"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Friday, December 26, 2014

At year's end--A changing blog

This is the 276th post on this blog this year, bringing to a total of 1,497 posts since I started back in May, 2009...never knowing where this would go.
I still don't, but I notice that I'm posting more watercolors, and less writing as the years go by. But I still avoid politics and most religion, and will continue to do so, not because they're controversial, but because there's so much crap out there already, and nobody is going to change their minds by anything written, so why waste time and space?
Looking back at this year, I had the most posts in May, 50, when I reran the story about my friend Bob Illidge and the Booth, from the first year. This December was next with 33 bolstered as I posted watercolor cards, but they also carried some writing.
Over the years I've posted more photos as well. There have been too many to name favorites, thought the story of the Booth is perhaps my best writing.  I've found many articles I should have written and just didn't take time, or have time to. Unfinished this year were posts on my favorite places in Oklahoma, and restarting my novel. Perhaps for the next year?
A blog should change as its author does, to remain vibrant and alive. I'll admit, my header and profile photos haven't changed in more than a year, and that's because I like what's there--they speak to my spirit. I'm sure they'll change sometime, but not for now. While I have had readers in more than 130 countries, that's not why I do his. In fact, I'm not sure why I do, except something drives me...the old journalist I guess. Plus, I now teach classes in blogging, and I firmly believe you should not teach something if you're not involved in it. The classes keep me going.
For the record, here are the post totals from previous years:
  • 2013--252
  • 2012--203
  • 2011--135
  • 2010--292
  • 2009--339
I don't know how the blog will change in the future--I still would like to take it to somewhere that might make a little income as I approach retirement. I know there are possibilities out there from  my students' studies of other blogs--the blogosphere is incredibly diverse, and this old dog needs to learn new tricks.
But for now, and signing off on 2014, it'll have to be this traditional post. Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Day musings

Today's watercolor, Christmas Day and the muse, 8" x 10", 300# d'Arches
It's a good day to sleep in late, to have a hearty breakfast and plenty of coffee by the fire, to open presents, to reflect on the past year, on friends, family and loved ones, on travels, on books, on the quietness of some slow time. That's when the muse awakes, and takes over the writing pen, or the paintbrush.

Christmas Day

A New Day, 5" x 7". watercolor, 300# d'Arches
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Traveling toward Christmas

Traveling toward Christmas, 6 x 9 watercolor
The story of Christmas has always been  one of travel, starting with Mary and Joseph far away from home, seeking shelter, and the wise men following a star to find them.
Ever since, the faithful have made pilgrimages in His honor, to churches, to holy places, to remember.
And today, even more people travel to be with their families and loved ones. It is no accident that "I'll be home for Christmas," is such a favorite. My second son is soon on the road back to the Texas panhandle and Oklahoma. My brother-in-law is flying from California, and in a few days I'll visit youngest son and his family in Iowa. It's all about the joy of reunion, of the awareness of passing years and miles. Traveling toward Christmas--no wonder it's the busiest travel time of the year. I pray for safe journeys.
We are all mindful of those who can't come home for Christmas, and we'd better be mindful of those who have no home for Christmas. And on my mind much and missed are those who used to come home for Christmas, or to whose home we traveled -- who won't be there this Christmas. They've made another journey to an eternal home.

Thinking of Mary, Christmas eve

Christmas eve, expectation, watercolor card
Christmas eve, when the faithful gather in worship, or families and loved ones gather for merriment and gifts perhaps, in expectation of the morrow.
I can't help but wonder how Mary felt the night before Jesus' birth...what travail did she go through with labor, with pain, with uncertainty. And with her husband close by, in a barn for shelter, the odor of livestock and hay, and lack of any midwife or medical facilities, or cleanliness. What were their thoughts--alone, fearful, far from home, anticipating their first child? 
Every parent can identify and remember those worries, fears, and expectations. The birth of our first born is vivid in my memory. You are so helpless, so dependent. Every birth is a miracle, and brings a peace that passes understanding, on earth.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Turning the pages of 2014

The second half of the year seemed slow in reading, compared to the first half when I consumed  11 books--almost reaching my goal of one a month for the year. Reading goes in spurts. Weeks go by without a book, and then when I'm hooked, it speeds up. 
The year ended with Unbroken, the WWII story of a remarkable American. Now a movie, the story from Laura Hillenbrand, the same writer of Seabiscuit, captured my imagination and emotions.
Before that were two books from Best of Books in Edmond, now owned by friends Joe and Nan Hight. Spirit of Steamboat, by Craig Johnson, whose books are the basis for the Longmire TV show, is a compelling Longmire tale different from his mysteries. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel was an interesting novel of post-apocalyptic America.
I'd forgotten I'd bought three art books from English watercolourist (Hey, that's the way the English spell it)  Ray Campbell Smith that gave me insights and inspiration, Fresh Watercolour, Landscapes in Watercolour and Watercolour Work-Out recommended by English blog friend, social media guru  and artist Ian McKendrick of Cambridge, Watercolourjourney.
Another short, entrancing  novel illustrated with watercolors by Neil Gaiman, The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains  made me want to do the same.
Before that, already reviewed on this blog were River of Doubt, about TR, following the Roosevelt NPR program, Writing Blue Highways, by William Least Heat Moon, and Falling Upward, by Fr. Richard Rohr, which changed my life.
A stifling summer of sickness managed four books in July--One Hundred Years of Solitude, by famed Gabriel Garcia Marquez, which I got bored with and didn't finish; Spider Woman's Daughter, by Anne Hillerman, continuing the Tony Hillerman legacy; American Gods, my first read by Neil Gaiman; and Blackjacks and Blue Devils, by Jerry Wilson, printed by my friend Jeanetta Calhoun Mish's Mongrel Empire Press.



Six month total--14. The books of 2014--25.

Warmth amid cold, two days til Christmas

My warm cabin, watercolor card
It's sometimes a cold world out there, but I keep finding lots of warmth in ordinary people every day, at work, at play, with friends and family, and in between. I don't like the term "Random acts of kindness," as though it were something new. I believe most people are good and share that goodness in so many ways, just because that's who they are, because of their humanness. Maybe that's why I keep coming back to my cabin in the mountains, a place of warmth in what could be a cold world, but overhead and inside, there is hope and warmth. Is that not Christmas?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Blessings of peace, three days til Christmas

At peace, watercolor card
When day is over, chores are done, quiet rules,  magnificent creation surrounds you. Worries fade into insignificance because of who and what is really  important every day, the blessings of peace flow like a stream out of the mountains--if you only will listen to the gurgle of the water over the rocks.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Drizzly December Oklahoma day

Today's watercolor, 5 1/2 by 11 300# d'Arches
It's a cold, drizzly, gray December day outside my window...fitting for solstice. I know there are more lonely places in Oklahoma, rain coming down, tree branches bare...winter is here. A good day to stay inside.

Solstice thoughts and New Mexico

Winter solstice at Ranchos de Taos, 14" by  20" watercolor, 300# d'Arches
The shortest day of the year, and the longest night, as the world turns again, and cold sets in. I dream of a pinon fire in an adobe cabin in Northern New Mexico...good books, posole and green chili stew, beverages and a loved one. No television or digital stuff...just the crackling of the fire, the still cold air outside, traveling in imagination and miles and years.
Always in my mind's eye is the iconic church of Saint Francis at Ranchos de Taos, painted by artists like O'Keeffe and photographers like Adams and Strand, as well as my Dad, back in the 1930s--I still have his drawings. We've taken students there on study tours. We last visited in October--it demands a pilgrimage.
The Franciscans built in as a mission church  between 1772 and 1816; it is a National Historic Landmark. The front includes two bell towers, but the rear of the church is a favorite view. In most works,  artists favored its smoothly sculpted adobe beehive buttresses.I've painted it in oil and watercolor, and photographed it many times. It seems to me this view speaks to this year's solstice...somehow eternal.

In love with Jane Austen, tis the season

In love with Suzie, and Jane Austen, at Reduxion
As  a repentant English major, I admit I should know more about Jane Austin than two or three titles, and I met her last night at Reduxion Theatre's joyful holiday production, Jane Austen's Christmas Cracker, and interactive ball.
No, I've never read Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility. My English major tastes were more masculine--everything by Joseph Conrad and anything by Whitman, with a little Kafka thrown in. And, I'm currently re-reading Dickens' Tale of Two Cities, in a copy I bought in Paris 10 years ago, in the famed bookstore Shakespeare and Company.
The program
But I sort of fell in love with Jane last night, with the characters, the songs and music, the dancing and production. All the elegantly dressed young women with rosy cheeks and complexions and smiles, the stylishly dressed men.
I consider Reduxion Theatre one of Oklahoma City's unique treasures. Billed as "theatre in your lap," actors regularly interact with the audience in the theatre in the round. Suzie and I always sit on the front row. "Revisit the classics," is the other slogan, and the theatre puts on everything from Shakespeare to Tom Jones to Sweeny Todd, and yes, Jane Austen. Check their website for a complete list. We don't go to a lot of movies, but the money for season tickets here is always a thrill and experience.
I went expecting to join in the dancing, but was intimidated by the youth and energy as the cast invited various audience members up on stage and performed graceful English Country Dancing numbers of Jane Austen's day throughout the show. You should have seen the joy on the faces of the audience members dancing--complete happiness and having a good time. Real Christmas spirit the way it is supposed to be. It was a Christmas party, with egg nog, sweet treats and ice cream provided by Braum's. The cast mingled with the crowd during the break, staying in character and English accent, asking questions, laughing. Yep, in love with Jane Austen.
Reduxion Theatre.

A beckoning, four days til Christmas

Gate to new journey, watercolor card
Gates beckon the imagination to new journeys, especially on the Great Plains where you can't see over the next hill or around the bend. Like a well-worn path, they hint of a new adventure, of a place to discover, of possibilities. They're the opposites of urban "gated" communities, or gates at military bases that scream "Stay out, you're not welcome."
Christmas is one of those inviting gates, from the original, to our present gatherings of families and friends where joy and memories and tears flow freely. It is surely a sin at any time, and especially in this season, to lock the gate of hospitality and love. I'm reminded of the chorus to an old Gospel song.
"Inside the gate (just inside the gate), inside the gate (just inside the gate)
I'm home (just inside the gate), sweet home (just inside the gate)
No more to cry (just inside the gate), no more to die (just inside the gate)
A crown of life  (just inside the gate), you have won (just inside the gate)
You're safe at last (just inside the gate), your sorrows past (just inside the gate)
A mansion here (just inside the gate) forevermore (just inside the gate)
Yes I'll admit (just inside the gate), I'm heaven sent (just inside the gate)
When I step (when I step inside) inside the gate (the pearly gate)"

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Sacred high places, five days til Christmas

Mountains in the soul, Truchas--watercolor card
Mountains, the high places, have always had power over mankind and our imaginations and spirituality. No matter where in the world, they dominate, they beckon, they add drama to landscape and lives. No wonder there was the sermon on the mount, or the transfiguration on Mount Herman, or "Mount" Calvary. 
My favorite mountains in New Mexico are the Truchas, rising over 13,000 feet near the end of the Sangre de Cristos. Near their base is the little village of Truchas, cold, remote and yet a magnet on the High Road to Taos. These are places for strong people, individuals, those who don't mind being alone, or taking risks, or breathing high, cold air and enjoying vistas for the soul.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Six days to Christmas, from the sacred earth

Where earth is always sacred, watercolor card
Adobe...the earth, the ground on which you walk. In the Southwest, it's also the ground in which you live. There is no more iconic testament to that than Taos Pueblo, in New Mexico, where real Americans have been living longer there is history.
Yes, they have adopted Christianity, as have many peoples, and adapted it to their culture and even older beliefs and religion, as all people have in one way or another. But underneath is this reverence for the land, the unity of all creation, sitting at the base of a sacred mountain where eternal gods dwell.
When you walk here, you gather a deep sense of time, of community, and of the truely sacred.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Inspiration and energy by free spriit in #clarkclass

From @okieprof, #clarkclass

The joys of this job are the students, present and past, and my current students in twitter for media today were energized and inspired by a former student, Heide Brandes, @HeideWrite.
Heide is a free spirit who lives life to the fullest. She's succeeded as a community journalist and a PR professional, and now as a freelance writer and professional belly dancer.
Her talks with the class are off the wall, like her, wide open where everything can be discussed, and so full of practical advice about life and living, in addition to her careers.
When I asked the class general impressions before we began our debriefing, one female student just said, "Wow."
For the record, Heide is the student who appeared in an ad with me promoting UCO. Yes, she's also a belly dancer and owns a belly dancing school. Energy personified, in her very early 40s.
Here, recorded by current student student Alyssa Ramsey @alyssaramsey13, a photography major are my students' debriefing impressions of Heide.
  • Cool how she doesn’t really care and she is honest and upfront about her work. She is professional, but in her own way
  • Makes me want to quit my job and just do what I want to do for the rest of my life
  • Freelancing is really cool and if you can make it work it would be a really cool job to have
  • She said “always tweet with value, don’t tweet when you’re pissed off.” If more young people did that on social media we would all be better off
  • If you can help people on twitter do it. It shows that you’re engaged.
  • Don’t be afraid for what you want. The worst thing you can do is not go for it
  • She made a blog post that was about how to clean up your digital footprint
  • She used hash tags to research things on twitter
  • She said don’t try to fit in. Stop trying so hard and be your own person
  • Be genuine but also be careful. You can get a long way being yourself
  • Huge thing for people to realize that fighting with others on twitter will really reflect in your personal and professional life
  • If you say something about a specific political party, you never know what your future employers' beliefs will be; it could hurt you in the long run.
  • Posting pictures getting wasted or posting things while under the influence will hurt you
  • It's not the end of the world if you make mistakes, you always learn from your mistakes
  • Be engaging--if you see something someone said that you like tell them. If people mention you reply
  • If you want to be an excellent writer be an excellent reader. It gives you a sense of credibility
  • It's good to have boundaries of what you won’t write about
  • 30 to 40 stories a month is a lot of stories and she is still free-spirited and doesn’t let it bog her down--she is very positive
  • should know, need to know, want to know
  • If you don’t ask you’ll never know. Twitter helps with that now it makes it easier to contact people.
  • Twitter is your business card
  • She gets a lot of leads and jobs from hashtags on twitter
  • Talked about how exciting her life was being a freelance writer
  • Hashtags will tell you what's important and what people are talking about
  • Who she follows is very important because that’s how she gets news stories and resources

Here's the newspaper ad we appeared in together, thanks to her talking to my administration.

Wilderness, sanctuary, grace--seven days til Christmas

Grace, watercolor card
Sanctuary in wilderness...a line shack, a lonely cabin, peace and safety amid a storm--it's not about religious beliefs, or politics, or wealth, or how you've lived your life, or the mistakes you've made, or the regrets of the past, or worries about the future. It's not about fancy, and riches, and comfort, and how much you have. It's now. In spite of our man-made religions, materialistic, brightly lighted, judgmental Calvinistic society, and turmoil-wracked and unjust world, is that not what Christmas is about? The promise of sanctuary-a place, a person, a group, yourself--in a storm?
Grace is just a simple cabin in a storm.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Ambassador, storyteller, journalist

From @okieprof #clarkclass
The Oklahoman Sports Editor Mike Sherman @MikeSherman spoke to #clarkclass today. The UCO grad came in wearing his bronze and blue UCO neck scarf, and within minutes began an hour and a half storytelling session, impressing my students with his humility and humanity, changing their views on the people who work in media, challenging them with questions and quotes, and his wide range of knowledge and reading.
This is what education is about, to me...providing students with opportunities to see the world in a different perspective, helping them to learn how to think and adapt.
After Mike left, we debrief, and each student comments on what made an impression, what stood out. They still don't take enough notes for me,  and I kept wanting to interrupt and say "Get that quote," but I didn't. This is the fourth time Mike has spoken to the class--and he looks forward to it, made #clarkclass a verb ("I've #clarkclassed it"), and he's always a hit.
Here are some of his comments and  reactions today, recorded by student Alyssa Ramsey @alyssaramsey13, a photography major who will be interning at the Oklahoma in January.

    •    You have to distribute your own content
    •    You're your own paperboy
    •    Rapid thought process for problem solving and his willingness to do whatever it takes for the problem to be solved
    •    "Prospecting is another term for creeping."
    •    (On posting on Twitter) "You're opening the window and shouting out of it, don't get mad at me if I hear you."
    •    "God's not finished with us. We're all still learning."
    •    Liked the “What’s the Headline” and the use of reader involvement
    •    Need to make sure you are educated when you go out and say things on twitter
    •    Staying connected and getting connected is important
    •    Conversation is the most important technological medium
    •    The newspaper should be called the understanding papers and its not really just news; it's about understanding what’s going on
    •    Humility in admitting when they were wrong
    •    Twitter is a deciding factor in who to hire
    •    You have not because you ask not. A good reminder to not be afraid to go out and try and ask
    •    The world is flat. Thomas Friedman. A lot of jobs are getting narrowed down to one person jobs with technology. You don't want to be flattened.
    •    It is important to be close to the people you work with, and twitter is a good way to see how people interact with others
    •    Twitter is one of the greatest listening devices of all time and one of the greatest search engines
    •    People that get angry for things that are said about them. If you put something out there on the internet you can’t be mad when it is used against you. It’s out there for the world to see.
    •    The Oklahoman uses twitter to get information and get leads from what people are talking about
    •    After "Mr. Unreliable," he went on twitter and asked the public what ideas were for headlines, admitting they were wrong to lighten the mood about the situation
    •    The paper is a way of answering questions for the people that can’t ask them themselves
    •    Old school vibes and he is still himself even with all the new and upcoming media. Still likes conversation and phone calls. Not always about the new media.
    •    When you’re wrong don’t debate, always apologize


You can see more class comments on twitter #clarkclass, and this also appears onthe class blog, #clarkclassUCO

Water in the desert, eight days til Christmas

Desert dreams, watercolor card
I've learned to love the desert, growing up in New Mexico. You're very aware of how fragile life is, of how much life adapts to survive, of the value of water, of a landscape where history and geology are open books--things you forget where there is lots of green and moisture. Only desert dwellers appreciate water and life so much.
 It tells you something about Jesus and where he was raised that he would say
"but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."  --(John 4-14)
The land is raw and eternally changing and beautiful, and scarce water becomes even more beautiful. Those who adapt are also often raw and beautiful and survive and use the earth, whether adobe from the earth, or springs, or acequias or lessons learned from the ancients. 
In cold winters the only colors are the whites and blues of the snow, the earthen tones of the bones of the land and adobe, and the deep blues of the sky and the rare water.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Living water, and grace, watercolors and thougths

Tomorrow and Thursday on the blog, eight and seven days till Christmas

Twitter questions for a sports journalist

One of my  favorite classes--certainly the one I have the most fun in, is my twitter for media class, #clarkclass. Blog is http://clarkclassuco.blogspot.com/.

I know I'm a  dinosaur and a geezer, but  I know that journalism is a child of technology, always has been, from the pen and paper of town criers, to the handset type of Gutenberg, to Linotypes, to photo-composition of early offset, to the arrival of computers. (Hint--I have handset type, run Linotypes, Compugraphics and the early and current computers, have run small offset and letter presses). Doesn't matter--challenges to the craft and profession continually change and remain constant--the only objection I make is that newspapers are not dying--those who claim so are ignorant or narrowly focused.
But, that brings me back to twitter, and to what view as another death of journalism. Balderdash.
This class proves the opposite...in fact, it is enlivening print and broadcast journalism, public relations, advertising, photography, almost every profession.
In that spirit, Oklahoman Sports Editor Mike Sherman @MikeSherman, comes to talk to my class tomorrow, as he had three previous times. He's an enthusiastic, positive professional about journalism and twitter. By the way, he's a UCO alum (We have great students). You can read his previous points on this blog by searching his name.
And my current class is pumped and primed--today, they came up with questions for him to consider. By the way--these are great students--all about the graduate, from many majors, some already with their own businesses. Here they are. Stay tuned for comments.
    •    If he was the one responsible for the Mr. Unreliable article, and if he was how he went about clearing it up.
    •    How does he think twitter has helped him in his career?
    •    What advantages he thinks he has having a twitter over other writers who don’t have a twitter.
    •    What does twitter do for the world of sports?
    •    What form of media does he find most beneficial for his line of work?
    •    What sports do you like to cover most?
    •    If a bad article comes out how do you handle it?
    •    Biggest influences
    •    Does he see twitter as a critical resource?
    •    Does he use social media to find any of his stories?
    •    How does he use social media to promote himself?
    •    Is his favorite comedian Steve Martin?
    •    Where does he make the distinction of what is worth tweeting, such as if it doesn’t involve sports, what is important enough and what catches his eye?
    •    What’s the best way to network through twitter?
    •    If twitter is a new resume, then how do you know if someone is qualified for the job?
    •    At what age he thought was appropriate for someone to have a twitter
    •    What’s the first think you notice when you look at someone’s profile
    •    What makes you turn away or keep looking at a persons twitter?
    •    When did networking for twitter start taking off for his career?
    •    What made him move from Maryland to OKC?
    •    Should I merge business or personal life, or have two different accounts?
    •    Does he use his poll tweets or are the just for fun?
    •    Anything specific to sports news that has improved for twitter
    •    Examples: Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Tyreke Hill. Do you believe there is a double standard for Professional athletes and professional entrepreneurs when obstructing the law?


Of earth and faith nine days til Christmas

Of earth and faith, watercolor card
There's something special to me about the simple Catholic faith of Northern New Mexico...steeped in history and tradition, sure, but most of the churches, and the people, are inseparable from the earth--adobe and hard workers and close families. The churches remind the faithful of the hope beyond this world, while outside, the graves in the campo santos are a reminder of how brief life is. Life is simpler with those reminders, and the holiness of their faith, in the chill desert and mountain air.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Tis the season for #clarkclass

Screen Shot of the class blog
If you're interested, or bored and don't have anything else to do, you can follow the progress of "clarkclass 4.0" actually, twitter for media, on the new class blog, "clarkclassUCO.blogspot.com"--many of the assignments, virtual textbook of many links, discussions of politics, news, marketing, social impacts, etc., of the revolutionary social media tool--including comments of our 10 professional speakers--several of them UCO alums. Or you can follow it on twitter of course, #clarkclass. Students are required to tweet every day, in addition to many other assignments and projects.
The class meets this week, and then the week of Jan 5, starting at 9:30 and going to about 2. It has 24 students from many different majors. This was the first class of its kind in Oklahoma, I'm proud to say, as we reacted to the advice of our professional media advisory board two years ago. It's always a learning experience. You'll be astounded at the way twitter has grown, how its used in thousands of ways, at its influence, and at new ideas. 

Ten days til Christmas

Dreams of barns, watercolor card
What is it about a barn that captivates our attention and imagination? Even city folks have these stereotypical images in their minds, and for those of us who've lived on the Great Plains and in the mountains, we know they come in all shapes and sizes and colors, from mere sheds to gigantic structures you can see for miles. Those aren't being built any more, as agriculture increasingly goes in for post and lintel metal buildings, but still.... Everywhere across this country in rural areas, those barns stand as sentinels to a way of life, to hope and living, of dreams and memories and changing ways.
 I remember how Mom would snipe at me to shut the door with "What's wrong with you, were you born in a barn?
This season celebrates the birth of one who was born in a barn. Stop and think about the words, Away in a manger..."

Sunday, December 14, 2014

After the storm

After the storm, 6 1/2 by 6 1/2 watercolor, 300 # d'Arches
Beautiful skies and clouds and more today in Oklahoma. I saw a version of this in early afternoon.

11 Days 'til Christmas

Waiting for mail, watercolor card
Letter from Grandmother to my Dad--real mail
In these digital days of a flood of useless "e-mail," of "texting," of constant cell phone contact, it seems the only mail that arrives in the real mail box is either bills or sale catalogs. My first stop on getting the mail is the outdoor recycling bin, where most of it is dumped unopened.
No wonder it's a treat when "real mail," arrives--a personal letter or card, hand addressed, always first opened and treasured. It's the personal touch missed today in the digital world. I wouldn't take for the ability to "Skype" my kids who are far away, and for our military stationed far away from their families. But, real mail takes us back to the days when there was more such mail, letters written because it was the cheapest and best  or only way to stay in touch with loved ones and friends, across the years and miles. We need that personal touch more than ever these days.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

12 Days to Christmas

Prairie dreams, watercolor card
"Out here there's the sky," wrote Willa Cather of the West, and New Mexico. Anyone who's lived on, or traversed,  the Great Plains, including here in Oklahoma and in my native Texas, knows deep inside what she means. The phrase "the prairie sky is wide and high" in the song Deep in the Heart of Texas tells all. Snow in the vast expanse makes it seem even more remote. The stories I and other can tell of surviving or negotiating blizzards would never end. That's why a warm farmhouse is such a sanctuary.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Gate to High Lonesome --Christmas

Christmas dreams, watercolor card
High Lonesome is mythic in the West, as in my mind is the gate to this remote, faraway place, as mythic and calling as Christmas. What a place to be snowed in with a loved one, to stay warm by the fire, to laugh, read, dream, reflect by the light of a kerosene lantern. Outside, high chill mountain air, the stars so bright you can see forever, the only sound the howl of wolves or cry of big cats hunting. High and Lonesome, and at peace.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

"Where is your cabin?"

My cabin, watercolor card
I was asked that years ago, and never thought about it, except cabins have grown in my dreams and memories. Now I know, painting cards for Christmas,. If I had to send a card to myself this Christmas, it would be a cabin in the shadow of the Manzanos in New Mexico...snowed in with a fire, books, lots of good food, a wood fire, plenty to drink, and a loved one.

The gate's open for Christmas company

Waiting for company, watercolor card
Christmastime...more than any other time of anticipation of families and loved ones gathering, or yearning for gathering, or missing gathering...especially as the years go by and families spread out. Such memories of not being able to wait until children come home, or parents or loved ones arrive. Your heart jumps, or breaks, or cries, and sometimes all at the same time.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

And where is your cabin this Christmas?

Watercolor card
A cabin,
Snow
Mountains
Warm fire
Woodsmoke
Books,
Art
Wine
Quiet
Solitude
Special someone
Christmastime

Chrisweather

Watercolor card
We all have stereotypical images or memories of weather around Christmas time, perhaps being snowed in at a cabin, warm fire, good books. Peace on earth.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Chjristmas is coming

Christmas is coming, watercolor card

Monday, December 1, 2014

December arrives; solstice nears

"December Solstice"--11 by 14 watercolor, 300 # d-Arches
No snow yet, and it's probably a few weeks away in Oklahoma, but today's cold front makes me think  about that time of year. Winter solstice, the shortest day of the year nears and the landscape turns bleak, bare tree limbs. and vanishing color. Snow will help break the monotony and bring pristine contrast--at first at least, before traffic turns it dirty and weeks and months of it grow old.
Snow also stimulates and inspires black and white photography for contrast and patterns, and especially watercolor, where the white of the paper dominates. Hence this painting, "December Solstice."
--Framed, $300 plus shipping