Thursday, June 30, 2011

Before the Fourth of July

I drove through Harbor Beach last night. I stopped for gas at the Citgo station. Dropped into Harbor Drug for some sundries. Drove down Trescott Street to the pier to see the lighthouse and watch a few freighters on Lake Huron.

Lots of people in Harbor Beach make these same stops on a summer evening. Last night was different. The town had yellow ribbons tied around trees and stop signs. American flags, large and small, flew from doorways and fluttered along sidewalks. In front of the Ramsey Funeral Home there was a contingent of motorcyclists standing outside. Inside the funeral home, the family and friends of Army Pfc. Brian Backus gathered to mourn the loss of their child and friend.

Pfc. Brian Backus, age 21, graduated among the top ten in his class at Harbor Beach High School in 2008. An Army medic, he was killed in Kandahar Province in Afghanistan last week. Today is his funeral at Harbor Beach High School where he was president of his graduating class just three years ago.

Down by Trescott Street Pier the two flags of two countries -- the United States of America and our close neighbor, Canada -- fly side by side at half staff in honor of this young man from Harbor Beach. Both nations celebrate their Independence Days in early July.

I paused on the shore of Lake Huron to remember this son of Huron County and the many, many others who have served. Some have come home to see the lighthouse catch the setting sun, or stop for gas on a summer night. But many have died. They will not walk the streets of home again. They are the "heroes proved in liberating strife, who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life."

Before The Fourth of July, freedom's steep cost -- this all encompassing gift of a life -- is a heavy burden for a Michigan town that mourns and remembers a young hero.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Therapy Quilt

Two of my quilting friends made this small therapy quilt for me several years ago. They started with a black and white panel from Block Party Studio in Iowa. Jill Harmon used markers to color the panel -- sort of like doing coloring book pages in grade school. Debbie Ballard did the piecing and Jill added the machine quilting.

What a fun piece! They put a really cool label on the back to remind me of how precious friends are. Jill and her husband Dave are in Alaska this summer. Here's hoping that they get to see email now and then. I will send Jill a link to this blog post as a call to "come back to Michigan 'cause we miss you." Actually they could have stayed here -- it's pretty cold this summer!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My Quilt

Hannah Lee and her quilt -- blocks made by her Greatgrandma Pauline
The pace of life moves very quickly when you are almost two years old. Here's Hannah Lee, caught for a moment, frolicking on her almost finished quilt. The blocks for this quilt, all 24 of them, were made by her Great-Grandmother Pauline Eichler.

Her Grandma Wanda (that would be me) assembled the top and did the quilting on my Gammill long arm quilting machine. I've been hand stitching the binding to the back of the quilt, but just for fun, I spread the quilt out on the floor this weekend and Hannah, without any coaching, plopped right on top.

So, here's Hannah in her white and purple jammies, checking out the new quilt that she'll enjoy for quite a few years to come.

By the way, I now make kids' quilts that are "beyond the crib." Sized large enough to use on the floor for a play mat or as a pull around for reading and cuddling, these quilts should stand up to lots of wear and tear.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mackinac Album

Peonies blossoming on the island appear as dabs of deep red against the pattern of a picket fence. Just beyond this fence is the pool at the Grand Hotel.

A closer look at the peonies in the rain shows the graceful unfurling of the rain drop kissed petals.

The pale spent lilacs heavy with raindrops, the driver's bent back, the pattern of water on the roadway, and the dull sky all contribute to the flow of this photo. Taken along Cadotte Avenue on Mackinac Island, the team and driver move a load toward the docks at the shoreline.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, June 26, 2011


My camera and I are often busy capturing landscapes and flora and fauna. This week I had the opportunity to catch my friend Maci in a pensive pose. I added touches of Photoshop to create this study of thoughtfulness.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mmm, Golf!

The rainy days on Mackinac Island made the one morning that we played golf seem even sweeter. Here we are, teeing up the ball, on the back nine on the Grand Hotel's Woods Nine. It was a cool day with a few sprinkles now and then. Both of us had a good round and we were glad that we made the time to golf a nine. (Ah, an alliterative sentence in the blog!)

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, June 24, 2011

Old Bicycles

Imagine riding one of these old time bicycles on Mackinac Island in the rain. The lack of fenders would make for a very wet back, I'm guessing. Here are some antique cycles lined up in downtown Mackinac Island.

