"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons 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.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Sunset journey

Missing my canoe...5 1/2" by 11" watercolor, 140 # d'Arches
Heading for shore at the end of day. 
The water is still, the birds roosting, the branches and leaves still without a breath of breeze. 
The brilliant, varied colors of a setting autumn sun. 
Alone in a canoe, the only sound the dip of the paddle and the faint, brief gurgle of the wake. 
Life.

Monday, September 26, 2016

"It's just plumbing"--the heart of our engineering

"Daddy, it's just plumbing," said my daughter Dallas when I told her I was spending today at the Oklahoma Heart Hospital.
She's was not being flippant, but trying to reassure me, after we learned my heart  had dangerous levels of calcium deposit more than a month ago. And she is married to a doctor, is really level-headed, and offered other calming advice and comments. For plumbing as old as mine, some aging was expected, but it's held up well over the years.
This plumbing map caught and kept my attention
I'd gone in for one of those $50 calcium heart scans. Last one 10 years ago showed no problems. This one shook me, indicated serious plumbing problems...not critical, but certainly not to be discounted if you want the plumbing to work right. (Below 400 is acceptable--oops).
And in spite of my doctor and cardiologist saying on a scale of one to 10 I had nothing to be scared of, it was still disconcerting. Especially considering my family history--Dad died of a heart attack and my younger brother Jerry had a bypass about 10 years ago.
"You can't choose your parents," said my doctor with a laugh, noting that my "numbers"--cholesterol, triglycerides, etc. were good. BP is regulated, weight is under control, non-smoker, and I exercise (some). Susan's a good cook and we don't eat much fried or fatty foods.
But today was the visit to the "plumbers" --nuclear stress test and ultrasound, and then a visit with the OHHC's great staff and plumbing expert, the cardiologist.
I knew that a stint was possible, or more medication, or whatever, and dreaded the worst, naturally.
Most unnerving thing today was watching the ultrasound of my heart. I could see it beating away as the tech took photos on a fancy computer. And then from time to time, I could see the valves opening and shutting and hearing the blood gurgle through the arteries.
It's very humbling really, looking at that fist-sized thing pumping away, knowing that it is my life in front of me, still going after all these years.
I told the tech that I wished we had a backup. After all, we have two lungs, two eyes, two kidneys, two arms and hands and two legs and feet.
It seems like The Engineer forgot to put in a spare, so not taking care of or repairing this piece of equipment is very expensive if not fatal.
The lesson was apparent, and I came away determined to enjoy today, this minute.
Oh, the plumbing findings?
Better than I could have hoped for. No decrease of blood flow, no structural defects. The pump is working normally.   Come back in six months.
I left,  went and bought flowers for our dinner table. After a healthy meal tonight, I'll start more regular exercise tomorrow.
Tonight, I'll raise a thankful toast to the good plumbing, the plumbers, my family, and The Engineer.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Autumn arrives, from an autumn person

Autumn Sunset, Eastern Oklahoma--9 by 12 watercolor, 140# d'Arches
Autumn officially arrives with this week's equinox and our maple out front has a twinge of color on some leaves. The air is cooler, the sun almost due east and west at beginning and end of day.
I think I am an autumn person.
Without being morbid, I thought of that today scanning the obituaries, always looking at the birth dates and accomplishments of those people listed in the Sunday newspapers. 
Most of the people are in the autumn of their years and their birth dates are getting closer to mine. I realize autumn is a favorite season with me because of the beauty in the colors of the foliage and the filtered light of the shorter days.
 As I read those obituaries, I have come to know that they also grew more beautiful as the years went by. Many journeys, many miles, many lives, enriched as time goes by and this life fades, just as this year is fading. Neither is it sad. In fact, sadness comes when I read the notices of people much younger than I who have died of disease or other causes, not being able to reach the beauty of autumn.
So this is today's inspired watercolor...celebrating autumn, the season of beauty in nature and lives.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Old photos, article in a look at Albuqureque's past

We arrived in Albuquerque, N. M., in the summer of 1951, driven there from Fort Worth by our uncle Mike, since Dad had already taken a job as a technical artist at Sandia Corp. on Sandia Base.
While scrounging through a box of old photos and more, I can across this 1952 article and photos in the Sandia Bulletin, the base newspaper.
It tells the history of the base and includes some astounding photos of how remote the base was from Albuquerque just a two to three years before we arrived. Look at that bare mesa stretching to the Sandia Mountains. Now it's full of subdivisions, up to the mountain's very base.
20+ years ago, at the house on Sandia Base where we grew up, now gone
Sandia was at eastern the edge of the city when we came, but we never knew all this, and lived in base housing for several years. 
Reading the history, I found another interesting fact. The base was the after-WWII dumping ground of "war-weary" B-24 Liberator bombers and P-51 Mustang fighters, both planes that Dad had been a draftsman on when at North American  and Consolidated companies in Fort Worth during the war, when I and my brother Jerry was born.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Coming up--the journalism of 9/11

"It's on the edge of memory," one of my senior journalism students told me last week in History of Journalism." Most of these University of Central Oklahoma students were in first or second grade those 15 years ago. (This year's new freshmen were only two or three!)
That's why I'm interrupting the class for a week to study the journalism of 9/11, then and since. We just spent two weeks getting up through the First Amendment and the Alien and Sedition acts, and it's appropriate to stop and evaluate that history and perspective with this coming week. 
It won't just be looking at images and videos, though it'll include some of that. I want them to study how it was covered, ask questions of ethics and procedures, and probe how journalism has changed since then and why.
American history and the history of the press is intrinsically intertwined, especially with the development of the First Amendment. Without the press to spread biased news and foment rebellion, it's quite possible there would not have been a revolution. And the First Amendment was a compromise needed to unify the 13 colonies so they would ratify, sometimes narrowly, the Constitution. 
 The lessons and conflicts were obvious surrounding 9/11 and continue today. That's the perspective I want them to learn, because 9/11 is history to them.
Fortunately there are many videos and online documents for our attention and discussions. You can see some of them on the class blog if you care to look, I Am Journalism.
I'll let you know about some of their conclusions and comments later.

America IS great--holiday flags tell the story, Day 8

A Civil War veteran's decorated grave
If you don't think America IS great as is implied by a stupid campaign slogan, you need to go visit a local cemetery.
The flags tell the story otherwise.
One of my favorite places is the little two-acre Oakwood Cemetery, only four miles east of our house, founded in 1892.
Two WWII veterans graves
I've written about it before, and there are lots of photos on those posts, with links at the end of this one.
I went there again today and took a few photos, impressed at all the American flags volunteers have put up on the graves of veterans and others. 
At top is the grave of P.G. Bear , a Union Civil War vet, of Company I, 48th Missouri Infantry, organized in 1864 and involved in many battles. There are other graves with flags in the shade of that tree, reminding me of Generals Robert E. Lee and AP Hill's dying words, "Let us cross the river and rest under the shade of the trees."
Other  Civil War vets are here, from Missouri and Illinois. In fact, an Illinois vet donated the land for the cemetery in 1892. You can find information on them searching the Internet and records. I could find nothing on Pvt. Bear.
There are veterans here from WWI, WWII  and Korea and more recent, as people are still buried here.
It was a hard life in Oklahoma Territory.
The cemetery had an area for black citizens and then far ahead of its time, integrated in 1951.
 There are also lots of infant graves, attesting to the hard life in Oklahoma Territory. Oldest grave I found was of a three- year-old, in 1893.
There are lots of graves here, and lots of flags, and it's a peaceful tribute to the greatness of America, even with traffic heading past to Arcadia Lake on Labor Day, with the flags fluttering in the breeze.
Other stories:
The cemetery site lists all the people  buried here: Oakwood.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

America IS great, ask Harry and the bookstores--Day 7

Part of the Harry Potter crowd at almost  midnight, July 31, Edmond Best of Books, owner Joe Hight at right with arm up
America is great now, not in some far off rosy-colored glasses of the past, or in some who knows when future promised by a campaign slogan.
Look no further than the tizzy around America and the world at leading up to the midnight release of the new Harry Potter book in bookstores everywhere. Then we lined up for our copies.
At Edmond Best of Books the party lasted for several hours with prizes, face painting, costumes, snacks and more for hundreds of parents and kids, including this kid, waiting to buy the new book, "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child." 
Don't tell me children don't read, or that paper books are dead, or that America isn't great....look at these happy readers here in an independent bookstore and in bookstores everywhere...having fun, having family time, having imagination, and looking forward to reading. 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

America IS great, now--Day 6

America is great now, not in some far off rosy-colored glasses of the past, or in some who knows when future promised by a campaign slogan.
Look no further than two of my former students at UCO, Emily Bullard Lang and Charlie Price of Price Lang Consulting www.pricelang.com in Edmond.
They've taken their faith in America and energy and talent and intelligence to take risks and build a successful public relations firm.
Back in January, they hosted an open house for their new offices, and also committed two $500 scholarships to our department. 
Here they are with the geezer,  proud former prof.
Our journalism mass communication students make us look good.

Friday, September 2, 2016

End of day--Oklahoma prairie inspiration

End of Day, Oklahoma--9 by 12 watercolor, 140# d'Arches
I saw a cloud similar to like this yesterday, towering over Edmond in the afternoon. But after visiting my friend and oil cloudscape artist David Holland today and watching his work, I thought I'd try something different. Double inspiration--the skies and David Holland.
I decided to paint  from memory rather than trying to duplicate a photo, which makes me uptight, and also is a prescription for failure.
As David said today, it's a painting, not a photograph. This is freeing and I painted better than usual.
"Out here there's the sky," -- Terry Clark

Why America IS great, Day 5

Palacio del El Gubanadors, La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asis...establecido en 1610
America has been great a long time, and it started for Europeans in what is now America in 1540, and officially in 1610 with the founding of the oldest capitol here, what is now Santa Fe...and speaking English had nothing to do with it. 
In fact, today on those streets and in that historic capital city, you will hear numerous languages, including versions of Spanish, English, numerous Native American languages, and mixes thereof.
Under the great portales of the palace of the governors, you will find every day the first Americans selling their artwork to the mono-lingual English gringo newcomers. They probably speak at least three languages.
This is exactly what has made America great, in spite of her problems, through the years...new peoples, new ideas and cultures, blending sometimes peacefully and others not, but still generating an energy of greatness that endures... in spite of a white man's current stupid campaign slogan implying that they, and we, are not great.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

America IS great, day four

Don't tell me America isn't great, as implied by a campaign slogan on a cap. Our people prove it every day. 
Consider this viral photo and story about a Florida State football player eating lunch with a lonely autistic student.
  Story links from the Washington Post and CNN.
Washington Post 
CNN