Onion love, Q. Cassetti, 2012, Adobe Illustrator CS5Brilliant cool spring day today. We are back to semi-normalacy as the weather is acting like it should this time of the year. I am looking over at the back forty, blown away by the sheer green of everything. Both Alex and I are feeling that Spring surge of getting our creative mojo back—and we are both relishing it. What is it about the change in season that always flicks a switch and away you go (creatively). I always respond to the change in light…the longer days, the brighter time…but maybe its just that its the change. I find myself doing the same thing when its longer nights and darker days just as instead of opening up, the delight is the hunkering down.

I must admit, that this fruit and veggie thing is still going…and I am loving the response I am getting to this much more graphic work than I normally do. I am thnking more colorfields, simpler, more graphic… As you can see from this work, there is very little shading/ tiger toothing— but more solid shapes intersecting solid shapes, and it still comes off as believeable. Plus, this work is distinctly my own. I don’t  have reference around me from Alexander Girard, the Provensens, Matisse, Milton Avery to goad me into being true to the graphic aspect of this work…it just is flowing. And, I am drawing these things on paper—not using blue line to make the original drawing something that becomes central to the illustratration, but parker pen on bond paper. I am designing these things prior to picking up the wacom pen to see what can happen. And, though they are designed, they always evolve, like magic when I am working them out in illustrator.  So, I cannot wait to get the pen moving to see how the image will resolve itself during the rendering process. I know it’s simple,  but it delights me to no end to see how the head and hand unconsiously resolves these things, and the bodily me just moves the hand and eyes…and drinks in the image.

New thing I am delighted in: Craftsy.

Thanks to Laura Nelkin, local knitter, beader, teacher, world celebrity, and really on the cusp of internet cool, I discovered Craftsy as Laura is doing a class on knitting with beads. What is Craftsy? It is s site you can sign up for online classes and workshops from knitting to giftwrapping, to even illustration and tailoring. The classes are longer than the workshops, but there are videos, access to the professionals, and patterns to learn a technique (like the fancy knitting I want to learn like Entrelac) to soapmaking to sugar flowers. It is very much in the mode of Lynda.com (for those of us obsessed with our computer applications) but friendlier, shorter and more can do. What a great idea—craft classes you can take at home on your own time. One could plan a crafts vacation for a day or so and go wild making lip gloss and crocheted baby hats (take a look at this one…the crocodile stitch floral baby hat>>). Not that any of us have a ton of free time, but a rainy Sunday afternoon and Craftsy could be trouble (if you get my meaning!).

Gotta go. The day awaits as does Yearbook.

Water cooler

Peach tile, Q. Cassetti, Adboe Illustrator CS5I am taking a little break as the big machine is getting an Adobe Creative Suite upgrade (5.5) and as the computer whirrs and rattles, the blue band advances, I can chat a bit with you…an electronic coffee break.

I sit here in my tower, looking out over the back forty with brilliant green grass, forsythia and frosty daffodils. The stinky allium were horizontal and frozen the other day, and this morning, they were standing tall and back in order. We can only hope for moderate cold. How crazy is this weather? The deer are back in force.

Its been busy here with work work, Farmers Market work and my farmers work. I am always reluctant to talk about work/
work as its not right…but the other two, I am happy to chat a bit about.

The Trumansburg Farmers Market. We need to boost awareness, build excitement and get more people coming to the market. That is the “this year” challenge (and ongoing). Granted, we have limited funds, but I am the queen of getting a ton for your money. So, in that spirit, we are going to start to advertise in local journals and summertime rags Thank you Amelia (she found the typo!)(advertising is really inexpensive). Additionally, we are going to have a rack card that hopefully we will put in backpacks prior to school letting out ($110 for 5M pieces from BargainBasementPrinting.com). This rack card is going to promote the market along with the free live music that is offered for a fun summer night out on the town for the family. For a wider distribution, we are going to work with an artist who is very affordable and does distribution of her own rack cards, and for a fee will take ours around to wineries etc. where our summer visitors might be. Then there is the local distribution that I think we can, as board members, put out the cards. I am ordering PET recycled tote bags from Bulletin Bag (and, she says proudly, got a community/ non profit price on them) with our summertime slogan (yes, created by M. E….”Omnivore, Herbivore, Carnivore, Localvore! More for ‘Vors at the Trumansburg Farmers Market” Big/brassy and bold. We plan on selling the price with a bit of a markup, but also giving a bunch away (a drawing every farmers market, a drawing at the local foods lectures at the Library etc.). I am looking into small banners for Main Street. And then, we might be having a few Saturday Markets (to test the concept and maybe switch out the rules a bit to give the smaller/newer farmers a shot at selling some stuff). We are going to have a pumpkin event in October, maybe a Thanksgiving market as well as a Holiday market. So…lots to plan and promote.

Then there are my farmers. Love them. Love their independence and spirit. Love how their work, growing food delights them. I am within eyeshot of two of these new logotypes being completed. Another has a few more turns. And the cidery is having the work approved by the TTB. So…a few things on the horizon for now. I would love to share the process but I can only do that after their marks have been approved by them.

I am still making Farmers Market images of fruit and vegetables…making stand alone images and then wreaths and tiles from those elements…creating little collections of things.  I modified my asparagas image to show to Good Life Farm for their asparaganza (an event in May celebrating their enormous aparagas crop)—and I blundered by putting a grasshopper in the picture (fyi. as adorable as grasshoppers are, the Farmers can’t like t hem…at all…think the Bible and swarms of locusts). However, I picked up a few more tricks with warping text (never did that before) and using all the path offset, and path options in my new fave, the “appearance” panel. I am becoming a pretty good intermediate user….

There will be a set of 8 prints auctioned tomorrow at the Great Local Foods Network event at Regional Access in addition to those same 8 auctioned (probably silent) as separate images, and some Q. goody bags of stickers, tattoos, postcards and the like. Should be a fun event with music, raffles, and tons of great people.

The whirring has stopped. The disk is being ejected. Time to get back to the paying work.

puffs of Spring.

Strawberry Valentine, Q. Cassetti, 2012, Adobe Illustrator CS5Shady and I just got back from looking at our hellebore, our adorable little snowdrops and to see if the cherry trees have buds still on them (that the deer have not gnawed off). We need to put netting over all the hosta, the few peonies left, and the sedum as it kept the deer from ravaging the plants… so be it. I would like big fat hosta, and plump peony blossoms on my tree peony. The ground is unthawing—with the grass all puckery and spongy.  As lovely as the warmer weather is, it still is early.

I may buy a few more cherry trees today from Millers . 3 or 4 more sours…and one or two sweets. This year is the year of the sweet cherry. I have been (and continue to be) possessed by sour cherries, but the sweet are amazing here…as big as equine eyes…and really a robust flavor. What a week cherry week will be this year!

Had a fascinating time listening to the budget work our Village Board was working on last night. It was important to attend, to hear things that maybe we can engage in with the Farmers Market. There is a community yard sale in mid May, and maybe we should offer space for $10. rental  or less, so that folks can bring their things to the park to make it more “community”. Maybe we could get some music, promote the vendors and drive some excitement. We will need some cool shopping bags to sell…and after doing a ton of research, the chico bag still seems like the best option, but I am still checking around. I want the bag to be portable, nylon (as its washable and continues to look good) unlike the cotton ones which are heavy, get ratty looking and just doesnt have a cool factor. Also a bumper sticker. What do you think of ” Carnivore, Herbivore, Localvore. More for ‘Vores”—maybe even use the phrase on the totebag too…versus the logotype. We also need to find a way to drive more to the bottom line so as to make the village investment zero out— Grants, things to sell…more money via rentals etc.

The fruits and veggies continue apace. You will see more…The new tools are fabulous.


Tthe National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center said the sun erupted Tuesday evening, creating a solar flare that is the biggest in six years. (AP Photo/NASA)It’s always amusing to wake up to the sunshiny smart voices on NPR’s radio show” Morning Edition”. Generally, there is  some nice little tidbit about politics, books, movies, the state of the state, even sports. “Morning Edition” is the way I brace myself for the day—grounding in it’s regular format, the calm presentation, the intelligent reporting, the odd story that I feel the need to note before rushing into the drinking coffee and driving cars part of the morning. “Morning Edition” is a lodestone for every morning since college for me…a friend and a dependable rock of information, stories, and news. Solid solid.

However, this morning, I was shocked into wakefulness when these normally salient people started talking about the solar flare being predicted for today—possibly knocking out electrical grids, and messing with the communications at airports etc. It sounded straight out of a mid-century Japanese SciFi Godzilla movie—with flares, electricity, torrential rain, possible plane accidents. Was it April 1st? Were they slipping some kind of “funny” our way just to brighten our days (beyond the amusement of Rick Santorum and the Newt)?  

No. Truly, Planes are being re-routed—and we are all buckling down for the sci-fi predictions around weather, electricity and and the possible cosmic show (ushering in a rare opportunity for those of us lower on this spinning globe, to experience the glorious Northern Lights). Word is:

“A strong storm can lead to problems with power grids, GPS systems, and can be a danger to satellites and astronauts, but this storm has produced no such problems, scientists said.

Physicist Joseph Kunches with the Space Weather Prediction Center likens the challenge of forecasting these events to hitting a major league pitcher’s fastball.”Like a hitter we try and figure out if the pitch is coming down the middle of the plate or is low and outside” said Kunches. “The problem is the pitch comes from the sun from 93 million miles away.”

So, as our team of electrician and plumber and I gabbed this morning, this solar news surfaced and somehow got linked to the wonderful Mayan end of times planned for 12.21.12— with tales of customers who are planning for end of times, even here in the magical land of TrUlysses. We are talking of folks putting in hand pumps for their wells (a great idea, I think) to the full fledged survival kit with months of food, water and electricity set by for emergency. What is a solar flare to those of us in wait for the Rapture!

Strawberry Swash, Q. Cassetti, 2012, Adobe Illustrator CS5Little veggie picture for today. Yep. Little strawberry swash… I am full bore onto produce and Farmers Markets as imagery to learn more about illustrator, vectors, brushes etc. I woke up at 3 a.m. last night thinking about brushes. I am intrigued by where the edge of brushes to custom swatches, to then the opportunity to pattern and frame. I am also revelling in my new heavy duty drawing process prior to squaring up, applying my digital tape and rendering these pictures.

I have been watching a few Lynda.com videos on brushes, textures and textured brushes. I hope this might loosen up some of these pretty bold vector images. You will see what happens if we get anything interesting. I have a very things I would like to try…and I am reluctant to ask a friend as sometimes when I try to discover how to do this sort of thing, I learn a ton more just with the hunting and pecking to try to get there. So, I am learning a lot about filters, about Smart effects etc. More on that front

Yesterday was the last winter CSA at Sweet Land CSA. It was a balmy, early spring , early evening. It was a sweet time with moms and their littles all playing together, grabbing carrots and eating them, building little projects in the pile of sawdust. It was tall rubber boots, bags of turnips, kohlrabi and kale, and the feeling of hope and promise as the next time we will be at Sweet Land will be the beginning of the Summer CSA, heaven on earth. I will be helping them to think out communications strategies as well as polish up their brand as it stands. Should be a fun process to have a monster CSA (hundreds of members), versus my smaller farmers (less than a hundred).


Love localvore apples, Q. Cassetti, 2012, adobe illustrator CX5Yep. It needed a name, this bizarre season of on again/ off again Spring then Winter. Spwinter. It was a two quilt night last night and the afternoon temperature promises to tempt the crocuses to bud and bloom. So as Alex and I cruised over to  Charles O Dickerson this morning, we named it just to humor ourselves. 

As you have noticed, I am back on illos of fruits and veggies…inspired by my localvoria and also the hope of the spring like weather. If the farmers are sowing seed, I can sow illustrations which has been fun. I am doing something wild these days. Drawing. Yes, drawing the illos before squaring them up in illustrator and finishing them.  This is a bit of a rare thing, but as I find the design gets better, tighter and its a more profitable use of my time. So, in the lineup, there are a few illustrations with strawberries, some with cherries, some with pumpkins, some with zucchini. Tomatoes still need to be considered. Ginger as well. Yes, this work is a bit design-y but as I am not shrugging off that mantle too…it makes me happy. After looking at last years veggie pix, I think there is a lot of room to continue to develop this little body of work for fun. Plus,  with all the localvoria (as you can see from the new Great Foods Network graphics/poster) there may be some use beyond my personal fun. I am learning a few more tools…focusing on zig zag, on gradients, and brushes. My lovely symbols and brushes palettes are in use too.  What fun. I need to learn more about textured brushes. I think there is some space here. Love my tools.

This little exercise is another excuse to touch tools I am not familiar with as well as build on the tools I currently know. Case in point, to work in illustrator is to use the “Path” tool—creating lines from dots/points and handles…not the most intuitive. I have used the paths exclusively—however using the “outline” and “offset” path pulldowns have given me more room to work faster and more accurately. Additionally, I am trialing “Vector Scribe”, a bolt on to Illustrator that allows “enhanced vector creation and editing”…we will see.

Need to get on it. I have the Great Foods dudes coming today for lunch. Carrot Ginger Soup (little cumin) and the usual offerings to make sandwiches with. Cheers.

a snippet of summer

Bees on the Peaches, Silverqueen Farm, Q. CassettiThe bees were adorable yesterday, flying from raspberry to peaches…seeking sweetness and clustering on the peaches that birds had pecked.  Ripe fruit was underfoot in the orchard, with nothing going to waste…with plenty for us too. The ripe, rotting fruit was a heady combination of peach and vinegar—memorable but not bad.

Kitty and I chatted as we gathered the fruit, a very pleasant time just being together. We both agreed on our wonder at bees, their friendly business, industry and diligence. We also exclaimed over the opportunity to grow your own fruit—producing food enough for a big family and then some…and how so much opportunity we have in this fertile area. Maybe my cherry trees will be the beginning of an orchard with peaches, apples, and hazelnuts? Maybe a course on beekeeping at Cornell is in the works.

Oh good! Its raining. We are finally getting some water (yesterday and now today). We need it.

Today is bits and pieces. I ordered my Christmas Cards…and I think having the valentine done by the end of August would be good too. I need to pursue the study abroad thing for my boy and get Kitty prepped to pack. There are projects to start, and projects to finish. I would love to close some out this week. Maybe there is hope?



Summer lull

Green Man 10, Q. Cassetti 2011, pen and ink.Yesterday was a day of shuttling and shopping, cooking and floating, revelations and quiet. Rob went sailing with our friend Peter and our friend John on the prettiest little wooden sailboat on Cayuga Lake.

I took Kitty into her job by noon with a stop at the fabric store to buy fake fur to make  hats out of. We looked and touched pretty much everything in the store, ending up with a yard of tone on tone spotty cheetah type stuff that she was delighted with. I then did a little grocery shopping (for the crowd of 10 for lunch everyday) coming home to marinate chicken, brown a big hunk of beef for spaghetti sauce, and a mamouth pork butt into the crockpot for pulled pork (the crew loves it, its cheap and in the crockpot, not a lot of heat is generate). After all of that, I glanced at Alex and Jacob looking glum and uninspired, so I suggested I take them to Jacob’s favorite music store to see what there was to be seen. I dropped them off, and ran to TJMaxx for wrapping paper and thises and thats. Then, my phone rang and it was time to pickup the boys. With more time to kill prior to picking up Kitty, we went to the new Trader Ks to find some really great things for the boys. We took a long and neighborhoody drive down the hill to gather our girl and go to the lake for swimming. But that changed as Kitty went off to the last Blue Stockings game (one of our rollerderby teams) and Jacob and E. stayed chez camp for music and such.

So, Alex, Shady, Rob and I were lakeside and talked about how maybe Alex would like to spend a year (maybe Rotary) abroad to experience all of that. Bless him! He finally heard me…! How great would that be? and what a great calibration for him out of high school and into a world that loves him and that he can grow and expand in. This is so so great. He would so love it. Now, to  make it happen.

Today, we had a quiet morning with coffee and swimming.  Once Rob started to mow the lawn, Kitty and I went to pick peaches and raspberries. I have about 3 quarts of raspberries in the freeze with many many more planned (seeing the abundance of green berries ready to go in 10 days or so). The peaches were sublime with soft fruit on the ground with tremendously happy bees scavanging for the sweetness to take home to the hive. Maybe some bees and fruit need to become integrated into the greenman project.


Ball Diamond Road Sour cherries (chintz), Q. Cassetti, 2011Couldn’t resist! Kitty and I took two friends for more cherries today at Ball Diamond Road. The day has been perfect with low humidity, high blue skies, a breeze and cool. Dreamy. The cherries all looked like chintz and wallpaper patterns. The Queen Anne cream and pink cherries were in huge clumps looking like staid collections of bakelite charms ready to pin to my sweater. So, there are new cherries for our lunches if Kitty and Mandy let us share. Kitty and Mandy keep devouring the sweet cherries trying to get the firm ones to give them the pleasure of the “pop” that the skin provides when you bite into them.

Tonight its pitting the sours and sprinkling them with a bit of sugar before freezing them for either jam (later) or baked goodies when there is time.

Working away on some illustrations and learning some new things with the existing tool set. I am trying hard to simplify— Simplification is hard work, but rewarding in its own way.

We visited the Tburg Farmers Market and chatted with Stefan at Wide Awake Bakery (and took his picture) about all things local—food, food initiatives, local doings, harvest dinners and all that is fun to both of us. I was asked to possibly join the local Farmer’s Market board as a non vendor representative. I need to chat it around and see what its about. But, I feel that this is a group I can engage in and be effective.

We then watched the juggler/ musician who had every child enchanted and engaged. Then, off to dinner to hear Toivo play.

Today is more work here. Nigel, Erich, Mandy and Kitty are here—so its a bigger/fuller house than the normal day to day. I should go.


Cherry Season

Kitty in a cherry tree, Q. Cassetti, 2011Cherries, cherries, cherries. Today was the opener of the season at Hazlitt, with others opening tomorrow for sour and sweet cherry picking. There were red ladders with serious pickers (those who know what to do with the picking baskets clipped to their belts) and many of us late risers (getting to the orchard by 7:20 a.m.) rushing to keep up. Martha, Kitty and I picked (with Kitty’s cache going to a friend) and then picking our own sours and sweets (for our use and Martha’s mom). We picked 32 pounds of fruit. There is something sublime and spiritual about cherry picking as it is quiet and overlooking the beautiful lake…along with the breezes and color of the fruit, translucent, glowing red. It was no biggie picking this much fruit, as if one made a “day” of it…one could really go to town. We loved being on the front end of the picking as it was not so selective—but lots of fruit that one can pull off by the handful. Great clusters of these ruby fruit that come off simply,sometimes leaving the stones on the trees.

As you can see, Kitty, as usual, happily climbed the tree to get the fruit off the top of the tree…laughing and guffawing with us.

So tonight, I plan on pitting my sour cherries to put up in freezer boxes for later use. Kitty and I are thinking strawberries later this weekend to freeze and put up. It is so fun to go with these gals…as we yak and laugh and laugh. I feel so lucky to have some lovely people in my life. Maybe the other orchards tomorrow ( Ball Diamond Road opens 06/30 as does the other stand down the road from Hazlitt).

We are working on some summer related projects for our clients…so having hot dogs for lunch makes sense. Mandy has joined us…and Nigel is back with us too. I am a bit dumbfounded that its the fourth of July already….and we are fully launched into Summer. Maybe the wool sweater today is confusing me…?