Month: October 2005

Other Southwest Idaho Hauntings 

Southwest Idaho has a long history with trouble, and trouble, stress and traumatic moments are the ingredients–for whatever causes spirits to be restless or leave an impression in this reality. Here are some of the more publicly known local hauntings.

•The Idanha Hotel is said to be haunted by a number of ghosts. Several years ago during remodeling to convert the rooms into apartments, many construction workers and employees in the building reported strange phenomena. The ghost of a bellman shot by a guest in the 1970s, is said to move the elevator up and down. In the early 1920s a man allegedly killed his wife with a pair of scissors and buried her body beneath the building where Basement Gallery is now. The second and fourth floors are said to be the most haunted. Word has it that ghost activity has quieted down post-renovation.

•Boise Little Theater is rumored to be inhabited by the spirits of two men who died in a fire

•The basement of the Idaho Historical Museum was the site of a murder in the 1940s. During construction of the building, a patrol officer found the body of a teenage boy at the site. Rumors associate the victim with the Boys of Boise incidents. Today, employees say they get a creepy feeling there at night but Ken Swanson, Administrator of Historical Museum and Historic Sites, has been there for over two decades. He says he has spent many late nights working and has never felt a presence.

•In addition to the aforementioned spectral soldiers, Mountain Cove High School is rumored to be haunted by some restless spirits displaced when a nearby cemetery was relocated. Several years ago in the same area, construction workers discovered some skeletons and a casket in a culvert. The bodies were reburied in a cemetery.

•Mulligan’s, a popular bar on Main Street, is said to be haunted with strange smells (yeah, what bar doesn’t have strange smells?) and moving objects. The abandoned second-level is said to be particularly spooky.

•The Boise High School green room in the basement is said to be haunted by the spirit of a young woman who died in the 1930s. Abandoned tunnels and passageways beneath the school add to the legend.

•”Dinah” is said to haunt the Boise State Communications building and several ghost investigators have confirmed there is definitely something strange going on. Apparently the spirit will interact with male investigators only. The spirit received her name when someone once asked what her name was and a piano began playing “Someone’s in the Kitchen with Dinah.” Many students and faculty report computers and lights turning on and off and when the attic was used as a costume storage area, fabric would be pulled out and bolts left standing in the room. Other reports include disembodied giggling and strange writing on chalkboards.

•Some say you can hear the sounds of a horse running along the banks of the canal near Dry Creek Cemetery at 2:15 in the morning.

•Night Moves Gentlemen’s Club on State Street has been the location for several sightings of apparitions, some of which resemble a little girl. Others report poltergeist activity.

•The Kit Kat Klub in Meridian is also said to have apparitions, strange pounding noises and sightings. But one could say that about any strip club.

•There are reports of haunted dorm rooms at Boise State. Allegedly a young girl hung herself there after discovering her boyfriend with someone else.

•At a place called “The Field,” near the intersection of Fairview and Milwaukee by the Alsace Crematorium, people claim to hear strange laughing at night.

•The ghostly figure of a young girl who was killed while skiing, has been sighted on Gots Point on Lake Lowell. She disappears when approached.

•Canyon Hill Cemetery in Caldwell is haunted by a legless jogger who will tap on car windows when people park around the cemetery at night.

•According to Shoshone and Bannock legends, the Owyhee mountains are said to be haunted by naked cannibalistic dwarves who have been known to kidnap children and eat them.

Silver City has been the site of several suspected hauntings over the years. The Idaho Hotel, still an operating hotel from Memorial Day through October, is said to be haunted by at least three spirits. In the late 1800s, J. Marion Moore and Samuel Lockhart had a shootout on the front steps of the hotel. Both died inside the hotel. Their spirits are said to roam the hotel. The third person who died in the hotel was former owner O.D. Broombaugh who killed himself in the south saloon while suffering from pancreatic cancer. His original room in the hotel was number 27 on the third floor and people who have stayed in that room have reported being touched on the leg at night. Several people have seen a man, always in and around the stairwell to the third floor, in a duster coat. Roger and Jerri Nelson, who have worked at the hotel since 1991 and owned it since 2000 have never seen any strange phenomena and don’t really believe in the hauntings, but will admit that lights and water will turn off on their own … even after the hotel had been rewired several years ago.

The winter watchman and several Silver City residents have reported seeing a young boy and girl, in clothes from around the turn of the previous century (tailed coat for the boy, dress for the girl) playing marbles on Washington Street. The sightings occur in the evenings in late fall and early spring when tourists aren’t really around.

While many old buildings creak and moan, one popular explanation is that it is “Screaming Alice.” Apparently Alice, who had lost her husband and both children to measles in the matter of just a few weeks was staying at the old War Eagle Hotel in Silver City. She packed her bags, went to catch the stagecoach and was never seen again. Her bags, including one filled with her babies’ clothes, were left behind. No one ever found her and it was said she died of a lonely heart. Locals tend to embellish the story and one version has her falling down the front steps of the hotel, breaking off both arms and running back through the hotel screaming and waving her bloody stumps.

Jerri Nelson said that although she has never seen a ghost, one time at the Stoddard House–an ornate old house seen through the windows of the bar at the Idaho Hotel–she took a photograph of an archway inside. There was a strange “energy” in the photo right in the middle of the archway.

Jerri believes that, “Part of the ambiance of ghost tales is where you are at.” While she has never seen a ghost in Idaho City, she finds it strange that all but three of a large number of Chinese graves have been exhumed and the bones sent back to China. The last exhumation, she said, happened in 1993.

Le Cafe de Paris 

Dining alone on a Saturday night in a fancy French cafe is not usually my idea of fun, but last weekend I decided to take myself out on a date to get to know myself a little bit better. It had been a while since I last saw myself, and I was excited about going somewhere quiet and foreign that is not one of my regular haunts. I wanted to sit back and enjoy the ambience. I wanted romantic, but not too romantic. I wanted a glass of wine, but not a place where I could have been tempted by the evil gin, for that would have resulted in me taking advantage of myself. I may be a lush sometimes, but I am always a gentleman.

People sauntered in for dessert and dinner as I sat at the four-seat bar in the last available seat one crowded night. When on a solo date, it’s important to bring something to do–even if it’s only a ruse–because strangers get uncomfortable when you stare at them for any period of time. So I casually disguised my evening’s eavesdropping by thumbing through the latest issue of National Geographic.

When dining alone, you also don’t have anyone to share an appetizer with, so I opted for a nice bowl of soup on a chilly October night. I chose the fresh cream of mushroom. It was not some can of condensed soup–au contraire, mon frere–but a broth of fresh, finely chopped mushrooms with a long dollop of fresh whipping cream (unsweetened) on the side, meant to be merged with the soup. I did so lovingly. The marriage not only cooled the soup slightly, but gave it just the right richness.

The entree came well-timed, just as I soaked up the last bits of mushrooms with the quickly disappearing bread. I looked at my plate: a sirloin cut of lamb, cooked medium rare, with mashed potatoes and zucchini. I must stop here and make a statement about the temperature (or color) of meat. One restaurant’s “medium rare” may vary greatly from another. In my experience, European kitchens tend to go on the pinker side, so I usually order meat cooked more than I would in other restaurants. In this case, with such a nice cut of lamb–the sirloin has a little more fat than the rack, and we all know fat equals taste–I wanted to hear the “baaa.” And I almost did. As my father says, “You can always put it back on the fire, but you can’t add back in the pink.”

The lamb was bathed in a hearty, savory reduction sauce, perfect for a solo diner. A glass of Pinot Noir helped it all down and made conversation even more pleasant with my date, at least for me. Nearby patrons may have been disturbed, but at this point, we were lost in our own little world.

I usually pass on dessert, but tonight I wanted to treat my date to a sweet and a coffee before returning home for soft light, a nightcap and some Tom Waits on the stereo. Chocolate mousse and a cappuccino led to goodbye and a kiss on the hand goodnight … to salvage a lost drop of mousse.

–Bingo Barnes is never alone because he is always with himself.

Touched by a Fallen Angel 

Ghostly experiences in Boise and from the Beyond

The last time Boise Weekly went on a ghost hunt, we visited Mountain Cove High School, where soldiers returning from World War I would convalesce after being exposed to mustard gas. For years after, the ghosts of some of those young men would allegedly haunt the now remodeled classrooms and administrative offices, routinely turning off lights and turning the dial on the school secretary’s radio. While our previous investigation yielded no results, the most current one, with the help of ghost-hunting hobbyists Bruce and Nancy Priddy, we encountered a little more unexplained phenomena, including the “touching.”

A few years ago, Bruce and Nancy Priddy bought a camper trailer and, looking for something to do, decided to go to a paranormal convention in Virginia City, Nevada–allegedly one of the most haunted cities in the West. There, they went on ghost walks, tours, learned of equipment and techniques and, well, got hooked. They educated themselves on photographic phenomena called “orbs” and managed to catch a few on film (see “A Ghostly Glossary” on page 16). They got excited and creeped out, but had fun nevertheless. Since then, the Priddy’s have arranged their trips around hunting for ghosts. At Givens Hot Springs, they witnessed a swing move by itself, at 11:30 at night, without wind and while the other seats were still. They have a photo, taken at night, of a window in one of the historic buildings in Julia Davis Park that shows someone looking out when the photo is made into a negative even though nothing can really be seen when the photo is positive.

Both Bruce and Nancy are skeptics, which they say is something you have to be in order to take ghost hunting even semi-seriously. “Some people get heavily into the spiritual side of this,” says Nancy, “but we don’t.” They just do it for kicks.

“Science says that energy is neither created nor destroyed,” Bruce adds philosophically. “We are biological batteries. Where does the electricity go when you die?”

Bruce and Nancy meet me at the office and we go through our equipment. They have a digital video/still camera, an Olympus digital camera, two voice-activated voice recorders, a directional EMF sensor and an infrared thermometer. They say they always load their equipment with fresh batteries and bring along extras, as sometimes spirits like to feed off the energy and drain them. This has happened to the Priddy’s before, the only evidence in an otherwise evidence-free expedition. I have a high-megapixel digital camera, a digital recorder and a digital high-8 video/still camera with night vision. We are loaded for bear, or in this case, ghosts.

In a 1999 Gallup poll, thirty three percent of the people questioned said they believed in ghosts. However, at one time a majority of people in the civilized world believed the world was flat, the universe revolved around the Earth and that the moon was made of cheese. Some still do. A majority of Americans believe a man walked the earth that healed people and was born from a virgin. It isn’t outlandish to accept that there are things in this world difficult to prove through science. For those who believe in ghosts, these stories and experiences can be scary and exciting. For those who are skeptical, as most of the ghost investigators interviewed for this story–including myself–ghosts are fun to talk about, and occasionally get creeped out by. For those who don’t believe at all, it’s just a good story to scare the kids with.

Television shows such as Ghost Hunters on the SciFi Channel and movies like White Noise–which has some great bonus features on the DVD about Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP)–have popularized the science of ghost investigating. But these investigators say if you’re going to do it, it’s important to go do it right.

Marie Cuff, owner and operator of Idaho Spirit Seekers and its accompanying Web site (www.idahospiritseekers.com), started out as a hobbyist but has become very active with ghost investigations in the last year. In existence for about four years, the group acted as a hobby group of those interested in ghosts. “They were pretty inactive,” Marie said. Then, about a year ago, she contacted the founder and asked if she could be the president and asked to buy the name.

