Monday, May 30, 2016

Oy Vey! Gone again!

Oy vey, I'm gone again! Off to Peru, but this time with a twist: I've got a June trip and a July trip, neither full, unfortunately, but instead of staying down there between trips, I'm gonna sneak home for a couple of weeks. Why? A few reasons: First, my Madeleina goes back to college in early August and if I don't come back till the end of the second trip I'll hardly have any time with her. Then there is the matter of my legs: Since I tend to have severe apnea down there, I generally sleep sitting up in a chair, leaning my head on my arms on my desk. I love sleeping that way but if I do it for days--or weeks--my legs blow up enormously from basic force of gravity. And when they blow up the skin cracks, leaving me open to infection. And since I don't want any more leg infections, coming home and sleeping while laying down is a good option to beat that. I'm also gonna buy a couple of extra pillows so that I'll have a better chance at sleeping while semi-laying down than no chance at all. Pretty boring stuff. Sorry. When it's time to go my life is just a bunch of details.
    On the other hand, I'm gonna make these two trips fantastic things for the guests. I think my team is geared up and ready; I've sent lots of stuff up the river to camp already and I am stoked. Leave DFW tonight at 10:20 PM, arrive in Lima at 5:40 AM, then hit Iquitos tomorrow morning by about 10:45 AM. My room at the oldest hotel in Iquitos--no running water, unfortunately--is ready, my stuff is packed and just waiting for a last going-over before I seal it all up. If I have time I'll mow some lawn this afternoon to burn off nervous energy.
   But just to leave you with something, here's my newest column of Drug War Follies for Skunk Magazine. It's my 94th column for them, which is cool. I hope they keep me on till I hit 100, and then keep me on after that just for fun. Here it is. Have a great couple of weeks. I'll write from Iquitos if I can get my Ipad back from Chepa...


On any given day, reading the headlines is enough to make you question the humanity of humanity

By Peter Gorman

Today started out like most days: The cats started scratching at the couch I sleep on at about 5:30 AM to let me know I damned well ought to quit sleeping and get them fed. I ignored them as long as possible; when I finally got up I put them outside without food—nobody gets fed before I have coffee—and made myself some coffee. While it was brewing I brushed my teeth, took a shower and put on clean clothes.
     I said a big HELLO to the universe, thanked the powers that be that I didn’t die or kill anyone in my sleep, then sat down to my computer. I checked my email accounts—nothing too dramatic—checked to see if I’d sold a few books during the night—I love finding out I’ve sold several of my Ayahuasca or Sapo books while I slept—and then I opened the New York Daily News, the paper I used to read regularly for most of the 50 or so years I lived in New York city. It’s a working class paper, a blue collar paper that’s long on sports and local news, short on the heavier New York Times’ stories that I have never been able to dive into before a couple of cups of Joe.
    And you know, like a lot of other days, the headlines screamed wretched stuff from both New York and the Southwest: I guess their computer can read that my computer is now just south of Fort Worth, in Texas, so it includes a few stories from around here in tailoring the page to my locale. Anyway, these were in the headlines: Police looking for a guy who shot and killed another guy in the Bronx; a Mexican soccer star, Alan Pulido, was kidnapped in Tamaulipas, Mexico; a Georgia sheriff’s deputy was shot in the face while making a routine traffic stop; a biker got pissed off in a Queens, New York road-rage incident and shot the driver of a car through his window three times (driver stable, biker on the loose); vandals defaced military memorials in both California and Virginia; two men killed after being hit by trains in New York in separate incidents; three people shot at a fraternity barbeque in the Bronx; two dogs tied up and burned to death in Pennsylvania; a woman went crazy and stabbed another woman 48 times—killing her really, really dead—at a YWCA in Brooklyn, New York; ISIS and Syrian opposition fighters clashed in Northern Syria; 30 men in Brazil being sought for the gang rape of a 15-year-old. Oh, and a council in Pakistan clarified that men are perfectly allowed to beat their wives “lightly” if they didn’t do as they were told.
    Okay, there were a couple of stories about rescued puppies; a fireman who just got ordained as a priest; a good story about a couple of teachers really reaching out to tough-luck kids and having an impact on their lives. And there was sports, of course, and some opinion pieces about the upcoming U.S. presidential election and so forth.
    But most of the headlines were about how badly people treat each other and I’m probably starting to sound like a harpy on the issue, but what the fuck is wrong with people? Someone cuts you off in traffic you have to try to kill them? Have an argument over music and you have to stab somebody 48 times? 30 freaking grown men rape a 15 year old girl? WTF is going on in this world? And these stories are just the tip of the iceberg: What’s going on in Los Angeles? What horrible things happened in Toronto or Vancouver or Miami? How many people felt the urge yesterday, to hurt or kill other people or to kill themselves by stepping in front of trains? How many freaking refugees drowned trying to make it across the Mediterranean yesterday trying to get away from a war they want no part of?
   Were we always like this? I don’t think so. Maybe we were but without the internet we didn’t immediately access dozens of news stories from around the country and around the world. But it sure feels like I got to ask the question: Is there any humanity left in humanity?
    Couldn’t we all just smoke a nice organic outdoor bud—Cali Orange if you’re rolling for me, please—and talk our problems out? I know that sounds silly, but almost nobody goes ape-shit after they take a couple of tokes. It’s just the nature of the plant. It’s why the freaking beautiful cannabis plant was put here by the aliens to begin with! They knew we were crazy and wanted to give us something that would grow all over the world that would chill us out.
    The great folk musician and writer Tom Paxton wrote Talking Vietnam Potluck Blues in 1971. In it he talks about being a soldier in Vietnam. I don’t know if Paxton was ever actually in Vietnam but he was in the military at the right (wrong) time for it. Anyway, in it, the soldier is on a long patrol with several other soldiers and as they bed down for the night he smells pot.
    “I might be crazy but I think not.
    I’d swear to God that I smell pot.
    But who’d have pot in Vietnam?
    [The captain] said ‘What do you think you’re sitting on?’
    These funny little plants, thousands of them.
    Good God Almighty…Pastures of Plenty.”
So the patrol lights up, the captain gets a smile on his face and begins cleaning his rifle while chanting Hare Krishna. Well, our hero finally has to go pee and when he moseys off from the makeshift camp he runs into a Viet Cong soldier dressed in black. The soldier tells our hero that the Cong smelled the dope and thought it was trash, so he brought the Americans some top-flight Hanoi Gold.
   The two squads then get together and smoke, get high, and do not kill each other. And the captain finally gets on the radio and calls in to headquarters with this message: “Hello, headquarters. We have met the enemy and they have been smashed!”
   It was a beautiful little song—go look it up and give it a listen—that was just made up, but the message rings true. If you smoke with your enemy, you won’t be enemies. If you smoke alone, you won’t want to see others as enemies. If you just freaking take a couple of tokes you might even wind up loving your neighbor’s music, rather than having to stab her 48 times because you hate it so much.
   Silly, right? But right on: This plant can save the world if only we’d let it.
It would all be funny if people weren’t dying and the prisons weren’t full.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Chicken Catastrophe

Well, that chicken cacciatore I was making turned into a chicken catastrophe. I just didn't pay enough attention, had too much liquid in there and by the time it cooked down enough to be a sort of soupy-sauce the chicken had fallen off the bones and so every bite had little bones  you had to watch out for, and the chicken itself had lost it's juiciness and flavor. Have not blown a meal like that in ages, but I did last night. Oy, vey! Pay more attention, Gorman!!!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

What are we eating around here? Great food, of course!

Well, just because I have not been writing does not mean I have not been eating. I have already admitted to being in a funk. Medical testing and anticipation of bad shit can do that. But since everything seems okay, that means the problem is me. That means fat and smoking. The fat is brought on by drinking wine (I stopped hard liquor, my 3 minis of bourbon a day back in early Feb). My cigarettes I've cut from 3 packs to under 1 1/2 packs. Still too much, but better, way better, than it was. A friend was over recently and when I didn't smoke for a while i said that except for a couple of hours a day I was keeping it to one cigarette per hour. He laughed and said he'd seen me smoke a pack in an hour on many occasions. He was right. So that's out.
   And except for the occasional hot sandwich on fresh sesame seed French bread--with the insides of the bread pulled and tossed--neither Madeleina nor I have had pasta, bread, or rice more than once a week since February and not more than twice a week since last October or so. We just quit it and put a salad and/or extra veggie in its place.
   Which doesn't mean we're not eating well: This week we had shrimp and a small piece of salmon on a bed of spinach--sauce made of garlic, a bit of sesame oil, diced tomatoes, onions, daikon radish, and scallions.
   Another night we had lime chicken: Chicken lightly breaded (oops!) in a mix of bread and parmesan, sauteed till golden, then doused with fresh lime juice and baked till done. Had that with steamed broccoli and cauliflower.
    Another night we split a prime rib seared in garlic and a bit of olive oil and served with a melange of steamed zucchini, yellow squash, onion, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower.
    Last night it was hot sausage (10 ounces for 3 people) boiled (with holes in it to eliminate most fat) then sauteed with onion, sliced red and green peppers, and tomatoes, served on--you guessed it--a bed of sauteed spinach with garlic.
    The peppers got to me, so tonight, a cool, damp, day here in bucolic Joshua, Texas, I'm making Chicken Cacciatore. It's an old Italian favorite that my Irish father Tom used to love making. I'll cut a whole chicken in pieces, with bone, then saute the pieces in good olive oil. I'll set them aside and in the left over olive oil I'll saute lots of fresh garlic, two onions, scallions,  three red and green peppers--rough cut, large pieces--and 12 Roma tomatoes. To that I'll add fresh rosemary (thanks to my friend Mike, who brought it yesterday), fresh basil I just bought, Peruvian oregano, and a bit of thyme. When those are all going good I'll add the left-over of yesterday's wine--about a cup. When it's all working I'll put the chicken pieces back in the deep roasting pan, add two cups of low sodium organic chicken broth and cook for an hour or so, until the tomatoes have made a sauce of themselves.
    That should normally be served over pasta or boiled potatoes (my father's Irish prefence). I'm not sure what I'll serve it on. I do have half-a-head of cauliflower that I could put in the oven for 45 minutes to bake and then cut it into pieces and serve the cacciatore over that. We'll see.
    Just letting you know that though I've been in a funk, we ain't dead yet.
    And yes, I've been kicking ass with the lawn. I figure I'm using the electric push mower to cut about 6,000 square feet a day. Maybe a little more. Every day except if it's raining. And then I'm walking a lot daily too, and eliminating weeds from all over this yard. So yeah, I think I'm losing a few pounds. Still fat, but not bordering on freaking obese! Ye gods! How did that happen???????
     And I hope that all of you are eating something fantastic today as well. Cooking is a great meditation on being part of the whole shebang--don't mean to sound new-agey here, but I really do think it's an important part of my day, the time when I consider each veggie, each condiment, each meat or fish or bean or eggs. And when I do that, I forget me, and that's good meditation.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

I am going to own up...

I am going to own up to you guys/gals who actually read this blog. It's been nearly two months. I was undergoing a lot of tests that were supposed to prove that I was dying. I didn't like it. I passed the tests. It turns out, against my doctors ideas, that I't have diabetes, heart disease, COPD, plaque or anything else. In other words, despite smoking 3 packs a day for 40 years, my lungs are pretty clear. Despite drinking two bottles of wine a night for 15 years, my kidneys and liver are fine. Look like 35 year old stuff according to my doc, who thinks I might have paid to have the tests done in my favor.
   So I've been a little worried about the results. And that's put me in a funk. Who wants to write when the docs are saying you're dying in 3 weeks? Not me. All I'm trying is to get my affairs in order before I go.
   But then I don't think I'm going anywhere. I think these docs don't know anything. I'm sitting in a very unusual place: I'm not here nor there. I'm not strong or weak. I'm not honest or a liar.
    I hope I can be better for you all tomorrow.--PG