Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Dinner for One, Please

So my beautiful Madeleina went off to college on the 12th of August, or the 13th. She didn't go far, just too far to commute at about 60 miles. So I was going to be alone. But my friend Hector came into town and stayed till Monday afternoon, maybe 17 days. During that time he completely redid my web page/pages. So it's all good. And while he was here, some other people came as well, so I was never alone at dinner and actually had to make good meals daily, plus a few breakfasts. And when Madeleina came home for a night or two on the weekend, well, I cooked normally, which means I cooked for maybe 6-8 people a night, knowing that Chepa and the babies might show up, or Italo and Sarah and Taylor Rain, or friends or whatnot. And if nobody ate the food, they might stop by the next day and have some for lunch. Last resort? It went into the dogs' bowls.
     But Hector left Monday, and so I've had three nights of being alone. The first night I cheated: I bought some sushi--just a couple of rolls--and a great seaweed salad and that was dinner. Last night I treated myself to a ribeye, sauteed screaming hot so that it would be a sort of black and red, topped with a bit of good quality crumbled bleu cheese and served with a nice romaine salad--with organic cherub tomatoes and a good balsamic vinagrette (thank you again, Christie E), and spinach with garlic. No need for starch with all that meat.
    Today I wasn't sure, but finally settled on the hidden guinea--New York Italian, all respect--part of me, even though I'm Irish. I bought 12 ounces of the hottest sausages I could find. They're in a pot of water now, stabbed with a sharp knive several times to allow the excess fat to be eliminated. Then I got one large organic red bell pepper and two organic greens. They are cleaned and cut lengthwise. I have a beautiful sweet purple onion, chopped garlic in olive oil and three nice Roma tomatoes.
    When the fat is rendered from the sausage, I'll drain them, then cut them into circles, put them in a very hot saute pan with olive oil and garlic and brown them. Then I'll add the onions, peppers, and finally the tomatoes, cut into thin wedges, lengthwise. Stir, add some pepper, and voila: You got Mike the Hat's recipe for Sausage and Peppers. Now Mike would have put all that on Italian bread, but considering I'm feeling fat, I'll put mine on a bed of sauteed spinach and eat it with a nice salad. I'll have a glas of wine: I'm drinking a Cabernet blend called Rare Red Grape 4 Blend, from California which is out of this world for $8 bucks.
   Then I'll turn on a movie. One I like because no one is arguing with me or having better suggestions. Last night I watched Fletch, with Chevy Chase as the off-beat detective Fletcher. Tonight? Who knows. Maybe an Ingmar Bergman.
   But that's living alone: You have to decide on your food, make your food, serve yourself, clean up and nobody says thanks. I mean, I say thanks to the universe that I can afford to eat. Thanks that I have choices and breath and a few teeth to chew with, but nobody is saying "Gorman, this was freaking incredible" unless me looking into a mirror counts.
   I hope you all eat well tonight. Prepare your food with focus, cook it well, enjoy it, let it make you strong.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Christians and that Damned Non-Christian Old Testament

Okay, so I'm not gonna go completely nuts here, but on Facebook the other day, some blooming nut was talking about homosexuality and claiming that "the Lord" whom he followed as a Christian, had spoken about it, condemning it. Backing up his argument he quoted from Leviticus in the Old Testament. Sort of sent the hair on the back of my head curling and I had to respond. This was my very simple point:
I'm always surprised when people who call themselves Christians drag out the Old Testament, which is not in any way Christian. It ends when Christ was born--assuming that happened and so forth. And Christ, as we are told through the various gospels--stories--written about him over the years, never said anything about homosexuality. He did discuss and condemn greed and hatred, among other things, preached forgiveness, acceptance, and love, among other things, but never discussed homosexuality or said anything about abortion or prostitution or any of the other things that so many people who call themselves Christians appear to condemn. For those perspectives they have to cherry-pick that old testament, which, again, has nothing to do with Christianity or Christ. Just pointing out the obvious, I know.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Ceiling down!!!

So I went out for a little while today and when I returned, Madeleina met me at the door and said: "Dad, don't freak out, but something bad happened while you were gone..."
    "You okay?" I asked.
    "Yes, dad. It's nothing like that...."
    "Then what is it?"
    "I think you better come see for yourself. But don't flip out, okay? It's bad but not the end of the world."
     With that I knew it was the end of something and decided to have a glass of wine before I went to see whatever it was.
     What it was was this: A huge chunk of the ceiling in the hallway that connects the kitchen to the three bedrooms and the bathroom had fallen. Just got waterlogged from condensation on the pipes connected to the air conditioner. It's happened before at the end of the summer, but never like this. This was hundreds of pounds of waterlogged dry wall that had become soaked wall.
    What could I do? I started singing, "This house is falling apart..." ("Anna Sun" by Walk the Moon), "This house is falling apart, we got no money but we got got heart. We're gonna rattle this ghost town, we rattle this scene, oh Anna Sun..." And then I pulled out some garbage bags, filled 'em, had Madeleina take them to the truck where they'll sit till I go to the dump, and in half an hour it was clean. And if you don't look up, ever, you won't even see that there's a huge chunk of empty where there ought to be a ceiling.
    See how easy it is if you accept things like that as regular occurrances? No need to go nuts. Just clean it up. Oh, and then call your son, Italo, and tell him he ought to come over and fix it.....

Thursday, August 27, 2015

What's cooking?

Well, there seem to be lots of plans afoot. Most of them I cannot talk about. In fact I've had to sign a slew of "non-disclosure agreements" lately related to television shows, restaurant ideas, medicines and other stuff. For a minute it feels like you're (I'm) important, but then I know as well as all of you, that it's only very infrequently that someone else's ideas come to fruition. Or my own ideas. But at least I have some control over my own ideas. I fail sometimes for lack of funds, but generally knew that was going to happen going in, so I don't consider it a failure, just a lack of knowhow in terms of materializing the funds necessary to turn my pie-in-the-sky ideas into reality.
    I'll tell you one idea of mine that should have been jumped on years ago: When you were a little kid, and perhaps even today, we had camping cups. Camping cups were aluminum cups that were built by having several 3/4 inch pieces of aluminum on top of each other. Each was a bit bigger than the one below, and a bit smaller than the one above. So they crushed down on each other. The cup, when crushed, was just 3/4 of an inch tall. Snap it open and it was a full eight-ounce cup.
   My idea was to have a similar but much larger cup that you could use as the base for a hot air balloon. Something that folded up small enough to carry in a back pack, very light weight. But when opened up would be the right size for a single person to ascend heights via hot air. Now if that came with a small gas balloon made of super strong, super lightweight mylar, and if that balloon could be filled with a gas that could be held in a 10-15 pound tank: the balloon could be filled, then emptied back into the tank, allowing the tank and balloon to be used multiple times on a single trip, well, with something like that I could soar to several thousand feet and investigate some buttes and mountain tops in the Andes Mountains that are otherwise inaccessible and have never been photographed because of 24/7 cloud cover. The Matses, for instance, claim they came from a butte that is known to be about 40 miles long, 20 miles wide and never been photographed. They claim their fathers left it because there were monsters there that attacked them. Is that true? I have no idea. But I've been hoping to investigate the story for 20 years. And I can't until some damned machinest out there makes me my single person, lightweight, aluminum-cup/mylar gas balloon.
    Okay, so that's one of my ideas that hasn't panned out yet. But when other people have ideas and have me get all hyped up about them, have me invest time and energy in them...well, I'm old enough to know that most of them won't pan out for one reason or another. Might be lack of funds. Might be lack of enthusiasm, or waning enthusiasm. Might be someone in their family negates the idea. Might be a million things.
   So while I'd love to tell you all what's been swirling about, thinks I'm supposed to be included in, well, I can't. I signed those agreements. And once in a while someone's dream does come true. And when that happens, well, it's the most fantastical thing. So I'm rooting for them all, but still getting my stories in on time to make sure I've got a paycheck coming my way.

Project Done

Well, I got back and then didn't stay in touch. Why? Because I've had a guest here for two weeks. Hector, whom I know from Peru but who has also previously visited my home here in Texas, has been redoing my website/websites into one gigantic bundle of magic. He's decided to push my profile a little, using the covers of some magazines I've been printed in, lots of art, a couple of new sections and so forth. I'm a little nervous because it seems a bit grandiose for me, but then those who have seen it are impressed. He's actually done a great job. And there is more to come. But I think most of you will be able to see it at seems to be up over most of the known world already, though not here in Joshua, Texas. I've gotten notes from Bali, from several countries in Europe and so forth. So that's what I've been doing. Providing new material, hunting down old magazine covers, writing new text in several places. And there is even an "influences" section at the bottom of the Biography page. That was a great idea of his: I got to salute a lot of the things that occurred at just the right time in my life to have a huge impact on me. And some of them will no doubt resonate with most of you.
    Okay, now I'm behind on a couple of stories for work. I think I can catch up by the end of the weekend. And then I'll be in a position to tell you all a few new and good stories. Thanks for your patience.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Back in Texas, Everything is Upside Down

Well, I'm back again. And boy, what a mess things are. My boys forgot to cut the lawn for six weeks, forgot to train the baby cats not to poop in the living room, and Madeleina went off to college just three days after I returned. That's the big one. She's not far away, but because of band and required courses and the requirement to take a dorm room, it's doubtful she'll be home one day a week for the first semester. Which is probably great for her but stinks for me because I miss her already and it's only been 5 days!!!!
    Enough of complaints. The trip was fantastic! The first group included old friends--four of them--and six newcomers and we all had a rollicking good time in the jungle, with the medicines, with everything. That was followed up by one of the new guests buying the rights to the after-sting medicine I make, Gorman's Jungle Juice. My huge old hotel room was turned into a factory for several days, with five of my team making 200 liters of the medicine for the fellow to bottle and distribute in the US in hopes of getting a national chain interested. As it's the freaking best after-sting medicine around--it works on mosquito and bee and hornet bites, black fly bites, chiggers, horsefly bites, and poison sumac and poison ivy among other things, and I mean it works in seconds to reduce swelling, kill bacteria, eliminate itch and redness and seal the wounds--I think he might get it done. If not, the contract calls for it reverting back to me in 24 months. And if it works, well, I'll be good too.
    And making that medicine in that bulk was a gas. We turned it into a party with lots of fruit, good things to drink and eat in the room, lots of breaks when the heat of the day began to overwhelm us (no air con in my room in Iquitos), and lots of laughs.
    And then, to top it off, a television show asked me to coordinate a trip for them and then put me on camera for hours. And paid me. I can't talk about it but as soon as they put out trailers, I'll post more. Suffice to say it was great.
    Actually, even topping that was having Chepa and Sierra and Alexa there. Chepa went off by herself or with her sisters a lot, so I had the girls nearly every day when I was in Iquitos. And I think it was a vacation they will remember for a long time.
    Okay, not a great post. But did want to let you know I'm back and missed you all as well. Thanks for being there.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Off to Peru

Off to Peru, see you in a month. Leaving four tough dogs to guard the house.
Have a great July, everybody.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy about a Change in a Texas Law

Gonna say I'm really happy this second. Immensely happy. I started writing about the truancy laws in Texas a couple of years ago. The laws allowed kids to get Class C misdemeanors which followed them their entire lives. I know, it kept my kid Marco from the armed forces when he wanted to join. But the associated fines were so high that it cost families in which brothers took care of their siblings and were 20 minutes late 10 times a semester to be forced to quit high school rather than rack up more fines ($500 a pop, plus court costs) that they would wind up serving jail time for when they couldn't pay. It was very bad and affected 100,000 kids in Texas annually.
But on Friday, Texas' Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill into law that makes truancy a civil offense from here on out. No more criminalizing kids for being late, or even cutting class. There will be civil repercussions but not criminalization. And my editor, Gayle Reaves, and I, worked hard to help get that word out and I think out work was in the mix of things that tipped the scale here in favor of the new law. Cheers to State Sen. Whitmire and his associates for having the courage to challenge the law and get it fixed. A tip of the hat to everyone--and Texas Appleseed knows how big a part they played--in getting this junk off the books. Cheers to all of us! It's nice to be on the winning side now and then!

Always happens, and always burns

Well, first off, the good news: Madeleina, my baby, is growing up. She just graduated from high school and is headed to Tarleton State University in the Fall. The bad news: She wants a car. And I just got out from under the mortgage. And she does not want the little Lincoln sportster that used to belong to Italo, even though it's a great car. Oh, boy.
    But then there is this: I leave for Peru in four days to take a group out to the deep green for a Jungle Jaunt. It's going to be great. But these things are always tight. Guests don't understand what goes into them, from taking care of emergencies for my team whether I'm in Peru or not, to repairing buildings, buying new small boats and motors so that we have what we need out there. Heck, I had to buy four new sponge mats at $80 each for this trip because a few were getting a bit ratty-looking. Then I've got to rent rooms, hire the team, rent river boat cabins, send gasoline, motor oil, drinking water and a host of other things up river. I've got to put in and pay for orders of magic mushrooms, sapo, nu-nu. I've got to pay for my own hotel room for a month in advance, buy my airline tickets, pay the bills while I'm gone. All of this, plus the money we use on the ground--for taxis, food, boat food, jungle food, staff, a couple of new pots and pans, maybe a few new hammocks to keep things fresh, shotgun shells, re-upping the med kit, just a million things go into a jungle trip. The only monies not already committed are the money I'll spend on fresh food and dry goods.
    So whatever people pay me, I'm lucky to come out of a successful trip with $2000 in my pocket for all the work to get it organized and then a month down there setting up, doing the trip, decompressing from the trip. That's what I was looking at for this trip, provided everything went as planned.
    Nonetheless, at the last second, someone almost always gets cold feet or has a legit life emergency that needs taking care of. I got that call this morning. One of the guests has an emergency. I hope she was lying because I don't wish an emergency on her. But I have to take her at her word.
    AND she needs the money for the trip back. I can keep the deposit plus $100 she said. She meant to be generous. I get it. But what she doesn't understand is that if she paid $1800--I already gave her $100 off the trip price--and I return all but the deposit, I will stand to make a maximum of $700 on this trip. I immediately sent her $500, but I know we're going to have an issue later. I have already spent well over $1000 of her money, and hired an extra staff member to take care of the women on the trip. That staff member has to get paid, whether I need her or not. I can't just say, "oh, I had a cancellation, I don't need you anymore." And now, of course, I have a hotel room that will be used by one when I paid for a double; a boat cabin used by one, when I paid for a double. A new roof on a hut that cost $340 (leaf roof, plus work to put it up) that I no longer need for this trip. And on and on.
     Madeleina said I should not give her anything with the trip starting in less than two weeks. But then I don't like to be hard-nosed and had already sent the woman $500, knowing Madeleina would say something like that. She's right, of course. Nobody should get anything back when it's less than 30 days from the trip starting. I just don't have it in me to be that cold.
    But damnit, I spent several phone calls talking with this woman. I ordered some special jungle medicine for her that was paid up front by me. Ah, nuts.
    I really hope she has no family emergency. But I sure feel burned.