Friends in Low Places

Now that I have you singing Garth Brooks I’m going list the various bugs (friends) we have encountered.  Here is a list and a few photos of the who and where along with a bit of their behavior.

  1. Glow in the dark spider in Australia.  Seriously, chartreuse green in the dark and hanging out at our camp chairs.  Only as big as a dime though.  Pretty sure it was one of the ones that bites you and you gain super powers a day later.  We lost track of it and no body can do any wall climbing yet so I think we are in the clear.

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    Bali spider with a spread as big as your hand

  2. Bali also has a rather daunting spider.  We ran in to a few on the terrace walk with our friend Drew.  I think they might catch motorbike riders because they hang out about head level on trails.  No Thank YOU!
  3. Praying Mantis.  Two, one in each bathroom in Hoi An, Vietnam.  Friendly and seem to creepily track you as you move from side to side.  They are great at hiding under the back of the toilet. Check your surroundings!
  4. Geckos are not bugs but they eat a lot of them and they are in southeast Asia as well as Australia.

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    This fella watched me do dishes. He never blinked.

  5. They come out at night and hang out on walls near lights. Waiting for a moth to snack on. Some folks call them lizards and the big ones geckos. They actually make a call that is “Gek-o” repeated multiple times.
  6. Frogs.  Again, not a bug but a bug eater and are pretty exciting.  Big ones in Bali are about the size of your fistDSC02021.  I met a few by the pool and one in the bathroom.  He was hiding under my swim trunks and as I reached to get them from the ledge he jumped and stuck to the far wall of the shower.  Quite the leap, a good distance of about 4 feet.  I jumped about twice that and then he jumped again to the wall to his left.  I had returned to stationary panic position and thought it was cool until his final move.  He landed on my lower leg and grabbed on.  I swear I could feel each individual finger gripping my calf as he took a rodeo ride on my now flailing leg.   Disapearing behind the bathroom sink I recovered with my voice dropping back from seprano to baratone in good ten minutes.  You win frog, well played.
  7. Birds.  Alive and less so.
  8.  Worms.  Aussie and Vietnam
  9. Ants. Small sugar ants, big black, red fire.. so many.  The biggest problem is the first.  Rain and then shine equals lines of sugar ants crisscrossing along the floor.  And if you forgot to put anything edible away either on top of the fridge or in it you get a special treat of having them cover your hand when you pick it up later.  All food gets put away asap.  Some locations had an ongoing battle in bathroom showers. Some of the ants so small you can’t see them.  You start feeling them and they bite just a bit and you start looking like your trying to brush flour off black pants.  In Bali we had a big black ant issue.  I sprayed into a hole in the wall and out they came as if I had just hit the hive with a stick.  A waterfall of ants.
  10. Spiders.  Yeah, I just need to revisit this one because I just survived an epic battle with a giant!  Seriously, I’m writing the section on “ants” and I see the wall move.  Oakley is sleeping next to me with my wife and Canyon in the other room.  He just fell asleep so I have to do a silent battle.  Holy crap that’s a big spider…. Does it jump?  I have to get it before it’s out of reach.  I should get a picture of this guy first.

    Cut me some slack on the photo quality.  It’s pretty good for low light full panic mode.

  11. Evidence and if I lose then the Dr. will want to know what bit me.  If my wife sees this thing we are packing and leaving.  Check that, I’m packing and they are heading to the cleanest hotel in the land.  Maybe I should wake up Oak and move him?  No, he will ask questions leading to full panic mode.  Lets just keep that panic mode to myself.  I don’t want to get too close, I don’t think a shoe or sandal gives me a good distance.  Is it poisonous?  Don’t even go there.  It’s got to go.  I need a book.  Damn, that’s a big spider.  Focus!  Scanning the room for a weapon, making sure it’s not running off.  Ah! the boys’ hard cover cursive writing practice book.  Here I come!  That sneaker just went into the bathroom.  Good, I’m happy to bring the battle to the small confined space of a bathroom with toilet/shower set up.  Wait, is it poisonous?  Sweet, this book will slide under the door you are hiding behind.  Slide to crush.  No luck, and he’s on to me.  Great move genius you just gave up your weapon.  Off to the other room for more ammo! Remember all this is silent like a muted action film. Light on my feet as I spring to the kitchen.  Maybe get a jar to trap it? More like a bucket!  Then what, show everyone?  Focus man it’s a battle to the death or we are out of here. (in real time I’m still scanning the room for a possible partner, wondering where it came from and if it brought friends) Grab that can of bug spray.  Ok. bug spray in one hand and a size 7 sandal in the other. I try the sandal drop move first but it catches it and tosses it to the side.  Oh Crap! Grab the other sandal.  He’s moving!  I have the other sandal on my foot but it is my last resort to get that close to the beast and to top it off the sandal is the kind with holes in the sole for drainage.  Not good.  He’s making a break for it.  Across the dirty clothes pile looking like a soft-shell crab.  Spray, Spray, Spray! That slows him but it won’t kill him.  I use the bottom of the can (he is bigger than the base of the can) no luck missed now he is hiding behind the iPad leaning against the wall.  I must block his escape.  Eureka!  Found two big ziplock bags with the boys’ school workbooks. About five workbooks in each.  I remember in the movie “Bee Movie” that some bugs are measured by the size of magazine it takes to kill it.  I believe the bees were impressed with a spring Vogue issue.  I think I might have a chance.  Cornered it and dropped the workbooks.  Two full loads and then a frantic bashing.  Remember it’s a silent battle but I bet the neighbors can hear my heart beating like Will Smith’s “Miami” playing at 2000 beats per minute.  What to do with the carcass?  Oakley has slept through the whole thing.  Hide the dead for a minute while I think.  Wife text from the other room “What’s going on?”. She knows something is going on and is smart not to come in.  “Nothing honey. Just a little spider that was particularly feisty.”.   Ok. I need a huge paper towel or a broom to get rid of it.  This TP will have to do.  Sure it’s dead?  More TP just in case.  Flush.  Done.
  • Of course I had to look it up after and I feel badly for taking out a spider that eats cockroaches.  Who knew at the time?  Huntsman Spider “known by this name because of their speed and mode of hunting.  They also are called giant crab spiders because of their size and appearance.” – https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huntsman_spider.  I was spot on with my assessment of this guy.  Fast and crab like movement.

That’s it, I’m not adding anymore to this list.  I may have jinxed myself by deciding to write on this topic (my wife suggested it) and I don’t have the energy for another battle.

I know I will write more in this area.  I’ve already had a few more encounters since writing this post.

Tails Down Under

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ITINERARY: Hervey Bay to Platypus Bay, zip by Fraser Island and back to Hervey Bay.

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Hervey Bay plays with your eyes in the morning as the horizon and smooth ocean bay are almost indistinguishable.  A closer look reveals activity in what looks like total serenity.

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Untracked beach is disturbed by the artwork of what was explained to me as a worm.  In Oregon we can identify  disruption of the wet sand as clams but here it’s worms used as bait.  As the worm digs in deeper perfect balls of sand lay on the beach like little marbles.

 

 

 

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Canyon (furthest out. Surprise, surprise) and Oakley. 

 

Kids play in the shallow bay were you can be a hundred yards into the ocean and still only be thigh high.

 

 

 

 

As I had mentioned in the itinerary above we did head out on a whale watching tour by the Pacific Whale Foundation.  The show that followed hit all the highlights in the brochure.

We witnessed blowing, head slap, fluke up dive, pec slap, breach, tail slap, peduncle throw, and singing.   Although, all these behaviors could be found in a Gurr Boy wrestling match we saw them preformed by slightly higher weight class. The adults weigh in at about 35 tons!

The pics I’ve placed here are just a handful of the amount I shot.  I’m still patting myself on the back for deciding to upgrade to the Sony A6000 mirrorless camera before leaving the States.

I could here my father telling me about shooting photographs of a moving subject from a boat (moving object) as being extremely difficult.  Add to that not knowing where the subject will appear and you get about a thousand shots to sort through.  Blurry, delete, late, delete, I moved, delete, early not there yet, delete….

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KGURR PHOTO

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That were still playing as the sun when low and we had to head back.

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The route back to the dock took us within a few boat lengths of Fraser Island.  An adventure that I felt was priced out of the budget for this go around.  I have seen in before on a whim in 2001.  I swear to return to it someday.

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Chef Gurr- Work & and Play

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Reflecting on my time at Le Cordon Bleu as an instructor one year shy of fourteen years, I have come to the conclusion that I have perfected the balance of work and play at work.  I Imagine that some of my colleges would say I played more than I worked. 

My work was play for me and I like to horse around.  The drudgery of costing, inventory, and scheduling constantly as an Executive Chef was lightened up with the change of position to a Chef Instructor. 

I was able to get my hands dirty in order to show students how to do and understand techniques.  Demo time was relaxing for me.  I have always been at ease when cooking.  Ok, ok, it’s actually the holding of knives and playing with fire that really sends me into a meditative state. 

In time I was able to hold a dry erase pen,  write almost legibly on the whiteboard, and feel confident that I could navigate the next lecture trusting my experience and knowledge.  Some days I would wonder where the questions would lead us as a class and at times if I was going to be able to steer us back to the curriculum.

The challenge was never the food, it was the students.  Students from all walks of life.  Collectively they spanned all possible skill levels.  Some so green they didn’t know that beef was cow.  People grow up differently and are exposed to different things at different times. 

I’m from Idaho, I know potatoes, cow and a few other things.  If the student grew up in a big city and their family didn’t really cook from scratch the student might not have made the connection between live animals and packaged cuts of meat.  Where does a breast of chicken come from?  It’s not a mammal, chickens don’t breast feed their young. 

I had to explain that once. Actually, I was asking what kinds of animals we could make cheese from.  The answer I got was “Duck”. 

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Braised duck leg on soft polenta with Brussels Sprouts, soft poached egg and chervil.

Remember when I said “I would wonder where the questions would lead us”?  Well, sometimes the answers would send us into a lesson on how mammals are different from birds and you can’t milk a duck.

In putting down the paper toque and sharing some of the dishes I prepared along the way, I’m hoping this might be a way to show my appreciation.  I am appreciative of the time I was given and the people I have a connection with through this food.   

 

  

 

       

    

     

     

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Lobster Galette (Savoy Buckwheat Crepe) with Gruyere Cheese, Spinach, Crispy Shallots, and Sunny Egg.

Jetstar, Star lord, & Polish 

“Australian Up and Coming”

That’s what the on-screen button on the back of the seat in front of me says. 

 I’m on Jetstar from Hawaii to Sydney.  Lights are low, magical windows dim to a soft, almost polarizing, blue hue.  No more sliding the white panel to keep the sun out.  

We just lost Friday to the international date line and crossed the equator at the same time. It’s like the pilots were seeing if they could hit that point in the map exactly.  

335 on board, 9 across, and the only social interaction is with the other person ‘holding it’ at the bathroom door.  We all have a screen filled with distraction embedded in the seat back in front of us.  Movies, games, music, even seat to seat chat.  There is a good amount of movies to watch but be careful of the spoilers that are all around you.  The person in 40a is watching what you are and is further along.  Ten hours of tv.  It’s facinnating to watch a large group of high thinking beings be controlled and subdued by technology.  

Polish is band, apparently an Up and Coming band out of Australia.  They are pretty close to my recently sold or given away CD collection from the 90’s.  A bit classic rockish with a slight punk feel.  I like it in this moment.  The name of the album is ‘Alright Already’.    

40k feet in the air, -67 degrees, 653 miles per hour.  This B787 is quite the marvel.  I was able to write this post, watch Gardians of the Galaxy Two, and work on more writing with a canned Jim Beam and Cola.  

Hawaii or Hawai’i?

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Soak it in boys.

Our time in Hawaii has come to an end and Just when you think you knew something.  Like how to spell Hawaii for example.  There is a movement in the state to change it to Hawai’i.  I’ve been seeing signs spelled both ways.  You really start to second guess all you know or at least what you learned on the mainland.

We stayed in a small one bedroom house that pushed us together sometimes more than we could stand.  The heat and humidity was seasonally high according to the locals and it controled what we could bear.  Before noon swimming was the key to keeping us from being too tired and cranky for sand removal late in the day.

I am filling this post with the view from my eyes.  The photo at the top is by far one of my favorites.  I see two young jedi looking longingly into the distance and the future.

 

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Hawaii

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 Oahu, Hawaii.  An eye popping, jaw dropping experience for the boys.  Actually this first stop on the RTW trip surprised all of us with roosters crowing before sunrise.  Sea turtles becoming just as curious about us as we were of them.  We we given mangoes from the tree in the yard.

The west side of Oahu is not as well off financially.  That or they decide to spend their money on raising families, very loud yet crystal clear car stereos to blast any time.  All sorts of fixed up two stoke engines with two or four wheels to zip around on, also at all hours.  Fences, the amount of fences and pad locks is amazing.  Each house has gated entry to the car port, the walkway, the front door.  Our place was part of a duplex and we had four gates each with a pad lock.  Locksmithing looks like the best career path on this side.   

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The boys getting a surprise visit from a green sea turtle (Just left of them)

 The boys did a lot of rolling in the surf. 

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The view opposite Barbecue Kai

 Cheese burgers for $2.50 for the boys and a recommended double cheese burger with barbecue sauce for $3.50.  Light only shows the “BAR” section of the BARBECUE KAI sign.  The menu prices are written with Sharpie on masking tape and stuck to a back lit Pepsi menu board.  I don’t think they are in it for the money.  There isn’t greed here.  Counter service and a couple of picnic tables.  The atmosphere reminded me of a drive-in-movie conssession stand.  Everything from burgers to a side of somen noodles that was a quart container full.  My Wife said it was a recommendation and that it was just a side.  It was a meal for two.  I would recommend this local favorite over the golden arches across the street.  

Pearl Harbor Memorial

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I’ve been thinking about this post for almost two weeks now.  I can’t seem to find the words to explain how I feel about this visit.

Maybe silence is best for now.

We toured the USS Arizona Memorial. It was just a fraction of the devastation and horror that happened that morning in 1941.

 

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The Arizona Memorial

If you can, make it a priority to visit the memorial.   Take a moment to honor the fallen.

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Up, Up and Away!

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First flight they can remember. Hawaii bound and loving it.

When I think about when our RTW trip starts I knee jerk to this first flight from Portland to Hawaii.  IMG_6453

The truth is it began for me when we left our house, our home, of 12.9999999 years (as most of you know I don’t even like to write the number after 12). We drove the Amobile (adventure mobile- 99 suburban complete with custom wood bumper) and our van to Idaho to spend time with family and friends. As well as drop off a bunch of shit on my folks including The Amobile.  A wonderful visit filled with an undertone of preemptive homesickness. IMG_6352Smiles on people’s faces as we depart for a year knowing it will fly by but at the same time a sense longing to get together sooner.

 

Headed for Portland to fly to Hawaii just happened, without planning of any kind, be the solar eclipse. Our journey we have made many times would be blessed with an unbelievable spectacle as we passed through the path of totality.

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Side route to Huntington, OR and down to Brownlee reservoir on the Snake river gave us a view of two states shrouded in darkness. At totality nothing could hold back my primal hoot and holler. As in the movie Better Off Dead, we had witnessed a truly awesome spectacle. My father was on hand bringing wisdom, a 70’s tripod with legs bigger in diameter than swing sets and an old pair of Bushnell binoculars attached with a piece of bike tire (no shit), 50/50 cord and a small bungee. DSC00331The master of improvisation was able to project the eclipse to an old easel.

Patience

“Chaotic action is preferable to orderly inaction.”- Will Rogers securedownload

I’ve been holding out on you.  I’m told I’m one of the most patient people on the planet.  Family, students, peers, employers, and more have stood by saying “Well? Do you have an answer yet?”, “Did you hear me?”, “just tell me the answer, Chef.”.  In my defense; yes, I am listening, always.  I am a fabulous listener and observer. Yeah, it’s a bit creepy.  I am also an introvert.  For my former students this might be hard to realize but it took all I had to present, lecture and interact with you.  I would go home and shut down to the point of not communicating with my family and honestly, it wasn’t fair for them.  I had spent all my extrovert powers at work and left nothing for the people closest to me.

I have been wanting to write for years.  Putting it off until the time was right, when I had the time, when my computer was running well, ect…  I am a thinker and sometimes I will not do something until I know the outcome completely.  It sucks.  I put in all the scenarios and then won’t start until I am sure of the outcome.   Luckily for you I have changed a bit.  Not completely but some.

Years ago I started to build, no wait, I started to plan to build, a chuck box for hunting and camping.  Research included looking at what was in the market already, materials, tools required, space to do the job, and, of course, time to do the building.  A little more than two years later and I had made my own chuck box.  Mission complete!

Bulllllsssshit…. I had spent two complete hunting seasons (spring turkey, archery and rifle deer and elk) improvising with what I had and done just fine.  I had found that being flexible and having less was the key.  I used the chuck box for one season of camping/hunting before using as a storage shelf in the garage.  Two years for one fucking season what a waste!  The most valuable lesson I had learned was to start something.  Yeah, just start it and keep hammering nails into it.  You can change it or fix it later.  Be flexible, don’t try to figure it all out before starting.  Most solutions present themselves in the moment.

The excuses have all gone by the wayside and you are all in for what I hope is a treat.  My perspective.