An old-fashioned newspaper personal column, from a curmudgeon cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, with readers in more than 125 countries.-- Sunrise on the old Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ukraine, again invaded--the Cold War II

I painted this and wrote this article back in March, before the Russian militarists and their dictator KGB Putin, put 15,000 Russian troops and tanks  on the border, sent separatists, missiles to shoot down innocent civilians, and started the second Cold War
I don't care what we say, it has started. But as with all "Cold" wars, people suffer, and the people of Ukraine suffer, and more than one there read this blog.
Here's the link: Invaded again, blood and bars

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Oklahoma heat

Oklahoma Heat, watercolor, 7 by 7, 300# d'Arches
I drove south yesterday on the backroads as much as possible, starting at Newcastle, Blanchard, Dibble, Washington, looking for something to photograph. Not much at midday, just lots of hay bales, metal buildings, and houses on the edges of suburbia to Norman, Moore, OKC...I tried to come up with a new word, combining suburban and rural, but Rururbia and Subural just didn't work. It's out there someplace, in between.
Where it was however was 103 degrees under a bright sun. Not a lot of traffic, and I suspect most people were trying to stay indoors. Much of the color is gone from the landscape, except for the trees and greenery along the creek bottoms. I saw lots of cattle and horses, little more than shadows actually, sweltering away, trying to beat the heat in the shade of whatever trees were available. 
Oklahoma heat.

Stifling summer, IV--Of fiction and coincidence

Stifled this month by illness--actually infection, surgery and wound recovery, fiction became medicine in July.
Coincidence? Serendipity? I don't know, but instead of my usual diet of  good non-fiction, three novels and several short stories took my mind away from the science and facts of my daily existence.
First read was "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.   The first sentence is a killer, but afterwards I don't know: "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."
This famed South American author died recently and I was mortified that I'd never heard of him. He's know for "inventing "magical realism," and stories of common people. 
Unfortunately, as I posted on Facebook, I just don't get it. I am intrigued by his journalism background and want to read some short stories, but this book  frankly became boring and just dragged on. I gave up about two thirds of the way through. And will return. 
The book gets mixed reviews, many agreeing with me, but  my former student Farzana "Farzie" Abdul Razak, now of New York City, gives it five stars, and she's just deeper than I am, I guess.
Second novel was a quick and enjoyable read because it's the return of a favorite. Anne Hillerman's first novel "Spider Woman's Daughter" follows in the footsteps of her late father Tony Hillerman, who wrote mysteries set in the southwest and Navajo nation. 
Hillerman was Okie born, a journalist who worked in Oklahoma City, and then moved to New Mexico where he eventually started his famous novels, featuring Navajo Tribal Policemen Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. His daughter brings them back to life, and weaves incidents from her father's stories into her award-winning narrative. I'm back home.
The third novel, just finished, is someone I should have read a long time ago, and the author was recommended by Farzie and others. Neil Gaiman's "American Gods" is a long one, built around the them that the old gods and magic of our immigrant ancestors die in America for lack of believers. Gods don't take root here.
Speaking of coincidence, this quote leads a chapter: "America has invested her religion as well as her morality in sound income-paying securities. She has adopted the unassailable position of a nation blessed because it deserve to be blessed; and her sons, whatever other theologies the may affect or disregard, subscribe unreservedly to this national creed."
The coincidence, serendipity? It's by Agnes Repplier, in "Times and Tendencies," another author I never heard of.  I looked her up, and she was an essayist who died in 1950. She was Catholic.
Her words echo the chapter we're discussing tonight in "Falling Upward," by Fr. Richard Rohr, that our should-detox group is using Sunday night. I wrote about this book  earlier this month, as one of the most important in my life.
Fr. Rohr's words: "Our problem now is that we seriously doubt that there is any vital reality to the spiritual world... . For postmodern people, the universe is not inherently enchanted, as it was for the ancients. We have to do all the "enchanting" ourselves. This leaves us alone, confused and doubtful... . This is the burden of living in our heady and lonely time, when we think it is all up to us."
Do you think that is coincidence? I do not.
Fiction is often more "real' than science.
The fourth book of fiction was one sent three years ago by my friend Jeanetta Calhoun Mish who operates Mongrel Empire Press, formerly of Norman and now of Albuquerque. 
"Blackjacks and Blue Devils" by Jerry Wilson has 14 stories "rooted in the red dirt and blackjacks of central and Western Oklahoma," where he was raised. The stories and images about poverty, despair and hope of Okies from the land runs up through the 1992 Irag war helped center me. It's been sitting on the shelf waiting and opened at the right time.
Good medicine and truth in fiction.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Old one

Old one, 5 by 7 watercolor, 300 # deArches
This painting, comes from this photograph, and I don't remember where I saw me to thinking about old ones, old people, old tires, old trees. Thus the watercolor.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Real...religion, and ...

Are you real?
As I've told you, our "soul detox" group Sunday night, people trying to de-toxify their lives from much of the false religious "Thou Shalts" and "Thou Shalt nots " of modern day divided  Christianity, is studying Fr. Richard Rohr's "Falling Upward--a Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life."
Sunday we were discussing a chapter on necessary suffering, and this passage hit home to me, including Jesus' words in Matt. 16:25--"Anyone who wants to save his life must lose it."
Rohr: "...there is a necessary suffering that cannot be avoided, which Jesus calls "losing our very life, or losing what I and others call the "false self." Your false self is your role, title and personal image that is largely a creation of your own mind and attachments."
"It will and must die in exact correlation to how much you want the Real."

This reminded me of even more potent "Scripture," though I had the wrong reference, until a friend found it for me:

“Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'

'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit. 

'Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.' 

'Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,' he asked, 'or bit by bit?' 

'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.” 
― Margery WilliamsThe Velveteen Rabbit