In my newly adopted home, Traverse City, Michigan, is a community center named Michael’s Place, whose function is to welcome and care for individuals and families who are grieving the loss of loved ones. My dear friend, Chris Dennos, established Michaels Place over 15 yrs ago and it has grown from a small nucleus serving children of affected families to a thriving community offering grief classes and support groups for all ages, as well as serving area schools whose students and faculty have experienced a collective loss.
They also sponsor an event 4 times a year, Create-A-Keepsake, when families are invited to bring in their loved ones clothing or other memorabilia and work with volunteers to create a pillow or stuffed animal from these items. I’ve latched on to this event like a barnacle, not letting go. The process of working with a child ( and/or parent) to conceive and execute one of these keepsakes is a slow and steady one, and allows for a lot of story-telling, listening, laughing and compassion. Every time I volunteer at these events I come home filled with gratitude.
I’m pictured above late 2015 with 4 keepsake bears made for a family of kids who had lost their mom a few months before. Each bear was made out of a pair of her pajamas.
I had some elves working at Meg Staley Handmade!!! Kathryn And Duncan Penfold plastered the studio with hand-printed cloth napkins – gifts for unsuspecting family members. I couldn’t resist a shot of all this unapologetic RED!!!
A terrific way to cheer up an otherwise grey winterscape. No snow for Christmas this year. Though Mother Nature has skedaddled to make up for that in the first 2 weeks of 2016. Happy new year!!
My dear friend, Tracy Strong, lost her dad last year and after reclaiming some of his favorite sweaters and shirts, asked me to refashion the garments into scarves and throwpillows for her family’s Christmas reunion in Sun Valley. Here is Tracy, flanked by her sisters, daughter and nieces in the Jack Strong memorial infinity scarves. Cozy, colorful, and grinning from ear to ear, happy to be together.
Thank you, Tracy, for allowing me to help you retain the memory of your father and celebrate your family’s ties.
Our friends, Mary Rothenbeuhler and Jeff Katz, actually found themselves at Fake Rock Farm on their way from New York to a family gathering in Sioux Falls, SD. Jeff was also on the literary trail, seeking out the settings and childhood home of author Jim Harrison. Since the farm is rarely on the way to anything, we were impressed and honored to be included in the loop. Mary, being the clever graphic designer she is, constructed a terrific “travel brochure” as diary of their visit. Click below to see the fun….
After taking a leak, it’s back to the studio to work on Jerry’s Map.
***Blue Chicken is the handiwork of Leelanau County artist, Brad Ingraham, whose work is shown at Cog’s Creek Gallery, Traverse City, Michigan. She joined the flock at Fake Rock Farm last November for my husband, Jerry Gretzinger’s birthday.