“The founder wouldn’t sell it,” she said. “They donated it free of charge.” Since then, she has developed a team of investigators that have been very busy since last December. “We have very few free weekends,” she added.

With about 18 active investigators in the area and a network of contacts in Oregon and Montana, Idaho Spirit Seekers mainly assists people in private residences but do some investigations in public spaces. A few weeks ago, they were accompanied by a local television station out at the Old Pen and Marie says that while looking into one cell, it felt as if someone reached through the bars and played with her hair.

“About 80 to 90 percent of cases can be debunked, but it often takes more than one investigation to determine if a haunting is real or not,” she said. Oftentimes, she says it’s just helpful to educate people about ghosts, hauntings, impressions and poltergeists. With all of their investigations, they respect the privacy of the individuals they are doing investigations for, but do post investigation reports on some of the stranger incidents on their site.

The Spirit Seekers are set up very similarly to the group in the show Ghost Hunters. A lead investigator sets up and manages the team. They coordinate the investigation so that everyone isn’t trying to photograph at the same time or stepping on each other’s toes. A tech support guy helps set up the equipment and recording devices quickly and correctly. Marie says they have “sensitives,” people who can sense changes in the environment, but they are still looking for a psychic to join the team. All team members, she says, are volunteers and come from a variety of backgrounds, including law enforcement, engineering and law.

One local investigation involved a woman who was really scared, which is the case in most of the people that contact the Spirit Seekers. A woman felt a male presence in the home and had witnessed what looked like an invisible man sitting down on the couch, leaving an impression. Marie said that during their investigation, the trash can top started swinging back and forth and she witnessed a coffee cup apport and disport around the sink. Asked if she was ever scared during investigations she said no. “But it’s like driving a car for the first time,” she reflected. “You are scared to death. Then it gets easier.”

We weren’t scared to go to the Old Idaho Penitentiary, just cautious and expecting to be creeped out a little. We had reserved a couple of hours after dark at the Old Idaho Penitentiary. We had two hours, so Bruce, Nancy and I made our plan. We wanted to see the women’s ward first, where we would leave a tape player running. Next we’d circle around to solitary confinement, “Siberia,” and leave another recorder. That’s where I would leave mine as well, hoping to capture some EVPs. Then we’d make our way over to the maximum security wing where they housed those on death row and executed them in the gallows room. From there, we’d explore one of the oldest cell blocks, “2 House” where it is believed that a man cheated the executioner by jumping off the third floor cells while being led to the gallows. He broke his neck in the fall. Bruce and Nancy had high hopes for this tour.

“A lot of emotions, anger and despair happened at this place,” said Bruce. “When the sit down is completed, I’d be surprised if we don’t come up with something.”

We met Joanne Moss, our Old Pen escort for the next two hours at about 8 o’clock. We could still see a tinge of light on the western horizon, but it was fading fast. Joanne herself had a strange experience at the prison she related to us. One night, while sitting at the front desk just through the entrance, waiting for a party to finish out in the yard, she heard creaks and pops sounding like footsteps on the floor above her. This didn’t alarm her, as the old building pops and creaks all the time. She then heard these creaks start descending the stairwell, the only way up to those offices. Although she didn’t think anyone was in the offices above her, she thought someone was descending to the stairs. When no one came out she went up to find not a soul up there–at least not a living one.

After discovering in the women’s ward that a suspicious shadow was caused by the range finder light on my camera and leaving a recorder, we made our way over to solitary confinement. “Siberia” as it is known colloquially, is the one place where a grounds worker–who would never admit so on the record–won’t go into unless he has to. Strange smells have been reported in one particular cell, without explanation. As we went in one side, and after almost entering one of the dark cells, Nancy started breathing heavily and backtracked quickly. She said that she felt something come out of the cell at her and put pressure on her chest, a feeling she hadn’t experienced before. We cautiously took a few pictures, asked a few questions on tape, left the recorder and moved on.

In the maximum security building, some in our group thought that they saw something walk down the hall and enter a cell. I was there too, monitoring the camera and looking up occasionally, but did not witness the same thing. Interestingly enough, in the death row room, one camera did not function, but resumed working once we left the room. One particular photo taken from the viewing room into the gallows room has a strange shadow. Joanne Moss says that shadow is exactly where the hangman would stand and pull the gallows handle to lower the men being executed.

The Old Penitentiary is creepy enough during the day. At night, it’s flat-out, extra-pair of underwear scary. After making our way through the buildings, we decided to check out “3 House.” We went up to the second floor, snapped a few pictures and looked in some cells. Then on the first floor, as I was using the super-night scope on the digital camera I heard our group begin to leave. But I thought one of them was still next to me. A gentle hand on my shoulder pushed me as if to signal “let’s go” and after looking to my right I saw that no one was there. I reached out to feel if I may have accidentally bumped into a wall or something hanging. Nope. Nothing there. I looked to my left and saw that everyone was heading out the building, quite some distance away. That’s when I decided I’d make a hasty retrea,t too.

Over the weekend we analyzed the data. A great deal of the time spent on a paranormal investigation involves data analysis. The EVP recording devices picked up very little, other than the sounds of low flying airplanes, but a few unexplained creaks and pops appeared on the audio recordings. There was one recorder in solitary confinement that had loud tappings of metal on metal that the other recording device in the area did not pick up. We are still analyzing the photos, but besides my shadow picture in the gallows room, the Priddy’s had a few photos with alleged orbs.

I’m still creeped out by being touched. The hairs on my neck rise when I think about it now, many days later. But did that make me believe in ghosts? I’m not sure. I think I’ll have to keep investigating.

Terrorist Free 

Sometimes I think the terrorists have succeeded in doing what they intended to do. We can’t turn around without someone screaming that the sky is falling. A few weeks ago, a geocache was mistaken for a bomb on the Rainbow Bridge north of Smith’s Ferry blocking traffic for hours while bomb squads investigated. Last year, harmless flour used to mark a trail for a Monday night Hash House Harriers run was mistaken for–you guessed it–anthrax. This week, an entire terminal in San Diego’s airport was cleared because an X-ray screener mistook a child’s toy and cookie for bomb making parts.

And exactly how many terrorist bombs have blown things up in the United States since 9/11? Oh sure, King George recently said that Homeland Security efforts had thwarted 10 plots by al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. But only three of them were planned for U.S. soil, and details were sketchy at best. Nothing has blown up. No biowarfare. No nukes–and that’s great, of course. But many have been harassed by government officials in the name of homeland security. The FBI was caught probing into the lives of Americans recently and likely will get nothing more than a hand-slap. It is an interesting coincidence that the timing of the October 6 announcement of thwarted terror plots also was at one of King George’s lowest approval ratings.

Other than a lot of money being spent in the name of protecting Americans, what have we gotten out of increased security? Let’s see … higher gas prices (you’re paying higher taxes on that too you know), fear, more religion and fanaticism as politicians fan the flames of nationalism and the rest of the world really despises us now whereas before they just kind of hated us a little.

But hey, we’re safer. Or are we? Have terrorists really tried to hurt us? All they have to do is increase their “chatter” across the Internet and they can sit back and watch as our personal freedoms are taken away one by one in the name of security. One new photo of Osama bin Laden holding up this Sunday’s New York Times would guarantee a 10 point increase in King George’s approval rating and a boon to the economy in the form of trickle-down economics from cruise-missile companies. Next thing you know, we’ll be asked to house American soldiers in our own homes to save the govrnement a little money.

What a Croc 

What a nerd wears says a lot about his style

Last Labor Day, at the Burning Man festival in the desert two hours north of Reno, I noticed that I was not alone in my desire to wear these ugly shoes. They–along with the Willy Wonka goggles–were the hot fashion item on the playa this year. In a variety of colors, you could match any costume. The shoes also allow your feet to breathe and the dust to settle out through the ventilation ports. They are also comfortable and the playa dust didn’t stick so much to the god-knows-what material these creatures are made of. While relaxing in the shade one day, a playa vixen came up to me after noticing my size 13, black Crocs and told me she had started a Croc-Mod camp.

“What the heck is a Croc-Mod?” I asked.

I then noticed her Crocs, which, because of the numerous holes, ventilation ports and ability of the material to be pierced, had been decorated with all sorts of interesting items.

“Just a sec,” I said running back to my trailer to find the little spiked collar studs (the kind you typically find on a pit-bull collar) that Jennifer from Neonephthys had given me. I pierced the top of my Crocs and I instantly had an Über-fashion statement going on (see picture). It wasn’t over-the-top decoration, but hey, I was going for the minimalist look.

I never intended to wear Crocs as my main, go-to shoe. In fact, when I bought them, I envisioned a garden shoe that could be hosed off. For the longest time, they sat in the closet. Then, one fine spring day while looking for gardening gloves, I rediscovered them. Slipping them on, I proudly went into the garden, not caring that the plants would see my feet. My first attempt at putting my foot on a shovel made me realize that these shoes were not for my kind of gardening. I might as well have been barefoot as I hobbled back into the house for some steel-toed shoes. Back in the closet they went, where they stayed.

Then one late summer day when my annual gout flare-up occurred and regular shoes were too painful on my swollen foot, the Crocs made one final exodus from the closet. I needed room. I needed air for my big toe. Now, rarely a day goes by that I don’t wear them. With socks or without (they make a nice squeak when worn without), in the rain or not, with the heel strap down or up, I am addicted to them. I might have to find some waterproof socks for when the snow comes, though.

Years before, sometime in the early ’90s, I recall having a similar addiction to a pair of shoes. Only then, it was Birkenstocks, another ugly shoe that I didn’t care what people thought of because they felt so good on my feet. I also remember in college, after returning from a backpacking trip in Europe, obsessively wearing a Greek fisherman’s cap every day for about a year until someone threw it away. I also remember in high school wearing the same light-blue windbreaker every day. Yeah, you could call me a nerd about the clothes I wear. What are you gonna do about it?

Addiction 

Addiction is all around us. Whether you like it or not, our brains are wired to like one thing, over and over, a whole bunch. Most likely you’ll never get sick of something you’re addicted too–well, maybe a little. But you’ll always come back, because it fills a need that your body and mind have grown to love. You’ll most definitely get sick if you refrain from doing it. And that can be bad.

Addiction comes in many forms. Naturally, physical addiction can have the most outwardly obvious effects. Heroin, methamphetamines, nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, prescription pain killers are just a few. Then there are the combo physical/mental ones. These usually take the form of food items such as chocolate or ice cream, but in the publisher’s case, it can be as wild as minestrone soup from Gino’s.

There are other addictions. One of the more bizarre is self-mutilation. Tattooing and piercing could be considered addictions because there is a high degree of psychology that goes into them.

Mental addiction is perhaps the most sinister. Addicted to love, sex, aggression, adrenalin, hate … emotions that fill our brains with endorphins we grow to crave. People can have an addictive effect–a charisma, perhaps, that keeps you coming back for more. I wonder if relationships–with the inevitable co-dependency–are some form of addiction?

My current addictions are simple. I have a caffeine addiction that reminds me with a headache on no-coffee days. I’m also addicted to a computer game. World of Warcraft has been filling a social gap for me lately. It’s also balls-out fun. If you play it, look me up. I play a Gnome mage named Zit on the Greymane realm.

Gobblet: A game of strategy

gameofweek_gobblet.jpg

It’s hard to find games that level the playing field between the generations, yet challenge both adults and children. The joy in a child’s eye when they know they’ve legitimately beaten a grown-up in a game of skill is priceless. Gobblet is one such game.

The rules are deceptively simple. Imagine a game of tic-tac-toe on a four-by-four grid. All you need is four pieces in a row to win. But things get complicated when you have three sets of pieces, each set made of four pieces that fit nicely into each other. Players take turns putting their pieces on the board. Once a piece is on the board, players can move them to a new space or “gobble” their opponent’s smaller piece. Strategy becomes key, and simple strategies learned by kids after hours of tic-tac-toe practice pay off with wins in Gobblet. Other rules, such as, “Once you touch a piece you have to use it,” make Gobblet a memory game. Players find themselves asking, “What was under that piece that I gobbled last turn?”

Another cool aspect to abstract strategy games like Gobblet is that you can play them online. Go to www.ashokappliance.com/gobblet/home.htm and try it out. Because of the multiple awards this game has garnered–making it quite popular–finding it online and in stock may be difficult. We found our copy at Five Rivers, 2285 Warm Springs Ave.

You’ve Been Served 

Rediscovering the lost art of fine dining

While fairly common in nature, the color violet (purple) has always been difficult to reproduce in textiles. For that reason the hue has typically been associated with royalty and wealth, for only the rich could afford such rare fabrics. As the industrial and chemical age evolved and it became easy to reproduce color inexpensively, violet became accessible to the general population.

A similar evolution has occurred in food. Today, thanks to the mass production of food, the ease with which we transport it and lower food costs, the masses are able to enjoy food that once was only available to royalty. Like purple clothing, fine dining, which was once the exclusive privilege of the rich, has become readily accessible to the general public. However, some gourmands wonder what has happened to the lost art of fine dining.

Not more than 50 years ago the stereotypical nuclear family dressed up for family dinners at home. Today, one might encounter a baseball cap and a Megadeth T-shirt at a nice restaurant, attire that would shock old-school dining patrons. What happened to dress codes? What happened to etiquette? Have we become desensitized to exquisite experiences? Are we devolving into culinary cavemen?

Transplants to Boise may have noticed the degradation of the quality of diners’ behavior at area restaurants, but that may be only a symptom of our geographic isolation.

Chef Andrae Bopp, proprietor of the contemporary French restaurant Andrae’s in downtown Boise and trained at one of the finest French culinary institutes in the world, says that Boise diners are not as experienced as those in larger cities, where people are exposed to a greater number of fine dining restaurants.

“It’s a new thing to them,” he says, adding that it isn’t necessarily a bad thing that Boiseans are being exposed to new experiences.

If you have ever eaten at a restaurant where you are presented with more than two forks as you sit down, you probably have some experience with fine dining. Fine dining isn’t just about the food. It is about the service, the atmosphere, the entire experience. Fine dining is a state of mind. But to enjoy it, and for the enjoyment of others around you, you may need to slightly adjust your dining habits.

John Galloway, in his book Fine Dining Madness: The Rules and Realities of Fine Dining, says it isn’t the country bumpkins and prom dates that are the worst offenders at fine dining establishments, it’s the big shots who think the rules don’t apply to them. He says these basic rules are, “Don’t browbeat the staff and don’t disturb your fellow diners.” In addition, he establishes some general advice.

Don’t be late. If you make a reservation, stick to it.

Don’t drop names. It’s not who you know, it’s how much of an ass you look like saying you do.

Don’t take off your jacket. We’re not talking about your L.L. Bean, negative 20-degree down coat, we’re talking about your suit jacket. Even if it’s hot, don’t take off the jacket. Men should take off their hats.

Don’t use a cell phone. In fact, don’t use your cell phone in any restaurant, especially if you have one of those earpieces. It bothers people to see you talking to yourself.

Don’t sniff the cork.

“Sniffing is for cocaine addicts and French truffle hogs,” Galloway writes. You can touch the cork. It should be wet, but if it’s dry it might let you know the wine was not been properly stored.

