One of my Favorite Things to Do

 

IMG_3357

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.

Peace.

 

Back when Santa was still busy in his workshop…

  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!!



The Strong women celebrate family in Meg Staley Handmade scarves!

20141222_211504

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.

WHAT WE DID ON OUR SUMMER VACATION

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….

ROTH’S TRAVEL FRF BROCHURE 

A Day in the Life of Blue Chicken***

IMG_2171Up early, Blue Chicken gets the “lay” of the land, while Doris, her coop-mate, looks on in awe.

IMG_2183Before anything else, she checks her email and Facebook.

IMG_2174Occasionally she needs to spend some time with 4-leggeds.

IMG_2181IMG_2186After taking a leak, it’s back to the studio to work on Jerry’s Map.

IMG_2169The coop is cozy enough for roosting, but it’s a little early for bed.

IMG_2196Blue Chicken’s no fool.  She goes under the covers with Bubba, another 4 legged friend. Sweet dreams, you two.

***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.

 

Playing Dress-Up on My First Year Anniversary

My studio Is finally taking shape, almost a year after moving to our farm in Maple City, Michigan.  I’ve had such fun making it a home, full of light, color and pattern.  Just like my clothes! 

At special request from a few of my stores, I actually put on mascara, combed my hair and modeled two pieces for their ads.  This is like torture for me. At age 62, I don’t really recognize the person in the photo, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do.IMG_2065

The Mitten Tunic IMG_2056The Flip-out Tunic

Green Acres Tale: LEAN IN

This is a rather long-winded tale, but worthy of someone’s blog, so it might as well be mine.

Our resident farmer, David Flaughers, pastures 40 goats and sheep on Fake Rock Farm. IMG_1883 He practices rotational grazing (see above bucolic scene) by moving them every day or so onto new grass, using a temporary solar-powered electric fence, which keeps the beasts corralled as they munch fresh greenery.  That is, until the goats go looking for greener pastures.

In early July, our son, Henry Gretzinger, was visiting the farm with his girlfriend, Hana Cheng, for his 30th birthday, and Jerry decided to bake cream puffs for the birthday dessert.   I was on duty for salad and marinating the chicken, when I glimpsed a few errant goats and sheep out the kitchen window.  We ran out with our trustee canine assistants, Sugar and Spots, and started to corral the flock before they got into the garden or worse, the road.  After calling David in a panic and finding out he was 30 minutes away, Jerry remembered his cream puffs in the oven and vowed to return, after he put in a second batch.  So I was elected to secure the perimeter with a couple of talented doggies and clogs on my feet.  That’s it.
The goats soon discovered the feed buckets atop the mobile chicken tractors and in going for the feed, just about trampled the poor hens cowering beneath.  While I was manically shooing the goats off the roof to avoid squished chicken dinner, I noticed one sheep who’d polished off a bucket of feed and gotten it stuck on her head, blindly zig-zagging the 20 acres between the woods and the road.  Naturally,  all the sheep followed their  leader!
IMG_1961IMG_1959
Jerry did return about 15 minutes later, with his idea of helpful tools: a rake and a cell phone, and disappeared again into the kitchen, muttering about burning dessert.
I’m finally rescued by a couple of our dinner guests, who arrived on time and spotted me out in the pasture waving my rake wildlly.  Minutes later, farmer David showed up on his bicycle and took control.  I collapsed at the kitchen table, and watched our guests take over dinner preparation.
We had a lively supper conversation at the picnic table, one of the topics, amidst the twenty and thirty somethings, being Sheryl Sandburg’s book,  Lean In.  I thought this very apt, though I’m sure Sheryl never thought her leadership principles would be applied to female herders. But in retrospect, having read the book, I’m sure Sheryl has run into a number of corporate hot shots whose style of leadership parallels the sheep brandishing a bucket over its head,  with a flock of unquestioning followers at their hooves (I mean heels).
The cream puffs were perfect.
Here is Henry, Hana and Jerry that fateful evening:
IMG_1954