Monday, October 31, 2011

Instead Of Candy

Trick or Treaters love candy, but my grandkids received homemade art cards as their Halloween goodies from Grandma this year. Here's Hannah's card, photographed before the final lamination process.

Each side began as cardboard covered with gesso and acrylic paints. Rubber stamp images, cut outs, lettering, inkjet photos, misting, rubbing -- lots of techniques were used to create two sides. Then I used Gorilla Glue to laminate the two sides together and make it into a thick, two sided card that could be carried around by the child. Presto! Art instead of candy. Sweet.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, October 30, 2011

On Stage, The Spartan Marching Band

Almost every member of the Spartan Marching Band is visible in this cellphone photo of last night's Spartan Spectacular. Picture the moments before the photo. An empty stage. A whistle blows. A single drum cadence. The stage begins to fill. Then this picture.

We are proud SMB fans and enjoyed Spartan Spectacular immensely this year. Kudos to Mr. Madden and the Band staff and the entire Department of Music at Michigan State for the energy and dedication that produces moments like these in the lives of so many students.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Bright Blue Bay Port

I've always loved church spires. Pull a blazing red autumn tree together with a white clapboard church and an afternoon sky and you will happen upon a photo like this one. Taken in Bay Port during the second week of October, this image is of the Bay Port Community of Christ Church on Orr Street, just off of Hwy M25. 

Now that the calendar page is about to be torn away to reveal dark November it is appropriate to remember days like this one during October's bright blue days of fall.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, October 28, 2011

Golden Autumn

I wore a perfume when I was a teenager that was called Golden Autumn. It had an earthy scent, maybe musky. It was my fall scent, one that I have not smelled for years.  

This photo of the invasive species of grass, phragmites, that line the Lake Huron shoreline in front of Cedar Bluff reminds me of that smell. Green and gold, luminous, yet mysterious.

The phragmites have invaded much of the shoreline and roadsides in the Thumb. The plant grows tall and looks like oversized wheat. It has a long root with a pencil sharp point that wanders 20-30 feet away from the mother plant. Those agressive roots move a patch of phragmite quickly, enlarging and thickening the growth, choking out everything in its pathway.

But in this photo the gold of autumn shows through. Even in the invasive species, there is beauty. And memories of other autumns and their golden days.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The French Laundry

We are lucky. Our kids live in Michigan, close enough so that when there is a birthday, like yesterday, we can all get together.

For Peter's 30th birthday we all met at The French Laundry in Fenton. Everybody had an hour or two drive to get to the dinner. From the Thumb, East Lansing, Howell and Detroit area, we all met at this somewhat quaintly named restaurant not too far off the US 23 corridor.

The dinner was delightful. We missed our family people who are working out West, Will and Clay, who are in LA and Salt Lake.

The older I get the more I realize that one of the immeasurable gifts of life is a birthday.  A birthday celebrates the great and good things in life as well as the small and the simple. A grandchild's smile, a family joke, a funny birthday card, a good meal -- birthdays stand as a time to be together and be thankful, one day and one life at a time.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Baby In A Basket

The baby in this laundry basket turns 30 today. This photo was taken in the laundry room at the farmhouse. The linoleum floor peeking out on the bottom of the photo is still there. I'm guessing Pete was about five or six months old, so this would be March or April of 1982.

Peter's wonderful grin hasn't changed. I love you, baby child! Happy birthday!

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Kale Kritters

I wanted this to be an artsy fartsy photo of a flowering kale that I planted at Cedar Bluff in September. Close inspection via Photoshop revealed "kale kritters" that look a lot like the green worms that are the bane of broccoli growing in our part of Michigan.

Anyway, I still like the ruffled leaves, the gray to teal to vanilla colors, and the play of light on this plant. Just a reminder that the morning sun is really eluding us. By the end of this week, sunrise will be AFTER 8 am here in Michigan. No wonder it is getting so cold. The sun is leaving us.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, October 24, 2011

Game Day Patrol

On Friday and Saturday nights during football season the Ingham County Sheriff's mounted patrol rides the streets of East Lansing. I parked our car north of the campus for last Saturday's game and took these cellphone photos along Abbott.