Don’t tip less than 20 percent. Fifteen percent may be fine for a burger joint, but you might have two to three people serving you at a fine dining restaurant. Be aware that your waiter might have to split your tip with the busboy, the bartender, the hostess, the sommelier and sometimes the cooks.

While Galloway outlines basic rules, there are several more guidelines BW would suggest you follow when dining out. Unfold your napkin and put it on your lap. Allow women order before men. Dress up; it’s better to be the best dressed than the worst dressed (and if you look really nice people will wonder who you are). Know that you should hold your utensils with your palm up, instead of like a shovel. When in doubt as to which utensils to use, work from the outside in. Your waiter or waitress will remove the utensils you will not need further into your meal, so the process of elimination will apply. If you have used a utensil, don’t put it back on the table. Balance the used part of your utensil on your plate while you eat and when you are done with it, put the whole utensil on the plate. Do not stack dishes for the waiter to take away. While you might think you are helping, you’re not. Know what you can eat with your fingers. Don’t pull a gristly piece of meat from your mouth. Politely spit it out in your napkin. Be kind. Be courteous. And if you don’t know what to do, just ask. In life, it’s always better to be a little ignorant than pretend like you know what you’re doing when you don’t.

While it may seem like there are many rules to consider in fine dining, it really isn’t that different from eating at any restaurant where you are served.

Chef Andrae says, “Here, people walk in and they don’t quite know to expect.”

He admits it can be a little intimidating, but advises, “Relax. Don’t stress about making a mistake or using the wrong utensil. We have a great service staff that really helps the customer feel at ease. Relax and enjoy the whole experience.”

A Hunting We Will Go 

WARNING: If you are offended by the act of hunting, stop reading now and preserve your belief that I am a bleeding-heart liberal, hippie, environmentalist communist.

Last Monday was the opening day of deer season in most parts of the state. That is, if you don’t specialize with bows or muzzle loaders or participate in certain controlled hunts. By and large, dawn on Columbus Day heard the cracks and pops of large caliber rifles echoing off the mountaintops.

This past summer, my father called me from Texas and proclaimed he wanted to come up to Idaho to hunt some deer. I obliged. After all, I had been up in the woods the previous two years stalking big game myself. Unsuccessfully, unfortunately. Here was a chance for me to take my own pa hunting, something he did with me while growing up in Colorado and Texas.

We awoke early, drank a little coffee, then headed up Highway 55 to my preferred hunting spot, just a little over an hour away. It was cold, below freezing and there were plenty of other hunters in the area, some camped and just waking up, others driving in like us.

We parked, made our buddy plan with the walkie-talkies, outlined our walking routes (I’m not so modern with the ATVs … yet) and headed out in the dim light of an approaching dawn. The sun had just hit the mountains to the north when–from my vantage point on my stump–I saw the doe walking down the logging road. Having drawn an antlerless tag this year, I slowly adjusted and fired.

For the record, I have respect for the animals that I kill, whether they be warm blooded or cold. And I always hunt or fish (except catch and release with barbless hooks) for culinary purposes in the most humane way possible. Needless to say, I will be eating venison this winter. It is appropriate timing for our Food Issue.

Two Cents on Two-Bits 

Idaho’s quarter is one step closer to having a real look. The Guv’ announced five designs, hand picked by himself, to submit to the U.S. Mint for consideration. Of course, we don’t know what ideas they rejected.

Hmmm. Maybe there was the swastika with the big “No” circle and bar running through it over the top of it. Spuddy Buddy would definitely been left out. A unique design of a knotch cut out of one side with “The Scalper State” was most certainly rejected. Also most likely turned away … a proposed all-red quarter, for the state that supported Bush the most in the last election. Other potential rejects: Hemingway, a ghost salmon, a radioactive quarter made of the toxic wastes at INL, a big potato, and “IDAHOE” with an “E” to honor ex-Vice President Dan Quale.