Joie de Vivre

Cooking Artichokes

The girls have been wanting to try artichokes for some time – so, we called Grandma Cherie to see how she used to make them. I loved them as a kid, too.

Stab the heart - ship needs a captain

She said to cut the burrs off the leaves and chop the bottom step off so they can sit flat in the pan.
In the pot

Next, add water about halfway to the sides of the artichokes and add garlic to the water. Boil/simmer for 45-50 minutes, covered. I let them go a little too long, but they were delicious.

digging in

I made my first batch of pesto for the season with this meal. Luckily, we have two young guests for the weekend to help.

stab the heart (again)

Looking for the heart….stab the heart, don’t stab the heart.

Thanks, Mom. It was really good! All four girlsĀ and IĀ loved it.

Joie de Vivre

Reality Event-Emotion Vector Matrix

I’ve made an important discovery. I call it the reality event-emotion vector matrix. I don’t know what that means, but the idea is simple. There are three basic states in which we exist (just like there are three basic food groups, which makes this easy to remember). Life can be completely awesome, boring or awkward.

See? Easy Peezy.

Event Matrix Diagram
Here’s a little case study I made up:

Let’s pretend you are at work and walking down the hall listening to the Replacements on your portable MP3 player. Completely Awesome.
But then a manager stops you and asks what you are working on, to which you immediately respond with “What are YOU working on?”
And then, to be nice, he/she starts to tell you.
See? Simple! And it totally works!

As a bonus, my research has uncovered that there are really only three basic emotional states: Happy, Angry or Sleeping. These can be overlaid on the event pie chart, but they don’t have to be. Here’s another example, this time with the emotional index added.

You are working on your taxes, and you get confused so you call a guy you know who happens to be an accountant (boring). Your accountant buddy forgot to take some key medication and starts to yell at you about some homestead tax credit nonsense (awkward/angry). You calm the accountant down to the point where he can explain the homestead tax credit nonsense (boring/sleeping). You figure it out while he’s telling a joke (awkward/boring). You realize that you didn’t need to bother your un-medicated friend after all, and that you owe the IRS less than you thought (completely awesome/happy).

This is easily the best self-help tool ever created. In our busy, busy lives, we really don’t have time for complex emotional responses or overly dynamic situational reflexive response triggers. All we need to recognize is that things are either (say it out loud where ever you are right now – it helps reinforce the lesson): COMPLETELY AWESOME, BORING or AWKWARD.


Joie de Vivre


my long lost journal

Around the time I wrote the Sketchy post, something told me to go back to a certain physicians’ meeting room and look for my missing book.

Is it not written, “Listen to your gut?”

I did go back and look, yet again, and still couldn’t find it. This time, I mentioned it to some staff who work in that area. It was indeed still there, under paperwork and miscellaneous debris – the good Dr. Herman found it a yesterday.

I am so attached to this book that I am tempted to pick up where I’ve left off. Alas, the Moleskine has won me over, and I’ll be transcribing the contents of THIS one to the new one, and then delegating this one to home use. Still, there is something immensely satisfying about finding a lost, well loved object.

Joie de Vivre

Yes We Can.

Yes We Can

Joie de Vivre

The Stevedore Ghost

Like many others, I discovered Allison Sommer’s art via a link on Illustration Friday. Please visit her flickr page and see how amazing her paintings are. They speak for themselves.

I noticed that she had bookplates for sale, and thought GREAT! I’ll order some and maybe one will help me *not* loose my new Moleskine book! Then, somewhere on one of her sites, I saw that she will trade taxidermy for art.


Yes, “Seriously,” the site assured me.

As metaphysical possibility would have it, I happened to have a stuffed frog named Alfio.

Senor Alfio the Frog

Ms. Sommers readily agreed to give Alfio a new home, and to send me a painting in exchange. And, as metaphysical possibility would have it, I ended up with the amazing Stevedore Ghost.

Stevedore Ghost

“No more heavy lifting for him, and the rats he befriended on the docks while alive have kindly offered to accompany him in the afterlife– a fine death, indeed.”

Indeed indeed!

Scale view

The detail of this is stunning. The four Dorans stood in a circle and unwrapped the package and gasped. Absolutely amazing. I feel really, really lucky.

If you have some taxidermy to trade, I recommend doing so.

Another coincidence is that the Stevedore Ghost is destined to reside in my studio, the barm (with an M, yes). One day, while working in the barm, I realized that the barm is actually surrounded by barnacle encrusted docks and seaweed nettles and a steel gray ocean sky next to an intimidating sea crawling with galleons and that I am a dockworker. Odd, but true – I don’t know why I didn’t see it sooner. I wonder if the Stevedore Ghost was haunting the barm that day?

He certainly is now.

Thank you Allison.

Joie de Vivre

Water Tower Engineer’s Guild Handbook

Last fall, while working on the barn renovation project, I found a well worn copy of the “Water Tower Engineer’s Guild Handbook.” It was truly an AMAZING find.

Water Tower Engineer's Guild Handbook

I am thinking the former owner of my house must have been a guild member – this book contains some rather esoteric material, stuff that Mr. and Ms. Vince J. Public doesn’t know. For example, I bet you didn’t know that water tower engineers and light house keepers have a special bond. They are close cousins, and part of a secret aquatic society. When the master of a lighthouse needs to travel inland, he always stays with a water tower guild member.

I’ve also learned something about the actual mechanics of different types of water towers. The “sky pimple” model uses a gravity driven well system (much like the lochs in the Panama canal) to pump water from underground aqueducts to the top of the tower. An octopus, usually, lives in the tower itself and manages the flow to surrounding communities [see diagram]. An octopus is as smart as a house cat – very clever – and much more industrious. That’s another guild secret – they understand the cephalopod mind. Some common East Coast water tower structures are summarized in the following diagram. Please click to view full sized version:

smaller view of water tower diagram

This book is packed with a lot of information that I don’t really understand – and I’m pretty sure that I am as least as smart as a house cat. As I learn more, I’ll post it here.