Thursday, October 31, 2013
The rain gauge was at eight tenths when I went for a short, wet walk on Halloween afternoon. Rain just kept coming, not hard and not a lot at once, but it rained all day.
I pulled the summer begonias and coleus plants out of the beds at the driveway turn earlier this week and planted some of the kale from the garden. This kale plant, nibbled down by the deer, just might stand a chance out in front of the house where the deer are less likely to graze.
Then again, maybe the deer will like the big pumpkins, once they begin to soften. It has been a beautiful autumn with warm weather and lovely colors. One cannot complain about the rain, right?
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
In some ways this view never changes. The horizon stays level. The sky is up. The water is wide.
Yet everyday there is a new aspect to this eastern view. This morning there was a northern cloud that moved like a wedge and streaked the sky with navy and ultramarine. For a moment, captured in this image, the sunrise was a golden warmth that spread across the marbled surface of Lake Huron.
Still, the water was wide and the sky was up. But it all signaled a brand new day.
How can anything that stays so much the same still be new every morning? This question is one of those timeless questions that go unanswered. It is a paradox to live with, this sameness and newness, all wrapped up in a moment before the rising of the sun.
Every day is the same, yet each day is filled with new promise and possibility. When you think about it too hard. . . Well, maybe the best part is the warmth of the sun and a new day. That's enough.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
I picked another full basket of eggplant and peppers today, even as we pulled and dug the plants and vines from the garden. The frost that tinged the garden last week didn't touch some of the larger plants. Ed and I cleared away tomato vines, peppers, eggplants, squash vines, and the morning glory tower. Then Ed tilled the whole garden, leaving behind the kale and basil (still growing a tad bit) and raspberries, of course. Next spring I'm going to plan for more autumn crops since we appear to have a micro climate here along Lake Huron.
A woolly caterpillar was making his way across the lawn when I walked to the compost pile. Just after this image was taken, he rolled into a fuzz ball, frightened into a protective mode.
The ginkgo grove is golden green. I have every intention of filling the Treegators just one more time. Notice how long the shadows are. I'm looking north and this photo was taken midday, so those shadows form the long arms of winter light from the sun staying low in the sky. I count about seven plus weeks until winter solstice, so the long shadows are just beginning. It's good that Daylight Time ends this weekend. The shift in light will be welcome.
Monday, October 28, 2013
|Packing up after another football weekend|
I receive a monthly diagnostics email from Chevrolet that gives stats for the Volt. Here are some of the stats from an email received today.
Fuel economy: 58 mpg
Electric consumption: 33 kW-hr/100 miles
Electric Miles: 839
Gas Miles : 1729
Total Miles: 2,568
Percentage on Electric: 33%
Estimated Gallons of Fuel Saved: 67 gallons
Estimated CO2 Avoided: 1,306 lbs
I would guess that someone has walked up to us about three times in the last month just to ask how we like the car. I try not to let that conversation get too long, but I am really, really pleased with the performance of my Chevy Volt.
Today I realized that I haven't kept the "CO2 Avoided" figure in my head. That number in today's email -- 1306 pounds for the last month -- is amazing. That's over half a ton of junk NOT put into the air. Considering what the photos of Harbin, China, the city that has been in the news because of thick smog, look like, the realization that these PEVs (plug in electric vehicles) are taking some of the pollution out of the air is encouraging.
Needless to say, the Volt is a pretty incredible car.
Sunday, October 27, 2013
Somewhere along the way in my art education I learned how to take the word "boy," print it in big block lower case letters, and turn it into a cartoon sketch that resembles a boy. I like showing this simple connect-the-lines process to kids. Their brains figure out the hairline and the chin that emerge from the "Y" and then they add the nose and mouth. The cartoon boy soon emerges from the printed word.
At Uncle Peter's birthday party on Friday night, the tables were topped with big sheets of white paper, just perfect for drawing. Quinn and Finn watched me demonstrate the cartoon boy and then Quinn put his head down and was in the creative zone as he drew three boys with great concentration.
|Peter, Quinn, Finn, Clay|
His cartoon boys are superb. Well done, Quinn. If you were in Mr. Harmon's fourth grade class, we might be giving you a new last name, like "Quinn Whistler" or "Quinn Picasso" or "Quinn Pollack." I know that Uncle Clay and Uncle Peter are very, very proud of you and Finn.
Saturday, October 26, 2013
Peter has a birthday today and I trolled through the photos on my hard drive, looking for something that would ring his chimes. I found this photo from December of 2006. Ed and I drove down to East Lansing with two sergers and some sewing supplies. Peter pulled together a sewing day at Dem Hall for the State of Art Winterguard unit that he and Orlando Suttles were directing.
There were lots of happy faces as those flags got finished that day. As I remember, the project went on and on through the holidays and finally came back to my studio in Pigeon where Danielle Damen finished them.
But here we all are, happy as clams in cold Dem Hall in December, getting ready for another performing season. I'm in the back row on the left. Then comes Peter, then Orlando. I'm not sure who is between Orlando and Ed, who is on the far right. The fifteen guard members in the front were the big workers that day as they learned how to rotary cut slippery flag fabric and run sergers.
What is serendipitous about this photo is that it is before Clay and Peter met (I think), and, with Orlando's untimely death this past summer, it reminds us of how the little moments in life make for really good times.
One of the joys of getting older is seeing your children become adults. In my case, I can say that my kids turned into wonderful adults. I say that with all humility since there are so many corners that get turned as you raise a family. We made it through many of those difficult times, thanks to luck and blessing.
Happy birthday, Peter. I'm proud to be your MOM.
Friday, October 25, 2013
A familiar sight in Huron County and all of the Thumb, a beet truck slows to turn north toward the piling station just off of M-142, east of Verona. This truck's load is piled high.
Farmers work late into the night, quitting when the frost and dew prevent safe harvesting, and then begin again before first light. Here's a tractor with a beater that flails the leaves off of the beets before a conventional harvester lifts the beets from the ground. This photo was taken before dawn.
It's usual to see headlights in strange places during harvest as the equipment moves up and down and around in the fields.
Thursday, October 24, 2013
The three trees in the ginkgo grove are yellowing but their leaves have not begun to drop. Since there finally was a killing frost last night (October 23 -- first killing frost of 2013 at Cedar Bluff) it is probably time to unzip the Treegator watering bags and put them away for the season.
I've been collecting hoses and getting them ready for winter storage in the basement. All of the squash are cured and stored on a plywood board, up and off the basement floor. I picked a few eggplants today, probably the last of the season.
The fan shaped leaves form a lacy pattern against the straight branches of the trees. Green still tinges the base of the leaves as the chlorophyll fades from the leaves. There were a few moments of raindrops with icy tinges when I walked in the grove today. A cold rain would probably loosen the leaves in an hour or two.
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
This drawing is a portion of a scene that I drew south of Ruth along Ruth Road. I have photographed this turbine before and knew a good spot to pull off the road so I could see the turbine. I propped the sketchbook on the steering wheel and went to work.
The blades were turning every so slowly so that the shadows changed each time I looked up. I drew three versions of the giant machine. Then, later, I inked over the lines and did a partial watercolor of the page. The clouds formed layered rolls that had gray bottoms. Blue sky capped the view. The turbine went from gray to white, depending on the angle of the sun.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
A big sugar beet hauler was barreling down behind me when I drove west on Richardson Road yesterday morning. There were blue sucker holes in the clouds, those kind of spaces that tempt pilots of small aircraft to get above the clouds when they know better.
I pulled over and waited for the beet truck. Then I snapped a bunch of photos of the white turbines against the fall storm sky. Back at the ranch, using my trusty Photoshop, I figured that a watercolor filter would take the turbines to a more painterly place.
The October winds have turned cold. There is talk of snow this week, but my lakeside garden has yet to have experienced a hard freezer. These low, late fall clouds are harbingers of the cold weather ahead. The garden just hasn't heard the news that winter is coming. Not yet.
Monday, October 21, 2013
The sewing machine was humming away as I shortened several pairs of pants. I clipped and cut and stitched and pinned. It didn't take long before my back was aching.
I moved around, walked, stretched. Soon, returning to the machine, the ache came back and I was reminded, once again, of what hard work it is to bend over all day.
Quite a few years back I heard a woman pastor, now Bishop Minerva Carcano of the United Methodist Church, preach about the bent over women of our world. Bishop Carcano, speaking from her Latina heritage, told of long days in fields of lettuce and grapes, but she could have been telling the stories of women sitting in front of sewing machines in Vietnam or the Philippines or Bangladesh.
My task was soon done but I thought of my preacher friend and her words about bent over women. I walked off the back ache, but still I pondered about how other hands assembled these clothes. From half way around the world, the pants that I shortened served as a reminder for me of hands that assemble, hands that sew, hands that harvest, and of backs that ache.
We who walk into Walmart or Kohl's and want the latest and greatest and cheapest ought to give pause now and then, and think about where the goods that we buy come from.
Whose hands stitched the jeans that I wear? Who sewed on the buttons? Who guided the embroidery machine? Maria? Juanita? Consuela?
Bent over, somewhere, someone did.
Sunday, October 20, 2013
The evening sun painted the sky with sharpened light. Storm clouds moved and a rainbow wafted through. My mind drifted to a set of words, "From Heaven Above," that my Dad's quartet often sang acapella.
In heaven above, in heaven above, where God our Father dwells,
How boundless there the blessedness -- no tongue its greatness tells.
There face to face and full and free, the ever living God we see,
Our God, the Lord of Hosts.
The words were penned in 1622 by someone named Laurentius Laurentii Laurinus. He must have seen a rainbow like this, too.
Saturday, October 19, 2013
On a Monday morning in early October, the warm waters of Lake Huron lifted a mist that drifted to the shore in waves of fog. This sight, on the cusp of sunrise, is another reason that living near a body of water is so invigorating.
In Michigan, we call this Pure Michigan.
Friday, October 18, 2013
Liesl and John have several mad squirrel bombers living in their black walnut trees. The Squirrel Bombing Corps keeps the back yard clear of any intruders.
Walk under the walnut trees while Airman First Class Squirrel is busy carrying a nut and you will stand a good chance of being beaned in the head with yet another green shelled walnut. Walnuts tumble into the grass and lie on the driveway. John has been known to offer up to three dollars U. S. to anyone willing to pick up a five gallon pail of fresh walnuts. He empties his wallet frequently to certain boys named Max and Finn.
The Squirrel Corps is charged by natural selection and their innate squirellness with emptying all of the black walnuts from every treetop. Judging by the look of the trees last weekend, they have a long way to go.
Thursday, October 17, 2013
It's Wendy's birthday today and I want to applaud her and the many other strong and beautiful women whose hours and days are gathered around mothering their little ones.
Being a mother is not an easy task. Will and Wendy's two little girls are blessed with her mothering that often pits the strong will of tiny human beings against the adult psyche. I never felt like I did a good job of being a mother when my kids were little. I'm not a patient person and I'm sure my children can tell stories galore about that.
So, happy birthday, Wendy. These two are growing up way too fast and times like the one pictured above, a tumble of girls on their mom's lap at our summertime family outing to the Grand Hotel, are times to treasure.
Here's wishing you many more grand times in the year ahead!
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
The ginkgo trees at Cedar Bluff are showing a bit of their green gold color this week. I haven't filled the Treegators since last week since the rain gauge recorded almost two inches of rain in four days in early October. If there isn't much rain today, then I'll fill them one more time.
Joanne Sturm says that the ginkgo trees on their farm lose their leaves all at once, and that the leaves fall in a golden circle around the tree. How enchanting! I'm watching for the circles of gold around these trees.
Here's a close up shot of the leaves. Notice how pock marked they are from the hailstorm on August 1st. The leaves are small, but so are the trees. Someday my grandchildren will look up into the tall tops of these three trees and wonder about their grandparents and the ginkgo trees at Cedar Bluff.
By the way, I have to stop and think about how to spell "ginkgo" every time I type the word. Thank heaven for spell check!
Ginkgoes Along Grand River
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
My lakeside garden benefits from its location along the Lake Huron shoreline. Even though today is October 15th, this area has yet to have a killing frost. The lowest morning temperature that I've recorded this fall is 38 degreees. I've been pulling out squash vines and tomato plants as part of the fall cleanup in the garden.
In the lower left of this photo you can see how vibrant the basil is yet. It's finally mature enough to flower. Even though I planted it late, we've enjoyed fresh basil in salads and with marinaras for over a month. The lower, bluish green plants are kale. Cabbage worms got to the kale about a month ago. Now I'm noticing that the deer are nibbling on it. Nonetheless, I like it in a frittata or shredded as an addition to salad. I might transplant a chunk of this row to a spot right outside the kitchen. A little snow will not bother kale and it would be nice to have fresh greens in early winter.
The deer really know better than to bother the marigolds which have a pungent odor and can make your eyes water if you accidentally brush your eye after touching marigolds. I love their punchy orange and yellows. Senator Everett Dirksen, Republican from Illinois, worked for many years to make the marigold our national flower. Dirkesen said, "I still find myself wedded to the marigold -- robust, rugged, bright, stately, single colored and multicolored, somehow able to resist the onslaught of insects. It takes in its stride extreme changes in temperature, and fights back the scorching sun in summer and the chill of early spring evenings."
The good senator from Illinois would approve of my patch of marigolds that brightens my garden along Lake Huron's shore this fall.
Monday, October 14, 2013
What started out as five hills of butternut squash plants has ended up exceeding all expectations. I hoped for a few winter squash for autumn meals like squash soup and roasted squash.
At last count there have been over 40 squash harvested from the south end of the garden where the vines went absolutely crazy this summer. Some of the big squash top out over three pounds; even the little ones approach a pound. Without weighing each and every specimen, I would venture a guess that those five hills produced over 50 pounds of fruit.
I must admit, too, that I have already been seen opening up the hatchback on my Chevy Volt and handing squash to my friends and family. This fair warning -- there's lots more to be distributed yet!
Wanda Hayes Eichler
Sunday, October 13, 2013
The late, cool spring in Michigan set so many plants back about two weeks. The ginkgo trees that we watch are mostly green yet. Their intense golden green is yet to come.
Ginkgoes have long, spiraling limbs. A major limb will have sprout-like side branches, unlike the long, forking branches of other trees. This tree looks like one of those spider fireworks with branches that pierce the sky.
Wanda Hayes Eichler
Saturday, October 12, 2013
Today's halftime show theme was "Superheroes" and these twins were outfitted for the show. Their dad, Cormac Cannon, Associate Director of the Spartan Marching Band, enjoyed a moment with his family before the game.
Two campus police on bicycles escort the marching band to their practice field after the game.
Tubas in a row mark the end of a long day of college football for the Spartan Marching Band.
Wanda Hayes Eichler
Friday, October 11, 2013
Max made a maple chain at his after school program today. He used fresh maple leaves and broke the stems off of the leaves.
Each stem became a fastener, like a paperclip, that fastened the top of one leaf to the bottom of another. We photographed part of the chain up close. Max's chain was over four feet long.
It was a very cool art project.
Wanda Hayes Eichler
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Annette helped me out earlier this fall with a Grand Hunt For Teasels. I will write a blog post about that venture sometime in the near future.
Because of Annette's generosity and sweet spirit, I felt like I owed her something special. She posted this photo of Captain on Facebook and I absolutely adored the somewhat fierce, cockeyed look that she captured on her rooster friend.
I think he's much fiercer in the photograph, but I did have a good time trying to capture his eyes, feathers, and all of the chickeny wattle.
Thanks for your help with the Teasels, Annette.
Onward and upward.
Wanda Hayes Eichler
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
I had a bogey on the 14th Hole at Bird Creek yesterday. It's a par three and it took me two strokes to get on the green and two putts to finish.
The score didn't matter though. It was a perfect day for golf. Late in the afternoon, the slanted sun lit up the fairways. The apple trees looked like postcards for Pure Michigan. The entire course was like walking through a National Geographic magazine. Blue skies, golden trees, clear air.
I did a quick scribble sketch this morning, just to remind me of those few precious hours of autumn.
Wanda Hayes Eichler
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Joanne showed a method that she calls the whimsy grid where she places sweeping lines on a page and then fills in the spaces with with handwriting. I used Joanne's method to draw and paint this image for my art journal.
Here's a LINK to the Strathmore Paper Company's online classes. Supplies are available in the Pigeon area at the Ben Franklin Store on Main Street where my nieces will be happy to help you find what you need.
Wanda Hayes Eichler
Monday, October 7, 2013
Now I must be clear about the mugs that we collect. Some are tucked away, mostly because we ended up not liking the way that the mug delivers our morning coffee. Either the handle is too high or too low, or the lip is awkwardly curved, or there is some design flaw.
We like the White Rock mugs and so they get used a lot, to the point that when I hauled them to the annual school picnic in August, my neighbor, Sheila Eddy, fine alumnus of the school, reminded me that my mugs were getting faded from the dishwasher.
"Girl, those mugs are collector's items," she told me. I took Sheila's reminder seriously and promptly did this pen and ink and water color sketch of a mug for my art journal.
Now I can use the mugs and still have them close to my heart, which is where White Rock School, now restored and used as a museum, will always be for Sheila and so many of her schoolmates who attended this historic school.
Wanda Hayes Eichler
Sunday, October 6, 2013
Ben Donaghy, Saginaw area wood carver, made these remarkable two inch high renditions of Sparky Anderson and a major league umpire. Our friends, Dave and Jill Harmon of Beaverton, both carvers, have taken classes from Ben who is an instructor for the Tri-City Carvers and a former Saginaw teacher.
Jill had tucked the tiny wood carvings, wrapped in tissue, into a zip top bag and handed them to me when we attended a Great Lakes Loons game this summer. Sparky and The Ump now reside on my kitchen window ledge where they remind me of the joy of baseball, those 162 games every season that entertain us, thrill us, and sometimes disappoint us.
As a good Detroit Tiger fan, I am hoping for a run straight through to the World Series this fall. I'm holding my breath that there will be no disappointments this year, please.
Sparky and The Ump won't have that and neither will we!
Wanda Hayes Eichler
Saturday, October 5, 2013
With my mother-in-law Pauline Eichler's death this week, our family has a renewed interest in the photos that are tucked in closets. Here's one from a box that includes lots of quilt pictures from the 1990's.
That's Pauline in the center background. Millie Schuette is on the left and so is Jill Harmon. Pat Smith is the center of attention. She is demonstrating the art of Norwegian hardanger, a form of embroidery that uses pearl cotton and cutwork.
Pat is a master at needlework and hardanger is one of her specialties.
Here's closer look at a complete piece that allows you to see the cutwork and the delicacy of the stitching.
We had a good time at The Mercantile, learning various forms of needlework, even though the focus of the business was on quilting and sewing.
Wanda Hayes Eichler
Friday, October 4, 2013
The pumpkin wagons in Huron County are getting better and better every year. I drive across Huron County several times a week and enjoy the sight of pumpkin vending wagons, piles, and shelves along the roadsides. The pumpkin growers have innovative ways of marketing these big orange orbs every fall.
Here's the pumpkin wagon that is located along M-142 in the Verona Hills, east of the M-19 corner. The wagon is on the north side of the road along a driveway. Wide shoulders on the highway make it an easy pull off stopping place for buying fall goodies. My guess is that this wagon is about a seven mile drive east of Bad Axe.
The wagon has gourds as well as several sizes of pumpkins. Corn stalks are for sale, too. My five bucks bought two medium pumpkins and two bumpy gourds. The gourds will be used for sketching and decorating. The pumpkins are nestled in with the mum plants in our front flower gardens.
Very nice, very fall.
Wanda Hayes Eichler
Thursday, October 3, 2013
"Nothing gold can stay," wrote the poet Robert Frost.
This year, as the trees turn gold and yellow, I have been wondering how much longer these rich colors will brighten the autumn scenery. The emerald ash borer has effectively destroyed thousands of ash trees in Michigan. Already one can see woodlots and fencelines full of dead ash trees.
I look at these trees along M-25 south of Harbor Beach and wonder how many more autumns we will see golds like this.
Wanda Hayes Eichler
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
There are so many stories that you can tell when you lose a loved one. The death of my mother-in-law, Pauline Geiger Eichler, brought stories from her siblings, her kids, her grandkids, great grands, friends and colleagues. Some of the stories are little gems. Others are wry observations. Still more are moments captured in a sentence or two, almost like little haiku memories.
I'm remembering lunches at Main Street Cafe and Bakery on Main Street in Pigeon with Mom Eichler. She and I would often sneak in a dessert, sort of a no-no when you are supposed to be back at work for the afternoon, and we would often order a "vegetable" tart.
"We have pecan tarts, not vegetable tarts," the waitress would tell us.
We would wink and smile and say, "Oh, that's the same thing. Bring us one with a knife. We'll split it."
Mom and I had a rating system. A Five was gooey and runny and lusciously sinful. A One had been baked too long. When you cut through a One, it sat in its crust and looked at you.
I ordered a take out Main Street Lunch several Wednesdays ago and had the waitress add a pecan tart to the order. As you can see from the photo, it was barely a Two.
Today was Pauline's funeral and it was a Ten, all runny and gooey with family and friends hugging each other and holding her memory close to our hearts.
Maybe next week I'll have another tart and hope for a Five, a High Five in memory of good times and good stories and good people, like my mom-in-law, Pauline.
Wanda Hayes Eichler
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Sugar beet harvest is vastly different from what it used to be. My grandsons and I stopped along Helena Road today to watch the Maus in action. The Euro Maus 3 is a self propelled cleaning and loading machine that is being used to move sugar beets once they have been lifted and piled along the edge of a field.
The machine moves fairly slowly, picking up the beets and moving them through a roller cleaning system and then up on to a conveyor that loads a nearby truck.
The beets are then ready to be taken directly to the plant and are ready for processing. During early harvest, the goal is direct delivery of as many beets as possible, thus avoiding costs of piling and moving the beets.
Max and Finn and I were quite impressed by the robotic nature of this machine. It is a picker upper, a cleaner, and a stacker. Plus, the operator of the machine waved to us when he saw us watching and taking photos.
Wanda Hayes Eichler