Monday, February 1, 2021

"I Ching Symphony": Spiritual Music

 I recently listened to the I Ching Symphony composed by Frank Steiner Jr. I had not listened to it in probably twelve to fifteen years. It is one of the most beautiful symphonies I have ever heard. I'm transported to another realm of existence when I listen to it. I had not listened to it for all that time, because it had been an integral part of my writing my novel The Sendoff. When I was writing the novel, I used to listen to the symphony every night when I went to bed. I put my headphones on and listened to the symphony as I drifted off to sleep. The next to the last movement of the symphony was/is, in my mind, an integral part of the last chapter of the novel. I would imagine the last chapter playing out, and the music of the next to the last movement of the symphony helped transport the character Mitchell to his destination. The music was perfect for that chapter. So, listening to it while I was painting today, I was once again transported to a miraculous state of mind. If you get a chance to listen to the I Ching Symphony, I hope you have the same kind of experience.

I Ching Symphony

The Sendoff

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Some of My Paintings During a Pandemic

For me, primarily an abstract painter, painting is an exercise in discovery. Each painting is an experiment. I never know what the painting will look like until it's finished.

The painting arises out of uncertainty. It's sometimes a chaotic process. At least, it feels that way. Different considerations constantly reassert themselves during the painting process: color, direction of motion, cohesion, shapes, among other things.

How do I know when an abstract painting is finished? "It just feels right" is about all I can say. The color combinations, the movements inside the painting, the various shapes, the overall impression, work for me. It's asymmetrically balanced. There's nothing else I can do to that painting. Always the final consideration for me is, 'Would I like that painting hanging on my wall?' If 'yes', then it's finished.

Here are some of my latest paintings.

"Depths of Memory"

"Welcome To My World"

"Thunder Dance"

"Composition 1"

I'm experimenting a lot these days, trying different things. Some paintings work, some don't. It's always an enjoyable process. 'Welcome to My World' was actually painted a couple of years ago, but I want to work in that mode more this year. 'Composition 1' and 'Depths of Memory' are very recent, in the past week or two. I'm looking forward to a lot of experimentation this year.

2020 was a stressful year for me, as it was for a lot of people. Covid-19 changed my life in many ways. I suspect it will stay the way it is now for months to come, maybe longer. But, through it all, we have to keep living and doing what we love as much as possible. I hope you are doing the things you like to do despite the obstacles.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Universal Basic Income: Is It Time?

The idea of every adult receiving a universal basic income (UBI) is quite intriguing. Andrew Yang, a Democratic presidential candidate is running on this idea: every adult eighteen years and older will receive $1,000 per month for life, no strings attached, spend it any way you want. He feels that this money will not go for drugs, alcohol, and other such addictions, but will be well spent on necessities of life or making your life better.

UBI positives
The UBI will go back into the economy, which is a valuable thing. It can help people start businesses, or further their education, among other positive things. It can provide people with peace of mind knowing they're not going to starve to death. It can allow a mother to stay home with her newborn child, even until the child grows up, if she likes. I think the positive outcomes are almost limitless.

UBI negatives
I don't purport to know how it all works, the economics involved. One thing I do know is that it would be expensive. If there are two hundred million adults in the U.S. The cost would be over $2.4 trillion a year ($2,400,000,000,000). I think that's how you'd describe that string of numbers. That's a lot of money. Yang says it would be paid for by a Value Added Tax (VAT). VAT is a complicated tax, but I do know it's used in many countries. It seems that VAT is used in lieu of an income tax. I don't understand completely how it works, nor how it would work in this country, nor how Yang would implement it. (One of the reasons I can't get the answer to this, if it is on Yang's website, is that his website locks up my computer every time I try to look at it. I have no trouble looking at the other presidential candidates' websites, and I've looked at most of them. I don't know if this is a problem with my computer or his website.)

Basically, I'm living off of a UBI at this time in my life.

I'm retired and live off Social Security and my pensions. It's a steady, constant monthly income. Yet, I have not stopped working. I'm still doing the things I like doing, writing, painting, and a little bit of traveling. I think that working people who have an extra $1,000 or $2,000 a month coming in would continue to work, because you can't hardly raise a family on $12,000 or $24,000 a year if you're married. But if those families just getting by on their income received a UBI, well, it would change their lives for the better.

People who are disabled, trying to survive on SSI, for example, receiving maybe $600 a month, and another $200 a month in SNAP benefits, well, how do they live at all on that? I guess with a lot of help from others. If they received another $1,000 a month, as long as it does not reduce their SSI and SNAP benefits, it might make them less dependent on others to survive. It might be enough to help them be independent.

I know, if I had an additional $12,000 or $24,000 a year coming in from the UBI, well, hell, it would be fantastic. There are so many things I could do with that money. My imagination runs wild thinking about it.

Here's something to think about. If a young single adult received $1000 a month for life and invested $250 of that money a month in an investment plan for 40 years at 5% growth over those years would have approximately $381,000 when he or she retires.

How about an elderly person needing daily care or to live in housing for the elderly, a UBI could mean the difference between poor care and adequate care.

It's almost mind boggling thinking about how much people can benefit from a UBI. People need to apply the idea to their own situation and decide whether it would help them or make a difference in their lives.

Which politician?

As far as I can tell, there's no other politician out there than Andrew Yang who's proposals would change people's lives as much as getting $1,000 a month for life would. No one. And I think that's what many Americans, especially the middle class and the poor, are yearning for, a real change in their lives.

Can it be done?

Can it be done? I really don't know. But I have a sneaky suspicion that it can be done.

In an economy as enormous as that of the United States, it's just a matter of priorities. It's a matter of what we value most. And that's what I think we voters must consider. Are we going to vote along the same old party lines that now favor the wealthy and the growing disparity between the rich and the poor or are we going to put the interest of the majority of people above that? I think it's something that every American needs to think about, especially the middle class and the poor. If this is UBI's time, then those who think it will benefit them and change their lives the most for the better must consider it and, if they believe in it, vote for it.

Think about it. How would a UBI benefit you?

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Sailing, Research, and Writing

When I was in college, I was on the sailing team. I sailed on a small sailboat called a dinghy. I never actually skippered the boat. I was a crew member and I was quite adept at working the jib sheets and helping to maintain headway. I was happy being a crew member. Sailing was great fun. So, I have in my memory bank the experience of sailing, of the wind in my face, of the heeling of the boat, of hanging out over the water, called hiking, on the windward side as the boat sped along at what seemed like a hundred knots; of tacking and gybing; of following orders and the value of teamwork. Unfortunately, I never sailed again. But I have never forgotten it.

I mention this because I’m working on a story that involves sailing. I’m reading a lot about sailing and watching a lot of videos of people sailing and about how to do many of the skills involved. To say it’s complicated is an understatement. It’s almost baffling at first, but gradually I’ve begun to understand the skills. Does it mean that I’m now ready to go out and sail a yacht? Absolutely not. But, hopefully, I can write about it convincingly in my story.

Here are some of my favorite videos of people living aboard and sailing their boats.

 Adventures of an Old Seadog

Wind Hippie Sailing Holly Martin

Sailing Millennial Falcon

There are many others.

What about you? Do you sail? If you don't sail, watch these videos and you'll probably want to sail around the world.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Raising A Grandchild

Raising a grandchild is not something I planned on doing when I was raising my own children. It can come about in a myriad of ways. But when it happens to us, we have to make adjustments. We have to deal with a new reality, the reality that there are significant differences between being elderly and being a child.

The biggest difference between the elderly and the child is the sense of time. For the elderly, time is going by quickly; for the child, time is going by slowly. This makes for some problems when it comes to deadlines. It makes for conflict. The last thing we grandparents want is conflict, but there it is day in and day out. We grandparents are in a hurry, because time is running out. Our grandchild is not in a hurry; to her time is going by slowly and she has all the time in the world. So, when it comes to getting her dressed, or getting her to school, or getting her to go just about any place, especially places she doesn’t want to go, conflict raises its ugly head.

                “Hurry up, you’re going to be late,” we say over and over again as the child dawdles.

                We’re focused on one thing—being on time. The child is focused on another—the imaginary friend he's playing with, the toy he can’t find, finishing the game he's playing in his mind.

                What are some of the conflicts we encounter virtually every day? Getting the child dressed. Getting the child to eat (eating seems to be the last thing on kids’ minds, at least, until they get hungry). Getting the child to the point of readiness, in general. Getting him bathed and to bed at a reasonable hour.

                What does this mean for us grandparents? It means we have to be patient. We have to control our temper. We have to walk a fine line between prodding the child along without screaming at her, without physically manhandling her and, at the same time, getting her to the state of readiness. It tries us in ways we can hardly tolerate, but tolerate it we must.

                The conundrum is that as elderly people, we want to focus on ourselves and the things that interest us. Of course, one of our interests is our grandchild, and we must focus on him or her first. We must slow down, think, be patient, and manage the conflict.

                What is the reward for this? The reward is that our grandchild loves us. The child wants to shower us with love, and he does. When the child slows down, he or she hugs us, sits on our laps, kisses us. It’s genuine love he or she has for us. And that’s the reward we get for the sacrifices we make to raise our grandchild.


Tuesday, October 30, 2018


Elizabeth Varadan's recently published children's book CARNIVAL OF THE ANIMALS is a series of tales based on Camille Saint-Saens's musical fantasy of the same name. There are thirteen tales that will appeal to children of all ages. My favorite is "Run Like the Wind." Mrs. Varadan spent much time researching the tales, which shows in the variety of animals and their compelling adventures. Beautifully designed and appealing in appearance, the book will be an excellent addition to any child's library.

Mrs. Varadan is a prolific blogger, traveler, and art teacher. You can follow her at Elizabeth Varadans Fourth Wish and at  Victorian Scribbles.

Her book CARNIVAL OF THE ANIMALS can be purchased at

Saturday, March 17, 2018

My Painting Journey As Of Today

I've been painting pretty seriously for five or six years now, maybe longer,  (I did go about a year during that time when I didn't paint at all). I started painting again after that hiatus when I took a trip to Washington, D.C. and visited the National Gallery of Art. I was so impressed by the paintings I saw there that I was inspired to start painting again.

I've been focusing on abstract art. I find a great deal of satisfaction when I paint something that, at least in my mind, works. Many of my paintings do not work and I gesso over them and paint something new on that same canvas. I'm constantly trying to make something new and beautiful. It isn't easy. It can be downright discouraging sometimes. But I keep going, because it is good to finally paint something I like. And, to be honest, I'm still developing my skills (but isn't that true of all artists?) and trying to find my own style.

Here are a couple of my smaller general abstracts. They are both 8 x 10 inches.



I'm also trying my hand at miniature abstract landscapes. They are 5 x 7 inches.



Another theme I've developed is what I call 'Swirls.' They are both 8 x 10 inches.



How much I'll continue painting Swirls or miniature landscape abstracts remains to be seen. I'm sure I'll continue with the general abstracts. I'll probably continue with the miniature abstract landscapes as well, at least, for a while. I've done a lot of those that didn't work for one reason or another.

As it always is, doing art, whichever kind it is, requires time and commitment. It's certainly easier to find those two elements when you enjoy what you're doing.

If you're interested, you can see more of my paintings on Etsy here: RichardPHughesArtist .

As is obvious, I haven't mastered the art of photographing my paintings. That seems to require a higher skill level of photography than I have at this time, but I'm working on it.