CREATIVITY is the soul reflected

Master Painter

Master Painter
Prairie Sunrise by Charlie Clark

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine Surprise

I had a wonderful surprise this morning...this was in my chair when I got up.

I said it was a surprise, not because Charlie's not the most thoughtful, romantic man a gal could want. It's just that sometimes, because we live so far out in the boonies and buying cards hasn't always been his priority, he forgets to get me a one. But this time? Not only a beautiful card with the most appropriate senti- ment, but also a heart-shaped box of chocolates and a little Valentine teddy bear. I ask you: what more could a girl ask for on Valentine's Day?!

I just finished taking the Red Velvet cake from the oven. That's just about his favorite. Cake decorating is not my forte'. But, my buttercream frosting is excellent.

Red Velvet cake

It's here! And it's a good thing I haven't had anything pressing to do this past week because it might not have been done.

My new Macbook Pro (laptop computer to you non-Apple readers) arrived Tuesday morning.

I did a lot of online research. After agonizing over whether to buy a PC because of the price, deciding I couldn't make the sacrifice, then wondering if I could settle for a smaller screen and finally deciding that because of my worsening eyesight I could not….with shaking finger, I took another deep breath and hit the "confirm purchase" button.

And I don't regret my decision for one second! I could not be more ecstatic. This Macbook has everything I have grown to love about a Mac and even more. The basic wonderful and intuitive interface; intelligent file organization; an incredible backlit, sharp screen; and some new-fangled technology like "cover flow" and a touchpad that is something out of CSI. I always thought rotating a photo with one's fingers was fiction! (I know, time to crawl out of my cave.)

So now I've spent untold hours (and have the bleary eyes and sore neck and shoulders to show for it) migrating my files from my older Mac Mini; setting up new internet browser and e-mail programs; and…yes, I admit it…setting up a Facebook account. I had previously tried multiple times to navigate Facebook. Not sure if it was our satellite connection (often like molasses), my pretty good but slightly older computer, or Facebook's site itself. I finally decided it was a little of each, along with impatience on my part. At any rate, I always gave up in frustration when I tried to access a friend's photo albums—which was my reason for logging on in the first place.

But I have been able to login, navigate, chat, and set up my own account. Woo Hoo! It was fun chatting with my husband, sitting four feet away from me, last night!

Now I have to get back to real life…

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Saying Good-bye

Quest: January 2, 1996—January 21, 2010

I'm still not sure I can do this...Each time I think I'll post, I start and get a few words written and get stuck. I finally began gathering photos of Quest from our 14 years together to assemble a scrapbook. My scrapbooking activities have helped me deal with loss in the past.

Ironically, last fall I was working on another album ("ME: The Abridged Version" from Cathy Zielski's class at Big Picture Scrapbooking and one entry I wrote was about my faithful friend Quest.

I have decided just to use that tribute to him now, rather than reinventing the wheel. Little did I know then how short his time would be. 

A tiny black lab was given to me when I made my home at the Homestead Ranch near Matfield Green, KS. Quest was the runt of a litter of 11, son of Traveler. I named him “Traveler’s Prairie Quest” because he represented to me my own quest.
After his mom, he became a guest favorite at the ranch. The smartest (and most intuitive), best behaved dog one could ever imagine. 

Obsessed with balls, sticks and rocks, he could sniff out a tennis ball from any hiding place—guest luggage, dresser drawers, a high shelf. He amused himself—and us—by rolling onto his back, getting a ball between his paws, tossing it into the air, and yes, catching it in his mouth! He’d also push a rock (and it had to be big) around on the ground with his nose, flipping it so he could chase it and catch it. He really loved pushing one off the bank of the creek and jumping in after it. He’d root around under water until he found that exact rock. All that play with rocks has, unfortunately, ground his teeth down to nubbins.

Quest grew from “tiny” to very big—75-85 pounds big. He dwarfed seven-pound Heidi, my cat and at first a natural enemy and later a best friend. Me and my dog, going for walks and rides in my pick-up through the hills. Always so obedient and loyal, wanting nothing but to please and to have my affection.

He became a teacher to our new lab Sadie, who learned to sit for her food and treats as he did without any prompting from us. They roamed the prairie together, patrolled our land every time they went out, and “protected” us from deer, raccoons and other critters. They played tug-of-war with toys and sticks; napped in the sun; and got into trouble together—digging up moles, eating garden produce right off the plants, and digging holes in the mud. Sadie taught Quest grubs were great little treats while he taught her how to shimmy beneath the barbed wire fences.

Christmas 2009
Now, he’s old and decrepit, like a very old person. Deaf as a post, with arthritis and nerve/muscle problems, it’s painful to watch him get up and down. His mind is often fuzzy and he gets confused. And yet, he still has so much heart. He wants so badly to play, to retrieve that toy so he can bring it back to me to toss again. Not long ago I watched Heidi deteriorate and eventually die, and now I watch Quest with such sadness, and guilt, because I have not given him the attention and affection he so desperately wanted from me. 

The world’s most special black lab. 

Fast forward to two weeks ago yesterday (a Tuesday). Quest and Sadie had had their morning trips outside as usual and settled down inside for naps. About noon Charlie took Sadie to the veterinarian to have staples removed from some earlier surgery. After a while, Quest decided he'd had enough napping and attempted to get up and come to join me. He had had trouble hoisting his arthritic body up for quite a while, but always managed by pushing up with his front legs. This time one of those legs didn't seem to work. At first I thought he'd injured himself, as he occasionally did. 

By the time Charlie and Sadie returned, it was apparent Quest was in pretty bad shape, so Charlie hoisted him up and helped him outside for his constitutional. He barely made it back inside, where he collapsed.

I'll spare my readers details of the next two agonizing days. We knew the "time" had come and talked to Tom Jernigan, our vet, making the arrangements for early Thursday morning, not believing Quest would even make it through the night. But that ever-present spirit was still there, despite his inability to move himself except for head and tail—the tail still wagged each time he'd see me or I'd stoop to rub his ears. That made it even harder. Never one to moan or cry, Quest was whimpering and making strange pained sounds the last 24 hours. 

Tom told us he thought Quest had had an embolism that traveled into his lungs. His heart had been weak, and more lately, his breathing labored. He was old. We simply never envisioned anything so drastic, though.

Well, we buried that big old lovable friend a few feet from his companion of many years, Heidi, on that bitterly cold, gray, windy morning, along with the Kong toy he loved so much.

Life just isn't the same now. Both Charlie and I miss those soulful brown eyes, the tilt of his head, and that "Please, oh please, pet me, play with me" look. And, that wagging tail. 

 Good-bye old friend

*Thanks to Katie Pertiet at Designer Digitals for her Book of Memories scrapbooking template and Messy Stamped Alphabet letters