Saturday, February 27, 2010

That's Why I Have--Had--Two, I Guess

Ah well, lazy Saturday morning. Cold but warming up here in bucolic Joshua. Little Sierra called me at 7:30 AM to ask if I could bring donuts to her house--Chepa's place--and on the way I picked up 50lb sacks of chicken and goat food.
Came back, started working on a story I've got to have finished in a couple of days. Cleaned the kitchen. Then the phone rang. It was Chepa, the wife/ex-wife.
"So how are you doing?" she asked.
"Doing okay? Feeling good?"
"Because what I'm going to tell you is going to ruin your day."
Subtlety has never been her long suit, but then I admire bluntness.
"Go ahead. What's wrong?"
"I lent your truck to our nephew, John. He was getting some furniture. And now it's stolen."
"Not the best news."
"You have insurance?"
"Nobody has theft insurance on a 12 year old truck with body damage."
"You should have insurance. Do you have the license plate number so John can call the police?"
"I'll find it."
"You shouldn't lend your truck like that. And you should get some insurance."
"I didn't. You did."
"Oh, that's right. Sorry. Now the thing is this: I need your other truck now because John still has to get the furniture. Can you bring it over soon?"
"Now you're gonna get mad at me, right?"
"Not at all. Life happens. And I would have lent you a truck if I still had two. But now that I only have one, if I lend it and something happens, I won't have any..."
"You shouldn't think like that. Be more positive."
"I am. I am positive I'm not giving you another truck to give to John so he can park it in the same place in the same neighborhood where the first one just got stolen..."
"I hate you, Gorman."
"See you for dinner, Chepa."
"Make it early. I don't want the girls to eat late. And forget about that old truck. Remember how the doors always stuck on that thing? It's like I did you a favor."
"I appreciate it. Really."

POSTSCRIPT: I hate to ruin a good story, but the truck was found. It turned out to have been towed by the police because my nephew parked it in a tow-away zone. I didn't even know there were tow-away zones on Saturday mornings.
So I've just spent the last 4 hours looking for my nephew, who paid the fines but can't get the truck back because he's not on the insurance. I finally gave up. Now I'm home. I'm having a mini Jim Beam. I'm glad the truck's not stolen. I'm sorry my nephew is sitting somewhere waiting for me while I'm not coming. Chepa, who really does think she did me a favor, has gone off with the girls to visit a girlfriend in a nearby town. She'll be back tomorrow. I'm stuck with the food I bought to feed them early. Boots, the blind wonderdog, is gonna eat real good tonight.
And I'll bet she needs a truck on Monday.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Why I Hate Eminent Domain

Dear all: I actually wrote this--so very nicely, with little attitude--for my alternative weekly's blog. But what I really want to say is fuck these people who have the power to take your land. I know I don't really own land. But in the system we live within, we made these rules. And one of them is that if you buy land, legally, and no one objects, then it is you're fucking land. But since we've moved to Texas and discovered that our land is in the way of a new road people want to build--and don't want to build around us--that's just a fairy tale. The reality is that eminent domain means that anyone who has that term in their pocket can do what they want to your home. And no, they're not going to paint the fences just like you did when they finish.
Anyway, this is the gentlest way I can put about what I think of Eminent Domain, an old English law that should have been put out to pasture long ago. You want a new road? Go the heck around me or pay me enough to buy my land. I don't like them simply having the right to take it and pay me what they want.
And the judgement on my counter offer is coming in tomorrow. The guy in charge of negotiations thinks the county may double it's offer to $5000 if I'm lucky. Hell, that pays for one 20-year-old tree.

When you hear of some city or town needing some land and taking it by eminent domain, you probably don't like it. No one likes it. But it's not until it's got you by your own throat that you can really grasp what it means, what loss will be incurred.

The proposed SW 121, Fort Worth's little piece of the Trans Texas Corridor, has been approved. Land has been bought or taken. Deals have been struck with the railroad for an overpass.
Down here in Johnson, they're calling it the Cleburne Toll Road. It's the same road, only the Johnson County part.

Three years ago or so, I was told that a sliver of my front yard would be an entry ramp for the southbound side. The state took about 19 feet by 200 feet and there wasn't much I could do about it.

Two years ago the state had new stakes put into my land that would have taken about half of my acre-and-a-half. My kids pulled them out and that was that. Except that my kids were traumatized that someone could take our land like that.

Last year the state came back and said they were expanding the taking to 30 feet by 300 feet, effectively costing us our front yard/driveway/basketball court. They offered something; I added $15,000 on for psychological damages and they gave it to us. I was lucky to get it.

Last month the local water utility came by to say that since the road was taking the land where they ran the county water, they were going to need a 20 foot easement. And an additional 30 foot easement to do the work.

When the guy in charge of the proceedings came out I pointed out that the 20 foot easement would kill six trees that were 100 or more years old. It would also kill 15 foot tall red tips. It would eliminate my carport, force the moving of one of my outbuildings--my office--and put a ditch within 10 feet of my home, a ditch that my little kids, my big kids, me, my dogs, my cats, my goats and my chickens would all fall into.

The additional 30 foot temporary easement--to allow the county to work--would cut my house in half, destroy my 24 X 32 foot metal garage with the deep cement flooring, and take out an additional three 100 foot trees, along with a bridge over our creek and cost us all the privacy we have.

The man was sympathetic, then gave me the county offer of $2,400. And a promise to replace grass. I asked about replacing the 100 year old trees--which go for about $25,000 each--and he suggested saplings. I didn't laugh.

I made a counter offer of $300,000.00. I suggested they pay off the last five years on my house, then find me a new place in my same neighborhood with about an acre and a half, two dozen ancient trees, a creek, a huge new metal garage, 50 fifteen foot tall red tips, two bridges, a chicken coop, a hill, and that was fenced, double fenced, and all recently painted. Then I suggested they pay down that mortgage to the five year mark--which I've reached after just 8 years by working about a million jobs and scrimping horribly--and then pay me $25 grand to move; $15 grand to paint the fences; and $50 grand for my trouble.

Because they are costing me my home. Even if they gave me what I asked, it wouldn't be fair. This was the home my kids have lived in since we left New York. This was supposed to be the home they could raise their kids in, if they wanted. But if the road people and the water people--and in the future the electric people and the gas people--can all just take pieces till there is nothing left, then it's not a home anymore, is it?

Texas is supposed to be the state with the best land-ownership rights in the country. Well, I'm not seeing that. Seems I'm just fighting people who want this place but don't want to replace it, don't want to trade it, don't want to buy it. They just want to take it piece by piece, paying for it at bottom dollar, not at real value. Real value is as a home. As a place full of joy and memories and memories we have not even made yet. Not as a place with everybody's little red-painted sticks all over the place, reminding us that we have no value; we're just tending it till they take what they want.

And that's why I hate eminent domain.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sometimes It's Heaven Around Here...

Sometimes it's heaven around here, even if it's hell. Last night Italo, Sierra, the baby, Marco, Madeleina, Chepa, Alexa and Sierra all came over for an impromptu feast. We had shrimp, calamari, scungilli, pasta, salmon in banana leaves, rice, beans, asparagus, broccoli, spinach, fresh banana bread.....and I gave Italo and Sarah a beautiful crib quilt I had made for little Taylor and gave Chepa an Ipod, which she's never had of her own--though she's copped several that belonged to Madeleina--and I think it all was good.
Then this morning Chepa came over with Sierra and Alexa and Chepa decided to make Juane, a Peruvian dish of seasoned rice with a piece of chicken, a bit of egg add a black olive wrapped in a banana leaf. She made two dozen of them and they were great. So I had the girls from 10 AM till 7 PM, and it being a snowy day, we were inside, outside, wet, dry, laughing, crying, until at about 2 PM I had to take a nap. Which lasted till 2:13, but was better than nothing, despite the babies jumping on my belly while I tried to catch 15 minutes of rest.
The juanes were fabulous. The snow here was fantastic. The chickens gave us half a dozen eggs; the goat was just the goat. The dog, Boots, bit my sister in law on the butt, and we all drank champagne to celebrate life, living and getting dog bit.
They all just left, and as it's Chepa's turn with Madeleina, she left too. So now I'm alone. But what a rich, rich day. I wouldn't trade it for nearly anything.
Thanks, God.
Peter G

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Da Book, Da Trips

Well, this post is selfish. It celebrates me a little. First off, Taylor Rain Gorman came rushing into the world Thursday night, all healthy with fantastic fingers and curly dark brown hair and just so so beautifu. Thanks for all your well wishes.
Secondly, after a month of rewrites--which followed a month of writing new material--and then two copy edits, I've just sent the book, complete with back cover notes, a good glossary and so forth, to the Art director on the project. Which means I don't expect to work on it again until I see a real copy in my hands.
The art is beautiful; illustrations of jungle things. I'm thrilled.
SO if you have not bought a copy yet, send me $25 via paypal or check or however you want (easiest through my webpage and help me raise the money to publish the damned thing. HA! Wall Street sells all sorts of things that don't exist. This at least does exist and will soon look suspiciously like a real book!
Third: For the June trip, I've got 8 who've paid deposits, a couple more promising, and I only take 12. So if you're one of the people on the fence, just letting you know.
And for the July trip I've got 10 who've paid deposits or whose deposits are allegely in the mail. Again, if you're among the half-dozen other considering it, those last two slots go to whoever joins first.
And wouldn't that be a kick to have two full or nearly full trips back to back? I'd actually make a few bucks and probably feel so guilty I'd have to give it all away somehow. Just cause I'm a lapsed Catholic, doesn't mean my guilt has lapsed...
So anyway, I'm headed outside to go fly a kite with Madeleina and I'm feeling very good this minute. I hope you all are too. Have a great Sunday afternoon.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Ayahuasca Purge

I may well have written about this in this space previously. If so, forgive me.
On a board I sometimes post to, someone asked what was wrong with eating a breakfast of sausages, eggs, bread and so forth--a really big meal--the day of doing ceremony with ayahuasca.
Most responders told the poster to eat lightly. They are right. But they didn't explain why, so I added my two cents, which is this:
When I have guests out in the jungle, I serve them a good breakfast the day of ceremony--plenty of fresh fruit and veggies, maybe a couple of eggs--and then send them out on a 3-4 hour hike in primary forest. They're not permitted to eat anything after the breakfast, and the hike generally sees to it that by the time ceremony starts--10 hours or so after breakfast, their stomachs are empty. If they really have to have something, I offer sugarless lemongrass tea, an if they absolutely are going to be dehydrated, I let them have a couple of slices of apple or tangerine.
I don't want them uncomfortable during ceremony--and some people simply have very fast metabolisms so need to eat more frequently--but I dn't see the purpose of coming all the way to Peru, then heading out to deep jungle only to throw up lunch. The purge, for me, is the chance to throw up the bile of your life, the things you carry and that weigh you down which you often don't even know you're carrying: lies told to you that hurt you; lies you told others that you regret; childhood memories buried so deeply you couldn't possibly otherwise access them.
Eliminating those things is what the purge can do. But it can't really do that if you're purging a sandwich or a burger. You can toss those things any time you want by putting your finger down your throat. But you only have so many chances to unseat and eliminate repressed pain, anger sorrow and loss. For me, I prefer to get rid of that wretched stuff rather than food anytime.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Water Broke

Well, it's 4:55 PM on Thursday, February 18, and Italo called me two minutes ago to say his girl Sara's water broke. He got her to the hospital 20 minutes ago. So Taylor Rain Gorman should be coming out right about now. At least her corona, and I'm sending a blessing as I type this.
My prayer is that she comes out with the right number of arms, legs, fingers and toes, and that she gets lots of love growing up and that she becomes a wonderful human being. Now, as she's coming out, she's still an angel. She's see through. And she'll be see through for weeks. Finally, she'll solidify. And then she's stuck here. So I hope her time here is filled with more fun than pain, more laughs than tears, more success than failure, more love than lack. And if that happens, the rest won't matter much.
So here is to you, angel Taylor Rain Gorman. I hope you have the most wonderful life, full of fantastic adventures. I hope you grow up warm in the love of your family and that you learn to share that infinite love selflessly. I hope each day brings a couple of things that make you laugh out loud. I hope your belly is full of good food and that there is enough of it for you to share with those without.
And I hope that 80 years from now, when it's your time to return to where you came from, that you can look back and smile and think that it wasn't such a bad sojourn after all.
I wish you a good dollop of luck as well. I wish you the gift of stepping two inches to the side when someone tries to slap you. I wish you the gift of knowing when not to step off the curb. I wish you the gift of humility so that you can use rightful pride appropriately. I wish you the Gorman girl legs and Italo's heart and Sara's strength and my mom's stick-to-it-iveness, and my dad's artistry. I wish you the gift of your grandma Chepa's laughter, and Madeleina's soul and Marco's ferocity. I wish you all the gifts the Gormans, the Taylors, the Aguilars and all your relations have, combined and at three times the force. I wish you a wonderful time here.
I don't even know you. You're not even here yet. But I'm wishing these things to make your arrival safe and your stay a joy.
And for anything I've forgotten, just ask me. I'm your grandpa.
Welcome to the world, little girl.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

Hello, everybody! Today is February 14, Valentine's Day and I'm sitting here in bucolic Joshua, Texas, wishing and hoping that anyone who reads this gets an extra dollop of love today. And I'm wishing and hoping you have the courage to accept it for all it's worth.
Here things have been so full of love it's almost embarrassing. On my birthday I got about 50 notes, emails, messages from friends, family, former the old days I would have shrugged, but these days I open my arms and say "gimme more! I'll take it! Gimme the love, everybody!" which probably sounds ridiculous, but isn't. Something happens after a few heart breaks and after parents die and for me at least there was a hole in there that kept me keeping love at arm's distance. Clare, for so many years, simply loved me and loved me wonderfully, but how I pushed her away. How I thought that would inhibit my life--when really it was enriching my life. Know how much that girl loved me? When we were living together and I was feeling claustrophobic, she found me a second apartment and let me just live there till I missed her and came home. That sort of person ought to get medals, not be pushed away.
But push I did until she finally left, and then I cried for years.
These days I have learned to take the love and I love it.
And on my birthday, with Italo and Sarah broke from getting ready for the baby in a couple of weeks, and Marco ready to enter the Air Force any day and not working, and Chepa not working....well, there were not gonna be a lot of presents. But we did have one hell of a party. Chepa made a cake--chocolate cake bottom; vanilla cake top, ice-cream stuffed in the middle; sweet vanilla icing dripped with thick homemade chocolate--that was freaking out of this world. And Italo and Sarah got me a beautiful shirt, and Marco told me he was happy I was his dad, and Madeleina went into her savings and bought me a shirt, a movie and a box of chocolate.
And I made us a feast and I just loved being with them.
So if any of you are still pushing away the love, stop it. Look at yourselves and let yourself take it. Yes, the person loving you will one day leave or die or come to hate you. So what? Today they love you, so take it, take it, take it. Get rich with it. Get wet with it. Let it slobber all over you.
And then give it back. And give it without any expectation of getting anything in return. Just give it, and give it, and give some more. You've got an infinite supply so don't be stingy! Cause other people can use all the love you can give and they can get too.
Wow! That's not what I sat down to write but that's what my heart made me say. And now I'm sitting here crying while I'm typing and ain't that crazy?
And it snowed here, a rare occurrence in this part of Texas. We got eight inches and Friday Madeleina's school was shut because of it. And Italo and I had to shovel and push-broom 50-feet of driveway and that was a blast.
And yesterday, with Madeleina at Walmart, her being treated to some new paints and a book, and me buying house stuff and food, she noted on the way home: "Dad, I think I understand why people always talk about money. I mean you, really."
"Why is that, honey?"
"Because yesterday was the first time in my life that I used my own money to buy things. I mean, I just bought you a shirt and a movie and chocolate, and they cost more than $40. So instead of having $110, I only have like $62. And you do that every day for us. You have to pay for the house and the food and the cars and your cigarettes and parties and food for the animals and clothes for us and buy my flute and give mom wonder you're half-crazy. How can anybody do that and not start going nuts?"
"Glad you're getting it. Everybody does that. Every mom and dad and single guy and girl and pretty much every grownup in the whole world..."
"No wonder this world is messed up. Everybody's worried about money all the time..."
"Well, you try to figure out how to do it without letting it kill you."
"I'm not ready to be a grown up and worry about that stuff."
"Darling, you're 12 years old. You got a ways to go."
"But it did feel great to buy you those things. I liked that part of feeling like a grown up."
"And I like taking care of the things that take care of my family. You just got to do it with love and then have some faith that the universe is gonna give you more work tomorrow."
"I guess that explains why people pray, huh?"
"I love you, baby."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My Birthday, Feb, 12, 1951

Well, there you have it. I'm 59-fucking-years-old this Friday, at about 3 AM, and I hate everyone who is younger than me. Worse, I'm gonna be a grandpa in the next week or two. Not that I hate having a grand child, I just don't want to be a grandpa. Aren't I an Amazon guide? Can't I beat nearly 99% of the world's population at one-wall handball? Can't I walk across Peru's deep jungle? So can't I just be 42 again. And still be a grandpa? Can't this stomach be taken away by liposuction and my beard be brown again?
I don't mean to bitch. I just hate this. Get it?
That said, let's go back to my book. Who's reading this blog and thinks what I write is cool who has not yet bought a pre-publication book? Com'on girls and guys. I'm trying to feed five kids and an ex here and I worked for 25 years to write this thing and I think you should all read it. NOT BY PASSING IT AROUND. By buying it. The illo's alone are worth the price of admision. And the $1200 I paid to a copy editor should give you a warm fuzzy feeling that most of the words that should be italicized, will be.
What else you want?
Want to dance?
Want me to teach you how to play NYC dice?
Want me to teach your kids how to get 4th of July fireworks?
Or just want to read a fun, crazy, adventurous book I wrote?
Good choice. So go to, punch the "book" note on the face page and send me the money. In about a month I'll be sending you a book, signed anyway you like it. And I think it will be a good book. Best I can do, anyway.
I'm out.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Ah, Them Kids

Just love my kids and love Chepa's new babies, Sierra and Alexa. Sierra had a birthday last week and got a zillion presents and had it catered largely by yours truly at Chepa's house. Alexa's birthday was last month. She turned two; Sierra turned four.
They've been over for dinner the last couple of days. Sunday was for a superbowl bar-be-que; last night was just for visiting. The girls came in the house while I was washing the kitchen down after cooking--uncle Clem's chicken, a broccoli/chicken dish with a good sauce topped in mozzarella cheese was in the oven--and ran to my arms. I scooped them both up. Sierra had a rolling book bag with her that was filled with toys. Alexa had a baseball-sized lump of yellow Playdough that she promptly started tossing all over the place, breaking it into bits I'm still finding today and will no doubt continue finding for a week.
While dinner cooked they went out and fed the chickens and ducks with Madeleina--we've got two new ducks but lost two more of the chicks to the hawks in the last couple of days (Note to self: gotta get that coop covered) for which Madeleina blames me. How do I know? Because she says things like: "We lost two more of the chicks, dad. Thanks a lot. I blame you."
But the babies loved finding a few eggs and I made them wash their hands real well after they put them up.
Nice dinner, nice playing, and when it was time to go Chepa grabbed a couple of chicken legs left over from Sunday and a bowl of uncle Clem's. On the way out the door Sierra stopped to ask: "Mr. P Garman. Will you bring the donuts tomorrow?"
"Sure, if you want me to."
"Okay. Don't forget Mr. P Garman." And then they were gone.
This morning, I was up at 4:30, working at 4:45 and still sitting in my underwear when I got a call at 7:54.
"So you're not coming?"
"I didn't know I was supposed to."
"Madeleina is waiting for you."
"I'll be there."
I threw on some clothes, tore apart some chicken and made Madeleina a sandwich. I tossed it, along with a juice box and a yogurt, into a paper bag for her lunch and raced out the door. Made it to Chepa's in about 10 minutes from the call.
Madeleina hopped in, I got her to school on time. On the way back from school I bought 3 chocolate glazed donuts, 3 glazed and 3 pigs in a blanket. I ate two pigs in a blanket on the way to Chepa's.
The kids were up when I arrived and Alexa ran into my arms. I swept her up. As I did Sierra said: "You better let me help you with that box, Mr. P Garman. What could be in there?"
"What do you think?"
"I think it's donuts."
She took the box to the table, opened it and offered it to Italo, who was working on his taxes. "You want a donut, Italo?"
"No, little girl. I don't want no stinking donuts from that crazy man."
"He's not crazy. That's Mr. P Garman and he's you daddy. He could beat you up."
"Oh yeah? He's too old for me. I got superhuman, alien strength little girl..." he said, making muscles.
"My daddy has more muscles than you."
She turned her attention back to the donuts. She was stuck between the chocolate glazed and the regular glazed, then shifted to the pig in a blanket.
"Is there only one of this?" she asked me.
"Yeah. Cause I ate two."
She looked at me quizzically. "What the hell is this? Just one?"
I don't think she'd ever used the phrase before and it had Chepa, Italo and I doubled over instantly. She repeated it. About 10 times. It got less charming with each repetition. When we stopped laughing we explained that that wasn't a nice phrase. She pouted and started to put the pig in a blanket in her mouth. Just at that moment Alexa came flying across the room.
"Mine!" she shrieked, snatching it just as Sierra was about to take a bite.
Sierra burst into tears. "Look what Alexa did! She stole my donut!"
Then she walked over to Alexa, took it from her, broke it in half and handed half back to her. "We have to share, Alexa. Cause Mr. P Garman only brought one. He ate the rest. He's a pig."
Alexa broke into tears and walloped her. She hates getting half of anything.
Me? Well, two inconsolable little girls screaming, one of them calling me a pig, I figured I'd just beat a fast retreat to the safety of my own home.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

