Paint Schoodic

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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Courting dementia

By Carol L. Douglas
Since I was a young woman, people have debated whether there’s a connection between aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease. Aluminum in cookware and in antiperspirant were both singled out as possible triggers for dementia. Recently, a reader sent me a link to a story that screamed: “Doctors Now Have Warning: If You Use Aluminum Foil, Stop It or Face Deadly Consequences.”

I have no comment on the food safety of aluminum foil, although I doubt that is peer-reviewed. My Dear Reader sent it to me because she knows that when online political conversations get too stupid, I put on a virtual aluminum hat to block the signals.

This sometimes takes the form of a small still life I did several years ago, above. When I can’t make time to paint, I do these small paintings to keep my mind and hands limber. They never take more than an hour. They’re just intended for my personal amusement.

By Carol L. Douglas
This week, I can’t even paint still lives. The days are getting longer, which means it will soon be time to go outside to paint. But looming over every March day, like a great black blot on the landscape, is our income tax return.

“In bouillabaisse you are likely to find almost anything, from a nautical gentleman’s sea-boots to a small China mug engraved with the legend ‘un cadeau de Deauville,’” wrote PG Wodehouse, and the same is true of our tax code. And just like Bertie Wooster faced with that soup, we shrink from stirring it.

“Taxes are what we pay for civilized society,” is a quote from Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. It came from a legal decision written in 1927, and it’s inscribed over the door of IRS headquarters. Holmes was born in 1841 and served in the Civil War. I doubt he’d recognize much about the modern tax code.

By Carol L. Douglas
I doubt he’d be able to even file it. About 56% of American taxpayers rely on paid preparers to do their return. Another 34% use tax preparation software, making a total of 90% of taxpayers who seek some form of help. Revenues for the tax preparation industry (the people, not the software) are around $10 billion a year. That’s because nobody who’s not a trained preparer can understand the tax code.

I do not mind paying my taxes, but I do mind the endless record-keeping necessary to keep from paying too much. I mind the occasional midyear summonses to explain myself, and I especially mind the fact that I get to pay income tax in more than one state.

At any rate, as you probably already suspect, there won’t be much painting done this week in my studio. If you want me, I’ll be at the dining room table, courting dementia.

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