Clean Spatula

 I'm cooking, it's ready, time to scoop it up into the bowl. What “it” is matters not, because “it” all comes out brown and crunchy.  Let's call it Cajun and cover it with hot sauce.  I need an excuse for hot sauce. Where is my antacid? To the point. Scooping it off the pan and into the bowl would go better if I used a metal spatula rather than the current food chiseling tool, an old floppy plastic spoon. ($1, over-used, been melted) I won't do it. I won't use the good metal spatula for fear of having to wash it. Washing the spatula is a big deal. I'll get my hands wet, have to dry hands on pants, and still they won't be dry the way I want them dry. A mission launches to find a clean dish towel that doesn't smell rank. I'm a sniff test person. I can share a list of nasty smells. I've special long names for kitchen smells – I was a German scientist in a previous life. I used the metal spatula and I'm glad over it. Today's lesson: If you have the tool, use it, clean it, but always use it... and maybe clean it later.

I am a giant.

I am a giant. Pull a weed, beat the dirt out of it,and give the weed a fling. I'm a savage giant. Weeds must die. I carve out small pieces of time to landscape during the day – keeping the shovel by the back door to save the walk to the shed. Offline is a new luxury. Most days, I've got my face in a camera, mind in a computer, and come days end head on a pillow before my child is asleep. Making the best of time, no action without a purpose - happiness. I have an unquiet mind, to slow it to silence, I let it daydream in the right garden. I'm planting ferns and moving rocks to keep the ferns company. This work soothes me. I love rocks and feel I'm doing them a favor when I move them. A rock in the same place for 100,000 years, it's bound to be grateful for a new view . It's good to move rocks far, so they don't have to live next to their ex-spouses another 100,000 years – that's the feeling I get. But, there was a rock who ran. As I carried a stack of rocks to the fern wall, a little rock rolled off the top. I hear it skittering down the hillside screaming, “ Mommy - Mommy Mommy, Mommy! I love my job as a giant.

Frankfurt Trainstation

Returning to Tennessee. Assignment complete, I rode a high-speed train to Frankfurt on route to the airport. German trains travel at 300km/h (186 mph). I traveled in comfort – smooth and fast... and they serve nifty snacks on the train – better than the airplane. I'm all about snacks. I travel well, as I enjoy my own company and keep myself well entertained. My favorite daydream game is “What if”. As in, what if I lived in Germany? Would I live in the farm house with wind power or the apartment with solar power? The game quickly advances to, what if I married that woman in the green dress crossing the street or the one driving the mini-cooper way too fast? It's the art of the crush, the 60-second romance. I chose the tall, blue-eyed, with white hair. We had two kids. We lived a good life, birth to death, imagined in a New York minute. We had a solar powered house, she was a doctor, we spent holidays on long adventures while the kids stayed with their uncle in Switzerland. We always traveled by train because we both loved to read. Mass transit rides seem to be the only time I read a book cover to cover. Can't do that driving a car. And, as I don't sleep well on airplanes because they don't design seating for my Sasquatch body type, I'm motivated to crack a book there. On this trip, I read the Untethered Soul – perfect for me. Right book, right time. Germany was good for me. My life as a journal photographer is underway. My website is sort of up and running. Lots of work to be done still. Have a visit now – a quick peek. Stories to come.

Breathing

It's my 6 AM habit to peek in on my child. A check, for the sake of checking. I've always enjoyed watching her breath. When she came back from the midwife's care years ago, I checked her sleep. I was afraid she would stop breathing, or that she was breathing too fast, or maybe not breathing deep enough. My mind finds worries. Morgan is away with her mom for summer. I still check her room. At sunrise, the sun forced shadows across the lawn, through her room, and onto the hallway wall. It was a melancholy moment. I miss my baby.

Waste'Em

It's over. It's on. Another dramatic Christmas in the storage box and cataloged in the scrap album. I keep my holiday memory books on the shelf between the holy bible and texts on combat in Vietnam. The holiday chaos is over and I'm back to a regular routine in the gym. If I die on the stationary bike, check out my scrapbook it will deliver more entertainment than a spaceman at a New Year's party. I was disappointed to not see any newcomers exercising their New Year's resolutions at the gym today. I enjoy giving advice to the newcomers, even though I've little idea of what I'm doing. My big qualifications are I trained with Chris King for a few weeks and my little brother earned his Iron Man tattoo at the legendary heatwave race in Kentucky... and I have a long term relationship with junk food. With no new people at the gym this morning to give advice to (flirt), I'm giving my advice out on FB. When you get the craving, buy the potato chips. Open the chips, eat a few, then dump them out of the car window. You are wasting $3.79. That is a cheap price for not putting 1,120 calories on your butt. You will overcome the craving and you will feel good. Next time, don't buy the chips, give me the $3.79 and I'll slap your skinny ass and direct you to the stationary bike. There you can watch TV shows about gourmet food and you will never eat chips again for fear I'll pat you on the butt again in public. You win with me.

 

My taste in candy

My taste in candy runs mysteriously parallel to my attraction to packaging that kids love. The more childish bright and shiny the wrapper, the more I'm going to like the candy – all of it one bite at a time. This package is kind to give me the 220 calories per serving warning on the front. It's a tiny bit helpful, in the way a tobacco package warning is helpful. I ate the entire package – hello, it's a serving. The red ones were the best – always. I knew what I'm doing. I was warned. I'm aware. I'll eat better, tomorrow... no, no, today. Tomorrow, I'll make better mistakes, which may or may not involve candy.

Buttermilk & Moss

I got myself in and out of trouble today. I used the household blender to mix a moss slurry. I want Moss to grow on the backyard rocks and stairs. There are two methods. 1) Buttermilk, water and Moss mixed 1:1:1 or 2) 1 cup of water with 2 aspirin. I've tried buttermilk, it works but $4 a half gallon seems expensive. I'm trying out both methods side by side today. Mixing the moss and buttermilk smells a bit like an ipecac brewing. That started a worry. I'm mixing the brew in the blender my kid makes strawberry smoothies in. The next fruit smoothie might have a hint of moss flavor – the kid will squawk. I used the blender anyway. Started off gentle low mince then went to randomly mashing buttons: grate,blend,shred,grind liquefy,whip (whip it good), crush. There should be a destroy button. There is not. I make do by holding down the ice crush button. That's my destroy mode. I press and grit my teeth because I'm mean like that. Job done, I'm still worrying about cleaning the moss flavor out of the blender. While cleaning up, I dropped the blender. It shattered. Problem solved.

Kitchen Sink

Woeful, grieved, frustrated, hopeful, exhausted... I can't find the word, can't identify the emotion I feel. I'm stuck here with the kitchen sink. The sink will be deck ridden for a week, no way around it. Redoing the kitchen counter, I came up short one-stinking-gallon of epoxy. I've got to wait for delivery. (No, I'm not paying for expedited – fool.) I'm remodeling the kitchen myself with raw stubbornness and I'm doing it on the cheap. The new white epoxy counters look fantastic - I do say so – but they need the dread legendary third coat to achieve excellence. I'm motivated toward excellence. I've been living the pizza and hot dogs life for too many weeks – blurred. I have had enough of the living in chaos experience and was hoping I'd be done. Seen the finish line moved too many times. I was sure to be done yesterday – wrong. When I realized a third coat was dictated by the situation, it was the feeling of “OH man, five minutes before spring break and the teacher just slapped homework down..” That experience has a word, a specific emotional word like irritated, exasperated, exhausted . I know the word, it's the TREATMENT! Bring the treatment, this kitchen is going to be excellent. I'm committed... and the sink makes a good foot stool while noshing on za & wings.

Emotional Calculus

Here are all the answers. It will read like an Advanced Emotional Calculus book when you're only in Emotional Algebra 1. Still the problem needs to be solved. It will take you four years to solve the problem. You must take Emotional Algebra 1 & 2, Your Life Is A Wreck Trig and then Epiphany Calculus. At the end of 4 years, there will be an Epiphany Calculus test – a comprehensive of all your emotional math classes. The test is a bitch. You will solve the final problem or you won't. The emotional math test will be given if you take the classes or if you don't take the classes. The classes are work. Failing the course is painful. Passing the course is not painful, some people say it is nice to pass the test. It is nice to win.

The rocks of Tennessee are where I took my Your Life Is A Wreck Trig and Epiphany Calculus beating. I'm not doing well, trying to take both classes at once. I need to see some tutors before I see the teacher himself. I'm going on a quest for the wisest people I can find. It's going to be a hard two years, but a 1,000 miles journey begins with a first step... and a pocket full of good snacks. That's the Tao of it.

 

Drew Swim Team Sweat Shirt

We swam at night. The evenings I discovered I could swim underwater without fresh air for 50 meters, then 60, then 63, 64, 65... meters, was a life landmark for me. I was not a strong swimmer. I made myself a strong swimmer by committing to a swim team. I earned my college sweatshirt elbows ups, tip drills and once a week a flip turns bloody smashed feet on the wall. The sweatshirt was the first I ever cared about. I stored it in a box to give to my kid. She got it tonight. She owns it. I told her to respect the discipline that earned it.

Best Burger

On route to the best burger in New York, I rode my razor push scooter. I wanted to ride wild in the dark down sidewalks. It was the bald man's feeling of wind blowing in the hair – kind of an amputee's ghost limb experience. I wiped out. Skinned a knee and embedded gravel in my palms. Felt like the13-year-old George bleeding from the knee and too young and dumb to care. Scooting to the subwaystation, It occurred to me I had Brooklyn sidewalk dirt in my cut – wino urine for sure. The smart move went to a pharmacy and got Hydrogen peroxide. It isn't supposed to sting - It did. Fall off the horse, get back on. I scooted to the best cheeseburger in New York - $16. It came with an American flag stuck deep I the bun.

Way up, then way down

House painting has ended. I've been under the influence of extra white paint and concrete resin more days than I might should have. Tonight, as I clean, purge, and place space between things, I discovered a painting I made in 1999. An enormous energy is in this painting – it's manic. Life was about to get bad – life does that, goes way up, then way down. I left myself a message in a language only the open-hearted can understand. I was covered in leaches and tormented by demons - in spiritual and human form in those days. I hate demons, I call them sociopaths or fuckers or demons – mind, body, spirit. The sociopaths torment the mind, the fuckers the body, and the demons feed upon the soul. All three the same creature doing a different job. When they come, I hide what is valuable, hide it in my art, so they can never get at it. When demons look at art all they can see is themselves. Demons, sociopaths, and fuckers hate art and try to twist it into their image. Demons go mad with rage when they don't see the reflection in the world they demand – them and only them – some of these creatures kill to insure they see them and only them. Killing isn't winning, it's loosing, because demons get a brief look at themselves and that image is self revulsion. Demons see themselves, then that image - which is a lie because demons can do nothing else to others and themselves - is replaced. An artist always comes along, with a new beautiful image, that is not a view the demons wants to see. The Demons is reminded that it's malicious self love it revolting – they feel it, if they don't know it. They can never win, because the art won't stop coming, the world will never be what the demon wants. A world all about them, will never be, because the world is all about the us, not the me. When the Demons pull the painting from the wall, it just creates a fresh new space for a new more powerful painting. Tonight, I'm hanging this emotional painting. Tonight I am also starting a new art to replace it. I'm thinking maybe a French Flag out of bottle caps... and on it I will right Je Sui Charlie! There, I aired my mind along with the paint fumes in my house. Need to take a walk, look for some red, white and blue Fench bottle caps.

Fix-Fix

I'm not good at fixing things. I wish we didn't live in a world where stuff is designed to break – we don't – so I'm at it with the Universal all-in-one toilet repair kit. I read the directions, one step at a time – calm and methodical. At step 4 I hit a problem. I miss placed a bolt – 3 holes, 2 bolts, and five washers – not right. I've been neat and tidy laying out tools and supplies in an obsessive way. A long search, no bolt. “Improvise Furman”, says my ego. I scavenge the old bolt out of the trash – a weeks trash does not stir me after I've had my head in the toilet. I find the old bolt, install it and reading on, the subtext to Step 4, “The kit contains 2 extra rubber washers for toilets that have 3 bolts. If you need a third bolt, reuse one of your existing bolt sets along with the new rubber washers supplied.” That corporate bastard! He skimped on bolts, burned my patience.  How much money did he save, 5 cents? Five cents multiplied by a million toilet kits – he bought a beach house. At step seven, the toilet instructions start to brag about the high-performance flapper. I'm still mad about looking for the bolt and the bastards beach house, now images of him with a $1,000 escort in a 1920's flapper dress have burned me further. I refocus and finish the task. I flush the toilet and water exploded from the bottom. I needed a tank to bowl gasket, NOT SUPPLIED in the Universal all-in-one toilet repair kit. It made me express my limited French vocabulary and I've now quit for the night. Won't get around to fixing the toilet till next Sunday. Piss in a bucket! I hope the bastards wife catches him getting his Great Gatsby stirred by his high-performance flapper.

 

Alarm, disturbing by design

My alarm clock is disturbing by design. Its sound is like the taste of an energy drink, unnatural but appealing enough to use regularly. The machine consistently motivates me out of bed, through the water closet and to the kitchen – where I check the true time. I've a habit of smashing the alarm clock's off button, which is near the time adjustment knob, so my clock is frequently fast. A fast clock is good because I have a slow child. Morgan does not use an alarm clock. She has me. She disables her alarm as a matter of course or off course as a 12-year-old sails. It's not intentional sabotage. She's a messy kid, as most are. The clock gets unplugged when she looks for anything like clean socks or an over do library book. (All library books are over do by definition in my home) My job is to wake her, stuff her with vitamins and blueberry muffins - getting her to school according the government clock. I use a bugle. I play it badly, which has – I find – an improved effect. Other times I use a Viking battle horn, a black skillet,and spoon, or my favorite the David Bowie goblin scream with foot smacking and blanket tussle. We are frequently late to school.

Teddy Roosevelt Hat

I made a Teddy Roosevelt hat. He's a hero. My main cause for admiration is that Roosevelt was his own man. I'd like to be like that, my own man. Not president – way too much work, but that wouldn't be a problem today. We'd never elect a man like him in 2016, too much personality. Making a Roosevelt felt slouch hat was one of my side projects. I keep things going for months, tinkering in downtime. Since the bits and pieces were laying around a long time the hat seemed to just appear to my kid. I put the hat on while making breakfast. Moran gave me a look of you are not going to wear that in public are you? Her look, to me, was a double dog dare. I drove her to school wearing the hat. Sitting in the car, she said, “Dad”. That's all, just “Dad.” I choked back a laugh, which must have been what Teddy Roosevelt was going all the time with that crazy grin of his. The drive to school became a bonus history lesson. I'm a storyteller, and it started with “George Furman and Teddy Roosevelt go way back...” At school, I took the hat off, but when she got out of the car I grinned and said “3 o'clock pick up” and before the door slammed I yelled, “Bully!” Wish I could hear Morgan explain her Dad to friends

Dinner Bell

It's a dinner bell now. Once it was a fire bell. My parents farm is in the Key Community. It was called that because everyone had a key on their mail box. I don't know why. I don't recall as a child many doors being locked in White County. Maybe back then it was some kind of joke like, “the doors open; if not the key is in the mailbox.” Perhaps it became a farmer fad, and eventually people just started nailing the keys to the mailbox – don't know. It was a small safe community then. They put out their own fires. You heard the bell ringing and you ran with a shovel to the sound. I got to go to a fire once when I was little. We arrived as the blaze was almost out. It looked like acres of scored earth to a kid's memory - probably wasn't. We've a volunteer fire departments now with actual red engines. The bells are gone, they use cell phones now. When the bell rings now, it's mom calling the grandchildren in from the fields for biscuits and Tennessee pride.

 — in

The romantic as a life tool

Look closely, you may be looking at van Gogh's ear. It's the best remark from my favorite movie- Basquiat – it's good advice. I believe in the romantic as a life tool. I think without kind gestures like flowers or notes on napkins, we'll all go mad staring into the big ugly. Life's unfortunate events will eat us up, drive us to self-destruction. I see romantics leaving message everywhere for everyone. On the long beach boardwalk, I saw flowers left for someone. Perhaps the flowers were there to commemorate a loved one lost at sea or maybe they were a message left for a lover lost in life's ocean. They could have been left by a man for a woman he could not approach for all the complicated reasons that separate lovers. I know for certain, the medium is the message – here is love for you. Have it.

 

Body Surfing

I'm a winter away from summer, my darkest hour and thinking. When I'm living my life properly – freely- the feeling is like body surfing. In the beginning, there is a dull calm as I watch the swells roll in. I pick a swell, I trust will become a wave, usually the third swell. It comes and I swim for it. I pull and draw with head down and nose rolling clean for air. I'm swimming for speed to match the wave. It's work. I forget – almost – I'm pulling for a wave. Then the world rises beneath like the hand of Poseidon and pushes me forward. It moves too fast, I'm worried it will roll by me and kick me out the back. I sprint kicking white foam, pulling deep and hard. The wave has me, I'm satisfied a moment, then the wave hurls me forward and it's easy and calm – effortless speed. Too much speed suddenly as the wave draws to shallow water and becomes tall and sharp. Fear, a knowing of what comes next, the beach arrives. I'm spiked to the sand and sucked into a chaos of water, a bubble of rocks, sand and salt water. I'm worked in Poseidon's laundromat. It hurts. The sand knicks and cuts. I rise from the spent wave, knees bleeding a little. I'm stunned a moment, standing there a fool with the crotch of my suit filled with a lump of sand that makes me look like a soiled child in diapers. Then, I feel unblocked joy. That hurt! Do it again!