Spring evening

Hairhopper, Q. Cassetti, 2012, pen and inkIt’s been a while. Sorry for my radio silence. But, I am back and ready to chat it up with all of my lovelies. Its after five and I am gazing at a lavender sky that is migrating to pink, gold and salmon. It feels like a lovely almost spring evening with the treat of the mild weather and and light after five. Its a quiet night here at Two Camp with Robbie doing the late night shift at the Museum and Prince Alex Cassetti, singing and dancing his way through “Once Upon a Mattress” as his momma’s little glittering star. I am back from a very invigorating Farmers Market Meeting…where we got into the small points—and got some real work done.

We are back from the trip to Landmark College and Hampshire. Landmark, to be quite blunt, was a disappointment. We all really wanted to have Landmark really rise to our expectations, but were all so saddened to discover that Landmark might be a bit like sending Alex to Siberia with no one as a friend, and no ability to be engaged as a musician and all round people person. We had an interview. Alex had an interview and then we were convinced to have another tour. Our charge to our amiable tourguide, to show us students…lots of students. We saw students…maybe 25 or 30 of them— none of them who were engaged, edgy or excited about anything. We were all trying to piece together a life for Alex with studies at Landmark, jazz studies at the Vermont Jazz Center (in Brattleboro) and a job off campus at the Putney Coop. Unfortunately, even with all this embellishment—we still couldnt see how it all could work to Alex’s benefit.

It would be education without friends, without passion. So, the next day, we focused on passion with help to make the passion ignite. Alex interviewed happily at Hampshire— thrilled at the custom tailored interview where he could gab on about music theory and the like with a lovely third year student. We took the afternoon to see Smith College’s art, music and drama department facilities (thrilling)—and spend time projecting out what that picture could be. What kind of help do they provide the students with learning differences. We hung out with Kitty and her Mod mates…and got some ground level insights into LD, into special help, into personal advocacy and got some interesting stories and great names of people to call, questions to ask. We are going to get moving on Kurtzweil 3000 so that Alex is familiar with this tool. We are going to maybe do a bridge program at Landmark to get him familiar with tools without having the semester committment. We will put his name in the hat for other schools. We are going to drive from the position of passion with skills being secondary…and lean on the things that make our boy happy and challenged. This is the richer slice…and richer rewards for him. Mildly put, its been quite a few days to get to this simple conclusion. All of us are feeling as if we were drawn through a keyhole backwards. Yikes.

Pursue passion. That is a reason to draw breath and live a full life, passion and engagement. We all can get something to pursue for money, a job, a life…but those moments at the dark, velvety late hour of the night when we wake should have a channel where passions can be stirred and anticipated versus focusing on the commonplace of checkbooks and taxes, musts and shoulds versus brilliance and beautiful. Life for Alex needs to unfold and challenge versus lockdown and to some degree, punish. We are all poised to make that chapter happen in the energetic, positive way he deserves. The path is not clear, but we are on it…and now we join together to see how it evolves.

New Year, new day.

Sketch, Q. Cassetti, 2012We are back from a lengthened trip to take Kitty back to Hampshire for Jan Term. We swung by Mass Moca with a treat (staying at The Porches Inn) complete with a little sleep, a lot of art and some swimming in the pool and hot tubbing outside in the cold New England air. We had a great time with Kitty and Alex— lots of talking, laughing and really enjoying being in each other’s company. Alex regaled us with his impromptu interpretation of the the horrible books they read in middle school… causing us practically to wreck the car with his funny insights and focus. Kitty wanted to talk about how she is changing/growing and how that could fit into her education and what she is discovering that she may want. What an evolution from the girl we looked at colleges with.

We drove down to Hampshire on Monday on the most spectacular road…taking in the sights of the Mohawk Trail….the mountains, the valleys, the hairpin turns, the goofy souvenir stands (selling moccasins!) (the best being one with an enormous polychromed native american chief to beckon you in for a treat). It was great just getting a dose of new terrain, new places—without having a definite deadline against it. All of my “vacation time” (and Robs) have been involved in looking at colleges, going on college tours and going to and from college as part of the shuttle bus. It was nice to have this as an option (along with our mini trip to Miami) just to change the channels. Would love a week of that. Love.

I kind of hit the wall with teenaged and college aged boys late last week. It started with one of them eating all the homemade breadcrumbs for Christmas eve prep for dinner and climaxed with eight guys lurking around my kitchen all day eating anything within eyeshot and then leaving all their detrius…moving on to more and more and more. I was overwhelmed after working and confronting this wall of masticating men…I immediately became dehumorized and needed to shut down. Unfortunately, with all of this pre Christmas, post Christmas gathering of the “Bros”, it took the quiet time we normally have together and tossed it out the window. I gotta make some plans to make sure this doesnt happen at such volume next December. I can appreciate the need to gather, to eat, to bro-it-up….but starting at 11 a.m. and then finishing at 3 a.m. with heaps of sleeping men for days…is just a bit overwhelming. Yes, I did approve this all…but it then took on a momentum I didnt anticipate.

We have the ACT done. We have the Hampshire application done. We have interviews at Hampshire and Landmark scheduled. We will have the Landmark application done this week. Alex is commited to change with Landmark and wants to sharpen up his skills to let him succeed in a four year program and is articulating why he is looing forward to Landmark and then the next chapter once he has gotten his chops sharpened up. He is a remarkable person…so self aware. He is a solid, centered person that I adore and want the best for.

The New Year has clicked into that of 2012. So much happening from a few graduations, a few weddings, a prom(!), travel for us and the kids (together and separate), and change galore. I do not feel that happy anticipation of the year ahead…and need to get my head there. I want a creative shot…and something I can run with… I hope the New Year will inspire that. 

and now the day begins. Work waits.

How wonderful!

Blue Mountain Lake, Q. Cassetti, 2011We got up to Sagamore just a minute before the dinner bell rang yesterday. It was a wonderful drive—albeit a bit new for us as we missed a turn, so “Talkin’ Tina” our GPS took us through the italian section of Rome, NY to see the wonders (and italian delis) of that little industrial town prior to meeting up with the great northern way that took us to Old Forge. What a fun drive with my boyfriend seeing new sights, talking about this and that…and knowing that we had a few days to decompress a bit.

Rob needed sweaters and I needed a raincoat so we stopped at the Gillinghams type emporium in Old Forge for both. Gillinghams, for the record, is one of my most favorite stores in the United States of America. It is located in Woodstock, VT and they have everything from nutcrackers to cheese, shoes to salad bowls, organic hand balm to penny candy—a veritable yankee’s version of Aladdin’s cave. I always burn through a bunch of money there and never regret my purchase. The Old Forge version had just what we were looking for at a good (not great) price. We were sure that if we had bought sweaters and a raincoat, it would guarantee perfect warm weather during our short stay at the utopia in the Adirondacks, The Great Camp Sagamore. And outside of the small, violent downpours today, we have had that.

We were granted the best room in the Main lodge. Our room has a huge stone fireplace along with a bathroom we do not have to share. We even have a fan (brilliant Rob even brought one along for a just in case). It is lovely and we are so delighted for the extra treat.

My random chit chat about this and that went over well after Elizabeth Buchinger charmed and delighted the room into thinking about image, brand, and focus around how to be successful with lots of pushing the people into groups to figure it out as teams. I had some good questions (about copyright, about creative commons) and I think if I didn’t put them to sleep, mesmerize them—they at least were courteous and nice not to go to sleep. A lovely young woman who works at a historic house in the NYC area greeted me with tears saying that I confirmed that one should pursue your passion…and I guess she needed to hear that today. It was quite heartening though I must admit, I was a bit on autopilot, so goodness knows what I said that struck that amazing chord. I am happy that the crew got something to take home and think about.

I am loving the people here and cannot say enough about them. The Sagamore meeting always affirms to me what is good and great about New York State. Strong and smart people from the Hanford Mills Museum, to the witty museum professional from NYC, to the shrewd manager of a Historic House Museum— they all have chops, confidence and a bushytailed aspect of learning and growing from each other. This is an amazing event that happens quietly, annually in these historic woods, and it changes lives. How often does that happen. I am blessed to have been included.

Lunch was packed at breakfast time, so we went off to have lunch at Uncas, the other Great Camp just “down the driveway” from Sagamore. It was wonderful to be in that lovely space again amongst the heavy wrought iron, the stones and wood, the ancient taxidermy and the adorable little lake that lapped up on the beach close to the house. The entire architecture as it interfaces nature is perfection there…and as Beverly told us, it was because it was sited by the original architect of this camp—not a wealthy patron who was in the chain of those who acquired the property and the magic that comes with it. I love how livable Uncas is—with space to stretch out to read, to think, to be one with the elements. The amazing Uncas fireplace complete with the original ironwork (with turtles and the word Uncas in the designs) has an inglenood…and again according to Beverly, is one of the largest fireplaces in the string of famous Adirondack camps.

We had a nice discussion this afternoon about public programming and then off to the Adirondack Museum to hang out and smell the flowers (and see the exhibits). I was stunned by the pink hydrangeas and the masses of Japanese anemones growing upward and outward with deep purple buds covered by small bees trying to get the last bits of yumminess before the frosts begin. The mists were covering the tops of the mountain right above us on Blue Mountain Lake— and I took great delicious breaths of air and tried to print it all on my small brain. We had a fun chat with a new friend on beekeeping, on collections. on Vermont and on Cooperstown, and with another on Antarctica, on fund raising, on national press and on dreams. all of this with the changing skycap over Blue Mountain Lake below us—going from stormy, to cloudy to clear…all over the twinking water and evergreen backdrop.  My head needs to stop ticking…it is great stuff.

I bought balsam in a bag… so I can bring that Adirondack scent home with me.

And now my obligations are complete. I can take tomorrow off perhaps to dream and draw albeit today’s drawings were of trees for my client’s holiday cards. Maybe my pictures will happen tomorrow.

Indian summer today

Sketchbook Project 10/16//2010, Q. Cassetti, sharpie and prismacolorSketchbook project almost done. I was thinking of pasting stuff in to not see the showthrough as the Moleskine Cahier paper is a bit thin…but you know, I really like the way it looks. Makes it look like the continuous document that it is.

Rolling on a ton of stuff. Picture selection, new edits, finishing up some spectacular microsoft word centered design. What a tool. What torture.

There is a slight chance I might be able to ride in the spare seat on the corporate plane to Denver and back next Monday/Tuesday. Just a fun change of scenery. Forget the art museum. I am going as fast as my legs will carry me to the Rockmount Ranchwear store>> Just to see the wonderful snap shirts…the embroidery…the sheer wonderfulness of this type of clothing. Or for more mainstream stuff, maybe Sheplers>> or Cry Baby Ranch! to see the turquoise Frida Kahlo flaming heart boots or the skull boots for men. There are these remarkable shortie cowboy books for women (“cuties”?). As I keep googling this…it seems like a western wear immersion might not be a hard thing to do. The Museum is closed Monday…so Tuesday morning would be an option. Yelp is telling me about Soul Haus. Check out all the Western Wear offering on Yelp>.Then there is mexican or barbeque for dining…

I think I could keep myself amused…don’t you? Even the thrift stores look like going to another country. Exciting though I would rather be pal-ling around with Alexander or Rob or Kitty.

Need to do some picture research today on happy cats. No grumpy cats albeit someone (stinking TJ is my guess) delivered a big stinky one in my office in the corner today. Yuck. Being the backup crew to the pets is just plain gross. I do not know whether I like cats enough to want to continue to do this after they move off this plain. Thank goodness I didnt do what I normally do which is to step in it (preferably barefoot).

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.

Grey Wednesday

Phone call central here. Had a good meeting with the Yearbookers today. We planned the Senior picture this a.m.—going out to the bleachers with the students sitting in the bleachers to see how we are going to set up the shot. We have 15 minutes to do it. I am going to pray for sunshine. We are working on the pretext that we will be working in InDesign and Photoshop to produce a publication at Lulu. But, after trolling the web, I found a cool option to this. Take the ease/ simplicity of layout from the big Yearbook companies and marry it to the speed, price and options of on design printing (Lulu) and it is manifested at Entourage Yearbooks. I ordered a sample and we will see what we can do. We can do custom custom custom…but the minute I don’t want to give up my morning slot pre work, they will need a sustainable resource and approach that doesnt need the coaching and training by a professional designer/ print pro. This idea of sustainable is important… and taking the designer out of the equation…is important too. So…I think I will be looking at some of the tutorials etc. prior to our plunging in. Plus, they dovetail with Josten and Lifetouch perfectly…Less work for me. Maybe more fun for the class. I am feeling very good about this.

We are making plans for the first. LCD Soundsystem and the Sleigh Bells are playing at Hamilton College (and we have snagged 2 tickets)—so we are driving to Utica with Alex and a friend and leaving them for the concert (with Rob and me hanging somewhere else).—and then picking them up. Alex is absolutely thrilled that Rob could work out getting tickets and for once, we are okay. We will spend the night in Utica (as we have to go to Tully, NY early the next morning for a Cross Country Meet and will take Alex and friend down for this gig). For once, we are doing okay as parents. It’s rare…but sometimes we hit. Sounds like another not too relaxing weekend. Over the 16th we are back in Amherst for a parents weekend with Kitty. Rob is gone the next weekend. A weekend in November we are off to Chicago for the SOFA show (maybe taking Alex too).  I am seeing deepdish pizza and brats with the boy.So lots of getting out and about. Bizzy.

Am working on an image derived from the week in the Adirondacks. The more wonderful the picture will inspire other images of dancing bears, pinecones, and cottages. Bring on the canoes, fires, and fish.

Have a wall of calls from now on. Just wanted to say hi.

Back from Shangri La

Old Forge Hardware, Old Forge, NY, Q. Cassetti, 2010Rob gave a great presentation Friday morning about the “three legged stool” of budgeting and how to compress your strategy into a single, workable document that becomes the milestone from which management, the museum board and each individual contributor can work off the same “song sheet”. The day was brilliant and surprisingly warm, “indian summer” with all of us searching our bags for the singularly cooler thing to wear contrasted with the clothes of the week. All the participants were melancholy as the time dwindled and they all had to go back to reality—energized and motivated by all they had heard, participated and responded to during the week of The Museum Institute at Sagamore from Museumwise. It was thought provoking for me to hear about the work and tribulations of these focused and stressed individuals trying their best despite odd board dynamics, small budgets, high expectations and the general accountability and record keeping around each and every accessioned object in their collection whether it be a museum or a historic building, site or event. Each shared in the same push pull…and took heart from each other.

While on the other hand, there was little old me, reveling in the language and nods to Adirondack fabricated romance and romanticism, imagery and iconography, language and form.

Sagamore Yin Yang, Q. Cassetti, 2010Where I am going with that is this: I am fascinated by the iconography of what makes up “Adirondack”. You know the drill: birch bark, canoes, ADK guide boats,  log or tree inspired architecture, twig chairs and furniture, adirondack chairs, taxidermy and “trophies” on the walls, snowshoes, enamelware, pine trees, hemlock trees, pinecones, stone, mossy/lichen, fish/ jumping fish, all things fish (creels, rods and reels, tied flies etc.), loons, ducks, herons, glassy lakes, rocks, pack baskets, bear, moose, deer, pine scent, wool blankets, plaid, all things native american, lean-tos. You get the drift.

What is curious to me is that all of this stuff is derived from a victorian style that emerged in these Great Camps (with Mr. Durant driving this forward) that romanticized the working man’s Adirondack lifestyle for these imports, these city dwellers who came North for vacation to participate in sampling this rough and ready, scrappy life that the loggers and true outdoorsmen lived. It was adapted and modified into this lovely depiction for these brownstone dwellers of fresh air, and a refined unrefinement which were polished and presented “naturally” (with hordes of servants and staff in the background) and became the style that we think of as Adirondack. Not to just make it stylistic, Tuffitts of Moss, Q. Cassetti, 2010Durant and others borrowed quite liberally from James Fennimore Cooper’s writings (Sagamore and Uncas being just two of the characters from his books)…to the naming of houses and lakes, places and things that were derivative of this victorian view of Central New York and the Adirondacks. It is inspiring me to see if I can chew on this a bit, read a few of these books and see how this romanticism is manifested (when John Muir lived in nature and spoke cleanly, and purely on his interpretation of his experiences). When it all comes down to it, it is a fictionalized, romanticized view of this life, which we have just accepted…somehow as more historic than it really is…a “disney-ifcation of reality”.

And yet, if we think of the Adirondack identity—it is the art, architecture and craft from this golden era, this fantasy—which is presented to us as the historic reality it isn’t.

I was horrified and delighted by the real life photographs at the Adirondack Museum of the loggers ridingfrom the collections of the Adirondack Museum, Blue Mountain Lake,  these sleighs atop pyramids of enormous logs…with the narrative speaking to how these vehicles might lose control with the drivers jumping off and the poor horses left to fend for themselves if the sheer weight got the downward momentum of the load got to be too fast/too much. The impaled logger poster…and the descriptions of the camps and the absolutely primitive life these men had…eating and working with outdoors sport and hunting as the fun independent of family, or others. It was gritty, hard and though outside, as hard a job as any coal miner or railroad man might have had at the time. The trick was to stay warm, fed and active during the winter…and not to die getting the logs from the forest to the trains where they were taken away to the cities. Imagine the black flies and issues in the summer. At least if you fell in the river— the water might not freeze you…but being swept away with the tide and millions of pounds of wood would be horrendous. Not the cushy, pine scented, warm rooms with blazing fires in stone fireplaces with inglenooks and tea, oysters and champagne, (and people to make it for you and heat up your beds). 

Curious. Bring on the Cooper.

Speaking of continuing the fantasy, we left on our trip home to stop by the Old Forge Hardware Store.

Old Forge Hardware is the Vermont Country Store of the Adirondacks. They have all things woven, camping, enamel, food, outdoors wear, from bungee cords to campfire percolators (enamel or stainless?), from cast iron to smoked food…You could provision a cabin or a castle here…with chairs and back baskets, to canoes to Orvis fly fishing gear. It was fun. I was tempted but did not succumb. We have enough stuff regardless of how much I love this stuff. I mean, canoes and portable saw mills—beautiful enamel dutch ovens and tons of cool crockery that you can add a spiggot to in an instant (I adore these things). Gradient and colorful Pendleton shirts that put both of us in the way back machine (def. need to start thrifting for this sort of stuff). Crusher hats…the whole magilla. All there with brass sleigh bells on things, and huge jugs of maple sugar to go. Hardware store meets brand identity for ADK.

We got back late—and then up early this morning to get Alex to school to catch a bus to get to the Baldwinsville Cross Country invitational. “Bee Ville” is always one of the best meets, so we always go…and did. Alex and team did very well with some happy surprises in the JV, and a new varsity crew that did well. Tonight is a homecoming dance. I have thrown all sorts of leftovers from the week into a pot with some tomatoes and have a recycled soup in the works for the team next week.

Need to go…Alex awaits. More later.

Morning Mist: Sagamore Day Four

Lake View, Q. Cassetti, 2010Another day in the Adirondacks. Someone thinking about where we need to be and what and when we need to eat, talk, perform. Bliss. It really is a landlocked cruise boat experience where all you need to do is either go with the flow or do what you want to do. Its crazy, but just over the few days we have been here, you can literally see the trees changing color in the landscape as the evenings are cool/cold and the mornings just a bit warmer to give us mist rising over the lakes, these mirrored lakes that dot the horizon around here.

The words and ideas of James Fennimore Cooper seem to pop up even here. Not just Cooperstown, but points north with Sagamore and Uncas being characters in his books. I guess the Leatherstocking nomenclature and reach is part of this culture here—east and north of Cooperstown and Otesaga…but I hadn’t linked the two. Niagara Region, the burned out zone all have names and brands. The Finger Lakes with the lakes and waterfalls really do not capture any sort of romance or nod to anything beyond natural history…something with some toothiness that we could work with (I am thinking this with regard to Farmer Ground Flour and Stefan’s bakery). Where is our history with the plumb line county maps, the Greek named towns with the Greek Revival Buildings? Where is our history beyond that of fossils, salt mines, and deep cold lakes with the avian flyover? Where are our icons like the Adirondacks of pine trees and cones, snowshoes, loons, baskets, quilts, fishing gear, chairs, birch trees and the like? I am looking and cannot find a link. What is the key? How do we capture it? Time will tell. Often just letting it simmer, something will pop out.

Today is work on the Feline and Baker and then a trip to the Adirondack Museum for a talk by John Buchinger, Associate Director of Education at New York State Historical association and Program Development Consultant—on the cycle of community/individual that Rob has told me about so many times. We are applying this good thinking to localvore food…and I am anxious to hear it from the conceiver of this big idea.

More later.

Sagamore: Day Two

Evening at Sagamore, Q. Cassetti. 2010Another day at Sagamore with blue skies, clouds, rain and then a clear evening. From frost to warm and back to cool again. I love the brilliant swing that the weather, light and day gives us that for me, is united by cups of tea, many pixels and intermittent visits of Robbie to check his email, his facebook and to make sure I am breathing and where he left me.

The new crew for the week came in today. I am invigorated by  the 2010 group of interesting, bushy tailed and serious people who have come to The  Museum Institute at Sagamore. Paralleling the board, this crew are vital, engaged, intellectually engaged and actiively open and social—within the first three hours in meeting their fellow participants and peers. Its learning in the classroom with seminars and discussion continuing here at the beautiful Sagamore and then mixing at dinner with different people. By the end of the week, the collegiality and new connections that each individual will make gives each person confidence, a new group of peers and an appreciation (at least for me) for all things New York.

Today, I met the new Director of the History Center (Ithaca), the Director of the North Country Underground Railroad Historical Association, and the Executive Director of the Bartow-Pell Mansion. Active minds actively working, connecting, actively engaging at The Museum Institute at Sagamore. Lets just say, I feel a bit overwhelmed albeit I got a lot done on the Cornell work and some roosters for another project. Having a bit of time to myself just to work outside of a schedule is delightful and on par with the time I had in graduate school just to collect myself and get my wits together. By the end of the week, I hope that all my loose ends will be gathered and straightened.

Back


The trip to Newark and then on to Florham Park was uneventful. Smooth sailing via Continental and picked up at the International drop off by an wonderful driver I have had before. John, or Johnnie as he calls himself, is an engaging person who is passionate about a hobby he, his grandfather, his great great had, coonhunting. Johnnie breeds, trains and runs a pair of coonhounds, bringing in sixty pelts a season and proudly trading them for a fur coat for his wife. He loves doing that...picking up the phone, calling the furrier in the Catskills (who is also the grandson of the furrier his dad did business with) and telling him that he and his wife would be up to make the trade. His pride in the closet of fur coats his wife has was palpable...and his love of his dogs and their world made the trip so quick it was remarkable. John's dogs are from the dogs his father and grandfather had. He told me all about flea and tick prevention, their food, and the way he handles them "I have soft hands". He told me about the relationships he has with farmers in the New Jersey countryside that allow him to work his dogs in their fields ""They"[the raccoons] love corn fields"--and how those relationships are generational as well. He was going to swap dogs with a friend of his from Maryland--taking his puppy and leaving his younger dogs to teach them. He prides himself in his soft approach--playing with the dog evolving to training and learning. He believes that six weeks with a puppy can move its behavior from being disinterested to really wanting to go out and tree the raccoon. It was great getting a dose of him. I love talking to drivers, its always a rich slice.

The meeting and my overnight was at the Hamilton Park Hotel and Conference Center. The hotel is very nice, very comfortable and accomodating. However, the conference part of the deal was GREAT. First off, they have a floor or two of conference rooms. Each room is equipped perfectly with plenty of supplies, water etc. No drippy water pitchers, no overdo of anything. There was plenty of electric for the powerbooks that were snapped open. The coffee "thing" which generally is to the side of the conference room (often really looking bad,messy and stinky) was set up outside in a central coffee station that had everything you would want in appropriate (no passionflowers or cut fruit decorations), business style. No mess, no fuss. Then, at lunch, instead of the clattering teacart carrying stacks of plastic buffet boxes of messy sandwiches no one wants with huge slice and bake cookies no one should eat...with more stinky drinks and coffee...we were ushered downstairs to a generous dining room with tablecloths and service to help ourselves to an enormous, high quality, buffet with everything from perfect greenbeans, to soup, to the big dinner to tidbits for lunch. Everything was beautiful and accomodating with the service being on the mark and receeding. They even had compostable paper and plasticware for lunch. Again, knowing the needs of business and delivering it. And with all this lovely treatment, the meeting went smoothly and was effective.

The purpose of the meeting was to talk about the document review process--with many of the big marketing and communications managers/directors, some doctors and lawyers, writers and administrators all working to hammer out a better process. It was a bit frustrating as a corner of the room kept on focusing on how understaffed they were and how they couldnt do their work owning this process--and were unable to get their heads out of now and into "what if" which was unfortunate. If I had any criticisms, it was that they were not managed bettter to keep the tone of the meeting from kvetching to actual dreaming. Ah well.... this is why I like being on my own.

Then back to the airport, sharing a ride with a really great guy, an australian who runs the marketing and sales for a very cool little esoteric lab that develops very high end tests-- one current splash is the H1N1 virus test that is a boost to my client's bottom line. He was insightful, funny and poor guy, tired as he had taken the red eye to get to this meeting in New Jersey and was off to Ohio for a meeting the next day. Its for guys like that that these business style services and kind treatment at the airport helps to move him forward. Had an uneventful time at the airport...reading my library of books on the now established Kindle (and downloaded Dante's Inferno for FREE as its one of those classics that are free)--with a quick ride home to Ithaca sitting with a guy who is involved in textbook publishing. It was a fun chat to make the time go faster!.

Erich is home with the flu, so it's just me today.
Lots to do...but first, coffee and the scanner!

Halloween




We had a great chat with a pair of Hampshire representatives--one an alumni and the other, a Div 3 student (senior level). They allayed our fears and answered a lot of questions that we had been mulling over as a group. It was terrific to have our minds put to rest along with spending some time with two very confident, thoughtful, talkative, and assured people who were out of a similar mold as our Kitty. Kitty was equally so-- and it was interesting as a parent to see her within this context as confident, articulate, cute and funny with people who were very much oriented the same way. Our trip to Hampshire was well worth the visit.

We visited a small Farm store near the campus, Atkins Farms and were delighted by the offerings within walking distance from the campus. All fresh, and lots of local produce offered...all of them ready for the photoshoot in their pulchritude. I did take pictures (and a lot of them) of their iced cakes and cupcakes which were hilarious and very skillfully done (and affordable). Thank goodness I didnt shame anyone with my antics.

At a quarter of 11, we jumped into the Wonderbus to make a two o'clock tour and information session at SUNY New Paltz which was an interesting option for Kitty as their art facilities are very nice and in some aspects similar to that of Tyler..though not as extensive and as new. The dorms are nice, the student body seemed on the ball and Kitty seemed to identify with the program. Only hiccup is that the portfolio is submitted AFTER you are accepted, and then it is determined wheither you are in the art program or not. We were done around 4:30 and quickly drove by the stone Hugenot houses by the river (amazing)...and then jumped on the road home.

We got in by 9...and heads down on the pillow by 10. We got Alex to school by 6:45 for a Cross Country Meet in Marathon NY which we got on the road for. His form looked great and he is getting to be a better and better runner . He came in 37th in a large pack of well over 100 runners (Rob claims hundreds...) which delighted him to no end...mud bespattered nonethe less.

After the race, it was off to the local ski slope, Greek Peak for their annual ski sale and swap. New jackets all around. Pants, long underwear and gloves...so the home team is ready to hit the slopes this winter in great style and in new equipment. Up until now, they have been skiing with stuff we bought from, yes, antique stores or used sales...and they have never had skis and boots that actually fit and were tailored to them. After six years of skiing, we figure, now is the time.

We just bought candy and candle (and catfood) at Target. The blue lightbulbs are in the light fixtures on the front of the house. We have votives in bags filled with birdseed and a big bowl of wonka candies. So, if the rain and snow do not keep them away, we will have a little treat to hand out. Kitty is gathering with friends. Alex is in costume (as George Harrison on the Abbey Road Album) and the light is fading.

Tomorrow is fall back.
The long nights begin.

Wet.

Rained all day. Still without a car. Princess in the tower, week four. It was good having the mobility yesterday...and no mobility today was I had to whomp out a whole bunch of stuff in prep for the 2 days we are taking to see the University of Hartford (portfolio show), revisit Hampshire, and tour New Paltz and see their art setup. We will be back on Saturday post Alex's XC meet. I think the following weekend includes Kitty's play and Alex's last dinner for the team. So, having this jaunt (albeit quick) will start putting some bows on the schools for K.

Worked on a series of images for my client's internal program "Accelerate the Momentum"--going to Getty and making a little deck of 50 images collected and curated to communicate speed,motion, action that verges on abstraction. They turned out nicely...and less "Indy car" than the request...so perhaps we can move the literal expectation from some speeding letters with a spinning wheel...to something a bit more elegant and abstract. But, we will see. I asked for them to select a few images that speak to them...to direct where the type could go. The approach could work. Could is the watchword. We will see.

Was reading about Johannes Kelpius (1673-1708) yesterday. I think he is the key to better understanding Conrad Beissel and the Ephrata movement as he was Beissel's mentor and leader of the community Beissel was a member of, prior to splitting off to found the Community of the Solitary. Kelpius came from a moneyed and educated background. He was university educated (University of Altdorf) and became a follower of Philip Jacob Spener, the founder of the sect called Pietists. He became a follower of Johann Jakob Zimmerman, a Pietist leader and scholar. Pietism was a movement that grew within Lutheranism at a time when the state church emphasized the more formal aspects of worship and church life and tended to be aloof from the religious needs of individuals. Across Germany numerous informal groups developed, centering on prayer, singing, and encouragement in the spiritual life. While many of these groups were quite orthodox, others veered off into mysticism and occultism. Such was the group that gathered around Zimmerman, who wished to find a means of combining science (including astrology),alchemy, Kabbala, Christian theology, and mystical occultism.

When in London, Kelpius met Jane Leade, the head of another mystical sect, the Philadelphians. At 21 yrs. old, his mentor, Zimmerman died and left Kelpius to lead about 40 other followers to to the New World (6 months traveling) and upon stepping on the shores in Philadelphia, walked to Germantown and immediately established his community on the shores of the Wissahickon.

From
Sasche, Julius F. The German Pietists of Provincial Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, 1895.:

Kelpius secured land on Wissahikon Creek (now a park in Philadelphia), where they built a forty-foot cube, which became the all-male group's headquarters and home. Discovering the local children were without a school, he founded a school and became their teacher. He also set up an astrological laboratory where members of the chapter watched the heavens for astrological and other signs of Christ's coming. He developed tuberculosis in the harsh weather, but hoped for Christ to return before he died. Meanwhile, he and the brothers gained some income from providing various healing and occult services for the surrounding community.

When Christ did not appear, Kelpius grew increasingly disappointed, a condition not helped by his failing health. In bed during most of the winter of 1706-07, he composed his most substantive writing and the hymn "A Loving Moan of the Disconsolate Soul in the Morning Dawn." Kelpius finally succumbed to tuberculosis in 1708 at the age of 35. He was succeeded by Conrad Matthai. Because the hope for Christ's return was the only force that held the group together, as that hope died, the group disintegrated. Some of the men who stayed in the area continued as healers, astrologers, and occult practitioners and their presence gave rise to what became known as powwow, or hexing, the peculiar form of folk magic practiced in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Quiet day


The internet has been crawling—slowly, slowly—to finally just stop working today. Erich is on the phone trying to get some help—trouble shooting our connections and the viability of the line. It is amazing to discover how dependent we are on that link to the world, particularly that of mail, for our work, our deliverables, our communication with clients, friends, family, and suppliers. The world stops spinning a bit when the connection hiccups and we find ourselves out of focus for a bit. But, I guess the nice thing is is that these instances teach us that we cannot take this marvel for granted.

Oh look. Now we are back—connected!

We are clocking down the Annual Report for a non-profit research organization we are working with along with a holiday card. We are wrapping up a small mountain of tiny projects for the main client—from consulting on an e-card, to ads and a tradeshow unification between two disparate aspects of the business to presenting a series of colorways for a corporate “little red book” document that is annually issued. Nitty little projects that often have nitty little bits to tweak and change forever, but that is what we are paid for.

I guess we are now in the throes of the peak of the color. The deciduous trees have shed enough foliage to be able to see through the branches/leaves to the darker woods or evergreens behind. The gold color against the dark is breathtaking. And the glimmers of red is remarkable too. Halloweeen approaches, and with that the long winter is in sight.The chestnuts, horse chestnuts and apples are all out…as are the extraordinary number of deer that park themselves on the front lawn as if on contract for some photoshoot about living in the country.

A sad note. Don Ivan Punchatz passed away on Thursday. He leaves an extraordinary legacy as an illustrator, mentor, teacher and friend. Wikipedia says:

Don Ivan Punchatz (born 1936 - October 22, 2009) is an artist who has drawn illustrations for numerous publications including magazines, such as: Heavy Metal, National Geographic, Playboy, and Time. In 1993 id Software hired him to create the Doom video game package art and logo. The result was named the second best game box art of all time by GameSpy [1] His son, Gregor Punchatz, has worked on special effects for several movies, and also created monster sculptures for Doom.

Here is my post from visiting/meeting him in Texas>>


I sent him a note and one or both of My Memento Mori books which he called me about. We had a great chat about how he used his illustration to cope with having stomach cancer--and how interesting and dark work came out of that process. He was enthusiastic, positive and acting as a mentor even to an odd person he briefly met with the Hartford Program. Don was instrumental in putting together the inspiring panel of illustrators in the Dallas/ Fort Worth area for our visit, and had been engaged in that sharing and exchange since Murray and Carol were with the Syracuse ISDP program. He inspired and encouraged, embraced and enthused with his people, the illustrators, and for that, his friendship, strength and quiet humor we are thankful. Bless him.

Snowshoes





The Adirondacks charmed me with snowshoes. First, there was the grazing, amazing, big rabbit at the Great Camp Sagamore which our friend and guide, Beverly, pointed up that he changes color--brown to white for the winter and then vice versa in the spring. His big feet keep him above the snow. This rabbit was happy to let us watch while he snacked on the grass amongst all of us people. Then, at the Adirondack Museum, there was a remarkable collection of images and ideas around the snowshoe--from the various shapes and weaving, Different fasteners and photos of people using them. My absolute favorite snowshoe was the one on Rutherford B. Hayes' iced cream plate he had in the White House (see pink plate with a golden snowshoe). Hayes, as an aside, showed his pride in the Adirondacks through his table service and had a treed bear on a charger that was part of this look and feel....but the snowshoe...!

I have been musing over Mr. William West Durant and his loves, specifically, his visual loves. This is a man who, like friends of ours, are part of the "I love wood" group. This love is manifested in detailled architectural screens from the mosaic work of the lovely little Sunset Cottage to the bark panels at the Sagamore to the linear rails and and porch details of Pine Knot (now owned and run by SUNY Cortland as Camp Huntington).

"Camp Pine Knot was built by William West Durant and sold to railroad magnate Collis P. Huntington in 1895. In 1947, Huntington’s son, Archer, and his wife, Anna, presented to the College the original 201-acre site and historical buildings in the memory of Collis P. Huntington."

From my brief reading, Pine Knot was where it started. WW Durant built this place for his parents and used it as a showcase to show his friends and possible clients what an Adirondack Camp was about, and didn't they want to share in this adventure. This was just a glimmer of the force of Durant's talent, desire to decorate and work with wood, wood bark combined with architectural inspiration from Germany and Switzerland. The idea of a rusticated way of living for those who inhabited the large marble palaces in Newport and Manhattan was such a jump in comfort and concept it really must have been quite a sales job to get them on the train, on the boat and on a carriage to get them to Pine Knot to see and experience the wilderness Durant was inflamed with.

We are busy putting a bunch of holiday images to bed...and finishing. Ahhh. So, new things can slip into their place on the desktop. The Tropic wine and the images for the Hangar are in the roster to move onto the live lists. Alex is running a lot. Rob is working a lot (lots of work at the office, lots of projects coming to close here. Kitty is doing the school improv and has been cast in two of the five performances. All we need to do is finalize a lot of the college stuff--we had a good talk last night about that. I am busy and a bit wild..and would like a lull to get back into my little drawings about Fraktur.

early color









Saturday we started very early--with Rob and Kitty taking TJ off to the vet as he had a swollen, sore leg. We dropped Alex off for the bus to Baldwinsville (outside of Syracuse) for their annual XC invitational. We packed up and left for Baldwinsville for Alex's event. We dropped off Rob's rental on the way and actually made the meet on time. He bested his time by 30 seconds. He came in 4th for our team. We waited for him for an hour or so and then packed up to drive north through Utica to spend the night at the Great Camp Sagamore, Alfred and Margaret Vanderbilt's great Adirondack camp. Rob spent the week there with the Upstate History Alliance and was so taken with his experience, he wanted us to see it too. So, about two and a half hours from Syracuse, we arrived at the Sagamore (outside of Racquette Lake)....to this beautiful, tranquil lake with a little Adirondack Swiss/German village sited in this country. There were deer grazing and big, snowshoe rabbits grazing on the lawn--with a wonderful grouping of buildings...some of them for sleeping, some for eating, some for play...and a bowling alley! There was a manicured croquet green with a lovely boathouse with a floating dock for canoes.

Nothing plugged in. No wireless connection. No television. No telephones. No room service. Back to basics. Comfortable accommodations, breakfast/lunch/dinner for 1 hour each upon the clanging of the dinner bell. There were camp fires outside at night, and fireplace fires at your pleasure in the living rooms in the various sleeping buildings...in these lovely, massive stone fireplaces...one different from the next...with some (you cannot use) in many of the rooms...

We heard a lot about Alfred Vanderbilt and his wife/and steward of Sagamore, Margaret. We heard about the history, the families and village (essentially) that kept this magical place up...but what was missing was a lot on Ww. Durant, the man who conceived, designed, built and lost Sagamore and many of the other Great Camps in the Adirondacks. There is some work there for me to better understand this man, this stylist, this visionary who saw this opportunity, envisioned it in his work and projects and squandered his railroad based fortune on this vision. There was a delightful cottage at the Adirondack Museum (I highly recommend...its a treasure and jewel, sited on Blue Mountain Lake to be a mini Shangri La). Sunset Cottage is a magical jewel...and really was a small crystallization of the Adirondack Style. If Saul Steinberg was an architect, this little inlaid cedar cottage might have flowed out of his pen nib.

I could go on and on..and may continue tomorrow, its just that work awaits followed by dinner and organizing for the XC meet tomorrow.

Sunset Cottage, Adirondack Museum, Blue Mountain Lake NY.
From the signage outside this adoreable little building (designed by the Adirondack Design Star! WW Durant):
This building, covered on all sides decorative split spruce limbs, is named Sunset Cottage after the radiating pattern on it's gables. Sunset Cottage was built as part of Camp Cedars which was designed by William West Durant for his cousin, Frederick Clark Durant (1853-1926). It was located on a 30 acre tract of land at Forked Lake, north of Racquette Lake. The Durants used the cottage as sleeping quarters. A wrap around porch on the building protected the twig decoration from wather fo many uears. The builder of the cottage is unknown, although there is speculation that Andrew Fisher, a carpenter-guide-caretaker in the 1880s might have produced this finest surviving example of rustic twig work built on an architectural scale. Twig work is made by nailing split sticksor rods of various sizes to flat surfaes in geometric mosaic patterns. The central Adirondacks-- Blue Mountain, Long, Tacquette and their neighboring lakes was the center of mosaic twig work for furniture and architecture.

funkibones


Working my way out of an illustration funk. I kept sketching and nothing clicked. Nothing. But, the double happiness symbol kept surfacing in my thinking...so I am doing a quick sketch (nooks and crannies of time today) of a chocolate box style valentine of the double happiness combined with florals... which, If I really design this thing, it could be nice...but over the top with the dragons too. So, dragons one and chocolate box one (or maybe it's candied lychee nuts or dim sum?) Need to get back on the illustration beat. Have a few sections still to scribe in the paper due on May 1st. So, a bit of leaning into the paper with a bit of energy on the illustration is needed.

Ordered a new tower the week before the trip. My computer is seconds from meltdown--and is close to nine years old. So, a new macintosh is coming to me. I am tired of waiting and waiting for the image to change and not being able to work in more than one program at a time. Its very exciting--but really needed. My productivity is compromised.

So, more linoleum cutting needs to happen. This amazing student we saw at Hampshire, Wilson Kemp, had some extrodinary linoleum prints that he cut on golden cutthat he printed at Amherst College. We saw a ton of letterpress work (simple stuff but really pretty) at RISD with the student guides chattering excitedly about how wonderful the letterpress was. Then we went off to have mexican food at Taqueria Pacificaand adorning the walls of this restaurant (on one side of the room) and bar on the other (separate operations) was a ton of experimental letterpress work (letters...no images). Taqueria Pacifica was part of the AS220 Artists Collective who define themselves this way:
___

AS220 is a non-profit community arts space in downtown Providence. Our mission is to provide an unjuried and uncensored forum for the arts. If you live in the state of Rhode Island, you will get an opportunity to exhibit or perform at AS220.

AS220 is part Incubator and part Bazaar.
We also build new audiences and infrastructure for artists to stimulate the cultural mulch in Rhode Island.

So, they offer studio space, living space, performance spaces, a restaurant/bar and a letterpress shop for the members of AS220. I want to know how soon I can join! It is wayyyytooo cool.

So, circuitiously I am so charged about printmaking, scratchboard making. But first more images, images to correct and paper prelims to finish. I also found some way cool alternative resources that I am reluctant to broadcast until I try them out for myself. Just need to shake these old funkibones and get them moving to create and finish.

New Hampshire


I can see why we were sent to the University of New Hampshire. Land grant college vibe like Cornell. More affordable than Cornell. Beautiful setting like Cornell with nature inching onto the campus. Lovely rocks, trees, small brooks--missing the gorgeous quads and views that Cornell has, but same sort of proximity to nature and greenery. Some amazing new facilities from the dining rooms and dorms to the gym, the campus center/student center, the amazing library and computer clusters to the Bio facilities and the amazing (truly) Engineering labs with all sorts of machinery to make and do with. Very sustainable in their speak (but unlike Emerson who's new rennovations do more than speak about sustainable, they are detailled into every aspect of their new buildings. Beautiful new halls that really are designed to be state of the art, beautiful and clean, good use of color to designate areas..wonderful windows again to bring the pine trees and rocks into the building. Inside out.

We did the tour and info session which is pretty much the same template that most use. The big room with coffee and some sort of thing to eat. Then, the slide show about what it is to be part of the community, the classes, the greek system, the international programs, the majors/minors/programs they offer. Then, the smiling person who talks about financial aid, the fees and tuition and the grants, scholarships and loans available. Then we are always broken into groups for the tour which always consists of dorms, food, entertainment and the gym, and then a classroom or two. This tour is always for the "moms' who are just this side of suicidal about where the baby will eat, what they will eat, when they will eat, how they will eat, sleep, with who, how and when, security, and how they will be entertained (as there is so much free time in college, you barely know what to think). However, at the gym there is this amazing room you can rent mountain bikes, skis, cross skis, gym equipment, tents, sleeping bags...you name it to use. Free. Additionally, you can rent/borrow a computer the same way so they make the aspect of owning a computer is a nice but not necessary. There are quite a few things like this that pushes the student a bit out of their corners to try stuff.

So, we toured the art building, the bio building and the engineering facility independently. We were constantly surprised at the nice faculty members who took us to the side to explain something, point us in the right direction--interested in Kitty and our quests. It was slow to warm up to but with the offering in biology, the nature and location, the price and proximity to Boston (an Amtrack train hourly goes through the campus taking you further up the coast to Maine or within an hour, Boston...so close enough to make an urban experience doable and affordable. It was much less our tribe and Kitty's tribe...but it is an option not worth discarding. What with some 2000 classes offered to the community of 12000 students, there must be a range of things to study and engage in. The student body seemed nice but a bit like as Kitty put it "high school". However the facilities belie that. I still think Hampshire is our first passion for now...but a revisit will be needed to my thinking. New Hampshire is not to be ruled out as an option as a place to apply.

We are spending the night at the New England Center, right off the UNH campus. It looks like the "Ewok Hotel" as Rob calls it with a vertical orientation within a pine forest that you can look out the big windows at. The building is green colored and blends in with the trees, the rocks and the light green growth just beginning to peek through though there are still hillocks of snow still needing to melt. It is very nice and clean...with plenty of space for the home team to not be too crowded (yesterday at the Onyx was a bit tight, but the beds were prime...and with the lights off, no one would even know how small the space was...(and you can overlook it a bit as the Aveda soap and shampoo are a real treat!). Hopefully some seafood tonight!

rolling

Monday we had a day long session at Hampshire College. To put it mildly, we were blown away. And, after viewing it the night before, were not prepared to be so pleased. The evening before we had toured the five colleges in the area in the golden sun with the grass greening right in front of us. Kitty had been wowed by Amherst College's architecture and attractive students we saw walking on campus. We loved all the collegetowns. We loved UMass and the nice Studio Art building along with the offerings it had. Smith was quaint and beautiful...along with Northhampton filled with stores, restaurants and places to hang out. It was all pretty great. On the flip side, after entering the Hampshire Campus from the back side (or was it the side) from the perfect, small Eric Carle Museum, we were less sure about this place. It was shaggilly. It did not have perfect buildings. However, to see the students hopping around campus, it did reflect an eccentricity and diversity that was not evidenced at the former locations. So, we drove about...admired the woods, the grounds, the trees...and drew in our breaths for Monday. Looks arent everything!

Monday, we were greeted at their gymnasium by tables manned by smiling, attractive people with folders stuffed with information, tables adorned with tablecloths and flowers and coffee. And vegan coffee cake. There were banners in front of the impressive climbing wall that served as the background to a small stage and podium. The prospective students and ones who were making their decisions were all there...with parents and siblings in toe. And, they were our tribe! It was if the Tburg crowd from every state, and region had showed up with their eccentric child, their headsets all sync'd. So, we were in the right place. Then the adorable, and real admissions director stood up and gave us our schedules of tours, classes, and lunch--warmly suggesting we spend the day and come back at least five more times...

We were whisked off to a large-ish hall to have an orientation run by smart and very articulate students (and one new graduate). These people were funny, confident, engaged (!) and took us through the self-driven core of what it is that Hampshire does...essentially, using my phrasing "messing about" with focus. The Hampshire program mirrors what I have been doing during the last two educational stints in graduate work--classes that then form a small body of work that drives another body of work that forces re-education through reading etc. and then the cycle continues. Liberal doses of writing and talking and thinking. Math, only if you like it--or need it. The Hampshire diamond approach (explained to us by our first year tour guide) is that one takes a class...say in pond biology. You love it, and feel that you need more training in a topic...so you go do that either at Hampshire or any of the 5 other schools (a bus runs every half hour to all the other schools). Then, with the training, you study more either on that topic or something else. The path of learning takes you to where you either want to go, or find yourself going. And, this work is supported by panels of teachers--with the end product being a way to learn, a passion and a focus that is bespoke for each student.

They had me by the ears.

Then, the tour led by a very candid, funny first year. He was very honest about eveything from the bicycle repair run by students, to the Emergency Medical teams run by students, to the spring and Jan Term trips (run by students) in kayaks and canoes. No sports--except their competitive Ultimate Frisbee team. Man, having no sports changes the paradigm considerably. Rob reminds me that they do engage in dodge ball. We saw classrooms and most importantly, the shops. The biology labs, woodshops, art studios all were phenomenal messing about spaces. Room to work.Really work...and if you needed something you could get it, or build it yourself. The art barn had a nice small painting studio where a professor was critting a remarkable work done by a student. The cubbies/studios for the other students were great and the WORK. OMG. The work was phenomenal. This is a place (remember, this is self driven) where even the best artist gets better/stretched. We saw a student's work, Wilson Kemp, who had linoleum prints which were extrodinary, bold, and beautifully designed. He had come to Hampshire as a photography student (state of the art Mac lab with 3 enormous epson printers there for anyone's use)--and after his trip to Cuba (did I mention that their study abroad program really was about study...it is the real thing with Cuba, China and one other place that Hampshire focuses on)--he came back and was taken with printmaking. He does all of his work at Amherst (knowing the riches that are there) and takes full advantage of the 5 college relationships. There were paintings better than MFA work from Syracuse that I bumped up against. Once again...each person with confidence, excellence and a work ethic that was beyond their years. We saw students working passionately, as if on deadline with themselves...and when Rob and I sat on the commons...what did these students talk about? Sex and parties? NO. Work, and their learning. So, when Kitty and Alex sat in on a class on Neurobiology (which they both loved), we went back to the shop to see about the glassblowing that was mentioned. We were given a tour by one of the shop heads who explained it was flameworking...but the santas workshop aspect of how they (the teachers) were there to help make anything happen. There was a tiny blacksmith kiln that had been rigged to take vegetable oil and the student could get it to heat to 2800 degrees. Another student was going to make a tabletop glass operation (inspired by the medieval furnaces) which was impressive.

Never judge a book by its cover...and at Hampshire, this is certainly the case. It's the beat..the passion, the love of learning and the entrepeneurism that comes from each student having to get out there and get what they need to fuel more learning. It is a fearlessness that I admire in people who are possesses and on a path which is rare in any academic environment--however at Hampshire, seems almost commonplace. I could rattle on forever but time is of essence.

We saw Emerson College yesterday. Emerson is situated at the edge of Boston Commons--an urban campus which has amazing facilities from the high tech studios and classrooms to gorgeous dorm rooms and library. The students are very focused (a professional program) on journalism, film, theatre, theatre production but have the ability to work in any of these areas with student run clubs and productions. This school runs and manages two theatres (beautifully rennovated, old theatres with gold leafed plaster putti and balcomies) with more than fifty productions a year. Everyone gets their hands dirty. They run a recognized radio station that broadcasts, raises funds and even is available on itunes. They run a newsroom and a t.v. station. It is very real. The students we met and saw were nice, focused and also driven by the work in a more conventional way. Not a place to find yourself but if you know what you want...impressive place.

We did a bit of walking around. A trip to the cemetery next to Park Church for me. Wonderful. Being with so many of these carved gravestones was amazing due to the liveliness of the cutting, the repetition of the imagery and yet so many derivations. The lettering was great--with ligatures and corrections to amuse everyone. Kitty and I spied a triple head...one of a skull, a winged cherub and then another head on top of that. There were some other examples not shown in the Ludwig book...from flat stones cut like silhouettes of obelisks, to silhouettes used in the design of regular stones (an urn in particular which served as the base for the copy). Paul Revere was buried there with a column marking his grave where people left stones as tributes. John Adams was there with a rather monumental marker complete with an English style heraldic device with lions/griffins, swirlies, and hands. Will post the images later

We got a taste of Harvard in the morning...walking through the beautiful campus on a perfect cool spring morning. The buds are coming out...the students were on campus...so it really was quite a juxtapostion from Hampshire to Harvard. Cambridge was bustling. We had remarkable hamburgers for breakfast/lunch that made for some fun as it was very much a student landmark we ate at to the delight of the home team. We took the Hotwire lottery and spent one night at the Kimpton Hotel Marlowe and the second night at Kimpton Onyx Hotel in the Quincy Market area.
Both very nice, small boutique hotels that we have stayed in in San Diego and last Christmas in Westwood (LA) California.

Off to University of New Hampshire this morning. Should be interesting.