CREATIVITY is the soul reflected

Master Painter

Master Painter
Prairie Sunrise by Charlie Clark

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Two things have come to my attention tonight that bear clearing up:
1. The filmy portions of Charlie's sunrise photo are not jet trails, but cloud formations.
2. I did not REALLY "nearly die when I was 16" from an illness or accident; but the effect was traumatic when I discovered my brother had broken into my diary and read it. At age 16, that is akin to "dying." Especially when he threatened to reveal the contents (some fantasy) to our parents and his friends.
Everyday Grateful

written February 20, 2008

The north wind is bitter and another winter storm is expected. All I can do is look out the window, hoping for a glimpse of deer in the alfalfa field and dream of spring and watch the dogs teasing each other with their toys.

Since I can't go outside and dig in the earth, I dig into other media: books, the internet, my mind. Lately I've participated in an online Reading Group. ( The January selection was A Thousand Splendid Suns, a thought provoking and disturbing study of women in Afghanistan. This month, it is Journal Revolution by Linda Woods and Karen Dinino.

I've journaled since the days I wrote my secrets and dreams in a teenage diary. I nearly died when I was 16 and my little brother picked the lock and read it. Over the years I've accumulated and destroyed many trees' worth of pages, I'm sure.

I've found inspiration in some wonderful books: The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, A Daybook of Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach, and Plain and Simple by Sue Bender, followed by the Plain and Simple Journal and Everyday Sacred. I've used everything from yellow legal pads to pretty and artsy journal books to "marbletop" composition books. (The latter have probably been my favorites, by the way.)

Sometimes I'm directed to document the simple, everyday happenings of my life. Other times, encouraged to dig into my memories, often a painful task. Sarah Ban Breathnach likens this to a safari—Swahili for journey, to leave the comfort and safety of civilization to venture into the wilderness, which, she says, "brings with it the struggle to survive and a heightened awareness of how wonderful it is just to see the sun set and rise again in the morning. Each day on a safari is lived to the fullest because it is all that is guaranteed."

Is this why I love the prairie so much? Sunset and sunrise here are spectacular. Once a city dweller said to me, "You've seen one sunset, you've seen them all." Oh, how wrong he was! Each is a new creation. And, within the span of only a few minutes, the canvas can change drastically. One November evening I watched as the sky turned golden, and with each passing second the color deepened into fire-orange into coral into deep magenta into majestic purple, and in its final stage before the light was gone, an inky dark blue.

One morning Charlie recorded a rainbow sunrise—colors bouncing off the jet trails and clouds reflected all of God's glorious palette.

Back to Sarah's prompting to live each day to the fullest....I've noticed a trend amongst scrapbookers (or, as Ali Edwards calls us, "life artists") to savor each day, each moment. Yes, it is important and fun to record those milestone occasions (birthday, holidays) and special achievements (graduation, retirement), but isn't it also interesting to look into the everyday happenings of a person's life, to see some of the details and activities that made up a "day in the life of...."?

Many cultures make no distinctions between work and play, religion and day-to-day life. (But this is fodder for an entirely different post; more on this theme another time.)

There is a contentment and satisfaction that comes with sitting back at the end of a day with my gratitude journal (or my mind) and looking over that day—if I've been mindful and observant and not taken it for granted. Did I take some time to look out the window? Did I pull my hands out of the dishwater when Charlie called me to "come and see" something—a tiny skink, a new leaf or bud on a struggling plant, a huge squash blossom, a rising harvest moon, a whole parade of turkeys strutting their way right through our yard.

Maybe what seems mundane to us now will be interesting to our grandchildren or future generations. I was thrilled to discover a ledger my grandpa kept with notations of expenditures for grain and taxes, and a similar account kept by my great-grandmother in the mid-1800s—purchases made for calico, string, medicinal powders and tinctures long forgotten, for "reciepts" for toothpowder and other home remedies. I treasure the few stories recorded by my grandparents, memories that would be forgotten if not preserved.

Will my great-granddaughter care that I ate Post's Great Grains cereal for breakfast or spent the evening struggling while pulling a needle through my quilt until a friend recommended a small square of rubber cut from an old latex glove?

A friend this week admonished me to write shorter posts for my blog. I had every intention of doing so this time, but as I told him, I have trouble being short-winded. One thought leads to another to another....

What little thing are you grateful for, or do you really appreciate today? Did you "save" it some way—journal, photo, scrapbook, e-mail, letter? Did you at least give thanks for it?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Pets and Prairie

Ten days ago I made yet another attempt to post and was interrupted. Even though this isn't quite fresh, I'm posting it anyway. I have a friend who always tells me, "Kay, just DO it!" So, I'm giving up my nap this afternoon, and if I get as far as putting it out there, maybe I will have broken the block.

I also know WHY I don't get my entries posted. Along with other matters (attempts to make it perfect, for example), when I do finally attempt to publish, I run into a major problem with it. I've now been trying for a few hours and it will be something of a cyber miracle if what I intend to put out there actually makes it.

It's been such a long time, since my previous post, I don't want to try to play catch-up. But a couple big changes have occurred that need noting: my companion of nearly 20 years, Heidi cat, went on to the Big Cat Heaven last summer. And at the end of the summer, we welcomed a new pet: Sadie, a black pointer labrador retriever, hoping our old lab Quest would take the new one under his wing (or leg, as the case warranted). He has been a godsend, I might add, but he's also learned a few things (who says old dogs can't learn new tricks?!) from the little one.
February 8, 2008
I've written so many entries to the blog lately, all in my mind. Usually it's as I'm driving or riding and, by the time I get home, out of my winter coat and boots, put away groceries, go through the mail, all those pressing matters, I am out of the mood. Or the inspiration is gone.

The same thing has happened tonight, but I'm going to try to entice my muse back. I'm closing my eyes (luckily I learned touch typing and can get this down without looking at the keyboard) and remember what struck me so deeply two hours ago.

Charlie and I had just spent the most enjoyable afternoon visiting some old friends. Actually, what prompted the visit was a play date arranged for our dogs! I cannot believe I am even saying that. We have a seven-month-old puppy, a black lab named Sadie. Mason and Betty lost their little Nipper, a Jack Russell, a few months ago and recently acquired Benny, a feisty, untrained, handsome rat terrier. He has more energy than the two of them combined, they being in their 80s.

Betty recently started "Benny's Blog" and had been asking us to bring Sadie over to play with him. We finally got around to it. After the initial barking, sniffing and sizing up, they really got into playing. They chased full-speed through the house, in and out the dog door, around in the snow, under the bed and tables, and teased each other with the toys.
Hi friends. This is your favorite rat terrier here. Wow! What an afternoon. Shortly after the boss's nap, some of his and the wife's friends drove in and when they got out of their pickup, I nearly fell down. They had a beautiful black lab with them, who looked about my age. Of course, being a lab, she was twice as big. At first we were very formal, wearing our leashes for the first 15 minutes. Once the people were persuaded that we weren't going to fight, they took our leashes off and then the fun started!

Sadie, did I say she's a girl? and I ran around wrestling and grabbing noses and smelling tails. Then we had some real fun. We played keep away with some of my toys. Sadie carried a squeaker in her mouth, daring me to take it. Then, she'd chase me. The funny part was when I ran under a low table and she couldn't get under it. (I learned that from when the cat runs from me.) Then we took a play rope and grabbed it out of each other's mouth. Finally I ran out the dog door and Sadie had to work really hard to get through it. We played in the snow for a while, then I went inside to get warm.

The woman visitor kept taking our pictures and saying how beautiful I am. Mr.K (the cat) was up on the counter by his food bowl, and he kept making insulting remarks that the people couldn't hear. I'll get him for it later.When the visitors had to leave, they put Sadie's leash on again and walked to their pickup. The boss put my leash on me, but I bit it in two, then he held my collar while we watched them drive away. I heard the lady invite us to come to their house so we dogs could have another play day. Not right away, but in a couple of weeks after Sadie recovers from some female surgery she's having next week. 'Bye for now.

Betty and I always enjoy discussing art and language and books and have Show-and-Tell. I hadn't taken anything today, but she shared with me several items. We mourned the demise of the English language, she loaned me a novel and book of puzzles, we took lots of photos of the dogs, and talked about flowers.

Charlie and I thought we'd better head home. The sun was setting over the snow-covered prairie, with the frosted cedar trees in the distance along the creek. First we saw one deer, then a couple more, and this continued all the way home. The clouds spread the golden orange glow of the sun across the horizon, and we watched three deer bound over several fences. I thought to myself, "Watching deer float so gracefully like that is one of my greatest joys!" I said to Charlie:

"I still have to pinch myself sometimes to realize I actually live here, in this beautiful country." (Flint Hills of Kansas I used to drive the turnpike from Topeka to Wichita and wished I knew someone who lived here just so I could get off the highway and drive around the area.

Then one day I did just that, even though I did not know anyone here. Two weeks later I was actually doing a retreat on a ranch, and after that experience I knew I had to get back here on a regular basis—but could not imagine it happening. Lo and behold, less than six months afterward I was offered an opportunity I could not pass up, even though it meant leaving a fairly secure, well-paying job that I didn't particularly like any more. The rest, as they say, is history. I really felt I had come "home" when I drove into that ranch driveway, surrounded by the russet waves of tall grass. FYI, there is almost no native tallgrass prairie left in the world, and most of it is right here, surrounding me.

Well, that's it for now. I have lots to talk about, but it will have to wait until next time....and I definitely want to comment on that novel Betty loaned me because it's now added to my "all-time favorite reads." Until then....