Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bat and Spiders

It was one of those mornings. First I spotted an almost perfect spider web, inside the house, attached to the bouquet of daylilies that I had cut and placed on the dining table the day before.

Then Ed spied a critter in the sunroom. It was a bat and it was trapped.

I photographed the spider web and then demolished it. The bat took a little longer to release into the daytime light. We had to coax him out of the space between a screen and window where he took refuge from the humans who really wanted him out of the house.

So, should the presence of a spider web and a bat tell me anything? Yep, fall is coming. Critters want to be inside where it is warm and soon we will be thinking the same thing.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New Wind

A giant crane nestles between two new wind turbines at the Iowa based Exelon wind installation along Bay City--Forestville Road south of Ruth, Michigan. These two generators are part of a 50 turbine project, Michigan Wind 2, currently under construction near Minden City on the eastern side of the Thumb.

Michigan Wind 2 will have a capacity of 90 megawatts, the largest of the three wind farms in the Thumb, and is expected to be operational by the end of the year. The Thumb area now has a total of 128 wind turbines distributed between three wind farms: Harvest Wind I (32 turbines, 52.8 MW) near Elkton, Michigan Wind 1 (46 turbines, 69 MW) near Ubly, and the new Michigan Wind 2 installation (50 turbines, 90 MW) near Minden City.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, August 29, 2011

Old Moon

The old moon rises in a sliver of silence on Saturday morning, August 27.  Taken at 5:55 am, this image reveals the moon as a ghostly orb with a shining crescent as the coming sun chases the moon into the summer sky.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Red Havens

I never knew one peach variety from another until I moved to Michigan. My Michigan mother-in-law introduced me to Red Havens. "They're cling free. They are the best for canning," she advised as I would eat yet another peach that dripped down my chin and along my forearms to my elbows.

Once, when I was a little girl, my Wisconsin grandmother gave me a peach to eat and sent me outside. Fresh from the bathtub, I got to walk around the farmhouse with my hair wet, in my cotton slip with eyelet trim, eating that big peach on a summer afternoon.

I know that Red Havens don't belong to Michigan alone, but photographing them on a crunched up Tim Horton's bag, used for ripening these four peaches, makes this another Pure Michigan image for me.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Almost Sunrise

Ribbons of color paint the early morning sky as a freighter heads north on Lake Huron near White Rock Shoal, just off the eastern shore of Huron County, Michigan. Blessed by the Great Lakes, it is another Pure Michigan moment.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, August 26, 2011

Yarn Bombed

My knitting friend Kathy Kent yarn bombed a tree outside of the Graywood Designs Studio Store this week. Here I am, holding a sign that says "We've been yarn bombed!" and the blue patch of knitting tied to the tree is the bomb.

Yarn bombing is often an urban occurrence. Brightly colored squares and strips of knitting and crochet appear wrapped around poles and trees and along fences in cities. The needlework proves durable and decorative. It's a way for knitters and crocheters to brighten up the landscape, sort of an urbanly nice graffiti.

Since today is the closing day for the Studio Store on Main Street in Pigeon, Kathy's well knit bomb (with I cord ties, nonetheless!) touched my needlework soul. And how did she let me know about the endeavor? She sent this text:

Graywood Designs has been YARN-bombed!
 (Hope you like it.) :)

Yes, I do like it! It's great to have friends with yarn bombs in their back pockets.

Photo by Danielle Damen
August 25, 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Occulting Ships

Two freighters pass each other in the shipping lanes just off White Rock Shoal south of Harbor Beach. Ed and I call this "occulting."

Astronomy buffs watch for the moment when a planet or a star passes in front of another celestial body. Those occurences are called occultations by astronomers. We've adopted that term for the 10-15 seconds that it takes for two freighters to pass each other.

This occultation occurred on Monday morning, August 22 around 10 am. A third downbound freighter was just out view.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pregame Pause

Call me a patriotic traditionalist, but I love the flag waving and anthem singing before games. I especially love it when the whole crowd sings the Star Spangled Banner. Wonderful.

At Saturday's Great Lakes Loons game at Dow Diamond in Midland a soprano worked through a trilling version of the anthem. (Well done, just not very small "d" democratic when the crowd doesn't get to sing.) The young players and their kid counterparts bowed their heads to honor the land of the free and the home of the brave. It's a very American Pie and Chevy at the levee moment. I love it.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Favicon Quilt

A Favicon Quilt, thanks to Photoshop

The little purple square with a white W that you see on the browser tab and in the address bar for this blog is called a favicon. Many websites use a unique symbol that identifies them in this spot on the newer tabbed browsers. Twitter has a blue bird, the New York Times uses its elaborate T, and the Willow blog now has the white W on a purple square.

Favicon is short for favorites icon and can also be called a shortcut icon or URL icon. I started using a  purple W on a white square for the Willow blog and then decided that a white block W on a purple square would be better. I chose purple because that is grandson Max's favorite color. The W, obviously, represents "willow." I like the distinctiveness and simplicity of the resulting favicon.

Ed could see the purple favicon on his browser right away. I tinkered away with the browser settings on my Toshiba laptop so I'm finally seeing the little purple thingie. (Where did it go? How come you can see it and I can't? I read the help files. Darn, I should be able to do this.)

It's such a small touch, but when you are a techie who learns most things by the seat of your pants, even a purple personalized favicon is a very cool achievement.

Favicon quilt copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, August 22, 2011

Colorful Golf Plans

Max (almost six) gets to try his hand at golf on Labor Day weekend. I have a purple ball and a purple ball marker reserved for Max who love purple.  Plus, I bought an egg carton of orange, green, pink, purple, and yellow golf balls at Jack's Market in Bay City. Why use dull white when we can hit colored balls!

We will use the pink putter that Hannah (almost two) picked out on our Mothers Day weekend shopping excursion. Great Grandpa John's vintage putter might also get a workout. PGA Pro Brian Natzel said he will lend us the kid sized driver and has suggested a tee time with a three hole golfing plan for an almost six year old boy.

Off we will go for a drive or two or three from the tee box. Then we will drive the golf cart to the green and putt away. Actually Grandpa Ed and I figure about an hour is all we will do for The First Time Golfing With Max.

Cellphone photo Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, August 21, 2011


I made a batch of bread and butter pickles this week. Annette Pechette brought me cukes from her garden. I rounded up a several recipes, jars, lids, and the ingredients. Joni Clark, eminent foodologist and resident chemist, consulted with me on the chemistry of doubling or halving pickling recipes.

The result -- pickles, and the satisfying ping that sounds when a jar lid seals. I haven't canned for such a long time that I even sent Ed a text message when three jars sealed one after the other. Ping. Ping. Ping.

An added benefit of the pickle episode is that Max and I (currently we seem to be the appointed pickle eaters in the family) will have pickles to try when he and his little brother come for Labor Day.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Album: Cruisin' With The Chevy Volt

Wanda Eichler and Liesl Clark post with Jolt the Volt before the Cruise

Vanity plate on a Michigan Volt

Cruisin' Green in a Chevy Volt

Standard on Woodward -- 12 Volt rear view mirror

Liesl Eichler Clark gives a thumbs up to her Chevy Volt

Race car drivers Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon charge up the Cruise crowd

General Motors media crew interview Liesl Clark from 5 Lakes Energy

Friday, August 19, 2011

50 Volts

Liesl and I drive her Chevy Volt in the Woodward Dream Cruise yesterday. Chevrolet sponsored a homecoming for Volt owners as a part of Chevy's 100th anniversary so we got to drive Jolt The Volt (Liesl's car has a name) up and down Woodward as a part of a 100 car parade that kicked off this year's Dream Cruise.

Here are the 50 Volts lined up in the parking lot of the Kingsley Radisson before the Cruise. This photo was taken by a Volt team member. Thank you, Mr. Dean, for climbing up and getting this photo! Actually, at one point in the day's festivities there were 63 Volts that joined the gathering. Considering that GM sold around 4000 of these cars in the first model year (2011) that's quite a representation.

We met Volt owners from all around Michigan as well as from Arizona, New Jersey, and Texas. The Volt people who make parts for the car, assemble it, test it, market the Volt, and support the Volt were on hand to meet and greet. It was a way cool event.

Tomorrow's blog post will be an album of photos from the Dream Cruise featuring the Chevy Volt.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Volt Cruise!

I'm so excited! Liesl and I are driving her Volt -- Jolt The Volt -- in the Woodward Dream Cruise today! We'll be one of fifty Volts that Chevy has lined up for the Cruise down Woodward Avenue. We'll get to meet the other Volt owners and some of the General Motors folks who work on the Volt side of their automotive production.

Very cool! There will be more to post tomorrow, I'm sure. In the meantime, here's the photo of Liesl with her new Volt on the day that she picked the car up from the dealer in March. I left the shadow of the photographer (probably the salesman who handled the transaction) in the photo. Kind of funky to see that shadow!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Oh, So Young!

Wanda & Ed Eichler -- August 17, 1968

Ah yes! Forty-three years together! Here we are in our formal wedding portrait (remember studio photographers?) taken at Michael Conte's studio in Ripon, Wisconsin. I was twenty. Ed was twenty-one. Yes, I made my wedding dress. The fabric was purchased in New Glaurus, Wisconsin. The dress is still hanging in my closet.

 I lifeguarded that summer at Camp Lucerne near Neshkoro, Wisconsin and that's where our wedding was held -- in the Chapel overlooking Lake Lucerne. I remember that Mr. Conte had to use several shades of makeup to shade out my very tanned nose. The photo sitting was done several days before our wedding and I'm so glad that we spent the money (which seemed like a lot at the time) for this portrait.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Harbor Lighthouse

The setting August sun casts an evening pink glow on tall clouds that tower over Lake Huron and on the Harbor Beach lighthouse. Huron County is home to four lighthouses -- Charity Island, Port Austin Harbor, Pte. Aux Barques, and Harbor Beach.

This photo was taken from the foot of Trescott Street Pier along the shore in Harbor Beach.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, August 15, 2011

Mayo Crisis (Or Why I Need A Grocery List)

It's Friday night and we are both too tired to make supper. Still, a sandwich sounds good. "I'm going to make a BLT," I announced as Ed and I emptied grocery sacks into the frig, pantry, and cupboards.

Fresh whole wheat bread from Murphy's Bakery in Bad Axe. Check. Homegrown tomatoes from Huron's Finest Produce north of Bad Axe. Check. Fresh Oscar Mayer bacon (my favorite). Check. An uncut head of romaine lettuce from the frig. Check.Mayo. Oh, no!

I pulled the mayo from the frig, screwed the jar open, and detected that faint rancid smell that comes from mayo that's collected on the screw threads of the jar lid. Darn. I grabbed a table knife and sampled the depth of the jar. Good. Well, sort of good.

I was so hungry for that BLT that I used the bottom-of-the-jar mayo. Right then, I updated the grocery list so that the next mayo crisis would be avoided. So, now we have both Miracle Whip and Hellman's in the frig since our family is pretty much evenly divided over the merits of both. The unopened jars are on hand and chilled and, might I point out again, fresh!

Mayo crisis over. Would that other life crises could be solved so rationally and so quickly.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

ATC: Pure Michigan

I absolutely love the Pure Michigan ads. In Michigan we hear the radio spots. Out of state people get to see the television ads. Pure Michigan billboards dot the interstates and highways as you drive into Michigan.

Michigan actor Tim Allen (of Tool Time and Toy Story fame) does the voice overs for all the ads. The photography is outstanding and the scripts are compelling. My all time favorite ad is the radio spot called "Gone Fishin'" It goes something like this -- Gone fishing. Gone hiking. Gone walking. Here in Michigan we know the value of putting "gone fishing on the door for the day and getting out into Pure Michigan's wonder. Gone swimming. Gone hiking. We're gone to our lakes, our rivers, our beaches. We get off the mountain of work and are gone camping, gone boating. . .you get the idea.

I get teary eyed when I hear that ad. It brings things into perspective and makes me want to do something different, to go play because the summer is short and so is life when you really think about it..

My second favorite ad is a television spot called "Trailhead" in which, I am happy to brag, our son William Eichler did the video photography. It's another beautiful, short, motivating tribute to Michigan.

Today's image is one of my ATCs (artist trading cards). I've used a rubber stamp image that says "Gone Fishing" over a watercolor wash background. The ATC highlights the sentiments of the Pure Michigan ad campaign.

Rubber stamp image by Inkadinkadoo stamped in vintage sepia.

ATC Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Corn Turbine

I like the symbolism of this photo -- a wind turbine rising from a corn field. When I stop for gas at the Clark station in Elkton some pumps have five nozzles. Three are for various combinations of gas and ethanol, including E-85.

Some people oppose wind energy. Some are sure that ethanol is bad. Early on, I was unsure of all the windmill development in our county. Lots of deals were struck with farm families around restaurant tables with guys talking hush-hush. Now that the first two wind farms are up and running, a lot more information is available to the general public.

Have there been problems? Sure. I bet our grandparents could tell us lots of stories about stringing electric wires out into the countryside too. Anytime there are changes in how we power our comunities, there will be dissension. Adjustments get made. We learn more about the good and the bad. We change our ideas, our policies, our arguments.

I learned some years ago that I function better if I can be for something rather than against things. Being on the opposing side and always a no vote is not a position that I relish. Maybe, in my advancing years, I've come to see myself as a non-contrarian. I'll bet that those around me will tell me that I'm often contrary. Ah, such is life.

Anyway, today's post celebrates change. Here in Huron County a windmill rising from a tasseled cornfield looks to the future. This summer, with all the economic turmoil, the corn keeps growing and the wind turbines keep turning. That's okay.

