Fast and Furious.

Street art, NYC, Q . Cassetti, 2012Last Thursday, Rob and Alex roared down to NYC after a ribbon cutting to pick up Kitty and her possessions after being ousted from Alumni House at FIT. She peacefully stayed in the downstairs sewing room,  I joined them Friday evening after riding the lovely Cornell Campus to Campus bus leaving Ithaca at 6 and promptly getting into NYC in less than 4.5 hours. No stops…quick as can be. I sketched out possible tattoos I want to sell ( “Until death do us part”, and Lucky 13) on Etsy. It was fun…and a really nice break for me. Rob, Kitty and Alex waited up for me, and we had a late dinner at the River Cafe, NYC.

Rob and Kitty had the weekend on Governors Island with GlassLab. So, Alex and I had two days to ourselves. So, he and I walked up Bowery to the New Museum to see two very thought provoking shows(Ghost in the Machine  and Pictures from the Moon: Artists Holograms 1969-2008)that we both really enjoyed seeing and seeing together. The Ghost s how spoke more to me with imagery from paintings from the 20s, to interpretations of literature, music and embroidery, to how people interact with technology to interface with nature (stratosphere suits, cars, bikes, airplanes, diving bells, sailboats, submarines, spacesuits, rockets etc). Lots of kooks and kookery….but challenging none the less. Alex looked at things I blew by…and thanks to him, I really saw the show through his eyes and his total appreciation of the sublimely abstract. Sol Lewitt is a favorite of his. Wall graphics, tattoos and renaissance art top my list…but you know that. I like a lot of stuff. The New Museum is an amazing space with a great shop with very edgy things, a good selection of books and just enough to pick through. Then it was off to a this and that lunch at the Fiat Cafe (which Alex proclaimed as “perfect”). We ordered an antipasto, some fresh mozz, and a few bruschetta. Alex was in heaven.

We did a tea tasting at David’s Tea, a canadian chain that approaches tea the way gourmet food is sold with tastings, smelling, and customer education. Alex and I had Note: Babyfood type jars, clear with black screen printingfun chatting with the Tea Barista—enjoying his candor and wit. Smart people work for Davids.We bought some green tea that seemed palatable and not like a concoction of grass clippings. We did a walkthrough at Dean and Deluca with my taking pictures of things to bring home to my local foodies. Cupcakes and cookies are the rage…with less focus on fresh produce and more on meat/cheese/ bread and condiments. The funniest thing we saw was a granola called “Hippie Chow”. What a hoot. Low key packaging that is standing on humor to get the buyer to reach for the first package. Then hopefully, they “get em”.

Lots of clear glass or plastic packaging with single color (black or white) screenprinting on the front. The Yogurt to the right is an example of what we saw a lot of (including an heirloom tomatoe sauce, McClure Pickles etc). Lots of food with minimal/kraft paper packaging. Just to keep it in the front of our local food nation packaging. Nothing feels custom (even though much of it is)—but a clean humility is kind of the aesthetic that is presented by the hopelessly hip. There is a celebration of basics too( flour, salt, sugar)—that seems to be new.

Then, we shopped for shoes and nipped into exclusive mens stores for fun and to see what was cool. We got some Birkenstocks for Alex on sale as his were hand me downs from Rob and the bottoms were peeling off them. And then we got back to the hotel to meet the other two and see a little Olympics with my guy.

Untitled Restaurant at The Whitney with Kusama sculpture above the space, Q. Cassetti, 2012Sunday was Metropass day with mother and son. I showed him the difference in express and local trains. I pointed out the crosstown buses and how it works. We changed lines from the green to the yellow to the red…piecing together a ride to get from one point to another…helping Alex to realize that this is a skill he will have when he visits NYC from Hofstra. It was good to give him that time and point up. I worry about my kids…and Alex is alway reticent to get “out there” and try new things. Hopefully, the subway will not be one of those scary things he will not try.

Sunday was also another Q and Alex museum experience: The Whitney with see the  Yayoi Kusama show. Alex and I waited in line for well over an hour to just get tickets and then scored 2 of the free tickets to see the special installation of Fireflies on the Water. It was interesting as the Kusama show was another styles company sponsored art event (with crossover installations at the Museum and at the Louis Vuitton shop) mirroring the show we saw at the Temporary Contemporary Gallery in LA, the monumental show of the work, product, videos of Takashi Murakami.  Kusama is a product of her time—with self sponsored art events in Washington Square—very much in the Yoko Ono mode…with Murakami not riding on top of this style piece but integrating with it…and embracing it in his art.  but, it was a big show…and fun to see the work with Alexander.

We also saw a bit of the Whitney collection including a wonderful Walton Ford Turkey, and the Alexander Calder circus. Alex was a great companion—and seemed to take a lot in. From the Whitney to Aldo to get a pair of “real shoes”—something that spans birkenstocks and boat shoes…but isnt too dressy. So we got some dark blue “bucks” which he was delighted with. He must have tried on a dozen pairs of shoes to get to this decision…but we made a choice, and he was and still is charmed. Then, more subway time…to get to Peck Slip for the five o’clock looksee of the Olympics and to wait to meet up with Kitty and Alex.

Garmento, Q. Cassetti, 2012We met them at the Stone Street Tavern, a big beergarden in lower Manhatten.  The area the Stone Street Tavern occupies is shared with a half dozen restaurants and spans a small, wide alley that teams with people eating and drinking under huge umbrellas and european picnic tables. It is so curious the way beergardens have popped up all over NYC and Brooklyn—and how finally, New Yorkers are taking advantage of the big sidewalks and the culture around hanging out, out of doors. This is the kinder and gentler New York that we didnt live in…and welcome the change.

Monday, Kitty, Alex and I shopped for fabrics and trims in the Garment District in the morning. We saw beads and baubles, gold boullion, and embroidery, buttons, and bag trimmings, clasps and zippers, spandex and sparkles, sequins and feathers, mens suiting, and fishnet. We bought yards of spandex printed like a newspaper, a few yards of a lovely printed material with a Mary Blair style border, and a spectacular ombre that is a gradient from mustard to liliac and then back to mustard….with cream as part of the blend. More subway riding…back to the hotel to meet with Rob as we had Hempstead on the schedule to get Alex to his first Hofstra Orientation. And so we did.

We discovered that instead of Hofstra being on the edge of an edgy neighborhood, it turns out that Hofstra is on the edge of a gorgeous perfectly named area, Garden City. We found the Mineola train station and the Hempstead bus station—thanks to Rob knowing that we needed to center Alex in the neighborhood. We found his adorable dorm on campus, and got him registered for the early morning start with new classmates. We discovered a phenomenal restaurant in Garden City, Waterzooi, a belgian restaurant known for mussels, beer and waffles…Boy howdy, we are definintely going back there! It is a soup and shellfish thing…that we all basically took baths in. Alex was on time the next morning—with Hofstra cutting things off at exactly 8:45 a.m. to prevent the helicopter parents from  hanging on. Once again, I am always thrilled and happy with the way Hofstra does business along with the really nice and smart people we always meet.

It was chop chop on Tuesday after the drop off. We got in the minivan to get to the Governors Island Ferry to get over to pick up a half dozen totes filled with GlassLab product, sketches and models.  We got back on the ferry and high tailed it home.

We are home…for now. Alex is on the noon bus to Ithaca from Hempstead…and he figured it out! I have Farmers Market meeting this p.m. and then the home team for dinner….or at least, that is what I hope.


Farmers’ Market Mercantile on Main Street, Q. Cassetti, 2012Grassroots came and went. It was a few hot days and a few moderate days with nice music, an opportunity to visit with Kitty and Alex and friends, and the chance to see some of the sidebar activities which I now think improves the Grassroots experience (at least for me). I met a lovely person new to the community who knew me from my blog and work (which was a bit undoing as she had the pulse on the here and now of what was going on with my life). We saw all sorts of old Trumansburg friends, and made friends with folks we knew but really had a chance to talk and engage on a different level. The Horseflies were amazing as was Jenny Stearns (with Leah and Amelia being part of the Fire Choir). We loved Mary Lorson’s set in the Cabaret Hall…and the pick up music in the new beer garden (for this year). The Stringbusters arrived on their own and played an unscheduled gig to all of our delight. Plus, it was really nice just hanging out with my boyfriend…and taking it all in. I am so blessed with such a great companion and hubby.

I am immersing myself in folk art. Gotta get going on some images, and need a trigger, a push to get it going. I have been sidetracked by the cameos and plan on getting them to Etsy soon to move it from a crazy obsession to a cash factor. They are beautiful and by combining different charms, they begin to tell little stories that I am enchanted by. Stupid, I know, but none the less charmed.

I am looking at Alexander Girard and books from the Girard collection of the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe and hoping that this will force my hand to move and ideas to flow. We will see. If not, the funny tattoos I am doing for a few bands will have to be the trigger to do more work…even if it is a body of tattoos just to get really good at it. They have been fun as I can use all the cool tools I love in illustrator, and work with making the type really sing. Who knows, I could be on the train…and not realize I have left the station. Plus, there are more 1 hour portraits to do. The newest Lincoln is at the top of the page here>> Next one, Susan B. Anthony.

Another flurry begins tomorrow. Just to confirm, no one ever said this was going to be the most relaxing summer on the books. Matter of fact, it is right up there with the nuttiest.

Alex and Rob leave tomorrow p.m. to pick up Kitty to evacuate (“check out”) of her dorm in Manhattan. The FIT folks were inflexible (but maybe that is okay as Kitty didn’t get clarity on when she needed to be gone. The last thought she had was well into August, so we planned accordingly). Kitty will be sitting in the lobby with her stuff until the boys can come and get her after the ribbon cutting Rob is participating in at the Museum tomorrow a.m.

I will follow end of day on Friday on the sublime and fabulous Cornell bus (Campus to Campus), getting into NYC at 10:30 p.m. We will have the weekend in NYC with Kitty and Rob working on Governors Island with GlassLab. Alex and I are free so we may do a little “be in the city” tutorial with map reading, location identification, and subway/bus riding. I offered up a few options and surprisingly, this was the one that struck Alex as fun…or maybe not fun, but the right thing to do given his new status as Hofstra student. Then Monday, get Alex out to Hempstead to have a 3 day orientation at Hofstra.

We will bring Kitty home—and have Alex take the coach back from Long Island to Ithaca for the first time. He is not liking that idea very much…but hey, we cannot be a prince forever.  Time to grow some wings….who knows, he might like it. There are direct buses from Hempstead to Ithaca…so it cannot be that bad..unlike the chutes and ladders Kitty needs to climb in order to get home to Central NY.

We will all be together again next Thursday/Friday…and maybe we can have a few weeks of being together, enjoying each other’s company, the lake, the cloud bowl, our pets, our ideas and thoughts. This time will be a treasure…bliss. Looking forward to it.


Alex Cassetti, June 21, 2012, Graduate, Charles O. Dickerson HS, Q. Cassetti, 2012Simply madness. I have been at it so much that I havent had a chance to say hello. I am so sorry for being such a deliquent, but these things happen as I am sure you know. Running and running. Work and filling in the gaps with driving, going to the grocery store, and trying to keep up with all the extras that are out there.

There have been family health issues (large scale under our roof) and of course layered on it was a visit from Kitty, and a graduation for our boy, Alex. Graduation was great. Alex was so happy, just plain bursting with it—and the relief and joy in the recieving of his diploma was palpable. It is a real smile you see in this perfect picture of a graduate. He was delighted to have accomplished this, delighted to be with his friends and family, and delighted to move on. So, the moving on has started and we have pencilled in his Orientation, his  tests and prework, his doctor’s paperwork, moving the transcripts etc. We are moving the show from Trumansburg to Hempstead, LI.

