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Day: November 17, 2015

“My Couch is Your Couch: Exploring How People Live around the World” by Gabriele Galimberti


My Couch is Your Couch: Exploring How People Live around the World” by Gabriele Galimberti

c.2015, Potter Style
$22.50 / $26.50 Canada
176 pages


The extra chairs will never fit.

Because of that, you’re not sure where you’ll squeeze ten guests at a table that holds four. You could move the TV, but the bathroom door’s in the way. Move the recliner to the bedroom, but that’s a pain. And yet, as you’ll see in “My Couch is Your Couch” by Gabriele Galimberti, at least you have those things to move.

Five years ago, with wanderlust in his heart, Gabriele Galimberti decided to travel. He’d been “thinking for a long time about using couchsurfing as a way to do so” when an Italian magazine asked to follow his journey.

“I was excited – and, at the same time, terrified,” he says.

Couchsurfing, he explains, is a definite adventure. The good news: as a “basic rule,” overnight accommodations are free. The catch is that you sleep on strangers’ sofas, and you sometimes don’t know where you’ll spend the next night. Galimberti, for instance, says he’s slept in open-air lofts, and he’s spent his zzz’s “in a private room in a princely villa…” – spots chosen not for location or the look of a host’s home, but on the people “who inspired me the most on a human level…”

In Botswana , he stayed with a spiritual man whose “humble but dignified” home sported a satellite dish but no indoor plumbing. In Jakarta , Indonesia , he bunked with a journalist who reported on the terrorist events in her country, though “fortunately, not all serious.” A Mexican couchsurfer put Galimberti up in a neighborhood that was iffy; he stayed with an Ethiopian host in a 100-square-foot home; and in China , where language was an issue, he learned that cleanliness “required… courage.”

Galimberti couchsurfed in Thailand at the home of a transgender woman and, later, with two gay men. In Germany , he stayed with a couple in their castle. Five minutes after he met his Chilean host, the host went to work; that was “blind trust,” says Galimberti, but then again – “there was nothing there to steal…” In tropical Fiji , he stayed in a home made of metal sheeting with no AC, and in Colombia , he found love.

At first blush, it appears that “My Couch is Your Couch” is more of a travel book. Author Gabriele Galimberti went around the world for two years on a budget of some $45,000, and wrote about it. Yep: travel.

But I saw this lavishly illustrated treat in a different way: it’s a book that will make you thankful. There are a lot of have-nots in the world, and Galimberti, in both illustration and anecdote, introduce them in a dignified way – just as he presents the people who have enviable lifestyles. The former definitely struck me more than the latter, however, and I couldn’t stop looking at those pictures.

And so yes, this is a travel book but there’s something subtle in here that goes beyond globe-hopping, something you must see to understand. And if you need a reminder to be appreciative, reading “My Couch is Your Couch” definitely fits.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is based in Wisconsin.

Wolverines finish undefeated

Above and right: scenes from the Claggett Creek Middle School and Whiteaker Middle School heavyweight football game Wednesday, Nov. 4. (Photos courtesy of J&H Photo)
Above and right: scenes from the Claggett Creek Middle School and Whiteaker Middle School heavyweight football game Wednesday, Nov. 4. (Photos courtesy of J&H Photo)

Under the lights at McNary High School and in front of the biggest crowd in memory for a middle school football game, the Whiteaker Wolverines heavyweight football team capped off an historic undefeated season with a win over rival Claggett Creek Middle School.

“First, I want to thank all three principals who made this happen: Julia Dewitt (WMS), Rob Schoepper (CC), and Eric Jesperson (MHS).  It is great to win this game, because Claggett has had Whiteaker’s number for a while now.  But what’s better than the win is this atmosphere—the color guard, the band, and the stands filled.  Keizer came out and really made every one of these kids—on both teams—feel special tonight,” said Tom Larimer, Whiteaker head coach.

Immediately after the game, McNary Head Coach Jeff Auvinen gathered all the players together at midfield, saying, “I saw some great players out here tonight representing two rivalry schools—Whiteaker and Claggett—but now you are all one team. You are McNary’s future team. Tonight you played hard, but now the rivalry is over. You are all teammates now.”

The game was all Whiteaker from the get-go. Whiteaker, which never trailed at any time the entire season, scored on its first play from scrimmage when wide receiver Junior Walling took a flanker sweep and followed blocks by Joel Knight and Nico Sandoval to go 58 yards nearly untouched to paydirt.

“As good as Junior is — and he is the most talented middle school back I have ever seen — that play is so successful because of our offensive line: Josh Patton, Nate Young, Sion Springer, Andrew Shaw and Malakai Vasseur, and the unsung star of this team: H-back Joseph Fowler,” said Larimer.  “Three of our starting O-line had never played football before this season, but you wouldn’t know it.”

Minutes after Walling’s touchdown, all three starting Wolverine linebackers—Walling, Brian Schindler and Fowler—combined on a fourth down stop to force CCMS to turn the ball over on downs.  Speedster Nico Sandoval took a toss to the left and scampered 60 yards untouched for Whiteaker’s second score.

Sandoval recovered a Claggett fumble on the ensuing kickoff, and quarterback Erik Barker hit wideout Riley Flores with a 40-yard touchdown pass. A second consecutive fumbled kickoff recovered by Noah Lelack gave WMS the ball right back on the Claggett 40-yard line. Barker led a four-play touchdown drive that ended with a perfectly thrown 26-yard strike to Walling, and the two-point conversion run by Layton Thurlow gave the Wolverines a 28-0  lead.

WMS defensive coordinator Kurt Walling said, “Many people don’t understand how much intensity and emotion can help get a team off to a good start. Our kids made a commitment to each other to take the momentum in that game and, once they did, they never looked back.”

Larimer credited his son, Offensive Coordinator Marcus Larimer, for his work with the offense.

“Marcus has a great offensive mind.  He has a sixth sense for what to run, and I don’t worry because I know we have done literally hundreds of controlled, technique based reps on every one of our plays, so each guy knows his job on each play and executes it properly,” said T. Larimer.

M. Larimer credited the student-athletes for their work.

“That preparation and commitment by my kids allows me to run almost any play in any situation and know the kids are ready to execute it properly,” said M. Larimer.

The offense was sharp, both on the ground and in the air.  Barker completed four of six passes for 137 yards and three touchdowns, while backup quarterback Layton Thurlow added a 65-yard second quarter touchdown strike to Riley Flores.

Thurlow, fresh off being named a team captain for his unselfish play, made the most of his big night, adding a 56-yard touchdown run of his own. He also recorded a quarterback sack when the Claggett wideout could not shake the tight coverage of defensive back Anthony Rice.

Nine different Wolverines carried the ball, but none more than twice.  Walling had 66 yards rushing, Thurlow 63 and Sandoval 60.  Flores led all receivers with two catches for 107 yards and two scores.  The defense was led by Schindler and Fowler’s 10 tackles apiece, with Nate Young adding nine and Walling eight.

“Undefeated? I still can hardly process it. I remember our first practice like it was yesterday,” said T. Larimer. “Eleven of my 25 players had never played football before, and half of them took one look at Junior and Fowler and Young and were scared to death. But my staff—Marcus and Coach Barker, as well as my main assistant Angel Ochoa and line coaches Jason Walling and Zach Drake (another former Whiteaker and McNary captain) were amazing from day one—they created a culture based on technique, teaching, repetition and pure positive reaffirmation, and the kids completely bought in.”

“Before the game tonight I asked my kids if they cared enough about their teammates to give their very best on the biggest stage—and that’s exactly what they did.”

J. Walling added, “This season is the result of players and coaches who are fully committed to a common cause.”

Submitted by Tom Larimer