Monday, April 30, 2012

Goodbye April, Goodbye Arizona

A warm evening under the first quarter moon at the end of April and an incredible view of the Tucson Mountains ends our Arizona stay this April. And what an April it has been!

My Dad turned 91 on April 4th and is happily living at home on the farm in Wisconsin. We had a great visit with Dad and even dragged him to Illinois to see his sister and brother-in-law. Sturdy Dad!

We welcomed a new granddaughter into the world on April 11th. Wonder of wonders, she shares a name with my mother, Vallanee Rose. Little Val joins the Cousin Crew -- four of them now.

We celebrated Ed's 65th birthday with family and friends. And we enjoyed a short stay in Arizona at the place that we call Graywood West.

It has been a good month. So, it's back to Michigan and then, a dream come true, on to London for a long awaited special trip.

Meantime, today, the word is "goodbye April, goodbye Arizona.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Twin Peaks, Accented

I had my camera set on what I consider the "wrong" image size yesterday. All the photos that I took were in HD format and somewhat digitally incompetent.

So, when it came time to choose an image for today's blog post, this one stuck out. I cropped it to the 6 inch by 4 inch format that this blog uses. I exaggerated the purple blue of the mountains and the lime green of the trees. I used a tool in Photoshop called "accented edges" to outline the trees and the mountains. I will admit to a bit of cloning here and there, too.

The result is this mid afternoon photo of Twin Peaks in the Tucson Mountain, Panther Peak on the left and Safford Peak on the right, looking down a fairway at Heritage Highlands golf course near Tucson.

I like the sparkle of the green palo verde trees that contrast with the outlined highlight of the mountains in this sort of artsy-fartsy photo.

Oh, and I should tell you that I had one really long putt -- a 25 footer and made par on two holes.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Find the Gecko

Ed spotted a gecko darting across a trail while we were out on our morning walk in Arizona yesterday. Can you spot him?

Hint #1 -- look for his eye.

Hint #2 -- click on the photo to enlarge it in your web browser.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, April 27, 2012

Chevy Volt: Less Knitting, More Driving

Tuesday morning, April 24, 2012 --  33 miles EV range from overnight charge
7041 total miles on WJ's Chevy Volt

I hit the 7000 mile mark this week in my Viridian Joule 2012 Chevy Volt and I can say that this is truly a fun car to drive.

We took the Volt on several long trips recently, driving from home in Huron County, Michigan (100 miles north of Detroit) to Dayton Ohio, and then another trip to Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. I drove a great share of the miles on both trips. Between the sport mode (I love it) and the navigation system (I'm still getting used to the multitude of features) and OnStar guidance (I appreciate the helpful service and pleasant staff), the Volt makes for compelling hour after hour, day after day driving.

Now, here's how I know this to be true. On long trips I usually ride shotgun because I can get a lot of knitting done in a day's drive time. Well, thanks to the Volt, I'm driving more and knitting less.

Lifetime MPG is 52.7

My lifetime miles per gallon figure is at 52.7. That's low for most Volt drivers. I charge my vehicle whenever I can, but I drive it whether it is charged up or not. No range anxiety here. This baby is my car, not some high tech toy. Would I buy another Volt? Yep. Or I would lease one. Either way, I would continue to drive The Volt.

One more story. I pulled into the gas station at the corner of M-142 and M-19, east of Bad Axe, one cold day in March. The Volt needed some gas. A guy with a pickup (I didn't say large) was kind of hunkered down, trying to stay warm while pumping fuel into his truck. I pulled up. Did the credit card song and dance, started fueling, finished fueling, pulled the receipt, and updated my trip meters and log book. When I pulled away, he was still pumping gas into that pickup truck.

That used to be me with my Big Buick Rainier -- doing the I'm-cold-and wish-this-pump-would-hurry-up-dance as gallons flowed into my SUV. Enough said.

