Friday, August 31, 2012

Thanks at Dawn

Etched by light, an early morning cloud line packs the horizon. Now a moment comes like a glimmer to the soul. It is the promise of another day, created and given.

The moment is gone. The day begins with thankfulness.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, August 30, 2012

August Fawn

The fawn stood still, watching me. Eyes filled with wonder, the young animal's brain was clicking. What was it thinking? Curiosity? Fear? Stand ground? Graze? Flee?

Tall enough to stand above the goldenrod yet covered with baby spots, an end-of-the-summer fawn enters the adolescence of deerhood. I photographed the fawn with its twin and mother along a Huron County roadside this week.

It joins the hundreds of whitetail deer in the county that graze in fields and villages this time of the year.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Clubhouse Demise

The Clancy crew knocked down the burned remnants of the July 4 Clubhouse fire last night. Todd Clancy and his big "diggah" made short work of the metal building.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tiny Feet

We all know that hummingbirds are very small birds, but look how tiny their feet are. This female hummer was either coming in for a landing or taking off. You can see the fluff around its legs and the tiny bird toes as the bird hovers at the feeder, sucking sugar water through its long beak.

This might be one of the juvenile birds that come to our feeder. They have been very tame this summer, often buzzing my head when I work in the garden beds or wield my camera near the feeder.

I watched several plump babies in mid-August and sketched one of them on August 15th. I think that this is one of them, now a hummingbird teenager with longer tail and beak.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, August 27, 2012

Late Roses

In the great and grand scheme of all things gardening, this has not been my best summer. The deer ate most of the green beans. Hornworms attacked the grape tomatoes. I forget to water and the pickle vines wilt. And it has been hot. Way too hot for a Michigan summer garden.

Yesterday I tended the roses. Stirred the soil around their roots and put down new mulch. I cut back the Dortmunds again, just a little. It seems so late in the summer to be pruning, but with the additional heat units and a fall that will probably be much warmer, too, it seems the okay thing to do.

The roses have been the bright spot of the summer. Along with the daylilies, their abandonment to riots of color, and their blossom after blossom have made the flower beds a delight.

A poet would write an ode to late summer roses. As a gardener, I offer this image of a fall rose and its bud.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Remarkable Saturday

Wind turbines on Ruth Road in Michigan's Thumb

We had a remarkable day yesterday. We drove 400 miles in my Chevy Volt (a plug-in electric vehicle), went to a funeral and a baseball game, saw fireworks, and drove through two wind farms --  all on an August Saturday in Michigan.

Geiger Five -- Paul and Carol Geiger, Ken Geiger, Shirley and Ron Geiger

Ed's Aunt Dorothy Geiger died on Monday after 30 year battle with cancer. Born into an Amish-Mennonite family, Dorothy never gave up on life and was an inspiration to her family and friends. We travelled to Lake Odessa, MI to be with Uncle Ken and many, many others for her memorial service.

Fireworks at Dow Diamond after a Loons game

Then we headed to Midland, up through the Gratiot County wind turbine area, to see the Great Lakes Loons play baseball against the Lake County Captains at Dow Diamond. The Loons won. That was cool. But the fireworks after the game were even cooler.

It was a day of contrasts -- wind farms, Aunt Dorothy's funeral, baseball, and fireworks. Quite a remarkable Saturday.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Camera Oops

It is good to have lots of bells and whistles on a small camera. My Sony Cybershot has an auto timer function. You set it for 2 or 10 seconds and then run to the front of the camera. Presto, Eduardo -- a snapshot.
Sometimes you get funny results. Here's an "oops" from two years ago that I took when Ed and I were golfing up north. Too much grass, heads missing -- the camera sees what it sees and takes a photo!
Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, August 24, 2012

Pyromania and The Charcoal Grill

Impressive! Here's the easy way to light a charcoal grill. You just need the proper equipment, like a flame thrower.

Uncle Patrick stands back and gives Nick some tips on getting the charcoal going for brats and chicken. It was a great meal, thanks in part to this display of pyromaniac prowess.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Me and My Dad

I always wish we had taken more pictures when our families get together. Ed did snap this image of my Dad and me at the pavilion at Galloway House and Farm in Fond du Lac last Sunday afternoon. We had pie and ice cream at the Fond du Lac Historical Society's Ice Cream Social that day.

Our August days in Wisconsin were filled with wonderful fresh food meals, most eaten outside, and lots of conversations. Add in some wading in the lake, sweet nieces, bouncy grandkids, a little golf with my nephew and brother, and it all adds up to a good time.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Three Day Moon

I started calling this post "Wisconsin New Moon," but a closer check of the moon phase app on my Kindle Fire revealed that this is really a three day moon. Taken on Monday, August 20 at 9:19 pm  near Eden in Fond du Lac County, the image shows a moon that is 12 percent visible.

