Monday, December 31, 2012

Cat Visitor

Wet prints -- the clue

I stepped out onto the rainy west patio this morning and found tracks. Aha, a visitor! Where could he be?

See him? In the center of the photo, in his cat camouflage?

Looking up, I realized who was watching me -- the bobcat who frequents our desert home near Tucson. I've spotted him trotting between houses. We see bobcats on the golf course. One neighbor, out sweeping his driveway, looked up to see twin young bobcats watching the action of the broom.

This bobcat has tiger stripes, like our Mr. Bernie, the 26-toed cat of yesteryear
This cat is sleek. He sat and preened. Then he licked his paw and rubbed his ears. He sniffed and studied the area for quite a while. I didn't have a jacket on and at 41 degrees outside, I was ready for some warmth. So I let him to his feline thoughts and headed back into the house, knowing that our watch cat is on duty.
Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, December 30, 2012

SMB at Bowl Game

The Spartan Marching Band, in their Spartan "S" formation, moves down the field during their pregame performance at the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in Tempe, Arizona last night. Michigan State played Texas Christian University in the bowl game. That's the TCU band lining the edge of the field, waiting to perform next.

Peter Eichler, colorguard instructor, and Xavier Boudreaux, SMB drum major, chat before the game. Band staffers are carrying one of the ladders that the directors of the band stand on during performances.

Michigan State came from behind and won the game by one point. It was pretty cold in the stadium, but we were excited to win the bowl game.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Bowling in Tempe

We are bowling in Tempe along with the Michigan State Spartan Marching Band this weekend. Last night we watched the band perform at the Phoenix Zoo's Holiday Lights event. After almost a half hour of majestic marching band music they loaded into seven buses and headed over to a restaurant that is on the top of a butte on the south side of Phoenix.

Here we are at Rustler's Rooste -- Clay, Peter, WJ and Ed -- after having a cowboy dinner of meat, meat, meat, meat and apple pie. Not really. There was some salad and beans and a dinner roll.

Tonight is the actual Bowl Game. Michigan State plays TCU. We are the Spartans and they are the Horned Frogs. How much crazier can college football get? Frogs, cowboys, meat, zoo lights and Sparty.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, December 28, 2012

Big Smiles and Happy Faces

That's Griffin, being a sneaky cousin, in the center of this family photo of Will and Wendy and their two girls, Vallanee, on the left, and Hannah. I grabbed my camera yesterday morning to take some quick candid shots of our kids and grandkids as we all packed up after Christmas. This is one of the resulting photos.

The cousins had a wonderful time together, as did all the adults surrounding them. We ate. We opened presents. We ate. We played in the snow. We ate.

It was a great Christmas together as you can tell from big smiles and happy faces.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Grandma Elsie's Tree

My Grandma Elsie kept her Christmas tree out on the front porch where it was cool and the tree would last longer. Covered with tinsel and big electric lights and glass balls, it was where she piled all of the presents for us Hayes cousins.
We kicked off our boots on the way into her house for our annual cousin gathering and enjoyed a meal and opened presents. Her tree has a vintage flavor, thanks to the tinsel, but I remember it as a wonderful front door greeting when we visited her house at Christmas time.
Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Dessert

I can always count on my cinnamon roll recipe but baking, other than cookies, can be a challenge at holiday time. There was a decidedly un-holiday Yule log one year. And there have been cakes that were less than a hit.

This year I chose a maple walnut tart recipe from Fine Cooking magazine and waded in. I didn't have a fluted tart pan with removable rim. I used a springform pan instead.

I also did not have maple extract and the recipe called for both maple syrup and maple extract. We, however, keep really good maple syrup on hand from the Sugar Shack on U.S. 2 in the Upper Peninsula. I used walnuts that are marketed by  Ferris Coffee and Nut Company out of Grand Rapids. Those two ingredients, I decided, would make this a made in Michigan specialty.

