Sunday, May 24, 2015

Fridge Cleaning Time

Well, after weeks of rainy days--almost Seattle like, down here bucolic Joshua, TX--I've run out of things to do in the house. Laundry? Done and redone. Vacuum? Done and redone and will get redone again if the damned border collies, playing in the mud under the house get in here again! Bathroom? Scrubbed and rescrubbed. What was left? Oh, yeah, the fridge. Did it last on the day I came home from Peru about 3 months ago. How bad could it be?
      Well, the sacred medicines were fine. Most of the cheeses were fine. But those five nearly-full containers of sour cream? They'd turned into a science experiment. That stick of butter I lost last month? Found it. Somehow worked its way into the organic strawberries I forgot about and the mold took over everything. And while I've been buying zucchini and yellow squash twice a week, turns out there were a few that were lost in the veggie drawers that were turning into a puddle of goop.
     Nothing appeared to have opened, yet there was some dried, sticky brown stuff on the back wall of the fridge--I mean, probably 4 ounces of sticky stuff, which probably came from a quart of something that someone spilled and decided not to tell me about.
     It's all clean now, and I've thrown out enough garbage to fill an entire kitchen bag. Who knew the jar of sauerkraut was empty, or that there were three open jars of dill pickle spears or 7 mustards in the back?
     So I'm taking a break, assessing it all, tossing what needs tossing, having a glass of wine to get through it, and I swear, just like I've done for the last 45 years since I've been on my own, that I'm never gonna let that fridge happen again. Only this time I mean it.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Money Oh's!, Money Woes!

Okay, so I'm not complaining about anything here. That's first off. But I am going to think out loud for a minute and for some reason, I think that might be of interest to some of you. Of course, I might be completely nuts and all of you break your computers once I start....please don't do that, just skip this blog piece.
    Why skip? Because this is about my personal finances, which no one might think is of any interest. I got it.
     Here's the deal. I now owe $2200 on my mortgage. It wasn't large to begin with, about $72,000, but now it's within reach to close it next month. After that, I'll be responsible for about $4000 a year in home insurance and local home taxes. Very doable.
     But I owe about $14,000 on 3 credit cards. Not a ton, but more than I would like. Some of it was picked up in small quantities--getting groceries when I had no cash, for instance--but most of it was picked up with some medical stuff, a couple of trips to Peru with guests where I lost a couple/few grand and had to cover it with credit cards. So no big deal, but finishing the house won't finish the debt.
     Then I owe Madeleina $2200 that I've borrowed since I began--and she as well--getting social security a couple of years ago. Again, no big deal, but I got to get it taken care of.
     Then I owe my son Italo $2000 for the Lincoln sports car that he owned, got wrecked, fixed and wanted to sell. I had to buy it because he was proud of the work he'd done in getting it all fixed. Still, there is a $2 grand note that needs to be paid.
     Then there is about $10,000 worth of work that needs to be done here at the house: New front fence, 200' long; new roof, new living room flooring; $1,000 to get my little green truck with 300,000 miles to pass inspection and give me another 5 years, and a host of small stuff that everybody who owns a home has to take care of routinely.
     So while I'm very glad that I might be out from under the mortgage--which has been getting a $600 additional monthly payment for a few years, which is why I'll be finished in 13 years and not 30--I will still need $18,000 to clear all debt, then another $10,000 to fix the house/grounds.  
     So I need to come up with about $30 grand.
     Guess I better start working harder/faster.
     That's all. Wasn't so bad, was it? Just listening to a dreamer...
Thanks,
Peter G

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

That Time of Year in Texas

Well, it's that time of year in Texas. We've had probably 20 days of rain in the last 25 days, making lawn mowing impossible but keeping the grasses--which will be brown in August after no rain in 50 days--growing wildly. We've had so much water the septic tank flood plain won't hardly accept any more, meaning we're running all water out of the house via hoses except the toilet, just to keep it at a functioning level. And it's also that time of year when every goddamned sip of coffee finds a new bug in my mouth. I just pulled out the cutest little thing--about 1/4 inch long, narrow. It wasn't in there when I poured the coffee two minutes ago, so it must have made its way in unnoticed while I put my sneakers on. But then there are moths, the crazy long-legged mosquitos that don't harm anyone so I don't kill them, lady bugs, small bees, fruit flies. Heck, have a glass of wine and you have enough fruit flies in it in two minutes to do a high school science fair experiment.
    Funny: I don't remember this in New York, and I don't remember anything this thick in Peru or even India.
    Just Texas. This time of year when the windows are open and the rain pours down.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

July 2 Amazon Trip Coming Up Soon

Good morning, everybody. Just a reminder that I've got a few slots still open for my July 2-July11 Amazon Jungle Jaunt. Real jungle, dirt under your fingernails, lots of good medicine, including ayahuasca, Sapo, nu-nu and probably some local magic mushrooms--all offered at the right time, of course, and under the right guidance. And you don't have to take any of them. The trip is still a blast because we go night canoeing, swamp walking, high jungle medicine collecting, ride on fantastic riverboats overnight on the Amazon, collect wild foods, swim in a lake that's home to several families of pink river dolphins, bathe in the glorious Aucayacu. Trip cost: $1900. Does not include your airfare to Iquitos or back home, and does not include your walking around money--for presents for your friends and families--but does include everything else. We pick you up at the airport and drop you back off when it's time to leave. It's a very cool trip and only a few slots open because I keep the trips small at a maximum of 12 guests. To join, just send me an email at peterg9 at yahoo.com Do not forget that 9 at the end of the peterg, okay?
It's gonna be good.
Thanks for listening,
Peter G

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Column for Skunk I'm Working On

So this is raw and needs to be reworked, but I am pissed at the Texas State Legislature. So that's what column #86 for Skunk Magazine, the only mag that ever gave me a column, is going to start with. Here's what I'm thinking...

DRUG WAR FOLLIE #86

Rights? You ain’t got no stinking rights! Just ask Texas or the Feds: if they get away with what they’re trying, it’s gonna be more of a freaking mess than it already is.


Ah, Texas! You’re dry, mostly flat, largely desert, regularly attacked by monster hurricanes and gigantic, killing tornadoes, and you’re run by a handful of good old boy families that keep most of the money to themselves and then make most of the laws the rest of us live with. And the U.S. Congress isn’t much better, though it represents a considerably more beautiful land mass.
   Why mention Texas in a column? Because if you don’t live here you cannot imagine what the politicians propose. They want to make it illegal to video police officers beating or killing people. They are trying to revive a bill that would force women to look at pictures of their fetuses prior to abortions, forbid women to have abortions after 20 weeks, even if the woman’s life is in danger. Hell, a few of the pukes tried to pass a bill that would force a mother to carry a fetus to term even if it was declared dead. You see why I’m pissed off? I don’t have to love the democrats to hate the extreme republicans. And down here in Texas we have what’s called home rule. That means that any city or municipality with a population over 5,000 can make rules they like. It mostly applies to traffic speeds, whether or not you can have an old mobile home on your property, what local sales taxes will be. That sort of thing. Not always nice, but pretty regular stuff. But they’re on the brink of making a state law—which always supersedes local law—that cities and municipalities cannot make rules regarding gas drilling--a bane down here in natural-gas-rich Texas--that are considered unreasonable. What that means is that if a town votes to not allow gas wells within 1,000 feet of homes, hospitals or schools, and the state says 300 feet is reasonable, the local law will be abrogated. Towns that have banned hydraulic fracking of gas wells have already been put on notice that those bans are unreasonable. They want the gas, they’ll get it and the hell with what the local city wants. This is the same group that criminalizes truancy for kids as young as 12, and is demanding federal monies for schools with the right to use the money as they see fit rather than having it earmarked for schools. This is the same group that insists that Creationism be taught as history alongside—and as equally possible—as evolution, that the world is 6,000 years old, that Jesus rode dinosaurs, and that religion belongs in public schools.  The same group that listens to TransCanada say that the Keystone Pipeline will produce about 46 permanent jobs and then claims it will produce 250,000 jobs. This is the same group that is insisting that Jade Helm 15 is not a military exercise but a military operation that will imprison or kill several million Texans this summer.  Oh, and two bills that will kill anti-LGBT-discrimination laws are making their way through the Texas legislature as well. Ain’t these legislators special? As in ‘specially fucked humans’ of course.
     I’m a balancer. I’m here to balance the insane rhetoric of this group of politicians who know nothing with some sense and sensibility. But I am way fucking outnumbered here in Texas.
    And the Feds ain’t much better. A caucus of the U.S. House of Representatives just voted to make it a law that doctors who perform abortions should be arrested and face five years in jail, despite abortions being legal.

    Wake up and smell the shit, everybody. You’re probably facing similar repressive nonsense in Canada from people who call themselves Conservatives and who claim to want less government involvement in their lives. They are all lying through their teeth. I’m upset and I hope you motherfuckers know it. We need to say that roses are roses and shit is shit. And yes, you can video those cops who kill unarmed people who are already in cuffs.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

A little earthquake at my house

So it was about 6 PM. I'd just come home from a meeting at the Fort Worth Weekly, shopped for dinner—double cut pork chops I'm gonna stuff with fresh veggies and fresh mozzarella and top with a nice au jus, then served with a good salad—and sat down at my desk to see what was what with the afternoon email. Suddenly the whole house shifted, like a wave went under it, pushing me first left, then right. I thought maybe one of the big dogs had jumped into the house through the front window behind me. No. So I called out to my daughter, Madeleina--who was sitting in the huge living room, a converted garage that has a cement flooring under the needs-to-be-replaced carpeting--"Honey? Did you feel anything?"
"Dad! What the freak was that? Everything shook. I thought the roof was gonna fall in!"
"That was an earthquake, darling."
"That was so cool!"
And it was. So long as the next one isn't stronger. And that was the first one we've had in the 13 years we've lived here in Joshua.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Single person, feeding themselves, little money

So someone I know is in dire straights. They want to know what to do for food as a single person with little money. Here's my initial response:
      Roasting a whole chicken costs about $5. That's four huge portions. Good basmati rice, about $6 for a five pound bag--enough to feed 40 people. So roast a whole chicken, cook rice, about 17th of the bag. Both will last for several days in the fridge. Mangos are going for $.50 each right now, so you can add a mango a day for half-a-buck. Lettuce, good romaine, is going for $1 a head and a head will last 3-4 days. Broccoli is about $1.60 a head and that will last 5 days for a single person. So for $8.50 you've got a main meal for 4-5 days. Add a quart of oil for a month, which comes to $.65 per week. Add salt and pepper: $.10 a week. Breakfast: Three eggs with toast: Eggs, free range, are $3.00 a dozen or less. Bread by the loaf, good quality, is $3. a loaf. Both of those are good for several days. Add organic yogurt, 6 ounces for lunch, at $4 a quart, and you're up to about $10 for four-five days. Large naval oranges are currently $.50 each. Add one. That's breakfast, lunch, dinner. Meat, eggs, fruit, veggies, yoghurt, salad. Dressing might bring you up to $10.50 for four days, or $75 a month. I can give you recipes that will make all of that fantastic, give you variation with beans and veggies and so forth. Money left over for inexpensive ice cream and a few apples a couple of times a week and you still come in at less than $20 a week. Substitute lentils for meat and wow! You're on your way.