Getting the Stent

So tomorrow at 12:30pm I check in for the stent procedure, I’ve never been one to go to the doctor, so this whole Cancer business has been a major adjustment. A stent is a tube they insert in your throat to widen the opening because CANCER has grown and clogged your pie hole. I’m not that comfortable with being put under, although being awake would be absolutely horrifying. The Plan is to put in a stent so I can leave the world of Steven King’s “Thinner” and start getting some nutrition. Then we are scheduled to get some scans and see if I’m a candidate for Esophageal Cancer Radiation (cross that off my bucket list)…Yes I’m beginning to now feel like the guy from “Alien” with something foreign in my throat. What’s really strange since I’m on this movie comparison kick is one of my favorite Sci-Fi movies is “Blade Runner” and for years I really Identified with Harrison Ford’s character and the struggle about AI life. However now that my life is on the clock I find Rutger Hauer’s character and I have more in common. I get a little apprehensive before a sleeping procedure, I always wonder if I’ll wake up… and what to. I haven’t had that many procedures but they still creep me out. I truly trust the people at OHSU, they’re great… but man that place is huge. I’ll be back yacking at you Saturday if all goes well until then wish me luck!

Chemo session 8, two to go!

 

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I just got back from a week in Mexico where I was able to eat almost nothing, the tumor in my esophagus has grown inward closing off my pie hole further restricting what I can get down. I’m fortunate I was a portly 250 pounds when the Cancer started attacking, this extra weight has helped me weather no eating since I’ve started Chemo. My organ functions and protein levels still check out O.K. and allow me to keep on chemo-ing. Malnutrition however has become the biggest looming concern of my treatment lately, so the options are discussed. I quickly dismiss the feeding tube, I need to eat, I am a Cook, not being to eat is not living for me. So Kelly and I talk to the Doc about a stent, a sleeve inserted into the esophagus to allow soft foods to travel into my stomach. The stent option at least allows me to chew and swallow some things, the downside is it is permanent and pretty much takes all steak like proteins off the menu. My Doc is very sympathetic to me being a cook, and how tasting and eating is important so she noodles an idea. The idea is something they really haven’t done on purpose before so the Doc calls the stent surgeon and asks, “If we put in a stent then radiate the tumor, and the tumor shrinks enough is it possible to remove the stent” the stent Doc says, “yes but it may even just fall through”. We decided this is what were going try, I’ll get a stent within the week to start getting nutrition, suspend Chemo while we target radiate the tumor daily for a few weeks, and hope there’s a porterhouse in my future.

Because I’m not getting much nutrition I’m the thinnest I’ve ever been, looking much like an extra on the walking dead, and now without nutrition I’m also waking like one. I have to wear a belt with my new size 32 jeans, I’ve lost so much weight that hard back chairs bother my backbone when I sit down. My time at the brewery will reduce even more until I can get better fed. I’m a creature of habit and have always loved working long hours in the kitchen, however now when I work myself to the brink I can’t eat or drink for days after, trying to find a balance has become the most difficult part of having this affliction. My family has ben very supportive, sacrificing their time and projects to help me through this and telling me several times a day to “go home”. I’m looking forward to getting a little stronger and pursuing vitality, and I’ll keep tilting at windmills with Kelly at my side. Thank you all for prays and well wishes, it truly inspires me to dig deeper and appreciate every breath.

Live for what floats you boat, or at least look hard for what it is! Life is so very precious please don’t waste your time.

Last Day in Cabo

Tomorrow we head back across the imaginary wall to the good ol USA and home. Eating has not returned, liquids are proving difficult as well, so no tacos were realized. I see the Doc on Monday so I’m sure options and plans will be made then. I am weak from weight loss and malnutrition, walking any distance taxes me in ways I couldn’t have imagined. Airports are a fatigued persons nightmare, the trip down completely wore me out. I’m looking forward to getting home and back at the grind. I will miss the crashing waves of the beaches here, and I should have followed my dream of moving here years ago. To Someone with an extended expiration date it might seem impractical but to me it just looks like an opportunity missed at this point. Live as large as you can, you won’t regret it!

Fish Tacos time must mean Summer is here!

One of my favorite things about the being on the Baja Peninsula is fish tacos, I love the simplicity of side toppings and the fresh fish. Sometimes I think we try and cram too much into our tacos at home… Seasoned ground beef, Cheese, Sour Cream, Pico de Gallo, Lettuce,  Heavy, Clunky etc etc. The beauty of the tacos down here is the restraint, which keeps them light, fresh, and easy to eat. Here are a few examples of the taco fillings I’ve found here in Baja.

Pickled Red Onions

1 Onion Sliced into thin rings, 1 cup light vinegar or enough to cover the onions, you can use rice, cider, or white wine vinegar. 2 Tbl. Sugar, 1 Tsp salt, then anything else like garlic or peppers you would like to add although these things aren’t crucial and I seldom try to put too much in to these onions. Heat the vinegar with sugar and salt on the stove once the sugar and salt are dissolved turn off the stove and drop in your thinly sliced onions. When the mixture comes to room temperature put into a container and refrigerate until taco day.

Avocado Crema

Take one or two RIPE avocados depending on size, I like Hass Avocados, put them into your food processor add a Tbl. of lime juice and whirl until smooth, then add more or less a 1/2 cup of heavy cream until the crema is the consistency of a ranch salad dressing it should taste more like avocado than cream, then salt and pepper to taste. You can add a little hot sauce or sour cream if you like, but I’d rather leave it out and those that want hot sauce or sour cream can simply put it straight on their own tacos.

Cilantro

This is a love it or hate it herb, I love it and simple torn leaves of this on my taco is a great addition! 1 bunch washed, shaken dry and chopped very coarsely will serve quit a few folks.

Cabbage

Thin sliced green cabbage adds such a wonderful crunch and freshness to tacos, I like it much better than lettuce which tends to get soggy so quickly. You won’t need much cabbage, and fortunately grocery stores often will offer it in a half head. Simply slice the cabbage as thin as you can and offer as a topping.

Pico de Gallo

Traditionally Pico de Gallo is a kinda rough chopped salsa of White Onion, Tomatoes, and Jalapenos, with cilantro and green onions. I have some spice & cilantro sensitive people in my tribe so I’m providing a less spicy version recipe. One White Onion finely chopped, two tomatoes seeded and chopped, 1 Poblano pepper seeded and chopped, Three green onions chopped finely, a dash of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Replacing the Jalapeno with Poblano will cut down the heat factor, but still give you the colors and pepper flavors of Baja.

Hot Sauce

Everyone has their favorites and some make their own but for tacos I like the Pico Pica brand line of sauces they have both red and green and range from mild to hot, they’re a little chunkier than others and I like the color and flavor.

Limes

It is always nice to keep a couple limes in the fridge, wether to put in your beer or squeeze on your taco, Lime juice really brightens up a taco!

Fish

Traditional Fish tacos in Baja are battered and deep fried however you can get them grilled or seared and for at home I think pan seared is the most convenient. Living in the Pacific NW one of the best fish for fish tacos is fresh rockfish but you can use anything including shrimp, I know you can get tilapia readily however most of it is farm raised in PRC (peoples republic of China) and not fresh caught on our own coast. Once you get the fish filet home, check it for bones, remove any you find, then lightly season with salt and pepper, and sear on a medium high heat in a non stick pan until the fish is just cooked through. Once cooked slice into strips for tacos

Tortillas

There are so many options these days get what you want, for me I prefer a smaller corn tortilla wrapped in foil and heated on the grill or in the oven until I’m ready to assemble my taco.

I hope you all are having a great start to summer, and that there are a ton of tacos in your future!

 

 

 

 

Timing is everything, and mine usually sucks, being closed when media hits.

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Kelly and I planned to go to Mexico and Close Columbia County Brewing while we were gone months ago, who knew I would land a spot on AM Northwest and be featured in an article in the Portland Mercury? These media bonuses both break while the restaurant is closed, looks like I can’t get out of my own way….again. So if you are new to our endeavor we will be back cooking June 29th at Columbia County Brewing, 170 South 15th, St Helens Oregon….503-896-7776…reservations only for large parties of six or more, these parties will be presented one check and 20% gratuity. Our philosophy is one of freshness and trying to produce dishes not available in our little geographic region of Columbia County. We typically only have four items on the menu and they change every week, a typical menu looks a bit like this

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We hope you come join us this summer when we get back! We post our hours, menus, and closure dates on our facebook page, if you don’t facebook you can still search the page from the internet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Esophagogastroduodenoscopy…yeah try saying that three times fast!

Well my esophagogastroduodenoscopy (the procedure where they put a camera down your pie hole) looked a little bleak today, couldn’t even get a scope down into my stomach or small intestine, Big Ol’ mass of tumor blocked the way. Here are a couple of pictures for your viewing pleasure….not so much.

I’m not sure where this leaves the prognosis for future treatments, the Doc mentioned zapping my esophagus with concentrated radiation to reduce the tumor, I’m not sure if that is still in the cards. I’m pretty sure I’m headed for a feeding tube or stent, I’m voting for the feeding tube because the stent means permanent soft foods for the rest of my life. I’d rather err on the side of hope and a feeding tube can be removed if my tumor some how shrinks and real food becomes a possibility. I’ll see my Doc again on the 26th, and I’m sure she’ll have the route forward plotted for me.

I’m down to 32″ waist pants, which I haven’t seen since seventh grade. I turned sideways in the mirror this morning and found I’m looking a little flat fish-ish. My ass has evaporated completely, and my arms and legs are looking like a fairly advanced geriatric Trent… If ever I was going to live to be a skinny 90 year old I now know what I’d look like.

I’m off to Mexico in the morning, we’ll be there a week, but it’s looking like blended tacos might be a new thing…lol. The side benefit of all this is I really don’t have to worry about skin cancer anymore lol, come on sunshine! I’m looking forward to becoming one with a poolside lounge chair. Sleeping, reading, and sipping will be the order of the day, this will be the first of many varied trips Kelly and I are planning. My goal is to go as long and as hard as I can with what time I have left. I would encourage all of you to do the same!

 

 

 

 

 

Wake Preparations

So I need to construct a Whole Hog Cooker, this is a photo of an example of a cooker I swiped from the internet. Mine will be 46″x144″ enough room for a Hog, a Lamb, various Beef Bits, and a 46″x40″ Plancha at one end.

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I was able to score some heavy duty window security  screens at The Rebuilding Center for only $60! They will be off to sand blasting soon and then cured by fire, they measure a total of 40″X101″ and will make a great landing pad for the Critters.

Hog Cooker ScreenIm figuring I need about 92 Cinder Blocks to make a three sided cooker and leave an open end to shovel in coals, with the Plancha on the open end. I’ve got 275 gallon old oil tank that will serve as my charcoal cooker. I’ve purchased a local Lamb in the field to be butchered for the event, the hog I’ll most likely get from Carlton… unless somebody has a Duroc they’re raising and they don’t know what to do with? I’ll add more photos as we get this thing built… I’m looking forward to it!

Andy Warhol may have been right… 15 minutes starts now

Thanks to Deborah Stano’s bootleg video….

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The Recipes of AM Northwest

The Mac Daddy

Pulled Pork, Boneless Pork Shoulder or Pork Butt placed in a covered roasting dish seasoned with your favorite dry rub, put in a 275 degree oven overnight, pull apart when just warm to the touch in the morning.

1# box of Ditalini Pasta Cooked and Drained

1# Package Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

8oz. Package shredded Italian Blend Cheeses

12oz. Processed Swiss Singles Chopped into cubes

1 Pint Heavy Whipping Cream

1 Tbl. Dry Mustard

Cook pasta and pour over cheese, cream, and mustard mix while it is hot, mix thoroughly until cheese is just melted. Pour Mac into two Bread loaf pans lined with plastic wrap, then place in the refrigerator overnight. The Next day you can turn out the molded mac and cut slices for frying.

Lay one piece of seared mac down, pile on some pulled pork dressed with BBQ sauce, and lid with another piece of seared mac, and your ready to enjoy.

And you have a Mac Daddy from Columbia County Brewing (found at 170 south 15th, Saint Helens, Oregon)

Pineapple Slaw

1 half head green cabbage

1 small can crushed Pineapple

1/2 cup Chopped Green Onions

1/2 cup Chopped Italian Parsley

2 Tbl. vegetable oil

4 Tbl. Sugar

1/4 cup Cider Vinegar

salt to taste

 

 

Headed the right direction

Swallowing is getting easier, my endoscopy (a scope to look down my pie hole) is scheduled for next Friday, the day before we leave for a week in Mexico. I’m hoping I’ll get good news while in the sun….I’m up 3# so far this week to 158#, I’m really shooting for about 185-190, if swallowing improves I think that’s doable. I’ve been pushing it hard this week, Had chemo Monday-Wednesday and scheduled myself pretty aggressively this week. I push myself to avoid melancholy, if I have things that must be done I don’t have time to mope. Did AMNW this week which was fun airs June 19th, looks like I’ll be back once a month until December or I fail miserably which ever comes first. Brian Yeager interviewed me for the Portland Mercury… don’t know when that will come out. Then another fellow dropped by who is writing a book about conversations with Americans and chatted me up for a couple hours. So it appears if you become terminally ill you also become infinitely more interesting….lol.

The family would like me to write a cookbook, so I need to start framing that. I’m thinking something more along the lines of entertaining and cooking tips,  as opposed to recipe, recipe, recipe, yawn, recipe. Besides with the internet, does the world really need another cook book?

On the lighter side I’m still hoping to get a taco down while in Mexico, or at least a dirty Monkey poolside. I’m so ready to lay by a pool and do nothing, sunscreen be damned can’t say I’m afraid to get skin cancer currently.

Apropos of Nothing

Last night I went to a show with my buddy Steve, I picked the musician based on stuff he’d done 30 years ago….he has changed and I wasn’t aware. This was him as I remember….

 

Last night we saw a more soundscapes put me to sleep performance, like this

 

 

So the take away is, I’m terrible at keeping current. I’m going to stick to Jazz or Blues me thinks. It now makes sense why there were so many stoned people at this show lol. Don’t let my bad luck keep you from enjoying live performances, get out there and live people, you have no idea how much it will mean to you when it’s gone!

I was gifted service, and I am thankful

Community service is something I believe is taught. When I was a young grade school kid I remember my Mom was a regular room mother, then a Den Mother for Cub Scouts. Before that I can remember my Grandfather would volunteer to lead singing at the Portland Rescue Mission, I loved the evenings I got to sit on stage and watch him lead the men in song, most of the clients back in the early 70’s were men as I remember. When I got to grade school and the call went out for crossing guards, my hand shot up! When AV techs were called for to run the Movie Projectors, count me in. In Middle School and High School I ran for Student Council every year I attended, lost once I think…I took on a Hot Freshman Cheerleader as a 7th grader ….a mistake, a political lesson I wouldn’t repeat.

When Kelly and I got married, we lived in the Woodstock Neighborhood, I got involved with the neighborhood association, later becoming president of the association with  45,000 people in it. We planted the street trees you see along Woodstock now, changing the land use to store front commercial. Southeast Uplift provided training, and guidance. we met regularly with Portland Police to discuss neighborhood issues. Then in 1988 Mulugeta Seraw was murdered in Sellwood by White Power Skinheads affiliated with the White Aryan Resistance. Tom Metzger was quoted as saying these skinheads did a civic duty, Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a civil suit against Metzger. Other than this being a nasty bit of PDX history there’s not much more to tell other than my part in this story had some bearing on my future. On an evening when Morris Dees was in town and wanted to speak….the only public meeting in the city of Portland was our little Woodstock Neighborhood Assc. meeting, we were slated to talk about street trees. It was a circus, Everyone showed up Police, News, Skinheads, Anti Racist Skinheads (which btw were varied ethnically and use black shoelaces I was informed) plus my friends and neighbors who were planning work parties to remove graffiti with carburetor cleaner and rags and plant trees. I was overwhelmed, I was President of the Association at all of 24, I tried to keep to Roberts and conduct a civil meeting that was desperately trying to be coopted. After that Kelly and I began talking about moving out to the country. We decided sometimes it is better to flee than fight the changes we saw coming.

It took a little while, but we ended up in Columbia County, first order of business was to read the County Comprehensive Plan… I know what a dork. You all should know Everything in government starts with land use, it is the rule that guides how our communities are built. Being that I believe community service is an adult duty in any place you live, I got involved with the chamber, some city planning committees. Currently I’m on the Public Health Policy board.

I bring all this up not to try and impress anyone about my service, or how I was raised to see it as a civic duty, but rather to illustrate a problem I see… people aren’t serving their communities in the manor we used to. We have become issue driven instead of community driven. If we truly want diversity and harmony I believe we have to reach back to the past. We must serve each other, be diligent and interact with our public officials. We have to stop name calling and start discussing solutions. If we ever hope to return to a better discourse in our capitol, we have to set the bar on a local level. Things in DC won’t change until they realize we won’t tolerate the nonsense any longer. So my plea is to stop playing team politics whatever your issue is, and start serving your community, we will all be better for it.