"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.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"Booth" for Bob at Klark's Keep

Friends, neighbors, alumni, and those who are not--

Forsooth and yea verily

When in the course of human and no-longer-human events, tomorrow marketh the fifth earthly trip around yonder sun since Bob Illidge, the wit and soul of the old journalism department at UCO, decided to go keep God in stitches with his humor and wisdom and Missouri sweatshirt. Henceforth and in the passage of time, most of the  journalism department attended his funeral in Wichita, and we have a redwood tree growing in the front yard of his and Elizabeth's home.

Woe to those, but many did not know him, but have perchance  come to appreciate the parables we pronounce when we toast him when we meet at "The Booth," where his plaque doth still hang..

Accordingly, and whereas, in his honor, I'm calling a booth at my house this Friday, from 4 to 6. I'll provide two bottles of good Irish Catholic Whiskey, Jameson's, to toast him and our department, and to the "vagaries and vicissitudes" of the vernal victory.

Yea verily, if thou can make it, come and go, or just come, stay and then go, please inscribe to me by email, or other appropriate angel,  by  5 pm Thursday, April 1, the day he died.

If thou be a teetotaler, come anyway, I'll make a big pitcher of iced- tea, with a sprig of green mint to make it Irish. If thou wantest beer, or something else, bring it. I do not provide bottled water. If God had wanted water bottled, he'd have created plastic. Tap water, with ice is more Scriptural. The ionic cribbage board and green coffee cup will add to the "spirits" of the occasion.

If thou wantest chips and dips or other finger food, bring it, please. Let me know what thou willst bring if thou are coming.

If  thou needest instructions to Klark's Keep, let me know and the Clark Cartographic Society will promptly provide a hand-inscribed handy-dandy map.

"To Bob,"


Saturday, March 27, 2010

wet and wild

Prairie Rain, by Susan and Terry  Clark
Forest, by Susan and Terry Clark

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Liberty Faye Clark

This just in, Granddaughter Liberty Faye Clark's one year birthday photos

My mother Faye would be so proud. So am I.

To a poor poet of plosives

Poor poet of plosives
pitifully persecuted
perplexed by pain
presumably prepared
to prosecute pestilence
prophetic prologue
for prospects of prosperity
pronouncements of persiflage
prosodic proof
and promising prologues
for proletarian propinquity.

For Poet K. Lawson Gilbert

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Santa Fe snow

My favorite tree, corner of Alemeda and Paseo de Peralto
The day before

 Santa Fe ski area

 The lonesome road home, heading south from Santa Fe, 23 degrees, at sunrise
It was a fast moving storm...came in one afternoon, snowed heavily and by morning it was gone. From the top, snowing on the flat rooftops of Santa Fe, on a "coyote" fence, then the accumulation on trees, then first light on trees covered with snow, and the dawn sun burning clouds off the Sangre de Cristos.

Equinox snow

Yesterday was in the 60s. Today is the equinox, though we can't tell it. I had to look at our primitive calendar on the wall to make sure it was equinox. Tomorrow?

I keep thinking of the Anasazi in their stone houses in Chaco canyon or their cliff dwellings at Canyon de Chelly or Mesa Verde 1,000 years ago in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah. They lived by the sun and measured their calendars precisely by it. What happened when their equinoxes were days like this? They'd have to wait an entire year for another chance to precisely note the passage of time, the time for religious rituals, and all else. The sun dagger stone clock atop Fajada Butte in Chaco the showed the exact equinoxes and solstices, as did windows marking sunrise and sunset in the great kiva and elsewhere, but it took years to mark and record. On days like this, they'd be huddled around small fires inside their stone-walled, smoke-filled homes with the temperature in the 20s or below.

I think there is a story here, of the main priest or shaman in charge of trying to build those stone clocks. And first decided they  needed those clocks?

I wonder if a thousand years from now someone will wonder similar things about us and our "civilized" practices.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Something yellow?

"Paint something yellow," she said. I did, and she came in and began to play with it while the paper was still wet, pliable and open to free form color and shapes you didn't intend...as is spring in Oklahoma. The result... a tornado in spring in Oklahoma, by Susan and Terry Clark.

Oklahoma spring meadow

Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrush
Oklahoma Prairie, spring
7 x 10 watercolor
300 # Arches Watercolor

Requested by my wife Susan, although a late winter storm is bearing down, this is the view of any road in the Oklahoma west. It would be for sale, but it's not. She claims it's hers.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Santa Fe Trailings, the old trail

The Sangre de Cristos ahead, as I-25 winds past the Pecos exit, and prehistoric Pecos pueblo ruins and ancient Pecos mission. This is the view the Missouri traders on the Santa Fe Trail saw as they prepared to camp, after two months crossing the prairies from St. Joseph,  for the last night before the next 20 miles around the southern tip of the mountains, through Apache Canyon, and down the slopes to the Mexican town of Santa Fe. The Mexican authorities had built a road from Pecos into Santa Fe. Out of view to the left is Glorieta mesa, and the tracks of the Santa Fe Railroad--which never actually enters Santa Fe.

The Pecos mission ruins

On the morning after storm, The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Frances,the patron saint of Santa Fe, built by Archbishop Lamy in the 1800s. His story is the subject of Willa Cather's "Death Comes for the Archbishop." It is just up San Francisco street, one block from the Plaza, the end ofhte Santa Fe Trail, with the Palace of the Governors on the north side, the oldest seat of government in the united states, founded 6110.

The  Palace of the Governors
 The Santa Fe Depot...local service only to the main line at Lamy. Just south of here is the new depot for the daily commuter trains from Albuquerque, a brilliant project of mass transit, called The Rail Runner. The build the line strait up the median of I-25, to help all those government workers who can't afford to life in Santa Fe and commute daily from Albuquerque 60 miles south. Gracias, Gov. Bill Richardson. Note in the background you can see snow-capped Santa Fe Baldy. Keep reading.

On the west side of the mountains, heading north from Santa Fe to Espanola and Taos, past the National Cemetery and its rows of white veterans' graves. Look closely and you can see the ski lift towers at the top of the peak at left center. The white dome in the distance is Santa Fe Baldy. View from near my uncle's apartment--the day before the storm.

Santa Fe Baldy, elevation 12,600+ feet, at sunset, turning red to earn the name as part of the Sangre De Cristos.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Grandchildren, interlude

 Katherine Emerson Clark, TMC and Sarah Elizabeth Grace Clark
Erin Ann Bell
Abby Page Bell
Max Samuel Bell

The only one missing here is Liberty Faye Clark of Fulton, Missouri.

Route 66 relic

Outside the only inhabited building in Glen Rio, Texas

Santa Fe Trailings, the last march

Rows of graves of veterans in the national cemetery at Santa Fe. Every day at 5 pm, taps brushes over the grounds.

Santa Fe Trailings--Route 66 ghost town

Glenrio, Texas, Glen Rio, New Mexico, looking west

I've always zoomed past this ruin straddling the New Mexico-Texas state line, at 75 miles per hour on I-40, hurrying to the mountains or hurrying home. But not this past trip.

Early Friday morning heading west out of Amarillo, pleasant weather, sunshiny day, not in a hurry. Why not take the exit and see this collection of buildings and trees just as the Interstate curves to miss the old pavement of the ghost town's main street, former US 66.

The First Inn Last Inn Motel, Glenrio, Texas

The place is deserted, except for perhaps one resident, in a house partially hidden behind bushes, junk and scraggledy, bare-branched  trees, given away by dogs barking as I stopped the car to take photos. The trees look as dead as the town and vacant buildings. I suppose my folks and I drove through this place years ago, driving from Albuquerque to Texas, before the Interstates but I don't remember.

Back home later in the week, I looked up the town's history and found more ghosts keeping me company on that broad main street last week.

The town was born in 1903, two years after the Rock Island built the railroad through there. That means my Dad rode through there in 1932 in a boxcar with a friend, on his way to Juarez, Mexico from hometown Comanche, Oklahoma (also a Rock Island town), to celebrate graduation from high school. I wonder what he thought of the "town." But though he meant to make it a round trip, he never made it back through Glen Rio (the post office was in New Mexico, but the mail arrived at the train depot  in Texas). On the return trip, Dad and his friend, Carl Price, spent the night in Tucumcari, and when hopping the appropriate train the next morning, he slipped, fell and lost his leg under those steel wheels.

Gas station, and a place to sit and to watch the world go by....

The town is midway between Tucumcari and Amarillo and just 10 miles from the US 66 mid- point  between Chicago and LA. By the 1920s the town had a hotel, a hardware store and a land office. A newspaper, The Glenrio Tribune was published from 1910 to 1934.  In 1938, six years after my Dad's accident, the first pavement of US 66 through the area was completed, and John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath" was filmed in the town in just three weeks. There were never more than about 30 people in town, although a welcome station for US 66 travelers was built, and many stayed at the First Inn Last Inn Motel, or ate at the art-deco style Little Juarez Diner. Texas was dry, so the only bars were in New Mexico, and the gas station, with lower taxes was in Texas, and the states fought over tax receipts for years.

The Little Juarez Cafe...the food's long cold

A sign of the times....

The remains of a once new post office stand in Texas now. In 1955 the Rock Island closed its depot, and death came gradually as I-40 was built in the 1960s and 70s. Only two people lived there in 1985, then it was deserted for a while. Now "private property" signs forbid access. What gave the town life killed it--the railroad and the highway. The town's name --with typical chamber of commerce false boosterism-- comes from English for valley and Spanish for river, but there is neither a valley nor a river anywhere. Only vast prairie, brutally cold in winter and brutally hot in summer and brutally violent in spring, and brutally desolate all the time.

Less than two miles away is New Mexico's new welcome sign spanning I-40...
Why do I think of Shelley's Ozymandias?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Santa Fe Trailings, part 1

Watercolor, from today's drive
7 by 10 Fabriano Artistico 300# paper

Daybreak at High Lonesome

Trails and stories to come

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The dam will break...

The pressure behind the dam is increasing--words and thoughts and paintings whipped by emotions. Whitecaps are not over the top, yet, but they're close. Books--many pages to March--poetry, travels, crises, teaching, spring, the first daffodil, and now, Equinox coming up... two years from Chaco as the sun slides northward, and you can see time in the cliffs. Soon...the dam will break....

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Blogging right along--this summer?

Note to T.R., on his comment on my Billy Collins post:

"I think we need to organize an Okie bloggers meeting--let's not call it a convention, where we can meet, eat, burp and share ideas? What do you think? Want to try it sometime this summer?"

Are you interested? conventions cost money. Let's just meet and charge enough to pay for a meeting room somewhere? Ideas?

Life in the desert...

Watercolor, 7 x 8
140 pound Kilimanjaro paper

A favorite poet Billy Collins, poet laureate in America  from 2001 to 2003 has a new book out, just when I need it, an oasis in the Sahara of my soul, not writing, not painting..

Susan bought the book for me today, "Ballistics," with her graceful handwriting inscribing it to me as a surprise gift, and this hard-nosed old newspaperman began reading, searching for answers, and astonishment, which is Collin's' gift.

Much to share here, but his muse infected my muse, to write and paint. Here are lines from his "The Great American Poem":

..."this is a poem, not a novel
and the only characters here are you and I
alone in an imaginary room
which will disappear after a few more lines... .

"I once hears someone comapre it
to the sound of crickets in a field of wheat
or more faintly, just the wind
over that field stirring things we will never see."

I've not tried to paint poetry before...sound to light, but I wanted to try because I inhabit that imaginary room with him, as I hope you do with me when you look at this.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Three years ago...

Introduction to a trip. Thanks to a former student, now a professor of ag comm at OSU--Dr. Shelly Peper Sitton, I went to Mali with an OSU group on a state department grant to help bolster the press in this Muslim American-friendly democracy at the south side and edge of the Sahara. I was the token newspaper expert in this 65 percent illiterate country where radio is king, but everyone has cell phones.

It's hard for me to believe it's been three years since that trip that changed my life perspective. I have written much aobut it on the trip blog and in my journals since then, and I want to share some thoughts and photos with you.

To begin with today, just a few photographs. My favorites--of children-- are on another computer, so they're coming soon.

This little girl holding baby sister caught my eye. She's among the better off in Bamako, the capital city, living in a compound of several families who share a bathroom but have their own private quarters. They all wear bright clothes in this desert country.

Among the poorer sections of Bamako... everybody works hard. There are goats in the yards, but they still dress beautifully in this dry dusty and sub desert country.

A street scene in Bamako. Notice the smiles. Everywhere we went,
people smiled and were
glad and curious to see us.
The "kitchen" in a poor area of Bamako. Careful how you define poor...a dollar a day is the average income. They make a millet stew with Okra gravy for most meels. The cloth at the back is the "screen" door for a bedroom.
We didn't "rough it," however. This hotel, with air conditioning, was home for a week. We were fortunate. Most  Malians never touch such luxury.
Our group with children in a rural village where cotton was the main crop. Notice the bright colors, the clothes on the clothes line. It was March and the temperature was already between 100 and 110, and that wasn't the hot season. I felt more at home because of the adobe and dry climate  reminded me of New Mexico. My friend and interpreter Assoumane Maiga is at right. My friend Dr. Shelly Sitton is third from the left. Rachel  Hubbard of KOSU is fifth from left. Aren't all we kids wonderful!

Footnote: Assoumane is now a doctoral student  in the ag comm program at OSU, along with another favorite former student, Angel Riggs, formerly of the Tulsa World capitol bureau. This is the same program I've recommended to Korina Dove Schneider, a UCO broadcasting grad who produced the terrific weekly newspaper, The North Central Reporter. See how many stories photographs prompt?