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I’ve been working on this drawing, drinking some cheap Lambrusco wine, and watching Don Cheadle’s performance as Miles Davis in MILES AHEAD. The Lambrusco reminds me a lot of the Boone’s Farm wine I drank in my teens. It’s like soda pop.

Don Cheadle as Miles Davis is good and believable¬†and nothing like anything I’d ever seen him in before. The story is a little too car-chasey, druggy and gunshotty for unalloyed enjoyment, though the music keeps it really good.

As for this drawing, my good friend and fellow poet Bob Kabchef sent me three rare feathers from two exotic birds. Parrot and Macaw feathers were a welcome offset from the pigeon feathers I had been drawing. Then some hearts just came out of nowhere and drew themselves. And now it’s 3:52 AM and time to wrap this baby up.

Thanks again, Brother Bob!!

Hello, Friends. This blog began four years ago today. This is Blog Post #1,049.

Each previous anniversary post had as its theme retrospective reflection. This time round is different, or at most tenuously reflective. Perhaps the page is metaphorical of time and change. Here it is:

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Here is the poem the page illustrates:

a feather falls/a contrail quill

a feather falls
violently
disturbing a locus
of still air
turning it into
eddying swirls

above is another feather
of contrail quill
and hydrocarbon
barbules

Here is a page of life-or-death obviousness. It is imperfect in that it is far from universal, but redemptive in that it sifts away much unimportance.

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Here is a page filled with sketches made while viewing PAPA: Hemingway in Cuba.

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I am now older than Hemingway was when he ended his life. The events in the movie took place 18 months or more before Hemingway’s suicide, yet he is shown to have more than once come close to shooting himself long before his move to Ketchum, where his suicide took place.

Some of what motivated me to fill a page with the obviousness of a life was to draw comfort in spelling it all out. We DO wither, and there is more than physical withering. And we all say goodbye, if only with the fact of our discarded protoplasm.

I want to live a lot longer. I hope you do too.

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Most days include the throwing of pocket-coins into a bowl. Work days include sliding register coins onto the whirly-platform of the machine that accepts cashier money. Since we had one at work, and this is the 21st Century, I naively thought I could take my bowl-coins to the bank and have the teller dump them into a similar machine. But Daniel the teller told me they didn’t have such a beast at the bank, no way, nohow! He gave me some coin rollers instead, though he was sympathetic about my arthritic hands.

Many grocery stores have a device labeled Coinstar. Unfortunately, they charge about 9% for the convenience of vouchering your coins. More unfortunately, before I went to the bank, I walked a mile to Fry’s and the nearest Coinstar I knew of, my right front pocket bulging with a sandwich bag full of metal disks, only to be told by the machine’s display that it was full and I should come back later.

It took me about 45 minutes to roll the coins. My hands actually felt better after doing the job–free Physical Therapy, folks! But some rolls were incompletely filled. I made labels of their dollar amounts, and more labels of name/address/account number info. (Scan a check deposit slip, open it in MS Paint, slice and dice so the acct# is just below the name/address, copy the resulting info rectangle, and paste it in rows and columns till you have a pageful. Print and get out your paper-cutter and tape. Quicker and easier than you’d think!)

Back to the bank, and Daniel. He marveled at my name/address/acct labels but then said they were unnecessary. (Grrr.) Then he got out a coin rack and said the bank would have no problem with any coin amount under $100.00. (Double grrr, and a See Ya Never for the Coinstar bloodsuckers.) I had given him exactly $25.00 of coin. “How do you want it?”

“Got any $2 bills?”

They had $18 worth of 2s, so I took $10 in 2s, a ten and a five. This made me feel lucky, somehow.

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Sequential $2 bills made me feel luckier still, so I went home, waited till 2 PM, and took off on foot for Piestewa Peak, which is about 5 kilometers away as the crow flies, but more like 4-1/2 miles for the pedestrian.

It felt good to walk, but I could feel the fuel indicator slowly sweeping from F to E, and it was slightly uphill from Camelback Road northward. Then it kicked up a notch, and when I saw this Dead End sign, I felt like it was an omen.

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But I was SO CLOSE, and so I made a deal with my legs: Fellas, get us just a little ways up, say to that memorial bench by the first big right turn, and down again and to the bus stop on Lincoln Drive, and I’ll baby you the rest of the day, and treat you to muscle relaxants to boot.

My legs grudgingly agreed, and trudgingly complied, and finally we were there:

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To make a long story just slightly longer, I kept my end of the bargain with a Stella Artois, that smoothest of muscle relaxants, quaffed at the George & Dragon, and later washed down a maximum recommended dosage of Ibuprofen PM with some cool, clear water.

Why is Coin one of my favorite four-letter words? I love the way it sounds. I love that it is both a noun and a verb. I love that you can coin not just money but phrases. And I love that the Old French¬†word it came from originally meant “wedge.”

I found Michelle at Sweet Republic. She was filling in as the ice-cream lady so that Jennifer could have a break. While she was ringing up one customer, another was waiting, so I said, “Want me to . . .?” and Michelle said, “Sure.” So I fixed a single-scoop salted caramel on waffle cone for the gentleman and Michelle rang him up. All customers satisfied and gone, Michelle looked me in the eye and said, “So, you came to see if I would let you go early.”

WOW, what a Mom of a Manager she is, and I mean that as the highest of compliments. She can do every job, and does. She knows more about what’s going on here, there and everywhere than just about anyone else. She will cut you a little slack if the situation warrants it, but Heaven help you if you do something unprofessional–I saw her appropriately dress down a server for rudeness to a diner some months ago. That the server learned the lesson and is still working for us is testament to Michelle’s effectiveness.

Once upon a time in the 80s there was a great multi-location restaurant here in the Valley, Bill Johnson’s Big Apple. Michelle was one of the waitresses (they didn’t call wait staff ‘servers’ back then) and was therefore required to take orders in cowgirl boots, blue jeans, and a pair of six-shooters strapped to her hips, walking on a sawdust floor. She tells me the guns were heavy and clunky and could leave bruises. She also has the inside scoop on the last days of the Big Apple, what went wrong and what happened when they tried to set it right. We share the feeling that the passing of the Big Apple was a crying shame.

Her restaurant-management education also included a stint at Coco’s, one of the few chains that passes muster with my sweet-but-demanding mother. Michelle’s decades of dealing with every imaginable food service scenario, including my unknowingly laying down a trail of maple syrup from a front table all the way back to the dish pit not noticing the little chalice was tipped over after sloppily bussing the table, plus her keen native intelligence and empathy, makes her a superb leader-by-example. Add a mischievous sense of humor and you have one hell of a force to reckon with.

I fear Michelle will not like this portrait. She does not like the way her eyes look, and I have tried to accurately report them here. I cannot do otherwise, because her eyes ARE her, with her lifetime of laughter and working unbelievable hours and having and tough-loving kids, biological and otherwise. So please forgive me, Michelle: I drew you as I see you, more real and more appealing than any supermodel could ever hope to be.

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Last post I said I would explain, so here goes. “Time running out” refers to employment-as-I-know-it. Late last week two managers kindly took me aside for a look at the handwriting on the wall, which says that they will require more hours from me in December than I am permitted to work and still keep my income under the ceiling imposed by the Social Security Administration. Upon the advice of one of the managers I have written an e-mail to Human Resources explaining the situation and outlining what I saw as my possible options. I courtesy-copied the e-mail to the two managers, and one of them was complimentary. I have not yet had a response from Human Resources.

A change in employment, I have read, is one of the ten most stressful life-events there is. So “the spoon reveals,” and continues to reveal, my reflection with its anxiety and uncertainty.

I will finish the drawing after I receive word from HR. One way or another, I expect to see relief on the final face.