The Pride of Central New York: Stefan Senders speaks out about Fracking.

Yesterday, along with Thor Oechsner, Neal Johnston, Sandra Steingraber, and a host of others, I spoke at the Anti-Hydrofracking Day of Action in Albany. We distributed almost 200 loaves of bread to the assembled crowd, and then we marched, led by a chanting, bread-carrying farmers, to Cuomo’s office. Here is what I said:

My name is Stefan Senders, and I am a baker. Beside me are Thor Oechsner, an organic farmer, and Neal Johnston, a miller. We work together.

Today we bring bread to Albany to intervene in the self-destruction of the great State of New York. We come, Farmers, Bakers, and Millers, to remind our state and our Governor, Andrew Cuomo, that despite the promises of industry lobbyists, the exploitation of Shale Gas in New York is bad and broken economy of the worst kind.

This bread is the product of our community and our farms. The wheat, grown, tended, and harvested by our local organic farmers, is fresh from the soil of New York. The flour, ground in our local flour mill, is as fine as concerned and caring hands can make it.

To resurrect a term long since emptied by advertisers, the wheat, the flour, and the bread are ‘wholesome’: they bring our communities together, give us work, nourish us, please our senses, and make our bodies and our land more healthy.

This is good economy. It is wise economy. It is a steady economy that nourishes the State of New York.

We know that for many New Yorkers, Fracking sounds like a good idea. We have all heard the fantastic tales: Fracking, it is said, will save our state from financial ruin, release us from our dependence on “foreign oil,” and revive our rural economy by bringing cash, if not fertility, to our once vibrant farmland.

For politicians, these stories of money and growth are hard to resist: the numbers are large, deficits are unnerving, and elections are expensive.

For many farmers and land-owners, the promises of cash are dizzying, and to risk the land’s fertility to extract gas is only one step removed from risking the land’s fertility to extract a few more bushels of corn or soybeans.

But farmers might know better.

Farming has not always been, and need not be, an extractive industry. There was a time when farmers worked with a longer view, keeping in mind their role as stewards and caretakers of the land. That long view is the farmer’s wisdom, and it is as good and wise today as it ever was.

The promises of the gas industry are demonstrably false, and they miss what farmers know well: There is no independence that does not demand care and responsibility. There is no quantity of cash that can restore fertility to a poisoned field. There is no adequate monetary “compensation” for poisoned water. There is no payment, no dollar, no loan, that can restore life and community to a broken world.

Our work and the work we provide others—on the farm, at the mill, and at the bakery—depends on fertile soil, pure water, and a viable community. All of these are put at risk by Fracking.

What happens to our land in an economy bloated by gas exploitation? Prices rise, rents rise, and good, arable land becomes scarce as acres once leased to farmers are set to quick development schemes—flimsy housing, storage barns, parking lots, and man-camps.

And what happens to our water when gas exploitation takes over? Storage pools, as safe as Titanic was unsinkable, overflow, contaminating the soil; inevitable leaks in well-casings allow gasses and Frack-fluids to pass into our aquifers, into our bodies, and into the bodies of our children.

And what happens to communities held in thrall to gas exploitation? As we have seen in other parts of the country, the boom-bust cycle of the petroleum economy fractures communities, undermining our capacity to act wisely and civilly.

With every boom, a few get rich, a few do better, but all are impoverished. For every hastily built motel there are dozens of apartments with rising rents; for every newly minted millionaire there are many dozens who see nothing but the pain of rising costs and receding resources. For every short-term dollar there are hundreds in long-term losses that can never be recouped.

To go for gas is to go for broke.

With this bread we are here to remind you that there is another economy, one that works.

This bread symbolizes a commitment to the health of New York State. It embodies the knowledge that good work, not a gambler’s dream, is the basis of a sound and sustainable economy.

This bread symbolizes the farmer’s simple truth that without fertile soil, without pure water, and without strong community, we go hungry.

This bread reminds us all that the promises of gas exploitation are empty: What are we to grow in fields broken by the drill and tilled with poison? What are we to feed our children when our water and wheat are unfit? Shall we grind money to make our bread?

We do have a choice. We need not poison our land to live. We need not taint our water to drink. We need not sell our future to finance our present. These are choices, not inevitabilities.

With this bread we say: take the long view; pay attention to the health of the soil and nourish it; treasure pure water; remember the value of your community and keep it whole.

If something must be broken, let it not be shale. Let it be this bread.

Gingerbread House, precolor, Q. Cassetti, 2010, pen and inkMade a beautiful boule yesterday late. The key was letting it rise several times over the course of the day...and it still wasn't as filled as holes as I would like...but the crust was crusty and smelled like burned sugar. So, I am delighted with the new pizza stone (busted the Christmas one...smashed it into three perfect pieces that I was baking on)...the steam, the spray bottle.

Spring is inching forward. The snow still is around for Shady Grove to scratch her back in the gravelly ice--but the pools of ice at the bottom of the driveway are melting so when I try to stop the car before turning...allows me to stop these days. I need to think Spring thoughts of financial aid, summer programs for Kitty and or Alex, and making plans for the weather changing time. It is all moving way too quickly.

I am still (as you can see) messing around with gingerbread houses. I keep inking them and have one half way colored too. They are fun flippies...and then reversed out becomes a new new thing. Next step bees. I also am thinking of switching out my size sketchbook to get simpler. I am working 11 x 13 in a Canson Cream Field sketchook. I think I may go down one size and go back to watercolor paper which I used in the Memento Mori Project. I loved the way the ink sits on this Monvale Field Watercolor book. Thick and chewy paper.. and the lovely blackness.... Man, the crap I bore you with... sorry for my little ecstatic moment over paper and ink. It is just such a treat.

I wish I had a little crumb of time these days, but there is work falling out of the ceiling. We have the general quick stuff with the big client, two publications, logotypes and work around the new show on Medieval Glass at the Museum of Glass. Its a giant photoshop party here...flipping between photoshop and InDesign...I hope I get a chunk finished today.

Brilliant day

Blue sky. So much promise. It's truly Baba Marta bating us with promises of Spring today. I may have to start wearing red and white bracelets to keep this amazing migration of seasons coming. When we were in Western Mass. we saw vees of geese seemingly coming back to the area. We saw hunters training their pointers in the fields with blinds and plastic geese. We saw baskets of Polish painted wooden eggs and smelled bunches of daffodils for sale. There are those spring temptations and promises at the store, strawberries, raspberries and asparagus. The snow slides off our roofs in great crashing sheets of ice and glitter. There is hope in the air....though I must admit, I like Winter and could easily handle another month of hunkering down.

Bruce is on his way to visit for a week--working at the museum on a project. I have a ton to do. Somehow the floodgates have loosed at the big client and we are kept jumping with bailing out the consultants who sell themselves as designers and then can't design. So there is a lot for me to focus on as a designer...the paid and the unpaid. Need to finish up the bread work particularly after visiting the Hungry Ghost in Northampton, MA and it's more commercial spin off, El Jardin nearby. Gave me a bit more perspective on the breadth of the bread, it's perception and marketing and helps me better know what my bread client is looking for. He has broken ground, so there will be some pressure to move on this soon. Also, more changes in the Hangar work...need to move on that as they need the stuff.

I am making a chicken pie (from King Arthur) today for this week, a ham (from the CSA that was awarded to us) and some baked goods (King Arthur's cinnamon bread and King Arthur's Blog Chocolate Sourdough Cake). So, there will be cooking for the week. I need to rescue the chicken from the snowdrift I set the pan in...and get to work on freeing it from it's bones (for stock)...and see what else I can do with the leftovers.

I am busy thinking about bees, Bee Shamans, Melissas (Mellssae), and the wonderful stuff I unearthed yesterday. Nothing is immediate except good thoughts, small plans and the happiness in my heart that such a discovery can yield. Maybe bees!

Tuesday grey day

Winter Solstice, Q. Cassetti, 2010Geekin', oh girl. I have been working on more of these Home Sweet Home pictures and have begun to shorten tasks, work with the marvelous blob brush (shift + b) which fills well combined with the multiply transparency feature. I admit, they are not speedy...but quicker than in Photoshop. Working with these images forces me to think about color (I am using Kuler palettes, saving them, amending them and keeping that color biga going). And, some aspects of these illustrations work better than others as well (from a design standpoint)--so I keep learning as I go.

And then, there is the cmyk, rgb crossover which is always perplexing. When the list of all the tricky things that makes the work work...then, it will be time to hang up the boxing gloves. Ah well.

A loaf of Pain Levain is sitting on my little electric heater right by my right hand. I am going to give it one more rise than what is mentioned in the recipe. I was reading an interesting book about the Brother Juniper Bread Bakery in California, a wonderful philosophical / spiritual journey through bread...and he was talking about letting the dough have its time to grow and develop. He sprinkles in little bits of data and science (I think its all magic, to be honest) which is sticking to the inside of this head...and that you can continue to rise the bread a few times...but to watch it from going too far. The idea is to allow the yeast/sourdough to ferment to deepen the flavor. Makes sense to me.... We'll see. The proof is definitely in the pudding...or slice.

I am thrilled that I got my resume up here ( About Q.)...and that I have current shows, exhibitions etc up versus the time and trial to get my amended. I am going to transfer and to this page to let it all coexist. I am fiddling with galleries (the 2300˚ postcards under the Luckystone is an example of treatment). I originally kept the websites separate as it was preached at Syracuse that art directors/designers did not want to know if the illustrator was a designer and could handle type. I was fearsome about that, but now, I do not care. It is best for me to show my entire work as a whole versus a little bit here and a little bit there. Plus, I find the illustration work for myself. That's where I am happiest.

A mini pile of rush jobs have just popped up in my mailbox. Yeeesh.

More later, I hope.

Slow Saturday

Northern Lights, Q. Cassetti, 2010, pen and ink/ digitalJust back from Sauders, the Mennonite grocery store in Seneca Falls. It was a beautiful drive with clouds and little peeks of blue sky with gold light casting shadows on the snowy fields and painting the trees dark purple and brown. Beautiful. We bought a cartful of groceries with a lot of flour, butter and the basics. I picked up a package of John Martin Scrapple for my mother-in-law who loves it along with frozen blackberries, dried parsley, teensy potatoes (called creamers) and much more.

They had dried mushrooms (my new add to the mise en place) but Greenstars are better and believe it, cheaper. Mushrooms add so much to any saucy thing--adding so much weight and dimension to the flavor of a sauce. It is amazing, much like the leek, the shift/or add of an ingredient can make so much of a difference.

We have eggplants for Kitty and Alex's favorite eggplant along with all sorts of spices, nuts and add ins. What with the time I have at home, the bottles and cans for cooking have been replaced by single pieces of paper and plastic bags. The whole quantity of our household trash has reduced to a trickle...and the composting and recyclables a bit more weighted.

I have flour for the week. I am making a new recipe in The King Arthur Book--not the Pain Levain, but the Whole Wheat Sourdough which is a bit more complicated (but thats not saying a lot).

I am thinking of calling the Society of Illustrators in New York to find out what it would take to create a digital (maybe even taking it to vector) award for the Student's Show. I would like to do a $1000 prize (max $1500) as this is the place to encourage growth and staying on track. It would have meant the world to me when I was in school, but prizes were not given. I am also thinking of prizes for the first years and a single prize for the second years at Hartford Art School's MFA in illustration. Illustration keeps giving and giving to me, I would like to encourage this small community of lovely people through giving to students who may need applause and praise for excellence and effort. Put this on the list of things to do.

Must go for now. There is some reference to search....for more of these home sweet home pictures. I am developing things and feel I am on the front end of this...

Off to Target later this afternoon for shopping with Alex. Maybe dinner at The Nines...!

Quiet Day

Rabbit Run, Q. Cassetti, 2010, pen and ink/ digitalI am trying out new things with this illustrator coloring of a reverse out of these pen and ink drawings. I have an egg started with another planned for tonight's Olympic watching. I like what's happening...and need to look more at the silhouette portraits and landscapes that are out there in cyberworld. I have had some really lovely insights from friends through Facebook and here on this page. My friends really seem to have responded to yesterday's "Quiet Night" by putting themselves in the picture or themselves as woodland animals in the scene. I do not know there this is going...but its happy making--for me, and comfort for my friends and viewers. Also, I like the back and forth between hands, photoshop and illustrator, and illustration and photoshop back again. I am showing you two looksees of the color... I think I prefer the one on the left-- seems brighter, snappier. Plus, I am trying to use the 80/20 per my mentor/ Murray Tinkelman re color and the balance of the image. Yesterday's was more successful I think-- but we are rolling and see what happens.

Made a big boule yesterday afternoon. Its great to be able to make bread--particularly this King Arthur Pain Levain, as its one big mix and then a series of risings and foldings which takes no me time, just sitting time. i discovered I was not allowing my poor boules to rise in a warm enough place. So, yesterday I fired up the Fridgidaire ( my 1940 electric stove that came with the house complete with the "Thermonizer") and had a nice hot top to allow real like rising. And dang, it did. The loaf turned out well along with the requisite texture in the bread along with holes(!) --- And, it was delicious. R. said it was equal to Le Pain Quotidien bread we had in NYC. There's a huge complement! So, the bread journey continues. I am going to keep doing this one recipe until I really understand it, and nail it. The home team continues to eat it...and I can cut the big boule into two pieces to take to the neighbors--so we all benefit. Only trouble is that I broke my pizza stone... and need to order a new one. My brother sent me a nice link that will be perfect. Breadtopia carries that same stone.

Alex has a track meet tomorrow with hopes that we shop for a suit on Saturday. Kitty is charged about our visit to Hampshire soon. School play practices abound.

I Love Fu

I Love Fu, Q. Cassetti, 2009, pen and ink/ digitalLife is good when you have a ten pound bag of flour in it. The possibilities are endless. I have two loaves in their new rising baskets on the second rise. A banana bread in the oven with a cake in the offing. We are having friends of K's for dinner, so we have happy gals with metabolisms coming over giving me the opportunity to crank out more recipes from the new "go to", the King Arthur Flour Baking Book. Nary a bum recipe yet.

Am drawing away. It was fun to have a pen in my hand as we watched the Olympics on tv. I am making more pine trees and houses. I came to the conclusion that I am doing these pictures as a way of exploring borders and frames around a central image. I am kind of done with that and am thinking about either getting back into the Garden of Eden work, or work on some egg-inspired art as it is such a huge symbol imbued with all sorts of imagery, meaning etc. Plus, it would be a fun lenten body of work with Easter being the end date. I enjoyed the whole process of the advent images as it had a start and end date-- a real live start and end date, that puts a bit of pressure on I chase things a bit faster and not get hung up on some thing.

I also want to make some pictures around the the Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat, a poem by Eugene Field. I was inspired by two amazingly whimsical and large ceramic renderings of these creatures (my the deep past, a friend had them in his NYC apartment...very Hilary Knight- esque). I have been inspired by them since--and will need to do something about that. Here's the poem:

The Duel
(The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat
 by Eugene Field
The gingham dog and the calico cat  
Side by side on the table sat;
'Twas half-past twelve, and (what do you think!)
Nor one nor t'other had slept a wink!
 The old Dutch clock and the Chinese plate
 Appeared to know as sure as fate
There was going to be a terrible spat.
 (I wasn't there; I simply state
 What was told to me by the Chinese plate!)

The gingham dog went " Bow-wow-wow!"
And the calico cat replied "Me-ow!"
The air was littered,an hour or so,
With bits of gingham and calico,
 While the old Dutch clock in the chimney place
 Up with it hands before its face,
For it always dreaded a family row!
 (Now mind: I'm only telling you
 What the old Dutch clock declares is true!)

The Chinese plate looked very blue,
And wailed,"Oh dear! What shall we do!"
But the gingham dog and the calico cat
Wallowed this way and tumbled that,
 Employing every tooth and claw
 In the awfullest way you ever saw-
And oh! how the gingham and calico flew!
 (Don't fancy I exaggerate!
 I got my news from the Chinese plate!)

Next morning where the two had sat
They found no trace of dog or cat;
And some folks think unto this day
That burglars stole the pair away!
 But the truth about the cat and pup
 Is this: they ate each other up!
Now what do you really think of that!
 (The old Dutch clock, it told me so,
 And that is how I came to know.)

Good stuff, eh?

And now for the greetings of the day.

I heart Fu, I love You. Be my virtual valentines!



Groovin' with Squarespace

As you know, I migrated my blog (1750 entries) from Blogspot to this new place via SquareSpace. What is cool about Squarespace is that it is a very flexible tool for creating a web presence whether it be a blog or a site a very straight forward way. They are continually evolving the its nice to get into looking at the parts to see how one can modify/change an existing site.

I took on the University of Hartford's  Hartford Art School Limited Residency MFA Illustration site back from a friend who took on the task for a while. I had started this blog in Wordpress thinking that it would be easier and more customizable than Blogspot (which, I will say again and again, is a great place to start to see if you or your content is well suited for the blogisphere). It was more customizable...but it just didn't feel as fluid or as intuitive as I would have liked. What that means is, it wasn't fun; it was always something you had to "work" with versus just getting in there and boogying with the content. So, when Erich heard mentions of Squarespace on the the tech podcast he listens to, I stored it in the back of my head.

Then, coming back from Thanksgiving, the thought became a plan and I put in motion migrating my blog to newer quarters which could accomodate all of my web presences from my illustration page, to the sleeping luckystone page... and the day to day mutterings on my blog. Why not drive traffic to one place? Why be ashamed of being an illustrator (and a designer) which to art directors is despised? I yam what I yam....and that's all what I yam. No big news, but big news for me. I planned the migration for before December and would run both blogs until January 1 when I would focus on the SS. site.

