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04 April 2017

Tangelo on Wood Blocks (+ two thoughts about pennies)


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If you're interested, RetireThePenny.org asks the question "What can you buy with a penny?" Their answer: "Right now, a penny doesn't even buy a penny. According to the U.S. Mint's 2014 annual report, the current cost of a penny is 1.7 cents per coin. With nearly 8 billion pennies minted in 2014, the U.S. spent almost $132 million to produce less than $50 million of circulating currency. When production cost is added to the opportunity cost of using the penny economists say that the penny drains almost $900 million from the national economy every year!" [keep reading]

On the topic of pennies, below is the beginning of Annie Dillard's great chapter entitled "Seeing" in her 1974 book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Written in first-person, it is a nonfiction book which captures the narrator's contemplations on nature, life, and explorations near her home:

"When I was six or seven years old, growing up in Pittsburgh, I used to take a precious penny of
my own and hide it for someone else to find. It was a curious compulsion; sadly, I’ve never been
seized by it since. For some reason I always “hid” the penny along the same stretch of sidewalk
up the street. I would cradle it at the roots of a sycamore, say, or in a hole left by a chipped-off
piece of sidewalk. Then I would take a piece of chalk, and, starting at either end of the block,
draw huge arrows leading up to the penny from both directions. After I learned to write I labeled
the arrows: SURPRISE AHEAD or MONEY THIS WAY. I was greatly excited, during all this
arrow-drawing, at the thought of the first lucky passer-by who would receive in this way,
regardless of merit, a free gift from the universe. But I never lurked about. I would go straight
home and not give the matter another thought, until, some months later, I would be gripped again
by the impulse to hide another penny.

It is still the first week in January, and I’ve got great plans. I’ve been thinking about seeing. There
are lots of things to see, unwrapped gifts and free surprises. The world is fairly studded and
strewn with pennies cast broadside from a generous hand. But—and this is the point—who gets
excited by a mere penny? If you follow one arrow, if you crouch motionless on a bank to watch a
tremulous ripple thrill on the water and are rewarded by the sight of a muskrat kid paddling from
its den, will you count that sight a chip of copper only, and go your rueful way? It is dire poverty
indeed when a man is so malnourished and fatigued that he won’t stoop to pick up a penny. But if
you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your
day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a
lifetime of days. It is that simple. What you see is what you get." [keep reading]

Ending soon: at 10:30 PM EST tonight
Still Life with Marble and Asian Pear (friends)

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