On the left you can see the horse trailers staging near the East Lansing Police Station. On the right, two officers wait and chat on a side street near some of the fraternity and sorority houses on Abbott. Michigan State does not allow drinking or sell beer inside Spartan Stadium. Alcohol, however, is omnipresent on game days in and around campus.

I'm guessing that the mounted officers have many a tale to tell of riding the streets in East Lansing on weekend patrol.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Spartan Jubilation

The 37-31 win that the MSU Spartans posted over Wisconsin's Badgers last night brought great jubilation to an electrified sellout crowd at Spartan Stadium.  Here's the field just after the game.

The team is in front of the student section just beyond the goal posts. You can see security lined up under the goal posts. Some band members are moving along the three yard line, just behind the gaggle in the lower center of the photo that is the ESPN Game Day broadcast "table" being set up.

The dark line in the lower left is the pterodactyl camera that is stationed near the south end zone.Thousands of fans stayed to watch the live ESPN broadcast, hear the Spartan Marching Band post game show, and savor the Hail Mary last second victory over the undefeated Badgers.

The game started around 8:07 pm. For the record, this photo was snapped on my cellphone camera at 11:39 pm.

Cellphone photo by Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Basket of Squash

We've eaten two squashes this fall already -- one butternut squash was made into soup and I baked an acorn squash to serve with a meatloaf meal. The variety of squash available is wide and colorful. Even the little pie pumpkin on the right in this photo qualifies as a card carrying member of the squash family.

I'm saving seeds from squash this fall. I rinse them under warm running water and dry them on paper towel on the sunroom floor. Amy Goldman's wonderful book about squash, "The Compleat Squash," says the seeds are ready for storage in a freezer or frig when they snap in half.

The wire basket was made in Germany by the Ernst Dippe and Son Company. It is galvanized and can be used for gathering vegetables from the garden and hosing them off right in the basket. I ordered it from Landreth Seed Company (that's where I ordered the Goldman book from, too) a few weeks ago and am delighted with the look and quality of the basket.

One more comment. The bedraggled mum is a survivor of the winds and rains of this last week. It does look like it has been through a bit of rough weather but mums are tough. It will take more than four inches of rain and 40 mile per hour winds to close this plant down.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler


Friday, October 21, 2011

Almost Four Inches

The rain gauge at Cedar Bluff shows almost four inches from the autumn storm that swirled and twirled on the weather maps over the Midwest this week. Our patio furniture and garden pots were blown helter skelter. Some parts of the Lake Huron shoreline had power outages.

The Graywood Farm rain gauge collected an inch and a quarter. In this photo taken this morning, you can see how the storm stripped the leaves from the trees on the fence line at Eddy's across the highway from Cedar Bluff. The orange rose hips are on the Mary Beth rose, part of the six sister roses that are along the split rail fence in front of the lakehouse.

Michigan Sugar stopped taking beets during the storm. We got out the winter hats and gloves. My knitting thoughts turned to a new scarf. The golf clubs are idle. It was a good week to stay inside and start planning for Thanksgiving.

Related posts:

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Big Baby Doll

Miss Hannah and Big Baby Doll share Hannah's car seat. Hannah flashes her grin at Grandma as she balances the big doll on her lap. Hannah and Mom Wendy and Grandma Wanda met for some shopping and lunch on Monday. A good time was had by all.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mantis, Schmantis -- These Are Cool Insects!

Mantis at Graywood Farm -- October 2007
I don't go looking for insects. They just seem to find me. Take Sunday afternoon, for instance. We arrived at the lake, tired from a full weekend of family and football and 400 miles of driving. Ed had already settled down for a nap.

