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.



Jerry’s Map!

My husband, Jerry Gretzinger, is a fantasy map maker and a couple of years ago, I commissioned Greg Whitmore, a family friend and really skilled videographer, to make a mini movie about Jerry and his map.  My able son, Henry Gretzinger, also helped with the camerawork.  The movie accompanied Jerry’s first map show and was also posted on Vimeo, a site for videographers to exhibit their work.  This film was just now picked as a Vimeo favorite and is now kind of a cult viral hit!  Watch it here.

I also provided a link to Jer’s blog on my earlier post  Fake Rock Farm.  His map pieces decorate the front of our barn!  Congrats, hubby!

Hubba Bubba


After the population of 4-leggeds multiplied rapidly at Fake Rock Farm with the addition of Clarence the lamb and Casper the goat, I had to face reality.  Now was not the time to introduce a puppy into the mix.  So I told Jerry that I was officially no longer searching for a dog, but waiting, instead, for a dog to come to us.

So, of course,  my brother-in-law called us the other day to ask us if we wanted another dog.  He’d found a stray miniature schnauzer in his Grand Rapids neighborhood and after a week of searching for the owners was coming up empty.

Long story short.  Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you:










Fake Rock Farm: what does that name mean?

In 1989, the Staley/Gretzinger household, comprised of parents, Meg and Jerry, boys, Hank, age 6, and Lucky, age 4, and Mary, the dog, escaped New York City to spend the first of many Augusts at our newly purchased farm in Maple City, MI.  The farm had been a working family farm of 40 acres and included a white farmhouse, big red barn and many outbuildings:  a granary, rabbit hutch, chicken coop, tractor barn and guest garage.

After a year or two of getting settled, I realized I needed an artistic outlet and was desperate for downtime from too much young testosterone.  Many of the barns and houses in this area were partially built using local stone, but ours was a boring poured cement.  LIGHTBULB!  I’ll PAINT a stone foundation on it!  That will look cool (and give me a ready excuse to exit the house with a cup of joe every morning for an hour or so for almost 3 summers!) This is the barn today, with granddaughter Penelope in the foreground.  The blue and green panels above the milking floor door are blown-up images from Jerry’s map.  After a year or two I rounded the front facade and started painting the side wall.  Every day a stranger would pull off by the side of the road and stop to chat about the project, talking about how real it looked.  “Thankyou,” I  would reply politely, but to myself I’m thinking, “wait a minute.  what about the joke part of this!”  I tried to remedy that by painting the word FAKE in the stonework.  

Many. many family photos have been taken in front of these doors over the past 22 years.  This one is from last summer.  The four Gretzinger progeny:  Aaron, Henry, Nelle, and Lucky.

Nelle Gretzinger is the wonderful mother of my granddaughters, Penelope and Violet, pictured here with their Granpa Jerry.