Friday, September 30, 2011


I was going to call this post "The Waiting Game," but anyone who has been to to see a doctor or to have a medical procedure lately knows what the waiting game is like. You sit and think and think and sit and the ruminations pile up in your mind and life takes on an ugly cast. At that point you are ready for someone to make decisions for you. "Yes" or "no." "Heart event" or "not a heart event."

What these last few weeks have shown is that life is not so binary, not so "I'm right and you are wrong." Opinions change, diagnoses change. And in those changes are gradations of thought.

At times you welcome the authoritative, binary pronouncements with their definitiveness. "This is not a heart attack and there hasn't been a heart attack." Once a marker has been reached, you know where you are and where you might be going.

The grays in life and in medicine are much more difficult and much more common. "We're going to cast a wide net here," is what Dr. Fatima Hyder told us as she laid out the treatment plan for Ed's community acquired pneumonia that was complicated by an irregular heart rhythm. Working with a cardiologist, no, three cardiologists, and respiratory therapy and nurses and labs and x-rays brought lots of grays into the treatment plan. "That happened? Then we will do this next." "I'm not sure. Let me check." "I'll get information on the med for you."

One day, in talking through the gains of the day and looking ahead, Dr. Hyder commented that fifty percent of medicine is magic. Magic, she said. Half is hoping and praying and watching and waiting and being in the grayness of life.

If I have been reminded of one thing in life these last few weeks, it is that very few things are what they appear to be. Life is much less binary. It's more shaded and tinted. And rather than adopting the erstwhile shades of gray concept, I'm going to think shades of pink, my mother's favorite color.

Life went all the way from RedRedRed, through a taupey mauve, to a rosey pink -- a soft pink, nonetheless. It was a colorful, non-binary waiting game. Life is like that, a lot.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Michigan Morning

The sun climbs into the eastern sky as a Michigan morning is born along Lake Huron. Photo taken on Monday, September 12, 2011.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hospital Corner

Finn, age 4, and Hannah, age 2, reading books together
Finn and Hannah found a corner of Grandpa Ed's hospital room for their time alone with books. These two move so fast that I had a hard time capturing them with my cellphone camera. Even though this photo isn't clear, I do love the color of their hair -- Finny, the blond, with Hannah and her dark braids.

Along with Finn's brother Max, these three were the light in Grandpa Ed's day last Sunday. Hopefully, Ed will be home on Wednesday after a week of hospital rooms and health crises.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Theodore in Memphis, A Drama

SCENE ONE: Theodore Finds A Home
SETTING: A living room in Memphis

DOG: "Mah name is Theodore. Ah live in Memphis."

NOTDOG: "Hmm, Theodore, is that mischief that I see in your shining eyes?"

DOG: "No, Ma'am. Y'all must be seeing puppy thoughts rolling around in mah brain."

NOTDOG: "So, Theodore, will we be hearing more from you?"

DOG: "Yes, Ma'am."

NOTDOG: "Theodore, something tells me that you speak with a Southern accent."

DOG: "Why, Ma'am, Ah don't know whatever gave you an idea in your brain like that. Ah am a French bull dog pup!"


Script by WJ Eichler
Photo by MJ Burkhead

Monday, September 26, 2011

Ed's Raspberries

The fall raspberries are loaded this year. I've been picking both patches since Ed has been in the hospital. On Sunday morning, it looked like he might be able to be in his garden soon.

But, the medical system detected possible irregularities, cardiac ones. So there was a long ride to another hospital, the ensuing arrangements, lots of what ifs, and some oopses. The cardiac stuff is ruled out, pneumonia is king again, and a very tired, poked and prodded guy still needs rest, something that a hospital stay just cannot seem to provide.

So, here are Ed's raspberries today. I've been picking and will continue to pick until he can be in his gardens again.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cedar Sunday

The moon rose as a clear sliver in the east. floating low before dawn in the dark sky. Now, in these few days since the autumnal equinox, there is a calm chill that surrounds me when I walk out onto the front porch to taste the start of Sunday.

The morning coffee is liquid delight, its intense flavors jarring my sleepy senses into daytime awareness. I plan my day.

Pick the raspberries. Make eggs with onion and summer squash and feta for breakfast -- something hot and with protein. Pack a daybag -- fresh coffee for Ed and me, knitting to keep my hands busy, raspberries for Ed. Head to the hospital by nine to keep Ed company for another day.

