Sorry, the photos don't come through, and they are the best part!
Let me know if there is an easy way to do this.
The markets in Peru are a madhouse. There are large markets, small markets, open- air markets, some with roofs. Everything you would want to buy is there, on the street, so completely disorganized. I loved it….
Once, in Trujillo, next to Juanchaco, I was buying some fruit.
A small man on my left says to me “Sacate la mochilla”, “take off your backpack”.
I look down at him, note his colleague on the other side of me, cannot help but to notice that there is no knife pointing at me, and go on investigating the fruit.
After a moment, I take one large step back, turn, and am gone. Out of their range in the first step backward, I note them looking at each other, saying, “The Gringo doesn’t speak castillano (Spanish)”. It didn’t save my ass, but it did save my backpack, with the few items I had in it. Those guys felt that I must have had a camera, most visitors do.
A gringo, in Peru, friends explained to me, was any- one of light skin, nor was it derogatory, as in most countries down there.
My bil (brother in law) explained it to me thusly; when America invaded Mexico, without any reason except to gain territory, all of Latin America was upset. The American soldiers wore green outfits, so green go, is a form of “Yankee go home”.
The US acquired New Mexico, Arizona, California, Colorado, and did I mention the more northern states that Mexico laid claim to?
Quite an art of thievery, really; they got the better half of Mexico, just by invading a country with no standing army.
Texas had been robbed previously, by a group of immigrants, who had been invited to live there.
Interesting how history changes, as ones point of view changes, isn’t it?
When I first arrived in Peru, I washed a shirt, and hung it up to dry. It was gone. My last Lynn Gillespie shirt, with colorful paint, and a nice Alaska native design, didn’t know it was a days’ wage for a shirt there, did you?
I walked a lot, found friends, and lots of neat stuff that way. In that Juanchaco/Truillo area so many people knew each other, that things were quite inter-connected.
When I first got to town, with a Swiss painter, lastly from Australia, we went out to eat in a vegetarian restaurant. It was a bit expensive for us ($1.50), but the owner talked on and on about nutrition, and the local Doctor/Guru of the healthy food paradigm; and it was interesting. In walks his wife. She is amazingly good looking, yet, somehow my friend and I notice the extremely healthy baby even more. Don’t ask me why, but it was an extremely healthy baby.
Once, about a month later, I stopped in to see him again. His head was on the table, and he lamented, “No tengo plata pagar la luz!”…”I don’t have the money to pay the light bill”…not too good…so I told him, you live in a country where people eat meat, why don’t you just sell meat? He says, I am a vegetarian, how can I sell meat. I tell him, you don’t have to eat it, just sell it….
….another month goes by, and I stop in to see him again…..this time , he is all dressed up in a business suit, and is talking nothing but money. He is selling fried pork, the business is brisk, he has opened another restaurant, and talks of travel to India (home of the Gurus). Such a loss, what did I do? I mean, talking of nothing but money is awfully boring……and what a wasted life…..
Leaving there, I saw his wife coming up the street in the opposite direction, and often regret not apologizing for my mistake……...in making her husband a rich man…...
I actually made a living just walking around in the markets, and visiting shops. I was flat broke, real flat. A friend showed me how to chop up the pumice stones floated onto the beach, with a machete. Then, I was to sell them to people for rubbing calluses off the feet. Hey, I made a living at it, but it was a bit ridiculous, the gringo selling to the Peruvians. I think so many of those shop workers bought one just for the novelty, and reasonably priced, too.
Another Day in the Blessed Life of Mike M……………………………might just start with breakfast….and here we have a nice, self -explanatory platter of salad, with red pepper and goat cheese, left-over rib roast with baked potato, sliced orange easy to eat, and fried raw peanuts with who knows what ( spices, l oo ks lik e… .)… ……….don’t forget the broccoli……hey, and if you do have something to eat today, then you really are blessed, many are not so lucky
Yopul comes next,,…that’s Yo, Paul….
Then, T.H.E. Kik…
nnn…..you can teach yourself anything, photography, surgery, carpentry, just by doing lots of it. Teachers can help, but in the end it is just you…. and your own determination to succeed…and no, I don’t want you to try surgery on the local wildlife, but, if you go on one of those boats giving free surgery in third world countries, and you work your way up from swabbing floors, scrub nursing, and doing little things, in just a few years of work and study, you will be right up there with the big boys. It is not rocket science, and rocket science is not such a big thing either. I know, I was one……I mean, I worked in the field of designing structures in aero-space technology, and that means rocket science….
Now, If I were going to put these all in their separate containers,,,,,where would these go,,,,dogs, or people, and both into abstract, as welllll….or maybe into landscape
These two would go in art, reflections, and/or landscape…
Funny thing is, I just pick the good ones from a folder, inject them onto the page, and they appear to fit, somehow. I cant quite figure it out, but if it looks good, keep it…..
Huarez, Peru, is 10,000 feet high in the valley, rising up into a snow capped ridge on the west side of the Huascaran, which looms up from its’ altitude of 20,000 feet,,,, dominating everything, beauty emanating from it, as from a giant pearl.
I stayed at the friend of a friends’ house. Nacho was an old hippie, living off the land, very poor, but happy, and a wild man when it came to talking about the natural order, and the structure of the universe, as he liked to do.
Natcho struggled with nature, up there. The unusually heavy rains had filled up the river, and eroded the cliff on his land. He lost some land down that steep hill, and his houses were not far, so he often threw large rocks, and brush down the hillside. It was about a hundred and fifty feet down. It seemed hopeless to me, but i kindly didn't say anything.
Together, we rode in the back of a pick-up, for a days’ journey, on a very back road, around the back -side of the Huascaran. It was great, though we ran into some snow flurries. With a woman riding with us, we sang songs. She sang an old Indian song that some European people must have copied the tune from, a song from my childhood,,,,,,,,, if I could,,,,,, if I really coooouldddd,,,,,,, you know I woooouullddd<<<,, or, like that anyway, all in Quechua, the name of the language, and the people here. Did you know the Quechua word for baby is Wawa? Interesting, huh? Myomante Kanky, is what is your name, if I remember that right. They taught it to me in the hospital in Quillabamba.
On the back- side of the mountain, it was like another century. Leaving out a few modern things, like trucks, and school outfits, it could have been a scene from Europe 200 years ago.
When the large wooden doors in the tall stonewall opened up unto the large, cobble-stoned patio, we saw about twenty weavers on looms, making sweaters. The second story balcony of the large stone house projected from the wall, in the old way, with the porch support beams coming right out from the wall, and no support posts. A sheepherder, with his flock, was passing by. All over, there were very colorful native costumes.
They appear to have some of the same styles that Indians in Central America use. I wonder if enough trading went by in the ancient word to spread clothing styles.
On the day I am off to seek a house for a few weeks (in order to get into the place, and to work at ceramics), friends ask me up to visit a snowy glacier. We stop at a hotel to wait for friends, and then stop in the town of Huaraz to shop for fruit and a pair of wool socks for me. I left home with only a pair of plastic sandals on, and was not at all prepared for the snow.
What was to have been an afternoon excursion turned into an all day experience, as the trip up there alone ran into several hours . As we were cruising, the driver casually pointed out to me how the land we had been traveling over for the last hour was once all owned by their combined families. Nacho was given the choice of eight acres, from all of his property; the communist government took the rest.
When we finally did arrive, it was a madhouse of cars and busses, strung out alongside a narrow, winding dirt track.
Feeling full of life, ready for anything, I hopped out of the car, and despite protestations from the driver, walked rapidly up to see the glacier.
It was really nice, with people struggling up in a narrow file, not even a third of the way up, as the thing was BIG, several thousand feet above our high mountain perch, it dominated the landscape.
I saw a very attractive lady, mounted on a horse, calling out to a friend how she would go off the trail on her own, while looking intensely, right at me. I have often thought, had I merely suggested that she go off, on her own, in the same direction in which I was headed, I wouldn’t be writing this story right now, I mean, making a new friend would have been a much nicer way to have spent my time, than the way this story turns out.
Of course, I did not know at the time about high altitude sickness, how cold it gets there at night, or how a crevasse big enough to walk through can easily be concealed, even from a view from above.
Wandering around, alone, I climbed a small hill, dislodged a large rock, just to see it plummet down (was that environmental destruction?), and studied the lay of the land.
I came upon, and entered, an ice cave. It is hard to imagine something so lovely. The deep azure blue, and all shades of blue, following the thickness of the ice, were intense, and drew me out of myself.
A stream ran through it, melting ice as it went. Another stream came from above, frozen into a crystal sculpture, floor to ceiling, rivaling anything I have seen of abstract art (and I spent much time in my life, both in art galleries, and actually making art). The colors and views filled me, put me into a state of wonder, and left my mind very quiet.
I was there at least an hour, looking all around. The creek bed was interesting as well. I had to touch the ice sculpture, and, squatting there, it seemed to me that a kind spirit was trying to talk to me. Instead of being hyperactive, I should have tried to listen. Hey, you never know, even the unconscious mind theorists for psychic events must conclude that the unconscious mind does try to communicate with us.
Well, I have been accused in my life of not listening, so, I do get some things done that way, and sometimes, I walk right into disaster...
Leaving the ice cave through the other entrance, which was downhill a bit, I figured to be back in the parking lot shortly, but in fact, never did get back to that parking lot. And, hey, too much confidence is not always a good thing, as it was quite a ways downhill, before I realized I was going the wrong way.
Rapidly, I started the descent, amazed at my agility and endurance, diminished little by years of a soft lifestyle.
It’s interesting how things inter-relate. Here I am clearing an unusual two foot snow fall from the driveway, while writing about a glacier I visited.
You know, they say an adventure is a lot of suffering during it, and it only becomes an adventure in the re-telling. This one is like that, only, there seems to be more suffering , also in the re-telling of it.
Real nice music,…. Rokia Traore, on u-tube,,,, Juanita,,,,,,,, is perhaps her best….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cxjgS7VGdc&NR=1
The terrain was hilly, and some ways down, I knew I went wrong, but, no matter, it seemed to me that the parking lot was just around the next bend in the trail. So, I went on for quite some time. Passing through an area filled with shallow water, with closely spaced, grass covered hummocks on it, I had to use my imagination .The sandals I had on would never stop the sharp, grass-like plants from penetrating my feet, so , I ran along with a sort of a ground level slide, which knocked down the vegetation, and , did not hurt my feet.
I was really hopping down that hill, and gliding by a light, rolling slide through the marshy prairies. It was hard to judge my steps so that I didn’t sink into the muck. It was getting dark rapidly, and with the dark came the cold. It was beautiful, and I stopped occasionally to admire the sunset, or shielding my eyes from it, so I could see where to place my feet.
By this time the cheap plastic sandals I had on were broken, and repaired with whatever string I had about my person. My fear now was that the sandals would finally give way, leaving me shoeless. Not that I’m unaccustomed to going barefoot, this I rather enjoy. But the marshy table- land with little hillocks for footsteps was covered with an extremely stiff grass with needle sharp points. Barefoot travel in this terrain would have been impossible.
Finally, the grasslands ended. There were steep grassy slopes here, however passable. A winding creek passed through, with evidence of cows. Dogs barked in the distance, cows bellowed, and eventually, I could see a light, a house-------Safety! Although it was almost dark, I felt good, and could see well enough to proceed.
Deciding to press on, I saw lights in the distance that looked like headlights on a road. I wanted to get back to the company I had been with, to let them know that I was all right, and to forestall the inevitable police reports, search efforts, fear and concern.
Vaguely suspicious, I should have known better--------mountain rescue is an aspect of an efficient society, and as foreign to Peru, as airplanes are to a remote, food gathering culture.
Oh, cruel mistake, how was I to know what lay between me, and mechanized salvation?
It came upon me slowly, but there was no mistaking it;
A pain in the head, as if the mind were confined to one central position;
The thoughts were strained, a bit confused, it taking a force of will to keep going;
A force of will to not lie down;
To keep the arms moving although penetrated by a thousand needles;
To keep arthritic hips from collapsing;
To force deep draughts of air into the lungs, when in their weakness, they would just stop.
These are some of the symptoms of altitude sickness that I had, I have never read anything about it, but that seems like what I had. It is a lack of oxygen in the body.
It is only due to an incredible force of will that I am still alive today.
To have fallen to the ground would have been death in the cold, , and yet many times I fell to my knees that night, crying that my life not end this way.
Glad to be crying, to know that I was alive, i then stopped the crying to preserve much needed energy.
Much of the time, it was all that i could do to place one foot slowly in front of the other, like a man in a dream, knowing that to stop means certain death.
When at last I got to the road, I slid slowly down an embankment, gave a jump, and was in civilization, though deserted.
My sandal had at last given way, and it was by the grace of god that it had not done so sooner. Taking the frail sandals off, I walked along the rocky road in my newly purchased, and partly destroyed wool socks.
I couldn't find the side road leading up to the glacier, which is just as well. No doubt everyone had left.
I did pass some houses, though. These were so far from the road, and not able to find the path to them, i just kept walking.
I was like a zombie, or a ghost, frozen to the bone, walking stiffly, the mind frozen as well as the body.
A truck passed by me, but did not stop. Yard by yard, and inch by inch, I walked for two miles up that winding, ascending road, numb to the bone, before a bus came my way.
I had decided to just stand right in front of any vehicle that came by. The possibility of getting run over seemed a lot less likely than that of me dying from exposure.
The worst part of this was the psychological torture, I didn’t want to be mentally handicapped. I just use my brain too much, and this was something that I had never experienced, this numbing down of the brain, as if my whole intelligence were in the middle of the cranium, the size of a small orange.
I found out later that these symptoms completely disappear once you've come down to a lower altitude, but didn't know it at the time.
Whoever said that what you don't know won't hurt you was a con man, or a cheat of some kind, because I have never found it to be true. The suffering, thinking that I would always be like this, was intense.
When a bus finally did come by, I was desperate, and stood right in front of it. They were very puzzled, but did stop. Fortunately, they were going up, not down, or who knows what would have happened on that steep hill.
I saw the dirtiest floor, an engine compartment to lean against, and warmth, I could hardly even speak, but I was in heaven, as I flopped down against it in the isle, looking now for the first time at my fellow passengers..
I knew I wasn't going to die.
After a while, someone offered some hot tea, which hands could not hold, nor lips wrap around, though I was grateful, and tried. They were all so concerned.
We went up and up, and on for hours, the wrong way, but I was happy, to be alive, to be moving.., talking to people, and, well, to be planning the future, you know, to even have a future.
A nice girl helped me around the town some. i looked for a place to stay, but the hotels were all booked because of a holiday. I just got on a bus back, as I recall,.
I remember it being three days that I was away, but I didn’t stay overnight, so maybe it was only two. In any case, I arrived back at Nachos at night, and, in that benevolent climate, Nacho had not just neglected to install locks on his doors, why, the old boy didn't even have doors, or windows for that matter.
I walked right into the old room where I was staying, and couldn't find my stuff. That was frustrating, and searching around, found it in a big hopper, under the bed.
The items had been rudely thrown there, into a disarrayed pile. I was angry with this, and must have awakened Nacho, who, also angry, came at me, and started pushing me, hard.
He is a big man, so I went back with each shove, but, calming to take it in, noticed two things. He wasn't hurting me, and there was a sharp hatchet, right at his feet, and he wasn’t going for it.
So, with me calmed down, he calmed down also, and we both went to bed.
First, he told me that the rich people, his relatives, who had been there before with me, had decided that they should take my stuff with them, back to Lima. Of all the nerve, they wanted to steal the few paltry things that a traveler had. Nacho defended me, and threw it all in there. Of course, I do have other reasons than that to not like rich people so much.
The next day I took him out for brunch at a nearby restaurant, and we talked.
He had such fine skin on his face; you could see the veins through it
I was so glad that I had not slugged him.
It must have been a mile of that stuff, before I came into a grass- land, with rolling hills, and a creek. A dog barked in the distance, and I saw a house, with lights in the windows. I did stop and think to just walk on over there, and get out the next day, but, there was not any problem at the moment. I wasn’t at all winded, or even unhappy. Seeing this scenery was just fine for me.
If you ever get into a situation like this, get help as fast as you can. Don't think for even a minute that some others may be upset, or inconvenienced by your absence. That’s the best I can tell you, and; also, life is very worth fighting for, every minute of it, never stop, never stop fighting, and you will come through
Life Through the Lens.. If you haven’t seen the mother and four children before, look around, its’ on my web pages, and elsewhere in this book. Here, you can see the mom’s head, after it fell off, and I used it for a paperweight on my desk for a while… ………, then , even more tragically, I glued it on, I thought, but then it came off, and hit the floor, hard, so it is now in tatters, waiting for major re-constructionwork…
Although it does look a lot like alfalfa sprouts hanging from this ones mouth; well I know the kid, and he is a carnivore, only; so those might be mouse tails or some other such delicacy hanging there.
Some people think you have to separate photos into categories, and maybe they are right. This is what I had for a few days shooting, and it looked good to me as is. paul
The Jungle Trip
It is good to keep in mind that in many jungles, especially this one, rivers are the only form of transportation, and the only form of communications (though I am sure that cell phones have changed that last part). If you want to get in or out, it is the river.
A jungle trip
The jungle river is turning, churning, boiling. In places it is calm and gentle.
I got on a truck in Quillabamba, went down stream to Kitani for a day or two, then hopped on a boat down river, with expectations of my future wide open.
The mountainous landscape is filled with green, lush stands of trees and vegetation, breaking into pasture- land, cocoa (chocolate), coffee, and banana trees. These human settlements thin out the further down river we go.
The boats we use are dugout canoes; about twenty-six feet long, and seat about twelve people. Riding with the waves close to the gunnels, although it brings in more money for the owner/operators, is also dangerous, with a river that can rise rapidly, and strong currents can turn into rapids.
Occasionally, we see the fires that the people use to clear land.
Walking through the forest leaves an even deeper impact. Extremely tall trees, wide at the base, with buttresses more impressive than a French cathedral, shade a variety of plant and flower forms. Amazingly, there are almost no animals or snakes here, and not a great many birds, either.
The most fascinating insect I see is a long dragonfly with an extremely slow wing-beat, about three beats per second. I didn’t know a thing could beat its’ wings so slowly, and still fly.
Another oddity wakes me in the mourning. A noise like a miniature v-8 engine is humming not far from my head. I throw back the sheet that covers my head as protection from the mosquitoes to discover a miniature horror: a fat furry insect the size of a bumblebee hovering in one place, with a two inch needle attached to its’ snout. It has already pricked me twice through the thick clothing I cover myself with.
I assume that this thing was designed to get through the thick hair of the animals that hardly exist here. The high population of blood sucking insects makes me wonder how they would make their living without people.
The people here lead a slow life. Though it’s hard work to clear the land and plant trees, there are long periods of relaxation. The man with whom I stay first hardly works at all for the first four days I am there. The food is very poor; white rice, noodles, bananas, and lots of yucca, a potato like root.
The meal the first night turns out to be the best by far, with fish from the river. These people could grow a wide variety of vegetables and food crops, the seeds are on sale in the town, but it seems they don’t want to. This remarkable absence of passion for learning extends into every area of their lives. When I mention to them that building their houses beneath the trees would provide some protection from the scorching sun, all I get is excuses.
The “houses”, elevated tin shacks, were so hot that the chickens ran off into the jungle, and a lady with her baby stayed in one the whole time.
Hearing there is an Indian village an hours’ walk away, I head out, to teach them improved ceramics, and to learn from them the art of working cotton. These people make a special garment, similar to a biblical robe, which they imbue with mystic power, and wear always. They grow the cotton, make it into thread, dye it, and weave it.
Walking off the trail is no more difficult than in Virginia. The shadowing trees prevent a riot of undergrowth.
Before long, however, I run into an area where my previous host has cleared the land and left. It is a confused tangle of bushes, vines, and fallen trees. This very rapidly turns a pleasant outing into a gruesome hike.
The heat, stinging insects, and barbed plants soon take their toll. I am frustrated but still press on.
Every type of ant stings the minute it gets on me, even the tiniest, almost invisible ones. A science fiction horror, a black ant over one inch long, lands on my thigh. Through the thick, cordoroy trousers it stings me. It is as if someone had pressed a hot, ten -inch frying pan into my leg. I can hardly believe the pain.
Another twenty minutes of pressing through ant laden vines, and walking down fallen logs, and I am ready to scream. I turn back and find to my relief fresh cold mountain springs and easy walking. I improvise a hammock, which is to be my bed for the next week. Experience sleeping on the ground has taught me a painful lesson; hunting spiders at night have left me with sixty water-filled pustules on my legs, extremely itchy.
Camping out near to the river, I attempt to work out my fate. The jungle has many possibilities, but I am here at a cross over season between the hot, muggy summer, and the ever- raining winter. For days I have been fantasizing about homesteading here. The government will give me free land. In the end I decide that between the climate and the people it would not be a good life.
Becoming ever more dissatisfied with Peruvians, I decide to leave the country by floating to Brazil on a balsa raft. I design and redesign the boat with a small house on top, but find in the end that the river has risen and is impassible.
When I leave the valley, I find that the new- born baby of my first hosts has died. It had a cough when I was there, and they didn’t get it to the doctor on time. It takes a while for the stupidity of this to sink in, but hardly prepares me for what is to follow.
On the cruise back up the river we run into a shirt and some oranges floating down the stream. This puts the people a bit nervous; they are expecting that a boat overturned upriver. This fear is soon substantiated when we run into a man, standing on a tree root, and collect the barrel on which he floated downstream .The faces are really intent now on the river ahead. Eight of us get off the boat to lighten the load, and the others proceed across the rapids to see what they can do.
From the other side of the river we can see at least one corpse. While we are waiting they manage to raise the sunken boat and motor.
The story the survivor gives us is that the new outboard motor stopped dead while going upstream. The canoe started back downstream, sideways. After a few minutes it crashed into a boulder, flipping over rapidly. There were only four or five survivors, and about eight who died, no one is sure how many.
It is difficult to understand why so many people died. They had several minutes to prepare themselves, and could have grabbed things that float and jumped into the river. Anyone can see what will happen when a sideways canoe crashes into a boulder. This isn’t just a matter of a lack of education; it’s a matter of attitude.
Personally, I know of at least a few teenage boys, unwilling to do it the safe way, who would prepare themselves to spring, wait for the last minute, leap to the rock, and probably be there safe and happy, ready and willing to pull others up with them, maybe even with ropes and other useful stuff.
You can see why maybe I was getting fed up with Peru, and was ready to take some advise, and go to Chile…..
This is the big mom, after a fatal flop….she hit the ground doing 60 mph, and left my heart with her…it wasn’t for long months that I could go out and work on her again……………………….this is the POS, 35 cent part that failed on me, and cost me weeks of work, as well as the above said months of dissapppointment………………………………. I haven’t really devoted a full picture/story to my own work, yet, so this is it….in fact, this is the solar gadget you read about in the Pena Blanca story; it follows the sun during the day, and focuses the rays at the top, to boil water, spin steam turbo-electric generators, and other neat stuff…………………………………………………………. This one also follows the sun, but it focuses sunlight onto solar cells, to enhance their output…this is from the book I wrote on it in 1983…………………………………………………. This shows the welded part I invented, to hold up the collector, and to allow it to move, following the sun………here’s some diagrams from the book…………………………………… I did lots of drawings for the book, even took a photography class,,,and please pardon the poor scans that I did here……………………………………………………. This is the small model, which I made in Chile, and you see now in the snow in Springfield. Then it made it into a NASA sponsored educational project, And I finally gave it to my Inventor friend Fritz in Willamina, Oregon……..i turned it into a kaleidoscope mirror here, looks good, doesn’t it?…………………?????????????????………………………. Ok, for the big mom project, I needed various models, to try out stances, costumes, colors, and you name it; so here is one of them……………………………………………… The following photo is an art experiment; that I never could get right, despite lots of trying. Maybe, some day, when I take up glass working for real………………………………………………………… Mom is very photogenic, and I am always getting a new angle on her. She does look after me, and I have only bumped my head upon her a few times……………………………………………………………. Well, hibiscus can be seen from many angles, too, and, if you are extremely curious, like me, you might even spend some time trying to make soap scum into an interesting photograph………………………………………………….. Good night sun……………………………………………………………… Goodnight
A ceramics class in Chile
Dec. 26 so, there I was in the Plaza de Armas, Santiago, Chile, when I looked over at a paper that a man next to me was reading. It mentioned a class in ceramics which interested me, so we talked. He gave me a flier with the address on it. I was writing about the thieves of Peru at the time (my South America travel book).
After buying some candy- covered almonds, I found the art school and entered. I talked to the art director, Mario, who, it turned out, speaks good English, as he was fresh from several years in New York City, in a similar kind of job. He showed me around the place (it didn't have an horno (a ceramics furnace).
His girlfriend came up. An extremely attractive young Spaniard, I had asked directions of her, while she was working in an art gallery, on the street nearby. She complained to me that I had not flirted with her at all. And, as I do not flirt much, I didn't now either, but that is a little brazen, isn't it? Happened to me a lot in Latin America, a different kind of people, much more friendly than you meet here, and, they flirt a lot.
Mario and I talked to another Mario, doing some kind of printing work. We three left for Marios' house (catch how much simpler it is to become friends in South America?). A woman who lives there was doing some ceramics work. We talked for a while. She copied some glaze recipes from the ceramics manual that I had carried since the money came in in Juanchaco. Then we all left.
So, here I am writing on a park bench in the shade, a cool breeze blowing, ice cream bell ringing, eating the last of the candied almonds.
And, though a ceramics workshop did not come out of it, I had a friend, who was able to find me a place to stay later.
Walking around town with he and his girlfriend, I was able to speak English a lot, for the first time in a long while. I was even up to comedy, and having fun with words. Some of the pain of living with Lyn for so long had worn itself away, but not the desire to work in ceramics art.
Things to start your day
Man to God, “What is time to you, who does not live in time?"
God to man," It is everything; It is the perfect beauty of the moment"
A Steam Sawmill in Chile
The south of Chile is very interesting. Besides steaming volcanoes, beautiful lakes, and the Mapuches (indigenous people whom the Spaniards could not conquer), there are cow carts with Fred Flintstone type wheels...and steam- powered sawmills.
All mourning I've been hearing a far off whistle against a churning, chugging sound. It's very comfortable in this bed, and several times I toy with the idea of awakening, only to drift off again into dream-filled sleep. We are at the house of a woodcutter and his family we met the evening before, and were invited to sleep on the floor. It is only a short walk, after the mourning brushing, to arrive at the steam driven sawmill, which was not in operation the night before, when we arrived.
The steam engine is large and impressive. A man is bleeding steam and water off through a valve when i get there. The pressure gauge reads 130 pounds per square inch. The firebox is large---about three feet by three feet. He loads scrap wood through a very leaky, broken door. The bottom has long since rotted out and coals lie nearby on the ground.
One of the gigantic flywheels also powers the cutting saws and log feeding mechanisms. The bushings and shafting are mounted on heavy timbers. Even the rollers to move the finished planks are made of wood. Large belts power the whole thing. Fifteen men are employed here.
While traveling on the island of Sri Lanka (previously Ceylon), I had the opportunity to see two sawmills side by side. One was a modern, electric powered rig, The other I had seen only in pictures of the colonization of America---one man above the log, the other below it, in a pit. Together they work a large hand- saw to cut the logs into planks. At the time I had to laugh; but with the high cost of capitol for machinery, and the low cost of labor, this was a good and functional system for Sri Lanka.
This steam motor in Chile is something from another century. There are quite a few of them here, where so many people make their living from the wood. Actually, it has occurred to me that this simple system gets rid of a lot of waste wood, which tends to be a problem around sawmills. Since fuel is not imported, it cuts down on expenses.
This, then, is one of the simple systems that would function in the developed, as well as in the undeveloped countries. Considering how rugged and how simple to make steam engines are, the third world countries could make them to sell in the industrialized ones, which would be a nice reversal.
Completing the tour of the machinery, I notice how the hot gasses pass through the boiler, and how tiny the cylinders are in comparison to it. I return to the house to eat breakfast--- bread with margarine or hot sauce, and mate', which means a cup filled with crushed herbs and sugar. A little bit of water in the cup is sucked up through a metal tube fitted with a with a perforated tip to sift out the tealeaves. This has all of the significance of a ceremony of relaxation and congeniality, with the cup passing to each person in sequence around the circle.
Hope you don’t mind, this is where I am placing all of the stories that sort of fit into a part ; of my mind…
The Worms of Peoria
When I got to Ojai, for the first time, in 1974, my traveling companion met a fellow, who invited us to stay at the restaurant he was working in, The Saturday Afternoon Ice Cream Parlor, run by a typical L.A. spiritual/madman, who went by the name of Nucleus. Yes, that is true, and the story of that fellow, I will have to leave for another day.
Bob came by after a while. He was hitching through, and Kile, who owned the restaurant, the movie house next to it, and some other valuable stuff, dropped him off to stay with us. The parlor had a wood stove, it was winter, and we told stories into the night.
Bob really wound up with the “Worms of Peoria” story. I mean, he wound right into it, he wound right around it; he told it for a long time. Telling how much his friend enjoyed the telling of it, he told it himself….
That is, Peoria, Indiana, with mild winters, not Peoria, Illinois, where the weather is much colder…..
In the early 60’s a high school science teacher got his hands on some really unusual worms from the Amazon River, in South America. They were aquatic worms, and he would play with them in the river that ran through town.
The really unusual thing about them is that they were intelligent, and didn’t just run off, and that they were quite large, maybe twenty feet long. The fact was, he would ride them on the river that ran through town. So Bob talked a lot about riding the worms.
He kept them sometimes in a large trailer that resembled a tin can. It was a real can of worms (hey, hey).
Once, attempting to show them to the local football team, he caused near hysteria, and a stampede. The football jocks couldn’t handle something so outlandish. Imagine looking into a large tin can on a trailer, as big as a horse trailer, completely filled with huge, proportionally large, earthworms……..
I mean, just like an earthworm, only twenty or more feet long, that is outrageous.
The worms became quite well known around town, the story thickens…
Due to it being told, and re-told, and thirty years having elapsed for this tired old writer to have forgotten so much, I am leaving a lot out.
Switch to scene three, the river,,,the old science teacher is riding the worms in the river, does he even have a rope to hang onto? How does he communicate with them? Can they turn like a horse, with a bridle?
Well, back to scene three….the whole town is up in arms, these completely harmless creatures are anethema. They must be eliminated for public safety, or is it public fear of the unknown….
….we have boatloads of men in the water…each with a rifle or a shotgun…they are gunning for the enemy….they find them, and blast the shit out of them….a few survivors make it to main street ,they mosey down the boulevard, they break through a large shop window, lacerating themselves, essentially committing suicide. They take out their wrath on some mannequins in the window, swallowing them whole, the chemicals in the dummies poisoning the worms. End of story…
…. ..note how these aquatic creatures did not overturn the boatloads of men, and eat them. Would have been self-defense, right? Easy, too, just like whales could kill the whalers, but only did that once that I heard of, in modern times. A mother whale, with her pup killed, desperate, dove deep, way, way down, and came up real fast, hitting a modern whaling vessel right in the middle, busted it right in two, and it sunk fast, her dead, as she wanted to be, may have been more suicide against an available object than real justice seeking vengeance…
I mean, large, aquatic creatures could easily have overturned overloaded boats, and drowned the riders, but they didn’t…eaten them more easily than eating the mannequins….
……………kind of proves they were peaceful, doesn’t it?
I had read of six- foot long earthworms in Africa (in an encyclopedia). That is large, but never twenty foot (seven meter) ones. So, I kind of doubted the story; but it was fun to think about, and to re-tell….
Later on that summer, I was in Santa Clara, 400 miles to the north, and I met a pair of brothers my own age. For some reason, I started telling them about the worms of Peoria, and the younger brother agreed with me. He grew up in that town. He said that the people talked about the worms as part of their history, all of them did. So the story was nothing new to him. His brother just nodded in agreement.
Pretty radical that I would meet a fellow raised in Peoria, on the streets of Santa Clara, isn’t it?
If I had not had someone else substantiate the story, I may not have really believed old Bob, though it was real fun to tentatively believe it, which is what I do with the more outrageous things that I hear.
In the fall of 2001, I started work on a room addition, on the back of my house, 20 feet by 20 feet, to house my growing sculpture, glass, and bronze casting industry (well, I was planning it anyway). I had a painted, habitable structure within two months of starting the excavation. It was great fun, to work so hard, at a work that I knew so well, to benefit only myself, at last. I worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week, and just loved it, right through snow, and lots of 20 degree F. days.
When the room was done, I took a rest. At that time a plastic veil concealed the room below (I built a two story). It stayed on for at least a year, as I accomplished all of the other things necessary for a good life, making money, for example.
In this time a family of birds moved into my workshop below. Brazen creatures, they thought they owned the place!
We got along quite well, I calling out ”Birdie, birdie, birdy”, to let them know I was coming (I hate to disturb people). They accepted me, after a while.
Their nest was so hard to find. These guys never did let me find it, they were so cautious. Seems like it would have been easy in a workshop, right?
It was the cutest thing to see those furry little blobs trying to fly, not knowing anything. I had to pick them up with a stick sometimes to get them over obstructions, like the folded plastic which wrapped the workshop. They looked around like, hey, whats’ this, why am I here, where is foood….cheep, cheep…mouth open to the sky, just like they would never have to fly, or to find their own food….it really reminded me of the pack of teenagers who inhabited my basement, so near to the workshop, they also didn’t know they would have to find their own food, and I had to explain strongly to everyone to not disturb my birds….
Sometimes, they were all over my workshop. Oh, I cleaned poo, but it was a small price to pay.
The parent birds never rushed to get out, after a while, and would just stand and look at me. We were friends.
Even years later, they remember me. I was lying on my back in the sun, and a bird hopped across my chest. I knew that to move would make it fly away, but I just had to see it. And, you know, it was my bird!
Three years ago (that is a few after they left the workshop for better nesting), one came into my office, through an open window, and took her good time searching around (evidently) for a new nesting site among the art works, and in the high places.
Just today, a few years after that, the little thing did it again! My wife witnessed both these events, or else she might not even believe me…
Who can say what birds can do with that small speck of brain that they posses? I mean, that is remarkable that they can remember a person after all these years….
I understand that the human brain is little changed in 100,000 years, so our forefathers could think what we think. OK, sharp stones and camp-side talks replace books, jackhammers, and machine-guns,,,so what?….
Now, what about other animals?
What about the birds, with their 160 million years or so of constant existence?
What kinds of things are they really capable of thinking?
About fifteen years ago (1995 or so), we went out to buy a sofa. The kids were small, four and six. We looked around that Marlos store in Alexandria for a while, and settled on a nice, white, somewhat damaged and half price, white, leather sofa.
It was very nice, so I thought I would give it a test drive, that is, lay down on it, to see if it was comfortable in that best of all positions, flat on the back.
I crawled up into the storage area where it was, and laid down. I remember someone asking me how it was, and I told her, honestly, that it was the most comfortable sofa that I had ever laid down on. That part I do remember, the salesman giving us an undamaged sofa at the same price, and a free $160 cleaning kit I do remember, but the rest, I heard only years later……….
It seems that I had fallen asleep, and this was the only entrance to a large store, so many people walked on past me. As Erika waited for the salesman, lots of them asked about the sofa. They asked how tall I was, to see if it would fit their relative, they noted how comfortable I was, hey, I had fallen asleep, right!
The low down was that the salesman sold several sofas meanwhile we waited, and he was happy, so he gave us a big discount on one (like from $1500 to $750). I didn’t know that sleeping could be so profitable.
Over the years, we found that the leather sofa (white at that!) held up to the abuses of small children. We tossed several others, since reupulstering is so expensive, and settled on leather as the best way to go. Sometimes the long -term cost of thing is quite different from the apparent cost.
So, we found a nice brown leather sofa at Salvation Army, that went in the basement, and the kids love ($400), an odd green colored on, the match of the white one only green. No one wanted it, so it went for $30 at a yard sale, and into my art studio, where its oddness makes it match. Some say you can change the color, but I never tried, and now, am used to it.
The last leather thing we bought was a double, reclining chair (a short sofa) for the kitchen. Now you can walk in the main door of the house, and drop right into a surprisingly comfortable chair. It makes for long conversations in the heart of the house.
It wasn’t till years later (a few months ago actually) that I found a more comfortable sofa, and that is a chaise lounge that I designed and built myself!
Of course, the desk I am building is an up and coming winner, too.
If you want to get the best price on furniture, check the want adds, put a sturdy roof rack on your car, and go to yard sales. Pros use auto body filler to fill large dents, then paint with artist paints, you can even paint in the wood grain, and not see the repair at all.
This is what we did, in the end. In the beginning, it was Ikea, and all that is in the trash now. The particle- board furniture just doesn’t hold up. You want good solid wood, and veneered plywood furniture; this will hold up for you. We get some pieces at 1/10th of their retail cost.
Sometimes the big kitchen cabinet places sell somewhat damaged stuff, cheap, that is how we finished our kitchen, and one bathroom. The other bath, Kika found a desk, and I cut a hole in it, and dropped in a sink. Of course, I do work in seven construction trades, that does help……
Sometimes, the black sheep are the ones who come round, “ And the stone that the builders rejected has become the corner stone.”
My cousin Richard worked for a long time in the city waterworks for Santa Cruz, California. He finally found the wherewithal to buy a house, after staying with a good woman for seven years, his first marriage not working out.
Sometimes it seemed to me that his whole family scorned Richard, as irresponsible, and, oh, they did me, too. What we had in common was age, and a certain bohemian outlook on life…………………………………………………
Richard retired from his job, sold the house, and moved to Mexico, where the money goes farther, and because he liked it better there. He is the only one of my cousins, as far as I know, to have stayed married, and also, the only one in our combined families, to retire so early. He wasn’t even fifty yet…..
When I moved to Springfield from Santiago, my new wife was surprised to find out how little my family thought of me, and how such an impressive man could think so little of himself.
My friend James, the electrician, was surprised when my father asked him if he knew of someone who remodeled kitchens, and he said” Michael does”, and Ernie says, well, something like psshpppsh, Michael,,,,or, hey, he cant do anything.
My whole combined family of the north could not find it in them to understand how I could ever support a family, or in any other way make something of myself. They didn’t believe that I could stay married, keep a job, or else do any other normal sort of thing….
When I talked to my kids shrink I told him all of the things that I am really good at, and also that neither of my sisters or I had ever thought that our parents really loved us…., he says to me, that is a shame, you could have accomplished all of those things with love, too.
Would have been better, for sure, and I’m not so sure that there were any real advantages to the way it was,,,,,, but it all has deeply affected me, and I do try to give my own boys a loving house, so that they don’t know what it is like to have family members indifferent to them..
So , one day I am walking around the lake, and all is frozen; birds are on the ice, and these painfully beautiful reflections are in the water……………………………………………………. Sometimes I go for these abstract shots; and really don’t know where this one came from…………………………………
cilantro salad, barbequed chicken, coffee, fruit salad, rib roast, Chilean salsa,
Sorry if I have been lax in completing this section, I’ll try to add to it, and to include some photos..
Cilantro and a Morning brunch…
I consistently find that cilantro lasts much longer in the fridge when I remove the wire band, spread it out on a paper towel, place another on top of it, and roll this package up. It then goes back into the plastic bag, turned inside out to present a dry side to the package. I’d have to say that this lasts four times longer in the veggie drawer than previously. Try it, to see if I am exaggerating, I haven’t really timed it yet.
The cut cilantro on the cutting board is wonderful. I stoop to fill my nose with it, and call out in glee. After this it gets a whole small tomato, apple cider vinegar, flax oil, safflower oil (I am out of olive oil), salt, pepper, cayenne, and some mayonnaise. Oh, I love mayonnaise, and always work on BLT type uses for it. The Hellmans’ Real Mayonnaise is the best commercial brand. It has soy in it.
Though the Weston A. Price society says soy is bad for you (excepting the traditional, fermented kinds), I haven’t found the time to make my own.
I fry up some grass- raised hamburger. It is great. Just mix lamb and beef burger, some eggs, seasonings, and some fried onions. Well, I also put some cheese in this batch, and it works out OK. Might not be, if you don’t have a well- seasoned cast iron frying pan as I do. In fact, it will probably stick like sh--.
Another favorite is fried (stir fried, not deep fried) winter squash. I cut off some peel with a sharp kitchen knife, and make thin slices, which are then chopped up.
I’ll try to get you a picture next time…..
Lynn taught me to make the Italian hamburger, as above, but with chopped bread in it. Her ex was an Italian chef. Her brother started Starbucks. No, it was not what you know today. It was two small shops in Seattle, selling coffee in bags. He sold out before the sit down style mega business erupted onto the American scene.
Lynn taught me about coffee, back when instant was all anybody knew.
Maybe favorite recipes don’t fit well in this book, or maybe they do. I did some cooking on the trip to South America. But, digging through the old notebook, I couldn’t find anything that good. So, I’m putting in my old favorite recipe for barbequed chicken, and it never fails to win the hearts and tummies of whoever tastes it
I cooked this for Erika, right after we met, and she still remembers it. Like the old saying goes, the way to a womans’ heart is through her stomach.
I just cut up the chicken, then slice through the pieces, to the bone, leaving them intact. The idea is to get each piece an even thickness, and to expose the bone, stretching out the meat. This allows for thorough cooking, and aids the penetration of the cooking sauce.
I make a marinade of soy sauce, chopped garlic, and finely chopped tomatoes. I cook first the sliced side of each piece of chicken, then flip them as ready. Now, I spoon on as much sauce as I can, without it spilling off. Let the chicken cook thoroughly, and , bam, its’ ready, and the smell will bring the herd, no need to call out….
On making fires; Charcoal briquettes are good, though I like to use wood. I get as much busted charcoal as I can, wrap it thinly in newspaper. The fire I start with newsprint, and small twigs, then thicker twigs, it usually catches well. Now, thicker (½ inch), then the logs start. This all will take an hour to cook down into coals. The wrapped charcoal goes on top when the fire is going, it helps to give quick coal base, which is the important part of the fire.
Charcoal briquettes I do the same way, as I detest the smell of the fire-starter, and, when I am reduced to using it, this old boy scout feels a bit of a failure.
One guy says he puts the paper on top of the twigs, and just lights the top. It was in a magazine, so I’m sure he proved it to the editors. I think my son thought that up himself, too, and it worked. Sounds easier to me…..
When the eating is done, stoke up the fire, get out the beer, or the marshmellos, and have a good time. Those old time light shows (the fire, I mean) are just great, aren’t they? I mean, real old time, probably imprinted on the chromosomes we carry. Probly part of our outlook on life.
I used to make this a lot, sometimes take it camping. I once astounded friends by hiking it in with me (about four hours down a very pretty mountain trail to get to some natural hot springs), and sharing it with them. They were pleased to have a nice change from the dehydrated meals they had been eating. The smell of it cooking brought everyone around.
Ok, Erica insists that we didn’t have the garlic/tomato mix, and I really don’t remember. She says that those Chilean chickens, running around and eating bugs the way nature intended, had all the flavor they needed.
Pastel de Choclo
Kikas’ Famous Potatoe Salad
Kikas’ Fried Potatoes
Boil/steam whole small potatoes. When cooked, remove all but the bottom layer, dump in a whole ¼ lb of butter (grass raised is best). Fry each side, turning them, removing when done, and placing new ones in there.
Stir Fries…still my favorite breakfast, though I do steam things, too.
The Best Restaurant in Washington, D.C., Chez Francois,,,always at the top of the Washingtonian Magazines’ poll….
Amish Food, the best chips, eggs, and hamburger you can get…
I have been through some of the best coffees in the world, literally, in Italy, in Seattle (my old girlfriends’ brother started Starbucks), and at home. The really odd thing is, my wife and I like instant the best, or, it is just as good, and easier to use. I used to hang out at Caribou coffee, but now, prefer to drink the home brew.
We find that Nescafe, Tasters Choice, Original gourmet is the best. The big containers, which are cheaper, have an inferior product in them, so we get the seven -ounce size.
It was really odd, I came back to the US after a year and a half abroad, to the D.C. area, where I hadn’t lived for Eight years. I am walking around D.C. (a very pretty city, with lots of attractions), and I start seeing these coffee shops. Somehow, the name rings a bell, but I don’t know where.
Maybe ten years later, I read in a Readers Digest about Starbucks, how an employee bought it, and, despite the previous owners’ conviction that a sit down coffee shop would never work, went onto craft it into the business model you see today.
One of the original owners’ names was Gordon Bowker , Lynns’ older brother! Question solved.
Another strange one I had with fame was my friend from Charlottesville, Judd. Well, when I came back from that same trip; a friend told me that Judd made it big, he was in some movies. Soon after, a woman that I met at the fourth of July fireworks show in D.C. said, “You Know Judge Rhinehold?”. It was a big thing,,,,, to those who worship fame.
Personally, I always looked at fame as being quite superficial, and the famous they often are, too. I just put all this in here because it was interesting, not to garner social points.
I have some kind of a learning disability, and often cannot distinguish words in normal conversation. This wrecks havoc when people are speaking Spanish next to me. When they are speaking to me, the vibe is different, and I tend to pick up most of what they say.
When I first met Judd, I thought they were calling him, “Judge”. A friend made a joke when I called him that, “ Here comes the Judge”, a saying from a popular TV show at the time. It wasn’t until much later that I figured out that his name was not Judge. Me calling him Judge must have impressed him enough to change to it, eventually.
At least, that’s how I figure it, but maybe I am wrong, and his name always was Judge. Guess someone will have to check birth certificates. The guy was raised in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Interesting how the stage names work out, isn’t it? I mean Mark Twain, the calling out of the depth of the water, does sound a whole lot better that Samuel Longhorn Clemens, and its’ a whole lot easier to say, too.
The really funny thing is, I never saw Judge in a movie until the kids were chest high. Then we went out to see a funny one about a guy who becomes Santa Claus, and Judge was the psychiatrist.
My mind was doing a double take, first, was that him? I mean, when I knew him, he was seventeen, and looked a lot different. Well, actually, I knew him some when he we both were twenty.
Second, “Just what was he doing up there?”. It was like both hemispheres of my brain were trying to decode the information, not like local boy does good, as was suggested to me by a shrink I was working for. It was strange, and I hear that he now has a TV show, LA Cops, or some such.
He is actually quite funny, asked to comment on a cross- country trip with a mutual friend, he quips, “Well, I guess it was all right, if you don’t mind being locked up with Environmental Nazis”. Well, funny if you knew the people, I mean, they were the radical vegetarian kind.
A Five Minute Fruit Salad
A real fast meal, and one that I truly love, is a good fruit salad (more on the related fruit smoothies later).
Generally, I use organic apples, and just eat the seeds, as they have cancer fighting vitamin k-17 in them. I have heard that the Hunzas of the Himalyas don’t get cancer, and they swear by their apricot pits, which have the same stuff in ‘em, only more of it.
Bananas, various nuts (Costco has them in big bags for a real low $4 a pound), Stoneyfield plain yogurt with the fat on top (good fat is good for you), some cinnamon, ginger powder, maybe a shake of stevia and/or natural vanilla, and/or, whatever else you may think is good, or have on hand.
So, I quick cut the apple in half, cut off the skin on both ends (including the stem), slice the ½ banana in my hand, throw in a little blueberry, mango, peach or what have you, put in ¼ to ½ cup of yogurt, ¼ teaspoon each of cinnamon and ginger, 5 drops of stevia, mix it all up, and its ready to go.
This mourning, I made the above bowl (with blueberries), and took it to work. I ate only a little on the way. Around 9:30, I was hungry, and went to the car to eat. I was salivating to look at it! Maybe it will take you a while to really like it the way I do……
You can put almost any combination of fruit in it (you have noticed this salad is nothing new). Grapes are good, as are strawberries. These are heavily sprayed fruits, so it is best to but them organic. Melons are great, but I don’t like them in a salad, they are too good alone! Also, many people say that they don’t combine well, or digest well, with other foods, so should be eaten alone.
A Twenty- Minute Stir Fry
Rib Roast…………. (Prime Rib in the Restaurants)………….
Rib roast is the finest tasting beef you can find (excepting a well prepared fillet mignon). We have had so many visitors comment on it. Some have said that what they were eating was, actually, the finest beef they had ever had. Of course, cows vary, and you can’t always tell before hand. Sometimes the butcher will know.
For years we cooked this in the oven. Then we discovered the showtime rotisserie oven. Now there are many other types available. It cooks faster, easier, and is way easier to clean up. No more strong chemicals!
I don’t barbeque at all, hardly, since we got it. It is so much faster, and the results so assured. Taste is great, too. No, I do not own stock in a kitchen appliance company!
The thing to watch is the temperature. This is critical. We place two meat thermometers deep into the roast. Try to avoid the bone, for a correct reading. When they start coming up on 100 degrees, watch them often.
You want to let it rotate with no heat for fifteen minutes, so the juice won’t all leak out meanwhile carving. You need to kill the heat right at 140 or 150 degrees. This is a hotly (pardon the pun) debated topic at our house. If the meat is really red, when you cook it up as a leftover, it will re-heat (do this in a toaster oven, never in the microwave). Otherwise, it will be hot, and very brown, and, of course, not as tasty. If you do not have many eaters, they can take from the outside, leaving the rest for leftovers, so the meat can be red on the cutting board.
In general, a smaller roast should stop cooking at 140, getting over that may be risking it for any rib roast. Leave it on no heat rotation for a good fifteen minutes. This will keep the juices in when you carve it.
To sharpen a knife, wet the whetstone, lay the knife down almost flat, and (holding that position) roll the knife around the stone. I like circular motions. Do it lightly, if the knife is somewhat sharp. Press your thumbnail into the blade. If it catches easily, it is sharp. For the finish, very light strokes, into the edge, get the burr off. Wash everything with water, as tungsten carbide is dangerous (and gritty). I usually just use a wet stone, soak it in vegetable oil to start it, then run some water over it, each time it is used. A medium grit diamond stone (sold for woodworkers) is best, but usually has managed to run off when I need one.
Slice the meat as thin as you can, holding it with a meat fork. A cutting board with a groove around the outside of it is a good idea, as this will catch the blood, which you’ll want to save.
Pebre is a good old Chilean form of salsa, used as a garnish for meats. It is just cilantro, tomato, and green onion all chopped up. If you use large onions, you can chop and quick cook them, which takes away the sting. Oil (olive is best), some apple cider vinegar, maybe a squeezed lemon, salt, and any other spice you want to try, finish it. In Chile, some people chop the small, green, Italian hot peppers into it. Erica doesn’t like hot stuff at all, so she never does.
Pebre is great, and I spoon it on top of salads, as it makes a good dressing. Oh, you can put palta (avocado) in it, too.
I think that the small shrimps would add some variety…