So, you may find yourself asking, "Keryn, why Artichokes?"
Well, it's a long and convoluted story. The shortest possible answer is that, over the years artichokes have sort of become my mascot, or my "spirit vegetable", if you will.
But if you care to read the full story, let me explain:
My mother is from California. I grew up having homemade, sit down dinners nearly every night. About once or twice a year she would make us steamed artichokes for dinner. My mom, dad, brother and I would all sit around the table, each with our own artichoke and a bowl in the center of the table. We'd peel off the leaves dip them in a mixture of milk, butter, and garlic or italian dressing, and scrape the fleshy part off with our teeth. Then we'd throw the rest of the leaf into the bowl in the center of the table. As we ate we'd talk about our day, or whatever was going on in the world. I have fond memories of being taught how to properly scrape the leaves with my teeth, and how to clean out the choke at the center so you could eat "the best part" - the sweet and savory heart. This solidified artichokes for me, not just as a healthy and yummy meal, but a fun and social activity.
After 8th grade biology (this is another long story, and shall be told another time) I became vegetarian and later, in college, I became vegan. This was back before it was so much of a movement, and vegan alternatives to everyday foods were so readily available everywhere.
In college I also started attending the Arizona Renaissance Festival, first as a patron, then as a "Playtron". One of the booths offered roasted artichokes with a butter garlic dipping sauce for $8. I was SO excited (to find something I could eat at the faire, among other things) and it was SO good. It was also fun to find a nice spot to sit on the ground and have a little artichoke picnic, and I enjoyed taking the opportunity to expose friends and other patrons to artichokes, who had never had them before.
After college I moved to Texas, and continued to enjoy attending all the local Rennaisance festivals. I also loved camping. It wasn't long before I learned to love camping at renaissance festivals. Since vegan hot dogs and marshmallows weren't so easy to come by at the time, I had to create my own fun food rituals as part of the camping experience. So I would bring foil packets of potatoes and various veggies drizzled with olive oil and salt and pepper, and also artichokes, if I could find them. I would throw them into a camp fire and let them roast, and they were fun and delicious. Since I was always camping with someone else, I didn't usually have to be responsible for my own camp fire. There's always one around somewhere.
So, one day (I think it was at Excalibur renaissance festival in Smithville) I walked up to some guys at their campfire at a neighboring camp site and asked them if they would mind if I throw my artichoke in their campfire for an hour or so, while I go to the bonfire. They said, "sure". When I came back an hour later they said, "Hey, it's the artichoke lady!" And so, my "Renny Name", Lady Artichoke, was born.
I started working at Scarborough Faire in Waxahachie, hawking habanero salsas and jellies for Lady McArthur when I threw myself at her, saying "Hire me, so I can afford to support my habit!" I did that for a year or two. Once I'd really caught the bug I auditioned for cast at the Texas Renaissance Festival. For my first two years on cast I was either a puppet or a puppet's walker. As a walker, I got to choose my own character. So, what fun to turn "Lady Artichoke" into a full character with a back story! I did some research on the history of the artichoke and discovered that:
According to an Aegean legend and praised in song by the poet Quintus Horatius Flaccus, the first artichoke was a lovely young girl who lived on the island of Zinari. The god, Zeus was visiting his brother Poseidon one day when, as he emerged from the sea, he spied a beautiful young mortal woman. She did not seem frightened by the presence of a god, and Zeus seized the opportunity to seduce her. He was so pleased with the girl, who’s name was Cynara, that he decided to make her a goddess, so that she could be nearer to his home on Olympia. Cynara agreed to the promotion, and Zeus anticipated the trysts to come, whenever his wife Hera was away. However, Cynara soon missed her mother and grew homesick. She snuck back to the world of mortals for a brief visit. After she returned, Zeus discovered this un-goddess-like behavior. Enraged, he hurled her back to earth and transformed her into the plant we know as the artichoke.
In the 16th century, Catherine de Medici (1519-1589), married to King Henry II (1519-1559), of France at the age of 14, is credited with making artichokes famous. She is said to have introduced them to France when she married King Henry II in the mid 16th century.
So, I decided to make a character, "Mistress Artichoke", who was decended from a love child between Cynara and Zeus, before Cynara was turned into a goddess and then an artichoke. A self-proclaimed "semi-demi-goddess" many times removed, who was brought to France by Catherine de Medici. Catherine had promised to help her find a husband in exchange for cultivating artichokes in France. Mistress Artichoke was a somewhat desperate semi-demi goddess who was the last of her line, and getting on in years, and in a hurry to start having little artichokes of her own. This made for fun interactions with patrons, when Mistress Artichoke would trick men into walking around a table with her three times, all while telling them the history of the artichoke and it's many health benefits and how to cook and eat them, and did you know that artichokes are actually a flower related to the thistle that are all beautiful and purple when they bloom? - only to reveal to them that they were now married!
Later I also started working at Sherwood Forest Faire, as Merlin's assistant in his stage show. My character was an ancestor of my TRF character, who Merlin summoned by mistake, when he was trying to summon Zeus, and I was very angry with him for pulling me away from my family and my work. This character was more Greek and more regal than the TRF character, and also lots of fun to play. She was very loud, and yelled at Merlin a lot (and also cursed at him in Greek).
So, when it came time to choose a business name, I tossed around lots of ideas that had words like "Zen" in them. I wanted a name that could include my social work practice, if I ever decide to get my LCSW and work that into my business model. Michael did some research and found that the very practical name and domain "Austin Therapeutic" was not taken, and tried to convince me to use that. I tried to convince myself, too, or at least to find a way to work it into the name, but it just felt to dry, and not "me". Eventually, I decided that Healing was a good word for the intention of my practice, and that my practice should include artichokes in the name. Artichoke hearts are a thing, and healing hearts can be a thing. When I found the perfect logo, that was the end of Austin Therapeutic, and the beginning of "Artichoke Hearts Healing."