This pneumonia thing stops one up short. My morning coffee buddy, my dear husband, is hooked up to someone else's lifelines, which is where he should be, but yet, not in a normal place.

Where did it come from, this phantom bacteria (is it a bacteria? a virus? both? do we really know that?) that fells grown men and erases human life? The science of it all is baffling at times, yet so fascinating. Each drug administered to quell the bug has yet another effect, like a maze puzzle or an "if this, then that" logic equation that seems to have no end.

Our children and grands come today. The sight of their faces and warmth of embraces will bring a nourishment unlike any other. It feels as if today I can turn the corner and begin thinking about leaving the halls of pneumonia and walking toward the parking lot of life. Maybe that will be the case.

If so, there will once again be time to get out the camera and see life up close again. To sense the fragrance of rain on leaves, the shine of wild grapes amidst the cedar boughs. To smell the coffee and love life and my husband, more than ever.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Montana Rose

Wanda Eichler with my Montana Rose sis, Penny Strong
The six Dortmund roses planted along the split rail fence at Cedar Bluff are named for each of my six sisters. Last September, my Montana sis, Penelope, visited the lake house while on a trip from Toronto back to Montana.

Ed took this photo of Penny and me by the "Penny Rose." Since Penny is celebrating a birthday this weekend, I thought it would be a good idea to wish our Montana Rose a happy day via the blog.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cabaret Sis

Our Time: A Cabaret Event
Singing -- Stories
Laughter  -- Wit

With Heidi Hayes, accompanied by Jeff McDonnell

Featuring Jane Tonkin, John Holohan and Frank Kitchmire

Sat., September 24 at Plays and Players Theatre
Third Floor (not handicapped accessible)
1714 Delancey Street, Philadelphia, PA

Times: 5:00 pm and 8:30 pm

Tickets: $20
Info: 856-231-0781

Full disclosure for the blog: Heidi is my sister and her cabaret events are spectacular. I know that lots of the readers of this blog won't be anywhere near Philly this weekend, but experiencing one of Heidi's cabarets in this historical theatre venue should be awesome. Just so you know, one of Heidi's email reminds readers that the Phillies and the Eagles do not have games scheduled at the time of the cabaret. Yep, she's a baseball fan, too!

Good luck, Heidi and cast!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Waiting for The Band

Way up at the top of the bleachers, Finn and Max wait for the Spartan Marching Band to assemble on Adams Field before the first football game of the fall. Even from the back you get an idea of delightful boyhood moments shared by these two brothers.

Michigan State plays its third home football game this Saturday and usually we would be in East Lansing with the Spartan Marching Band (SMB) at the game. The Spartans play Central Michigan and it is always a good game.

Ed, however, is fighting pneumonia this week. So, we will be cheering the Spartans on from our living room in front of the television.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Marble Evening

Calm seas, high scattered clouds and a setting September sun all gather together to make a marble evening along the Lake Huron shore in Huron County. The distant freighter catches a tiny bit of the magic light of a Pure Michigan evening.

Photo taken September 9, 2010 using Olympus C5050 camera.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


This spider lurched around the bottom of my gray plastic garden cart this weekend. With about an inch and a half "wingspan," he seemed feisty, but was soon scooted out of the cart onto the lawn.

I tried identifying the arthropod. It might be a grass spider, I'm guessing, from the websites that I looked at. Once again, this photo was taken with my cellphone camera. I used the closeup setting and thought that the results were pretty good.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, September 19, 2011

Freighter Moon

It's cloud and windy and trying to rain this morning at Cedar Bluff. So, today's image is coming from the almost eleven year old archives of digital photography that I've accumulated.

This image from September 2005 shows a freighter headed north (we call that up bound) and about to enter the light path of a full moon. On a clear night the ships passing Cedar Bluff appear as tiny strings of lights, almost like a goddess took off her necklace for the night and placed it on the water.

Remember that you can click on the photo to enlarge and isolate it from the blog. And remember that most browsers allow you to zoom in on a page so you can see both print and photos larger.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Peanut Butter

It's such a treat and one that I crave in autumn when the apples are crisp and pink inside. I cut an apple in half and then in half again. I core and peel each quarter and then slice the quarter into an eighth.

