Minding the Dark

2009 In Review

It’s a great season to be a Colts fan, the hometown team. Meanwhile back here in Paducah I’m fortunate to have good health, great friends, a super location with room to work, party, and stretch out in, and a Bohemian lifestyle.

Ideas for at least six and probably more new Car Series paintings have not led to sales of ones already done, so thinking of hosting a studio and sales party later this month which will offer great deals on old and new work. The stock market is erratic enough that people should start investing more in other areas, such as fine art.

If this doesn’t work I’ve ordered a self-help book titled, So You Want To Be a Gigolo. Just kidding.

An art-related design project, the Universal Faith Symbol (http://www.faithsymbol.org), albeit slow in getting accepted, is starting to get attention. Further cosmetic and other enhancements to the website are expected to do the trick. The Unitheist Fellowship, a spiritual and philosophical endeavor, is also still ongoing.

Entertainments here have slowed a bit lately— instead of live bands and dancing, more often just sitting around and watching TV. So I’ve begun work on a removable stripper pole that can be set up for parties and at other times stashed away. May hire a stripper, get a girlfriend to volunteer, or ask friends I know who are dancers or former dancers.

The yard has proved a real challenge this year, last year’s mower having long finally fallen to pieces. With no money to buy a replacement, new or used, I tried to get an old scrap mower running with fair success. As the grass quickly shot up to a height of over a foot I finally got it working off and on, though it was hard to start and keep running.

My out-of-state neighbor told me that if I’d mow his grass he’d loan me a working mower which I could also use to mow my own grass, plus a little pay. I accepted, but after a couple runs this mower became hard to start as well. One day as the grass in both yards was looking more and more out of control I resolved to get one or the other mowers started.

I went outside, tried to start first one mower and then the other for a while, then went back in and took a ten or twenty minute break. After this I went back out and tried again with the first mower, etc. After a hard afternoon I gave up and put both mowers away. I later returned my neighbor’s mower, telling him I was no longer able to get it started.

Finally late in a high-grass season I resolved to get my own mower started. I filled the tank, checked the oil, plug, filter, etc. and really went to work, pulling and pulling, then resting and repeating. I did give my shoulders a good workout and left a knee with a crick which was not bad enough to gimp the leg and lasted only part of the day.

Oddly the next day this crick, having disappeared from my left knee, the one I used to hold the mower in place, moved to my right knee for a couple hours, though the only thing I’d done with that knee was stand on it. Again the crick was mild and did not gimp the leg. Overall I was worn out, yet had not succeeded in cutting a single blade of grass.

Finally in late October, getting ready for my Halloween party, I realized I needed to touch up a bit around the yard. I didn’t really have time to mow but decided I needed to do it anyway. However I just ended up using that precious time trying unsuccessfully to get the mower started. Only worked less than an hour though and did not gimp either of my legs.

So my grass stayed pretty much a mess all year. At least, while cricking a knee or two, it never left me on crutches. I did decide that sometime the following year I would burn the lawnmower.

With the rear trees down due to last year’s ice storm, which left me without power or heat for more than two weeks, brush took over with a vengeance and I lost access to my wood compost pile. I did fill the infamous Goat Hole almost to the top with good soil in preparation for transplanting an oak sapling to that spot.

Things are going much better along the northeast side of the property. The Rose of Sharon bushes continue to grow and bloom enough that in a few years I’ll have a bower you can transverse, enclosed on both sides with white and violet flowers. The fir trees toward the back are also doing well, already offering privacy for both that neighbor and myself.

Friend Vanessa gave me her old fire pit and I repaired a few discarded lawn chairs for seating. Now all I need to do is level the ground to the rear of the house for a patio and hot tub, though there is no money for either of these yet. I’d also like eventually to shutter the house, redo the front walk, white picket fence the yard, and add a serious flagpole.

Still don’t have car insurance, so decided in the meantime to make the car my new storage building, the shed having long since sat down on its haunches and continued funneling water through the several leaks in its roof. The entire rear section of the house itself is trying to stoop as well (bad foundation) but don’t think it will pop loose anytime soon.

I get around these days by walking and bumming rides, the hiking also serving as exercise and a contribution to the green economy, as well as my economy. I often walk downtown and back, about a seven mile round trip, and have been meaning for a couple years now to fix the flat on the bicycle.

Do manage to eat quite well and drink bourbon whiskey. Despite my beard and long hair I do not smoke weed or play drums, though I do keep a drum set around, mostly for parties, guests, etc. I do not have a special lover but invite a nice variety of select female friends over to cook, watch movies, talk art, and banter philosophy long into the night.
Clever Marketing

For a few days the TV stations were advertising the “Starving Artists Group” art sale at the Civic Center, Sunday only. Obviously the usual Asian assembly line stuff— the highest priced paintings, even with markup for advertising, rent, transport, sales staff, profit, etc. were being offered for less than half what my frames cost me.

What was clever was that while in none of the ads was it said or even hinted that the works being offered were by local artists, people were calling and asking me if I had work in the show. Somehow the marketeers were able to convey, just via their ads, the idea that the artists were local without actually coming out and saying it.

It has given me a cool idea, which I need right now since while not starving I’m still a tad on the broke side.

There’s no way I can guarantee that an original Car Series painting will ever be worth a million bucks. But I can say to a potential buyer that even if they go up a little, say they’re only worth just one-twentieth of what an Edward Hopper painting is worth, they would have made a couple bucks, as well as ended up with a unique piece.

Some have been known to complain about this outfit that calls itself Starving Artists for various reasons, but I think I owe them thanks for a marketing inspiration.

However, grateful as I am, every one of the last three Sundays has been a “Sunday Only,” so think I’m more than ready for them to move on down the road before their continual paid pitter patter and images of Impressionistic knock-offs starts gnarling my teeth.
Historic Opportunity

The possible demolition of the Executive Inn opens a unique development option for the community— the chance to reconstruct Fort Anderson, built early in the Civil War and involved in two military actions during it. The fort was apparently about the size of half a city block, so would leave room for a new high-rise hotel and landscaping.

The location of the fort is given as the former Riverside Hospital, which is now gone, so for the first time in more than a hundred years a reconstruction could be located on or close to the original site, with an unobstructed view of the river. An opportunity like this may never again reopen.

Since the fort was primarily an earthwork it should not be cost-prohibitive to rebuild, mostly or entirely with grants and donations. The upcoming Civil War Sesquicentennial is a further impetus— the fort could be rededicated on the 150th anniversary of its construction.

The economic benefits would vastly exceed the cost. Since the Civil War was the only historical war fought here (and will undoubtedly remain so), tourism, reenacting, souvenirs, etc. related to it will always be more than just a fad. Its unique place in history assures its timelessness and continuing, increasing interest.

The fort could be integrated with the greenway trail, parks, Lowertown, and the rest of the riverfront development project. It could be a centerpiece for numerous community events as well as the obvious one of reenactments, thus adding to the area’s uniqueness, overall attractiveness, and long-term value for the region.

Something to consider at least.
Chips Anonymous

Thankfully I don’t, as of this writing (knock on wood), feel troubled by alcoholism. Having recently run out of money, I’ve been without a jug for several days and only miss it a little, seldom thinking about it. I do have a glass of wine with a meal and that’s enough for now, though would miss bourbon more if I thought I could never drink it again.

That’s not the situation with something as simple as potato chips. If more people were like me there’d be at least as many Chips Anonymous (CA) chapters as Alcoholics Anonymous. As it is, it takes as much willpower as I have to avoid the snack aisle at the grocery.

Once in a while I’d cave and pick up a nice-sized bag of store-brand potato chips, thinking that a few before a meal would be a nice appetizer. I’d go home, eat a few, eat a few more, and end up filling up on the whole bag, around three thousand empty calories, along with enough sodium to raise blood pressure to the level of a BP well test.

It doesn’t have to necessarily be chips either. My grandmother, God rest her soul, once asked Mom to pick up a bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for her to give out as Halloween candy to the children in the trailer park. She had to taste-test one of course and ended up eating them all. She confessed to me, swore me to secrecy, and I complied.

While chips haven’t been a problem lately my late-night snack has been, being inclined to crack a jug of whiskey and settle into a movie with an unlimited supply of wheat crackers and a hefty brick of cheddar cheese, rationalizing via whole wheat and dairy protein. Next thing you know I’m toasted, content, and a thousand or more calories up.

Now if I so much as walk down the cracker aisle of the store I’ll wake up the next day and find that none of my clothes fit. So I’ve since made it that if I just open the fridge late at night and touch the cheese, 911 is automatically dialed and the police come, sirens wailing.

Over the years all of this has given me an unwanted friend that bulges out in front of me and has to be lugged around wherever I go. Nor has it made me the subject of songs by lovely female singers, made my phone ring off the hook with offers of dates, or even just women wanting to hang out and tell jokes.

So ten days ago I resolved to do something. Instead of entirely giving up the foods I liked I decided to try to eat somewhat healthier but much smaller portions (esp. like now when it is too hot outside to walk or jog) and actually try to shrink my stomach a little. So far it has worked— I’ve lost seven pounds yet been fairly satisfied with meals.

Here’s what a typical day is like food-wise. If this doesn’t interest you that’s okay, quit reading here.

Before each meal, especially in this hot weather, I’ll try to drink a whole glass of cold water, lightly flavored with lemon juice. That gives a calorie-free running start on feeling filled up.

A typical breakfast consists of half a grapefruit, sugared, and either a medium portion of oatmeal topped with cinnamon and honey, or two eggs lightly microwaved and no-sodium-seasoned over a slice of whole wheat bread. The beverage is coffee, black.

Lunch consists merely of a medium-sized potato, baked and buttered, alongside perhaps either a banana or a micro-serving of leftover brown rice with a couple grams of cheddar melted on top. The beverage is a small glass of wine and/or black coffee.

Supper is the nearest thing to what you could call a hearty meal, but not even close if you sit down and really think about it. It might start with an optional small salad, or perhaps an apple, the entrée consisting of a small serving of meat— maybe a couple leftover smoked spare ribs, or a modest baked fish over brown rice, seasoned with lemon juice.

On the side there could be a double-serving of peas or another frozen veggie microwaved in butter. The drink is usually a glass of wine, with black coffee and a bite-sized candy bar for dessert afterward.

A late-night snack, if one can’t be avoided, is either air-popped buttered popcorn or, if anything else, very small in quantity. This is perhaps the most challenging aspect, esp. if alcohol is involved. But it is worth it. While my meals aren’t hearty by even a woodchuck’s standards, since losing even a few pounds I’ve already felt much heartier myself.

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