Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Snotty Little Sisters

I like to bring some humor into my mother-in-law's life, so last week I told her that our snotty little sisters were both coming to visit on the same day. "Pauline, we should get a photo of you and me and our snotty little sisters," I said. She smiled and began reminiscing about her little sis, Beverly.

So when the big reunion day came for Pauline's family, she graciously agreed to a "snotty little sister" photo. Here we are (left to right): Beverly from Arizona, Pauline, Wanda (from Michigan), and Martha from Tennessee.

Martha and I were thrilled with the big smile and "Hello, Martha" that Pauline gave her when they had a chance to chat. The two women haven't seen each other in at least ten years, so Martha's face had to be a blast from the past for Pauline who recognized her right away.

Just for interest sake, Pauline and Beverly are twelve years apart in age; Martha is sixteen years my junior.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, July 30, 2012

Mosby and Friends

Mosby the Dog had lots of company this weekend. Peter and Finn and Max loved playing catch with Mosby. The little boys had a good time hitting golf balls into the big net, too.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, July 29, 2012


We had a lovely spaghetti supper tonight. Ed set the table. Martha complimented the food. Wanda tried a new bread recipe.
Life is good.
Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Me and My Volt

Ed took this picture of me with my Chevy Volt after the Farmer's Festival Parade last Saturday. Hannah (age 2) helped me polish and primp the Volt before the parade in the morning. The staff at McCormick Motors in Pigeon provided the signs, including the really cool "electric car" posters for the front doors.

I love this photo and I really, really like my Volt!

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, July 27, 2012


This goose comes from one of my art journals. I used an ink pen, watercolor pencil, a waterbrush, and watercolor paint, along with the magic of Photoshop to accomplish this image.

The original Canada goose was photographed at Katherine Cove in Lake Superior Provincial Park in the fall of 2002.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Draggin' Daylilies

Last night's long and tempestuous storm took the starch out of the daylilies. They are dragging their heads and dripping today.

The storm started around midnight at Cedar Bluff and went on for a good hour. Lightning cracked and flashed minute by minute. Rumbles of thunder came close, then crashed in the distance. Rain pounded down, but there was no hail.

The rain gauge shows a paltry half inch. For all the sound and fury, one would expect an inch or more. With drought condition, every drop is precious.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Big Three in a Bowl

Talk about the Big Three and most people think you are talking cars -- General Motors, Chrysler and Ford. At my breakfast table, the Big Three are General Mills, Post and Kellogg.

Interestingly enough, the cereal companies and the car companies all have Michigan or Midwestern ties. Obviously, the automakers are in Detroit. Kellogg and Post are headquartered in Michigan and General Mills is in Minneapolis. None of that has anything directly to do with this post.

I was filling my cereal bowl this morning and realized that my mixup of breakfast grains might be of interest to my Dad and my blog readers. So, here's what I do. I start with 5-8 biscuits of Kellogg's Maple and Brown Sugar Mini Wheats. Then I add a bit of Post's Great Grains in Crunchy Pecan. Those two get topped off by General Mill's Honey Nut Cheerios which are the cereal du jour of the grandchildren when they come to visit.

I pour on about a half cup of 1% organic milk and sit down for a fairly sweet and quick breakfast. I guess that you could call this my "mixtape" breakfast. I don't eat this every day, so it is always a treat to enjoy the Big Three in a Bowl.

NOTE: The Pigeon IGA is the only store that carries Maple and Brown Sugar Mini Wheats. The other grocers (Meijer's, in the cities, included) have Strawberry, Chocolate, Blueberry Filled, etc. Ah, the local IGA. What would my life be without their Maple Mini Wheats!

I 'm guessing that some of you readers will tell me that WalMart carries the Maple Mini Wheats. Sorry. I just can't give WalMart my dollars. Not after the shellacking that they gave to small towns in rural America. Politics enters my cereal bowl and daily life, as usual. End of discussion. Time to eat!

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sheep Show 2012

Yesterday's Sheep Show at the Huron Community Fair yielded this Grand Champion Pen of Lambs raised by Justin Devroye of Elkton. Granddaughter Vallanee Rose (in Ed's arms) helped with the photo op. Miss Hannah turned reluctant at the last moment and ducked out of the picture. That's me on the left, Justin and his helper, Ed and Vallanee, along with two fine looking lambs.

Justin had a good day. Not only did he win Grand Champion Pen, but he also took the Champion Showman award home.

Here's Hannah with the very big trophy that we presented. My publications company, Graywood Designs, has been presenting this trophy for close to twenty years.

Lots of things at the fair are big. Big cows. Big sheep. Big horses. Big rides. Big tractors.