The tenor guitar is ordered and should be here by the end of the week. He is tickled pink with the idea that I got him the guitar versus the watch he kept telling us he needed to recieve (somehow that is all wrapped up in his “old fashioned boy” thing he has in this mind). The “old fashioned boy” was a thing he did as a kid, where he would wear antique newspaper boy hats, type on a manual typewriter, carry a pad around his neck to keep notes on, and want to wear vests and ties. He has this idea that being  the “old fashioned boy” (his term) was somehow befitting breeding and intelligence. Same thing with the watch. He told us that if we gave him a watch for graduation, he could wear it when he got married and then he could say that he got it from his parents at his HS.graduation. I say phooey on that stuff. Get a tenor guitar, learn to play it and tune it a zillion ways and be happy. Then you can play your guitar at your wedding and say “This is what I got for my HS graduation, and look at what I can do!” . And my old fashioned boy grins, smiles and prods me for when it will deliver. I expect a song!

Kitty and Kira, June 21, 2012, Q. Cassetti.Kitty was talking a mile a minute about everything that she has processed for the past three weeks. Lets put it this way, FIT has been amazing money well spent. She is revelling in sewing, and puzzled and inspired by the draping course she is taking. She gets it…and is pushing herself to try new things, go beyond what is being assigned in class. She is delighted by slopes, grades of muslin, all the measurements and dimensions one needs to add or subtract, the import of a puffed sleeve….and so on. She is puzzled by “real girls”, what they do for fun, the need to curl their hair, zebra patterns and high heel decorations, hot pink and nail decals. She is puzzled by the club scene, by the inability for people to see the world as she does—and the pronounced focus she has on gender identities and roles that Hampshire so happily celebrates. It is a bit unnerving for her, but as part of a balanced education, she is getting a whole lot of something from the polar extreme of the Pioneer Valley.

I have to go. I have some driving to do to get Alex and Elly to a graduation party. Then its Farmers Market (#3) and we have people to see, photos to take, Kimchi and mustard to buy. Then, hopefully, it will be a glorious time in the later evening lakeside with the fat bumblebees, magenta sweetpeas, and a blazing sunset. Tomorrow, my friends.

Black with a touch of color

Find Alex in the Black and touch of color, Choral Concert, June 2012, Q. CassettiI am feeling quite myself after the weekend of just being a lunk, sleeping, doing a bit of cooking and reading. Totally veg. Last week hit hard with our friend Paul leaving us, and lots of stressful action around 2 Camp Street. But today after all of that, I am feeling a bit snappier, happier and able to put the left foot in front of the right to keep onward. The giant pitcher of unsweetened sun tea is helping too…with the 90˚, high humidity day we are being treated to.

The apples are sad this season, but to make up for our longings, the strawberries are bursting out the gate…and they are being picked as fast as can be at the You Picks…and more keeps coming on. Great promises for raspberries. I got a bag full of basil at the CSA (SweetLand) and have a tub of pesto that sandwiches and all other sorts of things are eaten with. Alex is in heaven. Basil is my absolute favorite (fields upon fields on it in my heaven along with rosemary and lavender).Sugar Snap peas are up too, and ready to pick. Yay! Hurray….the early summer fun begins.

I bought a dozen pink poppies and a half dozen white poppies along with a variagated and a red coral bells. Also bought a hanging plant that is chock full of little yellow cherry tomatoes. What fun!

Update: Princess Kitty in NYC. Well, she is getting hit with it and lovingit….from the totally girly girl roommate, to the work work and hard work that FIT is throwing her way…and she is bouncing along quite well thank you. She is writing a blog on Tumblr, and though she is a bit racy in her talk, I am loving her spirit, her observations, all that she is learning and going all between her ears from Tea shops to sexuality.I love being 20 with her again. The Girl in the Newspaper Dress>>  Proud mama. Yes, I am.

Last day of High School for Alex tomorrow. He has “had it” as have we. Time to turn the page. No big moment of nostalgia right now. I am sure come mid September, it will be another thing. I just see how his sister is getting jazzed up, and want the same for him. Rumor has it that he and Rob will be taking rowing/shells and taking sailing lessons this summer. So, more for him to try (he finally said yes…I have been bugging him for years…finally). Did I mention tap shoes for his part in OKLAHOMA? And I am sure I didnt mention his Drama award at Senior night. We did not see that one coming! We are all thrilled and surprised at that honor!

The picture above commemorates our last High School Choral Concert…with Alex protesting the requirement to wear black with a touch of color. He opted for colorless glasses and all black. They sang a beautiful piece by one of Alex’s favorites, Eric Whitacre who is becoming something for me too.

I am a bit obsessed with findings and cabochons these days. What? Yes, I am making fake jewelry to see either on the web or at the Farmers Market when we have a swap meet/flea market. This stuff is hilarious…and as soon as I have finished goods, I will post. It is very Memento Mori meets Goth, meets Pirate…all rolled up into one fun ball of gorgeousness. I do not know if my adult friends will approve, but my younger pals are all over it. I am poised with tube of glue, findings and a packaging concept in front of me. Nothing can get in my way. Watch out….!

Back in the Saddle.

Kitty and Tucker, Q. Cassetti, 2011It was full tilt through Christmas. We had a nice day together with everyone loving their presents and loving being together. It was food food and food. The best, to my thinking, was the smoked salmon I opened for lunch…but the cooking and food for dinner was good. I would have changed some things but that is past tense. We had a delightful time with our friends with lots of laughs, ideas, and even Alex and a guest playing music together.

Yesterday, we had lunch at Moosewood (the famous vegetarian restaurant) which we have not graced for a decade at least. They had the BEST ginger tea concoction that Kitty and I happily had. I swapped a book for the Mark Bittman 

How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food— so thematically we had a vegetarian date with Kitty, Alex and Elly.  We were at the wonderful, handpicked and edited selection of books at Buffalo Street Books. I bought Kitty a pocket moleskine calendar and a wall calendar featuring treehouses that she was squealing about. I splurged and bought an inspiring, Provensen zone illustrator/ artist, Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life  I got to see a ton of his work at the Lab of Ornithology at Cornell (his birds) and was struck by his simplicity and graphic quality of his illustration. A kick in the pants for this chick. Here is a google search on his work>> I mean…look at Harper’s work and compare it to the ever famous, ever visible Eric Carle. Similar? (I would go so far as to be better..better design, better style though I love Carle).