Whenever I see a sliver moon like this one, I think of Tony Bennett singing Dorothy Parker's lyrics, "I Wished on the Moon."

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,
An April day that would not dance away.
Let's change that to "an August moon" and wish for summer to not dance away, to linger just a little longer with cool nights, and few more meals of sweet corn and garden tomatoes.
Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sandhill Cranes

This threesome, a family of sandhill cranes, struts their stuff on a golf course near Lomira, Wisconsin. The sitting crane is probably this year's chick, still hanging out with its parents.

Sandhills are increasingly common in Michigan and Wisconsin. I have seen several at Bird Creek Golf Club near Port Austin, Michigan which is where I golf weekly. These three were photographed this weekend on the back nine of Camelot Golf Course, just east of Lomira, Wisconsin.

No doubt golf courses give these majestic birds uninterrupted nights of sleep and daytimes with humans whose only hope is finding and hitting little white balls.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, August 20, 2012

On The Dock

The dock on Lake Auburn holds a fascination for the cousins. You can catch minnows with a dip net. You can watch Uncle Pat shoot fireworks off of the end of the dock. You can jump in and swim to the raft. You can canoe and kayak from the dock.

Wisconsin's inland lakes are a small wonder when you are almost five and almost eight. Max and Finn enjoy an evening of dock time in this image taken on a magical night at the lake in Wisconsin.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Crack of Dawn

Crack of  Dawn -- August 19, 2007

It is a blessing to see the sun rise every day. Here, at the crack of dawn, the glorious sun combines with cloud and water for an image that startles and surprises. Oh, to have been on that freighter at that moment of the crack of dawn.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Volt Goes to Dinner

My Chevy Volt was looking pretty good the other night when we drove to Port Sanilac for dinner at The Van Camp House. Parked on the circle drive under the majestic tall trees of the Van Camp lawn, the Chevy Volt was ready and waiting for us after a great dinner.

We had driven 30 miles to golf earlier in the day, all on electric charge. Then we drove to dinner and back, using just a tad bit of gas. It was an electric day -- again.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, August 17, 2012

Fifth Anniversary

This is the fifth anniversary of our 39th Wedding Anniversary. Got that? Well, I had to put some kind of twist into the blog today, so here is a photo of Ed and me taken on August 17, 2007. That would be five years ago. This photo was taken just before we hopped in the car and went to visit the Van Camp House in Port Sanilac for dinner.

2007 was the first visit to Chef Andy Fabian's wonderful table. That's where we celebrated again last night, enjoying dinner at Andy's and grateful for another year of being together.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, August 16, 2012

More Wind

I stopped on Richardson Road while driving into Pigeon yesterday to take this image. The bubble highlights the huge crane, seen in the distance, that is constructing new wind turbines in McKinley and Chandler Townships, north of Pigeon.

The operating wind turbines closer to the camera are in Oliver Township. Turbine construction is also going on in Bloomfield Township, between Harbor Beach and Verona. Several more turbines are being added to the windfarm around Minden City, too.

Ed's home farm, Whipple Tree Farms in Chandler Township, has one turbine being installed. The Thumb's landscape will be different as changes are made from old forms of energy to the new, less polluting wind installations.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Fall Stitches, By Hand

Don't ask me why I'm so attracted to linen and threads in the fall of the year, but that urge is hitting me again this summer. I have a few pumpkins and vines to finish on my "clear moon" sampler. I even know where I'm going to hang the finished and framed embroidery.

My mother did beautiful handwork. One of her samplers still hangs in the farmhouse where my Dad lives. I admire it and think of her everytime I see it.

I guess I like the evenness of the stitches. The needle goes down one hole and has to come up in another certain hole to make the cross stitch correctly. I'm nearsighted, so I can just take my glasses off and see the linen weave clearly. I get engrossed in the closeness of the work. Time stands still. Threads matter, and colors and needles.

At its heart, all of the stitching is a desire to use one's hands and heart to make something. In this day and age of digital this and electronic that, it just feels good to be creating something with one's own hands.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Wickedly Good Basil

The lakehouse garden is a small disaster. We are trying to garden on a strip of sand that is resisting all attempts at small scale horticulture, and the deer are in full knowledge of every bean seed that germinates.

Big green worms attacked the tomatoes. Max and Finn and I stomped seven of them one evening. Lettuce seed wouldn't even germinate. Deer nibble on the bean rows, even the beans under wire covers. Some bug that likes the potatoes won't show its face. I forget to water the sandy soil and things get dry in one day.

But the basil is wickedly wonderful.  Lush and green and plentiful, basil is the shining star.

We are enjoying it with heirloom tomatoes from a farm market and thin (well, maybe not so thin) slices of mozzarella. Drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with dark balsamic vinegar and sopped up with garlic bread, this is a salad that turns me into a vegetarian in August.

I put basil on my sandwiches, add the leaves to romaine salads, and chop the leaves into marinara. There are bouquets of basil, ready to eat, sitting by the kitchen sink. My skin probably smells like basil and I may be turning green (that would be wicked), but I really don't care. It is basil month at Cedar Bluff.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, August 13, 2012

Bye Bye Bella

Bella Lugosi is the name of this daylily cultivar that is one of my favorites. Because the blossoms drip inky and dark as they mature, I enjoy this daylily outside, rather than in a vase where I'm cleaning up syrupy drips every morning.

Here is the last blossom of 2012 in all of its chartreuse and purple glory. This week marks the middle of August. Summer is fleeting. Nights are beginning to get cooler. The daylilies are all but spent.

Bye bye, Bella Lugosi. You and all your daylily friends have given me another wondrous summer of lily-luscious blossoms.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Cardi and a Quilt

I was quilting and knitting five years ago in August of 2007. Grandchild Number Two was on the way and we knew this baby would be a boy. I finished a sweet little sweater, a cardigan for a little guy. I always like to make those first cardigans out of lightweight yarn. The yarn for Griffin's first cardi was a multicolor in pale yellow and blue and cream. Very nice.

Then I made a quilt using a patchwork block that I call the "Val Block," all for that tiny little bundle who will turn five over Labor Day weekend. The Val block is named for my mother who made several quilts using this block. I think of her when I sew Val blocks. In quilting lore, the block is known as "contrary wife." That's kind of a neat name, too.

Finn starts kindergarten this fall, so it is fun to look back five years to knitting and quilting days when I could only picture a baby boy in a handknit cardigan on the Val block quilt.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Dramatic Rains

Storm clouds over White Rock Shoal -- 10August2012

Our part of Michigan has been swept by dramatic rainstorms for the past two days. This image, taken at 6:49 pm last night shows the intensity of the cloud cover that continuously pounded the Thumb with rains, some so blinding that you almost had to pull over when driving.

The rain let up during the night on Friday. At dinner on Friday night, friends were telling us that they heard that the Bay City area received up to seven inches of rain. One Facebook friend reported flooded basements. At Graywood Farm, south of Pigeon, our rain gauge showed two inches. Here at Cedar Bluff, the gauge measured 1.4 inches since Thursday.

From extreme heat and dry weather to dramatic rains, the weather is setting records this summer.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, August 10, 2012

Herons and a Freighter

A large yacht passed the lakehouse yesterday morning and I wanted to get a photo of it. I grabbed the camera, quickly chose a setting, and waited for the yacht to move out from in front of a freighter.

I waited until I could begin to see the silhouette of the yacht and snapped away. Great Blue Herons were also enjoying the morning thermals. It was a sight to behold. The majestic birds, escorting the ships north.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Never Ever Again

When we walked the streets of Hiroshima and experienced the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims in September 2008, I wanted every policy maker in the United States to have the same experience that I was having that day.

You walk through the center of the city where the atomic bomb exploded, an area that is now the Peace Park. There are ginkgo trees growing there now. The trees and vegetation surprised me because, honestly, I thought nothing could ever grow again where there had been a nuclear explosion.

There are fountains and memorials and a huge peace bell -- all visual, lasting reminders of how dedicated the people of Hiroshima are to their commitment that an atomic bomb must never be used again.

Children bring chains of folded peace cranes and hang them in the park. People relax on benches and walk the paths and bicycle through the park on their way to work and home.

The museum has a carefully structured movement, almost like a path, that you follow as the enormity and horror of the bombing unfolds in dioramas, maps, artifacts, and storyboards. You see the flattened buildings, realize that things disappeared into the nuclear nightmare, and come to the compelling gut-wrenching understanding that many, many people died due to the horribleness of an atomic bomb.

Blame is absent from the Museum. What is there is an awesome commitment on the part of the people of Hiroshima and Japan that there must never be another nuclear annihilation like Hiroshima and Nagasaki again.

This week, on the 67th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and August 9, I want my voice to join those who say "never again."

Never, ever again.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Dried Up Summer

This poor overheated daylily could not even manage to do the conventional daylily melt. The blossoms on daylilies usually fold up and wither, usually in a drippy, melting way. After a day or so in the sun, the meltiness, or moisture in the petals, dries up and the remaining structure drops.

Not so with this daylily. It dried with the curls in its petals, discolored and yet not disheveled, so that it still looks very lilylike.

Usually my daylilies last until Labor Day weekend. Since it has been so hot this summer, most of the plants are finished blooming and only their bare brown scapes, the twig-like stalk with a stub where the flower dropped off, are left.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tenacious Again

Tenacious, adjective, meaning "not easily dispelled or discouraged; persisting in existence."

The tenacious pink geranium is having a go at a blossoming summer. I transplanted it to a larger pot, thus giving it new growing medium and fertilizer, and it is in full bloom this August.

This must be the third summer, if not the fourth, for the tenacious geranium, since it spends the winters in the sunroom at the lake or the south windows at the farm.

This particular plant has longevity and stamina. Like some of us humans, it won't give up and stays bright and cheerful as it continues blooming and growing. Smart plant.

Previous post about this plant

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, August 6, 2012

Carriage Kids

We are looking at a great wicker baby carriage and two kids in what is probably the summer of 1952. My brother Tim would be about 18 months old and sister Carla, whose birthday is today, would be a six year old (or almost six, depending on when this photo was taken that summer).

The cement steps behind Carla lead to the back entrance of Grandma Rose and Grandpa Bill's farmhouse. We entered through a structure that they called the "north eck." Eck is German for corner. The north eck was an enclosed porch that provided shelter for the back door, so the north eck was kind of a mudroom entrance to the main house.

Looking carefully I can see someone's car is just off to the right in the background. There is an outdoor chair behind Tim that I would love to have now. The carriage is old. It looks like Grandma Rose pulled my mother's baby carriage out of the machine shed or basement and let us play with it when we came to visit the farm, because it appears that Tim is much too big for the carriage.

I love the way this photo turned out. The black and white snapshot is curling, like photographs would when you torn them loose from the little books that each roll of film came back from the developer in. The deckle edge, the curl, the chemical reaction that stained the right edge -- all these details are lost in the digital age.

So, happy birthday to Carla, my only big sis. May you keep looking forward into the years, just as you are doing in this precious image from our growing up days in Wisconsin.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, August 5, 2012

August in the D

Today is the first Tiger game of the season for me. I have been a fickle fair weather fan, but things heat up in August where baseball is concerned. We have our tickets and are ready for an afternoon at the ballpark in downtown Detroit, the "D."

So, go Tigers. Especially today. Like every fan in Comerica Park, I wanna see a win!

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Pensive Boy

Grandpa Ed and Grandson Finn have lots of conversations about freighters when Finn comes to the lakehouse. Finn struck a pensive pose as he watched for freighters yesterday at Cedar Bluff.

Later, at bedtime, I read a book to Finn called "The Day The Great Lakes Drained Away," a children's book that "just supposes" that the water in the Great Lakes can drain away. Finn was captivated by the concept and asked me to read the story to him again in the morning.

It is an awesome thing to think about how much water, and fresh water at that, is in Lake Huron. We look at it daily and take it so for granted. A pensive child, frequent visitor to the shore of this great lake we call Huron, can change the world. And the lake can change the child.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, August 3, 2012

Blue Moon Coming This August

Full Moon rises over White Rock Shoal, Huron County, Michigan
August 1, 2012

We are enjoying a big full moon over Lake Huron this week and there will be another full moon at the end of August. That second full moon within one month is called a blue moon, according to folklore, and is an occasional occurrence.

So, here's your early warning to mark your calendar for a second August full moon, the blue moon, on Friday, August 31. That's the start of Labor Day weekend and is also the first home football game for Michigan State. We play Boise State that night and it will be stunning to see the full moon in Spartan Stadium. Very cool.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Green Bug

Martha and I found this robust green bug at Desmond Landing along the St. Clair River in Port Huron on Tuesday. I thought it might be an Emerald Ash Borer, the nemesis invasive insect that is killing the ash trees in the Midwest.

We trapped the bug in a napkin with a coffee cup lid, sealed it in a zip lock bag, and I put it in the freezer when we got home. It should be good and dead by the time Max and Finn get here this weekend when we will get out the microscope and look at the bug (and the bug's parts) more closely.

I spent a few minutes on the Emerald Ash Borer information website this morning and it looks like this is not an EAB. That website has lots of identification information, lots of it in PDF format, and makes one realize how many green bugs there are in the world of insects.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Maple Mustard Vinagrette

Here is a favorite salad dressing from this summer's table. The maple syrup stands in as the sweet. Mustard adds flavor and a base and thickens the dressing a bit.

Use your favorite aromatic. Fresh basil is nice. Dried rosemary and garlic work well. Try thyme or sage, too. I would stay with a lighter vinegar that lets the flavor of the mustard-maple-aromatic shine through.

For fewer servings, cut the mustard and maple to 1 tablespoon, the vinegar to 1/4 cup and the olive oil to 1-2 tablespoons.

Try this on torn romaine leaves with fresh tomato, shredded carrot, and diced celery. Add sunflower seeds and top with shredded Romano or Parmesan cheese.

Copyright 2012
Wanda Hayes Eichler