Saturday, August 27, 2016

Just come in from lawn mowing

So I've just come in from lawn mowing. I'm drenched. Took a shower this morning, worked, got ready for a ceremony tomorrow--a friend coming over for San Pedro--visited with a friend who came by, went to one of Alexa's 3 soccer games today--she's fast but hesitant; if Italo got six hours with her she'd be great--and then had some wine and went to mow the lawn directly behind the house.
   Now I'm not having fun mowing the lawn this week. I mowed when I returned from Peru in late July; but then Chepa and me and Chepa's babies Sierra and Alexa went to Mexico to get our teeth done (http://www.fwweekly.com/2016/08/24/best-root-to-mexico/) and that became, somehow, a cover story, and then it rained for nine days, and so I had a couple of weeks of no lawn mowing while the grass kept growing.
   So the last few days I've attacked it. I first attacked a back portion, about 60 feet by 90 feet which abuts two small bridges over the "sometimes" creek and involves mowing around a large tree that lightning just knocked over and lots of poison ivy. I dont' think I'm allergic to it but it still is a pain.
   Then three days ago I attacked the beautiful large front lawn: 160 feet by 40 feet with end tables of 20 by 30 and 50 by 50. By the time I got done with that--I'm using a push mower with front wheels that turn on their own--I was pooped.
   Then two days ago I attacked the very front lawn, not large, maybe  50 by 50 with a 12 by 30 side bit and everything was looking good.
   Today I hit the lawn behind the house. That's 80 by 40. It's only 3,200 square feet but since that's where the gray water from our kitchen sink and laundry go, it grows fast. I mean that sucker, on the half I did today, probably averaged 15 inches high, which is way too high for a push mower. And after the nine days of rain, even though we've had sun the last couple/few days, was freaking wet. So I attacked it and stepped into two fire ant colonies I didn't see. I've got about 500 bites on my ankles, calves and thighs. I've poured Gorman's Jungle Juice After Sting all over them, so the pain is subsiding a great deal, but I didn't have my magic juice while working so just dealt with it. Man, those little bums can lay a sting on you. And now I've got to rake the part I mowed because there's clumps of cut grass everywhere that will burn the grass' roots if they're not taken up.
  So I'm taking this minute to tell you that. I'm soaked in sweat, I'm nearly eaten alive, but I beat the worst of it. HA! Ain't life grand? You don't need to look far to find a cause. Cause there's always something to do right near where you are.


Friday, August 26, 2016

Oy, vey! If I wasn't already near death, I'd be having a heart attack!

So a great friend paid me some funds he'd borrowed. Man, it was great to have them. Thanks. And then either the same day he said he was paying me back or maybe the next day, my house air conditioning unit went out. Now I'm from New York and never had AC in my life. But we always had plenty of fans. And we never had Texas' summer heat where it routinely hits 105 and often feels hotter than that. So to have the AC go out here, well, it makes it hard to get a good night's sleep, hard to focus on my work, hard to keep smiling.
    But I got this extra money, right? And how much could repairing a 3 1/2 ton AC unit be?
    Even better, I had a 10-year parts warranty on the thing and it's only seven years since I bought it. Hooray!
    Except that the guy changing the thing out said that when a compressor goes bad, the gas in it goes bad as well, so I need new freon, about 8 1/2 pounds of it at the good price of $62.50 a pound.
   And the labor is not included.
   Price tag: $1100 and change.
   Damnit.
   If I wasn't already almost dead I'd be having a heart attack!
   I'm not really near dead. I'm actually doing well. My lawn looks great. Went to Mexico with Chepa and her girls, Sierra and Alexa and got dental work done last week. Madeleina passed her driving test and now has a license--if only I can get the new (old) 2003 Ford Mustang I got for her registered. Seems previous owner can't find the title. Don't worry, there are bonded titles and I'm working on one, which will allow me to circumvent not having a title.
   And I got the funds, which was great.
  It's just that $1100 AC fix that irks me. Although I must say, it was nice of the Universe to keep the thing running until the check was in the mail. That is a good thing, eh?
   So I guess that makes everything okay.
   Hope you all are having wonderful days too, only without the repairs needeed!!!!!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Gonna rail about something here