Bassett, Charley Harper“I don’t think there was much resistance to the way I simplified things. I think everybody understood that. Some people liked it and others didn’t care for it. There’s some who want to count all the feathers in the wings and then others who never think about counting the feathers, like me.” Charley Harper

Don’t you love him? Check out his site>>

We picked up Kitty’s Christmas ring (resized). And then, on our way home, Elly invited us to see Tucker, her hawk…which we did along with seeing how she works with him to fly and return to her. Kitty gave it a shot (picture above). It was a real treat with this brilliant bird swooping down out of the tall trees to land gracefully on Elly’s glove (for fun and a big meaty treat).

Today, I am back in the saddle at the office. I am hoping to get on the small farm brand I have committed to. I have knocked down several ouchies on my list that kept sliding off…so there is hope.  Tonight we hear the Stringbusters at Maxis with hopefully movies afterward (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).

More later.

little chrysalis

Kitty and Robbie at the Haunt, July, 2011, Q. CassettiWell, the new year according to the Empire of Q. started this morning with a Shaggin’ Wagon dead battery—key in, no results. But, Alex got to school on time, empty bookbag, gym clothes, a check for lunch and his favorite greasy breakfast (at school). Mr. K from AAA came before 9. to give me a jump and I did a bit of driving over to Peach Orchard on Seneca Lake to get some peaches to peel and freeze, to make a cobbler, and to make more peach/ginger jam (freezer jam).

We got off around noon on Sunday to get to Amherst around 6. We stopped at Kitty’s new abode and ran into a bunch of her friends. So, we left her to catch up and did a little tootling around with Alex to see what was new and where we might have dinner (Mission Cantina, a new Mexican place on West Street—just steps from Hampshire). We then got Kitty and a friend and had a nice dinner watching Alex reel from the great music they were playing on the overhead combined with a double love of fresh fish tacos that he consumed happily (in hindsight, we should have ordered him two plates…he loved them soooo much). Then, off to the hotel for sleeping before a big day on Sunday of moving Kitty in, going to Target to get stuff to make her life a bit more liveable and then back home in the afternoon.

It sure felt like the brave new world. Kitty was ready to shoo us out the door when we  started getting in her space trying to help but making her crazy. I am the queen of noodlers, so I fear I made her the craziest. So, going to the store to buy olive oil, honey and peaches, fresh tomatoes and bread got me out of her space but alllowing me to show the love as the pseudo italian housewife I am. She is in an onward and upward mode versus the poor little lonely girl we left—a girl filled with fear and trepidation. We left  a far more confident young women this year with more of a grasp on what she is about, what she loves, where she is pointed. Her work this summer along with living in the house of the Lost Boys give her a boost that was happily unexpected—along with the mental and emotional sorting that coming home often initiates. After she showed us all around to the wonderful round room in the center of her Greenwich mod to the other mod with the cutest little student run library—I feel that this year our little chrysalis  may begin to notice her wings this year with new friends and acquaintances, new opportunities and studies, new learning around how to live on your own and with friends, and the raft of other things that just happen in college. I am not sulking and mooning over my little girl albeit she is on my mind as we had such a treasured time this summer. She is back with her tribe—with a desire to learn more about fashion, clothing, sewing, decorative arts and fashion.

So, it really wasnt much of a weekend….but the beginning of the new year for all. Rob is off to Miami later this week/ back Saturday—so I will be handling the XC breakfast solo. which is no biggie. I will be making little Granola/yogurt and fruit parfaits (so peeling and prepping the fruit will happen Friday night (more peach use). I am going to do a Tuesday pick up at the CSA now that school is back in session. Oh my.

Alex is back to running full time. We have so much to do with him!


Think pink

My favorite model, Q. Cassetti, 2011My little spring flower! This is the Disney Princess Dress that we finally settled on for Kitty’s multiple needs to get dressed up. It is the pink dress that we have always admired during prom pictures and as she was so non high school prom with her selections (here and here) with the respective names of the dresses being “Motown” and “Grecian”. Now we have a little sompin sompin that is far from discrete and the all girl, first grade fantasy when the entire world is swathed in unicorns, Lisa Frank, rainbows and pink. Kitty and I had a little photoshoot (with thinking around what the real headpiece will be when the dress becomes “Barbie”). Perhaps a Ken Fascinator? Or a dream house in a wagon —the ultimate of Barbie Mobile Home? Very fun.

It is cool today. In the sixties with promise of a cool week. We are all so much happier with the cooler clime. I have a mint syrup simmering on the stove with a few clean bottles ready to store it. There are calls to be made, thumbnails rattling around this thin skull, trips to the postoffice. Wow. The week is getting ahead of me and I dont want to be left behind.

Spring Bouquet

Weekend flowers, Q. Cassetti, 2011Nice weekend. We started the time with  our inaugural fun at Sweet Land CSA’s first pick up. It was so fun, so much more than I expected…from the lovely food you could pick from to the amazing farmers with wit, wisdom and insight…to the offerings from luscious yellow beets, to leeks, to mint and basil along with all you can pick batchlor buttons and 2 pink peonies. There were tons of different greens, mint, oregano and basil by the long stalk. I have seen the summer and I am delighted. Today made pesto, mint lemon syrup, a leek and carrot soup, sauteed kale and prepped the lettuce for salad tomorrow. I will post pictures to inspire you of the CSA barn, with friendly chalk board instructions, clean blue totes holding all he produce offerings, from the limited selections to the “have at it”. There is an egg share (which we are doing) as well as Stefan Senders Wide Awake Bakery share too.

There were all sorts of my favorite Tburgers there with children milling about or in the sandbox/playground. It is the best. I am so psyched.

Friday night and Saturday night Kitty danced. We had friends of Kitty and Alex at the lake—with all sorts of hanging out. Fun and very restful. I read a trashy book and “chilled” with Alex and Kitty. Saturday afternoon after dropping Alex and friend off to practice music, Kitty and I went to Trader K’s to have her try on evening dresses for a formal event. It was tons of fun with Kitty finally picking a bubblegum pink, barbie number complete with a boned corset style bodice. She looks remarkable (pictures to come). Lotsa laughs along with visiting Petrune for glamour and inspiration.

Alex is off singing tonight with the Community Chorus. We had some pretty enlightening conversation about music, jazz, his enjoyment of the singing lessons he is taking, chord progression and the things he is discovering and loving. He is an adorable guy that I cherish spending time with. I am so lucky. His insights and solid grasp on those things he loves never ceases to inspire and please me.

Need to log off. Drawing ahead.

There's the Sun!

Bunny Matchup, 2011, Q. Cassetti, pen and inkMore tedious drawings of bunnies manipulated in photoshop. I am coloring this one as I like the rope heart and the challenge of pastels. I need to better understand this lighter palette and thus the coloring. Black to grey or tan, no white…less harsh.

The Yearbooks are done! Hangar is back with changes…so that gets fit in by end of day today. I have a brochure that is a field guide to glass patterns and some illustration for the big client (a continuous line illo which can be hard to do, but entertaining in the puzzle like aspect. There are lots of random thises and thats, alterations of the food illustration and others. Need to start setting up appointments for Kitty and Alex this summer…check ups and dentals.

Nice chat with Kitty last evening. She has her birthday to look forward to—with contradancing as the cupcake with candles for her. I put her little somthingsomthins in the mail…which should make the day a bit brighter. Her first birthday away from us. Another first.

But, she is worrying her classes, full on angst and sadness around what she didnt get out of an art class…full of anger and misunderstanding that this emotion is actually part of the learning. Learning comes in all ways…and she seems to have learned a lot about what she doesnt like. We will have a lot of talking to do over the summer.

Alex and I figured out the tuxedo dilemma. We measured him according to the directions we found on the web, consulted all the sizing on the site and then printed the buy button.  Its a simple tuxedo with notched lapels, and plain (not pleated) pants. Alex gravitated to the style along with picking out a cotton pique, wing collared shirt. No cummerbund. Black silk bow tie. He will be perfect (at least to his mother’s satisfaction and his…I hope). We should have it by Monday.

Quiet last day

Thistle Heart from Notebook 2, Q. Cassetti, 2010, sharpies, prismacolorThe cooking is done. We took Kitty to the bus station early this morning and were sad to see her go. It is doubly sad as the poor thing had a fever, didn’t sleep well and in general, seemed off her game. That is the trouble of having the pressure taken off…you relax and then, of course, you get sick. It was so good to see her reveling in her work, her studies and her new friends. Her attitude is so positive and can do, it is remarkable what a new group of friends, their influences and inspiration can do for her. She was never really central to a “group” and now she has one, embraces them and is motivated by these smart kids. We packed up a ton of food for their thanksgiving on campus…and she had it all neatly packed in her wheelie suitcase. She will be back in a few weeks (to our delight) to sleep, eat and giggle with us. We all cannot wait (and the pets mean it too).

Rob and I took a little trip over to GreenStar for a quick provisioning. They have inexpensive B grade maple syrup (yay) along with nice green olive oil (also in bulk). So we loaded up on basics and came back to Camp Street to have lunch with our old college friend, John and his son, Nate, going back to college. It was great to see them and spend a little time talking about thises and thats. It was fresh air. John was interesting about all the books he is reading, his interest in shooting and the out of doors, along with the general life and living patter. Nate filled in the cracks. What a team! Alex was gone with friends.

Then, I gave myself permission and completed the NYFA grant application. Put everything up on the web, posted the images and notes, wrote the 700 word bio, proofread it all and hit the submit button. I wonder if I will even hear if I am rejected? The site was really clear except for any info on when they will announce. All I can do is hope. It would be cool.

Now, I am finalizing the scanning from the sketchbook work that is in the hopper since 11/18. I have a ton. I have been vascillating on whether to stay in the small sketchbook format or grow it. Then, I thought I could do both sizes at once…and now, I am on the fence. I am beginning to get charged up for Advent Calendar 2010. Little Russian Nesting Figures are on the list. Maybe a few Krampus (in plural, are they Krampi?)—and some little critters (lions and lambs and the like). Maybe some folk PA German inspired stuff too. I love how cuddly and dreamy this little collection makes me. Its a mental cup of camomile tea.

Another interesting illustration note. You all know how much I love and admire the blog of Leif Peng, “Today’s Inspiration’? Well, if that wasnt wonderful enough, I was googling Lorraine Fox to find that Peng has created another blog, “Female Illustrators of the Mid 20th Century”>>. Wow. And the work out there of Lorraine Fox is so wonderful and inspiring….>>>

Now I really  must go.

To give thanks

Cross walk, Q. Cassetti, 2009, vectoThanksgiving

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Happy Thanksgiving! I love this holiday. Its all about the food, the fireplace, the cozy hearth, the happy voices. I am gloating over how smart I was to freeze and prep over the course of the month so that today I can ice cakes, cook the bird, and set the table without going insane. It is all ready to go. Thawed out last night (but not the gravy which needed a bit of help from the microwave). So, I am writing a little entry while there is a minute.

We drove to Amherst and back yesterday. Wasnt too bad. Thank goodness for cups of savory black tea….That kept the brain turned on and the eyes from shutting. We had a quiet time on the way over, and then after Albany, Rob took to the backseat and Kitty and I caught up from Albany to Bainbridge when Rob woke up. We had a nice evening at home catching up, hearing about gender identity and seeing videos of animations made by women (I promise I will share). Then it was off to dreamland to wake up to be Thankful.

I have so much. I have a wonderful husband and children. I have a happy life with friends and family. I We all have our health and vigor.  I have a beautiful place to work with projects and ideas and clients who are a blessing. I have a new set of skills that gives me joy with illustration and visual story telling. I have a venue to focus research and reading on…and all of these are great gifts of happiness and joy that I daily am grateful for. I have a rich life with people I love…in a community that I embrace fully…I have no end of blessings. For this and so much more, I am Thankful. We all need to look across the table at those that surround us and count the many things we take for granted, and nod…and account for those gifts.

Tuesday is Friday

Winged Cat from Sketchbook Two, Q. Cassetti, 2010, sharpiesWhadda day. Got the illos to Picture Salon as the Society of Illustration, Illustration 53 paperwork came today. Gotta get the Nutcrackers finished and ready to hang by December 20—so there isn’t a ton of time. So, sending out for the both of these illustrations to be output and stretched on stretcher bars gets me getting that off the plate. Should upload the files this p.m. and get the paperwork done sooner versus later.

I am also thinking of applying for a NYFA Artist Fellowship (due 11/30) for kicks. They have a nice drawing/book arts section that maybe an exploration of imagery as it relates to imagery derived from 1700’s folk art ( Russian, PA Germans, etc). The grants aren’t huge, and the deal is to write a paper and deliver a presentation (which I could do at the library(?) or maybe even at the Museum Conference at Sagamore (as an afterdinner mint?).  The grant seems very straightforward to write…along with 8 pieces of work to be submitted as well. There are 100 fellowships offered. And you know my thinking on this sort of thing…you cannot win if you do not enter. Thus, the thought. I do have extra work (all of it hitting the email box this afternoon with cheery notes saying “Happy Thanksgiving” here is the 200 pound pile of paper you need to bake into our little publication.

Another positive thing was this cool art director from NYC who was interested in the digital portrait style for some packaging. Turns out, he likes all my work and generated a presentation using my work as scrap with three different approaches. So, yogurt and milk packaging might be in my future! The presentation was being given this p.m. so we will see what happens. Neat, eh?

Tomorrow we are off to get Kitty from Amherst. The office is open. Alex has school, poor devil (along with a physics test, urg). So we leave early (at 6…zip over…get the princess…and zip back with cuddly dogs, cups of tea and happy chatter). I forecast a sleeping girl…

Wednesday night all of Thanksgiving gets thawed out. The gravy, pie, cakes, stuffing stuff, bread and stuff…all ready to roll. I got the massive turkey from the Regional today…all nice and polite in a clean brown box. The Regional also had pecans, wild rice and dried cranberries at a great price at their little broken case store by the door. The Turkey is in a crate with a few bags of ice…no need to defrost…and I really need to figure out how long it will take to cook…The container says 7 hours! Yikes! Next step, holiday decorating for the 17th. 

It is all moving too fast!

Goals, Roles

Sushi for Breakfast, 10/17/2010, Q.Cassetti, 2010On the second of September, we left our daughter off at college, to start the next chapter of her life as an individual and a member of our family—with all of our respective roles tossed into the air to float and fly until we redefine ourselves. Here we are, a month and a half later and Kitty is settling into this next chapter with a spring in her step, an Indian story on her tongue and a giggle. She is delighted, as she always is, in the opportunities, the joy of new friends, new knowledge and in a community where play and adventure is valued. Even Alex, our skeptic, was swept away with the sense of play, and reaching out to others, and the fun that can be had within this sort of environment. These Hampshire students are not sitting in front of televisions in elegantly appointed home-like living rooms, or stretched in front of cracking fireplaces intent on beating the next guy to Law or Medical school. The Hampshire student is the child that finds joy in a piece of string…and shares that joy with his/her friends until they figure out something fun, fabulous or even additive to do with this thing. Case in point: There were these students who were standing in one of the quadrangles with a tarp. A regular tarp with people on each corner— moving the fabric to make it simulate waves. Other students saw this, and engaged in this activity with dancing through and around it. Skaters doing the same…and it was magic. It stopped time. Alex (and Kitty) were enchanted. And this sort of thing happens every day. This playing with ideas, playing and making, thinking and doing, engaging and laughing. It is a charmed place.

Back to roles. Kitty has found her path. We are forging a new team with Alex as the main man which is beginning to get some steam and we are all enjoying it tremendously. He is in the spotlight…and responding positively to having the center stage, our attention and pocketbooks. And we are loving it too.  We can tease him…and he teases back. He is not as reticent to be honest—blunt, with us. But where are we as parents to Kitty? We spent yesterday with her, feeding and shopping—just spending time. After a day of hanging out, she finally, after the moroccan sandwich, began to loosen up and tell us Hindu tales, which coming from her was a hoot and a half. As we got in the car, it dawned on me we had something we could offer her. “Kitty?” I asked….”would you like to come back to our room, take a bath and a little nap?” Yes. That would do. Our role has been redefined. We bring home with us…and we need to offer up the hot buttons and allow our girl a bit of time just to unwind….and veg….whether its here or there. Tubs and naps. Food and truly, unconditional love. That is our role. She also said that she approved of my asking her if she was drinking enough water? or  what about her hot room or humidity in her space. She is looking for her mommy to continue to be home and comfort. I can do that. I can help her be comfortable. I can be a support. i can listen happily to her talk about the nutty eye covered Hindu god, or about the four elephants that hold up the world. I can meet her lovely friends and not need to be anything but enchanted. I can help and hopefully be of value to her and her friends. I want to be relevant and helpful.  I betcha if I brought a feast in a cooler, that might rock a bit. We could cook for the troops…take the cast party to the cast…and meet these lovely playful folk.  New role we can fill. We are back to preSeptember 2. We have all been redefined. And, its all good…and all the same.

White Pumpkins at Atkins Farms, Q. Cassetti, 2010We met Kitty for Breakfast (sushi today). Alex and Rob bought a dozen doughnuts at Atkins Farms (a food we never buy…but AF breaks that rule). I oogled the piles of white pumpkins, the gourds, the halloween candy and finally bought a gigantic rosemary plant (bush sized) as I am weak in the knees with rosemary. There is something so happy about the bush, it’s lovely scent and its heartiness. I hope I can nurse it with humidity and happiness through the winter.

It was a long drive home. We do not need to go to family events any more now that we know our roles. We just need to get our girl, get a tub, find a stove and settle in.  I did remember that tubs are something that you can get in Noho. There is a hot tub spa that you can endlessly use on Saturdays for $10 per person, so that Kitty and her gal pals can do some fun soaking together to get the tub thing in between going home….unless we buy them a portable spa…? Plus, from the lovely coffee opportunities, the thrifting (she has figured that all out), and the stores…she doesnt need us to make home for her all the time!

I am currently home, roasting some chicken bones (to go into the pressure cooker tomorrow), and watching Alex watch a frightening show about folks overeating… somehow adding enormous amounts of bacon, cheese and meat…I am belching just watching. Ouch.

Napoleons for Breakfast

Napoleons for breakfast at Atkins Farms, Q. Cassetti, 2010\We got up very early yesterday to get Rob to a meeting at a bottle machine/bottle manufacturer company by 11. Alex and I were dropped at the Enfield Mall to buy new shoes at Mens at Macys and to go to Target to upgrade his phone, something I have been wanting to do for a while.  So, roughly two hours or so later, Rob was done and we could get up to Amherst to pick up one computer being fixed and the other dropped off. Then it was off to get and see Kitty.

Kitty is in wonderful form. Learning and growing. Working hard on her work—but needing to get help with her writing and projects (or at least that is what is being said). I need to see if we can get permission to see what the professors are saying about her/ her work as I want to keep tabs on her progression without putting thumbscrews on her. She has made some very good and interesting friends who are motivated to do things, try things, grow and develop. Rob took a nap in her room, while Kitty took Alex and me on a walking tour of the other dorms and the little stores, shops and classrooms that fill her day.

Kitty Loved the polka dotted Dr. Martens I got her and immediately shut the door to try on the black Gothic Lolita dress, shoes and striped stockings she has for Halloween (a big big thing at Hampshire with lots of excitement around it). The boots went on immediately (ie, she sat down on the cement outside of the minivan and put them on!). Kitty was delighted with the offerings.

We took a minivan of friends out for dinner at a lovely fresh asian restaurant in Amherst and were entertained by their high spirits, their supportive attitude towards each other and the funny things they have rattling around in their heads. We left Alex with Kitty for the night…(they stayed up and saw the comedy troupe and then Alex paired off with other friends and ended up going to Amherst on the bus, coming back, hanging out for an impromptu dance party at the Yurt). Alex was up early to run (and if you havent figured it out he is currently taking a nap—sleeping the way he does when he is uber tired (with his eyes open)>We took Kitty to breakfast and whimsically she decided that it was a Napoleon for Breakfast! Which even for the sweet toothed one, was too much.

We went back to Hampshire to collect Alex (and wait for R under a tree with Kitty and Alex snacking on sushi). We took a walk down to the Hampshire farm—through the fields of greens and kale, by the exotic belted cows to the farm festival with horse drawn hay rides, soup, crafts, cider making, popped corn and livestock. A pair of students were making bread in a cob oven which was impressive. It was very much in the “try it try it try it” thinking of  Hampshire which is continually reinforced every time we bump up against it. The clear eyed response to that  is “whynot” from glassmaking to pizza ovens, from learning arabic to reading the Ramanya, from Kabuki to Timpani. The cry of Why Not, Try IT inspires me to forge ahead with my friends and supporters cheering me and mine on. What an environment to grow.

It was a clear blue sky day with plenty of wind and moving clouds. The trees are brilliant and the hills surrounding us in the Pioneer Valley are purple blue, shadowing the asters by the roadside. Pumpkins are everywhere (cheap) as are bird feeder/goose necked gourds, popped corn, indian corn and more.They have spectacular rosemary plants at Atkins Farms for $10. each…so one may be coming home with us as I am a big sucker for rosemary in the wintertime. And winter will be here before we know it.

Rain with a chance of more rain.

Edge Lit Mr. White, Q. Cassetti, 2010Here he is. Mr. Percival B. White (be is for Barry as Alex couldn’t handle the prissy Percival name). Rogue cat. Rabbit killer. Mr. Making Friends with all the Bed and Breakfast Guests So They Give Him Tuna Fish. Mooch Meister. I liked this shot as the screen sets up a scrim of the background facing the quadrangle and the clearing with his pink ears complementary with the bright green in the foliage.

Working on a phoenix. You got the first shot last night. Working into it…more tone, more flames, twistier, better curves (at least I hope). Its a nice respite to be among my vectors while I brew and stew in the world of the handdrawn. Next step, really focus down on the Hangar posters…and spend some time on them. Time, which I will have next week!. News is that I will go with Rob to the Great Camp Sagamore for his week of conference with Museumwise. I thought I would stay home, mind the shop and tend to Alex (which is a good thing) but the time in quiet would be a break and a chance for me to really think about things with a pencil…or without. I think I will take an iPod along with my phone with books on tape…and settle in with Hangar, illustration and some other work to not dash it off…but draw it and have the time to do it. Need to make some lists too…but the ISDP/Hartford travel schedule and enforced getting out there needs to switch to my life. Thus, the decision to do this for temper my thinking and sharpen my pen—and push ideas around in that beautiful place.

Have meetings tomorrow. One regarding the Annuals for Cornell along with a new piece for Ithaca College. Good stuff. New stuff. If I have time, I will search my images next week too for the Cornell piece. Should be good.

News from Kitty Section: (quoted from Facebook)

Kitty Cassetti  thinks its funny how we all go through high school saying “I’m bored, there’s nothing to do!” but once one gets to college all we can say is “I wish we had more time.” Fifty pages of the Ramayana left and several new documents on dancing on the way. DO I EVEN HAVE TIME FOR HAMPFEST????

Kitty Cassetti  gods cursed with a thousand female organs all over their body, the room of anger, scheming wives, beds feeling like rocks and birds being too loud all because of a spontaneous love. Oh Ramayana, you are so hilariously awesome… I think that Hampshire needs a Room of Anger to just go into and rant…

Kitty Cassetti  has had two separate conversations today about how misunderstood sharks are and how evil dolphins are. God I love this place…

Please note. All seems good in Amherst.


Momento! Memento!

Kitty before the Prom, Q. Cassetti, 2010It’s funny that life is this long strand of time that sometimes just keeps going on it’s own without a definite time or date to tag things around. There are dates that are significant that one really doesn’t have any control over.Your birth and death happen outside of your control. But some you can impact and fix a time and date to. The day you enter college and graduate. The day you got your first apartment. The day you were engaged. The day you were married. The day you gave birth. The day your child went to school. Every Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter and birthday. Each date a thread that twined with the next to infuse the continuum with color and note, annual comparisons but blending with the main thread and becoming one with it.

