"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.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Turning pages

I sat down in the chair, turned on the floor lamp, and picked up the thick book gingerly, feeling the weight in my hands.

Then I opened the cover and leafed through a few pages till I found the table of contents, trying to get a sense of the structure of an intimidating task. Then I flipped several pages ahead till I found an interesting section, and picked up a pen to underline one short passage that immediately stood out. Soon, I was leafiing through other pages, just getting a feel for the task ahead in the 800 some odd pages.

It's the autobiography of Mark Twain, a gift from my wife. "You need a book to read," she said when she handed it to me. It's been a fascinating introduction to life 100 years and more ago, including interesting stories of President Grant and others. I'm still not sure I'll get through it, but at least it still lies there on the corner table by the lamp, reminding me there are worlds to discover inside, gently prodding me to sit down and stay away from the computer.

It probably won't become one of my friends, like the many that line the bookshelves in the house, but I won't know until later. If not,it'll end up in the garage, or book book sale or... .

I do know that it wouldn't be the same picking up an e-reader, and even though I may buy one of those for lightweight air travel, I spend too much time in front of a digital screen as it is to want to read books and newspapers that way.

Frankly, I enjoy the feel of pages, the sense of discovery that comes from turning pages. It's sensory, and I can mark the favorite parts up with underlines, or stars in the margins, or brackets or other comments. Yes, you can highlight stuff on the ereaders, but come on, it's not like underlining John 3:16 in the redletter version of the New Testament. That highlight is impersonal. When I mark in a book, it's because I have found a personal connection.

And that's the way certain books have become old friends, collected, in view, and available for renewal at any time. I can go back and leaf through them and be astounded again, or bring memories  back, or the places where I bought them.

In our house the bookshelves are scattered, and not orderly and sterile like the TV law libraries you see. The books on those shelves have degrees of personality just like the books. Susan also uses them to help decorate, under lamps, on tables, and elsewhere. They're part of who we are.

Poetry corner
In one oak cabinet behind glass doors is my New Mexico collection, along with Larry McMurtry books, John McPhee volumes, and books on grizzly bears and a few others. Another corner shelf has poetry books, anchored by my old undergraduate textbook on Whitman. There are books on the west, Harry Potter first editions. One shelf has travel books on it, another antique books with yellowed, brittle pages. I love old books that were inscribed as gifts long ago to forgotten people. They add romance and mystery to books like James Oliver Curwood's The Flaming Forest, or Nancy Drew books.

Art books
I try to collect first edition books  and signed books from authors I treasure.  One is a first edition Hemingway "The Moveable Feast." Many are gifts from people who matter, and are tokens of time gone by and memories treasured, including Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness." In my studio are shelves with art books on them, many from my Dad, and the newer art books, with full color reproductions in them would never be important on a seven inch disposable device. I can't imagine a house without books and bookshelves. I imagine there will be a day when bookshelves are a thing of the past, Perhaps like  handwriting.

Yes, we've recently cleaned many out that just cluttered the shelves. They're in the garage, ready to be sold or given away. Sort of like erasing a book from an e-reader.  But not the ones on my book shelves that I love to pick up and turn pages in.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A taste of humor

Be careful what you ask for
Especially in Arkansas
From my daughter Dallas and their days in North Carolina
In spite of the cartoon, coffee always tastes bitter in this, and it'll only pour straight when you use your right hand. Switch to the left hand and you'll get burnt, but it makes you more open minded.

My cups runneth lover

More favs, somewhat related to newspapering and news...
Just back from the OPA press convention, where I always feel at home. This is from a few years ago.

Friend Ray Lokey of the Johnson County  Capital Democrat in Tishomingo gave me this.

Every year, KCSC where Susan works, offers a cup for a fund drive promotional. This one is a virtual soup bowl.

This ine is tiny, almost an espress cup.

OETA's new cup is classes.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Pressing business--More coffee culp talk

I don't know how you put out a newspaper without coffee. It is the drug of choice, although tobacco and alcohol have given it a run-- in meeting the pressure of deadlines and snippy editors and long hours late at night.

Actually, these are the coffee mugs and cups I collect on purpose. (Need more--hint-hint). I think these may be going the way of the freebies the banks used to give out however.

I have another to post that you'll have to wait on, from The Nome Alaska Nugget. I had a terrific student at OSU years ago who interned there. Stayed at a nunnery. She could actually see Russia.
I sorta appropriated the Journal Record cup when I worked there in May. I did ask, but if they'd said "No," journalists are great at finding freebies.

The last cup is from the National Writers' Conference we hosted at UCO thanks to The Oklahoman. Get, it's been 12 years?

Next chapter will be related to these.

Coffee Cups--Part One

From my days as Publisher of the Waurika News-Democrat
Do you have a favorite coffee cup? In my case, there are several favorites. Wish I'd thought of this idea, but friend and journalist and former student from way back in OSU days Richard Mize started bragging about his coffee cup of the day a while back.

I don't deliberately collect coffee cups...they just seem to accumulate...gifts from family, students, ex-students  and other friends, souvenirs from places visited. Word gets around and soon someone gives me another one. Most are now stored in a cabinet pantry, but there's always a healthy supply in the kitchen. And they hold more than coffee, serving as receptacles of pens and brushes and other whatnot in the home office, art studio and certainly my office at UCO.

One of two favorite cups is the one I designed and ordered as a subscription promotion years ago when I owned the Waurika News-Demcorat. The cups were given free with renewals, and were a huge success. I still have a few, and they always collect coffee and other stuff.

The other favorite was purchased at Larry McMurtry huge used bookstore. Booked Up,  in Archer City, Texas. He no longer sells them in the store but you can get them in Wichita Falls. This is usually my Sunday-morning-reading-The-New-York-Times mug.

And my coffee cups hold more than coffee or hot tea. Here's my watercolor brush holder.

And I have several cups and mugs from other newspapers, the press association and broadcast. But that's another post.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Snowed in

View from the front window
Waiting ...

Herb garden
It was 78 degrees Saturday. Short sleeve weather. And now...gotta love Oklahoma. And we need the moisture. Add the wind and swirling snow and drifts. Hot coffee, a fire in the fireplace, and no need to travel.