Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Good Day Gone Bad

One of those days: Highs and lows...so I turned in my section of a 3-writer story on FORT WORTH'S elections next week, knowing that my 1400 words are going to be cut to 400 because of space constraints and then today, got off pretty well with starting to mow lawn. First lawn mow since I got sick. Better yet, my friend, Mike McCoy, showed up unexpectedly while I was pushing that mower and he can testify that I was actually doing it. Good for me. While here he told me the screening of the movie More Joy, Less Pain, which deals in great deal with me splitting my time between being a dad, a jungle guide, and a sick guy, has sold out. He's got me talking before the screening and today we added an informal hour at the bar prior to the screening for anyone who wants to talk with him or me.
A couple of hours later, my son Marco came by to say hello and tell me he'd be bringing Chepa's kids--my wife/ex-wife till June 1 when the divorce is final--over for dinner and what was I making. I told him I'd make ribs, corn on the cob, and cucumber with lime.
Went to the store to get the ribs and corn--along with wine for me and sweet condensed milk for Chepa's coffee tomorrow, and on the way back stopped at my mailbox to see the tax refund of a few thousand was there. Hooray, the bills for both Chepa and I are paid from that for a month or so.
The ribs, rubbed down in garlic and olive oil with good cracked black pepper (at 250 for 2 hours) prior to me adding a commercial barbeque sauce that I doll up a bit, went in and I went to the front porch swing to have a glass of wine.
The girls showed up and Sierra, the older of Chepa's new two kids, was screaming in pain from an ear ache. So I put a chair next to the swing and candled her--rolled a sheet of newspaper tightly into a cone shape, put the narrow mouth in her ear, then lit the top, causing heat to go into her ear and warming the wax, which allowed the water trapped behind the wax to come out easily.
So all was going well.
Then Marco came rushing from the house saying he had to leave because the girls had just told him it was awards night at their schools. I kissed them all goodbye, then went to tend the cooking ribs and put away the rest of the groceries.
And then Alexa, the younger of Chepa's two new ones called, and asked if I knew it was awards night at her school. I said I did but I couldn't leave food cooking, but wished her wonderful love for working hard to get the awards.
When I got off the phone I felt lousy: I'd had two glasses of wine and don't drive when I drink anything. But dammit, nobody told me about this, so I couldn't go. I still felt like shit. So I called her back and told her how proud of her I am and that I want her to show me her awards and that I love her. She gets it, but is still disappointed. Pgorman isn't going to be there.
Dammit, a really good day just went down the freaking drain. What a fucking loser I am.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Movie About Me

Crazy, right? But someone made a movie about me.
My friend, Michael McCoy, has made a film--somewhat about me, somewhat about the present day upper Amazon, somewhat about jungle medicines, and somewhat about how that river and those medicines can create major positive shifts in your life. The film's title, More Joy, Less Pain, comes from an insight I had from one of those medicines, ayahuasca, during the very worst part of the dissolution of my marriage. Though separated, we had regular contact, and my wife and I fought constantly. I was always hurt. She seemed to always be pressing buttons that prompted me to go into a rage. It was not good for us, not good for the kids, and not good for her mother, who was living at my house while dying of cancer.
One night I had the insight that I had a choice and that I'd always had a choice about the anger, even though I hadn't seen it. The insight was that every time I felt my buttons being pushed, I had the opportunity to create more joy, or more pain. I could break into a rage, causing more pain, or bite my tongue, refuse to engage, and create more joy.
It took a while to get that routine down, but almost immediately we began to fight less frequently, and in fairly short order she stopped pushing my buttons and we started getting along pretty well again. It was good for the kids, good for us, good for my wife's mom.
Simple, right? More Joy, Less Pain.

Amazon Tea as Cancer Adjunct Therapy

Someone posted on FB that they were going to serve sapo/kambo (Amazon frog sweat) to a cancer patient who utilizes alternative therapies. I added this:
I don't want to talk out of turn here, but she might also want to drink a tea of Una de Gato and Sacha Jergon. The Una de Gato bolsters the immune system and the Sacha Jergon shrinks tumors. Making the tea is easy: Three or four sticks of Una de Gato in 3 liters of water. Turn it on very low, just steeping, for about 8-12 hours, or until it has been reduced to just over a liter. Add three tablespoons of Sacha Jergon, powdered, and continue reducing slowly for another half hour. Remove from heat, allow to cool, remove the sticks, place in a glass jar, and put the jar in a cool, dark place. Drink about 1-1 1/2 ounces per day. The liter will last 3 weeks. Take a week off, then make new tea. It's bitter, but so what? Very effective as adjunct therapy. I hope your friend gets better.
For anyone interested, there are lots of places where you can purchace these medicines. I would google under the names of the medicines, or go to Basement Shaman or some such to get good material.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Follow up to Pain Post

ing. I cannot believe that we live in a world where hurting other people is an okay thing. Someone told me that "enemies are only people you have not met yet". And I think that's largely true. It would take so little to feed, house, clothe, respect everyone. We could do it in three months for Christ's sake (And I know I am saying this on Easter, as a former Roman Catholic). Why are we so busy with nonsense that we don't take care of each other? Why do we drop bombs on people, starve people, mutilate people and then claim we are winning. Winning what???


Spoiler Alert: Slight morbidity ahead. Okay, so I was thinking about pain today. My legs, almost better from the flesh eating bacteria, were hurting. And I was picturing a nurse or doctor asking me what my pain level was on a 1-10. And if they asked me today might have said 4: Enough for Ibuprofin or morphine, but not enough for dilaudid. And that would have been accurate. But then I thought about how I felt when my intestinal ulcer burst and sent three (3) liters of acified melting poop into my abdominal cavity and it began burning my lungs, heart, stomach, liver and kidneys and that was a lot worse than today. And then I thought about a kid in Yemen starving to death over the course or two weeks and that would be WAY worse than any pain I ever had. And then I thought of Iraqui kids having houses fall down on them and cutting their legs off while they were still alive and I thought, well, compared to them I am a minus-40 for pain. So everybody: Can we stop starving kids, stop blowing them up, stop the endless pain which is so much worse than most of us will ever know that we are not even on the same damned scale? Can we do that for freaking humanity, please?????

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

About Fear

For me, nearly all of the world's pain comes down to fear. Yes, there are tornadoes and fires and childhood sicknesses that can kill, horribly. Yes, everyone you love will eventually die, leaving you heartbroken. But fear, fear festers in the human heart and soul and causes people to imagine they need more than they need, causes people to hoard, causes people to hurt other people. When I sing, I sing for the fear in people to transform to fearlessness; for cowardice to transform to courage. If humans could do that, most of the pain we make for ourselves and others, all over the planet, would disappear, just vanish overnight. Yes, the universe, this planet, provides plenty for everyone. But only if we are brave enough to share, fearless enough to not need to hoard, courageous enough to know that what we give will be replaced, and clear enough to see that your enemy is just a friend you have not yet met.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Sapo/Kambo questions and answers

An interesting exchange on FB recently:

ORIGINAL POSTER: Anyone knows for sure milking the frog repeatedly does not make him more prone to infections and attacks by predators?

ME: Unfortunately, the frogs have two primary predators: birds of prey and tree snakes--nearly all of them constrictors. For parasites and infections, I have never seen a frog milked by the Matses that later developed them, and you see the same frogs all the time on the river where you live; you know they are the same because they will have burn marks on wrists and ankles where they were temporarily tied up, and you do not recollect until those marks disappear. That said, their sudor, sweat, is what protects them from those predators: The moment the frog enters the mouth of a snake it gets frightened and releases its sudor, which instantly freezes the snake, preventing it from closing its mouth and allowing the frog a few seconds to back out of the mouth and make its escape. And yes, again unfortunately, when you collect that sudor, that frog sweat, that frog will take several days to rebuild its protective sweat, leaving it considerably more vulnerable to those snakes and birds of prey during that time. It's similar to a poisonous snake's vulnerability for several days after envenomating prey and using up it's supply of potent venom. Everyone working with the medicine has to own up to that being a reality.

 IYA: In other words, back off from the frogs
??? Stop mystifying the frog; they have they own life quite separate from you humans stealing its bodily substances,. enough,... its really quite sick seeing how you colonial people have latched onto this for your own ends,.. it will be hunted out if you will not stop being materialistic;

When will you people stop?
When the frog is extinct???

ME:  If people are careful and allow the indigenous to collect them and return them to their creeks and trees, there is no reason to think anything bad will happen to these beautiful frogs. If people collect recklessly and hurt the frogs, or keep them in captivity thinking--wrongly--that the frog will produce medicine in captivity (they don't; they've been for sale in aquariums as house pets for 100 years and produce nothing out of their environment), well, then things could go bad. But generally speaking, the frog is with humans for half-an-hour to a couple of hours, then released, generally to a lot of joyful thanks. That is my experience, anyway, and I would not allow anyone near me to do it differently.

IYA: People are not careful; you know this is happening right now and its being exploited; hundreds or thousands of non-indigenous peopke are flocking to this and its simply not sustainable; the same is happening with ayahuasca and fbe vines are becoming rarer, and you are naive to pretend its not happening; i am not wlling to recommend kambo anymore, its becoming too destructive to local people and frogs; i blame the western practioners for their unthinking uncritcal awareness and naivety,...
As usual they do not give a f*** about what the repercussions of how the latest ‘treatment’ for alienated westerner europeans, americans and asians will impact local indigenous communities,..

ME: Given that I'm the guy who brought this medicine out of the jungle 33 years ago, you must know how many sleepless nights I have had in my responsibility for doing that. If I hadn't, someone else would have 3-5 years later, but that is not how it happened. I was it. Yes, too many people want the medicine. they are layering its use with all sorts of mystic bullshit. But when you use the word "exploiting", I can't quite agree with you. If you have the frog in captivity, it will not produce medicine. If you hurt the frog, it will no longer produce medicine. It only produces medicine in its own environment: No one yet knows whether the frog is responding to the leaves and trees it is walking on; if it is responding to the insects that attack it; if it makes its medicine based on its particular diet; if it makes its medicine out of fear of its environment; or if it is some combination of those things. (No one has ever given me the lousy $10 grand I would need to nail that down, dammit!!!!!) But we do know that if you collect medicine twice, the second medicine will be very weak. It will not produce anything but simple sudor, sweat with no medicine, if you keep it to collect three times. You cannot put it in a cage, move it out if its environment, hurt it, or it will not produce medicine--which is why so many people selling the medicine on the internet are putting poisonous egg whites or yolks on sticks and selling it as medicine, or putting candle wax. You can kill this frog, but you cannot, yet, at least, force it to produce medicine. Which keeps it safe: The people who want the medicine want real medicine, and that only happens if the frog is released and allowed to recuperate for a couple of weeks. THAT'S the frog's best protection from humans.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Further on the Road to Mend

Been a long time, this time, but I'm getting better. Wow, the insidious flesh eating bacteria didn't get much flesh this time, but heck, I've been sick since Feb 16 or so, and have three more weeks of antibiotics, home nurses, physical therapy and so forth. Just laid me out. Including 8 hours in the ER last Wednesday when an abscess on my right anterior knee had them worried the bacteria were spreading. They didn't, I was allowed to come home.
I'm weak, however, and smoking cigs as I do without a lot of exercise to clear my lungs hurts things. BUTTTTTT, I am something of a fighter and last week I started driving, then driving alone (my leg wraps and pain prevented that previously), and when my friend Pat Agurkis came in from Wooster for some days (he mended fences, built a bonfire with my friend Mike McCoy, mowed the whole lawn, more than an acre, with a push electric mower, I managed to go to the dump and help dump garbage. AND I cooked my ass off for him and family, and now that he's gone, I still am. Last night: Chicken salad with scallions and celery from fresh roasted chicken thighs, along with a homemade cole slaw. Ribs for the girls and chicken wings--baked, not fried--for Italo, Chepa and also for the girls. Tonight it's a mac and cheese with four cheeses, bacon, garlic, onions, tomatoes.
Last night I also helped my son anchor a 155 hp boat motor onto a rack he built so that he can rebuild it, and today I helped move some old couches into his truck to take to the dump.
Chepa, my ex, clapped when she saw me working. "He's back!" she shouted.
And you know what? I may not be back, but I am getting there. THANKS for all the power you all sent my way. Definitely helped. Thank you.
Sorry you are all gonna miss the mac and cheese. It's gonna be good.

Sunday, April 07, 2019

Continental cooking

So my son, Italo, all 33 years old, was eating left overs today and said: "You really know a lot about food, dad. I never really understood that you were a chef, even when we had our restaurant in the Amazon." That would have been The Cold Beer Blues Bar on Pablo Rossel, right on the Puerto Mastranza that we had from early 1998 to the end of 2000.
I said, "yeah, I was gifted with cooking". Thursday I made Chicken Parmesan; Friday I made a Texas barbeque with chicken in a Peruvian-style marinade, beans, potato and egg salad, smoked sausage, fresh hot sausage, rice, and marinated asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, scallions, and red pepper on the grill as well. Saturday I made a Moroccan lamb tajine with couscous and a cucumber/yogurt/curry/lime side; and tonight I am making open chicken burritos with roasted chicken and garlic, good black beans, pico de gallo, cheese, avocado, romaine, sour cream and hot sauce.
Four days: Europe, South America, North America, Africa.
Yeah, Italo. I know a lot about food. And I am very happy that I do. thanks, Mom and Dad. I appreciate the knowledge.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

The Importance of Drinking Water Prior to Sapo Use

Someone on facebook asked whether it was vital to drink copious amounts of water prior to kambo use. Kambo is the Brazilian name given to the frog medicine that the indigenous Peruvian Matses call sapo (a misnomer, but that's another story). The style of application of the medicine is different. Kambo practitioners drink 1-2 liters of water prior to the medicine to encourage a purge. Sapo users do not. Here was my response to the question of whether water was imperative.
   In my 32 years of using sapo with the indigenous Matses, I never once saw them drink anything prior to sapo use. I'm told that some villages are now drinking masato--fermented yucca--prior to the medicine, but I believe that is a fairly new phenomenon, taught to them either by Westerners or contact with other indigenous communities. It was not as though they fasted, however. They did the sapo (kambo) whenever they wanted: IF they happened to eat a few minutes earlier, that was okay. If they happened to have some i-san or masato prior, that was okay. If they had nothing, that was okay too. There simply was no protocol at all: Pablo and Alberto just did it when they needed to do it. So did Mauro, and so do Pepe and Jaime and a host of others. I've never paid attention to what's in my stomach--other than if I've had wine--prior to sapo use, and no, it is not an issue. You will tend to vomit less frequently, and if vomiting is important to you, then drink the water by all means. If the purge is not important to you, and with sapo style it is not, then there is no need to flood your system with water prior to medicine use. Just my experience, of course. Do what you are taught and what is right for you.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

A Story About My Kidneys

This post is for people who have kidney disease or know people who do. It is not a suggestion as to what to do, but it is my story. Several years ago I had an intestinal ulcer burst, requiring immediate surgery that removed 3 liters of poison from my insides--poison released when the ulcer i knew nothing about burst. That was followed by two more stomach surgeries, cut from solar plexis to below the naval.
There was considerable pain but I didn't want opioids, so the docs told me to take ibuprofin. I took 4-12 daily for a couple of years, and then the flesh eating virus hit my legs and that was two more major operations and then skin grafting and more pain and more ibuprofin.
Three years ago, when I hit 65 my medicare kicked in and my leg doc, the brilliant surgeon Dr. Ford at Huguley Hospital in south Tarrant County, Texas, told me to get a full physical. So I did. And the guy looking at my kidneys said that I was down to 33 percent function as a result of the ibuprofin. No one had warned me, and I didn't think to look at the fine print on the labels. He told me that if it dipped much more I'd need dialysis and then a kidney transplant.
That blew me away.
Several months later the same doc said I was down to 27 percent function and we were getting near the point of no return.
I cut the ibuprofin out as much as possible--reduced it to 3 ibuprofin once a week or maybe twice, hoping that would not kill me. I continued to eat garlic with every meal (sauted in olive oil in almost everything, let's say a full head of it daily). And I did a lot of sapo, the frog medicine the indigenous Matses from the Amazon jungle had shared with me 33 years ago. I did small doses, but quite a few of them. The medicine comes from a particular frog and cleans out toxins from the body, among other things. Sometimes I did it for 5 days in a row, sometimes 3 days, and in small amounts--as opposed to what I used to do.
When I was back in the hospital in late February for eight days dealing with the return of the flesh eating bacteria, I was told my kidneys were operating at 66 percent. I could not believe it.
Now I've been back on antibiotics for the infection for more than 6 weeks and do not dare to use the Matses medicine at this time. I'm simply not strong enough and don't have the courage to test the limits at the moment. Nonetheless, my most recent blood work, from last Friday, was assessed by my infectious disease doc today and she said my kidneys were operating at 100 percent.
I double checked that with her three or four times: She insisted they were in the best shape possible.
Unfreaking real, right?
I can't say if it was that the first kidney specialist was simply wrong, or that cutting out the ibuprofin worked, or that the garlic tightened me up, or if the frog-sweat medicine did the job. But the difference between being told I should apply for a kidney transplant two years ago and being told I could sell a healthy kidney today is huge.
I can't promise this will help someone else, except to say work at it, stay strong and positive, clean up if you have to do that, and fine things sometimes happen. I'm very grateful to the universe and the Matses medicine every day, but today I'm singing even more thankfully.