So I gave the recipe a try and, lo and behold, it was a wonderful success. Clay took my picture with the luscious tart before we cut it. John made vanilla sweetened whipped cream and we enjoyed a gooey pastry, unlike anything that I have baked before.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Mosby's Christmas

It was late in the morning on Christmas Day and Mosby was relaxing in front of the Christmas tree. He was king of the house. Three more dogs and four children would arrive later in the day. For now, Mosby got a dog pass.

Mosby had been fed. He had played catch outside on the snowy lawn. He had barked and sniffed and rubbed his way into human hearts and hands. Now it was time. Time for a good dog nap.

With sunshine on his shoulders, he stretched out in front of the Christmas tree. Eyes closed and confidantly trusting the humans around him, he snoozed. All was well in Mosby-land.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, December 24, 2012

Shadows Of The Past Are Gone

Across the centuries and through translations, come words for Christmas Eve as read from the New English Hymnal found in many Anglican churches and cathedrals in England.

"Heaven is near, earth is bright
Angel songs are heard above
As the Child of peace and love
Sleeps in Mary's arms."
To all my Willow readers and especially to my Dad, Merry Christmas from under the Willow that shades us all.
May the shadows of the past be gone. Shalom.
Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Little Christmas Rose

Little Vallanee Rose, adorned in her white christening dress, was a happy girl who slept through much of the church service after her baptism this morning. Here she is with roses in her cheeks and a big smile, guided by her mother's hands.

She's crawling and standing and ready to take on the big world. Well, sort of ready. She is the little Christmas Rose in the family this season.

Her great grandfather, Rev. Stanley C. F. Hayes, wrote about children in a poem penned in 1955. His prayer, "So, help us Lord, we humbly pray, to teach the best from Thee, for we are molding precious clay" underlines the task that we all have to undertake for children -- to teach the best, to be humble, to be kind. 
That's what I want for all children. The best of what the Creator and creation can offer. It's an obligation that we have to fulfill for the Christmas roses -- the children -- of this world.
Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Tree Is Here

The Christmas tree at Cedar Bluff is a tad bit smaller than trees of other years. Scot and Ed hauled it up the sidewalk and through the front door with ease last week.
The tree is straight and narrow, but full. Once all the ornaments and lights and beaded chains have been added it will be stunning.
The furniture is pushed back. The needles are swept up. Time to decorate everything 'cause the tree is here and it's almost Christmas.
Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, December 21, 2012

Ah, Snow!

Ed says it was like a Currier & Ives picture out our windows this morning. The snowing and blowing has continued all day as the first winter storm of 2012-2013 is gripping the Midwest.

As a matter of interest, the winds from the storm shifted and piled water onto White Rock Shoal yesterday. Most of the shoal was covered during the winds off the lake.

This morning the shoal waters emptied out into Lake Huron. It almost looked like I could have walked to White Rock by picking and choosing a route carefully along the rocky bottom. By this afternoon, snow and ice and water again cover the bottom lands as changing winds and air pressure move the water in along Lake Huron's shoreline.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Green is Gone

Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (no kidding!) reside in the herb bed right outside my kitchen door. A strong shaft of afternoon sun lit up one of the parsley plants and the lavender that grows right next to it.

A mild fall in Michigan has kept these plants growing. My cooking sensibilities love being able to step outside, gather fresh herbs and snip them into soups and salads.

Today is another story. The green is gone as blustery winds hit Michigan's Thumb during the night and have stayed. White Rock Shoal is a swath of foamy, angry water. The wind has changed course several times during the day. First from the west, then south, then a nor'easter.

We're not seeing snow yet but tomorrow is the Solstice and the first day of winter. Oh, those ancients knew what they were doing when they settled on these short, blustery days in December for the holidays.

Let's hope that warm hearths and good food will cheer the coldest of souls in these late December days.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Lucky Little Javelina

It's Wednesday, December 19, 2012 -- the third day of funerals in Newtown, CT for the children and adults who were gunned down in the massacre last Friday. I'm having a hard time with my holiday preparations. My mind and heart keep wandering over into the grieving side of me.

So, today, I'm posting a photo that I took on Monday of a little javelina who stopped to sniff the lemons on my neighbor's citrus tree. And I'm thinking of Walt Whitman's words, "I think I could turn and live with the animals."

I think I could turn and live with the animals, they are so placid and self contained;
I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition;
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins;
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God;
Not one is dissatisfied-not one is demented with the mania of owning things;
Not one kneels to another, nor his kind that lived thousands of years ago;
Not one is responsible or industrious over the whole earth.

Lucky little javelina. He doesn't have to know this lingering sorrow and struggle with what to say. She doesn't have to keep wondering why. Why the lump in my throat? Why the ache in my heart? Why could this happen?

I think I could go and live with the animals too.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Snow on Mt. Lemmon

From the foothills surrounding Tucson, Mt. Lemmon looks for all the world like a big bundt cake, sprinkled white with powdered sugar. The University of Arizona SkyCenter is located at altitude level 9,157 foot on Mt. Lemmon.

If you look carefully from the tallest saguaro cactus in the lower left, almost straight up the photo, you can see a white structure that might be a part of SkyCenter on top of Mt. Lemmon. Last weekend's winter storm brought snow to higher elevations in the southwest and produced these snow capped mountains.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, December 17, 2012

Train Time

It's train time! Time to put up the tree and get out the wooden train. Time to bake and clean and wrap and ready the house for grandchildren. I'll have to check the train boxes and see what goodies I have purchased to add to the set for this year.

Here's the train, spread around the tree with Max and Finn. This photo, taken back in 2010, makes me realize how much the grandchildren grow from Christmas to Christmas. This year Miss Vallee will make her first Christmas appearance. She will be the star, I'm sure.

So, train time -- here I come.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Kathy's Lemons

The lemons are ripening on our neighbor's lemon tree. This morning, after several days of rain, the leaves look refreshed and the luscious lemons are yellowing.

Citrus fruit ripens on the tree. It is nonclimacteric which means, according to Harold McGee's book "On Food and Cooking," that a harvested fruit does not improve once off the tree. Other nonclimacteric fruits are pineapple, citrus, most berries and melons.

I usually sniff the bottom of a pineapple before I buy it. If it doesn't smell like pineapple, it probably won't taste too good. Oranges I buy by feeling them for firmness.

Anyway, aren't Kathy's lemons beautiful?

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Dark Day, Then A Rainbow

A double rainbow along Interstate 10 north of Tucson yesterday added a touch of hope to the dark Friday of the Connecticut elementary school shootings. A storm, sweeping across the desert southwest, brought pounding rain and gusty wind and ominous clouds.

It was late afternoon. I was driving north to pick Ed up at the airport. On the car radio, NPR news was parsing the events of the morning at the school out East. It was surreal to be hearing the tragic particulars and then lift eyes to the hills and see such beauty.

I stopped at a rest area to photograph and realized that I was not the only one with a camera. There were two, then three, then four of us -- all pointing lenses toward the brief colors and exquisite light. Bound together for a few moments by a double rainbow, we nodded to one another and then climbed back into vehicles and continued our individual journeys.

On a day of so much despair, the rainbows were a welcome, if fleeting, bond, on a dark, dark day.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, December 14, 2012

Oh God, Knit Us a Big Hat. Right Now.

Yesterday I took 21 handknit hats for little ones out to Marana High School. The school has an excellent program that supports young women and their children. It is a parenting program that gives teenagers the tools and support that helps them graduate from high school. It was heartwarming to give the hats, made by my knitting friends, to these young moms and their children.

Today there has been another mass shooting in an elementary school in Connecticut. Eighteen children and eight adults -- gone. It is unspeakable to even think that these things continue to happen.

I'm writing from Tucson where two years ago former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was brutally shot at another mass murder where six people died. That event happened just 15 minutes away from where I am writing today. I regularly drive by the park that honors Christina Taylor-Green, the nine-year-old child killed in that shooting.

I can't even think of the horribleness of this day for the parents and grandparents of the Connecticut children. And the adults.

I know that it is not possible for humans, but somewhere God is knitting a big hat. One that covers all of us at once, and makes us kind and gentle and loving. It is a hat that warms the coldest of hearts.

Oh, God, knit us that hat and put it on this broken world. Right now.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Morning Moon

The waning moon was a faint sliver on the morning that I took this image. The morning star -- a bright planet in the eastern sky -- floated above the crescent moon.

I like the way the cactus spines seem to stand on end in this image. It's almost as if the cactus was frightened by the sight of the moon.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Supposed to Be

Are the presents wrapped? Cookies baked? House cleaned? Cards sent?

This is the month of holiday stresses. Yet, upon opening my daily allotment of chocolate (two pieces of the Dove dark) I was greeted with the above message.

"You are exactly where you are supposed to be."

Someone who writes the copy for the wrappers must have known that the strains and stresses of life are soothed by a chunk of chocolate. These words, while not very quotable and certainly not memorable, were a help to me that day, nonetheless.

At that moment, eating my chocolate at the end of a good day, I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Garlic Butter

Chop several cloves of garlic into even pieces, mash them together with several pats of butter and you have garlic butter. How easy is that?

Back in my days of using a plug in machine for just about everything that I made in my kitchen, I would get out the food processor to make something as simple as garlic butter. I hadn't gotten used to handling a large chef's knife.

I don't remember the occasion way back when but Debbie Vollmer was babysitting our kids. Deb and I were doing some cooking that called for garlic butter. I was getting out the food processor when Deb showed me another method of making garlic butter. She hand chopped the garlic and fork mixed it with pats of butter, all on the butter wrapper that was on a dinner plate.

How simple and how effective. I have used Deb's method when I need to make garlic toast ever since. One knife, one plate, two ingredients. Spread the butter on 3 or 4 slices of whole grain bread. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes on 350 degrees. If desired, turn off the oven and let the door ajar so that the toast can dry out. It will be crunchy and crispy, almost like crackers.

Garlic toast is so good with soup or spaghetti. Use the toast to dip in Maple Mustard Vinagrette that is served on a green sald. Or top garlic toast with slices of Swiss or cheddar cheese for an appetizer with garlic kick.

The garlic butter is simple to make. The toast takes just a bit of time. It's good food.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, December 10, 2012

Saguaro Sisters

I am told that these saguaros are called "The Sisters." They are part of a cluster of four huge saguaros on the left of the fairway, almost to the green, on the Number Nine Hole at The Highlands of Dove Mountain Golf Course.

I finished my nine holes of golf, well after sunset on Friday night, and then picked up my camera and turned to the southwest. This photo was taken at 5:48 pm. Sunset on that day was at 5:19 pm. Readers of this blog will remember that sunset golf has been my game this week.

At the center of this photo is Kitt Peak. To the left is Twin Peaks. To the right are The Sisters, lifting their chubby cactus arms in praise of the end of another day in the Desert Southwest.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, December 9, 2012

New Eyes: The Red Beet, Animated

As a part of the New Eyes artwork series, I've included an animated image in today's blog post. What you are seeing is an assignment from my Pencil I class.

I drew the outline of a red beet. That's the first image that you see in this image, called a GIF, usually seen as .gif. Think of a GIF as a slideshow. It is like a little Kodak Carousel projector that sits behind your screen and operates through the HTML code in this blog post.

There are two images in this GIF -- one with an outline of a red beet and one with shading that you will see as the GIF ends.

The GIF starts with the outline and then the shading fades in. Our assignment was in two parts: First,  draw the outline of the beet. Second, tape tracing paper over the top of the sketch and, on that transparent paper, do the shading of the object below.

Overachiever that I am, I decided to learn how to make GIFs in Photoshop so that I could show this assignment in one image. You see the base sketch, then the tracing paper sketch starts to appear, and finally the shaded red beet is in place. Kind of neat, sort of corny, definitely a beginner's work.

I hope that you get the idea of these images. We see them on the internet, often as ads that move and flash on the side or top of the screen. This one is set to repeat two times. Now you know a little more about the how webpages work and I have learned how to make a GIF.

Good show!

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Snowman Leaves Rillito

Meet Snowman. Here he is in the east courtyard of our desert home. He is about to head to the car for a trip to the Rillito U. S. Post Office where he will be mailed to Wisconsin.

This is Annie at the Post Office. She welcomed Snowman and attached postage to him. She took my money and gently dropped Snowman into the out bin. Now Snowman is on the way to Wisconsin to Stan's farm.

Snowman is a cousin to Froggie who appeared in my Arizona mailbox last February. Froggie came from Michigan and was a delightful birthday surprise.

Liesl and I bought Snowman at the toy store in downtown Howell on the day after Thanksgiving. Everybody at Liesl and John's house put their name on Snowman with a Sharpie marker. Snowman traveled home to Huron County with me and then he had a plane ride to Arizona.

I am hoping that we can get a photo of Snowman and Stan after Snowman makes the big journey from the Southwest to the Midwest. (Hint, hint.)

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, December 7, 2012

Ah, Toast

It was one of those days yesterday. The plans for the day didn't happen. I had to drop back five and punt. Oh well.

By the end of the day, it was time for toast.

The smell of bread toasting (yes, I have a favorite and I had bought a new loaf), the moments when the butter melts, the decision to add jam or honey (both -- made two slices) -- well, life is better with toast.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Cactus Lights

Last year I wrote about Desert Jim's Lights. You might remember that our neighbor in Arizona, Desert Jim, strings lights on the tall saguaro cactuses -- quite an accomplishment, considering the spines on a saguaro.

Well, this year it seems that Desert Joanne was in charge of the stringing. And it is a fine job she and Jim have done of  treating the neighborhood to a holiday show. Both Jim and Joanne told me that they were " kinda thinking" about putting out lights. Then, on Monday night when I was out on the golf course just after sunset, I thought I noticed strings of red lights in their back yard.

Sure enough, the cactii are twinkling again this year!

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sunset Golf

I whacked off a nine hole round of golf one night this week. It was a magical late afternoon in desert country. Views like the one above kept me from concentrating on my game too much.

I know that golf is supposed to be a social game, but I am an exception to the rule. I like playing a round now and then by myself. I keep track of my scores and know when I do well or not. This was a good night. Wanda didn't play the best she has ever done on the Front Nine, but it was a better round than usual.

The above image of Twin Peaks in the Tucson Mountains with Kitt Peak in the distance was taken from the green of Hole 7 at The Highlands at Dove Mountain. I did bogey that hole, a par three.

The photo was taken at 5:12 pm, according to the metadata (that's the digital "signature" that cameras insert into every photo). Sunset was 5:18; dusk was 5:45.

It was a beautiful night in the desert Southwest.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Crafty Calendar

I promised to write more about the magnetic December calendar that I made for my Dad to use as he counts down the days to Christmas and New Years. I've already had one request from a blog reader for more about this project. So, here goes.

I started by purchasing the Melissa and Doug children's magnetic calendar. It has lots of magnets made with layered cardboard and labeled with "See the dentist" and "Play in the park," as well as holidays and events like "Easter" and "My birthday."

I took a sandpaper block and removed the printing from the cardboard and then painted the tops using Grumbacher Red acrylic paint that I buy at the Ben Franklin on Main Street in Pigeon, Michigan. These tube paints are good stuff. I suppose the bottled craft paints would work too and I may try them on the next round.

I painted the red acrylic on the second board that comes with the set. This board doesn't have lines and squares. It would be used as the "parking lot" for all of the excess magnets. I decided to paint it red and grid it with white art tape for the days of the month.   

