Joie de Vivre

Schedule of classes, Fall 2008


It seems I am CCBC.

Great Scott.

When I arrived at work, this was all over my office door.

Joie de Vivre

San Francisco

After the conferencing was done, I said goodbye to new friends like Sheila and Hugo and set to work recording with my old friend, Neil. Neil and I founded the “drums and keyboard” movement, which was very popular in Maryland basements during the 1980’s.


Neil and Jim


Neil and Jim

Neil and I were part of a quartet that played shows and parties during which we often would perform our drum-and-keyboard songs while our bandmates stood by and watched. I can’t remember why we did this, or how we managed to get away with it. Also, we enjoyed zesty French onion soup.

So, we nerded out and made some new music – mostly ironing out a new system of composing and bringing our two styles (and sets of technology) together again.

Mixing Drums

Mixing other stuff

Neil’s computer doesn’t have stickers on it (at least none he’s found yet).

But, it wasn’t all music – we ventured out to meet stormtroopers:


We also attended the Frida Kahlo exhibit at sfmoma. I couldn’t take pictures at that exhibit, so I’m posting this one instead. I loved it, however. Really amazing to see so many old photographs and even home movies of Frida.

Oh, snap!

And we faced our monsters:

Facing monsters

I had a wonderful time with Neil and lovely Hobbes. San Francisco is a great city, full of bananas, lime diet coke and Doritos – I can’t wait to go back some day.

Hobbes, me and the twin peak

The rest of our adventures are chronicled on flickr. I took almost 700 pictures!

Joie de Vivre

Lucky Hedwig

Hedwig the Cockatiel

Our cockatiel Hedwig escaped last week during an avoidable mishap. She slept outside while the girls and I stayed awake and worried for her. The next morning, I hit Craigslist and canvased grocery stores, vets and pet shops with MISSING BIRD fliers.

The last store I visited explained, rather bluntly, that I’m a fool for not keeping her wing feathers trimmed. They also said that when a bird escapes, they are overwhelmed with trying to find the “ceiling” outside. Typically, they won’t go more than 200 to 300 yards from the house, and they will usually stay put in a tree until forced to move (food, predators, etc.)

I picked a street in the next neighborhood and started walking and whistling – Hedwig always whistles back, it’s a kind of game we play. Almost immediately, I heard her respond to Sleigh Ride. I still can’t believe my luck – I keep reliving the thrill of hearing her in the distance. Such amazing relief. It took us both about 20 minutes to figure out which tree she was in, and how to get her down in the wind. She managed it, and is sitting on my shoulder as I type this.

Hedwig in the tree

The advice from the cranky store owner was excellent. I called to thank her, and she then told me that people will often keep friendly birds if they meet them. And Hedwig is the friendliest ever.

Joie de Vivre

A Fabulous Holiday Weekend

1. I am recovering nicely from Lyme disease – my fatigue is improving. I am so grateful.

2. I returned to my beloved Kung Fu school last week. I’m definitely on the mend.

3. I’m also deliriously happy about the fact that friends gave us a POOL this weekend. A POOL!

goils in the pool

4. I had crawfish for the first time (and it’s weird that it’s taken me this long to eat them)


5. I cleaned up my old family kitchen table and put it in the back corner of the barn. It makes a fabulous drawing table.


6. I had a fine time with some drawings. This is for the sketchbook swap:

The Old Man and the Sea Turtle Skeleton

7. This is sketch of an idea I have, on 8″ X 2.5′ paper (pen, ink):

Giant Jellyfish

8. There’s more on flickr.

And summer is just getting under way! Completely awesome.

Joie de Vivre

Pop’s Ceviche Recipe

Cover to letter.

My father was born and raised in Panama. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy and eventually came to the states. At some point in 1961, he wrote home and asked for a recipe for ceviche, a favorite side dish/appetizer in Panama. It came on a lovely piece of stationary, shown here.


Ceviche is originally from Peru, and there are variations of it all over South America. It’s spicy and actually quite refreshing during the hot summer months.


Here’s how to make it:

  • White Onions
  • Capers
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 10-12 limes
  • White fish, shrimp, octopus (more below)
  • Parsley
  • Jalepeno, habanero, Jamaican pepper or similar
  • Celery (optional)

Finely chop the onions, peppers, parsley and fish. Mix evenly in a bowl with salt and capers and then add to a mason jar or similar. Squeeze lime juice into jar until all ingredients are covered. Cover and refrigerate.

Ceviche Cookin'

I tend to leave it in the fridge for at least three hours, but it’s safe to eat when the fish is white (and/or the shrimp turns pink). Ideally, it will be served chilled shortly after the fish is “cooked.” The citric acid in the limes causes the seafood to become pickled, and cooks the fish without heat. It works.

TIP:Did you know that you can clean a grill with a lime? I cut them in half and scrub mine with them – they cut through the grease and grime faster than Mr. Clean can shave his head.

I’ve had ceviche in Panama, and Pop’s was just as good. In Panama, the fish is corvina (white sea bass or a similar croaker) . Corvina can actually mean many varieties of fish found in the region, but they are salt water varieties. If you make ceviche with fresh water fish, it’s a good idea to freeze it first, because fresh water fish can carry parasites not found in salt water fish. Safety first! I’ve made it with shrimp, orange roughy, talapia and others. All delicious.

I consider this recipe one of my family treasures. I hope you enjoy it.

Joie de Vivre

Shrunken Heads and Indiana Jones

I am fairly certain that I am the only one here who enjoys the Baltimore heat and humidity. I love it. I crave this weather. But, like Tigger, I’m the only one.

To beat the heat, daughter #1 suggested we make shrunken heads for her upcoming birthday party.

Shrinking heads

We usually do a theme party in June – last year it was “The Bitter Birthday,” in which everyone dressed as various characters from Lemony Snicket’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” We played games like “Run Away Screaming,” “Murder” and even had an “In Auction.” I was Count Olaf, a role I’ve been ever playing since.

This year, she is thinking it would be fun to twist last year’s theme into “The Unfortunate Victims” party. I haven’t figured out how to sell that to the parents of her 10 year old friends, but it works for me.

I noticed daughter #2 diligently peeling her own apple, never one to be left out. Alas, it was destined for her stomach and not cannibal island.

Apple head eating an apple head

The heads are currently in the mad scientist’s lab soaking in a salt solution. I’ll post more photos as they, um, shrink.

NEXT, we decided to venture off to the nearest cineplex for the new Indiana movie.

My goils and I, off to air conditioning

In the lobby of the theater, there’s a life size, true to scale fiberglass replica of the Hulk. It’s easily one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a long time, and I very much want to have it for my garden. Note the detail in the roof of his mouth.

The Hulk Garden Statue

He’s TOTALLY a garden statue.

A very nice Sunday all around.