Saturday, August 30, 2014

Italo Sleeping

Italo has been working on Chepa's broken van in my carport the last week or so. He's been here on days off and after work and is working hard to get that transmission and a couple of other things fixed so that it will get another 100,000 miles with no more than an oil change.
    Right now he's on the couch in my office, bundled up in the throw cushions that make the old couch comfortable to sit or sleep on. I cannot hear him breathing but I see his chest dancing with each breath. He's 28 now, about to turn 29 in six weeks. He's got a beautiful daughter and a wife whom I adore who is itching for another baby. He doesn't know if he earns enough. I told him not to worry, jut share the food at the table and share the love and everything will take care of itself. Oh, and don't forget two heads of garlic in the food each day to keep everyone healthy.
    He laughs at that. He still does not believe I hide that much garlic in the food without them tasting it as a particular taste and even more, without us all reeking of it. That's my job.
    We're just going to have some chicken burritos tonight--it's just him and me. His wife is at work, Chepa and her babies and Italo's baby are at the movies; Madeleina is manning a concession stand at the TCU football game and won't be home till 11 PM and Marco is hidden in his private castle doing schoolwork.
    So I've got two half chicken breasts on with lots of garlic and rough ground pepper and a bit of olive oil and pink sea salt. The beans are heating up. The no-fat sour cream and good cheddar cheese is in the fridge. The avocado is ready for slicing. The pico de gallo was just made with organic tomatoes, scallions, cilantro and red onion. It's gonna be a simple but beautiful dinner--each burrito coming with an organic Spring Mix salad, blue cheese bits--from good blue cheese--cherub tomatoes and my balsamic vinagrette/scallion dressing.
   He wanted me to wake him after five minutes but just having him sleeping in the same room as I'm writing in is a treat I don't often get. So I'll let him have another few minutes.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Never Ending Things to Do....

The never ending list of things to do before you get to do what you want to do. Yikes. Like the other day with the lawnmower. I was going to mow for the first time since I got back from Peru. I knew I'd be out of gas and wasn't sure about oil, so I cleverly got both before I even looked at the mower. I put them in, mowed, and 20 minutes later the thing stopped. I cleaned it up a little, then Italo began taking it apart. I cleaned the air filter while he did his stuff. Then it worked. Then it stopped. Then I drove 20 miles round trip to get a new spark plug. Now she's working well. But in part of the lawn I was mowing a recent storm had brought down a 30 foot branch, so I had to spend half an hour cleaning up the debris before I cold mow.
      Total mowing time that day: 1 hour.
      Total time involved with the mower and debris clean up: 4 hours.
So six hours for one hour of doing what I wanted to do.
      Dinner last night was similarly rankling. Italo asked for chicken parmesan. Clever me, I took a couple of checks Madeleina remembered she was holding for me from my time in Peru, to the bank early in the day and decided to get the shopping done for the day too. Since I went to the store to go to the bank, shopping counted as essentially zero time.
      I got home and decided to get Boots' chicken in the oven early so that the oven would be ready for the parmesan later. Clever me. I washed Boots' the blind Wonderdog's  chicken then remembered that I'd used the biggest roasting pan the previous night and hadn't put away the left overs. So I did that, then scrubbed the pan, then started the chicken.
     The problem came when I went to get the chicken breasts I knew I had in the fridge: Turns out I only had one half of one. Oh, and the tomatoes I was going to use for the sauce were soft. And the parmesan I was going to use in the breading was not grated fine enough for breading. So I did a 20 mile round trip and got that stuff. Now I was set.
     I cut the chicken fairly thin and scrubbed the cutting board. I went to put the garlic in the pan to start the tomato sauce and realized I didn't have enough cut and sitting in olive oil. So I cut garlic. Then I cut onions and tomatoes and got that going. Then I got out my flour, made my breading and went for the eggs. Oops. Forgot that Italo and his daughter had eaten the last of them. No sweat. Another 20 mile round trip and I had my good natural extra-large babies and by the time I got back the sauce was doing fine.
     Then I breaded and sauteed the chicken till golden brown, put the pieces in two baking dishes, topped them with a bit of parmesan then set it aside for when Italo would be ready to eat. When he was I put the sauce on the chicken, topped with mozzarella and baked.
     Total time cooking, cutting, cleaning up: 1 hour.
     Total time getting things ready and repeat time to go to the store: 3 hours.
Damn, I hate losing the time to the never ending things you need to do to prepare for the things you want to do.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Don't know how Italo does it...

I don't know how my oldest, Italo, does it. He grew up knowing nothing about motors, but these days he tears engines apart, does valve jobs, electrical work on cars. An hour ago he took apart my lawnmower, cleaned fuel feed, oil feed and carburetor all in the time it took me to wash the air filter. And now he's gone to get Chepa's van. He needs to fix the transmission and he wants to do it in my carport because it's got a good, level cement surface on which to work. And I don't know if he's even done a transmission yet, but he'll get it done, somehow. He just goes into the computer, sees how things are built and has the kind of brain that allows him to memorize that quickly and then go fix the problem.
    Me? I know that when I start the motor, if the engine won't even turn over, it's time to change the spark plug. I'm headed out to buy a new one now. That's about as far as me and engines go. But boy, Italo makes them sing.
    Good for you, kiddo. Glad you're my kid.
    Oh, and he wants a nice boat for his birthday in October. So if anyone wants to donate one, I'm all ears.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Some Answers to Questions About Ayahuasca

Questions someone asked me relating to ayahuasca. 

Responses are from Peter Gorman—August 20, 2014

1. There are a lot of Ayahuasca retreat centers in Peru now popping up with a strong online presence. What should readers be looking for in a retreat center when researching online?
   I think your best bet as a newcomer to ayahuasca in Peru, particularly if you are going to choose a retreat based on looking at their websites, is to contact the center and ask for maybe 10 contacts—email or phone—of prior guests. Then contact those guests and find out what their experiences were like at the retreat.
   I also think people should take note of the places that hold ceremonies for 30 people rather than a max of 10. That’s a personal choice, of course, but I’ve met many people who said that being part of a large group was disappointing and that they would have preferred a smaller group. So find out before you sign up.

2. Would you advise for readers interested in Ayahuasca to come to Peru without making plans, and just follow their intuition?
If someone has several weeks, I think it’s a good thing to go without too much planning. But I wouldn’t recommend going on immediate tuition or they’re liable to wind up drinking sludge with their motokar’s driver’s uncle. Rather, if you have the time, find people who have had ayahuasca and talk to them about their experiences with different curanderos, settings and such and once you’ve collected information from a couple of dozen people, then let your informed intuition kick in and go with that.
    I have to add that at a lot of lodges you have to pay full freight before starting. If you quit, you lose your money. That’s understandable because the lodge owner has a lot of people he/she’s committed to paying, projects that need funding and so forth.
   But you can sometimes get around that partially. If you’re dreaming of a three-week stay, see if you can pay for one week, commit to one week, and then, if you choose, you’ll commit for more time afterward.
   On the other hand, if you wind up with a curandero who does not have a lodge run by gringos, or a curandero who works out of his home or his own ceremonial space, do not pay for a week or two weeks’ of ceremony ahead of time. Not everyone in that part of the world understands a Westerner’s idea of a contract. If, for instance, you give a local $1,000 for two weeks worth of ceremony and he loses the money that night, his contract with you is over. He owes you nothing once the money is gone, no matter how it is gone. In those cases it’s better to pay for three ceremonies, maybe $150, and then pay for the next three after you’ve done the first three.

3. There are some out there who posit that curanderos and icaros are not necessary for drinking Ayahuasca, what are your thoughts on this?
Ayahuasca will work on you whether you have a curandero around or not. Butttt….a curandero will coax much more of the medicine’s spirit out of her than the average person can. That’s one: The medicine has to give up her chemicals when cooked, but the chemicals have very little, in the long run, with the spirit of the medicine. And a curandero who had a good relationship with the spirit of the medicine will do a considerably better job at getting the spirit to dance than a non-curandero will.
   Two: A good curandero, when singing his/her icaros, sees where each of the people taking the medicine are. He or she can see someone stuck in circular thinking and pull them out of it. He can see someone indulging in pointless thinking and re-center them with his/her shacapa (bundle-leaf rattle) and icaros.
   Three: A good curandero is firstly a healer. Some heal with hands on, some are hands off, but all the good ones can see if someone needs some particular attention to a problem and then work on that. You miss that kind of healing when you are on your own.
   So you don’t have to have a curandero during ayahuasca ceremony, but a good curandero will certainly bring a great deal to the ceremony that can add to it immensely.

4. What are you thoughts in drinking Ayahuasca in other countries, away from the Amazonian jungle?
It is far too late to put the genie back in the bottle, and far too few people can afford a trip to the Amazon. Moreover, if everyone who wanted to drink ayahuasca came to Peru the country would stop being Peru and the jungle would disappear with all the tree cutting necessary to make a thousand new centers.
   So while I love doing the ceremony in the jungle, I have learned to love doing it anywhere there is privacy, nature and a good curandero around. Lots of curanderos travel the world on tours these days, and then there are hundreds of US and European people who have learned enough to hold good ceremonies and hold good space. Drinking ayahuasca with a good curandero in a quiet back yard in Texas or California with a good curandero might not be traditional but it certainly would be better than drinking ayahuasca with a phony curandero in Peru.

5. Other there any particular 'dangers' about Ayahuasca readers should be aware about?
There are a couple of physical dangers due to blood pressure issues. Don’t drink ayahuasca if you are on any SSRI medications. These are mostly mood elevators, but SSRI’s are found in other drugs as well, so check with your doctor to see if what you are taking has an SSRI component.
   Then remember not to eat nuts or any cheeses—other than fresh farmer type cheeses—for a couple of days prior to ceremony. Again, possible problems related to spiking blood pressure.
   There is also the issue of not eating after noon the day you are going to drink ayahuasca. In most instances, a light meal and then a fast—with even water restricted to just enough to get you through (suffering from dehydration while in ceremony is not going to get you extra points; neither is a stomach full of orange juice)—will let your stomach clean out and finish digesting before an 8 or 9 PM ceremony start.
   The reason for that is because ayahuasca is going to afford you the change to eliminate—through vomiting—some of the bile of your life, some of the pain you carry around needlessly, or some of the guilt you no longer have use for. If you eat Chinese food or three apples an hour before ayahuasca you will squander that chance and simply vomit apples or Chinese food. Hell, you can do that any time. You can’t eliminate long-buried pain just any time. So make the most of your ayahuasca stomach cleansing.
   One other danger people should be aware of is that drinking alone, particularly for the uninitiated, can be very disorienting. What if you wound up on your back and began to vomit? If you are alone and disoriented you risk choking to death. Or if you fall on the way to the bathroom because your legs don’t work properly and maybe get a bad cut. My recommendation is that you always have a sitter with you at least, so that should something go wrong, there is someone there not under the influence who can handle the emergency.

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Okay. I think we might have a new word here. I could be all wet, of course, but here goes:
   So my daughter is singing a song with the line "Why are you so obsessed with me? I wanna know..." But what I heard was "Why are you so obsexed with me? I wanna know..." Which I think is a fantastic word, and maybe a new one, for sexual obsession. It could also be obsexion, as a nown. Is that new or is it old hat?
   Madeleina is so dying for me to add a new word to the English language and I keep letting her down. This may be the one.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Take Back Our Power

If you made a list of the beautiful things in this world and a list of the horrible things, I think the beautiful list would far outnumber the horrible. Yet we accept the horrible as inevitable, not as individuals, but as a human race. We do not have to do that. We outnumber the bad people, the people who do wretched things in the name of race/religion/politics by a million to one. The Koch brothers, for instance, only hold sway these days because people--including me--are frightened of them. We don't need to be. They are two, we are 7 billion.
   The Rothschilds? Ha! They are a few plus several hundred. We are 7 billion. We have the power to change things overnight. We have the power to change things in 30 minutes. Turn the whole paradigm on its head. We need to stop fearing. We need to feel strong. If the monster is 150 feet tall, don't be afraid. Make yourself 250 feet tall and step on it. After that, it's up to us to make the world in the image we want it to be. Pipe dreaming, I know. But we do have the power. It only works for them when we give our power away.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Just a Little Ego Thought

So the Pope went to visit South Korea and the hits on this blog from Vatican City have died since he left. On the other hand, hits from South Korea are way up to like 4 a day since he's been there. So I'm gonna go with the idea that he's the guy reading me in the Vatican and now he can't live without the blog in South Korea. Could be, right? I mean in an ego driven sort of way... Yo! Pope Francis! You keep readin' and I'll keep feeding you stuff to say!

Home Again

I got home from Peru last week, and aside from 22 open sores on my good leg--cellulitis, which is a sometimes dangerous staph or strep infection of the skin--I'm okay. Fat as a hog but okay otherwise. Doc Gritter has me on two antibiotics and after five days the leg is starting to dry up and the swelling that went along with the infection has gone down so that I've got my beautiful calves again. Cool.
    And all of you? How was your six week break from Gorman? Good, I hope, because now that I'm back I'm liable to jump in here every couple or three days with new material. At least I'll try.
    Was weird coming home: Chepa and her babies Sierra and Alexa are up in Maine, visiting the baby's dad and won't be home till next week. Which means I've got all their presents sitting on the kitchen table looking like a forlorn pipe of unwanted food and clothing. No sweat, they'll be home soon enough. But then Madeleina started Band Camp two days before I got home, which means she is gone at 6:45 AM and doesn't get free till 4 PM--and sometimes not till 9 PM. So while she's here, I have not seen a whole lot of her. Italo has brought his baby, my grandchild, Taylor Rain, over a few times and she's been a shining light. Love the kids. Love the mess they make when they paint with watercolors or use chalk to draw on the front of the house.
    And Marco has been over as well. Plus I had a guest for the weekend. So while I've been missing Chepa and the girls, I've still had plenty of company.
    Worst part about coming home: Seeing the house as a stranger would. And when the house has been unlived in--except for four cats--for five weeks, well, it was a stinking mess. Fleas everywhere, and for the first time ever, cockroaches. Man, Italo and I must have laid out five cans of flea spray and two or three cockroach spray cans to get it under control. I think we did. Then we had to get Boots, the blind wonderdog's hair out of everything. I don't even know how it got there since we shampooed the rugs just days before I left and had him shorn closely. Nonetheless, it was a mess of hair everywhere.
    But I worked crazy, got the house cleaned before the guest arrived, stocked the fridge and cabinets, made good food and paid my August bills. So I'm coming out ahead of the game.
    Now all I have to do is buckle down and write a 1,500 word cover story by Monday and a 5,000 word investigative story by the end of August and I'll be back in the swing of things.
    It's hard but good to be home.