I put two coats of paint on the board. And then the red paint came off as I was taping the lines. It seems like the surface is plastic, not metal. So I scratched with an old credit card and got the paint off. I had painted the wood frame red already. Ed took out the rivets that hold in nylon webbing. He had to use a Vise grips since it was the only tool that he could find that grabbed the rivets.

Then I threaded a black and white check ribbon through the holes to use as a hanger, although I'm guessing Dad might prop the calendar up on a shelf in his living room.

Next I added tissue ribbon lines (Tim Holtz brand, from Michael's scrapbook section). The ribbon is like Japanese Washi tape and has a music motif.  I loved the look of the calendar at this point and was so glad that the paint had come off. Some of the tissue tape tried to let loose. I glued it down with Tacky glue and a toothpick.

I used a purple inkpad to darken the sides of the magnets. Purple is my grandson Max's favorite color and I think it goes very well with red, so I used it.

I had two sets of glitter alphabet stickers -- one red and one green -- and I used these stickers for the "December" and for the days of the month on the magnets. I sent the magnets to Dad in an Altoids tin that I painted white inside (two coats, Grumbacher's Titanium White). I couldn't get all 31 days in one tin, so Dad will receive the rest of the magnets in another mailing. 

I'm experimenting with Altoids tins for another project and may try to rough up the surface of the tin using steel wool before I paint them. It seems like the white paint comes off if you only do one coat. I tied an organdy ribbon around the Altoids tin. It looked very festive and special and I know that he liked it. 

So, that is the saga of the crafty calendar. I got the idea from a Somerset publication where another artist made a twenty-five day Advent calendar using a cookie sheet and magnets. My repurposed calendar is a far cry from the original inspiration but I'm glad that I struggled with all of the ins and outs of making something special, by hand, for my Dad.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, December 3, 2012

Unnamed View

Rock outcroppings are common among the mountain ranges around Tucson. Here's one view of sunlit stalwart stones that caught my attention on a recent morning walk.

This rock formation in the Tortolita Mountains might have a name. If so, I'm not aware of what that might be.

Mountains must be full of views like this that deserve the attention of a name, yet get lost in the multiplicity of so many views, so little time to name and categorize.

There must be a metaphor here. Our daily lives are full of good things -- high points, like warm words from a friend or spouse or child; or the feeling of a task completed; or a day that has been satisfying and full. One can't name and categorize all those times. But life, like mountains, is full of good views.

Perhaps it is enough to pause in daily life and know that the view is good. I'll take that for now.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Holiday Nights at Tohono Chul Park

Think lights on tall saguaro cacti and old mesquite trees. Think of a cool evening with a banjo and a bass strumming holiday tunes. Throw in a guitar and fiddle and red cowboy boots.

There would be hot cider and cookies. People with strollers and people with walkers. Add a goat or two. And a guy making glass sculptures.

All of this, plus more, adds up to the Holiday Nights events at Tohono Chul Park, a hidden desert garden on the north side of Tucson.

Three of my neighbors joined me for an outdoor buffet, served at sunset. Then we walked the lighted pathways of the gardens and enjoyed the holiday sights and sounds.
The glass guy charmed kids and adults with his mastery of melting and molding and shaping. He made a dolphin from glass and covered it with a titanium metallic glow. Pretty cool.
There were several "photo op" spots that Joanne Christner and I took advantage of. I took a photo (above) of Jim and Joanne. Then I handed the camera to Joanne and she took photos of me. None of them were with flash, so I moved them into my darkroom and fooled around to get the images in this blog post.
We had a great time and even got to see the waning, but still big, moon rise over the Catalina Mountains as we made our way back toward Dove Mountain and home. A good storyteller would end the tale with "and a good time was had by all." True, very true.
Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Stan's Calendar

By now, my Dad should have his Advent calendar that I "repurposed" from a Melissa and Doug magnetic board. I used stamp pads, sand paper, acrylic paint, tissue tape, glittery stickers and some plain old ingenuity for this project. Ed cheered me on and helped with removing rivets.