More posts about windmills:

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, August 12, 2011


Cool weather with breezes that feel like fall has embraced the Thumb this week. Each day brings another batch of rainclouds and, sometimes, a patch of sprinkles here and there.

Tall, puffy thunderheads develop during the day. We see them in the distance and then, as they come closer, their towering buildup commands the sky. In this photo taken mid-county looking east from Hellems Road the thunderhead is in the distance, maybe even out over Lake Huron. It might be twenty or thirty thousand feet tall.

Huron County is about 600 feet above sea level and a lot of the county is fairly flat land where you can see for five or six miles in the distance. When these cloud formations come gangbusters off of Saginaw Bay, they get attention. They're like giant hot air balloons. You can't help but marvel at their beauty and hope that the powerfull storms they can produce stay right up in the cloud and continue on their way.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Auctioneer

Against the red brick schoolhouse backdrop, Auctioneer Ray Booms chants and cajoles the Sunday afternoon White Rock School Museum picnic audience into contribution after contribution for the historic building. Ray is from Ruth, Michigan and frequently volunteers his service to groups that raise funds for various good causes.

Watching Ray work with this picnic crowd of 125 reveals the skill that an auctioneer uses. He knows who the bidders are and where they are. He sees their way of nodding the head or winking the eye or lifting a hand to designate a changed bid. He keeps the intensity going through chanting and chatter. He gets the bids and seals the deal and moves quickly to the next item.  

It's fun and exciting and makes for a great social time together at the school on a summer afternoon, thanks to the auctioneer.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bird Thoughts (A.K.A. Tweets)

Tweet #1
Fly. Fly now. Doesn't Mom know I can't fly? #Scaredtofly.

Tweet #2
I'm hungry. Worms, please. #Feedabirdnow.

Tweet #3
Oh no. There's the camera again. And that pushy human. And him, too. Gotta freeze. Gotta be super still. #Ihatecameras.

Tweet #4
To the locust tree. To the shed roof. To the fence rail. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. #Scaredtofly

Tweet #5
Don't poop in the nest. Fly now. Find a worm. This fledging thing is for the birds. #Growingupishardtodo.

Tweet #6
Robin. What's a robin? Can't I be a swallow or a crow? #Gottabearobin.

Tweet #7
My beak is too big. I have hairs on my head. Everybody hates me. #Growingupishardtodo.

Tweet #8
Flyby! I'm outta here! Tweet, tweet all you twitterites!

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tuna Sandwich

I was so hungry for a tuna sandwich one day last week that I rummaged through the slide outs in the kitchen where the canned goods are stored. Good! There was a flat can of water packed tuna. I prefer making tuna salad with tuna packed in olive oil since I eat tuna very occasionally, but I was ready for that sandwich.

I opened the can and drained the fish water off by pressing down on the lid before I removed it. With a fork, I emptied the tuna into a refrigerator dish and flaked the tuna.

Next, I added a touch (a tablespoon or two) of mayo. I'm not fussy. Miracle Whip will do when there isn't any Hellman's around. Then some brown mustard (a tablespoon, not much more) and then a couple of tablespoons of Aunt Beth's Mustard Relish which is a recipe that my mother-in-law has passed along to the family. Beth is currently the Mustard Relish queen and she willingly shares jars with me.

A bit of finely chopped onion along with some chunks of yellow pepper added the zest along with several shakes of dried rosemary and garlic. One good long grind of fresh pepper finished the ingredient list and then I tossed the tuna salad again. I rummaged in the cupboard for celery seed which is my secret ingredient. No luck. The cupboard trolls had removed the old celery seed to the trash bin, long ago, I suppose, and so celery seed got added to the grocery list, not the salad.

It was breakfast time and I do draw the line at tuna for breakfast. Out came the aluminum foil and toast. A very light coat of softened butter on both pieces of crunchy oat wheat toast, an application of tuna salad, and the standard butcher wrap style of folding the foil around the sandwich guaranteed a sandwich that would have the tuna infused into the bread by lunchtime.

Into the cooler with ice and my water bottles at the bottom went the sandwich along with some yellow pepper sticks. By noon my cooler meal with its featured sandwich was just the thing for a summer lunch.

My sister Carla and I lived on tuna sandwiches during our Ripon High School days. We'd open a can and make the sandwiches in the morning using a wheat bread that we bought at a bakery in nearby Berlin, Wisconsin. Those sandwiches saved us from cafeteria food. I suppose we took in lots of mercury but I'm also sure that all the Omega 3's from the fish gave us brainpower to get out of high school and into college with good grades and an appreciation for brown bag lunches.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, August 8, 2011

Ask Me

While taking in the fine folk music of troubadour Matt Latroba at the Pte. Aux Barques Lighthouse Festival on Saturday, I spotted this couple in line at the food tent. Soon they settled in front of me and I was able to read the sign pinned to her shirt back.

