Saturday, April 30, 2011

Between Peaks

We drove up Sentinel Peak last night before sunset and climbed almost to the top. Tucson's downtown lies to the east and the Santa Catalina Mountains loom beyond. Two bright lines of lights -- red taillights and white headlights -- scribed the north-south route to the Mexican border.

The distinctive jags of Picacho Peak are distant in the center of this photo. From Sentinel Hill to Picacho Peak is about 38 miles as the crow flies. There have been two days of high winds and the dust in the atmosphere helps create the soft peach and pink glow of the sunset.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, April 29, 2011

ATC: The House and The Sun

The hot sun is central to the day in the desert. Today's image is of a house (la casa) and the sun (el sol).

The image began as a simple black outline rubber stamp ("Scenic Villa" by Stampendous). I added a resident saguaro cactus and then used Tombow markers to bring green grays, red, orange, and some turquoise to the desert image. Using Photoshop, I altered the color and added a spatter effect.

Think eighty degrees in the shade as you look at this image.

ATC Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Shrek Ears

The flower buds on a saguaro look like Shrek's ears. Strange structures, the buds appear as quarter sized swellings that grow into a knob that resembles a button headed horn or, if you watch Shrek movies, like Shrek's ears.

Since saguaros are tall members of the cactus family, it's cool to take a digital camera with a zoom lens and capture an image like this. Without the zoom, you'd need a stepladder or boom truck to take this photo!

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Low Water 2003

The Lake Huron shoreline looks pretty low this spring. However, here's a view from Cedar Bluff on April 27, 2003 that shows White Rock Shoal as almost dry bottom land. The initial seawall at the base of the bluff had been installed in 2000. It was put in place because the water had been lapping at the base of the bluff in the  1990's.

A photo like this almost makes one think that some giant creature pulled the plug on the Great Lakes.Where does the water go? As sophisticated and technologically savvy as geology,  meteorology, and other sciences are, no one has a definitive answer.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Desert Harmony

The classic combination of red and green sing a soft melody in this desert composition. The gray green of a large saguaro provides the background score. An ocotillo's red orange vibrancy punctuates the main theme. Then come the staccato notes of leaves shaped like little rabbit ears and colored with spring greens.

Such pleasure there is in the harmony of desert colors.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, April 25, 2011

Take Me Out To The Ball Game

Here are Finn and Max Clark, the grandboys, perched on a big tiger paw. Comerica Park's big tigers are a draw for little kids and big kids alike. Max and Finny had their picture taken with one of the big tigers last July when we all went to a Tiger game in downtown Detroit.

Now that the Tigers are above water (.545 as of today) it's time to be singing "take me out to the ball game." Actually, at our house, we sing that tune whether or not the Tigers are winning. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter 2011

Never let anything
so fill you with sorrow
as to make you forget
the joy of
Christ risen.

-- Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Saturday, April 23, 2011

At Glen Canyon Dam

I'm so afraid of heights that it is a wonder that I enjoyed being at the Carl Hayden Visitor Center overlooking Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell. Maybe it was the bookstore's juried selection of Western and desert children's books and natural history reading. Maybe it's because I always admired Carl Hayden as a legislator. Maybe it was because there's a glassed in area where I didn't feel my legs turns to mush. And maybe, just maybe, it was because the weather was perfect -- cool temperatures, sunny skies,  and a balmy breeze

At any rate, the dam and the Glen Canyon Recreation Area were a big hit in my book.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, April 22, 2011

Green In Zion's Valley

I am sitting in Page, Arizona, looking back toward the west, out over Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell, both man made marks on the Western landscape. Today is Earth Day. It is a day when the "beauty of the earth" and the "glory of the skies" creep to the forefront of the news headlines.

Yesterday Ed and I spent a remarkable day at Zion Canyon National Park. We rode the natural gas powered shuttle buses which removed carbon emissions from the valley. We packed in our own water bottles and packed them out again. Stations provide water in the park, but you provide your own bottle. We stayed on the trails and "left no footprint behind." Fragile environments are protected from the erosion of too many footsteps.

Way back when President Theodore Roosevelt and others imagined national spaces, and way back when Gaylord Nelson thought up Earth Day, Americans were somewhat in denial as a people that green spaces and green ways would become important.

Wandering through the green valley of Zion Canyon yesterday, watching the Virgin River's silty, tumbling waters nourish the cottonwoods and the ponderosa pines for yet another spring, one thinks of the sacredness that the spaces like parks and lakes and rivers and deserts and mountains and plains provide. The environmental/conservation movement has been labeled "green," but in reality it's a rainbow. From the earth tones of the deserts, to majestic purple mountains, to the lavishness of sunrises and sunsets, to the green of rolling farmlands, Earth Day reminds us of the humble responsibility we have as caretakers of a still fragile planet.

My 2011 Earth Day wish? I wish for green in Zion's Valley for generations to come.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Not Your Average Job

Watching from the 25th floor of the MGM Grand in Vegas I decided that these workers who were installing a sign on the outside of the hotel have a job that is not your average job. In the close up photo you can see the rolls of vinyl that contained the pieces of the large figure that they put up on the side of the hotel. The face spans five stories and probably is not finished yet.

My guess is that this might be the start of a sign advertising "KA," one of the Cirque de Soleil shows that is currently playing in Vegas. I'm also guessing that by tomorrow there will be another section of the sign below this one.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Botanical Vegas

After the bustling crowds, the fake facades, and the expansive neon of most of the Strip, finding a small oasis of fine art in Las Vegas perked up my senses. I lingered with current exhibition of landscapes at the Bellagio's Gallery of Fine Art which cost $15 for a short viewing.

The main courtyard of the Bellagio houses an indoor botanical garden that crawled with kids and strollers and cellphone cameras. As always, people are drawn to color and flowers and good design. There's a walk through two lines of birch trees that are outlined with orange and yellow Icelandic poppies. A Ferris wheel and merry-go-round (decorative only) and a butterfly house are set amid swirls of tulips, hyacinths, foxglove, ivy, calendulas, and chrysanthemums.

Over in a corner of the botanical garden is this large artist's easel with a version of David Hockney's Yorkshire landscape, Garrowby Hill. The original, dated 1998, is on loan to the Bellagio Gallery from The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. It is the painting that you see on the billboards around Las Vegas that advertise the Bellagio's current show, "A Sense of Place: Landscapes from Monet to Hockney."

No photographs were allowed in the Gallery, but you can snap away in the botanical garden. I loved the easel setting and the big paintbrush that accompanies this floral interpretation of Garrowby Hill.

Cellphone photo (of course!)

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Vegas Artificiality

Today's image brings together a shot of the Las Vegas airport taken from our hotel room window with photo of a cactus about to bloom. Look closely and you will see a jet heading up into the sky at the upper left hand corner of the photo.

Ocotillos blossom way up at the top of long, spiney stems that have dime sized leaves on them. Like most desert plants, the ocotillo defends itself with its prickers.

With the beauty of the desert right now -- the palo verdes are yellow green, the ocotillos are red orange, the prickly pears dance in yellow -- it is hard to see why humankind is drawn the the artificiality of a place like Las Vegas with its hard concrete surfaces and harsh lights. For me, spring calls in the form of this ocotillo that is about to unfold its botanical colors to the sky.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, April 18, 2011

Big Bypass

The Bureau of Reclamation had a major arterial clog to solve when it imagined a bridge over the Colorado River near Hoover Dam. US 93 is the major artery between Nevada and Arizona and it was often clogged with vehicle and pedestrian traffic as people slowed or stopped to view the Dam.

The Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge was the answer to the problem. Soaring almost 900 feet above Black Canyon the bridge contains a magnificient 1,060 twin rib concrete arch. None of its majesty is apparent when you drive over the bridge. You can't even see Hoover Dam from the bridge.

However, from the viewing sites along Hoover Dam, the new bridge's graceful arch links the canyon walls and serves as a big bypass.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Morning in the Valley

Distant mountains, shadows stretching across the path, sunrise. It's morning in the valley and another new day to be thankful.

For health and strength
and daily food
we praise thy name,
O Lord.

-- words from a summer camp table grace

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Another Yellow Cactus

Leaving the Time of Daffodils in Michigan was one of the disappointments that I had not bargained for. Ed and I decided to visit Arizona in mid April for a number of reasons. We had not counted on leaving the greens and yellows of spring behind.

So, on my first desert walk, as I encountered the stout lemon yellow blossoms of prickly pear cactii and the fragrant yellow lace of a palo verde tree in bloom, I felt the desert spring start to wheedle its way into my gardening heart.

Today's photo shows a prickly pear bud almost open. The writer of "The Desert Gardener's Calendar," George Brookbank, says that when these blossoms are open you can "see bees rolling in the scuppers, like drunken sailors, overcome by the nectar." What a great image -- intoxicated bees!


Related posts:
Yellow Cactus
Daffodils Among The Dortmund Sisters
Daffodils at John and Sheila Eddy's

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Beach Boy

Tomorrow is Ed's birthday. Both he and I are learning what it means to be in one's mid-sixties. There are aches and incidents, but the world loves to comment on all of that.

Recently I read that one reaches a level of discontent around fifty. The years that come after that increase in their happiness quotient, this study said. Both Ed and I would probably agree with that study. Day by day our happiness in life grows. We have a wonderful family, both elders and youngers. We have three grandkids whose sweetness warms us. We are blessed with incredible places to live -- a farm, the lakeshore and, most recently, the desert. We enjoy our work. We like to eat and golf and read and just be together. In short, we are happy people.

Here's a photo that I took of Ed on the beach on Coronado Island near San Diego. We spent a week here in January of 2010. I will always think of Ed as my beach boy that week and I hope to always be his beach gal.

I love you, Beach Boy! Happy Birthday.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Stone Color

These field stones, piled alongside the south lawn and around the old apple tree, have a subtle coloration that must have come from being exposed to the elements. The stones were hauled from a nearby field and dumped here about three or four years ago. Their colors change as they spend more time above ground.

When we chose stone for the fireplace at Cedar Bluff we learned that field stones are one of the most expensive materials to use. They must be "picked" and then sorted and transported. Quarried stone, which is what we used, is much less expensive.

The previous owner of the south lawn property had several loads of stone dumped along the edge of the bluff with the idea of stablilzing the bluff. That's how the piles of stone got to the bluff. A good stonemason could probably estimate their worth. For now, I just enjoy using them in my garden beds and, occasionally, photographing their contours and colors.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Zauberball Socks -- Again

I've just had too much fun with the word "Zauberball" and with sock knitting. Here are the Zauberball socks, finished, and modeled by my very own two feet, thanks to the magic of easily handled digital cameras. It helps that I finally got a pedicure for my winter weary feet.

One of the drawback of having yarn in the Graywood Studio Store is that I don't get to wear the samples that I knit. Not just yet anyway. So, these socks are at the Studio Store along with the luscious colors of Zauberball that we carry. I can look forward to a day when the socks can come home with me and keep my feet warm on a cold night.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Rose Hips

The Dortmund roses that line the split rail fence in front of Cedar Bluff have lovely hips left from their summer blossoms last year. Soon I will be pruning the roses and all of the dead leaves and these swollen hips will be history. I usually try to prune the roses when the forsythia blooms. It feels like late spring this year so it could be a few weeks before the roses will be nipped back.

This hip formation is on the Martha rose. Martha is the furthest south rose along the fenceline. This rose bloomed profusely last year but has yet to show any growth this year. That's not unusual; the Dortmunds seem to bud a bit later than some of my other roses.

The photo was taken late in the evening, about a half hour before sunset. The magic light of the evening has cast a subtle color spell that livens the winter weary rose twigs and hips.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, April 11, 2011

Cool Fog, Warm Day

Today's photo was taken around noon on Sunday when the warm air off of the land collided with the cool temperatures over Lake Huron. Drifts of fog swirled along the shoreline, hit the bluff, and bounced back over the shoal. I walked down the pathway to take photos and when I came back up the bluff I was greeted by a blast of warm air.

It feels late for there to be snow and ice along the shore. A few warm days and a spring rain or two will melt the snow quickly.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Flags In A Gym

"Flags In A Gym" is an easy way to picture what the competitors in the sport of winterguard do. In no way, however, does this simplistic label even begin to describe the complexity and beauty, the dedication and hard work, and the sheer amount of time that high school and college age students and their coaches put into winterguard activities.

My son, Peter Eichler, coaches Winterguard for Michigan State and has just finished another season of bringing a group of performers to the peak of what it is that they do best. Working with a talented team of professionals -- all the way from makeup and costume to physical training experts -- his group, State of Art, placed 7th in a field of 34 competitors in Independent Open competition at this week's Winterguard International finals held in Dayton, Ohio.

The composite photo shows State of Art at the start of its show (top), during one of the circle formations (center), and midway in a flag toss (bottom.) These photos are from the Friday night semifinals. The guard performed at 9:45 pm, not an easy time of the day to be at your best, and then went into final competition at 11:30 am on Saturday. It's a tough schedule all through the season and these fine performers are to be congratulated. Well done, Peter and State of Art!

Composite by Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Migrating Swans

We see swans on White Rock Shoal most of the winter. Some are tame, or mute swans that move up and down the shoal seasonally.

We also see tundra swans which migrate through the Saginaw Bay area. Tundra swans have a yellow dot on their bills near the eye. The Tundra swans come in large flocks during spring and fall.

Michigan has also reestablished the Trumpeter swan. Trumpeters, a protected species, are are the world's largest waterfowl. During the winter of 2009-2010 we thought we had a 35-40 bird contingent of Trumpeters at White Rock Shoal. Because of the heavy ice cover on the shoal we were unble to identify swans which we saw occasionally on the shoal during the winter of 2010-2011.

The photo in today's post is of migrating birds that I spotted in a wet field along Ruth Road on the east side of Huron County several days ago. There were about 15 swans pecking at the stubble in the field along with lots of gulls. Although I couldn't make out the characteristic yellow dot on the bill, it is my guess that these few birds are Tundra swans that paused their migration to rest and feed in Huron County.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, April 8, 2011

Yellow Cactus

Yellow Christmas cactuses and I don't usually get along. They come to my house to die, it seems. This one, however, has been resident for over a year and is putting on a spring show of blossoms.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Stan Hayes Family

Hey, we don't look too bad!

Here we all are together at Dad's 90th birthday party last Saturday. Arranged by order of age (whose idea was that?), front row, left to right: Carla from Milton, WI; Wanda from Pigeon, MI; Stan, the Dad; Tim from DC. Back row, left to right: Penny from Billings, MT; MB from Fond du Lac, WI; Heidi from Bryn Mawr, PA; Martha from Memphis, TN.

When I look at this photo today, I think how proud Mom would be for all of us to be together. She would have loved to be sitting right smack dab in the middle of this wonderful group of people.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Eight Years Later

Here's yesterday's photo and its sequel. What a difference eight years can make! The garden entrance to the back of 40 South Main used to be dumpster territory. Now a split rail fence, three cedar trees, and a paver courtyard with benches all combine to contribute to a welcoming space as one enters the building.

The only part of the old back structure remaining is the roof. Walls and floors were removed. There was no foundation under the brick wall that is being removed in the early photo. Now white doors and trim stand out graphically from the dark brick walls while glass block windows provide more accent and texture.

What was once an outdoor staircase (a treacherous one in winter) is now an inner stairway that leads to a second floor apartment. The whole building has been transformed into a functional, pleasant work environment.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Demolition History

Sometimes it's good to look back and see how far things have come. Here's a photo from the archives that shows the demolition of the building at 40 South Main Street in Pigeon during the first week of April 2003. One worker is using a jackhammer to remove concrete work. Two others are pulling out the window framework from the brick wall that is about to be demolished. Leaning against an interior wall is the red door from the back of the old building.

This building has been completely rehabbed and now serves as the Graywood Designs office with shipping, storage, and studio facilities. There are two additional rental units in the building -- a photography studio that faces Main Street and a self catering apartment that is entered from the garden.

I'll post a "here's what it look like now" photo tomorrow.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler


Monday, April 4, 2011

Dad's Birthday

Stanley C. F. Hayes with his daughter, Wanda Hayes Eichler -- July 2009

Today is my father's 90th birthday. He's quite a guy -- father, preacher, pastor, gardener, woodworker, wordsmith, writer. I really like this photo of me with my Dad that my husband Ed took of us in July of 2009.

The photo was taken just before Ed took Dad to the airport for his flight back to Wisconsin. The "ephemera" in the photo tells part of the story of that summer visit -- Dad's luggage in the lower right, a coffee cup on the kitchen counter, the Detroit Tigers summer schedule on the refrigerator door, me in my cutoff jeans. Dad came to Michigan to perform the wedding ceremony for Brad and Adrian Fear. Brad is my mother's cousin's son and Dad came all the way to Michigan to be a part of their special day.

Last year we went bowling with Dad on his 89th birthday. This year, on his 90th birthday, we celebrated on Sat., April 2 with a party in his honor.

Happy Birthday, Dad! We had a great weekend in Wisconsin with you. Enjoy your 90th birthday today.

Photo taken by Ed Eichler

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Yesterday we spent quality time with family. Two of my sisters pulled together a Saturday noon dinner party for my Dad who turns 90 on Monday and for my aunt who turns 96 on the same day. Together these two fine people represent 186 years of living well. Lots of family and friends came for the celebration which was held at a church. We ate good food, we sang "Happy Birthday," and we talked a lot.

Some of the conversations were "catching up" conversations -- where do you live now and what are you doing? Some were political in nature -- really, you were at the demonstrations in Madison? Four times! How great that you could go! Some were about family stories -- when did they go out West? Are you sure it wasn't before Grandpa Bill died?

Shining through all of this talk is the trust and respect and love that builds a family. The elders pronounce and tell the old stories. The younger ones announce comings and goings and doings. All of this talk is part of how a family works and how it keeps its central story alive.

Today's photo shows a conversation in progress. Patrick from Wisconsin, Martha from Tennessee, Jessie from DC and Paul from Montana are deep in conversation. Such a good time. Such good conversations!

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Circle Route

Aunt Mary and Jessie took me for a ride on the EZGO on Friday afternoon. The temperature was in the mid-forties as we drove the circle route around Sunnyside Stock Farm. Jessie is learning how to drive and the EZGO gives her the kind of off road experience that is invaluable.

Her Great Grandfather Bill Luedtke (my grandfather) used to put the red tractor in gear and hold me on his lap. "Now steer, Jeannie. Follow the fence," he'd say to me. No power steering. No power brakes. Just steer and trust Grandpa.

The marsh at the back of the farm is drying out. We had hopes of seeing some sandhill cranes. No luck. We did have fun watching Blackie the Dog enjoy enough sniffing and running to last for several days. I rode on the back of the cart and was remembering how much our mother enjoyed this drive. Even as the Alzheimer's cloud began descending around her, a ride on the golf cart to the back of the farm brought great pleasure.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Home Run Latte

Yesterday was opening day for Major League Baseball. When we stopped for a latte in Escanaba we pulled through a little drive up coffee place that we've come to like. The barista handed us our hot drinks with a tiny baseball sticker covering the sippy opening.

Such a nice touch on Opening Day! Now if only our Tigers had beaten that East Coast team that they played. What is their name again? Hmmm, something like "Yankers" or "Hankies." Wish I could remember all the teams!

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler