Sunday, December 31, 2017

Lentils for the New Year

Friend of mine asked me for my lentil recipe. Here it is:
Its 11:32 PM. This is my last official act of 2017. But you are worth it, and I just did this sleep-thinking three times, so I might as well type it out.

    Rince about a pound of lentils two or three times. Can be quick. Just check there are no stones, etc.
Put two big tablespoons of garlic, chopped, in olive oil in a saute pan or small pot, and heat, Add a diced onion--any flavor, color. I like sweet red, but thats just preference. When the onion is translucent, fill pot with three quarts of water, bring on the heat, get it boiling. When it is boiling put in salt and pepper and lentils and stir, Let it boil for about 45 minutes or an hour, add three diced roma tomatoes, some cumin, some tumeric, maybe a bay leaf, bring down to a simmer. They are ready some time between 1 hour and 20 minutes and 2 hours, depending on how old they were to start. You will know it when the flavor sears your tongue like a good kiss. Finish with some freshly chopped cilantro if you can.
   Happy New Year, 2017 is done.

2017: Thats a Wrap!

Well, well, well...;Just got up from an aggregate 8 hours laying down last night (out of 14). Later than I've gotten up in years!!! But what a relief after the insomnia of the past couple of weeks!!! And not only that: I put a whole beef brisket on at 2:37 AM (oven at 250) for a friend who occasionally feeds the homeless, with today being one of the days he was doing that. Got up again at 4:50 AM to put some broth in the pan and cover it tightly with foil, then was up at 8:40 to check on it. It was good, but needed another couple of hours. So I went back to reading papers on the computer (while hoping I would get another urge to lie down to sleep) when Mike called to say that the weather was making the roads too bad for him to drive the 30 miles to my house to pick up the brisket, and would I mind just keeping it and eating it? I don't mind. Don't mind at all having a beautiful brisket ready at noon for an early dinner tonight on New Year's Eve. There is going to be plenty, so if you are a nice human, please come over and we'll be glad to share our table with you. Happy New Year, Everybody!!!!!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Just another food post

Another boring food post. Skip it if you're on a diet. It got cold here. I mean cold for Joshua, Texas if you only wear shorts and short sleeve cotton shirts. So after a couple of weeks of eating fantastic food, but food that does not make you fat, the cold triggered something in me. So a couple of days ago I made fried calamari. Then two nights ago I got the urge for mac and cheese. In this house that meant rigatoni. A base of bacon and country ham, garlic, celery,onions and tomatoes. Set aside when done. Add good cheddar, spicy havarti, swiss and parmesan. Plus milk to make sauce. Add the bacon/garlic mix to the cheese sauce. Pour over rigatoni. Top with butter cooked breadcrumbs and asiago cheese, then bake till top is brown and cheese is bubbling and your mouth is watering from the smell. Had that with a veggie melange of cauliflower, yellow squash, zucchini, tomato, garlic, olive oil, scallions. Nice.
Last night I was gonna make sliders. Tiny burgers on tiny buns. Of course I got to the store and saw nice fresh minced pork and switched to meatloaf in my head: I had all the other ingredients at home except the pork, so that was easy. And, since we'd had bacon--thick sliced and diced--in the mac and cheese, I skipped that. "We'll have that with a salad" I told myself, like a drunk saying, "I think I'll just start with one"--something I know about--but then got home and found four baking potatoes that I sliced very thin, boiled, covered with a good morney sauce and baked to make potaoes au gratin, about 50 calories a bite.
Justification for all that indulgence? For two weeks I've not slept more than 4 hours a night, some nights none. While sitting at my desk waiting for sleep to come I've fallen over onto the floor probably 4 times nightly, once dislocating two fingers and badly bruising my right hand. Extreme pain for days now. Then my back went out--something that does not happen to me, damnit--and it hurts to walk or stand. So I am in pain 24/7 for days now. Cannot take much ibuprofin since it's bad for my freaking kidneys, and so I'm stuck hurting. Hard to be a fun guy when everything is sharp pain. I do no know how much courage people who are in chronic pain for years must have to continue going forward despite that pain. I am amazed at their courage. This will get better. Right now it's not good. But I am strong and will fight back and kick some ass and feel like myself again soon. I feel my Irish getting up. Meanwhile, we're having the leftover meatloaf and potatoes au gratin with seared spinach in garlic tonight. Enjoy, everybody. It's nearly the end of 2017!

Crazy Peru

A person recently posted in an ex-pat community board that after having lived in Peru for several years, she thinks Peruvians are missing something mentally or emotionally that prevents them from living successfully in the Western world. I begged to differ.
Here was my response:

I think the idea that people should be able to adapt and function in the "real world" is what is off in the initial poster's comment. Peru has its own reality, and that is as legitimate as any other reality. When you marry in Amazonia, for instance, your wife picks your lover for you. Sounds crazy but it's not at all crazy: She will pick some cousin or aunt from a part of the family to which she, your wife is indebted, and you, without knowing it, will be the peace symbol, Very effective, very functional. If you refuse the lover you will be forever accused of cheating on your wife. Why? Because it is a given that a man will cheat on his wife in order to have more babies with new blood that will keep the tribe strong. Not cheating, therefore, becomes a sign of weakness. In Iquitos there are now several grocery stores. Yet most locals shy away from them, preferring to shop in the insanely busy markets. Sounds crazy. Again, it's not: The markets are where you bump into a dozen of your friends daily, so they represent the social hub of the city. You might shop more efficiently at a supermarket, but you would miss the key social event of the day. These are just two examples out of hundreds where a Westerner might see a more efficient way of doing things and cannot understand why the locals do not choose to do those things. To the Peruvian, it's we Westerners who are lost because we have no sense of family, of community. We've given it all away in our search for efficiency. Having spent parts of every year there since 1984, and a few full years there in the late 1990s, I think they have the much healthier lifestyle.

Sunday, December 24, 2017


I think one of the genuine disconnects politicians have from the general public is the definition of middle class. While most of us working folk think that anyone working to pay their own way, even if that includes second hand clothes, an old jalopy, and a leaky roof are middle class, listening to politicians, they imagine the middle class are people making somewhere between $100,000 and $250,000 a year. For those of us in the $20,000--$60,000 income bracket those other people are rich or upper middle class, but not middle class. To Trump and McConnell, people who can afford membership to Mar a Lago are middle class, and the type of people they want to help. That is a huge disconnect from the reality in which most of us live.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Dinner tonight: Sopa de Mariscos

Well, it is chilly and sort of rainy here in bucolic Joshua, Texas. Did really good research on a piece due for the paper tomorrow and had my daughter Madeleina take photos for it. I love when she comes with me on location and shoots. She's good and getting better: Knows how to frame a photo for best commercial use, can frame it for the cover, knowing the paper's name is going across the top and that she'll lose the top quarter of the image.
Yesterday's locales were a couple of bars and bingo parlors that will have to stop allowing smoking on premises come Mar. 12. Today was the day to outline the article--maybe 1,200 words or so--and mull over follow up questions. I came up with some good ones.
Then it was time to get to the store to pick up something for dinner and a bunch fresh apples and limes and such. So I'm making Sopa de Mariscos, Peruvian jungle style. It's a tomato seafood soup with pasta.
Since I cannot get all the ingredients I want fresh unless I drive all over Fort Worth, I settled on a good quality bag of frozen mixed seafood: Shrimp, calamari, mussels. Then I bought half a pound of fresh shrimp and a pound of crayfish to add freshness to it.
So I'll start with minced garlic in olive oil, add finely diced celery, onion, and scallions. When garlic is going brown and the onions are getting see-through, I'll add 5 diced Roma tomatoes and some sea salt, a bit of crushed red pepper, and fresh ground black pepper.
Once those flavors marry properly, I'll add two large cans of Campbell's Tomato Soup and about a pint of good organic vegetable stock.
While that heats up, I'll peel and de-vein the shrimp, then toss the shells into a pot that is otherwise empty on high heat to scald them The shells will turn bright red when scalded. Then I'll toss in the onion ends, the scallion ends, the tomato ends, the celery ends and add about a pint of water. Put that on high and let it reduce in about 20 minutes down to a cup or so. Pour that essence into the soup.
Add the frozen and fresh mariscos (which means mixed seafood) and stir that up after lowering the temp on the soup.
Ten minutes later I'll add some angel hair, raw--because it will cook so quickly--a minced head of cilantro, and then season to make sure it's got a bit of a bite.
Side dish that I will start before i even attack the soup? Spaghetti squash. Halve it, eliminate the seeds, score it length wise. Dab butter on it so that the butter will fall into the empty cavity-halves as it melts, then bake for about 30 minutes at 335. Or so.
I'll pull that and scrape out the squash meat with a big spoon. It will come out looking like spaghetti. That will go into a saute pan that has garlic and olive oil and a large diced red pepper in it. Stir it around. Add seasoning as you like. Its really good squash.
And that is it. That's the meal. The soup is rich and the squash is so good you will want to eat it slowly so you don't finish it too fast. Enjoy. And if anyone is hungry and nearby, we'll be having that at about 6:30.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

This world does not revolve around me. This world would not notice if I disappeared tomorrow, with the exception of my family and friends. So why do get the urge to post nonsense that most of you won't care about, didn't need to know, and which will not make your lives any richer? I don't know. I struggle with that. I just hope my stories and food stuff has a slightly larger meaning that the words I use to tell them. I hope there is something people get from my silly stories that they can apply on their way to where? Enlightenment? Being dead? Oh hell, who knows. Anyway, here goes.
I do not do many public ceremonies at my house. I will serve sapo and nu-nu, two medicines that come from the Matses indigenous of the Peru/Brazil borderland on the Galvez, Upper Yavari, Blanco, and Choba rivers. The nu-nu is a snuiff, very harsh, that immensely improves your vision for some hours. Sapo is the secretion of a frog that is burned into the subcutaneous layers of your skin--generally upper arm--which is full of bioactive peptides and turns out to be a fantastic medicine for a lot of illnesses: It basically resets your body function, from your heart beat to your kidney and liver functions.
Of course, not many people come to me for treatments because the medicines are very painful to do--though short term at about 15-20 minutes--before the benefits kick in. Enough. I've written about these medicines in my books, all over my blog, and in dozens of magazines worldwide. They are not the point of this story. This story is about a man who got in touch with me and wanted to do the medicines. I told him if he was sure, and if he wasn't crazy when I met him, I'd serve him small doses to introduce him to the medicines. If he did them well, I could go with a slightly larger dose the next time.
Over the course of several emails and a telephone call, it finally occurs to him to ask the price. I tell him $150 for the session. He didn't appear to blink or choke at that figure, but I still felt compelled to explain. "The price is high for two reasons," i said. "First off, I pay exorbitantly for the best quality medicines from my Matses friends. More importantly is that when people say they will be here at 9 AM, I scramble to clean the house, the kitchen from last night, vacuum the dog's hair from the living room rug before the client arrives. But," I said, "most people show up at 10. Then they want an hour's worth of stories from me about the medicines and the Matses and the Amazon jungle. Then they do the first medicine, the sapo, and when they are done in 15 minutes, they need to rest for an hour. Then they want more stories about the nu-nu, and thats another 30 minutes and then I serve them and then they need to rest for an hour while I cut fresh fruit for them, clean up the bathroom where they puked on the side of the toilet. And then they leave at 4 PM. That's why I charge a lot of money."
"Why?" he asked, having missed an entire speil.
"Because if you stretch a two hour session into 7 hours, my day is shot. Someone has to pay me for that. Hell, It's not even $25 an hour!"
"I'm not that guy," he explained. "I'm the guy in your driveway at 8:30 AM, sitting in my car till you are ready, and then I'm gone by 11 AM."
"Cool," I said. "For those people, I charge $120 the second time and if they can do it again, I drop the price to $100 a session. And when they come often enough to be friends, there is no charge at all."
Needless to say, he did not show at 8:30 AM--and he only lives 25 minutes from my house. He didn't show at 9 or 10 and by 11:30 I was writing him a note saying he could reschedule, but that he'd have to pay for the missed session and the new session in cash before we began. Why didn't he come? I don't know. Cold feet? Fear? I wrote him several times asking if he was okay--I know that people get into fender-benders that can take hours to clear up--and I would have been fine with that, but he never responded, even to cancel and tell me to go to hell, even now, a full 34 hours after he was scheduled to be in my driveway.
So with the day shot, I decided to try my hand at apple cider. I never, for some reason I can't think of, tried it. So I went to the store and bought 10 kilos of organic honeycrisp apples, brought 'em home, washed and cut them, then tossed them into a pot of spring water. I made a gallon and a half and it's damned good. Spent $24.90 on the apples and $5 on the spring water, so it came out about 4 times what organic Apple Cider costs. That's okay, right?
In the evening I made lime chicken and then the whole family showed up unexpectedly and ate it all, including all the rice and veggies and I was happy but did not get to eat.
So tonight I'm gonna eat. I am in the middle of making stuffed manicotti (stuffed with parmesan, ricotta, fresh mozarella, basil, salt and cracked black pepper) that I will bake on a bed of tomato sauce (currently on the stove), then top with tomato sauce, parmesan and fresh mozarella for the last 15 minutes of baking. I'll be serving that with sauteed spinach with garlic and olive oil. I tossed a couple of chicken thighs in the oven--well seasoned--in case I get the urge for meat. Or if the family shows up.
Or maybe, just maybe, my client went into a little coma, wakes up, and arrives at 9 PM tonight, just 36 hours late, and needs a bite to eat.
Eat healthy, everybody.

What about Removing Illness and Protecting Yorself?

A friend who has taken my sapo course told me that she sometimes felt completely dragged down by the negative energy or illnesses that she was removing from people during the work. She asked how to protect herself. I told her this story from my late teacher Bertha Grove, a Southern Ute medicine woman. In the early morning at the end of a peyote ceremony, Bertha sucked a sickness out of a young man, A couple of hours later she called me and my sister Pat, who was at the ceremony with me. over for a private talk. She said: "Did you see what I did in there?" We said we did. She said: "Now I sucked that illness right out of that boy. But that illness has the same will to live as you and I do. So the first thing it wanted to do was jump into me. Now when you suck out an illness you've very vulnerable. But you can't let that happen. So you get a good wad of spit in your throat and keep it there and put your spirit into it so that nothing can pass it. That protects you. At the same time, you can't just toss that sickness on the ground or it will grab something or someone else. And maybe that sickness showed up as what that boy had in his body, but it might show up as something else in someone else. So you have to get rid of it. Me? I wrap it up in a heavy gauze and send it off to a planet that has never had life and never will have life. A place so cold that that sickness cannot move, it's just frozen there, harmless forever.
Now other people have other places they put it, but you have to put it where it can do no harm. And you have to pay complete attention when you are removing that sickness or it will find its way into you. It might even kill you. So pay attention and don't let it get in you or on you." 
That was about it. Years later I was introduced to what I call the Red Room, a place where doctors of a different sort can take negative energy and transform it into positive energy. And that's where I put illness and negativity that I remove from people. But damn, once in a while I forget and every time I forget I get sick as a dog. So you be as careful as Bertha said to be when you are healing people. Illness, negativity, other things are just as full of life and the will to live as you and I are. They do not just disappear and they do not go willingly. They put up a fight, every time.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Is Ayahuasca political?

Someone on a facebook page posed the question of whether ayahuasca was political. Someone responded that they had friends who have been drinking ayahuasca for 15 years and remain alt-right. That led to a spirited and stupid conversation which sort of eventually forced me to jump in, briefly. Here was what I added to the conversation:
I think from a political standpoint, the politics of the right are basically, "i got mine baby, you go get your own." They are the politics of fear--fear that you won't have enough, can't get your fair share, etc. I'm talking politics here. The politics of the left are more like: "Hey, if you're hungry, I can share. I don't have much, but I can do with half of what I have." It is the politics of generosity. When you drink ayahuasca, you realize that operating out of fear has no value, and so you tend to transform your fear to fearlessness--and come to realize that you will always have enough, no matter how much you share. So you sort of automatically move to the left, politically, and become a sharer, rather than a rightest hoarder. So yeah, ayahuasca is definitely political that way.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Thinking About Chicken

So I don't mean to bore anybody with more food posts but sometimes they are important. Today, for instance, I bought 3-half chicken breasts. Air cooled, organic, no Cadillac grill but nearly. And I was thinking I'd just sear them good and brown in a bit of olive oil, and when they were done I'd toss them in a low oven, maybe 275 degrees, while I took pan juices and added fresh garlic--organic, from my friend Arbol, the last of it--half a diced red onion, a bunch of trimmed and diced scallions, diced and par boiled zucchini and yellow squash, par boiled tiny florets of broccoli and cauliflower, and finally, diced roma tomatoes. When that was all good with sea salt and cracked black pepper, I'd toss in the chicken, let the flavors marry a bit, then put some fine balsamic reduction in there for a finishing flavor. Slice the breasts, serve with the veggies over Jasmine rice.
But then I got to thinking: It's cold. Maybe I should make chicken parmesan. Or what about a light pasta with diced chicken pieces in a homemade pesto? Or saute the chicken breasts and add the juice of fresh oranges with garlic and onion? Or make a mushroom cream sauce for the chicken as I have some good mushrooms here. Or do chicken breast and pear slices with balsamic? Or do some chicken with some shrimp I have and add thyme and rosemary and a bit of dark beer that's been sitting in the ice box for a few weeks? Or stuff the chicken breasts with blue cheese and spinach and put a mushroom sauce over that?
Where I am going with this is two places: One is that no matter how humble the key ingredient is, you've got dozens of ways to work with it if you have good veggies and a few spices in your home. The second thing is this: If your brain is going as fast as mine just thinking about what you are going to cook, then you're probably crazy and will not get a good night's sleep because you cannot turn that stuff off. I will be thinking about 40 other things I could have done at 2 AM when I am wide awake and wishing I was sleeping. Thanks for the brain, universe. Can you tell me where the "OFF" switch is?
I hope you are all eating well tonight.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Go tell aunt rosie...

I've got an objection here. Forget politics. Forget South American Medicine. This is an objection in general. My daughter, Madeleina, begin studying flute in the 6th grade. Now my wife Chepa's daughter, Sierra (we've been separated for 17 years) is studying the flute. And both Madeleina and Sierra learn the song: Go Tell Aunt Rosie early on. But now I'm upset. The lyric goes: "Go tell aunt Rosie, go tell aunt Rosie, go tell aunt Rosie, the old grey mare is dead." I do not doubt the death, as people have been singing about it since I took accordian lessons in 1956, at least, but I object to the idea of the song. Obviously, aunt Rosie cannot go see her old gray mare. So she's incapacitated somehow. Might be physical, might be Alzheimers, might be something else, but for whatever reason she cannot go see her old gray mare. But if she cannot go see the horse, why would you celebrate telling her that her favorite horse is dead? Why don't you tell her that the horse is healthy, playful, wild, or whatever. What good does telling your infirm aunt that her favorite horse died do? Nothing. It's just cruel. So stop singing that song. Leave Aunt Rosie alone. She has enough problems without you sticking it to her. That's what I'm thinking about tonight.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Bridges Not Walls

If I had my druthers, there would be bridges, not walls; relations, not separation. We are not better, we are not worse. We are all the same: We've got prejudices, idiotic belief systems, loves and hates and we are mired in those. We're willing to build walls to keep the 'other' out, when we are the other to the others. Bridges, not walls. Interaction, not inaction. We could fix it all if we stopped being fear driven and became fearless. It's not complicated, it's not impossible. It's just deciding to solve the problems.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

When is the right time to serve your kids ayahuasca?

My sons and daughter always got a bit on their forehead from Julio; after a time or two of that he'd put a drop on their lips; another time or two he'd let them wipe the cup after everyone drank and lick their fingers. Madeleina did that when she was maybe 3 or 4? Marco finally drank a full portion at about 13 or 14; Italo at probably 15, and Madeleina, who is the best assistant in ceremony in the world, still has not asked for a portion--and she's now 20. When she wants it, she will be served. BUTTTTTTT to go to your question: Marco and Italo and Madeleina were raised early on in Peru and so were around ceremony all their lives: Curanderos were always at my mother-in-law's house, sometimes five or six at a time--some were curanderos with ayahuasca, some were egg healers, or cuy healers, or smoke healers, or rock healers, or paleros, or any of a number of other types of healers. So they were exposed to this stuff daily, and would sit in ceremony with me at Julio's maybe 5 times a year. Now my wife's new babies, 8 and 11, have been in ceremony only about 4 times, and so if they suddenly, in five and two years, respectively, asked to drink a full portion, I would hesitate because they have not got the experience the others did. So I don't know that just serving a teen or preteen, based on their desire, is necessarily a good thing. Those people who have been around ceremony a lot, well, I think they get introduced incrementally, and so drinking the cup is not as big a leap for them as it is for others.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Ayahuasca Diet, another time....

So I'm so verklempt at newcomers voicing their encouragement of the Dieta associated with ayahasca--so salt, no pork, no hot peppers, no oil--that I want to strangle people. Here was my response:
No offense, but since salt was not a food in Amazonia--people licked salt lick clay for salt, for instance--to say that giving up salt, which no one in Amazonia ever ate, is the equal of saying don't drive a Ferrari in the jungle. Easy to give up since no one ever had one. Damn, lots of people listen to nonsense but do not do their homework. All food in the Amazon, all the fish and plantain, has MSG in it. No, I'm not lying. Any person who says they don't put that in there is lying. MSG was brought over by the Chinese in the mid 1800s, when they came to build the railroads in Lima/Cuzco, etc. Salt, what little there was, was to preserve food to sell. But MSG is everywhere. Every meal in Iquitos, every meal in the jungle, every dieta meal has MSG. And I will include every non-gringo owned restaurant in Peru that offers an
"ayahuasca diet". That's just the way it is. If you have a curandero who says he doesn't eat salt, I understand. Why? Because there never was salt--or hot peppers, or oil, or sugar--in the Amazon till 10 years ago. More or less. But the reality is that any curandero worth his weight will eat a huge meal four or five times a day while cooking ayahuasca. Then he or she will eat another huge meal--with coffee if available--10 minutes before they serve ayahuasca. The ones who deny this are full of bologna and I would never drink with them. Get real. No Pork? Of course not. Who the heck would live with a pig or pigs who bring ten thousands of mosquitoes under your hut for a year, bringing in tens of thousands of insects only to kill one to take a pork chop, which makes it non-saleable? No, no pork. But wild boar, wild pork, is fine. i've never met a curandero who turned down boar while they were making ayahuasca. I am so tired of the nonsense of religion, whether it is catholic--which is the best religion I know because it forces you to do at least one good thing you don't want to do every day, every day--or ayahuasca. It is gringos putting words in the mouths of curanderos, who say "yes" because it gets them more clients. Please understand that.

Ayahuasca Dieta and Salt

Someone asked a quetion about why was salt forbidden on the ayahuasca dieta. His take was that since he used Himalayan Sea Salt he didn't see why he could not use that. A couple of people replied that lack of salt made you weak and that that was a good way to go into ayahuasca ceremony, and someone else noted that your body cannot be purified by the medicine if water is tied to it by salt. I don't buy those explanations. Here's my take, once more:
Actually, until quite recently, there was not much salt available in the Amazon. What salt there was was used to salt fish and meat to bring it to market without spoiling, not to be wasted on food. Remember, until 2000 or so, nearly all village to town trips were made by dugout canoe, meaning they often took several hours or maybe half a day. If collecting enough fish to make it worthwhile to go to town to sell them took a week, salt was vital to preserving them. (In 2000 or so the cheap Honda motors for peque-peques became available for the first time, allowing a lot more people to have access to motorized tranportation in the Amazon.) The Chinese, however, when brought over to build railways in Peru, brought with them Aji-no-Moto, MSG, and that became a staple of food seasoning in the Amazon. It certainly was everywhere when I got there in 1984, and is still the seasoning of preference over salt. So I think the "no salt" thing is simply another "thing" that was not available, so not used, and which has now become part of a doctrine of dieta. And that's fine if people want to include it, but not traditional in the sense that it was given up as it was not normally used anyway. Certainly for gringos in lodges who are not going to sweat, giving up salt is okay. But for people who are going to do jungle tours that include hiking in jungle and other strenuous things, giving up salt is not a good thing for the body. Going into ceremony physically weak--low on electrolytes, low on sugar, dehydrated from lack of salt--is not a good way to go. Just my opinion, of course.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Gumbo Tonight

Well, it's chilly here in Joshua, Texas today. Bout 65 but lots of wind making it feel colder. So I'm lazy cause I'm tired--slept from 10-1AM last night, then again from 5-7, so not full of energy--though my head is freaking crystal clear from all the indigenous Matses snuff--nu-nu--that I've been doing. So I've got this clear head and lazy body: I mean, who wants to rake when the wind is blowing down the last of the leaves and I can get them all tomorrow, right? And it's too cold to give the bridge over the creek one more coat of paint. And I did some good writing for the Fort Worth Weekly this week, so I'm laying low, cutting out, relaxing.
Still, I got to eat. I realized I had good 10-15 size shrimp, some Andouille sausage, and roast chicken. Sounds like Gumbo Time! Won't be anyone to share it with as Madeleina is still at school till tomorrow and the rest of the family are on their own quests, but Gumbo is one of those dishes that gets better a day or two after you make it, when the flavors have a chance to marry up and get to know each other.
So that's the project for the day. I know it's only a 30 minute active project, with an hour of simmering, but I already admitted I'm being lazy. For those keeping score, I did feed the dog, 10 cats, swept and cleaned the kitchen, mopped it, then vacuumed my office and polished the floor. Okay, that was only another 30 minutes. It's a small house. Mostly I'm being lazy.
Shout out to Dathan for the red peppers from his garden that are going in the Gumbo and to Mike for the lightly pickled and perfect okra that's going in there as well.
I hope all of you are doing well, being lazy, and going to enjoy a good meal tonight. If you're stuck, come on by, there will be plenty.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Trumps and Elephant Trophies

Oh, and while I'm in the mood to rant, and I am not even going to go after the tax reform that will cost every middle and lower class earner tons of money and lost services in homage to the super rich and upper middle class earners (they call people who make $250,000+ a year middle class for Christ's sake. I call them surgeons and industrial lawyers!!!! Not pipe fitters, garbage men, cops, journalists, cooks, waiters and waitresses, cleaning people, union guys and gals!!!!!), I will go after Trump and his stupid boys. Trump, today, said that he would allow trophies from elephants legally killed in Zimbabwe and Zambia to be imported into the USA. You know what those trophies are: Not just elephant tusk chess sets, but elephant foreleg ashtrays, mounted heads, Elephant ears, trunks, tails, elephant feet necklaces. And who hunts these--well, the super rich, the people who have no concern for animal welfare (and don't give me any shit about saving cultures by culling animals. You could just give those people the means to work, to fish, to do permaculture, etc. Giving them dead animals is not the only way!). The people who hunt the elephants include the Trump boys!!!! Yes, this is a gift to his sons, Pukey and Ukey! They get to bring elephant leg ashtrays back to Trump Tower. Isn't that special? Oh, how I'd love to meet any or all of the Trumps in an alley off 13th street in NYC, just to give them a good talking to. What a bunch of weasels!!!
They make me want to puke.

The Al Franken molestation charges

I have no opinion yet as to whether or not Al Franken molested Ms. Tweeden in 2006. But if the claim is based on his posing in front of her and pretending to grab her breasts--while not actually touching anything--while she wore a flack jacket that has a ceramic breast piece, well, then I'm not buying into it. The Hulk could not have felt anyone's breasts through that ceramic piece in the flack jacket. You might claim he was trying to feel up the flack jacket, but that's about as far a anyone could possibly go--IF that photo is the proof. To me, it's just proof of why I was never the biggest Franken fan--until he entered politics, where he's fantastic--: He simply went for the easy joke too often. Pretending to feel up a flack jacket is one of those dumb jokes. This is not the same as "grabbing them by the..." or a 32-year old trying to force a 14-year old to touch his privates. It's just not in the same ballpark--at least from what she's told us so far.
I do like that he immediately called for an Ethics Commission review of his actions. That's stand up.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Making Cumalanga, the Great Amazon Spirit Protector

I've got a friend with whom I am sharing the secret of Cumalunga, an old time Amazon spirit protector that prevents negativity or bad energy from attaching itself to you. Here is the recipe for those who want it:
With the Cama Lunga, or Cumalanga, or however you want to spell an indigenous word that's only phoenetic, you are putting ingredients from the world's second harshest desert, the Altacama (male and female onions and garlic), with the male and female seeds from the chrysanthemum and male and female camphor from the Longest and second highest mountain range in the world, and combining that in cane liquor from one of the world's deepest Jungles, the Amazon. The power of those three locales is immeasurable. As a protector, they are impenetrable. Take it seriously and you will ward off negativity both on the ethereal plane and the human plane.

   I want you to get a 20 ounce bottle of water. Drink it so that your saliva and spirit is on that bottle, cap included. Then wash it. Then dry it  over the course of a day or two until it is spot dry. Then work a rag into which you have smoked mapacho, into it, to clean it with that.
   When done, fill the bottle with mapacho smoke as best you can, put the cap on and set aside.
   Take the male and female camphor I gave you (male has four pieces, female six) and put them on a paper. Crush them with your fingers or a spoon. Do not turn them into dust. Just break them up into pieces. There will be some dust. When done, smoke them with mapacho and put them in the bottle. Do not lose any little pieces, even if it's a pain to find them. Find them. You don't know which pieces have the most strength, and often it's the ones that run away. So get them.
   When they are in the bottle, take out the four camalunga seeds: Two males are large and long, like dicks; two females have vaginas at the bottom of their round butts. Smoke them, sing to them, ask them for protection, then add them to the bottle.
   Buy a pint of cheap rum: Aguar Diente is the cheapest of rums, so get a cheap one, 80-100 proof, clear, no color, and smoke it, then add it to the bottle. Smoke the bottle, smoke the top, then set aside.
   I will get you the onions and garlic to add, and you will dice them with the same clear intention as you did the camphor: Nothing lost. When you add them, put the bottle in a cool, dark place so that the medicines can mix. Best if you make two bottles, so that one can learn from the other. When I get you the onions and garlic, ask me and I will send you two or three ounces of my older bottle, about 10 years, that has been schooling my younger bottle, about six years now, to get you started on the second bottle. You need to use these freely: A bit in your mouth to spit or sopla on your chest; a bit in your hand to put on your crown chackra; a bit to clean your hands after you have taken goop from someone to insure that none of the goop stays on you. This is important stuff.
   When making the first parts that you have, please let it take 30-60 minutes. Enjoy it. Meditate it. Sing it. Smoke it. Encourage it. Ask it. You are asking a lot from these things. You are asking them to protect you while you are working in difficult realms. Their spirit will do that, but you need to do your part. I know you, and I know you will. But I still have to make the reminder. Remember that the little bit that got lost might be the most important part, so take your time to find it and include it.
   This medicine is like having the FBI watching your back. It's good, old time medicine, and as simple as it is, not many people bother to make it any more. I'm oldish school: All of my teachers used this and made it very solemnly, so I try to copy and respect. I know you will.

Nu-Nu dieta: Indigenous Matses snuff

So tonight I did my--something like 24 day in the last 28 days of nu-nu, the indigenous Matses snuff. Why do it so often? To see if there were cumulative effects: Short term it improves eyesight fantastically. Now I see it cleans your head so that I'm thinking very, very clearly, at all times of the day or night. So a worthy experiment. Nearly done, and not recommended because it's painful, daily. The snuff, made from the inner bark--reduced to ash--of the cacao tree, mixed with Nicotiana rustica--the black tobacco of the Amazon, also reduced to ash, is very powerful stuff.
Mostly I've used the nu-nu made by my friend Pepe and his brother in law Jaime--nu-nu is typically made by two hunters to insure that the spirit of both of them is in it to make it powerful. But I also pulled out a couple of stashes made by my friend Pablo, a Matses headman who died years ago. In theory, his medicine is not good anymore because it doesn't normally have much of a shelf life. But man, Pablo's medicine put me on my seat.
Tonight, I did it at 6 PM and could not stand till 7:30, and could not function--as in feeding dogs or cats or making food for myself--till 8:15. I was alone, so the time lost--or used differently--did not interfere with anyone else. That is some powerful medicine. And I am still under the influence. Not stoned, not drunk, just seeing the life force pulse through everything, from my desk to the ivy growing outside in front of my porch.
Wow! If people tell you that the ingredients of a medicine count more than the spirit of the person making them, well, I think they're dead wrong. Spirit is everything. Ingredients are incidental.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

About Guns

So a friend of mine posted a video that showed something about more guns don't kill more people per capita in the US than less guns. I call bs to start. But I didn't want to answer with a knee jerk reaction, so I thought about it and then responded with this:
Personally, I am not a fan of guns. I don't own one, but since I live in Texas, everyone thinks I own one, and so nobody will bother me. I also have two big dogs, and if you come into the house before I can get out the back I'll probably clip you pretty good with an aluminum baseball bat or a hammer- hatchet, and when you're down I'll stab you with a skein of blowgun darts tipped in curare... It would be hard for me to go crazy and kill my family with that stuff. Very different if I had a gun, got blind drunk, and imagined my family were bad guys... That is what happens a lot. People with guns tend to die by gunfire a lot more than people without guns. And people with guns seem to kill or hurt a lot more people than people with broken bottles, or cars, or knives. Guns just allow people to be removed from the act by a step or two. 
   I do understand hunters, i do understand protection. I'm not against guns per se, I just am not a fan. 
   And I wish simple laws could be changed. If I go into a gun store and ask for a rifle and they call the FBI and the green light comes on, I don't think I should be able to change that order to "I think I'll change that order to include 1000 .50 caliber sniper rifles, 5,000 AR-15s, and 150 30-30s. Oh, and toss in 10,000 rounds of ammo for each gun, won't you?" which is totally legal. And then I can sell those personal guns to anyone I want, including felons, so long as I do not know they are felons, or to people who will take them to foreign countries, so long as I do not know they will take them to foreign countries. I thing that sort of stuff is completely crazy, but I've done it as a reporter and never been blinked at--though I always cancelled the sale before paying.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

The Work!!!!!

The Work, The Work. So today I had a story due. It was assigned late Thursday, and I couldn't make calls till early Friday. But I'm going in blind, right? I don't even know what questions to ask. By Friday AM, I've figured out the two main people and do interviews. But they were weak because I don't know the thrust of the story yet. They tell me I can call them back....I go through their notes, see 5 groups I need to get in touch with--these are all groups trying to help immigrants and refugees, so if you don't like those people you can stop reading--but by that time it's Friday evening and no one is reachable. I work on background all weekend, do better interviews with my main people, leave emails for official people--ICE, Border Patrol, Homeland Security, School of the Americas Watch-- but cannot go further. By Monday morning I know what the hell I am doing. I start
making calls at 8 AM Central Time, which is 9 AM East
but by 11 AM I HAVE a splitting headache. I can't think. I can't write. My interviews are in, it will only take two hours to write a draft of the story--Hell, I've got 5,000 words of interview, 20,000 words of back story, and I am only writing 1,500 words--but my head is splitting. For the first time in my life I asked for an extension based on feeling bad--and I am not kidding. If I had a gun I would have killed myself to stop the pain.
My boss let me slide till 10 AM tomorrow morning--we go to press tomorrow, so that's very cool on his part. So I lay down. Then a friend called who needed medicine, and he came over and I served it. While serving the medicine--the south American frog sweat known as Sapo or Kambo--my head started feeling better. Then Chepa, my wife/ex-wife, called to say she'd be coming over for dinner with the girls--her two new daughters, 11 and 8, plus my granddaughter, 7--and they needed rice with garlic and lime, cucumber with lime, fried chicken breast pieces, and she needed talapia, onion, tomato, cilantro, red pepper, scallions. And a good mix of veggies: Broccoli, cauliflower, green zucchini and yellow squash, corn, tomato, onion and garlic. So I raced to the store, bought what we needed, head splitting, raced back, cooked good jasmine rice in garlic, got oil hot enough to fry the chicken breast pieces, reduced the juice from last nights' Coq au Vin, made the food.
All the while I was cooking 5 pounds of chicken legs for the two dogs and 2 pounds of chicken livers for the 10 cats to go along with 3 pounds of dry food.
It is now 6:32. I've fed the dogs and cats. I fed Chepa, Sierra, Alexa, and Taylor Rain. I gave Taylor $20 for something she needs for school and Chepa $100 for jackets for Sierra and Alexa. The fried chicken breast is gone. The two Talapia filets Chepa made with capers, garlic, onions, tomato and garlic are gone. I'm sick of the Coq au Vin.
So there is nothing for me to eat, but I fed a lot of people and I felt good. Now, I just feel tired. I think I will smoke a joint, watch a little television--which I rarely do--and go to bed by 9. I need to get up by 5 to get that story in by 10. I promised, after all.
Ain't life grand!!!!!!

Sunday, November 05, 2017

My kid is taking a nap

My kid Italo just went to take a rest. He's my oldest at 32, father of my two grandbaby girls, Taylor Rain and Teigan Grey. He showed up 45 minutes ago, just as the Philly-Denver game was getting boring and I was starting to cook Coq au Vin for Madeleina for tonight. I was glad to see him because I've been in a strange lonesome mood lately. I feel like my family doesn't need me much and instead of feeling freedom, I've been feeling lousy. They've been over, they've visited, but they don't need me.
So Italo walked in, sat down on the couch and started pulling one leg of his sports shorts up. "I need that stuff you do."
"The medicine. Right now. I need to feel alive."
He wanted the indigenous Matses medicine, Sapo, (misnamed in Spanish), frog sweat.
"You kidding me?"
"Pops, give it to me now or I'm leaving."
I took down a stick of sapo, still not sure he was not just pulling my leg. "Take your shirt off so I can apply it to your shoulder," I said.
"I didn't show you my thigh for sex, dad. Put it on my leg like last time."
I'd forgotten I'd applied it to his leg last time, which might be four months ago.
So I got the medicine ready, got a piece of tamishi vine good and hot, burned him, scraped the skin from two very large burns, then applied the medicine.
Then I sang.
I was in wonderment. Fifteen minutes earlier I'd been feeling lousy at being alone while Chepa and her new kids were at her sister's house, Madeleina was busy at school, Marco was working, Italo was playing soccer and didn't invite me to the game--he knew it was Sunday, football time and I was going to be busy--but I still felt lousy.
Then I watched as my kid went through an enormous cleansing of both physical and emotional toxins. Nothing to do but count the minutes. He didn't want help; he's tough.
He endured the very difficult 15 minutes and went into one of the bedrooms to take a nap. He asked what I was making for dinner and if he could stay to watch the Cowboys' football game when he wakes up.
For a minute there I was needed. That was good. It'll get me through the next couple of weeks. I hope the medicine was very good to/for him.
You got to stop being selfish, Gorman. They'll need you when they need you. As dad, the basic premise is that they just need to know where to find you when that occasional time they need you comes around. More than that is just being selfish.
Note to self: Got it. For now.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Someone asked about Sapo with a heart problem

So someone asked about using kambo--brazilian style sapo, mixed with water, not saliva--after he had a heart attack and a stent put in. THIS was my reply:
As a rule, sapo is the best darned medicine for heart problems, whether they be irregular heart beats, junk collected on the valves that don't permit them to open and close perfectly, etc. With a stent, I do not have experience. But after my heart attack several years ago, a little heart burp which the doc said was okay, but that I needed more exercise, I added exercise and did quite a bit of sapo and now my heart is very normal. The stent is the thing I'm not sure about....And I'm sorry I cannot suggest doing more sapo or kambo with it in place. If I were treating you I would probably give you one sapo burn one day and see how you did. If you did okay, I would up that to two the next day. If you did okay with that I might give you five days of two tamishi burns with sapo--and I am not sure how that translates to kambo burns but tamishi is generally larger, with 4 sapo burns being very, very strong. The mix with saliva instead of Kambo's water is significant. So tread cautiously, try one, see how you do. Have a sitter with a phone for emergencies, but do not get paranoid: One will give you a base line of how you can handle the medicine.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

New York City Coffee

My sister Reg posted a pic of her son Tom in half his fireman uniform visiting her when she had yard duty this morning at her public school in Manhattan. The kids loved Tom, my nephew, but I saw that Reg was holding a blue cup of NYC coffee in her hand and I commented on it. "I love NYC coffee!!!" I shouted. She didn't realize at first that she had the cup in her hand. When she did she responded and laughed. I responded: "Reg, if you have a corner store that has newspapers early and good coffee, and then if you know a guy or two selling good hot dogs on the street, and then if you know a really good pizzaria near your apartment, and then if you also know a great Chinese restaurant, you are set in NYC. Those are your basics. She responded with a laugh, and reminded me of one of the great pizzarias we used to go to. Man, oh Man, it doesn't take a lot to love Manhattan!!!!!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Wait!!!! I Forgot to Tell You What We Ate!!!!

Wait a minute!!!! I just wrote about all the guests that were here in the last three weeks, but I didn't tell you what I fed them!!!!! The first crew, in for 3-7 days, I already forgot what we ate. But the woman who came and stayed here for my 10-day sapo course--and my friend, the journalist who came at the same time but didn't take the course, they ate pretty well. I served my lime/parmesan chicken. I served couscous with lamb tagine; I served salmon and talapia; I served sliced steak with veggies; I served chicken parmesan with good thin spaghetti. I served hot roast beef sandwiches on good bread with freshly roasted red peppers and ghost pepper, pepper jack cheese. There were poblano peppers stuffed then roasted with yellow rice, seasoned chopped beef with veggies and good cheddar. There was a huge brisket with roasted potatoes and onions served with au jus.
And there was salad and hot spinach in garlic, and asparagus steamed and then sauteed with a bit of butter and balsamic vinegar. There was broccoli, a melange of zucchini, yellow squash, tomato, garlic, green onions.
There was papaya with lime, and mangos, oranges, tangerines, different types of pears, various apples, organic bananas.
There was smoked cheese and blue cheese, and fresh mozzarella, still wet. There was hummos and chips, fresh avocado, and fresh guacamole. There was salmon salad.
There was birthday cake and there was really, really good double chocolate and banana chocolate chip gelato.
Not on the same day, of course. But man, that was good eating. I love cooking.

Absolutely Pooped!

I'm sort of dead. It's Saturday afternoon at about 4:30 and I am sitting at my desk. Just came in from a walk around the yard. Checked out the rebuild on the chicken coop that friends did--fantastic--and stood on one of the two bridges that cross the seasonal creek and thought about how I should paint it again, and soon, before winter sets in. But then I thought, no, I am too pooped for that. The why of my exhaustion was the appearance of a lot of guests at my doorway the last three weeks. Two weekends ago I had a medicine weekend here, where former guests of mine from the jungle get invited to three or four days of feasting, fasting, and medicine work. I think 9 showed up, all of them fantastic, but still a little tiring, if just from trying to get and keep the house clean, buy and make food for them, do a couple of ceremonies and such. They give much, much more than they take, but it's still tiring.
Then, three days after most of the guests left, a new guest came in to take my course on Sapo, a 10-day intensive course on the ins-and-outs of the indigenous Matses' medicine, sapo, frog sweat. On her heels came a reporter friend who was also staying for the duration, though she wasn't taking the course. Both of them were exemplary guests: They washed, cleaned, helped out and did a million things I normally do myself. But it was still tiring because I was concentrating on the course for all those days. And on the last two days of the course, 14 people came in for treatment with the medicine--all invited, but still a bit tiring.
They both left late yesterday and I had a good, deep sleep. I let myself stay in bed till 7 AM, pretty late for me. And now I'm lonesome with no company, exhausted from all the company, and lonesome because no one is needing me now. No one is looking forward to what I'm gonna cook. No one is here to show me how to turn the darned television on. No one is here to serve cat food or dog food.
So I'm pooped. I hope to break out tomorrow, because everybody left a lot of great energy here for me to use. Thanks all. It's been a helluva three weeks!!!

Saturday, October 07, 2017

And Then Came Meatloaf

I don't know if I've posted this before, but someone brought it up on FB and I liked it, so here goes. Hope I'm not boring you to death with something you already saw.
And then came Meatloaf
Not the singer, the food. I was dying for the second piece of swordfish I've got in the fridge. Bought it a few days ago, it's still cold and fresh. Got capers, organic scallions, organic red peppers and plain old onions and garlic in olive oil to go with it. Was thinking of having it on a bed of spinach, no starch.
Then I got to the store and happened to see some ground pork. Yes, pretty horrible, but I got to thinking about meatloaf. Not the singer, the food. Though I did start singing Two out of Three Ain't Bad in the supermarket. It's okay, they already stare at me for my half-gone right calf, so I don't care.
Okay, so with Madeleina getting off at 8 tonight, I thought she won't be in the mood for fish. She will not have eaten anything but an apple and an orange all day and she'll be starving. So I went with the meatloaf instinct: "I want you, I need you, but there ain't no way I'm ever gonna love you, but don't be sad, cause two out of three ain't bad..."
So I guess I was crying while picking up the chopped chuck to go with the minced pork. No veal. I have my limits. And no bacon today because Chepa had me make breakfast for the family Sunday and it included bacon, sausage, biscuits, sausage gravy, pancakes with blueberries and bananas, eggs, home fries, potato latkas--all of it made from scratch except the bacon and sausage.
Forget that. Let's get me back to crying about the meatloaf song. So I came home, put 2 pounds of pork and two pounds of chuck into a saute pan on high heat to brown it and get rid of as much grease as possible. Then I drained that. While that was draining I put three tablespoons of freshly minced garlic in olive oil into the saute pan with a diced red onion. Followed that with six stalks of celery, each cut into six lengths and then diced. Followed by several minced, fresh, roma tomatoes. Followed by those magic organic scallions--six of them minced. Why six of everything? I don't know. Maybe six is two times three and two out of three ain't bad? Damn that Meat Loaf!!!! He's gotten into the kitchen in my brain!!!!!
Okay, calm down. Have a sip of wine--vintage 2014 Cabernet....raw junk.
Anyway, put some breadcrumbs into the drained meat. Added vinegar to the veggies to make a sort of ketchup and added them to the meat. Added actual ketchup, sea salt, butcher ground black pepper. Chopped some good curly parsley finely and put that in. Let it cool. Added four eggs, raw. Mushed it with my hands--washed better than in a hospital--and then put the damned stuff into two baking dishes lined with a bit of olive oil to keep things from sticking, and put the baking dishes on silver foil in the oven at 330. That will give me an hour. I'll raise the temp to 400 for the last 15 minutes to crisp the top--and yes, on Madeleina's orders I'll spread a bit of ketchup on the top...but NO BACON, OKAY Madeleina? I'm fat enough!!!!
That will be done by 6:15. It will settle by 6:45 and be ready to serve by 7. Madeleina will get here at 8 and it will be perfect. We'll have it with a salad and broccoli. Dessert is gonna be ice cold fresh watermelon.
Bon Appetit! I hope you all are loving your food, your bodies, yourselves in some way that's similarly wonderful. (I'm sorry pig, cow, celery, garlic, scallions, olives for the olive oil, onion, tomatoes, grapes to make the vinegar, salt, peppercorns. Even the wheat to make the breadcrumbs, and the parsley. I'm not sure if I'm sorry about the eggs since they were never gonna be chickens. Doesn't mean they weren't having a great life. I'm just not sure about that... .)
And if you can't love yourself the whole way, remember that two out of three ain't bad... .

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Guns don’t kill people, but they sure help people kill people

On Sunday night in Las Vegas, during a concert by country and western star Jason Aldean, a middle-aged, well-to-do white guy with a receding hairline sat at a window on the 32 floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, and started shooting with automatic weapons into the thousands of people at the concert below. In a matter of 15-20 minutes he’d killed more than 50 — that number is now 59 and climbing — and wounded 527. Some of the wounded might have gotten hurt in the human stampede that started after people began getting shot.
   I got the news in the middle of the night when I woke up from a fitful sleep and decided to sit at my computer for a few minutes. My heart sank. My first thoughts were of the people in that crowd and how that 15-20 minutes ended the lives of so many and changed the lives of thousands and thousands of others who knew the dead and injured.
   My second thought was of a friend of mine from Fort Worth who had written just hours earlier to say she couldn’t believe she was in Las Vegas. Then I thought of two friends of mine who helped build that club and of another friend, from north Fort Worth, who owns three cupcake stores on the strip. Were they safe? Had they been at the concert? Were they walking on the street and caught in the stampede?
   I’ve only heard from two of them. The one who had just gotten to Vegas was next door when the shooting happened and saw the people running and was shaken up but okay. The woman who owns the cupcake places is okay too. The friends who built the club I have not heard from as yet.
  All of us are asking “why did this happen?” We’re not likely to get an answer. The police and FBI say the killer, Stephen Paddock, had an absolutely clean record. His brother in Florida is dumbfounded. One of the gun dealers who sold Paddock some of the dozen or more weapons he had in his hotel room said Paddock seemed perfectly normal to him. Paddock himself can’t answer because the SWAT team that burst into his room said he was already dead from a self-inflicted gunshot. And he apparently left no notes to explain why he did what he did.
   He certainly didn’t just snap: This was well thought out, a planned action. Why?
   Here in Texas, as in Nevada, we’ve got open carry. Supporters say that you need a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun. That would not have helped in this case. It might help sometimes: The guy at the gas station on the corner is always strapped because he is determined not to get robbed again. Understandable.
    A little less understandable are the people at the Walmart and HEB in Burleson, walking around with semi-automatics hanging from their shoulders. It’s the law and I’ll live with it, but I wouldn’t hold my breath imagining that those guys are really going to save us if a problem crops up. In fact, I actually get the heck out of any aisle they are in because I don’t want to get caught in the line of fire of anyone who thinks they’re going to be a hero.
   While we don’t know they “why” of Paddock’s hellish rampage, we do know the “how”. The how involves guns. Paddock’s guns didn’t kill those people but they sure helped him do it. So what do we do now? Nobody wants to take people guns away, but there must be some room for making changes in our system to see that the future Paddock’s of the world do not get their hands on weapons that can do so much destruction and killing so quickly. Do we bother to close the “gun show” loophole? Do we make it illegal to manufacture or sell semi-automatics that can be easily converted to full automatics? Do we just put our heads in the sand until the next mass shooting, or the one after that? That’s what we have been doing. This was, after all, the 272 mass shooting in the last 274 days and we have not done anything yet. We, as a nation, have not even started a conversation about it.
    Our president’s spokesperson, Sarah Huckabee, said it’s “premature” to discuss guns. President Trump said “we’ll get around” to discussing guns. Meanwhile, Congress is set to vote on a bill this week that would legalize gun silencers.
   Not good enough. I don’t know what’s good enough, but anything would be better than keeping our heads in the sand.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Letter to a Friend

A friend reposted a hateful meme from Alex Jones on facebook yesterday. I wrote a very nasty comment in response. She called me on it and I killed my comment. I waited nearly 16 hours, until I could think my position through, to respond. She's a great person, but I disagree with her politically. This time I disagreed viscerally. This was my private letter to her explaining my response and my position.
Dear XXXXX: I want to respond to you personally on this. You know I love you. You are one hell of an artist and brilliant home designer, and good person and hell, I don't know but probably 20 other great things.

   But I have to object when you repost something from Alex Jones or Limbaugh, or Hannity or any of those guys. I don't know if you've ever reposted from Limbaugh or Hannity or Breitbart, but yesterday you reposted from Alex Jones. I went nuts, and rather than lashing out horribly, I decided to be a bit vulgar and describe Jones as a kind of festering, puss filled sore....Okay, you called me on it and I instantly took it down. No question. Your thread, you didn't like it, I killed it. Respect.
   But why was I going crazy? I'll tell you: Because Alex Jones, like Hannity, Limbaugh, Breitbart and several other right wing sources sell fear. Fear, to me, is the basis of every horrible thing man does to other men/women. What starts as fear demonstrates as anger, hatred, greed, guilt, bullying, war, genocide and any other negative thing that humans indulge in. Fear is the birthplace of it all. And when you repost a false piece of nonsense selling fear, you are part of a cycle that is actuating real time injury/hatred/murder in this world. If you sold hate, it would not matter. Nobody is afraid of hate. But sell fear? Fear preys on weak people, and they then buy guns, they then go into road rage, they then foreclose on houses to make a profit off suffering people. Fear is the devil if there is a devil. And I get upset when I see anyone reselling someone like Alex Jones' made up fear junk, intended only to inspire a retarded kid to set his grandma on fire or cut his ex-wife's head off, or shoot up a church. That's what Alex Jones and Limbaugh and Breitbart inspire. They are responsible for so much actual pain in this world because they sell fear to the masses and the masses lap it up because it justifies their position.
   So I go crazy when I see it.
   You might not agree. But I want you to know why I would write such a rude comment. I wrote it because I had to get the stink of it off of me. I do not want their little scardey-boy fear anywhere near me. I try to be fearless. I fail sometimes. But I try, then get up and try again.
   Alex Jones lives in the swamp where fear resides and he makes his entire living off of preying on weak people's fear. That's just wrong. And people die because of him. That's just wrong too.
    I hope you understand. I love you, but I don't love when you just post stuff that will wind up having someone killed. That's not cool at all. Please consider what you do on facebook and any other social medium. The children learn from what we post.
Peter G

Thursday, September 28, 2017

What We're Eating Around Here

An old friend wrote to say she missed my recipes and tales of cooking for the family. Well, over the years the family grew up. Italo moved away and married Sarah and has two babies. Marco moved away. Chepa, wife/ex-wife, moved away 16 years ago. Madeleina is 20 now and has a house she rents at her college as a junior. So there isn't the same urgency at cooking. But still, addicted to the hope that they, or some of them, will come by on a given night, I always have stuff I can hustle together in a half-an-hour. Plus, the occasional friend stops by and can be convinced to stay for dinner. So there is still pretty good food going around. (In private I add that when I go shopping and then cook it is the space between work and non-work and vital to my brain so that when it's time to sleep my brain is not full of work!!!!!)
So let's see: This week, I was dying for shrimp, so I bought large ones, roasted their skins then added water/onion and tomato ends and reduced that to make really good sauce base, then sauteed the shrimp with scallions, tomato, onion, nice peppers a friend brought, and the sauce and served it over rice. Just four or five shrimp, and not much rice. Had that with sauteed spinach--sauteed in the shrimp pan juices.
But the girls came over--Chepa with Sierra and Alexa--11 and 9, with my granddaughter Taylor Rain, 7--and they wanted jasmine rice with lime, steak, well done, and cucumber with lime and salt. I had the ingredients and tossed it together quick as a whip! Was good, too.
Tuesday I was dying for stuffed poblano peppers. Bought the peppers, cleaned them, parboiled them. At the same time I made rice with garlic. When the peppers were parboiled and put under cold water, I sauteed about 1 pound of ground chuck in garlic--along with the left over, minced steak from last night--diced onion, tomato, then added white vinegar, fresh cilantro, achiote (red colorant from Central and South America that makes white rice yellow or reddish), good salt and butcher ground pepper. I added rice to that and finally stirred in good shredded cheddar cheese. Then I took that and stuffed the poblanos to overfill, then baked them at 325 for about 40 minutes.
While that was going on, Chepa announced she was coming with the kids, so I had to come up with something for them--stuffed poblanos was not going to do it for kids--so I roasted chicken drumsticks and made gravy, which was fine with them.
Wednesday, I was dying for stuffed zucchini, so I made it: Cut good organic zuccinini in half, use a spoon to scoop out the seeds (sorry, but we need room for the stuffing), and then sauteed garlic and scallions in olive oil, added diced red pepper and a nice hot pepper the name of which I don't remember. When that was all good, I added a minced tomato, then seasoned breadcrumbs. When that was done I added a bit of unsalted butter, some organic vegetable stock, and really good asiago cheese, minced. Himalayan sea salt and cracked black pepper and then I stuffed the zucchini, topped with more parmesan and lots of lime juice.
I'd just put it in at 350 when Chepa called to say the kids were coming. Dang! She said she wanted fried chicken. Huh? I have not made real deep fried food since I left the restaurant business in 1988--except for once or twice--but I was stuck. So I cut up chicken breasts, put vegetable oil in a good pan at 8 on the stove--with 10 as the highest--then floured/egged/breaded the chicken pieces. I added garlic, oregano, majoram, and fresh basil to the breading, added salt and pepper to the flour and fried that shit. Realized I had a bit of steak left over so I cut that thin and fried that too, then made Chepa a blackened filet of salmon and everybody had a feast--with salad, cucumber with lime, and asparagus par boiled then sauteed with garlic and balsamic vinegar on the side.
But the kids wanted rice too, and they don't eat day old rice. So I took the old rice and made Arroz Chaufa--Peruvian style Chinese rice. You put garlic, oil, onions in a saute pan. You add diced frankfurters. When the franks and done and the veggies no longer identifiable, you add left over rice. When that's good and hot you add three eggs and stir them in. When they are near done as scrambled egg bits in the rice mix, you add soy and a bit of ginger and voila! You have Arroz Chaufa.
Today I knew I was off the hook. Chepa didn't call and it was 4 PM, too late to cook. Then she called: "We're at the corner. What's for dinner?"
Damn. I'd bought thin cut butt roast to try the chicken fried steak again, since it was good yesterday and I wanted to cement the recipe to my mind if was as good the second day as the first. So I put on rice, got the cucumber ready, put on the old oil--saved in a coffee tin after filtering--and got busy. Of course, Chepa came in, said she didn't want to eat the same meal as yesterday, so she made a Peruvian dish, Lomo Saltado--steak with garlic, vinegar, onions, tomatoes, and fresh french fries. We worked side by side, me at mine, she at hers. Hers smelled great and I stole bites. She thought my steak was fantastic, so she stole a couple of pieces.
The girls all ate well. Chepa ate well and took a bag of food home. I will eat tonight while watching a football game. Love those big boys in tight pants, as my Madeleina tells me.
Bon Appetite!!!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Once More, The World, with Feeling

Yes, I completely recognize the problems of the world. We've got people suffering from major natural disasters in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Texas, Florida, all across the Caribbean, in the Pacific Northwest, in Bangladesh, in India, and elsewhere. We've got people suffering from major man-made problems in Myanmar, the Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine. Somalia, Nicaragua, and the USA, among other places. It just stinks. Why the freak can't we humans get our stinking act together? There is so much to go around. There is a boundless amount of food, and the water you piss today will become rain that waters someone's crops that you will eat tomorrow. You don't need to hoard money because you're going to die without it. If you didn't hate, perhaps the other guy wouldn't respond with hatred. Damn, I feel so helpless. I try to help a little with my singing to the universe; I try to help by recycling what I can. I try to help by being a good dad and a good friend. I'm sure I fail all the time, but I'm trying. I bite my tongue most of the time when I feel like screaming at someone. I resist the urge to honk my horn at some jerk who cuts me off--heck, maybe he or she is having a bad day, or simply had a brain freeze for a second, and my honking is not going to fix anything.
To help me through, I have occasional meetings at my house for former guests of mine in the Amazon. They're more than former guests, they're friends. And I love having them in for a weekend or so. Of course, I have to get ready. Today was a get ready day: Bought six new large, good quality towels that I think were made in the USA. I bought 8 drinking glasses because mine are at my kids' and ex-wife Chepa's house. I bought four new dinner plates for the same reason. I also cleared, washed and gave away two large bags of good clothes and stuffed animals that have been sitting in the washing machine room for months. While there I consolidated all of the stash of fireworks into two boxes, to help clear a table. Last week I painted the bathroom and scrubbed the ice box. On Monday, my oldest, Italo, finished laying a new floor in my kitchen. My daughter Madeleina and her boyfriend Adrian cleaned the back porch and my friend Dave and I made two or three runs to the dump to get rid of all that had accumulated there. I've since bought four all-weather chairs to put out there for the guests who like medicine outside. I had two guys come in and cut, then spray, all the poison ivy I had, thousands of stalks of it. So I'm getting there, little by little. Still need 4-5 more air mattresses, but that's not hard.
By the time the guests arrive in a couple of weeks, the place should be okay. I'll still have the two spots in the house and one on the front porch where it drips when the rain comes, but I can't worry about that. Just call them water-art-installations and I'm done with it.
Now, if you could tell me how to apply the same "let's get this one done" approach to the problems we create for each other, I am on board with you.

Monday, September 25, 2017

I'm Curious Here

About once a week, I get a big bounce on this blog from readers in Germany. It might be twice a week. But I go from my normal 100-200 blog looks daily to 700-800 once or twice a week--and once it was 6,000 in a day a couple of years ago. So is someone just pressing buttons? I mean, I don't have ads, so I can't make money from someone just pressing buttons. Or does some teacher in a high school or college english class use my blog and so he/she has a lot of students looking at it?
   Just curious if anyone out there wants to take the veil off the mystery here.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Remembering Friends

I was singing this morning, as I often do, to say hello to the universe and so forth, and when i got to the part where I was singing to the South, which is where all the dead go for their walk to travel to the other side, I started singing for friends who have crossed over in the last few years. There is Dan B and his wife Yelena, my brother-in-law, Big Tom, Mike, Steve, the brilliant journalist Betty and her Husband, my uncle Neale and aunt Nel and a cousin I did not know well. There was Pat's son Drew and the indigenous Matses Mauro, who was brilliant in the jungle and my friend Pepe's son, and Papaya Head, who was a very cool guy and a great chef and a wonderful friend to Chepa and my kids. There was Fernando, an old guide of mine, Rubertillo, the jungle drummer, the man who hunted majas in the jungle who I knew for years but never knew his name, and Moises, my great friend and teacher. There is Bill Grimes, owner of Dawn of the Amazon in Iquitos, and Dave Peterson, from Tamishiyacu, and the irrepressible Richard Fowler, the ex-pat who knew so much about the natural world. And sometimes when I get to them, I get impatient, because there are so many souls to say hello to and acknowledge.
Today, when I realized I was impatient and sort of rushing through the names and faces, i caught myself. I realized that no, I do not need to enumerate them all. Yes, they're gone and are already long past that crossing over. But I realized it's important to enumerate them because my world is poorer without them. Whether I was in touch with them often or not doesn't matter. They were part of the skein of my life and losing 20 of them in two or three years has pulled a lot of threads loose from the fabric. Four or five or them just passed in the last month. I am going to try to remember their importance when I sing again, and not rush through their names. They all mattered and it's important that I remember that.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Fear to Fearlessness

You know, I've already posted that my new granddaughter, teigan Grey Gorman, was born today, and I have wished her well in my heart for hours already. But there is a part of me, a big part, that knows this world is an awful place for at least half of its inhabitants. There may not be enough water, or food, or there is war, or simple genocide. There is hatred of different colors, different religions, or different hairstyles. And the hatred results in awful things that people do to one another. I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir, but it's still important to remember. And I think that all that hatred has its roots in fear. How that fear festers and then presents itself--whether in greed, anger, cruelty or a million other ways--it still, at its root, is fear.
I sing sometimes in the morning. I sing for the health and well being of everyone. I sing in the hopes--futile as they are--that hungry people will find a regular food source; that people living without enough water will begin to get a little rain every day; that people who are mentally ill will somehow have the chemicals in their brains balanced out properly. I sing for those and other things. But what I am really singing for is to have the fear that causes the bad things to somehow be transformed into fearlessness. If that could happen, we could fix this world in a very short time. We cold end the suffering because fearless people wouldn't need to prey on others, fearless people would share willingly; fearless people would do miracles.
The teachers I've had, whether they were real teachers in the Amazon or in school or just friends or family, they all had fearlessness in common. Not that they didn't worry that they might not make the mortgage now and then; not that they didn't get afraid sometimes when they were alone. Those were just minor fears that come and go. They do not dictate a life. No, my teachers were all fearless in that they loved living, they reached out for it with arms spread wide, knowing they would take some knocks but not being afraid that they wouldn't be able to get back up and overcome them.
And if I was allowed one wish for Teigan Grey, or one wish for the universe, it would be that real fear, the kind that causes most of the world's suffering, be transformed to fearlessness today. Can you imagine a world without that fear? I can, and it would be a beautiful place to live in.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Asking for Help

Don't mean to be a pest but I have a question. I've been trying to cull some of the recipes I've jotted down on both facebook and my blog ( over the past several years. On the blog it is not a problem, just time consuming--and if I could afford an assistant I'd freaking hire one to do it for me--but on FB, when I go to my home thing, I only get to see about the last 10 entries I've posted and the responses people have made to them. There is no second page, no "next page" thing. I must be doing something wrong, but then that's a given, given that I cannot turn on the television with all the damned buttons on all the darned receivers I have to memorize. So can you guys help?
I really hate to go back through all the nonsense, but some of those meals sounded really tasty when I described making them. And even though they all use the same three ingredients over an over and over again, you got to think of it like playing the blues: You only need the three chords, slight variations to minors, ninths, sevenths and so forth, and suddenly you have a million different blues songs, even though they share the same small playing field.
(When I write this stuff, sometimes I wonder who's really writing it because I am not nearly clever enough to have this shit just come popping out. Yesterday, for instance, when I wrote about Jesus and the loaves and fishes and him suddenly realizing he'd forgotten to hire any vendors, well, man, I was laughing at that. Like, who the heck wrote that? It's perfect, but way more clever/smart/intuitive phrasing than I would ever be capable of writing. Whoever you are, keep it up. I'm your huckleberry conduit, baby. (after Val Kilmer in that cowboy movie).
Long as I'm mentioning food, today I bought two large center cut, bone-in pork chops (grass fed; no pens; still killed) and I'm gonna cut them open from the fat end down to the bone, and then stuff them with braised spinach, diced shallots, and garlic, then add fresh mozzarella and a bit of good blue cheese. I'll seal those babies with a couple of toothpicks, then sear them in a bit of olive oil and garlic. I'll tamp them dry, then flower, egg, and bread them (good bread crumbs I'll infuse with a bit of spice), then sear them again. Then they will go into the oven, pre set to about 325 for maybe 25 minutes. Then I'll turn the oven up to 400 for maybe 10 minutes until that cheese is oozing out all over the place. I'll pull them, take the pan juice and mix in a bit of floue and butter roux, add ( I know, heretic! But I don't have any real brown sauce here!!!!!) a package of McCormick pork gravy and some organic vegetable stock--along with one anjour pear that's sort of rotting, and the juice from two really fresh large naval oranges and make a gravy. Keep it light, not thick and heavy, just a sauce to tie things together like a good throw rug in an interesting room to make things shine.
I'ma gonna have that with a nice romaine and carrot (both killed at my behest, sorry guys!!!!!) with my variation of the most fantastic vinagrette in the world, taught to me by Christie Engel, who used to work (with her husband) for the Big Apple Circus, one of the best circuses in the world!!!. It's just olive oil, garlic, shallots, salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar. But LOTS of balsamic vinegar. Normally they tell you 3 oil to one vinegar. This is 2 vinegar to one oil and man, that thing bites your tongue all the way to the brown places in the back near your throat, and then soars up into the back of your head. I am not kidding.
Anyway, I'd love some help here. Thanks. And I hope you area all eating well tonight and every night and that when you have extra you invite people who have less to share it with you. Bon appetit!