Preface: Advent 2015 Starts Today!
I try to pick a theme that I stick to, or choose to derivate from and this year's theme is Birds, Bees and Big Green Trees. Some of them are Christmassy (sing the carols please) and others are just birds that I admire or think are funny. You can be the judge. Here we go!
Preface: Advent 2015 Starts Today!
Well, it's that Advent time of the year. This year it's going to be french hens, colly birds, geese, robins, cardinals, puffins and more. Its going to be birds and bees to get my head back in that game...and to build up my library of birds. The chickens from the past month made a few nice cards which I ordered yesterday--and I think the holiday advent images will be the deep well for next year's demands for prints and cards and posters. I am making lists and its moving.
Created a little flier (above) over the weekend for Rob and the MANY (Museum Association of NY) friends to generate a little excitement by actually depicting some of the places in the Adirondacks that they are visiting/using during their annual conference next April. This is a little more "loaded" and promotional than my normal work for my clients, but I think it works, and that is why I am sharing with you. We plan to print and also make it a pdf with web links so that folks can click and get more information about the venue oridea. It was helpful to me to see howhuge the Adirondack Park is in comparison to the rest of NY State.
The court of honor, (aka the cats) are triangulating on me as their lead cat. This is new...but missing Shady Grove is new too. We all feel her loss.
It's amazing how a week will significantly change your life.
Exactly a week ago, I was on my own at the Luckystone--chopping and mixing, clearing out the old pickles from the fridge, running laundry and taking in the day. It was a day like today--clear autumn. Crisp. The osage oranges on the ground. A few twinkling golden leaves on the trees--promising a bit more beauty before the snow. It was one of those sky and water days...where they are separated by a single darker blue line. Yes, I was on my own--but always accompanied by my little shadow, Shady Grove.
Ever since Shady joined us, we were tethered together by her volition whether it be posted outside of the bathroom every time I was in there, from in the middle of the floor as I cooked to either bedside or on top as I slept. She curled behind my office chair or under my desk right by the radiator to gather up all the heat. She would sneak into the boot of the car's passenger seat --curling up tight--barely leaving room for my feet--carefully tucking her legs and tail into a black biscuit. She would wait on the porch by the door--waiting to be called to protect--and soaking in the rays and the cool breezes. She was in front of the fans or as close to the wood stoves as she could handle. Shady was always within my eyeshot from the minute I woke up, until I clicked out the light at night...and her snoring reassured me throughout the night that all was well.
Shady was in the car's backseat as I did my errands--or at my feet as we watched television. She didn't like any separation from me--and would sob and cry if we left her in the house when it just wasn't right to take her with us. Then, when we would return, she would bound outside-- yelping with a yip that said that she was delighted we were home...without any commentary or remorse, guilt or reflecting her former grief. She had my heart and I have hers.
She was and still is, my little shadow.
Last Sunday she had a hard time getting up--and would just fall over. I took her out in the evening, and she was running into corners, seeking out refuge under old boards in the yard, and generally seemed very confused. She would fall and not get up. Just lie in the leaves and seemingly gather the strength to get up. Her back legs were unsure...and she didn't seem to be able to remember to do her business when she normally did. Her hearing and eyesight were off as she was losing that in her grand age...but her sniffer worked more than fine. Her temperature was fine. Eating and drinking was not a problem too. I was frightened. This was not like her. I thought...this would get better.
The next morning, after a night of concern--it wasn't better...it was worse. She was fully incontinent and wouldn't get up...but continued to doze...Never moving from her spot. She moved a bit during the day. She was in the middle of the kitchen waiting for me when I came back from a meeting. I called the vet to see if we could get a time slot, thinking in the back of my mind that this might be the end of a chapter but somehow it was a reality that was impossible. This chapter never was going to end. Ever. Heck, a few tests, a little antibiotic wrapped in cheese and we would be back in business. It was nothing...and we would be able to move on to another day.
But that day came. Dear Shady had to leave us--go forward into the next chapter leaving us behind and grieving. She owned us...our hearts and our love. She taught us to be a family by holding our hands all together--knitting us together just by being in the room with us all. She was there for us and now in my tears, I am there for her. She was sweetness and love. She did not judge but just lived for the now...as we all should. She was a blessing to me and for that I will always and forever, be beyond grateful for being her student and her person.
