Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Night I peed on a Bear...

It was 11:30 p.m., on a clear and chilly August night at the Driftwood Lodge in SE Alaska - when I had to pee. I stepped outside, behind the lodge, where one can stand at the edge of a 3-foot dip giving way to a vast expansion of the tundra surrounding our piece of land - and I went about my "business". During the day, one can see the Chugach Mountain Range, about 20 miles away, and the dense growth of alder and cottonwood stretching across the area. At night, all I could see was the moon and the mountain tops in their yellowish luster. I had just arrived 2 days ago, for the first time in the last frontier, to work as the chef of the lodge during the upcoming silver salmon season. And I was star-struck, so to speak, by the dramatic beauty of the land and its views, especially on this beautiful summer night near the Gulf of Alaska's thrashing surf. As I was standing there in the moon light, spraying my arc of relief into the bushes across the night-black dip in front of me, I noticed the outline of a strangely familiar shape rising slowly from the darkness of the ground, about 5-6 feet away. The "shape" became taller than I, and the "outline" became clearer, while I was "holding on" to the last, somewhat hesitant phase of my "business" at hand. And then everything seemed to happen at the same fraction of a nano second: the "shape" turned into a definite live brown bear hovering 6 feet away in wonder and puzzlement over my "wet approach", me remembering everything they told me about encountering a bear (wave your arms, holler, DON'T run!), dismissing it at the same moment, turning around and racing back into the safety (?) of the lodge, where a couple of our fishing guides finished their last beer of the evening. One of these brave young men grabbed his rifle and went back outside to chase off the "wet one". He was still there, in the shrubs, exploring the origins of those wonderful kitchen scents he had probably picked up from miles away. We could hear him moseying around for a while longer, until our guide's profanity yells must have persuaded him to move on. At least, I have a witness - I was not hallucinating! I had peed on a bear!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Fresh from the Tsiu River - Alaskan Silver Salmon

You know what? I don't really like salmon. Never did. Until... ...I had my first freshly caught silver from the Tsiu River in SE Alaska. This is good eating! My favorite cooking method is a quick saute in butter and spices, finished in a hot oven. Watch this video from my Alaska lodge kitchen for a demonstration of my way of cooking silver (coho) salmon fillets.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Alaska is calling - and I come...

Next Sunday, I will hop on the planes. Yes, it will take four planes to get me to my Alaska lodge kitchen: Austin - Seattle - Anchorage - Cordova - Driftwood Lodge. I've been cooking for our guests - fly fishermen from all over the country - for the last 10 years. The Driftwood Lodge operates only during the silver salmon (coho) season from mid-August through mid-October. The fishing is awesome, the duck hunting is great, and my food is quite popular. Let me show you how I like to prepare wild duck breast. I made a little video, directly from my lodge kitchen.

Friday, August 8, 2008

How to say I love you (before it's too late)

I've been there. I've said "I love you" and the person pulled away, shocked: "Why did you say that? It's too soon - you don't know it yet!" What is it, that I "don't know yet"? How much information do I need to gather before I can follow my heart and say I love you? Just as with so many other things in our lives - when we are about to say "I love you" - we take our past and put it into our future! We quickly go back over our entire emotional history and think about everything that happened the last times we said "I love you", and we expect the same things to happen this time again. We subconsciously pre-load our spontaneous feelings and when we finally decide to express them they come out somewhat like this: I love you because I usually get a great boost to my self-esteem from your positive reaction and we have a lovely time together until things start to cool off and it gets really awkward for a while and we call it quits and that hurts - and I better shouldn't have said I love you in the first place. I love you but then you might want to get married and all of a sudden my money goes out the door for all kinds of clothing and furniture which we don't need if we don't move in together leave alone having kids and I work my butt off and have no more fun...let me just say - I really like you! I love you but what if I'm not good enough for you and when we get closer you'll find out about all my bad habits and weaknesses and I'm sure your mother will have something to say about me that will influence you negatively towards me and I couldn't possibly survive a rejection of my feelings - why can't we just be friends for a while? Funny, isn't it? Notice how the "I love you's" are closely followed by "I" or "me" references?

Could it be that "I love you" means...

I am now committed to your well-being regardless of my thoughts or feelings?

I'm taking a closer look at this topic on my lens "How to say I love you".

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Huge Buzz for Operation Helmet on Squidoo

Squidoo lensmasters are the most generous and big-hearted folks on the web. The proof lies in their lenses. For the last several days, a growing number of Squidoo members have created lenses to benefit "Operation Helmet". These good folks have definitely understood the urgency of this movement to provide appropriate helmet gear to our troops. I've blogged about this earlier, but it is paramount that we get the word out as much as possible. Here is a new presentation explaining what soldiers need and how we can help. Must help.
Operation Helmet - Get more Information Technology To watch the presentation, The Life You Save May Save Another! from Operation Helmet simply click on the image above.