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!
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:

Making this wedding quilt gave me particular JOY!

This summer my nephew, Max Linsky, married his long time sweetheart, Meredith Jacks, in a celebration near my sister, Lynn Staley and bro-in-law, Marty Linsky’s gorgeous home near Rome. The house overlooks a beautiful hilltown, Collevecchio, with olive orchards and pastureland spreading in all directions and that was the backdrop for my big reveal.

Earlier in the spring I asked both families to send me mementos of their kid’s lives that I could sew together into a surprise quilt. Moms Sherry and Lynn obliged by sending an array of tee shirts, dresses, athletic shorts and duffles  as well as photos chronicling Max and Meredith’s shining moments which I transferred onto fine white cotton for applique. For more versatility, I made the quilt reversable, with the back side featuring a patchwork of beautiful white ground vintage prints. The result? Lots of hugs AND a forever keepsake!

The bride admires her wedding gift…

DSC07524 (1)

The bride and groom wrapped in love.

DSC07534 (1)

Our family displays the quilt off Lynn and Marty’s 2nd floor terrace. From left to right:
Sherry, Max, Meredith, Nelle, Lynn, me, Penelope, Violet, Henry, Kate, Lucky, Marty, Jerry.


Sunset over Collevecchio: an end to a happy day

Nanook of the North

Well, I finally gave in to the approaching winter at Fake Rock Farm (45th latitude), packed the Element up to its gills with fabric, paints, patterns, computer, audiobooks and snacks, and headed east to Meg Staley Handmade winter headquarters at our house in Cold Spring, NY.  Definitely cozier than our wheezy Michigan barn in the nippy months.

Or so I thought.  Until Saturday, when a freak snowstorm dumped 8″ of very wet snow on trees that hadn’t even begun to shed their leaves, and as soon as you could say “Uh-oh,” the power went kaput.  And with the power went the news, the coffeemaker, the entertainment devices, lights and  heat.

Since trunk show deadlines are looming, I kept on working until i was forced to crawl under the covers.  By the second night I was ready for a hot meal and shower and my dear sister, Lynn, gathered me into her warm Central Park West apt.

Today, just after snapping this shot of me in my LED headlamp and other power-less accoutrements, the lights flickered on.  Just about 48 hours and none the worse for wear.  Now I can take off my Davy Crockett hat,  headlamp and fingerless gloves and greet the trick-or-treaters.

Peaches and Figs

The weather at Fake Rock Farm is finally turning, and I’ve cut off the tips of thumbs, forefingers and ring fingers on my old red wool gloves to stretch my studio time out in the barn.  After an hour or so of printing and cutting on my table, I retreat to the kitchen tap to revitalize manual dexterity.  Soooo, I was wandering around in my i photos and when I found this picture my sister took at her home in Collevecchio in August, it asked to be posted as a melancholy reminder of summer passing.

Chicago, Chicago

I love Chicago.  Especially in the fall, when you can cozy up in a colorful sweater jacket and scarf and hit the streets for a day of walking, looking at art, architecture, shopping and eating.  We ventured forth while taking my granddaughter, Violet, to visit colleges (!!!) nearby and while Jerry and Violet explored the U of Chicago campus, I toured the Robie House, a Frank Lloyd Wright – designed home finished in 1910. What a treat!  After that, we visited Millenium Park  to see the Bean (officially entitled Cloud Gate Sculpture.)  The experience was unlike any other. Here we are gazing at our contorted selves in the giant sculpture:When you go under the sculpture and look up, this is what you see.  I can pick Jerry out of the image because he’s taking a picture, but otherwise I’m lost.  What you can see, though, are 3 replications of a sweet 16 party, dressed in emerald green satin finery, posing for photos.  Mind-boggling and a total crowd pleaser.  I love Chicago.


I could have titled this post many ways, but it comes down to this:  my 90-year-old mom, Kay Staley, is a force of nature with indomitable spirit, joie de vivre and a power of example to all of us fortunate progeny.

She is also a tennis fanatic.  Mom began playing at 10 years old in Berkeley, Ca, when her mother, in an effort to redirect her daughter’s tomboy pastimes like football with the neighborhood boys, got her onto a tennis court, which at that time was a slightly more acceptable sport for a young lady.  She played up until 2 years ago, when a wrongly prescribed antibiotic wreaked havoc with her achilles tendon!

The love of the sport and emphasis on fitness has been has been deeply instilled in her daughters and grandsons as well, and on Labor Day, Mom took us to the US Open for a terrific night of tennis and family celebration (missing a few key members!)


from right:  my nephew, Max Linsky, mama Kay , Kate Eastman (Lucky’s squeeze), son Lucky Gretzinger, son Henry Gretzinger, Meredith Jacks (Max’s fiancee!), husband Jerry Gretzinger, and me.

Thanks to Gramma Kay for giving us such a wonderful night and for being such a light in our lives.