New week on the horizon

scherenschnitte1. Q. Cassetti, pen and ink, 2011Old week coming to a close. Since we spoke last, I have cooked up a storm, visited with people, shopped in Corning and in Waterloo, searched for shoes, and tried to sleep in between. We have had visitors from both sides of the family and lots of wonderful time with our dear girl and darling boy.

So the cooking started late Wednesday afternoon in prep for Kitty’s arrival. It was dinner and a few little things. She arrived around ten at the bus station—so Rob and I went to get her. She came home and ate a phenomenal amount of food…talking and chatting, laughing and opinionizing. Delightful. But it got late and we all had to put our heads down. Alex had friends over, so they listened to music and watched movies (which they always do).

Thursday, it was up and early. We had a dinner to put on the table, “wheels up” by 4. Everything was defrosted. The brined breasts washed, the salad compiled, the maple walnut layer cake iced and decorated. Table was set. Placecards made and placed. All went without a hitch. New refinements to this year’s even were: 1) preheat the premade gravy in advance. Use the hand/emersion blender to froth up before serving. You can add a bit more parsley at that time to freshen things up; 2) Second type of cranberry. I make the raw orange/cranberry/bit of sugar in the food processer so its chunky kind. This year I mulled some cider (about 3 c. cider, 1 seeded orange cut in  half (put 4 cloves in each half (skin side), squeeze the juice into the cider, 2 cinnamon sticks…and boil.) then, I put 2 bags of fresh cranberries into the cider (you can sweeten/ I didnt) and let them pop… What with the pectin in the fruit, it makes a lovely change and alternative to the raw stuff); and 3) prior to the early gravy making with the early stock making (turkey legs and wings from t he cheap parts section of the turkey aisle at the store)—make a TON as you do use it). Stock is key to Thanksgiving. I should have put a number at each placesetting to force people to change partners at dessert…and need to remember this for the next festa. Only downside to the party was that a family member was out of line with his behavior which soured the event for me. Better planning in the future to manage this behavior is needed. Nice thing is that this misbehavior is consistent. It was silly me to expect better. Next time.

I fully engaged the boneyard moments after the Thanksgiving festivities were winding down. The full carcass of the 19 lb. organic, natural, loved turkey, and Mr. Purdue’s fresh natural breast were boiled away after roasting to yield me three enormous containers of stock for the next Turkey fest after the 25th of December. Plans are in place to have a family party of kids and their friends for more of the same…We will see.

Eddys and Cassettis, November 25, 2011Friday, my brother Tom, his wife, Jenny and three wonderful kids came to visit on the way home to Boston. It was great to see them, albeit a bit short as we were just beginning to get warmed up.  They arrived in an enormous truck, something Hagrid from Harry Potter might have driven, the “Raptor” with my nephew who has grown to way over 6’ tall and the girls lovely and chatty. I loved seeing them. What a treat. So we had pizza and gabbed and laughed. I said wicked things to prompt them to join in, but they were so well bred, they snickered but didnt take the bait the way team Cassetti always does. The day was gorgeous…vernal with green grass, bright orange sunlight and a blue sky. It was November in SoCal, not Central New York. But we will take these blessings as they come…hoarding them as jewels. Rob and I did a quick strategic strike at the Black Friday Corning Museum of Glass sale. It was remarkable by 3 p.m. how much merchandise had been cleared out of the museum and the big auditorium with the big ticket items. I bought some drinking glasses, some glass jewelry and a few presents to add to mypile….for a great price. The big things they had were a huge selection of Waterford drinking glasses, example of Iittala Toikka Birdstumblers, wine and water glasses, a huge selection of Riedel glasses, and a huge selection of the Iittala Toikka Birds at very good prices. Everything was 20% off across the board with deeper savings throughout the boutiques. It was amazing…and hopefully it will all bode well for the Museum of Glass financially. High class stuff for good prices is hard to beat and next weekend is the fabulous Studio Sale which I recommend anyone in the area to make a visit for. Well worth the trip. We will not be here, so listen…and you will hear my teeth gnashing from down south! Go and hit the dollar table…the interesting experimental drinking glasses will make your morning orange juice something to celebrate or at least, notice. Latticino spun plates and bowls, some lovely cast glass….and so on. Too fun. All one offs.

We bought new dancing shoes for Kitty and a plaid shirt for Alex at TJMaxx to their delight. Kitty was giddy with her new shoes…for contradancing and the costume shop (her new reference points). Alex, as usual, was “hitting it” and working on the new look for Fall Winter Alexstyle. We are going to take some pix for fun and put in an application for Ford Models for  A. He wants to do it, and I can take the shots…why not? The worst thing would be that nothing would happen. No change from today, right? And in the tradition of our house, you should try and try and try. You never know.

Today, we went to the Waterloo outlets to get pants for Rob. This week is Art Basel Miami and Design Miami. Rob will be speaking at Musecon on Tuesday and doing some business/ meetings this week until  A. and I show up on Thursday and Friday to take in some art and happenings. So we needed to get some things so that Rob could look like the grown up he is. Costuming is complete. Now for the packing for him (Florida and Manhattan, from swimwear to formal wear…sounds almost Miss America-sh). He has lots of work in front of him, but if things happen postively, 2012 will be far more interesting (and diverse/complicated).

The sky is paynes gray grading to cream to light pink to paynes grey again. We have had some spectacular sunrises and sunsets in the past few SoCal days. It would be great for things to quiet down a bit so I can put some ink down and then settle in for an hour or so of Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert Massie (who I have loved from his other biographies, particularly that of Nicholas and Alexandra). But just time with my pens would be lovely.

I hope you gave thanks with friends and family…surrounded by the people that get you revved up and going. I love this holiday of gratitude. We should have more of them. The count the blessings holidays. I am thankful we just have the one we have…but a monthly one would be great too. There will be lots to talk about in the next week. Stay tuned!


Rejected valentine.Sorry I have gone radio silent. Its just been a bit busy. Friday was Ithaca College and then work. Ithaca College was fascinating…a great school, spectacular facilities and heads down, focused students. Impressive. Really impressive but maybe not the right program for our student. It definitely feels like a place that is great if you know the road you want to be on, you have the map and all you need is the gas and vehicle to get from here to there. We are more in the questing mode here. We are looking for passion and at many directions. To my thinking as a former targeted missile, this is a fine thing to do. It was cool to see the “other” school in Ithaca—with clever architects and siting such that every building and walkway opened to gorgeous high views of Cayuga Lake making me feel that we were definitely somewhere different than the Ithaca we know. The music facilities are the most superior we have had seen— with state of the art practice rooms, choral spaces, tidy lockers, engaging performance spaces. Their admissions building is a new, welcoming space which marries a welcoming professionalism with an environmental conciousness  that really communicates the spirit of the school. If you have a student interested in the arts, music, communications (The Park School)—in particular, who is a focused student, consider Ithaca College. Yes, its in our backyard, but is an outstanding program, a smaller more intimate experience, and clearly top rate.

Alex has Friday off for Superintendent’s Day. We are going to travel to Putney, Vermont to go see Landmark College. Landmark is a program you can do as a summer session, a semester, a year or two. It is an accredited program that is focused on teaching with learning disabililties (specifically ADHS, ASD and dyslexia) students to use assistive tools and techniques for reading and writing. They help place students in jobs and in other colleges  after this experience. This is an option that we need to see regardless of how we chose to engage. There are amazing tools out there…(Kurzweill 3000 and Dragon for examples) that if they were to become automatic for our student, it could make learning more fluid, easier and maybe fun (!). I will keep you posted.

Speaking of technology, I wish the Wacom Inkling would please come out…They promised it in September…

I am transfixed by the tragedy and drama that keeps leaking out of the Penn State Football program. Absolutely tragic, operatic, more disgusting and detailed than any novelist could embellish. The giants have fallen…and more to come. It was great hanging out with Rob’s barber, Ed Pesco and Brian, to hear their insight and impressions of this news (they are huge football fans)—with their research (they access football forums on various teams), the gossip that is floating out there and the hints at how huge this thing is. It confounds me that Jerry Sandusky, a pedophile, is out on bail without having to post a penny of his own money—without a cuff or anklet to track him. This man who “horses around” in the shower lives across the street from an elementary school and is residing there while his lawyer constructs an arguement to explain how this Sandusky is innocent. It was appalling arrogance and hubris to see that “Joe Pa”, Joe Paterno thought that he was more superior to the board of directors of the University to determine when he was going to retire. Thank goodness the Board got off their duffs to fire that old man and the university president along with him. Paterno thinking he could control his future in this…despite his essentially ignoring this obscene behavior under his leadership—approval by sheer neglect. I agree with Ed and Brian that they should clean house within this organization and even, if necesssary, shut football down for 5 years to focus on healing the University (and to my thinking, shift priorities to that of education and community)

Finally, it takes this level of foul play to have the national press focus on college football so we can really ask ourselves if this is where our educational dollars should be spent (to drive alumni donations)—This huge national college football phenomenon was bigger than the travesty that was being manifested in the locker room by a coach during his tenure and his retirement. The silence throughout the organization up to the top of the University to coverup and damp down these activities despite the distruction and abuse of these disadvantaged children for the sake of the university image as reflected in the football program. Why shouldnt a university be recognized, funded and rewarded for it’s change in the world of ideas, theories, discoveries, developments versus brawny, kobe-beef boys who can catch a ball? What does that say about us as a culture, a community, a people?

Mark Madden predicted this story in April 2011 in the Beaver County Times>> Lets see if his predictions are as true as the ones that have come out recently.

The weekend was prep for Thanksgiving. I made more cranberries, baked the layers for a Maple Walnut layer cake (from the current MSteward Food magazine), made stock and prepped all sorts of vegetables from the CSA. This week is more baking and planning Thanksgiving week’s pregame prep with veggies and potatoes. Our guest list is slimming down from 22 to 17 now. Bit easier (at least from the flatware standpoint)— Like a little Thanksgiving squirrel, I have the beginnings of our feast frozen and ready to go. By the day, it will be a glorious thing.