My happiness abounds. Squarespace works (though I am struggling with carriage returns and need to see what the code is to just hand sock them in. Squarespace gives me galleries (like the Atelier) which allows me to post bodies of work immediately. Squarespace also, in less than 10 minutes sucked all my Blogspot content and imagery over to the new home and allows me to back up a copy to my desktop. Only thing I was having an issue with was links and the patchwork of small information that I am recreating.

I did the same with Squint (not ready for prime time but here is the work in progress> I plan to bring over my other pages to merge with the Rongovian Academy, creating a homepage that sits on top of the whole magilla...and doing a page for graphics, work in progress, and illustration.

I am spending time on the Agricultural Entrepeneur work. I am working exclusively with type but trying to put my illustration hat on while working with the fonts to a little success (hopefully more). There are some kernels worth exploring. I think we may be able to do something standout, affordable and memorable. That works for me.

Made another loaf of Pain Levain yesterday. Better and Better. The misty oven is key. And the Biga keeps growing and growing like illustration, graphic design, ideas, thoughts, connections. I started a bitty biga which overflowed it's crock yesterday and have transferred it to a bigger biga jar. I need to double the biga to make two loaves of bread on biga development is happening. I ordered two bread rising baskets (cheapest price) from Breadtopia. I am keeping my fingers crossed that maybe today I might get them!

Was pursuing debossed Moleskines for a client giveaway. Pretty sweet. A bit costly but sweet nonetheless.

Mandy is going back to Hartwick College today loaded down with two boxes of little containers of soup, stews, spaghetti sauce and the like. Its seriously two /three weeks worth of lunches and dinners. We will miss her and her herding pup, Sonata (otherwise known by her Cat On A Hot Tin Roof name, Baby). But, she is back to pick up where she left off in the world of plants, biology and geology. Sounds pretty blissful. I love school.

Snow is not to high here. Enough for the kinder to ski on...

I am hoping that Sunday may be an official study hall!

More later>>

Biga Bonanza

I must admit quite openly, that if you want to begin to bake bread that tastes like anything, please do not consult any other book than The King Arthur Bread book. My little happy biga, bubbling away, when added to the Pain Levain recipe created a bread that was, for a beginner, sublime. It looked, acted and tasted like sourdough!. And the make it now/later pizza dough was a hit really tasting and behaving like pizza dough. I think I am on to this.... the biga, the dough, the resting overnight in the fridge....soon the floured baskets, the spray bottle (none to be found in Ithaca in the beginning of February). I predict 25 lb. sacks of flour soon.... and baskets, and crocks galore of biga, baby biga, rye biga, and beega biga. This is infectious much so, that my superbowl guests are screaming and I am being the bad hostess (as usual) and talking to you!.

A pleasant and high rising night to you.

Robins Egg Blue Sky and Book

Another bluesky day. Colder. But beautiful and happy making.

I whimsically opened the robins egg blue covered Martha Stewart cookbook and mixed up the French Bread recipe. Simple. And so, I have little mounds of dough nestled around the radiators during their third rising soon to be baked off. We had no bread---so I figured I would make it versus going to the story to buy the fabulous Herkimer.... My bread doesn't even hold a candle to Herkimer, but its paid for and the challenge of making something you don't want to throw away is still on.

What else? Kitty and Alex are both in the play. Alex is in the chorus and Kitty is in a small ensemble that she is very pleased to be included in. This is an activity Alex is openly stating his pleasure in starting this new path--with Kitty chiming in on how much she loves being in the play or associated with it.

I got the Behance connection and am talking to the contact about the job. Seems like it could be a good fit--and I checked the very small quantity of reference which most of it is covered by the Creative Commons license. Left foot, right foot.... There is plenty to do and to catch up with. But, this is illustration money on the table...and really as a logotype which my vector work is very workable.

The big book for my client continues. Worked with Rob to thumbnail/concept a publication we will need to gun out for a special client. It may be a handmade piece for this initial deal--rolling into something that can be printed, or print on demand (via OFoto, or Kodak--the multipaneled accordian piece they offer). Was a good conversation that got the ideas out and through chewing on them...simplifying them and really being able to articulate the content was refreshing.

As you can see, I am still working on the silhouette pictures. Again, I don't know where this is going...but enjoying the pictures.

More later> Cannot wait to get the details on the IPad.