"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Which tattoo are you?

When I was growing up, the only people who had tattoos were WWII vets, old Navy men with anchors and dolphins on their hairy, tanned forearms, or hearts and stars on their bulging biceps.
I remember how those tattoos would grab a young boy’s attention, because you only saw them when the vets would roll up their sleeves, and how he’d wonder about the pictures on their arms.
Then there were years when you saw few tattoos, except perhaps skulls, and daggers and such like on the arms of Hell’s Angels. Even Vietnam didn’t cause a return of the fad. Tattoos faded on the arms of veterans as the years went by and they became scarce.
Not these days.
Now you commonly see them adorning the arms of pro athletes and an increasing number of young women and men. They range from ornate designs to strands of barbed wire to butterflies, flowers and intricate artwork. There are even magazines showing people with tattoos all over their bodies, reminiscent of Ray Bradbury’s story, The Illustrated Man, where a traveler’s tattoos come to life.
What’s the most unusual tattoo you’ve seen?
If you had a tattoo, what would it be?
Or as Facebook would put it, what tattoo are you?
Where would you have it placed?
I wonder about all these smooth-skinned young women with tattoos on their arms, shoulders, ankles, abdomens, and backs. What are those things going to look like when age sets in? Will the butterflies be wrinkled with age? Will the butterfly near the navel swell with pregnancy or obesity? Will liver spots mar the images on the hands? Will varicose veins in the ankles crack the barbed wire ankle bracelet? Will the colors change as the old flesh sags?
I think the most intriguing places I’ve seen for tattoos are in the small of the back—revealed by the hip hugging jeans and bare midriffs, and the back of the neck.
Which brings me back to my questions.
I think if I got a tattoo, it’d be a grizzly bear’s track. But I’m not sure where I’d put it.
Maybe on my forehead, as the hairline recedes. I thought about near my navel, but as I get fatter, it would probably look like a mutant liver spot. Actually, I’d probably put in on the top of my left hand, where my protruding veins would distort it.
What about you? To help you out, I’ve come up with a list of tattoos, and certain well-know people. Which tattoo would go with each person, and where would it be placed? Mix or match, but use your imagination.
Cactus. Cross. Hot Air Balloon. Rock. Cat. Pit Bull. Open Mouth. Dollar sign. Rose. Brain. Snake. Skunk. Lemon. Trash Can. Upturned nose. Corvette. Yugo. Football. Chicken. Crooked stick.
You get the idea. Now the people, and the places? A couple of hints:
Clinton—all right, all right, keep it clean.
Madonna—a trash can? Frank Keating—dollar signs? Yeah, I know, you could put more than one on some of these people. Republicans—broken hearts? Bush—a D- ? OU fans—footballs! OSU fans—a wishing well? Democrats—fisticuffs? Rush Limbaugh—forked tongue? Oklahoma legislature—a dinosaur? Obama—a golden tongue?
What about others? Billy Graham? Hillary? Sean Connery? Bill Gates? Harrison Ford? Oprah? Your favorite or least favorite people?
Clark—a coffee pot?
And you?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Moveable Feast Moves

"One true sentence." That's all you have to write, wrote Ernest Hemingway in "A Moveable Feast" a recollection of his years in Paris in the '20s. That's a key to any good writing, journalism or other.

"Paris is a moveable feast," he wrote, and the book came out after he committed suicide, edited and organized from manuscripts and notes, by his fourth wife Mary.

Now a new version is coming out, early next month, edited by a grandson, Sean (from Hemingway's second wife), according to an interesting article in today's NY Times, and the differences are worth reading about. I'll be buying one as soon as it's available.

I have a first British edition, copyright 1964, that I found for not much money on ABE (American book exchange). I recommend this outfit for finding used books. Many used books stores around the country are members, and you can find first editions, signed copies and many other treasures by searching it. abe.com

"There is never any end to Paris," Hemingway wrote in the last chapter, and now that is changing. A Moveable Feast is truly moveable.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

More photos

Derrick Rogers Clark, Liberty Faye Clark, and Terry!


Abby, Max, Erin Bell and Me...he's 2 years old today.

Photo by Susan Clark

Time's a wastin'!

“Time’s a wastin’!” would yell my favorite comic strip character from long ago, Snuffy Smith, a hillbilly who was never in a hurry. We always had time to read about his antics on Sunday mornings.

Today though, we’re always behind. “The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get” is not a joke.

When man measured time by daylight and dark, by the full moons, by the seasons, he had more time than we do. He worked harder, too more risks, died sooner, but had less ulcers.

Then we divided the days into hours and then seconds. Today we deal with microseconds, nanoseconds, millihertz and no telling what other infinitesimal measures of less and less time.

Each new technological invention comes with a price of less time. From seasonal clocks like Stonehenge, to sun clocks and water clocks to medieval calendar clocks, man progressed toward less and less time. Sailing the world demanded hours and minutes for navigation. Trains required telegraphs and sending time long distance.

The world is speeding up as slow time disappears, and we’re increasing enslaved to faster technology that was supposed to help us. We’ve got more and more labor saving devices and less time to enjoy life.

Last year’s computer was fast, compared to the one you had two years ago. But then this year’s version appeared. The tool—the servant-- becomes the master.
Fast-time technology has disturbing side effects.

Our attention spans are reverting back to first grade levels—thanks to fast forward and channel surfing zappers. Commercials have shrunk to 15 seconds. Newspaper stories are shrinking. We get impatient quickly whether waiting for a traffic light to change or for a computer modem to load an Internet page in 5 seconds instead of 10. We’ll zoom through a changing traffic light just to save perhaps two minutes.

We’ve conquered darkness with 24 hour news and shopping. Our cars go 75 miles per hour down Broadway Extension, and our aircraft over 500 miles per hour….

As slow time disappears, those who live by it are becoming extinct. The holdovers from the ages of slow time include farmers who depend on the seasons, and not on seconds, and they’re disappearing.

We have longer life spans, but do we really have more time?

I somehow think the Oklahoma homesteader of 100 years ago had a longer living span, because he lived slower—plowing land behind a team of horses, riding to town in a buggy at four or five miles per hour, buying a sack of flour from a store clerk who spent part of the day whittling and telling stories around a cracker barrel—enjoying life longer than we do, always in a hurry, ruled by computers we can’t keep up with.

We’ve come a long way baby, but we’re losing our divinity in the process.
Scripture says a day is as a thousand years for God. No wonder most folks don’t have time for him—an hour a week is a big sacrifice.

Jesus walked everywhere, had three years to complete his job, and we never read about him being in a hurry. We never walk anywhere, and we’re always in a hurry.
Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 3 that there’s a time for everything…but he never mentions a time to be in a hurry.

He probably would say that’s it’s time to end this article, and he’s right…Any longer, and I’ll lose your shortening attention. Time’s up!

Friday, June 26, 2009


I'm proud of this story that appeared in The Vista, by Kory Oswald, now interning at The El Reno Tribune.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

UCO Journalism, 1990

Do you know them? The UCO journalism faculty and staff in 1990.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


When I was a kid, my parents went down to the Rio Grande and filled two large galvanized tubs with river sand.

We brought it home, and dumped it in the corner of our house at Sandia Base, and Dad put up a couple of one by 10's as a border.

And there we would play, my friends and I, or me by myself or with my brother...
building roads, or walls, or more, with our toy trucks and other toys...Oh what fun it was to make roads, castles, walls, mountains, and push your tiny trucks around.

Some things have changed...today, sandboxes come as plastic containers in the shape of turtles or other cute things. And the sand comes in sterile containers from the superstores. They have retractable tops to keep out the rain and the bugs.

I still remember when a tarantula crawled out from under a rock...I'm still traumatized, but soon went back, to grade the roads, to build castles, to spend the summer in wet sand, with imagination and fun with friends or my brother, outside...rather than in front of a computer screen with digital fakeness and air conditioning.

I see all of that when I view my grandson Max Bell playing in dirt and mud in a plastic swimming pool... Life as a kid is supposed to be free and fresh....like a sandbox.

No rules, just fun.

Do you remember the sandbox?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Katherine Emerson Clark

With beauty and intelligence from her mother Kerin, and precociousness and attitude from her father Vance...in that respect, all Clark

Sara Beth Clark

Granddaughter, and lil' sister to Katherine Emerson clark

Grandson Max Bell--All boy!

And girlfriend...he's two years old this week.

The Real Flag--48 stars

This flag flew every day while Vance was in Iraq.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Every time I start to feel sorry for myself, or get down in the dumps, I try to think of these kids, in Mali, two years ago. They remind me of what is not important.

Stolen elections and a nation of sheep?

Thousands of freedom lovers are marching, and many dying, to protest questionable election returns in a stolen election in Iran, a country demonized by the American government for eight years, and now condemned because a supreme court approved the election results

Nobody lifted a finger, much less marched in streets, when a supreme court authorized questionable election returns in a stolen election in America in 2000. Which country values freedom?

what is slow?

"The ox is slow, but the earth is patient."

--The High Road to China

Terry the Taureq....

Death to the Infidel

LUST in higher ed

Where have you been, Prof?
I went to the AAEC to discuss the AQIP for BOROC after our NSSE and NCATE ratings didn’t match our FSSE and CIRP date?
Huh? Nessie and fessie could chirp?
Yeah, I know. The AAC reviewed the AAB memo with the AALT in the ASC for the SSCI plans with the ELA and ExCom.
What, again? Skiing and air conditioning?
Yeah, it was different because the AAUP and CIF at the CLPD for CQIT training in the ADP, without E&G funds for the FEC and IT in case of COLA.
What was “it” and a “Coke”?
I told you, the NCCI and NACUBO and UCOSA think that HERI will fill out the IPPs.
Who pees?
Well, it’s simple. OCAST goes to IR and the IRP for the FE before taking the GSS, in order to boost FTE in the CSC and CUR.
We have some curs on campus?
Yes we do. CAMD, CLA, CMS, CEPS and JGCS need more TAs, GAs, and RAs for the NSF grants, unless the NCAA objects so we can meet the HLC/NCA requirements for the OHLAP.
Obviously, it seems so. OSHRE wants QUIF to help the RAC the UPC at with PSS.
The cat pissed?
About the same. USDOE thinks that SCT might work it out on the URR for USCARE.
That’s grammatically incorrect. It’s “we care.”
I know, but you have to know how to use all these initials to be an administrator at UCO.
Are they related to all that CUPA stuff?
Yeah, they’re all first cousins. CUPA, STUPA, and on and on.
Why do they have so many?
Do you understand them? Can you pronounce them? Do they have anything to do with teaching?
You have your answer.
I think I’d rather deal with LUST.
Yes, Let Us Simply Teach.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Neruda in blue

Somene said that grey is fey, but sad is blue, and that is true, so here's Pablo's train, in azur. Thanks

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Neruda's train

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A train in the rain and the Prix de West

I completed a watercolor tonight...the first in over a month.

Earlier I read Pablo Neruda's The Book of Questions, and several stuck in my mind, but this one stood out: "Hay algo mas triste en el mundo que un tren inmovil in la lluvia?" "Is there anything in the world sadder than a train standing in the rain?"
I'm a train person, have been ever since I can remember, and I could see this image.

Now I probably wouldn't have if I hadn't been fortunate to attend the Prix de West art show and weekend at National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum over the weekend. Immersed in really great art, talking to and watching great artists, covering speeches and demonstrations as a real journalist for Persimmon Hill, the museum's magazine.

You come out of there inspired, astounded and humbled by art greater than anything I can do. Thankful to be blessed by such an experience. I knew my dormant art would rise, but it needed a spark, and the poem was it.

So I've done this 7 inch by 9 inch painting on d'Arches 140 pound rough paper of an old steam engine at a depot, steam rising from the smokestack, waiting, almost all grey, its blurred reflection in a pool of water in the foreground. Yellow light from the depot window on the right,and in the cab, with a little red under the boiler.

The reflection is blurry, as in the rain. The sky is a mottled deep grey. An old water tower is blurred by the rain behind it to the left.

I'm waiting on it to dry to see if I can put a downpour of water over the whole scene without ruining it. It's a question, like the poem. It's not Prix de West, but it is who I am, at this moment.

In fact, almost all art is a question, or a lot of questions, and as a journalist I'm supposed to be an expert at asking questions. Answering them is another matter.

Neruda's questions are disturbing, vibrant, provoking, many imagistic. They're like the people you know and value most, deeper than the surface.

"Where is the child I was,
deep inside me or gone?
Why did we spend so much time
growing up only to separate?"


The one that seems to fit my life at the moment:

"Is what I see from afar
what I have not yet lived?"

My sad train stands in the rain, without an answer.

Ursa th' professa"

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

10 Commandments of Coffee

My son Travis Austin is also an authority on coffee. He's very smart--naturally--inherited. However, his 10th commandment is not from a recognized translation of the Coffee bible, because, yeah verily, the coffee guru (Me)--who did help begat him-- doth ordain chicory is acceptable in worship...and this does come from our genes (not beans), because both his grandmother and grandfather loved chicory coffee. See, so even a prophet can be without profit! He is correct however with commandment 5 is almost always true. If it smells like something other than coffee, then forsooth, it is not.
The 11th Commandment: Any coffee carrying the idolatrous sign of the idol Starbucks smells like burnt socks, and you deserve it if you so sin and fall from grace.

Here are his recently revelated 10 commandments of coffee:

Travis' Ten Commandments of Coffee
Sun at 7:26pm
1) Thou shalt not put bovine lactation or any variation thereof within your coffee.
2) Thou shalt not put honey from the bees, or the remains of destroyed sugar cane or any variation thereof within the beverage.
3) Decaf will never be spoken of, and is quickly forbidden.
4) The high and mighty drink must be brewed, either through an electrical device or a percolator. The type called Instant is not recognized, nor is freeze dried.
5) Gratings of the Cinnamon Tree, essences of fruit, or juice of the soy bean is equivalent to blasphemy
6) Coffee should be partaken of hot. Lukewarm, cold, and frozen are not acceptable.
7) Distilled fermented grain mash is an acceptable additive, as is any distilled alcoholic beverage.
8) The bean of cocao, while heavenly, should never be mixed within the sacred drink
9) When available, the seeds of the coffee plant should be ground by thyself. If not, pre-ground is permissible, but not as holy.
10) Chicory, though historical, is disgusting and will not be in my presence.


The first time I tasted coffee was in the middle of the night in the middle of Texas in the middle of my sophomore year in high school.
Dad, my brother and I were driving from Albuquerque to Beaumont for grandmother’s funeral. Mom had flown down earlier. Dad took us out of school Friday to drive from high, dry New Mexico, to low, wet East Texas.
It’d be a long trip today, but in the days before the Interstate it was an ordeal. The sun was going down behind us as we inched across the Illano Estacado of West Texas.
Somewhere in central Texas--sometime after midnight, when my eyes wouldn’t hold up any more--that’s when we stopped for coffee at some nameless truck stop. We had an old 1954 Chevrolet station wagon--bigger than today’s mini-vans --and we put the back seat down and had a pallet back there. Younger brother was sound asleep and Dad and I were having trouble keeping our eyes open.
We stopped and I had my first cup of coffee. The taste woke me up. Waitress wanted to know if I wanted cream and sugar--and being a man, I said “no.”
To this day I want black coffee; in fact, I can’t take all the fancy stuff that these upscale coffee shops brew for the with-it crowds.
Although it’s about a beautiful woman, it’s no accident that the one rap song I like is “Black coffee, no sugar, no cream.”
After the coffee, and after my turn at driving, I lay down and tried to go to sleep, but couldn’t.
The first hint of dawn silhouetted clouds as we listened to WWL in New Orleans, and zoomed through the night on deserted highways. Dad had the window down. Damp air rushed in. The dim dark shapes of the big piney woods, ground fog and the strange voices on the far away radio station kept my attention, and the coffee kept me awake.

Decades later, I’m rarely without a coffee cup in my hands. I drink so much coffee that when I die they won’t have to embalm me because my veins will be full of caffeine. I can drink coffee anytime and still go to sleep without any trouble.
Friends know, and gifts are often coffee mugs. My favorites are from the Nome, Alaska newspaper, The Nugget, sent by a student; from the late, great Tulsa Tribune: one from Oxford University, a gift from a faculty friend; one from Larry McMurtry’s Archer City, Tex., bookstore, Booked Up; one from Maryland, “I’m Crabby,” a gift from one of my children; and the ones I had made for my newspaper The Waurika News-Democrat.
But they don’t catch dust on shelves. They catch coffee.
You can always tell the favorite mug because it rarely gets washed. Like the old iron skillet--taste improves with age.
It’s funny how the taste of something--and the wonderful odor of coffee--can bring back conversations, happiness and tears.
Coffee keeps my memories awake.
It brings back camping trips, times around a campfire, college days and late night studying, playing chess or Scrabble--special people at special times in special places.
Coffee in town is meeting a friend in a coffee shop on Saturday morning or sharing coffee after a meal in a restaurant. Or over a game of chess, or in a bookstore.
In the country, it’s watching the stars come out as you sip on the last cup before climbing into the sleeping bag. In the morning the first thing to do will be to fire up the Coleman and get the coffee on; then plop the bacon into the iron skillet. Then you can tend to “necessary” business while enjoying the aroma of coffee and the sizzle of bacon frying.
No wonder I love coffee.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Young artists...Terry Mike and Jerry Ben, a long time ago....

Blogs, smogs, dogs, bogs, logs....

All the noise about the death of traditional media may be true, but blogs are not the answer.

Consider the story in the NY Times today, "Blogs Falling in an Empty Forest."

According to a 2008 survey by Technorati, which runs a search engine for blogs, only 7.4 million out of 133 million blogs had been updated in the past 120 days. That means 95 percent of the blogs are abandoned.

The world does not start following you, and this old newspaper man knows it's not easy to write a weekly or daily column. You just get too busy once it loses its appeal, or you cease being upset with something you want to spout off about.

According to the article, only about 50,000 to 100,000 of the blogs generate the most page views. "Most blogs have an audience of one."

So much for "monitizing" it. If even an extremely well-written, witty and urbane blog like "Coffee With Clark" only has 11 followers, you can imagine how hard it is to stand out among the smogs, bogs, logs and dogs of the Internet! : )

Ursa th' professa'


We put Crystal, my NY Times cat, to sleep on Friday morning. I held her as she breathed her last. So this Sunday, when I went out to get the Times from the driveway, rather than sit on the leather couch where Crystal would crawl up in my lap, I went out on the back porch, coffee in hand, counting on listening to the birds and spending some time alone.

But then I hear a "Meow," and across the lawn comes a grey and white cat, saying good morning and brushing up against my leg.

I first saw this cat Saturday about midday, sitting close to the yard in the shade, staring at me. It wasn't afraid, but didn't come when I called it. Then last night, as we went outside in the front yard to view the full moon, I felt something against my leg. She was rubbing up against it, asking to be petted. She had a collar on, so I figured it was somebody's neighborhood pet, even though I'd never seen it before. We gave it some water, and a little food, and said goodnight, thinking how strange this was. I wondered about its name, and decided I'd name it "Omen," because, well, you get the idea. We went back inside and called it a day.

And here it came this morning. More water, and more food--which it hungrily devoured, while I was reading the Times. Then it hops up in a chair beside me, and relaxes, as only cats can do.

What is this? Coincidence? Omen? I don't know, but as I'm writing this on the back porch, Omen came back and sat down beside me. At least it's an outdoor cat, although it wants to come inside. Dust on its feet and a burr in its tail tell me that. I don't see any evidence of fleas, but am not too sure about letting it in and introducing it to Max, the other indoor cat we have, who definitely misses Crystal.

I've asked the neighbors it they belong to it, and they said no, that they first saw the cat only in the last two days, and that it was friendly. I don't know if it has been abandoned, or what. The collar is decorated, but no name on it. I'll keep asking around the subdivision, all the time wondering, why did a new cat show up to help me read the Times a day after my NY Times cat died?

Omen doesn't seem to care. Right now it's snoozing away two feet from me as I write.

I didn't mean this to be a cat column. I'm a dog person. But I think I know an omen when I experience one.

ursa th' professa'

Thursday, June 4, 2009

My NY Times cat is dying

I'm not a cat person, ever since a cat jumped on my face, even before first grade. Something, maybe my dog, had chased it up the top of a clothesline pole in far southeast Fort Worth, when I was four or five years old. We all gathered round, trying to coax the frightened animal down, and it jumped, right onto my face, claws out.

Years later, I'm not too fond of cats. We've had cats, from time to time, and most of them have met tragic ends, from under car engines or wheels, or whatever. My daughter loves cats, and one of the deals for moving to Stillwater was to get a cat. We did from a shelter, a long haired white cat, and she was my daughter's favorite, living a long time, until a car incident many years later.

There are other cat stories through the years, but I am a "dog person" still.

But now, my step-cat, Crystal, my New York Times cat, is dying.

She's only about 10 years old, and she climbs up on my lap every Sunday morning, on a leather couch, as I read the Sunday Times and look out the front door. She's done that for more than three years. It's part of my Sunday ritual.

She's been losing weight, and after an expensive trip to the vet this week, she's almost shut down, not moving, lethargic. No more interest in playing with a string, no more climbing on your lap, no more wanting to be scratched under her chin at nighttime.

I've seen this before, in my mother, in more than one favorite dog. They know the end is near.

What can you do? Whisper in their ear that you love them, that you will miss them, that they're special. You touch them, you caress, you tell them special words, you reassure that they're loved and part of you, you cry in your own way

It isn't easy, even for someone who isn't a "cat person." You don't want anyone to hurt, ever. That's the kind of treatment you want when your time comes. Not to die alone, but loved, touched by those who matter.

I don't know how much longer Crystal has. I hope she lasts till Sunday and another NY Times. But I don't want her to suffer. Years and tears are flowing in the house. Part of us is leaving.

The Times will be emptier this Sunday, I fear.

A cat is dying.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What's a flashbulb?

I was demonstrating a Speed Graphic in a journalism class that was going to view the movie The Public Eye. I also had a flash attachment, film backs and 4x5 negatives, showing the class how tedious it was to take photos for the press up through the mid-50s. When I demonstrated all the different steps the photog had to do to get a shot and reload, I mentioned flash bulbs. I saw blank looks.

I've learned that much of my vocabulary is often a foreign language to today's students. Today's freshmen were born in 1990. Upper classmen were about three years old then. They don't know what paste-up is. They don't know was "justified" means, they have never heard of John Milton; most of my students don't know what Watergate was. So I stopped and asked if they had heard of flashbulbs. "What do you mean you had to change bulbs," one asked.

I found some in our photo lab and brought them in. They couldn't believe it, and made fun of the fashions of the woman advertising Sylvania Blue Dot on the cover of the package.

That means I increasing have to stop and check the common, to me, words I use in my classes...they sometimes are literally like speaking Greek to these students. An example... One day, I used the word "brouhaha." Blank looks.

Such a reminder of how easy it is to become outdated, especially in journalism these days, not just in technology but in basic culture.

So it is good to get back to my roots this summer, as defacto and interim adviser of The Vista, UCO's student paper. The last time I helped produce a weekly newspaper was about 20 years ago when Sally and Don Ferrell hired me during Christmas break to help out at the Lincoln County News in Chandler. I also moonlighted about 10 years ago as a copy editor at The Oklahoman. Try to stay current.

The summer staff of the vista is a skeleton crew, and we were late on deadline by 1.5 hours on a six page issue before we sent "PDF'd" it to the Edmond Sun to be printed.. Much of the delay was my fault, helping them design pages, etc. Of course I don't know In Design, and my students are marvels at it.

I'm most proud of my students however. After I proofread the page proofs, one of them caught things I'd missed, actively using the style book. The co-editor had been out taking photos, downloaded them and save the day for a lean content issue. And the editor, after I'd cleared the paper to go, made us wait another 15 minutes as he double checked the ads and computer codes and dates, etc.

At the end of the day, I was exhausted. I love newspapers, but I don't want to work for one. But I was excited and fulfilled because I saw students who were still committed to quality journalism, even if it is a small weekly, and they don't know about flashbulbs.

Ursa th' professa'

Demotion? Promotion? What happens when you become a newspaper adviser, even temporarily! And moving offices. --photo by Mark Zimmerman

Monday, June 1, 2009

"The years creep slowly by Lorena"

That old Civil War song..."the snow is on the grass again...."
When is it that the years seem to go slowly? I can see blue clad and gray clad soldiers sitting around campfires, eating hardtack, bored with existence in camp, dreading the next march, afraid of what Johnny Reb or Billy Yank might have in store for them over the next hill. Someone gets a harmonica or violin out and as the night draws in, thoughts turn to loved ones, to home, to comrades no longer around the fire.

In tragedy and sadness, in separation,that's when time drags.

But the rest of the time, it flies by, the more so the older you get. You hold a granddaughter or grandson and remember how short a time ago you did the same with your own kids.

"Sunrise, Sunset, Swiftly Flow The Years" in Fiddler on the Roof to me is one of the saddest songs ever, I'm aware of these things even more as I hold Liberty Faye, and seeing with Derrick and Naomi; as I pack photos and mementos and books in boxes....memories into boxes, a time line of lives. "Man is but a vapor."

But the joy of rebirth, of new life, of new ideas and possibilities helps keep us sane in the face of mortality. That's why metaphors mean so much...they tell things with stories that words can't fully express. Opportunities don't come in straight lines. A bursting dam flood of emotions and thoughts and ideas. Dwelling on the past enriches but dehydrates the present, so you're always thirsty, and drains the future of refreshment.

"Oh Danny boy, Oh Danny boy, the pipes are calling...."

Liberty Faye Clark