One More Cup and One Last Smoke

or A Moment to Get Sentimental

June is leaving a heat wave in its wake in the Midwest, and with June’s departure the topic of coffee and cigarettes has come to an end. I feel as if I only scratched the surface of this topic. I started the month mentioning an individual’s relationship with coffee/caffeine and cigarettes/tobacco. Hopefully some of this month’s posts got you thinking about your own relationship with coffee and cigarettes, it did for me.

Caffeine and tobacco are vices for many people, but vices tend to provide some of the best memories. This month got me thinking about how many hours I’ve spent in various cafes drinking coffee while reading books and how the two activities are interconnected for me. I remember reading Still Life with Woodpecker at a Borders Café on a rainy Sunday. The book cover got the attention of an inquisitive redhead and the caffeine gave me the courage to start up a conversation. The redhead and I didn’t work out it but it is a fond memory. I’ve also been thinking about the many nights spent smoking cigars and playing euchre with friends when I was in my early twenties.  I’ve lost touch with most of those old friends, but the cigar talk and trading stogies are memories I’ll never lose.

DV IMAGE
“Sunset at Cafe”

I mentioned at the start of the month that a individual’s relationship with coffee and cigarettes (caffeine and tobacco) can give you a bit of insight into that person’s character. Thinking about your own relationship with coffee and cigarettes can also give you personal insight and maybe stir up some fond memories.

-K-

Making My Own Cuppa Joe

or Why I’m Going to Pass on the ‘bucks and the Dunk’

I am a creature of habits (some bad, a few expensive, but most relatively harmless). As the state I live in moves into the next phase of its quarantine I feel like some raggedy ass bear coming out of hibernation (if you saw my beard you would have a better visual). One habit that this forced solitude has allowed me to break is my ‘need’ to stop at coffee shops.

I always make coffee in the morning whether it’s a K Cup or a full pot, but on most days I stop off at a coffee shop after work to get a caffeine boost. I’ve come to realize that this coffee shop habit is mostly laziness on my part. It’s just as easy (and hell of a lot cheaper) to make a cup of coffee when I get home. They (insert name of major coffee brand here) want to convince you that their coffee shops are a “third place.” They want you to believe they are a home away from home, a caffeinated version of Cheers where every barista knows your order. These branded coffee shops are nothing more than big box retailers on a different scale. They are creating a ‘need’ I don’t have or want (three months of quarantine cold turkey have proven this).

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“Coffee Pots”

So here’s to staying home and brewing your own. Here’s to sipping coffee (cold brewed or regular) on your porch, patio, deck, or front stoop. Here’s to making a cuppa joe and going to the library which is a much better “third place” (they have free internet too and books, oh so many books). Here’s to being you and realizing you don’t ‘need’ to conform to somebody else’s idea of where to get a good cuppa joe.

-K-

Some Thoughts on Coffee and Cigarettes

A Love, Hate, or Required Relationship?

In a spirit of full disclosure you should know I’m writing this while enjoying my afternoon iced coffee and a cigar (I moved beyond cigarettes a while back). I don’t encourage you to use (imbibe, ingest, or whatever word your prefer) caffeine or tobacco, but I won’t criticize anybody either. There are Dunkin’s and Starbucks on almost every corner, and every self-respecting strip mall has a tobacco and/or vape shop. Coffee and cigarettes are part of our daily lives.

I’m fascinated with a person’s history with coffee/caffeine and cigarettes/tobacco. When you learn when, where, why, and how somebody started drinking coffee and/or smoking cigarettes you get a bit of backstory that usually makes that person a little more interesting. When somebody shares his/her relationship (for good, bad, or other) with coffee and/or cigarettes it makes him/her just a little more human.

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“Start the Day”

Coffee and cigarettes are vices to some, guilty pleasures to others, and a fuel that is necessary to make it through the day for most of us who drink coffee or smoke cigarettes. This month let’s take a look at the sometimes love, sometimes hate, and often required relationship people have with coffee and cigarettes.

-K-

Authors on Doors

Six Bits of Wisdom

• “Men shut their doors against a setting sun.” -William Shakespeare-

• “When you follow your bliss…doors will open where you would not thought there would be doors; and where there wouldn’t be a door for anyone else.” -Joseph Campbell-

• “There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.” -Aldous Huxley-

Mason Temple #1 (N1V2-editx19.17)
“Mason Lodge”

• “The more dooors there are for you to open, the better the play.” -Tom Stoppard-

• “A very litttle key will open a very heavy door.” -Charles Dickens-

• “If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as is, infinite.” -William Blake-

-K-

The Photo Finish

The Desire for a Second Chance

There is a cliché out there on stickers, shirts, and signs that states, “Life happens.” Life does happen, and it happens quickly. We react to life and often make decisions with limited information and frequently based solely on emotions. These reactions and decisions don’t always work out how we wish they would, and we’re left with a desire for a second chance. As the month on gambling draws to an end I’m thinking about photo finishes and second chances.

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“Photo Finish”

I’ve had a few winners overs the years that were decided by photo finishes. I’ve had a couple of losers too. I’ve also known some gamblers who made the mistake of throwing their wagers away before “Photo Finish” was posted on the tote board (Nelson Algren’s essay “Stoopers and Shoeboard Watchers” addresses this issue). The photo finish is second chance. The horse you bet $20 to win that posted second may actually become a winner if the tote boards flashes “Photo Finish” and the officials’ decision goes in your favor. The photo finish is a chance to go from second to first place. Isn’t that what we want, not just from the ponies but from life? We want the opportunity to move from loser to winner, but that opportunity may require a second chance. Second chances in life are a lot like photos finishes, rare.

Life has a way of not just happening but happening in ways we don’t expect. Sometimes we react to life in ways that result in wishing we could have a second chance. Sadly there are no photo finishes in life; tote boards are final and second chances are few.

-K-

Some Thoughts on Gambling

It’s Not Just Cards and Ponies

The news is bombarding us with numbers, percentages, and a variety of other statistics on an hourly basis these days. It feels as if we are gambling every time we leave of our homes, wondering if we are pushing our luck and hoping the odds are in our favor. I’m no stranger to card tables and race tracks, but current events have me thinking about odds and the ways we gamble that don’t involve casinos and OTBs.

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“Boxcar Luck”

I don’t know many gamblers but everybody I’ve ever known has gambled. I’ve known people who never passed up a card game, and I’ve known people who took a chance on love. Some of those people were gamblers and others were gambling (you pick which was which). I’ve weighed odds and placed many a wager, but does that make me more of a gambler than the person who takes a chance on a relationship or a job? What does it take to be considered a gambler?

Statistics and percentages permeate the news of late. It’s enough to make us feel as if we are gambling with every decision we make. It’s also has me thinking about how gambling plays a part in our lives.

-K-

Spending Time

and Thinking About What is Valuable

We find ourselves in strange times. I wasn’t thinking of social distancing and self-quarantine when I began this month’s topic but now these ideas, and many others, occupy our time. I began the month with idea of how we mark and spend time. I guess I’ll end the month with a reflection on how I’m spending my time now.

A teacher in high school taught the class about the phrase ‘Carpe Diem’ (this was a long time before Dead Poets Society) and I took it to heart. For quite a while I tried to live each and every day to the fullest. Of course seizing each day and living it to the fullest doesn’t really address issues of rent and groceries, something I learned shortly after graduation. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t enjoy and get as much as we can out of each day but we must balance those desires with our responsibilities to self and others. My views regarding time have evolved over the years and they are evolving once again in light of current events.

Don't Park Here #3 (D70-edit)
“Out of Time”

I’ve marked the passage of time with cigarettes and beers. I’ve spent time planning and wasted time waiting. I’ve recorded time through journal entries and blog posts, and I’ll always remember the times of personal gains and losses. And now? Now is the time to be aware and to be careful. Now is the time to be healthy and to be safe. Now is the time to help others, and I can’t think of a better way to spend my time.

-K-

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