The slice is covered with peanut butter and eaten right then. The juicy apple contrasts with the peanut protein to bring a taste that is tangy and nutty at the same time.

The peanut butter of choice comes from Bay City's St. Laurent's Bros., Inc. shop on Water Street. This fall we bought a 48 ounce bucket and decanted the peanut butter into three pint jars so there will be and extra jar of peanut butter to take home for our kids. St. Laurent peanut butter is just peanuts and salt; no added sweetener or preservative.

Four ways to enjoy peanut butter: 1) on a spoon from the jar; 2) with apple slices; 3) in cookies; 4) mixed one to one with yogurt and served as a dip for apples.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Fall Golf

I really didn't have the camera lined up right for this shot, made with the self timer on my trusty Sony pocket camera, on the first tee at the Grand Hotel's Jewel front nine, but there is a wonderful serendipity in the photo anyway.

The grass was green as could be and thick. It was really hard to launch an iron shot out of the stuff. The four of us, Wanda and Ed from Pigeon, Mike from Minnesota, and Steve from Seattle, were a team for an afternoon 18 hole scramble. It was a perfect fall day on Mackinac Island -- cool and sunny with high clouds that made the views out over the Straits of Mackinac picture perfect.

Once we hit the back nine, we were feeling the cold winds of the Great Lakes and wishing for another jacket. Memorably, for me, I hit a really long putt -- really, really long, think 60 feet -- from the fringe of the green on Hole Fifteen, a par 5, that hit the flagstick and stayed in the hole. That chip shot turned out to be the longest birdie putt I've ever made (so far.) Golfers say that a shot like that keeps you coming back.

Our friend Steve had a 300 yard drive that we spent time looking for and finally found almost on the green. Steve is a native of Seattle who lives in Seattle, kind of a rare bird, like someone who actually was born and lives in Washington, D.C.

I almost quit golf three years ago. Now, I'd golf almost any day and had a great time being on this team.

Ephemera in the photo:

++ Ed is wearing his golf sandals, which he will do all fall, even as the weather gets really cold. 

++ There is a red telephone booth, British red, just slightly right of center.

++ The flag appearing object to the right of the phone booth is actually an umbrella, cranked down because of winds. 

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, September 16, 2011

Another Look at Ten Years Ago

We met our boys in Frankenmuth for a meal ten years ago today. I remember a lot of phone calls with family all over after 9/11 and wanting to see my kids. Ed and I must have handed the camera off to each other, since there were two photos in my digital archives. I stacked them to create this image of dad and sons, and mom and sons.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Border Patrol

Tom Edison keeps watch along on the U.S.-Canadian border just south of the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron, Michigan. The full moon rises at sunset in this photo taken Sunday, September 11, along the St. Clair River on the U. S. side.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Moving the Wind

My friend Gail Brown who lives in Elkton reports that trains carrying wind turbine towers and blades have been coming through her backyard this summer. "I was ready with my camera this time," Gail said about this photo taken last weekend.

My husband saw one of these trains in Pigeon and says that they move very slowly. Gail thought it took about 15 minutes for the train to clear her view in Elkton. She also reports that when they return empty, you can see a kind of sling assembly, probably for anchoring the heavy parts that make up the turbine towers and blades.

By the way, that's a great birdhouse, Gail! Thanks for sharing this photo with Willow blog readers.

Since we're talking wind energy today, check out this blog post, What Does Your Electricity Cost, from 5 Lakes Energy. Just be aware that there is a family thing going on here since my daughter Liesl Clark is a principal in 5 Lakes Energy and probably wrote this blog post.

Photo credit: Gail Brown

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Meet Perry

Grandson Finny, who just turned four, is a big fan of Perry the Platypus. His parents cooked up a Perry birthday party theme for him that included Perry cupcakes for a daycare treat, a Perry birthday cake with Perry plates and Perry napkins and Perry tablecover. You get the picture, a Perry picture.

Perry, a character in the Phineas and Ferb Disney television show, has two personas. In spy mode, he is crime fighting Agent P who zips and flies around in an upright posture and wears a dapper black fedora. His less active pose is on all fours as an orange and teal blue, flat tailed pet with two web feet. Kids love Perry.

