Thursday, May 18, 2017

Madeleina learning about cars....

Madeleina learning about cars...
So my daughter Madeleina got a used Mustang last summer. She was warned it had a small oil leak. Well, the oil leak blew up the engine when the engine went dry and the "check engine" light didn't come on. So my son Italo bought a new--used--engine, then bought a new block and put the car back together, but there seems to be an unrelated problem with the transmission. Well, I paid about $2 grand for the car with everything, put near another $2 grand into the engine and block, and that about tapped me out. So Italo gave Madeleina his wife's old Neon to drive and will probably make the trade final once Madeleina's 2003 Mustang is running smoothly again.
Two weeks ago Madeleina was supposed to get a new inspection. She didn't because she was at school most days, and so got stopped three days ago for the inspection being out by two weeks. The officer was going to give her a warning on that but then noticed she wasn't wearing her glasses--it's on the license--so he gave her a ticket for that.
She came home sobbing, acting like the universe was against her. "I was going to get the inspection, dad! I didn't need a ticket to remind me!"
As for glasses, she doesn't need them. No eye doc can figure out anything wrong with her eyes, and she wore plain clear plastic glasses to pass the eye test at the driver's place after she failed without them.
So I told her to buy $10 plain glasses from a local store and leave them in the car. Then we went for the inspection. She failed because of a bald back tire. So I took her to our local tire place and asked the guy to put two good used tires on the rear. Madeleina suggested she needed brake pads as well because her brakes were squealing. So I asked him to put on brake pads.
Now the failed inspection was only $27. The two tires and brake pads were $175. The ticket turned out to be $174.50. When she passed inspection, we got an oil change for $59, with a new air filter. But in Texas you bring the notice of passing inspection to the local tax office and pay your annual registration at the same time. That was $82.25.
I think we're done. But boy, that was a quick $500+ gone in a hot flash!
On the positive: Madeleina now knows how to get an oil change, how to get an inspection, how to get tires and a whole lot of car stuff she didn't know three days ago. So there you go.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mothers' Day!

I just want to say a thank you to mother earth, my mom, my grandma's, Momma Lydia, my sisters, my sister-in-law, my nieces, my brother's daughter-in-law, the mother of my kids, your moms and grandmas and all the women who have born the children that have been the people of the earth. And I would like to add that not one of those women ever wanted her kid to grow up poor, sick, afraid, stuck in a war they didn't make, hungry, or hurt in any fashion. Not one of them. And yet, that's is what we allow, and sometimes encourage, to happen. Can we pause for a minute and fix that? Could we really give the moms of the world a great present and start treating their children the way you want your kids treated, and the way your mom wanted you treated? That would be a grand present indeed. Here's looking at you, Moms of the World!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Respect in small things

With all the problems we have in this world, from starving kids, to people stuck in wars they have nothing to do with, to loneliness, to joblessness, to physical illness and relentless pain, my issue of the moment is so trivial that it's meaningless. Still, it got my blood boiling.
I use att for phone, internet, television. Couple of months ago my bill for all three started climbing from $155 monthly until it hit $223 a couple of months ago. I called and told them I quit. They quickly made a deal: Would I be willing to pay $109 a month for everything? Yes, I would. First bill came in April and it was pro-rated and very inexpensive. Today's bill came in at $171. I called and was told that four premium channels had been added to the account. I asked by whom, and when? That info was not available. Took nearly 40 minutes to get them to take off the channels I had never ordered, which will bring my monthly bills down to the promised $109. Or should, until att decides to add something else to my bill.
I recognize that this is not very important. It is dwarfed by real problems. But if it has any importance beyond my wallet, it has to do with dignity, with not allowing people to run roughshod over me/over us. We deserve respect in all things great and small.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Hungry Tonight!


Sometimes it's so simple, but scary good. Have no idea, but after making chicken parmesan for my family last night with a good hearts of romaine salad, asparagus and a nice shallotl-balsamic vinegar dressing, tonight I was going crazy for franks and beans. But sometimes it's so good you go crazy. Fresh garlic, two heads, with two diced slices of salt pork, a diced onion, four diced plum tomatoes, a pound of sliced BallPark beef franks--if you are from New York it can be Nathans or BallPark, or Hebrew National, but everything else is fake--then two cans of good Bush's original baked beans, cracked black pepper, good sea salt, three or four ounces of a biting bar-be-que sauce, a couple of ounces of good mustard, and then, after an hour, a full portion of cilantro. If it gets tight, add vegetable stock, preferably organic, and then finish with diced sharp cheddar. Now that is franks and beans. And even people from Boston, including Agurkis, are going to agree that it smells and tastes like heaven on a fork.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017


Don't mean to get all touchy-feely, sorry-for-myself here, but I am having one of those days. I go from real highs to kind-of-lows. Last week, I knew I had six or eight people coming in for a medicine weekend and I cleaned the house wildly. I rented the rug shampooers, put clorox on the cement front porch, killed bugs, cleaned windows, toilets, floors. They came and it was fantastic. But on Sunday, the first couple left. Then on Monday two more left. Tuesday, two more, Wednesday one and Sunday past, the last. I was teaching, I was learning. I was focused. I made good food, I watched myself to be cool, I took care of people and they took care of me.
Yesterday, Madeleina and her boyfriend Adrian left. That left me alone. I cleaned and worked my ass off to get a 1500 word story ready for the Fort Worth Weekly, the fantastic alternative press here that pays my salary. I finished it this morning, getting up at 5 AM after going to bed, without dinner, at 10 PM.
My son Marco came by at 7 AM to say hello. He has been the only human contact I have had today, other than saying hello to the check-out person at HEB where I bought groceries and wine. I called my friend Larry and we spoke for a while--he's my brother so speaking with him is really easy--and then I spoke to one of my wife's new kids, Sierra, who said she thought I should be happy they were not here making a mess. I told her I would rather she and Alexa and Taylor Rain, my grandbaby, were making a mess than than I was alone with a clean house.
I've used my time well. I have several people to call on a list I made in the last few hours for another story. I made another list of things to do tomorrow. But I grew up in a house with a brother and four sisters. So I am used to having people around. And when there is sudden silence--well, in Manhattan that was okay because of the white noise on the street--here in Texas, it is really silence. So while I bought several prime rib steaks in hopes Chepa, Madeleina, Italo, Sarah, Taylor Rain, Sierra, and Alexa were coming over, the prospect of cooking one or one half of one for me, with garlic, onions and mushrooms, with sides of spinach, cucumber with lime and sliced tomatoes cooked in steak grease with parmesan just does not sound as good when I am alone as it did when I imagined all, or some, coming over.
So I don't mean to be maudlin, but I hate this. I will probably go to sleep in an hour, without food for the 4th time this week. Darnit!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Guests came in, this is what I served them

So, let's see: I had eight people come in last weekend for a weekend of medicine. All of them have been on trips to the Amazon with me. One came in Thurs., most came Friday, one or two showed up Sat. That's a lot of cooking. So I made couscous with lamb tajine on Thursday night, because I knew it would hold. On Friday, with the full crew, I had good hummus with white and blue corn chips, three or four cheeses, homemade guacamole, and then I made chicken parmesan with thin spaghetti. Fruit for dessert, though someone brought in ice cream, so that got eaten as well. My friends are slightly piggish, of course, so they ate copius amounts of magic shrooms that appeared out of who knows where, as well as a good spoonful of blue honey that materialized (honey infused with magic shrooms). Heck of a night.
On Sat, first Medicine day, I served sapo and nu-nu, then sent them out for breakfast, then had them clean the huge--26' by 38' garage--then served them lime tea, then aya. After medicine there was fresh, cold papaya and watermelon, apples, oranges, lime water and little else.
Sunday morning, I made scrambled eggs with garlic, onion, diced tomatoes and good cheese, and served that with bacon (a once a year experience around here) and cheese bread and fruit, if I remember rightly.
Sunday evening we did a bar-be-que: Marinated chicken thighs, shrimp on sticks, brats in beer, and marinated and barbequed broccoli, cauliflower, onions, and asparagus. With BBQ fresh corn, of course. The marinade is oil, teriyaki, white vinegar, lots of achote, garlic, onions, cracked black pepper, sea salt. Man that was good.
Monday, I think I made omelets but I forget.
Monday night was burritos: Fresh chicken thigh meat, good red beans, homemade pico de gallo, sour cream, a bit of garlic in olive oil, cheddar cheese.
Tuesday morning, one of the guests made really good oatmeal with honey, raspberries and blackberries, with a bit of organic milk.
Tuesday afternoon I made sliders: Tiny burgers topped with good cheddar, pickles, lettuce, sliced tomato, a bit of onion and mustard and ketchup. Three bites each, but worth it. Mouth watering.
Tuesday evening, with the crowd dwindling, it was lime chicken: One of my own dishes from years ago. Chicken breasts breaded in a mix of seasoned breadcrumbs and good quality parmesan cheese, sauted, then covered in fresh lime juice and baked. I think I served that with jasmine rice and spinach.
Wednesday I was down to two people. I made moussaka: I used very seasoned ground beef (with garlic, onions, parsley, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg in an organic tomato sauce) served between seasoned and browned eggplant, and thin-sliced new potatoes, covered in a good parmesan bechemel sauce. It's Greek to me, but still delish.
Thursday, I was down to one. I made seared/sliced chuck steak with onions and mushrooms and garlic, with a side of sauteed spinach in garlic and olive oil and Brussel sprouts with garlic and a little salt pork (boil first, cut in half, then saute in the olive oil, salt pork and garlic) with sea salt and cracked black pepper.
Friday, simple salmon, I think, with veggies, though I cannot for the life of me be sure.
Saturday, I made a roast chicken with hot sausages. Baked, perfect. I made rice and spinach and a really good pan gravy--no packets, just the real deal.
Tonight, I am here and my daughter and her boyfriend are coming over. Before I took the last sufferer to the airport he had watermelon, papaya, blackberries, chips, an avocado and leftover rice, chicken, gravy. In the oven now is a pork butt roast. It's been cooking for nearly 3 hours. It will be ready at nine. No sweat because Madeleina isn't here yet.
Two of those days I did not eat a single bite for 24 hours, preferring to cook and fast.
Oh, and somewhere in there, my friends were offered San Pedro, more shrooms, nice pot candies. Since I don't have any of that stuff, I just have to thank heaven it materialized.
I think it was a good weekend and a good week. At least for food and medicine.....and cleaning out that freaking garage!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

If only Trump knew anything about anything!

If only Trump knew anything about anything. In the last couple of days, Trump has decided that we do not need to get out of or renegotiate NAFTA. I never liked NAFTA, because of the jobs it took from the US, but then I never ran for president with one of my key promises being to get out of or renegotiate NAFTA. Trump did. Then he spoke with Mexico and Canada and changed his mind.
Today, furious that he cannot get his way on defunding federal grants to what he calls sanctuary cities, he is calling for the breakup of the US Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit. Two problems there. The first is that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals did not hear the case on sanctuary cities. The second is that the president has no authority to break up--whatever the heck he means by that--and US Court of Appeals.
But wait! There is more! If you order now...Trump obviously has no idea what sanctuary cities actually are. They are cities in which the local police are told not to help federal authorities with catching and detaining illegal aliens. But local police have no legal authority to do that, anywhere. That is a federal responsibility, and laying it on localities to enforce those federal laws is not even legal. So there is that.
Trump went even further to expose his complete lack of knowledge of how things work when he declared that both his Muslim travel ban (which was heard by the 9th Circuit Court) and the Sanctuary Cities funding ruling (heard by a district court in San Francisco) were opposed by judges because lawyers suing to stop his executive orders "judge shopped" [actual phrase "judge shopping"] to find judges sympathetic to their cause. This did not happen. The lawsuit against sanctuary cities' defunding was filed in San Francisco, so it was heard by the district federal court there; the 9th Circuit heard the Muslim-travel-ban case because that was initially heard in Hawaii, and automatically went to the 9th Circuit on appeal by the US Government.
Trump went even one step further than that when he declared "...Ninth Circuit, which has a terrible record of being overturned (close to 80%..." SHEER LUNACY. According to the Washington Post, while it is true that 80 percent of the 9th Circuit cases taken up by the US Supreme Court in 2015-2016 were overturned, the Supreme Court only heard one-tenth of 1 percent of their cases for 2015-2016.
There is more, but if I keep thinking about Trump and his complete lack of understanding of any and everything in the world, my head will explode.