finny. I did the cutting and stamping and inking. Ed did the critiqueing and encouraging.

Finny and John and the Reindeer Swag -- 2010
I used artist trading cards (2 1/2" x 3 1/2") with rubber stamps, art markers, ribbons, key tags and curly ribbon to create a swag that the Clarks hung from their fireplace mantle this past holiday. Hannah Banana will probably get her Christmas swag next December. What fun!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Rumford Fireplace

On winter nights at Cedar Bluff we cozy up to the Rumford fireplace built with Fond du Lac Rustic Stone from the Buechel Stone Company quarry near Mom and Dad Hayes' home farms in Wisconsin. This photo show one of Ed's first fires from January 2006 in the Rumford fireplace.

With nighttime temperatures in the teens we've been using the fireplace often this winter. Our fireplace was built by Dave Taylor of Bad Axe, Michigan.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Snow on Apple Trees

The new Sony pocket camera got good use this morning. The western shore of Lake Huron got hit by lake effect snow last night so we woke to a winter wonderland this morning. Here's a view from the great room of Cedar Bluff. I'm looking northeast over the lake. The three bare trees almost center in the photo are the "wild" apple trees that were here before the house was built. Notice how much snow and ice are covering White Rock Shoal this January.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Miss Ducks & The Dino Brothers

Miss Ducks (center) and the Dino (dee-no) Brothers spent their summer and fall reclining on the big bed in the Yellow Guest Room at Cedar Bluff. Disappointed with the lack of company, all three of the stuffed trio requested transfer to the guardianship of children who would play with them.

This transfer, being accomplished at Christmas, has left a large hole in the heart of the Grandmother who brought Miss Ducks and the Dino Brothers home and has talked and played with them often. The Grandmother is missing The Trio but, being a wise and compassionate and beautiful grandmother (ahem!) she knows that each of them is loved and well cared for in their new homes with Maxwell Ryan and Griffin Henry and Hannah Lee (a.k.a. Hannah Banana).

So, dear grandchildren, give them each a hug from me!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Midroad: Richardson Looking West

On Richardson Road, east of Pigeon and traveling west, one sees the Cooperative Elevator towers that command the town skyline.

Photo taken 28 December 2010.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Red Vest Banner

I write an almost weekly email for my design business, Graywood Designs. Each email is topped by a banner that (for all you techies) is 600 pixels wide. I'm getting better at my photoshopping skills as can be seen from this latest banner which is a celebration of the red vest that I made for Dad. From left to right in the banner, 1 -- a closeup of the knitting; 2 -- Dad on Christmas Eve wearing the red vest; 3 -- me (Wanda Jean) two days before Christmas, also wearing the red vest.

There is a little more of the story about the vest in an earlier blog post. I really like the banner and so I'm posting it here.

If you've wandered into this blog, here's another blog that I write that features knitting and quilting and my design work. And, if you'd like to sign up for the almost weekly Knit & Quilt With Graywood email, you can do that here.

If you are totally confused about emails and blogs and all that stuff, join the crew. So much of what a business does these days is social media networking. I'll try to untangle some of the complexities of when and where I'm on the internet in another blog post. Not today!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cedar Bluff in Winter

Cedar Bluff -- January 3, 2010
 Here's Cedar Bluff lakehouse in the winter. This photo is from last January. The brilliant blue winter skies often signal very cold days.

Look like the snow thrower and shovel were in use over the holidays, too!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Adding the Desert to My Life

We are adding a new dimension to our lives. Ed and I bought a house on a golf course in Arizona near Tucson. This will be a new adventure for both of us.

We both spent about a week in December out in Marana at the new place which we now call Graywood West. While the going back and forth will take some adjusting, we're ready to do that as a part of our lives. I guess that makes us snowbirds. We will be very flitty snowbirds for now.

Here's a view from a trail that's easily accessible from Graywood West and a photo of breakfast on the East Patio. The walking and hiking possibilities are wonderful. I was out the door and moving much more than I do in Michigan during the winter. We ate outside as often as we could. We golfed twice during the first week even though we spent lots of time fetching stuff for the house.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Broken Glass in the Buick

Funny stuff happens. Here's the Buick Ranier as we found it on New Year's Eve. We heard a dull but loud sound late in the evening.

It turned out to be the glass "exploding" from the back windshield of the Ranier. Look how the glass just breaks into small pieces, almost like a sharp necklace would fall apart. The wings up above the tailgate are the pistons that hold the glass in place.

Needless to say, I'm driving the Old 1997 Chevy Blazer (Ed calls it the truck) this week.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Midroad: Premier Road Looking West

Premier Road Looking West
 Huron County's extensive road system yields wonderful views. Here's Premier Road just before sunset on a late December Day in 2010.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Cold Solitude

Driving across Huron County one night this week I came across Premier Road right about sunset. The western skies were vibrant with orange and cerise clouds. To the north and east, soft lavendar and pink filled the skies. Here are two deer shown against the glowing skies and white snow.

Taken with a SonyCyber-Shot using 10X optical zoom.