I'm hoping that Dad is enjoying the first day of December and has found a place to hang or prop up this latest crafty creation from one of his kids. I'll write more about the process and the project later. I was just glad to get it to the UPS Store in Tucson on Wednesday and have it on the way to Wisconsin where it should have arrived by last night.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, November 30, 2012

Farewell to Fall

The last day of November seemed to creep up on me this year. Maybe it was the election. Or Hurricane Sandy's winds that swept across Michigan. Or my art and photography classes in Arizona. Or a Thanksgiving celebration with family and friends that went by all too quickly.

The calendar says that we still have almost three weeks until the winter solstice, a day of reckoning for many cultures. Then comes Christmas and Hanukkah and the start of 2013. Remember when we all were wondering how to say "twenty-oh-whatever?" We got over that and are now well into the second decade of the century.

Grandson Finn showed me how to put several different colors onto a big rubber stamp of a leaf. Finn's art expertise is amazing. The leaves on today's image are my take on Finn's art lesson for his grandmother. We used a water brush and watercolors. Thanks for the lesson, Finn! I will learn a lot more from you in the days ahead.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tabletop Raptor

Whoa! What's that on the patio table?

I had just finished emptying the SD card from my camera after a long morning walk. I took photos of trees and birds and mountains. I was feeling pretty pleased with the morning's photography session and then I happened to glance toward the back patio.

A raptor -- a fairly large raptor -- was sitting on the patio table. The bird stayed long enough for me to grab my camera and get some shots of it through the back door.

My guess is that the bird might have seen its reflection in the glass of the table and come looking for some raptor companionship.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Honey Crisp

Ed made a dish of apple crisp last weekend using two Honey Crisp apples from a Christmas box of apples that came from our friend Jim McCartney's accounting firm. Ed washed, cored, and sliced two of the lovely apples. He kept the peels on the apples.

He arranged the slices in the bottom of a small glass baking dish that had cooking spray on the bottom surface. Then he took equal parts of brown sugar, unbleached flour, oatmeal, and softened butter to make the topping. Use about a quarter to a third of a cup of each ingredient. Add a teaspoon (or a little more) of cinnamon and mix the topping well using a fork.

Ed spread the topping over the apple slices and baked the dish at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes. He used the convection oven setting which lowers the temperature to 350 and circulates the air in the oven. Then he turned off the oven and tented the dish with aluminum foil.

The Honey Crisp stayed in the oven for another hour to an hour and a half before we removed it. We served the crisp, warm from the oven, with a cup of hot coffee.  It was a delicious combination -- the warm, fruity crisp with mellow apple flavor and the hot, tangy coffee.

This recipe makes four servings. Enjoy.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

White Giants

Ever since I started playing with black and white darkroom techniques I have been wanting to see what an image of wind turbines would look like with the "Ansel Look." Here's my first run through. I caught the turbines in sun on a somewhat hazey day.

The turbines stand as gigantic white columns, dominating the image with their starkly sculptural blades. 

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, November 26, 2012

First Snow

Sunday morning brought the first snow of the season to Cedar Bluff. The Adirondack chairs stay outside all winter so they become part of the setting for this portrayal of the fresh snow. 

I like the way that the arches of the chairs stand out against the backdrop of Lake Huron and White Rock Shoal. You can just see the ice that is already forming on the rocky shoal. This is truly a late November photo for the Great Lakes.

Here's another post from January 2011, much like this post.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Birthday, Birthday!

Max is the star of the birthday show for today. Here he is basking in the glow of candles and the warm wishes of his family. But just check out this next photo.

His Mom made an incredible chocolate layer cake and his aunt made sweetened whipped cream. It was birthday heaven for all of us. Somebody fixed a pot of strong coffee. It was a perfect moment of food and family. Mmmmm, seventh heaven for his foodie grandma who writes this blog.

Happy Birthday, Max!

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler