Thursday, November 24, 2011

The largest bird in the country

As you all settle down to your thursday afternoon thanksgiving feast know that I, being on the other side of the dateline, have already gorged myself, drifted into a food coma, had a full night's sleep, awoke and had leftovers. This was my second full thanksgiving of the year since my mom did up a beautiful pre-thanksgiving dinner last month when I was in the states. And if you now count leftovers this morning it is probably my fourth, and by lunchtime should be my fifth t-day feed of the year. Not too shabby.

Marshall Islands thanksgiving is much like one in the states. We gather all of our friends and family together and eat till we blackout, then drink until there is an argument and all go home to happy to sleep in the fetal position. Here though in the absence of family or a local thanksgiving celebration all the white people get together to celebrate. Basically we do this for any reason at all and thanksgiving is a damn good one. It is also another opportunity to indulge is promoting america's superiority at holidays to our non-american friends.

This year I volunteered to cook the turkey, not that I really know what I am doing but hey put it in the oven and wait right? I was first in the store after the cargo ship arrived and can guarantee I bought the largest bird on island, 23 lbs, so I was off to a good start. I picked up all the tools and ingredients and threw the bird in the oven yesterday at lunch. Unfortunately, (ya right) I was informed when returning to work that we had a company baseball game that afternoon and would have to leave work early, ah shucks. Still believing I would be home in time thought this is no problem for the bird. Well apparently the electrical company had other ideas since while we were out at baseball the power on the island went out. Fortunately this didn’t cause me too much stress, as I didn't even know until I was driving home after and a friend called worried about the turkey. I arrived home to find the power still off. Just when I thought it was the end, pop the power cracked back on. Well at this point there was nothing to loose and didn't know if it was ruined so just proceeded with the cooking now scheduled to be 2 hrs late.

Eventually it got up to temperature and was hopefully done. It looked good anyway and thought it will have to do. Now for the hard part. The flexible tin disk the turkey was in was too weak to pick up so was forced to remove the entire oven rack then take it out to my car for the drive over to the house were everyone was. Solo this was quite the task but managed to get it done although not without spilling turkey juice all over the oven, floor, carpet, table, stairs, car seat and floor. Driving down the road over speed bumps and cutting taxis didn’t help either. By the time I arrived I was exhausted and covered in sweet after gripping a 180 degree bird while driving a stick shift in the cab of pickup in the tropics.

All ended well and maybe the best turkey I ever had but I am sure the exhaustion and novelty contributed in some way. All 19 people also seemed to enjoy it so was at least edible. Glad to see that I wasn’t sick this morning either which is a good sign. The stuffing I made with Mom’s recipe using sausage was a big success too. and the gravy from turkey drippings, at least what was left after spilling on the my kitchen or car was tasting too, I guess salt fixes everything.

This morning is an induction ceremony at work for our new to us backhoe and sewer snake machine, welcoming them into the family of other rusty tools soon to be neglected and ruined. At least we got diabetes snacks: a cookie, soda, muffin, and cake.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Thursday was a Marshallese holiday, and what better way to spend the day than pouring concrete. Two friends building a church here offered me a local wage of $2/hr to help pour concrete for the day. I couldn't pass it up that kind of bling. Anyway I needed a change from my office job, get a tan and try and work off my fat belly. Not sure one day will do it but at least I got to work outside for a change.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Island Time

I am back from my US tour (10 days of awesomeness + 4 days on the airplane or layovers just getting from place to place). I had a true departure from the Marshals on friday eve as I tried avoid friends forcing a few too many on me before getting on the plane. It didn't work as friend managed to get a couple beers and shots in me, so I stumbled to the gate. Was all fun and games until I woke up halfway through the flight to Hawaii with a terrible hangover and a old sock of a continental airlines omelet in front of me. I thought for sure I was going to have to bless the mile high barf bag for the first time but managed to hold it off. After the annoying transfer in Hawaii, avoid at all costs I managed to make it to Albuquerque where things got better fast. Phil and Liz took me over to my new house, first time I was actually in it since I bought it in June. Pizza and chatting about the latest tv shows and I was on my way to full dose of Americanness.

I had a great time in NM, highlights include a sewage plant tour with my mom, you know one of those things you dream about doing all your life. 7am sunday hot yoga with our new favorite instructor Liz. And of course the food. The best was the night before I left my mom went all out and prepared Thanksgiving dinner. It was no sham, and for me was the real thing just a month early. Turkey, mash potatoes, stuffing, pees, salad, cranberries, the works, it was all there. The whole gang showed up with Jake and his family were there, my dad, and phil and liz. My brother's family are doing well. Got some time with the kids who are very happy.

Next I was off to my friend Emily's wedding in Indiana. Was a bit colder there but warmed up slightly for the outdoor ceremony which was nice. Was beautiful in the colorful trees. I got to meet a bunch of new people from her life there and a couple of old friends from peace corps, Sarah and Lisa. There was even two different Marshal Island connections there, weird. As usual, as a wedding guest, the highlight was the reception. They had a band which provided many excellent dancing tunes. Although the best part was when Rob, the groom, played some songs for emily with a band made up of his wedding party. He totally rocked it. The night before the wedding we all also managed to dress up for halloween and attempt to party although many of were tired from traveling. The bride and groom did the best job as Elvira and Frankenstein. I dressed up like Rick Perry, republican presidential candidate, who I find particularly idiotic. I found a especially presidential tie and made some campaign buttons telling the truth of his slogans. For instance the flat tax: making the rich richer and poor poorer. Amazingly, a guy in the elevator told me he liked my costume and Perry. I asked him if he read my buttons and he said he did like to read.

Lastly was off to DC to see Ira's new baby and catchup with Ira, Dylan, and Sarah (who was also at the wedding). We got to see the new dc monument to MLK which was sweet, the first to a non-president. I liked the statue but wasn't a huge fan of the rest of it. Seems most favor the opposite. They say the statue looks chinese. I couldn't tell. Ira's baby, Parker, is super cute as expected. Ira and Dylan also got a day off and we were able to get out for a hike. Good work vacation team. Next is the xmas holiday. Not sure what is in the plans but probably an week in asia...

Now I am back in the Marshals. Was a warm welcome on saturday when I found my apartment with no power. A trip to the electric company and waiting 45 min for the drunk receptionist to make it in to work righted that. Yesterday got out on a boat with some friends to try my hand at skurfing. That is surfing behind a boat. It quite difficult and I couldn't master it but did do a great job at being an idiot. That is I am now sunburned and look like a ripe tomato. First day back at work is going to be fun...

lv ya - jesse