Previous Chevy Volt posts

Michigan Runs Deep
Chevy Volt: First 60 Mile EV Day
When I'm Sixty Four
Volt Update: 41 Miles on a Cold Night
Second Tank
Charging the Volts
Enough Said
My Volt (And More) on YouTube
Volt Goes Christmas Shopping
Volt Day Two
New Era in Huron County
Album: Cruisin' With the Chevy Volt
50 Volts

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Red Bench Garden in April

The daffodils that I planted near the red bench in December last year will be the last daffs to blossom this spring. You can just barely tell in this photo that they are beginning to bloom.

Ed and I walked the garden paths this weekend. Ed took along two pails of black walnuts to be thrown into the woods. He has very good luck getting these magnificient trees to sprout in the wild.

My garden plans for the summer include adding more perennials to the bed with the daffodil clumps. By working the soil each year, little by little, we break up the sod and make room for daylilies, hostas, iris and other traditional perennials that we like.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pat's Pin

My friend Pat Smith created this beautiful beaded brooch for me many moons ago. The cobalt and iridescent blue beadwork surrounds a silver button. It warms my heart to pin this lovely piece of art to the lapel of a new jacket this spring.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Rough Seas

The American Integrity, one of a few thousand footers on the Great Lakes, headed north on Lake Huron yesterday in mid afternoon.  Several days of high winds out of the north and east have whipped the lake into a frenzy. This photo, taken around 3 pm, shows the ship plowing through the waves just off of Cedar Bluff, south of Harbor Beach.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sleep Late Tomorrow

My friend Gloria who loves Dove chocolates would love the serendipity of this saying inside the Dove wrapper. Goria and I had a conversation about insomina one day last week. That very evening, as I finished off my chocolate, I spotted this advice on the foil wrapper, "Sleep late tomorrow." I almost picked up the phone and called her!

Here's another sleeping gal, eleven day old Baby Val in her Grandpa Ed's arms, sleeping away yesterday afternoon.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sketchbook Tulips

A little watercolor, some spring inspiration, a few minutes to make art. Presto, tulips.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Earth Day Grocery Bag

Happy Earth Day! Here's a paper grocery sack, all decorated for Earth Day by first grader Gage Witzke of the Owendale-Gagetown Schools. Thanks, Gage! You did a great job of artwork on this bag that I got at the grocery store today.

Huron County's big Earth Day event is called Embracing Our Earth and it takes place from 10 am to 3 pm at the Bad Axe Middle School tomorrow.

I think I will drive my earth friendly Chevy Volt on Earth Day and be grateful for all the progress our world is making toward a healthier planet. And I will be remembering Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson who is the founder of Earth Day.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, April 20, 2012

Baby Leaves

Looking north on Main Street in Pigeon, MI -- April 13, 2012
If the leaves that push out on trees in spring could be considered babies, then these few weeks in April are toddling times. Last week brought out soft green buds with overtones of red and yellow. Bright blue patches of sky shone through the lines of the limbs, but the ever changing bud-to-leaf process began to take over the air space in a tree's wingspan.

By this week leaves were unfurling and growing. Honest-to-goodness leaf structures flutter in the breezes. It's like the baby leaves are headed into toddlerhood. Colors are bright and sharp. Spring green and grass green could be their names, not forest or viridian.

Deeper and darker shades will come with May and June. Wind and rain, coupled with cycles of hot and cold, bring quick maturation -- almost like a fast track through grade school and right on into adulthood for the leaves on a tree.

For now, at the end of April, leaves have an infant delicateness, a newness that is spring.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Patrick's Dad

Ed Eichler and Patrick Mullen with the Sharon quilt
Old chicken coop near Poolesville, MD -- December 1996
My brother-in-law's father, Charles Frances Mullen, died on March 28. Today is the day when Charlie's family, including Patrick, will gather in Wisconsin to honor and remember Charlie.

Charlie was an inventor who was trained as an Air Force pilot. He loved inventing and inventions. I never knew him and only met him once. However, I do know him through the wonderfully dry and creative humor of his son, my brother-in-law, Patrick Mullen.

Patrick, a savvy businessman, a woodturner, one who flies model aircraft, a tinkerer and a scientist par excellance, brings sparkle and care to our family. Our grandkids love the fireworks (literally) that occur when Uncle Pat gets charged up. Through Patrick and my sister, MB, we engage in lively conversations where everyone's opinions are challenged. Underneath all of the banter is a glorious respect for humanity, in all of humankind's foibles and follies.

So, as Charlie's family, Patrick and Sara and Dan and Kam, gather to say good-bye, I want to chime with a word of gratitude to this gentleman for fathering a great guy. If our family is our legacy, then Charles Mullen, through his children, continues to make the world into a better place.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Grandpa's Boys

Finn, Ed, Max -- April 15, 2012

It's hard to sit still when you are four, but Griffin Henry managed to sit and smile long enough for a snapshot with big brother Maxwell Ryan and Grandpa Edwin Henry. Both grandsons helped Grandpa Ed celebrate his birthday this weekend.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ivy Love

I can't tell you why I like ivies so much. Maybe it's the wandering nature of this plant. (Get it? wander? Wanda?) Or maybe it is the many greens and subtle variety of leaf shape, all within one plant genre. I'm a big lover of maple leaves, too, and the ivy leaf shape is so like the maple leaf.

Today's image of a variegated ivy comes from a plant in my sunroom that stayed healthy and growing all winter. Now that spring is here, this ivy's photosynthetic impulses are booming.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, April 16, 2012

Four Generations

Happy 65th birthday to my husband, Ed Eichler!

Looking through photos from the past brought this image to my attention today. Here's Ed as a toddler, probably 14 months or so, with his mom, his grandfather and great-grandfather. Ed thinks this photo was taken at the Geiger place down the road from Graywood Farm, across the road from Tinker Bud's. My guess is that this photo was taken in the summer of 1948.

With a new granddaughter born last Wednesday, little Val Eichler, it is fun to look back and think about families. By the way, Ed says he's only another day older, so all of this 65th fussin' around is just that -- fussin' about one day.

Congratulations on your 65th birthday, Ed. Love you much!

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, April 15, 2012

At WGI Finals

Here's Peter with Clay, enjoying a quiet moment before the awards ceremony at Winterguard International Championships in Dayton, Ohio this weekend.

Peter, along with Orlando Suttles, directs the Michigan State University winterguard, State of Art, which placed 8th in Independent Open competition on Saturday. That's a pretty good place for a fine winterguard. The kids worked hard this season and can look forward to being on top of their class next year.

I took this photo with a cellphone and applied the "oil painting" effect to the cropped photo. With the orange wall, blue sign, the lady in the background and the warm smiles on the guys, it's a pretty successful image.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Hosta Toes

Most of the clumps of hostas are shoving out of the ground at Cedar Bluff. I like to think of their shoots as toes. The toes rise from the rhizomatic roots and are actually tightly packed leaves that unfurl and become a spreading hosta plant.

Our cool weather has slowed the growth of perennials. Ed says that the sugar beet crop is up but lacks moisture. With little snow for moisture, the ground is dry. Looks like we could use some April showers.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, April 13, 2012

Frosty Alfalfa

All thoughts of a continuing early spring have been quelled by the hard frosts that have hit the Thumb and Michigan this week. Our alfalfa field had an almost iridescent white glow from frost this morning.

I picked up this beer bottle while out on my morning walk. Kind of gives a different twist to the "frosty Bud Light" commercials, don't you think?!

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Meeting Vallanee Rose

Ed, Vallanee and Wanda
Will sent me a text in the middle of the morning yesterday. We knew that Wendy and Will were at the hospital, so it came in a time of waiting. Here's how the conversation went:

Will 10:46 AM: Did grandma spell her name valanee?

Wanda 10:47 AM: Shd I be crying yet. With joy?

Wanda 1047 AM: Vallanee Rose Luedtke Hayes.

Will 10:49 AM: Yes! You are 1st. Vallanee Rose Eichler. 7lb 7oz 10:32 am. 20" long.

Wanda 10:50 AM: Oh my. I'm sobbing, Will. Mom would love to hold her.

Wanda 10:51 AM:  I miss her so much yet. Still. So little Vallanee is such a blessing!!!!

Then came a picture of the little bundle that Wendy delivered into this bright world. Cozied up in her mother's arms, there was little Vallanee Rose, my mother's namesake.

It was an incredible moment, this naming of a child for someone whom I hold so dear in my life. My sisters have been texting their joy and tears since yesterday's announcement. Even today, as I write, I can only wonder at the great satisfaction and honored memory that my Dad must be feeling. I can see Stan's big grin as he announces Vallanee's birth to all who cross his path for the next months. He will be so proud.

Just a word to Wendy's family. We share this child as a testament to the good of our families. And, as a child of Vallanee Rose Hayes, I wish for all of us, together, that this little one will become as precious to all of us -- the Matas and the Eichlers and the Filbrandts and the Hayes' -- as is the memory of her namesake, my mother.

And now, for my Dad and those of you who read this Willow blog, some more photos of a tiny little one who joins her sister, Hannah, and her cousins, Max and Finn, into her Grandma Wanda Jean's heart.

Vallanee Rose Eichler

Wendy, Vallanee and Will

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Geranium Explosion

Although this image isn't real clear, I played with the dissolve in Photoshop and gave this geranium a few tweaks just because I love the pink.

The photo was taken through the geranium, from the back side of the blossom, with light coming through the petals. You can see the sepals, the little leaf like structures which support the individual petals.

It's like a pink explosion, all rose and red and pale and dark, and just a fine geranium in bloom.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Backup Time

My computer life got slower and slower until it was time to get out the hard drives and do a backup. Actually, I removed an entire year of photos from the laptop and am hoping for some speed on this machine now. The two hard drives in this photo (lower left) show how much I trust digital data, since I keep two drives with my precious photos. One drive travels with me; the second stays put in my studio.

All of this digital movement is probably the equivalent of moving a file box or two of pictures to another spot in the closet. The moving still takes time but is much easier on the back.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler


Monday, April 9, 2012

Daffodil Sky

Daffodils along Lake Huron -- Easter Sunday, April 8, 2012

Yellow daffodils, untouched by dusty farmland winds, lift their heads along the Lake Huron shore. These clumps are late bloomers since they grow near the cooler, more temperate shoreline. We tried to pick a bouquet of daffs yesterday at the farm, but most of those blooms are brown or broken, thanks to the dusty farmland winds and the March week of high temperatures.

At the shoreline the daffodils are starting to bloom and a welcome sight, indeed.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter. . and the Redbuds

One old redbud, in full spring glory, could tell a raft of stories about the comings and goings it has witnessed along Grand River Avenue on the MSU campus.

So it is today, on Easter, just after Passover. The old, old story is told. And told again.

The redbuds and forsythias and daffodils sparkle. It is a day for alleluias.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, April 7, 2012

April Moon

It was big and full and luscious last night, that April moon. The night air was cold when I waltzed outside with my camera to catch this image of a southbound freighter about to intersect the rising moon.

I set the camera on handheld twilight and two seconds on the self timer. Put the camera on the broad arm of an Adirondack chair and stepped back. Ah, the moon.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, April 6, 2012

Ruth Road Moon

The April full moon floated up over a wheat field on Ruth Road last night around 7:30. My Chevy Volt cast a long shadow along with a nearby utility pole when I stuck my camera out the car window and snapped this image. Tony Bennett was singing on my car stereo.

I wished on the moon
For something I never knew
Wished on the moon
For more than I ever knew
A sweeter rose, a softer sky
On April days that would not dance by**

 It was a good moment in early April and I wished on the moon last night.

**Lyrics to "I Wished on the Moon" by Dorothy Parker and Ralph Rainger

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Where's Perry?

My grandsons, Max and Finn, love Phineas and Ferb, the Disney cartoon. Like most kids, they are big fans of  the clearly anthropomorphic Perry the Platypus. Perry is supposed to be a pet and appears in the cartoons on all fours, like a cat or dog, when he is Perry.

But not too far into each episode Perry turns into a flying platypus with special abilities. This metaphorosis from one character to another occurs when someone in the script says, "Hey, where's Perry?" Then Perry appears as Agent P, a secret agent who wears a fedora and fights the evil Dr Heinz Doofenschmirtz.

Here's my Agent P impersonation. I'm wearing one of the black fedoras that I sent to Max and Finny so they can be secret agents. Very cool!

Another Perry blog post

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My Father, The Poet

One of the benefits of climbing into a pulpit week after week is the discipline of writing and speaking. My father, The Reverend Stanley C. F. Hayes, added another aspect to his preaching by writing poetry. The poems were often four or eight lines, usually in a quatrain form.

Many of them are in his hand writing, jotted down as time permitted and the muse moved. Here is one in typewritten form. Written in January of 1955 while we lived in Marshfield, Wisconsin, it is a reminder of the years when writers depended on typewriters to advance and preserve the words that they wrote.

The family in 1955 -- Penny, Wanda, Tim, Carla. Mary, not in photo
I would have been almost seven years old when Dad wrote this. There were five of us Hayes kids -- Wanda, Carla, Tim, Penny, Mary -- by then, so Mom would have been involved in guiding the very young family through each day's waking and eating and sleeping times.

I remember that on Saturdays Dad would head to his study in the church basement where we could find him busy at his desk with its typewriter. Saturday was when he finalized the week's thoughts and polished the manuscript for his Sunday sermon. Often he wrote a poem that formed the focus for the weekly sermon.

Dad had a black chunky typewriter that was moved to the middle of the desk so he could convert a longhand draft into a typewritten manuscript. He'd welcome a visit from any one of us when he was working. I don't ever remember being shooed away from the basement study that was filled with shelves with books and paper, his desk with pencils, pens and photos, and houseplants in the high basement ground level windows.

Dad's poety was published as Behind The Plow,  a poetry collection that my sister Heidi edited. Heidi and Dad worked from Dad's files and were able to compile a small volume of poety that is representative of a body of work that spans more than six decades of writing and preaching. Released in 2006, this book is a testament to the discipline of weekly writing that Dad followed for most of his adult years as a preacher and pastor.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Young Eagle

A young eagle landed in the very top branches of a cottonwood tree near our lakehouse late yesterday afternoon. For ten minutes or so, the eagle clung to the branch and kept a watchful eye on White Rock Shoal. Ed spotted the bird just as it came to the tree.

This eagle looked to be almost full size with some of the white mottled spots of an immature bird. The beak is markedly hooked; the feet and talons very apparent.

Raptors like eagles are easily spotted in spring when the trees are just budding. This one chose to oversee White Rock Shoal from the high vantage point of Cedar Bluff. The bird might have been hunting fish or mice. Then, too, it might have been waiting for the evening breeze to kick up a fine thermal or two.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, April 2, 2012

Home Place Barn

The barn on my mother's home place has been restored and is now the home of Thangles, the quilt product company owned by my sister. Yesterday's lovely spring weather produced this image of the home place barn.

The grayed board and batten siding is set against blue and white skies. From the outside this structure looks like a barn. Inside there are offices and a shipping department and lots of storage.

In today's new understanding, this barn has been repurposed.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Cat Think

My Dad's cat, Mikey, luxuriates in his bay window many times a day. Mikey views birds at the feeder, birds in the bushes and birds in the fields. He swishes his tail and does that throaty cat snarl.

On a sunny day Mikey sleeps in the bay window and catches some rays. He even has his own personal Elvis Chicken Foot attached to one of the window cranks. The Elvis Chicken arrived at Dad's house as a gift from my Memphis Sister Martha.  Intended for Blackie the Dog, the Elvis Chicken lost a leg within the first hour of play. Obviously the leg must be enticing for the cats in the household.

Maybe the Elvis Chicken Foot just gives Mikey something else to think about.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler