"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.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

A year ago, time and mortality

At Dad's grave long ago
A year ago, I posted this, and cousin John Clark reminded me of it on Facebook today. Click this link:  Time and Mortality continue. 
This was obviously before 1975, probably in 1974, when she died, and is now buried in Oakwood cemetery in Whitesboro, Texas. We lived in Waurika, Ok. She outlived her husband John Worden Reasor--1886-1967 by eight years. 
Her first husband, Erle Thweat Clark, was our grandfather, parents to Terrence, Lewis, Rex, Mike and Champ Clark, parents of about 16 of us cousins, scattered to the winds. Dad and Erle are buried side by side in Fairlawn Cemetery in Comanche, Ok., the town where Dad and his brothers were born.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The blog at 140 countries and landlocked!

A reader in the African nation of Zambia clicked on this blog this month, marking the 140th country and territory to have read Coffee with Clark.
That followed two readers in two other first time countries in December--Kyrgyzstan and Botswana. That means there have been readers in 22 African Countries and 24 Asian counties.  All three of these are land-locked.

Why and how, I don't know. I've added a translation button to the blog so visitors can read it in their own languages, but the story behind those readers remains a tantalizing mystery to me. 
The flag counter on this page is also not quite accurate--having been added this last year, and sometimes it's slow to update.  But as the blog reaches its seventh birthday May 3, it's come a long way, and reached people and done things I never dreamed back them.
Now, for the record, he's a little about each of those "newcomers" which makes them even more interesting. I'm thankful for my readers--you help keep me going.

Zambia--Formerly British Northern Rhodesia, it gained independence in 1964. It holds regular elections and has a population of 14.5 million, and is the location of the spectacular 354 foot Zambezi falls in the  Victoria falls, the world's largest.
In 2010 the World Bank named the country one of the fastest economically  reformed countries.  

The flag is notable in that its design is not focused on the middle: colors represent green for the flora, red for the struggle for freedom, black for the people and orange for the natural resources. That's a Zambia fish eagle.
Botswana--Formerly the British protectorate  Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name after becoming independent  in 1966. Since then, it has maintained a stable representative democracy, with a consistent record of uninterrupted democratic elections.
Botswana is  flat, with up to 70 percent  being the Kalahari Desert.  Its border with Zambia to the north is poorly defined but at most is a few hundred yards,
With just over 2 million people, Botswana is one of the most sparsely populated nations in the world. Formerly one of the poorest countries, it is now one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.

The flag was designed to contrast with the flag of South Africa, since the latter country was ruled under an apartheid regime. The black stripe with the white frame symbolized the peace and harmony between the people of African and European descent. 
Kyrgyzstan is farther from the sea than any other individual country, and all its rivers flow into closed drainage systems which do not reach the sea. The mountainous region covers over 80 percent  of the country (Kyrgyzstan is occasionally referred to as "the Switzerland of Central Asia.")
It gained independence from the USSR in 1991. Most of the 5.7 million residents are Turkic, non-denominational Muslims. Thirty four percent are under age 16. It is a parliamentary republic but with lots of political and economic instability.
The 40-rayed yellow sun in the center of the flag represent the 40 tribes that once made up the entirety of Kyrgyz culture before the intervention of Russia. The lines inside the sun represent the crown or tündük of a yurt. The red portion of the flag represents peace and openness of Kyrgyzstan. National sports reflect the ancient culture of horse riding.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Of gates, and journeys, and watercolor

"High Lonesome," 9" by 7" watercolor, 140# d'Arches
I'm not sure what it is about gates, but they captivate me, spur my imagination.
There's a hint of adventure, of beckoning journeys, that lead to something undiscovered. I guess that's why I have written and painted a lot of them. See "A Gate Always Beckons."
This one goes back deeply, to a lost painting of my Dad's, and it's a theme I've approached many times. It's been accepted into the juried member show at Paseo Arts District, Feb. 5-29 in OKC, and yes it's for sale.
It's not that I really want to sell it, but it has to be priced to enter the show. Something happened to my painting here that I can't explain, except my work was more luminous and fluid that others, taking advantage of the beauty and magic of watercolor.
Part of its appeal, and others similar to it is that many people identify with it, either in some gate they saw, or knew long ago, and such things bring back wistful memories. I've opened gates like that long past, and when I see them  in the country side, I almost always have to stop and take a photo. In my imagination, they lead to a cabin, and solitude and quiet.
I guess that's part of it with me too. Although I'm captivated even with the word "gate." That's another post, except to let you know I really want to go to Gates of the Arctic National Park in Alaska. Told you there's magic in the word.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

"There is never any end to Paris"--romance

Toasting my love, in l'Atlas, with Guy Pascal and his little dog Octavous in the background
TBT--Twelve years ago this month, we were in Paris.
Sure it was winter, but usually just rainy, but not all the time.
We discovered immediately what Hemingway meant when he wrote "There is never any end to Paris," in A Moveable Feast.
Guy Pascal and Octavous
We stayed in a hotel in the Latin Quarter, doing our own tour every day. The last night there, we walked in the rain to l'Atlas, a brasserie in the St. Germaine area, had wonderful oysters and seafood.
Across the room, I spotted this old Frenchman and his little dog, and went over to ask him if I could take their photo. He spoke perfect English, having just returned from years in New York. 
Memories... including a middle- aged professor having dinner with a beautiful young grad student next to us.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Back to the Future, again--in a book

Jeanetta reading in Edmond
Standing in Best of Books in Edmond, listening to friend Jeanetta Calhoun Mish read from her book "Okiehomeland" last week, a paperback caught my eye, rousing memories.
"Childhood's End," by Arthur C. Clark, written in 1953, in a new edition. I had to buy it, because I vaguely remember reading it as either a preteen, or teen, and it's been a while since I read science fiction.
Original cover, better than now
I finished it off this weekend, book number two of the year.
Clarke is famous for have introduced the idea of satellites to the world back in the late 40s. So besides a fiction writer, probably best known today for the movie 2001, A Space Odyssey, he was also a futurist with remarkable vision.
As I'm rereading the book about humans' first contact with aliens (hint, it doesn't turn out well), he predicted two other inventions, years ahead of time in 1953--the birth control pill and DNA testing.
What I remember from the book so long ago, and I forgot the source till now, has to do with bull fighting.
The aliens outlaw any killing of animals, which humans ignore. Then one day at a bull fight, a matador jabs a lance in the back of a bull, and the whole crowd screams in agony. End of cruelty. Pretty cool, huh?
I thought so so many years ago, and traveled back to the future this week in a book that includes time travel, relatively--that's a pun and clue--figure it out.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

An old one, and springtime

Old one, 9 by 12 today's watercolor
When you get old, 
and the winters and cold slow you down, 
and you know there are fewer spring times ahead, 
you really look forward to them, 
because they still hold promise, and warmth, 
despite the scars and marks of all the years
There is still life...

Dreaming of springtime, springtime in the Rockies far away

Springtime in the Rockies, 11 by 14 watercolor
On bleak January days, it's good to dream about springtime, springtime in the Rockies, where there's still snow in the high country, but the earth is warming in the longer sunlight, when the wildflowers start to bloom, where there's a cabin waiting, and there is love and longing... .

"When it's springtime in the Rockies
I'll be coming back to you
Little sweetheart of the mountains
With your bonnie eyes of blue
Once again I'll say I love you
While the birds sing all the day
When it's springtime in the Rockies
In the Rockies far away
The twilight shadows deepen into night, dear
The city lights are gleaming o'er the snow
I sit alone beside the cheery fire, dear
I'm dreaming dreams from out the long ago
I fancy, it is springtime in the Rockies
The flowers with their colors are aflame
And though I long to be back in the Rockies
I'll wait until the springtime comes again
When it's springtime in the Rockies
I'm coming back to you
Little sweetheart of the mountains
With your bonnie eyes of blue
Once again I'll say I love you
While the birds sing all the day
When it's springtime in the Rockies
In the Rockies far away."

Friday, January 8, 2016

Back to the future in OKC with a beautiful lady, the Tower Theater

A beautiful lady
I drove back 50 years in time on 23rd Street in OKC today, and into the future.
Coincidences--one of the speakers in my UCO Twitter for Media class (#clarkclass on twitter)this week is Jenny Grigsby, a self-employed social media manager for a number of cool clients. (See the class blog #clarkclassUCO.blogspot.com for more on her.)
Following her on twitter, I had learned they were going to relight the marquee on the historic Tower Theater at 5:30 tonight. The classic and architecturally beautiful theater was built in the 1930s, and closed in the late 1980s.We're fortunate it hasn't been torn down.
For months, I've been reading about public-spirited developers who have invested in it and are bringing it back to life, both from Steve Lackmeyer (who covers OKC like a wool blanket) in The Oklahoman and in the Journal Record. The once decaying area is now  part of OKC's Renaissance, especially in the Uptown district. Then meeting Jenny, I found out this week that the Tower is one of her clients.
So why did I go down there?
There was a crowd, of all ages, including people my age, young hipsters and even kids, all attracted by social media. For me, it was personal.
I walked through those doors
Fifty years ago, I and my first wife went and saw "Sound of Music" there during its 82-week run. We walked a few blocks from the garage apartment near there where we lived, when I was a student at Central state College (now UCO). I think we also saw one of the early James Bond movies there, probably "Goldfinger." The theater even hosted the debut of "Cleopatra"  for 26 weeks in 1963. 
1963, and my kind of car, Studebaker!
And today, I took photos, and walked inside where they're restoring the original look, including paint. The first floor will now be standing room, for live music concerts, and the balcony will have seating. 
This time, I was tweeting about it to my #clarkclass twitter students--who now can figure out how really old I am. 
The place was, and is, huge
I was taking photos, meeting people I knew, having a good time as I looked into the future, seeing construction everywhere--bars and offices in the adjacent buildings, and more on rush hour traffic on 23rd Street, a few blocks west of the state capitol.
Then I was an English major, and a budding journalist. I am still a journalist!
More photos, from tonight:
The event drew a huge crowd. Lackmeyere at right, Periscoping it.

The state, still under construction

Lackmeyer and Clark  after last night's #twitterbeef
Before the lighting


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

"birth-day" Road

Found it--my "birth"day photo, and Dad
"I wonder what my mother and father were thinking years ago, on the night before I was born? What about when they went to the hospital the next day?" I asked Susan.
 There was so much uncertainty back then. You didn't know the sex of the child, or if the child was "normal," physically, or mentally.  I expect every parent has had those feelings as the birth of a child nears.
I remember those feelings with the approaching birth of my children.
But I had not thought about them, until yesterday, approaching my 72nd birthday. Suddenly, "birthday" took on new meaning.
Here's a painting from five years ago, and I'm looking for a black and white photo, probably on my "birth-day."

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Books, books, cool books, Ed abbey, bears, Bill Gates & more

 "You have some cool books," said  Susan last night as I was telling her about Ed Abbey, and Sean Prentiss' book "Finding Abbey" about trying to find Abbey's hidden grave in the Arizona desert. I'd written about it earlier,  "Characters, not cookie-cutters" , and today I finished it, the first book of this year.
I won't tell you if he found the grave or not...you'll have to read the book.
But then I started looking at my bookshelves, reawakening my interest in Abbey's friends and authors, including two who have written about my totem Grizz, David Peterson, "The Ghost Grizzlies," and Doug Peacock, "The Essential Grizzly," both of whom Prentiss interviewed for his book.
There they are in my grizzly section, waiting to be reread, next to some of my Abbey books.
Right underneath it is my New Mexico section, many first editions--more cool books.
Speaking of re-reading, I now must go and find a new copy of his "Desert Solitaire" and reread. 
1968 1st edition cover
Then this morning, I find a New York Times article on Bill Gates reading about 50 books a year, and the ones he recommends on his blog, Gatesnotes. Oh, and by the way, he reads books on paper, not digitally. I knew I liked the guy.
Here's to cool books.

Friday, January 1, 2016

New year, new journey, every moment

Today--The road ahead, 5.5 b y 8.5 watercolor
Every day is a new year in a sense, and we'd be better off if we thought that way. 
The road behind can't be walked again, and the way ahead is indistinct. There have been many miles, many places, many experiences, many people, but just as you can't step in the same river twice, you can't cover the same miles, visit the same places, have the same experiences, know the same people. 
We are not the same people we were yesterday...everything has changed, even if imperceptibly.
How much it would change us if we thought of every moment as literally a "once-in-a-lifetime" experience--because it is.
The road ahead is indistinct, in spite of all our efforts to want and have 2016's itinerary meticulously planned. Instead, we take the first step.
"Song of the Open Road"
Walt Whitman
"Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

"Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
Strong and content I travel the open road...."