December 28, 2012

Bear Paws in the Wood's Secret Garden

I have spent the last seven days with four sets of bear paws and since most of the posts on this blog have to do with the creatures we find while exploring the creek area that runs behind our balcony, I will need to clarify.

A most wonderful discovery was found indeed; but it wasn't in the garden.  Instead it was at the corner of Sylvan and Auburn (Sylvan's Corner) in Citrus Heights, CA.  A small little store front called "The Summit" which sales Bearpaw boots.  While waiting on a couple of friends who were to meet me at Starbucks during my lunch break, I decided to drive across the street and check out the shop.  I was really looking for a pair of boots that I could illustrate for Tatum (Michael's 5 year old grand daughter).  While in the store, I struck up a conversation with the onsite manager and shared my "Theology Art" business card which includes a picture of the "Coat of Many Colors" - a suede jacket that I hand illustrated a couple years ago.  She promptly suggested that I contact "Randy" regarding the possibility of doing some boots for Bearpaw.

That day, I emailed a link to my work to Randy (who I later found out is the VP of Global Marketing) and asked if he would be interested in seeing what I might do with a few pair of Bearpaws.  A week ago, I picked up 4 pairs (two Adult sizes and two children's sizes).  I had the week off, and so I went to work on the boots.  I really had not concept as to how long this might take and exactly what I would come up with.

After approximately 60 hours of (frankly) back and neck wrenching, eye straining, design work, and getting nothing else done on my vacation, I finally finished the four boots.  And this is why art is expensive.  It takes time and creative energy.  Even after turning in for the night, I would lay in bed visualizing hundreds of designs.  I have no idea where this is all going - but I do enjoy the process of creating original designs.   I would not want to mass produce the same design, over and over.  Perhaps the boots are like a canvas and each one will be an original, one of a kind.  Anyway, enough whining-- here's the boots:

August 25, 2012

A New Species Found!

Around this time each year, the oak trees are filled with galls.  (See previous posts for background on galls).  This was an exciting day in the Woods Secret Garden.  We found a new species.  The bonus was that it was right next to a very rare species similiar to the one my husband found in 2010.

More later--here's a few picks

June 12, 2012

What a Wonderful Evening!

We have been keeping our eye on the wild blackberry bushes which grow profusely along the banks of the creek.  They should be ready to harvest in early to mid July. However, when I got home from work tonight, my husband Michael informed me that he had decided to take the long route home from his trip to the dumpster at lunch today.  He took the path along the creek that runs through the Secret Garden with the intent to check on the wild plums which ripen much earlier than the berries.  Intertwined in one of the plum trees were the largest berries he had ever seen; and, they were ripe!   Most of them were growing out of reach on the other side of the creek; however, there were a few vines that had climbed over a tree branch and he was able to pluck a few off and bring them home.

He first told me about them and then he showed them to me.  WOW!  He was right they were really big berries!

We decided that although it was probably 100 degrees outside, we really needed to try to get more of those berries.  They were ready to be harvested and in this heat they might not make it to the weekend.  I had won a pair of steel toed, rubber hip boots at the Building Safety Month raffle at work and had been waiting for an opportunity to test them out.  So, I pulled them on over a pair of leggings, got my berry basket ready and we headed out the door.

We decided to cross over the creek and attempt an attack  from the back while they weren't looking.  Trudging through brush and climbing up and down steep creek banks in 100 degree weather wearing boots that weigh a ton and are just a size or two too large was no easy task.  I felt like my legs weighed 100 pounds each.  Once we reached a spot where the berries were growing we realized that the ripe berries were hanging on vines that actually hung over a steep side of the creek and there was no way of reaching them without potentially taking a pretty nasty fall 7 or 8 feet down into the water.  We regrouped, after also realizing that we had probably gone through several bushes of poison oak in our efforts to each those darn berries, and decided that I would actually need to go down into the creek.  Once in the creek with my hip boots (that was fun - they work really well - good traction) I was able to grab a few of the vines with my bamboo walking stick (which doubles as a magic dragon fly wand) and pull them within reach.

After all that effort, we ended up with only a couple dozen berries and decided to head home--somewhat disappointed, extremely overheated, and, frankly, I was worn out.  Who needs a membership to a gym when you have steel toed rubber hip boots?

We washed them up and had just enough to make fresh wild berry smoothies.  Oh my, you should have tasted them.  I make fruit smoothies quit often in the summer months with frozen berries.   What  difference! The smoothies we had tonight tasted absolutely incredible!   I'm afraid I've now been spoiled and will have a hard time enjoying my frozen berry smoothies from this point forward.

Our first harvest of the summer.  Look at the size of those berries!

First Harvest of the Season

While we were sitting out on the balcony enjoying the fruit of our labor, we kept wondering what kind of berries we had found. All of the other berries are still very green; but these (and we believe this is the only location in the entire Secret Garden where they can be found) were very, very ripe. We did a little research and have concluded that they may be Black Butte berries. Black Butte is considered the "World's Largest" Blackberry. This huge, sweet berry reaches one inch in diameter and two inches long. This makes it nearly twice the size of other blackberries. Black Butte ripen four to six weeks earlier than many other blackberries.

This year should prove to be a pretty good year in terms of berry harvest.  One of our competitors (a neighbor who had also discovered the Secret Garden and would many times get to them before we could) has moved away.    We shall see and hopefully I will be able to find time to keep you all posted.

May 27, 2012

No Time to Write...UURRGGH

It is frustrating to have no time to write.  However, (as they say) a picture paints a thousand words.  So, I will rely on the pictures to do most of the talking.  Last year we planted a wild flower garden.  We watered it everyday and yet it really didn't produce much of a garden.  Once the flowers would die we would pull them out and toss them into the wilderness area nearer the creek.  Well, this year, we got wildflowers, with no tending whatsoever on our part!  Now that's what I;m talkin' bout"   So many illustrations that could be written about this wonderful discovery of my husbands.  We discussed in length the applications; but, alas, no time to write:

New birth from scattered seeds!
And, we are still finding amazing creatures in the Wood's Secret Garden--even after 2 years.  This guy decided to come to our front door one morning and take a rest.
Look at the artwork on his body!  He was approximately 4" long with a 4.5 " wing span.

May 18, 2012

Celebrating Two Years in the "Secret Garden"

It was two years ago today, that Michael and I were married.  Neither one of us exchange store bought gifts for any special occasions.  We actually view each day as a special occasion.  However, when I arrived home last night, he presented me with a priceless, precious anniversary gift--a poem that he had written to celebrate the day.


(May 18, 2012)

Two years now and growing strong,
And yet to know Him more we long
Whose gift to us in marriage bliss
Is that effect of His Sweet Kiss.

And none of this is what we earn
But all of grace is how we learn,
While led by Him the Paraclete
To humbly sit at Jesus feet
And worship Him, the Lord of all
Who for His purpose did us call
To honor Him whose praise is due
Who made us one who once were two.

So by His gift we celebrate
Not us but Him our Potentate
Whose love and loyalty has won
Our hearts to Him who made us one.

March 9, 2012

How Delightful!

In July of this past year I began my little hobby of hand-illustrating suede jackets, vests and boots.  Some will remember "the coat of many colors" post.  This led to me opening a shop on etsy.  Since opening my shop, 10,965 people from around the world have viewed my shop; with over 2,028 indicating that they "favorite" my shop and the items in it, and yet I have only sold 4 pair of boots.  The reason I don't sell more boots and jackets is because, although many people admire the art work; very few people would actually wear the boots or the jackets in public.  I knew that, before I even listed my first item for sale.  I knew that I would probably not sell much; but I also knew that etsy was a wonderful way to connect with people from all over the world and a means to share the Word of God, the Gospel message and even introduce other professing Christians to the Puritans and to Spurgeon.  God has used my shop on etsy in wonderful ways for His glory and for that I am truly blessed. 

This article, however, is about Elle Mae.  Two weeks ago, a lady from South Boston decided that she wanted me to hand illustrate a pair of her boots with her favorite passages:  2 Chronicles 7:14, "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." and 2 Corinthians 5:17, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.   She shared with me that she and her husband are teaching bible studies (Tuesdays and women on Thursdays) in South Boston, which is mostly Irish Catholic and not very open to the Word.  They have also started a new church right in the center of South Boston.  She indicated that it's been tough; but, they are persevering.  Her husband is from Northern Ireland and she is a Boston native.

She shipped me her boots and I went to work.  We dialogued , back and forth, regarding design ideas, colors etc.  I finished her boots this past Saturday and shipped them back.  Her birthday is on St. Patrick's day and she was hoping to get them to wear in the St. Patrick's day parade as part of their ministry outreach.
I was so nervous, not knowing if she would be pleased with them or not.  Well, she received the boots and she was delighted.  In fact, she emailed me and told me that she decided to not wait until St. Patrick's day; but to wear them to a women's retreat that she was attending this weekend, which began today and that she would send me pictures.  Well, tonight I got to see Elle Mae in her boots.  She had her girlfriends take pictures at the retreat on an iphone and emailed them to me.  I played with one of the pictures.  The boots were not in focus; but, Elle Mae is and it is so clear that she loves her boots.  Look at her finger pointed down at the boots.  What a cutie pie she is!

These boots definitely draw attention and I have no doubt that Elle Mae will take full advantage of the opportunities that the Lord opens up for sharing the gospel with others.  And, for me, that is where my true joy comes from and my motivation for doing this type of artwork in the first place.

THANK YOU LORD, for women like ELLE MAE! 

Day Two (The story continued):  I wake up this morning to another email from Elle Mae...Day two of the women's retreat.   She shared the following:  "We had a Jehoviah's Witness there by accident last night.   She was bringing a woman to an AA meeting (they thought). She accepted Jesus as her Savior!  My girlfriend Joan was ministering to her throughout the night."   Elle Mae also sent a "day two" picture.  I just had to make another card out of it and here it is.  Notice her quote, "These boot's are made for talking; and that's just what they'll do".  Love it!