Saturday, August 31, 2013

Football Storm

Spartan Stadium was evacuated shortly after the beginning of the second quarter in East Lansing last night due a heavy thunderstorm with frequent lightning activity. Our seats are close to the south end zone and we, along with close to 60,000 other Spartan fans, were drenched in the downpour that preceded the emptying of the stadium.

The game resumed after an hour with the band taking the field late at night for their first halftime show of the fall football season.

The image above was taken about ten minutes before we left the stadium for cover in the hallways underneath the stands. The orange clouds billowed with activity as the storm made its way across the skies.

Copyright 2013
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, August 30, 2013

The SMB Bandos

Oh how I love this photo of all the Spartan Marching Band "bandos" from our family. Taken in the fall of 2002 when Peter was marching mellophones, here are Pete and Wendy and Will and Liesl.

The first game is tonight and the SMB will be there in full force, doing a Michigan themed rock show for the half time. Think Eminem (Warren) and Bob Segar (Dearborn) and Kid Rock (Romeo) and Stevie Wonder (Saginaw. Very cool.

March to the stadium is at 7:15 pm from Adams Field and, yes, I am on my way to the game, 'cause, yes, we are Spartan fans, and especially SMB fans, in this household.

Copyright 2013
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Summer's End

At the end of a Thursday that felt like a Friday, it feels like the end of the summer. At work today I finally wrapped up some things that have been hanging over my head. That always feels good. 

The lawn is mowed. The guest rooms are ready. The frig is stocked. There is a raft of company coming for the holiday weekend.

College and high school football is starting. Yellow and orange and burgundy chrysanthemum plants appear for sale. The days get shorter. The tomatoes ripen. 

At the end of summer there is such a nostalgic tinge to life. You want to hang on to what has been, yet it is time to let go and move on. 

In the almost dark of a warm night in late summer, even the crickets sing their bittersweet song of farewell. . .to summer. 

Copyright 2013
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Canada Thistle

Canada Thistle is the bane of crop farming. Weed that this plant is, it grows tall and sharp, filled with spines and prickles. One weed identification book that I use says that this plant is capable of reducing crop yields by 100% due to an underground rhizome that grows below normal tillage depth.

Yet there is a beauty in the purple flower with its spiny bracts. Contrasted with green, the pink-purple blossom is a showy flower in August.

I photographed this thistle, shoulder high, while out for a walk. Then I took the image to my computer's darkroom and brought out the gray green background using sketching tools and some cropping and dodging. I rather like the result, even though the plant is basically a weed.

Copyright 2013
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Time To Go Green

After a summer of gardening and weeding and other assorted digging duties, it is time to spiff up my nails. 

So here are the choices for this Friday's first home game in Spartan Stadium at Michigan State. Left to right: Revlon "Emerald," L'Oreal "Lickety Split," Maybelline "Two Timer," OPI "Don't Mess With OPI," or SC "Last Chance." I'm leaning toward the OPI color and thinking "Don't mess with those Spartans!"

Copyright 2013
Wanda Hayes Eichler


Monday, August 26, 2013

Garden Girls

Big sis and little sis found the zinnias. "Grandma, can we pick flowers?"

"Yep, go ahead," was the reply.

The row of zinnias, late bloomers in my garden, will thrive more for having had their red, pink, and orange button tops snapped off by my two little garden girls.

Just for the record, that's basil and kale and zucchini on the left. The mound of foliage in the right background is a morning glory "pile" and in the right foreground are butternut squash leaves.

Copyright 2013
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, August 25, 2013


Even Grandpa Ed got in on the primping act when all three of us girls got to fixing our hair this morning. Miss Val, holding the comb, liked the look of her upright pigtail. She stood patiently while I combed her hair and removed the little band that holds her locks.

The band flew away and broke, so Grandpa came and steadied her on the step stool while I hunted up another rubber band. What a trooper! She is already a Primper Extraordinaire!

Big Sis Hannah caught me twirling and curling. "Grandma, can I have some curls, too?"

So we added some soft swirls to Hannah's long tresses. "Grandma, it's hot!"

Yep, that's how curling irons work, and that's part of the primping process when the girls get going at Grandma's house.

Copyright 2013
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, August 24, 2013

More Chess Guys

Our family's recent interest in playing chess, as evidenced by my grandchildren and their midnight chess game last weekend, caused me to search through our closets for chess sets that Ed and I have collected through the years. This set, a reproduction of pieces that are in the British Museum, is thought to be Scandinavian in origin. The pieces were found in Scotland in 1831.

The pawns look like little cemetery markers. The queen seems to be upset. The knight is clearly a horseman riding a horse, not just a horse head as some knight pieces are portrayed. The rook is soldierly, almost like a front linesman in football. The bishop's miter is squarely atop his head and the king has a beard and long strands of hair.

Ed and I got to thinking that the pieces seemed familiar so we hauled out Ed's collection of Harry Potter movies and cued up the chess scenes in the first Potter movie. Sure enough, the chess game that Harry and Ron are playing at Hogwarts in a Christmas scene, usually called "Wizard's Chess," uses figures that closely resemble these figures, the "Isle of Lewis Chessmen." Later, at the end of the movie, comes the scene where Harry, Ron, and Hermione play human chess, a scary version of Wizard's Chess, where Ron sacrifices himself in a move that saves Harry. It's a high point of the first movie.

Interestingly enough, the Isle of Lewis Chessmen are Item #61 in the BBC's  "A History of the World in 100 Objects," a series produced in collaboration with the British Museum. I have had them tucked away in the closet for quite a few years. Now that I'm learning more about their history and provenance, the little figures will have to be a part of my sketching subjects.

I'm sure, too, that our grandkids will enjoy seeing these little chessmen and playing a game or two with them when they come to for a visit.

Copyright 2013
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, August 23, 2013

Matt's Alaska

Summer has its highlights and one of them, for my nephew, Matt Crapo of Marshall, Michigan, was his return, for the 11th time, to Alaska. Matt and many other young people from the Marshall area spend several weeks in Alaska, thanks to the Alaska Great Lakes Project which pairs students, starting from eighth grade and from the heartland state of Michigan, with the wilds of Alaska.

This image, suitably grabbed from Matt's Facebook pages and manipulated in my computerized darkroom, was posted to Facebook after Matt returned to the lower 48. He took along his trusty photographic equipment on this trip where he served as a driver and did lots of photography. His photos show stunning images of mountains and glaciers, of bald eagles and wildflowers, all taken with an obvious love of Alaska.

Well done, Matt. Your view of the Alaskan wilderness documents the wonderful days that you and many others from Marshall, under the watchful eye and care of educator Dale Rosene and the AGLP crew, have spent together in Alaska.

Websites for more information:

Alaska Great Lakes Project -- Begun in 1989 in response to the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
Jessie Caron Photography -- Marshall area photographer who is a veteran of the AGL Project.

Copyright 2013
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Garden Starts to Produce

My hailed-upon-on-August-First garden is starting to produce good stuff. For almost a week I have had to collect rotten, pock-marked tomatoes and other produce and transfer it all to a compost pile.

Today, though, there is some real produce to pick. The larger tomatoes and the undamaged cherry tomatoes are ripening.

The green bean plants were beat into the ground by the hail, their stems smashed and leaves shredded. The plants survived and I picked a few beans today. The beets were set back since their tops were shredded, too. They have bounced back and tonight I cooked four luscious red beets.

I made myself a two egg omelet tonight. Sauteed an onion, added green beans, diced into half inch chunks. Pulled the veggies aside and poured in the eggs, already fragrant with slivered basil. I let that cook a few minutes, lifting the sides and letting the runny egg move to the bottom of the pan.

Then I dropped thinly sliced kale leaves over the top, added some cheese, two kinds, provolone and romano, and covered the pan for a few minutes. I folded the omelet in half as I slid it onto a plate, sprinkled sea salt ovr the top, and enjoyed a garden supper.


The Dippe harvest basket in the photo is made in Germany and available here in the US from Landreth Seed in Pennsylvania. This wire basket is stunning with squashes in it, as a table centerpiece, and works well for picnics as well as gardening. 

Copyright 2013
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Midnight Chess

A very large chess set, so big that you can walk across it, occupies one end of the very long porch at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. Kids staying at the hotel quickly learn how much fun it is to play a game of chess on this giant sized game board.

Our grandsons gravitated toward the big set and even got to play a game or two after dinner one night. The hour really wasn't midnight, but in this photo, it surely looks like it could be midnight chess.

Copyright 2013
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ansel Adams at the Grand Hotel

I thought that Ansel Adams would be proud to see this imitation of his work. I took an image of the Grand Hotel at sunset with light gleaming off of the facade and cloud patterns that cried out to be photographed. Then, inspired by the work of master photographer Ansel Adams, I worked some Photoshop techniques in my computer's darkroom.

The result -- this very Ansel-look version of Mackinac Island's Grand Hotel as it might have appeared in another century.

Copyright 2013
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, August 19, 2013

An August Prayer

Garden update: The hailstorm that took out my tomatoes on the first day of August was not so successful as it first seemed. The tomatoes are starting to ripen and it will soon be time to take a basket out to the garden because there will be so many orangey-red fruits to pick.

The red beets, shredded the night of the hail, now have leaves that are standing tall and the globes beneath the ground should be full of that earthy burgundy taste of roasted beets. There will be a few cucumbers, and the eggplants, poor eggplants, will blossom, but maybe not set fruit.

All in all, in spite of the hailstorm, it is time for an August prayer of thanks for the good food that comes in the last full month of summer.

Copyright 2013
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Glimpses of Mackinac

Colorful kayaks float just beyond Arch Rock in the waters surrounding Mackinac Island. We enjoyed a carriage tour with a stop at Arch Rock where you look out on the sparkling waters of the Straits of Mackinac.

As a part of the carriage tour there is an option to view the butterflies at a Butterfly Conservatory on Surrey Hill. Hundreds of the colorful insects flutter and float throughout a fairly large indoor space. There are so many that visitors are warned to check their clothing for hitchhiker butterflies before you leave.

August nights that are warm and calm bring beauty to the Straits of Mackinac. This weekend, with an almost full moon, brought magical views of the Big Mac Bridge, including this one of a freighter gliding eastward through the Straits.

Copyright 2013
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Countdown to the 45th: 1968

The year that we got married, 1968, was a time of upheaval. Martin Luther King was assassinated in April, followed by Bobby Kennedy in June. There was rioting in major cities, including Chicago during the Democratic National Convention.

We actually returned to Naperville, Illinois after our honeymoon and watched the rioting on television from our first apartment. We knew people who were demonstrating and even one or two national guardsmen who were "on the other side." It was a turbulent time, but we were college students and in love and wanting to be together very much.

We met at North Central College in the fall of 1966. I was a freshman, Ed a sophomore. It didn't take me long to figure out that I wanted to spend lots of time with this tall handsome guy from Michigan.

I worked at the Howard Johnson's restaurant on the west side of Oshkosh during the summer of 1967. Ed went fishing with my Dad toward the end of the summer when he came to visit.

Fishing? Those two never fished, but that's how the story goes. Supposedly he asked "for my hand in marriage" while they were out fishing. What a story! Anyway, there was a ring and an official engagement and the rest is history.

The dinner dance photo is from the spring of 1967 at the Pick Congress Hotel in downtown Chicago. I'm wearing one of my high school prom dresses, made by me. One of the girls on my dorm floor, April Dunn, did my hair for the occasion. We look pretty spiffed up for the dance!

This is my favorite wedding photo, a portrait taken by Michael Conte at his studio in Ripon, Wisconsin several days before we were married. I worked as assistant waterfront director at Camp Lucerne in Neshkoro, Wisconsin that summer and had a deep tan, especially on my nose. Mr. Conte worked wonders with theatrical makeup (Max Factor Pan Stick, great stuff for theater productions) to shade my face.

We were married in the chapel overlooking the lake at Camp Lucerne where I worked for the summer. After the wedding we walked down the hill to the Lodge for a reception with little chicken salad sandwiches, fruit salad served from a watermelon boat, and punch.

Notice that both mothers are wearing white gloves in this photo. Ed was 21 and I was 20. Maybe the look on our parents' faces is the sheer terror of having your oldest (Ed's parents) and second oldest (my parents) get married. None of that was communicated to us and we would not have listened had it been communicated. We were together and that's all that mattered.

Copyright 2013
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, August 16, 2013

Countdown to the 45th: Middle Years

Christmas 1985
Where do the years go? That's the dominant question that bubbles in my brain as I have spent part of August looking for photos. I wonder how we ever got through the child raising years. There were several times when we had one child in each of the three schools in the Laker District. I felt that I could never be in the right place at the right time with the right kid.

Ed grew up fast when his Dad, John Eichler, died in 1988. With his brother Neal by his side, he's taken Pigeon Telephone through lots of changes and it has emerged as a stable force for employment in our county and the Thumb area of Michigan. There were lots of bumps along the way but he stuck it out, and the two of them even added other businesses (Bay Port State Bank, some real estate, Main Street Cafe) to their list of "we-can-do-it" endeavors.

November 1974 -- Photo op with Willie, at Grandpa and Grandma's new house on Paul Street
Our early years in Pigeon were spent with me caring for our children and doing some newspaper work, along with volunteer work. Ed worked as a lineman for the phone company when we first moved to Pigeon.

There were a lot of times when the weather would get bad, a rainstorm or snowstorm, and a Huron County sheriff's patrol car would pull into our yard. the phones were out and central dispatch in Bad Axe sent a car to fetch the repair guy. There was a knock on the door. "Is Ed here? The lines are down on such-and-such a road," and off Ed would go into the night to repair the overhead grid.

I totally do not miss those times. A buried cable plant is a wonder and our communications today are incredible, compared to the party lines of the early years.

When we moved from Illinois where Ed and I were teaching junior high, one of our colleagues, a naive fellow teacher, asked if there was indoor plumbing in Pigeon. Well, yes, but in our early years here, the phone lines needed constant repair. Now there is an underground cable plant, well maintained and operational, with fiber optics.

No more pounding on the back door in the middle of the night!

Copyright 2013
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Countdown to The 45th: Recent Years

August 2010 -- on the porch of the Grand Hotel
Ed and I are celebrating 45 years of marriage this weekend by taking some time off and going to Mackinac Island. We could hardly afford to set a toe on the porch of the Grand Hotel way back when we were married in 1968, but this weekend we will stay at the Grand and revel in its delightful Michigan hospitality with our family.

MSU football game -- circa 1994

Looking back has been a trip. Our Michigan State years as marching band fans and football fans really took off when all three of our children spent their college years at State. Then there have been the years of losing my parents, changes in Ed's mother's life, and gaining four grandchildren. Poignant years. Wonderful years.

I'm going to do two more blog posts that will be "countdowns." Tomorrow will be the 1970's and 1980's. Oh my. Stay tuned.

Copyright 2013
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


It was a difficult time for my Dad in those months after my Mother died and on into the years after. He showed me his journal one day, probably in the summer of 2007. Mom died in late January that year and, in the ensuing years, Ed and I tried to always be in Wisconsin for a few days in April, for his birthday, and then again, during the summer when he enjoyed being outside  in the shade for a meal and conversation.

In his journal Dad had inked, in his precise left-hander's lettering, three letters, ICA. Those letters, ICA, appeared on each entry of the week that he showed me. Sometimes they were in the margin, other times at the end of the entry for the day.

He looked up at me from the journal in his lap. "You know what that means, don't you?" I didn't recognize the acronym, so I waited for him. "It means, 'I cried again.' I put it there each day."

He didn't say much more, but we talked about Mom then. A good talk.

So, today, I'm thinking about Dad's journal and the carefully penned in letters, the ICA letters.

A dream woke me up this morning. It was my first really clear dream about Dad. He was in a plaid flannel shirt, probably in his late eighties, standing slightly bent, but walking with his cane. He looked good. Looking straight at me, he wondered aloud why I was crying.

The dream flew away and I woke up, not crying, but my throat was choked up.

I remember that after my father-in-law died that I would see him occasionally. Once I saw him in the parking lot at the IGA grocery store in Pigeon. Head covered with the white hard hat that he wore constantly, dressed in denim coveralls that he pulled on over khaki pants and a dress shirt, he was climbing into his Ford Ranchero. I would get closer and see that it was someone who looked like Dad and a car that resembled the flattened pickup look of the Rancheros.

I used to see my quilting friend Pauline Maust, too, after she died. I would be doing something at the checkout counter of my quilt shop, Pigeon River Mercantile and Wool Co., in Pigeon, and look up. It would be morning and sun was streaming in from the east through the display windows that faced Main Street. There would be Pauline with a big smile, leaning on the big glass door of the shop, pushing it open, as she had at least once a week during the early years of the shop. Then, another glance, and I would see that it was someone else, pausing to look through windowed door, leaning against the glass.

So today, if I were keeping a journal like my Dad did, I would pencil in, ICA. In the aftermath of the dream, in the remembering, I cried again.

That would be a good thing. It would be a written signal that the days and months are passing.

The grief is working through and there are days when I miss my Dad, but I don't cry.

Copyright 2013
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

August Golf at Bird Creek

A cool wind coming down off of Lake Huron brought thoughts of fall to my golf game tonight. Every once in a while I have a chance to play nine holes by myself. Tonight was one of those "walk-with-my-Bag-Boy-cart-and-think" times of playing golf.

Shafts of the setting sun lit up Bird Creek's fairways and greens with bright green bands of magical light. I scared up a doe with her twin fawns, all three of them shining rusty red in the low slanted sunbeams, out on Number Three.  A great blue heron chose to ignore me and my cellphone camera. He was too busy looking for frogs in the pond on the Number Two fairway.

I had pulled a quarter zip long sleeve pullover on over my golf shirt when I left home. Then I added another fleece. By the time I rounded the back of the course, heading into Number Five, I was ready to shed the fleece. But then the wind picked up off the lake and the night breeze got cooler.

My drives off the tee boxes were good, but I had way too many putts. Maybe I can blame a poor score on the cool weather, a strong wind, a beautiful evening, the camera in my pocket, my critter friends, and a golf course that just takes your breath away with its natural beauty on an August summer evening.

Copyright 2013
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, August 12, 2013

Wisps and Windmills

Layers of wispy clouds trace patterns against the blue skies in the fading light of an August day. This wind turbine, near Grand Bend, Ontario, stands silhouetted against a watercolor tableau.

The strong, straight lines of windmills contrast with the softness of the skies. Photos of windfarms have a graphic punch that comes with the juxtapostion of something so mechanical as a windmill and the natural landscape of a rural area. Like the barn silos and church steeples of the last centuries, windmills now stand as  a symbol of rural life.

Copyright 2013
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Goderich Harbor

The Goderich harbor has two things that both Ed and I like -- freighters and food trucks. We saw two Algoma Central lakers, the Algoma Transfer and the Algosoo, tied up in slips at Goderich. The Algosoo was being loaded, probably with salt, we thought, since Goderich is the site of the world's largest salt mine.

We could walk alongside the Algosoo and watch the loading process. Freighters are really big when you see them up close. Out on the lakes, in the shipping lanes, they can be as many as 6-8 miles away. In the harbor or on a river like the St. Clair (Port Huron to Lake St. Clair) or the St. Mary's (eastern Upper Peninsula, into the Soo), a freighter is a huge ship with superstructures that are often 5-6 stories tall.

We spotted a chip wagon, a.k.a. a food truck, right out on the docks at the harbor, too. From the harbor south, there is an expansive lakeside park with playgrounds, several beaches, places to wade out on rocks, eateries, and lots of parking and shade trees. It's a jewel of a lakefront that Goderich has developed.

We asked about the poutine on the menu and found out that this uniquely Canadian dish is actually French fries with gravy and cheese. Yipes! Ed ordered one and enjoyed the cultural tastes of a whole lot of fat and calories. I stayed with a burger and standard fries which were hand cut and delicious.

The Goderich lighthouse stands tall on the bluffs overlooking the harbor and park areas. In this photo the lighthouse is a red speck along the bluff, about one third of the way across the picture, from the left.

One of the opportunities we have living on the east side of Michigan is our close proximity to Canada. From Huron County, Michigan we can be across the border in Ontario's Huron County in an hour or two. Travel is always an enriching experience -- especially when you order poutine from a Canadian chip wagon while watching freighters in Goderich!

Copyright 2013
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Goderich Lighthouse

Built in 1847 on the bluffs overlooking Lake Huron on the Canadian coastline, the Goderich Lighthouse stands about 33 feet high and 140 feet above the lake. Square and almost chunky in design, the building contrasts with the usual taller, tapered cylinder look of most lighthouses in the United States.

Ed and I took a day's drive to Canada, specifically to Huron County, Ontario, which is directly east of where our lake house is in Huron County, Michigan, USA. On a clear night we can see the lights of the communications towers and windfarms in Canada, almost 40 miles to the east of Cedar Bluff Lakehouse. We drove up the Canadian coastline to visit Goderich and see the Canadian wind turbines in action.

The Goderich lighthouse is dramatic architecturally. It has stark white lines and surfaces, with red accents trim and roof.

Scottish stonemason Adam MacVicar is credited with building this structure which is now 166 years old and appears to be of stone block construction.

Of course I had to sketch the lighthouse. I started by using graphite pencil and then retraced lines with a fine tip Sharpie pen. A drawing like this would be the beginning of a watercolor painting of the lighthouse.

We spent a pleasant hour or longer on the bluff overlooking the harbor at the site of the lighthouse. With our camp chairs, my sketching supplies, and Ed's reading material, we had a relaxing late afternoon in Goderich, Ontario.

Copyright 2013
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, August 9, 2013

Petunia Wagon

My Dad and his big brother, my Uncle Marvin, good Wisconsin dairymen that they were, would have called this a perfume wagon, but I'm going to label the manure spreader that this vintage John Deere tractor is pulling as a "petunia wagon."

Photographed at the Van Camp House in Port Sanilac, this unlikely floral tribute adds a wonderful touch of rural flavor to the restaurant's front lawn.

The tractor has the name of Grant Geiger of Bischer Farms, Ruth, Michigan, painted on the chassis. I'm sure that there is a story to Grant's tractor and how it got on Andy and Pam Fabian's restaurant's front lawn, but I didn't ask about that tale when we had dinner there this week.

So, we will have to return for another photo and storytelling session with Chef Andy. Oh, and we'll have dinner, too.

Copyright 2013
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Looking Back: Tiger Memorabilia

I don't have a lot of Tiger goodies saved up, but just take a look at these pocket schedules. There's Carlos Guillen and Dimitri Young and, yes, that's Jeremy Bonderman, all of them on the front cover of Tiger schedules.

I do believe that Mr. Guillen and Mr. Young are retired from baseball.

Last night, though, Tiger fans were SO glad to see Mr. Bonderman back in a Tigers uniform and back in the bullpen as he held the Cleveland Indians in three scoreless innings in an extra innings game. Commentator Dan Dickerson tweeted later that "Bonderman stole the show."

Ah yes, baseball has lots and lots of serendipity. Welcome back, Jeremy. We are mighty glad to see you!

Copyright 2013
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Chevy Volt Sunset

I had to make a run into the Detroit suburbs today so that meant that on the return I was driving along the Lake Huron coastline right about sunset. I pulled off at one of the M-25 roadside parks along the shore just south of Forestville, Michigan.

The clouds were billowing gray and white and silver. A rainbow danced in and out, depending on the angle of the light. Lake Huron's waters were marbled in shades of blue and gray from the cloud reflections.

In all of that fantastic light I got the thought, "Gee, the Chevy Volt hasn't been on the blog for several months. Wonder what it would look like in the sunset hour?" So, dear readers, here's the result. My over 37,000-mile-2012-Made-in-Michigan Chevy Volt, glowing in the magic hour at sunset.

Now that's Pure Michigan!

Copyright 2013
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Crop Duster

I spotted a crop duster working over a corn field south of Port Hope on my way home from golf in Port Austin on Tuesday. It was a a few minutes before sunset and this guy must have been hoping to get done before he couldn't see where he was dusting.

The plane, a biplane, was a taildragger and it was a thrill to watch how close it came to the tassels on the corn. The plane swooped up at the end of the field, after spraying the corn, and then came around to dive into yet another low, graceful pass over the field.

I was in the right place at the right time to get some photos, but was too dull after an afternoon of golf to get the settings any better for sharper photos. Anyway, it was fun to see the very acrobatic plane at work.

Copyright 2013
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, August 5, 2013

August Baseball

I have not been glued to the television broadcasts of Detroit Tiger games this summer like I have done in other years. After losing my Dad in May, this has been a summer of gardens and golf and quiet times for reading and knitting and doing art.

But I couldn't help but tune in the game tonight as the Tigers took on the Tribe in Cleveland. My friend Desert Jim has a bet going with his friend Idaho Jer. Jerry says that the Tribe, under the management of Terry Francona, will be a big force in the American League Central.

Jim and I are Tiger fans, so, at the start of the season, we disagreed. Jim agreed to a bet with Jer. I don't make bets (life is risky enough without going out on a limb here and there) but I definitely would be in the ballpark with Jim on this one.

So tonight Alex Avila had a great home run in the 9th inning and the Tigers won, putting them four games ahead of Francona's Cleveland Indians. What joy, especially coming on the day when Major League Baseball finally announced suspensions of players due to the performance enhancing drug issue.

I took a moment to dig out my last year's journal and discovered that one year ago today, on August 5, 2012, the Tigers beat the Indians 10-8 in the 10th inning with a walk-off home run by Miguel Cabrera. That one I remember since we were at Comerica Park in Detroit and got to see Cabrera's expertise as he was on his way to the Triple Crown.

My husband Ed always says that when you are at the ballpark and the game is getting long, you should tough it out because something really cool can happen. One year ago, it was the tenth inning that was getting long until the Tigers and Cabrera ended the game with gusto.

The Tigers play three more games in Cleveland and winning all of them would put them seven games up in the American League Central.

Ah, August baseball! I hope Idaho Jer is watching!

Copyright 2013
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Geranium Nut

I've been kind of a geranium nut this summer. There are red geraniums in big planters and little pots at the doorways to our house. Thanks to MiracleGro, I have teased blossoms from last year's pink geraniums, including the tenacious geranium which just doesn't want to quit.

Picking up my pen and ink and paints, I'm making geraniums the subject of art journal pages. I'm sure that the geraniums must stand a little taller when they see me coming with sketchbook in hand. And, when I stroll away from them, they are probably saying, "whew, I just wasn't up to all of that pencil and eraser stuff today. Glad that is over!"

Copyright 2013
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Collateral Damage, Vegetable Style

One very large hailstone found the only cucumber in my entire garden and hit it with the force of a meteorite. That hailstone, part of Thursday night's storm, had to know that the cuke was an only child and malevolently, like a drone hit, destroyed the essence of the veggie.

The dill took a good whack, too. And this tomato joined the ranks of damaged goods when all the water (2.7 inches since Wednesday) swelled its little acid cells until the skin burst.

My, my, such drama in the garden.

Copyright 2013
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, August 2, 2013

Homemade Granola

Instead of my evening bowl of ice cream, tonight I am eating homemade granola with Michigan blueberries and almonds and raisins and organic milk. Mmmm, it is ever good!

I had enough of the hail and rain and storms and broken garden plants this morning. I couldn't do anything about most of the weather stuff, so I decided to go shopping.

First, though, I did some laundry. That always helps bring a sense of accomplishment to a day. If nothing else, the laundry gets done. Then I made some granola.

Now our family has some very smart cooks in it. My niece Kelsey is one of them. She shared her granola recipe several years back. I promptly lost track of the recipe, but recently got her to share it within the family again.

Kelsey's recipe starts with 5 cups of oatmeal, some wheat germ, coconut, and nuts. She makes a mixture of oil, brown sugar, molasses, honey, vanilla and cinnamon. That mixture is stirred into the dry ingredients and then spread out on parchment paper.  Of course, I had to substitute maple syrup for molasses and honey. I'm not a cinnamon-in-granola fan, so I left that out.

Oven temperature is 300 degrees, no more. This is a low and slow method of making granola. I used the convection setting on my oven and then (remember, it was a shopping day!) I left the granola in the warm oven with the door closed. My mother, Val Hayes, Kelsey's grandma, always made schaum tortes that way. You baked them in a real low oven, turned off the heat, and walked away.

Well, Kelsey Rose got some of her baking smarts from Vallanee Rose. The granola is great, just the thing to cap off a day where, you guessed it, it rained again!

Copyright 2013
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, August 1, 2013

August Hailstorm

A summer hailstorm struck at Cedar Bluff this evening. It started out as a sudden shower with those big drops that splat one by one. I had just finished mowing the lawn, poured a glass of wine, and was sitting on the lakeside of the house, watching the clouds form over Lake Huron.

The hail started soon after I moved into the house. First there was a little and the stones were small, maybe a quarter inch. I could hear them hit the windows and the roof. Then the hail started in earnest.

Big chunks of hail fell with heavy rain. The hail continued for 5-7 minutes. I scurried around the house, closing windows, wiping windowsills. It sounded like stones hitting the house. I stayed away from the windows, just in case one would break from the force of the hail and wind.

The storm had not been forecast on the Intellicast or Weather Channel apps that I watch. Here's a photo of the storm, out over Lake Huron, at 7:30 pm. My photos of the storm were taken around 6:51 pm. It's that dark red spot that carries the intensity of the storm and, believe me, I will respect these maps whenever I see them from now on.

The red beets in the garden really took a beating. They survived a battering by a windstorm about three weeks ago. I'm hoping that the plants will pop back from this bruising.

The butternut squash plants might not make it. The leaves are shredded and the blossoms appear to be broken. The plants had begun to set fruit, so there could be some baby squash that were protected that might make it.

This is a tougher image to see. These are dry beans in a field on Premier Road, about two miles in from the shoreline. The hail stripped leaves from the plants which should be just about ready to blossom by this time of the summer.

Hail is created when moisture rises and falls and rises again. That pattern, repeated over and over, is shown in this large hailstone with its fossil-like ice ring pattern.

My miniature roses got hit pretty bad. But plants are tough cookies, especially roses. Maybe the hail will have given them the pruning that I should have done as a gardener.

I have one last thought. I don't have to depend on my garden for food. I can go to the grocery store and farmer's markets. But just think what it was like during the Dust Bowl days or back when gardens were the main source of summer food. Or even now, for families that need the food that only a summer garden can produce.

A hailstorm like the one that just hit this side of The Thumb would be major disaster for many. In a few minutes, so many things can be destroyed. It's a humbling thought.

Copyright 2013
Wanda Hayes Eichler