The Deal With Chepa

So here is the deal with Chepa, my wife/ex-wife. We have not slept together in years, and except for an occasional grab of my butt there is no physical contact. I know, too much info and nobody cares. So what? Enjoy the story.
The thing was, when I met Chepa, when she was 25 and I was 41, I didn't think she was the most beautiful woman. I took her as a hired hand on the first boat trip I made and we went from Iquitos to Leticia and then turned up into the Yavari--the border between Brazil and Peru--and did maybe 1800 miles in a month on that thing. Just a driver, a motorist, Chepa and me. And she held off pirates with me one night and that was the night I fell in love with her. I'd never seen someone so brave in the face of such imminent demise. She went from a pretty assistant to the love of my life that night.
And when we married--when I finally convinced her that I really wanted to marry her even though she had two children from a previous marriage--I was the happiest sap in the world. This was a woman who had no knowledge of how things worked in the US, nearly burned down the house half-a-dozen times cooking with gas for the first time in her life; only wanted to buy things she saw advertised on television, gave away my handmade blue Italian shoes because she didn't find them macho and did lots of other things that drove me up a wall. But this was also a woman who looked at the world so differently than I that I found myself laughing out loud at least twice a day. In my whole life I'd never done that. But she just did things, or saw things and commented on them, that stopped my world daily a couple of times. And when my world stopped, I was open to new ideas for a second and so I began to think differently, began to see the world the way she saw it and it changed the way I perceived everything. It was joyful (sorry about the lame word) and rich and full of laughter.
Then she told me she hated me and ditched me, and I didn't like that at all.
But we've children and are joined at the hip at least till Madeleina is a couple of years older.
And I should be over anybody who has not given me a kiss in four or five years, right? But then today, at the baby shower for Italo's girl Sarah--which Italo, Marco and I were forced to attend, though we were the only males there except for Sarah's dad--there was a game being played. It was a game in which you got a tiny pink clothespin put on your shirt neck. Everyone started with one. The game was that if anyone said the word "baby", you could take their clothes pin and whoever had the most at the end of the party got a prize.
Well, I got Sarah's clothes pin when I told her I missed what was written on a blanket she'd gotten and she said "Oh, it just says 'baby'".
But then Chepa decided to enter the fray and began asking the women, in her best "I don't understand English, can you help me?" voice: "Excuse me, what do you call this kind of party?"
And probably 10 women answered, "It's a baby shower," and Chepa calmly walked around and collected all their clothes pins.
And I just howled. That's Chepa. That's why she's so freaking hard to forget. She's just got it, whatever it is, that makes me laugh from deep in my belly.
So for those interested, that's the deal with Chepa.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Nearly Sold out for June

Well, last week was good. I'm up to 7 who have paid deposits for the 21 day June trip. That leaves five spaces and two people have said they've sent deposit checks and two more, former guests--and you know who I mean Mr. G--say they're coming for the jungle portion. Which leaves one spot. If that happens the way the people have said, that would be great. I love a sold out trip. I've got a 12 man crew and that's more than enough to handle 12 guests. I've also got an adjunct crew of 3 out in the jungle--Pepe, Mauro and Antenor--that brings us to 15. And I don't mind spending the money on them. I love it when my people get work.
So if the guy who is supposedly going to be number 12 for June doesn't get his deposit in within a week or so, I'll have one opening. And that's great. That means I get to take a good group out and pay a month's bills and feed the kids and pay for my ticket down to Peru and all that.
And the pre-Shaman Conference trip--an 8 1/2 day intensive jungle trip, is filling too, with 5 signed on and three claiming the deposit checks are in the mail. If true, that will leave only 4 slots open for that trip. And National Geographic is considering doing a story on sapo, frog sweat medicine, and they would need those last slots. Or better yet, you guys who want it join the trip and let Nat Geo make their own trip.
You have to know I'm happy thinking about two trips that won't force me to borrow money to fund them but will pay for themselves and give me a little profit. Not really a Catholic feeling--"I shouldn't make any money...I shouldn't make any money.." but a good one nonetheless.
So ask if there is still space. Join the fun.
Time to take the chicken out of the oven, make the spinach-basil pasta sauce, and take care of the kids.
Hope you're having as much fun as I am tonight.
Peter G

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Nice Morning

Well, I just got back from being on the road for a couple of days, working on a story. Short road trip with 1,000 miles logged in 2 days, but several good interviews out in West Texas, where there's more land than cattle, more cattle than humans, and where oil crickets dot the land instead of trees.
There is nothing like being on the ground to collect the sights, sounds, smells of a place I need to write about. Gives stories an added dimension.
And that's all I'm going to say because I haven't written the story yet.
I came in maybe 8 PM last night, pooped from the drive, and to my delight, everybody was here, waiting for me to get back. Damn, it was like we was a real whole family. Madeleina hugged me while the babies hugged my legs, waiting their turn to get picked up and have me sing them their private songs--and though she's getting old for it and I was only away a couple of days, I know Madeleina liked hearing a few lines from "Potato Legs", a song I made up for her within minutes of her being born.
Better than that, Italo was in the middle of cooking dinner. He was making up a batch of chicken thighs with barbeque sauce and had a pot of rice on. Cool.
And nicely, there were a couple of notes in my email--I hadn't seen a computer in a couple of days--from people telling me they'd made wire transfers of their deposits for my two upcoming trips in June and July. Hot damn. I'm gonna have a couple of pretty good groups of guests out there.
There was also a note or two from my only January guest. I'd had four with a couple more promising to come when two of them said they couldn't make it. So I canceled. One of the two is coming in July; the other had a non-refundable ticket so I arranged for him to do the trip with my crew.
Of course I wondered why I wound up having to cancel and then utilized much of the time to finish and edit the book--see how easily I can pull you into the book? See below for important details on BUYING THE DAMNED THING!!!!!--but also knew there must be something else going on or that would go on.
And, of course, there was. It was rain in the Andes. And my one guest, who was in Machu Picchu on the dates we all would have been there, got stuck when some bridges went out. He was evacuated by helicopter a few days later. But everybody would have been stuck and for some that might have meant their jobs, so it turned out great that the trip was canceled. (It did not turn out great for the Peruvians badly affected by the mudslides and deaths the rain caused, and that's really the important thing, and I'm not forgetting that.)
So my guest, stuck several days before he could get back to Lima, wound up getting mistreated by KLM, who, despite the natural disaster that caused him to miss his flight, wound up having to pay nearly $800 to change his flight after the fact. Neither my people nor I would have all had that.
So I'm sitting here thinking, Man, that's for the protection. You guys looking out for me are doing a great job.
And I'm sending energy spears to KLM to have them make good on my guest's money. Com'on: Natural disaster strikes; you miss your flight because of it and an airline the size of KLM has no capacity to understand and change the flight for free? Grrrrrrrrrrrr......
And I just finished egg salad from our chickens. Man, I don't know if I'll ever be able to eat regular eggs again. They're just not real eggs, no matter the quality egg I buy. My little chicks are churning them out once a day, and the duck has started laying as well: Her eggs are HUGE!!!
And now it's time to work.
BUT::::::Not before I remind you that this book thing is coming along well. A friend is working on some sketches for it; the art director has this great great cover and look to it....hell, if I can get a few more bells and whistles maybe no one will notice if the text sucks.
IT DOES NOT SUCK!!! It is amazingly honest, brutally candid, and unflinchingly full of my fears. Hopefully the story of that stuff will keep you interested.
So go to hit the button for the "book" and then slip $25 to paypal in my name. And when it's done in about a month, when there are real copies in hand, I'll send you one. Okay? That doesn't sound so painful now, does it?
And for those of you who have already bought it, thanks.