This gentleman pushed his cycle along the sidewalk and then parked it with the others. His costume reminds me more of a drum major than a vintage cyclist. I didn't stay around in the rain to get a photo of the balancing act that it must be to ride and wear the hat at the same time!

Cellphone photo -- Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler


A note about dual posts: Some of you are seeing this post (and the previous post) for a second time. I left the charger for my laptop at home and resorted to using my Blackberry for posts. I'm not used to navigating the mobile version of Blogger and some posts were doubled. Anyway, I'll soon be back to my regular schedule and usual equipment. Believe me, I'm missing Photoshop a lot!  WJE

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Rainy Day on Mackinac Island

It's been a rainy week on Mackinac Island. Here's one of the tour carriages heading toward the downtown to pick up passengers for the tour of the island. Even the horses look like they would prefer sunnier weather!

The house in the right background, up on the bluff, is the Governor's Mansion. One of the really cool perks of being governor of Michigan is use of this historic home on Mackinac Island. The house overlooks the Straits of Mackinac. In this view, taken from Cadotte Street on the way up to the Grand Hotel, the Jewel golf course which is the front nine of the Grand Hotel course is between the street and the mansion.

Cellphone photo --Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Friendly Art

The art collection showcased this summer at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island features delightful images of pets and their people. These two Boston Terriers, painted in 1896 by American artist Alexander Pope Jr., caught my eye. BTs are a favorite of my little sis, Martha, who has taught me a lot about what it means to be a caregiver for kids, pets, and life in general.

Cameraphone photo

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Island of Bicycles

Bike rental shop on Mackinac Island

For a few days we are leaving the land of motorized vehicles and escaping to Mackinac Island where bicycles and horses are the means of transportation. Arriving on a Monday when the traffic is light means that we did not have to dodge bikes on Main Street. By midweek, with good weather, the island will be crowded with cyclists and horse drawn carriages.

It is a wonder that such a place exists yet in this so-called modern age. Sigh and alas, I am doing screen time as I blog. I seriously considered leaving my computer behind but I am truly committed to posting each and every day in 2011. So, no vehicles for me until Friday. But there will be screen time, by golly!

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, June 20, 2011

Poison Ivy

Here's one invasive species that I wish didn't grow so well in Huron County. The roadside park south of Cedar Bluff is filled with poison ivy again this summer. Over on Geiger Road near our farm there are areas of the roadside that are covered with poison ivy.

This photo was taken in June of 2009 down at the roadside park. The curl of the three leaved ivy is apparent. It's a lovely plant, but a nightmare to deal with when it gets on your skin or when you breathe the smoke of burning ivy plants.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dad's Day

Happy Father's Day to my Dad, Stanley Carl Franklin Hayes. Here's Dad in his "younger years." That would be two years ago when he visited Michigan to perform the wedding of Brad and Adrian Fear down in Oakland County.

Stan is father to Carla, Wanda, Timothy, Penelope, Mary, Heidi, and Martha. We all try to give Dad a phone call on special days. I know if I call late tonight he will say, "Well, you're the last one to check in today!"  I love it!

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Reaching Toward Solstice

The long evenings of a northern June bring the lingering soft twilight of late spring. This Seven Sisters rose grows outside my kitchen window at Cedar Bluff. Awash with deep green leaves and slender, but fattening buds, the rose is a favorite resting spot for hummingbirds. Silhouetted against gray shingles and highlighted by the warm pink setting sun, the rose arches tenderly into the solstice week of summer 2011.

Photo taken on Monday, June 13, 2011 at 8:53 pm. Summer 2011 begins on Tuesday, June 21.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, June 17, 2011

Depot Museum Rosewalk

The roses are blooming along the Rosewalk that leads to the Pigeon Depot Museum Complex. Ed and I pruned them in spring. Yesterday I stirred the mulch around the roses. Most are red but there are several yellow varietals that blossom with a blush of pink. 

Last year daylilies were planted in the center section of the Rosewalk. I was lucky enough to be able to choose which daylilies would be planted so I studied the varieties and, hopefully, identified early, mid, and late bloomers. The first daylily is already open so I got the early lilies right.

The roses had been neglected -- there were small trees and big weeds growing up from the central woody stems of the plants. Gradually the errant, unwanted weeds are being displaced and the roses are now much happier campers since they have had their branches nipped and a bit of tender loving care.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Great Blue Heron

The great blue herons have returned to the shoal this summer. We saw them often two years ago; last year they were occasional visitors. I photographed this heron one night this week. Notice how large the feet are. Herons will wade slowly, pushing fish or frogs or crayfish in front of them. Then their long neck snaps downward and the piercing, scissors-shaped beak catches the prey.

Last night we saw four of them standing guard on the rocks on the shoal, waiting for the full moon to rise. The water was calm, but the night was cloudy. Alas, no moon to shine on these large creatures.

There is another to notice in this photo. See how smooth the waves are? Using the Beaufort Wind Scale one could classify these waves as a light breeze of force 2, wind of 4-6 knots. In appearance the waves are small wavelets, with glassy crests and no breaking. On land a breeze like this would be described as a wind felt on the face, leaves would rustle, and vanes would begin to move.

The Beautfort Wind Scale is a really cool way to observe the movement of wind. It's something that I learned from reading a book on canoeing. This photo certainly shows the wave characteristics well.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Upbound Wind Turbines

Upbound on Monday night, these wind turbine tower units passed by White Rock Shoal right around sunset time. The white tubes are probably towers for a new windfarm somewhere beyond the Great Lakes. This shop, a "saltie" or oceangoing vessel is rigged for carrying on deck loads. It could be headed for a port as far away as Duluth, Minnesota. From there the turbine towers might move via semitrailer or railroad to their eventual destination.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Evening Iris

Kissed golden in the evening sun, iris stand tall and perfect for a day, maybe two, before their color and form is eroded by the wind and the sun. Guarded by the magic of leaf and bud and rhizome, the beauty of the iris is tucked away, safe to emerge in the promise of another spring.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, June 13, 2011

Thirteen Years

Happy Thirteenth Anniversary on the Thirteenth to John and Liesl. Love never ends.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Kindle Fizzle

WJ's Kindle with Kindle brick and cellphone brick and cords
Right in the middle of an engaging New Yorker article my Kindle fizzled. I knew it was low on battery power. I knew that it needed a charging time, but I had this idea that I could get thorough one article on the little bit of charge left.

That didn't happen. So I plodded downstairs and plugged it in alongside the other brick (charger) that I carry around for my cellphone.

A magazine wouldn't have run out of charge. Nor a book. Along with the ease of portability and incredible digital storage that e-readers have there is the inevitability of running out of power. Kindle uses the E-ink technology that is dark gray print on pale gray background so it consumes less power than an e-reader with color, but, as last night's abruptly ended reading session shows, it does eventually need to be recharged.

David Pogue's New York Times article this week (or maybe it was a blog post -- I still haven't paid for the NYT on my computer or Blackberry since I already pay for it on Kindle!) outlined the pluses and minuses of e-readers. Some who commented on the article want e-readers to be limited. "I just want to read books or newspapers -- I don't need to see everything else like my email, YouTube, etc." Other comments can't wait for newer, app-full e-readers in full color.

I think I'm with the black and white, more limited crowd right now. Kindle is where I turn for bedtime reading and for portability. And when the Kindle fizzles, well, there's nothing like an old fashioned, honest-to-goodness book.

By the way, the engaging article is "The Aquarium" by Aleksandar Hemon from the June 13, 2011 New Yorker. It's a personal history account of a child's isolating illness and a compelling read.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Pea Pie

Anybody for some George Pea Pie? Here's the pie sign board from Main Street Cafe, caught without the "ch."

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, June 10, 2011

Pauline's Birthday Album

The Cake Bakers at Pauline's Party

Steve Schulze works his cooking magic

Pauline and Friends -- Tracey Schenk, Jim and Joanne Christner, Bill Esch

Pink & White Peonies from the Cake Table

Pauline's great grandson Dylan Eichler enjoys a hug from his Great Aunt Shelley Gunden

Granddaughter Liesl Clark, great grandsons Finn and Max Clark visit with Grandma Eichler

Over 100 people gathered at the John E. Eichler Farmers' Market on June 8 for Pauline Geiger Eichler's 84th birthday. Steve Schulze's barbecued chicken was complimented by a salad menu planned and served by Bill Esch and colleagues from AgriValley Services. A special Family Recipe Cake Table organized by Wanda Eichler (me!) brought together heritage recipes baked by some of Pauline's colleagues from her working days.

All five of Pauline's children joined with family and friends to wish her a very happy birthday.


Special thanks to Kathy Kent for sharing her photography talent with this blog.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pauline's Family

My friend Kathy Kent took this sweet photo of my mother-in-law, Pauline Eichler, surrounded by her children at her birthday party yesterday. Neal (left), David, and Ed are standing behind Beth (left), Mom Eichler, and Sue. What a great looking family!

We had a wonderful noon chicken barbecue organized by Bill Esch of AgriValley Services. I'll post more photos of this fun celebration for tomorrow.

Photo by Kathy Kent

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pauline's Birthday

Today is my mother-in-law's 84th birthday. Pauline Beatrice Geiger Eichler was born in Elkton, Michigan on June 8, 1927. I love this photo of her from her 82nd birthday.

There will be a noon barbecue with a special cake display for her this noon. She's a sweetheart and we all love her very much. Happy Birthday, Mom Eichler!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Plaid Stars Quilt

I've been privileged to be quilting buddies with my mother-in-law, Pauline Eichler, who turns 84 tomorrow. Mom's quilting days are slowing down, but she still enjoys seeing the geometry and color of patchwork and has some of her quilts displayed in her apartment.

Here's one of her many quilts. This quilt, composed of twenty plaid star blocks, was given to Jason and Katie Eichler for their wedding. The blocks started out as a Block of the Month  (BOM) program at Pigeon River Mercantile, many moons ago. The original BOM quilt was a 12 block setting of 3 blocks by 4 blocks set in rows. Mom and I enlarged it to 20 blocks set 4 by 5 on the diagonal. It's a very successful use of these engaging star blocks. Jill Harmon, an expert long arm quilter, did the machine stitching. She specializes in feather circles and borders which she used lavishly on this quilt.

I know Jason and Katie will enjoy this quilt in years to come. Lots of Pauline's loving hours went into making it. Whoever cuddles up with this quilt will be touched by Grandma Pauline's kindness as they sleep under the plaid stars.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, June 6, 2011

Grandpa Geiger's Machine Shed

The machine shed on Graywood Farm is framed by the locust tree in front of the farmhouse in this photo taken last June. Two gray stars mark the front sliding doors of the gambrel roofed structure.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Among the small but important things in life that I have learned is to not leave the sunroof on my Buick open. I now carry Windex and a roll of paper towels in the back of my car for incidents like this.

Ephemera: The Hello Kitty water bottle came all the way from the airport in Fukuoka, Japan.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Last Summer's Geraniums

I couldn't give up on the Patriot Cranberry Red geraniums that made it through the winter in the sunroom. Congregated into one of the biggest porch pots, these mature plants look wild and leggy, yet their unique dark red punches through the early summer colors among the containers on the portico at Cedar Bluff.

Maybe there's a lesson here. Maturity has its own benefits and sparkle. That's what the Patriots seem to say.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, June 3, 2011

Hannah's Stan Sweater

Miss Hannah, almost two years old, will soon be the recipient of this little cardi which I am knitting out of the yarn left over from my Dad's Christmas vest. The yarn is Brown Sheep Superwash Worsted 100% wool in the heathered color called Shane's Red. Dad wears his vest a lot and I thought Hannah might like a sweater to match.

The pattern is from knitting guru Elizabeth Zimmerman's book, Knitter's Almanac, and is intended to be a baby sweater. I upped the gauge and am hoping for a cardigan that will be sort of a little girl's shoulder warmer for summer. I'm thinking Fourth of July. Maybe denim capris and a top with stars and stripes? Maybe raid Grandpa Ed's closet to find three gold buttons from a discarded sport jacket? Hmm, one of the things I love about knitting for kids is shopping to complete the outfit.

I'm calling this Hannah's Stan sweater since she and her Great Grandpa Stan will have sweaters from the same yarn.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


We're feeding birds this summer at Cedar Bluff because birds eat mosquitoes and, with the wet spring, mosquitoes will be an outdoor threat. These bluejays had a ball when the suet feeder was added to the front yard. Ed counted eight jays at once, all hanging around the suet feeder, waiting for their turn at dessert.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Last Night's Storm

I took this photo of the storm that swept over the northern Thumb last night while driving from Port Austin to Cedar Bluff. Looking west, the camera captured the unusual yellow that sometimes accompanies thunderstorm lines as they advance through the Midwest. This photo was taken on Ruth Road, just south of Helena Road.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler