Monday, February 28, 2011

Farewell to February

This is the 59th post of 2011. Tomorrow's post will begin the third month of my daily blog postings this year. Inspiration for a daily blog post came in the form of a blog by an artist from the Detroit area. His name is Stephen Magsig and he posts a daily painting from the Detroit area on his blog called, Postcards From Detroit. I admire his artistic work. I am in awe of his ability to capture light and color and architecture in the urban landscape.

Even more, I admired the discipline of doing something for each day and wondered if I could make that happen through my blog. So, I started daily posts at the end of 2010. My target audience is my father, Stanley C. F. Hayes. Dad is a talented writer and speaker. A preacher, he has always captured stories with words that are eloquent, yet simple. Dad receives this blog post every day in his email. It is my way of keeping in touch beyond the telephone and mailbox.

By the end of January, as I rolled through the 31st post and first month of writing, I knew that I could keep going and I began inviting friends and family to follow the blog. Some of you have commented via the comments section; others of you have written me emails. Others have told me that they are following along. My day is always lifted when I hear from you about what I have written or photographed or imaged.

To all of you, especially to my Dad, to my husband Ed, and to my children, thank you for reading and responding. I hope that these daily glimpses keep us in touch with that which is beautiful and heartwarming and good.

So, now, farewell to February. At the end of March there will be 90 blog posts. Yipes. I feel like the little engine that could. I think I can, I think I can. . .I know I can!


About the photo:  Crazy quilt stitches, silk ribbon embroidery and beadwork embellish the four hearts in this miniature quilt which I made some years ago. It always cheer me up in February.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Last Hole

It's the end of a golfing afternoon. The fresh air and sunshine have been invigorating. The cart path leads back to the club house. The scorecard has been tallied. The day is almost over.

There is a quiet vesper atmosphere to the course some evenings. The rabbits and javenlinas venture onto the course. The shadows deepen. Distant mountains turn dusky purple. Most human intervention is gone. The coolness of the night steals over the desert and across the fairway.

There will be another day and another hole. But, for today, it is the last hole. 

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Plate Humor

Whoever thought up the idea of vanity plates should take a bow. I've often wondered how much money the states have made off of those of us who indulge in this remarkable way of identifying a vehicle.

This plate was sighted on a Subaru in Arizona. I love the wordplay. Sorry for the loss of pixels but this one had to come via my cellphone camera.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Picacho Peack & Fractals


Sometimes I get lucky. I almost always carry a small point and shoot camera. Most of the images that you see on this blog are shot using a smal Sony pocket camera. A week ago today, as we were headed north on Interstate 10 toward Phoenix, I started shooting Picacho Peak, a very distinctive mountain formation south of Casa Grande.

"Want me to pull over," Ed asked.

"Nah. I'm not going to use this for anything special. Just want the outline of the mountain for sketches. That's all," I replied.

But the photo was worth a second look. Here it is with the usual Photoshop touches that I do -- some cropping, tone/contrast/color adjusting (if needed), sharpening and reducing the  photo to blog size. I love the jagged edges of this mountain which remind me of fractal theory.

Fractals are a mathematical approach to describing an extremely irregular, usually jagged shape that is found in nature. Think of a coastal outline or mountain range that seems indefinable. Fractal theory makes it mathematically describable. Fascinating stuff. I learned about fractals from watching the Nova special, "Hunting the Hidden Dimension."  Fractals are all around us and in us. They are constantly repeating outlines and shapes.

That's what this photo of Picacho Peak reminded me of -- fractals.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cactus Study

Agaves and saugauros form an interplay of line and color in this cactus study that is heightened by brush stroke technique. This study was photographed at Arizona=Sonora Desert Museum near Tucson.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tee Bunnies

The tee boxes on Hole #10 were overrun with bunnies one evening this week. These three posed for pictures. Further down the fairway were two javelinas who did not wait around for photography. Pigs and bunnies and greens and birdies and bogies. Arizona golf is never dull!

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Moki Beans

I'm on a bit of a bean kick, thanks to Mark Bittman's "Food Matters." Marks says that beans are easy to cook and easy to keep on hand for nutritious eating.

Here's a batch of beans that we ate last week. These are a mixture called Moki Bean Soup Mix from Adobe Milling Company in Dove Creek, Colorado. This photo shows the beans after soaking. That's why some of the beans look like they have ruffled edges. Included in Moki mix are Anasazi beans, pinto beans, black beans, black eyed peas, great northerns, baby lima, large lima, green split pea, yellow split pea, small reds, bolita beans and cranberry beans.

I sauteed a medium onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter. I seasoned the onion with a pinch of red pepper, 2 or 3 grinds of black pepper and about a half teaspoon of dry rosemary. Two cloves of chopped garlic were added toward the end of cooking the onion.

Then I added the beans (drained, of course) with 2 cups of water, a medium chopped tomato and an 8 ounce can of tomato sauce. I brought the mixture to boil for 2 minutes and then let it simmer for about an hour. I put two pints of beans into the freezer for quick meals later and refrigerated the rest.

For supper on Saturday we ate these beans over rice with a touch of soy sauce. Served in a bowl and accompanied by fresh garlic toast they were delicious. We ate that meal outside on the east patio in late afternoon.

For the second bean meal, we had burritos with beans, rice, beans, chopped avocado and a sweet corn salsa from a Pure Michigan gift package that Liesl sent to us. I fixed a green salad to go with the burritos. We had golfed 18 holes and the beans and salad were a filling meal after being outside in the fresh Arizona air.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Rainy Sunset

After a rainy afternoon in the Tucson area the sun played games with streaks of rain off the tops of mountains in the distance. The glow brought a purple haze in the western skies. Here's a view taken along Twin Peaks Road northwest of the city.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Slant of Light

Coneflowers accent the shadows and fence in the courtyard garden at Graywood Farm.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Barrel Cactus

The barbs of this barrel cactus vary in color from yellow to cream. This nasty looking cactus is quite commonly used in xeriscapes throughout the southern Arizona area.

Copyright 2010
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, February 18, 2011

Desert Day

Cloud shadows paint the distant hills. Creosote shrubs dot the desert floor while in the foreground a palo verde tree casts its image in the afternoon sun. Warm and sunny, it is truly a desert day.

Photo taken on Feb. 17, 2011 at I-10 rest area south of Phoenix, Arizona. The rest area is situated on a ridge from which the Interstate descends northwest into the Valley of the Sun, location of the Phoenix metroplex.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Atwater Road Giants

The giant wind turbines in Michigan's Huron County stand against the late afternoon skies. These three turbines were photographed on February 14 along Atwater Road, west of Ubly. The dark patches of land showing through the snow pack are a sign of warm weather as temperatures moderated throughout the Great Lakes states this week.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Snow at Graywood Farm

The snow piles along the driveway at the farm have been pushed back onto the gardens. The plow guys move the snow away from the drive so that high winds can't form easy drifts across a narrow drive. There has been a lot of snow at Graywood Farm this winter. In the upper left of this photo are the cherry trees. Snow has almost completely buried their trunks.

The line of thin stakes, barely visible in front of the cherry trees, is where the raspberry patches are slumbering. Further back and totally buried is the strawberry bed. We planted it last April and it brought lots of sweet berries last fall.

The garden will be a wet mess for a long time this spring. This much snow will take its time in draining into the ground, out to the field tiles and down to the Pigeon River.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Winter Layup

The Calumet and the Objibway, in winter layup, as they appeared on Sunday, February 13, 2011 from the US side of the St Clair River. These two freighters joined at least four other ships that are tied up on the Canadian side of the river, just south of the Blue Water Bridges.

Windy days with temperatures above freezing this week mean that the melting is beginning. Soon these ships will be plying the Great Lakes, moving ore and gravel and coal and salt from port to port.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, February 14, 2011

Little Valentines

Oh beautiful, precious ones.
Their lives a drawing
of what will yet be.
They are the handwriting
on the wall of tomorrow.
They are little Valentines.

by Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Color Study: Red Violet & Green

The more I learn about digital photography, the more I find that I don't know. Here's a color study that began as a digital image taken with my Blackberry smartphone. I added the frame, the text and the brush stroke effect in Photoshop.

From a weak photo of fabric strips cut for a quilt project, the image has emerged as a fairly strong color study of a possible palette of colors for a quilting project.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Pink February

In February
All of a sudden there's a lot more light
And it's a warm light -- snow melts off the roof,
The first lambs are born in the barn cellar,
The hens start laying, the mare comes into season,
And I notice that the geraniums at the window
Have pushed their stalks up eight inches
And covered them with brick-pink blossoms.

From "In February" by Kate Barnes

Photo Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, February 11, 2011

Queen Anne's Lace in Snow

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

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Happy Children

Today is my birthday. I was born in 1948 so that makes me 63. My brother Tim turns sixty this month. Here we are on the front porch of the Marshfield Zion parsonage. Carla is holding Penny, Tim is pointing at the camera and I'm pretty smug and pigeon-toed.

If I'm right in calling this photo for the summer of 1953 (let's say Dad took the photo in June) then I'm five, Tim is two, Carla is almost six and Penny is ten months. We moved from Richland Center to Marshfield in June of 1953.

This might be the first photo of the four of us taken in Marshfield. Maybe the photo was taken on a June Sunday after church service and Sunday school. Dad would have been finished with preaching for the week and willing to get out the old Argus camera.

I love the ephemera in the photo. Notice the porcelain handle on the screendoor, the loafers that Carla and I are wearing, the tie shoes on Tim and Penny, and the bows holding our braids. We look so carefree and happy. Those were good years and we are lucky children to have such memories.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Stone Wall & Door

Enough of winter. Here's a door set in an old stone foundation. I love the way the shadows of leaves fall against the door. And there's green grass (yes, summer will come) to admire.

This view was taken last summer in Port Sanilac. I believe that this is the rear wall of the Masonic Temple. The apparatus in the upper left is the bottom of a counterweighted fire escape.

When we eat breakfast at Mary's Diner, we park in the village lot, right next to this wonderful old building.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Winter Afternoon

The punch of a red barn, deepening shadows stealing across a wind sculpted field, an azure sky -- all these elements add up to a late winter afternoon in Huron County.

This view, taken around 3 pm in February on Geiger Road south of Pigeon, shows the Swartzendruber farm on Notter Road with the John Deere Harvest Wind Farm in the distance.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Eagle Has Landed

No matter how many times we see these majestic birds it is always an event to sight one again. This eagle was eyeing the snow covered shoal in front of Cedar Bluff around noon on Sunday, February 6. By mid-afternoon, Ed spotted an eagle again swooping low enough to pick up a small mammal out on the shoal.

We see eagles soaring on the thermals in front of the bluff. We see them hunting fish on the shoal. We see them feeding their young on the rocks in front of the bluff.

It is always an occasion, always a binoculars-and-camera moment when an eagle is spotted.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Before & After

While this composition should probably be titled "Before & During" I wanted to picture the depth of the storm's snow deposits by opening the front door and snapping a photo. The photo on the left was taken on Tuesday, Feb. 1 at 9:39 am. The storm warnings had been in effect for more than a day and blizzard warnings were posted for 5 pm that day. The Thumb had howling winds all day; the snow started late in the evening.

The photo on the right was taken the next morning, during the storm, on Wednesday, Feb. 2 at 9:44 am. Drifts had been forming all night. Notice that snow now covers the lower rails of the fence just beyond the cedars. The Dortmund roses that are named for my sisters grow along this fence and now have more than adequate covering for the winter.

Most of us in the Thumb were snowed in for all of Wednesday and into Thursday. There is so much snow now that when the winds pick up the roads drift over. Then driving is sort of like being in a small motorboat and hitting wave after wave as your car hits drift after drift along a country road.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Top of the Storm

How drifts are piled,
Dooryard and road ungraded,
Till even the comforting barn grows far away
And my heart owns a doubt
Whether 'tis in us to arise with day
And save ourselves unaided.

from "Storm Fear" by Robert Frost

Photo Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler
Photo taken Wednesday, February 2, 2001 at 9:41 am

Friday, February 4, 2011

Golf Guys

It's early evening. The guys go over their golf scores out on the patio as the sun sets. For a golfer, it's the end of a perfect day.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cardinal Quilt

I've developed a liking for some of my smaller quilts. This is a wintertime favorite. I hang it in the mudroom during December, January and Februrary. I'm not the designer, just did the applique, piecing and quilting. I have to dig through my applique ephemera to look up the designer's name.

The photo shows a closeup of the cardinal. The inset show the whole quilt with holly leaves in the borders.

Great little quilt!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Our Little Girl

It's our little girl's birthday and here she is, tenderly holding a favorite kitty. Liesl is probably about three years old in this picture.

The photo was taken on the old cement steps at the front of the farmhouse long before any remodeling was done. Cats were a big part of our household and this kitty is obviously very pleased to be a part of the family.

Happy, happy birthday, Lee!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Snow on North Garden

Gray and blue skies, snow covered branches and morning shadows. Looking toward the north garden. This scene photographed on January 1, 2006 -- first New Year's Day at Cedar Bluff.

With the National Weather Service predicting a storm that could impact 30 states by this Wednesday, February 2, 2011 another frosty morning photo seems appropriate.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler