Paint Schoodic

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Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Five ways to spend your stimulus check

It’s meant to be an economic stimulus, not life-support.

The Dooryard, 11X14, oil, by Carol L. Douglas. Stimulus sale price, $550 (regularly $735 unframed)

Whether or not you wanted it, the government recently put $600 (or more, or less) in your checking account. It’s meant to stimulate the American economy, but I’m not sure how much is helped by our usual purchasing patterns. After all, much of what we buy at big box stores is made overseas. Assuming you don’t need the money to pay the rent, how can you spend it to benefit your neighbors as well as you?

Invest in your health. Sadly, $600 won’t buy a tummy-tuck, but it will pay for exercise classes or a gym membership. It could also buy physical therapy for that persistent pain, or a round of preventative dental cleanings. How about good winter gear from Maine's own LL Bean so you can exercise comfortably in the winter? The person who said “there’s no bad weather, just bad gear” is an idiot, but warm boots do help. 

Fallow Field, 12X16, oil, by Carol L. Douglas. Stimulus sale price, $675 (regularly $895 unframed)

Don’t forget mental health. I’m from New York, where all the best people have had therapy. It’s not cheap, but it can exorcise the demons that keep tripping you up.

We're all suffering from disconnection these days. More data on your phone plan or a fiber-optic internet service provider can mean better connections with others. If your technology can’t keep up with modern communications, update them.

Jack Pine, 8X10, oil, by Carol L. Douglas. Stimulus sale price, $315 (regularly $420 unframed)

Buy art. I’m not talking just paintings here, although that’s a great idea. Instead of replacing the next item on your list with something utilitarian, why not buy something beautiful instead? Consider handmade jewelry, hand-dyed textiles, or a handcrafted table instead of yet another particle-board whatsit from a big box store. (As a dedicated green, I’m a firm believer in good used furniture.)

This is not just about making work for a starving artisan, or even about indulging yourself. If carefully selected, art can yield better long-term gains than the stock market. Not only will you enjoy handling and seeing the object every day, your heirs may thank you after you’re gone.

A caution—there’s a world of difference between ‘collectibles’ and art objects. If you don’t understand the difference, find a competent gallerist to help you.

Winch, 12X16, oil, by Carol L. Douglas. Stimulus sale price, $675 (regularly $895 unframed)

Learn something new (take a workshop or class). There’s been an explosion in on-line learning because of COVID. Why not use your spare time to learn to sing, do Pilates, or paint? You can find classes on almost anything. (Sadly, my own Zoom painting classes are currently waitlisted.)

Or, sign up for a workshop in the summer. I’ve got four on the docket for next year—Sea & Sky at Schoodic, Pecos, and two watercolor workshops aboard schooner American Eagle.

If you’d rather figure it out yourself, acquire the tools you need. One of my painting students has been buying router bits; he’s teaching himself to make frames. Get a guitar or a good used piano and make some music.

And there are always books, which were the original door to shared knowledge.

The Whole Enchilada, 12X16, oil, by Carol L. Douglas. Stimulus sale price, $675 (regularly $895 unframed)

Buy a tree. I’m a pretty cheap person, so my idea of planting a tree has always been to dig up a sapling, transplant it, and wait for it to grow. The older I get, of course, the less practical that approach is.

All of us could use more beauty in this world, and our local garden center is a great place to find it. I’m seriously thinking of yanking those overgrown, dormant shrubs this winter and replacing them with something pretty in pink.

Donate to a charity. There is always need right in our own communities, especially in this pandemic year. Mainers can consider Maine Community Foundation. In Rochester, I like Gerhardt Neighborhood Outreach Center. I’m sure there’s an organization in your town that could use help.

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