So-o-o, this Perry, crocheted, sewn, and stuffed, became a birthday project for Finny. Mom Liesl picked out the pattern and the yarn colors. Grandma WJ did the crafting. Perry The Platypus, a.k.a. Agent P, is now doing the charming.

Credits: Crochet pattern, Plushie the Platypus, by

Cellphone photo copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, September 12, 2011

End of The Party

Mickey The Dog is faking sleep while Miss Hannah Banana, now officially two years old, savors the end of her birthday party. Her new pink MSU shirt is pulled over her jumper. Birthday balloons bounce against the wall and Hannah's company are all saying goodbye.

The party's over. A little girl is growing up.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved,
 and mercy more than life.

America, America,  God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self control, Thy liberty in law.

-- words by Katherine Lee Bates

What is there to say today? The years since 9/11 have been shaped by the events of that day. Our goings and comings, our dreams and failures, our sense of who we are as a country -- a lot changed.

And yet, we are the same people who endure. We are a people with many faces, many colors, many ideas. We come to this country, many of us from immigrant stock, and together we have made it a great nation. No war, no conflict, no attack has taken that greatness from us.

Through floods and storms, through good times and bad, we are strong and we survive. We take care of each other and, as God is good, we welcome to this grand community others who want to be a part of the freedom that we have.

A lot changed on that day in September 2001. But even more stayed the same. We remain one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.


As a footnote to today's post, I want to remember Navy Commander Dan Shanower who died at the Pentagon on 9/11. He was 40 years old and grew up in Naperville, Illinois where my husband, Ed, and I met during our college days. Cmdr. Shanower's father, Don Shanower, was Ed's major professor in the Speech and Drama Department at North Central College from 1965 to 1969.

I never met Cmdr. Shanower, but spent many good times with his father, an excellent teacher and director, as I hung around the drama department with Ed. Naperville will honor the memory of Dan Shanower today at a memorial named for him. Once again, we will be thinking of his parents, Don and Pat Shanower, and of their loss of a son in the 9/11 attacks.

Photoshop image by Wanda Hayes Eichler
September 11, 2011

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Another September Saturday, Ten Years Ago

On the Saturday before the Twin Towers fell in New York City, this squad of mellophone players smiled brightly before the Spartan Marching Band (SMB) took the field for an afternoon football game. Little did any of us, parents or students, know what the shape of the next few days would be or, for that matter, what the shape of the next decade would become.

Peter Eichler (my youngest son), Kristen Karas, Steve (what is Steve's last name?), and Candy Haldeman were four of the 300 plus band members who performed for the Michigan State versus Central Michigan game that day. Their smiles reflect the optimism that was taken from all of us in those terrible moments of September 2001. In its place now? A realism born of facing terror bravely as a country that knows how to be cautiously optimistic and reverently proud.

According to Peter who is on colorguard staff with SMB this year, the band will play an arrangement of Amazing Grace this afternoon in Spartan Stadium that was first played at the Notre Dame game in 2001, the first game post 9/11. Their half time show is called "A Salute to America -- in Remembrance of 9/11." It will be a patriotic remembrance of the attacks and a memorial to all who died in New York, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania on that fateful September day in 2001.

Photo by Wanda Hayes Eichler
Taken on Saturday, September 8, 2001

Friday, September 9, 2011

Gingko Study

Gingko Study 1
From a close up photo of a dried gingko leaf that I have taped to my studio window comes this color study. I used Photoshop to crop the leaf, erase some background dust, sharpen the image, and take it to purple using the black and white tool.

Then I overlaid an orange background onto the purple leaf. The orange background is dissolved so that only parts of it show through. I liked the image so much that I set it as the background wallpaper on my computer screen. I like to change the wallpaper often so this purple leaf will see me everyday for a while this autumn.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, September 8, 2011

No Golf

The weather guys (aka meteorologists) have been saying that Michigan is getting the remnants of Hurricane Lee this week. Here's the view from my studio window this morning as a ocean going vessel was down bound on Lake Huron. The cloud layers in the eastern sky were incredible.

It's been very windy for several days. One rainstorm has passed through this morning already. It feels  like the cool part of fall has begun and I'm guessing that I won't get to golf today.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

SMB Drumline

I didn't have enough pockets in the clothes that I wore to last Friday night's Michigan State vs. Youngstown State football game. The new rule at the stadium prohibits any kind of handbag or backpack. Everything has to be hanging from one's neck (binoculars, cameras -- no cases) or tucked into a pocket (cellphones, tissues, money, ID).

So, when the Spartan Marching Band's Drumline headed toward their Grand River Avenue pregame percussion crowd warmup, I didn't have the camera that I usually carry. I did have my new cellphone, a Blackberry Bold, with the right convenience button programmed (as usual) to the camera in the phone. That's when I snapped this photo. 

Think evening light filtering through trees that have seen years of students crisscross the campus. Think the sound of precise, even percussion. Think measured cadences and excited freshmen and seasoned upperclassmen. Think first football game on a Big Ten campus. Think "Go Green" and your heart will beat a little faster as you snap the photo right along with me.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


The bane of allergy sufferers this time of the year, goldenrod is a lovely-to-look-at plant. My field guide list 62 varieties and, while didn't take the time to identify this specimen, it is a common weed in the this part of Michigan.

In Michigan's Thumb, the drifts of goldenrod enhance the yellow and green color scheme of the ripening dry bean fields. Red and orange are yet to come in the fall color palette.

The weather has turned cool and windy in the Thumb. It's as if Labor Day stepped to the front of the weather queue and said, "My turn!"

Blackberry Bold cellphone photo

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, September 5, 2011

Rainy Holiday Morning

All the excitement of the Sunday birthday party and picnic is over. It's Monday morning on Labor Day and time to curl up under a quilt with Mom and Nic The Dog on the sofa. Finny, now officially four years old, leans his head against Mom while Max tells a tale to Mom who listens admiringly.

It's a quiet moment on a rainy morning before the bustling start of another week and another school year.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A&W Time

The A&W Drive-in Resturant in Lexington serves root beer in mugs. Grandpa Ed, Max, and Finny enjoy their beers while Grandma is behind the cellphone camera. Finny's birthday comes around Labor Day each year, so the stop at the A&W was a special fueling time on the way to the Lakehouse.

We forgot to ask if A&W still has the little baby mugs. Remember them? I'm old enough to remember rolling into the A&W as a family and having most of the mugs on the carhop's tray be baby mugs!

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Golden Moon

The waxing crescent moon glowed golden in the late summer sky on Thursday night. The air was heavy. A humid fog hovered over fields and roads and Lake Huron.

Camera used: Sony Cyber-shot, twilight setting, mounted on tripod.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, September 2, 2011

HarJo's Window Album

Window painting at HarJo's Ben Franklin
 in downtown Pigeon, Michigan.
Artist Malea Gascho spent 18 hours creating this image using the
theme from this summer's Pigeon Farmers' Festival, Homegrown, Proud.

Detail of  HarJo's Corner --notice the painting within the painting
and the Cooperative Elevator in the background.
HarJo's is named in honor of
Annie Walker Eichler's parents, Josephine and Harley Walker.

Detail of windfarm -- the turbines look like springtime trilliums.
Malea Gascho, the artist, is a graduate of Laker High School and
Eastern Mennonite University.
She is the daughter of Lee and Lana Gascho.

Elodie and Heidi are planting a garden.
Heidi is one of the proprietors of HarJo's and is my niece.

Here's Gretchen (also my niece) driving a tractor in the painting.
Gretchen and Heidi are the proprietors of
The Thumb's one and only dime store, HarJo's, and are the daughters
of Neal and Annie Eichler.

Photography by Wanda Hayes Eichler
Artwork by Malea Gascho
Painting is located at HarJo's Ben Franklin, 9 South Main Street, Pigeon, Michigan

Thursday, September 1, 2011

September Song

Where, oh where, is this year going? The summer is soaring away and autumn has its nose poked into my daily routine.

Prune the roses? No, don't bother now. Deadhead the petunias? Well, soon they'll be gone anyway. Make some chili? With cold nights ahead, that sounds good.

This maple leaf block reminds me of the colors of autumn -- rusty reds, dulled golds, blunted greens. Soon the autumn palette will envelop the northland into a wonderland of fall color. There will be apple cider at Leipprandt's orchard, football Saturdays in East Lansing, raspberries from Ed's garden. Ah, I can hear September's song and it tastes good.

Runner pieced by Danielle Damen and quilted by Wanda Eichler
Cellphone photo -- Blackberry Bold 3.2 mp autofocus

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler