Monday, December 31, 2018

My wishes for you for the New Year

When I sing in the mornings, I sing for simple things. I sing for people without homes to have roofs over their heads and walls to keep them warm. I sing for people without potable water to have rain brought to them. I sing for people who are ill to find relief from pain and then get better. I sing for people who are heartbroken to have a new friend enter their lives. I sing for people who don't have enough food to discover someone who will provide them meals. I sing for people who do not have hope to open their eyes and look out at the beauty of nature and gather hope from that. I sing for people who suffer from war to have all the wars finally finished. I sing for people to share what they have, happily. I sing for people to understand that we are all connected: That the rain that waters my tree in Texas will soon be watering you tree in North Africa or China. I sing for people to find at least a little joy every day.
And for the New Year, I wish these things and more for all of you. Happy New Year, everyone!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Winter Trips Happening Soon--Quit Mucking Around, Won't You?

Ladies and Gents: Time to pull the trigger and take your damned trip to the Amazon with me. No more stalling. No bellyaching. No complaining that Christmas ate your wallet. Just time to love yourself and, if you still have a couple of grand left after you gave to the food banks, join me for a very honest, very deep jungle, dirt-under-your-fingernails 9 1/2 day Jungle Jaunt. Overnight riverboats, primordial swamp, high jungle walking, wild food collecting, and really good medicines. Just the thing to change your life. If you suck when you join my team and I, you'll suck less when we're finished with you. If you are already an accomplished human, well, let the River and Her People, and Plants polish you up to a high gleam. Details and dates for January and February Jaunts are over on my site. Take the leap, you'll love the landing.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Caravan Asylum Information/Rant

I am getting so tired of listening to people talk about the caravaners as if they are illegals. They are not. It is legal to ask for asylum and you have to be at the border or in the USA to ask for it. You can't ask for USA asylum while you are in Mexico if you are fleeing drug gangs in Honduras. What a lot of people do not realize is this: If you enter the USA illegally and get stopped you are still legally allowed to ask for asylum. Yes, you are LEGALLY allowed to ask for asylum in the USA even if they catch you in Pennsylvania! You will then be given a "credible fear" interview, during which an agent for the US government will decide if you sound like you have a credible and justifiable reason for asking for asylum. If you do, you are normally given a court date and released to one of the Catholic, Presbyterian or Lutheran charity groups who work the US/Mexican border areas (along with some non-denominational immigrant groups), or to a family member if you have one in the USA.
Then you show up at your court date and a specialized immigrant judge decides whether you get to stay in the USA permanently or get deported. People like Trump say that no one goes to those court dates but the data shows that more than 95 percent do show up at court for their final hearing. And about 10 percent are given asylum; the rest are returned to their homeland. That is standard operating procedure, and it's worked well for a long time.
Introducing the fear element is the new tactic and it should have no place in the discussion at all. Hell, if 50,000 people applied for asylum tomorrow, only 5,000 would wind up with it (cases are generally decided in a couple of months), which would come to about 100 refugee asylum cases per state. Or maybe 1 person for every 500--1,000 towns. Not really scary now, is it?
And oh, those bad guys that Trump talks about? They wouldn't stand a chance of making it through the initial "credible fear" interview with agents trained to interview asylum seekers. And if you don't make it through that, you are immediately deported. If you return after that? You get five years in jail, if you have no criminal record in the USA. If you have a criminal record in the USA and get deported and return, you face 20 years in federal lockup. It's really all been figured out and it's pretty easy peasy.
And yes, I've got room for a decent family in my huge metal garage, electricity and all. And I'll feed them well too.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Making Sauce Espagnole

Making one of the seven master sauces in French culinary arts

Vegans don't read, cause this is about making sauce espagnole, which involves beef... There are lots of things I miss about restaurant cooking. The gauge of the pots and pans, the dishwasher to wash them, the prep cooks cutting and helping me with chopping and coming up with ideas for specials. I also miss--sometimes--being in the kitchen from 7 AM till Midnight, which is time enough to make things like tomato sauce from super scratch and making a basic brown sauce. Not saying I can't do that at home, but I don't. For tomato sauce I start with my garlic and onions and fresh tomatoes, but then use an organic sauce and organic vegetable stock (and whatever spices I need) to finish it off so that it's done in 2-3 hours, instead of 8-10 hours.
Brown sauce is even worse. Sarah Appel and I would get in 50 pounds of marrow bones--beef leg bones--and roast them for a couple of hours. Then we'd hit them with a hammer to loosen up the marrow, and put them in a 10 gallon stock pot with onions and carrots and celery and water and let that baby cook for several hours till all the marrow was rendered--which might include adding several gallons of water a couple of times. Then we'd remove the bones and veggies and cook it down for another couple of hours till we had a really good stock available.
That's where the sauce espagnole starts. Once you have your stock, you take a 5 gallon stock pot. You put garli-- maybe 5 head--in olive oil, onions--maybe 10--a large head of celery--no leaves, as those are bitter-- a couple of pounds of carrots, a few pounds of mushrooms, a couple off pounds of diced jowl bacon or dry-cured ham, a couple of bunches of Italian parsley, white pepper corns, thyme and bay leaf and when that is rendered, you add the beef stock and cook that baby for 12-15 hours, slowly. After about 8 hours you add either homemade tomato paste or a 6 ounce can of organic tomato paste, then start shooting dashes of white wine into that mix to bring the fat to the surface, which gets skimmed and tossed. And you do that for hours, until you have the most perfectly clean/clear black broth you have ever seen. You start with gallons and gallons and gallons and wind up with maybe a quart. But that sauce espagnole will save for a week in the fridge, or months in the freezer. And it will be the backbone of any damned brown sauce, or cream sauce for meats, that you want. You want a bourbon sauce? When your meat is done, you pull it, then toss the bourbon and a teaspoon of the espagnole into the pan and voila! you have people getting moist when they eat it. You want a good creamed mushroom sauce? Add a teaspoon per serving of the espagnole and they will be begging for mercy from their tastebuds.
Anyway, I miss that because I'm not gonna take that time at home. So what I do is all the veggies, thyme, bay leaf, white pepper corns, cured ham and get that rendered. That means, at the volume I'm making, 3 heads of rough cut garlic in olive oil, two onions, 4 stalks of chopped celery, half- a pound of baby carrots, one large shallot, one bunch of chopped scallions, one half pound of button mushrooms, half a bundle of Italian parsley, 10 whole white pepper corns, one pound of dry cured ham, half a bundle of fresh thyme and one bay leaf. All of the veggies were organic.
That cooked for one hour, rendering it all perfectly. Then I added store-bought beef bone broth, three quarts, and that's cooking down now. In an hour, I'll add 6 ounces of organic tomato paste and a concentrated beef bone broth and more water. I'll keep adding the concentrated bone broth--organic--till it has the right consistence. Then I'll do the wine thing to get the fat to the surface for elimination. And when it's perfect, I'll taste it: It will be neutral but so rich that my mother could fly. I'll end up with maybe a pint of good, really good espagnole, enough to last a month or two in this house, if it's kept in the freezer. 
As good as it is, it won't be as good as I used to make in the restaurants.
I hope everybody is eating well tonight. Just share a little and you'll get more back than you know what to do with. You all know that. You all do that. Sorry to preach to such a nice group of people. Enjoy.

Monday, November 19, 2018

My son, Marco, working...

Do not know what has gotten into my son Marco, but he came over a couple of days ago and raked the whole front lawn. Pain in the neck job, with having to move the tree stumps the tree gnomes use for their meetings, the big rocks I keep to break up medicine on, and then raking out the ivy that girdles the house. When he was younger he would have started that but quit after an hour and it would have taken me three hours to fix what he left. The other day he did it to completion, including bagging everything and putting it in the back of my truck for easy carry to the dump--or pickup from anyone who needs 20 huge bags of mulch for their garden.
Today he returned and said "I'm going to finish the front of the house, okay dad?"
I'm gonna say I'm a sucker for the word dad when it's spoken by one of my kids, though I'm also a sucker for the word "pops", which is what my oldest son Italo calls me.
And then Marco went to work: He trimmed 15 bushes to the core, cleaned a walkway to the carport so that it's now walkable, cleaned the carport so that I can now park my Saturday night car, my 1999 Crown Vic under it. He pulled up flagstones, leveled the ground, and laid them out again. I was working in the house on my newspaper's Turkey Awards, the annual issue where we give out lousy parts of the turkey to politicians and people who did Fort Worth wrong this year, but I was peeking at Marco, and I was marveling at his work! I would never have done what he did in a thousand years. And I have never done it in the 18 years I've been in Texas.
I don't think he has an ulterior motive, he just helped out, like a grownup. Man, that was fantastic. Thank you, Marco. I appreciate it a lot.--Dad

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Terence McKenna story

Today is Terence McKenna's birthday. He died in 2000 but is still fondly remembered by millions whose lives he impacted. I knew him, we did a couple of radio shows together--on the phone--and we met a few times in person. I didn't know him well enough to call him a friend, but I still respected him and enjoyed what little time we spent together. 
Now I have one Terence M story that I cherish. I was at home in my New York City apartment on 90th and 3rd Ave one evening when the phone rang. I answered: "Hello, Peter Gorman..."
The voice on the other end: "Hello, this is Tom Robbins. I hope I'm not bothering you but Terence gave me your number. I'm doing a book about the frog and he said you were the expert..."
Me: "Tom Robbins? Terence McKenna gave you my number?"
TR: "Yes, I hope that's alright..."
Me: "Can you hold on for one second?"
TR: "Sure."
ME: I covered the receiver and jumped up and down, screaming "I can't fucking believe it!!!!! I'm somebody!!! I'm somebody!!!!"
Me: Uncovered the receiver and asked: "Sure, how can I help you?"
It turned out Tom Robbins was asking about the bufo toad and not the sapo/kambo frog I was associated with, and so my help wasn't a great deal of help. But Robbins did go on to write Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas, and I got to feel pretty special that Terence McKenna had my phone number and gave it out to Tom Robbins. That was a long time ago and it made my week.
RIP Terence M. Thanks, and I hope you're doing well, wherever you are.

Western Union Hell

I got kicked off Western Union months ago. They said I was sending too much money to Peru, a known drug place, and said they needed some information before they could reinstate me, which would allow me to send monies again. Well, I answered their questionaire, then they sent me a second one, asking for a list of the people I send monies to in Peru, what their relationship is to me, how long I've known them and why I send them monies. I painstakingly went through that: There are maybe 15 people in Peru who get money from me for all sorts of things. One guy watches a property I own; someone else watches my little house in Iquitos. When I rent rooms there my cousin Monica gets money. My team all sometimes get advances, and then there are the pre-trip expenses for my Amazon Jaunts. Oh, and renting cabins on the riverboat, helping out friends who are broke. Lots of things.
    Then Western Union asked for my tax returns to show I actually paid taxes on my jungle trips. I showed them those too. Then they asked for my contracts with my employees in Peru, and for their birth certificates, and receipts for everything I spend on a given trip. Not happening. Instead, I wrote this long letter of explanation. No, it didn't work.

Dear Western Union: I'm going over the list of things you are asking for and it is really impossible to provide more than I have. I run a mall business called Gorman Amazon Jaunts. You can look it up at website and you will see that I have been going to Peru since 1984. I married a woman there, Gilma Aguilar, in 1994. We have three grown kids: Italo, Marco, and Madeleina. We mostly lived in New York, but did move to Peru in the late 1990s for a couple of years, during which we opened The Cold Beer Blues Bar and served good food, cold beer, and played lots of blues music on our sound system. 
   It was during that period--1998-99-2000--that I began taking people out to the jungle. It was pretty informal, as the jungle and its people are not as connected to certain things as we are. For instance, my wife has no birth certificate. Her mother always guessed at her own age and was only fairly certain when my wife was born. None of my jungle helpers have birth certificates that match their birth: When the parents make an occasional trip to the city of Iquitos, if they present the child they are given a certificate dated the day they presented the child. That might be weeks or months after the child was born. There are also no contracts with anyone: You ask someone to. work for you for a day or several days and promise to pay them a certain amount. If you don't pay what you promised, they don't work with you again. My team, many of them very young when I started taking people out to the jungle, have always worked that way with me.
   In a similar fashion, when Juan Ruber, my right-hand man down there, sends me an email of a list of things we need to send up the river, or work at the camp that has to be done, he does not send a contract: Just a list of things and an estimate of that they will cost. I do not get receipts for those things, but those things get bought and sent up river to camp in advance of the trips. 
  That is also true of purchases of jungle things (hammocks, blankets, mosquito nets, machetes, shotgun shells, petroleum lanterns ((no electricity in the jungle))), as well as dry goods, kitchen cleaning supplies, and fresh foods that we bring. We purchase in a market, Belen, and there just aren't receipts that matter: I'll get a torn bit of paper with an accounting of things that I bring to the cash register to pay for. That's all I get.
  The hotel I use in Iquitos before and after we go to the jungle is the Nativa Apartments. It is owned by my wife's cousin. It's quite well known. I pay her in advance for the rooms we'll need via Western Union. Again, no receipt because I never ask, having paid for the rooms often several weeks before I arrive in Iquitos. 
   As to the people I send money to via WU, I've provided a list of the people on my team and the time I've known them, and what they do for me. If they write and say they need $100 I just send it if I have it. It just means they didn't work for a few weeks and are broke, so they ask me for help. I pay them very well when we work, but we only work together for two weeks, four times a year, so they always wind up broke. 
  I believe I already showed you my tax returns that indicate that I pay taxes on my Amazon Jaunts. I really don't know what else I can give you. We are talking about Iquitos, the largest city in the world not accessible by a road. And we are talking about the jungle, where people live two, three, four days by boat from Iquitos and have no electricity, other than batteries for their radios they might buy in a river town like Genaro Herrera or Requena, or even Iquitos. 
   Now, as a precaution to having my trips totally halted by a malfunctioning ATM in Iquitos, which might (and has) eaten my cards, I have gotten in the habit of sending monies to Juan Ruber and myself (and on the last trip, my friend Devon) via WU. Those are normally in the $925-$950 range. That way, if the cards get eaten or hacked, I can still run the trips with the WU monies. One year, a couple of years ago, I even sent a few thousand to my wife's cousin Monica Araujo, who owns the Nativa Apartments, and when an ATM machine went belly up and ate my card, she was able to go to WU and get sufficient funds for me from what I'd sent her prior to the trip. Whatever funds are left over in WU when I return home are my profit (or, if the bank ate the card or the card got hacked, whatever money is left in that bank account is my profit).
   Everything I am saying here is truthful. This is a glorious part of the Third World, but it is still Third World in a lot of ways. Which is partly why it is glorious. But it is not the sort of place where you have contracts with people who you have known since they were three years old, or old friends working for you for two weeks four times a year. The receipts are the WU receipts that would be presented to the IRS if I got audited. That's my paper trail. 
   That is really the best I can do. I would love to be reinstated with WU because it is much easier getting monies to Peru via your company than it is sending to US ex-pat friends who live in Iquitos who have bank accounts and can take wire transfers but then have to find my darned team to dole out the funds. That is a royal pain in the neck. 
  I hope you accept this and give me reinstatement.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Toothache and Homemade Mac and Cheese

So out of the blue I get a toothache in one of my remaining teeth and dang if it didn't make me want to cut my whole head off. It just came on and in an hour was killing me. Luckily, my kid Italo had some Rebel Yell bourbon and brought it over. I also packed in abnesol and Orajel and cloves. And then my face blew up. 
I called my friend Doc G, who called Walmart with a script for one of the cilins, and it was ready the nest morning. That was yesterday. But because I'd slept very badly, my sciatica was raging. And because that was raging, my back knotted up badly. So there I went into Walmart to the pharmacy at the way back of the supercenter , crumpled over the shopping cart, my left jaw and neck the size of a cantaloupe, and leaning to the right about 30 degrees.
My leg was unbandaged as well, so my right foreleg, which looks like an alligator took a good bite, finished the picture. And now this morning I saw an ad for Walmart Photos--you know, the ones that make you laugh out loud--and realized that since several people took pics of me. yesterday, I'm probably gonna show up on those pages one of these days. Oh, well.
The positive was this: to fight the pain I did a recycle run to the dump, packaged up and sent out a couple of things at the post office, got Boots, the wonder dog, and the cats, and the chickens and ducks all fed.
And then it was dinner time. I couldn't chew so I went with Mac and cheese: Good garlic in olive oil and diced onions to start. Added diced country ham, then diced tomatoes from the garden. Tossed in cheddar, Colby, Swiss, and parmesan cheese--heaviest on the cheddar--and some organic 2 percent milk. Sea salt and cracked black pepper, and when it started to heat up I added three eggs from our chicks.
While that was. happening I made the elbows--with help from Chepa's Sierra--and when they were done and drained, put them in a deep glass baking dish. Covered with cheese mix, topped with good parmesan, then baked at 325 for 20 minutes.
So good and soft enough that even a guy with a bad tooth could eat it. Bon Appetit!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Sometimes it's Harder than it Seems

Years ago I was given the message, during a really wretched time of breaking up with my wife, that I was to change the way I did things and to make More Joy, and Less Pain. In other words, every time my buttons were pushed, I could respond negatively, which would cause more pain, or figure out another response, one that would cause more joy and less pain. That was hard, but it was the beginning of the end of rancor, screaming matches, making the kids upset, and so forth. 
I try to live my life that way. I try to pause and think if what I'm about to do or say will cause more joy or more pain, and then I try to opt for the former.
But I'm gonna tell you, without going into specifics, that it is sometimes VERY difficult. 
Get the behind me, satan.....
I mean, all my strength and whatever other resources to go for the more joy, when I really feel like causing more pain. Yikes!!!!!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Note on The Noble Savage

So someone was talking about "the noble savage" on FB and I told this story. I hope it does not bore you all.
Here is a comment on the "noble savage". In 1985, while out on a 30 day jungle survival course with Moises Torres Vienna, a young man, who turned out to be a Matses man, came into our clearing. He had a jaguar mouth tattoo, red achiote on his face, and bamboo whiskers coming from his nose. 
He looked like a human jaguar. He nodded toward our scopeta, shotgun, and Moises, after a brief moment of talking dialect, gave it to him, along with two shotgun shells. 
The young man walked off and in a few minutes we heard the gun retort. A minute later we heard a second retort. A few minutes later the young fellow came into our clearing bearing two hastily made leaf bags on tumplines from his forehead. 
In each was an adult mono negro, black monkey, weighing 15-18 pounds. On his head was a monkey infant. He put down the shotgun and took one of the bags from his head and put it next to the gun. 
Then he walked off. Moises said we should follow and in short order--I don't know if it was a mile or three--we came on a Matses camp that was being built by Papa Viejo, the most feared Matses of that era, a man with six wives and a lot of kids. T
he young man walked to two women who were overseeing a fire and gave them the bag with the adult mono negro in it. They opened the bag, grabbed its arms and legs, and stretched it out over their fire, where it burned to death, horribly, while they chatted. 
Then he went to a woman who was breastfeeding a baby and gave her the baby monkey, which she immediately put on her free breast to milk. 
In that single minute I had seen the cruelest and kindest thing I've ever seen. 
And I fell in love with the Matses.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Another note on the Magics

I was thinking about the four magics I've been taught over the years by my late friend and teacher Julio Llerena today. Taught is a loose word. He would occasionally speak of them and left it up to me and the medicine--ayahuasca--for me to figure it out. 
The four magics Julio worked with are Red, Green, White, and Black.
At their essences, Red Magic is the magic of the blood, of healing. 
Green Magic is the magic of the verdancy, the flora and fauna, but mostly the roots of things that reach into water below the ground and connect us all. The water I piss today will be the rain that waters your crops next month. We are all connected through Green Magic. 
White Magic is the illumination of all things and the spark of life in everything, from the smallest sub-atomic particle to the whole universe. 
Black Magic is the molten core of all things, also from the smallest sub-atomic particle to the earth, the sun, humans, the galaxies, the universe. 
Black Magic is the the magnetic force that holds things together. It is also the most dangerous to deal with because once you have touched it you have a little of that magnetic power on you and it is vital that you never, never ask for anything selfish with that power. You can ask for things for other people, good things, but never for yourself. That is where a lot of good healers fall off the pathway of good and into the trail of selfishness. 
But Black Magic also holds the key to turn fear into fearlessness, cowardice into courage, lovelessness into love, in its molten fires. 
I'm not sure why I was thinking of the Magics today, but I was. It was cold here in Texas and I was out in my yard at one of the two creek bridges, having a glass of wine and looking at the very last tomatoes and hot peppers of the season. I was listening to the chickens and feeling helpless to bring all of us humans together. I was looking at the ferocious face on one of the trees, a tree that guards the seasonal creek and thinking that if we--us humans--could only understand how connected we are through the Magics--all of them, from healing to the waters, to the spark of life, and to the magnetic forces that holds us together--then we could drop our anger, drop our fear of the other, drop our self-importance and get to working together. Get to feeding each other. Get to treating one another like equals and do that with joy. Well, if we could understand the things that bind us together, we could actually work together, and that would be the start of healing for us and for the planet, and maybe even for the universe.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

I was missing New York, but loving Texas

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Time to Eat to Heal the Pain

I'm having a tough day. My daughter needed $180 for a couple of things. My ex needed $100 twice this week, plus she needed me to pay for one of her new child's ( whom I adore) lunches. Plus I had a flat and had to have the tire guy come out to my house to take it off, bring it to the shop and give me a new tire for $120. Plus my Saturday night car, my Crown Vic, lost it's power steering and the new power steering part cost $164. That's about $720 for those counting. And my book residuals from Ayahuasca in My Blood and Sapo in My Soul came to about $350 this month. So this is not a winning financial formula. This is a losing formula. And do NOT get me started on Trump asshats who kill people at his command and then he runs away like a sissy and blames the killings he encouraged on others. BS! But I'm trying to keep my sanity.
So my daughter asked for Uncle Clem's Chicken. I have probably talked about it before. Uncle Clem, my godfather, made a dish that he entered into the mazolla oil competition. It was seared chicken breast bites on a bed of asparagus, topped with a sauce of Campbell's Mushroom soup and Heilman's mayo, and then topped with cheddar cheese and baked.
My first wife, Clare, changed that to chicken over broccoli with the same sauce, and topped with mozzarella, which was a better dish. Serve that goup over good jasmine rice and you have a winner. So that's what I'm making tonight. Three half chicken breasts to 6 pounds of trimmed broccoli, so it's mostly a broccoli dish with a little chicken. But that's what it is going to take the stench of Trump and his bullshit out of my nose and soul. Wow! Great meal. Hate to waste it on eliminating horrible nonsense that's not grounded in reality.
Eat well. If you are hungry, come on over, I'm sure there will be plenty for everyone.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The current refugee caravan and other refugees

The way this caravan goes, and the way waves of refugees go is this:
The United States and corporations based here create untenable situations for humans all over the world, then wonder why people want to leave their homelands and come here to escape those hells we created. And then we have a president who wants to ignore international law regarding the treatment of people who ask for asylum--who have to be allowed in the country until their claim of asylum-need is evaluated. Traditionally they go to family or friends awaiting their court date, at which nearly 95 percent appear. We've stood that on its head and now incarcerate them, most of them, until their appearance date. Dehumanizing people for fleeing a situation we created for them. We are not the great nation we claim to be, not by a long shot.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

A hint at what I stand for

A friend of mine and I often disagree on fb. She puts up bad memes that spread lies and hate and says it's up to the reader to discern what's true or not, for instance, and I really don't like people who do that. Today she accused me of worshipping at the altar of the democrats. This was my response:
As to worshipping Dems, I'm so far to the left of Bernie Sanders it ain't funny. I think we should all get paid about equally: I worked kitchens and drove cabs and did painting in NYC apartment buildings and carried lumber 10 blocks to get it to site and no brain surgeon should make more than the people who do those jobs do. AND NO writer like me, semi famous or not, should make more than a good dishwasher. And certainly not idiot insurance CEOs or lawyers, or paper pushing people on Wall Street, or elected officials. Hell, those jobs are for generally stupid people who are afraid of real work because they know they'd never measure up. I've met lots of dishwashers who went on to become doctors, but I never met a doctor who would be able to wash dishes in a restaurant in New York City. And no, I do not believe you should be able to inherit anything more than the house your parents had and enough money for its upkeep. Every thing else goes into the pool and we get it to poor people, or people who cannot fend for themselves because of physical or mental disability, and we bring them up to the level of everyone else. And I want nearly every prison shut down because while their job is to educate and rehabilitate, we use them as punishment and that is not their description. So yes, some people need a time out from society, but our system ain't it. And I do not believe one single person would work less hard if they knew they couldn't become millionaires. They either like their work or quit. I don't care. And if you want to drink too much or do drugs, hell, let's put that stuff on every street corner, with a notice: You will not be assisted if you over indulge. So no, I do not worship at the alter of the dems. I liked Obama because he was a straight shooter, a regular guy who interacted with regular people fairly often for a president. I liked Ike, though I was young, because he did not like the idea of a military buildup despite being a General. I hated Johnson for the buildup of Vietnam, but loved him for THE GREAT SOCIETY and civil rights work-- even if he had to be dragged kicking and screaming. So you and doc got me all wrong. You know me and know that I am all about sharing and trying to make the best of things for everyone, from my team in the Amazon to my family, even if that means sacrifice for me. That's okay. Sacrifice for the betterment of others is a good thing.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Sapo/Kambo and your arteries

Someone was asking about sapo/kambo and it's effects on the human body. People were discussing temporary blood pressure lowering. I disagree. Here's my simple argument:
I'm going to go out on a limb--because I am not a medical doctor--and contradict George M a little. I see the vasodilation very differently than most people. I picture a balloon that you blow up for your kids and let fly around the living room. You blow it up 20 times and it flies and flies. Finally, it disappears behind the couch, and nobody finds it for a month, until you are doing a deep cleaning and move the couch and your kid sees the balloon and says "Dad, here's that balloon! Blow it up!" Of course you can't because the sugars and so forth in your breath have dried and made the balloon taught. To blow it up you have to stretch it out, vein by vein, until the sugars have dropped off because of the stretching and the balloon can be blown up and sent around the room again. Your arteries are like that balloon: Garbage gets stuck on them and it dries and cakes and shrivels little portions of your arteries, allowing less and less blood flow to your vital organs. Now you add a good dose or 10 of sapo/kambo and the peptides blow those arteries wide open and that garbage, stuck in the corners, starts to fall off into your blood stream for elimination. Not all at once. I have no idea how many times it takes but if you blow those arteries open enough to lose one percent of the accumulated garbage--like stretching that dried out balloon--you wind up with a permanent one percent more blood and more oxygen going to your vital organs. Do it again and get them open a bit more. Remember that it took your entire life to clog those arteries, so when you stretch them and the crud falls off, it will take another lifetime to replace that crud. After a number of sessions you might be getting a permanent two, three, four percent more blood/oxygen to your organs, which means you will permanently see/hear/smell better, have your kidneys and liver working more optimally, have your heart and lungs functioning at a higher level, have your stomach digesting better. And you will have permanently lower blood pressure because your arteries are a bit more wide open than they were.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

More Joy, Less Pain -- the movie

My friend, Mike McCoy, is nearing the finish of a full length documentary called More Joy, Less Pain. The title comes from an ayahuasca vision I had during the breakup of my marriage: I realized that at every moment I felt pain or my buttons being pushed I responded badly and caused more pain. Then I woke one night with the words "more joy, less pain" etched into my brain. It took a couple of days to see how that phrase could be useful to me, and then I had another squabble with my wife/ex-wife and in the middle of it I realized that if I responded angrily, I would cause more pain for myself, and especially for my kids. If I chose to respond cheerfully -- and that was flippin' hard -- the argument defused and the kids didn't hear us screaming, which produced more joy and less pain. I have tried to infuse that into all aspects of my life -- at least when others are present, because I still allow myself an occasional primal scream in private -- and it has really made a difference for me.
I'm very proud that Mike McCoy has chosen that title for his pretty wonderful movie about northwest Amazonia, medicine, and to some extent, me. He's done such a good job that my daughter Madeleina, on seeing a screening of it recently, noted: "Holy shit, Mike! That was great. And you even managed to make my dad look cool!"

How long will ayahuasca last?

Someone posted on a forum page the question of using ayahuasca that was a couple of years old. This was my response:
I always recook ayahuasca even if it is being used just two days apart. If it is thick, add water to thin it and then cook and smoke and reduce again. If it tastes clean, regardless of the age, I use it. If it has a sour or fermented taste even after recooking, I toss it. But I generally find that if it is cooked well in the jungle, then recooked two days later for a second use in the jungle, then recooked in Iquitos, then recooked the day I return home, that it lasts for years in the fridge, with full potency. The last recooking, the fifth, is saved for the day it is being served. All recooking is done with full attention, mapacho smoke, and singing. It's also done in stainless steel pots and stored in containers that are cleaned, dried and smoked.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

It's Fall, so time for pumpkin soup

When the Gorman's were kids, mom used to grow pumpkins, rhubarb and other things we thought were fairly disgusting, until the rhubarb pie or the salted pumpkin seeds were ready. But she also made a pumpkin soup, in the pumpkin, that I'd never eat as a kid but love today. And it's getting time for it, so here goes:
Take a good sized pumpkin with a flat bottom and evenly round or fairly straight sides. Figure 4-6 pounds.
Cut the top off one inch below the stem.
Clean the seeds out of the pumpkin and set aside or wash and salt them and put into the oven at about 300 degrees until baked dry and edible.
On the stove, saute 4 cloves of garlic, chopped, with one sweet red onion, chopped, in a bit of olive oil. When the onion and garlic are nearly done, add three diced roma tomatoes, sea salt and black pepper to taste.
In the empty pumpkin put one pint of heavy cream, two quarts of organic vegetable broth, and the garlic/onion/tomato mix.
If the pumpkin shell is not near full, add more broth.
Stir all ingredients in the pumpkin.
When the pumpkin seeds are done, raise oven temperature to 350 degrees
Place the pumpkin on a baking tray and place it in the oven.
Bake for about 90 minutes, or until the pumpkin meat is soft.
Add minced parsley or thyme or basil — whichever you like — to the pumpkin mix and allow to cook, with the oven off, for another 10 minutes.
Remove pumpkin from oven and allow to cook for 20 minutes.
Gently scrape the meat of the pumpkin into the mix, pouring it off as necessary and blending it.
Continue scraping until most of the pumpkin meat is blended with the stock and cream mix, then put onto the stove. Bring to a simmer for 10 minutes. Add sea salt and cracked black pepper as desired.
Serve soup with a spoonful of sour cream.
Bon appetit!

Fake memes

Sometimes people I know and like, post things that get to me. Fake memes, for instance, bother me. If your truth doesn't back up your political stance, a fake meme ain't gonna get it done either. But the fake meme might get through to people who don't bother to do any research. The fact that they are seeing the meme on the internet, and could therefore check its veracity in a matter of minutes, doesn't get a lot of people do do that checking. And posting fake memes — lies to make a point — makes the person posting them a liar. You post it, you own it. No excuses, though my friends will always say something to the effect of "Well I just post intriging things. I don't vouch for them. It's up to the reader to check their truthfulness." BS on that. Again, you post it you own it.
So in the last couple of weeks, a couple of my friends have been coming down on Colin Kaepnernick and LeBron James, asking where they are and what they're doing about alleviating hurricane Florence damage in South Carolina. I don't know how either is helping with the hurricane. I know LeBron helped immensely with Katrina, paying to have homes rebuilt and such, and I think he's awfully busy with his "I Promise" public school that he opened with his own money in Akron, Ohio. The school that guarantees free college for all of the at-risk kids in his school that graduate.
Kaepernick, meanwhile, just finished up donating the $1 million of his own money to an array of fantastic charities. And a million coming from a guy who has been out of work for a couple of years is a great deal of money. Now he might be making a killing on the new Nike ads, but the million came out of his football savings.
Trump doesn't like either one of these guys. He called LeBron dumb and he's called Kaepernick a host of insulting things in light of the former quarterback's protest of police brutality/killings of unarmed black men.
My question to my friends is where has Trump been during the hurricane? He wasn't there for Puerto Rico, and he has not been there for Florence: not one dime of his money has gone to help anyone. The people he vilifies, however, seem to share a great deal of their wealth.
Trump did say he "liked Mike", meaning Michael Jordan. Jordan, who just last week donated $2 million of his own money for Florence relief, does not like Trump. And Jordan thinks sports pros who use their position to protest peacefully — like Kaepernick — are doing the right thing.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Another explanation of water with sapo/kambo

Thought I just wrote about this but then today someone asked if it was necessary to drink a gallon of water prior to sapo/kambo use. This is what I wrote:
If you do the medicine Matses style, Sapo style, there is no drinking of water beforehand. But the Matses were hunter/gatherers when I met them, still eating tree barks for carbohydrates because they did not have fields. They would put pineapple tops down to make them grow on hunting paths and such, but they were not yet agrarian. What they needed sapo for was to clean them out, steady their hand with a bow and arrow, allow them to walk several days with little sleep, little food, and little water. Now the Brazilian groups that we subsequently learned about who used sapo, did it Kambo style: The Katukina and Yaminawa were more agrarian and fishermen and less depending on hunting. So it might be--and this is only my hypothesis--that they suffered more stomach ailments because of their diet, and so needed the Kambo to clean their stomachs out. Their style emphasised drinking water--one or two liters, never a gallon, which could kill a person who weighed under 100 lbs--to help produce vomiting, which would clean out the stomach of rotten material. So your question is "is it necessary to drink lots of water prior to sapo/kambo use" and the answer is: IF you want to concentrate the medicine on cleansing the stomach, drinking a liter of water will ensure vomiting, and probably vomiting bile. If you want a full body detox and reset, do not drink water and do not worry about vomiting, because the Matses never thought of that as necessary for the medicine do do the work.

My friend John passed

So I got a call a few days ago from someone I did not know. He said that my friend JOHN had died and that I was on the list of people to inform. I thanked him and hung up.
John came on my trip to the jungle about 4-5 years ago. He had signed up for it a year earlier but never showed up in Iquitos. I called to find out what happened and his sister told me that John was in the hospital: He weighed over 400 pounds and had gone on a starvation diet to get down to 300 to do the trip, but when he reached 300 his body went into shock and he wound up sick. So he was fine, but would not make the trip.
A year later, at about 300 or just less, he came. My trip is not physically difficult but there is a lot of climbing in and out of canoes, some walking, some hiking. He did the parts he could do, and he did them well. For a real softie he was a tough ass motherfucker. I liked him.
After the trip he'd send me cards for Christmas, Thanksgiving, my birthday, St. Pat's day. He was a wonderful gentleman in the old school style. If he read a good book he'd write me a postcard suggesting I read it. When we occasionally spoke he was always engaged.
He had colon cancer when I met him and though the person who called me about his death didn't go into it, I suspect that's what killed him.
Good people come in all sizes and shapes. He once wrote the lyrics for a song for an up and coming music person and they were wonderful. He'd laugh like nobody's business. He was one of the good guys and today I sang for him to help him cross--though he probably did not need any help--and my friend Drew, who ditched this plane about 18 months ago and now helps people find the bridge to cross to get to the other side, had him well in hand, so I think he's good.
Good bye, John. It was my pleasure to know you. Thanks.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Sapo/Kambo: Similarities and differencies in use

Someone asked me about the difference between the frog medicines Sapo and Kambo. They are the same medicine, but used differently by different indigenous groups. This was my response, after which he had a follow up question that I also answered.

Kambo and Sapo are the same medicines, but generally applied differently. Sapo, utilized by the Matses/Mayoruna indigenous group (which includes the Matis, Marubo, Matsis, and perhaps others) is moistened with saliva--from a strong person with a good heart--to impart that person's spirit into your blood stream along with the medicine. It is taken as a rule before meals or a couple of hours after them, with no special preparation. The burns for sapo tend to be fairly large, about half the size of a cigarette, and made from tamishi, a jungle vine.
   Kambo is moistened with water as a rule, with the recipient drinking 1-2 liters of water before the session to help produce vomiting to eliminate bile. The burns are quite small, often made with the end of an incense stick or something equivalent.
   Kambo is not generally considered successful unless there is vomiting.
   With sapo there might be an urge to vomit, but most people don't, or if they do, it's just the elimination of bitter orange bile.

The person writing to me then asked why there were different ways to utilize the medicine. This is what I answered:

Different indigenous groups do things differently. In Brazil, kambo style was used. In Peru, where most of the Matses are, and where I first discovered sapo (I didn't discover it, the indigenous did. I just happened to be the first person ever to publish an article about using it) they have their own style. In Brazil, among the Katukina and Yaminawa and others, they have a different style. It might have to do with the fact that the Matses, when I ran into them in 1985, were still primarily hunter/gatherers, so they needed the medicine to work a certain way, (which involved a complete body clean up to aid in hunting, long walks with little food, steadiness of hand when shooting bow and arrow), while the Brazilian groups were more agrarians and fishermen, so maybe they needed the medicine to clean out infections in the stomach, so used the medicine in a way that focused on that. All speculation, but in my experience, the indigenous generally do what is needed for them and no more. So my explanation makes sense--though I cannot swear it is right, just an hypothesis.

Monday, September 17, 2018

On leaving the space during ayahuasca ceremony

Someone on FB posted recently that during an ayahuasca session they decided to leave the space and return to their room. The people running ceremony did not permit that and the poster saw that as a sort of imprisonment--if a temporary one. I disagree. This is what I wrote:
On my trips we make an arcana outside of ceremony space that people can use. They an look at the stars, lie on the clay, just get out of the intensity of the ceremony space. But they cannot go beyond that arcana until the circle is opened. Beyond that space, which is beyond where you can hear the curandero singing, are thousands of spirits who wanted to come to the ceremony but were not invited. If someone rents a tear in that invisible wall those spirits enter and though each only has a tiny bit of energy that we can feel, tens off thousands at one time will knock everybody flat on their backs and cause hell to break loose. So I make it clear before ceremony: If you are here for ceremony, whether you are drinking or not, you are staying put. You can go to sleep, you can sing to the trees, you just can't put the rest of us at risk by leaving.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Preparing to serve Sapo, the Matses frog medicine

Someone wrote to me today saying that when they serve sapo/kambo, the frog medicine, they sometimes do not feel connected to the medicine. They said they wanted to feel more connected when they served and could I help. This is what I wrote:
Dear X: When I am serving any medicine, I always start by cleansing myself. In my case I use cuma lunga and agua florida. It's a 20 second cleanse, but it gets me out of being me and gets me into the medicine space. You could use mapacho, a quick meditation, a rattle, anything to get you out of being you and into being a medicine server. 
     Then, though it is NOT traditional, I sing the people for the first four minutes or so of the event. I sing to the frog to come and cleanse the skin, the blood, the heart, the lungs, the stomach, the liver, the kidneys, and then the head, the spirit, the soul of the person/people being served. I ask that it eliminate toxic things that those people do not need. I sing for it to work deeply but with tranquility so as not to cause fear and add to their toxic load. When I am done I am quiet. Somehow that attunes me, and it eases their entry into the medicine. When I forget to cleanse myself beforehand I can feel it immediately: I might be scraping the stick with saliva and realize it feels like I'm spitting on a stick, rather than sharing the best clean part of my spirit with them. So I stop, apologize to the guests, cleanse myself, then continue with what I was doing. That's the best I have for you. I hope it helps.

What's up with us humans?

I've been pretty busy since I came back from Peru at the end of July. Had last week's cover story in the Fort Worth Weekly, about the local Roller Derby scene, which is enormous but I didn't even know about a few months ago. This week is the Weekly's Best of Fort Worth issue and I had about 15 categories to do there. On Thursday my editor Anthony gave me a short investigative feature to write about a company wanting to open a private high-stakes poker club here in Fort Worth and I got that done and in print yesterday. In between I held my 10 day sapo (frog medicine) course for two people, had several guests over, and this weekend hosted ten former jungle-trip guests of mine here at the house for a medicine weekend/reunion. Yesterday I got both the Crown Vic and one of my Ranger trucks inspected and registered. And I've been dealing with insomnia, getting maybe 4-5 hours of sleep nightly, most of that just nodding out at the computer.
So there is that. But what about the world? What about the atrocities in Yemen? What about a president who denies the death toll from the hurricanes in Puerto Rico — most of which were the result of horrible federal response to that catastrophe? What about Judge Kavanaugh being rushed through a Supreme Court vetting so fast, considering how much of a paper trail he has that's not been reviewed, that it looks like the fix is in? And there are a million other things that make my blood boil. I just want to grab humanity by the neck and shake our collective heads and ask what's up? Can't we just do right by one another? Can't we all play together nicely? I guess not. And I'm sad about that. I'm mad about that. Damnit. Nuts.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Making noise during Ayahuasca ceremony

Someone on fb posted that they always roar all through ayahuasca ceremonies. They are unaware of it but it apparently goes on all ceremony. There was some back and forth on the issue, and I finally decided to weigh in on it. This was my comment:
If people are deep in the medicine and begin to make noise, whatever it might be, I always allow it for a few minutes because I don't want to interfere with their process. But once it becomes problematic--is taking over the space--I try to get them to walk out of the ceremony space with one of my team and walk them to the edge of the protected area, facing away from the ceremony hut, where they, under the eye of one of my team, may sing, dance, roar, scream, do whatever they like or whatever they are being compelled to do by the medicine running through them. But I do not let them stay in the ceremonial space and take over for a long period. I explain beforehand what the protocol will be and that the experience is not a participatory one: People came to the Amazon for the trips to hear the curandero sing, not to hear someone rebirthing. But I don't ever want to have people feel they cannot do what's necessary. They just can't do it in the ceremony hut. But outside, facing the forest away from the hut, they are welcome to do what they need for as long as they need. And always under the watchful eye of one of my team.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

One last meal for my Italian students

indigenous Matses' frog medicine) course yesterday, and they did it with flying colors. Final written exams were on the money. Congrats to both father and daughter. For the celebration I bought them some champagne--which we had out at the bridge over the dry creek, right next to the garden. Then for dinner I felt like breaking new ground, so I decided to make them shrimp and sea scallops with apples and pears--a combo I have never heard of with sea food. It was either gonna be great or suck. I bought half a pound of smallish sized (21-25) shrimp and half a pound of medium sized sea scallops. Home, I cleaned the shrimp and tossed the shells, along with onion ends, into a dry heavy sauce pan and scalded them till they were bright red. Then I added water and cooked it down until I had just about one-quarter of a cup. I made jasmine rice while the juice was cooking, then trimmed and parboiled thin--and beautiful--asparagus. I trimmed a yellow pepper and then julienned it--to go with the asparagus--and added scallions, cut the same length as the yellow pepper, and halved sweet cherry tomatoes. I sauteed those together in a little olive oil with garlic and sea salt and cracked black pepper. While those sauteed I peeled a large Delicious apple, one Bosc pear and one Red pear. I sliced them fairly thin, then put them in a very hot saute pan with a bit of unsalted butter. As their sugar carmelized, I added minced shallots, the shrimp and sea scallops. A touch of salt, and finished them off (they took all of one minute) with a good balsamic vinegar to tie the flavors together. I pulled them from the pan, added the shell juice and reduced it with the balsamic until I had a nice glaze, and poured that over the seafood and fruit. Served the veggies next to that, with a nice portion of the Jasmine rice and voila! And you know what? The apple and pears were great with the seafood. I sort of thought they would be but was glad when they were. It was a slightly different flavor/texture mix than our mouths and taste buds are used to, so there was a bit of suspension of previous beliefs necessary, but damn, it was a good mix. And now they're off and back to Italy--or will be very soon--and I hope they use the medicine well.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Snacks for Guests from Italy

I have a father and his 23-year-old daughter taking my sapo course (Matses frog sweat medicine) at the moment. They are in from Italy, and as my house was full, they took a room at a motel down the road a couple of miles. My friend Devon picks them up and drops them off daily. Today is their seventh day of the 10 day course.
Because they were staying at a motel where they had no kitchen, I decided to make them a snack after their daily sessions. They had fruit immediately after, of course, but I wanted to give them at least one warm meal a day to make up for what they would miss while at the hotel.
I cannot remember all I've cooked for them, but it was a pretty good selection: They are vegetarians, but not vegans, so the first day I took some left over rice--made the night before--heated it up in garlic with a bit of oil, then added three or four eggs and parboiled broccoli, cauliflower, and chopped onions. Nice seasoned rice.
Next day I made some angel hair pasta and tossed it with garlic, scallions, shallots, and, from our garden, zucchini, yellow squash, and tomatoes. Topped that with a bit of really good parmesan.
One morning I made spaghetti squash with garlic and diced red peppers with a side of sauteed spinach.
One morning I made cheese toast with good melted swiss on rosemary sourdough. That was served with sliced organic Bosc pear, a good olive mix, very sweet black cherries, and two boiled eggs from our own organic chickens.
Yesterday I made omelets stuffed with spinach, garden tomatoes and good cheddar and served them with homefries and onions.
This morning, after they told me they sometimes ate fish, I served them salmon filets--sauteed hot and fast. When the filets were half done I added some sesame oil, a bit vegetable stock, some teriyaiki marinade, and garlic with olive oil. I candied the skin, then removed the fish, and sauteed julienne redpeppers and scallions to top the fish on the plate. The fish was served on sauteed spinach with a side of our garden's zucchini, yellow squash, and tomatoes.
I think these guys are eating pretty good, and I feel good for making them food. Keeps them strong, and I need them strong because my course is hard. Bon Appetit!

Saturday, August 18, 2018

We're messed up and pickles won't save us

Okay, so with all the trouble in the world, with all the horror of war and imprisonment, slavery, hunger, lack of shelter, natural disasters and provoked wildfires, fish killing algae, corruption, pain, suffering, emotional torment, and all the rest of what is rotten in this world, we still have to get up and work. We still have to make our lives the best they can be. we have to treat our loved ones as truly loved ones. We contribute where we can, most of us try to help where we can, we alleviate suffering as we can, but in the end we cannot do it all. The saints among us regular humans did not have the power to stop the suffering of everyone. As a collective, of course, we could stop most physical suffering within hours if we put our hearts into it. Simply stop the wars and go take care of people. Send in builders to rebuild ruined cities. Send in food and water and doctors. Reduce the cost of medicines and provide free food and shelter to those who need it. We already have enough for all seven billion of us; it's simply not distributed evenly. And then there is the hatred that keeps us from coming together as a collective and rectifying all the physical problems the world faces. Yes, we all are still going to die and it ain't gonna be pleasant, but there is no reason kids in Yemen and elsewhere are getting their freaking legs blown off, losing their moms and dads. No reason we have kids sitting in what are essentially prisons here in the USA because their parents had the audacity to try to move away from war zones in Central America and seek asylum here.
I almost cannot go on some days when it all hits me hard and I realize how powerless I am. No superpowers, no special abilities to eliminate hate and prejudice in everyone. I am stunningly ill equipped to save this world.
I was going to write about making some pickles today. That was my meditation because I was being overwhelmed by the whole shebang that causes pain, that revels in pain, that is careless with other people's pain.
So yes, I made pickles and they're gonna be great. As a job it was a wonderful thing to do, and my friend Devon helped me. But as a meditation to forget the helpless feeling of rotten mess in this world, well, it failed miserably. I sincerely hope I did not put that vibe into the pickles! Yikes! I'd only be adding to the suffering when my friends and family eat them and start to puke. Ah, nuts. Momma said there would be days like this. I should have believed her.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Note on Illegal Aliens

A friend posted a meme on fb about people here in the US illegally. Makes my skin crawl, these racist mothafukkas. Who gives a shit if someone doesn't have papers? Are they taking your job? No. Are they paying taxes and not getting the benefit? Yes. Are they paying into medicaid and medicare and social security and will never get the benefits? Yes. So leave them alone.
   In an effort to be polite, this is what I responded:
Illegal aliens have no status. They do not vote. They earn money and pay taxes and social security but will never see that social security money and cannot benefit from many of the things those taxes pay for. They do the grunt work that citizens refuse to do/cannot physically do/are too weak-willed to do. Without them we have no fruit and vegetable crop to speak of. Without them we have no one to wash dishes or cook your horrible fast food. Without them we have no nail salons, no roofing industry, no house building industry, no one to lay tar to build roads. Without illegals this country comes to a full stop in three months. I'm all for giving lots and lots of people temporary work permits, as is done in Alabama for the farming industry and in other states as well. If anyone remembers, when the Alabama governor cut off temporary work permits in the state a few years ago, he thought poor people on welfare could pick crops. They couldn't. He thought poor people who were not on welfare would pick crops. They couldn't. He had people in prisons given the option of working the fields rather than sitting behind bars: In less than one week every prisoner opted for jail over working the fields. $4 billion in crops rotted on the ground in Alabama that year. And yes, temporary work permits were given out the following year, and all the crops got picked and sold. You do not have to like them, but you have to admit we depend on illegals from central America and Mexico for many many things that will otherwise not get done.

This Year's Garden

So I was out at our garden yesterday, like I am every afternoon when here at home, and I was standing on the dry creek bridge looking out at the 16 rows of veggies and bemoaning the fact that it did not produce well, and is not going to produce well. The corn was a complete bust, as were the red peppers, the scallions, the onions, the green
beans, the radishes, and carrots. How do you botch radishes and carrots for goodness sake? The carrots simply never really came up, while the radish tops flourished but the radishes never materialized into anything more than gangly thin red roots. The hot peppers from Peru, the charapitas, looked great early on, but produced few peppers--simply too hot and dry for them. They may produce in September when the rains come.
This garden was put in with lots of energy by Devon, Valerie Van dePanne, and myself. The soil is good and enhanced with a dozen or more sacks of organic manure. It gets watered daily and was weeded wonderfully, first by Devon and I and then by my daughter Madeleina and her beau Adrian while Devon and I were in Peru. It should have produced wildly.
It didn't. We've had a dozen good cucumbers and there are another half dozen near ready on the four or five cuke plants plus a lot of babies on the way. We've had some wonderful zucchini and yellow squash, huge ones, and there are more to pick, but not many. We have had sweet cherry tomatoes and good beefsteaks, but again, we're talking in the dozens, not the hundreds. And the watermelon and cantaloupe are just starting to show up, while our friends melons are already being eaten. There is some spinach but it's growing in trailers, not bushes, and it's not really wonderful to the taste.
So I was drinking a glass of wine and snorting a bit of the Matses' snuff nü-nü and thinking what a bust the garden was when I unexpectedly found myself chuckling. Of course, I would have loved more produce, but when I've had gardens produce like they should, I have wound up with so much stuff--and at the same time that everyones' gardens are producing--that you can't even give it away to the local churches. I remember pickling more than 60 quarts of cucumbers and hating it. I remember having to carry 30-40 watermelons in the back of my pickup with a sign that said: Help Yourself, They're Free, just to get rid of them. I remember having tomato fights with my sons Marco and Italo because we simply had hundreds of tomatoes we couldn't use or give away.
And when I finished that rhapsody, I lapsed into thinking that the idea of the garden wasn't really all about making food. It was about being around the plants, getting quiet for an hour in the afternoon, enjoying watering them and watching the insects that came into the garden for a taste or three. I mean, I've still got more zucchini and yellow squash than I know what to do with--and yes, I've stuffed it, made a casserole, used it in veggie medleys and still am looking at 15 pounds on the kitchen table with 10 more pounds ready to pick. And we've had cucumbers with lime for dinner several times, had cucumber sandwiches, made cucumber soup and still have nearly a dozen on the kitchen table. And there are tomatoes too, with more on the plants to pick. And enough hot charapita peppers to burn several mouths.
So I decided I should not complain. The garden did its job. It produced enough of a few things to keep me going out there every afternoon to quiet myself. And next year it will probably produce so much that I will be back to cursing the okra and cukes and carrots and radishes as I stand in front of a hot stove in August in Texas, pickling them all.

Monday, August 06, 2018

Back from Peru again

Well, I'm; back from the Jungle. It's been nearly two weeks, but as my daughter, Madeleina, says, "Dad, you're no good for the first two weeks you're back." She's right. I'm too full of the jungle, the rivers, the medicine, the guests I had out there to integrate in just a few days. Which doesn't mean I do not do anything. Since I'm back I've got three cover stories for the Fort Worth Weekly lined up, the new incarnation of SKUNK magazine needs me to come up with a new column for them (I did exactly 100 columns of Drug War Follies in the first Skunk incarnation and now it's time to come up with a new idea, right?), and I have cleaned the house, cooked, trimmed my beard, etc.
Probably the main place I've been able to put energy is in cooking. Since I've been back we--that means my friend Devon, who has been staying here for a while, plus Madeleina, off from College, her boyfriend Adrian, and me, plus occasionally my wife/ex-wife Chepa, her two new babies Sierra and Alexa, my son Italo and his wife Sarah and their babies Taylor Rain and Teigan Gray, and my son Marco, plus a dozen friends who have stopped in--have had good hamburgers, stuffed manicotti, linguini with clams and shrimp in a clam sauce. We've had prime rib with sauteed potatoes and seared tomatoes with parmesan. We've had chicken cacciatore over angel hair. We've had hot roast beef sandwiches on organic sour dough bread with mayo, horseradish sauce, skinned red peppers (fresh, of course) with fresh coleslaw. We have had Spanish chopped beef with yellow rice, veggies and jalepenos. We have had Greek Moussaka with organic figs and olives on the side. We have had roast chicken thighs with yellow rice and stuffed zuccini from our garden. We have had four or five cucumber and lime salads with the cukes coming from our garden. We have had good ice cream, great coffee, and we have thanked the lord--insert any lord you believe in right here--for letting us eat so wonderfully and have sung, and prayed to make the same food available to everyone. There is enough to go around. I can invite 10 people and still have enough for 10 more.
And now our chickens are starting to lay eggs. Yikes! Do you guys see what we are eating? This is beyond fantastic. I hope you are all eating as well. And if you tell me who to cook for, I will cook for them too, okay. I do not mean to be selfish here.