Hazel Ridge Workshop & Gallery

Newsletter 17 Fall/Winter 2007

Farm, Family and Friends

It is one week away from November and we still haven’t had a killing frost. That means the flowers are still blooming and the garden is still producing. And since I can’t bear anything going to waste, I am still canning, freezing and drying. So much so that I ran out of canning jars but thanks to the generosity of friends, my supply has been renewed. Despite extreme conditions, continuous rain for weeks followed by times of drought, the garden did well. The bees probably played a big role in it’s abundance. I spent one full day at the bee buildings helping to extract about 450 pounds of honey. With 13 active hives, our bee guy, Zachary Huang, estimated about 260 pounds of honey came from the "girls’ at Hazel Ridge not including the 60 pounds that was left in each hive to winter over. Bee keeping is not for the "weak of back". We think the bees played a major pollination role for our Chinese and American Chestnut trees, too. They were loaded with nuts and we ate until our fingers hurt.. from peeling the shells. We have a new flock of laying hens, the old girls slowly went to that big chicken coop in the sky plus thanks to Dr. Jan Krehbiel, we have a flock of "new and improved" sheep. They are a lovely bunch of girls and we look forward to healthy spring lambs in ’08. There was a return of Green Herons this year, with four found nests and who knows how many hidden ones. They feast on all the food from the 5 ponds. This year will be the first time in our 27 years at Hazel Ridge that the always-returning kingfisher nested. The family nested in neighbor Potter’s gravel pit, but chattered like they owned the entire neighborhood. The prairie was beautiful in every season. Right now we are"oohing and ahhing" over the beautiful golden grasses blowing in the wind. Nick is so proud of how it has grown and expanded. Many groups have enjoyed Hazel Ridge this year. There have been home-schoolers, "regular" schoolers, Audubon folks, and plant people. Our desire to share the beauty rewards us as well as our visitors. The deer population seems to be down a bit…except in my garden of course. Kelly’s study abroad went well. Along with her studies, she visited family throughout the Netherlands. She extended her stay and traveled to Paris, London, Belgium and Germany. Her time there was way too short and she said she would love to teach in Holland.

The stars have finally lined up perfectly for Heather’s new boutique. The perfect space, location and price all means a grand opening for "Bella Luna" November 1, of this year. Her and Ahmed are racing around like crazy. Between renovations, buying inventory and red tape, it is a whirlwind but she is having a ball. Two new things for me..a new car. Honda Fit (sport model, of course) It is a beautiful autumn orange or someone may call it "copper piping" color. Rides like a dream and so far mileage 36-mpg. Kelly gets the old, but reliable Saturn for her student teaching gig. I have also taken Level 1 and 2 Reiki classes. Reiki (google it if you want) is a holistic energy healing technique. Everyone that I have treated has experienced some amazing responses, myself included. Some have been subtle and some quite intense. The "shingle" isn’t hanging on the door yet, but maybe soon.


Delta Township is building a new library and has asked Nick to paint a mural for the Lissa K. McLean room. This room will house a special collection of books, started by Lissa, celebrating women in history, sports, politics and literature. There are over 500 titles so far. For a peak at the progress click on www.deltami.gov/library. Nick completed and installed a beautiful panoramic scene of Lake Michigan’s lakeshore for our dentist’s summer home. It is his first "home" mural. Nick’s paintings now brighten the halls and waiting rooms of Ingham Oncology Medial Center. The folks there felt it would add a measure of peace, quiet reflection and pleasure to patients, family members and staff. It seems to have fulfilled that desire.

Books and Awards Earlier this summer Nick finished W is for Woof: a Dog Alphabet Book. Never to let mold grow on his paintbrushes, he is now starting another..Bambi’s First Day. Sleeping Bear Press is publishing a series of the old classics in a shortened version. This is not the Disney version, but the original tale. This story introduces us to Bambi and his first day in the woods. Both Woof and Bambi will be out in the spring 2008. My next book in the Hazel Ridge Series will be out spring 09. I have to wait my turn in line for Nick to paint it. I guess it doesn’t matter who you know, eh? The books have done well in the award arena this year. Samantha received the Children’s Crown Award nominee, Mercedes won the Story Telling Award from the Stories from Young Listeners, Mackinac Bridge won the Michigan Notable Book Award from the Michigan Library Asc. , as well as being nominated for the Great Lakes Book Award from the Michigan Readers Asc. The winner will be announced at the MRA conference March 08. Friend on Freedom River was a Virginia Readers Choice finalist and Kelly of Hazel Ridge won the bronze award from the Independent Publishers Asc. plus an Honor award from the National Skipping Stones competition.

Shows and Events

With Mackinac Bridge winning the prestigious Notable Book award, we spent quite a bit of time this summer and fall doing book signings at libraries and bookstores. Lots of teacher appreciation gigs at bookstores too. They love their books and free stuff! In addition to our usual up north gig, we traveled further north to Curtis to do some community events. "It wouldn’t hurt us to go to Curtis" as the saying goes and talk about a grand reception. That entire town sure has a way of making you feel like someone special. They rolled out the gold carpet and we all had a terrific time. WKAR had their last on air auction..don’t ask me why… and Nick painted a gorgeous table for them. It sold well and it was a fond farewell to the folks at the station. Bengel Nature Center hosted a big family nature day and Nick and I did programs for kids and adults. The nature center is a real treasure here in Bath. We had a great time at Grand Valley State University presenting for the Celebrate Literacy conference. Teachers and kids..our most appreciative fans. We attended and donated an original for the Ebersole Nature Center banquet held right here at Baths Eagle Eye Golf Course/conference Center. Ebersole is a great nature camp dedicated to teaching kids outdoor appreciation. Nick will be doing a painting demonstration at O’Leary Paints in Lansing, on December 1, at 10:30 a.m. For more information

e-mail dennisc@olearypaint.com

"More Friends!" is a new show for us this year, just to give it a try. Saturday, November 10, 2007 at the Service Building, Chelsea Fairgrounds Chelsea, Michigan just west of M-52 at West Old US 12 and Chelsea Manchester Rd. For more information on the show and the other artists exhibiting, click on:


Now details about our annual shindig. For two years in a row we have successfully pulled off the 4-day opening. Folks have really appreciated the Thursday and Friday late afternoon hours to avoid the Saturday and Sunday madness. We will continue to do this. Remember very limited refreshments on Thursday and Friday. The big parte’ with all the "bells and whistles" will be on Saturday and Sunday.

Prints, originals, books and cards will be available for purchase on all 4 days. In addition, we will be open by appointment after that weekend, so if these dates don’t work out for you, please feel free to call and set up a visit.

Holiday Open House hours are:

December 6 – 9, 2007
After work hours: Thursday & Friday
Dec. 6 – 7 , 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Weekend Gala : Saturday & Sunday
Dec. 8 & 9 , 11a.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Now to another poll/question. Next year we are considering moving the date of the Open House up about one month …to early November. Weather and parking has always been an issue so we thought perhaps a month earlier when many folks are just beginning their holiday shopping may work just fine. This way you may not have to contend with snowy roads and precarious parking. Of course there is no guarantee in Michigan on that one. Drop us a line, e-mail or phone call and give us your thoughts. Or just wait until you visit this year’s open house. Thanks.


I am always picking the brains of educators on their thoughts and experiences regarding autism. Is it more prevalent or has awareness of the syndrome made for more diagnoses? One out of one hundred and fifty children born..that is alarming. Information, education, awareness are the first steps towards understanding and finding the cause. I read a "near-future" science fiction book about autism titled The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon, who herself has an autistic son. The premise is if there was a chance for a "cure" would the characters opt to become "normal"? Excellent read. Healing With Hands: Miracles, Inspiration and Science by Sharon Baker R.N. is an excellent introduction to Reiki therapy.

Two especially poignant quotes speak volumes in these times of environmental re-evaluation.

Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you. Frank Lloyd Wright

If a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer. But if he spends his days as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making the earth bald before her time, he is deemed an industrious and enterprising citizen. Henry David Thoreau

Peace, strength and resilience to you all.

Nick, Robbyn, Kelly and Heather