Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hello, Hello

I gave Madeleina the day off today. It's only her second of the year and I figure she's entitled to one every six week period, her call. She had band stuff the last two nights, coming home at about 8:30 each night, then doing homework, sort of. Yesterday she went to school exhausted, but today she was just not thinking clearly. She talked for an hour from 7 AM till 8 AM and didn't speak a single coherent sentence.
"Dad, you know what the science experiment was yesterday? Fantastic......Oh, I can't remember....your fault!" Whack! Whack! Whack!
"Okay, now I remember....oh, I hate you...did you feed the goats?"
That sort of thing. So she stayed home and slept till 1 PM.
Then she did homework, tended the animals, came with me to Walmart, to Two Bucks, read a book, sang songs. And she's just come in singing the Beatles' Hello Hello, Goodbye Goodbye, or whatever the official title was. I was smoking good pot back then so beg your forgiveness on song titles.
"Dad, I don't know why you say goodbye, I say hello. Hello? HELLO? Hello starts with HELL. So that means HELL TO YOU! With an "O" on the end to soften it up but still "HELL!"
"I don't think that's what they had in mind, girl...."
"They were smoking dope! They have no idea what was on their mind! Just stop saying Goodbye when I say HELLO, okay?!!!!!"
You pause, you look at her, you laugh, you get Whacked! a few times. You keep grinning. She's gonna break some hearts and some balls some day. I'm just the practice punching bag.
But if she finds a good man--or woman or dog or whatever/whomever she decides to shine her love on--who knows how to roll with those punches and laugh with her insane brilliance, well, they will have found a good one. I'm just sorry that when she does, I will lose some of this spirit in my life to someone else. And I'm spoiled and want it all. It's like having a paint colt living in the house and charging through the rooms now and then, full speed. Just get out of the way and admire the damned thing.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sapo with Marco

Well, Marco came over for his medicine today at noon. Sapo medicine. It's the stuff the Matses shared with me 24 years ago and the medicine I've since shared with the world--not literally, but through writing about it. It's the medicine that is collected from the Phyllomedusa Bicolor tree frog--it's natural protective secretions--that turned out to be bioactive when studied. I don't just mean a little bioactive, I mean 100 percent bioactive, which means the 144 or so proteins thus far discovered in those secretions interact with the human body as if the body created them because all of the proteins fit neatly and perfectly into human receptor sites.
In the animal kingdom, the way it works is this: A tree snake, most of which are non-venemous constrictors in the Amazon, decides to eat the bright green frog with the white underbelly. It takes the frog into its mouth. The frog freaks and gives off these secretions. The secretions enter the snake's blood through the mucous membrane in its mouth. The snake freezes, the frog backs out and escapes. Of course, if the frog is a split second late, or has utilized those secretions a couple of days earlier and not fully replenished them as yet, well....goodbye little froggie.
Now what the Matses/Mayoruna do is collect and dry those secretions, that frog sweat so to speak, on pieces of split bamboo that look like tongue depressors. When they want to use it they liquify a little by spitting on the dried varnishy-looking stuff and then scrape a little of the material into the spit until it's good and moist, like wasabi more or less.
Then they take a little piece of tamishi, a jungle vine, and heat it till its trip is bright red, and make a burn, generally in the upper arm, of the person to receive the medicine. They might repeat that several times, each time reheating the tamishi to red hot. Then the burned epidermous is scraped off, exposing the capillaries beneath it and the frog sweat is put on the open wound. It quickly makes its way into the blood stream. As it does, your body heats up, you start to sweat, your heart begins to race, your skin jumps out of itself, you wonder why the hell you did this in the first place and you wish you could die. That all happens in the first 15 seconds after application. From there it gets worse, speeding up and speeding up until you are incoherent and probably rolling on the floor and praying for someone to put you out of your misery.
At the 9 minute mark you peak. You're going just as fast, you hurt just as much, but you don't go any faster. That's when you realize you're going to puke and maybe poop yourself. And then you do. You clean out like nothing in this world. No emetic can do this job.
At about 14 minutes you realize you're not going to die and you find yourself cursing the person who gave you the medicine, screaming, or just laughing at being alive.
And then you're tired. And then you realize--maybe in an hour, maybe in three hours if you don't have experience--that you are cleaner and stronger than you have ever been. You see and hear better than you have ever seen or heard. And that will last days to weeks, depending on your subsequent diet and such. And that's why people utilize the medicine. Because it cleans them up, eliminates toxins stored in the body, in the pores, in the blood stream, in the kidney and liver, in your glands.
I won't go into the various Matses uses--you can look that up by looking up an old Omni article of mine called Making Magic. But for my family, it's used when people have bad colds, just ache, have no strength.
Marco was over because he's just been under the weather for a few days. And I had just the medicine for him. I recently was given a stick of sapo collected by my old friend Alberto, the Matses man who used to share a camp on the Galvez river with my friend and medicine teacher Pablo. I knew that stick would be something else. Pablo, who died recently, and Alberto were antiguas, Matses who did things the old way. Which meant they understood that you don't collect a lot of sweat from any given frog. You just collect the most potent first secretions before you set the frog free. Which means it takes a lot more frogs to get a good stick full, but it also means you have the best of the best.
And I actually got two sticks from Alberto.
So Marco, who is used to having four burns worth, was surprised when I told him I'd only give him two.
"Why dad?"
"Because this came from Alberto, an antigua. This is the shit's shit. Not 10 people in the world collect like he does. This is just going to be stronger than anything you've ever had by far.
He challenged me but I held my space and gave him two, then began to chant a little to give him a lifeline to cling to as he fell into the difficult work.
And difficult it was. He cursed and screamed until, at about 4 minutes into it, he couldn't even do that. All he could do was suffer. Inside, I hated to see him suffer like that but jungle medicines are harsh, just like the environment. And since it's all bioactive material, his body would know when to shut down the receptor sites, so he wasn't going to die or anything, but it still hurts to see your kid in the most excruciating pain he's ever been in.
At about 10 minutes he began to puke. And kept puking till bright orange bile came up. His eyes were rolling around in his head, his body was flailing pretty uncontrollably.
At 14 minutes he shouted: "I hate you, dad! That was the worst thing I have ever been through!"
At about 19 minutes he sat up and started laughing. "Man, that was strong. I feel like I'm beat to hell. But wow. That was fantastic! I almost want to do more right now."
At 30 minutes I drove him home. And now, two hours later, he's called to say he's never been stronger.
That's the part I like to hear.
And he'll repeat that for two, three days.
And he's clean from the inside out. No disease will dare touch him for weeks, maybe months. Which is good because if you remember he's my son whose kidneys inexplicably failed and became nefrotic when he was just seven, and so I like to keep them clean.
Worth the pain. I love keeping him whole.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Today I Saw All the Kids

Today I saw all the kids. Madeleina had to get up early so we could go to my wife/ex-wife's house to borrow black pants she needed for a band dedication tonight--from which I'm picking her up in five minutes, so this will be short. So she got up at about 6 AM and we had water on four big pots on the stove that was hot enough for a shower. One of these days Italo will have a few minutes and help me change out the fuse box--I need him so that if I get electrocuted he can knock me off the electricity before I die--but until then we shower in cold water. Which is freezing early in the morning.
So Madeleina took her shower with a blue plastic cup and stayed in there for 45 minutes. Then came out announcing--read screaming--"Dad, let's go! We're late!"
"Baby, you've got a towel wrapped around you. We're not going anywhere till you get dressed...."
"Hate you, dad. I mean, I love you, but I hate you. Can you make me coffee in the champagne glass?"
I did and she got ready lickity-split and off we went to mom's to borrow the pants. And Alexa and Sierra got up to greet us, and then Sara came in from her end of the very nicely done trailer and she had Taylor Rain with her so I got to kiss my granddaughter as well.
Home, I began working on what will probably be my next book: Being Dad--The Gorman Blog Dad Book of Raising Kids Far From Both Your Home and Theirs in Bucolic Joshua, Texas. Just the blog stuff you have all read but NOT NEARLY DEEP ENOUGH!!!!
So i think I will put it in a book and that way you can kill a few more trees with me to try to earn me next month's mortgage.
And then Italo came over to check into the broken toilet thing. He owed me $200 and brought half of that. I forgave the other half based on him just being a good guy. He was happy but wished I gave the hundred back as well. HA!
And then Marco came over to ask about marijuana and receptor sites and I told him so much more than he wanted to hear that he begged for sapo, frog sweat. We made a date for noon tomorrow to do that severe but fantastic medicine.
And now, at 7:10, I've got Boots' chicken in the oven, the kitty's chicken cooling down, Madeleina's rice on a low flame, and swordfish ready to go. We'll have it with garlic, onions, scallions, ginger, tomatoes and red pepper, all finely diced, in the juice of capers. Nice bite to that.
So I'm going to pick up Madeleina and that's it for the night other than feeding animals and eating.
I hope you're having a nice night too and if you have kids, I hope you got a chance to hug every one of them today. Because nothing feels better than that.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Another Couple of Things...

So here's a couple of things. First off, this morning Madeleina and I had thin slices of that fantastic sourdough bread covered in good cheddar and put into the oven till the cheese was melting. And we h ad it with very very thin slices of left over corned beef that we had with cabbage and boiled potatoes last night.
Jealous, aren't you. I would be too.
Want more? After we both did some exercise, we each had three little squares of the Ghiradelli 72% cacao dark chocolate that my friend C sent from San Fran the other day. Same day we got her sourdough.
Tonight? Last of the corned beef and cabbage with no potatoes. And the corned beef will be very well trimmed. Got to cut back somewhere.
So that's one thing.
Then a reporter from Newsweek got in touch to talk about my trips. I have no idea whether what I wrote him will interest him in actually coming along, but without ego, I cannot imagine going on anyone's trip except mine, at least the first time in the jungle. I mean, just to learn who the river people are, how riverboats work, where the medicine comes from, how it's utilized by locals and so forth. All the rest is just gringo stuff and I just don't do that trip. Even though I'm getting old and fat and all that jazz. It's worth the effort to change my guests' lives. And when I can't do that, when I need a camp an hour out of Iquitos, well, then I won't take people out anymore. Cause that's not how I was taught and so that's not how I'm gonna teach.
Next: The damned six-cent gaskets in the toilet, the one's that work with the bolts that attach the tank to the toilet bowl, have been giving out and the subsequent leak has been causing the toilet to sink a little as the wooden frame in the house's undercarriage has been getting soaked.
Solution: Turn off the toilet completely. Put a bucket under the drip in the nearby shower. Collect the shower water leak and use to flush the toilet.
Okay, I know I can't keep going like that because it's not considered civilized, but until I can get those damned bolts--I've put in enough DW 40 to take the Intrepid apart!--loose, I'm sort of stuck.
So today's lesson: If you have good sourdough, put it in the oven and eat it with melted cheddar. If you have left over corned beef, add that to the mix. And if your shower is dripping and your toilet is leaking, use one to fix the other.
Have a great night, everybody.

Friday, October 22, 2010

One of Those Pretty Cool Days

Well, it's been one of those pretty cool days, especially if you include yesterday. And a bit selfish on my part, to be honest. I mean, after I wrote about going to New York with Madeleina and was weighing things in public, a blog reader and friend sent $100 to help with the trip. Another friend sent $300. Out of the blue. I need it and it will help, so I'm taking it, but I'm almost guilty while doing it because it was unexpected and not something I meant to be suggesting.
Shut up, Gorman, just take the freaking love.
And then yesterday, another friend send long lost photos of Madeleina and her sisters, of Chepa and me and the dog, Boots, and Goatguy and another dog long since buried in the animal patch out back. But the pics are beautiful and it was fantastic to get them showing up, again unexpectedly.
And then this morning, one person who was due on my trip last June--but who couldn't make it at the last minute--sent a deposit for this January's trip. He'd said he was but I wasn't sure he meant it. So that was unexpected and fantastic.
And then a UPS truck rolled in with three bars of cacao rich Ghiradelli chocolate and a book from CityLights in San Francisco, where she was working last week. She is the new editor in chief of Archaeology magazine and she has instantly improved it with gorgeous color, clean lines, great layouts and solid writing. So check it out. The top cover line is "The Origins of Chocolate".
Not that I need the chocolate--hell, I already don't have the figure to absorb it and will be rolling down the road if I eat it, but still, take the love, Gorman.
And then another UPS truck rolled in and this one had presents for Madeleina and Taylor Rain, my granddaughter from my sister Regina.
And then a FedEx truck rolled up and brought a huge box of sourdough bread from San Francisco.
I am slightly overwhelmed at this point.
Thank you all for all the love.
I'm taking it.
I'm beaming.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fast Fast Fast

I was listening to the old Simon and Garfunkle song, Hazy Day of Winter, I think is the name. It's being done now by a rock band very quickly and sort of staccato but it's great. Sort of like the new version of Mrs. Robinson on radio stations, and might even be the same band. Captivating beats in both of them.
"Time time time, see what's become of me,
While I looked around for my possibilities..."
I would give you more but I can't remember the exact words and that's an indication that time is catching up with me while I'm still looking for my possibilities, eh?
Time does fly. My oldest, Italo, turns 25 tomorrow. 25. Not like 14 or 12, but 25. I remember meeting him for the very first time when he was just seven years old. He was playing soccer with the older kids. He was just so advanced. And then I married his ma and brought him to the US and New York City and put him in a baseball league on Roosevelt Island and we'd ride our bicycles up from 90th and 3rd Ave through Harlem's east side to the Roosevelt Avenue bridge and then across that woeful structure and past the crazy house there and under the enormous train tressels (spelling?????) there and on to the ball fields. And the first few games nobody knew what to make of this Amazon Indian kid who couldn't speak English and didn't know what baseball was. So they put him in right field, where all the bad players go in little league. The thing was, he'd chase down balls and look at me and I'd tell him what to do with it and they quickly learned they had an athlete on their hands.
In his second year in the league, the coach, Bobby Hoffman, a great baseball man, took his kid off shortstop and put Italo in there. He was a human vacuum. One of the few people in the world who could dive in one direction---say toward second base--stab the ball, then twist and land on his feet with his body pointed toward third base. Jose Oquendo with the Mets could do that. Luis Aparacio from my childhood could do that. Not many others. That's a cat move, not a human move.
Italo's teams won championships for several years, or came darned close. By the time he was 13 they'd have him catching and then put him in as a relief pitcher.
But soccer was his love and he still plays it. The baby he had eight months ago has crimped his style and so he's not playing semi-pro arena league this year, which I wish he would. But he's still playing in a couple of local leagues. He's finishing up his associates degree--I sort of insisted he do that just to be able to get a coaching job if he wanted it, or to teach phy ed in high school around here. He's working. He's being a good dad. I'm proud of him.
And he's turning 25 in about 12 hours.
And that just means time is moving too fast. I would have liked another couple of years at each year with him, know what I mean? I mean, I never got tired of being with him, watching him grow, getting strong, working out. I never wished the time would pass. It did anyway.
Happy birthday, kiddo. Your daddy loves you more than you can imagine.
Hope this is your best year ever.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Okay, Gonna Go to NYC

Okay, in answer to myself in the last post, I've decided to go and the hell with the costs. I've got family who need me for a few days, I've got friends and a couple of handball courts I have not seen in eight years, and I've got a daughter who hasn't seen the city is longer than that. Plus, I'm gonna get to talk about my book to an audience that is interested in that sort of thing, and I might sell a trip or three to Peru and a handful of books.
I've written the fellow who put out the invite and think it's important that I do this. And to hell with the cost factor. It will either cover itself or not but it ain't gonna break me either way. The guardians will help see to that, I'll bet.
So that's that. Done deal. Thanks all for listening. Sorry I did my worrying out loud, but I do appreciate your input.
Now let's get back to finishing another story.
Have a great day, everybody.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Here's the deal then...

Okay, here's the deal. I've just been invited to talk about my work and my book in New York City at Webster Hall on November 30. They have no speaker budget. BUTTT...Wade Davis, one of my heroes, and one of the botanists I've spend hours interview over the years, is in town (NYC) at that time, so he'll be featured on the Ayahuasca Monologues night that I've been asked to speak at.
I would love to go and love to take Madeleina. She has not been to NYC since 2001 or so. But my family and friends are there.
So the question is this: should I use my credit cards and go, hoping I can sell enough books to pay for the airfare and expenditures? I will have a place to stay, but airfare will run $700 for Madeleina and I, I think, and then we'll need $500 for taxis, food and giving some flowers to the people who put us up. Can I sell $1200 in books at an event? At $25 that would be 48 books. About 60 if you include the price of the books. The house supposedly seats maybe 750, but who knows if it will be full. So do I invest--with no funds, purely on credit card speculation, the $1200 plus $200 for books--in myself in this case or am I out of my mind?
What say? You guys often have a better sense of me than I do, so feel free to respond.
Thanks for listening.
Peter G

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ya Gotta Love My Madeleina....Or At Least I Do...

Gotta love Madeleina. Her mom tore her special sheet--old and ragged--apart last night, to make a skirt for halloween for her baby sister, two-year-old Alexa. So this morning, rather than ragging on mom because of the sheet use (Madeleina didn't care about it a whit), Madeleina took the other half of the sheet and wore it as a wrap around skirt to school. Then she took Alexa's gausy slip, and put it over her head and around her shoulders so that it made kind of a slip-stole. Then she put on about four pounds of colored rocks she'd tied onto string as a necklace. And insisted on going to school that way.
I let her.
When I picked her up this afternoon she got into the car and whacked me a couple or eight times. Whack!, with her fist on my right shoulder. Whack! Whack! Whack! Whack! and then she laughed and said: "How could you let me go to school like this? I was the laughing stock of the whole place!"
Whack! Whack! Whack!
"Of course, I thought I looked great, and nobody in the whole school has the guts I have to wear something like this, so once again, I AM A WINNER!!!!!!"
Whack! Whack! Whack!
"But you, daddy, are a LOSER for letting your daughter get away with this. Sorry, POPS!"
Whack! Whack! Whack!
You all don't got to love her, but I got no choice. Anybody that cool can whack me till their fist falls off.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

11 AM, Sunday Night

It's nearly 11 AM, Sunday night. I've been working on my next cover story, due today, for the local alternative. I've done the work and am just waiting for it to finish gestating and hoping it comes popping out like the last couple of hundred 5,000 word pieces. Work for a month, make 10-20-30 phone calls, sit on it for a week or two, and then write it all in just a couple of hours. Sounds easy but actually relies on you having done your homework and having 20-30 years of experience behind you.
But while I was rewriting, for the 12th time, the opening section today, Italo and Marco came over. Italo razzed me and Marco about the string roof we made over the chicken coop, but was razzed in return for not having a better idea.
They both left at 5, and I went shopping--forgot garbage bags--then went to B Wild Wings for a drink with my friend Dave, the Sunday bartender. He wasn't there. I had two drinks with his backup, then left. Don't want to be caught driving drunk and don't want to kill anybody.
Got home, was alone. Prepared a piece of fresh tuna when Italo called. Did I have any food?
"Sure, buddy. I've got chicken breasts and thighs in the oven. Made them in case you or anyone else was hungry."
"I'll be there."
A few minutes later he rolled in, found Good Will Hunting on the television, and I served him chicken, cauliflower, corn and spinach in garlic. The movie was great.
When it finished he left.
Two minutes later, Marco showed up. "I hope you dont' mind. I had a nightmare. I'm sleeping here."
And with that he flopped down on the couch in the big living room.
Now I'm happy. Now I'm a dad again. Just for a night.
Life is good.
Good night.
Hope your night was as good as mine was.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

New Animals

Well, I finally got the six chicks out of the laundry room, then cleaned their business off the floor, scrubbed the table, books--that's where the cook books are--and rewashed all the clothes that normally sit on top of the dryer. And you know what? In the first two days the chicks, now about 8 weeks old, were out in the coop, three disappeared. I decided it must be snakes so I put a hose underneath the coop in the most obvious hole and turned the water on high. Nothing. An hour later, nothing. That had to be 10 gallons of water a minute, or five and Marco, Madeleina and I left it on for about two hours. Nothing. No animals came out from under the little coop house and not a drop of water escaped. Where the heck did 600-1,200 gallons of water go? we all wondered.
So then two days ago, Marco went out with a pick axe and tore up the floor of the coop. He came back--I was in the house taking a break from mowing the lawn that had grown to over two feet in that general section of yard on the other side of the creek--to announce that he'd discovered a colony of field rats. "I killed three or five, but there must have been 20 or 30 under that shed. And I only saw one part."
I gave him a bunch of rat poison cubes and he came back the next day and filled in the area under the house--seems there is a sinkhole there, which is where the water went--and then laid a new floor and that is that.
For now.
So in the last two days we've not lost a chicken to the rats, though I'm still skeptical about how the rats attacked and carried off the chickens without leaving a single feather and not a drop of blood. And I know it's not the red-tailed hawks anymore, as we've got that spiderweb of string and copper wire over the cage now and it has not been touched. And there is not a single hole large enough to accommodate a hawk with wings open--flying in--or a hawk with a chicken in it's mouth taking off.
So did the rats do it? Hard to fathom without feathers or blood. But then I'm not a farmer.
Today, to shore up the ranks, I lucked into a few chickens about two months away from laying, and a few ducks. Madeleina is now filling up the small duck pond. So until those rats get them, I'm gonna hear the sweet sound of quacking for a while. And the cluck of half a dozen chickens. And that will blend with the bleating of the goats, the insistent sound of the meow of the cat, the bark of Boots. And the birds in the house.
Lot of sound. But then it just reminds me to live every minute. Know what I mean?
PS: Madeleina just opened a Dr. Pepper made with cane sugar. It's an 8 oz bottle, but different from regular soda because of the natural, if poisonous, cane sugar.
"Dad, you're the best," she said. "Now, can you go out and feed those animals while I sit here, watch television and enjoy this soda?"
I didn't say anything. But she knew what I was thinking. Not a chance, darling. Not a chance.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

This Was Last Night, But What the Heck

A friend of mine wrote a note yesterday and I responded, and then this morning she wrote back and I reread all the notes and saw this non-private part of my initial response and though, what the heck, haven't given the readers much food stuff lately, so I'm gonna give them this. And I hope my friend doesn't mind, and I hope you readers don't mind getting it a day late either.

I'm making squid tonight. Gonna saute/fry a couple of pounds. Italo, Sara, Marco, Chepa, the babies, friends of hers are coming. I was gonna just do some sesame salmon for me and Madeleina, but then the rest happened. So I bought the calamari, made a nice, hot, light tomato sauce, got good fresh-baked loaf of parmesan bread, and will serve them all that while I have both the squid AND the salmon. And you can bet Madeleina will be at my heels, saying, ", did you forget you bought that salmon for me?" And I'll tell her I didn't forget for a second.
Then Marco will say: "Dad, I was working on the chicken coop....any chance you have any meat?" And I'll say: "Look in the oven, the apricot-stuffed loin of pork with roast potatoes/baby organic carrots, onions and celery from last night is there."
And Sara will say: "If you have roast pork, you should have saurkraut..." And I'll say, "It's on the stove, in the little pot, with the lardons"--courtesy of Claudia V, of course, who, when editing my book, suggested I throw some tasty lardons into it to give it a bit if juice.
And everybody will eat and then they will leave and I will go to bed alone, in an empty house but I will remember that it was full of laughter for a couple of hours. And that's worth the price of admission.
And it happened just that way.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Laurels, Ain't that Nice?

Okay, so Morgan Maher, the brilliant artist and the fellow who illustrated my book, got it in his noggin to secure the webpage, and damned if he didn't do it for $10. Which is probably an indication of how much I'm not in demand. But that Morgan is designing an hellacious page, which has reviews, lots of audio interviews, pics, illos (which he did for the book), bios of myself, himself and Johan Fremin, the brilliant artist who created the book, and more stuff than I knew happened around the book.
So what about that?
Are these guys cool or what?
I'll put up the link when it's done.
And I'm also gonna tell you that an organization got in touch with me yesterday to ask if I'd be willing to accept an award for a story I did on Hemp for the Fort Worth Weekly last year. Willing? Are you kidding?
So ain't that cool too?
Here's the thing: It's coming now because of 25-35 years of hard hard work. And I'm glad and proud. But I also know that whatever it is, I still have to cook/prepare dinner for the kids, the goats, the dog, the chickens, the ducks, the cats and the birds tonight. So there is a balance and it's a tightrope. I don't mind walking it. I hope the work is good, always. I don't want to be someone who short-shrifts anybody.