I know that she is romping with her dearest friends (all who have left this plain) Elsa, Lucy and Sonata...chasing and chasing and chasing. Tracking pinecones .Waiting on a hot dock for us to get out of the water to be with her. Thumping her tail when I whispered her name. Delighted with a green bean under the table. Leaning on our legs. Stepping on my toes. Flipping our hands to rest on top of her head. Talking in her way to us. Making show angels. Catching snowballs. All this that gave her joy...I wish for her now. The tears are running down my face.
My Shadow is gone...as the light as gone down. though I know she here in my heart. Her love was a gift that I will never take for granted--- and will hold it tight for now, tonight and forever. Wait for us, Sweet One. Greet us with a bark when we join you.
So we are now in November. Certain things happen and need to align in the next few weeks like deciding on the direction my advent calendar will take (have had a few ideas....and have seriously changed my direction twice...but feeling something is clicking with birds). I need to get the Christmas presents wrapped and posted. Of course, there are cards to send, and cards to package to sell. I am optimistic though--as the walking regime is helping slowly, and my energy is coming back gradually Case in point, today I braised a pork roast on the stovetop, made fresh applesauce from Black Diamond Farm with a big splash of cider, cut a half dozen onions and put them in small bags to freeze, and broke down 30 fresh cloves of garlic to freeze for later. A load of laundry and a big edit of the fridge and I am done with those chores.
Its going to hot for November. In the low seventies? Can you believe it? I can't, but I will take it...as the promise of grey cold days is disheartening to my lightening spirit. I am not ready to go down that rabbit hole.
I really feel like the time I have spent on the road with Rob has been the ticket to shake things up a little...and I am a little less glum, a little less sad and able to deal with the short time I have with my husband given this tripartite thing he is doing with his time, energy and efforts. He is often gone for well over half the week all day, and all night...travelling, working, and to a large degree, incommunicato...so I have been on my own for this time. More often than not, I work until bedtime, go to bed and start up the next day--which is depressing with the long nights in front of us thanks to daylight savings time. This has been my schedule since last year...and it continues despite his new, completed building expansion. As each of his three jobs flare up and need the extra attention he can provide-- the work is skewed towards one to the next to the next. All the baby birds in his nest demanding their piece of the worm. So his work is herculean. I cannot afford to criticize as this is his choice...but I need to manage my time, my work to not be as low as I had gotten earlier this year. I need to get out and see people I want to see, make some new friends and up the time on the treadmill to get this darned ankle moving the way it should.
Just that is inspiration.
Q. Cassetti 2015
Just back from a whirlwind trip to Pittsburgh. Bad news--it consumed the weekend. Good news--I had a nice time with Robbie and had a chance to see my mom and a big dose of Pee Aye (PA) nature. They are in a different growing zone than we are--so their fall is behind us a bit...so the brilliant gold was still twinking on the trees--and the skies were clean and clear, scrubbed of clouds and darkness. It is wonderful landscape from Corning to State College and then from State College to Pittsburgh. We did one of my new favorite road activities which is looking up names of towns that interest me, and learn a little bit of local news. We learned about Prince Gallizin, the Allegheny Portage Railroad and the Erie Canal yesterday p.m. Another favorite is taking pictures out of the side window as we drive...its kind of crap shoot as to what you will end up with...either way, good or bad. Got the image above....and am delighted. Am thinking Gingerbread model...
"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who'll decide where to go."
"Business is never so healthy as when, like a chicken, it must do a certain amount of scratching around for what it gets."
"The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it."
Arnold H. Glasow
I had the fortune to attend a morning of the Pyrex Seminar at the Corning Museum of Glass as Rob moderated a session with the former Director of Design and some of his team from the old days of Corning Consumer Products. It truly was a climb into my way back machine--seeing and hearing about a time in my own history with Corning Glass Works and the men and women that worked on the same campus as me, creating American design classics, such as the Pyrex measuring cup--that we all take for granted--that those elements that our mother's used to bring us breakfast, lunch and dinner--that became ingrained in the musings we have of that time and place. And through these elements, these hard working mixing bowls and casserole dishes folded into the texture of our childhood--they have a space in our personal palettes and perceptions. For me, there was more. There was a lookback for me from the impatient twenty something designer wanting everything to be just so, and not understanding the culture that this design work happened in. Every product for Corning had to be a "hit"--so the data they gathered from the test kitchens, the consumer testing areas, and the knowledge of the incredibly shifting markets at the time (the advent of Walmart/Kmart/Target and the shrinking Department Store that Corning had built their business around). So the purple tinted glass, the brown tinted glass, the cranberry tinted glass all was founded in data and not necessarily in what we wanted to do...but in the market. Terra and some of the other ideas shown--really portrayed that the team was ready and able to do exceptional work...but were constrained by the conservatism of the corporate culture as well as the marketplace. It was far from "Design First".
Rob sklllfullly directed the team to talk about their work, some of the challenges they had and innovations blending design and the capabilities of the machines. As my friend Tina Oldknow exclaimed to me while all this was in process..."I would love a day of this...it's all so good!". And I agree....beyond the nostalgia--there were key historical moments.
A point I had forgotten was that opal pyrex was the dinnerware that was specified by the military for all of their dining halls, and the thick, thick handleless mugs--that brought comfort and home to many of those fighting or in service--brought this material into so many homes in the boom post war. So, bringing fun patterns and colorways that the Missus would want--only made sense.
Dennis Younge delighted us about the design of the stacking measuring cup. Herb Dann talked about a line of White "Opal" pyrex called Terra, a matte, decorated pattern inspired by nature--with simple forms that I want in my future split level. Gorgeous. Anna Eide, pattern designer and current Design Director for World Kitchen spoke about the complexity of a world that moved from everyone wanting the same time ("matchy matchy") to the trend now for everyone to be distinct...and how to develop designs, forms and patterns for that complexity (and multiply it by an international market). Jerry Wright, a long time acquaintance spoke about his work, his interest in establishing an archive for Corning of the design and engineering work that became a significant asset in the years to come. Rob kept it all rolling. Amazing as these guys were his seniors and bosses when Rob was a design intern in 1978 in the model shop at Consumer Products. Funny how things work.
Postscript: Can you say Tammis Keefe and the fabulous Carl Tait? This is all coming from the same vein.
Christmas will always
be as long as we stand
heart to heart and
hand in hand.
Delighted that these deer have been accepted by the judges and jury of Illustration West 54, the annual show/competition sponsored by the Society of Illustrators Los Angeles. Thank you to the judges, board and staff of SOILA for their giving me the opportunity to share my work.
Before I jump in the car to go to Corning to pick up Rob, I wanted to share my noodling with snowflakes I am doing for a client...and the creation of some nice clippies for me for the future. I am trying to be a midcentury modern kind of girl...and I do not know if I am succeeding. But there you are. Getting a lot moving off my plate and out in the world which is nice...and hope to have a little freedom to draw this weekend. Good progress with PT...and feel that there is incrementally good progress which Kitty confirms. Nice conversation about work, the transition of ideas and styles with Alex. Poor guy, he has to learn all the painful stuff along with the good in order to be the creative we know is in there. MomCoach to the listen.
On to Corning. Should be a beautiful drive.
Here we are. Right smack dab in the middle of a glorious fall. It just happened. Just. Somehow a few days of dreary cold rain--not the uplifting, humid rain..but the downer rain that freezes you to the bone--and snap, there we are. Color in the trees. Piles of buckeyes on the ground. The same with crazy brain fruit, the Osage orange-- nature's croquet balls--ready for a messy game. It is the beginning of Cider Week here in the Finger Lakes with the poor farmers trying to get their apples in and pressed combined with a monumental marketing push to promote cider, cider drinking and most importantly, cider buying. Kitty was down at the apple festival selling bottles of cider, vinegar, ginger beer and shrubs to her delight yesterday in the rain. Today is a quiet day of work and reflection.
I have a pot of recycled soup (a compilation of all the leftovers, bits and pieces, shards and shavings--all cooked down into a potage flavored with a dollop of swad (Coriander chutney) and a crumble of dried basil. I also made a version of the smashed cucumber salad ( see my entry under Blogs>Treats from the NYTimes) to use up the piles of cucumbers I have been hoarding along with the bit of greek yoghurt I had waiting just for this use (not). I am busy cooking as a form of cleaning out the fridge and prepping for the week...what with Rob being out of town and Kitty prepping to go to NYC to begin her time there. All very exciting.
I am doing a lot of research on First Nation People in Arizona and New Mexico. This is a world I have no handle on--it is all very wonderful and quite like nothing this northern, eastern girl is familiar with--from the locations to the concept of Pueblos, Kivas, artifacts, art, religion, nature and community. And the intersections where these things come together. it is an ancient, American landscape I need to embrace. Why go to other continents when we have an extraordinary one to discover...right here....and miles and miles away. I think there might be a trip in the offing to see those things I keep circling back on. I will start talking about this...just a heads up that its coming from this need to see more. I think its a need versus a desire....We will see.