I walked out on the terrace overlooking the lake and down the steps to the lawn for my usual "hello, Lake, I'm back" moment. When I turned to head back into the sunroom, there on the top of the paver steps was a praying mantis. I scooted into the house, figuring the insect would be gone when I returned with a camera.
Mantis at the Lakehouse -- October 2011

I was wrong. Mr. Mantis posed for the camera for a good five minutes. Then he headed off into the boxwoods, probably looking for another critter to have for supper. I seem to encounter this insect in fall. These two, pictured with this post, were especially cool and cooperative guys.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Autumn Rose

Tucked away under shredded and pocked leaves, a miniature rose raises its last blossom of 2011. Curled hosta leaves sheltered the little rose all summer.

Tim and Nancy sent me a planter filled with three miniature rose plants for my winter birthday several years ago. Reading up on roses, I discovered that I could plant them outside. This miniature birthday rose is in a overgrown perennial bed that will be revamped next year. The rose is small, maybe twelve inches tall, with a blossom that might be an inch and a half across.

The hostas are huge and need to be divided. The irises in the bed are weedy. Next summer the little rose will get a new home. For now, it is a tiny reminder of summer. Here at Cedar Bluff, it is the last rose of summer.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, October 17, 2011

New Trumpets

Here we are in the midst of the Spartan Marching Band Trumpet Section on Saturday at Michigan State. The kids played their new trumpets at the MSU vs. UM game for the first time. Ed and I donated the money for the trumpets so there was a photo op after the game.

After Ed's sudden bout with pneumonia this fall and the delay of the trumpets arriving from Japan, this photo is all about the coming together of a big dream that Band Director J. T. Madden had for this Big Ten marching band. We are honored to be a part of that dream.

I will write more about the story later. For now, here are happy trumpet players with new instruments.

Photo by Wendy Mata Eichler

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sugar Beet Harvest

Ross Voelker's crew finished harvesting the sugar beets on our farm yesterday afternoon. Here's the last truck being loaded. Notice the seagulls flocking behind the harvester.

At this point the beets have been topped. The harvester's wheels lift the beets from the ground, the beets travel around the large wheel directly behind the left-most tractor tire, and travel along the conveyor and into the truck box.

Sugar beets are known as the mortgage paying crop in Huron County. These beets will be processed into table sugar at the Michigan Sugar plant in Sebewaing.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Bandos

Peter, Wendy, Will, Lee
Out of the photo archives comes this 2002 shot of the Spartan Marching Band "Band-O's" from our family. Ed and I are so proud of the fact that we've had three of our kids and our daughter-in-law Wendy march SMB.

As we head into the tough part of the MSU football schedule, we know that when all is said and done, it is an honor to be a Spartan Marching Band fan!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Maple Meritage

A blend of leaves, mostly maple, prove a vibrant witness to a Pure Michigan autumn.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Autumn Road

Leaves cover the two track road through a shady woods in Fairhaven Township in Huron County. Sun streaks trace patterns on the forest floor. It is autumn in Michigan.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hip To Be Orange

My Dortmund roses row along the split rail fence are showing off their autumn fruits. I love the big orange hips with their reddish accents and spikey petal tips. I guess you can make a rose hip tea. I just like looking at them in all their fruity goodness.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

ATC: Clear Moon, Frost Soon

From the 2010 ATC (Artist Trading Card) series called "Clear Moon, Frost Soon." Since the Full Hunter's Moon rises tonight, this card seems appropriate.

Artist trading cards are 2 1/2 inches by 3 1/2 inches and can be made of many different materials. I use stiff paper, rubber stamps, markers, watercolor pencils, glimmer mist and other artist supplies to make an ATC. The stamp on this card is accented with markers and gold stamping.

I used a wine cork to stamp the gold moon. The phrase "clear moon, frost soon" is taken from a cross stitch sampler that I have been stitching for way too many years.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Henrys

It was a football Saturday in 2007. Griffin Henry (red sweater) was barely a month or two old. His grandpa, Edwin Henry, joined Griffin for a nap after the game.

Red sweater -- handknit and handed down.

Football tickets -- seven of  'em, at Spartan Stadium. Well, they cost a bit more than the sweater.

Photo of the two sleeping Henrys -- priceless.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sunday Sunrise

White Rock Shoal was calm at sunrise this morning. Spent Queen Anne's Lace flowers dance in a slight breeze as the October sun rises over the shoal.

To be able to view the sunrise each day is a gift beyond measure. The coming of the light, its spread over water, its brightening and lightening of skies and trees and landscape -- this nourishes the soul. It is the stuff of creation and creator.

One bows. One says "God is great and God is good."

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Red Bench

We added an ironwork bench under the trees by the new hosta garden this summer. Now, in fall, the red bench stands as an open invitation to bring a cup of coffee and sit for a moment in the cool autumn air.

The path back past the hosta garden and red bench goes through a wooded glen and leads to the compost and garden waste piles on the north shore at Cedar Bluff. It's a stroll that we like to make with the kitchen waste from the day's cooking, just before sunset.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, October 7, 2011

Go Tigers!

Wow! The Tigers beat the Yankees last night in the fifth game of the American League Division Series. Ed and I watched dumbfounded as closing pitcher Jose Valverde (called "Papa Grande") struck out or retired Yankee hitter after Yankee hitter.

TV cameras in the ninth inning kept panning the two dugouts. Max Scherzer, a Tiger pitcher, was bouncing up and down, like Disney's Tigger, through most of the ninth inning. "He looks like a little kid, doesn't he?" I said to Ed. It was obvious that the unthinkable -- beating the Yanks -- was close enough to touch, but not quite done. Ed's comment, "Yeah, he looks like our Max."

So this morning, we are "tarred" (that's Texas talk for being tired) and we are ready to watch the Dee-troit Tigers take on the Texas Rangers. Round em up, Tigers! Yee Haw!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Max Loves Pumpkins

Max -- Fall of 2007

Grinning between the two jack 0' lanterns, an almost three year old Max and his inescapable smile are the gateway to the wonders of autumn. It's a wonderful season of pumpkin patches and apple orchards, of carving and costumes, of Halloween and hayrides.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wild Apples

I spotted this spray of wild apples at the park where I walk, back in from the split rail fence, beyond the poison ivy. I had not noticed them before this fall.

These apples remind me of a chapter in Gary Nabhan's book "Where Our Food Comes From." Mr. Nabhan writes about visiting the wild apple forests in Kazakhstan which is where apples originated. He says "when I first stepped into those forests. . . I had to pinch myself. Rather than oaks or beeches or aspens or pines, decades-old trees loaded down with fully ripened apples and pears surrounded us."

According to his book, much of the area of Kazakhstan that is home to wild apples is becoming urbanized and the fear is that many apple varieties that have never been domestically propagated will be lost as the land is cleared for housing. He identifies this area of Asia as the center of origin for most of our planet's fruit tree crops. That's quite something, when you think about it. Apples have come a long way around the world and are a crop that is very key to portions of our diets today.

When you walk or bicycle along M-25 on the east side of Huron County, you can spot wild apple trees along the roadside. One wonders if the two massive fires that burned over this area in the late 1800's caused new tree growth, including the apples. Or, maybe Johnny Appleseed strolled the paths along the shore of Lake Huron and peddled his wares in this part of Michigan.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bright Sumac

A rain splashed sumac branch, lying on the gray cement walk at the park, glistens with fall color. Nature arranged this palette of red, orange, gold, green, and yellow.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Martha Stars

I took this photo of the large stars on the south peak of Grandpa Geiger's machine shed at Graywood Farm yesterday. Electricians installed a circuit, outlets, and a timer for two three-fooot and one five-foot star shaped frames when the shed was renovated several years ago.

I got the idea from (yes, Lindsie) a holiday issue of Martha Stewart Living. We made the small stars using tie wraps and dowels and light strings. The large star was prepackaged and came from Pigeon Hardware.

Ed lights the stars at night from late November through the dark of winter. Visible across the snowy landscape for several miles, the stars welcome us home with their guiding light.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Orchard Goodness

The orchard at Graywood Farm is providing an unusually abundant harvest this fall. We've enjoyed fresh applesauce and fall fruit salad with apples, pears and raspberries. I put two quarts of Concord grape juice into the freezer for making grape jelly later this fall. 

We don't spray our fruit trees and usually the apples are gnarled and small and almost inedible. This year, due to the cool and wet spring, the apples are sweet and good sized. Whitetail deer regularly graze in the orchard and we find windfall fruit with tooth marks all the time. We are careful when we pick up fruit; with deer grazing, there is concern for the cleanliness of the fruit.

I took this photo in mid-September after harvesting grapes, raspberries, pears and apples. You can see the blossoms that produced the apples and pears in these two posts from May:

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, October 1, 2011

What I'm Reading: October

What I'm Reading -- October 2011

The first book for October is "Where Our Food Comes From," Gary Nabhan's account of retracing the footsteps of Russian plant biologist Nikolay Vavilov. Professor Nabhan takes the reader on multiple journeys to the origins of many of our common foods. From apples to grains, from palms to peanuts, from the Po Valley to Kazkhstan to the desert southwest of the U. S., Mr. Nabhan adds his curiosity and inquiry to the growing body of literature about where seeds and plants come from. Mr. Nabhan, an ethnobiologist, works out of the University of Arizona in Tucson and is co-founder of Native Seeds/SEARCH, a 501.(c)(3) organization located in Tucson that is dedicated to preserving, educating and growing native seeds. 

If you have read Michael Pollan's "The Botany of Desire" and Mark Bittman's "Food Matters," then you will find Mr. Nabhan's book as yet another aspect of the evolving food and agriculture concerns today. Also, since this blog is written for my father, Stan Hayes, I am hoping that Dad will chime in on the comments with some reflections about the years when his father, Carl Q. Hayes, raised seed in Wisconsin as Valley Drive Seed Farm. Help me out, Dad! I remember that Grandpa Hayes raised oats seed, but I can't remember much else.

Speaking of seeds, my sister Heidi sent me an email recently that details the financial difficulties of the Landreth Seed Company in Pennsylvania. This company is facing extinction due to a number of factors, one of which is the decline in consumer demand. That means, simple, there aren't enough customers calling Landreth for their products. Take a look at their website, Landreth Seed, and see what they have to offer. I ordered 10 of their catalogs and plan to pass them around to my gardening friends this winter.

Landreth has shipped seeds to every American president from Washington through FDR. They introduced the zinnia from Mexico to the U. S. Since most of the large seed houses are owned by vertically integrated corporations, Landreth and seed banks/companies like them deserve attention and support.

The second book on my October reading list is "The Leisure Seeker" by Michigan writer Michael Zadoorian. Mr. Zadoorian steps into the persona of an older woman, a cancer patient, whose husband has Alzheimer's. Together, husband and wife set off from Detroit to Los Angeles in their old motor home along Route 66. The story of their family, their marriage, and of the narrator's strong will to be human makes this novel a fine "what if" about the aging process in America.

I don't read a lot of fiction, but I did really enjoy Mr. Zadoorian's wry descriptions of aging and his wonderful portrayal of these two adventurers. The book jacket calls the two main characters "down-on-their-luck geezers." The book is a fascinating look at end of life.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler


NOTE: "What I'm Reading" was supposed to be a monthly blog post highlighting books of interest. The first "What I'm Reading" was published in January. Here's the second one. I will try to get back on track with this occasional review of books. As before, keep in mind that I love reading, use a Kindle daily, but also love to hold a book and savor the page turning and the graphics on paper.

NOTE 2: Today's blog post is being uploaded late on Saturday, Oct. 1. Normally I have the post up and ready at 7:00 AM EDT. Ed and I are in slow mode, due to his bout with pneumonia and this little story. When we arrived at the lakehouse late in the afternoon yesterday, we discovered that a power outage had left our side by side frig/freezer without power. After an hour plus orgy (maybe that's too strong of a word) of garbage disposal and wiping down, the frig crisis was muted. We ate simple broiled sandwiches (turkey, avocado, tomato, mozarella on Murphy's wheat bread) for supper and watched the Tigers-Yankees game, which was a rain out in the second inning.

To quote my Texas friends, today I'm "tarred!"