"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, April 29, 2014

My teeth don't itch...travels 'n time

You can tell the age of a traveler by the contents of what we used to call the "overnight bag," or "vanity case" or "toiletry bag."
Of course today, we put all that stuff in a clear plastic bag so airport guards can tell we're not terrorists, but the principle is the same.
When you were younger, as a male, you had a black toiletry bag. In it, you tossed a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, a razor, a can of shaving cream, a brush and comb, and maybe after shave lotion or hair gel. A small bottle of shampoo. That was it. Well, maybe nail clippers.
But as you grew older, you start having to add a few things. When you get to my age, you're thankful for the large resealable plastic bags. On short trips, that bag has more items in it than clothes in your satchel.
As you age, I think you probably first added some pain pills, like aspirin or ibuprofen. And perhaps athlete's foot cream. Pretty soon, you added mouthwash. And eye drops. Within a few years, you probably added some talcum powder... plus small bars of soap. Skin moisturizer. Contact solution.
Eventually, prescription medicines joined the collection--blood pressure, cholesterol, diuretics.
Sooner or later and gradually, you started adding more over-the-counter stuff. Cold and allergy pills. There was probably some anti-itch cream tossed in. Other salves came along, like creams for eczema, Peptobismol tablets, anti-diarrhea pills. Anti-acid tabs, anti-snoring pills. Salve for hemorrhoids.
I got a real "taste" of this recently when I got up early for a meeting. I'd left my bulging bag of stuff--I know of no other word for it--out  the night before, with some tubes out on the bathroom counter.
It was early, and I didn't bother turning on the lights because because I was still half asleep. The light from the window was fine.
After applying some salve elsewhere, I picked up my toothbrush, grabbed the nearest tube of what looked like toothpaste, and squeezed some on the brush.
When I turned on the faucet and began brushing my teeth, I thought it didn't taste like toothpaste, so I turned on the lights. Apparently I'd switched the hemorrhoid medicine and my toothpaste.
At least my teeth didn't itch that day. 
No need to tell you the other results, is there?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Mothers and daughters..."Pages" in time

Dallas Page
 Going through old photos brings back memories and discoveries. I found this color photo of my daughter Dallas Page last week, and immediately thought my her daughter Abby Page. Remarkable. Don't know Dallas' age here, and this was Abby two years ago in our home, age nine.
Abby Page

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Branches, brothers and more

This large and old Spanish oak tree dominates our cousin Brenda Reed's Austin backyard. My brother Jerry and I fittingly posed there. Lots of wrinkles and twists in the aging branches and bark of not just the tree.

Reunion--Cousins 'n more

Terry Clark, Sara Beth Lutrick Foote, Jerry Clark, Brenda Gee Reed and Bob Foote
First cousins--Culps...our fourth reunion in 20 years, was sad and joyful this time for several reasons. The memory  of our cousin Sandi Russell, tragically killed two weeks ago, was on all our minds. But we still shared stories and old photos and good times. 
Since the last reunion, our oldest cousin, Charles Rogers Lutrick, has also passed. And two of our cousins, Lindy and David Culp, couldn't come because their mother, Lamerle, our last surviving parent, fell and broke her hip. Two other of the Gee girls, Charlotte and Carolyn couldn't make it either. But Sandi's children and grandchildren did, as did Carolyn's daughter Gail, and Brenda's daughter Lindsey lives there in Austin with her mother Brenda.  We treasure the moments, aware of mortality, and the joys of being alive and related.
The Culps--Grandparents Ezra Thomas and Sophia Elizabeth Beard Culp. Their children: Vera Pollock--born 1903, Gladys Lutrick--born 1908, Faye Clark--born 1909, Ima Gee--born 1911, J.C. Culp--born 1916, E.T. Culp--born 1918.
Magnolia Cemetery, Beaumont, Tex

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame's 44th year

More than 250 people will gather at UCO tomorrow when  we will induct nine new members into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame. Of the many things I get to do, this is one of my favorite, because I get to work with and honor some of the best journalists in the state. Oklahoma is indeed richly blessed to have people of this stature serving our citizens. This is a privilege.

The Hall of Fame was founded in 1971 by former Journalism Chairman Dr. Ray Tassin. This year’s inductees make 398 total members. The Hall is supported with funding from UCO, The Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, and the Oklahoma Newspaper Foundation.
This year's honorees:

ED BLOCHOWIAK (1950- ) has been a photojournalist for the Shawnee News-Star since 1973. A native of Shawnee and graduate of Shawnee High School, he joined the paper after returning from a tour of duty in Vietnam in the U.S. Air Force. He has covered everything from dance recitals to politics, fatal fires and the Murrah bombing. Known for his dramatic compositions, he is interested in shooting civic ceremonies. He approaches photography knowing that whatever happens each day can be exciting. His photos have won more than 90 awards from the Associated Press and Oklahoma Press Association and other organizations. He has been awarded Photo of  the Year once by AP and twice by OPA. 

THOMAS H. “TOM” BOONE (1936- ), worked as sports writer for the Bixby Bulletin for almost 40 years before retiring in 2012. A Missouri native, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps and played baseball for the Marines. He began writing for the Bulletin in 1972 for $10 a story. He created the Bulletin’s “Player of the Year” award in 1979, and the award is now named for him. He was credentialed by four post-season bowl games, The World Series, major league baseball teams. He was elected to the first class of the Bixby Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006, and is a member of the Oklahoma Press Association Quarter Century Club.  He owns a sports reporting company. He earned two degrees from Cal State Fullerton, worked as a police office and as an insurance adjustor, and served on the Bixby City Council.

JAY CRONLEY (1943- ) has been an institution of Tulsa newspapers since the early 1970s. Writing three columns a week for the Tulsa World since 1992, he’s never missed a column. He’s known for his wry humor about everyday life. After attending OU, where he was all-conference second base, he worked in New York as a stockbroker before joining The Daily Oklahoman as a sports writer.  He worked at the Tulsa Tribune as sports writer and columnist in the 1970s. He also writes a column for ESPN about horse racing. He has written eight novels, five of which have been made into major movies, including Funny Farm with Chevy Chase, Quick Change with Bill Murray and Let It Ride with Richard Dryfuss. In addition to numerous state awards, he won a national non-fiction writing award from Playboy Magazine. He was inducted into the Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame in 2001.

CAROLYN ESTES (1943- ), marketing director at the Oologah Lake Leader, has built a state-wide and national reputation for her Newspapers in Education work, including a nationally syndicated column for weekly newspapers. She joined the Leader in 1982 as reporter and photographer and developed the NIE programs. She’s won numerous awards from the Oklahoma Press Association, including the President’s Award, and she serves on the Oklahoma Newspaper Foundation board. She’s written three 8-chapter serial stories for newspapers. She’s most known for her almost endless volunteer work—for the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, Senior Citizens and other organizations. She’s past president of the chamber of commerce, was citizen of the year in 2001, received the town’s Community Spirit Award and Spirit of Will Rogers Award and the OEA Marshall Gregory Award. The Oologah town board honored her with a Carolyn Estes Day.

LARRY FERGUSON (1937- ) grew up helping his father Jo. O. Ferguson in his hometown Pawnee Chief, and graduated from OU in 1960 with a journalism degree. After serving in the U.S. Army, he returned to publish the Cleveland American with his wife Ninagay in 1962. In partnership with his brother D. Jo Ferguson at Pawnee, he began publishing the Hominy Progress in 1970. Elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 1985, he served as Minority Leader in 1991-1998, before stepping down after 20 years because of term limits. His son Rusty runs the American. He returned to publish the Chief after his brother died in 2010, and is a member of the Oklahoma Press Association Half Century Club. He served on the Cleveland board of education, and the board of the Oklahoma State School Board Association from 1980-1985, also as president in 1985.

KELLY DYER FRY (1959- ), editor of The Oklahoman and vice-president of news for OPUBCO Communications Group, is a third generation Oklahoma journalist who joined OPUBCO in 1994 as features editor of The Oklahoman before joining its digital operation in 1996. She served as director of multimedia and led the team that launched NewsOK in 2001. She began her career at the family newspaper, the El Reno Tribune, and worked on The Daily O’Collegian before graduating from Oklahoma State University with a journalism degree in 1981. She serves on OSU’s Student Media Board and on the boards of the Health Alliance for the Uninsured and F.A.T.E. Fighting Addiction Through Education. She also served on the Teen Recovery Solutions board for six years helping grow Oklahoma’s only sober high school.

WILLIAM A. HAMILTON (1935- ) A Pauls Valley native, he began his journalism career as a paperboy for the Anadarko Daily News. A Master Parachutist, he served 20 years as an infantry officer, including two tours in Vietnam, earning the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, 20 Air Medals, four Bronze Stars and the Purple Heart. He served as editor-in-chief of the Lincoln (NE) Capital Times. For 25 years, along with his syndicated newspaper column, he was a featured commentator for USA Today. He has also been a guest commentator on PBS NewsHour, and CNN. The author of award-winning articles on military and aviation subjects, he, and his wife, Penny, are the authors of four spy novels. He is a member of the Oklahoma Army ROTC Wall of Fame and the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame.

TIM SCHNOEBELEN (1944- ), a third generation journalist, is publisher of the family-owned Mooreland Leader, where he began working at age 10 in the back shop. He wrote for the student newspaper at Northwestern State College (now NWOSU) and worked as a Linotype operator for the Oklahoma Daily at OU. He and his wife Karen returned to Mooreland in 1967 and took over ownership in 1972. He helped establish a central offset web printing plant at The Leader in 1986, printing as many as 18 weeklies. He’s served on numerous Oklahoma Press Association committees and received OPA’s highest award, the H. Milt Phillips award and the OU Regents' Award. The Leader has won numerous awards, including five OPA Sequoyah awards as top weekly in its class. A retired volunteer firefighter, he has been active in several civic groups and was a member of the Mooreland Hospital and economic development boards.

JAN STRATTON joined KSWO-TV in Lawton in 1980 as Public Affairs Director. She moved to the News Department in 1981 as a reporter and was promoted to 6 pm and 10 pm Anchor and News Director.  In 2006, she became Executive Producer of 7 News and co-producer, writer and anchor of 7 News at 5:00 pm.  In 2010, she launched 7 News at 4:00 pm as producer, writer and anchor. During her tenure, the News Department won dozens of awards for best newscast, best public issues reporting, best general reporting and best photography from the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the AP and UPI.  She served on numerous boards and committees and performed with the Lawton Community Theatre, the Lawton Philharmonic Orchestra, winning an OCTA acting award. She helped give hundreds of new reporters and photographers their start. She was inducted into the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2008, and retired in 2014.

Resurrection flower--Day 3

"And the one sitting on the throne said, 'Look, I am making everything new!' And then he said to me, "Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true."--Rev. 21:5

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Glimmer of Earth Day hope

Earth Day tree, 5 by 5 watercolor, 140# d'Arches
The Earth is in bad shape these days, and I wonder if all our feeble individual  attempts to "Go Green," recycle, and do other things can save it and ourselves.
 The enormity of the problems  dwarfs us, considering the human pollution of huge countries like China and India, and the greed pollution of countries like the U.S. Oklahoma's Neanderthal legislature is trying to tax people who put in solar power, and our energy company elected shills deny there is drastic climate change underway, because they don't want to admit the obvious...carbon emissions are helping warm the earth, sea levels are rising, killing smog is more common, and so forth. What the world needs most is a huge plague or natural disaster to wipe out much of the population so it can recoup. That's the only real solution, as fatalistic as that sounds.
But there are glimmers of hope. The UCO campus was alive with students and organizations promoting Earth Day and sustainability today. There is hope, but time is running out.
In the meantime, I will continue to walk in the park  or sit on the back porch and enjoy the budding trees trees and flowers  and chirping birds...there is so much beauty and life.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Resurrection flowers-Day One

These Iris in our front yard are about to burst open, reminding me of death, and time and of the birth of new life. Years ago, they grew near my Dad's grave in Comanche, OK, around the base of a twisted  blackjack. 
I go there every year on Mother's Day, planting live flowers on my mother's grave 15 miles south in Waurika. Then on the way back, I stop at Comanche, and do the same for Dad.
One year, only the stump of the tree remained, but there were still the Iris, so I dug some up and brought them back.
Last year, for some reason these Iris  didn't bloom, and I missed them. And when I visited the Comanche grave, even those iris were gone.
So these are special flowers for me, because they remind me of life, death, family and the passing of years. Dad's been dead 41 years now. The iris bloom and then fade quickly compared to us, but they don't die even if there are some bad years. They remind me that our life also "is like a vapor."
I'll be glad when they bloom again, and in two weeks, I'll visit those graves again, thinking about these flowers. 

Season of the clouds

  Spring time in Oklahoma, the season of clouds and ping-pong weather. Cool and rainy this morning, turns to muggy weather this afternoon, as the clouds drift across the gradually clearing sky, the warmth and humidity building up cumulus. The next day should be nice, but then the next may bring severe weather with more clouds, and then the next will be nice again. 
"Lift up your eyes..." says Scripture. What beautiful skies. Waiting to be painted in watercolor.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Shadows of the backroad church crosses

Watercolor of the church at Tajique, N.M., Manzanos in the background
 Where there's a church, there are crosses, on the roof, and in the nearby Campo Santos. The possibilities of photos and paintings are as numerous as the crosses, especially on the backroads. What a testament to the power of Easter and the long, long shadow of the cross.
Little church on backroads southeast of Las Vegas, NM

Abandoned church northwest of Las Vegas, NM

Church at Cerrillos
Bishop Lamy's sanctuary, Bishop's Lodge, NM

Shadows of the crosses--III

Campo Santo at old San Geronimo church at Taos, which was destroyed in the 1680 Pueblo Revolt.
Crosses of every shape and form dominate the ruined San Geronimo church at Taos Pueblo. The cemetery is holy ground, where hundreds of years of believers lie. Only Taos Indians may enter this area, while others may take photos from outside the adobe walls.
If you get on the backroads of the state, you find more little churches and capos santos and crosses everywhere, all decorated and remembered by the faithful, but especially during Holy Week in New Mexico. And the gravestones only multiply in size and variety of portraying the cross.
Church at Canoncito, near Santa Fe
Gravestone at Canoncito

Crosses at Canoncito

At Canoncito

Gravestone at Truchas, Penitente Morada in background

Cemetery near Penasco on High Road to Taos

Shadows of the cross--II

A crown of thorns always hangs on a cross beside The San Jose de Gracia Church, also known as Church of Santo Tomas Del Rio de Las Trampas, on the high road to Taos at Las Trampas. Built between 1960 and 1775, it's one of the oldest surviving 18th century churches. There are still folks up in that area who speak Castillian Spanish, direct from the Conquistadores' entrada in the  late 1500s.
The shadow of the cross is omnipresent on our favorite journey in New Mexico is up the High Road to Taos to ancient Spanish villages and churches, including Chimayo, destination of Holy Week pilgrimages and holy dirt; Truchas; and Las Trampas.
Inside El Santuario de Chimayo near the beginning of  the High Road where there is holy dirt

Cemetery at Truchas on the High Road to Taos before Las Trampas

Crosses at the ruined pueblo church at Taos Pueblo at the end of the High Road

Somewhere on the High Road

Shadow of the cross--I

Shadow of the Cross, Ranchos de Taos, 11 x 15 watercolor, 300# d'Arches
Easter thoughts...from the symbol of death to life. The cross and execution of Jesus 2,000 years ago casts a long shadow. Where I grew up in very old and Catholic New Mexico, the cross is omnipresent. 
Holy Week is sacred there, with pilgrimages  and prayers and ceremonies and Catholicism. The iconic church of St. Francis at Ranchos de Taos has been painted by generations, and mine captures melting snow on a cold morning. Here's where I got the idea, and the crosses that cast the shadow, symbolic of the religion's influence.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Kissin' cousin

Sandra Gail Gee Russell's funeral was today in Lake Charles. We Culps mourn.
She was as close as I've ever had to a kissing cousin. She arrived with her sister Charlotte and husband at our home in Albuquerque in the late 195os on a road trip, them driving a 1959 white Chevy convertible. 
Sandi and I went out on a date in it, full of teenage hopes and hormones. I was always "Terry Mike" and she was "Sandra Gail," because we all called people by their first and middle names back then. That was mainly because that's what our folks yelled at us when we were in trouble, but it stuck, forever.
This photo was taken by my Dad at one of our summer vacation trips to Silsbee in deep East Texas. There are so many memories. I couldn't make the funeral, but I will toast her royally at our cousin reunion next week, and remember the cute girl with the reddish hair, arched eyebrows, and captivating  laugh, forever.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tragedy brings out the memories

The Gee girls, three years ago, Brenda, Charlotte, Carolyn, and Sandi, whose laugh we will always remember. There might be better photos, but this so captures her personality.
I lost a first cousin this week, a spirit of laughter and humor and East Texas charm, shot by her husband, who then committed suicide. Sandra Gail Gee Russell was just 69, and I was counting on seeing her at a Culp first cousin reunion in two weeks.
When something like that happens, I start rummaging through old photos, photos from childhood and before, up through the last reunion three years ago. I don't know what I'm looking for, perhaps just trying to cope, or to understand, but also to remember the good times. Tonight there are family photos from albums and boxes scattered across the floor as I search through those memories.
It's hard to write about it, but I need to, because in spite of the years and miles, she's been a part of my life as long as I can remember, and before.
We were not close, geographically or otherwise, because it had been years  since we really knew each other well. But we were close, as families used to be growing up after WWII from common grandparents and parents in East Texas. 
My brother and I lived farthest away when my Dad and Mom moved to Albuquerque, but we stayed in touch, and most summer vacations were spent visiting our aunts and uncles and cousins. 
Sandi and I as teenagers. Just found this slide after writing the post.
The old black and white photos taken when some of us were babies show that connection, sitting on pallets in the yard or gathered with grandparents and parents.
Visits  through the teenage years strengthened it, until we started having our own families and time slipped away. 
Our first cousin reunion was about 20 years ago, down on the Texas Gulf coast, and then a few years ago in Livingston, Texas, and three years ago in Cleveland, Texas. Those were times to get reacquainted, to share old photos and memories, to see their children and grandchildren living their own lives.
We will miss her, because we are cousins.
Sandra was always the life of the party with her laugh and smile and good natured humor. She'd worked hard all her life, as that family of four girls had to to survive, with their Daddy dying when they were young. 
Sandi's 7th grade yearbook photo
There was not much money, but there was love and family, and they could laugh and enjoy life. Charlotte, Carolyn, Sandra and Brenda Gee, daughters of Ervin and Ima Culp Gee. She deserved so much better than the way she died, and we'll miss her, because we are cousins.
These photos and memories make me realize how important cousins are as time goes by, and it's evident on this blog with many articles and photos from the last reunion or other posts. Just click on these links: The delicious taste of memories. East Texas Cousins. When a Cousin Dies. Cousins part 2. Redheads and Cousins. East Texas Cousins Chapter 3.
I wrote this poem a few years ago when attending the funeral of their mother, my mother's baby sister, and changed it a little for my cousin Sandi. 

"East Texas family"

Swamps and steeples.
Pines and pickups.
Barbecue, beer, bayous and Baptists.
Holiness and honky-tonks.
Wildflowers and wandering roads.

In East Texas, springtime feels like it just rained, or is about to.
There's no horizon, and humid skies are  Confederate gray 
as the warm Gulf air sticks  to you.
More than the air sticks to you.

 Driving in East Texas is like going back into the womb.
It's warm, and wet, and ... green.
Where families are born, and grow, and spread out like runners 
from the ivy growing up the trunks of the hardwoods, 
across miles and years.

Go back for a reunion, or the funeral of an aunt,
your mother's youngest sister and her friend.
You sit around in lawn chairs 
visiting with cousins you hadn't seen for years.

The memories of earlier years come flooding back,
drenching you like the soft Texas rain 
Beginning as a mist and then saturates 
every green plant before moving on.
Without horizons you can't see the rain coming or going,
Pools of standing water and wet pavement and water-dappled leaves
Mark its passing, like the memories, like the years.

Memories of playing mud pies as a child with cousins,
aunts and uncles doing magic tricks, 
playing the guitar, or playing 42.
Memories of a nearby Mom and Pop store 
Of 5-cent Cokes and 3-cent candy bars. 
Memories of  grandma's house
cornbread in old cast iron forms. 
teen-agers going to the corner drug store.

Sitting on a porch with a summer girlfriend, 
watching the rain come down and the moments sweep by. 
Memories of aunts and uncles and parents and cousins now gone.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Prophecy of Oklahoma's end time

"Yea, verily, in the fullness of time these were the signs of the end of time where the earth and rulers were red.
"Forsooth, the great bear began eating quiche while war and luna gobbled the night before the ransoms were due.
"A vagabond's abandoned pouch shall raise alarms and loud sirens disrupting learning.
"The earth will surely tremble with the twisting sky as hope of spring turns to ice and despondent winter on every breath of a bitter north wind.
"Henceforth, let those who have eyes and ears heed the signs prophesied by the seer of sooths, Heebie Jeebies, and abide by the insight of my servant Okuspokus."
      --First Heebie Jeebies, 5:1-5, (Okuspokus translation)

Yea verily and forsooth, I, Okuspokus, servant and scholar of the Great Sayer of Sooths, Heebie Jeebies, being in the spirit of the sooth, hereby reveal the sooth truth of the end of time for the place called Oklahoma (red dirt and rulers):
"The great bear eating quiche is Russia devouring Crimea and Ukraine, a clear sign of the coming wrath.
War is Mars being the closest to earth  and luna is tonight's lunar eclipse, all happening before April 15, income tax deadline (ransoms).
A mysterious suitcase causes evacuation of a university building, swarms of police cars and flashing lights and vacant parking lots, amid fears of bombs.
Oklahoma's earth quakes every day, and yesterday's warm spring weather with threats of tornados brought hail and turned to snow.
Unbelievers will surely scoff, but Okuspokus knows all these events could not possibly be coincidence in any sane place. 
Forsooth, there are only two interpretations of Heebie Jeebies' prophecy.  Yea verily, the sayer of sooths poses a choice--It is the end of time for Oklahoma, or Oklahoma is not sane.
I, Okuspokus have written.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Look at that watercolor sky

Great Plains spring, 9 by 12 watercolor, 140# d'Arches
Wild skies today, as the constant weather changes act out the drama in the clouds and wind. 
We may get rain, violent thunderstorms, tornadoes, then a freeze, perhaps a dusting of snow, then warm humidity again. What beauty in such beastly uncertainty. 
How can you not love the skies out here on the Great Plains, where the landscape is not really plain, and the skies never are.
It doesn't take much to imagine an old shed, out in the greening up rolling countryside of the Osage or Flint Hills or many other places in Oklahoma.
"Out here, there's the sky," wrote Willa Cather in Death Comes for the Archbishop. Out here, the skies are made for watercolor. 
"Look at that watercolor sky," I said to myself when I looked out the window this morning. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Redbud reflections II

5 by 9 watercolor, 140 pound d'Arches
Another attempt..better composition, but still not satisfied. It's so bad that I'm distracted while driving, because everywhere I go, I keep noticing  Oklahoma's state tree blooming in profusion, and I'm trying to figure out how to paint it.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Redbud reflections

Redbud reflections, 6 x 9, 140 pound d'Arches
Redbuds are everywhere, their flowers gracing dark or brown backgrounds like lace. I've tried to paint them several times, and pretty well failed. They're a problem I haven't solved. After today's walk in Hafer Park, I came up with another approach. So here's the umpteenth attempt, and now that I look at it, the composition is a little off, but, it's closer. No, we don't have a mountain, nor a clear creek, but we do have redbuds.