"Cieli Blu" (Un Ritratto di Julie Cusatis e suo figlio, Max) "Cieli Blu" (Un Ritratto di Julie Cusatis e suo figlio, Max)
pastel pencil & watercolor

"Blue skies
Smiling at me
Nothing but blue skies
Do I see.

Singing a song
Nothing but bluebirds
All day long.

Never saw the sun shining so bright
Never saw things going so right
Noticing the days hurrying by
When you're in love, my how they fly...

Oh, Blue days..?
All of them gone
Nothing but blue skies
From now on."

----Irvin Berlin,. 1926
I first met jolly Julie Cusatis almost twenty (25?) years ago, when she (as the marketing Director for The Siena Hotel and Il Palio Restaurant) hired me to "do" their ads.  I happily did those for a couple of years before Julie and I both moved on to other work and, to be honest, lost touch with each other. I never saw her again until this past Summer, when she suddenly showed up, here at the house in Hillsborough, for one of Suman's Indian cooking classes.  The reunion was, of course, a very raucous & happy mini-love-fest.

This portrait is of Julie and her son Max......whom she, as a single mother, raised on her own (with, as she'll be the first to say, the help of good friends along the way).  He's a handsome boy, I think, and he's lucky to have inherited his mother's smile.  He's just gone off for his first year in college.

Cautionary Horror Story #49385 from 1996 or so:  As a toddler, Max was all too prone to chronic ear infections. I recall Julie's wearily telling me how she'd taken him to doctor after doctor, with no good results until she finally located a homeopathic doctor who recommended something or another (all I recall is that involved drops and a bottle). In any case, the stuff WORKED, and Julie was able to go back to work and recommence leaving the boy at his expensive daycare each morning. Within a couple of days, he was screaming in pain again, and Julie was understandably distraught-beyond-measure as, once again, she had to leave work and go fetch him from the daycare.

The daycare staff were predictably defensive, assuring Julie that they had GIVEN HIM HIS DROPS EVERY MORNING AND WERE NOT AT ALL TO BLAME!.  Then?....a casual remark made Julie ask "Excuse me.....you did what with the drops?"

Turns out that the expensive idiots (who apparently couldn't be bothered to read instructions on a bottle) were putting the cold drops in the boy's ears every morning....smack onto his inflamed eardrums. The stuff was supposed to be administered orally. 

Well, Max survived the daycare (thanks to his mom), and, in fact, has just left for his first year of college. Happy Endings all 'round.

My favorite version of "Blue Skies" (which seems appropriately-joyful for Julie and Max) can be found at: