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.

Hector Black love is greater than hate

I spent the day with my old friend Hector Black. He is 91 and a half – he counts the halves now, like a kid. Hector is old, he knows stuff. Hector knows more than most. If you don't know him he's one of those Harvard -WWII vet -piano playing-Quaker-blue berry farmer-civil rights leaders who enjoys blue cheese on his crackers. There is more to him than that for sure. The thing is, I spent the day with him and now my head if full of thoughts. In Nashville, We talked to some smart people today about Black Lives Matter, Trump, Hillary, poverty, the death penalty, lost friends, family, community, and the quality of Dublin cheese. At day's end, the world's problems had me feeling sad above the grief of rush hour traffic. At the Hermitage Exit, I asked him, “how do you take it? All this terrible stuff all your life, how do you take it?” An hour later at the Baxter Exit, Hector looked at me and said “I honestly believe, LOVE is greater than hate. That's how I take it.” Me too.

Esme Patterson Hell Fire Ride

I took a Hell Fire Ride last night. My old pal Jeremy Averitt invited me out on a Monday night to the High Watt in Nashville. I had a large time. I made the acquaintance of the charming and complicated Esmé Patterson - whose band Jeremy plays bass for. I enjoyed the show. True to my quirks, I found full happiness cruising Broad with my friends in the back of a pickup truck at night's end. I'm all about Nashville's neon lights and now, after seeing the show, I'm all about Esme. I'm fascinated by her music. She is the sound of my summer.


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.

Open all the doors, carry all the bags...

I'm ever and all ways seeking ways to make life easier, happier - smoother. It's not easy, troublesome people out there... and even good people can be cantankerous. There is a bucket full of ways to make people happy and an empty ocean of ways to make them unhappy.  The longstanding and the most famous problem arises between men and women. The other curious George – George Carlin – wrote,”... women are crazy and men are stupid. And the main reason women are crazy is that men are stupid.” This observation applies to me. To make my life easier, I work on an evolving protocol of behavior to ensure I get on well with women: my mother, daughter, girlfriends, or any woman who may be called upon to be a mother or the President of the United States. The protocol has to be simple, easy to remember. I'm stupid. Here is how is stands now: Open all the doors, carry all the bags, buy her wine, tell her she's pretty. If don't know how this may work on transgender people – I don't do complicated – unless it's a relationship – I'm a master of that. All I know is, I'm not holding the men's room door for anybody.

Spicy Carrot Juice

There are things I've done, that I'm glad I've done, that I never wanted to do. I had no desire to take statistics or physical anthropology in college – glad I did. I had no want to ever drink carrot juice or know what a radish is. Vegetables are for rabbits. I eat meat and steak is the meat I eat when I can get it. I walked into Jason Richardson's kitchen years ago. He was making carrot juice. He got me to drink a shot of it, the way you get a drunk friend to drink a bar mat shooter – the one with every spilled drink in the club and a good dose of cigarette ash. I drank the carrot juice. I loved the carrot juice. I became a juicer. To jazz it up, I've been adding radishes to the mix in recent months. As a kid, I wanted to eat spicy food about as much as I wanted to calculate standard deviation in stats class. I learned about spicy from Ryu, Shu-Yin and Sei Iwai in a Port Jefferson sushi bar during high school. They got me to eat sushi and back then, raw fish was not a thing - at all. I can still see Ryu smirk when he got me to swallow a marble of wasabi off a chopstick. Pain, wonderful pain. I loved the spice with yellow tail and every sashimi that followed. Life is better, having tried new things. I've gratitude for being carried forward. Glad , I've done things I didn't want to do.

Drew Univ T-Shirt #31

It's snowing the kind of snow I love. The flakes are falling slow, sticking to trees... and the important part, the storm is shutting down the town. The world is forced to sit still and that's good for everyone. The chop, chop, busy, busy is too much - too often too much. Snow, however, does not slow down teenagers. I'm in my space reading Albert Camus – chilling to the winter chill and my kid smashes the serenity with SCIENCE! The science fair is 6 weeks out and she has chosen - with sudden urgency - to do a behavioral science experiment about optical illusions. I'm qualified to help her, I have a degree in behavioral science. I don't remember how I got the degree – I”m no scientist – I just remember why I got the degree. I didn't want to major in business and didn't have the guts to major in art. Anyway, how do you get a BA (bachelor of arts) in BHS (Behavioral Science) isn't that just BS (bullshit)? To my point, my kid is wearing my lucky #31 Drew Ranger shirt. She dug it out of deep storage in my closet. No space is private or sacred where a child resides. It was my special shirt – a high-quality Champion shirt back (1989) when that company made the best athletic clothes on the planet. I'd saved the shirt all these years in the hope that I'd give it to my wife. To me, the t-shirt was more sincere than a diamond wedding ring could be. The marriage didn't happen – I blew it – and the shirt has sat so long in the closet it has now shrunk from a large to a small. As the snow falls today, I've given up on the soul mate wedding thing dream. I am letting my daughter have the t-shirt. It looks good on her, my sweet science nerd.

Sharp Pencil

I decided to make a list of the things I need to do. Lists are handy-dandy and do the job. To make my list, I needed to sharpen a pencil. The art box was full of dull pencils. One sharp pencil felt like not enough. the feeling compelled me to sharpen pencils until the motor of the electric pencil sharpener over-heated and shut down – about 2 dozen pencils. I turned to the old Exact-o sharpener – the one used to by kids since the dawn of time as an excuse to get out of their seat in school. I sharpened until a blister formed. I had reasons, a list forming long and wise of reasons to have a bucket of sharp pencils on hand. I'm teaching my daughter to draw – or the art books I piled upon her are teaching her to draw. She'll have sharp pencils. I'd make her more, but my blister hurts.

Strawberry Smoothy

Putting things out of reach is method of stopping children from hurting themselves. Knives high and away, cabinets locked - all that. They made a cool magnetic cabinet lock when Morgan was young and a foot. Don't need the locks now she's big. I still have the master magnetic key that opened the locks. The large magnet now holds recipes to the refrigerator. (Funny what remains in a home over a decade later. ) My kid is learning to cook, so now is the time for putting things in reach of the child... or better, in the way of the teenager. The plot is to have her trip over them and gets the idea on her own – give something new a try in the kitchen. Yes there are some serious messy food causalities – that's all part of it. Things are in reach now. I'm tall, so things were set high and inconvenient. New today, the blender and other tools are now low and easy to get at – moved this morning – here, tonight I scored a strawberry smoothie served with bashful pride. Daddy wins.

Mother of Dragons

A productive way of being non-productive on a Sunday is to start a fire. I reduced a pile of branches to ash. It's not hard work. Toss a match, watch it burn. I sat in a lawn chair next to my pal Griffy. We talked. We're guys,we talked about rocks. How a river stone can be tossed in a fire, the water expanding faster than the rock can expand, causes the rock to explode. It's a thing, it happens. You could be blinded or killed. There are lots of weird ways to die and we reviewed them because that's what men do when sitting around a fire. That and trying to figure out ways to use hot flaming marshmallows like napalm. When the fire settled to ash we began to hose down the ashes. When we did, a salamander crawled from the ashes like she was the Mother of Dragons. Death proof critters, it's a thing.

Ferns of the Apatosaurus Excelsus

I am not yet the old man who plants trees under who's shade he will never sit. I'm stuck on ferns. In my yard, I hope to overtake the forest with so many ferns that a brontosaurus might move in ... oh wait, those are extinct... or never existed. It's called an Apatosaurus Excelsus now. It will always be thunder lizard to me. I'm old fashioned like that, prehistoric. My fern project needed some planning – don't mind wasting money, it's time in the sun that burns me. I keep a small council of advisers on gardening to make sure I do it right. If I am ever appointed Czar of the People's Politburo Committee on Gardens, Forestry, and Green Stuff of the Upper Cumberland, then Betsy Moon is going to be my committee chair. I go to her for gardening answers – she's a pro. Last year, my friend Ivan inspired me to convert my yard to native plants When Invasive species show, measures must be taken. I got aggressive, went to Betsy for professional advice. Betsy knows everything. Her advice paid off BIG & GREEN – lush. (say “lush” out loud. You'll enjoy it.) She saved me work... I'd have saved more labor if she'd manage our 13-year-olds digging holes. As it was, I did the digging and Betsy did the laughing. She's good at that too. I appreciate what Betsy knows. Want to do the job right? Don't call me – I just dig holes - call Betsy: work, 931/ 235 0532.

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.

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.


Soldering Lesson

I'm playing the long game – or trying to. It's faster to fix things myself without stopping to teach my kid what to do, but that's not the long game. I force myself to slow down and take 10 minutes out to expose Morgan to new things. This week it's soldering lessons. The first lesson is for exposure, the second lesson for understanding and the third to master the skill. ( I use “master the skill” loosely.) My expectation is, by teaching her to solder now – or any skill – she won't need me in the future. I'm investing 10 minutes here and there in the belief that is will save me hours and days 10 years from now. The phone won't ring with a call for “Dad come fix my kitchen sink” . She'll know how to do the job. I also hope her boyfriend 10 years from now won't know how to do the job – that's worth points. My daughter is learning to be an independent woman. Independence, what a great idea.

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.