Even the carousel was big -- and fast. It's no wonder that a little girl would be uncertain about stepping into a big showring with a woodchip floor to present a big trophy to to big lambs.

Even the heat was big. It was 97 degrees when we arrived at the fairgrounds. Only a strong breeze kept the day on the edge of tolerable. For a little girl, it was a big day.

Last year's sheep show: Champions

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, July 23, 2012

Dusk and a New Moon

The new moon didn't set until well after sunset last night. After a day of heat and humidity, it felt good to sit outside and consider the moon.

Later, watching stars and satellites, we saw lightning way out over Lake Huron. The clouds danced with silvery, electric light as the bolts lit up the sky and threw reflections across the water.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Talking to Grandpa

Baby Val, at three-plus months old, has charming conversational skills which she tops off with an engaging smile.

Grandpa Ed enjoys her company as she and he discuss all matters baby, from diaper time to the weather. Grandpa can hardly get a word in edgewise sometimes.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Kim's Kactus

My friend Kim who works at Orr's Drug Store in downtown Pigeon has a beautiful Christmas cactus at the store that she takes care of. It is a big one -- healthy, thriving, a joy to see at the store.

Kim gave me some stems of the cactus in mid-April. I let the stems idle for 2-3 weeks and then planted them in a yogurt carton using Scott's Cactus mix and no drainage holes in the carton. One stem is budding and there are hair roots coming out of the stems above the soil level.

My next job will be transplanting it into a larger pot and then locating some filtered light for the plant.

I call my horticultural endeavor "Kim's Kactus" and hope it will be a part of my indoor plants for years to come.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, July 20, 2012

PHD in Quilting

I agree with my sister Mary who says that quilters who finish a Baltimore Album applique quilt should be acknowledged as having their PhD in Quilting. My friend Gloria Busch of Pigeon has finished her quilt and it is hanging in the Thumb Area Quilt Guild Show in Pigeon this week.

Well done, Gloria. Your glowing smile shows how proud you are of this accomplishment. Know that your quilting friends are very proud of you and admire your work lovingly. I especially like the border which you designed for your quilt.

Gloria joins these women in my circle of quilting whom I know to have the PhD via the Baltimore quilt route: Vallanee Rose Luedtke Hayes (my mother) of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin; Pauline Beatrice Geiger Eichler (my mother-in-law)of Pigeon who has made two of these quilts; Isabel Leipprandt of Pigeon; Jill Harmon of Beaverton; Debbie Ballard of Midland. (I know I am forgetting some of the quilts and quilters whose Baltimores I have seen. Refresh my memory, friends!)

I taught applique classes at my shop, Pigeon River Mercantile, during the mid-1990's and we worked on these quilts. Many of the Thumb area quilters began their blocks then. I am sure that more of these quilts (including my own) will be completed in the years to come.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cut Glass Dish Runner

A lovely bouquet of daylilies graces the dining table and showcases one of my favorite quilting designs, the Cut Glass Dish Runner. I used the vintage color known as cheddar for this sample along with the old quilt block called cut glass dish. The block uses tons of Thangles, a wonderful quilting tool invented by my very talented sibling, MB Hayes.

I call this table runner the "cheddar runner" and think that it is a very Wisconsin-ish and dairy-ish way of acknowledging my Wisconsin roots.

I have a selection of green fabrics chosen for the next version of this runner that I want to sew. Green fabrics will accent a pot of ivy in the same way that these daylilies partner with the wonderful glow of the cheddar fabrics set against the warmth of a wood table.

This runner pattern can be found in my book, Tapestry of Texture.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Helena Road Barn

Huron County has lots of barns. I drive past this one on Helena Road and have photographed it often. I used the "poster edges" effect in Photoshop to give this image a graphic effect.

The poster edges tool intensifies the color and adds black highlights. I like the way the worn red of the barn contrasts with the blue sky and golden wheat stubble in this image.

Remember that if you want to see an image larger, just click on it.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Hot, Hot, Hot

It's the number one topic on the news, the heat of this summer and the drought that is gripping the middle sections of the country.

I opened the door before seven this morning and the heat met me. "Hello. Are you ready for another day of dealing with me?" it seemed to say.

Thankfully, a few raindrops escaped from their prison in a cloud and became a welcome interruption to my morning coffee on the terrace. Just think of it. Rain, a welcome interruption.

How quickly we become attuned to weather. When temperatures are pretty normal we go about our days as if there is no weather. We run the A/C a bit here and there; we fiddle with draftiness of the vents in the dashboard of our cars. We comment and complain.

But an unsettling sense of impending disaster lingers nearby this summer. The corn in Huron County, curled and spikey, still holds a bit of promise. Rain would unfurl those tightened leaves and lengthen the stalks, maybe. August is coming on and the crops that looked so good in late May are suffering.

But we can't complain, us Thumb people. The wheat crop came off and looked good. Green beans and tomatoes from the garden taste so good.

Still, the drought pictures from other parts of the country are scary. Cattle being sent to market for lack of water and feed. Corn and soybeans withered, fields abandoned. We know we see the worst on the news -- news feeds are like that now -- yet there is a creeping worry that clings to each dry day.

I remember a friend from years gone by who talked about how important agriculture is to everyone. "Just stop eating for a couple of days. Take away the food that the farms provide and see how important you think it is then," he used to say.

This summer, the drought is giving us that picture. Let's hope for rain.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, July 16, 2012


Thunderheads are a welcome sight. This one showed up late Sunday afternoon after a morning "million dollar" rain dropped three quarters of an inch of life giving moisture at Cedar Bluff.

Ed is hoping that the west side of the county got rain too. Often summer downpours are patchy and storms avoid one area and drench another. What a relief today's rain is after so much dry weather in the Summer of 2012.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sailboat Race

Every sailboat in the Port Huron to Mackinac Race that took the Shore Course came past Cedar Bluff yesterday afternoon. It was a veritable herd of sailboats (oh, I know I should say "regatta" or some such sailing word) that we viewed for several hours.

Spinnakers up, the boats tacked and turned, their sails dotting the horizon (and closer) with jots of color. Someone in our Race Day Terrace Party counted 83 sailboats at once, with more coming up Lake Huron at the time of the count. I gave up counting around 40 something. The flotilla (there's a good boating word) moved smoothly up lake, giving us a wonderful view.

This morning's website mapping showed them just off of Alpena, well on their way to Mackinac Island where they should start arriving early Monday.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Edison Plant

Etched against the summer evening skies, the Detroit Edison coal-fired generating plant in Harbor Beach glows with the setting sun. The tiny white spot at the horizon to the left of the plant is the Harbor Beach Lighthouse which stands at the entrance to the harbor.

Detroit Edison announced this week that the plant will be shut down within the next few years.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, July 13, 2012

No Whining

My fingers gripped the pen. Lines moved hither and yon. The eagle emerged from black wiggles and scribbles. Clutching a banner, stained with ochre and ultramarine and umber, this eagle needed a saying, a truism to be his message.

I wasn't in a patriotic mood that morning as I sketched. The eagle lacked a regalness. The motions of the pen were more largess than finesse. The drawing was more cartoon, less illustration.

And so, the banner came to read "No whining." It is a message that I often remind myself of.

I am a whiner from Day One. This is wrong, that is wrong. This could be better, that could be better. She/he should do this, he/she could do that.

The lists get long and involved and repetitive. It's just plain whining and it can get good and tiring.

But "No whining," says my hastily scratched federal eagle. Like the eagles that paddle the air slowly past the lake house, sometimes just beneath the crest of the bluff, soaring so low and so slow that the sight of them takes away one's breath, this eagle, a reminder to buck up and not whine, is for me.

No whining. Not today.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Straw Bales

Streaks from the setting sun cast a golden spell over a field of straw bales on Rapson Road near Harbor Beach this week.

Wheat harvest is a good two weeks ahead of other years. Fields like this one with bales of wheat straw dot the landscape in Huron County.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Kinde Elevator

The giant storage bins at the Kinde elevator loom tall in this July evening photo. We drove to Kinde to have supper at the Pasta House last Sunday. Grain harvest is almost over in the Thumb and it has been a much earlier harvest than anyone can remember for quite some time.

We saw combines in the fields (yes, on a Sunday night, in church-going Huron County) and followed loads of wheat on the way in to Kinde. The Pasta House is located in the old bank building in downtown Kinde, right across from the elevator complex.

Ed and I often talk about our friend, Dick Andrus, a pastor and volunteer firefighter. Dick was serving at the Bay Port-Hayes United Methodist Charge on the west side of Huron County when the Kinde elevator caught fire on September 5, 1978. It was a big fire. The town was evacuated and fire units from across the county responded.

Dick got to the Fairhaven fire hall in time to grab on the back of a truck, not knowing where the fire was or how long the ride might be. He hung on all the way to Kinde, a trip that's half way across the county, a twenty mile plus ride. He often talked about that ride through the countryside, on the way to the Kinde elevator fire.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Bird Creek Fire

An evening fire, thought to have started in a golf cart, destroyed the Bird Creek Golf Course clubhouse and adjoining pro shop on July 4th. Discovered when a staff member came out to the course to check the irrigation system, the fire gutted the inside of the building and destroyed a number of golf carts stored in a lean to structure behind the clubhouse.

I took the above photo at dusk on Sunday night, four days after the fire, and then snapped the photo below. I started golfing nine holes with a group of women on Tuesday evenings in 2008. I have always enjoyed the serenity of Bird Creek in the late part of the day. The breeze off Lake Huron cools the land and the course is stunning in the golden light at the end of the day.

So what am I doing this evening? It's Tuesday and I'm going to Bird Creek to play nine holes. A temporary clubhouse, loaner carts, a willing staff, and lots of people who like to golf are not letting a fire stop the Bird Creek experience this summer.

A previous Bird Creek post:
Evening Shadows on Bird Creek Number Nine

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, July 9, 2012

Sunspot Freighter

A freighter slips into a sunspot far out on Lake Huron, just after sunrise. Headed north, up lake, it has just passed another freighter headed south.

At dawn, banks of clouds sit in giant gold and purple horizontal stripes. As the sun climbs higher, shafts of energetic light pierce the cloud cover and form sunspots that illuminate the massive freighters.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Up Close Daisy

My son, William Eichler, a professional photographer, taught me some new tricks of the trade last week. Here's one of my efforts that uses the macro setting on a close up lens.

I did a little touchup work using Photoshop to produce this image. I especially like the golden yellow, white petals, and gray background.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Found the Bus

I found the bus! Here's the Sesame Street bus that I've been looking for since Christmas. I found it at a Meijer's here in Michigan yesterday. It was marked for clearance at 25% off, so I'm really excited to find it now. We already have the buildings that form the basis of the playset and all of the characters.

There is a garbage truck and a fire truck that I have not found yet. I know I could probably get on Amazon and order away, but it is fun to look through the toy sections of various stores as we travel this summer and try to find the remaining pieces to the playset.

The bus is driven by The Count. When you press on the hood of the bus, Count turns his head and the door opens. The Elmo that's included with the bus has a back pack so he is called Back-to-School Elmo. We already have two Elmos -- plain Elmo and Elmo with Dorothy (she's the goldfish that Elmo talks to on Sesame Street).

Miss Hannah likes to play with Sesame Street when she comes to the lakehouse and I'm sure that Miss Vallanee will enjoy the figures and vehicles and playset someday soon. Mr. Max and Mr. Finn are kind of beyond Sesame Street.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, July 6, 2012

No Work Garden

Scattered on the slope of a ditch bank near the lake house, these black eyed susans are a part of the no work garden at the lake house. This month there are tall milkweeds surrounding the compost pile. pink vetch on the bluff, and tufts of white daisies alongs the cedar trail.

The wildflowers are serendipitous splotches of color. Uncontrolled, not watered, unorderly -- they are nature's no work garden and welcomed in the summer's heat.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Crowded Feeder

A pair of goldfinches and a purple finch crowd the bird feeder. They are loving the sunflower seeds which they crack with their stubby beaks.

I often get the purple finch confused with rose-breasted grosbeaks. Then I have to get out the bird books and re identify the two. Grosbeaks are plumper than finches and have a triangular rose red patch in the center of the chest. The purple finch isn't really purple, but sort of a raspberry color.

We have a nest of baby chipping sparrows in the climbing rose right beside the kitchen window. Maybe I can get a photo of them before they fledge and leave the nest.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Seven Sisters Fourth

I don't ever remember the Seven Sisters rose being this spectacular on a Fourth of July. It looks for all the world like a cascade of pink fireworks.

Happy Fourth of July, from under the Willow that shades us all.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

With the Girls

I asked Will and Wendy if I could take a family photo of them with their girls yesterday. We had a wonderful weekend visit and a photo would capture their family at the end of a good time together.

The Seven Sisters rose that lives outside the kitchen window is in stunning full bloom and I asked them to pose with the rose. Here's one of the photos that I took.

Hannah is looking very demure in her father's arms. Miss Vallanee Rose is unassuming. Will and Wendy tip back their sunglasses and direct their attention to the camera. Morning sun dapples the rose and highlights the composition.

What a great photo, if I don't say so myself!

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, July 2, 2012

Daily Wonder

I got up too late today to see the sunrise, but here is yesterday's morning view of  the sun peeking through a slight cloud bank on the Lake Huron horizon. 

Isn't it a wonder, this sun that rises every day and makes our world a wondrous place?

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Little Pool

Hannah barely fits in the plastic tub that we use for kids' water play. Nevertheless, she had a great time on a hot afternoon in the little bitty tub.

We made the comment that it is time to get a bigger pool for the grandchildren. I'm such a minimalist, though. The kids have great fun with simple toys, little tubs included.

Cellphone photo

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler