Tree Peonies from the Luckystone Lodge, Q. Cassetti, 2010Its hotter than blazes today, yesterday. A bit of breeze this morning with the weatherman predicting thunderstorms and hail moving the 90˚ temperatures to 60˚ by evening. A perfect evening for the Senior Campout that Alexander Q. will be attending. Planning is everything. I guess it will be a bonding experience for all of them!

My husband the saint had a long dayof it yesterday braving the highways, bridges and tunnels, hot weather, and lots of carrying to get our princess safe in her airconditioned (a surprise) tower at FIT. He came home, ate a bit and then early to bed with the fans whirring. I had a mini date with Alex. We saw the Avengers to both of our fist pumping delight. I love this stuff. So does he. I loved the treatment of the characters particularly the humanizing and recalibration of the Hulk, a creature I never really understood but thanks to the Josh Weeden redux, he is becoming one of my favorites. We all have our Hulk moments…and now I can fullly embrace it.

After some weed destruction at the Luckystone (and picking these lovelies in the picture), I came home to do email (a lot of Farmers Market stuff), and settle in to work further on this big RFP I have been requested to fill out to be considered a certified vendor for a big institution. This RFP is a lot of work and is forcing me to get my act in gear, refresh my resume, refresh my web presence etc. etc. The stuff is all there, I just need to renew, refresh and parse. Additionally, this process has pushed me to review my thinking on the business, and things I need to do to keep us relevant. So, despite my grumpiness, I am pleased with the push.

Gurus Unleashed, a web aggregator of information, tutorials and the like on Adobe Creative Suite products just linked to a Vector Tuts tutorial showing the new tracing features in Adobe Illustrator CS6. Fascinating for those of us who are followers of the great Vector, and live and breathe new opportunities to smooth our our work. The silhouette feature (particularly for our retouching work) is a beauty. Take a look at this tutorial: here>

Need to get rolling. I have a 9:30 call about the nesting dolls.

Full Plate

Watermelon Wreath, Q. Casseti,2012, Adobe Illustrator CS5Spring slash Early Summer burst through the veil of March —confusing the trees, the green lily shoots, and pump peony blossoms, and me. I have been weather obsessed—reading tons of stuff online, the digital Farmers Almanac trying to make sense of this insame weather and what to expect…with really no answers but those of Rob which essentially was to go with the flow. That would be the right and easy thing, but I fight it. I like the change in weather…the frosty winters, the frozen springs, the gradual warming and then the delight in the blast of heat. This is all upsidedown and backwards. As someone who likes what she likes, she doesnt cotton well to these changes. However, my Rosemary plant from Atkins Farm in Amherst is digging the change as well as my rootbound orchid.

As a bow to early spring, I cleaned the science projects out of the fridge yesterday—and configured a bunch of things into a kale/couscous/vegetable stock soup, a double batch of biscotti (chocolate chip/almonds and toffee brittle), and cooked a brisket. Now we have stuff to eat, and space to store it. Wow. Productivity.

Sparkly Kitty is home to our delight. She is relishing sleeping in her own bed, eating soup and cookies, and just being in her home. We are doing the same. Kitty delights in everything…and we love her so much. Alex is being very funny…and so its great to be all four of us together in the car, at table together.

I have been heads down getting a ton of work out the door from a new Calendar for the Museum, to covers and branding for the big customer.

Lots of small local projects: There is a new local calendar ( “Tburg Events was created by Trumansburg residents Peter McCracken, Flannery Hysjulien and Sarah Koski. Christopher Wofford brought our team together. I created their masthead and a printed postcard to be dropped off at various locations to update folks on this new service. The Great Local Foods Network benefit has a poster/website/ postcard and now rack card to promote the event and the background of this new organization ( I am using scrap from my files for all of this work which is inspiring me to keep going as there is a place for all of this stuff (particularly as I am the art director/creative director) so I can plug and play as I go. My farmers and I keep at our projects as well as the local beverage producers….so more to come as they come to fruition. And then there is the Farmers Market—which I am very excited about and need to wrap my head around what it is that we are doing this season and getting the manpower behind doing it. Maybe a few emails today.

I am learning sooo much new with Adobe Illustrator these days. I have always used the pen tool…but never really engaged in learning all the cool stuff having to do with paths that are integral with the program and I delight in this new knowledge. The work is speeding up a bit…and I am happier with the results than you can imagine. I also have purchased two new plug ins for Illustrator recommended by the amazing Von Glitschka (aka the Vonster)—Inkscribe and Vector Scribe from Astute Graphics. These plug ins do not really make Illustrator any more inuititive, but allows the work to go more smoothly, more accurately and does some of the knitpicky stuff that just takes time and patience. I was watching a few tutorials yesterday, and plan on a few more today to get rolling with this. It will help with the illustration work, the graphic work and the logotypes which demand more precision/accuracy and smoothness.

So, all in all, things are good. Prince Dauntless will tread the boards this Thursday through Saturday with our having our last, yes last, Cast Party on Saturday. Kitty is home. Rob has a relatively “normal” week. And I have the standard plate of things to do, but with a lot of learning and trying. So, apart from this extrordinary and yet odd weather, things are as close to perfect as possible.


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 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).


09.24.2011, Baldwinsville, New York: TBXC Varsity (left to right) Ben Maracle, Alex Cassetti, Cal Randle, Tyler Sutherland, Alex Kenny, Steven Dunn, Kevin VanDeldenWe went up to Baldwinsville yesterday for the annual Bee Ville XC meet. Always a favorite for the team but also as a parent as the course is so beautiful and the anniversary quality that this meet evokes. We have been going to BeeVille since Alex was in seventh grade with the little modified runners, so this being his senior year, we have been able to compare from year to year to measure his growth as an athlete, as an individual and as our boy. How wonderful and bittersweet. Tyler Sutherland was, to use Alex’s phrase “killing it”—bringing home a very good time and finish being the first of the group of varsity runners. The shorter guys in the middle of the shot were the lead dogs in this race. Double excellent as they are sophomores and juniors—so the team has some terrific horsepower for a couple more seasons!  They all seemed to have a jolly time with good results and great comraderie amongst themselves. So, the season is on, the season of brotherly love and friendship, hard races but good times. Sweetness on the edge of frost. The dualities are remarkable.

I guess I was wiped out. We got home and I decided to take a nap as I was winking out on the drive home. And so I did. I napped and then read a junky book. It got darker and darker until it was time to get out of my nest to see if there was another place to plop down. And so I did. Alex came home from a movie date. Rob went to a funeral and was back late…and then it was time to sleep again. I am still wiped out. I am gauging it my my impatience for stuff that normally doesnt drive me crazy, but I can push to the side of my perifery and disengage. I am all loose ends and frazzled. So, instead of attending Porch Fest all day, I think I will catch up with some email, do a bit of reading and maybe close my eyes again. I am just feeling so strung out. I need to get myself back to the point where I do not have to leave the room to prevent a rude outburst on my part or some sort of physical nastiness.

I just finished the book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot and enjoyed it immensely despite the sadness of the story and the end result to the family of Mrs. Lacks. I was stunned to read about scientific experiments performed on the poor in recent history—mad scientists gone wild that rivelled some of the antics of the German scientists during WWII. We should be teaching this stuff to our kids…that this sort of inconvievable behavior and treatment of others happened right here in our happy little big island…and not just “over there”. Additionally, it pointed up the import of HIPAA and the rights and privacies we are guaranteed with our medical information and data. However, how are our personal cells and tissue material tracked. Do we have the right to that material and how it is used? or once blood is drawn, or a specimen taken, or birth is given—all of those byproducts we no longer have a right to? Though we are much further ahead than the mid-fifties—there are miles to go to better understand our rights to our own cells and the information they hold about us. One of the big take aways from the HeLa cell book was the gift Mrs Lacks gave (unknown to her, her family) to better mankind— through the truly immortal HeLa cells—was an singular one. Why her family was never notified, were treated badly and stupidly by doctors (all horrible communicators and frankly thoughtless people), and were unable to be treated or helped medically as they could not even afford health insurance while big Pharma made money (millions) due to the work they had done with their mother’s cell. This is just wrong all around.

I loved The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks so much, that I am now on a path for more of that sort of reading. I have The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee. This book started as a blog or diary of a young doctor and his fellowship focusing on oncology. From that pretext, Dr. Mukherjee begins to simply tell the story of cancer to laymen. I have just started but am engaged and intrigued by the elegant way the writer is peeling away the complexity of the ideas—and making them pristine and memorable. He presents cancer as a character—the hero and villain—a character of great stealth, dimension and scope. I am looking foward to diving into this.

I am beginning to get more than stupid right now. I hear the siren song of my pillow.

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?



Sun Day

Study after Ganga Devi, Q. Cassetti, 2011, sharpies on MoleskineBrilliant day. Cold blue sky with brilliant bounce off the snow with the spiky walnut trees reaching up with dark fingers into the cloudless above. Just looking out the window has made me run to my pocketbook and pull out my camera and pop off some shots as the shadows are truly bright purple and rich lavenders combined with edges of cream. I never believed that shadows could really be purple and blue until living here on our plateau, and there they are…not obsured as they were in the valleys, but out there for all to see. I can be an Upstate impressionist—or at least pretend to be.

The roads are clear so errands will not be frightening as they were the other days. New wonderwagon does not have snowtires…so snow is a bit risky. I should get snowtires as they give me more comfort than not having them.

I had half the panels designed for the Library display and then my illustrator CRASHED. So, hopefully today, I can rejigger and get out as they need to be in the curator’s hands by the 21st. Not a ton of time, but enough for output/mounting and fasteners.

Interesting news….and a reminder that all this social media, networking, Behance etc. pays off. I posted all my vital info (learned from a Twitter colleague) on A little advertisement (here is my page>>). About me is sort of a web business card. It links the viewer to all the outlets you post work/ network/etc. Plus, it has an email button without one having to post your email. So, it makes you accessible without putting all the details really “out there”. Well, back to my story…. I got a note from about me from a really good designer who wants me to work on a really cool project with them…something really up my alley. I am so psyched. I hope this works out. Too cool for school.

Speaking of Behance, I posted a  bunch of these odd illustrations I am doing yesterday calling the body, Embroidered Line. I really do not know where these images are coming from, they are streaming…fed by the work of Ganga Devi. I am surprised by the oddness…weirdness, creepiness…but am just going to let the hand hit the paper to see what happens.

More later.

Advent Day 7: Holiday Greens

Green Man, Leaf Man, Q. Cassetti, 2010, pen and ink, from second advent calendar projecThis is a green man, the beginning of my next series after this advent calendar project. It has been done as part of the advent calendar and will sit in that group, but it is a spur to more work. This green man was inspired by my friend who got the back of his head tattooed with another image of the Green Man which inspired me to do a little reading…which surfaced a deep body of work to reference, inspire and push me further.

Wikipedia nicely sums up why it works:

“Found in many cultures around the world, the Green Man is often related to natural vegetative deities springing up in different cultures throughout the ages. Primarily it is interpreted as a symbol of rebirth, or “renaissance,” representing the cycle of growth each spring. Some speculate that the mythology of the Green Man developed independently in the traditions of separate ancient cultures and evolved into the wide variety of examples found throughout history.”

This is spurring me on. I have some more lacy angels, a new nesting doll and plan on some santas, Zweit Piet and others to keep this 25 day celebration of the holidays interesting. I have been looking at the lubki inspired work done recently, and discovered that those clues are peeking out of the new line work (no crosshatching just pattern on pattern) and feel that the line work is tighter and more along the lines of some of the Murray encouragement. So, I think there will be some more simple line work in addition to the more intense ink/brushy stuff.  To see other images that havent reached this spot, please click> and, for last year’s advent calendar>>

The weatherman is predicting snow. And some inches for us in Tompkins county…between 4-8”—so I am hunking down (with my cough) and Rob has the wonderbus. I have some stuff in the oven to roast (and turn into something with the marvelous pressure cooker). I want to start some sourdough starter/biga as to be able to start throwing down some bread in the next week or so.

We are knocking down a bunch of projects and got some big steps yesterday. Gotta get stuff in the mail soon.

Cool article on an animator/microbiologist, Janet Iwasa, featured on EarthSky. Iwasa decided that scientists were communicating in a very primitive way about cells so she created these films. Here’s a link>> I love the idea of scientists being animators…and what about animators who are scientists…? What a great world we live in…that people that were previously siloed can cross over and use the arts to explain science. The two disciplines are so close…but in the academic world, kept separately…There is a place for the fusion that can happen given the new acceptance of polyglots(thinking Kitty).  Kitty has gotten her papers done and now has a day or so to finish up her film/animation s he is working on. Feels like there might be a late night or two in that. I miss Kitty…but we had a nice chat to catch up…and it was reassuring for her old mom.

First Day of Advent

Russian Nesting Doll 1, Q. Cassetti, 2010, Advent Calendar 2010, pen and inkFirst day of advent! Its raining buckets with the promise of ice and colder weather. Today is the beginning of the second year of my advent calendar project. Last year, I went wild and discovered all sorts of interesting characters (framed around companions of St. Nicholas)…and who knows where it will go this year. To see last year’s calendar pix: This year, I have begun by working smaller and faster. I am going to keep it to black and white. I am starting with a little collection of nesting dolls which may evolve to Mother and child stuff…and there are nutcrackers (both wooden and squirrels) in the mix. Maybe some references to the Peaceable Kingdom by the ever wonderful, Edward Hicks. So, stay tuned… New work made daily.

Rob is off to NYC early. I need to get the amazing pressure cooker stoked for soup for the team (they are laying a floor in the garage/carriage house. and will want some hot stuff for lunch).

More later.


Sketchbook Project 10/23.2010, Q. Cassetti, pale blue sharpie.I dont know if Denver can happen. There is too much going on with my big client.. premeetings for pre meetings before a big meeting. What to present? What is the point of the meeting? What wants to be represented? What’s the takeaway? And I find that I am having some value during those meetings being a bit harsh…a nice counter to my nice client. But, after doing some research, Denver is so appealing just to eat barbeque and mexican and shop for snap shirts (want to do that with Alex Cassetti)…and maybe see a rodeo or something along that line. Love it.

The blue skull on cream is pretty. Love the color. Love doing single color work on cream as it changes the black and white dynamic. Sweetens it. Anyway…two more drawings and the notebook is done….all I will need to do is paint the cover…pentel black on beige with maybe the new coconut beige to deepen some of the line work.

Just spoke to Pioneer Printing about letterpress vs. stamping the Cornell holiday cards. They could be way sweet. Joe Seppi and i are in love with the same printing stuff…so the production of these babies could be beautiful. Will need to redo the cat card…to make it less grumpy. He just delivered a nice clean job on Kraft paper card for Ithaca College…Service is excellent. Price is excellent. I am thrilled to pieces.

Today is a brilliant day on the plateau. Seems that we are on the edge of the massive storm coming east…I hope we are holding tight on the tree front. These big storms are a worry for me as it tests the success of how we have been maintaining our trees, our big old trees…and if we have missed ones that may have seemingly been healthy, but turned out to have structural flaws. Remember this storm? It literally uprooted this enormous pine tree on the lake three years ago. Looked like a bomb went off. These beautiful big trees…you never know.

Roasted for Flavor

Lubok Hive Study, Q. Cassetti, 2010, pen and inkPrinted posters for the Zydeco Trail Riders/Rongo, so look out for them. The Trail Riders will be playing on the 21st at the Rongo…and I have a pal in the band so it was a fun illustration project. There is another one brewing for the Cayuga Blue Notes too.

Today, I have turned to butter. Absolutely a big puddle due to the heat and still air.  It is cloying…There is promise of a break on Friday. We need it. The hot air being moved around yesterday was not helpful…but about 4 yesterday, my brain just plain shut down. Tonight, the lake, the cold lake is where I am going to float and float and float until that puddliness becomes a cold core again. After looking at…today promises to be 92 and tomorrow 94…so the hot ride is not over yet. I am pushing water with Nigel and Kitty and Alex.  Need to brew some tea…somehow coffee doesnt seem to appeal.

 Yesterday’s picture and today’s unfinished picture were constructed from this weekend’s sketching/inspired by the Lubki high patterning of landscapes. It’s one decorative chunk abbutting another decorative chunk. Odd perspectives, if any…This image wants text…and perhaps a text window cut into the foliage.

More branding talk today. Its been interesting listening/ and engaging in a high level branding series of presentations and discussion. It is not customercentric…This big agency is always referencing their fees, out of contract etc. even prior to talking about an idea…Its not about solving the design and image problem…its not about making a great representation for a great company but its about fees and fee structures within a stuffed meeting with too many members of the consulting team that adds up to big fees for education and training of their team. I certainly could not get away with this sort of mischief. I guess these guys get away with it once…and once and once….I value the client/designer relationship for the longterm so that my education is amortized on a longterm basis. Should be interesting.

Morning Sunshine!

Today, it feels like things are going to happen. We have a big document review conference call with Webex this morning which should be illuminating (at least, I hope). We review documents for one of our clients for identity issues but it has expanded to language, actual design/communications criteria and in some cases total redesign (in less than a day)of brochures, newsletters etc. that have reached this approval process and goes to the end customer in a sad visual state. I get all righteous when I see that some pretty lame/amateur designs created by someone who just needs a communications piece and has no resources--particularly when it goes to the end customer representing this company which is one of the largest in it's industry and should look "Fortune 100", instead of clip art, twenty different fonts (including one of my favorites--Comix Sans), and all the wild stuff you can do with MSWord. Did I mention for the hundredth time that MSWord IS the devil's tool?

As I look out the window, the high sky day only a half an hour ago now has become leaden and promises rain. I saw a multipointed buck, posed as if for the illustrator's camera--nicely blending in with the yellow, gold and beige colors of the fields and flickering leaves still hanging on to the branches. He was glorious...and smart enough not to race across the road to confront the Wonderbus. So, we both have a nice morning...not one of sadness and hurt.

Alex was musing in the car about why we need to rake leaves as they always end uup on the ground, again and again. Rob's response was that we get to make nice compost for the village. Somehow I am more with Alex on this one...I don't think our fellow villagers rake the leaves for nice compost. Perhaps for good citizenry? or better, the layer of leaves are not terrific under the snow for traction? Either way, Alex C. was on point, as usual.

All the alarms on my desktop are reminding me my call starts in ten minutes. I think I have to "powder my nose" prior to this electronic adventure into approval.

More later

Am trying to figure out how to make the slide show from last year's class of 2010 presentation work in a non glitchy way. The new powerpoint and keynote on my new flashy big presentation...makes things easier to work with. Another day of rain here.


Cold here at the lake. The picture to the left is of the Luckystone at Sheldrake thanks to the satellite imagery found on the web.The wisteria is robust because I cut it within an inch of it's life (hoping maybe to stall it's persistant accumulation and acquisition of real estate--winding it's stems and tendrils through and about any fence, upright, or object that is within it's grasping reach. The trillium have gone from white to pink. The end of the daffodils are in sight with the floridly fragrant narcissus coming on soon. We have multiheaded narcissus chez Camp (purchased from Van Engelen) from the annual "lets put 400 bulbs in" program. These multiheaded ones are extrodinarily fragrant especially paired with these tiny white "doubles"that we have as well. I picked a bunch of them and pinned them to my jacket the other day for a bonus that it is spring. Def. more narcissus when I order the blockbuster mixes this year for fall.

I think I am going to order pencils for graduation favors this summer. Perhaps six pencils with a quote about illustration with a red and black ribbon for each place setting. My treat...but I think it would be nice. I have the one Luckystone Prize in my office, ready to prep. The other is still in fabrication, but coming along. I have my big experimental piece of output coming (36" x 48") on stretchers coming for review this week. And, Busy Beaver say the buttons are shipping as we speak. Peter H. is getting my paper to edit...and then pending the design changes to the few illustrations (and a few more I might do), I will be done. Or maybe I will be done and do the few later to add.

We do have the Tuttle/Stahl prep which is a portrait of a Connecticut person (historical or otherwise). Initially, Travis, the wine drinking, Xantac taking chimp was my first "go to"--but instead of going rogue on this project--I will keep tight. So, its going to be on Olivia Langdon Clemens, wife of Mark Twain and local figure at Hartford and here in Elmira. Mark Twain said about his beloved Livy:

"I never wrote a serious word until after I married Mrs. Clemens. She is solely responsible - to her should go the credit - for any influence my subsequent work should exert. After my marriage, she edited everything I wrote"

Elmira College has a center for Mark Twain Studies. I plan on calling this week to see if there is any good primary source material to work with. If not, I like the picture to the left as it shows Olivia simply...not all glam that other pictures capture. This is the girl that Samuel Clemens fell in love with. I plan on integrating a profile/silhouette of Clemens into the image (something I have wanted to fiddle with) to say that she lives behind or within this profile despite her being the engine behind Mark Twain's work.

Look what I found, a note from Twain to Thomas Nast, premiere caricaturist and recognized illustrator of the time:

To Th. Nast, in Morristown, N. J.:
Hartford, Nov. 1872.

Nast, you more than any other man have won a prodigious victory for Grant--I mean, rather, for civilization and progress. Those pictures were simply marvelous, and if any man in the land has a right to hold his head up and be honestly proud of his share in this year's vast events that man is unquestionably yourself. We all do sincerely honor you, and are proud of you.

This note has currency today with the work of Barry Blitt and the witty Mr. Brodner. Nice that people were so courteous in sending notes to each other....recognizing those moments that change people and the world.

More on Livy. Hope to find some elicidating quotes or ideas. My work is going to be a poster about a fictitious play or reading of letters to and from Mark Twain and his depict their relationship and partnership...and how she is the one who is highlighted, not the larger than life celebrity she was married to.

Rob is measuring. Kitty is doing puzzles and I am going to order pencils and ribbons.
More later!

Wintery thoughts

My glasses are found at the grocery store. I finally was able to get into the College Board website and finally, finally registered K for a specialty SAT in French for January. Made the amazing cake Hazelnut/chocolate torte (made with pecans though...and it totally works) last night, iced it this morning. Made a half a flap hat...and tried it on (while it was still on the needles) and found that it might fit an ogre and not a normal person or teenager. So, I ripped it out to the earflaps and have it back to where it was, 2.5" less wide overall. These hats are crankable (created the pattern from a hat A. has) with nicer finish work...maybe tassels?

K was over at her friends, the identical triplets house for the snow in and then overnight. It was very fun for her as the stove of the house had a "sabbath" mode for folks to set so as not to allow them to cook over the sabbath. Apparently, someone had set the stove for sabbath, so there was no cooking until they could get a hold of a customer service person who happened to be snowed in (like most of the poeple I called yesterday). So, they cranked up the woodstove and cooked and heated on the stove. Then off to the fields with the dogs and their imaginations where they made up ideas and talked about them as a group (these are high school seniors and juniors, mind you!). Then back to the house for pyjamas and chick flicks. This morning, when R went to pick K up, there was the beaming (he always shines...its just his glowy personality) dad, with a two man sleigh (rough and ready...a working sleigh) hitched up to a very shaggy caramel horse with bells. No, not colonial Williamsburg, not a Christmas Card, just more farm tools with tremendous style. Just hearing this made my day. It was a Jan Brett moment. The Jan Brett books are so holiday with their tales and pictures of trolls in trouble, or Norwiegan imps and christmas makers with twined branches and porcupines, red wrapping paper and ribbons, handmade presents like mittens and hats--she inspires the best of the holidays (I love her books...sometimes her drawing can be a tad rocky...but cant it be for all of us!). I googled Brett to find out a lot about her inspiration and ideas for books--but on a personal note Scholastic tells us:

"When I was I child, I decided to be an illustrator. I spent many hours reading and drawing. I remember the special quiet of rainy days, when I felt that I could enter the pages of beautiful picture books. Now I try to re-create that feeling of believing that the imaginary place I'm drawing really exists. The detail in my work helps to convince me, and I hope others as well, that such places might be real.

As a student at the Museum School in Boston, I spent hours in the Museum of Fine Arts. It was overwhelming to see room-size landscapes and towering stone sculptures, and then moments later to refocus on delicately embroidered kimonos and ancient porcelain. I'm delighted and surprised when fragments of these beautiful images come back to me in my painting.

Illustrating children's books always seems like a big adventure because as an artist I must explore and give thought to my subject — an artist needs to know everything about their subject. I try to get a feel for the country and times my characters live in, and I get many ideas from traveling to different countries, where I research the architecture and costumes that appear in my work. After a trip to Norway, I was inspired to write three books! I've found that the details and the odd little things one notices help make a story convincing. In my mind, the story comes alive. And for me, the best part about telling a story is drawing the pictures.

Jan Brett lives in a seacoast town in Massachusetts with her husband, who is a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and Buffy, her pet hedgehog. To find out more about Jan Brett, visit her Web site. Meet some of her charming characters, and enjoy all her wonderful online and offline activities."

and the snow continues to fall.

R. just came back with my specs and a Christmas tree for his parents (who live with us in an apartment within the house). They are entertaining and being entertained during the holiday, so it just seemed like the right thing to do. R. is busy thinking about design ideas to move the rennovation further next summer with this house which should be great... and we huddle next to the cricket (our tiny log wood Jotul stove previously mentioned Feb 2008). That little baby can crank some btus and with the rooms of this big house (the one's not closed for the winter) it can be a bit breezy that layers and hats are def in order. I even have fingerless gloves (very stylish) that I have made to help keep in the heat.

Must go clean off the dining room table (from last week's deluge) and prep for the prepping of the suitcases.

More later.

heart in hand.

They are promising inches (maybe even feet) of snow today. There was a buzz at the grocery store (where I might have lost my short vision glasses) this morning as the school (one of a few)had classes with an early dismissal as the afternoon promised the big hit. We will see. Here it is ten,, and it is steadily beginning to come down. We do have milk, eggs, herkimer bread and something for dinner for two nights in hand. Plus, we have birthday cake makings for one of our newest favorite people who is turning 83 tomorrow...and we all have been invited to his party!

Continuing to strike things off my list. Presents gone, cards gone. Guilt is not gone, ah well. Now with my glasses lost, another thing goes on the list. Right now, I have two pairs of speccio on my nose...a real nod to being older...but hey, I can see!. Got the iphoto backed up and have taken enough stuff off the travel computer that we will be okay on the road. Plans for LA shaping up to blocking out our time into thirds--so we are not spending our time traversing the city in a car, not seeing anything. First third Pasadena/Universal City, second third, Hermosa Beach, and final third, Westwood (maybe with a bit in Santa Monica at the end). I am thinking no Huntington Beach this trip. Great for gear and extreme clothing...and really beautiful...but a bit of a trek when northern aspects of the city we have missed in the travel we have had with the kids.

Am working on some leaf shapes with my lovely pens. Murray was right about how I love just the doing of the work. It truly is like going to the mental spa. I love putting the ink down, the blackness, the movement of the ink, and how magically, an image appears all the while I am thinking about the next image or how to add/subtract to the current image to take it further. Should it have color? Not? Reversed? Mashing a reverse and a positive together. Though it feels meditative, it is work--working the ink, working the line, refining as I draw and finally changing the inked piece in the computer by adding color, subtracting lines and overdraws. It is all pleasure because it is me, talking to me about something that is coming from my head, my hand, my heart. I find it hard to want to do anything else (at least in my spare time).

Have wound some Noro (japanese, hand dyed yarn) to make andean inspired ski hats on the plane. Those are the kind that have the ear flaps and machine knit are expensive. This Noro is a silk/wool blend that gradiates in color from a yellow brown to magenta and orange with a brown twist that is consistent throughout the fiber. Should be very cool and handmade looking...and becoming with the skin tones of the people I am making them for. I havent told you about my hats, they are somewhat of a novelty and a thing of desire of the locals. I made a bunch of these Afghan inspired (straight sided) hats with a series of different colorways for a few Christmases and gave them to people who are near (living with me (relatives and friends)) and or dear. One fellow wears his hat from the time the weather gets cool here through the end of April. Every day. He may switch my hat out for another hat I made for him...but its a Q. So, the plane is a good place to listen to tapes and knit...(now that we are not going to hijack the plane with our needles) as I need to spread out a bit to draw (the tray table isnt a great place...what with bumps and jiggles...that doesnt help either.

Gotta go. Things are piling up and the snow has arrived. E. is having car trouble so we need to close out the time for this week.

Bulbs in the ground

Put 20 of the red plant, FRITILLARIA imperialis Prolifera (Double Crown) which grows way tall (around 40") and its primordial partner, Fritillaria Persica (the purple picture) which is slightly smaller--but we planted 50 instead of the mere 20. Also, planted 350 daffodils --one a mix of bulbs and a 100 of a fragrant white narcissus which is a pinch from mother nature that yes, yes indeed, spring is here. This is my little treat to me and mine, and those who stroll down Camp Street, that color happens early, unexpectedly and happily. If we keep putting these truckloads of bulbs in every year, there will, after a decade, be a significant show for all (and flowers for vases too!). Nothing skimpy.

For those of you desirous of big quantities of bulbs, these guys are the place:
Van Engelen>>

And may the snow now fall. We had some slushy rain. So, know it, its coming.

Hotter than the blazes

Did some research on shoes of Marie Antoinette's time. The french were celebrated for their fabric shoes...sometimes sumptious fabrics or even fur with these high heels that were called "french heels" or "louis heels". The Bata Museum in Toronto had some notes on it...and other historic clothing/fashion sites. So, the above is a th.mbnail of the thinking....for the Dream Project. Cinderella's glass slippers were a fabrication from the reality--she had fur (to be specific squirrel) shoes. But her heels had to be french heels--I like this pursuit as it allows me to touch on all sorts of fairy tale stuff like Cinderella or the Twelve Dancing Princesses. Girls with a thing for shoes.

Blistering here. A former client called to let me know that they were declaring a state of emergency and letting the kids out of school by noon. I wish they would do the same here. I am fearful for brownouts and the fritziness that the computers get in this environment...often in the beginning of August. The new water wand is going to get a workout today as are the box fans.

At the House of Health today. Tried the elliptical...and will continue to try it....along with the quick stroll uphill that the treadmill provides. Off to Pennsylvania tomorrow to talk with the same folks from two weeks ago to flesh out what is needed, where, when , how much. And back Wednesday a.m.

Lots to ready today.
more later (I hope)>>


Mei Mei is knocking on the door--insisting I let her in for a scrumptious breakfast of cat cookies and the requisite snore on the working mans' bed we have under our window here in the kitchen. Shady Grove has been denuded of her pink birthday finery and seems a bit droopy with the lack of flair. I ordered a new collar for her from Sierra Trading Post with reflective from pinkery to functional fashion I know she will love. We have been very cautious about the night time walk with our black dog since a local woman was killed due to a blind corner, bad visibility and her jogging with her ipod and earphones in each ear. No more of that for us or the kinder. Flashlights for everyone...and I am pondering even the idea of those crosswalk pinnies to make us be even more visible. See Me Fashion. And, I am not talking the little matchgirl grunge...but the bright orange Hunter style fashion.

It is very wet and cool--wonderful grass growing weather. We have done the preliminary broadcast of seed--the first, skimpier shot. Then, the lavish top off...and we then will have a lovely green span that fuses with the old grass. The pine trees are dumping pollen forever--coating the cars, and in the raindrops there are little loci of the pollen looking like bright green fried eggs. These pines also have lovely little raspberry, baby pinecones. The beginning of the new cone season. The trillium are blooming in Smith Woods as is the carpet of young mayapple umbrellas. Smith Woods is a forest on the edge of town which was given to the town with the requirement that nothing be done to the change to the woods, no paths, no planting etc. It is a very interesting and beautiful welcome to Tburg and some say, there are chanterelles that grow there. I think maybe a bit later if this damp weather continues--Shady and I will need to go and see if we can find our own mushrooms. We have these big (6" in diameter) chinese medicinal mushrooms (to admire) on Camp Street. We also grow tons of Shaggy Mane mushrooms here (to admire, though I have been told they are edible).Time to pull out the guidebook to mushrooms to begin to try and imprint them on this feeble brain.

Saturday is another big day here in Tburg. The Episcopal Church has their great rummage sale (8-11) with chicken barbeque and all sorts of all other fun. There are yardsales by the handful. And my favorite, Cow Plop Bingo at the Fair Grounds as a fundraiser for some team or another at the High School. We are hopefully going to his the Episcopal Church (we got a complete set of golf clubs, bag etc. for A last year for $35.--with a ton of other stuff that we passed up...and maybe shouldn't). And then off to the big track Invitational A. has been put in. A won (WON) all 3 of his events last night...despite a rather frightening discovery that he has a reaction to freshly mown grass. Need to call the Dr. about that this morning.

sketch above is one going to CE Jones for her new album.

Ice, any way you slice it.

More ice. More branches. More icy branches encasing beautiful, plump, rosy buds. I figured I would give you different ice than the glassy trees we have as I have marvelled at them. We went to Ithaca yesterday to have lunch (tous en famille) at Shortstop (key learning: 1, buy the super big one for a crowd...cheaper by miles, 2. always get the cheap drinks, 3. when travelling with teens, plan on them eating a full 12" sub in a manner that resembles a vaccum cleaner). They loved it. The ice cream picture and the typography from the ice machine is thanks to Shortstop.Then off for 2 pairs of gourmet track shoes for the oncoming season (both kids), and to TJ Maxx for teeshirts, shorts and warm ups. A bit of a financial smarting...but I am recovering. Signed up for 2 weeks of sports fun at Cornell this summer. Am working on K's activity with more choices thanks to my talking to the guidance counselor and reading the posters they have up in the hallways in the high school. We made a huge pile of the branches (some of them as big as trees) in front of the house--and shook all the evergreen's branches which made a tinkling clink clink to loosen up the ice and unburden the weight. More snow today. Hopefully in the 40s later this week.

Pool was perfect. Every shape and size were there. Need to finish my pix and start one of a waterfall. It never ends.
More later>>

More rain

Buckets yesterday. More promised today. Four new monarda plants added to the collection--all new plants going gangbusters. Need to get K. figured out today--getting cash card approved, getting toiletries and detergent for her clothes. Wrapping up some comps for our clients. Got a nibble from the ISpot yesterday with a deadline that I cannot deliver on. Exciting there is some interest.

I am cited today on Illosaurus>>

Traded pdfs with a classmate of our thesis. His work is amazing and the story he tells in the thesis, heartening and rich. He also sprinkled his references and development work throughout the paper to enliven the story and make it easier to read versus flipping back and forth. I am in process of picking up that same approach for my paper. Additionally, need to get the "Works Cited" page for the addendum. The end is in sight.

Had a nice email chat with Carol from HAS (Hartford Art School) with the ISDP MFA program. She sent me links to the folks in the program--some very accomplished and interesting work. I need to start revving up about this program. It's going to be fun. I hope the wine job will yield some money to pay for this program this year. That would be great.

More later>>