Then there are the times that things change significantly. Deaths change lives of those left behind for good or bad. Births do the same by changing the family dynamic through causing everyone to budge up and make room (in their time, pocketbooks and attention) for the new member. This new one, a child leaving home has for me, caused the clock to stand still. She is gone from us. Not for summer camp but has crossed the threshold into her own life independent of us. Sure, she will always be our daughter and one of our most amazing God-given treasures , but she will not be late for breakfast every morning or floating in the bathtub late at night. She will not be singing at the top of her lungs as she walks the dog at night. She will not be here every day to tease the cats and cheer her brother. The wild,extreme outfits and hairdos every morning and the wonderful, kind humor every night. Her insights and observations, her ability to see the good and obvious, her delight in everything and everyone is no longer here. Our dancing girl, our laughing princess, our gentle girl has gone to grow and expand. She has moved forward to be her own person and to infect the world with her kind, rational spirit—and we have been bumped out of her direct sphere of life to another ecliptic path that has the occasion to be in her vicinity versus daily or hourly to monthly to an occasional week here and there. We have to share now, whether we like it or not…there is no choice in this matter. 

We can fix a date to this change (09/02/2010) which none of us saw coming. No preparation, no warning but this sort of thing can creep up on you. And it did.

And left us all winded as our light moves on. 

Group Hug

Kitty at the Parade, Q. Cassetti, 2010Wow. What a last few days. I do not think I will not run down the blow by blow as it seems irrelevant other than we got to Amherst, stayed at a Holiday Inn Express (thankfully with comfy beds and air-conditioning), and were embraced by the spirit and community of Hampshire College, its friends, families, faculty, staff and the blooms of this wild rose, the lovely, bushy tailed students. 

It was hot going—with the temperatures in the mid to high nineties. But, as we approached Kitty’s dorm, a swarm of black shirted orientation guides, surrounded the car and deftly made light work of getting her stuff to the second floor of her dorm in short order. Then it was the fam doing the furniture re-arrangement, making of the beds, identifying the things to buy, and buying them, and finally leaving Kitty to empty her totes and really settle. She was worried and fretful, anticipating failure (my daughter, entirely). However, after the speechifying, the clapping and nice dinner under the big white tents in the central quadrangle (lets not forget the biodegradable corn starch cups filled with frosty water), and before her first floor meeting, we said goodbye and watched her introduce herself to a pair of women sitting outside who were formerly being chatted up by Mr. Younger Brother. After that, the texts got better and since then, silence. So, silence is good. I know she is happy and having a ton of fun.She might even have a few friends (do you think>?) and maybe not have to move out of her dorm (that was in the last hour of our visit). My guess is no change will be necessary.

 There were apple trees all over campus. Many dropping big red orbs (so early) that were rotting which scented the air from a sweet apple-y smell to the pungent reminder of vinegar…not all together unpleasant, but memorable. Many of the buildings and grounds had facelifts since the spring, so the property seemed really nice and tidy…a little less ramshackle and far more presentable if physical plant was key in the decision-making of future students and their parents. However, the spirit of the place was the same.

 There is something about the Hampshire Community, which I now feel fully entitled to talk about as I am now part of it. There is this ephemeral essence of smart, questioning, embracing and empowering. There is a push pull of ideas which can be (I am sure) strident (as with new ideas) to skills…and the approach that why not “try it”. Try philosophy, try rock climbing, try dance, try joke writing, try astrophysics, try it all, taste it all, question it all…and its all okay. There is no right way, its all right. There are no grades, but evaluations which can give you better feedback because it’s not about competition. The race is all between you and you (something I wish I had known sooner) and that the person you should concern yourself with is you. What makes you happy? What makes you think? What makes you expansive? What kind of person are you? How are you going to engage in your community and make a difference? This is what the Hampshire students learn along with the nuts and bolts of how to learn things, try things, grow and grow and learn until you are no longer. And these simple things are for me, a hallmark of an educated person. Empowered, confident, engaged in one’s community, growing personally, spiritually, physically and contributing with a happy heart—would be real lessons (the one’s without grades) that I would hope my children could learn and exemplify in their lives.

Kitty and Robbie at Hampshire, Q. Cassetti, 2010There is this embrace, as we experienced this weekend of students with students, faculty with students, staff with students, staff with faculty, parents with students with faculty and so on… which outwardly was expressed by the speeches and generous and thoughtful gestures on move in day. They had watercoolers in the quads and piles for paper recycling mid hallway for pick up. There were the onslaught of troops of happy helping new friends. We had visits from bouncy students just coming in to say hello and remark on something nice in Kitty’s room. We  met the new hallmates (kindred spirits to Kitty) and more upperclassmen who confirmed that this was her tribe. We were delighted by the details from the regular, vegetarian and vegan options for the nice lunches and dinners offered to the completed ID badge, kit and key that was easily handed over to Kitty hour one. The new president was enthusiastic as a new president and parent of a Hampshire student as well. Her remarks were thoughtful and meaningful. And no one felt the need to be a JK Rowling character from the Harry Potter books (thank goodness).

The next day was the beginning of orientation for the students and a full day orientation for families. I had signed us up “to be responsible parents”—and it turned out to be a pleasure without the least bit of pain And Mr. Younger Brother sat through the whole thing and was thrilled. So, much so, that he could easily see this sort of program for himself…so he can study music composition, film, and run cross country for the school. I think it def could be in the future mix too. He was on fire…and wanted to enroll for January term. I wish it could be that simple.

The family program had open panels on topics such as the program of study, of life beyond the classroom, ofNew Crew, Q. Cassetti, 2010 the dorm/dorm issues which were lead beautifully by members of the faculty with lots of question and answers with the parents. The families weren’t slouches with good questions (there were a few nervous nellies getting into the details of the bus routes etc as a for instance). We had a nice time during the lunch time meeting other parents and learning about their students (that’s what we call our kids)—their interests, backgrounds and where we all sit on the alternative scale. We are pretty mainstream/mild compared with the range. We will see these folks again in October and so on until graduation, so I know there might be some new friends in the bunch. If Hampshire pushes community, then we are there to embrace the whole thing.

 I just wish I could do it all over again on this campus, sitting between grain fields and the beautiful bowl of mountains that surround the school. The gold and pink, green, purple and blue were quite breathtaking now at the height of the season. I know October will be wonderful as will the cool winter. The opportunities and friends abound.