Monday, February 20, 2017

“No Paintings For Sale!”

While on my hiatus from writing, I ran across the story of an American artist and author that touched a nerve and prompted me to get out of my journal. 

Meet Harlan Hubbard.  Born in Bellevue, Kentucky, in 1900.  His father died when Harlan was only seven.  Soon thereafter, his mother moved him to New York City.  There, he received his art education.  In 1919, he returned to northern Kentucky.

According to Wikipedia: As a young man, Hubbard saw the industrial development in America as a threat to the natural world and he came to reject consumer culture. In 1929 he started keeping a journal into which he poured his thoughts on society. In 1943, he married Anna Eikenhout. The following year they built a shanty boat at Brent, Kentucky and traveled down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. 

Harlan is known for his simple lifestyle, simple storytelling, and pastoral art. 

As the story I was reading goes, Hubbard sent a portrait of his mother to a juryless exhibition at the Cincinnati Art Museum.  When he traveled to see the show, he found the portrait hanging in an obscure corner of an obscure room.  He wrote,

“I do not understand why anyone who has painted as long and seriously as I have, and who has asked little, should have absolutely no success or recognition.  But I have gone this far and now I must go on.”

His defiance had, as Wendell Berry wrote, “achieved a kind of style: “I will paint for myself and turn the canvases to the wall.’”

In negativity of his rejecters, Hubbard found that his “failures” actually helped him connect with the source of his work. 

“No Paintings for Sale."  That's the sign he tacked a sign to his door when he came to the realization that the mere hope of a sale and acceptance of fellow artists and critics had created a “psychic trap.”
 As Gail Sher wrote, “Not until he could paint without even the possibility of selling, would he be able entirely to surrender to himself.”

To paraphrase Harlan Hubbard, “I will write for myself and close the cover of the journal.” 

But, please stay tuned.  Unlike Hubbard, I’m not ready to, “sever completely all possible connections to the world and live on the outside fringe, a rebel”

What is your “No Paintings for Sale” craft, hobby, or passion?

Carpe Diem Life,
David Kuhn

Wednesday, February 15, 2017



noun: hiatus; plural noun: hiatuses

a pause or gap in a sequence, series, or process.


Thanks to those that actually took the time to read my essays. 

Thanks to those who took a little more time to like or respond.



Carpe Diem Life

David Kuhn

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

7,323,187,457 . . .


That’s the official total of human beings alive on the planet (at last count).

The Median age is the age that divides a population into two numerically equal groups - that is, half the people are younger than this age and half are older -- is 30.1.


Today, I’m the proud father of the newest member of a 30-year old.  I won't see her today.  She's far off celebrating with her family.  As it should be.

There are not enough pages in my journals (though I’ve tried) to express all the joy that Amy has brought into my life since February 14, 1987.  I’ll just say Thank you.

Thank you and Happy Valentine’s Day to Suzanne (now the mother of a 30-year old), Amy, and LucyAnne.


Monday, February 13, 2017

Spring in mid-winter?

If you had driven through my neighborhood yesterday you would have seen an old man doing some spring cleaning in the yard.  Me.

I've already established that I'm not a lawn guy,  yet I do have a few rules when it comes to yard work.  One, I don't rake leave in the fall until after Halloween.  This allows for a nice blanket of crunchy leaves for little trick-or-treaters to kick their way through.  Another, I don't cut the back yard until after Easter.  This allows the grass and wild onion to grow nice and tall so Easter Bunny has lots of choice hiding places.  Common sense really.

Which brings to yesterday, February 12.  I guess it was a combination of cabin fever, unseasonably warm spring-like weather, and a heavy layer of oak leaves that didn't drop until after I had finished my final fall raking that motivated me to un-shed the rakes and fire of the lawn mower.

"It's winter!" coughed Toro on the first pull.  "What the hell are you doing?"

"Time to make hay while the sun is shining!" I replied.

Believe me, she was none too happy to be stirred from her winter hibernation.  I fed her some fresh gas and she eventually gave in.  We raked, mulched, bagged-- twice.

It felt strange moving the yard work clock up a month or so.  Spring is still five weeks away.  Still, I was happy getting a jump on it.  Besides, now when the first real spring weekend comes along you will find me paddling a canoe instead pushing a lawn mower.

I'll trade a rake for a fishing pole any day.

Carpe Diem Life,
David Kuhn

Friday, February 10, 2017

Sand Castles

Got a text from my soon-to-be 30-year-old daughter on her first vacation with her family.  She wanted to vacate the Midwest cold to a warmer beach on the Atlantic Ocean. 

All my five-year-old granddaughter talked about was building sand castles.

Yesterday, I received the photo of little Annabeth and her first sand castle. Perhaps not perfect in most people’s eyes, but a masterpiece nonetheless. I can only imagine the pleasure she felt learning how to use her new tiny pail, tiny shovel, and her tiny hands to construct the most magical castle on the beach.

Now comes the hard lesson.  I know that at some point today, she’s going to learn about the law of tides.  She won’t understand why all her hard work was destroyed.  Why?  She will be very disappointed; I’m sure my daughter and her husband will teach her that the laws of nature are in effect and that it’s inevitable that the tide will always come in and sweep the sand castles away.  She will learn that there is nothing we can do to stop it.  Hopefully, she'll learn that all she can do is pick up her pail and her shovel and start building again.

This whole process becomes a metaphor for life.  It starts with sands through the hourglass  . . .
We only have a  brief period of time on this beach, and joy comes in the creative moments of the building of the sand castles.

We are like children building a sand castle. We embellish it with beautiful shells, bits of driftwood, and pieces of colored glass. The castle is ours, off limits to others. We’re willing to attack if others threaten to hurt it. Yet despite all our attachment, we know that the tide will inevitably come in and sweep the sand castle away. The trick is to enjoy it fully but without clinging, and when the time comes, let it dissolve back into the sea.     -- Pema Chodron

The tide comes in.  The beach is a blank canvas.  Go build some sand castles this weekend!

Carpe Diem Life
David Kuhn

Thursday, February 9, 2017

A few Haiku Thoughts . . .

A few months ago I decided that I would practice writing daily.  If nothing else, I would write a haiku.

A haiku is a Haiku is a contemplative, unrhymed Japanese-style poem that consists of 17 syllables, contained usually within three lines.

"The primary purpose of reading and writing haiku," writes William J. Higginson, "is sharing moments of our lives that have moved us, pieces of experience and perception that we offer or receive as gifts. At the deepest level, this is one of the great purposes of all art, and especially of literature."

I write haiku poems when I don't have anything else that I can think of to write-- which is most days.  Most were inspired by something I had been reading at the time; or some experience.  So, without further ado, I present a few haikus out of my collection:

The greatest feat of Man
The pursuit of happiness
How to accomplish?

A message fro Psalms
The joyfulness of a man
Prolongeth his days

My lingering cold
The first cold of the season
It is just snot fair! 

This is life! Enjoy it!
Happiness hates the timid
Human life is play!

The question for me
Do I prefer to be right
or live happily?

Let my boat be light
Packed only with what I need
Live simplicity

Manifest plainness
and embrace simplicity
Reduce selfishness 

Happiness is not
found in our circumstances
But found in ourselves

When we hold a torch
to lighten another's patch
We brighten our own

Skating away on
The thin ice of the new day
Thank you Jethro Tull

A scarlet sunset
Intro to the longest night
The Winter Solstice

Clogged drains like clogged minds
Restrict the positive flow
Causing backed up shit!

I awake and write
I have practiced my haiku
Now, brewed black coffee

Carpe Diem Life
I hope you enjoyed the show
Good Day, David Kuhn

Wednesday, February 8, 2017


Do a quick Google search for "The Importance of Smiling" and you'll come up with something like
26,300,000 results in under a second.

Must be pretty important, right?

Working in customer service (retail), I know the importance of smiles-- both giving and receiving.  I try to greet each customer with a genuine smile (certainly not a 100% success rate).  And I've witnessed first hand the tone of "How may I help you" change to a customer who walks through the door with a frown.  My co-worker has been known to grumble, "This looks like fun!" when he sees someone walk in looking pissy.

But, do workers have a right to be grumpy?

According to a New York Times article early this year, maybe they do.

Trader Joe's has gained popularity among grocery shoppers in large part by having relentlessly sunny employees, but now that the firm has expanded from mellower California to more brusque New York City, it is learning that cheerfulness is harder to find. The company fired Thomas Nagle recently because, though he said he frequently smiled, he was told his smile was insufficiently "genuine," and, backed by several colleagues, he has filed an unfair labor practice charge (and union organizers have taken notice). The National Labor Relations Board has already ruled (against another employer) that workers cannot be forced to convey that all-important "positive work environment" because they are entitled to have grievances. 

 I'll admit, for me smiling is not easy.  But, today I'll try to see the miracle in life.

Carpe Diem Smile,
David Kuhn

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Wind Chimes

I was awakened from a deep sleep by 
The clang of wind chimes outside my window.
The heavy chimes are from my Mother's Funeral
Several years ago.
It takes a lot of energy to move them;
To wake them up!
I am awake, listening to   
 The clang of wind chimes outside my window.
The shame of realizing that sometimes
It takes a lot of energy to remember
Those who have gone before me.

Carpe Diem Life
David Kuhn

image from: Woodstock Magical Mystery Space Odyssey Wind Chime - Wind Chimes at Hayneedle

Monday, February 6, 2017

Never Give Up

Winston Churchill probably said it simplest and best, "Never, never, never give up!"

In recent history we've seen historic examples of great comebacks:

The Cubs (100+ years and down 3-1)
The Cavs (down 3-1)
Donald J. Trump
"So a thought crossed your mind?  Must have been a long and lonely journey!" (oops, wrong kind of comeback)
The New England Patriots (down 28-3)

No team in Super Bowl history had ever come back from more than 10 points down.

And whether or not you like Tom Brady, you've got to love his reply to the question, "How did you do it?":

"We brought each other back. We never felt out of it!"

We and hope.  That's a lesson we can all live by.

Carpe Diem Life,
David Kuhn

Survival can be summed up in three words - never give up. That's the heart of it really. Just keep trying. Bear Grylls
Read more at:
Survival can be summed up in three words - never give up. That's the heart of it really. Just keep trying. Bear Grylls
Read more at:
Survival can be summed up in three words - never give up. That's the heart of it really. Just keep trying. Bear Grylls
Read more at:
Survival can be summed up in three words - never give up. That's the heart of it really. Just keep trying. Bear Grylls
Read more at:
Survival can be summed up in three words - never give up. That's the heart of it really. Just keep trying. Bear Grylls
Read more at:
Survival can be summed up in three words - never give up. That's the heart of it really. Just keep trying. Bear Grylls
Read more at:

Friday, February 3, 2017

A Book Asks Me A Question

Last night a book asked me to pick it up and directed me, like a magician flipping a deck of cards, “Pick a page.  Any page!” 


“Are you sure?” asked the book, “You may select a different page if you would like.”

I went with my first instinct and elected to stay on the selected page, not knowing what mystery the book was about to reveal.

The book continued, “As you can see, my pages are full, but your next page is blank.  You are the author of every next moment!”


“May I ask you a question?”


The book asked me to first answer truthfully if I wanted this to be true: 
“Every event that befalls me is absolutely the best possible event that could occur.”

The second, more difficult question, the book went on to ask:
“Will I give that a chance to be true?”

I closed the book and smiled, knowing that what just happened was absolutely the best possible event that could occur.  Even if I don’t yet understand it.

I do wonder what would happen if I believed that every event that befalls me is absolutely the best possible event that could occur.

Something to think about this weekend.

Carpe Diem Life,
David Kuhn

Thursday, February 2, 2017

A "Word" About What The World Needs More Of!

Yesterday I wrote about the “birthday” of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED).  In 1884, the first portion, or fascicle, of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), considered the most comprehensive and accurate dictionary of the English language, was published.
Photo by Daniel White
Turn the page 137 years and meet Ted Utchen, a.k.a. “The Dictionary Man.”  Mr. Utchen has been giving youngsters in DuPage County, Illinois, free dictionaries— nearly 12,000 pocketbook dictionaries to third-grade students since 2002.

According to an AP report:  ”The Dictionary Man" brings little shtick to the vocabulary lesson he repeats every year for students in schools across DuPage County. Just the usual corny jokes and some worn-out index cards -- all with an eye toward selling kids on the virtues of proper spelling.
"It's the most worthwhile thing I've ever done," the Wheaton father of two said. "If we can get kids started with dictionaries while they're young in third grade, they'll start to use it, and when they grow up, they'll spell words right.”

"It's good to start learning how to do things early in your life while you're still young and before you get older," he recently told Park View students. "If you learn how to do something while you're still just a kid, you become real good at it."

The first word Utchen tells them to look up? "Slovenly," for no particular reason.

I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Ted Utchen, but his story has taught me some valuable lessons.  First, it'ss not too late to learn.  Second,  one of the most important words in the dictionary:  GENEROSITY!

Carpe Diem Life,
David Kuhn

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Words We Use

Yesterday I wrote about "comfort food" and The Oxford English Dictionary adding the definition for "comfort food" only in 1997. 
  Image from Oxford University Press

Synchronicity:  On this day in 1884, the first portion, or fascicle, of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), considered the most comprehensive and accurate dictionary of the English language, was published. Today, the OED is the definitive authority on the meaning, pronunciation, and etymology of over half a million words, past and present

According to  Plans for the dictionary began in 1857 when members of London’s Philological Society, who believed there were no up-to-date, error-free English dictionaries available, decided to produce one that would cover all vocabulary from the Anglo-Saxon period (1150 A.D.) to the present. Conceived of as a four-volume, 6,400-page work, it was estimated the project would take 10 years to finish. In fact, it took over 40 years until the 125th and final fascicle was published in April 1928 and the full dictionary was complete–at over 400,000 words and phrases in 10 volumes–and published under the title A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles.

Today, at a whopping 20 volumes weighing over 137 pounds, it would reportedly take one person 120 years to type all 59 million words in the OED

Which reminds me of the Steven Wright observation, "If a work in the dictionary was misspelled, how would we know?"

Carpe Diem Life,
David Kuhn