Port Hope
A Cape Cod Style
Home for Sale
Call Lori Babcock or
Ask Me

With 20% of US home mortgages underwater and housing sales stalled, this women took it upon herself (literally) to help her realtor advertise a home for sale in nearby Pt. Hope. Truly a sign of the times, this hand lettered paper points to the desperation in the housing market in 2011.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Bean Field Gulls

Seagulls have taken up residence in a pond that has formed in a bean field near the corner of Geiger Road and Caseville Road in Huron County not far from our farm. The unusually wet weather conditions have brought some drowned out patches in fields.

I'm guessing that this pond is due to a broken tile that runs underground and drains the land. Needless to say, there will be some loss of crop for the farmer of this field.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, August 5, 2011

Coneflower Shadow

Coneflowers in several shades of pink and red violet dance on both sides of the whitewashed picket fence at Graywood Farm along the driveway. Yesterday, this one blossom formed a graceful shadow on a fence board.

I touched the photo with colored pencil brushstroke techniques using Photoshop. Quite lovely. I always admire the deep pinks. They remind me of my mother who loved pink.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Beak Count

When we approach the lilac tree in the courtyard garden at the farm, Mom and Dad Robin put up a noisy fuss. Lo and behold, they've been busy producing another batch of late summer baby robins.

I count three beaks in this photo but can only see two heads. Ed served as Assistant to the Camera Person as he held the branches so I could poke the Sony point-and-shoot toward the nest. Even these little bird guys are cute, pudgy babies.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, August 4, 2011

From Max

One of the many blessings of having grandchildren is the occasional piece of mail that melts your heart. Recently, Max sent me a notecard that pictured a polar bear mom and baby. Inside he penned this note.

Ah, life is good.

Photoshop collage by Wanda Hayes Eichler from original artwork by Max Clark
Text and frame in purple, Max's favorite color

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sumac Spike

Soft and velvety looking, this sumac flower will become berries that the birds love and the leaves will turn a lovely rosey red as autumn returns to the Thumb.

The wheat harvest has been complete for over a week. The corn is so tall that you have to watch carefully when pulling out across a country intersection so that you don't hit another car.

The days are noticeably shorter. The sun comes up after 6 am and sets right before 9 pm. The sweet corn stands popped up over the weekend with their tempting veggie treat. We've been eating Michigan blueberries for almost a month now. I buy them in five pound lugs and we're on our second lug already.

So, the sumac is another harbinger of fall. In early August, in spite of the heat, autumn days are in the air.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Teapot Daylilies

A vintage yellow teapot, slightly chipped, becomes an apt vessel to hold three day lilies from the gardens at Cedar Bluff. Photographed in natural morning light, the composition jumped from the screen, almost as if it had been saturated with fresh paint.

A touch of Photoshop here and there -- a gray scale layer with soft light and opacity -- brought an antique touch to the graceful lilies in a teapot and the wood grain background.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, August 1, 2011


Standing under the Bluewater Bridge at sunset, watching the Joseph H. Thompson transit the St. Clair River and head out into Lake Huron, you get to wondering what it would be like to be on one of these giant ships that ply the Great Lakes. The ships move fairly fast -- about 15 miles per hour -- and can make the run from Detroit to Duluth in two days.

Here, at the mouth of the river, the ship leaves behind the safety of the river lined with cities and towns. The giant diesel engines power up as the ship gains speed and takes to the lake's vast seas. Sunsets, sunrises. Storms, tall waves, wakes of other ships, full moons, stars that you can pick from the sky. Vessels large and small. A network of buoys and navigational aids. Ships and their crews experience the world from an entirely different viewpoint than one does when driving the interstates or flying from coast to coast.

Ed and I visited with a British acquaintance after a concert at St. Martins-in-the-Field at Easter time in 2003. He had been to New York and to Disney World in Orlando, but he had not seen The Great Lakes. "Tell me," he said, "are they really like seas? You can see across them, can't you? They aren't really that big, are they?"

I sometimes stand on the edge of the bluff at the lake house and wonder what it would be like if  Lake Huron didn't have water. It would be a deep canyon -- not as deep as the Grand Canyon -- yet there would be a dramatic cleft in the earth's surface.

These Great Lakes bring wonderment when one stands under the Blue Water Bridge and ponders the travel of a ship upbound into the majesty of Lake Huron.