"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.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Liberty Belle!

Miss Liberty Faye Clark, my youngest granddaughter, photo by Naomi Peachy Clark

Kite Weather

You can hear their shrill cry every day. And see them gracefully soaring through the sky, several at a time. The Mississippi Kites are back, nesting in the big oak and other trees in our neighborhood and across Oklahoma City.

 I love watching and listening to these small hawks, fellow travelers, wild and free children of Nature.

They're a bird success story, adapting to urban life where there are less predators--owls and raccoons, etc.--to prey on their nesting colonies...usually two eggs a nest. Their range is increasing, and their numbers, although breeding range is southern Great Plains and the Southeast. After about two months of nurturing eggs and feeding young, they'll be off on a fall migration to South America because their main diet of insects decrease. They'll also eat small amphibians and sometimes a rabbit or small pet, but I suspect in Oklahoma they're fat and sassy on our summer insects.

Graceful doesn't seem to adequately describe their aerial ability and buoyancy. I'm fascinated how their long, pointed wings--about a three-foot wingspan-- and slender tail work in unison go guide them through the skies.

This is one of several favorite birds, others being the Osprey, and almost any owl. But Mississippi Kites are welcome, perennial guests who capture my imagination, wonder and admiration.

Photo from the Smithsonian's Migratory Bird Center  http://nationalzoo.si.edu/scbi/MigratoryBirds/default.cfm

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A poet returns

K. Lawson Gilbert, blogfriend and fellow traveler, has returned after months of health imposed exile. Finally, too much pressure built up inside to be held within to hold back her images and words fortunately for all of us, on her blog "Old Mossy Moon."

I wrote her that while many of us cannot live in "artist colonies" physically to gain strength and inspiration and health from others, we are fortunate to have access to this new kind of art colony--I refuse to cal it "digital," or "blogosphere." How about "blog colony"? I don't know, suggestions? But that doesn't matter, since we can connect and feed off one another.

My blog has not withered, but waned this month. Thanks, Kay, for the transfusion.

Read these, and prepare to be stunned: http://oldmossymoon.blogspot.com/

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Cloudwatch...July in Oklahoma

Biblically speaking

"That was before we learned to use the Bible as a blunt instrument with which to strike down others in the name of Christ."

From the Erudite Redneck's blog, ...must reading, I think.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The desert, a road to peace

My Aunt Lillian in Kansas, sent me this great article in the National Catholic Reporter about New Mexico and peace. The author is a Jesuit priest and has it right.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Land of Enchantment--watercolor

6" by 9" watercolor, Strathmore Imperial 300# paper

The conquistadors came into the Southwest from Mexico in 1540, Coronado looking for  Cibola, the legendary Seven Cities of Gold. What they found shining gold in the evening sun were the pueblo adobes along El Rio Grande in what is now Nuevo Mexico. They also brought the Catholic faith of the followers of San Fransico de Assis, and by 1610 had founded the capital of Del Norte at La Villa de Santa Fe de San Francisco de Assis--the city of the holy faith of Saint Francis.

The Indians kept telling about gold over the horizon at "Quivera.".
Coronado kept going east, even into Oklahoma and Kansas looking for Quivera and found more Indians and no gold.  The conquistadors are long gone. The golden land remains.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

West Texas grandkids

Grandson Max Bell, healing, happy and all boy!
Every boy needs a tractor
 Granddaughter Erin and brother Max and uncle TaTa's banged up motorcycle...
note dent in gas tank.
A beautiful smile
Granddaughter Abbie and her mother, my daughter Dallas.
 Uncle TaTa's wrecked motorcycle, behind son-in-law Todd Bell's truck, 
in Amarillo, ready for the ride back to OKC.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The pages of July

It's hard to put down

I read about this book and its influence on the American military on the front page of the NY Times Sunday. For some reason, I usually avoid books on the Mideast, but it caught my attention, and my wife Susan already had a copy.

I picked it up, and it's hard to put down.

This is the way to win wars, and it gives you a great perspective on Islamic culture and life: build schools.

Not only is it a great story of an individual American's success--a mountain climber from Montana-- in helping poor people in the remote Himalaya of northern Pakistan, it is also masterfully written, a narrative that keeps you turning the pages.

And the journalist who helped write it  has a beautiful command of the language.  Some of my underlined excerpts:
  • "So Mortenson lay beneath the stars salting the sky... ."
  • ...helping to guide him past the roadblocks of life in northern Pakistan... ."
  • "Jet lag. Culture shock. Whatever name you gave the demons of dislocation... ."
  • "...a coffee-colored stuffed monkey that had been his closest companion back where memory fringes into mere sensory recall."
  • "...language was a currency he was loath to spend carelessly."
  • "...swimming happily in a sea of cultures and languages."
  • "Greg Mortenson's learning curve with climbing was as steep as the rock faces he was soon scaling."
  • "He had stitched together half of the globe, on a fifty-six-hour itinerary...and, finally, out of this tunnel of time zones and airports... ."
  • "He was tucked into a concrete hive of shops... ."

Storm clouds

Watercolor, 6" by 9", Strathmore Imperial 300# paper

I keep studying clouds, every day, trying to figure out how to make them more three dimensional, and alive. And  from my previous posts I notice they're washed out when I scan them to the blog...so this one is more vibrant. Maybe I'll have it down in another 300 days or so. Interesting personal journey, from cabins to clouds

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

More Geezer music on the playlist

Added: Puff the Magic Dragon, To Kill a Mockingbird

Monday, July 19, 2010

Voting for Drew Edmondson

The only sensible, logical choice for Oklahoma governor is Drew Edmondson. He's been a steady, conscientious public as attorney general, not adhering to one political viewpoint, but the law. He’s taken on the big corporations, and won for schools and against big-tobacco. He's a friend of all citizens, especially in his support of the public record and meeting laws which keep Oklahoma government open to the public eyes.

Primary elections are a week away, July 27. If you’re a Democrat, vote for Edmondson over Askins...who is completely political and a micromanager, according to employees. She is in it for herself, not us.

For Republicans, Brogdon or however you spell his name (I keep thinking of primitive trogdolytes), is endorsed by Glenn Beck--so much for an ability to think. Mary Fallin was pretty good as lieutenant gov, and she's a likable cheerleader type. But you read her stuff and she will say anything to get elected as everybody is stumbling all over themselves to be the most “Conservative” this year. She wants to "protect" our seniors, and fight the "liberals." I'm a senior--I don't want to be condescended to and protected, thank you. Fallin is favored and personable, and will give Edmondson a real run for the job…appearance against substance.

And beware all the folks—in the state and country--who use terms like "liberals," socialists," conservative,” "right-wingers," etc. That's resorting to propaganda techniques and avoiding the issues because they don't think you are intelligent, and can think there are complex, not black-and-white issues. Instead they resort to labels and fear tactics. That’s beneath the dignity of the office they’re seeking.

That’s why Edmondson makes sense…look at his ads…they’re about what he has accomplished, and the issues. Oklahoma—if it is to progress in quality of life for all--needs all the intelligent, citizen-oriented, leadership it can muster to offset a mediocre congressional delegation owned by big corporation money and agendas.

Great Plains skyscrapers

Watercolor, 6" x 9", Strathmore, Imperial 300# paper

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Summer heat and paintings

My first two oils...so much to learn. I'm still captivated by skies and obviously storms are in my life.. Both are 8 by 10s.
And now back to watercolor...I call this Oklahoma August. It's 8 by 11 on 300 # d'Arches cold pressed paper. Can you feel the heat?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Pages of summer

In the heat and drought of summer, reading also suffers, for me. But  at the terrific downtown  Collected Works Bookstore and Coffeehouse in Santa Fe, I found this book on the adobe churches of northern New Mexico, with photographs and guides. I've been to many of the 75 she lists, but I'll visit more. I'm disappointed she left several out that I have seen and want to know more about. So that's my task.

On the cover is "Las Trampas" on the high road to Taos. Completed in 1760, the church is still in use. Oh, the stories.

While in a local bookstore buying Writers Market for 2011--intending to increase my freelance writing, I found this  book on non-fiction writing. Most books on that subject are dry textbooks and pretty useless. I don't use textbooks in my writing class, but a collection of material I've built up over the years, and called "The Write Stuff." Students love it because it's only about $13.00.

But this book caught my eye--it is full of writing exercises for anyone, by accomplished writers. I bought in and have found lots of good ideas for my students, and myself. I'll probably require this--which means I highly recommend it, because most books are rip offs padded for profit and the expense of students--and it only costs $15.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Welfare clarified

Thanks to fellow traveler and blogger Yogi's Den http://crustygasguy.blogspot.com/of Tulsa for the succinct rebuttal to my Bumper Sticker Ignorance post. I have repented and asked to post his comments as part of my penance. Hear ye, hear ye! "You are getting me kind of riled up Okie Prof. Let me tell how it works. "Helping out poor people, with government funds, including widows, orphans, and old folks is welfare, and of course that is evil. "Providing assistance to middle class people with government funds is called Benefits, and that is a good thing. "Giving public funds to big corporations, that is called Incentives, and that is the best thing of all. Do you understand all that now? "
"Sure, share away. Just remember though that the best kind of incentives for big corporations is to use money from the widows, orphans, and old folks. They just waste it anyway on stuff like food, rent, medicine, and utilities."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Kodachrome El Finito

From Kansas, by the Associated Press. Sorry Simon and Garfunkel and all of us:

PARSONS — Freelance photojournalist Steve McCurry, whose work has graced the pages of National Geographic, laid 36 slides representing the last frames of Kodachrome film on the light board sitting on a counter in Dwayne's Photo Service in Parsons.
He placed a lupe, a magnifier that makes it easier to view film, over one frame and took a closer look at the film.
McCurry told Dwayne's vice president Grant Steinle how he had chosen to shoot the last roll of Kodachrome produced by Eastman Kodak by capturing images around New York.
"Then we went to India, where I photographed a tribe that is actually on the verge of extinction. It's actually disappearing, the same way as Kodachrome," he told Steinle.
Kodak announced last year that it would retire Kodachrome, a brand name of color reversal film it had manufactured since 1935. McCurry, well-known for his 1984 photograph of Sharbat Gula, or the "Afghan Girl," published on the cover of National Geographic magazine, requested from Kodak to shoot the last roll of 36 frames it manufactured.
National Geographic has closely documented the journey of the final roll of Kodachrome manufactured, down to its being processed. Dwayne's is only photo lab left in the world to handle Kodachrome processing, so National Geographic Television producer Yvonne Russo and National Geographic magazine senior video producer Hans Weise found themselves in Parsons on Monday, along with McCurry, with the final roll of the iconic film of the 20th century.
As a professional freelance photographer, McCurry has used Kodachrome film for 35 years.
"It's definitely the end of an era," he said of Kodachrome. "It has such a wonderful color palette — a poetic look, not particularly garish or cartoonish, but wonderful, true colors that were vibrant, but true to what you were shooting."
There are definite advantages to digital photography by comparison to film, McCurry said.
"You have the ability to view, edit and monitor what we are doing as we go. We can evaluate the light and composition and the design instantly. And we can shoot in extremely low light, which was impossible with film."
Regardless, digital photography is simply not the same.
"I like having something to hold in my hand," McCurry said. "With digital photography, it's just a hard drive. With Kodachrome, the film is real. You can touch it, put it in a drawer, and come back to it later. It's tangible. It's an object. With digital, the pictures only exist in a hard drive, in a memory chip."
A photographer since 1974, and photojournalist for National Geographic for 30 years, Kodachrome has been a part of McCurry's professional career.
Russo said they documented McCurry shooting the final roll of film in New York, then traveling to Bombay, India and Rajasthan, India, then back to New York, shooting along the way several iconic personalities of the world of filmmaking.
McCurry said he spent about two months shooting the images, which also included some scenic photos, as well as serendipitous moments on the streets of New York.
"And I actually shot the last three frames here in Parsons," McCurry said.
As Kodachrome is no longer manufactured, Steinle said that on Dec. 10 Dwayne's Photo will end its processing of Kodachrome.
"All this is going to be discarded," McCurry said of the processing equipment for Kodachrome, " ... so it's just a piece of history. It's nostalgic. It's kind of sad. I have about 800,000 Kodachrome images in my lab and these will be the last."
If National Geographic does a spread on the journey of this final roll of Kodachrome, McCurry said it will likely come out in the spring 2011 and will consist of only four to six images selected from the roll.
However, Weise said, "The entire 36 frames shot will be sent to the Eastman House in Rochester, New York, where Kodak is based, and live there."
Looking through the lupe at each slide image, McCurry viewed his pictures of Robert De Niro, the Brooklyn Bridge, Grand Central Station, the tribe in India, the actors, actresses and models in India and the other images of life he had captured.
Among the images shot was one self-portrait of McCurry in New York. Symbolic of the yellow and red packaging of Kodak film, McCurry chose a Yellow Cab to pose by. He called Steinle to have a look through the lupe at the cab's license plate. On it were the letters PKR 36.
Steinle laughed, not believing his eyes.
"If I hadn't seen this come off the processor myself, I would have sworn you had photoshopped that," Steinle said, explaining how PKR 36 is representative of Professional Kodak 36 film.
As the two men stood talking of the end of an era in film manufacturing and processing that affects them both, McCurry presented Steinle with a proposal.
Rather than paying Dwayne's Photo in cash for the processing of the film, McCurry offered to cut Steinle a deal. In exchange for the processing, McCurry offered to create a special print of one of the slides and have it framed and mounted with a letter of authenticity included and send it to Steinle.
It was a deal Steinle accepted eagerly.
Russo said the National Geographic special covering the last roll of Kodachrome manufactured will likely air sometime in spring 2011.

Bumper sticker ignorance

I saw it on the back of mammoth $70,000 Cadillac SUV this morning:

"No Socialism Allowed--This is Oklahoma."

I couldn't help but wonder what country the driver was from, considering that this county "allows" all politics, unless I've misread the Constitution.

But the driver was typical white, middle-aged Republican Edmondite probably living in a gated community to keep free thought out, or at least riff-raff like me.

I'm wondering what part of "socialism" he and his ilk want banned from Oklahoma?

How about public schools...the ultimate socialist statement in this country? Even the great conservative Senator Bob Taft from Ohio, who lost the nomination to Ike, said that public schools were socialist and necessary. I'm sure driver pays umpteen thousand dollars a semester to send his children  to lily-white private "Christian" schools were students all conform and opposing ideas are squelched--(obviously following Christ's example). Yes, let's get rid of the public schools and just let the common folks stay ignorant since they can't afford what he pays for tuition.

How about Social Security? It was the start of real socialism in this country, giving hope to millions of hard-working folks who didn't know how to spell retirement, much less plan for it. The driver's probably so well off that he has a million dollars in retirement portfolios, and he'd never draw social security and nobody in his ancestry ever has. Yes, let's do away with social security and just let all those blue hairs and old geezers starve to death.

And Medicare and Medicaid? Obviously socialized medicine for those folks who can't afford big corporate insurance policies and high priced medicines to keep them alive. Let'm die. They're just a drain on the economy anyway.

How about all those "entitlements"? Sure whatever they are, like the county health department and free immunizations for poor people. If people can't take care of themselves like the driver does with his oil depletion allowances and business tax credits and deductions for everything from toilet paper on up, why should he help pay for them?

Then there's the bank and auto  bailout funds...oops, that was started by George Bush wasn't it?

Ok, health care reform? Why should anyone help others stay healthy? Hey, the driver's healthy, has the best of preventative health care and his big Oklahoma corporation pays for it. If others can't afford it, let them just get sick and spread it through all the public schools, before we close them. A good epidemic will ....

Come to think of it, let's get rid of all socialism in government.  We pay taxes and it does stuff for everybody. Like the paved streets the driver's riding on, waiting at the government stoplight, while police cars patrol the speed limit, and fire trucks help protect his home. He turned on the tap this morning and brushed his teeth with government-funded water, and air conditioned his house with government electricity. He makes a lot more than I do, but I helped pay for it. That's socialistic, in my book.

Shouldn't be allowed in Oklahoma.

It tells you something else when the other bumper sticker on his car is for Mary Fallin ...a candidate with the same kind of deep thinking. Now she's opposed to big government and the liberals, but then spends my tax dollars sending out junk mail telling me so, and promising to "take care of the seniors."

Sounds like socialism to me.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

More Geezer music on the playlist

Click on the "ipod" forward button to hear--BlueBerry Hill, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Moonlight in Vermont, and much more..