Okay, so I'm back from Peru, back from 3 days in Mexico to get dental work done for me, Chepa, Sierra and Alexa--good work, inexpensive, fast, with lots of good food and a couple of beers tossed in as a bonus in Nuevo Progresso--back from north Texas where Madeleina and I had to go to do some interviews and get some photos for an upcoming cover story. I'm back and I'm exhausted.
   So today there's a new report that just came out in the September issue of the Obstetrics and Gynecology that shows that pregnancy related deaths in Texas have doubled since 2011, the same year that Texas cut 66 percent of its budget for family planning funds, which resulted in 82 family planning centers, including a lot of Planned Parenthood centers, to shut down.
   Did you get that? The pro-life crowd tried to eliminate abortion centers and the collateral damage was that women had available pregnancy services dramatically cut, causing deaths to mothers during both pregnancy and childbirth to shoot up more than 50 percent. And it shot up the first year those cuts were made, from 72 deaths during pregnancy and childbirth in 2010 to 148 in 2012, the year the cuts were felt.
   The pro-life crowd? The same crowd that crowed loud and long about Obamacare Death Panels--which only existed when insurance companies were allowed to cut people off from care prior to Obamacare--screamed long and loud about needing to help poor women bring their fetuses to term by cutting the funding for pregnancy care, which has killed a lot of them.
   Good job if what you really meant was "we hate poor people and people of color and we want to see them die."
   I could go on, but I'd probably have a heart attack.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A little something about illegal workers

I just read something about illegals that made my blood boil. It was in the comment section of the Miami-Herald and the writer was disparaging illegal workers. His comment was basically that illegal workers pay sales tax and that was it. I don't generally comment on the Miami-Herald site but had to. The fellow obviously has no idea of how illegal laborers work here in the US.
Typically, an illegal worker gets hold of a quality copy of a real social security card, and with that can build the rest of his/her paperwork: Driver's license, bank cards, and so forth. But that person will then pay federal, state, and local taxes; they'll also pay into social security and medicare. But they will not be able to get a refund from the feds or state or utilize social security or medicare because the initial social security card is not their own. So the illegal workers are pouring billions and billions into federal, state, local taxes, social security and medicare and not getting anything in return for that. It's just gone. On top of that they pay gasoline taxes like we all do whenever we buy gas for our cars, they pay sales taxes, car registration and inspection fees and so forth. Oh, and they buy houses and cars and televisions and all the stuff the rest of us buy, keeping the economy going.
Additionally, a huge percentage of the illegal worker population take jobs that nobody else will do: roofing, road construction (not the cushy supervisor jobs, the ones working with the hot tar during Texas summers), motel and hotel cleaning, gardening, fruit and vegetable picking, chicken and fish farm work. Pretty tough and wretched jobs. So they're really a vital cog in how we live.
Why do they take the awful jobs and risk deportation and jail? For some it's because they imagine that their children will fare better for their hard work in a land with more opportunity than much of Mexico and Central America. For others it's a way to earn US dollars to send back home so that their families can start a business there. For still others it's a way to escape the violence of the drug wars raging in much of Mexico and Central America (which you already know are US-fueled because we love our drugs here).
In my book the illegal workers are to be celebrated not denigrated.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Oy Vey! Gone again!

Oy vey, I'm gone again! Off to Peru, but this time with a twist: I've got a June trip and a July trip, neither full, unfortunately, but instead of staying down there between trips, I'm gonna sneak home for a couple of weeks. Why? A few reasons: First, my Madeleina goes back to college in early August and if I don't come back till the end of the second trip I'll hardly have any time with her. Then there is the matter of my legs: Since I tend to have severe apnea down there, I generally sleep sitting up in a chair, leaning my head on my arms on my desk. I love sleeping that way but if I do it for days--or weeks--my legs blow up enormously from basic force of gravity. And when they blow up the skin cracks, leaving me open to infection. And since I don't want any more leg infections, coming home and sleeping while laying down is a good option to beat that. I'm also gonna buy a couple of extra pillows so that I'll have a better chance at sleeping while semi-laying down than no chance at all. Pretty boring stuff. Sorry. When it's time to go my life is just a bunch of details.
    On the other hand, I'm gonna make these two trips fantastic things for the guests. I think my team is geared up and ready; I've sent lots of stuff up the river to camp already and I am stoked. Leave DFW tonight at 10:20 PM, arrive in Lima at 5:40 AM, then hit Iquitos tomorrow morning by about 10:45 AM. My room at the oldest hotel in Iquitos--no running water, unfortunately--is ready, my stuff is packed and just waiting for a last going-over before I seal it all up. If I have time I'll mow some lawn this afternoon to burn off nervous energy.
   But just to leave you with something, here's my newest column of Drug War Follies for Skunk Magazine. It's my 94th column for them, which is cool. I hope they keep me on till I hit 100, and then keep me on after that just for fun. Here it is. Have a great couple of weeks. I'll write from Iquitos if I can get my Ipad back from Chepa...

DRUG WAR FOLLIES

On any given day, reading the headlines is enough to make you question the humanity of humanity

By Peter Gorman


Today started out like most days: The cats started scratching at the couch I sleep on at about 5:30 AM to let me know I damned well ought to quit sleeping and get them fed. I ignored them as long as possible; when I finally got up I put them outside without food—nobody gets fed before I have coffee—and made myself some coffee. While it was brewing I brushed my teeth, took a shower and put on clean clothes.
     I said a big HELLO to the universe, thanked the powers that be that I didn’t die or kill anyone in my sleep, then sat down to my computer. I checked my email accounts—nothing too dramatic—checked to see if I’d sold a few books during the night—I love finding out I’ve sold several of my Ayahuasca or Sapo books while I slept—and then I opened the New York Daily News, the paper I used to read regularly for most of the 50 or so years I lived in New York city. It’s a working class paper, a blue collar paper that’s long on sports and local news, short on the heavier New York Times’ stories that I have never been able to dive into before a couple of cups of Joe.
    And you know, like a lot of other days, the headlines screamed wretched stuff from both New York and the Southwest: I guess their computer can read that my computer is now just south of Fort Worth, in Texas, so it includes a few stories from around here in tailoring the page to my locale. Anyway, these were in the headlines: Police looking for a guy who shot and killed another guy in the Bronx; a Mexican soccer star, Alan Pulido, was kidnapped in Tamaulipas, Mexico; a Georgia sheriff’s deputy was shot in the face while making a routine traffic stop; a biker got pissed off in a Queens, New York road-rage incident and shot the driver of a car through his window three times (driver stable, biker on the loose); vandals defaced military memorials in both California and Virginia; two men killed after being hit by trains in New York in separate incidents; three people shot at a fraternity barbeque in the Bronx; two dogs tied up and burned to death in Pennsylvania; a woman went crazy and stabbed another woman 48 times—killing her really, really dead—at a YWCA in Brooklyn, New York; ISIS and Syrian opposition fighters clashed in Northern Syria; 30 men in Brazil being sought for the gang rape of a 15-year-old. Oh, and a council in Pakistan clarified that men are perfectly allowed to beat their wives “lightly” if they didn’t do as they were told.
    Okay, there were a couple of stories about rescued puppies; a fireman who just got ordained as a priest; a good story about a couple of teachers really reaching out to tough-luck kids and having an impact on their lives. And there was sports, of course, and some opinion pieces about the upcoming U.S. presidential election and so forth.
    But most of the headlines were about how badly people treat each other and I’m probably starting to sound like a harpy on the issue, but what the fuck is wrong with people? Someone cuts you off in traffic you have to try to kill them? Have an argument over music and you have to stab somebody 48 times? 30 freaking grown men rape a 15 year old girl? WTF is going on in this world? And these stories are just the tip of the iceberg: What’s going on in Los Angeles? What horrible things happened in Toronto or Vancouver or Miami? How many people felt the urge yesterday, to hurt or kill other people or to kill themselves by stepping in front of trains? How many freaking refugees drowned trying to make it across the Mediterranean yesterday trying to get away from a war they want no part of?
   Were we always like this? I don’t think so. Maybe we were but without the internet we didn’t immediately access dozens of news stories from around the country and around the world. But it sure feels like I got to ask the question: Is there any humanity left in humanity?
    Couldn’t we all just smoke a nice organic outdoor bud—Cali Orange if you’re rolling for me, please—and talk our problems out? I know that sounds silly, but almost nobody goes ape-shit after they take a couple of tokes. It’s just the nature of the plant. It’s why the freaking beautiful cannabis plant was put here by the aliens to begin with! They knew we were crazy and wanted to give us something that would grow all over the world that would chill us out.
    The great folk musician and writer Tom Paxton wrote Talking Vietnam Potluck Blues in 1971. In it he talks about being a soldier in Vietnam. I don’t know if Paxton was ever actually in Vietnam but he was in the military at the right (wrong) time for it. Anyway, in it, the soldier is on a long patrol with several other soldiers and as they bed down for the night he smells pot.
    “I might be crazy but I think not.
    I’d swear to God that I smell pot.
    But who’d have pot in Vietnam?
    [The captain] said ‘What do you think you’re sitting on?’
    These funny little plants, thousands of them.
    Good God Almighty…Pastures of Plenty.”
So the patrol lights up, the captain gets a smile on his face and begins cleaning his rifle while chanting Hare Krishna. Well, our hero finally has to go pee and when he moseys off from the makeshift camp he runs into a Viet Cong soldier dressed in black. The soldier tells our hero that the Cong smelled the dope and thought it was trash, so he brought the Americans some top-flight Hanoi Gold.
   The two squads then get together and smoke, get high, and do not kill each other. And the captain finally gets on the radio and calls in to headquarters with this message: “Hello, headquarters. We have met the enemy and they have been smashed!”
   It was a beautiful little song—go look it up and give it a listen—that was just made up, but the message rings true. If you smoke with your enemy, you won’t be enemies. If you smoke alone, you won’t want to see others as enemies. If you just freaking take a couple of tokes you might even wind up loving your neighbor’s music, rather than having to stab her 48 times because you hate it so much.
   Silly, right? But right on: This plant can save the world if only we’d let it.
It would all be funny if people weren’t dying and the prisons weren’t full.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Chicken Catastrophe

Well, that chicken cacciatore I was making turned into a chicken catastrophe. I just didn't pay enough attention, had too much liquid in there and by the time it cooked down enough to be a sort of soupy-sauce the chicken had fallen off the bones and so every bite had little bones  you had to watch out for, and the chicken itself had lost it's juiciness and flavor. Have not blown a meal like that in ages, but I did last night. Oy, vey! Pay more attention, Gorman!!!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

What are we eating around here? Great food, of course!

Well, just because I have not been writing does not mean I have not been eating. I have already admitted to being in a funk. Medical testing and anticipation of bad shit can do that. But since everything seems okay, that means the problem is me. That means fat and smoking. The fat is brought on by drinking wine (I stopped hard liquor, my 3 minis of bourbon a day back in early Feb). My cigarettes I've cut from 3 packs to under 1 1/2 packs. Still too much, but better, way better, than it was. A friend was over recently and when I didn't smoke for a while i said that except for a couple of hours a day I was keeping it to one cigarette per hour. He laughed and said he'd seen me smoke a pack in an hour on many occasions. He was right. So that's out.
   And except for the occasional hot sandwich on fresh sesame seed French bread--with the insides of the bread pulled and tossed--neither Madeleina nor I have had pasta, bread, or rice more than once a week since February and not more than twice a week since last October or so. We just quit it and put a salad and/or extra veggie in its place.
   Which doesn't mean we're not eating well: This week we had shrimp and a small piece of salmon on a bed of spinach--sauce made of garlic, a bit of sesame oil, diced tomatoes, onions, daikon radish, and scallions.
   Another night we had lime chicken: Chicken lightly breaded (oops!) in a mix of bread and parmesan, sauteed till golden, then doused with fresh lime juice and baked till done. Had that with steamed broccoli and cauliflower.
    Another night we split a prime rib seared in garlic and a bit of olive oil and served with a melange of steamed zucchini, yellow squash, onion, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower.
    Last night it was hot sausage (10 ounces for 3 people) boiled (with holes in it to eliminate most fat) then sauteed with onion, sliced red and green peppers, and tomatoes, served on--you guessed it--a bed of sauteed spinach with garlic.
    The peppers got to me, so tonight, a cool, damp, day here in bucolic Joshua, Texas, I'm making Chicken Cacciatore. It's an old Italian favorite that my Irish father Tom used to love making. I'll cut a whole chicken in pieces, with bone, then saute the pieces in good olive oil. I'll set them aside and in the left over olive oil I'll saute lots of fresh garlic, two onions, scallions,  three red and green peppers--rough cut, large pieces--and 12 Roma tomatoes. To that I'll add fresh rosemary (thanks to my friend Mike, who brought it yesterday), fresh basil I just bought, Peruvian oregano, and a bit of thyme. When those are all going good I'll add the left-over of yesterday's wine--about a cup. When it's all working I'll put the chicken pieces back in the deep roasting pan, add two cups of low sodium organic chicken broth and cook for an hour or so, until the tomatoes have made a sauce of themselves.
    That should normally be served over pasta or boiled potatoes (my father's Irish prefence). I'm not sure what I'll serve it on. I do have half-a-head of cauliflower that I could put in the oven for 45 minutes to bake and then cut it into pieces and serve the cacciatore over that. We'll see.
    Just letting you know that though I've been in a funk, we ain't dead yet.
    And yes, I've been kicking ass with the lawn. I figure I'm using the electric push mower to cut about 6,000 square feet a day. Maybe a little more. Every day except if it's raining. And then I'm walking a lot daily too, and eliminating weeds from all over this yard. So yeah, I think I'm losing a few pounds. Still fat, but not bordering on freaking obese! Ye gods! How did that happen???????
     And I hope that all of you are eating something fantastic today as well. Cooking is a great meditation on being part of the whole shebang--don't mean to sound new-agey here, but I really do think it's an important part of my day, the time when I consider each veggie, each condiment, each meat or fish or bean or eggs. And when I do that, I forget me, and that's good meditation.